Saturday 29th March

Saturday Morning did not find me refreshed. The symptoms were reminiscent of a heavy cold however a stray glance during the course of the morning's ablutions revealed that I was passing blood. Over breakfast I learned the extent of the night's disasters. Someone's room had been broken into and the video-recorder in the video programme had broken down. On the plus side Paul was out of hospital and not in need of repatriation to the West Country. Outside breakfast a huge queue was growing due to half the breakfast room being taken up by sleeping actors in the best crash space the hotel could provide.

Breakfast being finished Geoff Hill was dispatched with a guy who lived near by (he said) to pick up a replacement video-recorder. Keith vanished off to his cell with a list of printing requirements, including sets of programme listings - something which, for no fault of Keith's, had been conspicuously absent the day before. The morning was spent recovering ground. Chatting to people, ensuring that it was known that the Real Ale Bar was back in business. Gerry Tyrell had thoroughly enjoyed being a pundit and was recovering from a less than welcoming view of mainstream fandom gained in the past. Ric Cooper was intent on making contact with the women of negotiable affections whose presence in The American Lounge of the Hotel he swore that he had been promised. I even got to meet Jon Bing.

The general impression I got was of an over stuffed muppet. A pleasant man with a truly extraordinary CV and enough career achievements for an entire apartment block but slightly bemused and detached. It wasn't until after I had talked to him that Janet came and told me that in addition to arriving late he was planning to leave at sometime in the middle of the afternoon on Monday and consequently I would have to reset the whole of Monday's programme.

After my first programme item of the afternoon I was Happiness Patrolled. Anne Wright bought me a drink, sat me down and then sent me up to my room to lie down for an hour. I read a few of the comic books that I had bough on Thursday and listened to one of the many Aerosmith albums that now occupied my room. I didn't get much rest but some of the knots that had been gathering in my stomach loosened and slipped away. At the expiry of my sentence of exile I descended the staircase towards the hall. On the way down I stopped to exchange nods with Donald Tait a former member of the SHSFG held in a kind of tolerant contempt by most of the "inner circle" of that august band. He was now living in Basingstoke with his French wife. He seemed settled and content. At the bottom of the staircase Peter Weston, accompanied by Brian Aldiss and Harry Harrison, asked if he could move the time of his talk on James Blish for a second time. It was half an hour after I had agreed to the new slot that I realised that I had put Harrison on stage for two items running. When I found him later and confessed the fault he did not mind but the clumsiness of the matter made me cross with myself.

That evening ill-temper soured the atmosphere of the main hall. Contenders in a shouting match turned to blows and were followed around by clutches of security. The Real Ale bar ran out again. The hotel were on to it, and indeed by Sunday Lunch time new supplies were on line, but that didn't help the situation right then and mutters of discontent were growing amongst the line stretching out of the non-smoking Bar, the only one left open. Phil Plumbly having misread the programme grid had advertised that the bid session for 1999 would be at 11:30 rather than 12:00 causing distress on the Reconvene committee which we had to calm down. When we had finished our tour of the information points marking up corrections John Bark explained how we could have done it so much better.

Before heading up to my room I ran into the committee of Nexus, a media convention from Bristol. They were having a good time and had particularly enjoyed the opening ceremony. I retired in somewhat better temper. That night the Dealer's Room was broken into.