This is my fourth Worldcon, following on from ConFiction in Den Haag in 1990, InterSection in Glasgow in 1995, and BucConeer in Baltimore in 1998. It’s actually my first con at all since that last one, and thus my first con ever with kids.
Some observations about attending a con with a one and a four-year old:
(1) Programme? We don’t need no steenkin programme. So far, I’ve been to one panel. The rest of the time has been spent just hanging around, and trying to keep the little ones simultaneously occupied and not freaking out at the big enclosed spaces with lots of people around. (Curiously, Alex actually asked to go to the creche this morning, and spent a pleasant two hours playing there. When we took him out again, though, he solemnly said that he didn’t want to go back.)
(2) Also, merely “hanging around” is actually a lot of fun when you have kids around. I’m a shy and retiring person by nature (read: misanthrope), and I don’t tend to go out of my way to socialize and mingle. Yet at previous Worldcons, I felt a strong compulsion to do so, driven by a need to be accepted, and to be seen as a true fan: one of the community. This time round, I feel no such need. Kids are conversation magnets. People talk to me rather than the other way around! Also, being a parent is top of my list of priorities, and so I don’t feel any kind of strange guilt about missing all kinds of opportunity to meet people and make new friends.
(3) Juggling kids while even trying to perform grown-up-related activities, is very tiring. It probably doesn’t help that Abi and I have both been respectively working very hard and suffering from raging insomnia for the last few weeks, but most of the time, we’re both just exhausted. Evening parties? Um, maybe next time….
The overall atmosphere at the con is very good. I don’t remember much about Intersection ten years ago, but Interaction certainly feels bigger, better connected, and more organized. The folk are universally friendly and very capable. The security staff at the convention centre (from Rock Steady) are amazing. They’re as friendly as the con staff, and appear to be having a fine time themselves.
Top strange event of the con so far: walking across the tunnel from the SECC to the train station with Alex and Fiona (Alex wanted to know where the tunnel went), and having a local fan collapse with a seizure right in front of us. Two women from the SECC were right beside him when it happened, but couldn’t catch him as he fell. I called 999 to get an ambulance, and we all helped him sit upright when he regained awkward consciousness, and stayed with him while the paramedics arrived. Fiona freaked out, but Alex was a very brave big brother, and helped her stay calm and stopped her running away.
We were all pretty scared, but when the paramedics eventually arrived (they were dispatched to the SECC itself, rather than the train station), they cleared him, and he was able to head home under his own steam. I’ve never dealt with epilepsy before, and he still seemed a bit out of sorts to me; but the paramedics sensibly explained that if anyone knows the limits of their capabilities after a seizure, it’s probably the sufferer themselves. We offered to drive him home, but he declined. I hope he’s okay.
Second-strangest event: finding out that there are actually two J.K. Rowlings! Unfortunately, they both couldn’t make it to the con.