A REALLY LONG POST ABOUT SWANCON AND THE WEDDING
You have been warned...
Started with Cathy Cupitt's workshop on writing erotica. Was a bit worried about how she would react to me: Cathy is partner to Scot Snow, who has been receiving an unbelievable amount of bile recently, and it was entirely possible that Cathy would blame me, as I gave out the story rejection that brought the whole thing to a head. I shouldn't have worried. Cathy was her always-luvverly self, and the workshop was a blast.
Later that evening I was banished to my room whilst the evil-minded Callisto ran a hen's night panel for Lyn. I went to bed at 11.30, having spent the time blowing up a bunch of white balloons to use as Rovers in the following day's The Prisoner presentation. My darling fiance rolled in around 2.15am, having survived such good fun as 'Pin The Cucumber On Neil Gaiman' and 'Dirty Fridge Magnet Poetry'. And they were the clean ones...
Panel Day! Because of the wedding on Saturday, I'm on something like 7 panels today. Which is fine by me. I am Panel Junkie! Highlights include The Prisoner, where we made everyone wear number badges, showed clips, raved on like lunatic fans (The first step is acknowledgment of your problem...) and handed out Rovers on string. I take bizarre comfort in finding white balloons in strange corners of the hotel for the next 4 days, not to mention that some fans are still wearing their badges as late as Monday night. Next year I'll have to create a Prisoner LARP to run under the con.
Other highlights included getting into a spontaneous Time Warp rendition and dance with Wing during the Cult Movie panel (bombard 2006 programmer Cheshire with emails demanding a midnight screening of Rocky Horror next year); spruiking Ticonderoga at the 'zine launch by offering to give Connor to anybody who read our stories; and the Alternative History Game Show-- Zara Baxter riding a tricycle; Aki cramming the plot of Hamlet into the flattest rendition of the Neighbours theme ever; Elaine Walker auctioning off the other members for (IIRC) half of Nevada and a packet of crisps; having to wrest the meat cleaver and machete back off Mynxii before she threw them at a blindfolded PRK... silly, silly, silly. Next year I'm hoping to run it in an expanded format, in which it will only be part of a much larger and stranger show. Bobbing for Cthulhu, anyone?
What else was there but the wedding? Lyn disappeared early to get the kids, and I shaved and spent the morning kicking about downstairs chatting and watching panels. I was told to attend the room at 1pm so I could get my hair done. Uh-uh. We'd forgotten the existence of Cassie Time. Put roughly, the theory of Cassie Time states that any time my 13 year old stepdaughter is presented with a hair/make-up/mirror opportunity, the time at which you get anything done will be extended by a factor equivalent to the importance in her mind of the event she's getting ready for. This was her mother's wedding. And her mother was getting her hair done too. Cassie Time With Chips!
3.30 I got my hair done. Then had nothing to do until 4.30, when the boys and I got dressed and headed down to the ceremony.
For once, I really don't know what to say. I'd love to give a coherent, well-reasoned account of events, but the truth is that I was so blown away by emotion that what remains at this early stage is snippets and moments. However:
I've never seen so many fans being genuinely coupley and sweet as in the ceremony just before Lyn entered. Lots of holding hands, heads on shoulders, people wiping the first tears from their partners' eyes.
I started bawling like Simon Oxwell at an awards ceremony the moment I saw Lyn, and didn't stop until we'd signed the register. I've never seen anyone so beautiful. When she read the vows she'd written, it was only a matter of luck that the first 3 rows didn't get soaked.
Lyn's Mum just about had a heart attack when she realised the Stephen she'd been happily chatting to was the Stephen Dedman. Big fan. Now I know where Lyn gets the blush-and-flap-hands thing from :)
A lot of people talked to me about a lot of things during and after. I'm sorry if there was anything I was supposed to remember. I don't. All I remember is Lyn, and her smile, and the tears that welled up every time I looked at her. And I couldn't take my eyes off her.
I'm sure there's a lot more: Lyn has a much better memory for these things. But I do know I've never been so happy, and the feeling won't go away.
Strangely, later that night we went to the launch of Consensual 3 where I did a reading, and then copped an invite to the ASIM room party. What a weird feeling: watching Lyn discuss subscription numbers while dressed in a wedding dress. We'd also made an appearance at the Masquerade. DJ Dave Cake had asked us if we'd like a wedding dance, so we had the floor to ourselves for a rendition of Nick Cave's The Ship Song. That is, until a few of the girls present decided to be the ships that sail around us, and we found ourselves dancing within a circle of dancing, balloon waving girlies. Then Dave decided we needed a song more appropriate to follow, and we got the chance to boogie to Billy Idol's White Wedding.
