28: DECEMBER 1985

2nd December 1985 - letter to Ted White

Enclosed is my contribution to CRANK #4 and also a strange little piece from Mike Glyer. I got Avedon to mention in a letter she was writing to Mike that I thought it too sour for publication in our happy-go-lucky little periodical and forwarded a copy to Langford as he requested, tho' I don't think Dave'll be any keener to publish it. Near as I can tell Glyer is pissed off that a non-American won the fanwriter Hugo and particularly that we made such a fuss about it. Given that it finally went to someone that actually deserves it (Geis may have deserved one but not as many as he's gathered over the years) it's not surprising that we made a fuss. I would have made just as much fuss if someone over there who deserves it, like Teresa Nielsen Hayden, had won it.

Chris Atkinson, Rob Hansen, Arthur Thomson, Avedon Carol, Jimmy Robertson with Langford's
Hugo at the September One Tun. Chris Cooper towers over us.

If the award actually reflected reality then people like West, Kettle, Pickersgill, etc would have silver rocketships sat on their mantelpieces from the years when they were at their peak but since the fanzine award is more usually the "Hugo for Best Fanzine Out of Those With a High Enough Circulation to Get Noticed By Enough People" and the best fanwriter award is more usually the "Hugo for Best Fanwriter Out of Those That Regularly Get Published In The Best Fanzines Out Of Those...etc." they haven't. Oh well.

A short covering note this time since I'm burning the midnight oil to get this stuff finished and I have work tomorrow. Will write again soon.

Tuesday 3rd December

We were supposed to take delivery of a filing cabinet on Friday and, because Avedon was out on a job, got Greg Pickersgill to await delivery for us - only it was never delivered. Much embarrassment. It finally turned up today, and Avedon was there to take delivery.

Roz Kaveney was there again when I got in from work, but I soon dashed off to Homebase to get wood I needed for drawer partitions. When I returned, made these and installed them, Avedon and I then spent hours filing comics, eventually crashing out sometime after 1am.

Wednesday 4th December

Took the afternoon off from work to collect new furniture from MFI and to dump our old three-piece suite. Since I had to hire an MFI van to carry the new furniture home anyway, it made sense to also use it to carry away the old furniture before returning it. This last involved taking our front door and the banister rail off and tying the sofa securely at the back of the van due to its length.

We had some difficulty finding the GLC dump on Jennings Road at first (GLC = 'Greater London Council' not 'Green Lantern Corp', more's the pity) and so had to come at it three times before getting there. To our surprise, the dump turned out to be a neatly-manicured area where we were directed to the skip in which we were to deposit our old furniture. It was raining, but for some reason the sofa and chairs felt light as a feather as we lifted them out and threw them into that skip. I suspect a mixture of adrenaline and relief at finally being rid of them.

Back home we moved our bed and most of the large items including, wardrobes, desk, TV, et., to their new locations before collapsing. More moving to do Friday.

Thursday 5th December

A trip to the comics store after work, where I was somewhat pissed off to discover CRISIS #12 *still* wasn't out from DC Comics. Picked up a copy of the 'menstrual' issue of SWAMP THING to give to Sherry Francis at the One Tun, where I also handed out lotsa copies of CRANK #3 and TAFFLUVIA #3. Usual crowd, good evening.

Avedon Carol, Kate Solomon (in 'V' uniform), Sherry Francis, Mike Christie at

Saturday 7th December

Westminster Comic Mart and Avedon and I arrive at the pub to discover Greg is the only other of our guys who's turned up. Avedon has another long conversation with Alan Moore, but this time it's him who starts talking to her. In the mart itself I discover there's still no CRISIS #12.

The usual meal in Pizza Hut, visit to Forbidden Planet, and couple of hours in The Royal George follow, but Avedon and I leave early around 8pm as we're still both pretty tired after all the moving stuff we've been doing lately.

