I managed to get the train from Keighley at 7.05 okay, but forgot a few things in the rush to pack. Hence, when I arrived at Kings Cross, I spent about 15 minutes looking for somewhere that sold packets of tissues. You'd've thought, that within easy walking distance of the busiest terminus interchange railway station in London, there'd be a Boots or a Superdrug or something, wouldn't you? But no, apparently not. So I got on the tube to Heathrow.
Arrived at the hotel, signed in to the Con, dropped off my stuff at the tech tower, then headed back down to check in. My room-mate arranged through the Con, had already arrived, so I moved my stuff from the tech tower to my room, browsed through the programme, headed back out, left a few copies of We Come in Peace, Shoot to Kill lying around, and reported for duty with Tech. Since it was near the end of the George RR Martin reading, nothing much was needing doing, and this state of affairs continued until 3pm, when I moved from the tech area to the audience for the programme piece on Archery in fantasy TV & film. Apparently, Pixar and Joss Whedon do it better than most people. Then, quick changeround for the opening ceremony - one of the shortest ever - change again for the Cory Doctorow interview, and I headed out for dinner. I finished before Cory, and became a mic runner when they opened up for questions. Another change round for Just a Minute, with Paul Cornell in the chair, I disappeared for my laptop, and came back to do internet stuff at the back of the hall. Thanks to Paul Cornell's style of chairmanship, subjects covered in Just a Minute almost covered "Licking the back of China Mieville" (which author would you put on a stamp?), and "Hugo Weaving" (your favourite Hugo), among others.
The room emptied and the hotel staff came in to clear the chairs and re-set for the pub quiz. This provoked some concern for Lindsey, as a huge store of round tables had been found behind a door which was almost completely blocked by the dimmer racks and several major cables. Fortunately, the hotel had another store of tables elsewhere. When the pub quiz got started, I alternated between slipping the odd answer to Misha's table, and correcting the pronunciation of Gaspode and Emmzzi, who were asking the questions. That stopped when Gaspode chased me back to the tech area with, "Shoo, shoo, shoo!"
Quiz over, it was time for tech to close down the smaller rooms, so the team scattered to the four winds, did things like unplug microphones and turn speakers off, took a side-trip to my room to drop off my laptop and pick up my dancing socks, then back to the main room for the ceildh.
I awoke next morning bright and early, and got to the main hall at just after 8am. It was still secured for the night, and so I spent the next hour or so sat outside trying to get the hotel's free wifi to work. I went in when Linsey turned up, and planning for events of the day happened. Someone had produced sign-up sheets, mainly for the benefit of our newbie volunteers, so they got something to do but didn't need to feel like we were hovering over them or overloading them with stuff. I helped set up a couple of rooms and returned not long into Cory Doctorow reading Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother, which he'd read from at a previous Eastercon. Then there was a programme clash - in the main hall it was How Psuedo Do You Like Your Medieval?, whereas in Royal it was How to Set Up a Theatre Production Company. Since both of these were relevant to me, I wanted to go to both, but couldn't, so chose the theatrical one. It wasn't very informative, to be honest. Yes, there was lots of useful information, but not really suitable for the scale of things I'm going to be doing (tiny!). I came back to the main room for the gender parity panel, and when it ended I headed out to lunch.
I returned to the hotel and wandered round the dealers' room. T-shirts! Books! I didn't have any groats on me, and I was loath to spend as much money as were being asked for things I wanted. I went back to the main hall for a bit, and topped up my lunch with the free stuff the hotel had supplied. Then I went back to Royal for the How To Get Published panel, which was not helpful. I, and daiseechain, thought the panel members were all rather nasty people, and the advice they gave was basically what you can read in the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook.
