The UK election may be coming to a close, as rumours circulate about a coalition between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties. My sources report Tories get the Prime Minister, Defence Minister, and Home Secretary, while LibDems get The Department of Muggle/Wizard Relations and the Ministry of Silly Walks.
London is bidding to host the 2014 World Science Fiction Convention. To launch their bid, they put together a video that is made of pure hammered awesome.
I really miss the Uk. It’s been too long.
Despite being one of the last people to go to bed on Friday, I woke up on Saturday morning in time to avail myself of the free breakfast. I sat with filkerdave, and after finishing my food, later sat and chatted with katyhh and tarkrai. At some point, I realized the time and caught the last half of Lady Mondegreen’s “Choose Your Own Adventure Workshop”, where they had put a bunch of topics into a hat and drew a new one out every time they exhausted the previous topic.
Once that was done, I wandered out into the lounge area and chatted with various people, so I missed the next couple of concerts. I was in and out of the Main Concert, but I did fortunately catch the Crooklets singing “Alien Salad Abduction” and also demoneyes brilliant parody of callylevy‘s “Just Beyond”. I had stepped out to fetch some folks for filkerdave‘s spot when I got waylaid by the charming photographer who was at the con to cover the vent for an Irish youth magazine, and I spent a good deal of the next hour chatting with her and letting her take my picture.
The main concert was followed by a reunion of the original lineup of Three Weird Sisters. Since all three of them happened to be at the con, they decided to put on an hour set, and, while I admit to being greatly biased, they were fantastic. if you had told a total stranger that these three hadn’t performed together in over a year, I’m not sure you could have convinced them. The set was tight, high energy, and a hell of a lot of fun, and it was really nice to see the old dynamic still exists when they get on stage.
After the 3WS concert was supposed to be dinner, but that was when the first of the major hotel snafus struck. It seems that somehow the hotel had interpreted “Dinner from 5-7pm” as “Dinner at 7pm”, so there was a scramble to get dinner out. Worse, at this time we discovered that the hotel had, despite a contractual prohibition against booking other noisy events into the facility, booked a disco and a skittle alley for Saturday night; in fact, they rather comically wanted to set the skittle alley up in the main Programming room. This led to a great number of the concom having to jump into crisis mode, but fortunately, everything was eventually sorted out, with the skittles being put out of doors, dinner moved to a function room on the far end of the hotel, and coordination between the disco DJ and the con’s sound tech crew to try and ensure there’d be little interference from the dance.
The fears of the noisy disco also required a slight rearrangement of the evening programming, moving UK GOH Mike Richards up an hour, as he would tend to be quieter than the other two performers. What with the delay of dinner and lending support to the committee, I didn’t get to catch all of it, but I really enjoyed what I heard.
After Mike was the band Chimes, who aptly demonstrated how you can make sure everyone at the con gets a concert slot despite limited time. I lost track of the number of personnel changes the band went through, as various people filled in for the band members who were sidelined by illness. All of it was amazing, but my favourite song had to be “Thief in Little Pieces”, wherein little_cinnamon learned to not to let Phil rewrite his lyrics without checking on them beforehand. This rule belongs in the same category as “Don’t look at Judi Miller while you’re on stage.”
The evening wrapped up with the absolutely fabulous Lady Mondegreen, who delivered everything I’d come to expect from them over the years since they debuted. I’m a sucker for harmony and pretty girls, and LMG is rather obviously strong in both suits, and I’m biased to begin with for various personal reasons, but to say they blew the room away is rank understatement. I especially loved the ultra funky filk of “Lady Marmelade”, with fleetfootmike and demoneyes providing guitar and drum backing. The only regret I have is having the camera battery die shortly after sweetmusic_27 joined the band to turn the trio into a quartet. But not being able to take pictures meant I got to kick back and enjoy the music.
