Welcome back GABIT Events fans,
I also apologise (insincerely) for ruining anyone’s reputation herein.
Writing about AT5 is one of the hardest tasks I’ve had to undertake. In writing. It’s hard. A hard task. Are you getting what I’m trying to say?
There is only one reason for it, I’m not going to beat about the bush and I’m going to perfectly blunt. It may be because I’ve spent too much time in a soggy isle filled with British people, or it may just be the state of my brain matter after last weekend. Either way, the reason is simple, and I feel the need to share it with you. I find the Queen’s English hard enough to muster at the best of times; I mean, if you’ve met me at all, you’d know that making up sounds is a forte 8D.
It’s just that when you have to convey the depths of an experience, the vibrant and extreme wavelengths of heart, sometimes even the Queen’s English, (or the King’s Speech heehee!) just loses all its lustre. Maybe an artist could paint a masterpiece of a thousand words, or Beethoven could compose another 9 symphonies, but right now, language is just not enough.
So much for not beating about the bush! More beating: After my experience at Gate to the Sanctuary (this is me being blunt), I thought to myself “How…HOW…how could it possibly get any better than this? I don’t…I CAN’T SEE IT!” I really did not get it, I can be a bit of plank that way.
I had heard stories from AT4, I had heard something about love and money, but you know…it’s like a fine wine. You can try and try to describe it in all the big words you can find from the dictionary, yet somehow it still doesn’t do it justice. You just have to barge straight on ahead, pop the cork, and savour the contents.
Amanda’s fandom is exactly like a bottle of vintage champagne. Singularly unique, unlike anything you’ve experienced before, bubbly, bouncy and bright, fizzing and joggling around in its own little bottle. If her fandom is the champagne, then GABIT is the cork. Once every 18 months, they *POP* the cork in celebration, and all the bouncy bubbles come tumbling out, and infest the world with a deafening uproar. A sort of Global Love Pandemic.
There is only one, huge difference; this particularly unique fandom is made up of human beings, not bubbles. Well…bubbly, but they don’t make you drunk. Actually I lie, they really do. There is no other word for this particular species of beings. After AT5; Weekend of Many Hugs, we have dubbed them the Love Generation, and this new Love Generation that was born at AT5 is credited entirely to the incredible people who call themselves the GABIT family, led by Superwoman herself: Julia Hague, and the phenomenal woman that is Amanda Tapping.
That weekend, the cork popped, the Love Generation bubbled out and worked their magic, spreading love and warmth to every corner of soggy Heathrow, and sending up a glow of celebration and togetherness into the stratosphere. For three whole days, the Earth stopped in its rotation, and all the love, open hearts, generosity, peace, embraces, and all the special things that make us human…it all condensed itself into one warm bubble of possibility. AT5 Reverberation.
This is where three quotes pop into my poor excuse for a head (8D it’s that head injury…): Live Peace, Speak Kindness, Dwell in Possibility. Never were words so appropriate or fitting. When you have 260-odd people assembling from all walks of life, all backgrounds, from every far and near corner of the globe, from all cultural backgrounds, from 14 years old to 80 years old, all genders, species, languages, doctors, artists, actors, dancers, writers, geeks, tech whizzes, lawyers, retirees, office clerks, all religions, no religions, dorks, nerds, extroverts and introverts, yet all assembled for one reason, with one common and raw element; Their overwhelming love, their dedication, and their passion to make a difference in this world. All labels and masks were stripped away, every body was brought together in the beautiful simplicity of humanity.
I have never witnessed so much passion, equality and solidarity in such a diverse group of beautiful people. It was an incredible demonstration of what being human is about, what it SHOULD be about, and what can be done if we celebrate our differences, admire them, appreciate them, stand in awe of them, and really allow ourselves to give everything we have to give.
On that weekend, the world was shown just how much each of us has to give, how much every single one of us…YES YOU, is capable of achieving if only we open our arms, and our hearts, and just give our love freely. Together, we are capable of so much more…so, so, SO much MORE! AT5 was a snippet of a world sans frontières: simple, pure, rich in heart, sincere and genuine, united in differences and driven with one purpose and one goal in mind. Can you imagine a world like that?
And this was just one of the incredible windows on that epic weekend! We, as geeks, HAVE to admit, we can’t live without the internets 8D. FACE IT. Especially in the world of Sci-fi fandom, where entire web-based shows are being created (like Sanctuary), where forums are spammed, Twitter, Facebook have all become ESSENTIAL to the humungous fandom network. At AT5, family bonds made over chatrooms and Skype, suddenly became a violently physical huggletastic lovefest, the likes of which no family reunion has EVER witnessed. Because that is one of the sublime qualities of THIS particular fandom, they are a family by choice, bonds created for a lifetime.
