|DW Con '04
Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday
This was not a good day. I had booked a rent-a-car from Enterprise months ago to take me down to Warwickshire, but when I got to the office, they told me because I wasn't employed and didn't have a credit card they didn't want my business. So I had to call Avis, get from Keighley to Leeds, pick up the car from there, drive back to my flat and load up, then start the drive down. Two-and-a-half hours late. Naturally, by the time I got to the hotel (five minutes before the opening ceremony), I was not feeling calm - and I didn't have time to decompress. Spent the evening when not in the major programme items meeting people I knew, most of whom said something along the lines of, "I've not seen you in ages," which didn't exactly help. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I left early and drove back to my B&B for a good night's sleep.
Saturday was much better. I got to the hotel relatively early and began running around like a blue-arsed fly trying to organise my surprise idea. Since we had spent much of the camping meet last year singing songs with Dwarven lyrics, I thought it would be a fun idea to arrange a flashmob, singing One Day More from Les Mis with Dwarven lyrics. First on the list was turning up at each of the band meetings and asking for volunteers, then I had to run around further trying to organise all the little bits of minutiae that needed to be sorted out. My first event was out in the marquee, where Bernard was talking about the Terry He Knew. This was where I met Essy for the first major time this con, when she came and sat next to me. After Bernard had finished, we had a bit of a catch up before the next event, which we left early in order to get to the briefing meeting I had arranged for the flashmob down in L-Space 2.
It appeared I hadn't been quite clear enough in my call for volunteers. I had asked for people who can sing and who knew the song, but many of them weren't quite prepared for there being no vocal guide on the backing track. Googling helped us find suitable tracks to help people practice with, and we managed to rough out who was doing which part. That done, people disappeared to various events - I went to the Go Fence being run to try and interest people in the sport. It was good to get back on a piste, however impromptu, and was quite pleased with my effectiveness with a blade after four-odd years of not having picked one up against an unscripted opponent. The session over, I swapped my T-shirt for my shirt (which allowed me to cosplay as Twoflower), and went off to try and arrange a flag (something else for the flashmob), including a flagpole (that was fun - turning up in Ops again and saying things like, "I'd like to measure the flagpole, please," and watching whoevers-it-was face melt from pleasant helpfulness to baffled puzzlement). The basics completed, I disappeared before I overheated and melted, found Essy sewing a scorpion beanie for the mime pit, and joined her and Torak while I ate lunch. Once we finished lunch Essy helped me finish the flag, we added it to the flagpole, and went to find Torak, who was organising a game of Secret Hitler (a game a bit like Werewolf, but with fascists). That was followed by Screenwriting 101 with Diane and Peter, which was, as usual for those two, a long string of humourous anecdotes somewhat relevant to the subject matter. After a quick check that my things were in place for the Hedgehog Party, I went back to the B&B for dinner, changed, hurried back to the hotel, and caught the Maskerade before pointing out to Tech that the tech for the Hedgehog Party hadn't been set up yet.
Awesome party. I was DJ. Numerous people congratulated me on the set, during and after. I even heard someone saying (next morning), that, "That man there can do an epic DJ set." Yes, I did thank them.
Hung around trying to come down from the buzz for a bit. This involved watching people do the jigsaw of the cover for Maskerade, and a pale skin competition (Yorkshire for the win!), and a brief lecture on quality of whisky from Haddock. I eventually decided that I should probably head back to the B&B, to at least attempt sleep. Apparently, I was quite successful.
I managed to be up and awake before 8am. Headed in to the hotel to pick up my big box of music that I'd asked to be put away with the rest of the tech equipment at the end of the Hedgehog Party. It wasn't with the rest of the kit, and it appeared the kit itself was not where it was expected. After a few minutes of to-ing and fro-ing, the kit was found, and my box was back where it had been for the previous two days. I collected it and put it in the car, then began worrying about the day. I had a few people to talk to, about unrelated things. It appeared that no-one was anywhere around, and I spent most of the morning heading listlessly from one end of the hotel to the other.
