Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask — Special Irish Worldcon Edition, Day Five

DAY FIVE

By Chris M. Barkley: Author’s Note: This column is being written on the day after our return from Ireland. Because, time travel. AND jet lag.

Field Notes

  • BREAKING NEWS: I received a text from John and incredibly, Carole’s wallet was FOUND with all of the contents intact. I immediately spread the news on the Dublin 2019 Irish WorldCon Community Group and on my own page. I hope the details on who found it and where it was lost will be forthcoming. Needless to say, there was much rejoicing in the land this day!
  • Dublin has a taxi service called FreeNow, which, I have come to discover, is neither. I was considering filing a suit with the World Trade Organization but HEY, Carole’s wallet was found, so forgetaboutit…
  • Neither the flatmates nor myself have turned on the tv since we’ve been here. And we’re good with that.
  • My Irish flatmate Peter has sadly informed me that Hurling is a sport that does not involve vomiting on a professional level. I told him I was very relieved to hear this because the programmers at Fox Sports do not need any encouragement…
  • I do regret not getting to John Scalzi’s incredibly danceable DJ session Saturday night. It probably would have annoyed him if I had pestered him all night requesting Manchester (UK) bands like The Stone Roses, The Smiths, 808 State, Inspiral Carpets, Swing Out Sisters, Simply Red, Oasis, The Chemical Brothers, Electronic, The Mothmen, The Mindbenders, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Charlatans, The Happy Mondays, New Order, Elbow, The Fall, The Courteeners and The Drones but not Bauhaus. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a great band, but from Northampton. Sorry.
  • Women and people of color and of alternate and non-conforming genders dominated the Hugo Awards for the umpteenth year in a row. Bravo. There must have been much squealing of horror from the basements of cis-gendered nerd boys last evening. White men had dominated fantasy and sf awards for decades so I am not feeling too sorry that other folks are in the ascendance right now. I am reminded of what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked in 2010, “How many women would be enough on the Supreme Court?” She replied, “Nine, nine… There have been nine men there for a long, long time, right? So why not nine women?”

I began the day solo because Juli had been hit with a double play of a sinus infection and a migraine brought on by the raising and lowering of the house lights during the Hugo Award Ceremony. As such, she remained in bed for most of the day.

Both Juli and I had one big regret out trip; that we hadn’t had time to very much sightseeing beyond the city. But, as I was walking about the city and looking at all of the people from different countries, cultures and languages, all working and living in this big, bustling cauldron of humanity felt like a more worldly, more cosmopolitan city than my own home town. I was both humbled and awed by the city of Dublin. 

As I was crossing the drawbridge, I saw an older woman of indeterminate heritage, sitting off to the right side of the walkway with a dixie cup of with a few coins in it.. I stopped in front of her.

Several weeks ago, while looking through a grocery trash can for losing lottery tickets (which could be redeemed for state lottery prizes), I saw a gleaming flash coming from the bottom. I reached in and pulled out a one Euro coin. My thought was that it was brought back to the US by a tourist and was used to rub lottery scratch off tickets and was either accidentally or deliberately thrown away.

But here I am, an American with an honest to god Euro and I was going to an honest to god country in the European Union. Right there and then, I vowed to make sure that this little Euro went home where it belongs.

And there I was on the bridge. I took that Euro and another coin out of my wallet. I leaned over and she smiled and held her cup up. “ I found this coin my country,” I said to her as I put the coins in her cup, “and I am just returning it to its home.” 

The woman gave me a broad smile and said something that was unintelligible to me but to me it felt both grateful and heartfelt. I wish I had given her more but the only thing I had left at this point in the trip were a few American bills, which would have been problematic for her to exchange. I walked on, hoping for the best for her. When I returned later, she was gone.

There was a Sunday session of the Business Meeting but I decided to skip it for reasons that will become very clear in my final report. 

