Panic had set in by 7:20 pm, as I stood across the street from the theatre with bags in hand. Unbeknownst to me, Julia and Val were waiting at the train station for me to arrive, even as I waited for them. A last minute rendevous, and we were inside.
Great performances all around, with PD fluffing a few lines and recovering nicely. Definitely an mugging performance, with PD in particular enjoying his Bogie/Eastwood lines. After the performance, we waited outside the stage door, and managed to get autographs from the bulk of the cast. PD was the last one out, and unfortunately it seemed he was a bit put off by a classic "wierdo" groupie (male, strangely enough) who I regret not accidently tripping and stepping repeatedly on.
After the play it was off to Julia's, where the hostess was kind enough to prepare a much needed sandwich. Then a good night's sleep.
The next morning I set out for Ashford, which turned out to be quite the adventure. The Northern Line on the Underground had me stumbling around for almost an hour before I managed to work my way to Waterloo. From there the train ride was pleasant. I then debarked at Ashford, which seemed strangely small(not even a taxi at the station). Wandering off toward the town center, a Scotsman asked me for directions. We both began to suspect something wrong as we continued to try and find our way to our respective goals.
Filk about this incident by Judith.
The personnel at a local travel agency enlightened us. Seems there are two Ashfords, one in Kent, the other here in Middlesex. Naturally, it was the Kent Ashford we wanted.
Back on the train, through rush hour traffic, and at last we found our way to the right Ashford. A short cab ride, then into the hotel. A barefooted Judith sprang up from her seat and charged me, and it was time for quick reunions with some of last year's Deliverance attendees.
The evening was spent doing last minute chores such as badges, as well as becoming re-aquanted with everyone. Julia and Val made their appearance around 10ish, and by 11 or so everyone drifted off to catch a bit of sleep.
Up the next morning, after talking entirely too long with my roommate. Val and Linda and I at Registration, giving me opportunity to meet most of the gang as they checked in. Mr. Croucher was a suprise, being very much more subdued than I'd been led to expect by various postings. His young son Sean was an extremely polite lad, whose manners speak well of the parents' education of the boy.
Missed the opening ceremonies, doing some stewarding duties. Then came the evening, and time for the SC party. Made sure Pred'x knew how much I loved her A/B stuff, which Julia had on sale as the Endless Farce. Many more faces and people, including Hannake and a few others I hadn't met before.
Alas, I left the party to seek out my roomie, and we both ended up going to bed early. My one true regret on the whole trip was missing the rest of the party, which I understand went on for quite a while.
Saturday was a really great day. Between Stewarding and Registration, ample opportunities to wander the dealer's room and attend some of the panels. The Trial of John Sheridan for treason was well worth it, with the Captain being aquitted despite the what I consider superior case presented by the Prosecution. Allowed myself to be roped into a game of Mastermind, which I flubbed horribly. Dropped into the Klingon party long enough to play football with Tribbles, and showed the Klingons how to play American baseball using the Bat'leth as the bat, with the tribbles as the balls.
Got into the caberet in time to watch Ian and other SC denizens put on a wonderful skit skewering the BBC, and on to a number of other fine performances. Closed out the night with a viewing of the Two Doctors, with Troughton's mugging up leaving me rolling.
Oh, forgot to mention the best panel I attended during the con, which was Dave Walsh's Realism in Slash panel. A peek into a subculture I rarely encounter, and plenty of useful information on the 'mechanics' of various acts. Mr. Walsh was wonderfully up front and direct on the matter.
The only disapointment Saturday was after the caberet, when Calle had planned to run a round of Paranoia. Alas, no one else showed up and for the second year we failed to have a game. It seemed almost a conspiracy.
Made breakfast Sunday morning, just barely. Realized too late I missed the sex in space and Where did Dayna hide the bomb panels, but I at least got to see the Ruler of the Universe contest. Londo and Cartagia were absolutely wonderful in character. I haven't read the Sandman series, so I couldn't comment on the authenticity of that performance. But Servalan proved her superiority during the voting when she summoned Travis forth to 'keep an eye' on the audiance with his gun-arm up as the votes were counted. I quite entheusiastically put both of my arms up, and Servalan managed to carry the day.
