Wednesday, 31 January
The plane landed about a half hour early. There
was no trouble in customs, and I ended up paying about $75
in duty for the commercial contraband I brought into the country.
I sat about for a bit, then Bill and Brenda
Sutton and Tim Walker picked me up. On our way to the car,
we passed Dame Judy Dench going the other direction.
That did it. :) The week is worth it. :)
We loaded the car and drove out to Gravesend
(east of London). Annie and Jared (Tim's wife and son) were
feeling under the weather, so they were home when we got there.
Jared is 4. A wonderfully polite, soft spoken
4. He does the 'earnest child' thing very, very well (nearly
as well as Talis' son, Corwin); and he just kinda walks in
and steals your heart. (As Scott Snyder said... "Want
a pony? I have one around here somewhere...) :)
We had tea, visited for a bit; then Tim, Bill,
Brenda, and I took off for the train station to wander and
shop a bit in London.
Once in London (Charing Cross, then the Tube
up to Tottenham Court Road... *happy wiggle* Seeing places
I've only read about!); we first went to Forbidden Planet-
a Comic/SF/Fantasy/Stuff/Bookstore. Then we went to Bill's
favorite music store, Hobgoblin Music (it seems that Bill
is in town here up to a couple times a year...) I bought guitar
strings, Brenda got some bones and bodhran tippers. After
this, we decided that we were all hungry, and popped over
to a pub for a bite to eat.
Now let me say that I am not a drinking man.
I don't generally appreciate the taste of alcoholic drinks,
and it's a habit I never really started. However, at the pub
I drank a pint. A *whole* pint. All of it. Dry glass. I think
I was more astonished than anything else...
But it's GOOD stuff, maynard! :)
After lunch (this was about 4:30p) we went
to a few more music shops, and Borders. I bought my british
edition set of Harry Potter. :)
We then made our way down to Trafalgar Square,
I got a pic of everyone and a really nice shot of Big Ben.
Then, off to the train- back to Tim and Annie's.
Annie made chili for a late supper (8pm, now).
Tim brought me over to Phil and Lissa Allcock's
for the night, we did some visiting and then crashed for the
Thursday, 1 February
Got up between 8 and 8:30am with Phil, who
took me back to Tim and Annie's house. There I met up with
Bill and Brenda, and we walked to the train station to catch
the rail to Canterbury.
I have to say here that spending lots and lots
of time with Bill and Brenda Sutton is both a) a distinct
pleasure and b) extremely educational. I'll let you decide
just *how* educational... :)
We got to Canturbury, walked along the city
wall, and made our way into the city to the Cathedral. We
spent several hours in the Cathedral- it's marvelous, huge,
beautiful, and more exclamations that I don't have available
to me right now... :)
We made our way to a pub for a late lunch-
and I tried more English fare. Lamb hamburgers! With mint
sauce! wow... I think I'm gonna like it here... :)
We tried to make it to a couple museums; but
everything pretty much closes at 4pm; and lunch took us to
3:45. So we walked around quite a bit more (I bought a scarf-
I had left mine at home); then caught the train- this time
The London Science Fiction club meets at the
Florence Nightingale pub the first Thursday of every month-
so we went. It was great!!! Good ale, good fen, and lots of
I learned here about Gordon Dickson's passing
on the 31st. A glass was raised. Rest well, sir. You are missed.
Scott and Amanda Snyder had arrived during
the day; they were there, and it was good to catch up with
them. Since Scott, Amanda, and I were staying at Phil and
Lissa's we all piled into the car to go home.
At the Tun (oh, yeah- the sf meeting is called
the Tun; named after the first pub they met at, I think...
of course the Tun is long gone, but its name lives on...)
Scott regaled us with the tale of his new spiffy guitar case-
the one that he can just check through as regular luggage.
The airlines *have* to take it, because it is within their
specs. Ergo, if it gets gunched; the airline is entirely responsible
for the damage. Scott, Amanda, and I made plans with Bill
and Brenda to go to Hastings on Friday on our way to the con;
it sounded like a lot of fun.
When we got back to Phil and Lissa's I got
to meet this "case". It's not really a case- it's a HOUSE!
My god- you can drop this thing from a three story building
and it will be the *sidewalk* that says "ouch!". It's... it's..
it's Nigh Invulnerable!
We all sat about just jabbering for a good
bit. Scott and Amanda decided that they were too tired from
the flight to get up early to run to Hastings; I decided that
my funds had taken enough of a hit from two days of sightseeing
that it would probably be prudent if I gave it a miss as well.
