The only other event in which I was actively involved came in the afternoon. This was the five-sentence flash fiction contest, and as well as entering, I'd volunteered to help read out the submissions in all their wildly imaginative, funny, touching, occasionally disturbing and often badly-spelled glory. The reading out bit went fine and my own contribution (which didn't fall to my lot, luckily) came third. Last year I came second, so maybe it's time to quit while I'm still winning drinks tokens.
At half five Ultrafox was unchained after two days of slaving in the Dealers' Den, so we went for a swim-jacuzzi-sauna which relaxed me even more than being hypnotised had, followed by a charming convention dinner of hot dogs and potato wedges.
By now I had accrued three drinks tokens by being variously helpful and talented, so I decided to see if I could trade them in for a pitcher of cocktails ("Husky, that's genius." - Ultrafox), and succeeded. Soon afterwards, some people were kind enough to gather round and start setting up a game of Cards Against Humanity (now on the Daily Mail's hate list), so that was how I spent the rest of my night.
Monday was a quieter day as things wound down. I attended two writing panels, one on worldbuilding and one on writing for other media, like comic strips and puppet shows, plus the closing ceremony - in which we learned that we had succeeded not only in raising over £11,000 for 2014's chosen charity, the Cat Survival Trust, but in converting its Director to furry.
After I'd been unexpectedly and comprehensively beaten up by a meerkat while waiting for him in the lobby, Ultra and I decided it was time to venture outside the hotel, so we headed to the NEC in the company of jayblanc and a German artist pal who was and remains unconvinced that British food can actually be pretty great. The fabled Wetherspoons was closed, but when I discovered there was a free shuttle train to the airport I insisted we take it, and we ended up in Frankie & Benny's.
Refreshed by our expedition into reality, we ensconced ourselves in the bar where we were joined at various points by all the loveliest folk, including jm_horse, chapcalledjules and mut. I ended up at a room party which I later described as a neverending parade of people I like, and went to bed at four in the morning.
Tuesday was for packing and parting. I was sitting in the bar trying to get myself together to hit the road when kandrel announced mid-goodbye-hug that he was going swimming in literally five minutes, should I care to join him. So I had one last swim, which was a lovely way to round off my stay, and set off for London in persistent drizzle.
It was a fun weekend and it's been sad to come back to reality. I miss the tails, the hugs and pounces, and people yelling "Fox!" or "Horse!" across the bar to attract the attention of their beloved.
Next year's theme is Alice in Wonderland, so I'm definitely going. MeCon!
That's not the meerkat who beat me up, BTW. That is the nice meerkat.