Once the concerts were officially over, I went to hang out with cadhla and sweetmusic_27, and we played the exciting parlour game called “Quick! Find something Seanan can eat!” This is no mean feat after 10pm on a Saturday night in Basingstoke, but the game was finally won by securing an expensive but indifferent cheese-and-veg pizza from room service. Once fortified, we wandered into Open Filk, where I recall singing a couple of adamselzer‘s songs, and I don’t remember what else. We stayed up until way too late singing, and then Amy and I stayed up talking until later still, and I finally got to sleep somewhere around 5am.
End Part the Third…
(Coming soon: Part the fourth, in which there is oversleeping, closing ceremonies, and we get in trouble for singing in a pub. Don’t miss the thrilling conclusion, next time on Flashback!)
Morning came, and soon the house was bustling with packing and organizing and all of that. cadhla came over to join us on the trip down, and eventually we set off for Basingstoke, stopping briefly at Waterloo station for a Buger King lunch.
The train trip down was relatively uneventful, though i sometimes wonder about the poor fellow who was sitting by the window in the section of seats we encamped on. Conversation between us was as varied and colourful as conversations involving this lot tend to be after all, and looked horribly trapped and put upon.
Arriving at the hotel, we split into two groups and taxied over to the hotel, and checked in. This was where we discovered that the hotel would only allow us one key per room. This wasn’t a problem for me, as I was the only person in my room, but cadhla‘s roommate had gone off on a grocery run with others, and she couldn’t get into her room. I invited her to drop her things in my room until she could get into hers.
Having divested ourselves of stuff, we headed out to meet up with folks, and distribute hugs and generally hang out. Eventually, sweetmusic_27 showed up with food and the room key, so I helped her carry her stuff in (“Are you happy to see me, or do you just want me for my labour?” “Well, just this minute….”), and eventually went and fetched Seanan’s stuff as well.
telynor asked me if I’d be willing to help out with Opening Ceremonies. My complicated job, which will be difficult to explain to a layperson, but I’ll try, was to stand by the door and look big. This all tied into the whole X-files/Torchwood/Area 51/Men in Black thing the concom was going for. My job was to Secure The Door. (“I’m on the brute squad.” “You ARE the brute squad!”)
Saw a bit of tarkrai‘s concert, and then agreed to walk to the city centre with Seanan so she could acquire diet soda. We actually turned the wrong way at first, and then doubled back on a bike trail, but eventually, we found our way to lovely downtown Basingstoke and located a Tescos, stocked up on beverages and stuff, and then walked over to the train station, where we took a taxi back to the hotel, so we wouldn’t have to lug our bags.
Friday night was mostly spent hanging out in the pub area with telynor, katyhh, and some other folks I’m not remembering at this point. I did wander into the open filk for a bit, and borrowed ladymondegreen‘s guitar to play “Sauron” when a rash of silly Tolkien songs broke out, but otherwise spent most of my time socializing, ending up sitting at the bar with bedlamhouse and ladyat for as long as Bill was willing to keep buying me pints. Eventually, about three in the morning or so, the last folks wandered off to bed, and I wandered off as well.
End Part the Second…
(Coming soon: Part the Third, featuring a disco, a skittle alley, a relocated dinner, and a program shuffle. Stay tuned!)
When we weren’t able to go tot he UK con last year, I was terribly disappointed, and swore that this year would be different. But due to a variety of medical and other financial drains this year, we really weren’t in a position to afford to go, and I finally admitted this a few months ago. “Well,” asked kitanzi, being the sensible sort, “can we afford for just you to go?”
We discussed this for a bit, and figured out we could just squeeze it out, so I set off to visit the UK family by myself.
Since by luck my flight over to the UK was on the same plane as bedlamhouse and ladyat, I drove over to their place and left my car so I could ride down with them. With one thing or another, we got to the airport and through security with only barely enough time to kick back for a drink at the Crown Club before heading down to our gate (made more complicated by my realization I’d left my boarding pass back at our table and having to run back for it — where they told me it wasn’t a problem, they could have just printed me a new one at the gate. Next time I’ll know…)
The flight itself was pretty uneventful. It was probably one of the most comfortable flights across the Atlantic I’ve had, as the plane was largely empy — I don’t think more than half of the coach section was filled, and probably it was closer to a third. As usual, I didn’t sleep on the plane for more than about an hour, so I watched almost all of the in-flight entertainment. The movie was “The Queen” with Helen Mirren, and it was absolutely marvelous. I’ll be picking it up on DVD when it comes out. There was the usual assortment of sitcoms, travel documentaries, and music videos, and a re-run of House that was at least a pleasant diversion. At one point, I woke up from a light doze and looked out my window in time to see the lights of, I believe, Reykjavik down below. At one point in the early pre-dawn, I saw another jet off in the distance, and watched it as it tracked over the horizon on its way to who knows where.