As it was after midnight, it was really to late to call Bill
and Brenda at Tim and Annie's house to let them know what
was up; so we figured we'd catch up with them in the morning
and let them have a romantic time alone in Hastings.
Friday, February 2, 2001
Well, we slept in until 11am. Got up, got in
touch with Tim and Annie- and we discovered (to a bit of wry
amusement) that Bill and Brenda couldn't get up, either- so
we'd all be driving together straight to the con.
We showered, dressed, rested, watched several
episodes of the Thunderbirds, packed Phil and Lissa's car,
and waited for Tim, Annie, Bill, and Brenda to show up in
the van (rented just for this occasion).
Drove to Eastbourne, taking a side trip to
Hobgoblin Music in Crowley on the way. I'm beginning to get
*very* enamored with mandolins... and they had some really
sweet ones... *sigh*.
Got to the con; met up with Margaret Bumby
and Clark Wierda (friends from Ann Arbor), as well as Kathy
Mar- it seems that about 10% of the con this year is from
Caught up on the con notes (Thursday through
now); and saw several concert sets. I saw part of Minstrel
and Paul Bristow's sets; as well as the Tast of German Filk
circle. Wow! I can't wait for FilkContinental- *lotsa* good
stuff happening there!
(At this point, I ran out of battery power
on the laptop. The notes above were written Friday 2/2, the
notes below written from memory on 2/8 on the flight back
to the US).
Met up with Ju and Katy, as well as Anka, Rika
and Dave, Mike and Anne Whitaker, Kathy Horning and James
Fulkerson, made the acquaintance of Lawrence Dean, began re-acquainting
myself with Zander, met the Countess, met Franklin and Molly,
more Germans (the blond girls- arrgh; I hate being bad with
names... sigh. I'm sorry, ladies...), Rafe, Mike Richards,
Miki Dennis, and more people than I can keep track of.
I wandered for a bit; and eventually ended
up in the bar with Bill, Mike Whitaker, Chris Conway, Talis,
Simon, and a couple others I'm probably forgetting the names
of. It wasn't really a filk circle- we were rock-jamming.
:) The TV was on right over our heads (with the sound turned
down and the captioning on). We started doing G&S and Beatles
renditions of the Robot Wars closed captioning (which was
on at the time).
Retired around 4am.
Saturday, 3 February
I think that I may still have been a bit jetlagged;
I slept right through breakfast (which is paid for in the
hotel bill), Scott Snyder's concert, Lawrence Dean's concert,
lunch, and half of the N'Early Music Consort set. dammit.
However, I do have to say that the N'Early
Music Consort is kewwwwwlll!!! Finally!! A performance venue
for Ed Stauff's arrangements- go buy their CD!
Attended much of Tim and Annie's and Barry
and Sally's concerts. *happy sigh* I'm afraid that my description
is kinda short here- the way I feel about these guys belies
description. I mean, I *could* say *POW!* *WHAM!* BOY CAN
THEY PLAY!!!! But, then, I'd just be understating the performances...
The WorlDream rehearsal session happened between
Tim and Annie's and Barry and Sally's concerts- it went pretty
well. At GaFilk and ConThirteena the rehearsal is an 'ok'
thing; but the energy seems to change entirely once the tape
is rolling. It's very difficult to describe... but it *is*
an awe inspiring thing. I'll try to do more detail below...
The auction is a *lot* different in the UK
than in the States. It's extremely fast paced; blink and an
item that you want may be gone. They raised over £800; a new
The UK con has a thing called "The Main Concert".
This is basically an open ended open stage- everyone gets
two songs that wants stage time. I was told that this started
with the first UK filk cons because there wasn't anyone there
who could do a full set- ergo this gave everyone a chance
to have stage time. Yep- it goes on for 3-4 hours. But it
was SO good!!! :) Scott and Amanda did Rudy, Bill and Brenda
played, along with at least half the rest of the con!! I performed
Done' and 'Believe';
I think that what I did went over ok.
Filked in open circle with Barry and Sally,
Germanic type folk, Dave Weingart, and lotsa others until
about 4am, then I decided that it would probably be prudent
to head for bed (given that I had slept through breakfast,
then forgotten about lunch and dinner; I figured I'd better
get up to eat breakfast in the am....)
A late comment... During the most of the day,
Phil Allcock spent the day in drag as 'Rachel' and took donations
to help pay WorlDream expenses. He and Lissa raised £127 for
this- which covered my hotel bills and some of my traveling
expenses. You know, Phil, you really *do* have great legs...
