Saturday 31st March


Saturday morning I was up for breakfast - having taken the precaution of dragging my alarm-clock along - after which I took up where I'd left off.

Walt Willis, Larry Shaw, Lee Hoffman, Ted Tubb, Peter Hamilton, Ted Carnell (avc)

I met Anne Steul who looked as jolly as she'd been painted. All sorts of Transatlantic types were now in evidence, too. Lee Hoffman, of course - who looked nothing at all like a BNF, or even like an ex-BNF. Looked in fact, like nothing more sensational than a perfectly normal specimen of healthy American girlhood. Larry Shaw, who had just scooped world fandom by marrying her, looked exactly like the typical Englishman's idea of a typical American. Dave Kyle, on the other hand, looked more like the typical American's idea of a typical Englishman than anything. Ellis Mills just looked gently Transatlantic.

Arthur Thomson, Jan Jansen, Anne Steul, Ellis Mills. Cathie Youden

Came 11 am - Con Opening Time. Came 11 something am - people began drifting towards the Con hall. Not so very much later, opened indeed she was. We were all warmly welcomed to the Con on behalf of etc etc etc, everybody stood up singly or in groups as they were commanded from the platform,- then the first programme item was announced - Mr Carr giving a demonstration of his hypnotic Powers.


The most significant thing about this year's Con at Kettering was the fact that none of the Kettering fans attended the Con. This is as far as can be ascertained at the moment, but we did see Denny Cowan for a very short time on Sunday, but he was obviously 'just passing thru'.

As far as the official programme was concerned, this year it was adhered to as near as advertised in the programme. It could have started on time, but so as not to start a fannish precedent it was allowed to commence at half-past eleven with general intros and a slight change in programme to allow Harry Powers more time for his demonstration of Hypnotism, which was the first item on the programme. This demonstration was an outstanding success - so I'm told - but Harry had some difficulty in persuading quite a few of his subjects to remain under the influence at first and he therefore called for more volunteers of which I was one. Apparently I went under quite fast, and to those who have never been hypnotised I can assure you that it is a weird experience - but nothing to be scared about - not to have full control over ones actions but at the same time being able to remember and be aware of all that is going on. The effect of a final suggestion that I should stop smoking had an effect for four hours would probably have lasted longer had I been anywhere but at a Con.

unknown, Renee MacKay, Ina Shorrock, John Roles, Jan Jansen, 'Harry Powers', John Brunner


Eric was unable to watch the entire hypnotic session as he was under the influence most of the time. Harry wound up with two subjects well under and was able to provide an interesting exhibition. The other subjects were slow to respond and as it is poor form to keep the audience waiting, Harry put them through a few simple stunts and then brought them out to watch Eric and Hal Kennedy. Eric was a new subject and not as responsive as Hal who had been hypnotized on previous occasions. The power of post-hypnotic suggestion was demonstrated with Harry awakening his subjects several times and putting them under again with a snap of his fingers and a chord on the guitar. Eric's attempt to quit smoking via post-hypnotic suggestion probably failed for several reasons, the eagerness of many of the attendees to discover if the prohibition on lighting a cigarette held good and their frequent attempts to test him gradually wearing down the suggestion. We react to suggestion at all times regardless of whether it is given by a hypnotist or not.


As one who is bored stiff by all forms of parlour tricks and circus acts, I slipped hastily out of the back way as though I was going to the toilet. This was a tactical error, because I now found myself stuck in what seemed to be a blind alley. So I sat down on a convenient couch and started reading the Combozine, until a couple of maids appeared from the direction labelled "Ladies," and obligingly conducted me out by way of the back-stairs region. Eventually finding my way back to the Bar, I discovered myself fannishly all alone except for Ken McIntyre. I was talking to him when yet another Transatlantic accent pulled up a chair and said it remembered Fandom from last year. It did indeed - for it belonged to no other than Dick Zaremba, one of the most prominent members of last year's Floorcon. However, he couldn't stay this time and soon made tracks. Then the Con came out, and everybody adjourned for a meal.


