Tuesday 10th September


I had breakfast with the Clarkes and Steve Schultheis. Joy and Vince told me not to wander far from the hotel, as we would soon be leaving for Inchmery in a rented van. The rented van was to carry piles of books, magazines, tape equipment and like that back home.

The news that I intended to spend the weekend with the Liverpool mob had, apparently spread rapidly, for I had three separate and distinct offers of companionship: Steve Schultheis, GDA operator for the State of Ohio; Will Jenkins, the fan and then-President of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society; and Sheldon Deretchin, New York fan, to whom we later applied the affectionate appellation, "Soy Ugh!" The more, the merrier, thought I, and so I informed Dave Newman to prepare for a real orgy the coming weekend. Dave said, "Fear not. I shall obtain sufficient quarters for thee and thy cohorts". So saying, he provided me also with traveling information from London to Liverpool, making definite arrangements so we could be met at the train station Friday afternoon.

Dave Newman, Bob Madle

By this time, the van had arrived, and we were off for Inchmery. "We" being Joy, Sandy, the driver, and yours truly - Vince had hastened home so there would be somebody to greet us. He later confided that he had really left early so he could do some house-cleaning preparatory to the arrival of the TAFF delegate. They take TAFF delegates seriously at Inchmery - even old relic types.

We were finally off, with two of us bouncing about in the back of the van on forever-shifting piles of ASTOUNDINGs. Suddenly the van started to make all sorts of weird noises, jerked spasmodically, and stopped, The driver informed us that it appeared that the van had broken down and to wait right there while he relayed this information to headquarters and that they would have a replacement van there in practically no time. Disembarking, we found ourselves somewhere uptown in London - right in front of a gigantic monument. Unfortunately, I neglected to discover to what or to whom the monument was dedicated. However, I shall always remember that imposing structure of granite as being the monument dedicated to "Where the Van Broke Down On Its Way to Inchmery".

After about fifteen minutes, the driver informed us it would take longer than he had anticipated. So we proceeded to take colour photos of each other. I also walked up to the main drag - positioned myself in the middle of the street and took a photo of a smiling bobby, who condescendingly posed for me. After all, what is a trip to London without a photo of a bobby? I also got in a couple of a rather large stream called The Tems, or something like that.

The replacement van finally arrived and we managed to make it to Inchmery, the abode of the Clarkes and Sanderson. The affable trio lived in a second-floor apartment, with the main room functioning as kitchen, living room, library and reproduction (of fanzines, that is) department. Science fiction magazines, tape recorders, mimeographs, and typewriters were to be found everywhere. Behind the dining table was the majority of Vince's collection, which included early WONDERs, AMAZINGs, et cetera, They were so filed that it is conceivable that if an especially heavy truck were to go down the street while someone was eating his Wheaties, he might find his bowl partially covered with old WONDER Flakies. Anyway, the room had a real fannish atmosphere and Joy, Vince and Sandy made me feel at home immediately. As a matter of fact, Sandy was so kind that he gave me his bedroom and slept on the folding bed amidst all the magazines, tape recorders and typewriters.

It seemed that we had been home only a few minutes when Joy came in with a gigantic, steaming bowl of omelette, which was the most delicious omelette I had ever tasted. It seems that Joy is noted for her omelettes and, apparently, is also noted for fattening up her guests. Joy was forever placing food of some sort on the table - even to a full meal at midnight: No wonder I gained about ten pounds during my stay in England. Of course, several gallons per day of various hues of beer (light to dark) had something to do with it also.

Following dinner we listened to a very lengthy tape from Bob Bloch and Dean Grennell - most of which consisted of Bloch recounting his adventures at the Clevention. Then we all said nice things to Bloch and Grennell. I remember saying that Inchmery Fandom was sercon, and had old WONDERs in their kitchen to prove it. I used (and use) the term 'sercon' to mean "serious-constructive" in the broad sense, and not in the manner of implying scorn, as defined by Tucker and Raeburn. It seems that even if 'sercon' did originally mean something else, like many other words and terms, general usage has resulted in it meaning "serious-constructive".

