From Em-Con’s website
Until today, I’d never been to a convention. I’ve been to music festivals, helped organise Can’t Stop the Serenity charity events and participated in many historical re-enactments, but this is a flavour of geekery I’ve been dying to try out for years now.
From EM-Con’s Website
Kristian Nairn was lovely. I was very nervous (first con, no idea what I’m doing), but his casual chatter set me at ease quickly. He complimented our outfits (which was nice as I hadn’t even dressed up particularly) and loved Tonks’ nose. We got some autographs and moved on.
David Warner is a legend, and he was such a genial man. I was almost tempted to ask for a hug. Instead, I asked for a signed photo of Chancellor Gorkon. Tonks had a chat with him about his Cardassian character in TNG (“How many lights do you see?”) and between them they managed to remember the character’s name. He was absolutely lovely.
We checked out the merch and gawked at David Prowse (he’s even tall while sitting down), before deciding we needed some fresh air and food. On the way I swung by the Red Dwarf tables and Robert Llewellyn convinced me to get a signed copy of one of his books – as he put it, they’re same price and there’s a lot more words for my money. I agreed; normally it’d just be his name and my name! Bargain.
I wanted to meet more of the Dwarfers but I didn’t get the chance. I did get to hold the bathroom door open for Mac McDonald and witness Norman Lovett clambering over his table to escape.
Wait, what? Norman Lovett’s a 67 year old man, couldn’t he just get up and walk away from the table?
Here’s where I start to feel guilty for the good time I had. When I said earlier that we were lucky to have arrived when we did, I meant it. Many others were not so fortunate. Many, many others. See, EM-Con seems to have suffered from … organisational difficulties. There are reports of 2+ and 3+ hour waits in the queue, and a very real probability that many have missed the panels they primarily booked tickets for. There are reports of demnds for refunds.
On the one hand, if you go to an event like this you expect a certain amount of waiting if you don’t camp out early (first-night movie releases and music festivals taught me that one). On the other hand, a friend of mine states he joined the queue at 11:10 and was still nowhere near the entrance by 14:00. That’s an unreasonable wait. He gave up in the end. Many of my friends did. They too will join the ranks of refund-requesters.
I would suggest that the problem stems from them underestimating the level of interest – they booked a venue that is perhaps a bit too small for this type of event, then perhaps sold rather too many tickets, reportedly resulting in a one-in-one-out policy. Either way, what I can state with certainty is that the venue was packed. We were shoulder-to-shoulder at times, and the thoroughfares were not wide enough to accommodate queuing and walking. That’s why Norman Lovett did his mountain goat impression just to leave his table.
In the end, the press of people was too much. We were tired and (problematically) there didn’t seem to be anywhere indoors to sit. When I asked if, were we to leave to the outside square as we were told we could for food/rest, we would need to queue to get back the marshall said “I have no idea, you’ll have to try your luck.” It didn’t fill us with confidence. We ended up going home without going to any of the Q&As, which is a bit disappointing, but there were people outside to consider, and there will be other cons.
This was EM-Con’s first event, and I’d like it to not be their last. They have a bigger venue booked for next year, and if they learn from their mistakes they’ll be in a stronger position. I’d like to see them succeed because Nottingham isn’t exactly a thriving geek metropolis, and it’d be nice to have a local homegrown con we can be proud of.
If not, well, there’s always Collectormania.