THE THIRD CONVENTION (1939)The Third Convention, like the Second Convention before it, was held in the Ancient Order of Druid's Memorial Hall on London's Lamb's Conduit Street, on May 21st, 1939. This was about 150 yards from 88 Gray's Inn Road aka 'The Flat', later to be the celebrated abode of Arthur C.Clarke, Bill Temple, and Maurice K.Hanson. AOD Memorial Hall would be destroyed in a German bombing raid on 10th May 1941.
These are the only known accounts of the convention. THE SATELLITE text supplied by Greg Pickersgill, SCIENCE FANTASY REVIEW text supplied by Alistair Durie.
There were reportedly around forty people present, but these are the only names we can be sure of.
TED CARNELL PRESENTS
CONVENTION PARADE !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sunny morn after cloudy night before---must be forty odd other fans scattered about the country who feel as tired as I do after yesterday's (May 21) London Convention, for many of them who had to return to the Provinces couldn't have reached home much before the milk.
Physical reaction---throat like a rasp, voice like a bag of rusty nails (two tones below normal), kaleidoscopic eyesight, pumpkin head (not normal), and a backache like none of your business. Mental reaction - to Hades with the aches and pains, it was a swell turnout.
Strange how easy it is to build up a mental pic of distant fans, simply by corresponding with them, reading their articles and/or publications. Can clairvoyantly read their characters by their thoughts. Stranger still how unlike those mental images they turn out to be when eventually met in the raw.
Had previously met the two Liverpool song-birds Dave McBurke and John McIlwain, but still can't place which is which, names or faces. I had four tries at hitting correctly, but each time they answered with a kind of Flotsam and Jetsam chorus "I'm Johnny, I'm Davy, go fall in a plate of gravy" so I gave it up as a bad job. John, (or perhaps it's Dave), is the tall guy, six feet of sandy nothingness , and Dave (or is it John) is the one with the Hulbertlike jaw. (ED --The mug's wrong)
Having successfully unravelled that problem, I. was introduced in rapid succession to Frank Wilson, Southport; Phil Hetherington, Northumberland; Ronnie Holmes and Eddie Ducker, Liverpool, and then made fourteen guesses at the next face in line with my eyesight. The mystery cleared with a flourish of a pile of FANTASTs. It was CSYoud from Hampshire. I forgot to personally compliment Sam on the production of his new fanmag, so I'm doing it here, and hope that he will continue to bring it out as often as he can.
However, NONE OF THE FANS were at all how I imagined they would be - Heaven only knows what they thought I would be like, but I can well imagine their surprise and disappointment.
I paid a rapid visit to the Flat, to collect The Gang, and found George Ellis and Eric Needham of Manchester browsing on the carpet, what's left of it. A vision of Librarian Harry Kay staggering along under a two-ton payload of books was the next reminder that this was The Day. Back at the joint, G.W.Axworthy of Portsmouth, Mr Rookes of Axminster, Charnock L.V. Walsby Heald, the Jekyll and Hyde of Liverpool, and most of the London crowd had arrived.
Afternoon session was enlivened by Art Clarke's competition between a team of Londoners versus a team of Provincial members, in a general knowledge questionnaire. The out-of-towners won by two points, but the cat-calls and barracking from the audience drowned any attempt at seriousness.
During the interval, several groups formed, the main one being centred around Walt Gillings, always a drawing card at any gathering...Bill Temple fainted when I bought him a lemonade...Maurice Hugi will faint when he reads this, because I have forgotten to mention him yet. How could I forget such a trivial thing? Other authors arriving then were D.J. Foster, and Mr Edwards, whose initials and correct name I. have forgotten.(ED - John, we think?)
W.J. Passingham and Professor Low arrived almost at the same time. Professor Low mentioned to me that he hadn't a single thing ready to speak about, but gave us a 40 minute interesting talk upon many ideas and inventions, Mr. Passingham also was devoid of notes, but he very quickly worked out some while other speakers were talking, and delivered some very useful advice to would-be authors.
I've often sighed at the thought of our Los Angeles friends having the privilege of sharing quite famous authors at their gatherings. I'm afraid that I have become so accustomed to the friendliness of our own celebrities that I have almost ceased to look upon them as such. Both Prof. Low and Mr Passingham are genuinely interested in stf, and it was quite evident that they thoroughly enjoyed their evening with us. Professor Low overstaying his time by nearly an hour.
Of the other new authors we met for the first time, several joined the Association, as well as a number of new London visitors enrolling also.
