Hills. I hate hills.
This weekend was Microcon, held up at the Uni. The Uni is on the top of one of the higher hills within Exeter. Dauntless, I put on my chaps (well, alright, brown cords) and cowgirl shirt (no, really) and cycled up to be a paying punter. Trying to reach the uni when very out of practice really brought the 'push' part of 'pushbike' to the fore. I also wussed out a couple of times on the way back on Saturday, partially because Woah Mule's newly oiled brakes feel different and I'm not fond of hurtling down a 1/8 gradiant towards a busy road unsure if I can come to a stop at the junction.
Today I realised I had to get to the uni via the office as I needed to collect something. In a burst of rebelliousness I locked the bike to the railings, as the office landlord has instructed me NOT to do. Brings down the tone, you know. It's Sunday, I reason, I can lock it up where I damn well like and he won't even know. Except as I was unlocking it to leave (and padlocking the gate to the front yard/lightwell which someone else in the building had left unlocked) the landlord greeted me. Rumbled. Cycled and pushed up to the post-grad centre, which includes a stretch of long straight and just slightly uphill road. The sort of thing which exhausts you whilst being barely noticeable to anyone in a car. But coming back tonight...I did it! The whole way without any pushing or cheating! I did a right-hand turn I'd been avoiding (off New North Road into Howell Road, for anyone who knows the area) and did it with traffic passing me in both directions, then took a mini-roundabout by the station which I'd also previously shied at. By my maths, I did 4.5 miles today on Woah Mule alone.
Microcon is a great chance to catch up with various people, this year including Paul Cornell and Jasper Fforde. I missed the Saturday morning talks due to having to collect a marvellous mechanical Singer sewing machine from a shop but was in time for Jasper and Paul's talks, as well as the annual Doctor Who panel, Richard Freeman's report on his quest for the Mongolian Death Worm and Mark Leyland's talk on myths.
Each year, an underlying theme tends to emerge from the talks, and it seems that, along with Fay Sampson's talk on how death is treated in children's fiction on the Sunday, this year was about retellings and shared systems of imagination. So Richard found the underlying reports of the Mongolian Death Worm rather less dramatic than the myths which had grown up around it, whilst Mark told a Trojan myth which wasn't in the Illiyad or the Odyssey and therefore doesn't form part of the common idea of the Trojan wars. Jasper talked about how his work plays with our ideas of how stories work - amongst many wonderful diversions, as usual. Paul covered a mass of stuff about writing for Who, about how it is perceived and what they could and couldn't do. As usual, listening to these people talk impresses me. The breadth of knowledge, plus the sheer confidence to tangent entertainly, makes me want to up my game.
Also, sitting in the JCR telling people the two story ideas I have, made me realise the time has come to actually sit down and start on the one which already has shape and themes and characters in my head. Except tonight I have to do my chores and I want to play with the new-fangled sewing thing, so that's another evening gone.