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Return to Gauda Prime 2


INTRODUCTION by Jackie Emery
I would have loved to go to RTGP2, but in a masterstroke of bad timing happened to be out of the country on 13th April. I read with interest and envy all the comments on the forum thread before, during and afterwards and felt that such an event should really be preserved on the website as a proper article. Five attendees – two Brits, two Yanks and one German - answered my plea for reports, which I am delighted to present here. Enjoy!



RETURN TO GAUDA PRIME by Hugbot

Prologue: Horizon
Nervous? I wasn’t nervous. Just ... poised for action.
Of course, I had some doubts. Would I be able to understand you (my aural comprehension unit being tuned to BBC English)? Could I make myself understood? And could I stomach full English breakfast for three days?

There was another little problem. As much as I enjoy the interstellar adventures of our heroes and heroines, I am not very keen on flying. The last time I saw the inside of an aircraft was 25 years ago, and in the last couple of years I have had to translate several books on air travel disasters. That did not make me feel any more comfortable. But as I am always inclined to broaden my horizons, I eventually embarked on the Steventon adventure.

Chapter 1: A Tale of Two Cities at the Edge of the World
It’s good to live in Flensburg. B7 veteran Pippa Steel was born here, and the Baltic Sea and Denmark are only minutes away. On the other hand, southbound travel connections are rather sparse. It took me 2.5 hours to reach Hamburg Airport. Going from there to London was just a matter of a little over an hour. The plane that would bring me to England turned out to be a small CRJ900 toy aircraft that lets you feel every gust of wind. Just my luck!

But all went well, and I arrived at my B&B in East Hendred earlier than expected. After a refreshing cross-country walk, I eventually got to Steventon with plenty of time before our scheduled gathering in the Cherry Tree pub. What to do in the remaining time? While booking my accommodation, I had read one or two things about Steventon, and thus I went for a nice stroll along the famous Causeway (a cobblestone alley that is 700 years old, as I learned the next day).

Suddenly a purple-clad lady and a boy emerged from one of the surrounding streets. We eyed each other warily. Would that be – ?
That’s how I met Purplecleric. As we introduced ourselves, I was immediately recognised as an alien shape-shifter:

"That’s not an English accent, is it?"
"No, I’m from Germany."
"You're on business in the area, which meant that you could join us?"
"No, I’m just here for the occasion."
"Hey, we're honoured!"

We went to the pub, where we were soon joined by Sopron, Scott and the Clangers. Beer for the grown-ups, some funny green stuff for PC Minor that Scott immediately identified as Adrenalin & Soma. "Must be in the genes!"

I had my first chips with salt and vinegar for ages, and after the long day I was so greedy that I nearly choked on them.
"I’ve never done the Heimlich manoeuvre, and I don’t want to start now!" Sopron commented.

The really wonderful thing was that although I had never met any of you before, and PC was the only one with whom I had directly interacted on the board during the rewatches, it felt like meeting old friends! All birds of a feather. Nonetheless, I had to leave the company rather early. It had been a long day for me.

"There will be even more geeks tomorrow," Clanger warned me.
"That’s fine," I responded, "then I’m not the only one!"

Did I say southbound travel connections are sparse in Flensburg? Try getting a taxi in Steventon. I asked the staff at the Cherry Tree to call a taxi for me. They tried, but informed me that I had to pay for the dead miles – 10 quid for the taxi to come to Steventon and another 10 for the actual two-mile mile ride down the road to East Hendred. Thankfully, a member of the staff offered me a lift for a small contribution, which I gladly accepted.

It was a wonderful day. I had no doubts any more. Had I ever been nervous?

Chapter 2: The Harvest of Steventon
The first thing I saw when I woke up was the manufacturer’s stamp on the light switch: legrand. Was that a good omen (a B7-related light switch) or a bad one (considering Frieda Knorr’s dreadful performance)? Luckily I don’t believe in omens, so I wasn't bothered.

