A Busy Few Days...

Report by Richard Proctor

The thoughts of a non fan at Deliverance.

My wife is into fandom, and I sit at the side as a bemused bystander. I watch only a few TV programs and very little sci-fi (I have seen Star Wars and most of the Star Trek films) and have been instructed to watch one episode of B7 (Orac) but leave the rest to her. However, I quite like putting the web site together it is big enough and complex enough to interest me.

At Who's 7 in 94 I dropped Judith at the door of the hotel and took the boys to my parents for the weekend. For Who's 7 in 96 I dropped Judith and Kelvin (and Kelvin's Vorlon costume which I had made the previous week) and about 5 or 6 boxes of zines at the Ashford Hotel and took Henry to my parents for the weekend (The Vorlon won - Yippee!).

Sometime last year, Judith and both boys signed up for Deliverance. Zines had by then multiplied and occupied many parts of the house, and I realised that the only way she could get them to Deliverance was if I drove, so I volunteered to drive them all to Nottingham/ Gauda Prime/ Daventry/ Andromeda /Stoke on Trent. I also booked a trailer for the weekend. Judith books me into the con as "Dealers room only".

At the beginning of the year I suggested we arranged for a large consignment of the zines she agents, to be sent over in time for the con rather than operate mail order. So we start collecting pre-orders. I then go to the US on business (a fairly frequent but unpredictable event). So the zines are mailed from Seattle (one of the better US cities) to LA (one of the others), I come back from LA with a two foot stack of zines in my luggage.

A couple of weeks before the con, I am told Henry wants to be a Decima. What's a Decima? The only clue I have is some cartoons on the staircase. I get to watch a few minutes of Decimas, carefully making notes and asking for particular stills etc. Do some thinking and decide on roughly what to do. Get some glue (3.50p), and go to a jumble sale and buy lots of green things and an old lampshade (total cost 50p). Start to construct decima from lampshade (head), egg boxes and cardboard (for spine), and green material.

We get a visitation from the first two Aussies, who get volunteered into helping get 999 zines ready for printing. They also buy some of the US imports, which are now down to about 15 inches. They also take a couple of boxes of zines to the Neutral Zone for Judith. The Decima continues.

The first two zines are back from the printers and Judith goes to the Neutral Zone. I am left with the boys and a half finished Decima. Half way through Sunday, I decide to do some tidying up of the offcuts, and think the offcuts look better than the real thing. The decimas have lots of frilly green bits, which I called lettuce after the cartoon on the stairs. I then think radically, give up on my carefully crafted individual bits of cloth, just chop up thousands of green bits, plaster the clothes with glue, sprinkle with lettuce, press on, wait and shake. All done, no stitching. To find a Decima follow the trail of green snow.

Judith returns from Neutral Zone, with another Aussie. Packing, sorting, printing of flyers and song books, more sorting, more packing, the printing arrives and the bank account disappears into overdraft. More packing and more printing, and more flyers. We get to Friday; in the morning I work as normal, pick up the trailer at lunch time and come home. Load trailer with 18 boxes of zines, cases, costumes, junk, flyers, junk, bags, zines, more junk. Sit down for half an hour and wait for eldest son to return from School (The Decima's term finished at midday on Thursday). As soon as he is home we are off. The car's performance is definitely retarded.

8pm in Stoke, we arrive, unload boxes to dealers room, and junk to hotel rooms, Judith vanishes. Put Henry to bed, go to bar - no one I yet know there (OK I recognise some name badges from zine orders, but don't know). Chat to Peter Tuddenham's wife and someone else (don't know whom) and go to bed at a modest 11:30 (before eldest son).

Saturday - up and breakfast, return to room wake boys, go to dealers room with Judith to setup, Henry appears and is sent off to have breakfast - don't see him again for many hours. Just finish setting up and people appear to buy - where is the price list? Where are the flyers for Judith's own zines? (We had lots for those we agent) Judith vanishes. Find one (only one!) price list and start selling - 300 pounds of zines in twenty minutes (Gasp), imports now down to 2 inches. Know the price of some zines without looking them up. Mid morning Judith appears for 39 seconds, I ask her to put some money in the safe. Kelvin appears about 10:30 - he has missed breakfast (He is not alone).

