Ups and Downs – A week of positives, washout events and controversy
When I started this blog I wasn’t entirely sure what direction it would go in. Would it be a kind of therapeutic diary thing where I’d open up my feelings about the journey I’ve been on with regular updates? or would it just be to record random things that I want to comment on?
I feel I’m still a bit in that phase of seeing how it goes, finding my way as it were. I’ve mostly focused on writing about the events I’ve been attending as these have been good experiences and helped me on my way and in fact I was intending to put up another review this week about one but other things have raised their head and I feel the need to talk about a number of things and hit the “therapeutic diary” button once again.
Things started on a very positive note at the end of last week with being successful in applying for a new job. I don’t talk about work in public much for all kinds of reasons but I’ve been returning slowly to the workplace after all the issues I’ve had this year and have thought a lot about what would be best to help me move on. There was a vacancy in the unit I’ve been temporarily placed in and I liked it there, felt the work was much more in tune with my skills and what I find interesting so applied and got it. Just waiting for the paperwork to be sorted out. So that’s really good although I’ve now had to return to my previous role for a while which has been difficult due to my feelings about being there because that’s where my breakdown happened and I have a very negative association with it.
Last Saturday (15th November) was then another signing event – Collectormania 22 in Milton Keynes. This is run by Showmasters and is where it all started for both them and me. My first event was Collectormania 4 back in 2003 and back then it was held in the Shopping Center. It was new and exciting for me meeting actors from shows I enjoyed watching but it was also chaotic and I joined the online forum to make comment about some of the issues and suggest solutions. As did a lot of other people from what I recall. This was the event that happened just as the Lord of the Rings films were breaking big and they had managed to get Elijah Wood and the other main Hobbits from the film to attend.
Since then the company has grown, the number of events they run has grown and this particular event has moved to the MK Dons football stadium. They’ve tried to go back to having this event twice a year as it used to be. Last year it wasn’t a bad event, just very cold as the hall it was in hadn’t been finished so no heating but the guest list was ok and I met a few interesting guests.
This year, the event came at the end of a run of events, some new, that were scheduled back to back on consecutive weekends. Over the previous months it had felt like this event had been almost forgotten about. Very few guests announced while the other shows filled up and even a couple of weeks before hand it was looking very poor, depending on your criteria of course. And this was leading to some unrest on the Showmasters forum. It was filled with the usual and regular Doctor Who guests and a lot of people who had been background characters in one or two scenes in some of the Star Wars films. No disrespect to them as actors but hardly going to draw the crowds. The main draws were arguably Amanda Tapping, best known from Stargate and Freema Agyeman from Doctor Who.
I’ve met Amanda a few times now and while she’s absolutely lovely I had no reason to do so again and there was no one else of interest to me. But it’s not far to go, it’s free to get in so I thought I’d have a look around at least, maybe see some friends and look at the stalls which I rarely do due to the crowds.
So why haven’t I written a full review? Well, it wasn’t worth the effort. Turned up and sat in the car, in the warm, while the queue, yes there was a queue, went in. Inside it was pretty quiet (photos of the hall by Michael Clark).
Initial queues for some of the guests soon died down and there was plenty of space to wander round the stalls. This was great for me as I could take my time and talk to the stall holders. If you’ve read my article Adventures with Rat Queens and The Walking Dead you will be aware of my newly found interest in comic books and it was great to have the time to seek some advice and recommendations of new books to try. And I came away with a small selection.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to offer my support to Kurtis Wiebe, the co-creator and writer of Rat Queens following recent revelations regarding the artist Roc Upchurch. I hope fans of the series stick by Kurtis and allow him to continue producing an awesome comic book. Please read: Kurtis Weibe statement on Rat Queens and this article on Talking Comics for further info.
Other than finding some comics to try and meeting up with a couple of friends (thanks for the tea and toast in Asda) I left around midday which is not something I’ve done at one of these before but there was just nothing else for me to do. Very poor and then not surprisingly the organiser posts a statement saying that this Winter show is not viable and won’t be run again. Didn’t see that coming 😉
The disappointment of the show was wiped away by a great time spent visiting friends the day after. Much talking, eating, watching of Spartacus (a show I’ve really got into recently) was had and I was even introduced to the Spartacus board game which was great fun even though I lost. My friend playing the soundtrack and swearing a lot, as in the show, really added to the atmosphere.
And then things went really weird. Apparently Sunday at the event was even quieter and people started discussing it on the Showmasters forum and expressing their disappointment. On Monday evening the organiser came on and tried to calm things down, offer explanations which didn’t really say very much and just ended up fueling the arguments he was trying to stop.
I’ve written about this in my previous article Making a Stand which links to a blog written by a friend who ended up being the subject of defamation and personal attack. Once people realised what was happening they started turning on the organiser who then decided to remove all the comments, although it was fine to leave them up when they were an attack on someone else.
As a representative of the company, his attitude reflects extremely badly on how the company handle their customers unless the customer is shouting praise from the rooftops. I hope it’s opened eyes to the reality of how this company operates. Yes, there’s a lot of good things they do but I personally don’t see they’ve really moved on from that first event and they need to.
So the rest of the week has been helping my friend with the fallout from this and coping with a return to where my breakdown happened which has been emotional and increased my anxiety levels. However I’m thankful that I’m now in a much better place mentally and can deal with setbacks a lot better and still be able to give my time and energies to others again.
I believe that starting the new job will be the final step in my recovery and allow me to move on. This week has also reinforced how important people are. I’m lucky to have a great group of friends around me who have stuck by me, been so supportive, blunt when necessary and who it is a pleasure to spend time with and get to know. From all the ups and downs, disappointments, anxiety and positives of this last week, that has probably been the biggest thing for me. I know that I am in a place where I can give back and not just take. Yes, there are hiccups but there is now a clear light at the end of the tunnel and that’s finally feeling like a reality.
Let’s hope that’s the end of the rollercoaster for a while but I’ve actually learned a lot from it.