London Expo was, for the most part, hellish. We arrived late due to unforeseen problems with the train. (Our cabby was nice and friendly though.) Then, we had to wait in line for over an hour and a half to get inside. The doors, for people who didn't have fast track tickets, were suppose to open at 11am. We walked through the doors at 12:45. With at least 1,000 people behind us waiting and more coming through the door every minute.
I got fed up with waiting, as I do, and went to the door to ask what was going on. The child at the door, because that's the only way he could be described, was too busy chatting with his friends to answer my question. When I finally got his attention - albeit not for long - he told me that they had already reached capacity.
We arrived at fifteen minutes past eleven and they had already reached capacity?
“One out, one in,” I was told. That seems to be the equivalent of “I’m sorry, but there will be a wait of 1-2 hours for entry at London Expo tonight. Perhaps next year you should make a reservation?”
Once inside it was plain to see why there wasn't room to “swing a cat.” For some reason, the idiots planning London Expo decided that it would look cool to arrange everything on a diagonal scheme. I may be bad at math but even I know that isn't the best way to fit as much as possible into a room. Why? Because I have a small amount of common sense, which the coordinators at the Expo this year seem to lack in abundance. As if it wasn't hard enough to fit in twenty areas for singing, a stage for guest talks, a wrestling ring and about twenty dealer stalls, there were a lot of new anime related happenings going on. And that new dance game seemed to be drawing a lot of people, and clogging up the aisles - which weren't large enough to manoeuvre to start with.
It should be stated, of course, that although I have no interest in anime or manga or any thing else of the sort, the people who do were probably enjoying themselves. I mention this as Jay thinks that I can be less than objective in situations such as this. And by this, I mean my convention being ruined by a bunch of jerks more interested in money than making their customers happy.
It was amusing, I’ll add, to see so many people walking around in costumes. I can only assume that there was a competition going on and it did make me laugh on several occasions to see someone walking around in a costume I could recognise. That being said, I did NOT plan on attending an anime convention, nor will I ever.
Now, London Expo started a new thing this year where you would pay for a voucher and use that to pay for your autograph. This would be an excellent idea if you bought the vouchers at the door. Or, if you buy the vouchers at a centralised location. Or, if there was only one place to buy the vouchers. As it was, you could buy the vouchers at every group of tables. The end result: More unorganised and awkward than actually paying for the damned autographs at the table the way you use to!
On several occasions we were directed from one line to another, to the table and back to purchase our vouchers at the table where we originally started. I like the idea of vouchers. I mentioned this (along with my idea to place them at the doors) to one of the senseless drones working the tables and his response was, “But then you might not know how many you’d need.”
If I didn't know how many autographs I wanted, would I have dragged my ass out of bed at five in the morning and travelled 150 miles to get there? (£25 a piece for train tickets + £35 taxi fare.) I think not.
I love the “photos with the stars” that they do at London Expo. I think that this is a very clever idea and the photos are usually of very good quality. £60 to have our photos taken with the five members of the Enterprise cast, however, is entirely too much. Paying £2.50 to have it shipped to me because they can’t get their asses into gear and get all of the photos printed before the end of the day makes me livid.
When I asked if all the photos would be printed before the close of the convention that day, I was told that they would still be printing long after 6pm. Why should I have to pay for their gross incompetence? And more on this point: I missed having my photo taken with John DeLance because they’d already done his photo shoot. When? While I was outside waiting in line to get in! And John DeLancie was the main reason for me going to the convention in the first place. As if that wasn't bad enough, we were told that Lenard Nemoy would only be doing photo shoots on Sunday.
“Well, can’t you come back tomorrow?” was the response I got when raising concerns about this fact. No I bloody well can’t! Who will pay the train fare and the taxi fare? Or, if we had decided to stay the night, the hotel cost? I'm sorry but some of us cannot afford to dish out that kind of money simply because a convention is poorly planned and even more poorly run.
And while we’re on the topic of how the convention was run, let’s just talk about employing people who have no idea what their job was suppose to be. During the entire length of the day I found a total of three people who actually knew what they were doing. Time after time we were told to “go here” or “go there” and once here or there, were told to go back directly to where we’d come from. There was no communication amongst the staff at all, from the looks of it. Now, I should be fair and mention that most of them were volunteers and were doing the work for no payment.