Lunchtime, the last import is sold and Judith releaves me at 1 pm (at about 1:15) I collapse for forty minutes and then go back to the dealers table. Henry has found the games being played in the upstairs bar, and will be found there from now until the end of the con. Judith appears briefly for 23.7 seconds, and goes off to the fancy dress along with Henry. I continue selling zines (Where are the flyers for Judith's zines? though by now I know all the prices). The dealers room closes at 6pm (at 6:20), I close up and try to put the money in the safe. I have the key, and I want to put money in (not take it out), but I am not Judith and I am not allowed to without her signature... Eventually collapse in room for 15 minutes.

Kelvin appears - starving. We go to eat in the restaurant, I adopt a horizontal queueing position. After the meal, find Henry has won the fancy dress. Yahoo! Boys disappear together, I collapse in bar chatting, The Decima is found and put to bed at 10:15. Wander through the reception area, stop briefly to chat with Harriet, get offered a drink by Jenni-Allison and stay until about 1:30, talking about web pages, hacking, networks, telephones, etc. with Calle, Pita, Jenni, Harriet, Crispin, Pat and several others, a mixed bunch, most of whom I only knew as names in Judith's address book and web addresses, but now had faces. At one point someone says "I wish all pages were as easy to use as Judith's" I chose that moment to say who I was...

The Decima (51K)
Sunday up and down to breakfast, later find Judith also having breakfast, in conversation she says did I know Harriet? Yes! She only went on Holiday with us on the canals last year! Go to the dealers room, sales are slow today as everyone is queuing for autographs, though sell some to the queue as reading matter. Try to sell Redemption membership as well, Redemption is only 11 months away and therefore sooner than getting to the head of the autograph queue.

Lunchtime, time to get Kelvin on a train. He and Judith go away to sort out some of the auction stuff, and then pack his stuff. Judith reappears eventually and I go to find Kelvin. Where is he! In the next two minutes I search the room, the dealers room, the main hall, the room, both bars, all event rooms, the dealers again, the room again to find him pushing the dalek in the bar again. Scream blue murder and get him into the car along with his bags. Rush him down to the station, put him on a train and send him home so that he can get to school in the morning.

Return to the dealers room, Judith is there dealing with a customer. I tell her the prices... The afternoon gets quieter as the closing ceremony starts, dealers start packing - I stay open. After half an hour or so Sally Knyvette appears Very VERY cross about people selling photos of her and gets a trader to tear up some photos in front of her, (I accidentally have my hand over the only photo on our stand) she then storms off down to the Horizon shop - I wonder what happened there? Eventually I am told the dealers room is shut. (This was about 5pm, the program said 8pm, and many others thought it was 6pm). Pack everything up. Just finished and somebody wants to buy a zine, unpack, sell a zine, repack.

Get the zines back to the room, via a not working lift, go to bar, collapse. Start nattering, drinking, and join a multinational group going out for a meal. On the way there Vickie rescues several worms from being trodden on, by carefully picking them up from the path and putting them at the side. Conversations cover the operations of Australian customs and telephones, Australian worms, old computers, meeting other halves at universities, what an American thinks of a pseudo American restaurant, what English think of American "English Pubs", oh and some B7, then return rescuing more worms and a snail.

Collapse in bar, and a decima appears - this is 11:15pm - I eventually get him to bed around 11:30! (his bedtime is officially 8:30). Continue in bar, watch Judith's hijack of Gareth to hear a filk. Natter, Natter, Natter. Finally giving up around 2am. Goodnight to Neil, Ross, Andrew, Steve, Vickies, Kathryns, Stephen, Robert & Ellie, Jenni, Harriet & Calle, and everybody else I forgot.

Monday, get up have breakfast, pack, load the trailer with 7 boxes of zines, load the car with a decima and the Vorlon (not used at all for the entire con - Grrr). And eventually prise Judith away (difficult). Drive home, unpack, collapse for 20 seconds, phone rings, go and collect Kelvin from school, COLLAPSE.

Well, I may not be into B7, but cons can be fun. Before hand I knew only about 6 people there (Harriet, Chris, Gareth and 3 Aussies), afterwards dozens.

See you at Redemption.

Back up to Blakes 7 Conventions

Back up to Blakes 7 Index