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Phew - Off in the distance
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May 2016
 

The Bellinghman
Date: 2007-08-13 11:24
Subject: Phew
Security: Public
That was a long weekend. Not in time terms - we didn't have to take time off work - but in terms of content.

Summary: Recombination.

Précis: a Unicon (a University-based convention) at New Hall, Cambridge. This was a mixed literary/gaming/filk convention, as it also subsumed the British Roleplaying Society convention and Harmuni (the filk part). With about 200 attenders, it was running 4 or 5 tracks.

Detail: out esteemed chairman (ceb), being newish to con running, had been casting around for panellists, and decided that both bellinghwoman and I might be able to fill out panels. This was an interesting conclusion, since the last time I was on one was back in '96, at the very first Discworld Convention, though herself has acquitted herself well on a few Eastercon panels. But we agreed to the panels, and I agreed to another panel, and they looked to be the sorts of things that we could happily expound upon, and so we were set.

The con started on the Friday evening. I drove over to Cambridge after work, and parked in the carpark at bellinghwoman's workplace. We then walked over to New Hall college, and registered for the con. bellinghwoman's first panel (on computers in SF, and how they don't seem to fail as in real life) was first up after the opening ceremony, in the main room, and went well - there was a good interplay between the four on the panel, and no embarrassed paused as people tried to work out what to say next - in my view, the art of a good panel is one that flows like a good conversation.

Next up was my first panel - I was on with papersky among others, and together we held forth on 'A Good Read' for 55 minutes. I'd been a little nervous beforehand, because I'm actually quite awful on remembering specific names and titles, but I think it went well - if there was any particular flaw, then it'd be that we didn't open up to the audience as much we could. But that was more a case of running out of time than anything.

And we then made three in a row as we watched la_marquise_de_ wielding a metaphorical whip on the next panel. Three panels already? We've been to conventions where we didn't manage that in the whole con. Including Discworld Conventions (well, running a con usually means you don't get to the items).

Home to bed - it's years since we lived close enough to a venue that we could do that.

Saturday morning, we were back up to Cambridge for a panel at 11:00, and then it was my second panel at 12:00. And right now, my mind has gone blank and I can't remember what it was about. (ETA to follow ...) But we'd left my jacket in the car, and I suddenly remembered at the start of my panel, and herself had to rush off and retrieve a phone from the pocket, since I was actually on call this last weekend. (No, in three years of being on call for the occasional weekend, I've never actually had a live incident.)

In the evening, it was pmcmurray and his fiancés's combined hen&stag - a meal in a Turkish restaurant, ably organised by flick. I'm not going to try to list those on my LJ list who were there, since (a) I'm not entirely sure, and (b) there were too many to sensibly list anyway. Afterwards, we walked back up the hill, and then departed homewards.

Sunday, the last day, and bellinghwoman and I were to share a panel, on MMORPGs. This was over in the overflow building, and at 15:00, when it was supposed to start, the panel outnumbered the audience, 4:2. But since the 5 minute inter-panel gap was not really long enough, we didn't invoke the option of all going off to the bar, and held off till 15:05, by which time a respectable number had turned up. Of the three panels I was on, this was the one where I had least breadth of knowledge, but though it was probably the weakest of the panels either of us were on, it still went well, by exploiting our co-panellists (fluffymormegil and mongoose,IIRC) and the audience. Our thanks to pmcmurray for some perceptive and useful questions. In the end, we had to wind up slightly abruptly, in order to be able to make the closing ceremony.

And so, it came to and end. We'd attended 8 panels (not including the above closing ceremony) and been on 4, and really enjoyed ourselves. The convention was a success, sailing like a serene swan with no hint that, beneath the water, the feet were not only paddling, but at one point beating away a shark of trouble. (The issue in question was an unprecedented one, one that no sensible amount of preparation could have anticipated, and that was dealt with firmly and effectively. It was unpleasant for the behind-the-scenes people, but if I'd hadn't been privy to those people's knowledge, I'd never have known about it.)
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Sion: tree sparrow
User: sion_a
Date: 2007-08-13 11:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:tree sparrow
Home to bed - it's years since we lived close enough to a venue that we could do that.

Strangest experience for me was living close enough to be able to go home for dinner on Saturday and Sunday, then wander back later in the evening.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2007-08-13 11:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes, that would feel odd. And we've never been that close. New Hall to home is an hour round trip - a bit far when there are eating places much closer on foot. And the previous occasions (The Heathrow Radisson when we lived in Ealing) was about the same journey time.
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aardvark179
User: aardvark179
Date: 2007-08-13 11:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Really glad you enjoyed yourselves, and that our swan impressions worked okay.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2007-08-13 11:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've been behind the scenes at enough conventions to know that nothing ever runs smoothly in actuality. What matters is that problems, no matter how trivial or how serious, are dealt with effectively. That happened here.
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xnamkrad
User: xnamkrad
Date: 2007-08-13 11:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hmmmm - so the two of you do panels?
Sounds like it was a good convention.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2007-08-13 11:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes, we do do panels, if asked. At least to date. It helps knowing one's fellow panellists, of course, and having the audience filled with familiar faces helps, too.

Doing panels at short notice does have the effect that you've not really had much time to prepare. But you've also not had the time to get nervous, and that's good. The 'Good Read' panel was at 48 hours notice.

And yes, it was a good convention, escpecially considering the relative inexperience of much of the committee - last Friday afternoon seems a long time ago right now. It's made us consider attending the next Unicon too. Which is next year's Mecon. Hmm, that might be three conventions in one year over your side of the water.
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Senji: coffee
User: senji
Date: 2007-08-22 16:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:coffee
Unless I'm very mcuh mistaken it was the McGuffins panel which I had also been suborned onto.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2007-08-23 09:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Indeed it was.

(I forgot to check later, mea culpa.)
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