Sunday 8th - Thursday 12th December

Despite suffering from toothache on Sunday, Avedon went into work on Monday, making a dentist's appointment for Wednesday. However, she was in so much pain that evening that she went there on Tuesday instead. The filling she gets costs £25 (*not* NHS), the dentist explaining there was no insulation between the previous filling in that tooth and the nerve, and that it'll be a while before the inflammation dies down. On Wednesday night she was in so much pain that on Thursday she went into Guy's hospital where they yanked out her expensive new filling, pumped novocaine into the nerve to kill it, put in a new temporary filling, and told her she would need a root canal. At the time of writing, that's where things stand.

All this drama meant we missed Wednesday's north London pool night. On Thursday, CRISIS #12 finally appeared.

cover by John Ridgeway

cover by George Perez

Friday 13th December

We bumped into Roz on the tube over to Mike Dickinson & Jackie Gresham's place for a party. Good turnout too, spread across two rooms with the Pickersgills, Pam Wells, Abi Frost, Malcolm Davies, Kate Solomon, Helen Starkey and us mostly hanging out in the front one and Malcolm Edwards, Chris Atkinson, John Clute, M.John Harrison, and others in the rear one, though obviously we mixed. At one point I asked Malcolm if he'd meant what he said in its letter column about the SF book reviews in FANTASY ADVERTISER being the best currently appearing in the UK.

"Yes, they absolutely are," he replied.

(Not something those writing reviews for more SF-oriented publications of the time would have been pleased to hear, but a testament to how FA had evolved under editor Martin Skidmore from a fanzine dedicated solely to comics to one that also embraced science fiction. It had a lively lettercolumn too, and at this point in its existence was a fanzine I happily counted among SF zines.)

Not one of the great parties, but pretty laid back and enjoyable.

Sunday 15th December

Roz came over and so became the first to see the new layout in our flat. (We switched the lounge and the bedroom round.) While she and Avedon were feministing, I wrote a half-page appreciation of Alan Moore for the MEXICON II Programme Book:


Since this is a Science Fiction convention many of you will be unfamiliar with the work of Alan Moore. When I tell you that he's a comic-book writer I've no doubt that some among you will dismiss that work out of hand, not even bothering to look at it, but you would be missing out if you did. As with SF most of the output of the comic-book industry is formula hackwork, but like SF the medium itself has great potential and occasionally produces work of real power and originality. And among the small and select group of writers producing such work for mainstream comics none does it better than Alan Moore. Voted Best Writer with monotonous regularity in various polls among comic-book fans and pros - and deservedly so - Moore has the rare distinction for-a writer of achieving superstar status in a field where such status is usually reserved for the artists.

I can sense that some of you still aren't very impressed so I want to go on record now as saying that I believe Alan Moore to be one of the finest fantasists currently writing in *any* field and feel that anyone who refuses to check his work out simply because he chose to exercise his considerable talent in the writing of comic-books is doing themselves a great disservice. Having received acclaim for strips such as V FOR VENDETTA with its darkly dystopian vision of the fascist Britain of 1997 and MARVELMAN, which made use of a number of SF themes and stunningly re-defined the Superhero, Moore was offered the chance of writing SWAMP THING for DC Comics in the USA and it's here that much of his work now appears. As its name suggests SWAMP THING is a 'horror' comic, but hardly a typical one. After all how many other comics read primarily by pubescent American males do you think touch on such subjects as the dangers of nuclear waste, racism, incest, and menstruation? Intrigued? If you are then make sure you catch the interview session with Alan Moore (who, on top of everything else, is an interesting and entertaining individual). See you there.

Monday 16th December

Went to the cinema to see BACK TO THE FUTURE. Good film!

Tuesday 17th December

Pam Wells came over and so got to be the *second* person...etc. We discussed doing a possible bi-monthly genzine with rotating editors, regular columns, and the provisional title of PULP. I wonder if anything will come of this?

Wednesday 18th December

Among today's mail was a booklist from Steve Bieler titled PRELUDE TO PULP. Oh, the synchronicity!

Thursday 19th December

Xmas Tun. Boring. Left early.

Fans standing outside One Tun, sometime in mid 1980s.