After lunch we strolled back to the George and I popped into the Collectors Shop to see if Bruce Kidd had left me any MADs. First person I saw in the shop was Pete Taylor trying on a Fight Lieutenant's moustache for size. I don't know which Fight Lieutenant's moustache it was, but it looked mighty awful on Pete. The shopkeeper was mildly surprised when I told him I was after MAD and POGO and said he didn't know if there were any left as there had been an unusual rush on them that morning!

Bill Harrison, Frank Milnes and future wife Pat Doolan, Ted Carnell. (ns)


After lunch the Pro-Editors panel held sway for an hour and the thing most discussed was the art-work in British SF zines. Ted Carnell informed us that he was intending to gradually decrease the amount of illos in NEW WORLDS and SCIENCE FANTASY due to the fact that good artists were not forthcoming. AUTHENTIC is dropping a number of its factual articles (not before time either) and is changing its title from 'AUTHENTIC SCIENCE fiction monthly' to 'AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION monthly' in the near future.

The next item on the programme was the Liverpool Group's tapepic "LAST AND FIRST FEN" which ran for fifty minutes. In conjunction with this tape all around the hall were displayed the most excellent etchings of scenes from the tape....Attila the Fan...Bonnie Prince Hamilton. . . .A poster proclaiming "Hear and Thrill to the exploits of Robin Shorrock and His Merry Fen!". The tape itself went back through the ages to the time of Cleopatra and Mark Fantony and came up to the future when Fen would travel - or would they ???- to Mars. The tape was excellent as is typical of the most active group in the country. However, this will be the last tape they will make unless they get some competition from other sources next year, so I'll take this opportunity to urge that everyone who has access to a tape recorder should make some effort for the World Con next year...I'm hoping to bring one from the Cheltenham Group.


This was the longest they've had so far - rather too long, actually, I thought. I was rather more strategically seated this time, so I managed to catch about two-thirds of the words instead of the usual half. I can never honestly say I've ENJOYED a Liverpool tape in the hall, because hall acoustics are wicked, and it's a very real strain trying to make something of the mixed voices that tumble over each other's heels out of the loudspeaker. Pity I missed the repeat in the lounge. However, I'll be able to read it all later in TRIODE, I suppose.

Following the tape, there was a session of two minute speeches on set subjects drawn from a hat. Volunteers were plentiful, and I think I'm right in saying that the only one who actually failed and had to forfeit the shilling to TAFF was Peter Reaney - and he was irked because they wouldn't let him choose his own subject to talk about. The most fluent speech, I think, came from Anne Steul. Ken Bulmer hit on the idea of saying one word per second, timing himself by a clock held conspicuously in front of him - which he abandoned half way through. with the "discovery" that it wasn't working anyway and carried on as normal. Alan Burns' discourse was interrupted by Paul Hammett prostrating himself at his feet, banging his head (his own, stupid) (I mean "his own head, stupid," not "his own stupid head.") on the floor, and begging for his autograph in the Combozine. (He got it too.) Eventually everything petered out (including Reaney) round about tea-time.

'Two Minutes Please' audience. (ns)


"Two Minutes, Please" caused a great deal of mirth from the audience when volunteers stepped up to the platform to pit their wits against the clock and the Committee to speak for two minutes on such subjects as 'What do do with an Empty Bottle'"...''Money is the root of all evil" ... "The Inner Rot" ... "The Ever-Diminishing Spiral".... Norman Wansborough spoke on "The Inner meaning of Symbolic Art'".


It must have been sometime during Saturday that Norman Wansborough cornered me in the Devil's Kitchen and waxed enthusiastic over the wonderful sf-type bargains to be had at a nearby second-hand shop. "Pity you didn't see if they had a second hand duplicator while you were there," I told him. "Do you know," he exulted, "I never thought of that. I'll go and see right now." And headed forthwith out of the hotel again. I fear he was unlucky though. (These quotes are strictly quasi of course.)

