May 28th, 2015


ConFuzzled 1

I spent my long weekend in Birmingham at ConFuzzled 2015. It was, as on both previous occasions, a fun but tiring weekend of old friends, new friends, previously online only friends, staying up late, and more cider than I usually get through in two months.


The M25 was not kind to me, but I arrived in time to have a swim before the first event I'd planned to attend, Kandrel's always entertaining panel on writing erotic fiction. I didn't have time to eat, but that was all right, because Kandrel had made cookies for his attendees! So I dined on cookies and alcohol. It seemed appropriate.


One of this year's Guests of Honour was Jeff Minter of Llamasoft, whose wacky, camelid-and-Pink-Floyd-inspired games were an important part of my childhood gaming experience (aged 11, I came second in the finals of the national Andes Attack championship), so I was delighted to attend Jeff's 'History of Llamasoft' panel on Saturday morning in company with many other fine geeks of a certain age.

It was a fascinating glimpse into the world of early home computing, accompanied by many hilarious scans of 1980s computer magazines. One of these saw fit to commission a picture of Minter as a sort of satanic goat-beast surrounded by consoles, and around this time he took to calling himself 'Yak the Hairy'. "Why wasn't I a furry?" he kept asking.

'Teeny Tiny Top Hats' was perhaps the quietest panel I've ever attended, as we all bent over our Pritt Stick and craft foam with intense concentration. There were many fabulous creations (several designed to colour-match outfits or plushies), and I was pleased with my own all-orange number incorporating ears and a pompom.

I was nervous about the two writing panels I had to do in the afternoon, but they both went fine. The first, a look at 'Publishers and You', was a joint effort led by Kandrel, who was affably foxy as always. I was flying solo for the second, 'How To Get Your Story Rejected', an hour-long whinge about Doing Stories Wrong from the perspective of one who helps read through the sofawolf slushpile. I also accidentally coined the word 'slushpitfalls'.

Later on, I went to a room party organised by the lovely and generous Bhav, whose shindigs are always the hangout of the very nicest people. Alas, soon after my arrival we were informed that the hotel was moving us downstairs following a complaint from a VIP who'd been trying to sleep in the next room.

Rumour has it that it was Mark Knopfler.

I was conflicted about this. I'm a big fan of both the Dire Straits era and Mr Knopfler's subsequent solo career, with particular reference to the country album he made with Emmylou Harris, so I was horrified to think I might have contributed to annoying him. On the other hand, 'partying so hard you annoy Mark Knopfler' is quite a claim to fame.