Nattercon

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Convention
Name: Nattercon
Dates: 1990-present
Frequency: yearly in May
Location: Milton Keyes, England
Type: fannish get-together
Focus: The Professionals
Organization: Gryphon Press
Founder: Sara S
Founding Date: 1989-present
URL:
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Nattercon (known as "Zircon" the first two years) is a small Professionals convention held yearly in May in the U.K. The convention is advertised by word of mouth. It averages around 50 attendees per year. The convention has little formal programming (hence the name 'natter-con').

The first two years, "Nattercon" was billed as a combined Pros and Starsky & Hutch con.

It is a social event for all fans, and it includes discussions, a space to sell and swap items, an auction and a Saturday night dinner. It celebrated its 20th anniversary in May 2009.

In the early years the convention was almost exclusively female, which was typical of slash fandom of the time.

Some fans confuse Nattercon with A Weekend in the Country (UK) but according to one commentator they were "...organised by different groups of people, and with a distinct chronological break between them."[1]

More History

The first Nattercon... was on the weekend of October 26th, 1990, at the Wayfarer Hotel in Milton Keynes, England. The programme was a mix of The Professionals and Starsky and Hutch It included showings of fanvids, discussion panels including discussion "on all aspects of zines", auctions, and a raffle. Discussions were led by Felicity Parkinson, Helen Raven, HG, Jane Carnall, and various other people whose lj/internet names (if any!) are unknown (source: copy of original Zircon programme, copied and distributed to attendees at the twentieth anniversary of the Nattercon convention, 2009; lj pseudonyms are by byslantedlight and are mostly not the names listed in the programme). [1]

Con Reports

1990

The Con began at 5.45 p.m. on the Friday evening and at 6.00 p.m. there was a discussion group focussing on all aspects of Zines. Alter a break there were music videos and then an informal get-together with other videos being shown. On the Saturday morning we began with an hour talk on The Professionals given by [C K]. This was designed to introduce the series to any S&H fans who might be interested, and it was well attended by Professionals fans too. That was followed by a Writers and Readers discussion group, and after lunch there was an hour talk on Starsky & Hutch given by [E M]. Again, this was to introduce S&H to Professionals fans and to give S&H fans a chance to watch favourite clips. In the early afternoon there was an auction of The Professionals items, and this was followed by a talk by [L H] which compared S&H with the The Professionals. Early evening the programme was split and there was an opportunity for everyone to meet and talk about their own fandom, and later on we were entertained by a quiz devised by [L] and [E]. A late evening slash discussion group concluded that day. On Sunday we saw a video relating to the PAF. which preceded the S&H auction. Although the original idea had been to hold just one auction, the number of items going under the hammer was just too large for this to be feasible. After a break, fans queued up to pay for their auction items while everyone else had the chance to watch a last S&H or Professionals episode. Then the raffles were drawn, the prizes were given out for the caption competition (some wonderful captions! ) and the weekend was closed. That, of course, was just what was going on in the main conference room. The sales room, every time I tried to get into it, was very crowded This was unfortunately not a large room, but there was no alternative - the price one pays for booking a small hotel. There were also non-stop videos going on in one of the other Con rooms (3 episodes, of The Professionals followed by 3 episodes of S&H and so on) and the library was also popular. Unfortunately the hotel's television sets let us down somewhat, but part of the of the time there was also the opportunity to watch other films made by David Soul, Paul Michael Glaser and the two actors from The Professionals. From the letters and cards and flowers which arrived after the Con, I have to say (with a sigh of relief and a modicum of pride) that people enjoyed themselves and lots of fans said it had been a great chance to meet up with old friends. However. I was even more pleased to hear from fans who said they had made new friends with whom they were now corresponding. [2]
The two-storey hotel was near a lake and we had it to ourselves, apart from the restaurant,Rooms were well furnished, comfortable and friendly, never mind we didn't spend too much time in the rooms. The programme quide itself was nicely done and not only gave dates and venues, but included episode listings and listings of zines available in the library. The programme itself was evenly divided between the two fandoms. There were a number of people interested in only one, some interested in both. Those I talked to - and there were a lot given that I am a chatterbox - were very comfortable and neither fandom felt backed into a corner by the other. Admittedly there were a few people not so happy with this being a con for two fandoms, but it is always difficult to do it right for everyone. No expenses spared, there was even a videorecorder that played PAL as well as NTSC,so we were able to watch episodes like L.V. Strangler and Murder at Sea, as no one in Britain seems to have a clear copy of these episodes. There was also a lot of music videos to be watched, some of them brought over from attending US fans. I personally enjoyed that there was always time to sit down and have a natter, because usually I am too busily running around hardly finding the time for a chat with friends. I especially remember the the fun we had at a late night trivia quizz. I would have been hard put to name all the animals in a dialogue between Starsky and Hutch after Hutch had come out of Huggy's angry at his insurance talking about people being numbers only. It wasn't easy for the contestants, even if they tried to lip read. The questions were again evenly divided and it was delightful to watch now fans enthusiastically try to score a point. Not that the quizz was taken overly serious though. The freshness and vitality of a number of attending 'newcomers' brought to the con gave lie to the rumour that fandom might be dying. [3]
It was no surprise, therefore, that ZIRCON was fully booked up very quickly. I, didn't take a poll, so I don't know the ratio of SH fans to Pros fans; I think we were probably outnumbered 2-1. That didn't matter, well, okay, I didn't have a clue what some people were talking about, but I'm sure the reverse was equally true in many instances. It took me the best part of a day, via British Hail, to get to Milton Keynes -- but I had time to settle before the Con proper began in the evening, kicking off after [S's] welcome with a warning about security. [C] and I followed that with a discussion on zines, which boiled down to the question do we want/need them? The vote seemed split -- SHers do, Pros fans prefer the Circuit, which doesn't invite criticism from readers. Chacun a son gout — me, I want LoCs. But there are a lot of tender egos out there just writing for their own enjoyment, and to share, without the hassle of being edited and exposed to the slings and arrows. Would something similar help to encourage the SH writers, and correct the dearth of good reading? Any ideas?... [snipped] we got back in time for [J] to take part in the Writers and Readers discussion, which had to win the prize for the most digressions in one hour — [E's[ video presentation, after lunch, was 'Introducing S&H', and a chance to see again those favourite moments that first grabbed our imaginations. [L's]] 'S&H and the Professionals' later, aimed to highlight the differences and similarities between the two pairs -- again, a chance to enjoy favourite moments! Dinner at the hotel was overbooked — instead, seven of us headed for the TexMex restaurant in the Centre. This was terrific, and discussions started there carried us through until late, so none of us got to the late night S/H & B/D discussion... Sunday morning was sunny and bright. Some of us watched the PAF film, and then [L]did us proud with the auction. That girl could sell sand to the Arabs. There were some real bargains to be had, too. After that, time to sit around and chat, and grab lunch, and chat some more, and suddenly it was time for the raffle draws, and the caption competitions (on which the Ripleys made a killing) and the close-down.... P.S. The one man? He was a charming chap who came along with his female friend — I'm still wondering what he made of us...[4]

