SWANCON AND NAFF I
by Edwina Harvey
(First published in Edwina's LiveJournal on 10 April 2008.)
It started with a bang, not a whimper!
The day before leaving for Perth, I was abused by my immediate supervisor at work because he'd just discovered that I was taking the week after Easter off as holidays as well. I'd written the dates of my leave in the diary we all use to record our movements several weeks before. My leave had been approved and processed by *his* supervisor, so I was fine to go, but that confrontation put me on edge.
The plan was to walk my two dogs, Keely and Ash, down to the local vets at Matraville which serves as a drop off/pick-up point for Hanrob Boarding Kennels where they'd be staying while I was away. I should have had enough time to walk home, call a taxi and head to the airport. I wasn't going to leave it to the last minute *this* time. I'd taken the airline at their word a couple of Easters' previous when I'd gone up to Brisbane for Conjure. I wasn't expecting a crowd at the airport a few days before Easter, and had turned up 45 minutes before the plane was due out to discover a massive queue of people all waiting to check their bags.
This time I wanted *plenty* of time to check in!
Keely (part greyhound, legs like sticks) had hurt herself while playing a few weeks earlier, but seemed to be healing. I'd written a note addressed to the boarding kennels about her limp.
The vet nurse looks at Keely as we enter and says "She looks like she's done her cruciate ligament. I'll just get the vet to look at her for you..."
I get ushered into one of the rooms where I spend a lot of time looking at my watch until the vet finally turns up and says "She's not going to the boarding kennels like that" before she even examines the dog.
Umm, Houston, we have a problem...
I remember "Definately a cruciate ligament injury, She's going to need X-rays, they'll be $500, but they probably won't turn up anything anyway, and she'll need an operation. That's at least $1,600. She's *definately* not going to boarding kennels like this."
Meanwhile I'm saying "I've got to get to the airport. I've got a plane to catch. I've *really* got to get to the airport" as this nightmare unfolds around me.
"I won't go to Perth" flashed through my mind, quickly followed by "If I don't go to Perth *now*, I lose the money for my ticket, and my accomodation..." Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place!
The vet finally decided that Keely would be boarded there over Easter, but she couldn't be operated on over Easter as the vet was the only one rostered on. Ash could go to the boarding kennels. I phoned them and hastily changed the game plan from the Vets. The last thing i did before I charged out their door to race home to get my bag and get a taxi to the airport was sign the consent form that they thrust at me accross the counter with the command "You *have* to sign this". I *know* I should have read the form, but I was really really running short of time by then, and knew they had me by the short and curlys. If I didn't sign the consent form, they wouldn't board Keely. They wouldn't let me send Keely on to Hanrob. I signed the bloody form hoping I wouldn't regret it. I didn't regret it until I came home and faced a huge vet bill!
It was a mad dash home. Amazing how fast these fat little legs can go when they have to! Phone for taxi. Pensive waiting until it arrived. Smooth trip to Airport, check in, board plane. Watched "Alvin and the Chipmunks" on the way to Perth, trying not to think of what to do with the dog when I got back.
My, hasn't Perth Airport blosommed in the past 6 years??? I remember it as vast empty spaces and rows of seats when i was there last time, but maybe I'm just remembering the regional wing?
I manage to ask *two* non-english speaking tourists where the shuttlebus to the city is in quick succession. Turned out they were husband and wife (can I pick them, or what?) but they laughed when I said they both looked very Australian.
I boarded the city shuttle and someone asked me what harrier club I belonged to as she tried to decipher my "C.U> Online @ andromedaspacceways.com" . I've heard of harriers and/or Hash Harriers. They're into running. (That can't be good for you, can it?) They also seem to be big on maintaining their hydration via copious amounts of alcohol, at least if the example I saw on the plane coming over from Sydney is anything to go by. Turns out there are 6,000 of them descending on Perth over Easter. No wonder I was having trouble finding accomodation!
I looked out the bus window as we roled through the suburbs and into Perth CBD, wondering if there was a way to turn 6.000 hash harriers into science fiction fans. Kapow! It'd be an instant Worldcon!
Disembarked just down from Kings Hotel. I wanted to be in familiar surroundings on my first night, and Kings had hosted Swancon 6 years previously on my first trip to Perth.
Went for a walk up Hay Street Mall, found a convenience store with an internet cafe attached, sent a plaintive distress call to any dog-savvy friends on the ASIM admin list, then tried to Google cruciate ligament. With my aptitude for spelling errors, it shouldn't surprise anyone to discover I couldn't find anything! I really felt stranded. If I was in Sydney, I'd know where to look for the resources to get the information I needed.
Phoned the guy who runs a horse carriage through the vineyards tour up in Swan Valley for the third and final time.
Had phoned him the previous week from Sydney on his instructions, then two days before departing, and now the day before I want to do the tours he offers.
I understood his problem. I was 1 lonely traveller, and he wasn't going to hitch up a horse and cart to keep me happy. (Having done similar - though unpaid - work 20 years previously, I have a vague idea of what's involved, and he wants more than 1 person to make it a financial option. Hurrah! I think as he tells me that he's got a group booked for the morning tour, but when I ask about catching the cruise up the Swan River to join them, or at least catching it back (The advert for the Cruise/Carriage Ride really appealed to me.) I was told this wasn't an option. So how would I meet the horse & carriage tour? "You catch the train to Guildford." That seemed like a daunting task. I had no idea of where Guildford was, or how long it would take to get there, but thought of it in Sydney terms, so was expecting a long train ride. I said I'd pass before the money in the pay phone ran out.
Bought dinner at Burger King, (there was a Subway still open, but sometimes you just need junk food), returned to my motel to contemplate Life, the Universe and Limping Dogs.