by Jenni-Alison

Well, here I am (almost) caught up on sleep and about to find out whether it takes longer to write a con report or to read 1267 messages.

Having planned ahead much better this year, I didn't find myself staying up until 2am on the Thursday before Redemption. Instead I finished my Hi-tec costume at about 9pm (having taken the day off to be on the safe side) and got the chance to sit around and relax a bit before the excitement to come. This naturally meant not even starting to pack until about 10.30am on Friday -oops, I'm not going to arrive at 12 oclock then! Before I'm overcome with guilt I get a call from Fifi - she was going up Thursday night, and she's not ready to leave yet either. Vindicated! Colin goes off to check the car for water, screenwash and other such things. He discovered I have no oil - oops again, I meant to check that at some point, really! Finally set off at about 12.15 - Late, late for a very important date - with the car absolutely crammed with costumes, zines, and bits and pieces for the chaos costume workshop, including my sewing machine (sink was left behind but only reluctantly).

Arrived at Redemption after a completely trouble free journey - almost unbelievable, since usually when someone says "you can't miss it!" that's exactly what you do. Find a parking place almost exactly outside the entrance and proceed to Registration to find it strangely clear for 2.10pm. Hugs with friends (Hi, Val, Linda, Deborah Rose) and start wandering around looking lost. Bump into Fifi immediately - she'd been there 10 minutes and was already on steward duty (I think she enjoyed the authority personally). Ran back outside to unpack at top speed and proceeded to pull muscles (ow!ow!ow!) carrying bags all the way to our room (Colin lost all feeling in his fingers, so I guess he did his share...maybe). Discovered Julia trying to maneuver the most awkward trolley known to man (imagine the mechanical equivalent of a Scorpio, with Orac's helpful attitude), so I tried to give her a hand (not very successfully - I'm not sure it was meant to carry any boxes really). Headed down to find Fifi again so we could get into costume. One hour, several pins (sorry if I stabbed you, Fi) some hand sewing, screwing (the clean kind, with a screwdriver, you naughty people) and a spot of room service later Fifi was on steward duty again! Gluton for punishment that girl. However, we were both in costume and ready for the weekend.

Somehow 3 hours passed, and I remember none of it (I was probably bumbling around being lost) Oh, no, there was an hour of Steward duty on one of the doors, I remember. A trip out to the car to get some last lingering bits and pieces allowed me to bump into a rather convincing Londo Mollari (complete with astounding hairpiece), whom I was surprised to find that I knew once I got up close. Mollari spent the whole weekend fully in costume and character, accent, gestures and attitude all completely accurate to B5. An impressive feat. She was running for Ruler of the Universe, along with several rather intriguing characters. The opening ceremony commenced, with the "treasure hunt" idea being a great success. A list of people you had to find including Cat owners, someone at Deliverance; someone wearing a badge that wasn't a con badge (Me! I was wearing my Tarrant Nostra badge, Carol!) Someone with a birthday in February, etc, etc meant you had to spend a fair amount of time running over to strangers and asking impertinent questions. A great idea. I believe Louise Rutter won (didn't you?) although Brian Croucher and Steve decided to check some of the answers. Thanks, Steve - I really enjoyed showing my black underwear on stage, and yes a bra strap was all you were getting, so there!

Pub quiz was next, and I managed by dint of some careful seating arrangements to be on Neil Faulkner's team - who better to team with than the winner of Deliverance' Mastermind quiz? Unfortunately we were less well equipped on the B5/miscellaneous side although we had some good guesses (I think Nicola wandered off into Discworld answers at one point, but since I wasn't any closer to the correct ones that worked out just fine). Then the Space City Party!