1991

ZIRCON 91 was every bit as well organized and friendly as ZIRCON 90, because dedicated fans put a lot work into that September weekend.

Including the zine library and the gems shown in the video room, two features always appreciated. The programme was varied and entertaining. I so feel with any fan in the UK or on the Continent unable to afford a weekend like this. It was again a joint SH-PROS venture. Neither fandom was boxed into a corner though and many items on the agenda were generally interesting.

Unfortunately, I couldn't make if from the start. I was told that I would have liked "Seconds Out." Here fans were given the opportunity to talk about a subject of their choice for five minutes after which the discussion about it was thrown open. A number of people remarked that it would have been even better, if more fans had decided to air their views. As one of the subjects raised was about artwork in zines, I felt like I missed out on something, esp. when I heard that Tabby had given the talk.

Saturday morning though saw [me] bright (?) and early (!) for a discussion about comedy in Starsky and Hutch. I envied Terri her memory as I understand she did the talk on short notice, even finding the time to show excerpts from the episodes. Now, even with a subject dear to my heart, my mind resembles an unreliable tea strainer at the best of times, so I was left nodding enthusiastically every time Terri mentioned some of the gems in SH we all enjoy so much.

Another talk was given like a writers' workshop. Even though PROS stories were analysed, the points raised were valuable to anyone attempting to write regardless of fandom. Fiona gave a competent talk and I thought her very brave to sit there and have some of her writing pulled apart paragraph by paragraph and sometimes word by word.

Being not only slow, but positively thick when it comes to matters technical, I picked up a lot of sound advice from Linda on how to concoct a music video, provided one has the idea for it in the first place. A number of ladies must have felt the same, because the room was buzzing with ideas and suggestions after the talk. Some great SH mv's ought to come from this, I'm sure.

