EIGHTIES LETTERS AND FAN DIARY
24: AUGUST 1985Thursday 1st August
One Tun evening, and though quite a few of the regulars weren't there, someone unexpected was - Mike Glicksohn. Since he hadn't told anyone there he was going to be in the country, there was great surprise all round.
(Except, that is, from Greg Pickersgill who was standing at the bar. He turned, said "Hello, Mike," then nonchalantly resumed the conversation he was engaged in.)
All present signed the 'get well' card for Stu I'd brought along (but hadn't yet actually drawn). Mike had flown into Stansted - of all places - that very evening and come directly from the airport. He stayed the night with us after the Tun.
At 9A Greenleaf a long discussion of the Bergeron Affair/TAFF Wars ensued with Avedon getting very emotional, not surprisingly. I retired from the fray sometime after 2am - I still had to go to work in the morning - and the others an hour or so later.
Friday 2nd August
Met up with Mike at lunchtime at the The Blackfriar, and from there went on to the Ludgate Cellars. It was yet another lousy day and I got wet returning to work.
Mike was there when I got back to the flat that afternoon and tried to get us to go over to Greg's with him - where he was staying that night - for a drink. We faltered, but resisted.
(From our place to Greg & Linda's in South Ealing was about an hour and a half each way by tube. Since we'd seen Greg & Mike the night before, and would be seeing them again tomorrow, this was the right decision.)
Saturday 3rd August - Comic Mart
Greg, Linda, and Mike were waiting for us when we arrived at the Westminster Arms, and we were later joined by Steve Lawson. The pub was unusually uncrowded with no Martin Skidmore and no Alan Moore or other pros, but we all bought stuff in the mart anyway with even Glicksohn stocking up on issues of SWAMP THING after listening to Greg enthuse about Alan Moore's run on the title.
Afterwards, we had a meal at Jimmy's then ended up in the Royal George, as usual, where we were joined by Pam Wells. Phil Palmer also passed through briefly, on his way to a free jazz concert. After the Royal George we ate in the Oxford Street Pizza Hut, then headed home.
Sunday 4th August
Avedon and I pottered around in our dressing gowns (US: bathrobes) most of the day, totally forgetting Pam was coming over to finish running off NUTZ. She did so, and while she and Avedon collated a pile of copies, I finally sorted out Priest's fanzine collection ready for Greg to pick over its remains tomorrow evening.
Monday 5th August
Greg was there when I got in from work, slowly working his way through the fanzines, while Mike Glicksohn turned up around 8pm carrying fish'n'chips and a couple of bottles of Guinness. Final arrival was Pam Wells, who sat collating in the corner while we all chewed the fat. Later, I convinced Greg, Pam, and Mike to try Pot Noodle/Rice, and their reactions weren't too unfavourable.
Wednesday 7th August
Met Mike Glicksohn outside FORBIDDEN PLANET at 5.30pm, but Avedon and John Jarrold didn't show up until almost 6pm.
"Got lost, boss," said Jarrold.
Then followed a pint in the Blue Posts, a baked potato in Wendy's, and a trip to Harringey for pool night. At first we four were the only ones there, but we were joined by Jimmy Robertson and Pete Lyon, and then by Pam, Phil Palmer, John Dallman, and John& Eve Harvey. I phoned Leroy Kettle to see if I could get him out to see Mike, but he and Cath were going on holiday tomorrow and had to pack.
Friday 9th August
Dave Ettlin & Bonnie Schupp turned up mid-evening to stay the night before flying out from Stansted tomorrow. We played backgammon, watched the final episode of the current season of CHEERS, and had takeaway food. The latter decision led to Dave terrorizing the local Wimpey in his quest for a genuine hamburger.
Saturday 10th August
Travelled over to Ealing Broadway in the morning to meet up with Pam, Greg, and Linda for a shopping spree. We went through the spiffy new Broadway Centre, Avedon and I buying various needed items for our life together, ate in a local park that had a little zoo, and returned hime in the evening. When I got in Ted White's report on his recent UK trip awaited me, but there wasn't time to start putting it on stencil.
