Welcome back Gabit Events fans and friends,
Below please find JandyraCJM’s (CJ) long awaited AT5 part two report. Our apologies for the delay, but CJ has been a little busy acting, schooling, working, being pregnant and of great import, giving birth to a Nublet named Olivia!
Additionally, and most importantly, as you may recall, Jandyra and Kate (SurrealVampi) reported to everyone in March of this year that they were robbed subsequent to the AT5 event. The borrowed vehicle they were using was vandalized and ransacked in the process by shameless malcontents.
This senseless and wonton act of criminal behavior resulted in a complete loss of computers, event notes, many event photos and virtually everything else related to the second and third day of AT5 that CJ was covering for WHR.
Therefore this report has been painstakingly re-constructed using collaborative efforts from Jandyra’s memory and available images. Her text, hyperlinks and images were staged by Kenn after the fact to re-create events to produce this report
No small task, Jandyra and I hope you will like this report looking back to AT5 in 2011. Think of it as a Happy New Years present looking forward to AT6 by wonderful Gabit Events on November 9-11 2012 in the United Kingdom. Enjoy!
As Jandyra moves on to motherhood and life’s many other adventures, we sincerely express gratitude to her for getting the details reconstituted for your and our mutual enjoyment.
Thanks CJ! 😛
We Begin Again:
After three, sweet, comatose hours of choc-filled z’s, either excitement or the call of duty woke me up and I was down in the lobby by 5 AM, proudly sporting a spanking brand new “Gabit Events; AT5 REVERBERATION” tank top, laptop in one hand and giant, fluffy AT5 fleece in the other.
Truly giant. So giant it makes Grawp look like a poodle. Big. Black. Marquee.
5 AM! Only crazy people (like geeks/dorks) and workaholics (like Amanda Tapping) are up and at it at 5 AM!
5 AM. You would think the hotel would be dead at 5 AM. I thought so too. As it turned out, lights were ablaze, and apart from the restaurant staff preparing yet ANOTHER decadent spread, I managed to spy one or two stray GABITeers who had decided sleep was overrated entirely.
After meandering vacantly about for some five minutes, I settled down in a wee corner, nabbed an adaptor, and knuckled into it. I was in the perfect spot. Out of my right eye I could see the impending disastrous advance of any potential attendees, and by my left eye…shrewdly watched for signs of food.
First came the purple shirts, the holy Quad Squad of Amanda’s fandom…the chief culprits in a magnificent five installments of specialised Amanda Tapping events: ‘Boss Lady’ Julia Hague, the Mistress of Everything Becky Preen, the ever huggable ‘Mumsey’ Kay Jacobs, and the groovilicious John ‘Flashbulb’ Goode, .who is NEVER spotted without his trusty camera!
These fantastic four were interspersed amongst a thickening trickle of red-garmented staff (‘Master Scheff’ Jenn Scheffler, Rebecca Hague, Liesl Bland, and the mischievous Tracy North), the green shirted tech wonders, the blue shirted Stewards….and the throng of fans from all over the globe. Every single person had the same, intoxicating smile spread across their faces, bursting with excitement and anticipation at the launching of the day’s festivities.
For me, breakfast on this inaugural day was a rushed affair. After having my chair so chivalrously drawn by the waiter, I stuffed my gob with cereal, fruit and pastries, before returning to my comfy writer’s corner to witness the breakfast rush and shoot off the remaining reports.
I finished a good ten minutes before the beginning of the Opening Ceremony, then shuffled into the spacious Renaissance Suite. Feeling like a bit of an antisocial twat, and flailing at a train of familiar faces as I made my way down the centre aisle to the third row.
THANK YOU, OH HOLY GABIT, for endowing us with extremely photogenic seats. I mean, the seats themselves are not photogenic, but they enable photogenic photos to be…you know what I mean!
The ‘Opening Ceremony’ of AT5 commenced sharply at 8:30am, and was really just a warm welcome, especially to newcomers, and an excuse for Becky to exercise her Almighty Powers, aided by her trusty little red book, for introducing the general housekeeping guidelines (I mean…rules…RULES!), and the dreaded Line of Doom.
