EIGHTIES LETTERS AND FAN DIARY
18: JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1985Tuesday 1st January
Caught the 3.30pm coach back to London and suffered an interminable five hour journey in a bus at oven temperature while enduring the 'in-flight' movie EARTHQUAKE.
When I got home I counted TAFF ballots, tabulated them, then counted signatures on the Pickersgill Petition.
Wednesday 2nd January
As arranged, Avedon phoned me around 11.20pm and we exchanged voting figures. The Nielsen Haydens won on the first ballot and, impartial administrator or not, I breathed a deep sigh of relief at not having to deal with the midwestern cabal.
Thursday 3rd January - One Tun night
Everybody at the Tun was delighted with the result. Some pressed drink on me and congratulated me. I don't know why, since I hadn't campaigned for P&TNH, but maybe they just sensed my relief.
Later, Avedon rang again to tell me Patrick was already working up a provisional draft of a new TAFF ballot. That boy sure doesn't waste any time!
Friday 4th January
FILE 770 #50 turned up in the mail today, and was largely devoted to the Taff Wars. Editor Mike Glyer more-or-less took the line I'd have hoped he would but was very unhappy about the Pickersgill Petition and commented on the adverse effect a British termination of TAFF could have on the Britain in '87 Worldcon bid. This is the first time anyone had publicly linked the two, and now I'm worried about the possible consequences of my letter to Avedon of 13 Dec 84.
4th January 1985 - letter to Mike Glyer
You wonder, on the back page, what popularity the Pickersgill Petition would have, and it turned out to be quite a lot. The number of people who signed it was 120, 77 of them being also TAFF voters who comprised some 57 per cent of those who voted in TAFF over here this time. This put me, as you pointed out, in something of an awkward position. Since I was these people's representative, and since they had made their disquiet so clear, I had to respond in some way and so, after much agonising and a fair bit of consultation with members of some of Britain's biggest fan groups (my phone bill for this quarter is going to be astronomical) I sent Avedon my official letter of 13th December (and copied it to you). It laid out the reasons for the action I felt I had to take, how We had reached this state of affairs (largely as a result of British reaction to Jackie's 'Martha Beck for TAFF' flyers), and why I felt I had no choice but to refuse to co-operate with a future administration run by Beck or her campaign managers. I very carefully made no reference at all to Beck as trip-taker since, even though untruths were being used to whip up support for her (see the LoC on UNCLE DICK'S that I copied to you two days back), most of those who actually voted for her did so in good faith and, as you point out, I have no right to "...pass judgement on Martha Beck as a fan..." . As I saw it all that Martha and most of those who voted for her wanted was for her to take the trip so a possible way out was, for this time only, to split the trip and administration with the latter going to someone acceptable to all parties. This doubtless wouldn't have pleased Martha's campaign managers but it might well have been the only way TAFF could have continued in anything like it's present form and with the active participation of British fandom. Feelings were running pretty high over here - again, see my letter of 13th Dec - and this seemed to me the absolute minimum action I could have taken. In their substitution of regional chauvinism for internationalism and their list of names to use to rubber-stamp ballots the flyers offended a lot of people over here (I myself witnessed people at the One Tun who had originally refused to sign the petition falling over themselves to do so after reading the flyers) and in the process totally destroyed any chance of working with their authors. Something else I didn't mention in that letter - mainly because I preferred not to think about it unless it became necessary - was the call on that petition concerning UK TAFF funds. I honestly don't know what I would have done had it come to the crunch but fortunately it didn't, so now I'll never know.
p.s. Judith Hanna just phoned. She usually organises the monthly BSFA meeting held in London in the downstairs room of a pub called The King of Diamonds but now, she informs me, we've been banned from using it!
Saturday 5th January
Patrick phoned today and we discussed possible amendments to the TAFF rules. I agreed to send him my thoughts.
Sunday 6th January
Since it had snowed last night and was bloody cold I put the duvet on my bed for the first time this winter.
6th January 1985 - letter to Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Have given a lot of thought to our phone conversation of last night and reached the conclusion that a fixed 25% minimum of the total vote in the host country is the best course to take. I thought about your idea of a sliding percentage based on the number of TAFF candidates in a given race and realised its main flaw. This comes down to the fact that a group, while only intending to do any serious campaigning for one individual, could put up a number of other candidates as well solely to bring the percentage down to a point where they could raise the few overseas votes they'd then require. Your original objection to a figure of 25% where there are more than three people running doesn't hold up because, as experience has shown, there's usually a clear favourite and the race is rarely more than a two-horse affair in practice. Have a run through the results of the last ten races or so and see if a 25% rule would have altered the result in any of them (other than in those cases we're setting this up to avoid a repetition of, of course). No, 25% seems to be the figure to go for.
