I have a tendency to run conventions on simple adrenaline. When you do this there is a tremendous difference between a Wincon running from Friday evening until Sunday evening and an Eastercon. By Monday lunch time I had reached my limit and had to get out of the hotel for an hour. I had my Walkman in my pocket and was mainlining on Doctor Feelgood whenever I could get away from the crowd for a couple of minutes. Stepping around the corner into an empty corridor I turned the volume up full and hit play to send Sneaking Suspicion directly into my cortex without the need for my ears to get in the way. Hit the rewind and step back into the world with a shaky grin. It was keeping me sane but I still needed to get out.
During the morning the trickle of people heading back to the mundane world had started. I retreated up to the Green Room and discussed the re-shaped Programme with the crew up there. Every so often someone would turn up outside BoSH's dressed in their travelling clothes. Stick their heads through the door and wave bye-bye before turning round and moving back towards the entrance to reality. We were not too surprised therefore when Gerry Webb and family arrived below us ready to go and dragging a suitcase on a lead. We got rather more surprised when instead of stopping they headed straight for the door to the loading bay. The door which had the alarm which had been going off regularly in the wind throughout the convention. I wandered halfway down the stairs and called after the party. "Gerry, that door's alarmed." He heard me. I saw him hesitate. I heard him mutter to himself although I could not make out the words. Then I saw him start up again. I had reached the bottom of the staircase when he reached the door and hit the locking bar. As the alarm went off I moved into a better position in the middle of the corridor to watch the three of them walk out into the spring daylight. When Gary arrived at a run I was just able to splutter a brief explanation of what had happened. I was completely unable to believe it. It had been a deliberate act of sheer bloody mindedness just to make everyone's life that little bit more awkward. Someone (I think it was Steve Green) bought me a beer and I tried once more to calm down.
By 13:00 I had a gap and took it. I needed a new watch since the one I had been wearing for the last 8 years had got itself stuck on GMT and would not reset to summer time. I also had to get something to give to the Convention workers for the Closing Ceremony. I had no idea if the convention could afford it although I suspected that it could and had every intention of claiming the money back if it could. I didn't mention it to the others on the committee because I could not hack any debate as to what was the best thing to get. I also particularly didn't want to have anyone else come along on the trip. Off I went to Argos to pick up a watch and thence to Tesco's Metro where I knew that they were wont to keep an interesting selection of cardboard tubes which, on receipt of certain electronic writing on a plastic strip they would swap for heavier cardboard tubes which made ominous clanking noises when slipped into a canvas bag.
The Business Meeting had been going on forever when I checked my watch and realised that I had to leave. Various members of the committee and several of the staff had been keeping an eye on me throughout this ordeal ready to pull me out if I started to lose it. Indeed when we had started on the programme after an all but interminable series of comments and suggestions as to how to run the bar - all of which we had already adopted and all of which had been sabotaged by one, now thoroughly chastened Assistant Bar Manager - Steve Davies had come up and taken control of the item. Curiously enough the usual suspects from Business Meetings of the past had been on our side. However there were a couple of people who seemed determined to add an extra kick to each comment. I genuine did misread my watch and leave the meeting an hour before I had to but even after I had realised my mistake nothing could have got me back in there.
For about half an hour I was in no condition to do anything. If anyone had been nice to me at that point I would have collapsed completely and that would have completely ruined me. It may have been a failure but I had to finish it.
While I was desperately trying to get my shit together for the last stretch Anne Wright took over the task of finding panel members. She found Diana Wynne Jones. We didn't need anyone else.
Diana and Octavia were excellent and with the end in sight I was getting ready for the rush. Clearing the stage I was intercepted on the way to the bathroom by Pat who told me that due to John Harrold's imminent departure we had to get the presentation of the Doc Weir award done fast. Several other items had to be done with some urgency as well so the item could go as fast as I could push it. This was just what I wanted to hear.
Due to the departure of Jon Bing we had not raised the wall that afternoon and despite the steady haemorrhaging of membership numbers the room was full. I put the committee on the stage and took up position on the floor to the right. We tore into items and announcements. The audience took up the flow and amplified it. For once everything ran perfectly. I cued the music and the drum beat started as the committee hit the stage. As I shouted "Good Night" the rest of the band kicked in. I vanished into the crowd as the song started. Doctor Feelgood and Milk and Alcohol let me out on a total high.
Dinner with Octavia and Langford was a complete delight. The convention was gone, it couldn't hurt us any more and all we had to do was pick up the pieces. Octavia was excellent company and I regretted not having had more time to talk with her over the weekend. It is one of the standing problems of the con runner that you never have time to attend the items that you aren't actually taking part in. Over the weekend we had shown three premiers of films and TV programmes. I hadn't managed to get to any of them.
We had delayed the Dead Dog Party, or The Hour of Scampering as Phil and I had christened it, to give everyone a chance to complete the strike before serious partying. However by the time that we cleared the restaurant it was in full sway. There were still enough of us to fill the Derby Room and the hotel had contributed the two remaining barrels of cider to the common weal. Despite the problems of the weekend the Staff had worked well together and now were saying goodbye to the cares of the convention. We had lived through another one, time to celebrate.