Another cross-country walk, and I arrived at Steventon Village Hall just as Paula, Brad, Trevor Travis and Spaceship Dispatcher disembarked from SD’s car. Using my real face as my avatar turned out once again to be a strategically wise decision: I was immediately recognised! As soon as Paula spotted me, she came towards me, arms spread wide calling: "Hugbooot!" Again there were handshakes, hugs (I have to live up to my name, haven’t I?) and introductions. TT looked very different without the horns.

We embarked on PC’s guided tour through the lovely village of Steventon. Beautiful spots, interesting explanations by our guide, and the odd National Trust joke. (It seems as if this running gag will be with us for some time.)

When we returned, there was already a crowd gathering in front of the town hall. Another round of introductions took place. And then we went in, looking in awe at the original costumes and models and the fine workmanship of the replicas.

Littlesue introduced me to Mat Irvine: "Hugbot came over from Germany just to take part in this event!"
To which Mat responded: "Guten Tag!" and even apologised that this was the only phrase he remembered from his German lessons!
I had seen Mat presenting his models on the DVD extras, and I always thought that he must be a really great guy. And now I was actually talking to this wonderful chap and had his original models right before my eyes! We had a nice chat, he signed his book for me and invited me to the next Smallspace event.

*

As awesome as it was to see the original Mat Irvine models and our top models Meegat and Ellen showing off the original costumes, for me this was just the sugar coating on the really important aspect of the event: getting to know my fellow Blakeans (or is that – similar to the Firefly 'Browncoats' – Greenanoraks?). I have never attended a proper convention, I am no autograph hunter and I don’t have any ambition to have my photograph taken with the stars of the show (actually, I would make an exception to that rule if it were Josette Simon, but for completely different reasons ...). I regarded RTGP2 more as a social event – a 'fan gathering', as it was officially and wisely called – and it was the fact that this was not a huge convention, but a small, more intimate meeting that attracted me in the first place. It really changed the way I partake in the rewatches and the forum discussions. Before RTGP2, I interacted on the board with some online acquaintances. Now that I know you, I use the forum and the rewatches as a means to communicate with personal friends. (And at last, I can now read TT’s posts without imagining Og sitting at the keyboard!) And all of you were very welcoming and made it very easy for me as a complete stranger to become a part of it.

I can only hope that I didn’t make it difficult for you. Shall I compare me to a summer’s day? No, more to a sombre winter night. Confronted with larger groups, I always tend to take the position of an observer – watching instead of contributing, just answering instead of asking, reacting instead of acting. Lack of practice in speaking English for the past decades doesn’t make it any easier. On the other hand, it proved beneficial for me that I got to know you one by one – some at the Cherry Tree on the day before, others at PC’s guided tour, and the rest at the event proper. It would have been too overwhelming to be introduced to all of you at the same time. I had seen photos of some of you before, but a photo will never tell you everything. Other people came as a complete surprise, and one attendee was a complete mystery: I didn’t even know whether to expect a lad or a lass! So I had to learn a good deal in any case and was glad to do it piecemeal.

*

Eventually, I took a tea break. Lovely tea (tip for your holidays: never drink tea in a German hotel/café outside the province of East Frisia), wonderful cakes and biscuits and Paula’s not exactly low-calorie, but irresistable chocolate fudge. After a nice chat with the tea lady (and some confusion about the unusual British coins) I joined the table where Poj was just presenting her treasure box – the long-lost paper box with the hand-drawn B7 logo on top and all the programme guide clippings, a Peter Tuddenham autograph card, a letter from Jacqueline Pearce and other little gems. That was a real treat, and I congratulated myself for choosing this very time and place for my tea break!

*

All good things must come to an end. Well, it was not yet over, even when the exhibitors packed up their gear and many of the visitors went home. Quite a large throng assembled at the Cherry Tree to end the day merrily with wine, women, and song. Actually, most had beer, and we were spared TT’s rendition of Distant Star due to the fact that Vere Lorrimer not only wrote lyrics to the main tune, but changed the melody in parts.

