EIGHTIES LETTERS AND FAN DIARY
26: OCTOBER 1985Thursday 3rd October
Stepping out of Upton Park tube station after work today, I experienced shooting pains across my back and great difficulty breathing. I leaned against a wall, gasping, before making my way home, a balled fist pressed firmly to my back. The two hundred yard journey took me almost ten minutes, and as I crawled up the stairs to our flat Avedon greeted me with great concern. I lay on the floor, back muscles slowly unknotting, until I felt well enough to go to the One Tun.
(I still remember what it felt like exiting the station that day. Between one step and the next it was as if every muscle in my back suddenly *clenched*. This had never happened before, or since, and was fairly frightening at the time because I had no idea what was going on. Thinking about it over the years, I came to the conclusion this had been my body finally reacting to all the built-up stress of the previous few months, both the bad - all that TAFF Wars mess - and the good, ie. getting married. Like it or not, and however positive a thing it was and is, getting married is actually pretty disruptive to life as you'd previously lived it. All change is.)
At the Tun I passed out copies of TAFFLUVIA #2. Joseph Nicholas informed me that Kev Smith was in town earlier and on seeing his name in this protested that he *hadn't* approved the 20% rule. Joe also told me he thought the Ted White trip report in EPSILON #18 was dreadful.
"You should've thrown away every second page!" he said.
Obviously, I disagreed.
Malcolm Edwards tells us that both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have dropped their winter fares to the US, which is very welcome news. Surprise visitor this time was Paul Skelton, who spent most of the evening deep in conversation with Vince Clarke.
Friday 4th October
Over to Kidbrooke for a party Malcolm and Kate Davies are throwing to see her off to university. Greg got into a loud argument with Colin Fine when it emerged *he* was the one who suggested the Slaters for FGoH at the '87 Worldcon.
(In retrospect, I have no objection to Ken being honoured of course given the major role he played in getting UK fandom up and running again after WWII, but at the time we younger fans knew little of this so disconnected were we from our own history. This would change.)
There was a good turnout for the party - us, the Pickersgills, Roz Kaveney, Abi Frost, Geoff Ryman, Mike Dickinson & Jackie Gresham, etc., - and Kate got quite teary as we were leaving. Abi resolved to visit her in Cambridge.
Saturday 5th October
I went to the Homebase at Goodmayes for the tools I needed to install Avedon's water-mixer. Thanks to lousy buses this took me three hours (!!!). I was in a foul mood when I got home, only to be informed by Avedon that Mark Digre and female companion (I didn't record her name, or their relationship) would be arriving "any minute". I was washing my hair when they did, and the time they took to order and eat a takeaway tandoori made us later getting to the Atkinson/Edwards party than I wanted given that we'd have to leave in time to catch the last tube.
Malcolm and Chris were throwing the party to celebrate our victory in securing the Worldcon for 1987. Unfortunately, my back was playing up again and I didn't enjoy myself anywhere near as much as I would've expected to at one of these bashes even though the majority of the most interesting people in London fandom were there. We left shortly after 11pm with Mark and his companion, who were staying in a hotel on Gloucester Road.
Sunday 6th October
A disastrous start to the day! Making our way to the Kent Trufandom meeting in Welling, it took us an insane one and three quarter hours to get to Woolwich due to just missing connections all down the line. Not surprisingly, there was no one there to greet us on the other side of the river when we did get to Woolwich. It turned out Chuck Harris was there in his car to meet us at the appointed time, so in all he ended up making three trips after we phoned Vince and he drove out again to pick us up. We finally arrived at 16 WWW a full two and a half hours after setting out and falling into what felt at times like a bad Brian Rix farce minus the falling trousers.
Apart from Vince and Chuck, those present this time were ATom, the Hills, Pam Wells, Elda Wheeler, and the Pickersgills. A fairly OK if overcrowded meeting ensued with Greg and Chuck getting on particularly well.
In the evening, back at 9A, Patrick rang to tell me that Glicksohn wants to go to Worldcon if he wins TAFF - to which I have no objection - then he and Teresa tell Avedon how desperately they want to move to London. We resolve to investigate ways and means to accomplish this.
Wednesday 9th October
Although we had a good turnout at the Salisbury tonight we played no pool, contenting ourselves with drinking and good conversation. Bob Legault, a friend of the Nielsen Haydens, also showed up for this.
Friday 11th October
Avedon phoned me at work to tell me the stencils for CRANK #2 had finally arrived, and I looked forward all day to reading them. Unfortunately, this proves to be a painful experience. I've been edited many times before and never had a problem with it, but Ted's editing has done things to my prose that I hate. I felt physically sick when I'd finished reading the stencils and brooded about it all evening. Fortunately, Allan Baum & Donya White - on a stopover on the final leg of their long trip home from Worldcon - called in on us and helped me forget about it for a while. I have to extract an agreement from Ted to leave my words alone or CRANK is going to be very short lived.
