Pemmi-Con – Day 1

I am in Canada, by the skin of my teeth. I am getting too old for travel nightmares.

When I booked this trip I was due to have a Noon flight from Heathrow on Tuesday, spend Wednesday morning with clients, and be on a 6:00pm flight to Winnipeg. That so did not happen.

On Monday morning I got a text from Air Canada saying that my flight from Heathrow was cancelled and they were trying to find me an alternative flight. I was due to see Roz Kaveney who is in hospital recovering from a hip operation, so I put the flight to the back of my mind and went on with my day. But while I was in the hospital I got another text saying that no alternative flights were available and promising a refund. Of course that would only be a refund from the London-Toronto, not the Toronto-Winnipeg. Plus no convention.

Once I’d handed over visitor duties to Roz’s partner, I went on to my hotel at Heathrow (which I had already paid for) and set about trying to fix things. I had been in the queue to speak to Air Canada for about 5 minutes when a new text came through. They had found me a flight to Toronto. It was leaving at around the same time, but from Zurich. So would I please get myself to Heathrow in time to catch the 6:00am Swiss Air flight to get me out there. That meant getting up at 2:30am. It is a good job that I had an airport hotel.

Anyway, I made it, and I got to see Zurich, if only from the air. I got to my Toronto airport hotel around 5:00pm local and went to bed at around 8:00pm as I needed to be up at 5:00am to get to my client’s offices. Somehow I managed to deliver a training course without falling asleep.

Some weeks back the 6:00pm Winnipeg flight had been changed to 6:30pm, which was fine. I was just leaving the client’s offices when a new text came in. The Winnipeg flight would be 7:45pm. We had two gate changes between my arriving at Pearson and the flight starting to board. Boarding began at around 7:40pm, but by 8:00pm we were all on board. And then we sat there, for over an hour. Waiting for I know not what. The pilot blamed it on the ground crew being slow loading the baggage, but it shouldn’t take over an hour to get that done. It was almost midnight by the time I got to bed.

Goodness only knows what will happen on the trip home. I expect to be stranded in Toronto on Monday night.

But before then I have a convention. Today I have watched online talks at the universities of Bristol and Glasgow, which were much more interesting than the programing here. Then I did a panel on diversity in SF&F in past times. I was looking forward to that because I’ve met no end of 20-something fans who are convinced that there were no PoC or queer folks in SF&F before about 2010. But, as it turned out, I’m actually in the younger half of attendees here. Many of the audience were older than me, and they knew a lot about old books, stories and writers. Anyway, I got to rant about Heinlein. My thanks to Nisi Shawl and Sandra Bond for being great co-panelists.

Tomorrow I am giving a talk on the Pre-History of Robotics. I can’t tell you where, but it probably won’t be in York 3 as advertised because that room has no screen or projector.

I get the impression that the concom here are doing sterling work with far too little money and ever fewer volunteers.

However, it has all been worth it because I got to see the First Nations woman perform at openening ceremonies. It was just her voice and a tympanum-like drum, but she was amazing. The wolf song was particularly impressive, you could really feel the drama of the pack chasing down its prey.

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