EIGHTIES LETTERS AND FAN DIARY
20: APRIL 1985
2nd April 1985 - letter to Avedon Carol
Well Patrick & Teresa are here with Tom Weber in tow and it's been an enjoyable, if hectic, few days. Since their plane landed at 10.15am I almost had a heart attack when I woke up and my watch was showing 11.00am, but fortunately this was just the side effect of a fading battery and I got to Gatwick in plenty of time. The Langfords were there as well...in fact Teresa took one look at Dave and fell over, much to the consternation of the other new arrivals. Since then there's been a party at Geoff Ryman's, a gathering at the Pickersgill's, and a surprisingly well-attended and rather excellent KTF meeting in Welling where they finally got to meet Chuch (tho' not ATom, unfortunately). There's a gathering at the Langford manse tonight as well but I've decided to give it a miss as Thursday is the One Tun and so there's only tomorrow night left to do all I have to get done prior to the Eastercon (which I'm expecting to be Pretty Damn Good - tho' I'm trying not to get my expectations too high, of course).
I hear that Ted is a little down about you leaving since it leaves a large hole in his local fandom and you're a good friend. I feel guilty about being at least 50% responsible for this state of affairs (tho' not guilty enough to change my mind) and I hope you're doing what you can to cheer him up. Maybe I should try and talk P&TNH into moving to Falls Church, hmmn? Ted seems like a great guy (I hear he and Jarrold hit it off at LUNACON) and I look forward to seeing his again. Of course, there's someone in his vicinity who I'm looking forward to seeing even more but I think he'd understand.
It's not necessary far you to explain to my folks that you want to keep your own name after our marriage, incidentally, since I mentioned this when I told them about the wedding over Christmas. I think my mother may have been a little taken aback but neither made any adverse comment. It's funny, but while they both hold one or two views I'm not very happy about (more a consequence of the times in which they grew up than anything else, I suspect) they seem to take quite a few things I'd expect them not to accept with only the most imperceptible note of disapproval.
Thursday 4th April - One Tun night
Being the night before the Eastercon, quite a few people had already headed north so the Tun was quieter than usual.
"Is it always this overcrowded?" asked Patrick, when we entered. If only.
Pam Wells gave out NUTZ #3 and I was gratified later to see Patrick laugh in all the right places when reading the chapter of my TAFF report it contained.
Friday 5th - Monday 8th April - first day of YORCON III
Travelled up to Leeds with Greg & Linda, Patrick & Teresa, Kate & Malcolm Davies, Pam Wells, and Tom Weber.
(This is all I wrote in my diary about the entire convention. Seriously. However, I do have a lot of photos taken during it. So what follows is listings from the fan programme accompanied by photos from the items in question, with other photos assigned across the days of the con fairly arbitrarily. Jimmy Robertson was in charge of the fan room and would have written the listings.)
Saturday 6th April
10.00pm: Quiz - Devised and directed by your inquisitor Alan "Open the Box" Dorey.
Sunday 7th April
12.30pm: 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s: 4 Fandoms? - Mal Ashworth, Harry Bell, Rob Hansen and Pam Wells talk about respective decades of fandom. What has changed, and what has remained the same.
2.00pm Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden - The winners from America of this year's TAFF race talk about whatever they feel like. Hands across the sea and all that stuff. Come and complain about Reagan.
6.30pm: Debate - An informal debate on the proposition "Apas have been a shot in the arm for Fandom". Peter-Fred Thompson and Kate Davies support this against the malignant moaners Malcolm Edwards and Simon Ounsley. Difficult and bitchy questions from the floor will be sought.
Monday 8th April
Wednesday 10th April - North London pool night
With Patrick & Teresa in Belfast and Tom Weber in Edinburgh, this session consisted of the usual crowd. Biggest surprise of the evening was the first appearance in what seems like months of Chris Evans, who we hadn't seen much of since the birth of his son.
Thursday 11th April
Tonight I went to another of those £4-a-head gatherings held by FORBIDDEN PLANET at the White Lion, this time to raise funds for the 'Britain in '87' Worldcon bid. The usual crowd turned up, with the addition of Norman Spinrad, Peter Roberts, and Faith Brooker. This was Faith's first public appearance since the birth of son Ceri, and while chatting to her about books I asked if she'd seen GHASTLY BEYOND BELIEF.
"Seen it? I edited it!"
Sunday 14th April
I met Patrick & Teresa in Hyde Park this morning at Speaker's Corner for a further bout of touristing that took in Fleet Street, Dr Johnson's house, the Old Bailey, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Cleopatra's needle, and ended up at a fairly good Indian restaurant in Soho.
17th April 1985 - letter to Avedon Carol
Well it's Wednesday already and Patrick, fan that he is, has asked for copies of the 1978 Kettle FGoH interview tape and all three Astral Leauge albums so as I type tape decks are turning as illicit bootlegs are being produced in my very own living room. All I need now is a still in the kitchen turning out poteen and I'd feel like a regular little outlaw.
