RamsdenCon 97 – the Organiser’s View

by Annie Shillabeer

Friday, June 13th 1997, a good date for RamsdenCon? Yes, it was as it goes. RamsdenCon is held on extremely irregular dates for reason unknown to anyone, least of all me. It has happened that it has so far, never been held on the same date twice; not intentional. It’s just a bit of a lively con that reluses 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 who 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 6pm 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 on a wonderful big red Yamaha. He let me ride it and park it up, lovely bike. So I am now gomg to introduce park and walk for bikes only next time, great stuff; Please take note Mark and Dave.

I knew things could only get louder when we played live Midnight Party at midnight outside, Kevin McGowan’s mad idea. We teamed up and I was placed with Mark Stretch and Mark Wightman, herm. At least I was the captain and so I was able to boss them about. Mark Jones played Hugo: it was just like the board game, only on a huge scale and with people and not dobbers. The notable difference was the amount of cheating going on! Just because it was extremely dark at midnight, folks think it’s okay to move four spaces when a two is rolled on the dice; some of us have good eyesight.

Our team was doing quite well, until I disappeared for a while and on my return, we were losing, thanks to my substitution, no names mentioned. Hillary Smith’s team, despite her opening comment which is unprintable, did well and stonked away with a win. They were awarded with a bottle of beer each, of which one was promptly dropped and scattered into tiny pieces in a pool of alcohol. The beer was donated from the really useltil Kevin McGowan Company.

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.

Midnight Party Results:

1stYellow   -29   Hillary Smith, Adrian Maddox & Alex Roadley
2ndGreen-31Wendy Foad, Man Foad & Daniel Tregear
3rd=  Red-33Sylv, Gavin Kenny & Pete Card
3rd=Blue-33Annie, Mark Stretch & Mark W

A special thanks to Mark Jones as the ghost and Alex for standing in at the last minute as the scorer.

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.

Croquet Results:

In the semi-fmals Marcus Pratt beat Wendy Foad & Steve Jones got a bye against Jo. Chris Dawe and Mark Jones were also in the semi-fmals, with Chris pipping Mark to the post. In all there were 14 contestants. In the fmal Marcus was beaten by Steve Jones. Marcus was beaten by Steve Jones. Marcus has since requested second prizes on competitions as he says he seems to be getting an awful lot of seconds. Request noted Marcus. Steve was presented with a copy of “And they’re off’ which was donated from the Really Useful Games Company.

My first ever world “hunt the tea cup” competition was also an ongoing event all weekend. I had hidden green slips all over the ground floor of the convention awarding the finder a free cup of tea. Alas only about five people entered; Sara who assisted with the refreshments, Jan Reid, because she’d read the flyers and myself because I was thirsty and 1 knew where they were hidden! You think I’m joking, don’t you?

The trouble is, 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. Hillary and Mark told me they spent hours searching their bedroom for actual teacups to no avail, ba, they think I believe that story! So I am informing people now, next time I will be holding another “Hunt the Teacup” competition, okay!

The games were in full swing on Saturday lBxx was highly evident; Colin Smith hosted an l8xx 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, Sternenhimmel to name a few.

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 troubles, 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, and they were all so well behaved so they can attend next year as well.

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 much detail.

There was some good acting, so good in fact, I fell for it; I was helping 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 did Gavin Kenny play 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, Tabu, Dr Lara Jones had both made a real effort with their costumes. Did anyone work out who was in disguise as a mummy in the sarcophagus? Think about who was missing all weekend.

A few prizes were given out at the end, 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 gainers on the loose now. Watch out lads. Amongst the prizes were some murder mystery games which Graham Purser from Transatlantic Marketing very kindly sent along for us, Thanks Graham.

I retired at 4am, 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 as I had left them the night before. Although I felt a pang ofjealousy that it wasn’t me.

Sunday, we had the auction in the morning; we had brought 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 for a sheep puzzle, but the Sylv and Rosie Jones consortium won it, phew, it could have ended up 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. uckily the girls stepped in to help and we formed a quick consortium, with Hillary, Alex Knight, Lee Edwards, Carol Huxter and myself We managed to secure our slave in the end and shared him accordingly.

I once again 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. Mind you she had some nice jobs to do, not half as awful as Stretchy’s.

Kevin McGowan gained the RamsdenCon VIP ticket for next time; it couldn’t have gone to a nicer person. And as he was so disappointed at not securing Stretchy as a slave, I have promised him an hour’s worth of Stretchy as part of his VIP ticket.

In total we made one hundred pounds for the school from the auction, which was later topped up to 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 trips in a few weeks’ time, trips they otherwise wouldn’t go on. Thank you everybody.

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 in. I ended up in the final playing against Marcus Pratt and joy of joys as 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.

