EIGHTIES LETTERS AND FAN DIARY

22: JUNE 1985

Saturday 1st June

We had a get together tonight at 9A to welcome Avedon to the UK. Turnout in the evening consisted of Greg Pickersgill, Pam Wells, Joseph Nicholas, Judith Hanna, and Matthew B. Tepper. Fewer than we'd hoped, but then there were a lot of people out of town this weekend. Still, it was a good evening. Greg stayed the night.

Sunday 2nd June

Greg, Avedon & I headed uptown and I took them to that area north of Oxford Street I'd discovered a few weeks earlier. We had a drink in the Pontefract Castle and, when it shut at 2.00pm, we wandered about in the glorious sunshine eventually ending up in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. We finished up at 7.00pm in a pub off Queensway that Greg and I had once spent an evening in drinking together. We had a good time mostly discussing feminism that was only marred at the end of the evening by a thuggish guy on the next table asking Avedon:

"Are you a yid?"

This was the same guy we'd earlier overheard say of the Heysel Stadium disaster:

"Why all this fuss over a few spics?"

Charming.

After this we moved to another pub in Westbourne Park, where we had a few more drinks before heading home.

Monday 3rd June

Weather still glorious, making almost a full week now (storms would break this sunny spell tomorrow). This was my first day back at work since Avedon's arrival and I had to visit Tonbridge for a site inspection. During the day Avedon had lunch with Roz Kaveney. They came back to the flat afterwards and read CAMELOT 3000. Both impressed. In the evening we watched the start of the regular series based on last year's 'V' alien invaders mini-series, which was enjoyable hokum.

Thursday 6th June- One Tun night

The usual crowd were at the Tun along with Rog Peyton, Kath E, Terry Hill et al. Having been at 'work', Avedon showed up with Pam Wells about 20 minutes after I got there. She handed out copies of VERGE and the wedding invitations I'd furiously written out prior to the meeting. Everyone seemed pleased to see Avedon, and much greeting went on. I had a long chat with Rog about the 'Venture' SF line he's editing being impressed by the marketing acumen that had gone into it, if not by the line itself.


Dai Price, Kath E, Bridget Wilkinson

Avedon and I left about half an hour before closing time after which, we later learned, Greg got into some sort of altercation with Chris Atkinson over Helen Starkey.

Saturday 8th June - Westminster Comic Mart

The day of the mart and, judging by the crowds and all the military, also of the Trooping of the Colour. Greg Pickersgill and Steve Lawson were already in the Westminster Arms when Avedon and I arrived, and we were later joined by Pam Wells and Alun Harries, the latter having travelled up from Newport as usual. I pointed out Alan Moore to Avedon, and she immediately rushed over to compliment him on SWAMP THING #40, the menstrual story. I walked over to join them and bumped into Martin Skidmore who asked me what I thought of the repro on the cover of FANTASY ADVERTISER #91, my copy of which had arrived only that morning. I was pretty chuffed with it, and told him so.

After the mart, we retired to the Royal George where we were joined by Phil Palmer and Anne Warren. Avedon and I didn't stay long because Dolly & Alexis Gilliland were already in town for the wedding and we had to get over to Harringey to see them.

Also present at Duckett Road were Malcolm Edwards & Chris Atkinson, Leroy Kettle & Kath Mitchell, and John Brosnan. It was a low key but very pleasant evening.

Sunday 9th June - Kent TruFandom meeting

Pam Wells turned up at 11.30am and we took the bus to the Woolwich Ferry. It was a sunny day but, not liking the wind, she and Avedon retired to a pub when we got to the South Woolwich side of the Thames. This left me to stand shivering while waiting for Chuck Harris and Vince Clarke to arrive. When Chuck's car finally turned up, Avedon and Chuck greeted each other warmly, as expected.


Avedon Carol, Chuck Harris

Back at 16 WWW, we were joined by ATom, who gave me twenty copies of the old EAGLE comic, most of them the same issue. (My diary doesn't record where he got these, something I now find myself strangely intrigued by.)

The previous evening, Greg told me Mal Ashworth had formed 'Provisional BOFFandom' after tearing a strip off Terry Hill, which Avedon and I had read about in Chuck's Q mailing a week earlier. Out of Vince's hearing, Chuck confided that Terry wasn't at the meeting because he was:

"Off licking his wounds - not that he doesn't deserve a few."