SO. Last weekend, many people learned a thing or two 8D. We learned what it meant to give, to hug, to love, to be dorktastic to unbearable extremes, to wear 6 hats at once, to cross dress, to eat Tim Tams for the first time, to LAUGH.
So after that GIGANTIC soapbox up there ^^^ I feel like should give someone else a turn while I be frightfully un-British, and take a bite of this blue jello…*hovers with spoon in midair*…
*Plonks spoon down* Okay…so I’ll fill you in and then we can go from there, yah?
Oh wow, where to start. The sheer suspense leading up to the magical weekend of all magical weekends was like nothing I have ever experienced. I mean…you know us, we take everything to the absolute extreme. Even Japanese game shows would be jealous. So from a countdown of 320 days, to 200 and SQUEEEEE, and then down to the under-100’s AAAAAAAAAARGH! And then down to the double digits…and the singles. At this point, all memory of the English language was ejected out the nearest orifice and every single corner of Amanda-fandom was reduced to a shameful pile of squeaks and gibberish.
For us, AT5 began the very moment we left the door of our humble abode in New Zealand-the-land-of-the-long-dead-sheep, to board what was the beginning of a torturous but rewarding 37-hours in the maze of airports in Auckland, Sydney, Dubai.
We were eased in with a one hour flight, then four hour stopover, then a 3.5 hour flight, a 45 min stopover…then the ogre of flaps, 13.5 hours from Sydney to Dubai. It wasn’t too bad, we followed the night, so took turns sprawling out ungracefully over three seats and snoring heartily*SNORRRRRE*.
The last 2 hours was plagued with motion sickness,…which still feel like the ground under London is heaving beneath my feet, and it wouldn’t have been so bad but for the 8 hr flight directly following! THOR: WHAT DID WE EVER DO TO YOU?! BUT…OH MY GAWD. Have any of you been to Dubai airport? It’s like Vegas on steroids, but with taste! It was here that we picked up a full box of 36 Kit Kats at $6 NZD to add to our 11 packets of Tim Tams, and met up with my friend from Melbourne.
*CHIPMUNK GIBBERISH AS FAST-FORWARD EIGHT HOURS*
AHERM, so after a short delay of an hour taking off from the land of camels and beautifully heart-stopping morning prayer-calls, the final 45 minutes circling Heathrow airport, in a typical pea-soup haze of fogginess, was the most torturously suspenseful bundle of bouncy squee I have ever been. I need to apologise to my less-manic-half, and also to non-fans Marie and David for being an insufferable, veritable explosion of nonsensical gibberish mess and flails. I think the captain knew all along: he extended their awful torture for a full 45 minutes as we circled and circled and the jabbering reached a crescendo as the ‘Time To Arrival’ gradually reached the two minute mark…..
TOUCHDOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWN! In true geek fashion, my phone powered up (all by itself of course >.>) and it was straight to the Twitter-spam. I mean c’mon, we have a reputation to live up to! Luggage-CHECK…and then we reached Border Security. I have to admit I was dreading this part, last time I headed to the soggy isle, the lady interrogated us like it was some sort of virtual torture chamber, she was rather like a dragon with PMS. BUT DUDES. So, we meander up to the counter, right, and the guy TOTALLY looks like Simon Pegg, right, and the conversation goes something like this:
Me: YEAH SOMEWHAT
SimonPegg: Born in Newcastle eh? You should visit it here, so much better than your version…IT’S SOGGY!
Me: Well I was wanting to work on that tan…
SimonPegg: Don’t forget your sunscreen…
…and so on yadda yadda.
OH MY GOODNESS. As the moment of Judgement approached, my heart was beating 300 beats a minute as we swayed our way, with ground rocking beneath us, to the fateful exit to Terminal 3, Heathrow Airport, London. After alternate sprinting and pogo-stick impersonations…I meandered coolly through the doorway.
A Mummynubbin (JenMarsden163) comes galloping in our direction from the far end of the concourse, with an assorted background of gigantic splitting cheeks and flailing elbows. I honestly didn’t know whether to scream, bolt away, or run straight at her face. So I tried to do all three at once and somehow I ended up wrapped around her head like some kind of cacophonic Kebab.
After a full 15 minutes of flailing and nubbin-subs with piles and piles of squees and arms, Marie and David joined us, and we somehow straggled our way toward the buses. Wait, I lie. We loaded the gentlemen with all the luggage (this is the Crowning Seat of the British Empire, squeeps, and traditional gallantry is always appropriate), whilst Wibble (Surrealvampi), Amysnookums (AmyCorden) and I had epic sprint races down all the corridors of this enormous airport. Security were THIS CLOSE *shows how close* to dragging us away. Or so we like to think 8D.
