The Great Cosplay Punch-Up

One of the things I am taking encouragement from is that large numbers of my fellow geeks and cosplayers aren’t letting the lockdown get in the way of community, support, or even common sense. There are increasing numbers of videos doing the rounds of showing people’s makeup, or cosplays, and even stuntwork – and so we decided to pick up on it and combine all three. Its by no means a unique challenge – as of the time of writing I know of at least one other group who have released on – but with 46 different cosplayers presenting 51 different costumes, we think this is the biggest one so far. The original facebook post by TJC Cosplays can be found here, but I’ve uploaded a high definition copy here too:

Hope you enjoy, if only for the sight of me getting punched in the face to start it all off.

The full list of cosplayers and their instagram pages is at the end of the video – and here’s a copy to save you scrolling through – go have fun looking these people up as they’re an amazing bunch of people and I’m very proud to have been able to join in on all this together with them:

We’re also planning a follow up with new characters and extra faces, and I’ll post updates and results here as that takes off

Christmas Eve

“They read your site you know” I was warned – albeit a couple of days ago – of a vicar joining us for a family Christmas Eve meal at a favourite restaurant. I never know quite what to make of comments like that. The site is here to be read: it’s kind of the point of it really.

Today’s grand meal at The Italian Orchard has been a set piece of gathering together to enjoy fine food, good wine, and good company. Even with my mother deciding to stay home as a winter cold triggered her asthma there were eight of us around the table and we all enjoyed the little bubble of relative luxury and pampering that such a setting allows.

Writing and drawing? That’ll be me then.

The warning – such as it was – came of the other family joining us, the vicar of the parish that my parents are part of and her husband and son. Quite what this warning was meant to highlight is something if which I’m unsure: I’m told that my writing was found enjoyable, even if the route by which my blog was directed to her attention is as yet unclear.

“I love your drawings” I was told – and so we went from there. As the afternoon drew on my fingers began twitching for paper, so Lady M provided a notebook and I doodled away to let the daemons out – but quite why a warning was required in the first place I’m still not entirely sure. Perhaps there was a concern that I would be taken aback by someone knowing something of me – and of all the many things I talk about here it was nice to have it just be about my need to draw and illustrate.

My biggest frustrations come from having to throttle my creative impulses, so talking about my process, both conscious and unconscious, was relatively relaxing and eased us then into our respective small huddles if conversation as we indulged in the food and atmosphere before us.

All in all, talking about my artwork rather than my stories, or my relationships was probably the least contentious approach for all concerned. Perhaps the warning was more one to me of keeping the conversation to safer waters than delving into polyamory, mental health, or any other aspects of life around the dinner table.

Who knows – it was an odd injunction but a lovely meal and set of conversations where grand nonsense flowed and a great time was had.

And now for a quiet chill out and companionable silence as Lady M and I nurse our cuppas and collapse a while.

Community Event

One of the libraries I manage is right in the heart of its community’s high street, and so when an opportunity arises to be part of a wider event we’re very pleased to be able to help however we can. Last night was a Christmas Fair, and following the success of an impromptu involvement this year, staff volunteered to be more engaged and make a bigger contribution.

To that end we agreed to host Santa’s Grotto in the children’s library, and had a number of characters available for people to take photos with. We ran a crafts table, ran a lucky dip, had computers available for STEM software activities, and also just kept the library systems up and running for anyone who just fancied using the library.

We have a penguin called Pebble as our mascot

It went incredibly well, and I’ve been making sure to let the managers of the various staff involved know just how valued and valuable the volunteers’ time and efforts were.

It was a late evening, and everyone is back to work again this morning with various degrees of tired shellshocked impressions in their faces, but also with a huge morale boost for just being able to do something fun as part of the wider local community.

It was a good night

On a Boomerang

We had a lovely time at my cousin’s wedding on Saturday at a grand gathering of family. Readings were delivered by actors, music by string quartets, and the food was stunning. After the wedding, the day was spent celebrating at Hoghton Tower – and it was one of the grandest celebrations it has been my pleasure to attend.