Hmmn.


Vince Clarke, Pam Wells

Around 5.30pm Chuck drove us back to 9A Greenleaf, the first time I'd ever been on the Woolwich Ferry in a car, and stayed chatting 'til around 7.00pm. After he left, Pam stayed another two hours during which she revealed details of her amorous adventures over the past few months, and was appalled we already knew about one particular conquest which she thought she'd been very discreet about.

Tuesday 11th June

Greg called over to the flat in the afternoon and was there when I got in from work. I gave him one each of the two duplicates issues in the pile of EAGLES ATom had given me, but Avedon managed to spoil the gag I'd been planning with the torn copy in the pile.

Following some chips and a lot of sitting around talking we went over to the Queen's for a few jars, a pub whose 'vibe' I've never been entirely happy with. Afterwards Greg declined to stay the night, saying it would be "inappropriate".

Wednesday 12th June - North London pool night

Met Greg and Avedon outside FORBIDDEN PLANET after work - I also bumped into Dave Cockfield - and we retired to the Royal George for drinks. Avedon was holding forth on Armenia when a guy at the bar interjected that he too was Armenian, even though he was blond and had a tiny nose. In the exchange that followed I learned the Armenian church was the first Christian church in the world. Can't imagine this fact ever proving useful to me, but you never know.

After this we travelled on to Harringey and the Salisbury while Greg went home. Played a few frames of pool against such as Roy Kettle, Graham Charnock, Garry Kilworth, Malcolm Edwards, Phil Palmer, Dai Price and Rob Holdstock. Rob says he won't be able to make our wedding as he'll be in Canada, alas.

Saturday 15th June

Took train down to Reading to firm up arrangements for our 'wedding reception' at Chez Langford a week from today. Dave & Hazel took us to a pub down the road from them with a 'dress code' that was done out like a disco. If this is the future of pubs count me out.

Following this, we ate chips, assembled a garden bench/table, played a game of Scrabble (which I won) and, at 4.00pm, bought booze for the wedding bash from a local off license. Carrying that 32 pint polypin back to the house damn near did me in. Dave showed me his new £1500 computer, and his fantastic library complete with a section devoted to various editions of his own books.

In the evening we went into town for a meal and my new cashpoint card was swallowed by the ATM - the very first time I'd used it, too. The four of us were joined by in an Indian restaurant by the Hoares, and after the meal Avedon and I set off for home.

Sunday 16th June - Friends In Space

Greg rang to remind us it was FIS tonight, which was just as well as I'd forgotten. For some reason we decided to stop in at the Hammersmith Pizza Hut on the way, but it took them so long to bring our starters we had to cancel our main pizza order and grab a cheeseburger on the way back to the tube station.

In Ealing, only Greg showed up at the pub but we three had a pleasant evening's chat.

Monday 17th June

Avedon had arranged to meet Greg in town but got a call from Rick & Maryanne who wanted to get together for a meal, so all five of us met up at Paddington station and ate at a nearby cheapo Italian place. After this, and after seeing R & M off to France, Greg, Avedon and I went back to Lawrence Road where Greg was putting us up so I could get to Heathrow early enough to meet Ted White when he flew in tomorrow.

Tuesday 18th June

Made Heathrow by 7.00pm and waited for Ted. After an hour, I checked to see if his flight had cleared customs, which it hadn't. A half hour later I tried again and it had, but no Ted White. I had him paged, unsuccessfully, and then checked the passenger list at the Pan-Am desk, where I was told he was flying in tomorrow. Despite me emphasizing I needed to know the date he was arriving not leaving, Avedon's mother Queenie had given me the wrong day!

Back at Lawrence Road I phoned work to tell them I would be coming in this afternoon after all but now needed to book a day's leave for tomorrow so as to go through the whole procedure again. Greg was greatly amused by all this.

Wednesday 19th June

I collected Ted from Heathrow and was back at Greg's by 9.00am. This was complicated by the tremendously fucking heavy protective wooden case Rick had made for Avedon's guitar, which had travelled over with Ted. By the time we reached Lawrence Road with it I barely had any feeling left in my fingers. Since I didn't think it possible to cart this across London, I insisted we de-crate the guitar. Ted agreed, Greg got tools, and we set to.