I checked the schedule of remaining items and there was nothing of interest as far as I was concerned. So I made a beeline for the fan exhibit/dealer’s room. I had only been through the room once before and since I had a limited amount of space and weight allowance for our one suitcase and I wanted to buy at least one thing while I was in Dublin. 

Joe Scilari, Edie Stern and Boston superfan Mark Olson were manning the Fanac.org table and they proudly informed me that over 3500 pages of information had been uploaded to be archived, a tremendous success for the organization.

Edie Stern, Joe Siclari and Mark Olson at the Fanac.org table

If you are unfamiliar with Fanac, their website says:

“This site is devoted to the preservation and distribution of information about science fiction and science fiction fandom. There are fanzines, photos, and all sorts of strange and wonderful information about fandom’s past… 

So, check it out sometime.

While making my way to the New Zealand bid table, I wandered too close to the Chicago in 2022 table and was beckoned over by Dave McCarty, who was sporting the most garishly red Grateful Dead shirt I have ever seen.

Mr. McCarty specifically called me over for the expressed purpose of explaining, in passionate, excruciating detail, why the US Women’s Soccer team was being wrongheaded in their approach to their lawsuit against FIFA for equal pay. 

I will not go into detail about what his arguments were (if you were to contact him directly, I am quite sure he would be MORE than happy to lay out all of the evidence for you) but I conceded that he may have a point, which seemed to satisfy him (for now). And before you all label Mr. McCarty merely a sexist “mansplainer”, I want you to know that he is the father of a daughter and he desperately WANTS them to achieve to goal of being paid on an equal basis as the men’s team.

I also had the good fortune of being present when Mr. McCarty presented his lovely eight-year-old daughter, Mia, with her convention gift, a replica version of Hermione Granger’s wand. 

Dave McCarty and Mia

My next stop was the CoNZealand table where I checked on the price for a pair of supporting memberships. One of the staff members (whose name, unfortunately, I did not record) was utterly delighted to see my “Saint” symbol button and told he about how she obtained a rare copy of the original Leslie Charteris novel Meet The Tiger and how she was lucky enough to get it autographed by the late Sir Roger Moore!

Speaking of which, I had my phone out to check on my Paypal balance when I was approached by a fan named, wait for it…JAMES BOND, who asked me for some help finding a program item on Dublin’s online Worldcon app, Grenadine.

“One moment please,” I said as I put my phone down and reached into my crossbody bag for the printed pocket program book.

“Here you go. I’m analog today, not digital.” Mr. Bond got a good laugh out of that remark. For the record, I did NOT expect him to die…laughing. Just Sayin’.

When I finally got around to shopping the dealer tables, I caught sight of a book that I was very interested in; Farrah Mendelsohn’s The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein,  a deep, unflinchingly and critical look analyzing his fiction and non-fiction and how he influenced science fiction literature. 

While I was buying the book, I was reunited with my fellow File 770 reporter, Daniel Dern. We were also joined briefly by one of Dublin’s Special Guests, Spider Robinson and his “driver”, writer and comedian Stephan Herman. Spider had trouble remembering me until I reminded him that I had scored some pot for him and his late wife Jeanne at the 1994 Worldcon in Winnipeg, Canada. Ah good times. Also, yay for the statute of limitations.

Spider told me he had a fantastic time in Dublin and was very excited to sit down with a local genealogist while he was there. “ I have learned more about my family in that one hour than I ever did from the rest of my family during my life,“ he gushed.

Spider Robinson

I went back to our flat to check on Juli around 3:30. She was feeling well enough to go to the Closing Ceremonies at 4:30, but I wanted to take a short nap myself.

This decision proved to be a bad idea because Juli, thinking that I wasn’t getting enough sleep  on this trip, let me sleep in until 4:15. 

We rushed to the auditorium but the ceremony was already under way and we arrived in time to see George R.R. Martin and his partner Parris McBride on stage, accepting a Committee Award from Chair James Bacon for his contributions to Fandom and the Dublin bid in particular. I was saddened to see Ms. McBride in a neck brace and I sincerely hope she recovers soon.