Okay. I understand that. As organisers, however, it was the duty of the London Expo to train these people and prepare them for all eventualities. That, or give them someone to directly report to and keep them in contact at all times. Or, maybe to consider investing in walkie talkie systems. That’s what we call a business expense. They seemed damned willing to tell me how I should spend my money so maybe they can take a tip themselves.
The lack of communication was not the only thing about the staff that got my tail feathers up. They seemed to be split down the middle with half of them not knowing what the hell was going on and the other half being complete Nazi fucking bastards. I was pushed, shoved, barked at, ordered around and treated like an inferior by more members of the London Expo staff than I could possibly keep track of. Staff members were shoving people roughly out of the way as they passed, pushing them aside when wanted space and telling them to “do this” without so much as a please. Jay often says that manners cost nothing but perhaps this is another expense that Expo wasn't ready to pay for.
I’d like to point out two examples in particular:
1. Getting virtual queue tickets for the Enterprise cast.
We went up at one point and asked for tickets to see the five members of Enterprise. (After being sent first to one end of the line and then back to the other because no one knew what the hell was going on.) “We've stopped giving them out for now,” we were told, “Come back in half an hour and see if we’re giving them out again.”
Fine. No problem.
We came back in half an hour and were told the same thing. *grinds teeth* Yes. Fine. We’ll come back in another half an hour. The third time we went up and asked for VQT they told us the same thing. It was at this point that I lost my cherub like demeanour. I told the woman with the tickets that I thought we’d be told that often enough and I wanted an answer right now. She looked helpless for a moment and then asked someone, obviously with more authority than herself, what to do. Two minutes later we had three VQT for the Enterprise cast.
The reason, I was informed, that they weren't sure whether or not they could give out more tickets was that they weren't sure how many more they could do in the day. I asked if the people who had tickets but couldn't get through the line could just bring them back tomorrow and be honoured. “No,” they said, “We’re started fresh tomorrow.”
Now, at four o’clock, we passed a man dressed as a ninja waiting in the line - which, by that point, went around the corner and to the opposite end of the hall. When we left at five o’clock, that same man had moved about five foot. Now, do you think that he got to meet them? And, how do you think he would have been rewarded for his patience? By having his tickets honoured the next day - if he was lucky enough to be able to afford to go twice? Hardly. He’d have to go through the whole madness all over again. And still have a 50%/50% chance of actually meeting them.
2. We went up to find out what number they were on for Tia Carrere.
Mind you, we had to wait at least an hour for them to print out pictures for her because she’d run out. Silly place to run out of photos, really, at a convention where your sole purpose of being there is to sign photos.
We were told by a young gentleman, I’ll call him Troutface, that they hadn't reached our number yet. Fair enough. What can be done about that? We were standing there talking to a nice couple, though, who’d waited in line and then got turned away. Now, they’d returned and he still wouldn't let them into line although their number was much lower than the number they were currently on. Again, my sense of right overcame me and I told Troutface that it was unconscionable not to allow them into the line immediately. He then proceeded to argue with me, not realising that the nice couple WAS getting into that line. And right then. Eventually, he realised that he was wrong and the nice couple was allowed into the line. We left to wait for our number to come up.
Jay went at one point to lodge a complaint. “No,” he told the person at the table, “I don’t want to fill out a form, I want to talk to a person.” He was then told that anyone who could listen to a complaint was probably “too busy” to do so. So, he filled out a form and let it drop. I, on the other hand, wanted to lodge a verbal complaint. And I don’t give up as easily. You may have noticed that by this point,
I was in full blown bitch mode. I may have even frightened Alun slightly. I went to the entrance (we were taking a break outside in the hall at this point) and asked the girl there if she could help me at all. Now, I have nothing but good things to say about this girl. She’s one of the three people I found actually doing their jobs. She was polite and immediately went to find someone for me. Kudos to her. She took me to a desk where a woman did her best to help me until she found someone else who could actually take a complaint. Person number two.
Now, person number three is someone who was doing her job but managed to piss me off regardless. She was making notes on my complaint and her comment at one point was, “So you had to wait. Is that all?” Condescension at its very worst. She seemed to be listening without hearing anything I said at all. She was going to direct me to someone higher than herself to speak to but we had too much left to do and not enough time to do it in so we let it drop. I, however, will not let it drop there. An official complaint will be made later today.
Jay and I have agreed that we will never go to London Expo again. After the shambles that was Expo last year, we gave it another chance. How could we not when they had the guests that they did (ie: John DeLancie and Kevin Sorbo, etc.). This, however, will not sway us next time. No matter how large the guest, we will not attend another. Mind you, we spend at least (AT LEAST) £500 at each convention. Alun spends the same. Now, that’s AT LEAST £1,000 that London Expo will be missing out on next time. Food for thought.
