I say “participant” but he was mainly just sitting there getting a screeching earful from his disaffected partner. Apparently this pair were later to be seen acting all lovey-dovey. So it goes.
With all of 6 hours sleep under my belt – a luxury for me these days now I am working weird shifts – I made my way down to the restaurant for the buffet breakfast.
Before the con there had been a lot of huffing and puffing about when breakfast stopped being served. The Con handbook said 10:30am, the hotel literature 10:00am. When I got down there at 9:55am to find just beans and potato croquettes left I was not best pleased, and resigned myself to beans on toast.
Luckily I had just come at an inopportune moment, and before long the kitchen staff were bringing out enough fat-drenched food to have sated the appetite of Mr. Creosote. While the food is not cordon bleu, if you catch it before it has spent too long under the halogen lamps it is tasty enough, and better than the ManorCon fodder by about a factor of three. The pork and leek sausages were particularly fine this year, though the scrambled egg looked like polyfilla.
The trick at the con is to stuff your face with as much brekkie as you can bear to eat to tide you over until tea time, and I did my best, before staggering off into town to post a book and buy some Post-It notes for use in the Bring & Buy sale which I was running. Somewhere at home I have about 20 Post-It pads liberated from my previous place of employment but could I find them before leaving for MidCon[/FONT]? Could I buggery!
I returned to the con at about 11:00am, an hour or so before the Bring & Buy was due to open. People kept approaching me asking when they could check in the games they wished to sale, even though I had clearly said on the posters and the handbook that checking in would start at noon. Of course, I had also instructed people to see me for further details about the Bring & Buy so it was my own stupid fault for not being clearer.
Ordinarily I would have opened for business at noon as advertised but Chris Dawe had brought along 60 games for the stall so I wanted to get an early start on cataloguing them on the PC and assigning ID codes on the special MidCon[/FONT] Post-It notes (i.e. ordinary Post-It notes with the word “MidCon[/FONT]” stamped on them).
Before that, we had to get the hotel staff to rustle up some tables upon which to place the games. Here the success of the con backfired a bit, as there was precious little space in the Wroxton Suite for the games stall. Next year we will have to look at hiring a separate room and maybe making a nominal fee to put games up for sale.
We were still finishing off Chris’s games list when the official opening time of the sellers check-in arrived, and of course everyone arrived at once to form an orderly queue, each of them holding a precariously pile of games in their arms.
Memo to self: next year set three different check-in times to be determined by the first letters of the sellers’ surnames. With my volunteer assistant still completing the final stages of what must have been the longest game ever played of the normally fast and fluffy “Guillotine” I had to do the data input on the laptop and monitor the Post-It note process. Like most men I can’t fart and yodel at the same time, never mind do something tricky that requires brainpower, so I was not a model of efficiency.
Actually, farting and yodelling is probably quite difficult to do. You probably need to get the two in sync.
Finally, about 5 minutes late, I got the stall open thanks to Nick Kinzett riding to the rescue. A satisfyingly large rugby scrum of people gathered around the stall for about 3 minutes until they disappeared rapidly in the manner of home supporters whose team are 3 down with 10 minutes of the match still to play.
That left me with about 25 minutes of thumb twiddling to do, plus the occasional processing of game sales.
I haven’t got the stats to hand but my gut feeling is that despite having more games on sale this year, sales were probably down a bit, which is probably down to lack of space rather than lack of money in the hobby.
Nevertheless, there were numerous happy punters and sellers, with some things unexpectedly selling, such as role-playing game supplements (“not really much call for that sort of thing any more, mate”), while others confirmed my judgement that they were as likely to sell as a stick of Pepperami at a Jewish vegan’s bah mitzvah (collectible card games: Legend of the Five Rings).
With round one of the Bring & Buy completed and a huge pile of dosh in small change weighing me down I returned to my room to hide the money and returned downstairs to see about that game of 1830 we’d tentatively arranged for Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, virtually all of the people I was scheduled to play with were ensconced in a game of Funkenschlag.
Cue more thumb twiddling.
This was getting a bit irritating. It was mid-afternoon on the second day of the con and I had only played one game, while half asleep and pissed.
Welcome to the world of being on the committee. Compared to the longer standing members of the committee, who were manning the desk, I was getting off lightly, but not really making much use of my free time.
At some point I got a worrying update on the real ale. We were worried that we were going to run out absurdly early in a sort of “out of beer by 6pm on the first day ManorCon sort of way” but, as correctly predicted by David Norman (who sits on both the ManorCon and MidCon[/FONT] committees), the attendees at MidCon[/FONT] are not in the same beer swilling league as the ManorCon regulars, and we were, in fact, looking at having maybe half a barrel left over for which the con would have to stump up the money.
This was a major disappointment as we had gone to a lot of effort to get the real ale on board and to have the con lose a pile of money because MidCon[/FONT] attendees are a bunch of poofy shandy drinkers was most galling. So, we who had made such a fuss about getting a supply of ale in girded our loins and redoubled our efforts to drink ourselves into oblivion.
This task was made a lot easier by Oakes having buttered up one of the barmaids; not literally, you understand, though God knows there was probably enough surplus grease on the breakfast bacon to have accomplished the task, albeit with a surrogate for butter. Look, I never said it was a good analogy,
Anyway, I did say Oakes – the man who could start a blazing row in a Trappist monastery – had got on the sweet side of the barmaid by offering her advice on how to deal with her employers, who were expecting her to do 12 hours shifts without overtime payments, and who were also expecting her to defer taking her holiday entitlement so they would not be short handed over Christmas,
Oakes doesn’t know the meaning of the word conciliation, and his advice to her was pretty much straight out of the Vic Feather/Joe Gormley handbook of industrial relations.
Having duly listened sympathetically to her plight she returned the compliment by slipping us the odd free beer for the rest of the week-end. Well, one way or another we were going to end up paying for it.
I am somewhat perplexed why anyone would want to work in a hotel. It’s a bit like working in a hospital but without the public approbation. Still, you do get easy access to a Corby trouser press any time you need one.
More on MidCon[/FONT] to come. Bet you can't wait.