It is almost impossible to catalogue the course of events during the Supper. The constantly shifting people, the discussions, the interesting items Mr, Passingham was telling Ken and I, but above all the general air of enjoyment that was prevalent throughout the entire proceedings was a fitting setting to what was literally my swan song to active fandom. As from the Convention and this column, I am dropping out of the over-active side of fandom and becoming just another London fan. NEW WORLDS will continue to appear, as already stated, quarterly, and I shall of course still be present to upset the regular London meetings.
With fandom well on the up-grade in this country, I hope, SFA members will support Sam Youd's new fanmag FANTAST. (ED - We back that - see page 2 for details) Both the FANTAST and SATELLITE have our best wishes - but they want YOUR SUPPORT, Material and contributions - you know where to send them.
Until the next convention ....Adios.
CONVENTIONTIME AT FANOPOLIS - Fantacynic (Sam Youd)By devious routes and in all things from aeroplane to perambulator a little over forty fans converged on Fanopolis for the Annual Convention. No credence should be placed in the rumour now prevalent that Manchester and Leeds members commandeered a tube train and went off; ostensibly ghoul-hunting, but actually in an attempt to undermine the House of Commons. Phillip S. Hetherington, a devoted Tory is particularly annoyed about this low statement which is so typical of the lying tittle-tattle spread by our more juvenile members... blah... blah... blah...
Under the austerely beautiful arch of Euston Station, Youd of Simpshire found the Liverpool contingent. He complains that, although he asked for a mark of identification to be shown, the ostentatious waving of a dozen or so Brundage covers and the singing of "Here Come the Men with the Jive" was carrying things a little too far. On the way to Lambs Conduit Street, Frank Wilson mentioned that his typing had gone to pieces *lately*. His correspondents first ascertained that he was not. joking, and then dumped him in a phone booth labelled "I.R.A. Bomb. Hold under water for ten minutes". There are things before which the strongest mind must quail.
Despite having two guides who "knew the way by heart", the Liverpool party eventually reached haven to find that no-one else had yet arrived. Someone with more loquacity than common sense showed Macinpain an organ and the rest hastily retired. When he had put his feet through the innards, however, a return was made.
Some hours later business was commenced. At least, plans were presented during intervals between personal attacks on J. F. Burke and personal attacks on the "Satellite". While our younger members gazed on in open admiration. Congratulations to Mr. Chapman on sinking his dignity and letting various people know what he thought of them! This looks like being fun!
After Ted Carnell had bribed those members still awake, the accounts were passed and the Library report given. This disclosed that we have now almost complete sets of sets of of Edgar Allen Poe, Ethel M. Dell and false teeth, together with 3 1/2d. in cash and a photograph of Wollheim. This last was raffled, after which the Library fund, amounted to 5 3/4d. and 1/2 cent. We hear that the lucky winner is some relation to Mr. Ripley.
The interval is notable only for the facts that someone preferred Fearn to Taine, and Bill Temple made a successful attempt to prove the old adage about a stomach only holding three pints utterly wrong. To Mr. Tucker I might mention that Temple's capacity for beer is not a sign of adolescence, but one of the Wonders of the World.
We had Celebrities. Dear Old Celebrities! Mr. Heald and Mr. Hugi attacking modern science-fiction; Mr. Gillings attacking American-science-fiction; Dr. Low attacking science-fiction in general. The "more juvenile and excitable members" sat back in awe, remembering the afternoon appeal to regard bad science-fiction as non-existent. I think their bewilderment was pardonable.
Just about then our Ambitious Poet had to return to darkest Simpshire. He has since told me that he was sorry to leave so early because of a question he wanted to lay before the Committee. The question is: "Can worms ride bicycles?" Strange as it may seem, there are people who hold that worms can *not* ride bicycles - these being the inevitable opponents to science progress and Professor Low's scheme for murder by rocket. They argue from the point that since no worm bicycles have been invented, worms cannot ride them. I will not point out the obvious fallacy.
When the last Celebrity had finally snuffed out, things happened. First, it was noticed that some cowled figures were mingling with the Fans, these were discovered to be Druids who had got lost in a warp, and the A.O.D. for Stonehenge. A sacrifice was demanded, as John Russell Fearn was unfortunately absent and Dr. Low had cleared off. Arthur Clarke was chosen. His entrails were found to reveal that it would be hot and dry with a deep depression over 88 Gray's Inn Road. We then adjourned for eats and found that Fantaspoet had taken back with him 50% of the Library and 75% of the food. Legal proceedings are in process.