I went back to tech and got the last hour of the BSFA lecture, about the Norman Conquest of England and its' aftermath. Whilst this was going on, we were informed of a new event in the main hall in the gap right after the lecture. Apparently, the cast of Game of Thrones were coming in to do a bit of a demo of swordfighting and a quick interview. If I hadn't been up on the tech tower when they asked for volunteers to participate, I'd've been right down the front along with Zoe and Wonderwoman, waving my hand in the air. As it was, I took a few photos of Zoe in mid-swing etc.
The next event in the main hall was Wild Cards, a series of shared-universe stories involving everyday people with superpowers that almost all of the Guests had written for. It was the first I'd heard of it, and frankly, after sitting at the back trying to get my laptop to talk to the hotel's wifi whilst it was going on, I didn't think I'd be investigating further.
Next was the Masquerade & Cabaret rehearsal, for which I was collared as microphone wrangler backstage. This was harder than it at first appeared, but was not overly taxing on my powers of organisation. Rehearsal finished, we moved on to fine-tuning the processes necessary to run the event, while the hotel set up tables in the hall. I nipped out and found Mariel and asked her to take some photos of the maskerade for me, as I wouldn't be able to do so myself. She was busy playing a game, and suggested I find Spike. I did, and gave him my camera, despite his protestations that he was useless with cameras. I headed back to tech in the hope of food, but no such luck. I had to go backstage pdq then, as we were about ready to start, and I consoled myself with the thought of having to wire up some rather attractive ladies with lapel mics.
Masquerade and Cabaret over, it was time to clear the dancefloor for the disco, and find all our strange little cables so that DJ Marwen could hook up his laptops properly. That done, we repaired to the bit of the atrium just outside the tech door to the main hall. The disco was always dead for the first hour or so, and we on the tech team wanted a bit of a rest and a talk. We borrowed chairs from the nearby hotel storage to sit on, got a table out of the main hall to sit around, and cola-flavoured cupcakes appeared on a cardboard stand. The cupcakes had outer cups in the style of printed circuit boards. We ate some of them, had some drinks, and when the fry-up bar opened some of us joined the queue. Burgers duly consumed, and beer finished, I went in to the disco.
Sunday, I was up a bit later, due to being exhausted and starting to feel the effects of the Con Flu that I appeared to have picked up. Also, I couldn't find my phone, and had to rely on my body clock to wake me up and check the clock on the telly every few hours. Breakfast, sit outside the main hall again with laptop until someone turned up. Briefing for the days' things, followed by carting a projector screen down to Room 12, which was well out of the way of everywhere else, and setting it up. Then I nipped over to Royal for the first panel of the day there (Promoting Yourself Online), and to ride the sound desk. I found it more useful than the last panel I'd been to in here, partly because Paul Cornell was on the panel, and he can really reach an audience no matter what he's talking about. Then it was up to room 41 for Meet The New King (Same As The Old King), a panel about the cliches and problems of monarchies and competing governmental systems in fantasy literature. I fell asleep. The room was stuffy, the panel didn't really engage with the subject, and I was tired. And as soon as it was over, I went back down to ride the sound desk in Royal again for Wench! Fetch Yon Tankard Here..., a panel about the use of purple prose in fantasy.
I think I must have gravitated back to tech then and started consuming the food that may or may not have been there since last night. I may have gone to sleep on the chairs at the back of the hall then, as the next panel I remember was Scientists And The Media, which was an hour after the end of the panel in the Royal. I stayed put for You Got Your Robot Elf Sex In My SF, but again, I may have been asleep for most of it. At 4pm I went back to my room for a kip until at least 6.30, missing The Nature Of Heroism panel at 5pm. I may have found food, but it was certainly nearing the end of the BSFA awards when I got back to the main room. It was then time to set up for the play, a convention-based spoof of Oliver Twist. I was backstage ASM, a job which basically boiled down to letting the tower and the cast know when each other were ready. Midway through, the lead's madonna-mic started crackling. Since, at this point, he wasn't coming off until the end, there was no way to check connections and things, so he was given a hand-held radio mic.