After tea I brought down the gramophone and some records and got another jazz session going. Shirley Marriott contributed some records to the heap and for several hours thereafter there was always a group of fen on the platform listening. My gramophone isn't really loud enough to fill the hall with music - at least not when people are talking and things - I favour organised room-sessions at any future Con. The London Circle Punch-Party came and went, we all got drunk; eventually I think they started an auction and the gramophone was evacuated.


The auction took place with John Greengrass starting off. Although he doesn't have Ted's power to make you buy something you don't want, he comes a close second. Ted took over halfway through but soon abandoned the whole thing through lack of support. I think there were less than a dozen fen in the hall at that time! So we trooped into the Basket Lounge for the Liverpool Group's 'party'. Not many of us recognised it as a party; it reminded me of just another (slightly enlarged) evening at the Globe. A smaller room may have be the answer. There were about five different groups - one listening to the latest pops on Peter Hamilton's gramophone, the others sharing the few bottle openers there were. The Liverpool Group themselves arrived after half an hour in fancy dress. Damn good some of it too. The biggest attraction was the ATOM BEM.

[Not to be confused with the Atom Bomb. For the benefit of any youngsters reading this, BEM = Bug Eyed Monster, with this one being based on those drawn by Arthur 'Atom' Thomson for various fanzines - Rob]

Eric Bentcliffe (as a vampire?), NEBULA editor Peter Hamilton, Eric Jones.


I now had four people's records in my room - my own, John Brunner's, Geoff's and Shirley's. I think the only "independent" phonographically speaking was Peter Hamilton, who'd brought a hand-wound model to play his on. (Mine's electric and three-speed to boot). Then I went off to don my tabard constructed of quote-cards, pick up my "Goldentone" toy trombone with hanging banner attached, and join the Liverpool Fancy-Dress Party in the guise of the "Fantasy Herald."

Except that quite a number of the participants - mainly from Liverpool, but several from elsewhere, were in fancy dress, this Party was a strictly routine fan-party. Eric Jones' Big Bem costume was the high-spot, other notabilities being Ina Shorrock (painted green all over - virtually so - as a Krishnan), husband Norman as a sort of fannish Robin Hood in a Davy Crockett hat complete with motor-powered propeller.

Archie had failed to notice that most of the Liverpool fans were dressed as characters from their taped play 'Last and First Fen', Norman being attired as Robin Shorrock. That play - and more photos of the Liverpool Group in costume - at the link:

LAST AND FIRST FEN (audio and transcript)

And of course Peter Reaney as Rita Peaney. With the very minimum of props - a cloth round his thighs and a headscarf mainly - he looked extremely effective. The only trouble was that They kept slipping.

'Rita Peaney' and unknown

Everybody circulated and acted fannish - until the advent of the Great Procession.


Ellis went back to the Royal before the Liverpool party had really got under way - which was about 9 – 9.30 on Saturday evening. Unlike previous years (and quite rightly too) Liverpool did not purchase drinks for the party, but left it to attendees to bring their own or order it from Boris who was on constant duty throughout the night with his perpetual good humour, fast service for beer and tea etc. Eventually the Liverpool group made their appearance in costumes ranging from Vikings and Norsemen to Egyptian beauties, harem maids, green goddesses, and Norman Shorrock wore a most weird rigout which comprised a Davy Crockett hat complete with a powered propeller. Yours truly appeared as a genuine Atom Bem which was complete with facilities to imbibe liquor, food and even smoke. Archie Mercer's regalia as 'Fandom's Herald' included a dress made of stencil backing sheets on each of which were quotes such as .... 'Yngvi is a Scouse - Because he makes you wear Fancy dress"

Cleopatra (Renee MacKay), Marc Fantony (Stan Nuttall), Bem (Eric Jones), Vampire (Eric Bentcliffe).

Pat Doolan, Peter Hamilton (jr).