Instead, we wandered off to Gray's Inn Road and ate A.C.C.'s supper. After all, since that neat bit of knifery on the part of the Arch-Druid (he doesn't like Fearn either, by the way) he had nowhere to put it. Bill Temple asked if he could have the unused stomach, to build onto his own for the greater consumption of alcoholic liquor. The other consumers objected to this strongly as an unfair advantage.
Eventually the time came for departing, though Portsmouthite Mr. British-Citizen- minus-a-meal (Axworthy), had to be driven out with ray-guns. In the early hours of the morning the little twinkling stars gazed limpidly down on scattered groups of fans stolidly tramping home, busless and tramless. Who said "Blast Conventions, anyway"?
From THE SATELLITE, June 1939, Vol 2 No 6, ed. John F. Burke
|SCIENCE FANTASY REVIEW:|
FAN CLANS GATHERING
CONVENTION SUCCESS BRITISH FANDOM scored another outstanding triumph with the success of the third SFA Convention held in London. An imposing array of celebrities, very strong Provincial representation and great enthusiasm marked the occasion.
The afternoon session, given over to the Association's private business was quickly and satisfactorily dealt with, several changes in the personnel of the Executive receiving confirmation. It was hoped on all sides that accelerated progress would result. Professor Low was again elected President, the other nomination being Walter H. Gillings, Editor of TALES OF WONDER.
Evening provided the highlight of the proceedings. A crowded platform gave the large gathering of members and friends (including several ladies) over three hours varied entertainment, such well-known personalities as Professor Low, W.J. Passingham, author of several s-f serials, and W.H. Gillings giving addresses, while. M.G. Hugi and Charnock Walsby - s-f authors Ted Carnell, SFA Treasurer, BIS Clarke and F.J. Arnold - leading fans - added congratulations.
The three main speakers each asked for a more moderate policy than is being pursued at present in USA, pleading for plausible rather than fantastic stories.
Professor Low opened the proceedings by pointing out that s-f repelled the ordinary English public by asking them to believe what they deemed to be impossible; yet if we gave them more familiar everyday objects and associations we could build up s-f story interest quite as intriguing and yet far more plausible than the spate of yarns we have to-day. Until this step were taken s-f would make no material advance in this country.
W.H.Gillings pursued the same point, although not prepared to go as far as Prof. Low. Yet he admitted the public had to be weaned on simple stories before we could attempt to approach the high level of 1930. He sincerely hoped we would never deteriorate to the level of present US stories and promised to do his utmost to keep TALES OF WONDER on the right path.
W.J. Passingham followed up with the view that the average s-f yarn was little better than a fairy tale, because it was just as impossible. To put over fiction at all you must be convincing and accurate, So he insisted s-f should be this also, giving personal examples from his own experience to prove his point. He suggested that as editors knew their public best the only way to be a successful writer was to write to
K.G. Chapman, former Executive Secretary, dropped a bombshell at the 1939 Convention by revealing that recent changes in SFA personnel were precipitated by backbiting and insulting remarks freely indulged in by certain members.
Officials had no objection to honest criticism, but recent methods made it impossible for them to continue as before.
This position is strongly deprecated by S-F REVIEW. If honest opinions cannot be aired without becoming objectionable, personal and vindictive and then developing into an underground whispering campaign there is something wrong somewhere - either in the SFA itself or its members. Criticisms, yes; but insults, no!
SFR will exert its right to criticise. It will do so without fear or favour, whenever truth is discovered that ought to be made public we shall endeavour to do so no matter how unpleasant it may be; that is our duty to s-f fans, authors and editors; and if any of our remarks may seem on occasion to tend towards personal insult we tender our apologies for such is not the policy of the Editor even though it may be that of certain contributors - or would-be contributors. Comment, too, we shall make but always in the interest of Truth and our Search for a Better Tomorrow.
But calumny we abhor together with its employers; we know a few axioms concerning those to whom it is not pleasant to listen, and whose writings do not make easy reading. Our principles forbid us revealing their names.
From SCIENCE FANTASY REVIEW #2, May 1939, Liverpool SFA.
Had World War Two not intervened there would almost certainly have been a convention
that year. Where might it have been held? Well, someone had thrown their hat in the ring...
Had World War Two not intervened there would almost certainly have been a convention that year. Where might it have been held? Well, someone had thrown their hat in the ring...
1940 LIVERPOOL'S TURN?
Liverpool was the best represented provincial branch at the Convention, no less than six members making the journey to the metropolis. This show very strongly supports our claim to run the next Convention, and if we do achieve that honour all in our power will be done to make it the best ever.
Merseyside possesses much fine talent, the cream of which we hope to rope in for the fans entertainment.
From SCIENCE FANTASY REVIEW #3, June 1939, Liverpool SFA.