Wednesday, September 14, 2011

SADWE 2011

It's been four days since the First Ever South African Discworld Convension, or SADWE. Predictably, I'm torn between relief and regret that it's over, and excitement and trepidation over the planning for the next event.

SADWE was the start of a much bigger plan, that will hopefully result in The First Ever South African Discworld Convention, May 2012. Yes, we're hoping to get Sir Terry Pratchett himself down here. Excited yet? Of course you are.

That aside, SADWE itself was quite a big deal, and the focus of this blog post.

 My Hand-Crafted Angua Outfit

From the sound of things, it all started with a conversation. Chris Boote, a name many will recognize for his involvement in Discworld conventions all around the world, mentioned in passing to Sir Terry Pratchett and his assistant and right hand man, Rob, that he often visits South Africa and would like to set up some sort of event here sometime. 

Before long, Rob had sent Chris my email address. Meanwhile, Amanda Solomon from Bistro Garden Restaurant had seen a post of Chris' on one of the various Terry Pratchett or Discworld related Facebook pages, and had contacted him offering her restaurant as the venue. Chris asked me to have a look at her restaurant, and I petitioned friend and fellow Pratchett fan, Mother, (not really my mother) to come with me. We fell in love with restaurant and owner instantly, and the venue was chosen.

From there, Mother recruited graphic designer Cuan, who promptly designed our website. Cuan, Mother or both (i'm unsure on this point) recruited Bev. Amanda gave Candy, Chef and artist, a brief education in the Discworld, and Candy produced a logo, which Chris and Cuan coloured in:

The next few weeks involved frantic and confused emails being sent back and fourth between about 4-7 people at any given time. With a two month deadline and one of our most important committee members living several hundred miles away, I privately suspect Sir Terry and Rob must have thought we were over-ambitious lunatics. But we didn't do too badly after all. Between work, studies and sorting out our own costumes, we organized pamplets and tshirts, mugs, keyrings, post-its and post cards, all with the the official SADWE logo on them...

...And none of which arrived. 

Thankfully some things did not get lost in the famous South African Postal Service, possibly because they were hand-delivered by Chris Boote himself about a week before the event. Pin badges, figurines and board games were sorted. One hundred special issue SADWE stamps courtesy of Cunning Artificer Bernard gave us minor heart failure as we discovered we couldn't find them the night before the event. 

We did find them, once we were near frantic

A signed, uncorrected proof copy of Snuff, the latest and yet unreleased Discworld novel, was the crown jewel of our collection. Event goers will know this was raffled off.

Thanks to the back-up plans Cuan, Mother and Bev had up their sleeves, tshirts, pamphlets, posters, postcards and name tags were also all sorted out in time.

Amanda and Candy did a sterling job of setting up their restaurant, and on the day had everything from waiters decked out in wizard hats to authentic-looking Dwarf Bread on sale.

Along with many other far more appetizing Discworld inspired foods and snacks.

All in all, I think the lot of us did quite a good job as far as these things go.

Saturday morning arrived. Disaster had struck the previous night and had seen most of the committee members, including Chris Boote's poor wife, Julia, and their friend, Sandra (both of whom were theoretically on holiday), scrambling through Century City in an effort to sort out goody bags and things to stuff them with. I personally got home at around midnight and, since I still had to re-dye my hair (thanks to an innocent comment that had been made on the blondness of my newly dyed hair compared to the blondness of my two-weeks-since-previous-dye hair and how they compared to Angua, who I was intending on dressing up as) and put the finishing touches to my costume, I managed to get to bed around 2am, which made me a lot luckier than most of the other organizers.

I woke up when my sister deposited some of her children at my house, and the dressing up began. My job mostly involved painting my kids blue and dying their hair red with food colouring, while they shouted (Nac Mac FEEGLE) as loudly as they could.

I've never been prouder of my children

Around when I was only about ten minutes late (not bad, for me) I hopped into the car with two of my nieces (Julie and Amber, otherwise known as Death and Susan) and headed to the venue, stopping off at the grocery store on the way partly to pick up a few last minute items..

But mostly to see reactions

Soon we were at the venue, where Klatchean coffee and Dwarf Bread did their combined job of waking me up and curing my hunger. (Wonderful thing, Dwarf Bread.) More and more people began to filter in and express interest in the the bazaar,

Yes, the Bazaar,

Where you could buy everything from Dried Frog Pills, Rincewind's Potatoe Cakes and edible Rocks to Tshirts and Figurines. (Tshirts are still available for sale. Contact me.)

Death lurked alone at the game table until the appeal of the Ankh-Morpork board game drew people to brave her intimidating presence

Kids tend to not fear Death

Exclusive Books constructed beautiful Discworld stacks on their table, which were most annoyingly disturbed as people kept buying the books.

Pratchett fans. Can never bloody resist buying a book.

It's apparently traditional to select two charities for proceeds from any Discworld event to go to. Ours were Alzheimer's SA (for obvious reasons) and the VWS (Volunteer Wildfire Services). I had organized the VWS and was feeling quite anxious, as no men in uniform were to be seen. Finally, I spotted a man in yellow who was undoubtedly "the one who was coming as Captain Carrot", so I rushed up to him and bubbled straight into business.

