Ramsdencon '97

Report by Annie Shillabeer (shilly@smaug.dircon.co.uk).

Unlucky at Cons

Friday, June 13th, 1997: a good date for Ramsdencon? Yes, it was as it goes.

Ramsdencon is held on extremely irregular dates for reasons unknown to anyone, least of all me. It has happened that it has never, thus far, been held on the same date twice. Not intentionally. It's just a bit of a lively con that refuses to keep regular dates!

Ramsdencon is held in Billericay, Essex, Great Britain. It is a friendly board games convention attended by some of the nicest people I know. Really: the people who attend Ramsdencon are wonderful. Not just anyone can attend, oh no; you have to be unique.


There was the usual panic about something, firstly the fact that my own nephew, Jamie, had the date wrong and turned up a week early. Then the phone call from a lost soul on a mobile phone who had walked past the school and decided to carry on walking. It takes all types.

We kicked off at 6:00 on the Friday with people arriving in nicely spaced intervals. Which was really decent of them not to arrive together. It gave me time for a few chats.

I managed to do a park and walk when Dave Bailey arrived with a wonderful big red Yamaha [ken: before anyone asks, this is not rude English slang. Its a motorcycle.]. He let me ride it and park it up, lovely bike. So I am now going to introduce park and walk for bikes only next time. Great stuff. Please take note Mark and Dave.

Live Action Midnight Party

I knew things could only get louder when we played live Midnight Party at midnight. Outside. Kevin McGowans mad idea.

We teamed up and I was placed with Mark Stretch and Mark Wightman, herm. At least I was captain and so I was able to boss them about. Mark Jones played Hugo.

It just like the board game, only on a huge scale and with people and not dobbers [ken: for those taking notes, I believe this IS rude English slang but I'm afraid I can't explain. There might be kid's reading this.].

The notable difference was the amount of cheating going on! Just because it was extremely dark at midnight, folks thought it was okay to move four spaces when a two was rolled on the dice. Some of us have good eyesight.

Our team was doing quite well - until I disappeared for a while. On my return we were losing thanks to my substitution. No names will be mentioned. Hilary Smith's team, despite her opening comment which is unprintable, did well and stonked away with a win. They were awarded a bottle of beer each, one of which was promptly dropped and scattered into tiny pieces in a pool of alcohol.

I found out after the Ramsdencon had ended that we were heard from some distance away, due to it being late and otherwise quiet. Okay, I'll be honest; I was heard from some distance away.

We Are All Guilty

Saturday was the day for the rest of the competitions, starting with Kevin's croquet, an ongoing weekend tournament outside on the lawn. Steve Jones had the fortune to turn up with a croquet mallet in the boot of his car. He didn't even know the tournament was on! Such a keen player - probably why he ended up winning overall. Well done, Steve.

My first ever world 'Hunt the Teacup' competition was also an ongoing event all weekend. I had hidden green slips all over the ground floor of the convention awarding the finder to a free cup of tea. Alas, only about five people entered; Sara who assisted with the refreshments, Jan Reid because she read the flyers, and myself because I was thirsty and I knew where they were hidden! [ken: just so long as it was a fair competition.]

The trouble is that you print a load of flyers informing people what is going on over the weekend and no one ever reads them. We all do it. We are all guilty. So, consequently no one really knew 'Hunt the Teacup' was on. Hilary and Mark also told me they spent hours searching their bedroom for actual teacups to no avail. Bah! They think I believe that story! So I am informing people now: next time I will be holding another 'Hunt the Teacup' competition, okay! [ken: Try Guiness nexttime, Shilly!]

The games were in full swing on Saturday. 18xx was highly evident. Colin Smith hosted an 18xx tournament for which he produced a lovely model train as a prize. At the end of the weekend it was won by Ben Brown with Don Smith coming a very close second.

A lot of the old favourites were in play including Medici, Elfenroads, Ave Caesar, Pit, Sternen Himmel to name a few.

Loud and Louder Still

A rainbow flashed past me on Saturday, or so I thought. But it was only Clive Palmer arriving. I thought I was loud, this man has nothing on me, and he was wearing my favourite T-shirt, which I know he got from Camden. I have searched high and low for this T-shirt to no avail. It's a wonderful array of colourful funny monsters, highly lurid.

Len George kindly gave me an equally interesting T-shirt to wear. He always gives me clothes. I like Len. In fact last time, Len gave me a waistcoat. Maybe he's trying to tell me something about my dress sense.

It was a shame to miss a few faces due to holiday commitments, car trouble and travel difficulties. Maybe next time? I wasn't too bothered about the shop that didn't turn up, as it was their loss after all, but it would have been nice if they had let me know.

It was also equally nice to have some new faces at the con. They were all so well behaved that they can attend next year as well.

Curse of the Pharaoh's Mummy

Saturday was Lucya Szachnowski's freeform, Curse of the Pharaoh's Mummy. The scene was set in England in the 1920's. I don't want to give anything away, because it will be run again at some point somewhere. It was, once again, a brilliant well written freeform and such fun! I am only sorry I can't really go into too much detail.