Soon enough it was time to say goodbye and some of us played "Upstairs, Downstairs" to help carry and load the boxes with videos and zines back into the cars.

I know I ought to have mentioned the auction, the talk about violence in either series or at least the truly international, very late 'Saturday night live' talk.

Let it be said, that I did enjoy myself tremendously, my only regret being that there will be no ZIRCON 92, because the organizers are taking a well-deserved rest. [5]

1998

Friday 15th. Tune: It was a beautiful sunny day, our room was ready straight away and we had a view of the lake - what could be better? The rest of the day was spent seeing new faces and meeting old friends. If a bedroom door was open it was an invitation to come in and chat, which is great, especially if you're on your own. Saturday 16th. June: Saturday started with a very generous cooked breakfast The do-it-yourself dealers' room was a great way to get rid of those odds and ends. I bought two K/S zines - what can I say, they brought back fond memories of the early eighties! Late in the evening the music videos were shown. The first was a Zebracon multi-media competition tape. As I'm a multi-media fan, this was a real treat. Some of the fandoms were as follows (please let me apologise if I haven't got the correct titles of the songs as some were new to me): Pros (Bodie/Cowley) - The Great Pretender'; STsVoyager (Janeway/Paris) "Women Peak at Forty,' Men at Nineteen!'; Forever Knight - LaCroix biting necks to "Original Sin"; Sentinel -'Loving You'; Highlander (Methos/Duncan) - I Want to Come Clean about Me"; Buffy The Vampire Slayer- "Don't Stand So Close To Me'; Pros (Bodie) - The Man With the Child in His Eyes'; Pros - "No Green Eyes, No Blue Nights". Good-quality Pros music videos followed till the early hours! Sunday 17th. Tune: Most of the morning was taken up with a well-organised auction, with a wide variety of zines to bid for. Throughout the weekend I didn't use the library but it was nice to have the option. Overall my memories of the con were of helpful fans who gave me advice about the Internet, drawing, American conventions and favourite authors and stories. It's been quite a few years since I attended Nattercon but in 1998 I was struck by the enthusiasm of the new fans and the willingness of the more established fans to spread the faith! My room-mate and I even got a chance to walk around Willen Lake and admire the wildlife -over forty baby birds looking like little bundles of green/grey fluff; though we were careful to dodge the waist-high geese! Who would think three days in Milton Keynes would re-charge your batteries? I even got the impression a lot of people think Bodie and Doyle are an item! [6]
Something to remember Nattercon "98? Yes, with a great deal of pleasure! It was so relaxing, much more like meeting friends again than the usual crowded chaos - by now everybody knows the way around. I love to walk around there and meet with one or two of 'our' group - just a smile, and the world is a nicer place. All the time the library has been a great attraction: there's still more than one story I haven't seen and often, you get just the important hint for something new. Nattercon is simply a great place to exchange news, e£. hearing Sara confirm the rumour that yes, Martin Shaw is doing a mini-series for the BBC, playing the villain in The Scarlet Pimpernel Great! And there is the three o'clock hurry all those opportunities in the DIY dealers' room. This year
I got one more programme and took a closer look at signatures. Wonderful. And I just love
auctions. This year was unbelievable - so many items and so little time. But those four are nothing
but quick and professional - many, many thanks! [7]
It's difficult to convey what it was like, other than telling you it was great (which is true but not informative). You sort of had to be there. We didn't have any panels or stuff like that - we just sat and talked (and talked, and talked, and ..) and shrieked at daft jokes and sighed at songtapes and laughed inordinately and drooled over pictures. There was an awful lot of Pros, though. Never had so many back-to-back Pros conversations in my life. Stories we've loved; stories we're writing; stories we wish someone else would write; good bits of episodes; the best view of Doyle's bum; the expressions where Bodie looks gorgeous-est (grammar was the first casualty); all the stuff that makes you come home and want to write lots and lots of stories where they're dead sexy and brave and resourceful and end up (after the proper amount of duly decorative suffering) locked in one another's arms For All Time. ' Sigh. So yeah, Nattercon was good, I reckon. And I shan't soon forget that afternoon fifteen of us spent in my room, handing round glorious pictures of mostly Doyle (this time) and boggling at the one where his sweatpants hardly cover the essentials. Well, they're covered - technically - but ... put it this way: the relevant part of his anatomy is a little more, urn, salient than perhaps he realised at the time. And the weather was sublime - first time I've ever worn a t-shirt at Nattercon - and the lake sparkled and there were flotillas of ducklings and goslings to amuse us and it was all too blissful for words. [8]

