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Last night BristolCon swept down upon the Folk House Cafe like the downdraft of a dozen Zeppelins to host the First Bristol Airship Ball, which took the form of a Victorian Picnic, with cucumber sandwiches, cake, elephant-hacking and the worlds (possibly) first acoustic Steampunk goth gig.

All this fun, was, of course, to celebrate the highly successful launching of the Her Majesties fine sky-vessel, Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion, and appropriately enough we had a hand-fashioned airship to hover over the proceedings stand majestically on the grand piano, poised for flight. We also had cake – spongey, chocolatey, squidly decorated (thanks to Pat Hawkes-Reed) and all-round delicious – because things are always improved by the inclusion of cake.

Photo thanks to Cord Frazer

Photo thanks to Cord Frazer


Photo thanks to Cord Frazer

Photo thanks to Cord Frazer

John Hawkes-Reed kicked off the evening by explaining the convoluted history of alcohol-fueled Jaquard Loom elephant-hacking and the potentially destructive consequences thereof, with pictures, in a very funny presentation (with punk jokes : ) ) – we’re hoping Cheryl has the audio of this and when she puts it online I will link to it so you can enjoy the fun.

You can read the transcript here : http://www.firefew.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Hacking-the-Jaquard-7.pdf

There were two short plays, with improvised costumes and props, done in the style of radio dramatisations. These were “Artifice Perdu” by Pete Sutton, adapted by Pete and Roz Clarke, and “Brass and Bone,” written by me and adapted by Deborah Walker – both of these stories appear in Airship Shape, “Artifice” is a creepy Gothic tale about something nasty and not-all-together human lurking in Bristol cathedral, and “Brass” I like to call “The Six Million Guinea Woman” story. It’s the first time something I’ve written has been adapted into another format; I was a bit nervous about it but Deborah did a brilliant job and it was a lot of fun to act it out in front of an audience!

Playacting - photo by Pat Hawkes-Reed

Playacting – photo by Pat Hawkes-Reed

After the plays Cauda Pavonis performed their first ever acoustic set, which was still impressively loud. There were songs about vampires, songs about Celtic Battle Goddesses and songs about hangmen in a perfectly-judged set. Lovely people too – if you’re having a steampunky / gothy event and you want a band I’d recommend them (and I promised I wouldn’t mention the unexpected recorder solo…)

Cauda Pavonis - Picture by Cord Frazer

Cauda Pavonis – Picture by Cord Frazer

We also had a cosplay contest for the best costume inspired by the stories in Airship Shape, which was comprehensively won by Heike Harding-Reyland with her Queenie Green costume, from Deborah Walkers “The Lesser Men Have No Language”, complete with newly-hatched Lesser Men growing in her fronds. Isn’t it brilliant?

Queenie Green - thanks to Heike Harding-Reyland

Queenie Green – thanks to Heike Harding-Reyland

It was a stupendous and tremendous evening, and if you think that sounds like fun you should come down to BristolCon or one of our Fringe events (someone took me aside at the end of the evening and told me “The things you guys organise are always so cool!” 😉 ) We have a lot of fun, and it’s always nice to meet new people / automatons / fern people and have a drink with them…