We spent the evening with childhood and adolescent reminiscences ('the electric eighties'), strange B7 conspiracy theories (did it ever occur to you that Orac might have been a Federation agent?), critical discussions on the dubious merits of modern technology (odysseys and disasters caused by dumb adherence to wrong satnav directions, and the decay of orthography due to spell checkers) and all in all had a very good time.

All of a sudden, I came up with my Horizon address book and begged all the remaining attendees to perpetuate themselves in the little book, which led Sopron to state: "You are too well organised! You know that you are living up to a cultural stereotype?"
As a matter of fact, I wasn’t organised well enough. I had planned to bring my own address cards with me to distribute among the crowd, but completely forgot about that in my travel preparations. Hopefully I will remember next time!

Suddenly, we heard some guy at the bar saying: "... and it was a British series?" We all glanced over in curiosity and saw PC talking to an uninitiated bloke.
"She’s doing the TV evangelist again," someone commented, "always spreading the word!"

That evening, I stayed to the very last. PC gave me a lift back to my B&B. On the way, we talked about my experience of the day and about the Horizon community in general. I had known in advance that many of you know each other personally and meet quite frequently. Actually, this had been one reason for me joining in the first place. When I registered, I already assumed that this was not going to be just an online experience, but that I would have the chance of meeting you one day in the flesh.
"And now you are part of the gang," PC said.
And that was exactly how I felt.

Chapter 3: Aftermath
As I had wisely scheduled my flight back for Tuesday, I had the whole of Monday at my disposal. So I went to Abingdon to visit the Pressure Point locations. Finding the folly was no problem, and after wandering around I think I discovered the door (according to Sopron’s description). I spent quite a lot of time in the park alongside the Thames and I can understand why this was one of PC’s favourite 'studying' grounds.

Of course I was not alone. Many people were taking advantage of the sunny day. Some children played in the ruins of the folly – did they not know they were on sacred ground? A young couple strolled by, and I heard the guy say: "Oh, look, there are some ruins." Some ruins? You ignoramus!

And then there was another group of very young children, running around the folly, playing and hollering, and I swear I distinctly heard one little girl call her pal: "Vila!!!" What was that? A re-enactment not of the Intergalactic War, but of Blake’s ill-fated attempt to destroy Control? Children infected with the Blake virus by their parents? Or is it in the genes, as we established two days before?

I wrote a postcard to my ex-wife, saying that I was at the exact spot where Blake and Gan had been. She knew that I had gone to a B7 gathering, but being no sci-fi aficionado herself and having studied English literature, she got on to the wrong track. "Interesting that this famous poet had been there once," she said when we met again, "but I’m afraid I don’t know the other guy."

Chapter 4: The Way Back
Try to get a taxi in Steventon or East Hendred. When I checked out of my B&B, I asked the young lady to call a taxi for me. "I can try, but I don’t think that they are yet on duty this early in the morning," she said. Early in the morning??? We are talking 9.15 am!

After some discussion, the taxi operator agreed to send a car to the B&B in the next quarter of an hour. In time, a taxi arrived at the B&B. Well, not a taxi strictly speaking, but a taxi driver in his own car! "Do you accept a fixed price?", he asked, as of course he had no meter on board. The price was OK, so I accepted, and made my way to Didcot Parkway railway station.

On the platform I noticed the displays listing the next trains: on time – on time – on time – on time. There are similar displays in Germany as well, only they say: 5 minutes late – 10 minutes late – 20 minutes late – 50 minutes late – will run eventually – have a guess. (Well, slighty exaggerated, but you get the point.) And I could actually understand the PA!

The Voyage Home (oops, wrong series!) went by without any incidents. This time, I had an A319 for the flight back – still no Liberator, but far more comfortable!

