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MEGcon IV: Report

From: (Adrian Ogden)
Subject: [F] MEGcon IV: the Official meet report
Date: 29 May 2001 22:56:13 GMT
Message-ID: <9f19ed$hab$>

I learned a valuable lesson on monday morning.  MEG walked into the
back garden where most of the remaining guests were chatting and said
"I need a volunteer".  After a deathly silence, assuming that she
probably and quite reasonably wanted help with the washing up, I
raised my hand.

"Right", said MEG, "you're doing the meet report!"


            MEET REPORT: MEGconIV, Bristol.

Cast: (blatantly nicked from Dragon Prince's unofficial report and
       mercilessly spellchecked)

MEG's parents
several dwarfs (MEG's and others)
Rocky Frisco
Hippo aka Dmark aka Mark Datko
Gid & Suzi
Dragon Prince
Bernard Pearson
James Higgins
Graham Higgins
Adrian Ogden
Gideon Hallett
Jonathan Ellis
Martin Wisse


Having played gigs both the previous nights it was a struggle to get
up saturday morning in time to get to the meet.  This plus unexpected
motorway traffic meant I turned up at The Pitcher And Piano around an
hour and a half late. Bah.

I'd wimped out somewhat on Towel Day the day before, taking a towel
to work but leaving it hanging up in the office, (though I did hang
it on my drums in the evening).  But today seemed like an appropriate
time to rectify that omission, so I walked the streets of Bristol and
entered the pub with a suitably garish specimen slung over my shoulder.

I was greeted by MEG, Martin Wisse, Sandrianna, ppint, Kincaid, Mark
Datko, James Higgins and Rocky Frisco.  All were usefully adorned with
name labels written on bright orange post-it notes, though Rocky's
read "Old Fart (USA)", and Sandriana's read "Martin", so it took me
a little while to figure out who she was.

In the centre of the table was MEG's hat, filled with folded-up pieces
of paper.  I was promptly ordered to contribute to this hat by writing
down the best and worst albums I'd ever owned on a sheet of paper (one
of each per sheet, though everyone was encouraged to fill out more than
one sheet) .  These were placed in the hat - without the submitter's name
on them - and people then took turns to pick one entry out of the hat,
read it out to the assembled, and everyone had to try and guess whose
selection it was.

Many weird and wonderful combinations were listed, with the final
revelations prompting triumphant "Aha!"'s or bemused "Well I never"'s.
but the high point came when one entry was picked nominating the same
album for both positions!  [1]  Completely baffled, MEG looked through
the other entries we'd already guessed to try and decide who it was by
comparing the handwriting, failed, then suddenly burst into laughter.
Once the guessing was over and the culprit revealed she explained "I
knew it was ppint, 'cos the writing didn't have any capitals in it!"

Throughout all this, the dwarves (MEG's and others) came to hassle us
to buy raffle tickets for the grand draw on sunday.

As we left the pub (by which time our numbers had been further swelled
by the arrival of Jonathan Ellis) our eyes were drawn to a nearby plinth
on which rested a metal sculpture of a beetle (someone else can fill in
the species).  With very little prompting Rocky climbed on top of it to
be photographed in the traditional "Ride'Em Cowboy, Yeee-ha!" pose.
Jonathan tried the same thing but only succeeded in ripping a small hole
in the seat of his jeans, whilst I decided that the large proboscis was
ideal for me to be impaled on in an "Attack Of The Killer Beetles" style
photo. Though with some highly selective camera angles the photographers
seem to be suggesting that another activity was occurring...

The group split up to make our separate ways back to Chez MEG, where we
learned MEG's secret recipe for burning hard-boiled eggs.  ("Put the eggs
in the pan of boiling water and leave the house."  Dead simple.)

Gid & Suzi turned up a short while later bringing Brett "Dragon Prince"
Taylor with them, who brought a gift for MEG in the form of the Welsh
language edition of "Only You Can Save Mankind".  A perfect gift for
a collector, but for any other non-welsh speakers it resembled occasional
familiar words like "space invaders" drowning in an attack of bronchial

The rest of the evening consisted of drinks and talk in the garden,
during which everyone was encouraged to stop by the kitchen to collect
and load up a plate and dinner sort of happened.  Guitars were played
and eventually the cooling breeze and failing light drove people back
indoors.  (James admitted he'd caught himself looking at the sky and
thinking "It's getting really dark, why doesn't someone switch the
light on?")

Somehow the Rocky Horror Picture Show wound up on the TV, which managed
to sharply polarize the viewers.  Some wanted to watch, some (OK, me) to
watch and participate, and some to never have to watch any of it again.

Finally we had to sort out who was sleeping where, which largely
consisted of asking who snored and who didn't, and threatening that the
sleeping arrangements would be rearranged for the following night if
anyone was found to be lying. Brett, James, Jonathan, Kincaid and myself
distributed ourselves around the lounge and dining room, whilst ppint got
the hallway to himself.  Although while trying to step outside the study
at one point during the night Suzi found her way blocked by someone else
asleep in the hall with their legs on the floor and their upper body
draped up the stairs.  They were gone in the morning, and no-one would
own up to it being them.  They were described as wearing a black t-shirt,
but their identity remains a mystery.


Bright and Early are just two of the words which bear no relation to
the events of sunday morning.  We woke up at the crack of dawn, saw
what time it was and went back to sleep.

