My Experiences at...

The first obstacle to be overcome if I wished to attend this convention was the sheer distance: I live in New Jersey, so I had to travel over 500 miles, or 800 kilometers, to get there. Good thing my car is a 1995 model. It's also a good thing that I decided to buy a CD changer for it one month before the convention, otherwise I'd have gone mad.
The first step was getting permission to leave work two hours early, at 9:30PM, which I did, so that I could get enough sleep before leaving. I duly woke up at 5:30 the next morning, and left the house, CD changer fully stocked, at 6:10. I would not arrive at the Roehampton hotel until after 6PM.
Along the way I had some fun, such as seeing a sign in Pennsylvania that said "road construction next 47 miles," which did not exactly inspire confidence. Apart from stops for food and one stop for gasoline (at $1.30 per gallon, self serve, a far cry from the $1.09 full serve I'd paid the day before), I arrived at Niagara Falls, New York at around 3:30PM. This was the first time I'd seen the falls from the American side, having been on the Canadian side in November, 1995.
Crossing the border was easy, and I thought I'd take a short walk through Niagara Falls, Ontario, but the extra traffic brought on by the newly opened casino put paid to this idea, so I headed for Canadian route 401, also known as the Queen Elizabeth Way, remembering the Canadian daytime running light law by keeping my car's headlights on all the time.
Traffic moved fine, until I got just near Toronto, then I noticed the sign reading, "QEW congested." It sure was! It took me more than an hour to travel about two miles, during which time I got through the entire Batman soundtrack. After tiring out my clutch-foot, I found my turnoff and made it to the hotel.
The hotel assigned my room 808, where I duly headed. I then went downstairs to eat in the hotel restaurant, where I met Michael Doran, Elsa Frohman, and Jason Miller. After the meal, Eric Briggs and Robert Smith? arrived, and a few minutes later both Anneke Wills and John Levene, and we were duly introduced. That night I saw the Red Dwarf episode "Blue," then went to sleep.
The next morning I woke up and prepared myself for my first convention in seven years. Both Anneke and John gave their speeches and I wandered back and forth to and from the dealers' room and the video room. During a trip to my room to drop off some of the items I'd purchased in the dealers' room, I ran into John Levene in the elevator, and found out that he was in the room next to me! After everything was over, the six of us, plus a few other people the names of which elude me at the moment, went out to dinner, then I made the mistake of driving in downtown Toronto looking for Red Dwarf books and managing to go about twenty miles out of my way before I returned to the hotel.
Next morning it was downstairs again for breakfast, when who should be at one of the tables but Anneke Wills. We started chating, and it turns out that she was interested in visiting Greece, a wish brought on by her reading of Homer. When I told her that NBC was showing a new production of The Odyssey that night, she asked me if I could tape it for her. After saying I would, she gave me her address in Vancouver on the back of one of the ads located on the table in the restaurant.
Travelling home was less of a hassle than getting there. I made it home with literally seconds before The Odyssey started.
On the trip I brought with me an el-cheapo Walgreen's disposable camera, and most of my pictures did not come out all that well, but here are two of them which did:

The person on the left is none other than convention organizer Michael Doran, since made (im)famous by having a spaceship named after him in Kate Orman's and Ben Aaronovitch's So Vile a Sin. He's also a characted in Oh No It Isn't! Please believe me when I say that Anneke looks much better in person.

Go back through the Gateway