On Sunday morning the Police came to examine the crime scene tagged by the BBC camera crew who were obviously having a lot of fun with this. The Dealer's room had had an overnight occupant they had not been disturbed nor had much been taken. In fact only one item could not be accounted for. Before the bid session I had a word with Gary Stratman our head of security to get the facts of our situation. The impression I got was of a cross between Zulu and Assault on Precinct 13. One particular fellow had been found in the hotel every day on just about every floor. Originally he had been showing up in a business suit, apparently misled by the title convention. Latterly he was showing up in jeans and a T-shirt. Despite the best efforts of this man and several others who had been observed wandering around the corridors we had had only five actual "incidents". An undesirable figure but not too high for a city centre hotel over four days. During the bid session the question of security came up. I gave Gary's story. The bid won with only one vote against.
Around midday, just after I had been called over to assist in the Happiness Patrolling of Phil Plumbly, the BBC came to ask if had reconsidered allowing them to shoot the Masquerade. All they wanted to do, they insisted, was to follow staff around and being blocked out of the main hall would be a real problem. Since they had been good chaps so far I decided to trust them on this. Beside by this time I had reset Monday afternoon with only a slight kerfuffle raised by rescheduling. Reconvene had won and the convention was nearly over.
For the first time I decided to attend the staff meeting that was held in the main hall during the preparations to raise the wall and reset the room for the GoH speeches and evening "Spectaculars". I had been deliberately keeping away from Ops and the like feeling that the people we had in place were more than capable of handling most situations and the last thing they needed was a Chairman to over ride any decision they might care to make. However it was time for a "thank you for all the hard work" speech and that was definitely my job. In the middle of this the wall started its ascent and I became aware that the other part of the hall contained an audience. About two dozen people had come to watch the wall rise.
I came out of the staff meeting to fall into the war that had broken out between Green Room and the Art Show. The Art Auction had over run. We knew that they would over run. We had scheduled the event with an hour at either end to allow it to over run. What we hadn't anticipated was that the auctioneer would decide to close the auction in order to attend Octavia's GoH speech, in which he showed excellent sense, and announce that it would be opening up in the same location immediately after, in which he showed a fine disregard for the demands of programme.
It was absolutely clear that the Art Auction could not continue to occupy the Board Room. With preparations for the Masquerade taking up the main halls for the afternoon the Board Room was all I had to keep the rest of the membership entertained. A two hour slot could be opened up later in the evening but that was judged to be too late. This meant that we had to find a new location, not too far away from the Art Show. There was also the need to calm everybody down. Kari, who had already been handling flak from the previously mentioned kerfuffle had not reacted well to the news and had travelled down to the Art Room to explain in detail and with a little too much personal emphasis what she thought about the matter. Mary Burns, who had had absolutely no idea about what the auctioneer would propose, was not terribly pleased about the manner in which Kari had chosen to express her position. On top of all this was the Art Room Steward who had the gift for explaining what was going on in such a manner as to stir up a passionate desire to let the whole thing go to Hell then and there. Feelings were soothed and alternatives discussed. In the end it was decided to set up the continuation of the Art Auction on the balcony outside the Dealer's Room. The committee dispensed drinks to every one involved and having won the Board Room back for programming I ascended there to run the next panel.
In the Operations Room there was a note addressed to me stuck to the wall. I took it down read it and then took it to show to the rest of the committee. It was from Ali and Chris who had had to return to Oxford. It said "Thank you".
It was Steve Green who suggested that we eat in the carvery. It was Anne Green who explained to the receptionist that there certainly were tables available and we would be using that one there. Anne had explained things to the receptionist the night before when she, Steve and Anne Wright had met with a similar situation so this time round less emphasis was required. About half way through the meal we were joined by Anne Wright who had got through without trouble on the strength of the earlier explanation.
The meal was unexceptional. The food was plentiful and satisfying without being particularly adventurous. Most importantly it was there. No effort of mind or triumph of will necessary to secure it. Furthermore I was in one of those rare moods where my intellectual insight into the situation could override my social conditioning and I knew that if I didn't want any damned potatoes I didn't have to have any.
I might have been able to transform dinner into a philosophical triumph by an existentially transcendent denial of the necessity of potatoes but the absence of the trained diplomat, called back to London early - whether by his publisher or his embassy I wasn't too sure) from that evening's panel item did leave it rather too flat for my taste. Still, aside from the total clusterfuck that had been Friday's Shipping Forecast, this was the first time that I felt that the audience hadn't really been engaged. We had conversed around the subject but the item had simply not developed a shape that could be given momentum.
Elsewhere in the convention the Masquerade was rolling along while in BoSH's everyone in the whole wide world was squeezing into Thog's Masterclass to hear the dulcet tones of Mike Cule (an actor only two steps away from Kevin Bacon through Fred Ward-Tremors and Saigon and Amanda Pays-Saigon and Max Headroom-where, in the first episode, Mike was observed to explode through overexposure to advertising) filling the scented air with the words chosen by the Mighty one himself.
For once the evening did not conspire to rob me of my temper. I wandered the convention indulging in casual conversation without the sky falling and it was only in the morning that I remembered that with the early departure of Brian and Jon and several others whom I had been counting on that the current cast list of our finale debate would be Octavia Butler alone.