We set down at Gatwick airport a bit earlier than projected, and breezed through customs in no time flat. I parted ways with Bill and Brenda as they stopped for morning tea, opting to start my journey by train to New Cross, where I’d be crashing overnight with telynor and filceolaire before heading down to Basingstoke for the convention. The trip from the airport to London Bridge was uneventful, but then I made a fatal mistake.
I failed to Mind The Gap.
I was running to get on the train, which predictably stopped with the doors equally inconvenient to me on either side. As I stepped onto the deck of the train, someone behind me tapped me on the bank and pointed. I saw the battery case cover and battery of my phone lying on the platform. I jumped back off and got them, and started to look around for my phone. I was only just starting to panic when my good Samaritan got my attention again and pointed. Down. And there, down on tracks, lying on the gravel, was my phone.
I failed to Mind The Gap, and The Gap ate my phone.
I stared at it for a moment, muttered an expletive, and shrugged my shoulders and got back on the train. There wasn’t much I could see to do about it at the time. If I’d been more awake, I’d have gone looking for a porter, but at that point I was just trying to get to my destination. I arrived at New Cross Station tired and cranky and slogged across the park to Gwen and Joe’s flat, and was warmly greeted by Gwen and pola_bear, who were waiting for me. I collapsed on the sofa and told them about my phone, and Gwen quickly found the number for Lost and Found at London Bridge Station. She explained what had happened, and the man said “Is it a silver T-mobile phone?” We told him it was, and he said “Well, I’m holding it, but the battery is missing.” I assured him that was quite alright, and got instructions where I could retrieve it. Having sorted that out, Emily and I accompanied Gwen on the bus to a nearby Underground station, where she then went off to work and Emily and I proceeded on to London Bridge, found the Lost+Found office, and got my phone. I popped the battery back in, found to my delight that it still worked, and we headed back to the flat by way of New Cross Gate, stopping at a little Jamaican deli to grab me some brunch — barbecue chicken, mac&cheese, some fried plantains and a bottle of Ginger beer. Yum.
Having been fed, my fatigue began to set in, so I went and laid down for a nap. A few hours later, Gwen’s son G. woke me up, so I hung out with him and chatted a bit, and then I’m afraid I played Stern Uncle Rob and directed him to do a number of chore-like activities before his mom came home. I even got him to do the washing up, which astonished Gwen, who informed me that he hates that job.
Eventually, the household congregated and Chinese takeout was sent for, and then Gwen insisted on showing me the first episode of the delightfully trippy crime drama Life On Mars. Oh wow. I’ve downloaded the entire first season since I’ve gotten home, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the rest of it.
We stayed up talking much too late, and then eventually stumbled off to sleep, with dreams of filk cons dancing in our heads. Being the only person in the house who wasn’t slated to be on the concom over the weekend, I have to say I, at least, slept very well.
End part one…
- Leave requested and approved….check.
- Membership submitted to concom….check
- Airline tickets booked…check.
Everything is squared away, and that means, barring the unexpected, I will be at the UK filkcon in February. I will be arriving on Thursday morning and returning on Tuesday, so it’s just a short jaunt this time, but I’m looking forward to seeing everyone.
kitanzi will not, unfortunately, be with me this time. We can’t really afford two airline tickets, and as much as she likes being over there, she hates the long flight. But she insisted on sending me as my Christmas present from her. So I will have lots of hugs to distribute on her behalf.
Looking forward to seeing everyone who will be there!