EIGHTIES LETTERS AND FAN DIARY
19: MARCH 19854th March 1985 - letter to Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Enclosed is the latest YORCON III PR and a slip informing you that you are convention members 417 and 418. They've given you free membership but not a free room...and I can't say that I'm surprised. Rumour has it that the YORCON budget is based on an unreasonably high attendance figure, one that doesn't appear to be materialising, and it looks like we may have a potential CONSTELLATION situation on our hands. It all depends on the extent to which the committee has been able to re-tool as actual attendance levels have become apparent, I suppose. We shall see. Also enclosed is a WOOFIE BEAR FOR TAFF flyer, one that bears a not altogether co-incidental resemblance to one issued on behalf of a certain candidate in a recent race, which made me laugh when I first read it. The name on the back is false, by the way, but the address isn't so I'll let you figure out for yourselves who's responsible for this particular spoof.
I seem to have inadvertently arranged part of your early trip itinerary for you, as you may have gathered if you've had a missive from ATom in the last coupla days. At the last KTF meeting I mentioned that I'd suggested you might want to attend the next one and before I know it Chuck Harris is coming down to meet you then and Arthur is talking about giving you a lift to Vince's by way of some street market or other (tho' I still think a journey via 9A Greenleaf and the Woolwich ferry - with it's view of the Thames barrier is a better bet). So, unless you have any strong objections, it appears that it might be an idea to visit wonderful Welling on the first Sunday you're over.
Oh yeah, could you send as a separate passport-size snap of each of you before you get here? That way I'll be able to arrange for weekly tube passes for you both to cover you before the convention since I'll then be able to get the necessary I.D. cards done (Avedon may have shown you hers at some point).
I hear you're going to LUNACON a few weeks before Easter. I wish you well. I also wish you well in your first meeting with John Jarrold and hope that neither of you is Jewish because this guy is 100% ham (he also does the worst Humphrey Bogart impression you'll ever hear...but let's not go into that). However peculiar you may find Jarrold to be please bear in mind that we're not all like that! This man is not in any way representative of British fandom and should be treated with the scorn and derision he so richly deserves. He's one of the leading exponents of that ancient and traditional British fannish passtime called gettingdrunkandthrowingupandfallingover but you are not advised to ask him to demonstrate his mastery of this art within the confines of your apartment.
Getting onto your fanzine/letter, Teresa, I agree totally with Mike Glyer. It was always understood that you were both standing and would both be travelling under the auspices of the fund so for you to unnecessarily restrict the amount you take out of the fund to the point where you might experience financial problems is ridiculous, particularly when TAFF's coffers are so healthy. As the other administrator I have to agree with the logic of all that Glyer Says - and if certain assholes not a million miles from Cincinnati decide to get up on their hind legs and paw the air in outrage they can just go fuck themselves (he said, in that far-famed diplomatic manner of his).
I really appreciate your letter and it deserves a far more substantial response than this but what with deadlines on a couple of chapters of my trip report and one or two other letters that really must be done I'm afraid I'll have to stop here. I'll see you both at Gatwick on the 29th (perhaps with Kinda who's talking of taking a day's sick leave then).
4th March 1985 - letter to Chuck Harris
Many thanks for last QUINDRY (he said, ever so casually making his preference known in your group's little title contretemps), which made we feel all guilty for not having written to you for a while. There were reasons of course, as there always are, not least of which was meeting the deadlines on a couple of chapters of my TAFF report and doing various things about the flat to prepare for the arrival of a certain American to whom, you may just possibly have heard, I'm getting married.
Was delighted to see that Walt will be at Leeds and hope it's better than the last con he attended since MANCON 5 is generally considered to have been one of the worse conventions of the 70s. If nothing else the surroundings in Leeds will be a lot better than the barracks-like campus of Manchester's Owens Park.
I see from his letter to you that Dave Locke attributes the Pickersgill Petition to propaganda being spread by P&TNH and/or Avedon and can only suppose he considers the Brits too thick to have taken offence at Jackie's flyers without outside prompting. As you say, Chuck, the only real way to deal with these people is to ignore them.
6th March 1985 - letter to Walt Willis
At last, I have time to catch up with a bit of letter-writing. With the various bits of do-it-yourself I've been doing myself about the flat in order that there will actually be room far Avedon and her possessions when she eventually arrives. Then of course there were the chapters of my TAFF report...
I stand in awe of your ability to maintain the quality of your own 'The Harp Stateside' when writing it over the course of five years and can only assume that either a) you have a remarkable memory, or b) you made a truly prodigious amount of notes while you were in the US. I mean it's barely seven months (*sob*) since I was over there and already a fair bit of the fine detail has slipped away because when writing the short chapter detailing my the road trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco I found that I have almost no mental image left of one of the three people I made the journey with. This being so I decided I'd better not actually describe any of them. I figured I'd have this problem before I went so I made sure I took photographs of everyone I might need to describe, but unfortunately all my pictures of this trio were in the camera I lost between San Francisco and Newark. Oh well.
