The Squiggledy Guide to <plokta.con>

Squiggledy Hoy being bitched at by bitchy hoys

<plokta.con> Processing 60% completed insert disk 5 and press "Enter"

Being a con report that focuses on the quality of breakfasts, so all the BNFs will heap scorn upon me. But the breakfasts are wonderful! Fresh fruit, several sorts of pastries, juicy kippers cooked to order, scrambled eggs that taste nice, and huge waffles drenched in syrup. If you have not yet made it to breakfast, set your alarm for tomorrow morning! If you have not made it to this convention and find yourself in Leicester one day, do come along to the Holiday Inn on a Sunday morning for an all-you-can-eat breakfast for around 10.

Plokta Enterprises are running a fine convention. It's a month or so after Easter and the Usual Suspects are in congenial mood and looking for fun, and they find themselves in a good venue for it. I meanwhile have a headache from trying to determine the correct authorial tone for a report about a convention that is still only half way through, and that will be read primarily by people while they are at the convention.

Why to be a Complete Bitch

Saturday's late night program item was entitled "How to be a Complete Bitch". The advertised participants, Lilian Edwards, Alison Freebairn, and Sue Mason, were joined by additional bitches Alison Scott, Naomi Saunders, Kari, Sue Dawson, and Christina Lake (and I always thought she was such a nice girl). This is the largest panel I have ever seen, but it occurred to me that one well-thrown flaming Corflu bomb (I can't think of the fannish name for a Molotov Cocktail) could have wiped out Bad Girl fandom as we know it.

The panel consisted mainly of people being bitchy about each other, and was funny in a vaguely discomfiting way. And this is the inherent dilemma in bitching. I'm a nice person. I love making bitchy asides, but I don't like being nasty about people. A strange dynamic goes on inside me when I feel a bitch welling up; I hear a setup line and the riposte comes out so fast that I believe I couldn't help but say it, the bitch is created fully-formed and its birth, bloody and screaming, is inevitable. But I don't say everything that I think, so there must be some internal censorship going on that works on a microsecond timescale, which assesses the boundary of just how far I can go without seriously upsetting someone. I think this is why I enjoy a good bitch. I get an adrenaline rush from saying something close to the edge, taking the risk that my instant censor has judged correctly rather than taking time to consider my statement then missing the chance to use it as the conversation rattles on. For me it is the mental equivalent of bungee jumping.

An important feature of Good Bitching is humour. It can defuse a dodgy situation (you can get away with a lot more when you are funny, as people assume things are said just for effect instead of because you really think they smell, or are boring).

Ten Years Ago

we had raucous conversations about chocolate, exchanged different types, and speculated on its uses during sexual activity. Five years ago we had similar conversations about condoms, where to get them, and comparisons of flavours. Tonight at <plokta.con> it is Cleavage Night. We have read about Sue Mason's corsets, and Alison Scott's adventures with the Triumph Doreen, we have lost consonants from Naomi's mythical beasts, and we hear strange tales of the burrowing habits of Croydon wombats. Which item beginning with the letter C will we be talking about in five years' time? Steven Cain hopes it won't be coprolites, while Vicki Rosenzweig imagines a bizarre future fandom where the coelacanth dominates our conversation.

UFF Auction

The United Fan Fund auction on Saturday night eventually raised 482. Star buys included Alison Scott's 100 purchase of a beautiful and subtly bizarre waistcoat decorated with salmon, and the right to be a character in Ken MacLeod's next book, for which Guy Dawson narrowly outbid the Square Bear Conspiracy. The market price for two years' subscription to Plokta fell from 15 to 5.30 over the course of an hour, so if this trend continues, by this morning the Cabal should be paying you to take copies away.

TAFF will receive 200, GUFF will receive 100, and the balance will be divided among other fan charities. The Voice of UFF thanks all who donated items or services, worked on the auction, and especially those who gave money.

Cabalistic Secrets Revealed!

I am typing this fanzine on one of the laptops provided, presumably, by a member of the Plokta Cabal. And I am horrified to find that though much useful fannish jargon has been added to the word processor dictionary, the word "fandom" is not recognised. Fakefans!

I must now reveal my own less than truffanish nature, as I find I am not sure whether this publication is a fanzine or a one-shot, I am unclear on how one distinguishes the two. Perhaps someone could enlighten me?

But What Were They Like? A <plokta.con> Special Editions Special

Bogus 4 (Sandra Bond) is chock full of tasty little nuggets. The implications of the existence of Goth bees are considered, and she comments on strange words and her reluctance to Improve Her Word Power, in tiny short items thoroughly grounded in fanzine fandom. A piece about her Performance Persona fills out the zine, which is nicely digestible in between programme items.

Head 1 (Doug Bell and Christina Lake) has a novel and nice layout, with an almost Victorian feel. I look forward to sitting down and giving this some quality time, as all the good signs are there (and handily listed at the bottom of each page): fanzines, conventions, food and drink, and science fiction, with well reputed writers. A bit solid to read during a con, but ideal for the toilet? (Pun)

Gloss 1 (Victor Gonzalez and Lilian Edwards) My, isn't everyone being prolific collaborating? It works here, both Lilian and Victor write excellently, Lilian showing cause for thought about 60's fandom's attitudes to women, and Victor updating the Enchanted Duplicator legend in a piece where the content or style alone would commend it. Incestuously, Gloss and Head share many of the same great contributors, but for first issues they already have definite and different styles. But Gloss's tiny typeface was scarcely readable. Please enlarge!

New Kind of Neighbourhood (Ylva Spångberg and Lennart Uhlin) is their first fanzine in English. Despite their concerns it is entirely understandable, and their different take on the English language produces some beautiful odd poetic phrases ("People formed their own constellations for lunch"). I look forward to finishing reading about Swedish conventions, both real and imaginary! And there is plenty of SEKs in this fanzine (about 274 worth).

Plokta 19 (Cabal) This is the most fun and interesting programme book I have read! As well as the locs, photos, and petite articlettes, this contains a guest article by Ken MacLeod, about that most perennial of plokta topics, shelving. It is a fine issue, especially for people trying to run a convention! The Sue Mason cover is, as usual, excellent.

And finally This fanzine was produced on May 28th 2000 at <plokta.con> by Bridget Bradshaw, 19 Hillcourt Road, Cheltenham, Glos GL52 3JJ, who encourages you all to come to Seccond in Swindon this time next year. Cheques for 20 payable to "Seccon" to the above address please! For archive purposes, this fanzine should be filed straight after Squiggledy Hoy 4. Cover by Sue Mason.

Come and see my homepage, with lots of humourous writing about chocolate. Or send me e-mail.