It was also the Charleesi’s chance to introduce everyone to her boyfriend, Sir B and, you know what? He did well. They survived being plied with many many drinks without going over their limits, and given they’d had very little sleep due to train disruption that had got them in to Preston at about 1am, they were reasonably clued up and alert.

Being full time students in their third year, I’d expect nothing less.

It was good to see them properly as a couple too, rather than the hurried crossing of paths we’d had back in May at Comiccon. They’re good together, they’ve my nod of approval. It’s so easy to see how much they care for each other and are comfortable with themselves and each other at the same time. A true delight to observe.

Sunday we drove back home, dropping the kids back at university on the way, and today we just chilled until a few hours ago when we headed down to catch up with lady s.

We’re making good use of our holiday.

Meeting The Family

This weekend was a celebration in my family of my parents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary – fifty years together and still teasing each other every day. The venue was a hotel near Box Hill in Surrey that we’ve used for various celebrations over the years.

The twist was that Lady S was also invited along, marking her introduction to my wider family in a somewhat wider scope than I’d ever anticipated.

I’d pushed for an invitation when they were first planning the event, partly to make the point that both Ladies M and S are important parts of my family and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice them. Given how my relatives are spread out around the place it made for an easier way to demonstrate that despite our unconventional relationship, no one involved in it had three heads.

I’m pleased to say that we had a wonderful evening celebrating my parents and catching up with each other. My family is generally one that gets more talkative and garrulous as the drink flows,and it’s safe to say that Lady S got a good look at where my storytelling comes from. We didn’t get to talk with everyone, but Lady S was happily welcomed right from the start, and our collective nerves rapidly settled.

Lovely food, good company, and a very late night as we opted to drive there and back rather than stay over – partly because of our nerves before hand in case things didn’t go well. And now… relax…

St Alban’s Comiccon

I had a very long day on Sunday, but I’m glad I stuck to my guns and guested with Squad UK at St Alban’s Arena. We had a table to display props, so I grabbed as many as I could and loaded up the car. Lady M has unfortunately got the summer cold thing that flattened me last week, so I left her sleeping and pootled around the M25, not entirely sure what I was going to do for parking – but determined to wing it.

Once I’d parked in the Maltings and ferried boxes and cases to the venue I eventually managed to find the others in the pre-opening set up confusions and we set about sorting out the table.

Now, I enjoyed the event immensely, but there were issues with the venue. It’s a theatre, not exactly designed for bustling stalls and tables. There was no air conditioning, though we were lucky enough to grab a window location so could get a breeze or two. Far worse though was that the venue was totally unsuited for people with mobility issues. Access routes were narrow, we were on the first floor with no lift access, and I only saw one disabled toilet in the building.

The staff were friendly, even if some of the organisation was a bit…vague… but most importantly we had a good turnout, and I rarely stopped talking all day with families about our props – and how simple techniques and tools could make outstanding items.

We had masks and headdresses, bodices and pieces of Halo-style armour. Cigars and cigarettes, wands and guns, hearts and sunglasses – and people were amazed at how light but sturdy most of these items are. All day long we talked about layering fabrics or working with foam and card – and encouraged people to take photos of friends (or selfies) with the props.

By the time we packed up and hit the pub afterwards my voice was croaky, but it has resparked my enjoyment of cosplay and events far more than I thought it would.

And I have a new challenge. I’ve agreed to make a new gender-bent cosplay: Poison Ivy. Watch this space…

Musings on a weekend

It’s been a busy couple of days. Work on Saturday was steady, with few problems bar some ongoing issues with the building that prompted me to leave irritated emails for Property Services to find when they got back after the weekend. We were short on staff, but kept our spirits up, managed to get a Pride display sorted, and generally had a good day.

Layered mask over rubber wolfsface mask

Sunday saw me travelling down to Portsmouth to attend a masquerade event with Lady S. As I was meeting her from her work to head straight there, this meant that I walked the sunny streets of Cosham and Drayton suited and booted with a walking cane and wolfshead brooch on my lapel.