“The Line of Doom” rule served to be a prudent piece of advice, as that entity loomed over the entire crowd throughout the weekend, from time to time terrifying the attendees into cowering, ear-burying, crouches as a deafening squeal emitted from the microphones. The Almighty Word of Becky was never again taken lightly. Beware “The Line of Doom”!
The other guideli…rule that was impressed was the holy sanctity of her little red book. This little red book contained all manner of schedule and unnamed importances, which if ever found strayed during the convention, was to be immediately returned to its Mistress.
Becky has perfected the art of comedic timing, and cut her gig short at its peak. Without further ado, she introduced Amanda to the stage, and in the midst of their banter it was discovered that she had already misplaced her baton of power, the little red book.
Amanda was sitting on it. SHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
And then the first of four panels began. I will not go into the details, a lot can happen in an hour, but with her usual grace and un-seriousness, Amanda warmed the crowd into a unified state of hysterical laughter. Apparently a steward on the plane was being terribly polite and respectful, thinking she was Kate Middleton. Amanda was very flattered!
Honestly, I cannot see why, what does she think SHE is?
After much dorkiness and laughing stitches, Amanda Tapping herself was unceremoniously cut short by a giant projected countdown clock, inevitably ending in her forced removal from the stage.
It was during the Sanctuary quiz that followed, when the first rows began queuing next door for photo opportunities with Amanda. Having carted across the seas two full-sized canvases, one each for Jen Marsden and Julia Hague, I quickly dispatched Julia’s to the two blue shirts dutifully controlling the crowd at the doorway (with their word to pass it on to Julia), then took my place in the queue.
Being row three, it was not long until I was sitting in the warm up seats, right next to Fuddy, being rowdy and generally rambunctious in a most undignified way. It was infectious, as soon as we walked into that room, all dignity was checked at the door.
Even GABITeers were snorting all over the place. By the time I got to Amanda, who was standing with a gigantic grin across her face right next to an impressive mock-up of the ‘Warriors’ Moroccan tent, she was fairly bouncing and flailing her arm at me to come forth.
As I frolicked towards her, I passed Julia, who was standing with the happiest expression plastered across her face, proudly guarding that exotic marquee, which one could only guess what kind of tea-and-biscuit-on-fine-china sanctuary they had set up within. “Hi!!! Can’t wait to talk to you later, Jenn will find you!” burst Julia, smiling madly, “OH HULLO!!!”, I replied, feeling incredibly flattered that she even knew my secret identity o.O.
As I bounded past her, Amanda was standing with an equally, madly happy brightness on her face, “HI!!!”, “Hi Amanda!”< I mentioned Gate to the Sanctuary in Melbourne, she remembered everything, and then the circus began.
“So, can we do something goofy?”
“Like, completely stupid. You know how we do these things. No wait, YOU *I pointed at John, witness of yesterday’s antics* know how we do it!!”
“Okay! Whaddya wanna do?”
“I dunno, you can be creative :D”
*Amanda adopts an intensely serious thinking face*
Amanda: “*chews finger* okay, how about something…petrified, but a little bit dumb? O.O”
Me: “Petrified, like people from Kent?”
Amanda: “YES! Ready?”
Me: “In character…”
John: ” NO NO NO NO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!!”
“AGAIN!” *click click click*
“NOOO…stop it, do it again!”
Me: “Wha…What do you want from me?!?!”
And so it continued for about 12 consecutive photos until he was either satisfied, or gave up entirely.
The pick of the crop. Apparently.
Accosting John later, he confessed that Amanda has a habit of poking her tongue between her teeth during shoots, and it irks him completely. I see.
After a lengthy lunch, which involved more running around and tumbling than actual eating (and during which Master Scheff, in her flurry of scarlet racing past, informed me that our lunch date with Julia needed to be postponed until tomorrow), the milling crowds filtered, in no order whatsoever (VERY un-British!), back into the Renaissance Suite for Amanda’s second Question and Answer panel.