Back at home, nearly the first thing I did after getting out of my coat was to boot my computer, log on to Horizon and report myself Down and Safe.
I have always wanted to say that.


***






STEVENTON? WHERE'S THAT NOW? by Paula Black

We had no plans to visit the UK again so soon. We had just spent two weeks there six months previously and thought it would be at least another year until we visited again. At least that’s what we thought. Once we read of Clareblue’s ideas for a Return to Gauda Prime 2, we thought again. That, and a few weeks later hearing of Steven Pacey reprising his role in Relative Values in the West End of London - well, we were finally compelled to visit and had to turn a deaf ear to our complaining bank account, and venture over the Pond once again.

Steventon: A lovely little town. We are blessed with many Horizon friends, and this time we had Spaceship Dispatcher offering to drive us down to Steventon for the day. Thank you, SD. We really appreciate your friendship and hospitality, along with all the other friends of ours in our fandom. We were in town bright and early - more than an hour before we were even allowed to enter the Town Hall. We took advantage of Purplecleric’s kind offer to give us a tour of the town. There were five of us on the tour - Brad and myself, Trevor Travis, Spaceship Dispatcher, and Hugbot. We marveled over the 700-year-old cobblestone path, the Elizabethan structures, the quaint church, and the calming signs of Spring - blooming flowers and baby ducklings in the mill stream. It was a great prelude for the day to come.

At eleven am sharp we got in line and registered for the day. Clareblues herself was officiating, along with Angry Angel and of course, being mad sad fans, we had to hug and kiss each and every one of our friends. Once registered, Scott helped me with my baked goods and treats and set me up with a table in the break room. Purplecleric’s own Mum was tea lady (a term unknown to us in the USofA) and we could take a break from all the fun and have a nice bit of dessert any time we needed it. The break room also doubled as our lunch room for the afternoon.

The main hall was all set up as we entered. Right in the middle of it all was Mat Irvine’s displays of his various Blake’s 7 models and items. I can’t tell you how much fun we had speaking with Mat. He was personable and charming and we took an immediate liking to him. He signed our fabled Blake’s 7 poster and I told him how much I loved the BBC VFX book he had written. Many of us took photos of his models and we had the time of our lives playing with the teleport console. TT and I, especially!

Around the perimeter of the main hall were various tables of interest. Damien May and fiancée Charlotte were there selling his amazing Blake’s 7 artwork. Little Sue was there displaying all of her Blake’s 7 fan zines and such. Speaking with her, I realised what a wealth of knowledge she had on the subject. Her Daughter #2 was there also, to help her Mum. Clanger68 and Karyn were there with their various models and displays, along with Exterminator who had his models and items on display, too.

B7Gary was also there and his astonishing genuine costumes had the place of honour on the stage. Seeing his costumes is always a wonderful experience, but the best thing is that Gary will let people actually touch and inspect said costumes and even try them on for size - and that is a rarity in fandom, so hats off to Gary and the fun we all had with his gorgeous costumes.

Of course, Horizon itself was represented by our Supreme Commander Diane and her rather astounding selection of Blake’s 7 and other merchandise. She had a few silent auctions going on and I was lucky enough to win a few I bid on. I got a lovely pyramid shaped candle with the image of the Liberator on it, and a carved wood stationery holder with the Federation logo on it. Suffice it to say, I was pleased to get them.

President Solvite manned the swap table. There were many tempting items there, but I worried about the weight of my luggage so I only picked up four books at the end of the day. But there were many items from many fandoms available and it was fun to look through all the donated items - donated items which found homes eventually. I even managed to snag myself a genuine Blake’s 7 Annual from 1979. Thanks, Little Sue!