 Arrived with assorted alcoholic bits, but Fifi was the one with serious quantity - she'd got some cocktails worked out. I'll let her elaborate, but lets just say that Og's Arsehole was brown and white liquid, with flaky white stuff, and Steve had to be the first to try it. Did anyone get a picture of Steve licking Og's Arsehole? (Yes) The penis tree was a work of genius - so pink, so shiny so appetising the little decorations looked. I was forced to go and change out of my costume since it was pretty warm and discovered a dilema - no normal clothes! I'd forgotten to bring more than one dress....oops. Highlights I recall were Nelly's picture of naked Tarrant (if you havn't seen it, Carol, you must! Really soft and dreamy, and as Colin put it "Anatomically correct" but my god! that's got to be the size of a baby's arm!) which was great, increasingly drunk discussions of POV in writing (quickly became writing slash, of course) involving Alison, Steve and Pred'x among others, some drunken conversations with Iain and Rachel, his girlfriend, but it all became a bit of a blur - can't imagine why <vbg>. It was incredibly hot (I think this is a feature of SC room parties - is it a conspiracy to encourage us all to strip off?) brilliant fun, and thank you to Alison and Una for hosting - I can imagine the mess the next day!

Wobbled off to bed at about 3am and proceded to tidy the room around a snoring Colin in the dark. In fact I did this every night, although I'm really not sure why - perhaps tidying in the dark is restful? I've got an alarm call in for 8am Saturday morning, but I know absolutely that there's no chance it will come - hotels always forget me. Still, I'll make the Stewards meeting at 9.30 come hell or high water. Resolve to sleep lightly

Oh, dear, It's past my bed time. I promised myself that this year I'd post the whole con report in one go, since last year I only did part 1, but here I am, a huge mail message further in and I've only covered Friday night, 3am. It's going to be a long, long report!

and getting longer....


Not surprisingly the hotel forgot my alarm call (this always happens to me - sleep lightly in strange places and wear a watch!) and yet I still woke up at 8am - having stayed up to unpack in the dark after the room party (I know, but it relaxes me) I thought that was pretty good for 4 hours sleep. Made the Stewards meeting for 9.30, after a nice relaxing bath and a *really* strong cup of real coffee, where I thought I was meeting Fifi. However, I was completely wrong and my brain had made it up - she was setting up for the Chaos costume workshop. For those who didn't see any advance program guides, the Chaos costume workshop was an opportunity to come along and get a costume sorted out at the last minute, and Fiona and I were running it (in the loosest possible sense). As a result we'd bought along lots of things - old clothes, fabrics, card, spray paint and paint brushes, face paint, duct tape in lots of colours, bin bags, toilet roll innards - basically imagine what it looked like *behind* the set of Blue Peter before they present the one they made earlier and then quadruple the mess. And here of course we meet the sewing machine. When I arrived in the room where we were going to spend the next 4 hours Fifi had already set up with a lot of the kit, and we'd already got a costume enthusiast. Someone had the makings of a costume with them (!!!!) and wanted to sew it - he'd bought all the material with him, and was hoping there would be a sewing machine. The costume was that of a Franciscan monk and I'm happy to say that he was a far better seamstress (not in the Pratchet manner) than I and so could safely be left with my little sewing machine.

At the opening ceremony we had also met the contenders for the Ruler of the Universe. I'm sure most of you have heard of Dave Walsh - the world's most convincing Servalan impersonator - he was determined to win this time. Also contending for the position were Londo Mollari (previously mentioned) a wonderfully languid Emperor Cartiaga, The Sandman (my own preferred candidate, for whom Kat was campaigning so ably) and a surprise entry - Buck Rogers. However Buck didn't have a costume, unlike the other ambitious souls, and so Fifi had cornered him and persuaded him that he needed help. Thus we could expect him at our little gathering.

