BTW, I've been home sick off and on for months now because I managed to get overworked. Quite an accomplishment for a civil servant, isn't it? Anyway, where I mention that I had to leave because I was tired, it means I was afraid that if I'd stay any longer I'd fall off my chair or something.
Well, here goes:
The train ride to Ashford was pretty uneventful, and from the station I took a taxi to the hotel. The reports about the hotel on the Redemption site aren't exaggerated. It really is very beautiful. I first went to the Redemption registration desk to get my name badge and programme booklet, and then checked in to the hotel. Where I got quite a kick out of being told by the receptionist that my accent was really very good. <preen>
Well, up to my room where I dumped my bags and didn't even bother to unpack, as the programme book said that there was a panel about SF weaponry going on that very minute. I asked around to find it and was told by a slightly exasperated steward that there was a map in the programme book, but was shown where it was anyway. Hey, I didn't have time to look through the whole damn book, there was too much interesting stuff going on all the time.
When I got in, the panel was already in full swing, with four panelists having a great time discussing all sorts of weaponry with the audience. My favorite moment was when Judith's son (don't remember his first name, but it wasn't Kelvin) asked about what kind of weapons the Shadow vessels in B5 would use, since they're supposed to be organic. The consensus of the panel was that they farted plasma and loaded up by eating beans. Hee.
Next was "Brave, young and handsome, three reasons to dislike Tarrant." Rita d'Orac headed the faction against Tarrant, while commander Fifitrix of the Tarrant Nostra was valiantly defending her handsome hero. The audience had a great time teasing her by saying that Tarrant didn't have a brain to speak of (Fifi seemed to be enjoying the teasing, it really was just in fun), and Fifi was grinning at most of it, while bravely keeping up the good fight. We all agreed that he had great teeth, which seemed to please her.
After that I was knackered, so I went up to my room to unpack and lie down for a bit. I ran into Judith on my way up there. She was wearing sandals this time (the convention reports of other conventions always have her going around barefoot, but this time only her sons did that). After a cheerful but brief (she was already looking quite haggard and busy) talk, I went on to my room, only to bump into Una. We hugged (Una is very huggable :-) ), and talked, but she had to go up to the zine library to get it opened up on time.
So I finally reached my room, did some of the usual moving in stuff (unpacking a bit, laying out costume for next day, finding out I forgot toothbrush) and rested a bit. That's when I discovered the only less than sterling quality of the hotel: the beds were too damn short. My bed was only two centimeters longer than I am. Oh, well, they made up for it with everything else. I decided to go keep Una company in the zine library, and ran right into Ivan, the steward master. "Oh, hi," he said, "did you get your assignment yet?" I vaguely remembered having told Judith that I'd be willing to do a little stewarding, but since there hadn't been an answer to that, I thought they didn't need me. I told this to Ivan. "Oops," he said, "tiny mistake. Things have been kinda hectic on our end." And off he went. Two minutes later he was back with my stewarding schedule. It turned out that I was on duty right away, guarding the entrance to the video room against unauthorized hotel guests with a fierce scowl as my primary weapon. In practice that meant spending an hour watching a B5 episode with the junior Proctor as my only companion. Much more fun, IMO, than guarding the zine library. At the end of my first stewarding stint, Spike strode by. Wow. He really, really looked like the real one. I decided right there and then to vote for him as ruler of the universe. And then I continued to drool a little. It almost made up for the ongoing lack of Buffy on Dutch TV.
After that I had an hour and a half to kill before having to attend the steward's meeting, so I decided to get something to eat. Only, the hotel restaurant wasn't open yet. Oh, right, them bloody foreigners don't start eating until eight, instead of two hours earlier like normal people. <ahem>. At that point I ran into Judith again and plaintively asked her where I could refuel. "That's all explained in the booklet you got when you registered," she said. I guiltily remembered having browsed through that until I found the schedule for that day and ignoring the rest of it so I could laze about on my bed. But Judith, bless her heart, did point me to the bar, where I could get a jacket potato with baked beans. Truly the food of the gods.
When I'd gotten my much needed fuel, Una called me over to join her and a group of lystians. After the recognition fest, I concentrated on eating my food and trying to participate in the conversation. What with all the background noise, that was pretty difficult, and especially Iain had to repeat himself all the time. That might be because I'm not really used to the Scottish accent, which is a shame, because I really like it. They ought to use it far more often on TV, so that I can get used to it. Maybe they could put in a rule that all chief engineers have to have a Scottish accent. I'd like to hear B'Elanna Torres use one. I wonder who'd have to have speak Scottish in B7 then, Avon or Zen.