That evening we had visitors. For this was the evening of "The Meeting at the Summit". The visitors were Walt and Madeleine Willis and Ken and Pamela Bulmer. This group, plus our quartet, made a jolly combined meeting of eight. The meeting was Ken's baby, and he had planned this so-called "Meeting at the Summit" to be somewhat different than what it finally materialized as. Ken's original plan was to have a meeting at the Loncon of himself, Walt and me. Ken had suggested that I invite several people who shared my opinions anent TAFF to attend. (He suggested Moskowitz and Ackerman.) This was so I wouldn't feel completely outnumbered in any TAFF discussion. However, plans of mice and men gang aft agley - and the meeting did not occur at the Loncon.

It was obvious from the start that the meeting would be a success, as everyone was happy and glowing and in compromising moods. The various facets of TAFF were hashed over, such as who may vote, who may be nominated, and who is a fan. My fading memory indicates that Joy and Vince were rather neutral about the whole thing, with Walt and me expressing somewhat conflicting views at times. In general, Walt's definition of an S-F fan was far more rigid than mine. Walt wanted to limit the voting to fanzine fans, publishers, and/or writers - while I wanted to include anyone who was interested enough in science fiction to communicate with others in some manner, be it correspondence, attending conventions, or joining local fan clubs. A compromise was reached whereby members of fan organisations of all types would be eligible; also eligible would be anyone who had subscribed to a fanzine. I felt these concessions were fair, and was fully satisfied.

Those of you who do not know Walt personally would find him to be a very enjoyable person - even though you might not agree with him at times. Walt is tall, handsome and seems to have a determined glare in his eyes, a glare which appears to give one the impression that this young man has a mission in life. His mission that evening was to keep TAFF from going to the dogs - ooops - convention fans and, I suppose, he knew that I represented a science fiction fandom much larger and more inclusive than fanzine fandom. Anyway, after much friendly discussion, a blueprint for TAFF was drawn up and agreed to. This blueprint was written up and published by Ken Bulmer in his OMPAzine, STEAM.


The convention was now over but there was still one final event to go. At some point during this day, the SF Luncheon Club (which was initially composed of John Wyndham, Frank Cooper, Ken Chapman and Les Flood) held a restaurant lunch at the Criterion Club in London's Piccadilly. This was a private affair not open to the general membership of the convention or officially associated with it whose purpose was to present the International Fantasy Award for Best Novel of 1956 to J.R.R. Tolkien for his then just completed LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. This had been voted the winner by an international panel of judges which included Forrest J Ackerman, Anthony Boucher, P. Schuyler Miller, Ted Carnell, and August Derleth. Tolkien did not attend the Worldcon itself, but he was talked into attending the luncheon. As Les Flood later recalled:

Jumping ahead to 1956 (regrettably the last award) and to the point of this letter, the fiction winner was J.R.R. Tolkien, whose RETURN OF THE KING had just completed the trilogy at the beginning of the world-wide acclaim which followed. As I.F.A secretary I managed to convince C.S. Lewis, another Oxford don and not unknown for his own fantasy books, to cajole his great friend Tolkien (both great ale drinkers) to attend a celebratory luncheon we were giving in his honour.
It's also possible that Lewis's wife, Joy Davidman, had as much to do with this as Flood since she had once been part of the London Circle of SF fans and a Thursday night regular at the White Horse and the Globe (see Sam Youd's piece in RELAPSE #17).

Those known to be present at the luncheon included Flood, Carnell, Ackerman, Arthur C. Clarke, Tolkien's publisher Stanley Unwin, and Clemence Dane (aka Winifred Ashton) a playwright and novelist who in the mid-1950s edited a series of science fictional 'Novels of Tomorrow' (and who attended the final meeting at the White Horse before the London Circle moved to the Globe). It was she who apparently presented the award to Tolkien. Les Flood again:

Unfortunately there was no photographer present on this occasion but I relish the memory of the bemused expression on the distinguished man's face when receiving the spaceship... These were in the form of a pre-Strek style spaceship on a plinth with a cigarette-lighter (quite inappropriate really for some of the previous winning titles).
This particular year the metal IFA rocketships were used for both the IFA and the Hugos, the design of these being based - according to Ted Carnell - on the ship shown on the Bonestell cover for the Feb. 1951 issue of GALAXY. Carnell later recalled the luncheon in YANDRO #122 (March 1963, ed. Buck Coulson):

Tolkien, incidentally, protested quite strongly about receiving the award in 1957 and was not at all keen to travel to London to receive it. He did appear, however, and seemed completely vague as to what the whole thing was about and was only too pleased to retreat to his college and apparently forget all about the occasion.