When it come to the removal of the 'write-in' vote you can, as I've said, say that I insisted on this since I don't mind being the villain of the piece and I've always thought it made a mockery of the nominating procedure, anyway. We can either announce this at some point or just amend the ballot to read: "...'write-in' candidates are no longer permitted...", whichever suits you best.
Just had a call from D West who, while obviously pleased at the result, was grumbling about how his eagerly-awaited article (by me, at any rate) was written on the basis of a Beck win and how he's now going to have to re-jig it substantially. He reports that he's "having great fun" demolishing Dave Locke in particular and has asked if anyone has copies of photos of Jackie Causgrove and Rusty Hevelin which he could have as a knowledge of what someone looks like helps him to make his barbs all the sharper.
Monday 7th January
Saw GHOSTBUSTERS at the Odeon Leicester Square, which I enjoyed a lot.
There was a letter from Skel waiting for me when I got in, which I replied to at some length. I was somewhat perturbed he still thought UK opposition to the Beck campaign was mainly directed at Beck herself rather than at the campaign waged on her behalf. I can't have been as clear during our long phone conversation as I'd hoped. And I wonder what this 'Open Letter to Rob Hansen' he and others have mentioned actually is. No one's seen fit to send me a copy.
Wednesday 9th January - North London pool night
Letter from Glicksohn, who was very concerned at my letter to Avedon of 13 Dec 84 and advises me to retract it. In retrospect, it might be politic to retract the demands therein, if only to make things easier for moderate US fan opinion.
In the evening Roger Weddall turned up for the pool, to the great astonishment of Malcolm Edwards who thought he'd already returned to Australia.
Friday 11th January
Travelled over to Welling to pick up some reams of duplicator paper from Vince Clarke and did so by rail from Blackfriars station. I get off at Blackfriars Underground every day for work, but this was the first time I'd been on the mainline station above it.
14th January 1985 - letter to Patrick Nielsen Hayden
I was a little freaked by Mike Glyer's reaction to the Pickersgill Petition in the last FILE 770 after he'd spent the rest of the issue more or less supporting what we regard as the correct position on all the recent brouhaha. If, as this seems to indicate, there might be a backlash from moderate US fans then the retraction of that particular part of my letter saying we'd refuse to recognize a Beck administration seems a good idea. It costs me nothing to do it (I've never been cursed with a macho pride about sticking to my guns) and should make it easier for anyone who wants to side with UK fans in the event of any big blow-up over this to do so. Because make no mistake about it, things over here were every bit as serious as my letter to Glicksohn makes out, and that we were prepared to go as far as we almost did shows how close the Causgrove/Locke campaign came to flushing away 30+ years of goodwill and maybe ending TAFF itself.
With regards to your trip I'll book you into the Leeds Dragonara hotel for three nights from Friday 5th April to Monday 8th April. There will be some people there on the Thursday night but since that's the first Thursday of the month and thus the night of the One Tun I figure you'll want to attend that instead, particularly as it's the only one that falls within the period you said you'd be over here. Let me know your flight number when you know it yourself, and the time, and I'll arrange to be there to meet you when you get in. I'm looking forward to seeing you both again and hope to be rather more alert than I was in New York last summer (when it felt like my brain was wrapped in cotton wool most of the time).
17th January 1985 - letter to Avedon Carol
It's probably just as well you're not here with me at 9A at the moment because we're currently suffering temperatures in the UK that are the lowest we've seen in almost thirty years and, try as I might, I'm finding it very difficult to get warm - and if I'm feeling bloody cold then you'd find it unendurable. I've got both bars of the electric fire going, and the fan-heater (a very aptly-named device) and I'm still cold. The way I figure it these electrical heaters just aren't man-enough for the job (to use a quaint old expression) and come the weekend I intend to look seriously at the possibility of getting in a Calor gas heater. Since the flat has no gas supply a Calor gas heater (one that runs from a gas bottle) is the only other way of heating it up and one I hope will work since the only time I've really been warm in the past week is while I was in work. Then again maybe I'll just follow your suggestion of retiring to the bedroom for the winter since, as you pointed out, the size difference in the two rooms is such that what can't adequately warm the lounge may be just peachy in there.
Friday 18th January
It felt odd being at the One Tun on a non-Tun night. The original idea was that we'd gather there and decide on a new venue for the BSFA meetings, but that didn't happen. Instead we had a big piss-up.
19th January 1985 - letter to Avedon Carol
...and suddenly there it was - two days later! When last I put finger to typewriter-key the snow lay round about deep, and crisp, and even, but since then the temperature has risen and it's currently a sweltering 2 degrees in the capital. End of weather report.