The day was filled with merriment and laughter, seeing all our old friends and even making new ones. It was great to finally meet Hugbot and Ellen, Poj and Sopron - to name only a few. The great thing about fandom is that you already have a bond in Blake’s 7 or Doctor Who and it’s just a matter of putting names with faces and you’re off. We had a great conversation during lunch in the break room; of course talking about our favourite programme as always. None of us wanted to leave to go back to the festivities; it was so much fun getting to know each other and being able to talk without having to type our responses as on the Forum. That in itself took a bit of getting used to, but fun it was nonetheless! I was even interviewed by new Forum member The Geeks Handbag and I was told I’d be included with the other interviews he did that day on YouTube. So thanks for making me feel important, GH.

As the time progressed, we had the drawing for the prizes in the charity auction. There was a large Gauda Prime poster donated by Damien May as first prize. There was a large Blake’s 7 themed blow-up photo as second prize, and bottles of wine, chocolates, and an autograph from Paul Darrow for the other prizes. I had wanted the large poster ever since I had laid eyes on it a few weeks before in a prize preview. Little did I think in my wildest dreams that I would actually win it. We had Mat Irvine pick out the lucky numbers and when I heard him voice ‘13’ I lost it, as I knew I had won the poster. I was over the moon. I have to admit I did not hear who won the blow up photo or the wine, but I know that TT won the choccies and autograph. I told him later he could re-enact the Galactic War once again with all the chocolates he had now. Of course, I had thought nothing of winning the poster - until I paused to give a thought as to how I’d get it home…(I did manage eventually, and the customs people didn’t care a lick about my precious Blake’s 7 memorabilia. Must have been mundanes, all of them. Or dosed with Pylene 50!) And thank you Damien for signing my poster after I had won it. It’s always a pleasure to acquire more of your art work.

As the day wore down, Gary let a number of us go up on stage and try on his original costumes. We watched enrapt as our fellow Forum members had their dreams come true by trying these on and acting like our favorite characters from Blake’s 7. Meegat looked especially fetching in Avon’s famous leather and studs costume from the second series. Ellen had on Avon’s brown corduroy number from series three, and Sopron wore Avon’s fourth series basic black costume waistcoat. A few props from Clanger and Exterminator, and the fashion show was complete. The highlight of the costumes was Gary’s most recent acquisition: the red Keiller jacket worn by Roy Kinnear in the episode Gold. We coaxed Scott to try it on, and then Gary himself wore it for a time while the cameras kept clicking. It was a silly moment, but highly satisfying and enormous fun seeing everyone revert to children and have the time of their lives. I think we all got ample photos of the event.

As it came near time to close up, many of the die-hard fans stayed and helped to disassemble the displays and help not only Mat Irvine pack up, but also to help Gary, Clanger, Exterminator and Little Sue put their prize displays away for the trip home. I was especially happy to carry many of the priceless costumes to Gary’s car. I thought to myself, when will I have this chance again? Holding the history of Blake’s 7 in my arms? We finally managed to get everything sorted out and then about twenty of us proceeded to the pub, walking in line down the sidewalk in a sort of mass exodus.

Luckily the Cherry Tree Pub was just down the road and we all assembled in a large side room and proceeded to have a well-deserved drink and dinner and a stimulating conversation with our friends for the day. I think we spent over three hours there and we were loath to leave, but having Spaceship Dispatcher as our ride, we didn’t want to over-stay our welcome and we finally called it a night at a bit after 9 pm.

What a day: fun, jokes (beware of the National Trust), prizes, and ample time to have a decent conversation with our fellow fans. I love the larger conventions, but there is definitely something to say for the smaller get-togethers. First, they are more intimate and the attendees are all Blake’s 7 fanatics. That helps a lot, as you can walk up to an absolute stranger and have a simply wonderful conversation, despite having never met the person before. I think these types of get-togethers organised by Clareblues and her minions are really the best. It’s a chance to see and talk with our dear friends and fellow Forum members. A chance to see one-of-a-kind costumes and props. Occasionally time to meet and enjoy a celebrity. But most of all, a chance to be with our kind. If you missed either the first Gauda Prime or this Return to Gauda Prime party, then I’m truly sorry, because you missed so much fun and so much love from your fellow fans. I sincerely hope we have another RTGP soon because our bank account be damned, we’ll be there again. Thank you Clare, minions, and my fellow fans for such a memorable and lovely day.