After jawing for a while we made our way up to the New Inn (still can't remember its new name) then, that evening, moved on to the Royal George where we were meeting Phil Palmer. Avedon left for a meeting of the women's group at 8.00pm, so we four went for a meal at Jimmy's, where Ted graciously picked up the tab.

We had a final drink back at the Royal George before dispersing, Ted going off with Phil who was putting him up, Greg back to Ealing, and me meeting Avedon at Embankment tube station then heading home together.

(Those of you with access to a copy will find Ted's own, more detailed account of this and the next several days in EPSILON #18)

Thursday 20th June

We had arranged to meet Ted in FORBIDDEN PLANET but were half an hour late due to Avedon procrastinating. After buying the latest comics, we retired to Wendy's for breakfast. Later, we showed Ted the usual interesting pubs (Cheshire Cheese, Ludgate Cellars, Blackfriar) then travelled back to Oxford Street where we left Ted browsing in the Virgin Megastore (temporary and much smaller than the actual Megastore, which was being refurbished) while we shopped for a wedding suit for me. Avedon was nervous about me leaving this until the day before.

"Why?" I'd asked, puzzled. "I'm a perfect size. It won't take more than fifteen minutes."

I don't think she believed me, and as it happens I was wrong about how much time I would need. It took me ten minutes.

"I hate you," she said.

Avedon had to go home to wash her hair before going over to Pam's place for the 'shower' being thrown for her, so Ted and I retired to the park in Soho Square and sat chatting in the sunshine for a couple of hours. We talked out details of CRANK, the joint fanzine we'd be starting soon, but the conversation also ranged far and wide. When we eventually left the park we wandered over to Greek Street for a meal in Jimmy's. Ted split for Phil's after we'd eaten - he was meeting Jimmy Robertson and Anne Warren there - and I headed home and took the opportunity while Avedon was out to tidy the place up for the big day tomorrow.

Friday 21st June - Wedding Day

Yesterday was lovely - today it rained.


Ted White, Avedon, Chuck Harris

Best man and groom

Chuck Harris was the first to turn up at our flat, followed by Pam, the Hansen family, Ted, then Rick & Maryanne (who'd twisted her ankle in France). We made our way to the Registry Office, where Greg, Dave & Hazel, and Alun Harries were waiting, and were soon joined by the Gillilands, Harry Bell, Kev & Sue Williams, and Malcolm Edwards.


Harry, Alun, Kev Williams, me

Hazel & Dave Langford, Chuck Harris, Avedon, Malcolm Edwards


Greg, Harry Bell, Chuck, Ted, Dolly Gilliland, Dave Langford

Pam Wells, Sue Williams

The ceremony went off just fine, and to my surprise I suffered no nerves at all. Chris Atkinson missed the ceremony, alas, having gotten caught in traffic, but she joined us back at the flat for snacks and conversation afterwards.


The bride, the groom, and the inevitable confetti

Around 7.00pm the Langfords, the Hansens, Avedon and I set off for Reading in a two car convoy while Greg led everyone else to a local pub except for Ted, Malcolm, and Alexis who decided to go to tonight's BSFA meeting. The journey took about two and a half hours thanks to traffic. Once in Reading, my family went off to the bed-and-breakfast they were staying at while Avedon and I had an Indian takeaway with Dave and Hazel before taking a taxi to the Post House Hotel, where we were spending our wedding night.

Saturday 22nd June

Strange waking up next to a married woman and realizing she's my wife - not that I'm in the habit of waking up next to married women.


Keith Oborn, John Jarrold, Joseph Nicholas, John Harvey

The weather was little improved from yesterday with high winds and rain, so the Langford back garden wasn't the party overflow we'd hoped it would be. Nonetheless it was a great party. Those there included my family, Rick & Maryanne, the Gillilands, the Harveys, Greg Pickersgill, Dave & Hazel Langford, Kev & Sue Williams, Harry Bell, Alun Harries, Phil Palmer, Geoff Ryman, Jimmy Robertson & Anne Warren, Pam Wells, Paul Kincaid & Maureen Porter, Ted White, Chris Priest & Lisa Tuttle, ATom, Chuck Harris, Vince Clarke, Abi Frost, John Jarrold, Dai Price, Joseph Nicholas & Judith Hanna, Malcolm Edwards & Chris Atkinson, the Smiths (Kev & wife, presumably) Dave Bridges & Caroline (? - Kath E, probably), the Hoares, Willy & Carol (friends of Avedon's from the US), the Oborns, and possibly others whose names I didn't record. From Ted's report:

