No Convention Reporting Please

There’s a TAFF trip looming and I need to start thinking about my trip report. Now, there’s stuff that needs to go in there such as names and a thank you or two. However there’s lots of other bits and pieces that I am somewhat reticent to include, such as problems with travel and what I ate for dinner. In Broken Toys #13 Taral Wayne wrote a fairly savage deconstruction of the standard con report. He points the finger at all manner of con writing crimes and looking at mine own Eastercon report I see that I have recreated so many of the crimes exactly. It is almost as if I took his satire and read it as a masterclass in con-writing. However, I look at that con-writing satire again and realise something. Taral in attempting to show what was wrong about con-reporting has actually written a very entertaining little con report. I guess he just couldn’t help himself. The lists are, admittedly tedious but some of the details are delightful. There are stories of bad service that always end with the wonderful call-back line, ‘tipped the driver/waiter anyway’. There’s the crime of writing about food that has such great lines as ‘The wasabi was weak, as well – it made your eyes water properly, but didn’t craze the porcelain plates at all. But the salmon and octopus were superb, and there was green tea ice-cream for desert. Service was awful, but we tipped anyway.’ Complaining that the Wasabi didn’t craze the plates is too much fun to portray a really dull con-report. I had gone back to re-read that article due to Andy Hooper putting the frighteners on me in Chunga #21. Andy said ‘Taral Wayne’s recent deconstruction of the convention report in Broken Toys #13 has me feeling terribly self conscious about ever engaging in the form again. If I had to write a TAFF report I’d have to write it backwards or in the form of a musical.’ I see what Andy means here although I’m not sure that would entirely sidestep Taral’s criticism of the form in that I think his central point may have been contained in the line that he only ever writes con-reports when he feels he has something to say. He gives the example of his write up of being a guest of honour at a Worldcon. Taral felt that one worthwhile to give an insider’s perspective on the experience. At first I’m cheered by this as maybe that is what I can give to fandom via my trip report. Then the waves of gloom and doom sweep back up the beach to frolic playfully around my ankles. The fan fund has had many people cross back and forth and quite a large number of them have written trip reports. I’m not offering a particularly unusual perspective. I see myself turning to fandom with the speech, I have nothing to offer but the same old wibble you’ve heard many times before. There will be wibble in the hotels, the airports and the homes of the brave. The wibble will go on forever. Gosh thinks North America, that sounds splendid. Give me your tired prose, your huddled descriptions of sushi yearning to roam free. The wretched refuse of your teeming imagination. Send these lost and meaningless phrases and post them through our golden door. I think Taral has both struck me down and lifted me up again. There will be much that has been done before in my trip report but I hope that I can emulate some of those delightful little touches that Taral couldn’t resist throwing into his example. I don’t feel that I need to start a revolution (revolutions can be so dreadfully tiring) but just need to look for fun and unusual perspectives that I can show to my readers. TAFF report, I shall not fear thee for ‘fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.’

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