My one regret was not having a sing-along of “Distant Star”, the theme song of Blake’s 7. Trevor Travis had the lyrics ready, penned by Vere Lorrimer himself, but we could never match up the lyrics with the melody. Well, we did match it up, sort of, in the pub, but by then, no one was in any condition to sing and read the lyrics at the same time. Oh, well, perhaps next time…

***





RETURN TO GAUDA PRIME PART 2 by Brad Black

Return to Gauda Prime 2 did not, in fact, take place on Gauda Prime, but in the charming village of Steventon, Ogsfordshire. It has been passionately (and somewhat sadly) denied that Clareblues picked Steventon as the site of our rendezvous because she thought a certain Steven lived there.

In fact, a certain Cleric of the Purple lives there, and the pre-convention activities consisted of a guided tour of the village. Partakers of the grand tour were treated to such sites as a bona fide English Village Green, a seven hundred year old side-walk, a one hundred and fifty year old mailbox, a canal with resident ducks, the Steventon home of the chief engineer of the Great Western Railway, Isambard Kingdom Brunell (no, really, that’s his name), and the sight of one of his trains attempting to spend as little time in Steventon as possible. We proceeded to the church, arriving at the end of Sunday service, though I’m not sure if it was intended that we should meet the parish, or serve as a stern warning to the faithful. At least I was dressed properly, decked out in my Liberator tie.

On to the convention, which featured Clanger68’s costumes and models, Exterminator’s costumes and models, B7 Gary’s costumes, Littlesue’s zine collection, Supreme Commander’s Horizon treasures, Damien’s art, and Mat Irvine’s artefacts. There were more costumes than you could shake a prop at, more props than you could shake an Orac at, more Oracs than you could shake a Liberator at (including a real Orac), more Liberators than you could shake an Og at (including a real Liberator) and Og (not real). It was in all likelihood the greatest collection of Blake’s 7 original items seen in one place since Mary Ridge cried, ‘That’s a wrap!’ at the end of episode 52.

It was great to see all this Blake’s 7 stuff, whether it was original items, home-made replicas, official memorabilia, or personal keepsakes, but ‘it’ is not the point of RTGP, ‘things’ are not why we came, and ‘stuff’ is not what we’ll remember. The real treat was the chance to chat with people who love the show as much as we do. Look! There’s Mat Irvine with a real piece of the teleport console, a real Liberator, and a real Orac. My heart raced as I studied these Blake’s 7 relics, but the memory that lingers is the simple pleasure of talking to Mat ‘fan to fan’ as he shared the love of his craft and his love of the show. The same goes for all the fans, whether they brought original props, replicas, personal mementoes, or nothing more than their love of Blake’s 7. Fans are the point of RTGP, fans are the strength of RTGP, fans are why we came, and fans are why we’ll be back.

Where else can I walk up to someone from another country, show off my Liberator tie (made for me by a fan from The Netherlands), and not have to explain it? Where else does my love of all things Blake’s 7 appear normal? Where else do all these mad sad misfits fit in?

And so it should come as no surprise that once the props, costumes, Og horns, and zines were packed away in vans and the doors to the village hall were closed, the lot of us were off to the pub to continue the fellowship and knock back a pint. It’s what Vila would have wanted.

We had a great time and look forward to doing it again someday, even if there are no props, no costumes, no memorabilia, no keepsakes, nothing but our fellow mad sad fans. In fact, that sounds rather appealing. Yes, just the fans, our beloved fellow fans are all we need...

Well… maybe one Orac… and one Liberator… one set of Og horns… an Avon costume would be nice…I don’t suppose we could manage a blaster rifle? Of course, Paula will have to make cookies and we’ll need a tea lady….


