Easter means Eastercons to me and so this year I went to Hinckley, just outside Birmingham, for Paragon 2. And it was definitely one of the best.
The first thing to note was that we were taking our rubber inflatable Dalek along. It was to guard us while we watched the debut of New Who as well as take part in the inflatable weapon battle. Thus Friday morning saw me standing in the street slowly deflating a Dalek so that he would fit in the car. We left the house about half past five to drive down to Hinckley and, seven hours and one furniture shop later, we arrived. There was the usual palaver of registering for the Convention, getting in the room and getting ourselves into the convention mentality. This is usually done with beer. This was all accomplished in time for the opening ceremony which, itself, was gloriously short and so allowed us to get back to the bar and start drinking and building the Lego Tardis I bought in the Dealers room.
The first item of real interest was on Victorian crime. It was an interesting ramble through Victoriana with Robert Rankin and others lent an extra air of authenticity by the fact we were packed in the room like Victorian sweeps. This was followed up by a Rock disco/Toga party. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to dance to rock music while wearing little but a sheet held together mostly by good will? The answer is very. That aside it was a very enjoyable evening which I eventually abandoned somewhere around two in the morning.
Saturday began bright and early with silly games straight after breakfast. These included Crab Football, Bulldogs and even Quidditch where I was foully injured to the arm in a way I can't even remember I was having that much fun. This was then followed up by a good lie down and then the building of Roman Era siege engines. In our case we built a Trebuchet of reasonable effect but were easily beaten by the much more simple plastic spoon and some rubber bands.
Later on in the day the next highlight was Richard III. For those of you who have read a Jasper Fforde book, highly recommended, you may remember that Swindon plays host to an audience participation version of the play. A sort of Shakespearean Rocky Horror. Well they attempted to re-create this in the main Rotunda of the hotel. This lent it a nice 'In the round' feel and also allowed the audience to hang over the balconies and shout their scripted abuse. The play went as well as you can expect something where they only finished the script an hour before. The aim is to work on it through successive conventions until, hopefully, everyone knows the words, including the audience. I look forward to taking part in this in later years although, hopefully, not as the back end of the horse.
This was followed by Doctor Who (brilliant, everyone must watch it) and then a mad rammy at dinner as the entire convention tried to eat at once. The evening was then rounded off by a James Bond-themed casino (ripped off straight from ConVivial I'll have you know) at which I was duff and more light chat (mostly featuring 'Wasn't Who great!') to two in the morning.
Sunday once again started early, this time with a water pistol fight. Outside. In the drizzle. And wind. I lost the feeling in my fingers before I stopped being daft and came in. This was then followed by an entertaining panel (just to prove I do do the occasional sensible thing) starring Jasper Fforde and Robert Rankin. They are two very different people but the sum was very interesting to watch. The Sunday afternoon was then spent lounging and playing card games in an apathetic manner (with a small amount of kite flying) before I rushed off to watch the Doctor Who repeat, as I am a sad fan boy1. I then decided to skip the Masked Ball in favour of actually attending some panel items only to fall asleep during an interesting one on Bulldog Drummond, Simon Templer and other Inter War heroes. Thus I was forced to go to the bar, drink Hobgoblin and talk toot to keep myself going until late.
By Monday everything was beginning to catch up with me and so I skipped the early morning games and did nothing until half past eleven and the Light Sabre training. Which simply involved hitting people with pipe lagging and having your shins badly hacked by small children. Sadly after this we had to head home and so Eastercon 2005 ended for us. This was definitely one of the better ones, mostly due to the higher than usual incidence of silly stuff, and has got me all fired up for my next one. Worldcon (The World Science Fiction Convention) in Glasgow this August. It will be huge and scary.
Next Time: Don't forget Who on a Saturday now.