There was some good acting. So good, in fact, I fell for it. I was helping out by being a ref and I had walked into the 'study' only to find the drunken priest sprawled on the floor. So I left him to it. Only to find out later it was an act as he had someone who wasn't meant to be with him hidden behind the curtains. He fooled me.

Kevin Hassle played a wonderful Professor and Gavin Kenny played a good drunken priest, or was he acting? Evans the butler was a star and the list goes on. Too many good parts to mention. Some of the costumes were fantastic. The mummy and Dr Lara Jones had both made a real effort with their costumes.

A few prizes were given out at the end, although Lucya and myself both wished we had more to give out, as there were some really deserving parts played. A mention has to go to Emma Rutledge and her friend, Nicole. It was their first convention and they role-played so well. More female gamers on the loose now. Watch out, lads!

I retired at 4:00am, allowing myself a full four hours sleep, ready for the next day. It pleased me to see the die hard's still gaming the next day at the same table I had left them at the night before. Although I felt a pang of jealously that it wasn't me.

A Slave Named Stretch

Sunday, we had the auction in the morning; we had bought it forward by half a day, due to it being National Cinema Day. It was a slow start, as most of the people present were knackered from the day and night before. We had a small battle going on for a Sheep puzzle, but the Sylv and Rosie Jones consortium won it. Phew. It could have ended in tears.

When the slaves came up for auction, I was slightly concerned to find other people bidding for Mark Stretch. How could they? Mark is the regular slave we bung in for auction and I needed Mark to help me clear up the School. I had to bid against Kevin who also wanted him. Luckily, the girls stepped in to help and we formed a quick consortium, with Hilary, Alex Knight, Lee Edwards, Carol Huxter, and myself. We managed to secure our slave in the end and shared him accordingly.

Once again I was lucky enough to have Mark emptying the bins, cleaning the toilets, picking up the dog ends outside, etc. He was actually quite well behaved this year, Next year I am going to insist the male slaves dress accordingly.

Alex was our female auction slave and I decided to bid for her as well, the more hands the merrier. Gavin Kenny was also bidding for Alex and gave up! Poor Alex, Gavin how could you? Anyway, I secured the bid and enlisted Alex's help cleaning up the school as well. So for an hour Alex worked hard and did an excellent job as a slave. Mind you, she had some nice jobs to do, not half as awful as Stretchys.

Kevin McGowan gained the Ramsdencon V.I.P ticket for next time. It couldn't have gone to a nicer person. And, since he was so disappointed at not securing Stretchy as a slave, I promised him an hour's worth as part of his VIP ticket. In total we made one hundred pounds for the school from the auction, which later topped one hundred and eleven pounds thanks to two more donations. The head master asked me to thank everyone who helped raise the money for the school. The money will be used on the boys to go on some trips in a few weeks time. Trips they otherwise wouldn't go on.

Mark Jones ran a Speed competition, which I played in as I knew it didn't take too much commitment and so I was able to take part. I ended up in the finals playing against Marcus Pratt and, joy of joys,I beat Marcus! Always a pleasure! It didn't seem right having to present myself a prize and so I didn't. I had a friendly with Mark after, he won and so he got the prize.

Unsociable Room, Dirty Room, and Time Travel

This year I introduced an unsociable room, which went well as it was only used once during the entire weekend and so it lived up to it's name. I consider that a total success. When it was used, it was by a group of gamers trying to lie low from someone. And it worked as no one looked for them in that room.

The dirty room booby prize is something I give to whoever is last to vacate their bedroom and also leaves it in a state of disrepair. However, this year with the exception of two late departures, the rooms were brilliant. I was so pleased to find out everyone had left them as they found them. I feel this is due to my inclusion of a 'bin monitor'. A total success. As people check into Ramsdencon one person from each bedroom is made ' Bin Monitor' and they are responsible for the end state of the rooms. I choose wisely judging by the end result. A mention must go to Steve Jones who was 'top bin monitor', well done Steve. I may promote him to 'bin monitor for xx amount of rooms next year. He has already booked up for the next Ramsdencon and I think he is ready to take on this type of responsibility! I didn't announce the dirty room award publicly this time, it didn't seem fair. This was because Ben Player won it and yet Ben was still in his room because he was sorting out his purchases from the auction. Ben spent an awful lot of money bidding on games, only to later, very kindly donate them to the School. Thanks Ben.

I had Jess and her marvellous tea trolley - we couldn't manage without her - and Dave with his burger van. You really have to attend Ramsdencon to appreciate them both. Jess, for the record, is the only person I know who can make a three-hour car journey last seven hours. [ken: Sorry. Still working on the translation for that one.]

Parting and Promising to Keep in Touch

All in all I felt it was a good weekend, but them I am biased. It seemed quieter than last time, yet there was about the same number of people present. I feel this was partly because I expanded and used the outside, thinning out the people.

There were 75 attendees, 11 extra had booked in and didn't turn up. That was a shame as, had I known, I could have given their places to other people who wanted to come.

The next one will be February 13 through Monday, Feb 16, 1998.

The Game Cabinet - editor@gamecabinet.com - Annie Shillabeer (shilly@smaug.dircon.co.uk)