The day ended well, though. We’d cooled off for about the last two or three hours of the event (Jay bought us some DVDs and a couple of Buffy figures he’s been eyeing) and were in relatively good spirits by the time we called our new cabby friend to pick us up.
I'm amazed sometimes how easily Jay makes friends. He chatted all the way to the convention with our cabby about autographs and everything else and when we got out, the cabby gave us his number to ring when we needed a lift. Nice, huh? He also agreed to give us a ring if he got lucky enough to get any celebs in his cab. He’d get their autograph and see if we wanted to buy it. Nice deal all around. He even drove us around town, showing us all the theatres - at no extra charge.
The train ride back was interesting as well. The first pair of people sitting next to us were funny in a sarcastic way, which always amused me. Then, the next group of people who sat next to us were rugby fans who’d had a bit too much to drink. They were super friendly though and chatted to us for a good two hours straight.
Well, to me and Alun, anyway, Jay put my hat over his eyes and pretended to sleep. Lol. The next guy that got on walked past us once looking and came back saying, “This looked like the type of place I need to sit.” I think that’s a good thing. Lol.
With my brief description of the event itself out of the way, here is the usual guest run-down:
Lenard Nemoy (Star Trek)
I had always considered Lendard Nemoy to be such a huge star. Maybe It’s because my mother loved him so much. Maybe it’s because he’s SPOCK. I dunno. But, it was strange to see that he wasn't very popular at London Expo. I thought that he would've been the biggest draw to the convention. I was wrong. He actually left an hour early because he just wasn't doing any business. I was shocked. He didn't really have a lot of time for us either. He didn't dedicate the photo and was a little abrupt.
John DeLancie (Star Trek: Next Generation)
I was absolutely crushed. I was excited beyond belief to meet John DeLancie. I mean, he’s Q! But, he didn't say a word more than “hello.” And, when I asked if it was alright to have a photo, he agreed but then turned away to talk to his assistant without giving me another moment’s thought. He didn't dedicate our photo or pose with me. Jay said that he thought that he looked out of it and I think he was probably right.
Kevin Sorbo (Hercules)
I think that Kevin Sorbo must be the dream guy of a thousand middle-aged women. He’s actually quite hunky still. (Not that he’s that old but you know what I mean.) Incredibly tall as well. After we did our photo shoot with him, he announced loudly that “One of them just grabbed my butt. I hope it was her!” We were both impressed with how friendly and chatty he was with everyone.
Tia Carrere (Relic Hunter)
I believe Jay’s comment here is “Erf.” I was meeting Kevin Sorbo while Jay was meeting Tia Carrere (to save time) so I can’t say much except that she looks amazing still. I think that he had a nice chat with her and her husband (fiancé?) for a few minutes. Apparently she’s expecting so all the best for her!
Robia LaMorte (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Robia LaMorte was a doll. She’s so friendly and always smiley. She looks sort of impish, as well. Like an elf, I think. I wish I’d meet her at another time, in a better mood.
Erica Durance (Smallville)
I've never seen Smallville but you should never miss the opportunity for a good autograph. Never know how big someone will be. (Yup, we’re kind of sad, I guess.) Erica was nice, anyway.
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG1)
I wish that I’d been in better spirits when meeting Teryl Rothery because she looked like a lot of fun. She joked with the people in front of me and even played with this bear that they had. She was friendly with me as well but I think that Jay could've drawn her into more conversation if he’d been there. (He sort of drifted off for a few because he was in such a bad mood.)
Monika Schnarre (Beastmaster)
I don’t really know much about Monkia but Jay wanted to meet her because she’s “a babe.” How can I argue with that? She was nice, though, and even joked with us for a bit. (Jay told her and her assistant that he wears the pants but I tell him which ones and then when spelling my name said that it’s “Wondra… Like Wondra Bra.”)
Glenn Shadix (Nightmare Before Christmas)
Glenn Shadix was such a friendly guy. I had no idea how much he’s been in until I saw the range of photos in front of us. He’s got this really great, sort of gothic looking signature as well.
Katheryn Leigh Scott (Dark Shadows)
Jay met Katheryn but I didn’t. I was off having our photo with the Enterprise crew mailed to us. (£2.50) Jay says that she’s nice. No comment from me.