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A Barfin' Good Time at Trakon

By David Bishop

Or: "How I went to Christchurch for three days and lost my lunch, my favourite jacket, a lot of dignity and any sense of time - and that was before the con started!"

Never vomit out a car window going round a roundabout when centrifugal force is against you. That was one of the first lessons I learnt at Trakon, New Zealand's first Doctor Who convention. But I am getting a little ahead of myself - a bit like the vomit really...

The plane got into Christchurch at some ungodly hour of the morning - about 8.30 I think - Trakon-man Andrew R. (stands for Ragnarock and Roll I learnt later) Poulsen picked me up. 'Twas damn cold and my Antarctic army surplus jacket was proving invaluable.

After coffee and comfort at the Gredigs (thanks for hosting the Auckland contingent, guys) it was a brisk stroll in the rain to the bus. For just $1.20 we got a complete tour of seemingly every suburb in the city (it costs that much to go down the corner dairy on Auckland buses!) and then the Auckland contingent disintegrated for some looting and pillaging of every secondhand bookshop, comic and record store in Christchurch.

Six or eight hours later (Christchurch has a lot of shops) the locust-like swarm returned to the Gredigs to further empty the their house of food and drink. Then I made my first mistake...

Trakon secretary Janine Gredig (the one dressed as Ace during the convention or, if you missed it, the person on the 6.30 news wielding a baseball bat and badmouthing Daleks) asked for some help to transport displays into the con site - fellow Aucklander Paul Scoones (a guest of honour) and I volunteer. The other Aucklanders say that they will wait for a car to come back and collect them. A very long wait lay ahead as that car never did arrive.

At the convention venue a compilation party soon ensued, i.e. putting together all the convention packs (all 150 or whatever number it was - events soon started getting fuzzy...) and stapling up the programmes. About this point Paul Scoones and I decided to get some alcohol. After trekking a good mile or two we discovered a bottle store and staggered back carrying about six dozen cans of beer, six bottles of Corona (everybody sing - "My Corona..."), some gin (which I paid for but never actually got to drink - who did?) and some lemonade (ditto as per the gin).

Then came mistake number two: engaging Paul Scoones in a drinking match. I'm not a big consumer of alcohol (despite being a journalist by trade) whereas varsity students like Paul are well known for their beer swilling abilities. So by midnight, the compiling may not have been finished but I was...

About this point I lose track of what happened till some three hours later although memories of being subjected to endless T'Pau videos stick in the mind. Anything I may have done I now hereby forswear any responsibility for - I know intoxication is at best a defence of mitigation but it's the only defence for what may or may not have happened. I understand there may be some photographic evidence presented at some date - hopefully it's not too incriminating...

Anyway the next thing I remember is being in the Gredig car returning to the Gredig household - apparently I made it to the vehicle down some stairs without assistance, a feat which seems astonishing in retrospect. In the car I remember feeling quite unwell and then there was the roundabout. I had a window seat but unfortunately on the right of the passenger seat, thus on the inside of the roundabout. Now anybody who has studied physics and the like knows about centrifugal force and will also know what happened when I tried to rid myself of lunch, dinner and especially all that alcohol.

Sparing the graphic details (mainly because I don't remember them) the resulting mess got on the car (inside and out - and yes the mess was bigger on the inside than out), my beloved Antarctic jacket, my best suit jacket (freshly back from the dry cleaners) and my trousers. After a pit stop for all this to be hosed down at the nearest garage, it was on to the Gredigs where I collapsed on a two-seater and slept there for the rest of the morning, rather uncomfortably.

So much for the rambling preamble, what about the con itself?

The after effects of the alcohol means only snippets are retained in my mind (but I did not have a hangover, contrary to popular belief or the pallor on my face which earned a certificate at the con's end for the Morning Glory Award - thanks guys!). So here's a selection of my snippets and personal highlights of the con...(plus a few bummers, you figure out which is which).

  • Not being on the 6.30 news, thank god.
  • Picking up season 24 on video fairly cheaply (thanks Ivan for the bonus Evil of the Daleks clip).
  • Not getting the three Target books I need to complete my set, does anyone have good copies of An Unearthly Child, Genesis of the Daleks or Fury from the Deep for sale? Top prices paid...
  • Seeing most of the brill' Happiness Patrol - Margaret Thatcher gets her comeuppance and some yodans learn Acespeak - "Wicked".
  • Finally getting to hear the second Doctor describe the size of Gallifreyan reproductive organs on The Two Doctors - "Yes, it is a big one!"
  • Getting into the semi-final of the Doctor Who Sale of the Century.
  • The buzz in the video room when the Dalek chases the Doctor up the stairs in Remembrance - truly a classic.
  • Singing and dancing to Pat Benatar!?
  • Falling asleep to Leeza Gibbons' dulcet tones - on the big screen.
  • Not getting any jelly babies in the scramble.
  • Seeing Dragonfire and almost getting crushed in the rush for good seats in the video room to view it - hormones were running hot for Sophie Aldred that day...
  • Coming second in my Sale of the Century semi-final.
  • Coming second in the team quiz the previous night (beaten at last by the 505ers - revenge will be ours one day...)
  • Getting scripts from Remembrance, The Daleks' Master Plan and The Reign of Terror in the auction and also getting to well over-inflate the price of Season 25 on video - (to the person next to me in the front, number ninetysomething - I'm getting the shows taped for free!)
  • Getting to wrap up the impromptu story telling contest with a favourite Daleks anecdote...

Leaving early was a complete bummer - it was the best weekend I've had in ages - I wish I could remember some of it - next time I want the Doctor Who con in Auckland - roll on season 26.

David Bishop, Official Doctor Who correspondent for the New Zealand Herald and member of the Alcoholic Inebriates team.

This item appeared in TSV 15 (September 1989).