I shan't exhaust you with all the details of the following 5 hours (we overran) except to say that personally I was utterly exhausted at the end of it. It was brilliant fun, and thank God we worked out how the air conditioning ran, since three of our costumees were dressed in silver bin liners - at the end of play we had one Romulan, complete with a very detailed belt and V decoration with high neck who methodically prepared her costume with great attention to detail. We also had Buck Rogers attired in a very V necked silver top (Fi kept cutting the V lower and lower to let the hair show!) with silver satin shoulders and sleeves (let me tell you, I've never stripped a man down and wrapped him in plastic and pins before!) And as a late couple of entries we had a girl who leapt gladly upon the black PVC and made herself a very Dr Who looking alien head, along with a very tall man (bearing a strong resemblance to the good looking one from Men Behaving Badly) looking for inspiration. It only took one word - Cyberman - and he was off and running. Inside one hour he had transformed himself into "Cyberpunk" - creature of silver card, silver bin liners, tin foil and graffiti. Because he'd be wearing it for the fancy dress competition later we sent him off with a roll of tin foil to cover his legs, and packed up in a tearing hurry. Andrew the Monk finished his hood and packed himself off, and we got all pins, paper, glue, card and additional tables out of the room in time for the next meeting.

Then it was time to rehearse quietly in Steve Kilbane (The Sandman)'s room for the evening's Cabaret. Fifi was in fine voice, but I was rather unnerved to find out that when nervous what emerged from my throat sounded more like the mice in Bagpuss than singing. Still, it'll be all right on the night, and all that. Suddenly I was starving, not having eaten all day, but rushing around looking for food I was accosted by a Federation trooper from whom I bought 3 tapes, and while becoming increasingly manic and wild eyed at the lack of food rushed off to order room service. Quick, and not bad - the salad was quite filling.

Next was the technical rehearsal for the fancy dress - this consisted of trying very hard not to be intimidated by all the other people being terrifically confident and good. Eventually got to stand in front of a microphone (my first time). The tech guys quickly realised they'd have to max the volume of my microphone to get me up to volume - in the end Fiona was standing a foot back from her mike, and I was practically fellating mine (smile - life has some amusements, doesn't it). I got some really helpful tips from "the magician" on how to sing in public which actually helped my confidence a little, and then it was time to wait.

The Fancy Dress began at 8pm (and started pretty much on time - a miracle). They were all great, but my evening was made when the Cyberpunk walked stiltedly on with his lower body wrapped in tin foil. His chest was decorated with the legend "Anarchy on Telos" and the music was Sex Pistols (of course). It became even funnier as we realised he couldn't see where he was going (he wouldn't let me cut the eye holes out!) and the tin foil leg wrappings were crumbling in places, to reveal that he was bare beneath the metal! Brave man. Jason from Friday the 13th was also present, with a bloody axe and a torn shirt revealing bloody flesh and ribs (ick!). He walked on to Alice Cooper's "The man behind the Mask" and proceeded to play air guitar with the axe. There was also a ST:TOS Klingon (commander Cane?), our Franciscan brother, the Romulan, and several others. Quite a good turn-out. Winners were the Klingon for best costume, Jason for best presentation and the Cyberpunk for best Chaos costume. Very entertaining.

Next was the Cabaret. Very wisely given the complexity of their piece, Iain, Alison, Una and Matthew were on first. They were brilliant - their piece was so funny, with lines for Terry Nation (Alison) and the director of the BBC (Iain), and also Chris Boucher (Una) with Matthew taking other roles, and much use of black and white print outs of the B7 characters. And the image of Una standing between Iain's legs with her hand on his shoulder terrifying him is vivid in my memory - if that's how Chris Boucher really got the BBC to back 2 more seasons of B7 then it's slash all on it's own! Then there was some wonderful singing and playing from Judith and (oh, dear times are passing and names are flowing out of my head...) a very pretty red haired violinist, guitarist and singer, some stick fighting from a couple of B5 rangers and I managed to sing without strangling on my own vocal chords (although my hands were shaking so much I couldn't hold my drink once I sat down!) I also claim the credit for making Dave "Servalan" Walsh nervous, since I passed all the worry on to him - he could handle it, he'd performed before. He danced with Iain, who actually felt him up (what did they feel like, Iain?) and with Steve Rogerson, whom he partnered with one of the Conspirators and then "Servalan" proceeded to get the audience up and dancing two by two, very skillfully. Now it's time for the Rocky Horror/Glam disco.

