Four And A Half Months Into Borrowed Time––

––and so far, so good.

I’ve just finished partying hearty at this year’s EasterCon, Innominate, held in Birmingham, sharing the GOH spots with artist Judith Clute and fan Colin Harris, one of those indispensable fans who, had he not been a GOH, would have been working on the convention himself.

This was a very special GOH line-up for me. My first British GOH spot was at a lively little convention called MexiCon back in 1993, and it was Colin who invited me. When I told Ellen Datlow about it, she said, ‘Hey, that’s great! I think I’ll come with you! We can stay with John and Judith Clute and take a side-trip to Paris!’

I had never actually met John and Judith, and I arrived some hours before Ellen. So I had the pleasure of ringing the Clutes’ doorbell and saying, ‘Hi, I’m Ellen’s friend Pat. I’ll be staying with you for the next two weeks, except for the time when we’re in Scarborough at MexiCon and in Paris.’ John and Judith were spectacularly welcoming to me and by the time Ellen showed up, we were all old friends.

That trip was remarkable for two other things:

1) My astoundingly ridiculous idea to rent a car and *drive* from London to Scarborough, having absolutely no clue that this would be nothing like driving in the US. I was brazenly unfazed at driving on the other side of the car *and* on the other side of the road, which was a mistake of ineffable proportions. What would have been a two-hour train journey became an insane eight-hour comedy of errors, the first 45-minutes of which was just getting out of Heathrow Airport, where I’d rented the car. The last 45-minutes was trying to find the hotel in Scarborough. In between, there was a twenty-minute period in which I could not find reverse on the stick shift. I took a solemn vow after that never to drive in the UK again. It’s been an easy vow to keep. My US license expired shortly after I emigrated in 1996 and I don’t miss it.

2) Meeting the Original Chris Fowler at John and Judith’s when he came to do interviews with me and Ellen for a magazine. Chris had written me beforehand asking if I’d hold still for such a thing; I blithely mistook him for Christopher R. Fowler, the author of so many wonderful things, including most recently (I think most recently) the Bryant and May books. Anyway, we straightened out the confusion before I got there and we got on like a house afire, to phrase a coin. We kept in touch; he wrote me wonderful, friendly letters. Maybe when you were in school, they tried to teach you how to write proper letters? Well, Chris is one of those people who learned how to do that. We became friends. A year later my life had changed completely; it was difficult for all concerned. Fortunately, it turned out that my friend and penpal was, in fact, my soul-mate and all concerned lived happily ever after.

Twenty-four years ago, Colin Harris innocently set all this in motion with a GOH invitation, and it all started to take shape in John and Judith’s flat in Camden Town. Over the years, Colin has been a good and special friend. It was Colin who called me in 2013 to tell me I had been nominated for a Hugo. That’s a great phone call to get but it means even more when you get it from a friend like Colin. He has continued to give Chris and me encouragement and support even when he’s had to deal with his own life. Likewise John and Judith; their friendship, like his, has been…ineffable.


Now I’m slowly pulling myself together, getting ready to go home after a terrific weekend playing with my friends. Including Amanda, aka writer Jan Siegel, who makes it really easy to have a good time. Amanda/Jan was my co-host for the Hugo Awards last year. At the time, somebody identified her as ‘the bimbo in the red dress,’ a description she continues to use proudly because really, when you’re in your early 60s and someone calls you a bimbo, hooray, you’ve still got it! But I digress.

Anyway, we had a great time on many levels. In fact, I’m pretty sure it would have been impossible to have a bad time––at least, not without a lot of effort, and I’m ‘way too lazy for that.