In between explosions, Amy is prodding me in the spleen squealing “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE ACTUALLY HERE” and I’m bawling, “I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS AIN’T SKYPE!!!”
So we finally stumble our ways onto one of those orsum double-decker red buses, FREE BUS *SCORE* and three minutes – and a busful of loud babbling and squee later- we disembark into soggy, rainy, Heathrow proper. Marie and David go their separate ways, and we stare at the front of the Renaissance, cracking brutal jokes about the sheer pointlessness of cleaning its rain-drenched walls, but the sheer AMOUNT OF LOVE AND MAGIC that is positively demolishing those walls from the inside… Never, ever judge a fest by its cover.
Our entrance was surprisingly sedate. Mummynubbin said to me later “well you can be a bit shy”, so I think I felt the need to compensate for this abysmal track record. Please see the INCREDIBLE John Goode’s photos for proof. ANYWHO, after check-in (WE ALL HAD ROOMS ON THE SAME FLOOR \o/ COURTESY OF @Surrealvampi, but only because she’s standing over me at this very minute), and dumping our luggage, all heckity broke loose.
Oh dear crimany. I think Heathrow is still suffering the echoing tremors of our sheer explosion of mental instability. We, as a family, thank you humbly for your tolerant patience.After the insufferable but heart-melting union of hundreds of nubbins from the world over, said family went to the pub for dinner. Such a quaint, tiny, low-ceilinged, typical English pub. I fel like I was living Coronation Street, high on ….something. We’re still surprised we weren’t bodily thrown out after all the uproarious laughter, squees, and inappropriate comments like:
Mumnum: “I DON’T HAVE A ROOMMATE TONIGHT”
*cue sideways glances from adjacent businessmen*
Me: “I WILL! *echoes of ‘Me too!’* MUMNUM KNOWS HOW TO PUT OUT 8D”
As I said, we’re surprised, but I think the other diners felt it was more entertaining than the Cadbury Crunchie Comedy Gala. IMMUNITY! We could see them snorting into their drool-worthy bowls of lasagne…
And also AT5 salt-sniffing….but that’s a story for another audience. Ehem. And after the waiter offered us all rhubarb crumble, (WHICH WE TURNED DOWN, I STILL DON’T KNOW WHY) several of us assembled in Mumnum’s room for an inappropriately epic, hysterically giggling, dork-fest. That night, the walls’ ears were burning.
I WARNED her about the Tim Tams!
Then it was snoozle time. I ended up sleeping in Mumnum’s spare bed…like I’d made so publicly clear, she’s an experienced hostess. Just not in that way. Here’s a funny thing about jetlag: If you ignore it, it doesn’t exist! TRUST ME ON THIS. Sleep is completely insignificant when you stick it right next to an epic like AT5. Because of this insignificance, I woke up at 2am, bright and chirpy, something which I never am *titters*. I didn’t want to bother my heartily snoring roommate (yet), so instead out came the crux of all geekdom: THE LAPTOP.
Tapping away happily to my heartbeat, there was nothing quite so comforting as knowing I was in the safety and loving embrace of GABITeers. Every daydream, every tremble, every squeak of excitement from the past year had come down to this day.I’m not sure if I’d ACTUALLY squeaked out loud or not (sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the me head and the real world), but with a particularly loud *SNORT*, the bed lamp opposite flipped a warm glow through the hotel room, and my face is a O.O as I stare into the bleary but sparkling eyes of the Mother of Nubbins, @JenMarsden163. As I cringe like a mouse in the face of a steaming dragon, a surprise “shall I put the kettle on? 8D” completely restores my faith in the undefeatable Britishness of even Amanda’s nubbins! So, on goes the kettle, out come the Tim Tams, and it’s a regular ol’ tea party at 3am, and a light hour of chatter before we snuggle down under the pillows and the room once again descends into blissful dreamy darkness…
*BRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING* AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH! *a hand slams down on the infernal clock*
We knew it was to be the weekend of unearthly breakfast calls, but all the pain and luggage eyes was worth every bit as we bounded excitedly into the hotel’s illustrious restaurant, and welcomed with a decadence that even the Empress of Narnia would die for. I mean seriously. Three enormous counters covered in pastries of every description, toast, hot breakfasts WITH VEGETARIAN SAUSAGES *SQUEEE!*, and even an array of porridge, fruitful and cereal options for us healthy-freaks. I think I actually stopped dead with mouth agape and just didn’t know which end to hit first! The service was impeccable, I have never, before nor since, been the victim of such astounding chivalry. Chairs were held out, and tea and coffee poured. After three helpings of everything I could fit on my plate at once, and a satisfied barple, we watched more and more attendees wander their way into the Den of Decadence.
