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19 August 2014 @ 05:44 pm
London Calling: yes, I was there too. You know what they said? Well, some of it was true.  
Nine years ago, at the 2005 Worldcon in Glasgow, flick - who I had only met that weekend for the first time - gave me a slightly aghast look and said, "what do you mean you've never even heard of LiveJournal?" We weren't always carting around three different little magically internet-connected devices then (the first person I knew who got anything on a network a bit like the 3G we all now use was drplokta a year or so later, and back then we all teased him a bit for his dedication being as such that he now had the internet in his pocket at all times) and so she dragged me bodily over to one of the laptops set up in the fan lounge and opened this very account.

I was sixteen years old and that weekend changed my life forever. From there I was taken to goth clubs, introduced to people who were bisexual and polyamourous and who liked the same music as I liked and read the same books as I read. The first fanzine article I ever wrote was published in the fanzine that had won the Hugo that year; I was pleased with this in the way that only a sixteen year old trying very hard to be impressive can be. Nearly everyone I now count as a friend is someone I met because of a chain of events that started at that convention; the vast majority of all the people I've slept with or dated, the two close friends I've been living with for the past two years, practically everyone I know. I was in my late teens, looking for a life to be launched into, and the one I ended up shooting towards has been shaped by where it started in a thousand different ways.

I sort-of left fandom for a bit a few years ago. It was never supposed to be permanent, but it was a time when I needed to take a step back - I'd joined a roleplaying group whose own events pretty much ate the money I'd have spent on going to conventions, for long and complicated reasons I was concerned that a couple of people I liked very much indeed didn't want me around and I hated the idea of causing awkwardness, once you're out of the habit of doing something it gets easier and easier to stay away and harder and harder to go back, that sort of thing. There was never any question, however, that Dad and I would go to the London Worldcon. They were having a Worldcon in London, for god's sake: why wouldn't we be there?

Of course, the truth of it is that there is at least one reason we wouldn't be there, and as a result of that very thing one of us wasn't. We none of us expected my father to go as soon as he did, and while I briefly wondered when he bought my membership if he might not be too ill to enjoy it properly it hadn't occurred to me in the least that he might have been dead for three months by the time the convention started.

This has been a strange weekend: simultaneously energising of spirit and knackering of body, filled with friends both old and new yet often remarkably lonely, an event that has made me feel like I've come back home but also one that made it clear to me I really have been away longer than I maybe should have gone. I've never been any good at actually writing proper conreps - I think the only one I ever did properly was the one that was printed in Plokta a decade ago - so in lieu of something that I'm still pretending to myself I might actually sit down and write later, have a series of bullet points.



Thursday
  • I was actually genuinely nervous as I arrived at the con early on Thursday morning; Dad wasn't with me and I wasn't entirely certain of the reception my return might receive and there was one moment when I almost bailed. By mid-afternoon however it had been shown that none of the social awkwardness I was worried about was in any way a thing and I'd actually been being stupid, I'd been to two panels and the opening ceremony, I'd caught up with a whole load of people, I'd drunk three pints and I was immensely relieved I hadn't wussed out.
  • The Retro Hugo Awards, for which I wore the closest thing I own to a vaguely 30s-ish dress and looked (if I may say so myself) rather elegant although not at all historically accurate, were actually really very good fun. The metaplot worked well and the note from Beatrice Welles brought a tear to my eye.
  • There was no gin! This was a disaster! Except it wasn't, because as soon as I mentioned the convention's inherent ginlessness to bohemiancoast she went and fixed it. Which was excellent.

Friday
  • By this point in the con it was becoming painfully clear that the hard parts were mealtimes and the big staged Auditorium events. There were enough friends around that I could reliably just amble around the fan village till I saw someone I knew well enough to go over and join, but I wasn't at the con *with* anyone and that was, at times, really very hard indeed.
  • I'm glad I sat in on the open rehearsal for a bit with dougs, even if I did cry a bit at Jupiter and then get embarrassed about bursting randomly into tears. Dad loved the Planets Suite, as do I. The orchestral performance itself was very impressive indeed, and probably the major highlight of my convention - the 86-piece orchestra was made up of members of the Royal Philharmonic and various other orchestras of that calibre, and there were several moments when I cried more just because they were so good. I particularly enjoyed the Haydn (there's something incredibly restrained about The Representation of Chaos, isn't there; it sits for so long on the brink of an outburst that never quite seems to come), the Doctor Who theme tune (that theremin player was so beautiful, and he seemed so very pleased to be there - it was lovely just to watch his face, not to mention the arrangement they played was a lot of fun), the soprano they had for Song to the Moon, the Holst again, and The Unanswered Question - which seemed to me to be both about humanity reaching out into the universe looking for life elsewhere and also about the ways in which we all do that to each other on a smaller scale - sometimes life feels like we're all trapped inside our own heads, trying to reach out and see if there are really other real people who are just as complex and deep as we feel ourselves to be. Part of the human condition is in never being able to reach anyone else entirely, nor to be entirely reached.
  • Oh my god, the late Party Maven shift was exhausting. At least nothing went too wrong! Design flaw: there's no useful way to clip a walkie talkie radio to an evening dress. Someone should get on that.