"Inside at about 3.30 in the afternoon we found a full-fledged party in swing. As I wandered from room to room, meeting and remeeting people, I suddenly realised that I felt as if I was at a convention. This, the wedding reception, was indeed a small convention, skimming the cream of British (or London, anyway) fandom. It was here that I met, for the first time, Vince Clarke, Abi Frost, Dave Bridges, Alun Harries, Maureen Porter, and many more, while renewing acquaintances with Arthur Thomson, Harry Bell, John Jarrold, Dave & Hazel Langford, and yet others. There were lots of people there..."


Sue Williams, Ted White, John Jarrold's back

Geoff Ryman

The vats of curry we'd ordered turned up around four or five and were very well received. The Gannet contingent were sufficiently impressed with the idea (which I'd nicked from Greg and Linda's wedding reception) they started talking about doing something similar for SILICON. Fans being fans, those present made short work of the curry, the various breads, cheeses, etc., and all the other foods, but there was enough that I don't think anyone went hungry.


Ted White, Kev Williams, Harry Bell

Ted White made lots of friends out in the garden with his dope, while Rick & Maryanne got on fine with my family and they all mixed freely and easily with the fans. Surprise hit of the party was my mother, who impressed a lot of people, Kev Williams in particular:

"I think your mother is wonderful! Where do you find mothers like that?"

Easy. I was born, and there she was. Meanwhile my father hogged the drinks table where he was joined, not surprisingly, by Martin Hoare and Dai Price, who helped him empty many of them. Dai and my father got into a long conversation about whisky, which resulted in Dai furtively pulling a concealed flask from his jacket pocket.

"You're clearly someone who knows his whisky," he said, pouring some out for Dad, "so you'll appreciate this. It's an old malt."

"Yes, that's really smooth," he lied.

He later confided to me that it burned its way down his throat and it was all he could do not to start coughing.

"Rob, I was just making conversation," he told me, "I couldn't tell a 12 year old malt from lighter fluid."

"More?" asked Dai.

"No," said Dad, putting his hand over his glass, "I'd prefer to take my time and savour what you've already given me."

My brother Rich got into a long and seemingly heated discussion with Greg about the political role of the police - I'd mentioned to Greg he was a policeman - so I nipped over and rescued him, but it turned out he didn't need it. The 'look' I'd taken to mean "rescue me" was just the glassy stare of too much alcohol.


Harry Bell, Alun Harries, Krystyna Oborn

As I knew from earlier visits, the Langford bookroom was very impressive and when they discovered it Chuck and ATom spent a long time checking it out. ATom tried to convince Chuck that being as hospitable as he was Dave insisted people take a book when they visited, but Chuck wasn't falling for that one.

Sometime after midnight, Avedon and I slipped away to the Post House Hotel, and to our final night there.

Sunday 23rd June

We checked out of the Post House at 11.40am, just missing a bus to the station. Being a Londoner I assumed another would be along shortly, so we waited. And waited, and waited. A full hour later another bus finally showed up. We got to Reading Station just in time to see a 125 train to London pull out, leaving a half-hour wait 'til the next one. *sigh* We'd arranged to meet Ted White and Phil Palmer at Greenleaf Road at 2.30pm, and already it was clear we weren't going to make it.

Ted was waiting outside with Phil when we eventually got home - they's been there half an hour - but they seemed in fine spirits. Inside we discovered that Rick & Maryanne, who we'd given the use of the flat while we were away (they'd stayed there Friday night) had done some extensive tidying up, bless them. Ted filled us in on everything that had happened at the Langfords' after we departed and, after Phil left, he and I spent several hours chatting about comics censorship and finalising the details of CRANK. We had a meal at an Indian restaurant later then Ted took the tube back to Phil's. This was his last night in town. He would fly back to America tomorrow morning.

Monday 24th June

Alone at last, for the first time in what seemed like a month. Avedon was still under the weather and the weather was still horrible - wet and cold. I started work on EPSILON #18, typing my first ever stencil on the IBM Selectric and worrying whether or not it would duplicate. I ran one, and it did.

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