And how are you, my little hothouse plant? We spoke on Saturday (or was it Friday?) and I meant to write this letter on Sunday (or should that have been Saturday?) but various Americans have been cluttering up the city and generally lowering property values wherever they went, so as one of their hosts I've been acting as native guide, entertaining them, and like that. Bloody tourists!
I won't go on about what a wonderful convention YORCON was, even though it was a wonderful convention, but there are a couple of Chuck Harris anecdotes which might amuse you....
At one point on Sunday night Chuch, Teresa, and I were sat at a table outside the lifts (together with sundry other folk and a typewriter) when a woman 'dressed to kill' emerged from the lifts. This caused Chuch to go into his famous satyr routine, almost biting his leg with lust, until I typed out the information that this was Cath E. Never have I seen a look of such total mortification on anyone's face and it was quite a while before Chuch could even speak to the rest of us (probably because of how obviously amused we were by his reaction). Later (or maybe it was earlier) Chuck was at another table with the Willises, Pickersgills, and a few others when John Brunner sat down beside him.
Chuck gave him a really dirty look and then stormed off to the main con hall with Teresa in tow, where I was watching the end of the awards ceremony. He burst in, assumed the place was noisy, came over to me, and bellowed:
"I didn't travel two hundred miles to sit next to John bloody Brunner!"
Since the hall was, in fact, totally quiet at that point this caused some consternation and a lot of surprised faces turned in our direction. Nice one, Chuck.
Friday 19th April - night of BSFA meeting
I met Tom after work at St. Paul's Cathedral - just too late for him to get to see inside - and then did a brief pub tour for him since he'd be missing out on Jarrold's pub tour with Patrick & Teresa next week. We started out at Dr Johnson's house and then to the Cheshire Cheese, where the good doc used to drink. This was followed by the Ludgate Cellars (the pub that impressed Tom the most) and the Blackfriar, though we just poked our heads in here since Tom was desperate for food.
We ate at the Forkrose Restaurant near Embankment tube after a quick side trip to Cleopatra's Needle, and then headed to Sloane Square tube and The Cooper's Arms. The usual crowd were present, as were Patrick & Teresa, and an average time was had by all.
Saturday 20th April
This being Tom Weber's last full day in town, it was decided to bring Friends In Space forward a day, and to start that day early. I arrived at Lawrence Road at 12.30pm and was the first to show up, but I was soon joined by John Jarrold, Roz Kaveney, and Alan Dorey. We all adjourned to the New Inn (now renamed something that escapes me) for a quiet lunchtime drink before returning - sans Alan Dorey - to 7A for more drinking.
In the evening we finally made it to the Queen Victoria where Phil Palmer joined us, as did Joseph Nicholas and Judith Hanna. Having never been to a FIS meeting before Joe and Judith missed us at first until Greg 'kindly' offered to direct them to our table.
On our return to Lawrence Road we were rejoined by Alan Dorey, fresh from a mid-afternoon BSFA session and with MATRIX editor Dave Hodson in tow, and by Anne Warren, and that's when the fun really began. At one point Tom slid quietly off to bed. When this was noticed the mob stormed upstairs and dragged him back down. Then, for reasons that weren't even apparent at the time (but which may have involved alcohol) we launched into a rousing rendition of Edward Elgar's 'Jerusalem'. We tried to get Tom to give a speech, even Nixon's resignation speech ("Resign the American presidency!" I urged), but he wouldn't. However, Phil Palmer started a round-robin performing session that inevitably ended up with John Jarrold hogging the floor - the ham!
I eventually crashed out at 3.30am.
Sunday 21st April
I hadn't intended staying overnight - I'm getting too old to sleep on floors - but Tom was feeling much worse than I, having succumbed to an asthma attack. Teresa and I warmed him by the fire (waking a slumbering John Jarrold in the process) which seemed to help.
Patrick & Teresa and I were picked up by ATom around 11.30am, said our goodbyes to Tom, then headed for Welling. This being the day of the London Marathon the going was slow, and the necessity of we three stopping at a Wimpey bar in order to grab some breakfast didn't help either. Nor did Arthur's flat battery, which meant the now sated younger contingent had to push his damn car in order to get it started.
When we finally reached 16 WWW, Vince Clarke and Chuck Harris were waiting for us, and a very enjoyable afternoon followed.
When we left, however, a full quarter-mile of car-pushing and near-coronaries for Teresa and me failed to start Arthur's car. So we took a taxi to the Woolwich ferry - though we ended up crossing via the foot tunnel so they could experience it.
Back at my flat we decided to have our TAFF rules session then rather than tomorrow, as originally planned.
