“Well, I’m back.” The WriterCon UK MidiMeet was great fun. We stayed on until the Tuesday morning, to avoid possible problems with engineering works on the line like those that made our homeward journey last year somewhat circuitous and nerve-wracking, and saw Oxford with gillo and keswindhover, and Winchester by ourselves, before we set off for home.
I’ll post more about the event later. Those of us who did presentations have been asked to post summaries on writerconuk; mine will have to include the Lost Chapter. Last year the Wombat advised me not to write out a script but to work only from sketchy notes. I obeyed her, it worked reasonably well, and I did the same this year. I prepared a list of topics and first sentences, believing that would be enough to prompt my (normally excellent) memory, and to some extent it worked. Unfortunately I missed out a heading, lost my place, and omitted the topic of Plot altogether. If I do another talk next year (I’m trying to wiggle out of it and push the Wombat into doing one instead) I’ll follow my own instincts and do a much more detailed script. Sorry!
The return trip was comfortable and we had enough space to get out the laptop. I was able to beta-read CW’s next chapter of her BtVS/LotR crossover fic Return of the Key. I don’t like typing on the laptop, and so I didn’t do any writing on my own stories, but I did some planning. I also came up with the idea for one of my strangest crossovers ever...
Since Tolkien’s death his son Christopher has been pillaging his notes and rough drafts for an interminable series of
The Book of Lost Trains
Balrog the Fire Engine was dreadfully careless. Although he was warned that he should not pass he raced through the level crossing gates and onto the tracks. Gandalf the Grey Engine was too close to stop and they collided. Gandalf was derailed and fell over. Balrog the Fire Engine was smashed to pieces and the level crossing broke in his fall.
The Fat Controller took off his hat, scratched his head, and sighed. Eventually he decided to send Gandalf the Grey Engine off to the engineering works at Crewe. All of the other engines thought that they would never see Gandalf the Grey Engine again. At last, however, a familiar, but slightly different, engine returned to the Middle Earth Railway.
“Gandalf!” shouted Gimli the Prairie Tank Engine, blowing his whistle loudly. “Against all hope you return to us!” Legolas the A4 Pacific Engine shot a column of smoke high into the air. Aragorn the Coronation Class Engine released steam from his valves.
“Yes, I was Gandalf the Grey Engine,” the new arrival confirmed.
“You look different,” said Aragorn.
“Indeed,” said Gandalf, “for they have given me a gleaming new coat of paint, and now I am Gandalf the White Engine.”
Galadriel the A4 Pacific presented Sam with an oily rag from the workshops of Lothlorien, and Frodo with a headlight for the front of his boiler, and then turned to the last of the Companions. “And what gift would you ask of me, Gimli the Prairie Tank Engine?”
“Nothing, my Lady,” said Gimli, “other than perhaps a single piece of your coal, that I might set it in imperishable crystal and mount it on my footplate.”
“I bet that’s not all he wants to mount,” muttered Merry the Tank Engine. “I’ve seen the way his pistons pump when he looks at her.”
Galadriel heard the comment and steam hissed from her valve gear. “I shall give you the coal, Gimli,” she said, “but there can be nothing more between us. For you are a Prairie Tank and, although you have externally mounted cylinders, your water tanks are mounted at the sides of your boiler and you carry your coal in a bunker built as an integral part of your frame; whereas I, as an A4 Pacific, have a tender behind.”
“It’s nothing to do with me!” Gimli protested, as the Tank Engines chortled. “We never got as far as coupling!”
“Well, Sam,” said Frodo the Tank Engine, “we have done it. The Turntable of Doom is destroyed and the Evil Controller has been foiled. I couldn’t have done it without you, Sam. You have been a Really Useful Engine.”
“Aye, Master Frodo,” said Sam the Saddle Tank Engine, “although we couldn’t have done it without Gollum the Troublesome Truck.”
“True,” Frodo conceded. “Alas, we are in trouble now, for without the Turntable of Doom we are trapped on this siding.”
“Don’t you worry, Master Frodo,” said Sam, “we’ll make it out of here yet, for here comes Gwaihir the Helicopter!”