I hear you're coming over for YORCON and I look forward to meeting you. I was at MANCON 5 but since that was only my second convention I was still a wet-behind-the-ears-neofan and was only then beginning to appreciate those aspects of this whole business that lay beyond the simple pleasures of book-reading. I'm sure that P&TNH are looking forward to meeting you also, as they are I know to meeting Chuck Harris. There's a KTF meeting the weekend before the con and I've heard a rumour that Chuck might turn up for that, which should be interesting. I remember when Chuck turned up for an afternoon at last NOVACON and Vince Clarke broke out the pens and clipboards. Having met Chuck previously I was familiar with this routine but Chris Atkinson, who was unaware of Chuck's deafness, wasn't. She came in to the room, watched in puzzlement as I scribbled away, and then leant over and asked.
"Are you doing market research?"
14th March 1985 - letter to Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Right, your flights to and from Belfast are all arranged so listen carefully while I give you the details, which are as follows:
The times may seem a little odd but by not stating any preference I was able to get tickets at £74 per head, rather remarkable when you consider that this particular ticket is composed of separate single-fares on two different airlines. I went to the same travel agent who booked my TAFF flight for me since they specialise in cheap flights, and I must confess I'm surprised at BA being one of the carriers since I thought they only bothered with international flights, bat there you go.
Having just set eyes on my carbon of the last letter I sent I see that I mentioned having someone called 'Kinda" with me when I meet you at the airport. No, this is not some mysterious new fan but Linda Pickersgill - a mysterious old fan. Me you know - she'll be the short and cute one with long blond hair and enormous glasses who talks like she's got a mouthful of Southern grits. I don't know if Greg'll be there as well but rather doubt it given the fare from Victoria to Gatwick.
Oh well, nothing much to report since UK fandom has been remarkably quiet of late (I doubt very much that gossip about Joy Hibbert's 'dirty weekend' in Plymouth with Chuck Connor would interest you overmuch somehow) so I think I'll sign off here since I really must get a letter off to Avedon tonight and it's getting pretty late. Take care, and I'll see in a few weeks....
16th March 1985 - letter to Avedon Carol
I was going to write 'this letter straight after shooting off an aerogramme to P&TNH giving them details of the flights I'd arranged for them to and from Belfast, but by the time I'd finished I could barely keep my eyes open so I left it 'til now, two days later. Last night was the first BSFA meeting to be held at the new venue in a pub just off the Kings Road in Chelsea. I don't like it as much as I did the King of Diamonds but I daresay it might grow on me if I give it a chance.
21st March 1985 - letter to Chuck Connor
From the nearly illegible scrawl on the back of the envelope it came in I gather you'd like me to comment on your fanzine and the Hibbert/Connor 'scandal' that has you in such high dudgeon on the back page. What really amazed me about this piece was that you truly believe that your 'telling it like it is' about TAFF in various zines (most of which I've never seen) would cause me to try to 'stripe' you up or - if I did - that I would be so unimaginative. Listen, while I may not have seen these searing exposés I doubt very much that they contained any allegations that I haven't already refuted, or that they could have matched the malevolence of anything written in the recent past by Yngvi of Puerto Rico. You've never been more than a minor irritant and that I appear, for reasons that escape me, to be a part of your personal daemonology has barely impinged on my consciousness let alone provided reason enough to pay any real attention to you. As for the aforementioned 'scandal'....
At the February KTF meeting in beautiful downtown Welling I was asked if there had been any new zines or gossip or like that at the One Tun a few days earlier. As it happened there hadn't been much but someone had made a comment about you and Joy. I passed this on and duly forgot about it until reminded, a month or so later, by ANSIBLE since who you may or may not be involved with is not a matter that interests me overmuch. As to who passed this tid-bit onto me, it was Pam Wells but it appears to be a fairly widespread piece of gossip. I've checked around a bit and it seems to be based an three things: a) various things observed at the last UNICON, which I was not at and so can't comment on; b) an anonymous letter in the last WEBER WOMAN'S WREVENGE that most people have attributed to you (on the basis both of stylistic evidence and the rumours that have apparently been circulating for months); and c) a number of less-than-subtle hints from Joy herself. Since it's a matter of supreme indifference to me whether or not you and Joy are involved I suggest that you pursue these avenues of enquiry if you want to take things further but if you really are involved it's incredibly naive of you to imagine you can keep it secret. Fandom just doesn't work that way, as I've had cause to reflect on myself in the last few weeks. Anyway, good luck with the paranoia....
p.s. I think you ought to return your phone directory to British Telecom and ask for a new one as you obviously have a defective copy. I'm clearly listed in mine and have been for years.