There was just too much hilarity to explain it all here, nearly every question culminating in a sore tummy from laughing too much. Amanda threw her dorkiness at the attendees, at her colleagues, even at herself.
Responding to a question about the Sanctuary soundtracks, she expressed that the team were working on it, but working steps included obtaining rights (as it was intellectual property) and financial backing.
Following her answer to a question about Magnus’ religion, Amanda uttered a reflection that has reverberated ever since: ” It’s wonderful if you have that direct connection to God… but everyone has moments when they pray… just a healing thought to the universe, to make it okay. That’s what I do.”
As Amanda blatantly disregarded the giant ticking countdown clock, her spiel was interrupted by the league of mascots, as GABIT’s very own Guest Services monkeys stormed the stage, dressed as Bob the Builder, waving inflatable hammers, and the crowd singing along to the deafening music….while Amanda stood by torn between hysterical laughter and stunned disbelief.
Only at the Ren, my dears….only at the Ren!
As such, Amanda was once again unceremoniously ushered off the stage for a quick half hour break before the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People demonstration. This wonderful charity, along with it’s wonderful people (AND PUPPIES) has been close to Amanda, and to GABIT’s, heart from their pilot convention.
They provide expert training for hearing dogs, and great support for the deaf community. The demonstration with adorable little Iris is just mind-blowing in the intelligence and promptness of the little creatures! Never underestimate mother nature! I think the resident AT5 pups stole everyone’s hearts over the weekend…cuddles were had by all!
Her video and speech about the bitter truth of our daily attitude, about the need for change, the power of love in achieving this change, the plight of children in desperate circumstances…had everybody, including herself in tears of solidarity and human connectedness.
Her slideshow, her emotional description of the sheer joy of these children, who have such dark pasts we could not imagine, fuelled her supporters with a steely resolve for change, and a love for these wonderful specimens of true human spirit.
By the end of this cathartic, uniting and emotional introduction, everyone was well-revved for the charity auction which directly followed.
The much anticipated auction. OOOOOOOOOOH THE AUCTION. Describing every detail in here would make several pairs of ears burn like hot coals, not least Amanda’s and Tracy’s. And Fuddy. Young Fuddy won a skin-tight native’s costume from the SG1 episode “One False Step”, and was ordered to wear it at some point during the weekend. Dutifully, she wore it to the Abnormal’s Ball, and a photo was sent to Amanda as proof. Fuddy will never go a day without being haunted by the memory. If not by hers, then by everyone else’s!
The generosity and selfless, and extremely manic spirit, of Amanda and of her fans was just mind-blowing to everyone involved. For example, the first two paintings auctioned, small heart canvases done by Amanda when she was pregnant, were each sold for 2,000 pounds each.
For every single item that was sprinted, strutted, bobbled and weaved around the room by the face-pulling, accent-booming Amanda (side-kicked superbly by the mischievous lioness, Tracy North), the bids just kept coming and coming. Amanda was moved to tears more than once, and even had to sit down in a corner to compose her sweet self.
For all the items listed for auction, we ran short on time before all the items could be presented, and STILL went two hours overtime. All because fans just kept bidding and bidding and bidding, all the while in hysterical laughter and moving tears, and while the auction was continuing, buckets were being passed around and filling with change unbelievably fast.
Amanda pretended to be holding an invisible nubbin, and was flailing around goofily when somebody (RACHEL!) yelled out “100 POUNDS FOR THE INVISIBLE NUBBIN”. Nuff said. SERIOUSLY. Said nubbin was apparently peeing all over her, and Amanda maintained that it must have been pregnant and having bladder problems…
As Amanda was about to leave, after an unbelievably tumultuous ovation and cheering, yet another called out, “500 POUNDS FOR YOUR TEESHIRT”, at which Amanda looked aghast and astounded (she could not believe people were still bidding even though the auction was over), took her shirt half off, then paused. She looked down and blurted, (she was wearing a white undershirt) “OH MY GOD I’m totally wearing a black bra! ….um…come and see me tomorrow :D”. She exited with grace, no dignity, and a large, blushing, embarrassed grin to the accompaniment of cheers and laughter.