 One of the very entertaining things about This con was the fact that there were normal people also in the hotel - walking back in my Magenta costume (complete with borrowed red wig and fingerless gloves - thanks Kat!) (See the Photo on the right) I was suddenly acutely aware of this - costumes aren't nearly as surprising to fen. The disco was great, the music was really good and I don't remember not dancing for any length of time. One really great man in a wheelchair came onto the dance-floor and danced with us, and the party atmosphere was fabulous. A disco at a con is much more fun than a disco in RL! Taking half an hour out to go for a quick filk I found quite a crowd singing, and in that time Judith performed a really haunting song - I don't know it's name, but the words "The Children of Auron are gone, are all gone" I can still hear. Still, the party waited, so I hurried back and danced some more until 2 or 3am. When I left it was still going strong - Fans have strong constitutions!

I went to bed (after spending about an hour tidying up the room in the dark again) looking forward very much to Sunday, when I would attend a few of the panels and maybe spend a bit of money in the dealer room too.

And now it's my bedtime again here in RL, so nighty night everyone, and dream of con's and parties!

Yay! Finally I get around to part three. And you all thought I'd stopped (at last) - no such luck!


Well, I have to admit to a bit of a lie-in this morning. It was a very, very late night what with the filking, the disco, the drinking and so on. After an evening seeing Steve dressed as a Klingon with a tribble skewered on his Bakleth (sp?) what more could Sunday have to offer? I really meant to see Sheelagh Wells' talk, but unfortunately I slept straight through it. Still, after a quick bath and back in costume we hurried off and were just in time to catch Brian Croucher's talk. In fact it was more of a question time - I honestly think he asked more questions of us than we did of him. By this time I think he's probably talked quite enough about his role as Travis, and he seemed genuinely interested in us fans. He asked why we came to conventions, what the attraction was. He seemed to rate our intelligence quite highly, but he did struggle to really understand. He was more in tune with literary sci-fi fans, it appeared to me. He seemed a very modest person, and he laughed at the idea that a friend had suggested, that the fans hung on his every word - he said we're fans of the show, not him. Judith did a good job of keeping the conversation going when he flagged and they discussed his typecasting as a policeman or criminal. Brian seemed quite philosophical, even happy to be typecast, since it ensured he had a reasonable flow of work. It was a very comfortable friendly panel, and I found myself wishing I'd seen more of him over the weekend (no, Penny, not that much more!)

Then we had an hour to track down Dave Walsh. Talking at the disco on Saturday night he discovered that Colin had a simple Travis costume with him, and the fiendish plot was hatched, but we needed to iron out the details. We found him in the bar, confirmed the plan, and then went back to attire Colin in black, complete with black leather gloves, Lazeron crystal and large eye patch. I think Colin practiced stalking menacingly all the way back down to the bar, but maybe he always walks like that and I just didn't notice.

Unfortunately I had Steward's duty for the next hour, so it looked as though I would miss the culmination of all their plotting, but help was at hand - Sasha relieved me from the video room, as she wanted to watch the video - SAAB, of course - and I was put on the door downstairs to cover a non-appearance. Duty was enlivened by the green Drazi leader hunting for the Gareth cut out, and it was even funnier to discover that Jane Killick, one of the guests, was apparently involved in his abduction. Then even better - the non-appearee turned up and relieved me! I was just in time to see some of the very entertaining hustings in the Ruler of the Universe competition. Servalan was naturally very good, Mollari and Cartiaga made a wonderful double act, with Cartiaga passing all difficult questions on to Mollari, who was very quick and always in character. Buck Rogers was simple, but effective, and the Sandman was brilliant. Fully in character, looking the part in his long black coat with flames licking at the hem, with black shades and long hair, and very, very quick and funny. Our exit poll showed that many voters were swayed at the hustings in his favor. Then it was time for the voting.