Saturday
  • I only made it to one panel on this day, and I was unceremoniously evicted from it a third of the way through because the room was overcrowded. What I was there for was really very interesting, though.
  • This was my big dressing-up-and-dancing night. I wore stockings and a corset and everything. The Barfleet party, with its star turn from d_floorlandmine and its terrifying shots, was the social/partying highlight of my con - I had an excellent time. Also, I went to bed at 6am. Whoops.

Sunday
  • Sunday morning was a hungover washout, but the afternoon was a success - two very interesting panels, an excellent conversation with someone I've known a bit for years but have never spoken to one-on-one or at length before and now feel like I know much better, and some excellent carrot cake.
  • I wholeheartedly enjoyed livetweeting the Hugo awards, and it was also pretty successful; I was the first person to post most of the results to Twitter, an author whose books I really like but who I've never met retweeted me a few times, and it made sitting there alone feel a lot less lonely. I was incredibly touched by the fact that Dad was listed and remembered during the memorial section, though I hadn't thought to expect it and I did cry a lot.

Monday
  • Raising a memorial toast to my dad at the Literary Beers table last night was flick's idea, and a very good one it was too. I was so touched by the fact that people turned up, and I was immensely glad that I had the ability to buy everyone who did a pint on him. Dad's pre-printed con badge was there too, as I'd picked it up from Registration earlier in the day. I hated the thought that after all those decades of convention-going his last ever membership would just get thrown away, so I brought it home with me.
  • I really like Dead Dog parties at cons - they're often one of the best nights. This one was no exception, and it gave me a chance to properly catch up with people I'd barely spoken to all weekend because they were so busy and Worldcons are so big.


The problem with bullet-pointed lists is that they don't reach nice conclusions, and now I feel like this post is just going to be left hanging...

...so I'll just say again how this weekend was both excellent and difficult by turns (sometimes simultaneously), and how although I was keenly aware right through of the fact that Dad wasn't there it was made a lot easier by how readily other people and the convention itself remembered him and called him to mind and listened to me when I talked about him. So thank you, for that: thank you all.
 
 
Current Location: Goblintown
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
 
 
 
Your point being?moral_vacuum on August 19th, 2014 05:20 pm (UTC)
Sorry to hear about your dad - even when it's expected it's not a particularly handleable time. But glad you found good things at WorldCon.
Persephone Hazard: Dadseph_hazard on August 19th, 2014 09:38 pm (UTC)
It was only sort-of expected; the doctors were shocked by the speed of his decline, in the end. But yes.
Alisonbohemiancoast on August 19th, 2014 05:27 pm (UTC)
The memorial toasts were actually Moira Harrison's idea, but I think it is a very good one; if other cons pick up a literary beers track then I think including memorial beers works really well.

Persephone Hazard: Dadseph_hazard on August 19th, 2014 09:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, they did! It was Flick who had the idea of having one for Dad, is what I meant - I loved the idea, but it hadn't occurred to me that it was a thing I could do. I hope people carry on having memorial drinks like that for people.

Edited at 2014-08-19 09:39 pm (UTC)
ivory_goddessivory_goddess on August 19th, 2014 06:35 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry about your Dad. The post you linked to was very moving.

Sounds like attending the Con was generally a good thing, despite the difficult bits.
Persephone Hazardseph_hazard on August 19th, 2014 09:40 pm (UTC)
I still cry every time I read that post back.

It was good, and I'm glad I went, but there were certainly hard parts.

Edited at 2014-08-19 09:40 pm (UTC)
Alicenyquist_134 on August 19th, 2014 07:15 pm (UTC)
Livejournal is definitely still cool. I've never moved on!
Excellent to hear from you again although sorry to hear how difficult things have sometimes been.
xxx
Persephone Hazardseph_hazard on August 19th, 2014 09:40 pm (UTC)
I vaguely intend to try and give it another whirl!
eleyan: pic#18818884eleyan on August 19th, 2014 08:25 pm (UTC)
I was so pleased to see you again, but was knackered most of the weekend, then it was over, so never really got a chance to talk to you. I hope you do come back to another soon.
Persephone Hazardseph_hazard on August 19th, 2014 09:41 pm (UTC)
It was really lovely to see you, as well; I very much hope to carry on being around a bit more, and to reconnect with people in general. I've already bought a membership to Eastercon - and I'm trying to get a membership to Novacon, though it is turning out to be remarkably awkward!
history_monkhistory_monk on August 19th, 2014 09:03 pm (UTC)
Welcome back. This posting is the first thing that's made we wish I'd attended the con.
Persephone Hazardseph_hazard on August 20th, 2014 11:05 am (UTC)
I think I'll take that as a compliment!
gillo: Nearly deadgillo on August 19th, 2014 09:19 pm (UTC)
I wasn't at the con *with* anyone and that was, at times, really very hard indeed.

