I got up a bit later than usual on Monday morning, had breakfast, then sat around for a while trying to think of ideas for next year's Beyond Cyberdrome theme. I came up with a few and alexmc suggested a couple, but none of them were all that brilliant. A good BC theme needs to be simple to explain in a few words, provide inspiration for cool but not incredibly difficult to build robots, allow people to dress up in silly costumes, provide a role for the Sprokettes, allow for a "theatrical" main event, take advantage of the specific attributes of the hotel it's set in, and overall be fun. Later on I went to talk to SMS about the ideas, and everyone else in the room got involved in the discussion. After several of my ideas were ruled out, James Steel said something along the lines of "what year will it be? 2007... two - double oh seven. James Bond!" So that's how we got our theme for Convoy. Not only that, but "Steel, James Steel" as he will be henceforth known, looks and talks like James Bond, so I think we know who is likely to be playing that part in the BC main event (SMS will of course be his Evil Nemesis). I ran the theme past Tim Kirk, then wrote up a brief note to go in the post-closing-ceremony newsletter.
I went along to the feedback AKA gripe session and it went pretty well. A few valid but minor points were raised about things like signage, badges, and the creche facilities, but there were no major disasters (BTW I'm with Judith on the badge issue - the names on the Concussion badges really were difficult to read, especially the walk-ins that had been written in felt tip pen).
I went to Mat Irvine's talk, which had a lot of interesting stuff in it about what people at the beginning of the space age (pre-Apollo) were predicting was going to happen over the next few decades in the field of space exploration, and where it went wrong (apparently the Apollo programme has a lot to answer for). I would have liked a bit more discussion on if and how we can make those ideals of large manned space stations, viable shuttles, and permanent manned lunar bases into a reality.
In the afternoon I went to a showing of Captain Tartan Saves the World Again, an Eastercon play from 1999. It was very funny, but I found the plot rather confusing. I gather it was a sequel to an earlier play I haven't seen. Eira looked stunning as the Fallen Angel in that dress.
Next came the closing ceremony, where among other things I was thanked for my work on BC, and awarded a Doctor Who Easter egg for Rampaging Roger. When Tim Kirk announced next year's theme, the 2007 pun elicited a groan from the audience, which is probably a good sign.
After that I moved all the stuff into my car. It seems the room keys don't open the car park gate (or at least mine didn't) so that was another £2 to move the car to the side door. It seemed like I had a lot less stuff, because it only took about four trolley-loads to take everything down versus about six on the way in, but I still ended up filling the car right up to the roof. There were some things that didn't come back (most of the polystyrene got used up, for example), but I made up for it by bringing back a couple of boxes of "James Bacon shit," as Jamie Scott called it. Basically, YAFA stuff left over from Interaction, which would have been thrown away if nobody had taken it. Finally, I vacuumed the room and put everything back as it was when I arrived.
By this point I was getting pretty hungry as I'd skipped lunch, so I set off back across the river to track down the Harry Ramsden's I spotted the day before. The sit-down restaurant was jam packed and had a 30 minute wait for a table, but luckily it turned out to have a takeaway part too, which didn't have a queue, so I bought some fish and chips and set off back, eating it as I walked. Near the chippy, a mad beggar came up to me and seemed to be asking for some chips, but kept answering my question "do you want some chips" with an irrelevant question or statement like "I worked in Yorkshire for ten years." Eventually I just handed him some chips (he seemed happy enough with them so I suppose I correctly guessed what he wanted). A bit further on, a bus driver smoking outside a pub shouted at me, "you're not gonna eat all those big man, you might as well give 'em to me." I ignored that one. It appears that the sight of fish and chips has the power to bring out insanity in Glaswegians.
Finally I went to the dead dog party. I wasn't really sure what to expect. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a party person, so I was thinking that unless there were some interesting videos being shown I'd probably go back to my room, write up this report, then have an early night. It turned out that there weren't any videos because the party had moved to the Real Ale bar and there wasn't a projector in there, but I actually enjoyed the party a lot anyway and stayed much longer than originally planned. I sat on SMS's table and I don't drink myself, so I was ideally placed to observe the effect of large quantities of Real Ale on Fans. The party nearly foundered before it had properly got under way when the staff announced some time around 9PM (I think) that they were about to close the Real Ale bar. I suggested to SMS that it might be a good idea to ask the DCM to do something about it, so he did. Jamie came down and discussed the issue with the bar manager for a while, and the bar stayed open. There was theoretically a Staff Party upstairs, but hardly anyone had been told about it, and it was so under-attended that they all came down to the Dead Dog party, bringing their free drinks and snacks with them. The party really got going some time around 10PM I guess, and it started to wind down not long after midnight. The last I heard before I left at around 12:45, the bar was almost drunk dry, so I'm sure it was worth it to the hotel to pay the staff to work an extra few hours. Cuileann (mini-SMS; age 3) spent the first few hours of the party rocketing around the room, climbing all over everyone. We could tell that his batteries had finally run down when he suddenly dropped off to sleep in my lap. Choice quote of the evening: (inebriated SMS to sober Gillian) "Are you a Bazooka person?" "What do you mean?" "Are you Bazooka's BIRD?" "Bazooka's BIRD? I'm Bazooka's WIFE!"
The trip back was uneventful, apart from Work phoning me up shortly after I'd set off with an urgent problem that required me to stop at several service stations along the route to talk them through fixing it. After getting back to the office it took me an hour to unload the car and lug everything upstairs, and this is what the place looks like now:
It actually looks worse in reality, and what you can't see in this picture is that this is only about a quarter of the workshop, and the rest of it is in a complete mess too thanks to the pre-con preparations. A rethink of my storage arrangements and a major tidy-up and cleaning effort is in on the cards for this weekend I think.