Went to the One Tun last night, a very strange thing to do since it's not the first Thursday but rather the third Friday of the month. As Judith Hanna may have already informed you, we've been told we can no longer hold the monthly BSFA meetings at the King of Diamonds because the management thought our meetings were more to do with CND than with SF. Quite why they should've thought this is a puzzlement. I mean, the November meeting was our Christmas party, October was me shanghaied into giving an impromptu talk on my experiences in darkest America, and those prior to that I recall only hazily but am reasonably certain were not in any way devoted to anti-nuclear matters. Near as I can tell all they can have taken umbrage at are the badges worn by various people or by such matters being discussed in private conversation. Whatever, it's still weird to find we've effectively been barred on political grounds.
Anyway, all this aside, while I was there various people congratulated me on our forthcoming nuptials, which surprised the hell out of me since I've told no one other than my parents. Judith blurted it out in front of everyone but prior to that Phil Palmer told me about this letter he'd received from Lucy who's apparently putting her proposed trip to these shores back a month or two to that she "...can be a bridesmaid...”. This thing, as you pointed out, is growing. It occurs to me that what with people like Lucy and your brother and his wife wanting to come over (and maybe Ted as well, if he's serious, which would be cool) we'd better set a date soon to that they can make their arrangements. And if they're coming all that way it would be, nice if the weather allowed them to make a proper holiday of it which makes some time around mid-May a pretty good time to do it. Sound OK to you?
Not being all that close to Joe & Judith I wasn't actually invited to their wedding (nor did I expect to be) so I can't really comment on your suggestion that we take a leaf out of their book in some way. My own parents and my brother and sister want to be present but I've told them no other relatives (I hate those big family gatherings where cousins and uncles and aunts you don't see from one year's end to the next get together to coo over whoever is doing it on that particular occasion - I am totally at odds with your mother in this regard). Other than the actual ceremony (which has to be held in the registry office that serves the district where I'm registered to vote) there's some sort of party afterwards of course, and while I want to keep numbers down for this, even a reasonable minimum of people I really can't leave out comes to quite a few. Must work up a list at some point and see if you agree.
Another day has passed since I wrote the above and it's now Sunday which means I shortly have to have a bath prior to heading over to Ealing for Friends In Space (oh, the mad social whirl of London fandom!). Before doing so I'll also try to type up the second episode of my trip report (in existence as a hand-written draft) to that I can give it to Pam Wells (who'll be running it in the next NUTZ, due out early in Feb. One way or another I'm determined to get a complete report out.
Speaking of TAFF (which I'm heartily sick of but still can't avoid) I've included copies of various bits and pieces I've written to various individuals of late, just to keep you informed. Got your TAFF OFFICIAL yesterday, by the way, and enjoyed it. Of course, there's no way you're going to escape a Cincinnati response
Oh yeah, could you also remind Ted that he's supposed to forward that copy of my history of British fandom that I gave him to Marty Cantor when he's finished it. Marty hasn't received it yet and I really want him to have it so that it can be used to get things right in the new edition of FANCYCLOPEDIA that he and Mike Glyer are putting together.
Sunday 20th January - Friends In Space
A very pleasant, low-key meeting with me, Greg, Linda, Pam Wells, and (surprisingly) Sue Hepple. We got it together in the middle bar since someone had filched our usual corner out back, but then we had access to real ale, so I wasn't complaining, IPA too.
Monday 21st January - final diary entry until mid-March
The drapers at the corner of Redcliffe Road and Green Street (one street over from my flat) went up in flames this evening and I spent a good three quarters of an hour watching firemen atop a Simon Snorkel fighting the blaze. There were flames leaping from the roof, crashing masonry, the whole bit. It was all very impressive.
29th January 1985 - letter to Avedon Carol
To whom it may concern:
My reason for writing this particular letter on an aerogramme is, obviously, so that you can cut the top bit off and tuck it away in your passport. Since it will have a postmark and like that on the opposite side it'll be a whole lot more convincing than a plain typed sheet that anyone anywhere could have knocked up.
It's funny Ted should talk about you getting London fandom to live over there since Greg suggested, during the TAFF race just past, that British fandom ought to import the dozen or so US fans we have most contact with so that we could then totally ignore the rest (since he said this when it looked like Causgrove and Locke were going to succeed in their campaign I could see where he was coming from, man). It is kinda odd tho', the number of male fans over here who have been marrying female fans from over there. In fact I was thinking of writing a piece on how that great fear of the old pulp SF writers - that aliens would take the flower of American womanhood - is coming true, only we're not quite the type of alien they envisaged. If I can think of new words to fit the 'BEM' acronym ('B' will almost certainly be 'British') I may actually get around to doing the piece one of these years.
5th February 1985 - letter to Dave Langford
I'm delighted that you'll host our wedding reception in the crumbling magnificence of your London Road abode since 9A Greenleaf suffers from a singular lack of size, something I'm sure did not escape your notice when you and Hazel passed through on the way to Welling last summer. I was thinking in terms of hiring a small local hall, as Kath & Leroy did, to overcome this obstacle but Avedon wasn't terribly taken with the idea.