Sunday 11th August
Went over to 16WWW with Avedon and Pam this afternoon for a KTF meeting. ATom, Vince and the Hills were also there. ATom got pretty drunk and pretty funny, joking about sleeping on Pam's floor at NOVACON in a sleeping bag... and having her share it.
Tuesday 13th August
Wotta fannish day! First I manage to get lots of EPSILON #18 written in work while Avedon is home putting Ted's piece on stencil. Then, when I get in, there's a pile of fannish mail waiting including a *superb* Chris Priest article. We decide we'll have to co-produce a fanzine to host this masterpiece, and to call it CHUCK - what else would we call our first offspring?
Friday 16th - Sunday 18th August
(Trip to Cardiff for my sister's 18th birthday. Diary entries omitted.)Friday 23rd August
Split from work after lunch and made King's Cross in plenty of time, eventually being joined by Avedon - who I was beginning to think had gone to St. Pancras by mistake. The train journey to Newcastle was tedious and uneventful and we made the Grosvenor Hotel shortly after 5pm. The first shock was how the games room, video room, and con hall of previous years had been knocked into one, though this matters less than it might have since this will be the last SILICON at the hotel, and possibly the last one ever.
The usual crowd was present, with the addition of Catherine Crockett, Glicksohn, Alasdair Grey, and Paul & Cas Skelton. Greg is deep into not having a good time at first for some reason. I'm reminded of this a little later when, at the otherwise unremarkable opening ceremony, Neil Hepple announces:
"Those complaining to the committee of not having fun will be locked in a room with Arnold Akien - then they'll appreciate what not having fun is *really* like!"
The usual drinking and good conversation of the first night at SILICON followed, but having been up half the previous night with toothache, I crashed out long before 1am and didn't hear Avedon when she too crashed some time later.
Saturday 24th August
Down for breakfast - the only one we make all weekend - at 9.15am, an amazing feat.
Avedon and I were on an SF general knowledge quiz titled 'Snooker in Space' but were so bad we drove people away in droves. There was a good talk on 'The SF of Margaret Thatcher' by Chris Evans. I particularly liked his reference to:
"...her famous first contact novel, 'Sod Off, Frog-Face'."
Sunday 25th August - fanzine report
I was standing at the bar when Hazel Langford took the transglobal phone call from Malcolm Edwards who, at that very instant, was living it up half a world away at the Worldcon in Melbourne, Australia. After revealing that the British bid had won the 1987 Worldcon (to no-one's very great surprise), he imparted the real news.
"Dave's won the Best Fanwriter Hugo!" said Hazel, breathlessly.
At my table Avedon, Mike Glicksohn, and the rest clapped and cheered. I thought Avedon was going to wet herself but instead she wet Jim Barker. As she leapt to her feet, yelling and waving her arms in jubilation, she knocked a pint of beer over him. *My* pint of beer.
Avedon wasted no time in getting on the phone to New York and telling the Nielsen Haydens the good news. It was around 9am local time but judging by the whoops of delight on the Manhattan end of the line this was one piece of news Patrick and Teresa didn't at all mind Avedon getting them out of bed to hear. Such is the pace of modern fandom that within minutes the news had flashed across the globe from Australia to Britain to the Eastern United States, but one person it hadn't yet reached was Dave himself. This being one of the quieter moments of the convention - due to yet another of Linda Pickersgill's many attempts to introduce the heathen Brits to the dubious joys of baseball having been aborted by the bad weather that's blighted summer over here - Dave had gone off with Martin Hoare to sample the delights of a number of local hostelries, so in the brief period til his return there was time to set up a proper welcome.
