Ten years ago tomorrow I went to the Manopticon 5 convention in Manchester – which is where I first got to meet famous people who are now my pals. I know this ‘cos I found the souvenir brochure the other day, while researching for the Inside Story.
The autographs page shows my priorities even then; I’ve only got scrawl from the writers (Steve Cole, Paul Cornell, Terrance Dicks, Steve Lyons and Gareth Roberts, fact fans). The floppy-haired, wide-eyed, 20-year-old me had only the previous day handed in his undergraduate dissertation – comparing the TV Movie to Star Trek: First Contact – and little dreamt of all the mad shit and scribbling as yet to come…
Signed off on The Two Jasons yesterday and wrote up a quarter of my notes on the first draft of Nobody’s Children. Pretty damn delighted with this year’s Benny – and people are saying nice things about Judas Gift both on Outpost Golliwog and the Down Among the Dead Men mailing list (you’ll need to sign-up to read what’s been said, though).
Also got a lunchtime demonstration from Dr Davy Darlington of how you check a recording studio offers dead space: clap your hands and listen for the lack of any reverb. Look at me with my hang of the lingo.
Then put on a better shirt and jacket and tripped into town to attend my first ever Clarke Award ceremony. I first heard about the Clarkes while doing my MA, when I got to meet some of the judges on the morning after. They’d had no doubt about The Sparrow’s fabulosity, and so I sought it out myself. The Clarkes are generally a great recommendation. It’s like the older kid at school who can recommend the good stuff – there’s only one winner I wasn’t so swayed by.
Was wary about what it would be like, but the place was full of old chums and the beer didn’t need to be paid for. Got to meet Andrew Cartmel – who I’ve employed and am employing, but by proxy – and various other fine folk.
Was so busy nattering that I was one of the last to file into Screen 4 for the ceremony. Managed not to see a prominent step as I looked for spare seats, so went flying in front of everyone. Gah! The free honeycomb ice-cream helped to settle the embarrassment, and I hid at the back with Jim Swallow.
The speeches were all very brief, and having applauded Mike Harrison and the organisers, we beetled back out to the bar. I had fun asking different people if writing knock-off sci-fi tie-ins did you any favours in writing standalone sci-fi (there’s lots of ways you can articulate “No!”), and traded business cards, salacious gossip and hyperbole. Then followed some people to a pub round the corner, and did the same over pints of Green King.
And the only thing I paid for all night was a grubby pasty on the way home. Whee!