Sunday, 4 February
Dragged myself out of bed just before 9am;
and I got breakfast (yaaay!). They had fresh fried eggs, British
Bacon (they don't believe in having fat on their bacon...
it's *marvelous*); fried bread (toast, to those of us in the
US), cereal, porridge (oatmeal), juice, etc. I stuffed myself
I needed to get clean, so I missed Anke Teschke's
concert. I heard it went well, tho. Sorry, Anke!!! :(
I did catch the last bit of Barry and Sally's
second concert; and I really have to say that I don't care
if I have to go to Britain to hear 'em (they live about 4
hrs from me); it was definitely worth the trip. :)
wow. Due to time constraints; we had two runs
at this. In the first one, Lissa Allcock sat down at the drum
set to keep beat. We only had time for one run through and
one recording run, but oooo did it sound good!!! :)
The second run was made after closing ceremonies.
This was the first one that I used the coordinating tape I
made in December; and the experience was... transforming.
Brenda Sutton played bodhran to help keep everyone
in time. I have a click track that I made back in December,
with a solo copy of me playing along to a metronome. I remember
how I felt when I made that recording- a bit scared that I
was making a huge fool of myself, the hopes and wishes that
the WorlDream would go well, and the insecurities of the time
all kinda wrapped up in that little sound byte.
That was going into my ears through the headphones.
Nearly washing out the headphones was a chorus
of more than 60 people feeling together, connected with everyone
doing this project over physical distance and time- their
energy was impossible to ignore. I felt poised in a tunnel
moment between the loneliness and doubt at the front end;
and the fulfilkment of many at the other end. Gad- this is
so inadequate. I could barely keep the beat steady. It was
nearly impossible to hold back the tears, the gratefulness..
the *connection*... The Community... no longer alone... but
remembering the loneliness... warm, close...
See? It makes me incoherent. *sigh*
And from what I heard afterwards, I was *not*
the only person to feel this.
So- if you participated, could you send me
mail about what it was like for you? I'll post it on the WorlDream
website so that others can see, too...
*shakes self* Hokay... back to the con...
After the first run at recording Many Hearts,
One Voice I sat back and thoroughly enjoyed the performances
by Phoenix, Talis Kimberley and the Mythical Beasts, and Zander's
Just Plain Folk. I've pretty much had my say about Phoenix
in the GaFilk conreport-
funny that it hasn't changed in a month... *grin*.
The Mythical Beasts performance was every bit
Talis. Sound reproduction was astonishingly good; there were
several times I had to remind myself that I was listening
to this live, and not on CD! Which just goes to show how much
care and work went into Archetype Cafe, and it was
well worth it. I thoroughly recommend flying to the UK if
for no other reason than to hear Talis & Co. perform.
Now- that being said- Phoenix and Mythical Beasts
are not necessarily known as being acts that are... *ahem*...
difficult to hear.
However, *both* bands were to some degree hamstrung
by a sound sensor mounted on the rear wall of the ballroom.
This sensor picked up certain frequencies (like those made
by certain parts of a drum set); and if it passed a certain
threshhold, would shut down power in the ballroom for 20 minutes.
The reason for this is that the Albany Hotel is on the waterfront
in Eastbourne; backed right up against normal residences.
The sound sensor is to keep the noise from getting too out
of hand for the late night discos that used to be held there.
I could understand it if we were playing that
loudly late at night. But this was in the middle of the bloody
afternoon! *mutter, grumble, mutter...*
Just Plain Folk is a new group, and I have to
say that I can't wait until they come out with a CD! OOOO!!
:) Nice, tight harmonies; well executed and balanced; and
very entertaining song/repetoire selection. Gee... just *another*
reason to go back to the UK (as if I needed one...)
At the closing ceremonies, the various awards
were given. I'm horrible at this- I didn't write most of them
down. Please tell me so that I can post them here. I was *extremely*
suprised to win the Sam for Best At Con for 'Many Hearts,
Wow- thank you....
We recorded Rhodri's song for WorlDream, as
well as 'Sam's Song' and the second run at the 'Many Hearts,
One Voice' recording. After this, things pretty much broke
up into open filks for the remainder of the night.
Monday, 5 February
I managed to drag myself out of bed at 9am
again; for another breakfast "That Just Couldn't Be Beat"
(tm). From there, it was the normal heart wrenching good-byes.
The German contingent left around 11am; and they didn't realize
it but a couple of us were singing the Hockey Monkey song
as they left... :)
Damn. Can we go back and start this con over?
It was GREAT!!!!