***






WHICH WAY TO GAUDA PRIME? JUST FOLLOW THE MUNCHIES SIGN! by Sue Little

“What have I let myself in for?” asked Daughter No. 2 as the back of her car began to fill up with 6 boxes, 1 shelving unit (flat-packed of course), a laptop computer, extension for said laptop and assorted other frames for posters.

“Just drive!” said I.

And so one quite chilly, but sunny Sunday morning we set off with a trusty Satnav and map book (just in case) to rendezvous with like-minded rebels at Return to Gauda Prime 2, in Steventon Village Hall in Oxfordshire. A very nice, large modern building on the right… which we missed, beacuse we were looking to the left at the café called Munchies, the signs for which were our guiding light as we turned off the A34.

After a very quick U-turn, Sarah pulled into the car park and we were greeted by Clare and Purple Cleric.

“You need to go round the back,” they said, so Sarah did.
“How many tables?” I was asked.
“One,” I replied, as Sarah began to carry the boxes in. “Maybe two.” More boxes. “Okay, make it three!”

“How much stuff have you brought?” asked Sarah as we finally got ourselves sorted; shelving unit erected (courtesy of my boss, hence the sign saying Mainmast Books on it!) table cloth put out, laptop set up, extension lead plugged in, cup of tea…

As I went to make sure all the boxes were present and correct, I bumped into Meegat and Ellen York, and then a lady drew up asking where the next hall was. “This isn’t the dog show, is it?”
A word from PC’s Mum had the lady and her dog heading in the right direction.

And then the bodies began to arrive! Goodness knows what the good people of Steventon thought as various body parts and entire bodies were brought in and placed on the stage… goodness knows what anyone thought as Sarah struggled with Gary to put a pair of trousers on one of the mannequins (I was laughing too much!).

And then we waited for the countdown and listened to a selection of TV themes via this remarkable little box. The worst thing was, I knew most of them! And we are talking old themes here! Sarah and I did a quite passable version of the Charlie's Angels opening credit sequence and later on we could be heard warbling the Stingray closing music; Marina.

And then the main man arrived. Mat Irvine with his models and his slide projector; the one he had used at the Space Centre. I pointed out that every time he had asked if anyone knew which programme a slide was from, he had looked at me!
"Well, you knew the answers," said he!
Mat said that maybe I should accompany him to the USA and sit in on his lectures, just so that at least someone answered the questions. Hmm. would hubby like that?

Anyway... the hall was ready, the tea was ready. The costumes were in place, Clanger and Exterminator had put together all their props and I had put my hand-knitted jumper up on show after Sarah had located a coat hanger. Not quite in the same league as the hoard of Oracs, the Stardrive or the lovely model of the Libby, but it was mine and I loved it.

I have no idea where the time went, but I spent most of it chatting, sharing memories, looking at Poj’s magical box of B7 stuff that she thought had been lost, but then she had found it (cue a few tears). Drinking tea that was lovingly provided by a bemused PC’s Mum who wasn’t too sure what everyone was here for!

Quite honestly, this had to be the biggest amount of B7-related stuff ever collected under one roof and not a single Dr Who item to be seen. It may have been there, but I didn’t see it! I think we could easily run a museum! In our little corner: all three tables, plus the counter. Sarah even managed to have certain episodes and fan videos running on the laptop. I was supposed to have put Linda Short’s songs on the portable hard drive… but I hadn’t. That would have been so cool, as she did sing her songs at the smaller conventions that we had back then.

All in all a smashing day, far too short.

If B7 was airing on TV today, I think the turn-out would have been tremendous. As it is, all those that did turn up got to see things up close and personal. And with the costumes - some even got to try them on! I mean, that never happened at any other convention.

As the day drew to a close, the sun shone through the stained glass window in the hall and the rays enveloped Orac sitting majestically on Mat’s table waiting to be returned to its box. You will have to see the photos to appreciate just how magical that looked; even Mat stopped to take a picture.