Compared to the people half-falling in arguments out of pubs, newsagents, and off-licences I was therefore a little overdressed and conspicuous. It led to some bemused frowns of concentration on some faces. If they could have seen inside my bag, with its masks, paddles, and assorted elements, those frowns would no doubt have been even more confused.

The event itself, on its second anniversary of running, was a lovely celebration of humour, friendships and general debauchery as you might expect, and we were both glad we’d pushed through nerves and tiredness to attend. It was a late night, all in all, but I knew I could catnap on the way home.

The one thing I hadn’t planned in was the torrential rain that hit while I was on the train home. It’s my own dumb fault for not reading weather warnings. All I can say is that walking from the station in a suit was a refreshing experience..!

And so back to work – a short but eventful day, and a body that I’m not sure if it’s aching from being in the rain, or from exertions!

Pride: We Were Not Ready

We’ve been meaning to go to Pride in London for ages, but never got round to it, usually because somehow it always seemed to be on either when I was working a weekend, or had a prior engagement. This year we determined was going to be different.

Was being part of a throuple part of this? Yes, a little I’ll admit, along with having started to go to munches and engage with the wider LGBTQ+ community rather than rolling relatively solo (so to speak). It’s brought us to know a more diverse and vibrant set of individuals and hear their stories.

From doing so, it became clearer that with so many more important problems in the world than who loves who, it is more imperative than ever for us to stand up and combine celebration with protest. To be a voice and representative for those unable to do so, or who would be at serious personal risk if they did.

So Pride it was, with some fellow cosplayers from Squad UK, and the promise of a glorious hot day. We thought we were ready. We had water, sunscreen, hats, and a rendezvous at Oxford Circus. We were there a little early, and got to see the crowds rapidly swell to fill streets normally thronged with shoppers and tourists.

Being the centre of London shopping, everywhere was decked out in rainbows. Tube stations, shops, buses, you name it, with many shops deploying extra staff to encourage people in out of the fierce sunshine. Somehow that just made everything seem more vibrant.

More and more families appeared, multiple generations to support and cheer on the parade, and everyone was just… relaxed. People of all shapes, sizes, ages and origins chatting, sharing jokes and observations, making room for each other, encouraging and supporting people. It was lovely, and heartwarming.

But it was very, very hot. I’d love to report that we managed to stay for the whole parade, let alone attend any after parties or shows, but the need for food, more drink, and shelter from the heat, let alone a break from the crowds, left us reeling away about halfway through.

We eventually ended up at The World’s End in Camden to meet some other people from Squad UK to celebrate some birthdays, and Lady M got to watch England beat Sweden before we made a break for home.

All in all, what a positive and extremely packed day. We will definitely go again, better prepared now that we have a better idea of what to expect. We were not ready!

MCM ComicCon May 2018

I’m exhausted. There’s no two ways about it. Across the blazing hot Bank Holiday weekend we just had, I’ve sweltered and socialised with fellow cosplayers, geeks, nerds, and friends at MCM ComicCon. It was brilliant.

Three days, three costumes, many photos, and best of all our first proper group cosplay as a triad, recreating the Black Sails partnership of Jack Rackham, Anne Bonney, and Max. We even managed to get in to see Jessica Parker Kennedy, who played Max in the show, for a photo opportunity.

We’d mildly squee’d when we saw her announced, and then I’d had a number of conversations around whether the three of us could see her at once. Negotiations and financial considerations sorted, we then waited until the Saturday to tell Lady S in case she got into a complete panic meltdown.

As it turned out, we were instantly recognised as our respective characters (more than a small relief), and then for the rest of the day found ourselves being approached by a surprising number of people who either loved the show or who themselves also cosplay characters from it.

I think it was a first for all three of us, to find ourselves being stopped by people so enthusiastically, and it’s just made the whole weekend that much more special.

Photos from various photographers are starting to filter through, and we made it into at least two videos that I’ll post links to as they get published.

I’m tired now. What a brilliant weekend.