I was surprised and happy to see that Dublin had recruited the creator of Artemis Fowl, Eowin Colfer, as the Host of Closing Ceremonies. Soon enough, Mr. Bacon took to the stage to thank the convention committee, his staff and volunteers and finally the fans who attended, to make it a memorable experience for everyone.

Chair James Bacon and the volunteers

Memorable? Indeed it was, But I can assure everyone reading this that the Dublin convention will be studied, scrutinized and autopsied more closely than any other recent Worldcon due to the cutoff of the sale of attending memberships weeks before the start of the convention, the size of the venue, the imposition of queuing lines by the owners of the convention center and the confusion they caused between the staff, volunteers and the attending fans. But, it’s Worldcon. It’s a certainty that things WILL go wrong and there will be some embarrassments and obstacles to overcome. People may have been angered over some incidents and inconvenienced by others but in the long run, the only thing that matters is that everyone survived and no one died. Having gone the 29 Worldcons now, I can attest to that).

After the gavel was symbolically passed to the New Zealand bid via interpretive dance and acrobatics, Juli and I headed over the The Drunken Fish for a celebratory dinner with Wyn, Liz, our flatmates Anna and Peter and our Australian fans, Susan and Grahame. As usual, I ordered too much food but, in the spirit of detente between the US and Ireland, I finished it all. Except for the extra helping of kimchi someone passed my way. There is only so much kimchi a person can take, I mean, c’mon man.

Wyn and Liz had been in country for nearly a week before everyone else arrived and took an extended driving tour of Ireland, visiting many castles along the way.

“Were any of the castles white?,” I asked Liz, who, thinking of the ubiquitous American fast food restaurant chain, broke out into a giggling fit. 

 As a matter of fact, we did see a white castle,” said Wyn in a very serious manner.

“Really?” I turned to Liz. “How was the food?” Liz collapsed in uncontrollable laughter. Mission accomplished. 

After dinner was consumed, we said goodbye to our dinner companions The flatmate squad then called a cab and traversed over to the southside of Dublin for a whiskey tasting at The Market Bar, the nicest looking hole-in-the-wall that I have ever seen in my life. Since I don’t drink spirits, I drank in the atmosphere and watched grown adults swoon over whiskey. Good times.

It took five tries but we were finally able to summoned a FreeNow cab (which, as I noted above, is neither) and we made our way back home.

While the flatmates recovered by chatting about their convention experiences, I began packing for the flight home, which was scheduled for 12:55 local time tomorrow.

As always, United Airlines advised us to get to the airport at least three hours in advance of the flight. Juli was particularly worried  about getting there early but hey, when we’ve flown in America, the wait time was usually a bogus ruse to get us there and buy stuff while we wait.

What could POSSIBLY go wrong, eh?   

2 thoughts on “Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask — Special Irish Worldcon Edition, Day Five

  1. The specific reason in the case of Dublin Airport (and also Shannon Airport) to get there a full three hours in advance if you are traveling to the USA is that, at those Irish airports and some others elsewhere, you are put through a Customs and Border Protection ‘preclearance’ process, i.e., you go through immigrations, customs, and agricultural-products checks before boarding your plane. This front-loads your CBP pain, so to speak.

    My wife Deirdre and I walked from our hotel to the Transport for Ireland AirLink route 747 (hah!) express coach to Dublin Airport Terminal 2 immediately after breakfast, leaving (in our case) four hours to navigate the airport’s passenger habitrail, about which, I think you’ll agree, the Guinness Storehouse one is rather a lot more fun, but padding extra time to the preclearance process is cheap insurance against missing a flight. (And ebooks are a thing, nei?)

  2. There are more meanings of the word ‘free’ than just ‘no cost’. In this case, ‘free now’ can probably be taken to mean “I’m available now.”

    Also, the Free Now app, and it’s a good one, covers more countries than just Ireland.

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