MONDAY APRIL 9TH 2012 EASTERCON SF CONVENTION OLYMPUS 2012 The last day of this wonderful annual convention
A sad day as the convention was due to end now, but there was still a great deal going on.
My impetuous maid, Marie (who left a card in my room identifying herself as my maid for the weekend) rang my bell at 8 am again. Once again, she went off to ring other bells once she knew I wasn’t going to leave the room there and then for her.
I got up in my own sweet time, had breakfast and then straight into the first programme item option at 10 am. It was Gale Sebold’s workshop – Performance For The Petrified – Giving A Reading. Though by no means terrified of public performance or reading, I found this workshop very useful and practical. I thought reading material was going to be provided, though many attendees read their own work out. To me that would make being able to maintain eye contact with the audience (one of Gale’s main pieces of advice) much easier as I’d be able to remember some of the words without having to read them from the page.
Gale bravely let me read from her own excellent looking novel, Babylon Steel. I introduced it as a reading from my own latest novel, which everyone thought was very funny.
Our readings were assessed by audience feedback, and though I did well on eye contact and clarity, a few felt as if I should slow down a touch. I got to read the extract again, taking the feedback on board and it did come across much better.
At 11 am I went to another workshop event, Dawn Abigail’s improv workshop. This involved playing out improvisational comedy scenarios, and making up material as you go along – a popular medium in comedy clubs thanks to the TV series, Who’s Line Is It Anyway?
Dawn really put us through our paces. We performed some quite energetic warm up exercises, with emphasis on theatre as playing. We played a Simon Says type of game where we all did what any of suggested. It involved jumping up and down running in a circle, sitting down etc.
This was followed by a game in which we announced the strange death of a neighbour, but re-enacted her death throes, with each of us adding an extra death move on the end of re-staging those preceding it. We had the poor imaginary lady collapse with a heart attack, shoot herself, turn into a zombie, explode, etc. ….
We played a game in which we introduced ourselves in some profession or role, with a second person taking that as a cue to interact with us. I announced myself as an alcoholic, a newscaster interviewing an alien, etc. I even got to be Doctor Livingstone, asking Stanley if he was a still friend with Ollie (Oliver Hardy).
We played out several scenarios. My favourite was where the partner read lines from an actual dramatic script, while others, myself included, responded without knowing any of our lines. It often rendered the next scripted line unintentionally hilarious.
A great fun workshop and one I could have happily stayed with all weekend.
A final visit to the soon to close book dealer’s room, where I won two tee shirts on the tombola. One was too small for me so I passed it on to another con attendee. I also signed up for the next two Eastercons, Bradford 2013 and Glasgow 2014; In addition I joined the British Science Fiction Association. (BSFA).
I spent a few hours in the bar, sharing last drinks and chat with various attendees who were leaving for trains and long car rides home. At 4pm the festival’s official closing ceremony took place and I attended to show appreciation for the guests of honour and the convention’s volunteers, gophers, tech crew, and organizing committee. Few could have disagreed when guest author Paul Cornell described this as the best Eastercon ever. (It was the 67th).
Some activity continued after the closing ceremony. After a last evening buffet meal I went with one of my Manchester friends to the 7 pm fan fund quiz we had missed the start of it but the quizmasters kindly recapped us on the questions we missed.
It was a tough quiz with general SF film, TV and book questions mixed in with specialist rounds on Eastercons, and their guests.
There was a very generous selection of prizes. Though I did badly gaining just 8 points, (the winner only got about twenty out of about 35) I was given a copy of Iain M Bank’s Culture Novel, Matter.
From 8 pm onwards the bar area and the former convention gaming room (now closed to that function) were reserved for the dead dog party. This was a lovely relaxed affair, with lots of chocolates and sweets on offer. One friend, Malcolm Hutchinson, also provided chocolate and whisky from his own supply for everyone.
There was a mystery in hat at 10 pm, the programme described Dead Dog as turning into Deader Dog. There was no visible join but this was about the time we watched the second episode of season two of Game Of Thrones (transmitted shortly before hand on TV). It was a great reminder of the tremendous work of our main guest of honour, George R R Martin.
After Deader Dog there was yet more (presumably the programme slot marked To Be Confirmed). This was an auction of the last of the Eastercon merchandise and memorabilia, with everything from Easter eggs, to book, tee shirts and pens being auctioned for extra charity money. Gaspode, the committee leader, even threw in a computer printer, which went very cheaply.
Auction completed, we all chatted and drank, and ate chocolate until fatigue or realization of the time kicked in. I went to bed about 3.30 am. I understand that others lasted another hour beyond that. The Convention had ended as it had begun, with considerable style, happiness, and love in the air.
TUESDAY APRIL 10TH 2012
Departure day. Again, the impatient maid rang my doorbell to wake me prematurely. I got up shortly afterwards, finished packing, and headed down for breakfast. It was a last chance to say farewell to a few people.
As I checked out I could see the Game of Thrones chair had been taken away – the clearest sign of life returning to normal yet.
I was going to get the free shuttle bus to the airport for the underground train to London, but another guest was going by taxi and kindly invited me to share it. After a confusing search for the right platform, I was heading for Euston, where I had almost two hours to wait for my reserved ticket train journey. I briefly met with two other Manchester based convention attendees, travelling on a slightly later train than mine.
I hate the way Euston leave you wondering which platform your train will depart from until a few minutes before it goes. As it gets announced, the passengers seem to stampede en-masse for the platform.
The rest of my journey home was relaxed and I just read through more of my book, and chilled out, occasionally depressed by the thought of returning to work the following day.
A massive thank to to everyone mentioned in these Convention reviews and many others I met too