The whole wedding (in fact, much of our life within SF) was like that: people care about Lyn, more than she realises, and all they wanted to do was show her how much she means to them and provide her with unique and special memories. Thank you to you all: you succeeded. Big thanks especially to Stephen, Calli, Chesh, Ju, and Kylie, who went beyond friendship and behaved the way family is supposed to. Quite literally: it could not have happened the way it did without you.
We finally made it back to our room at something like 1am. To quote Ian Dury: What happens next is private. It's also very rude...
Iron Writer. Oh dear. Is 43 years old too late to get a nickname? I hope not, otherwise Poppa Dedman is never going to forgive me for the bizarre Stephen/Martin Livings real life slash that came out when I was forced to write a slash story using the word defenestrate; an ice-cream scoop; and the location Swancon 50 in Barbados. I'll post it once we unpack the laptop and I can download it. I don't think Martin can get any more broken over it, anyhow :)
Me writing slash. Who'd have thought it? And still I didn't bloody win. Never underestimate a story in which I get killed by Robin Pen wielding a pair of ice-cream scoops instead of hands. Curse you, Zara Baxter, and your populist leanings! :)
We also attended the auction, but found it a little disappointing. There were no truly weird items to bid upon this year. In fact, only books, RPGs, and VHS videos made up the items. We still picked up a few cool things like Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds, but nothing quite as froody as last year. Still, we made enough from our own entries to take Ju to dinner on Monday night to thank her for babysitting duties during Monday's Big Burn, so it was worth it.
Then of course, there was the awards ceremony. Stephen Dedman beat me to Best Professional Work, which possibly surprised a small algae living on the far side of Pluto but nobody else. The uber-lovely Emma Hawkes won the Mumfan, which couldn't have been more deserved-- I still have fond memories of Emma wandering around Pancakes after my first Swancon, Erin in her arms, stoically refraining from screaming as Erin took interest in her hair as only 4 month olds can: pulllll.......
And then came the short story competition. Stephen rose, and explained how the decision over which story came 3rd or 2nd had been so difficult it had taken a week of discussions between the judges, and much to-ing and fro-ing, but eventually they decided that Whisper In The House of Angels by Lyn Battersby was the 3rd prize winner. Lyn went up and received her certificate and cheque. Stephen waited until she returned to her seat to reveal how the week of negotiation had been a complete waste of time because Unnatural Selection by Lyn Battersby had been the 2nd prize winner. So Lyn had to get up again and go receive another one! Gotta love blind submissions :)
And to top things off, my sweetie also won the Tin Duck for Best Professional Production for her editing of ASIM issue 11. If you know us, you know the story behind how difficult people made this issue for her, and how every decision she made was questioned and unsupported. But she endured, and we've had enough people tell us that it is the best single issue of that magazine that I was not at all surprised when she won. Proud, happy, over the moon. Just not surprised. All I can say is: vin-di-CATED.
Finished the night with our only real room party of the Con (dunno why, but we just never seem to connect up with the really good ones). Started as a wine tasting in the corridors of the 3rd level until lack of airconditioning drew a bunch of us down to PRK and Tori's room. Which was fun, especially watching Lyn get in touch with her inner nerd and just having to blog in the middle of the party :)
I don't remember much of what we did, except for The Big Burn. Lyn went up to the room to make bottles for Connor in the early afternoon, and came back down with a burn across the back of her hand so bad we had to go to hospital to get it treated. After 4 hours she emerged with a second-degree burn, tetanus shot, and a space bandage that's supposed to promote healing until it falls off in a couple of weeks. Not the best way to end the Con, but everything's okay now, apart from a bit of pain when she presses against it. The wonderful Ju looked after Connor like a clucky Aunt, including taking him for his first public speaking engagement (he stood in as representative of the Battersby family when Lyn and I were announced during the closing ceremony)
We finished at the dead dog party, where I ended up in a corner with Rob Hood, Cat Sparks, Deb Biancotti, Russell Farr and Liz Gryzb, seeing who could make the most outrageous statement about our fellow writers. We left relatively early as pain and fatigue were beginning to get on top of Lyn.
And that was that for another year. Now all we have to do is find a home for the new books, the disco Dalek, Lyn's award, the two huge Womble hot water bottle holders (if you put the opening at the back, you shouldn't be surprised when people use them like hand puppets...), the wedding presents (Thank you everyone. Individual thank you cards coming soon...), The Neil Gaiman & His Cucumber poster, the Sontaran action figure...
Oh, and to start getting ready for next year. This time, more than 2 weeks preparation :)