Thursday, 19 December 2013

UFP Con 1986

Or: Anyone who walks around with a masked banana can't be all bad!

(This is another of the old Star Trek Con reports I found in the bottom of a cupboard).

Friday - Picked Pat up from school. (She was a teacher) I had one suitcase, one rucksack and a shoulder bag containing various weaponry. The taxi driver was fascinated. Pat, with her one small, efficiently packed bag, was rather scathing about the bulk of my stuff - it was only for a weekend, after all!

Picked up Claire at Euston, next stop Birmingham International. We navigated our way through the shopping complex and as we reached the open air, we all saw the water spout in the middle of the lake. We started looking for a) Geneva and b) The Champions.

After checking in, and seeing several familiar faces in the foyer, we dumped our bags and adjourned to the cocktail bar. The orange and lemonade cost £1.10, so I decided to take the swizzle sticks they gave us with it. I didn't bring my usual Andorian gear this time, so Pat and Claire made a suggestion. They looked quite good, if a little wobbly, stuck in my hairband, and gathered a few odd looks from 'ordinary' people sitting in the lounge.

Opening Ceremony: David Gerrold was introduced, giggling already (and he has a very loud and high-pitched giggle). A bonus was also announced - Diane Duane, who was at DragonCon in January. She was separated from her beloved Guinness long enough to say hello, and left chased by David, waving his inflatable banana. He was presented with one at the last British Con he came to, and has since gained another, since the original let out air, "for some reason" reminding him of Jim Pauley.

N.B. Jim Pauley, later to be seen singing with 'Chinatown', did a very good report in the Con booklet, on an American Con he'd attended. It sounded sort of interesting to experience - once! No wonder guests like coming to Britain.

Saturday: I put on my hooped Tudor gown, first seen as 'The Bride of Mr Kyle' at the Grand Hotel, Birmingham three years ago (time flies when you're having fun). Breakfast was in the Lakeside Pavilion, which literally is a huge marquee hung with drapery. I stole half my breakfast to eat later in the day. Pat threw a couple of bread rolls at me and asked innocently why I hadn't brought my bowie knife to butter them.

9am: Writers' Workshop, a major reason for wanting to come to this Con. The whole course cost £15, witha percentage going to the Con charity. First session was Story Structure. It was also 'character assassination' as far as Pat was concerned. David Gerrold had her in tears by the end. Of the eight of us, five escaped relatively lightly, myself among them. In spite of that, it was a good session and I think we all learned something. (David did admit that he is not a nice person fairly early on, but, judging by the number of times he had to repeat it, I don't think he was kidding anybody.) One girl has promised to write a novel within the year, and if she doesn't, David will come back and tear her left arm off. If he can't make it, he has deputised someone to draw a red line around the arm, with the words "David will be here later."

We came in on the end of the auction, and I madly bid £6 for Kraith volume III, which contains a real Spock-bonker. (Kraith was a rather good Vulcan oriented fanzine, and very desirable in the UK at the time)

The Drama Competition was next. Excalibur was represented by Kim Anderson and Janis Bowers, who were auctioning various items from the Enterprise, like Kirk's nightshirt and the remains of a security guard. The best, and most unbelievable entry, though, was the STAB Morris Dancing Team!

Diane Duane then gave her talk - well, actually she just started chatting loud enough for everyone to hear her. She told us about her new, adult 'Wizard' book, which features a dinosaur in Central Park lake, a Malaysian Hissing Cockroach, and lines like "Don't worry, ectoplasm comes out with vinegar and warm water". (I'm ashamed to say that, 26 years later, I still haven't read it, but I do have all the juvenile Wizard books!) She's also planning a new Trek book, 'The Romulan Way', with everything you ever wanted to know about Romulans, plus a vocab in the back. (Now that one I have read, and I highly recommend it!)

David talked next, and gave a slide show of LA, his dogs, and the six MacDonalds within walking distance of his house. He refused to spread any rumours about the fourth film, but he did spend a day on the set. They were filming on the Klingon Bird of Prey, in uniform. The director was in makeup, and they're building something large in the Paramount water tank.

I went off then to watch 'Robin of Sherwood' with 'Forest', the official fanclub. Lewis Collins came to a gory end as a replacement Sheriff, or, as the original Sheriff put it, "a posturing catamite".

Then out came my weaponry for my elf adventurer costume. I now have a real bow, draw weight 30lbs, which comes in three pieces that screw together for easier transportation. A quiverful of arrows and a shortsword on my belt completed the effect.

I didn't win anything in the Fancy Dress, though I was invited to shoot Kim's brother. Non-Trek winners were Batman and Robin, who did a little sketch which ended with them hitting each other over the head with paper hoops labelled "Biff!" and "T'Pau!". The transvestite vampire was absolutely terrified before he went on - to great applause which he thoroughly deserved. In the Trek section was the 'middle-aged lady from Leningrad' with a sledge pulled by reindeer Tass and Pravda (the third one didn't have a label and I couldn't hear the script from where I was - something about inventing whisky). Finally, Industrial Light and Tragic, who brought us the unforgettable 'Destruction of the Enterprise' and 'Transporter Malfunction', costumed this time entirely in pink loo rolls, gave us "Mummy Chtorr, Daddy Chtorr, and the one with the beard is Baby Chtorr."

Sunday: How come elves in D&D never have trouble finding somewhere to put their bows at breakfast? (Eventually it went under the table). Pat started calling me Heidi when I nicked the bread rolls again.

9am: Writers' Workshop again; this time Character Formation. Pat suggested getting a badge saying "I survived David Gerrold's Writers' Workshop". It was actually a lot better than Saturday, with plenty of discussion back and forth. David made much of the English character being "terribly, terribly polite", and observed that the Vulcans are British - of course they are! We ran the gamut of emotion from Death to Enthusiasm, and finished a little early. Pat decided I was stuck on Appeasement, but that's because she hits harder. At the end, David was presented with a lovely little samovar. (He tells everyone in the States to bring an empty suitcase when guesting at British Cons, because of the generosity of the British fans).

the auction had got to the silly stage by the time we arrived. £87 was raised for Roj Peyton to drink a can of lager, we had great fun with an escaped balloon which had to be rescued from the ceiling, and a half-penny that David Gerrold contributed went for £2, to cries of "You're crazy people!" from David. Claire came away with a tribble and one of David's books.

(and that's where we'll leave it for now....)

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