So we all said our goodbyes; Sarah and I off back along the A34, mindful of potholes! Others to their hotels, and then the pub! The Pub seems to play an important part in these events; be they walking up Pyrton Hill, going down Wookey Hole… even visiting a quarry in Sunny Dorset!

But all in all, a lovely day; sharing memories, shedding a few tears about treasures lost, meeting so many new people, especially those who had come from afar like Trevor Travis, Purplecleric, Clare... no - a bit further than that! Brad, Paula, Hugbot (who was greeted by Mat in German; very impressive!), Ellen York, Poj, Geeks Handbag… and Steventon Hall was perfect, as was the catering (thanks to PC’s Mum!).

Now to persuade Clare to go through it all again next year!
Maybe next year, we can round up more people.
Maybe next year, I will get extra tables and spread my stuff around a bit more.
Maybe next year, we may even be able to persuade a member of the cast to turn up?

Can I have FOUR tables, Clare?

***






RETURN TO GAUDA PRIME 2 - A ‘behind the scenes’ viewpoint by Clare Juland

7.30am on Sunday morning… loading the car… have I got everything? Check! Having observed my ritual 36 hours of wrecked nerves, the day got underway and it was too late for nerves. People had come from distant planets to enjoy this event and so enjoy it they will!

A number of my fellow fans were already at work when I arrived at the village hall in Steventon. Tables were being set out and costumes unpacked amid a flurry of activity. As more people arrived with their memorabilia the showpiece displays began to take shape.

One might be forgiven for thinking that just setting up a few displays could be perceived as dull, but not a bit of it. It was such a pleasure to see so many people who have become good friends having fun and simply enjoying the opportunity to share with others their respective collections.

Perhaps the most amusing incident involved a pair of red leather trousers once worn by Mr Darrow. Never in the act of ‘dressing’ an inflatable mannequin has so much hilarity been caused by one garment! Luckily for posterity the moment was captured on viscast so I will spare embarrassment by not mentioning names, though I imagine it won’t be lived down for many years to come!

It was an equally great pleasure to welcome our special guest Mat Irvine, visual effects expert and creator of the many ships and props used on Blake’s 7. Ably assisted by Scott in unloading his space chopper, Mat set out an enviable collection of screen used models and props.

By now several attendees were gathering and Fiona (Purplecleric) had arranged to take them on a walking tour of the village, while the final preparations continued. And from what I have been told by those who went on the walkabout, very enjoyable it was too. Kudos to Fiona!

Fiona had also kindly arranged for her mum to serve drinks and cake for us during the event and I can honestly say that it was a sterling effort and delicious cake!! Thank you, Fiona’s mum! Thanks also due to Paula for making some truly delicious treats and putting them out for everyone to enjoy.

And so the stage was set: models, props, costumes, memorabilia, artwork and who could forget Baby Og?! Transported courtesy of crochet guru Lucy, Og and his companion crochet Vila held court on the registration desk for most of the day.

Throughout the morning and early afternoon people browsed the displays, gathered and chatted about all things Blake’s 7. I suspect the Galactic War may have been mentioned, but we got away with it! The Og horns were donned by numerous people and even a Fez proudly crowned Dennis’ head!

Time for the raffle, and a giant display poster had kindly been donated as first prize by Damien May. This was won by Paula, who reported afterwards that it made quite a tour of the UK in the days after the event! It is now stateside and a much treasured item in their collection.

Sadly the day drew to a close far too quickly, but afterwards many of us retreated to the local watering hole and carried on the chatter over a pie and a pint!

In closing, I would just like to express my thanks to everyone who helped to make the day a success and raise a glass to Blake’s 7!

***




Photographs by Hugbot, Spaceship Dispatcher, Brad and Paula
Flyer and other artwork by Damien May

The Geeks Handbag's video report is on YouTube Here

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