We are home from London. Our time there was mainly taken up by being at Loncon3/Worldcon and another day or two meeting up with people outside of fandom. If you want to stop reading now, just know that we had a great time and really enjoyed ourselves!
However here is a rough idea of how the hols went:
Thursday saw the pair of us wander around for most of the day with what felt like the morning stares*. The cause of our morning stares was the fact that we’d left Dublin at 8pm on Wednesday and traveled through the night via coach/boat/coach arriving in London at the wonderful hour of 07:30 (This form of travel isn’t overly conducive to sleep). However after a quick waking coffee, in Neros, we headed over to the convention site – reg. was to open at 09:30. The plan being register, loiter with luggage, then head over to the hotel and see if they would let us check in early. The hotel had a check in time of 3pm, but midday for an extra £10.00 if there was a room available. What did happen was we started to queue at 09:00, because there was a queue and they had started to process folk. After a quick wander up and down the boulevard we settled in the fan village for a cup of tea looked up and saw a really really long queue for the reg. desk – it would seem we had timed it perfectly. We hung about ’til 11am and our eyes could stay open no more – we decided to head over to the hotel and sit in reception ’til they gave us a bed, by 11:18 we were in bed. We headed back to the convention after about 2hrs and as we were now luggage free we hit the dealers room. I was somewhat surprised to see a photo of mine being used in the Iain Banks booth. Himself was wondering if I knew about it – I replied that I didn’t but as it was now printed out and stuck up it would seem to be a bit late now but as himself is rather keen on copyright I don’t think he was too happy about it (permissions wise). However as Iain was kind of a friend I would have been honoured to have the photo included, still am. Shortly after the photo discovery and in the middle of a chat with Ian McDonald we heard a noise. The heavens had opened! I should explain that there are two parts on the main boulevard that are tent like – but of type of plastic – letting in loads of light, but in a heavy rain storm it turns into a drum. The noise of the rain was incredible and to add to the delight we had thunder and lightning – a wonderful display of nature. Although I do believe that a some people may have gotten a little bit sodden 🙂 The other highlight of my day was dinner with Juliet E McKenna. Due to the nature of social media we seem to be in touch with everybody, if only vicariously, that it makes it difficult to remember when was the last time you actually met a person. This seems to be a theme for the weekend (5 day weekend!)
Friday was to be a day out. In between the DLR & the underground we went to the tower of London to see the Poppies, planted to the memory of those killed in WWI. After that we went off to The British Library as himself had applied for a readers card in order to do research – although I’m not sure looking at bound copies of the Radio Times counts as research while I’m sitting in the coffee shop waiting for him to return to the ground floor… In saying that I did have a wonderful wander around the shop and made up a shopping list for later in the week. Afterwards we headed off down to Kew, to The National Archives. Sadly we only had an hour there and with very little information to start with I’m entirely sure you could have called it a successful trip – I think I’ll go with the Mick Aston way of looking at it: we’ve learned what it isn’t. Mind you simply walking to and from the building was a glory to behold – the houses, the porches, tiles, Houses! I’m sure I’ve read books about streets like those! Having missed on programme I wanted to see on the previous day, we arrived back at Con central for item we were determined to see – the Worldcon Philharmonic Orchestra. We were a bit at odds with the programme at this point as we also wanted to see Universally Challenged and the musical piece we wanted to see was second last. They opened the concert with the theme music to Superman, followed by a chap on the theremin doing the theme to Dr. Who. The piece we wanted to hear was a piece written by a friend of ours, Gary Lloyd, as a tribute to Iain Banks – a beautiful piece. We left after that and ran up to the Universally Challenged – it was a bit of a shambles but fun none the less.