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 its name. I consider that a total success. When it was used, it was by a group of gamers trying to lie low from someone; it worked as no-one looked for them in that room.

Settlers, as always, a popular competition, was ran by Kevin and here are the winners:

Settlers Results:

1stSteve Spencer7
2ndDon Smith6.5
3rdColin Smith4.9  
4thPaul Spurgeon3.5
5th=  Adrian Maddox, Mark Stretch & Jo  2.3
8thMike Eggleton1.4
9thPete Card1

Steve was presented with a copy of mesmerised, which TV games kindly donated to RamsdenCon.

The dirty room booby prize is something I give to who ever 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 had 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 chose 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.

Jess and her marvellous tea trolley, RamsdenCon couldn’t manage without her, Dave and his burger van. You really have to attend RamsdenCon to appreciate them both. Also to the girls who helped on the tea trolley when Jess was prancing about as a housekeeper in the freeform. It’s slightly pleasing to see Carol being domesticated, now we know she can be domesticated. Jess for the record is the only person I know who can make a three hour car journey last seven hours.

All in all I felt it was a good weekend, but then I am biased. It seemed quieter than last time, yet there were 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 know, I could have given their places to other people who wanted to come. Reiner Knizia was unable to attend this time, but he hopes to attend the next one.

The next one will be in February 1998, date to be confirmed, but it will coincide with the school’s half term. Next time, RamsdenCon will be extended for an extra day and will finish on the Monday, just as a one off Possibly.

PS; Ahh, typical the half term dates have changed for next Feb. So, after a lot of thought the next RamsdenCon will be – work it out!

RamsdenCon – The True Story

By Mark Stretch

So, you’ve read the story according to Annie, but as we all know, Annie could never be called unbiased, so what really happened in Billericay?

The worst point of RamsdenCon as always was actually getting to the damn place. It really shouldn’t be difficult getting to Essex, but at that time on a Friday night, the M25 just turns into one enormous car park. The roadworks didn’t hely my cause much, either.

Having got as far as RamsdenCon I was met by Annie and my stunt double. Thank you for that one Spurgeon – you’ll pay for that. It’s just a shame that the Turks didn’t play ball in Ord, or the rest of us would have had some peace and quiet to enjoy.

Without too much further ado, onto the first ever live role playing game of fantasy midnight party. Unfortunately, though, the first game was a variant, being played to Kevin McGowan’s variant rules (rather than GIT rules) involving rather a lot of candles and the long suffering Mark Jones in a white sheet as Hugo. I dread to think what the neighbours thought we were up to. Some strange satanic ritual, probably. Having Annie (sub Spurgeon) as captain didn’t help our chances much, unfortunately.

Saturday dawned far too early. At least I was up in time for a wonderful demonstration by Colin Smith of how not to play 1830. Unfortunately he miscalculated on the bankruptcy by 4$, and was slaughtered as a result. He will soon be giving Spurgeon a run for his money in the losing stakes at this rate.

Saturday evening is of course the RamsdenCon freeform – this year with an Egyptology theme. Highlights of the event were

  • Steve Bond accosting 14 year old girls and taking them upstairs for a good time.
  • Bellydancer Tabu using her special ability of seduction on me. Clearly she has excellent taste in men.
  • Colin Smith playing a wonderful hack who was even too down market for a publication like SNOT. No doubt he’ll be appearing in the Fungus soon.
  • Mark Jones with his face hidden again as a mummy. He’s probably even more long suffering at the hands of Annie than I am. Poor guy.
  • Mark Wightman meanwhile seemed to believe that it was still some strange alien teleportation device (batteries not included).

Well, I guess you had to be there, I suppose. At least Kevin wasn’t after the same women as me this year and all the others didn’t accuse me of everything this time. Thank you to Lucya and Annie for doing such a good job of running it.

And so to Sunday. Now those of you familiar with RamsdenCon will know that this means the auction. My stunt double was auctioned off by Paul Spurgeon – Hillary Smith was the very lucky recipient of that prize. I am assured that it will be hung up above her bed for her to drool over for all eternity.

Later, of course, I had the dubious pleasure of being auctioned again. Of course with a labour government, inflation was prevalent as I went for twice as much as last year. Fortunately the perverted Kevin McGowan was outbid. Not so fortunately, he seems to have made a pact with the devil Annie to obtain me for next year. Remind me not to turn up in February, somebody.

Instead I was landed my the girlie consortium (Alex, Annie, Lee, Carol, Rosie and Hillary). So, they each had me for ten minutes in-between which I was trying to get on with a game of history of the world. I hope they had their money’s worth. How I still managed 1st= in that game is beyond me.

And so that was all for RamsdenCon ’97. See you all at the next one.