|Dave Langford on a small, small event held in Newbury in 1988.|
Rubicon has established itself as the relaxed and sodden convention where professionals are seen only in stroboscopic glimpses. Chris Priest and Leigh Kennedy zoomed through for dinner, fleeing in disappointment at not being able to listen to well-remembered Rubicon megastar David Brin. Keith Roberts, closely guarded by his Kerosina retinue, haunted the bar for long enough to describe soul-shattering experiences on an Albacon panel, with extensive footnotes about "absolutely dreadful" co-panellists Jack Cohen and C.J. Cherryh.
Rubicon is the convention of Kafkaesque anonymity. In one of those ideas which sound really good in a pub beforehand, the Oborn/Harvey organization (I do not say "committee") issued badges with witty job titles instead of names: Executive Wallyphone Mumbler, D.M. Sherwood Clean-Up Operative, Honorary Fred Harris, etc. We never learned the names of some newcomers, especially the two who vanished after Friday night.
Rubicon, like most conventions these days, saw the great Conspiracy '87 debate, dominated by piercing Armenian cries of, "I say we bail them out only if they publicly humiliate themselves." A sponsorship form for Voluntary Public Humiliation was instantly drafted by someone who should have known better.
Rubicon was the convention at which I was not going to do anything. I'd already refused to be the astral voice of L. Ron Hubbard, but when Dave Wood agreed to work the ouija board my iron control slipped and I spent an afternoon scripting L. Ron's aetheric answers to suitably embarrassing questions. That was the sum total of what I was prepared to do, as I remember saying to Eve Harvey while she wrote me down as the Thick Policeman in a D.G. Compton radio play [A Turning off the Minch Park Road] scheduled for live performance on Monday. The highlight here was definitely the sound-effects workshop, i.e. the audience: Hazel's deeply felt budgie will not be forgotten, unfortunately. At Rubicon 1989 I'll be doing even less than nothing, provided Eve forgets her notes for a far more bizarre and appalling dramatic presentation, not to mention who suggested it.
Rubicon, finally, was the convention at which not only the committee (whose badges said "Participant") but the punters spent Monday afternoon slumped around the bar saying how restful it had been, and -- the final stroke of weirdness which established this as not a real 1980s convention at all -- looking forward to the next one.
|First published in Critical Wave #8, ?October
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