30 September 2009

View from the Reg. Desk

Ooh, 10 days later... :-)

‘twas the night before Fcon, and after spending some quality time parked on the M-whatever-it-was due to an accident on the opposite carriageway, we managed to get a few minutes admiring the unchanging décor of the Britannia before moseying down to be sociable.

Ah the joys of Nottingham on a Thursday night! So there we were, the fabulous Gail Z Martin, the equally fabulous Jan & Pete Coleborn-Edwards, the rather awesome Debbie & Clare Bennett, dearest mama and yours truly. And the question of the night was: where, oh where, could a group that includes some of the pickiest eaters in the country get some decent food…

That’ll be the Big Wok on Parliament Street then, host of our anti-banquet foray from last year. All you can eat Chinese buffet plus sushi bar and, ladies and gentlemen please contain yourselves, a chocolate fountain! What’s not to love?
The charming young gentlemen that bear the titles of John Aitken and George Budge were also seen in that legendary establishment so it must have been good!

Have sympathy for poor Sir Coleborn-Edwards, as after enjoying such delightful repast, he had to drive all the way back to sunny Stoke to pick up many and various (and oft mysterious) items and was not seen again until Friday. Meanwhile, the rest of us engaged in that oldest of Fcon traditions and sprawled in the bar, gossiping and drinking until the faintest of hearts left for bed. Young Paul of the Clan McCampbell joined us for a spell and outlasted the best of us in our bar-sprawlerie.

So onward to Friday, the day that looms strongest in the hearts and minds of all Fcon organisers… will our many boxes still be there, are we going to find someone encamped in our function rooms (‘ware the ides of Walsall, for they were double booked and snippy about our quite reasonable setting up noises, the blaggards...)
Will anyone turn up?

Yes, no, and oh yes! And it was quite the calmest set up I’ve experienced yet.
The Dealers Room developed Tardis-like dimensions and managed to include far more tables than previously anticipated, the mountains of Goodie Bags didn’t avalanche and endanger the lives of small children and stuffed toys, and we were so laid back we were almost horizontal.

Apart from the slightly manic attempts at stopping Les Edwards and Peter Crowther noticing that their surprise party was in the program… :-> Apparently they were still surprised!

Alas, the life of a Registration Babe does not allow for such frivolities as actually seeing the panels and other Fcon amusements, so, dear readers, please sally forth about the internet and see what the unchained people had to say…
(see bottom of post for a few links!)

Done? Excellent.
So what other small snippets can be told? The Banquet! Ah ha! Edible. :-> Now despite the annual complaints, personally I didn’t find it that bad. (But then, my expectations go as far as – can I eat it? If yes, then success.) So the starter was lovely, the main was ok, the pudding would have been nice if they hadn’t been serving the same thing in the restaurant at lunch… Could have quite happily done without the main altogether, but that’s just me.

But let me tell you about our banquet entertainment. On our table we were sat with the fabulous John Lenahan, magician, comedian, voice-actor, and now writer. (yes, we bought his book!) Both Evil Twin Hells and myself managed to avoid deluging the poor man with Red Dwarf quotes (tempting as it was. Was he a waffle man? We will never know!) And the man has so many stories it would have been very easy to listen to him all night!

Praise be to Evil Overlord Pete, after the banquet there was no raffle! (And the entire Fcon population fainted in shock.) But, dear readers, you have no idea how close to peril you were, how discussions raged in the shadows about this fell ritual that plagues us…

So what did we have to amuse and entertain us instead? I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, the Fcon version. (No, I had no idea what it was either!)
But it was marvellously done with Sir Guy of Adams the erudite grandmaster trying to whip some control over teams of Sarah Pinborough & Julian Simpson and Jasper Fforde & (oh bugger, can’t remember who the other chap was. Was it Graham Joyce? Tim Lebbon? Mark Morris? Help!) Sarah Pinborough was definitely the highlight of that!
Oh, sorry, there was also the awards. Of which much has been written, both good and bad. Congratulations to everyone that won.
And after that, I believe that Talkie the Toaster (er, sorry, John Lenahan…) entertained with a stint on stage, thereafter followed by some chap name of Ramsey Campbell…

So to Sunday and the AGM. It overran. :-> But honestly, Sir Guy, only an hour allotted for the AGM? Pure craziness! :->

But with Sunday came the opportunity to escape the bondage of the Registration Desk and see the Art Show. Gosh. Never seen an art show before. Coo. That was excellent. Particularly liked the work of Vincent Chong, Anne Sudworth, Steve Upham, Andy Cooper and David Hardy.

Alas, no Fcon will let you escape its tender clutches without an assortment of books both freely given and bargain-bought. Mine for this year were: Kelly Link’s Pretty Monsters, Robert Holdstock’s Avilion, Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands & Teeth, Katherine Howe’s The Lost Book of Salem, John Lenahan’s Shadowmagic, Stephen Lawhead’s Tuck, Juliet Marillier’s Heir to Sevenwaters, Kaaron Warren’s Slights, Vicki Pettersson’s The Scent of Shadows, a couple of Penguin Classics in the form of Fantastic Tales and 1984. (Can not believe I didn’t already own a copy of 1984!), a samplet from Allyson Bird entitled For You Faustine, the Mammoth Book of Wolf Men, and last, but definitely not least, some Newcon Press titles – being the Myth-Understandings anthology, The Gift of Joy by that there Ian Whates, and And God Created Zombies by the funky Andrew Hook.

And apparently I took 115 photos. If you’re on Facebook, hop on over and check out the ones that didn’t come out blurry or consist of the backs of people’s heads!

Other than that, one of the most relaxing Fcons I’ve had, so in that wave of bliss I’ll leave it at that and see you all next year!

Linkety Links!
Tim Lebbon, Gail Z. Martin,Angry Robot, Juliet McKenna, Adrian F. one & two, Cheryl Morgan - Settling In, Morning in Nottingham, Testing the Technology, Wimped Out, Snoozy Sunday and Final Report.

Mark Morris, Kari Sperring, Chris Fowler, Mark Deniz, Mark Charan Newton, Andy Remic

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