And, of course, Jack Cohen was a scientific advisor to Anne McCaffrey when she was writing her Dragonrider books.
Nice bit of exclusive gossip on Ms McCaffrey too (in the taxi but he didn't swear me to secrecy...
) - she's writing the 'last' Pern book apparently (well one with her doing the actual writing anyway) and he's been talking to her a bit about it again. She's been working on it for a few years apparently, but it's nearing completion - wiki seems to be saying it'll be out next year anyhoo.
And back to the report
Fan activities at conventions is really not too mad, hardly ever 'bad' except in the street sense (so therefore cool
) and is most definitely dangerously hilarious to take part in. You don't have
to take part - the people watching is wonderful and just tagging along is pretty good fun, but if you hold your nose and cherry bomb into the deep end then you're more or less guaranteed to have a whale of a time. For those less mobile or chatty it can seem very daunting to take part in a quiz like Unseen University Challenge
but they managed to dragoon Meerkat and I into one of the eight teams (or was it six? never mind!
) and we actually made it to the semi-finals by being one of the high-scoring losers with 115 points in Round 1. I forget our score for the semi but as it went on for 40 minutes instead of 20 minutes we didn't totally disgrace ourselves and I think got into the high 100s that time. In fact it could be said that we came 3rd as we lost to the 2 teams who made the final so no disgrace
And yes - it's only your questions that are hard!
There were a mix of other panel quizzes roughly adapted to Discworld or general fan-interest areas, including the Wyrdest Link (apparently extremely cut-throat and the conniving finalists only managed to get one question right in the showdown) and Just a Minute with a lot of making it up as we went along with 'We don't know what to call this' hosted by the redoubtable Committee Gamesmistress Kirstine Heald (she of the 'How Many People Can Fit Under My Crinoline jolly jape at Birmingham 2010). Naming and Shaming there - we have photographic evidence of Kirstine showing up chronically tired and still a tad emotional at the ridiculously early 11 am slot for this on Sunday and she still
managed to get Meerkat and 3 other 'volunteers' aka saps
to do an on the fly Mock the Week-esque Political Translation skit for Lord Vetinari and CMOT Dibbler respectively, a very silly pictionary style round and a few very scary Just a Minute rounds.
Werewolf was played extensively during convenient quiet periods by the determinedly perky in the evening if there wasn't anything better to do which brings us into the more participative activities, some of which involved the exchange of the folding stuff for posh food at the Oswalds Awards for the best costumes away from the Maskerade. As has been mentioned in other conversations, character dressing up at the convention isn't obligatory, but it is fun and it helps you meet and talk to people who you'd never talk to if you hadn't made the effort. It's certainly much less bother than dressing up and
making up a 'routine' for your chosen impersonation the Maskerade. Sounds scary huh? The Maskerade...
Well it depends who you choose to do - History Monks were pretty popular at this one as we had Qu's assistant demonstrating the mobile procrastinator for us through the wonders of battery power (couple of glorified revolving kitchen rolls on a modified back-pack - Bernard was very interested in that!
) who won 'Best in Show' another Orange sheet bedecked Sweeper who quoted Mrs. Cosmopolite at us and also a rather more Dominican-influenced Wen the Eternally Surprised who demonstrated the perils of using slicing techniques to try to cover up forgetting the wife's birthday - she has a very mean kick does Lady Time.
We also had a tap-dancing Cheerio lady dwarf health and safety officer who very nearly brought the house down showing us how they test the integrity of the prop-shafts down t'pit. You can even, if you just can't stand up there on your tod, do a team effort for the Maskerade - we had a most amusing sketch by the Bledlows of UU doing the Finding of the Keys ceremony in all the best 'tradition' of that august seat of learning that won the masters category.
Other 'joining in' stuff - Music with Rocks In for those with a fondness for instruments and/or singing in a 'Filk'
environment. I can't tell you much more than the link as I didn't go, but the Discworld take on Filk is pretty darned thorough and I've no doubt that the Hedgehog Song was perpetrated at some stage, as were the attractions of Wizards Knobs extolled...
The goodie bag also included a lyric booklet for popular plagiarisms of Roundworld standard fare 'to the tune of' variety (Wild Rover and the Logical Song to name but 2). I understand that this activity possibly needed to be tackled with a few beverages in hand, but like I said, I wasn't there.