Found time for lunch, found a singalong session aimed mostly at kiddies. As it contained silly lyrics and actions, someone started singing Star Trekkin' by The Firm, but they didn't know all the words. Having experienced it at multiple Con discos, I jumped in and began to lead. Afterwards, had a very helpful talk with Essy, had a look in Sator Square (bought a couple of books), then headed to Strangely Fascinating, the quiz event based on a popular BBC panel show hosted by Sandi Toksvig (previously Stephen Fry). Then it was off out to Hide Park for the Buckle & Swash event, with Peter Morwood giving the overall lecture of why what weapons were used and when and how, with appropriate demonstrations from Orjan, Marco, Gideon, and to fill out the numbers, Ulf and Heather (she demanded a hat before entering the shield wall). I left before the end, timing it quite well considering that I'd left my phone at the B&B, in order to have enough time to eat and come back before the Red Carpet event before the Gala Dinner.
I got the flagpole out, met the gophers I'd asked for to watch over it while we assembled, positioned it to my satisfaction, then hung around panicking waiting for the others to turn up. By the time it got to 6.45 and only half of us here, I was muttering, "Abort, abort," under my breath. At five-to-seven, Valjean and Marius hadn't showed up, and it was decided to postpone for an hour or so and try again in the bar. We ended up postponing indefinitely. To say that I was somewhat disappointed was putting it mildly.
Stuff happened. Dinner in the hotel restaurant. I'd already eaten, the others present hadn't, so I helped myself to a smaller plateful than them. Everyone else had pudding, and I was asked if I wanted any because I was a course behind. I explained about the pot noodles at the B&B. After dinner, I headed to the Toast & Jam. This is normally a fairly fun event, but when I got there they were on the ballads, and melancholy was not what I wanted right now. I returned to the restaurant, and shortly thereafter we all decamped. Self and Essy went to the T&J where we attempted Under Pressure, we saw The Assassin Boys adapt Let's Go Fly a Kite into a merry ditty about contract killings, there was a couple more numbers, then something prompted us to head to Upper Broadway for some games of Exploding Kittens and Star Fluxx. I was reasonably successful at the former (although apparently I can't count), and rather baffled by the latter. By now, it was late, and I was feeling low (again), so I headed off.
Apparently, I'd managed an earlier night than I'd thought, and I was at the hotel not long after nine. Hung around for a bit, ran into Essy on her way to the Create Your Own Instruments workshop, so I joined her. She made a bouncy thing that rattled, a set of pan pipes and some horns out of plastic straws, while I attempted to (apparently) re-write the laws of physics. Afterwards, we headed to the How to Not Get Stabbed workshop, which was good healthy exercise, even though some of the moves were difficult to get the hang of. After that was lunch, and I remembered a thing I had to do, but since I'd left my laptop at the B&B I had to ask Tech nicely to borrow one of theirs. Seeing as I knew half of Tech from ther Cons, there was little problem in meeting this request, and I spent the next half hour fighting with both MacOS and Facebook trying to set up an event.
April 2018 would have seen Sir Terry Pratchett's 70th birthday. He had a well-known connection with the theatre, and so to celebrate, why not put on a play? Local theatre companies around the world can use this month to stage any Discworld play, in a great big celebration and commemoration of Sir Terry's life and work. I had buttonholed Colin Smythe and discussed the idea with him yesterday, and he'd said it was a good one, go for it. So there I was, setting up a Facebook event to go for it. Let everybody know, and book the performance slot at the next planning meeting at your local theatre group!
I returned the laptop and headed for the Battle of the Bands (Bands being this year's Guilds, what with the Con theme being Music With Rocks In). I hadn't originally planned to go, but it was eaither that or sit staring at nothing for ninety minutes. The Battle was rather fun, and chaotic, and quite noisy. Afterwards, everyone helped with getting the chairs back to where they should be, then Torak, Essy and myself headed out to the beer garden for lunch. Essy was in costume and character as a mime, so spent lunchtime communicating via post-it notes. Then Queen Keli appeared, and there was much marvelling at how the bloody hell she was able to move in that costume in this heat and was she about to pass out due to the corset?