Two short hours later, all returned to the lobby and the main hall, all dressed in the most fabulous costumes that even the Sanctuary Productions wardrobe department could not concoct, for the party of the century! There were beasts and monsters, Helen Magnus lookalikes, Jack the Rippers, vampires galore, and all manner of creatures with fascinating back stories that have not yet been discovered. And John Goode looked awfully like a rock star from the 1970’s.
Entering on the party zone, we were greeted by a table at the left covered in blue jello shots, a disco ball glittering overhead, and the rockin’ Jenn Scheffler, dancing mistress, who we later agreed looked like Cher, dressed as a punk ballerina, on crack. Go figure. I think she was a bit pirate too. She led the troops in some fantastic group dances, a bit of line dancing, and the famous Star-Trekkin’ Across the Universe shindig. After a very energetic fast-forwarded lesson, all hell broke loose and it was dancing for India!! We burned that floor like nobody’s business…I think Mr. Goode was either very tipsy, or very high on dance fever, dance fever.
People spilled out into the lobby for air, fiercely excited milling conversation and some antics. I seem to remember doing handstands at some point. Who knows.
The fever died down by 1am, and closed with a beautifully unifying and moving rendition of ‘Proud’, as everyone joined shoulder to shoulder in a giant circle, arms entwined around waists and shoulders, swaying…as our wonderful dancing mistress made the rounds hugging every single person. After that it was a free-for-all hug fest. Nobody was spared by anyone.
What a way to end the perfect day! Within an hour, everyone was back to their rooms, to catch but a few short z’s before the festivities continued…
It felt like minutes instead of hours before it was time to rise again. That following breakfast was probably the most hilariously tortured affair according to many zombied faces. Nobody was spared the look of deflated energy….and even the most British of them were heading for the coffee. Well, for the most part. The rest would never admit it! SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! GLUGLUGLUG.
More than half of our zest was being sapped by the knowledge that today was the last day of this heavenly time together. Somehow a year’s worth of spirit and bonding had occurred, and yet only two days had passed all too quickly.
It was hard to take solace in the fact that we still had a wonderful day ahead of us, yet as everyone was once again together in the breakfast restaurant, the chatter gradually warmed to a low-key hum, before all cascaded sleepily into the main hall for Amanda’s 3rd panel.
Amanda’s third! That incredible woman has stamina, and today it really showed us all up. She asked ‘Is everyone awake?’, and yet from that moment on, the energy once again lifted to overfilling levels.
Our admiration for this woman reached a peak on this particular morning. Her energy, her brilliant nature never falters, as she spreads her dorky vivacity to everyone via osmosis…
When asked about puff and ruffling on the Sanctuary set, she replied that ALL the boys did it. And as for herself:
“I’m over the top obvious. I’ve been with my husband for 22 years, and there was a cute guy on set…*mimics looking him up and down* ‘Heaven has one less angel ‘cause you’re here on earth!’ *audience laughter* I know. My village is missing me.”
The third panel sped by all too quickly, but YAY. AUTOGRAPH SESSION! By genius of GABIT scheduling, they spread out all these treasures over the entire weekend so that not one moment of amazingness is missed. Jen had declared to me that she was going to get her painting signed by Amanda, and I decided that my Sanctuary 4 Kids hoodie was definitely the way to go (after the closing ceremony I entreated Julia to sign it as well, in exchange for a special cap. But more on that later!).
I was intensely tempted to walk up to Amanda, wearing the hoodie, and ask “Can you please sign my nubbins?” but resisted the urge. It would have been unseemly. What REALLY happened is that as I trotted to the table, manned by both Julia and Amanda, Julia thanked me for the painting as I fluttered the previous day’s photograph down in front of Amanda. She let out a loud “HAH!” and clapped her hands in hysterical glee as she viewed the finished product, before scribbling over it in her special silver pen.
