So, the decision is made.
Ever since 2002 I have attended the biennial Discworld Convention. I signed up again for this year's festival of madness, together with my oldest and best friend, who always accompanies me. But yesterday evening I phoned her and said how would she feel if I said I didn't want to go, and she said she was going mostly because I wanted to. But now I don't any more.
I don't know why this is, really. I still love Terry and his books just as much as ever. I know he won't be there physically this time, but then he wasn't last time either - he sent his hat to represent him, and it was accorded as much honour as if he were wearing it. Or perhaps more.
Of course there will be a certain amount of sadness that he won't ever be able to attend again in his physical person. But I defy anything to keep the spirits of the conventioneers down for long. And that's not it, anyway.
The thing is, it's just not so much fun any more. Maybe it's got too big: yet again, and in spite of signing up as soon as booking opened, I couldn't get into the convention hotel. There is an overspill hotel (last time I missed out on that too and had to sleep in the overspill overspill hotel). This time there is to be a bus service from the overspill hotel, but of course you then have to take with you everywhere you go whatever you will need during the day, and there won't be anywhere private to rest and make yourself a cup of tea, unless you find a friendly fellow-conventioneer. Of course we could have taken a tent and camped in the official campsite ... no. Really. I don't do camping, and my friend says she doesn't fancy it much any more either.
Maybe I'm just getting older. I don't feel old. I still enjoy a good giggle as much as ever. And the conventions are jolly places. Many years ago at the renowned Hangover Hotel, someone asked the hotel staff if they found us, well, a little weird. Because honestly, we find ourselves a bit weird at times, what with the hall costumes and everything. Anyway, this member of the hotel staff said no, they enjoy having the Discworlders there, because although they had actually drunk the bar dry of Hobgoblin that time, they never started fights, threw up over the premises, or imported ladies of negotiable affection into the hotel. It's always been family-friendly, with activities laid on for children old enough to enjoy them. That was the year we had breakfast with Terry on the final morning. Not that there was anything special about our party; he just had meals with different groups of fans every day, and we were amongst the few who'd stayed an extra night before the journey home. That was the sort of man he was.
And the lectures, games and all the other stuff are never exactly the same from convention to convention. It's all run by volunteers, which is why it happens biennially: there's just too much work for it to be an annual event. New people come and give talks on whatever their thing is - I remember with particular fondness the year there was a chocolate-tasting event.
But for whatever reason the fun has gone out of it. So this year I'll be spending the summer in our house in France, going before the ferries get expensive and returning when they get cheaper again. The old man, who has never got the joke as far as Terry Pratchett is concerned, has agreed to a long stay now that the renovations are so nearly finished (more about that in Sunday's post). And my friend and her husband can come and stay with us for a week or two, so we can spend some time together. Perhaps we can listen to a Discworld audio book, or re-read one of the old ones. But this time someone else can have our places - there are always far more people wanting to attend than there is space for them. Two people on the waiting list are going to be lucky.
I hope too that by the summer I'll have my writing shed set up, and can spend the summer peacefully therein. Maybe even do some actual writing. If I do, I'll be thinking of you. Terry.
Doreen lives in the empty bit in the middle of Wales, where since her retirement she has taken up writing. She says it's better than working any day.
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