Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Britcon & Beyond

At the weekend, the caravan of gamers from Sheffield, made the annual trip to the wrong side of the Pennines for Britcon in Manchester (where it's always sunny apparently) in glorious Summer sunshine.

We like Britcon because, unless you are taking part in the competitions, there's no entrance fee. This translates to more money to spend and that can only be good for the traders.

I guess there are about two dozen traders every year and a bring and buy, which, has been pretty good in the three years I've gone to Britcon.

We arrived at 9:30AM and met up with a few friends who admit to heralding from Manchester and Stockport and headed towards the bring & buy which, was closed until 10AM.

When it did open, we found that a dealer was 'working' the bring and buy, and that he was grabbing choice items with the assistance of those on the stall. Comments were made about pimps and hookers and the public being 'marks'. And it wasn't me saying it for a change... When will show organisers get it into their skulls that by allowing dealers to ply their trade on the B&B is reprehensible? Saturday's specimen was one who I am informed is of the worst type. I cannot comment although I do recall seeing his face at a few other shows previously, without drawing any personal conclusions. Regardless, show organisers need to fucking wake up a little, and set some standards.

There were a few display games but nothing that would make the grizzled convention veteran raise an eyebrow.

Trade appeared to be steady and there were bargains to be had and new releases to be pawed over.

Breakfast of a large freshly ground coffee, sausage sandwich and Eccles cake (well in Manchester, you have to, don't you?) was as usual, superb and priced at a rather impressive £3.80. We had a leisurely hour in the company of Dave Wood, curator of that wonderful blog 'Dear Tony Blair...' It's always a real pleasure to chat with Dave and yarn about how much better the hobby was 'back in the day'.

After a couple of hours at the show, we wandered over the road through to Chinatown and Piccadilly splitting into smaller groups. My own party decided to hunt down a bloody good lunch, in our favourite Chinese eatery. It serves a buffet style lunch which is simple but perfectly cooked and for £30 including 3 rounds of soft drinks and the tip, we were well pleased as always.

We returned for a brief second pass at the show and I spent a massive £8.00 on a can of paint.

I know you may be wondering what the hell was wrong with me. Well, frankly since the episodes of March of 2014, my spending has got less and less on games, and I have started to spend more on original fantasy art, model railways and silver bullion. I don't attend any historical gaming societies anymore so I no longer need to buy large armies. True, I do have a few fantasy projects on the boil, but nothing like I traditionally have spent.

Model railways have given me a new focus for my creativity and on the financial side, I have been able to commission 2 layouts (fully automated and digitally controlled) including delivery, installation and demonstration for £1900.00. Let me put this into perspective by saying that my 28mm Renaissance army of 240 pieces, painted to a competent standard cost me that, 15 years ago...

The only fly in the chardonnay on Saturday was having to acknowledge people who, 12 months ago were amongst other things referring to me as the most destructive thing to happen to their gaming club in 40 years, but now repeatedly went to the trouble of hailing me... Now but when someone has sent you a very fucking offensive email, and preached from the pulpit about not being seen as a hypocrite, I'd say that such a reversal is just that... And I had to acknowledge them and respond, although I really, truly have nothing to say to them beyond 'Hi' or 'OK' when they asked how I was or greeted me.

It was all very awkward and made me very uncomfortable. My wife tells me that one of the their number spoke to me, and I didn't respond. This was not intentional, I had genuinely not heard or even seen the individual in question, and so now will no doubt be talked of as an ignorant bastard... Knock yourselves out, folks... Hey, maybe I'll be 'That destructive ignorant bastard' now.

How will I live that down?

Frankly, had they not spoken to me, I'd have been happy enough. I'd prefer to be honestly ignored than hypocritically greeted.

But, at the end of the day, we all had a great time over in Manchester, and special thanks need to go out to the UMIST staff and Mel Stephens the UMIST Conference Manager for the assistance they gave.

Britcon will be on my 'must go to' list for as long as it runs. It's a great show, with the feel of the conventions of yore.