I’d just like to point out that by Sunday, even the most haughtily British of the English nubbins were desperately panting for coffee first thing in the morning…standards? HAH! It’s a matter of life or death!
Much of the morning, on our part, was spent in the lobby, hanging out with a massive group of nubbins. I know, I know I keep saying ‘nubbins’ but seriously, human beings are a lot more sedate than we were on Friday, February 11th. I will not go into details here, such description is not fit for public ears and eyes, but I will let the photos speak for themselves
At Amy’s (@AmyCorden) glorious suggestion, a very small committee (for lack of a better word – we were on a mission!) of us broke away from the general lounging at the Renaissance, and daringly boarded the tube to London-town. To this day, Amy still can’t believe I went to Harrods wearing a hippie beanie, a cap over the top that said “AT5: Abnormal and Proud”, moose antlers and a pair of giant black geek glasses. I still feign that I have no idea what she’s talking about…Then again, this ‘demure’, tasteful, wholesome English girl surprised us no end on this particular weekend. Maybe it’s time to visit her parents… *titters*
I think London learned a dork or five on Friday. Such a colourful, more exuberant group of sensible people has never trodden through Harrods since. We had a bit of wee fun trying to find the most overpriced item in the furniture section (a small bronze statue for £97,000.
I said I’d much rather take the cannon from across the way, it appealed to my taste more o.O), and after drooling over musical instruments, the Egyptian escalator (who new they had escalators in 3000BC?!), and the always cool spy shop, it was lunch and Subway in Covent Garden, and back to the tube!
But wait, we made a proxy stop over at Boot’s for the lovely @Surrealvampi, my partner in crime, and whilst Amy was struggling to wind her way through the maze of Covent Garden streets…we straggled along behind, cracking inappropriate jokes, phoning certain work colleagues at the office, and generally making Amy’s mission that much more difficult. On this day in question, we phoned @JenMarsden163 workmate, just to generally dangle our fabulous holiday in front of her nose…she asked to speak to me, and the first thing I bawled was “WE’RE GOING TO BUY SOME DRUGS!” I hope she understood my enthusiasm.
Back at the Renaissance, we found a pile of squealing nubbins on the sofas in the corner, as @Surrealvampi came galloping straight at my face squawking (she was coming down with a dedicated case of Laryngitis) “JOHN’S BEEN TAKING PHOTOS!!!”, so after jumping backward out of the reach of her dangerously flailing ape-arms, we quickly worked to catalyse the situation.
What resulted was, once again, something that is not fit for public eyes or ears, and I heartily apologise to the G4’s John Goode, beautiful man that he is, for having to breathe the same air as the galloping, flailing piles of wrestling nubbins on the floor. Truth is, he was snap-happily trying to take decent photos of the whole saga, but ultimately collapsing into uncontrollable giggles. GUILTY AS CHARGED! Own it John!
1. The glittering intimacy of the Cocktail Party. Or:
As it turned out, number two was nothing like what we expected. We saw Amanda leap out of her ride outside, and then the enormous huggle-fest with GABIT peeps began, the grin on her face was painfully delightful, and we were able to see the true family spirit that riddles this wonderful event.
After marching excitedly through the lobby to the resounding cheers and applause, many scooted down to the local pub for the duration of the cocktail party.
Not us. We spent the entire evening lounging in the lobby, before migrating out into the cool but mild night air, armed with guitars and our vocal chords. What followed was the most sublimely cathartic and uniting love fest of the day so far.
For some three full hours, inspirational and uplifting songs floated up through the night air above Heathrow, and cast a warm glow in our hearts which caused a reverberating echo throughout the weekend, and beyond.
It united us all, new people, old-timers, young and “mature” *COUGH*, from every part of the globe, into a global family, the bonds of which will never be dissolved by time or distance.
Well….not quite over yet. Once retired to Jen’s room (I did not sleep in my own room ONCE that weekend O.O), the usual pyjama-infested loophole began, until at midnight, BLESS HER LITTLE COTTON SOCKS, our very own Gairwyn (Zoe) pottered up to the door with a friend on her heels, and in her hands, the glorious flutterings of her COCKTAIL REPORT. DEDICATION OR WHAT?!
They couldn’t help but gorge on Tim Tams with us, until we eventually settled down for choc-filled z’s at about 2am. So much for an early night PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT *flaps hand*. Sleep is SOOOOO overrated when there are reputations to be shredded. *AHEM*
I sincerely hope that you enjoyed this first part of my report as much as I did sharing with you. Being one of the lucky admirers who were able to attend, I think we can say that this weekend will always be in my heart. Please watch this space for the fun, loopiness, and overwhelming inspiration of Saturday and Sunday!
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