I had to hurry to get to the Steward's meeting in time, and found that the room was packed. Ivan and Sascha (the other steward master) welcomed us and thanked us for being willing to spend our time to help them. I thought of just one hour spent quite comfortably in a video room and felt a bit guilty, but I still liked being there. They told us that we weren't actual guards, but simply there to help. If there were any problems that couldn't be solved with a friendly word and a smile, we should call them. They also told us quite sternly that if we saw someone walking around with weapons, such as bat'telhs, we weren't allowed to test the safety of those weapons by trying them out on the owner. Some stewards seemed quite disappointed about that...
After that I went to the opening ceremony. I had to go up to my room first, and by the time I got to the Main room, it was already dark and I couldn't see anyone I could recognize. So I just sat on the first free chair I could find and decided to go look for them after the opening ceremony. That was great fun, especially when 'Sheridan' dropped dead and Gareth suggested that David Walsh should give him the kiss of life. 'Sheridan' suddenly didn't seem all that dead anymore and was quickly removed from the stage.
Then David started giving out bits of paper for the mixer game. We were supposed to walk around and find twenty different people who were, for instance, wearing trainers or celebrating their birthday that month. By then I was tired again, so I stayed at the table and just signed my name on a few participant's pages. Judith tried to get me to walk around, too, but I was too tired for that. I still had lots of fun and met several people, which had after all been the purpose of the game.
Then was the pub quiz. David Walsh read out the questions, and one of us wrote them down. She had great trouble keeping up with him. And then we found out that we shouldn't have been writing down the questions, but only the answers. Oops. And we would have known quite a few answers, too. Oh, well. BTW, we all agreed that the number of Dax hosts should have been ten, not nine. I think they forgot about the episode where the Dax symbiont was stolen for a few hours. So we were feeling very smug about knowing better about this than the organization. Hee.
That just about finished it for the official part. I wandered around the room a bit to see if I could catch up with anyone I knew, but then decided I was too tired for more socializing. That's when I ran into someone who recognized my name. "Ooh, I've read your story." I grew about four inches and asked her, "Did you like it?" "Oh, I don't remember which story it was," she said, taking away about six inches, "but I read Staked Blake and I liked all three stories." That put back about three inches of my length, so all in all I still felt better than before. Oh wow, a fan! Of sorts. Well, it's better than nothing, ok?
After that I went back to my room and despite the short bed fell asleep almost immediately, a sure sign that I was drained. So what, it had been a great day. And two more wonderful days lay ahead of me. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep with a smile on my face.
The next morning I spent some time getting into costume. This wasn't very hard, since it was basically a ST undershirt and ST-Voy science jacket. But I spent about 15 minutes putting spots on my face with an eye pencil, trying to look like a Trill. In case you're wondering, I did manage to brush my teeth, since the hotel had kindly provided me with a toothbrush set. Told you it was a great hotel! BTW, I think it was Harriet who later asked me the traditional question. In case you're wondering, the answer was "just under the collar."
Anyway, then I went off to get my teeth dirty again. Breakfast was in the brasserie which was called Mistral, so I liked it right away. My good intentions about a healthy breakfast evaporated when I saw all the wonderfully sweet stuff they had lying around there. I stacked my plate with tooth decay specials and made my way through the breakfast crowd, looking for familiar faces and studiously ignoring the few sniggering mundanes. Philistines...
The first face I recognized was Judith's, so I went over to her table. Michael Sheard was holding court in the middle of that table, eating in between numerous stories. I found myself sitting next to the lady who'd been writing down the questions the previous evening. Then I heard Judith use Kathryn's name. I asked her which one was Kathryn and then waved at her enthusiastically. She waved back, asking: "erm, who'm I waving at?" Judith told her and then her waving turned more enthusiastic. She told me I'd have to sign her copy of Staked Blake, making me feel very authorial. All in all breakfast turned out to be as much fun as the panels. BTW, Richard took my picture there, which you can find on Judith's site, under the redemption reports. Just in case you're curious what I look like. Health claims will not be accepted. As it turns out, Calle also took my picture during that day, but I don't remember him doing that, the sneaky bastard.
After breakfast I went to the front desk to get my next hour of stewarding duty moved and get my badge. I saw Kathryn again and for the first time had the opportunity to see her minbari costume in its full glory. I personally think that hers was better than the one that won, especially the headpiece, but forgot to give her my votes. Oops.