Saturday 12th October
The day of the comic mart and for once Avedon and I are the first of our lot to arrive in the Westminster Arms. Soon, however, Bob Legault, Allan, Donya, Alun Harries, Steve Lawson, Pam Wells, Christina Lake, and the Pickersgills appear. Avedon spent a while trying to talk Alan Moore into doing a Wonder Woman mini-series since we've heard reports the comic is on the brink of cancellation and she needs help.
(It was in fact cancelled, but this was part of a longer-term plan by DC Comics to relaunch their classic characters. Following a four-part mini-series by Trina Robbins done as a homage to the Wonder Woman of the 1940s, the comic was relaunched the following year helmed by writer-artist George Perez. This would go on to be what was, for my money, the finest ever run in WW's long and chequered history.)
After the mart it was the usual trip to Pizza Hut, followed by Forbidden Planet, and ending up in The Royal George. Here Greg told Allan & Donya embarrassing tales about those few times I've been drunk, while I quietly got plastered. All in all a good time, though I spent most of the tube trip back to East Ham trying to convince Avedon I was sober.
Monday 14th October
I drafted a letter to Ted during lunch-hour in work today. When I got home Roz Kaveney was there, and Avedon spent ages nattering on and on to her. I was vaguely annoyed by this for some reason, probably because we had someone else coming over.
Later, that 'someone else' turned up. This was Jim Frenkel. He bought us all an Indian takeaway and chatted about what he had been up to at the Frankfurt book fair and about his family - he's married to Joan D. Vinge, who'd given birth to their second child two months earlier. He showed us various book cover proofs and the like, and crashed with us that night.
Tuesday 15th October
After a day spent at a site in Altrincham for my employer, I didn't get back home until 8pm, by which time I was completely shagged out.
Jim Frenkel turned up at 11pm, having been scooting around various publishers all day, and bought us pizza from the pizza place on the corner of our block. We'd never eaten anything from there, and it proved to be a revelation.
"This is the first real pizza I've eaten in this country!" declared Avedon, and she was right.Jim had to fly home tomorrow so this was his last night with us and we spent some time swapping childhood stories about our siblings.
Thursday 17th October
The Harveys came over this evening so that Eve could help Avedon put together a new CV/resume. With three agencies having only managed to find one half-day's work for her between them in three weeks she's starting to freak out a little.
Friday 18th October
We went along to the BSFA meeting tonight for no good reason but, thanks to the Harveys and Joe Nicholas, had a pleasant enough time anyway. When we got back, Avedon talked me into getting us another of those pizzas.
Sunday 20th October
The second ever Waterloo Friends In Space meeting, and there are some weird undertones to the evening. Lin Morris proves to be as bitter and twisted as I'd heard she is and ends up rowing with Gregory and, to a lesser extent. Avedon. She left before us, and when we exited the pub we found the copy of BLATANT Avedon had given her lying in the gutter.
Saturday 26th October
A personal zine - FOCAL POINT #7 - from Patrick Nielsen Hayden (and pretty good it is, too) arrives today, as does a letter from Ted White. He rejects my objections totally. After reading his reasons for what he did, I reject *them* totally. I'm unhappy about this and hope we aren't heading for a confrontation.
This was the night of Sherry Francis's burrito bash, so we, Roz Kaveney, the Pickersgills, Mike & Jackie, Caroline Mullan & Brian Ameringen, made our way to Finsbury Park. The burritos were delicious and a good time was had by all. Avedon and I were very envious of Sherry's house.
From fanzine report:
"Ms Carol has as yet failed to construct a coherent Marxist analysis of the clash between UK and US fandoms," said Joseph Nicholas.
This was at the party thrown by Malcolm Edwards and Chris Atkinson on the 5th to celebrate Britain winning the 1987 Worldcon. Avedon was speechless. She had indeed failed to construct such an analysis - the very first thing anyone arriving on these shores should do, after all - and she hung her head, promising to do better in future. Having thus seen to Avedon the editor of Pimlico CND's newsletter, GROUND ZERO NEWS, then turned and discussed that magazine's prospects with his wife, Judith Hanna.
"No dear," said Ms Hanna, patting him on the head, "I don't think there's any chance of GROUND ZERO NEWS winning the Nova Award."
Today, Saturday 26th October, Joe and Judith took part in this year's big CND march, while in the evening Avedon and I attended a small dinner party at Sherry Francis's spacious Finsbury Park abode that was billed as THE SOUTHERN GIRLS' BURRITO FIESTA.
After we had all feasted on the excellent Tex-Mex cuisine of Sherry's native Texas it wasn't too surprising that the conversation turned to politics. Mike Dickinson declared himself an anarchist ("...though formerly an anarcho-syndicalist", he was careful to point out) while Sherry admitted to being a Marxist. Daunted by such company and doubtless still shaken by Joseph's earlier criticism, Avedon followed Roz in identifying herself as a mere radical. Jackie Gresham meanwhile, totally intimidated by these revelations, claimed to be 'apolitical'.
"You don't mean...?"
She hung her head.
The wimpy liberals in the group kept our silence. I was particularly quiet as I brooded over the reasons why I couldn't add my own voice to this revelatory session. After all, it's a terrible thing to have to admit that you too have as yet failed to construct a coherent 'Marxist analysis of the clash between UK and US fandom'.