A last wander around,then back for the last half of the auction. Put a couple of tentative bids in, and was really tempted by the Gruesome Grannies tape with PD in it. Alas, this was a budget trip, and the 105 pound bid for it pushed it thouroughly out of my reach. To compensate, an autographed G!G! poster from last year was up. Having lost one very much like it during last year's trip, I was prepared to go into bankruptcy for this one. Fortunately, my main competitor seemed to realize this, and instead of pushing the price up, graciously bowed out at the 35 pound mark. I got a PD's book with it also (not Avon: ATA, the other one).
|Then came the closing ceremonies, with lots of people winning raffle prizes, including Julia with 3 wins out of 30 tickets. The suprise marriage and co-ruling of Servalan and Londo Molari was just too priceless; a male imperosonating a female and a female impersonating a male getting married was SOO fantastic, especially when both persons were so dead-on with the performances.||
Larger Wedding Photo (48K)
Off to the Steward's party. I cannot say enough about Ivan and Sasha, who headed up the stewards. Their absolute dedication to maintaining proper coverage, and their tending to the needs of the stewards on duty (including fetching autographs, etc) was superlative. It was fitting that Ivan won the first item in the min-raffle for the stewards. He was even prepared to pass on his prize but there seemed unanomous approval for him claiming his prize. If I do attend Neutral Zone next year, a good part of the reason I would go there is because I trust this husband and wife pair to run the stewards properly.
The evening ended with groups of SC members and con goers scattered around the lobby in conversation. A gentleman I'd met in some of the panels came along and engaged me in conversation. At first I looked to Julia for help, but the conversation ended up being fairly good. It meant that I missed out on the talk from Julia, Linda, Val, et.al. Turns out the man had the same birthday I did. Then goodbyes, and off to bed for an early wakeup.
Out of the con hotel before anyone else seems to have awakened. After visiting a friend for a few hours, on to Swansea. Typically of British weather, while there was sunshine on the train, as we entered Wales it began to rain and fog. Still, no problems finding the hotel where Val and Judith and Linda and the Germans (I remember Tanja's name, but I'm afraid not the other girl'ls) were already ensconsed. An ok hotel; I really loved the bed though the breakfast was mediocre by the standards I've come to expect over there, and it was impossible to get hot water out of the shower. Anyways, loading up into two cabs we headed down to the theatre, which had a reasonably priced dinner menu. The cast was eating there also, and we worked hard to ensure we didn't disturb them.
Onto another performance. PD flubbed his lines again at the same place he had last week in Darlington, and though he didn't really recover, he managed to turn it into a big shared joke with the audiance. The rest of the cast was also in fine form, even the young man playing Carrot, whom we found out afterwards had come down with something like the flu. More than worth it to have made the trip to see the show again.
Afterwards, after a trip around the stage door, where a kindly worker told us the actors were in the bar, we trooped around and caught up with the cast once more. PD was kind enough to give us some of his time, and I managed to get a couple of autographs from some of the cast members I'd missed in Darlington. I did kick myself for not asking the director/Woonts why there had been some minor changes in the show. Anyways, after securing some autographs we left the cast to relax. Since this was their last week together, it must have been a bittersweet time for them. I hope that the play is picked back up at some point; it's a wonderful way to get away from it all.
The next day found our gang of six in Cardiff, after a 1/2 hour wait and change of train at Swansea. After checking in, we walked back to Cardiff Castle toward the center of town. Amazing what boatloads of money can do for you; this 14th century structure had been converted into a Victorian gold- leafed fantasy by its 19th century owner. Absolutely gorgeous. I was also fascinated to learn the Romans had made it this far west; a long stretch of the original Roman wall was preserved in a basement-like structure. A bit of shopping (including picking up the latest DiscWorld book), and we headed back to the hotel for a rest. I took the opportunity to go to the laundrette so that I'd have clean clothes to wear to the play.
The Hosts of Rebecca is a very powerful play, with Gareth getting many more lines than I'd expect from the programme, since his character, though minor, also acts as a narrator for much of the play. I'll echo Judith's comments on the superb use of stage-props; only a knarled, leafless tree stands as a permanant fixture on the stage. A very gritty, gloomy play saved by flashes of humor throughout. Gareth mentioned the possibility of all three plays of the trilogy running together in one day; I'm not sure who could take that much intensity in one long shot, not to mention the strain on the actors.
Though there was a big get together on opening night for the cast and the supporters of the theatre, Gareth was kind enough to come over to the bar for several minutes to meet with Judith's party. Because of the noise level, we stood out in the rain talking to him. I can see why Judith has fallen in love with the man. So easy with a laugh and a smile, so much more than a "talking head" that some actors seem to be. He signed autographs, of course, but the mere fact he bothered to come out in the weather and with another committment speaks everything about the man, I think.
That about ends the tale. Up early the next morning, and a train trip back to London, then Heathrow. The flight home was suprisingly pleasant, as I plowed through one of the many books I'd managed to aquire. Ironically, most of the trip was spent sitting at Dulles International. The 45 minute flight home was delayed due to bad weather, leaving at 1:20 am instead of 7pm as scheduled. I could have made alternate plans and been home had I realized the weather situation, but it turned into an endurance contest. A 2am arrival into an empty airport, to discover one piece of luggage had been left at Dulles. The one with all the suveniers, naturally. That got delivered at about 2pm the next day, an hour or so after I'd managed to wake up.
Hope nobody's too bored with the report. I'm just sorry words can't describe how enjoyable the whole trip, and especially the Convention, was.
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