Saturday was spent entirely at the convention. Mind you there were two panel items on in the morning – I say morning – it was in the AM 11 & 12 but we only managed to surface at 12 ish so panelling wasn’t going to happen – this seemed to be a trend for the weekend by the way. On the other hand we did get to one panel item – What is I? the room was full and yet 30mins – 45mins after it started there were people still arriving (don’t get me started on that one!) The topic went more towards the psychological rather than the philosophical but in saying that myself and himself had a good old chat about it later. We did bump into Fran & Ang – thank you to Fran for the special Yorkshire Water – very nice indeed! (I can’t get the website to open!! – coffee flavoured Vodka if you are curious) This may have also stimulated the What is I? debate myself & himself had later. Mind you a highlight of the day was that those taking part, we all dressed up for the masquerade – a wonderful collection of all sorts parading up and down excel. I don’t mind telling you some of the outfits were fabulous and the amount of effort gone into them must be phenomenal. In saying that some folk were wandering around in various different costumes throughout the whole con – absolutely fabulous. So now that I’m at home can somebody please tell me why didn’t I take photos? Happily somebody did: Giles G Photography, Flickr #Loncon3
Sunday was an out and about day again although first we had to go to a panel – Pádraig somehow ended up on a panel with Gary Lloyd and a Mr Tim Perkins – he really was thrilled to meet Tim Perkins as he loves the music he makes with Alan Moore (The MASTER – as he’s known in this house). After that we had to speedily make our way back to The British Library to meet up with a friend Tim Pilcher – it was a brief hello as he had just finished being on a panel and we were running into a panel at the Comics Unmasked/ Comica event – it was lovely to say hello and meet his son. We went on to our panel – Draw Misty For Me – now this was a panel item for me! Originally Shirley Bellwood was to be there – she was the artist that drew the lady herself – but she wasn’t well so couldn’t make it. One of her pictures was used in the back drop – the image was of the only surviving piece of original artwork – it had been used as a cutting board! What we got was an interview with Pat Mills & Julia Round – I thought it was fascinating – talking about circulation figures, artist accreditations, thoughts behind story policy. It really was the kind of talk you could have kept going for hours in the pub but alas as we were meeting somebody we had to leave at the end. However Paul Gravett, organiser, got us all to sign a get well soon card – which I thought was a nice touch. Mind you it was a very low turn out – about two dozen and of that about 6 maybe 7 of them were female. After this we went out to tea with a friend of himself (F). F really is his friend and they have lots in common – so sometimes I do tend to lag behind – but that doesn’t stop the conversation from being entertaining and enjoyable. Now I must say – I’d been carrying around my camera with me all weekend but I have a much traveled and little used camera so I only took it out on the Sunday. Note to self – upload photos to Flickr! After waving bye to F we went to dinner with another friend of himself – I was rather touched to get an FB friend request from him the next day – very nice of him. The chat over pizza was again interesting and although I would have said I’ve no interest in the graphic medium it seems I might be wrong – but then again it’s amazing what you’d pick up through osmosis. With all of this socialising we missed out on the Hugos – If I’d thought about it a bit more – the Five(ish) Doctors was nominated – so Peter Davison was in attendance and his plus one was his son-in-law. So seeing a status update that announces they were standing beside David Tennant in the bar obviously filled me with a little bit of envy. Oh well! We didn’t hang around long as it had been a busy day.
Monday was about as busy as Thursday but without the buzz of the adventure to come – we were winding down. People had checked out of hotels and heading home so we spent most of the day having tea and chat with people we won’t see for another year or two. At the closing ceremony Ken McLeod accepted the gift for Iain – there was a tear or two shed. Once the convention was declared closed it really did empty out. I have to admit I was glad we had decided to stay on that extra day. Mind you the one thing we weren’t doing was hugs goodbye ’cause I think con-crude had started to grip attendees by Friday and it had spread its evil reach far and wide. I’m putting my resilience to it down to Yorkshire water & Yorkshire tea – drinking that stuff straight would kill anything off!
Tuesday saw us sitting on cases trying to fit in everything we’d brought with us and everything else we’d decided to buy. I didn’t mention the two books I’d bought in the British Library did I? We dropped our cases at St Pancras Station and went off to the Wellcome Collection. In their shop I found even more books I wanted to buy but I don’t think the cases would be able to hold anything else – in saying that I’d one or two other things to get before we headed…
After the Wellcome Collection we headed off to Fortnum & Masons to get Jam. I’d wanted Christmas Jam but they won’t have them in ’til the end of next month so we got other jam. However we decided against getting any of the ones with gold in them ’cause that’s just a bit too much really! Then we hightailed it to Hamleys to get an etch-a-sketch for my niece – although my sister was thrilled with it…
Amazingly time flew and we headed back to the station picked up the cases, and went to Victoria coach station. It was bedlam if I’m being honest – but we were back on the bus and going home.