"You must be from the VWS! Yes, the uniform gave you away. The other one's late so these are your posters. We don't have any press-stick but if you could just organize that and stick them up anywhere you want that'd be great. You look absolutely fantastic. I'll organize you a name tag that says 'Carrot'."

"And who are you?" He asked, politely.

"Oh! Of course! I'm Laura, but today I'm Angua, the werewolf."

"So you're Carrot's girlfriend?"

At this point I stared up at the tall, red headed man and hoped to god I wasn't blushing.

Do you see that bag of stones on the table? That's evidence. Box of crayons to anyone who can understand the reference.

The other member of the VWS and pseudo-Watch did eventually arrive, bearing a truncheon, a helmet, and a lighter with a small toy dinosaur strapped to it. (He couldn't find a dragon.) 

At one point he irritated other attendees by pacing extremely slowly in front of them, swinging his truncheon absent mindedly, pausing and pretending to light a cigar, effectively holding up an entire procession. No one got it*. 

*See Jingo

The costume parade went at full speed as a collection of Discworldians (Discworldians?) hurried through the restaurant seemingly as fast as they possibly could, but we did manage to pin them down outside long enough to make sure everyone had a good look, and some of the costumes were frankly gorgeous.

You could tell who was from my family... we ALL dressed up...

...and bloody well at that. 

Nephew Adam even won the kids dress up competition for his Pestilence outfit

My family were not, however, the only ones to wear brilliant costumes

I particularly liked Moist


And the clacks operator

But it was The Librarian and Hilda Goatfounder who won the prizes

Chris then treated us to a brief but fascinating talk, involving everything from Discworld related Roundworld based functions around the world to a few things about Sir Terry's Alzheimer's. As he explained the significance of the stamps, everyone's eyes widened, and when he mentioned the fact that one out of the hundred had a small difference on it that makes it unique and, in fact, the only Discworld stamp like it in the world, there was an audible rustle as as people double checked their goody bags.

Children, in the meantime, were happily occupied by our fully qualified Witch, who was there to keep them out of their parents hair and stop them from any reigns of terror they might have been planning.

"What do ya mean I cannae steal, fight OR drink??"

My lunch was a Sausage Inna Bun and a few shots of Scumble, which really did taste of mostly apples. As we waited for the next item in the program, I found a way to occupy myself:

Firefighter watchmen. Genius I tell you.

And at some point I spotted Brother Dunnykin

As a huge fan of the Watch series with the book Guards! Guards! holding tremendous sentimental value, the sight of this robed figure sent me almost reeling with excitement, which is why I bounced up to him with my little bag of stones-with-holes-in-them that I had marked 'evidence', asking him if he understood.

On reflection, he probably thought I was insane

The pub quiz seemed almost easy, right up to the point where it was fiendishly difficult. (What is the pattern on the chaos butterfly's wings? Seriously? Seriously?? Some team actually knew that.)

As late afternoon approached, so did the auction, which had some extremely rare and/or unique items donated to us by Colin Smythe, Sir Terry's agent.

Chris auctioned. Bev and myself were in charge of holding stuff up, smiling and looking pretty.

But the highlight of my night came in between the screenings of parts one and two of Going Postal. 

We set up a Skype chat so that Rob could read us a chapter from Snuff, which is, I should point out, only being released in October. Rob is a natural born reader and, as always, Pratchett's work got laughs out loud. Much to our delight, Rob cheerfully auctioned off the pages he had just read and all five PJSM Prints mugs he'd been making us all jealous with by holding them up to the camera. (If you've never seen the PJSM Prints site before, it's worth the visit. That and The Discworld Emporium are two of the best places for Discworld merchandise in the world.) 

When I announced myself to Rob, he very excitedly held up a picture:

Which, as it was my tattoo, made me Squee

He also insisted on me leading everyone else in one huge 
"SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!" before he would say goodbye. I did, of course, and I'm almost certain the high-pitched loudness didn't cause any long term damage to his hearing.

The event ended with Going Postal part two and a very brief summary of the things we would need to organize for next year's convention. I stamped everyone who was left with a dated SADWE stamp, (yes, really,) and then, we all said goodbye and goodnight.

(Of course, then I went out drinking with a friend, who I spent the rest of the night discussing ideas for the convention with.)

Much Thanks and Squee to Christopher Boote, Sir Terry and Rob
Without whom, none of this would have happened. See you in May.

Special thanks to:

Mother (G.Wiz. Reader in Vogon Poetry)

 Bev (Adora Belle Dearheart)

Cuan (Magnificent Bastard)

 Tara (Magnificent Witch)

Julia (She Aintnt Him) and Sandra (Nanny Ogg)

Chef Candy and Manager Amanda (Bistro Garden Restaurant Owners)

And, of Course

The Fans

Professional Photography by
Split Infinity Photography

Go buy their photos - You know you want to!

Other photographers include
Pamela Shortridge, Graham Shortridge and Terri Dunbar-Curran

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Much love



  1. "I privately suspect Sir Terry and Rob must have thought we were over-ambitious lunatics"

    Ah, that wonderful South African gift for understatement...

    But we did it!

    yay for us!

    Now for May...

  2. That pic of Julie as Susan is amazing, btw. Props.

  3. Lovely post Laura :) Love, Aunty Bev.