Well, time for the next panel, called "how much science do we want in SF?" It was hosted by Neil Faulkner and Andy Lane, and the consensus seemed to be that science didn't have to be plausible, as long as it was consistent. There was one chap who remarked that quite a few scientific breakthroughs had been made because the scientists in question had grown up watching Star Trek, and wanted to see if maybe all that wonderful stuff was possible. When the panel was over, I introduced myself to Neil. He's not nearly as intimidating IRL as he seems to be on the lyst...
Then I had an hour off, which I spent browsing through the zines that were on sale in the dealers room. I spent an irresponsible amount of money there (holding back only because I wanted to be able to eat more than just breakfast) and then went off to the next panel: "Blake, Terrorist or freedom fighter." The discussion was quite interesting and Gareth Thomas came up with some interesting insights, only slightly held back by a total lack of memory about this Star One thingy. Hmm, maybe he'd been conditioned to forget that, too...
I had to walk out then despite an interesting sounding panel that Iain would host (about performance lessons, which later turned out to be one of the most interesting panels, hell and damn) because I was tired again. So up to my room I went, to lie down for a while. That turned out to be pretty much it for my ability to concentrate that afternoon. I tried to attend the telepathy panel a while later, but had to leave again. I spent some time just sitting alone in the lobby, looking at the costumes. Which was quite fun, too. I walked around a little, spending some more time in the dealers room and sometimes talking to people. Unfortunately, my next stewarding job turned out to be when the fancy dress and cabaret started (my own fault for not paying attention to the schedule when I asked to have my hour of stewarding moved), so I missed most of that, but the time was still well spent, first talking to Hellen, and then later trying to figure out which movies went with which tag line, since one of the other stewards had actually gone around trying to find all the tag lines that had been hung up around the hotel. The line "Nice planet, we'll take it" was pretty easy to attribute to Mars Attacks, but most of them were a bit more difficult than that. The four of us spent about an hour having fun with that. After that I got to the fancy dress just in time to see the winners announced. The little baby that won slept through the whole thing, but since it was only six weeks old, that was only natural.
I was briefly tempted to attend Gareth Thomas' Shakespeare reading, but decided that I was too wrung out to deal with what was certain to be a packed room, so I just went to sleep instead.
Which brings us to Sunday. I was pretty late at breakfast, so I didn't see a lot of familiar faces there. I was about to go up to my room again, when Kathryn and I got shanghaied by Steve Rogerson, who needed some people to move the starship models from the zine library. Later on I also tried to help Judith with the auction, but since I was no longer capable of independent thought, I wasn't much help. Judith must have noticed this and helped me out with just giving me simple stuff to do, such as asking the folks at the front desk to announce the start of the auction.
I then went off to "A world of spinning steel", about creating artificial gravity by spinning the station, as they did in B5. There were quite a lot of people there who actually knew how this sort of thing would work. To my great surprise, it turned out that if the station was big enough, it would have some pretty nasty weather inside. Hmm, interesting.
I went off to give Spike my vote for ruler of the universe, and then sat down in the main hall to listen to Michael Sheard reminisce. He asked us to keep the questions a bit decent, giving the example of another panel he'd been in with two actresses, who'd been asked what the color of their underwear was. According to Michael, both actresses had responded by looking into their blouses and quite nicely answering the question. Well, after that story it seemed only natural to ask Michael what the color of his underwear was...
Gareth came in near the end of Michael's talk, carrying his customary two pints of beer. He and Michael started to swap stories and teasing each other. For instance, when Gareth asked Michael to hold the audience a little while longer, because he had to go pee, Michael cheerfully told us: "He's an old man, he can't hold it up any more." Gareth did a nicely theatrical insulted look and left. Shortly after that I had to leave, too, on account of being too tired again, and walked into Gareth on my way out. He opened the door to the main hall and boomed "I knew you couldn't hold an audience." <g>
Well, after that all that was left to do was count down until it was time to leave. I managed to see about ten minutes of the closing ceremony, which wasn't nearly enough for my taste, and then my taxi was there. <sigh>
It had been extremely tiring, but also a lot of fun. I liked meeting all those lystians most of all. Next time I'm definitely going there again, and since I should be over the being overworked thing by then, it'll probably be even more fun. I've already decided that I'm going to stay until monday next time, so that I won't have to miss the closing ceremony or the interesting panels that come after it. Also, I hope to be fit enough to go to the Freedom City party.
Well, that's it, then. Hope I haven't made you all yawn uncontrollably.
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