First the Sandman was voted for, achieving a very respectable showing. Then Buck Rogers had a small but loyal following - vote sleaze! Next was Ambassador Mollari, moving into the lead decisively. Cartiaga had a small group of insane lemmings willing to die for his ascension to godhood, and then came the moment for the votes for Servalan to be counted. Servalan rose, took the microphone, stood centre stage and cried "Stop this farce immediately". She wasn't prepared to participate in an election when there were more efficient ways to be used. "Travis, come here" and a black figure with a sinister eye patch stalked through the crowd to stand below her facing the crowd. "Travis, you may fire at anyone who does not have their hand raised". Travis raised his left arm and began to choose his targets impassively. You wouldn't believe how many hands went up, many people raised two.

Servalan won the election, and I suspect that if you were to count the number of people in the room and compare it to the number of votes that were cast in total there might be a few more than there should be. I collected *my* Travis on the way out - I think he had a lot of fun.

After some running around for a scarf to cover someone's head (what was that for anyway, Judith?) (Judith - to allow David Walsh to change into a costume that was for sale in the auction without him worrying about getting hair dye on it) I went swiftly along to Iain's panel on Dodgy science in B7. This was really interesting, and as someone who had their hair parted neatly by the explanations on line it was great to actually see the diagrams and know what they were talking about. The panel was enlivened by a very elderly gentleman who arrived and seemed to enjoy himself enormously, except for the moments when he fell asleep. As Iain said later "Everyone's a critic".

After this it was a choice between Fantasy and Science fiction panel, or food. My stomach won, so we rushed off to the restaurant, and were very grateful to the kind staff who agreed to let us eat even though they should have closed 5 minutes earlier. They really were great.

Food over, we walked to the dealer room to spend money. What on? Why Judith's zines, of course. I can't wait for the time to read them though.......Then back to the bar, and just in time to say goodbye to Iain and Rachel, who were off back to Cambridge. Sniff. The beginning of the end. Then it was the closing ceremony.

The closing ceremony started off with the raffle, and I was chagrinned to discover that I'd lost all 10 of the tickets which I'd bought. Even more worrying - all the unclaimed prizes were the colour of mine, and believe me there were a lot of them. Ah, well, that's life. After the raffle they announced the winners of the Drazi war. In spite of the Green Drazi's intrepid abduction they had in fact lost to the PINK team. Bah! Judith thanked everyone who'd been involved in organising the con, and then it was officially over.

For the next hour was the Stewards party, in which I won a raffle prize! Brian Croucher appeared and I got him to sign a zine. He was certainly happy to do so, and no, I'm not telling anyone what he put so there! He's a naughty man, though. Then I headed back to my room to change into normal clothes and prepare for the dead dog party.

It felt very lonely walking back to the bar without my badge, passing other people without badges and wondering if they were fans, and whether they'd like to talk. Still, once I hit the bar I immediately met Linda, Julia, Deborah Rose and Val. We got chatting, were joined by Chris Blenkarn and ended up sitting for most of the evening chatting and drinking water. (Judith - in the interests of accuracy <grin>, Chris asked me to point out that she certainly wasn't drinking water.) In fact, I think I had my best B7 discussion of the weekend with Julia. Then we caught Judith and dragged her off for some filking (well, you weren't really resisting very much, Judith) which carried on until very late, and then it was back to the bar to help Mollari and Steve pour our unconscious Klingon into the Taxi before bed.

We actually made breakfast on Monday morning, but only by 10 minutes. Packed quickly, and lingered for a while in the boulevard saying goodbye and watching others go. We saw the Klingon who had no memory of what had happened the night before - he'd wondered how he got home. Then, finally and reluctantly headed for home.

The journey was improved by two things. Firstly listening to The Final Act - a great tape, I recommend it to Travis fans, particularly FINALACT followers. Secondly the black cardboard cows on the roundabout near the hotel, one of which appeared to have met Steve Rogerson, and had become a bit unsteady on it's feet as a result. Why they were there I don't know.

It was a brilliant Con, my second now, and I loved every minute of it. Thank you so much to all the committee for making it happen, and for working so hard to ensure it was a success. I can't wait to see everyone again at the next possible con, and maybe meet some more people who couldn't make this one.


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