Phil came by with Alex and pried me out of bed at about 5 PM on Thursday and we headed into London to meet with folks for dinner at the Fishcoteque. A good time was had by all, save for possibly Larissa, who found herself in between Rob and I in what might have been the only discussion of American baseball going on in the city at that time.
The next day, we set out for Southsea with Lissa getting an opportunity to practice her recently acquired driving skills on the highway. All was well, save for Alex being a bit concerned by Mommy's not paying attention to him all of the time, but paying attention to the road was a bit more important. :) When I got to the con, Brian let me know that the hotel had run out of rooms and that he'd set me up to share a room with Hitch instead of having a single. This was mostly fine, as Hitch was the most unobtrusive of roommates, but it would have been much easier if the hotel had coughed up the promised second key to the room. On the other hand, they apparently reneged on all of the promises of second keys once the person with whom the contract had been negotiated went home for the weekend, so I can't feel too picked on. (And since I was extremely late in asking for a room reservation, I had no problem with sharing under the circumstances.)
My set got pushed up to 9:00 PM, because Zander's car had died and he couldn't get to the con. Bill and Brenda were scheduled to follow at 9:30 PM and would have actually made it on time had they been able to coax food out of the hotel bar on a slightly more timely basis. As it was, they were only a few minutes late and I got to sing an extra song, which was fine by me. The set list was:
Crosstime Bus, Out to the Stars, Request, Son of a Son of Isildur, It's All Right, Love at First Sight, and Silver, plus Elements of Disaster at the end. This included all but one of the songs I'd written since the previous year's con, so it worked out pretty nicely.
After the set, I thought about getting into the circle, but I was a bit wired and in more of a talkative mood, so I spent time in the bar and lounge chatting instead and went to bed relatively early.
The hotel breakfast was a bit of a challenge, as it ended at 9:30, which meant that the fans showed up in two groups: the ones with children came early, while the others showed up around 9 AM. On the first day, they kept trying to deal with seating us -- by the next day, they'd given up all hope and just let us find someplace to sit on our own.
I saw all or parts of most of the morning concerts, then headed out to lunch, running into Mary, Rob, and Larissa on the way. We went to the Hog's Head, where I'd had lunch with Phil, Lissa, Alex, and Terence the day before. (I guess the food was fine, because I went back.) I picked up a chocolate croissant for dessert (and an extra for Brenda, who was busily sewing trim onto garb for Gwen and Joe's wedding the next day and who couldn't get out), listened to the early afternoon concerts, then headed up to my room as the Open Concert was starting, because I wanted to grab my guitar. About an hour and a half later, I'd started and finished Dance by Starlight, put the guitar away, and went down to chat in the lobby before dinner.
Bill, Brenda, Phil, Valerie, and I headed out for Chinese, as Sutton was on a quest for "Aromatic Crispy Duck". As it turned out, the closest Chinese restaurant to the hotel had the requisite duck, so we walked in there to find another party of fans already seated. And we were followed by more fans, and more fans, and...
Well, the restaurant was a bit overwhelmed. And I still think that they botched our check (in their favor), but the argument reached the point of diminishing returns rather quickly. On the other hand, there was so much duck that folks couldn't finish their main courses, so some things average out ok. (I mean, when Sutton has more duck than he can eat...)
I caught Martin and Andy's GoH concert, which was a lot of fun. The Divine Strumpet concert was canceled because Talis was apparently sick as a dog and couldn't come to the con at all, but Mich and Marilisa did a fine job by themselves in a replacement set. After that, I started stacking up extra chairs and -- with a bit of help -- converted one end of the room into something approximating a circle so that we could get the open filk going. I think I finally faded out between 2 and 3 AM, by which time the rest of the circle was also pretty toasty.
The hotel restaurant served breakfast until 10 AM on Sunday and still looked shell shocked. I caught a bit of the morning concerts, spent more time chatting in the lobby, and then headed off to Joe and Gwen's handfasting, which was a very nice ceremony. I have pictures on my digital camera somewhere, if I can just get organized enough to post them.
Afterward, I wanted some lunch and ended up grabbing a sandwich with Katy (and, briefly, Ju) in the bar. Then it was back to afternoon concerts, the Sam awards, and closing ceremonies with the ceremonial passing of the baton to Mr. Sutton, who will be chairing 1812 Tones: the Revenge next year.
Bill, Brenda, Colin, and I went out for dinner and discovered that pubs don't serve food on Sunday night. Eventually, we ended up at an Indian restaurant that was far enough from the con that we were the only fans there. I haven't eaten Indian food recently and spent some time studying the menu and asking stupid questions as I tried to make sure that I wasn't going to inadvertantly order something I was allergic to. Fortunately, the meat patay was both safe and tasty. (And very reminiscent of goulash.)
Back at the con, we headed up to the Queen's Room and filked until absurd o'clock or thereabouts.
I got up in the morning, grabbed breakfast at the still-shell-shocked hotel restaurant, then finished packing. Lissa and I had agreed that we should head toward Heathrow at 10:30 AM, giving us plenty of time in case something went badly wrong. (Phil was driving another fan who had bunged up his knee home.) It was a fun trip, a lively conversation, and we had no problems getting to Heathrow, which was fine by me.
I grabbed a sandwich in the terminal, read my books, and eventually caught a plane home.
Where Gretchen picked me up from O'Hare. And all was right with the world.
At least, until I took my shirt off and Gretchen saw the big ugly bruise on my back that I'd been completely unaware of since my escalator escapade on Thursday. It's shaped an awful lot like the strap that held the CPAP onto the main bag...