As the unsuspecting Langford stepped through the doors of the Grosvenor and into the bar all present rose to their feet and clapped and cheered. Dave's usual look of faint bafflement turned to one of total bemusement until Hazel went over and broke the news to him. Then bemusement gave way to wide-eyed astonishment as he threw his head back and emitted one of those famous laughs. (Those who've never heard one before often react with great alarm to a Dave Langford laugh as they scan the room trying to discover who could be in such terrible pain.) It was a happy circumstance that caused SILICON and the Worldcon to be on the same weekend (they're usually a week apart - a state of affairs that allowed me to attend both last year). How appropriate that Dave should hear he'd won a fan Hugo while at Britain's premier fannish convention, where he was surrounded by his peers and able to commence celebrating immediately. It must have been the next best thing to actually being in Melbourne when the result was announced. So now Dave is the proud possessor of a long overdue Hugo, and for a change one of those phallic rocketships has gone to the most deserving candidate.
As for the convention itself, the SILICON 9 programme was the usual collection of silly games, semi-serious talks, offbeat items and other fun things, this time with the addition of writers Chris Evans and Alasdair Gray as 'special guests'. New faces at the convention included the Skeltons and Canadian fans Mike.Glicksohn and Catherine Crockett, while the surprise donation of three carrier bags full of books and fanzines mid-way led to an impromptu auction. Conducted by Greg Pickersgill, with assistance from me, the auction raised £47 for TAFF - about three times as much as I thought we d make and perhaps some measure of how entertaining and/or persuasive Greg and I were.
With one exception I've attended every SILICON since the first back in 1976. They've all been thoroughly enjoyable, the sort of inventive and finely-tuned productions we've come to expect from the Gannetfandom convention-running machine, and SILICON 9 was no exception. It may, however, be the last. On Sunday afternoon, during the slot usually reserved for the traditional debate, Kev Williams announced that the Gannets had grown tired of running the con every year, felt they had grown stale, and didn't want to do it any more. During the discussion that followed Kev did allow that the Gannets might be prepared to provide some of the programming if others provided a venue. Later, small groups from. Newport, London, and elsewhere were overheard exploring that very possibility. Personally I'm not convinced that a SILICON put on by others could be SILICON in anything other than name, but I'm prepared to be proved wrong. SILICON has always been my favourite convention so I for one would be sorry to see it die. Time will tell, I suppose.
Monday 26th August
We took the train back down to London with Mike and Catherine Crockett, though Mike was only with us for the first 20 minutes. He had a 1st class ticket and so travelled the rest of the journey in that carriage. Back in London, Catherine, Avedon and I went for a meal at Jimmy's.
(Sadly, Jimmy's closed in 2012, a victim of the soaring rents that are destroying all those quirky little places that gave Soho its character. As for why we liked it so much, this obituary explains: "Opening its doors in 1948, Jimmy’s was the oldest Greek restaurant in Soho. The place was musty and dark, the wine terrible, but the food was a thing of wonder: cheap and plentiful enough to feed a Trojan army.")
Thursday 29th August
Catherine came over in the evening, her last in Britain, for the second meeting of the 'Sluts'. She, Avedon, and I wandered down to The Boleyn at 8pm where Mike Dickinson & Jackie Gresham had already arrived. We were joined later by Geoff Ryman, Kate Jeary, and Linda Pickersgill. Much discussion of SILICON ensued.
Friday 30th August - from fanzine
John Jarrold - aging boy librarian and loony - caused great-consternation on both sides of the Atlantic when he phoned Patrick Nielsen Hayden and announced:
"I'm on my way to the airport. I'll phone you when I reach New York about thirteen hours from now."
Assuming Jarrold to be joking and/or drunk Patrick thought little of this but decided to ring the Jarrold household sometime later anyway - 2am local time - to check on his condition. The phone was answered by John's mother with the news that:
"He isn't here and I don't know where he's gone. It's very strange."
Which is how come this morning, an hour after Jarrold was due to hit the Big Apple, I received a phone call from a worried Patrick that led in turn to me contacting the Jarrold household. John was there, of course, and greeted me by saying:
"I almost flew to New York last night!"
He went on to explain how he'd been hit by a particularly severe bout of 'post-con blues' following the general wonderfulness of SILICON, and that:
"I got all the way to the airport but I couldn't get a flight."
America, you've had a narrow escape.