Another short break, for various film presentations, and also for the morning tea with Amanda for the four lucky raffle winners from the day before! The rest of the clan milled around cheerfully in the lobby…before filtering back into the main hall for the GABIT props and costumes auction.
Then lunch, and Kate and myself followed the always blurry Jenn Scheffler, through many secret doorways and up the lift to the TOP FLOOR of the hotel…a level of sophistication and eliteness we were tremendously excited about. As we shuffled wide-eyed through the double doors into a salon that was all elegance and a flurry of activity, we were led to a cosy corner of settees. Here we were joined by Julia Hague, and had a perfect view of her GABIT minions, namely the red shirts, who were hastily stuffing their lunch into their faces, whilst chattering excitedly, before rushing off on no doubt was a chain of urgent errands.
Of course, with all the excitement, Julia herself was time-pressed, yet so graciously and happily sat and chatted with us whilst devouring her own sustenance. We had a wonderful and revealing discussion about the very roots of GABIT, a group of fans who decided, after attending many conventions, that they could do a better job for Amanda, and so began their collaboration. After AT1 was postponed several times due to various circumstances, the ticket-holders refused to accept a refund, saying they would rather wait until Amanda could be available for the convention. From that first event there was no looking back.
Apparently this, AT5, was the most energetic of them all. They seem to be getting exponentially more elaborate and manic each time! Julia was clear in expressing her desire for Amanda to feel a part of the family, not as an actress, herded to the spotlight in front of a dark auditorium to answer anonymous questions. Instead, as we all witnessed, she is a guest, a loved sister of fandom, respected and admired by all, and an integral part of the love web woven between her admirers the globe over.
It was a most frank and friendly discussion, Julia asking our feedback, which we gave joyfully. And then, unfortunately, it was time to cut frivolities short and get back down to business! Julia rushed off to fulfil her directorial duties, while we (after having despatched a pile of Tim Tam packets to the sugar-craving GABITeers), shuffled back downstairs for Amanda’s fourth (and FINAL >.<) question and answer panel. Amanda began the panel by cracking that we should all be able to stay an extra day, like a bank holiday! “Kate Middleton’s bachelorette party!!!”. So it was a very sorry, but slightly hysterical, air that began our last panel with Amanda.
Asked about whether we would hear about Helen’s mum:
” I hope so. Damian told me to write my own back story. No limits. Nothing. She’s definitely dead.
Or is she *ponders* Unless Helen Mirren says “I want to be on your show!”… “MUMMY!”
I’ve played these motherless women, it’s like Disney movies, always evil stepmothers and crazy fathers… except for Bambi… but then the Mum dies…”
The lovely Jaime Stephens asked a beautiful question, and raised not a few laughs. He, as a long-married man, still found time to cherish the small things each day. He loved his wife dearly, and they had been happily married for many years, yet he still loved watching her take a shower *laughter, Amanda clapping and nodding gleefully*. What little daily things did Amanda cherish?
“Tea in the morning. Especially when I’m up for shooting at 4.30 and that’s my time.
Coming home to Olivia. My favourite time of day is her bedtime. I love reading her stories. The Dream Train *here she explains*. To be there at the weekend to be with her…
I still like snogging my husband. *claps and cheers*
When Olivia first wakes up, all sleepy, and her hair all *grabs hair and tousles up to one side, bleary eyed and lopsided*
If I don’t go to the gym 3 times a week I get really obnoxious! Or a walk in the woods…
But I’d forgo all that for a cup of tea. I’m not kidding. Tetley. Is my tea of choice”
How did Magnus figure out her abnormality was longevity?
“She just looked in the mirror later and ‘I am hot!’ *laughter* Tests. Physiology. I’m not sure that’s all. There may be other things she’s aware of that aren’t shared… hinted at… incredible brilliance?”
Before the last question, Amanda requested that everyone put their cameras down, and swore us to secrecy as to what was to follow. As such, I will leave it at that *TITTERS*.