Friday 22nd March
The launch party for FUNGUS, Harry Adam Knight's latest opus, was held this evening at the Troy Club, John Brosnan's new watering hole since the last burned down. Among the luminaries present were Kettle & Brosnan (aka HAK), Dave & Hazel Langford, Rob Holdstock & Sarah Biggs, Kath Mitchell & baby, Malcolm Edwards & Chris Atkinson, Chris Priest & Lisa Tuttle, Tise Unpronounceable, and Graham Charnock.
Holdstock was just back from Canada. He told me that Malcolm (who'd attended both LUNACON and NOREASCON the previous weekend) had sold a number of books for him in New York.
"I'm going to give him a big kiss when he gets here!" said Rob.
I was at the door when Malcolm arrived, and he was suitably alarmed by this prospect.
Saturday 23rd March
Met Tom Whitmore, Debbie Notkin, and Debbie's brother and mother in Trafalgar Square at 1.00pm to give them my standard tour of 'the sights'. It was cold and drizzly but they didn't appear to mind and all seemed like nice people.
In the evening we all had drinks at the Royal George along with Bryan Barrett, Greg & Linda Pickersgill, Phil Palmer, and a friend of Sharee Carton's whose name I've forgotten. Later, we all (with the exception of Debbie's mother and sister) travelled over to Soho for a meal in the excellent 'Jimmy's', a Greek restaurant across the street from Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club.
Wednesday 27th March
Since Tom & Debbie were flying back to San Francisco the next day, we met for a farewell drink in the Griffin. There to see them off were Greg & Linda, Malcolm Edwards, Pam Wells, Kate Davies, Bryan Barrett, and Lilian Edwards. Kate was much taken aback at "...men, or rather our men..." in the Griffin since this is the venue for the monthly meetings of the women's group.
Friday 29th March
Due to meet Patrick & Teresa at Gatwick 10.15am, I was horrified to wake and see my watch read 11.00am. Fortunately it was on the blink - nearly four hours fast - so I go to the airport in plenty of time, particularly as their flight was over an hour late. I encountered the Langfords in, naturally, the bar. Eventually Tom Weber and the Nielsen Haydens made their appearance. Teresa took one look at Dave and fell over.
I travelled to 7A Lawrence Road with them, where they dumped their bags. Our visitors were very impressed when Greg showed them Teletext, this being something TVs don't have in America. This was just a quick stop and as soon as they'd pulled themselves together we headed into town where I showed them the usual 'places of interest'.
We ended up, inevitably, in the Royal George before walking over to Geoff Ryman's central London flat, where he was having a small launch party for his book. It was here that Tom and Patrick & Teresa got to meet Joseph Nicholas, Judith Hanna, Abi Frost, Roz Kaveney, and other local luminaries. After the party, we headed back to South Ealing for a meal at the Seven Sisters, and I stayed the night at 7A.
Saturday 30th March
While Greg and Linda stayed home, I took Tom and Patrick & Teresa over to Portobello Road street market. It was drizzling again, unfortunately, but Patrick got to take a photo of some interesting anti-royalist graffiti. He also got to see copies of The Yellow Book out for sale on one of the stalls and was duly impressed. Later we travelled on via FORBIDDEN PLANET to Covent Garden, where they got to marvel at some working Victorian automatons. Leaving them to take in the delights of the London Transport Museum, I then headed home.
In the evening it was back to South Ealing and 7A for a gathering that included Jimmy Robertson & Anne Warren, Lilian Edwards, and others, at the end of which Tom Weber headed back to Upton Park with me. I was putting him up in my flat for the next few days.
Sunday 31st March
The day of the big KTF meeting, with special guest Chuck Harris, and it began with Tom and I receiving a phone call from Patrick & Teresa ten minutes before we were expecting them to arrive, saying they had only just woken up. So when they did finally arrive I gave them a very quick tour of my flat before we caught the bus to the Woolwich Ferry.
ATom being down with bronchial pneumonia, it was Terry Hill waiting for us on the other side. He drove us to 16 WWW, where we the Harveys, Dave Langford, John Jarrold, Vince Clarke, Chuck Harris, Elda Wheeler, and Margaret Hill awaited (along with 60s fans Jill & Keith Bridges and their immature daughter). Vince put on a fine spread and a good time was had by all, despite Patrick catching embarrassing recordings of me and Jarrold.
Later, Patrick & Teresa left with Dave while Tom returned to 9A Greenleaf with me. (He went to Reading the following day, and stayed with the Langfords 'til Thursday.)