Friday 20th December

The Friends In Space Xmas dinner was this evening. Organised by Jackie Gresham, it was at Diana's Diner in Covent Garden. Thanks to London Transport, Avedon and I were late, but the turkey dinner was just fine and pretty good value at £6.50 - £7.50. After the meal singing started, something I found irritating, and in the pub we repaired to later An Incident occurred...

Feeling rough, I told Avedon I needed to go. I then waited for her to return from the toilet so that we could leave, but when she returned she sat back down with the others and resumed her conversation, turning her back on me. I lost my cool, hissed "See you back at the flat!" in her ear, and stormed out.

All the way home the sound of the tube seemed deafening, and I covered my ears with my hands. Back in the flat, I lay on the floor of our new lounge in total silence. Avedon eventually returned and we kissed and made up.

I phoned Jackie the next day to apologise for my behaviour.

Monday 23rd - Friday 27th December

Xmas in Wales with family. Diary entries omitted.

Saturday 28th December

My trip into town today for various items proved totally fruitless (and very cold!)

In the evening, Patrick Nielsen Hayden phoned from New York - twice. In the period between calls a letter arrived supposedly bearing US TAFF nominations for Gytha North from Diane Duane and C.J. Cherryh. The Cherryh nomination, though mentioned in the letter, wasn't actually included. I told Patrick this during his second call, whereupon he got Teresa to call Diane Duane and read North's letter to her. An interesting tid-bit that emerged from this was that North wanted her to get nominations from Buck & Juanita Coulson if she couldn't get Cherryh. As Teresa pointed out, this is yet another connection to the Causgrove crowd.

I hope this isn't going to turn into another TAFF race like the last one!

Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Monday 30th December

My first day back at work after the Xmas break.

Got another call from Patrick this evening, enquiring as to whether Bill Gibson's nomination for Greg had shown up - it hadn't. Since we *knew* it had been put in the mail a fortnight ago and Bill had repeatedly expressed that he was nominating Greg, we figured we'd let it go. As soon as I put the phone down, Avedon commented on how dishonest that would be - and she was right. She suggested that Stu Shiffman might perhaps nominate Greg, so ensuring that all nominations were in under deadline (Stu then lived in the same building as Patrick & Teresa). I agreed, phoned Patrick back, and he agreed too.

Later, while I was in another room, Avedon took *another* call from Patrick who informed us that *Rich Coad* would now be sending a nomination for Greg by express mail. I remain bemused by all this and at present have no idea which of three names will finally appear as nominator.

Today was also Avedon's birthday, so earlier in the evening I sent out for pizzas and we ate them while watching a couple of TV programmes on the Beatles.

Tuesday 31st December

Went home from work to change my clothes then we shot straight over to Ealing for the Pickersgills' New Years Eve party. Lots of people were already there when we arrived and the roll call eventually included Alun Harries, Dave Bridges, Lilian Edwards, Anne Warren, Jimmy Robertson, Dave Hicks, Brian Parker, Peter-Fred Thompson, Christina Lake, Paul Kincaid, Alex Stewart, Pam Wells, Mike Dickinson, Jackie Gresham, Steve & Leah Higgins, Malcolm Davies, and Kate Solomon.

Greg Pickersgill, Lilian Edwards at NOVACON 15

It was a good party, and at one point I found myself talking to Jackie, who told me how much she hated the whole Auld Lang Syne bit, but then joined in with us at midnight anyway. She looked suitably sheepish when I later grinningly reminded her of our earlier conversation.

Patrick phoned the party from New York three times during the evening to keep us updated on the TAFF nomination situation, and tho' Gytha North's nominators had express-mailed theirs in under the deadline (as had Rich Coad in place of the missing Gibson nomination) nothing had turned up this side. I promised Patrick I'd get the TAFF ballot out the next day.

I retired before Avedon at around 2am. Leah being pregnant, Greg and Linda had given them the back upstairs room while Avedon and I had the front upstairs room with a *single* mattress, but this didn't matter. I slept like a log.