All I will say, is that it had every single person in the room crying with laughter, tears pouring down our faces as Amanda sat with a huge grin on her face. Then all too soon, it was over. The last panel for the day was finished, and the cheers, stamping and applause followed Amanda as she graciously bowed and bounced out. The following break was poignant, joy and sorrow intermingled into one hugging mass.
Not long after, all trooped back into the main hall, many linking arms, and hugging on the way in. Curiously subdued, but all with an undrownable sparkle in their eyes, we took our seats slowly, in no hurry…lingering for as long as we could. Many had tissues in hand, at the ready for one of Julia’s infamously beautiful and heart-wringing closing speeches.
We weren’t disappointed. In fact, most of the closing ceremony went by an emotionally stunned blur! But not this: The unveiling of the total amount raised that weekend: *DRUMROLL* 40,224.06 1/2 Pounds! Then came the snarks for whomever donated the half pence…This enabled the training of two and a half dogs (A RECORD!), while the rest went to Sanctuary for Kids. And then a shock and surprise, the director of HDFDP came forward, and announced that they had decided to donate half of their bucket fundraisings to Sanctuary For Kids! OH THE EMOTION!
And then Julia’s speech, by the end, there were many sniffles in the audience, whilst a certain someone beside me had been outright crying since the end of Amanda’s last panel. Bless her soul. As the closing ceremony came to an end, Amanda was thanked profusely, whilst she was so overcome by the amount of money raised by such a small group of passionate human beings. As she (tried!) to leave the stage, the uproarious cheers, stamping, as every single person in the room stood in a standing ovation which lasted a good ten minutes. Ten full minutes of deafening cheers. In the end, Amanda had to just leave…and we all traipsed forlornly back out into the lobby.
Some of our brothers and sisters left that very same evening. Goodbyes were the most heart wrenching affair of the entire weekend. Fortunately, for most of us, we still had one more evening and breakfast to spend with this warmest of families. People were loathe to leave the lobby that night. We milled around in our pyjamas until the wee hours, piling in hugs on the couches, the lobby humming with joyful chatter, while others (us!) were engaging in creative affairs with Sanctuary For Kids, a variety of European chocolates, and a handy marble table. It was at this point that Jen and myself sidled up to the luminescent Julia (whom it took a full two hours to leave the lobby at all!), asked her to sign the other half of my S4K hoodie.
We thanked her profusely and joined the happily chattering crowd around her, before bestowing on her the last of the caps we had made for the occasion. It reads across the front “ABNORMAL AND PROUD; AT5” accompanied by little yellow nubbin footprints, and across the back “Putting Women and Geeks first Since 2008”. A little bird tells us that Julia still has this accessory!
And then it was bed, to little sleep, but much night time conversation until we finally drifted off. Breakfast the next morning was a poignantly sorrowful and businesslike affair. Some goodbyes were said early, people rushing to catch planes and trains, while the rest of us stood with our luggage in the lobby, talking and clinging to each other incessantly, forming human “AT6” monograms on the floor, cameras clicking like crazy. We must have stood there for a good three hours, nobody wanted to leave.
The final farewells to dearest sisters, with whom we had shared the most hysterical tears of laughter,….was painful as we sobbed endlessly on each other’s shoulders. Middle aged men and women, teenagers, young adults all hugging and kissing, remembering the incredible love and family that we were all so blessed to be a part of.
And then we piled into the car, and drove away…tears streaming down our cheeks, with the faces we loved so well stamped firmly in our mind’s eye… but gradually the sadness gave way to heartwarming recollection of the boundless joy, love, solidarity, achievement and incredible dorkiness that was the weekend of AT5.
This warmth has reverberated within each of our hearts as we have returned to our everyday lives until the next time we meet. I am sure this is exactly what the incredible human beings at GABIT Events had in mind when they so appropriately named this magical weekend “AT5; Reverberations” whetting the fans appetite for Gabit Events AT6 and beyond!
Thank you for stopping by WormholeRiders News Agency and reading my final report about AT5.
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