I felt that way a couple of times - if your mood has slipped a bit it is really hard to make yourself go up to strangers and talk. Fortunately this didn't apply to most of my experiences. The orchestra was superb, wasn't it? THough I did wonder if the soprano had a tribble on her shoulder.
Persephone Hazard: oh no you didn'tseph_hazard on August 19th, 2014 09:48 pm (UTC)
I love meeting new people, but it's by far most enjoyable when you're introduced to them by someone you both know - that way there's some shared social context, and you're less likely to find yourself trapped in a conversation with someone really boring. I confess that I have pretty much zero desire to go up to strangers and talk not as a result of social awkwardness but as a result of not being a very nice person ;-)

I liked Sarah Fox's dress very much, actually!
gillogillo on August 22nd, 2014 03:08 pm (UTC)
The dress was stunning, but I wasn't keen on the size of the shoulder-piece.
Alex McLintockalexmc on August 20th, 2014 07:50 am (UTC)
Loads to say on this subject, but only over a pint. :-(
Andrew Duckerandrewducker on August 19th, 2014 09:26 pm (UTC)
I remember your first con. It was fantastic watching you connect to so many people, and you seemed to having an awesome time (and making a real impression).

And I'm so sorry to hear about your dad - your post is incredibly touching (and written very well).
Persephone Hazardseph_hazard on August 19th, 2014 09:50 pm (UTC)
I've secretly always been a bit proud of the fact that as a sixteen year old girl I could go to a convention of eight thousand people and not only have a wonderful time but also get the convention to notice I was at it. I don't have many skills, but I like that I sometimes have that one ;-)
Lord & Masterh8d_bitch on August 20th, 2014 01:47 pm (UTC)
For some reason I can't figure out how to make my own comment not in a thread, so I'll put this here...

Chiming in as another voice to say I'm sorry to hear about your dad dying. Death sucks, but all we can ever do is try to trundle along afterwards and live a life that would make that person proud. It sounds like you're doing just this.

Also I'm glad to see you're still about and whatnot. I thought about you a while ago (and maybe sent you a message on Google+?) so it's nice to see that you are enjoying friends and family and events.

Take care x
pwilkinson on August 19th, 2014 11:21 pm (UTC)
I saw you a couple of times during Loncon, but at moments when I seemed to be going one way and you another. Sorry if I should have stopped and talked, though I don't know how much I would have found to say apart from how good it was to see you back at a fannish event and how sorry I'd been to hear of your Dad's death - I think I first met him at one of the Cix barbies back in the late 90s (and you at another not that many years later?)

I'm glad that, even though in a necessarily rather mixed way, on balance you enjoyed Worldcon, and hope that you now stay around. In the years after 2005, you made a place for yourself in London fandom - and I'm fairly sure that it is still there.

Persephone Hazardseph_hazard on August 20th, 2014 11:13 am (UTC)
I bloody hope it is; doing all this and then discovering I'm not wanted back would be a bit sad ;-)
surliminalsurliminal on August 20th, 2014 12:19 am (UTC)
I'm glad I saw you , if only at the very end - it really was sometimes much too large an event.. I wish I'd known there was a memorial drink for Ken as I'd certainly have shared one ( was the end of that when I came across you?) As I said I was and periodically am, simply very sad about your dad - so full of life, and simply such a damn good person. I also second very much the feeling that giant cons are not easily approached alone, even for the really quite socially confident - I knew literally hundreds of people there I think, but yes, someone reliable to go out for dinner with would have been very helpful.
Persephone Hazardseph_hazard on August 20th, 2014 11:12 am (UTC)
I told everyone relevant who I saw that we were doing it and had a note about it run in the newsletter, which I thought would probably catch everyone who might want to come along.

It occurred to me at one point that there might have been literally a thousand people at that convention who, if I bumped into them in the street, I would at least smile and wave to. As well as several hundred I'd actually stop and speak to. Fandom is pretty huge.
surliminalsurliminal on August 20th, 2014 02:40 pm (UTC)
yes re newsletter I may well have lost the ability to read by then :)
Muninn and Huginnmuninnhuginn on August 20th, 2014 06:45 pm (UTC)
That was Sunday, was it? (So much for not drinking through the 'con and coming back with a clearer memory of what went on when.) It was very nice talking to you, too.
man of inaction: 01 - mojitonils on August 20th, 2014 10:50 pm (UTC)
Very sorry to hear about your dad.

"what do you mean you've never even heard of LiveJournal?"

Of course, these days it's more surprising to find someone who *has* heard of livejournal...
Maeve the redmaeve_the_red on August 22nd, 2014 10:28 pm (UTC)
Great to catch up with you at Loncon.

I'm guessing The Barfleet party was the one I was looking for and missed. Damn. Then again, perhaps it was for the best.