1999

From a US fan:
This was my second Nattercon and made me yearn to go back for a third. It's a most relaxed event (water sports aside!) and more like a large slumber party than a structured affair. This year the con 'owned' the hotel and most doors were left open, inviting one to drop in and visit whenever the mood struck. Very, very pleasant. While there are a few scheduled moments, the spirit of Nanercon is just that: a time to natter on about this and that but mostly The Lads... This being the 20th Annual con and, I think, the largest ever... it was an international gathering with fans from Australia, the US and Europe as well as the UK. If anyone doubts the staying power of Pros, this con would have erased all fears for the future. IT IS OURS! The only negative is trying to find the place. Having done it once before, I was fairly sure I could navigate to the hotel. But I would highly recommend taking the train or coach from London and hiring a taxi instead of driving. Not even the locals seem to know where anything is in Milton Keynes. Nattercon is a Pros-only con and therefore a relief for someone like me who has no interest in other fandoms or pairings. (Well, okay. The Chief). Zines command premium prices and are auctioned off at unbelievable fees! A good collection of, say. Oblique zines could pay your way over (almost). I really like the auction method - much more efficient than ours - and the items include everything from a knitting pattern (I bid and won one) to a few (very few) pieces of art. Zines are the primary objects of desire .They are in short supply and highly prized and priced. Highlights this year... were the Millennium Quilt (I did the US square) and the honouring of senior fen who have given so much to Pros fandom. It was a joy to meet people with whom I've developed e-mail friendships and to find that I like them in Real Life too! I was most pleased to have several British fen tell me they enjoyed some of my more recent stories. They do not give praise lightly, so it really touched me! I also enjoyed the travel time before the con with [name redacted]. Was a pleasure to get to know a friend even better and to find that we were compatible while screaming about driving on the opposite side of the road! She drove; I navigated. And we managed somehow always to arrive at our destinations. Post-con and post- a trip to Paris to meet up with my husband, I spent a delightful week-plus with [four names redacted] in London. Again, the best part of this sort of experience is to discover that fen friends can also be Real Life friends. Doubly cherished. Anyone who disses fandom as an escape from reality has me to answer to! It's enriched my life beyond measure and I'd never, ever give it up. Saving already for next time! [9]

2009

5.30pm was the opening ceremony so we joined the rest of the Conners and had the short opening bit.

A quick change of clothes and back across to the pub (well, cheaper beer!) then back into what was amusingly called the 'break-out' area for chatting and wine and Pros 20 Questions...ooh there were some difficult ones! Because we'd all had fairly long journeys, we went to bed reasonable. GG and I, though, felt like schoolgirls in a dormitory, sharing girlie confidences undercover of darkness and although we were in the room by 12.15am, we didnt get to sleep until almost 2am!!

Saturday morning was the auction - loads of lovely Pros goodies in. I snagged a couple of zines (including the Motet 4 I was determined to have!) and a couple of pics so I was happy. After lunch (why, yes, in the pub again!), we were back for a look at the quilt that was made years ago by the old guard Pros fans - it was superb, made of several squares, each fashioned by a person. Beautifully made, it was lovely to see it. There was also a gorgeous tablecloth which had most of our signatures on and these had been embroidered by a very talented person indeed.

Saturday afternoon was taken up by the Quiz - always good fun. There were tables of six which meant our little group was split up. Our team was called the Injured Innocents - and we won! Most of the questions were Pros but there were one or two questions from other fandoms. We were very grateful for the assistance of constant_muse and erushi for those answers. A very good team effort and we all got a fairy mug.

Saturday evening was the buffet and, well, a natter really. Followed by more wine, more nattering and more Pros 20Questions.

Sunday was the Market Place and the option to buy zines, books etc. One of the sellers was giving away her zines, which was wonderful - ahh the spirit of Pros! - and I picked up a few. I also picked up some wonderful artwork and a couple of novels too.

This was followed by the raffle - for which [Bad username: londonronnie"] won a bottle of fizz! and closure of Nattercon for another year, sadly. Most of the people were going home today so we said our sad goodbyes and wishes for safe journeys and settled down to chat in the pub over lunch."[10]

References

  1. source: whitehills posting via londonronnie here
  2. from Frienz #13
  3. from Frienz #13
  4. from Frienz #13
  5. from Frienz #18
  6. from DIAL #6
  7. from DIAL #6
  8. from DIAL #6
  9. from DIAL #10
  10. Mobile Ghetto - Nattercon, Archived version