Saturday, 29th August:
So, today was the big day!
After plenty of breakfast (it would probably have to last the whole day, as we didn’t know if we could get something to eat at the convention) we dressed up as the Sixth, Seventh, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctor, respectively and walked towards the location where the convention should take place. We had to pose for two photos even before we reached the entrance! It seems that everyone here in England knows Doctor Who. So today’s motto was:
May I take a photo of you please?
After we had found out that that extremely long queue was for the cash machine, not for the convention itself, we entered and tried to find out where everything was located. Of course, we were looking for the stalls which all the geeky merchandise, but I also wanted to get autographs of some of my favourite Doctor Who actors, Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred. My photoshoot with Sylvester and the Tardis console was booked for mid afternoon, so we should have plenty of time for everything.
Of course, just walking around was impossible. Lots of geeks in costumes or at least in t-shirts with funny phrases no outsider ever would understand (or care to understand anyway). As this convention was not specialised on a certain genre, like science fiction, you could find everything here, from manga fans in Sailor Moon costumes to fierce warriors in high-tech uniforms. And Doctors, of course – may I take a photo of you please? It was quite hard to look at the merchandise in peace because every now and then someone tipped at my shoulder and asked for a photo of the four of us. And it was also funny that we greeted every other doctor with a friendly „Doctor!“.
We couldn’t finish a full round of checking out all the stalls before buying anything, because we were ambushed by some guys looking out for contestants for the cosplay masquerade. We agreed because everyone was so enthusiastic about one whole family of Doctors, but the next attraction was lurking just around te corner: the DeLorean from Back to the Future. And, you know, 2015 is the year of „the future“ in the movie, so we had to let a photo of us taken in this un-Timelordish piece of time travel technology. Some yards away I found Sylvester McCoy signing, so I went strait to him and we did the typical Seventh Doctor rite of raising our hats to each other (he always wears a small hat not unlike the Seventh’s Panama hat). Sylvester is a really funny guy and not able to stop clowning around at any time, it seems.
Sophie Aldred (who played Ace, one of the seventh Doctor’s companions) was sitting in the other hall which was divided into three areas, one for the signings (many Doctor Who appearances, from some actresses of the Doctor’s companions, the voice of the robot dog K-9, to supporting actors and special effects guys). I had picked a picture of the Doctor and Ace for my Sylvester autograph, so that I could let Sophie also sign it. And she also signed my copy of the script of the first episode of a new free (!) comedy audio drama, Strangeness in Space, where she speaks one of the main characters. Just a few yards away was another of Sevens companions, Bonnie Langford aka Mel Bush, who is also such a nice one. Fortunately, the characters of series that are not currently broadcast are not too busy to talk a few sentences with their fans, and Bonnie was especially fond of our daughter’s Sixth Doctor’s outfit.
Well then, three autographs should be enough, and the cosplay masquerade was to start soon, so we got ready to start. After some endless queueing we got to see the stage at last, so we could plan some short act. We hadn’t done that before, so we had to improvise and hope nobody noticed. When we entered the stage, we looked around, then found some Daleks to fight against and then I commanded „When I say run – run!“, and we left the stage. Well, we didn’t win a prize, but many people (perhaps all of them Whovians?) who saw us told us that we were amazing, and this was prize enough.
Next big event was to be the long awaited photoshoot with Sylvester McCoy next to the Tardis console (which was in front of a green screen which then was subsituted by a Tardis interiour, so the photo was bigger on the inside). I downed a quick espresso and lined in the right queue. Behind a twelfth and a fourth Doctor. Some time later Sylvester appeared and clowned his way through the crowd. The photo crew was really professional and was able to produce really superb photos in such a short time. Of course, Sylvester is an full-blooded actor who loves to be with his fans. He especially joked a lot with the children, and all the exertion didn’t seem to harm him at all, despite his 72 years.
After that, we did family photos without Sylvester, but with the console, and after that we finally had some time for shopping without having to check our watches for the next event: there was none left. My wife invented one: we wanted to get photographed with as may different other Doctors as possible.
Then we found a stall that hadn’t been there in the morning: Clare Eden’s table for Strangeness in Space! Clare seems to have missed her train due to an argument with her printer in the morning, so she came later and set up her table in two minutes.
When we ran out of Doctors to take pictures with, we returned to our hotel to finally free our feet from those incredibly inconvenient shoes (I’ve been wearing sandals or flip-flops the whole summer) and suits. I’ll propose a Baywatch cosplay for the next time!
But all in all, we aren’t sorry at all to have been to this convention, we met a lot of very nice people, actors as well as fellow cosplayers, and a great many geeks who could be geeky in this surroundings without strange looks – but, as this was the first such event in Bournemouth, people on the streets aren’t used to so much geekiness and did look and ask of course. But this comes with cosplay. Perhaps many others would like to dress up not only in carnival, but are afraid of their surroundings‘ opinions. It sure would be a more tolerant world if strangeness could be accepted for what is is: one man’s strangeness is another man’s normality.