Gradually people started waking up for real.  After all the downstairs
sleepers had confirmed that every single one of the other downstairs
sleepers had indeed been caught snoring at some point during the night
we began preparing for the traditional trip round the corner for breakfast
at Sainsbury's.  It was initially suggested that we set off in waves so
as not to overwhelm the cafeteria all at once (which would also have
allowed some folk to wake up at their own pace), but one quick "You're
about to be invaded", "OK", phone call (and about half an hour) later
we all set off at once.

Breakfast was punctuated by occasional outbreaks of photography (furrfu,
couldn't people pick a more flattering moment to photo me? Probably not,
actually), but was otherwise relatively uneventful.  Though my spirits
were somewhat cheered by the sign behind the cash till explaining that
fish and chips were not currently available in the cafe.  "We apologise
for any convenience this may cause."  Ah, I love the smell of pedantry
in the mornings!

Then there was shopping to replenish MEG's depleted larder in time for
the BarBQ in the evening.  Suzi got her car to carry the goods home, and
Brett, Kincaid and myself walked back.  As we passed the neighbouring
pub we waved a cheerful hello to Gid, who was sitting at one of the
outside tables quietly auditioning for One Man And His Pint.  By the
time we got everything home and settled into the back garden for a well
deserved chill-out it had somehow become 2:00.

More people began to show up.  Bernard Pearson appeared with an assortment
of Clarecraft goodies, which were to be prizes for the raffle.  A lilting
call of "Hello!" preceded Melusine into the back garden, whilst a lilting
machine-gun rattle and a hail of nerf-darts hitting me in the ear preceded
Gideon.  The pump action automatic nerf gun proved to be a huge hit with
everyone.  Kincaid attempted to take a photo directly into the hail of
oncoming darts, whilst Martin spotted the flaw in this idea and attempted
the same thing from behind the double glazing.  Refilling the air pump
took a minute or two serious effort, quite some time for a total firing
capacity which was gone in a few short seconds, but even the task of
pumping it up again held Rebecca spellbound, so those few seconds must
really have been worth it.  Toy-buying parents take note.

MEG's parents arrived, bringing their electronic keyboard so that Rocky
could entertain us on the piano.  And finally Graham Higgins arrived,
staying long enough to touch bases with Bernard and chat eagerly with
everyone, but sadly not long enough to get his harmonica out and jam
with Gid and Rocky.

The gazebo was unpacked and erected in one corner of the garden so that
everyone could eat dinner protected from the rain (no more than occasional
drizzle, happily).  And the barbie was lit, and burgers and chicken
portions were soon grilling cheerfully.  And gradually everyone became
well fed and contented.

The evening's entertainment began with MEG's music quiz, a subject chosen
because it was equally open to afpers and non-afpers. 70 gruelling questions
took in song intros, artist trivia, all-time best selling singles trivia,
and TV, movie and advertising themes.  Sadly Martin and Sandriana had to
depart shortly before this, and before the quiz was over Graham and James
said their goodbyes too.  Graham's entry nonetheless turned out to be the
winner, though he was disqualified for getting help from the supposedly
non-participating Gid and ppint.  This left Yrs Truly as the highest scoring
solo effort, and thereby the winner of an Unseen University rm IIIb brass
plaque contributed by Bernard.  Though when it came to the question "which
Celine Dion single took the longest time after it charted to reach No.1?"
James Higgins gets special credit for answering, "I Have An Over-Long Neck
And Someone Should Shoot Me".

Then came the raffle, with more goodies from Bernard as prizes, plus a
T-shirt from Rocky's campaign for Mayor of Tulsa, bearing a picture of
a cat against a dark and stormy background and the message "Let My People
Go!"  But the pick of the bunch was a full size streetsign for "The Street
Of Cunning Artificers", which was won by Suzi and will shortly adorn the
walkway between their house and Gid's workshop.

The traditional jam session was next, featuring messrs. Frisco and Holyoake
and a host of willing singers.  Then Jonathan took a turn to play some
more classical pieces, then finally MEG produced some lyric sheets for
a further singalong, consisting of Simon and Garfunkel, and Weird Al
Yankovic's Phantom Menace version of American Pie, much to the bemusement
of MEG's parents and those few afpers who hadn't heard it before.

And then MEG quietened things down by putting Nina Simone on the stereo,
and people talked until they were too tired to continue and gradually
drifted away to bed.


This began with more discussion of snoring ("it sounded like a cross
between a buzz saw and one of those zombies from Quake"), and also with
the fuse blowing for all the downstairs lighting.  The WC is one of
those under the stairs jobs with no windows.  Guess who was in there
when the lights went out?  Oh yes.

Dmark had to leave pretty early, and called a taxi since we couldn't
hear any buses running.  It arrived and he said his goodbyes only
moments before a bleary Gid emerged from the study, (thereby allowing
us to reset the lights 'cos that's where the fusebox was).

Today was also supposed to begin with us going out for breakfast, this
time to the hotel where MEG's parents were staying just down the road,
but before we could get properly organised they turned up and said they'd
already eaten, and why on earth weren't we up yet, so breakfast ended up
consisting of tea, crumpets and sausage sandwiches.  And we sat in the
sun some more and talked, until eventually Jonathan announced that he
should be making tracks to the station sometime soon, and I offered to
give him a lift on my way out of Bristol.  And so the meet, and this
report, drew to a close.

[1] The reason for which is long and complicated, though the fact that
it was the late 60s may go some way towards explaining it. 

<< Adrian Ogden -- "Sic Biscuitus Disintegrat" -- >>

          "I expect you're wondering after all that excitement
        whether I've still got any balloons and lampshades left."

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