I went to see the play, which was Witches Abroad: The Musical, and running late. It did not did-not-disappoint. It finished almost as the Closing Ceremony was about to start, so Torak's Just A Minute session (what was in the programme and everything) was unlikely to go ahead. We moved it to one of the tables in Lower Broadway so we could run it for the benefit of the queue. Then the Closing Ceremony happened, we all disappeared to get changed into our parade uniforms, and re-assembled at the bottom of the beer garden. Well, some of us did. I, as Ornamental Sergeant Major, was required to go around to Broadway and the bar and remind our volunteers that they were wanted ("ARE YOU 'ORRIBLE LITTLE ARTICLES GOING TO FALL IN FOR PARADE OR NOT?"). Eventually, after photographs with a newly acquired regimental mascot (which Torak declared must be immediately promoted to Brigadier due to Tradition), we formed up and marched off. Score: One OSM who's forgotten how to keep step, one hotel employee who was thoroughly and pleasantly bewildered while pushing a trolley of stacked chairs, several attendees scattering as we marched straight for them, and three bar staff who you could see thinking, "WTF?" and being rather amused by it. After we fell out, matters were explained to them.
Refreshments were acquired, and I had a long and peaceful talk with Essy. Afterwards, we wandered back to the bar, and found Torak making plans to induct the newbies into the Order of the Post. By the time we were ready it was dark, and the only really suitable space with suitable equipment was the beer garden. Let the games begin!
Lots of fun was had, all along the traditional lines of the Postman's Walk, with the added complication that the only three people present who knew the full traditional methodology were organising it, and thus couldn't assist with driving the inductees. Until the last one, who, as they were a serving military policeman, was given a really complicated course, so it was felt that Torak would have to drive him. And that was the one where the zenith of the tradition was reached - after the blindold was donned, all the obstacles were cleared and the Walker was made to navigate completely non-existant obstacles. Heheheh.
There was a large table under a tree, so we sat at it. Tom (one of the Assassin Boys) was rather drunk and taking selfies with everyone - he got to 38. While he was doing so, a game of Werewolf was organised. By the time we started, Tom had got rather carried away with the double Baileys, and had gone behind a tree to do unspeakable things to the scenery. Whilst playing, we periodically checked to make sure he hadn't passed out, or wandered off, or been whisked away by rogue Pokemon. It was a nasty game of Werewolf - everyone who was lynched was an innocent villager, the only werewolf who died was killed by luck. Game over, and we hung out for a bit. After seeing how close Torak's head was to the lowest branch, Essy went to fetch her hammock. Alas, it could not be slung properly, and its' use as a rope-swing seat was brief and ended when the glue holding some vital structural elements together came unstuck. It was at this point that several people began to wonder what had happened to Tom, so some of us went to check. He had not been alone for a while, and was in a really bad way, so a First Aider was fetched, a doctor materialised from amongst the Con attendees, and an ambulance was called. While the professionals dealt with the unfortunate man, the rest of us drfted inside. Kirstine was running a rather large game of Werewolf in Upper Broadway - I spectated rather than join so huge a game. There may have been another game of Exploding Kittens at some point as well. It was close to midnight and concern for Tom had rather taken the edge off the buzz I'd built up from the Parade and The Walk. I was finding it a slog, in other words, so I checked that people would be around tomorrow for me to say goodbye to, and headed back to the B&B.
I checked out, then drove over to Kenilworth Castle to get some photos before heading back to Chesford Grange for the last time. Spoke to Andrew as he was dismantling his tent (and bemoaning the lack of being able to make rabit stew). Headed into the hotel the pretty way through the camping field, met more people and sat down to chat and wind down.
Tom was okay. He had mostly recovered, though his stomach was still apparently swirling - and he had earned his new badge name for next time: Horizontal Tom. Against the backdrop of the news that the EU had ordered Ireland to collect €13bn in back taxes from Apple, and the death of Gene Wilder, the memoried debris of last night was picked through, arrangements were made for the future, goodbyes were said, and people departed.
The countdown begins.