22nd April 1985 - letter to Ted White
Well, it's certainly been a good time far some hyper-active fannish socialising of late. Even before P&TNH turned up, a week or so earlier, Notkin and Whitmore were in town, but since they got here things have hotted up. The most notable recent example was a party at the Pickersgills' two days ago where things got a little rowdy and...for reasons I still don't entirely comprehend... a gathering of some of London fandoms leading lights spontaneously burst into song. Unfortunately (for the image of London fandom, at any rate) Teresa had quietly turned on her small tape recorder and she now has a perfect recording of us singing, of all things, Elgar's 'Jerusalem'. I have no doubt this will be played back to various US fans and am somewhat mortified by the thought of the chortling it'll inevitably provoke. Poot.
YORCON III turned out to be the best Eastercon of the 80s to date (Chuck Harris thought it the best he'd ever been to) and it was a real pleasure meeting the Willises for the first time. They seemed to enjoy themselves and Walt says that Madeleine is even talking about going along to ALBACON in June, an idea that also owes something to the fact that she apparently wants to meet FGoH Harlan Ellison, and Walt certainly seemed interested in NOVACON. We shall see.
P&T had a good time as well (something quite easy to gauge with Teresa - you just count the number of times she falls over) and have taken something like 350 photos thus far, most of which you'll doubtless get to see in time. Anyway, onto other matters.
You remember a while back that I was all set to co-edit a monthly fanzine with Harry Bell, something I felt (and still feel) fanzine fandom over here needs to maybe provide a spark to get things moving again? Well Harry scuttled that by pulling out at the last minute but I still think a monthly fanzine is needed in UK fandom - and in US fandom come to that. It occurred to me some time back that a viable method of producing a truly transatlantic fanzine on a monthly basis, one whose transatlantic postal costs wouldn't be crippling, would be to send stencils rather than scads of individual copies of a zine and to have local and overseas editions run off from them. The way I see it a co-edited fanzine that was in fact put together alternately , first on one side of the pond and then the other, with each person editing it one month and sending his copy across the next for the other to put into the issue he put together, one that each editor was responsible for printing and distributing on his own side of the Atlantic, is a pretty good idea (and one that, so far as I'm aware, hasn't been done before). American 8 ½" x 11 ½" is a bit bigger than our 8"x 10" so this means a bigger margin all round on the US edition but I don't see that as a terrible problem. Also, if the US Mail operates like the UK Post Office, a zine of about 10 sheets can be sent internally for the same cost as a single sheet so the problem of keeping size down in order not to have to worry about expensive international rates should disappear allowing for greater flexibility. Such a zine, it seems to me, would be A Good Thing for many reasons and it's something I'd like to do with someone with both of us pledging to stick with it for a year (after which time we decide what we feel about continuing). The thing is whenever I try and think of someone in US fandom whose approach and attitudes would best mesh with my own and who would hence be ideal for such a project I keep coming up with the same name: Ted White.
Since I wasn't at all sure you'd go for such an idea I've sat on it for a few months but when I mentioned it to Patrick he opined that you might be more receptive to it than I thought and that I should go right ahead and put it to you. So what do you think? I have no particular preference for a title (other than that it should be short - four or five letters), but do kinda like a format consisting of an art-free interior (exactly as in EGOSCAN) and a front page with a topical cartoon the width of the page directly below logo (y'know...the sort of editorial cartoon newspapers run...something someone like West would be brilliant at, among others), with the 'lead' piece beginning directly below this. Still, all this is just an idea and we'd obviously come to some agreement over such matters if and when you decided you liked the concept of the zine.
Having Avedon over means I'll have at least one good writer to hand to provide pieces as that man in Puerto Rico, and others used to for PONG (and doing this zine in no way precludes other publishing, of course, and what Avedon and I - .collectively or individually - might do after the wedding remains to be seen). I haven't yet figured out what to do about LoCs but I'm sure that's a problem that can be overcome.
So what do you say? Does the prospect of a truly transatlantic fanzine appeal to you? Let me know, OK?
See you at the wedding, I hope.
Saturday 27th April
Travelled over to Ealing and was in the Queen Victoria by noon to begin the process of saying farewell to Patrick and Teresa. I was the first one there, but Dave & Hazel Langford soon turned up followed, eventually, by all the others. That was a good session with lively chat and the like.
When we went back to Lawrence Road most everyone was hoping things would develop as they had when we'd said goodbye to Tom Weber, but unfortunately they didn't. Chemistry, I suppose. Linda Pickersgill asked me to join her Worldcon fanroom team for Brighton in 1987. I agreed. I ended up staying the night, not wanting to miss anything, and got no sleep thanks to Paul Kincaid & Maureen Porter - who were kipping in the book room - hogging all the available spare bedding. And it was cold!
Sunday 28th April
Having not slept all night deprived me of my chance to see Patrick and Teresa off at the airport. Cold and totally knackered, I made my way up to South Ealing tube station around 7.00am, and was home and in my own bed by 8.30am.
With P&T flying home today, and Linda flying back to New Orleans for a few months on Wednesday, I found myself wondering how Greg was going to cope.