Other 'joining in' stuff included Ghost Stories, What's your Fantasy and another panel-style game 'Evil Genius/Good Samaritan' (good idea/bad idea) or if you were feeling a little masochistic you could go and find out all you needed to know about abominations with the Borogravian Nugganites.
And of course there was those time-honoured fan pastimes of signings and shopping with the Dealers including workshops with the makers of the latest boardgames Guards Guards
as well as faves like Thud and of course the bookshops and badges and plushies and groovy stuff (including T-shirts) from the Cunning Artificer and other licensed DW merchants.
And then was 'Charidee' on a Sunday afternoon...
Now I hadn't planned to go to this, but someone 'Simples' wanted to go... And I certainly wasn't going to be bidding for anything... And of course I wasn't actually going to buy
anything that expensive... Was I?
So there I was sitting beside a closet stamp collector who happens to belong to this very forum
and putting my badge in the air for the many silly yet surreptitiously spiffy lots that were coming up on stage to the tune of 30 euros or so. I was in fact very good
at putting my hand down before I was in danger of actually spending any money at all, up to the point where... I didn't!
Did I say I never go to auctions and if I do I rarely buy anything? This was true.
If I do buy something it's generally a bargain and almost always something I really, really want and like. That, remarkably, is also still true. Basically I had a 'Damascus moment' courtesy of bloody Pat Harkin (auctioneering) and sodding Colin Smythe (spiking the bidding)... Tomorrow a copy of Once More with Footnotes, 1st Edition, good condition, signed by both Pterry and by the Illustrator (whose full name escapes me just now as I'm still in shock
) will wend its way over from Ireland to Cornwall and into my grubby little hands.
I am a lucky girl. Apparently. It. Is. A. Bargain. (400 euros worth
I may even read it a little bit (very carefully) before I flog it on eBay...
Which brings me very neatly and pertinently onto the subject of 'what Discworld conventions are all about'. Like the books, it's mostly about people of every conceivable variety who happen to like reading this strange author called Terry Pratchett. There's a lot of talking done during a convention and it's mostly done out of the main events, just in general conversation between people who may have simply come to be with friends even if they came without knowing anyone who was there at all
- you can't go to DWcon and not talk to at least a couple of people whether or not you knew them before and, more importantly you will not leave a DWCon without having at least one person smile at you without
you having to smile at them first - but actually you'll want to smile at lots of people even if you're a really shy and shrinking violet because what DWcons are mostly about is having lots of fun being with other people who like Discworld.
Enistymon was my 3rd convention and the 2nd one that Terry hasn't been physically present at. He doesn't need to be there in person in fact but of course it's a plus if he is - he's there all the same because he's the reason for it all of course. So, to people who are not sure whether they're convention people all I can say is - I understand that. I went to my first convention because I wanted to meet some of the good friends I have on this forum - if they hadn't been going I wouldn't have gone there at all and I'd have missed out on something very special indeed. So - think how much you love Discworld and then think how much more fun you can have being with a load of other unusual, ordinary, funny, crazy people who also love Discworld - just for a few hours even. Try it. The worst you could do is come away with a T-Shirt and maybe a book or two. Possibly signed by Terry. Or Jack Cohen or Ian Stewart or Jacqueline Simpson. And have coffee with one of them maybe. Or hear Jack talking about how he helped create the Dragons of Pern or Jacqueline on Cunning Men. Or watch Going Postal on a big screen. Or the documentary Choosing to Die. It's more than an excuse to get rascally drunk a few times with people who like the same things as you, it's a chance to be there for an experience like nothing else, so surely that's something worth doing at least once isn't it?
I'm certainly not going to make a habit of going to auctions from now on but my little moment of madness is potentially one of the best things I'll ever do for myself, let alone in terms of the charities my donation will go to. And I'll be at Birmingham next year for sure - maybe Baltimore or Boston in 2013 and certainly I'll go back to Ireland for their next Con - just for the Craic in fact. Where else can you walk into an Irish hotel bar of a Sunday afternoon for a quick pint of scumble, dressed as Lettice Earwig (with Magic Meerkat also in black hat and cloak) and frighten the bejasus out an octagenarian nun and her only slightly younger female companions in less than a minute?
I'll definitely have some more of all that
Photographs to come once I've done some cutting and editing