Play over, it was time to clear the dancefloor again and set up for the disco. Once again, tech congregated outside our door to the main hall around a borrowed table and chairs. I went on a wander to try and find some other friends and have a catch-up. I was only somewhat successful, and returned to the tech picnic, where no-one had brought out the remaining cupcakes. So I went in and put some on the stand and brought them out, which got a round of applause. Cupcakes were consumed, and I persuaded Mark to submit my entry for the Twitterfic competition, seeing as how I don't have a Twitter myself. A few seconds after he'd sent it, Keith, checking Twitter on the other side of the table, asked, "What are you burbling about, man?" I passed over the entry slip by way of explanation.
Beer finished, off to the disco. I was definitely feeling worse for wear, as it wasn't long past 1am that I sloped off to bed. I'm getting old.
Up at 8am on Monday, breakfast, main hall, people already there doing stuff, so I joined in. And just before 10am I headed off to Connaught for the T-Party Writers' Workshop. Except it wasn't there, it was in Room 18, which was very well hidden at the back of the hotel, and in fact nearly outside it. Four hours of writing advice and criticism were very helpful, as was the coffee. I went back to the main hall and asked Lindsey for some groats on credit so I could spend them in the Dealers' Room. She agreed, and off I went - however, it being the last day of the Con, most of the stuff I'd seen on Friday/Saturday and wanted, had been sold. I still walked out of there with two T-shirts and a couple of Bob Shaw books. Got back midway through the Tricia Sullivan reading. Apparently, I missed the first extract, about the angel and the dragon having a fight on an airliner, but the second one about a female cage-fighter coming up against a star of MMA being a Jerkass and Kicking the Local Cat, and breaking his nose, was interesting enough to get a rather large round of applause from the small audience. I went on front camera for the next event, Paul Cornell reading extracts from his upcoming Dark-Magic-London-book. Very gripping, very scary, but he did promise nothing too terrifying.
Then it was set-up for the Closing Ceremony, and I went on the side camera, which you have to stand up to operate. A mistake, as it turned out, as about ten minutes in, my calves felt like they were on fire. Smudge won the Doc Weir award for behind-the-scenes excellence in fandom. Then the ceremony was over, and I got down and virtually collapsed.
Tear-down started as always, with too much gaffer tape everywhere and not enough bin bags. I went and fetched a roll from Ops, then helped as best I could, kneeling down to slice tape from cable, putting things in piles, but eventually I had to admit that my legs had lost structural integrity, and I went to the fan lounge to find Mariel. I stayed more-or-less there for the rest of the evening, except for a few forays out to the main hall to see if Tech had been given food, and a quick trip down to the foyer to get the tech crew photographed around the Iron Throne prop from Game of Thrones. However, by 10pm, I was so exhausted and my legs were so painful, that I staggered back to my room, ran a hot bath, and soaked my sore muscles before falling into bed.
Up at about 9.15 after a long time lying there trying to feel pleasant about my situation. I had been alternately hot and cold all night, I now definitely had Con Flu, and my legs were not much better. I had breakfast, went and packed up, dumped my stuff in the main hall, and checked out.
Or tried to. The machine wouldn't accept my card, possibly because my arranged roomsharer had checked out yesterday and paid for his bit with his card. After four attempts, I went to the cash machine by MacDonald's and got some money out - this, along with the money I'd got out at Kings Cross on Friday, was enough to cover my bill.
Back in the main hall, the last bits of packing up were being done, but not very enthusiastically. I spent some time playing with a puzzle-ball and a trebuchet, and Henry spotted a playing card attached to the ceiling. We drank from whatever bottles of liquid were still conspicuous, and had a good long sit and natter. And then it was time to go. Met Steve K on the bus to Heathrow, got on the tube to Kings Cross, arrived in good time for my train home, and found it had been delayed by
fiveten minutes, that turned into fifteen when we started boarding.