Yeah, it does look like Ted will be coming over for the ceremony, Lucy too (not to mention Avedon's brother and his wife), so with our local American contingent I've no doubt it will be a truly transatlantic affair. (Maybe we ought to get spliced dressed as John Bull and Uncle Sam, but then again maybe we definitely shouldn't.)
David, you ol' gossip-hound you, I know you're dying to spill all in the luridly loquacious pages of that disreputable scandal-sheet of yours but I'd still prefer it you held fire on most of this for a while. You may as well mention that we're getting married, since The Word Is Out and most everyone has probably heard by now, but don't mention any details until we know just exactly where we are and how it's all going to go down. Avedon wants either June 15th or 22nd so I'd better get this special licence and registry office booking arranged PDQ, those being popular dates and the transatlantic contingent needing a fair bit of forewarning to get their financial acts together. Again, must chat to you about this on Thursday and then get it all going. On to other stuff...
I'm including your copy of a TAFFsheet that PNH asked me to distribute. I'll be handing out lots at the Tun and suggesting that people wishing to discuss TAFF write letters to Patrick rather than to ETTLE since then the TAFFzine he intends doing should undercut ETTLE and become the 'official' forum for any discussion. I certainly won't be writing any letters to ETTLE (but then I didn't write any in response to the first issue but still ended up appearing in its pages).
Anyway, hope this reaches you before the Tun and I'll see you there.
14th February 1985 - letter to Avedon Carol
Within hours of my writing to you and chortling about 'spring-like, weather the temperatures plummeted and inside of 48 hrs everything was covered in snow again and it was fucking freezing. Hell, I've even been cold in bed with all my blankets and the duvet on top of me, something I've never experienced before. Apparently most of this is down to the wind-chill factor (while our winters are often cold we rarely have-high winds at the same time but currently we seem to be being buffetted by gales) and thanks to this we've been reaching temperatures we haven't hit in 30 years - which probably explains why I don't remember ever feeling quite this cold. Hell, even those living in modern centrally-heated houses have been complaining so I suppose this must really be some freak weather spell.
Got your letter of the 10th this am and was amused that Ted is trying to get you to talk me into moving over there instead. Since he's very into fannish tradition you ought to tell him that it's traditional for female American fans marrying British males to move over here (neglecting to mention Bill & Mary Burns in this context, of course). So the Gillilands are contemplating coming over as well are they? Good grief! Actually, with all these Americans possibly coming over I suppose I ought to see if there are any cons within a week or so of any of the dates we've thought about, to give them the opportunity to attend if they want to. Oh yeah, my holiday year if from end-of-April to end-of-April, by the way, so I have no more days left until then but thereafter have about 21 days or so to play around with.
Greg, since you asked, seems to be talking to most everyone again these days so having him under the same roof as Joseph & Judith or Malcolm & Chris shouldn't cause any problems. I like to think that my subtle but constant working away at Greg over his split with so many people - and one conversation in particular - was what caused him to mend various bridges but I doubt I'll ever know for sure. Whatever the reason it certainly makes things a lot less uncomfortable for a lot of people.
17th February 1985 - letter to D West
It's been remarkably quiet on the TAFF front for the last month or so, but I thought I'd send along one or two items of possible interest. Something I rather wish I could investigate further is contained in this quote from a recent letter from Avedon:
Peter Toluzzi called me the other night and wanted to know why he wasn't on the list of TAFF voters.
Hmmm indeed. A shame there's no may of establishing how many other non-Beck voters gave their ballots to these people at Midwestern cons.
I also got a letter from Jeanne Gomoll the other day as well. She's co-editor of feminist fanzine AURORA and helps out with Madison's annual WisCon (a con with programming slanted towards feminist concerns, apparently), and it turns out that she's had a few clashes with Causgrove that give the lie to any ideas we might have had about Midwestern solidarity. From various bits and pieces I've read about her I'm beginning to form an image of Jackie as being somewhat less than Liberal and the fact that she refers to WisCon as 'Pervertcon' adds conviction to this view. She has also "...referred several times (with great disgust) to the group of Madison 'men-haters..." Food for thought.
Final inclusions are a copy of Patrick's TAFFLUVIA (just in case Simon Ounsley didn't pass on a copy - and something I hope a lot of people will respond to in order to wrest the discussion of TAFF matters from ETTLE), and a xerox of the bits on fandom in the latest SF CHRONICLE. This last leads me to suspect that peace may soon break out all over (it has been very quiet lately) and to the thought that it might be A Good Idea to get your piece into print ASAP because if it appears after peace is widely perceived to have been restored you'll leave yourself open to all manner of accusations that you're trying to stir things up anew.
Anyway, hope to see the piece soon and look forward to seeing you again come Easter.