Tuesday, October 04, 2011


The 2011 FantasyCon was held in Brighton during the middle of a heatwave, so it really felt like a holiday. This year, it was a time of strange experiences.

Strange experience 1; finding out that my room was a very odd shape, like a square turning into a triangle. The TV in the corner almost touched both walls, and I half suspect that someone built it as a rather spectacular jest and no one noticed! Still, it made for an amusing picture on the facebook page.

The Royal Albion Hotel is just across the road from The Palace Pier; which has some great places to get a meal, and so that was my first port of call (and by that time, I was starving, as I arrived at the same time as a coach party and was forced to queue up for 45 minutes to book in at reception ... with a great sense of irony, there was a notice on the door saying 'Staff Required'; with two young girls trying to book in more than a hundred people at the same time, I couldn't help thinking 'Yes, they're required right now!). Still, I can tell you that a meal of freshly cooked fish and chips, eaten on a pier whilst surrounded by a bracing sea air, tastes exquisite.
Strange experience 2 was a burlesque night on Saturday, with a chap called John Probert sending up a couple of old horror films (with his partner Kate) and introducing a number of dancers who stripped off to a blaring soundtrack (not The Full Monty, you understand, this was a family show - however, Led Zeppelin's 'Immigration Song' will never sound quite the same again!) They were lovely ladies, and the chaps in the front row (who I shall not name, lest I drop them in the proverbial with their absent spouses) were duly appreciative ... until, that is, a male stripper walked on and they proceeded to do a rather good impression of a row of goldfish! A memorable night in more ways than one. (Strange experience 3, of course, was the baking hot weather in October).
However, there was a snag; the hotel's air conditioning was practically non-existent, so we were less inclined to go around attending panels and events; and I was frequently drawn back to the pier, which had so many temptations (I really should have resisted the Belgian waffle covered in caramel, but the smell drew me to that booth like a magnet); and, unusually, I didn't go out for a curry. However, I did go out with Mark West, Stuart Hughes, Paul Edwards and his wife Mandy, and a chap called Richard on a search for food; on the pier, of course and we passed several good food outlets only to be tempted by a sign saying 'Pizza and a pint' outside Horatio's Bar... I think it's a given that we won't be partaking of the food in 'that' particular establishment again. Still, it filled a gap.
Sunday, and it was all coming to an end, so all that was left to do was enjoy a quiet get-together in the hotel bar before saying goodbye to the likes of Mark, Chris Teague, Steve Upham, John Travis (with that beard) Stuart Young (also with a beard), Terry Grimwood, Gary and Soozy, Simon and his other half Liz, and Alison Littlewood, who is now enjoying much-deserved success with her new novel (A Cold Season) due out in February (plus many more, who I'm sure will berate me for forgetting to give them a mention!) Next year, the convention is to be held in Corby, which sounds about as alluring as a soggy kipper - still, I'm sure that normal service will be resumed ... whatever that is!

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