Approximately at this point, the Manager of the George came around persuading all non-residents to leave the Hotel. Most fen who were staying at the Royal did so without protest but a few managed to remain at the party.


I shall have to let Eric describe the party at the George as I spent the latter part of the evening at the other hotel. About nine-thirty several of us went over to the Royal and dropped into Vince and Joy's room for a drink. As the evening wore on our spy reported that the Residents Lounge was clear of native life and we aliens transferred our base of operations. With more room the party expanded. Jan Jansen brought out his Phlegmish typewriter and suggested that we put out a one-shot. He started it by introducing everyone that was in the room at the time. Unfortunately we could not keep up with the influx of fen and our record of attendance at this party must forever be incompleat. The party was very quiet until the masqueraders from the George arrived.


* link

It's funny how you can look at a photo many times yet miss what's staring you in the face. Case in point is the first one above, which shows Ina in the viking/valkyrie costume she wore at the first Cytricon in 1955 alongside Pat Doolan... in the costume she wore at this Cytricon in 1956. So far as I can determine Pat wasn't at the 1955 con, so this has to have been taken in 1956. Either Ina wore her 1955 costume at some point during the 1956 convention - if so it's impossible to determine at what point from extant reports - or this was a photo shoot in Liverpool before the con. Either way, it's nice to see it got more use.

The second photo above shows Ina in the costume she wore for the 1956 fancy dress - a green skinned Krishnan *. Had she employed it, which she probably didn't, it would have been the first use of body paint at a UK con. This wasn't her only costume since she and Shirley Marriott showed up in grass skirts at a party on Sunday night.

Ina Shorrock was the UK's most dedicated early costumer, so her choosing to wear more than one costume at a con comes as no surprise.

- Rob Hansen

Ina Shorrock - Fannish Superwoman


* From L. Sprague de Camp. Krishna is one of the main planetary settings in his Viagens Interplanetarias series, which started in Astounding in 1949, with books appearing from 1951 onward.

- Dave Langford


The story of the Great Procession deserves to go down for all time in fannish history. Somebody ought to collect recollections from those involved before it's too late - my angle isn't half of it. Actually, there were two processions. The first was merely a sort of circular tour through the bar-lounge, round by the back exit and in again through the front door.(If you haven't seen Eric Jones in his Big Bem costume navigating the revolving door, you haven't LIVED - as the saying goes.) Anyway, it was sometime after this preliminary that somebody got the wonderful idea "This is the George - let's parade to the Royal and let the overflow have a look at us." As before I was detailed off to lead the procession, being the nearest thing to a marching band on the premises. It would have been better if I'd been able to PLAY That Thing of course - but I did my best. About which, I think, the less said the better. At any rate I provided a noise about which the milling masqueraders were able to rally - which I suppose was the main thing.

Milling masqueraders Renee MacKay, Stan Nuttall, John Roles, Norman Shorrock, Archie Mercer (ejc)

The Procession assembled in the inn yard. Things kept trying to delay us - first somebody wanted to take a photograph, then several fen got cold feet. For a moment it seemed as if the Great March would be abandoned before it started. Then a counter-cry went up - "To the Royal!" "To the Woods!" came the echo - but "To the Royal!" won. Ken Slater ably marshalled the happy band, I was told to march, and I marched. On the trombone I could - if lucky - strike the notes for four jazz-type marches, or notes somewhat approximate thereto: 'Gettysburg', 'The Saints', 'Maryland', and my favourite, 'Oh Didn't He Ramble'. So I did, and distracted only by Burgess headed boldly up the Road for the Royal. Behind me came the Procession. Across the road by the fish-and-chip shop we went, along past the post office, past two policemen who never said a word, finally to bring up short against the Royal Hotel's main entrance. I pushed in, made sure that at least somebody was following me, then asked them which way. "Upstairs," I was told. So, blowing again, I went. "Second floor," said someone, so I started up the next flight. I was promptly called down again, to join the huddle on the landing in a sort of helpless "dissaway-dattaway" argument. It was there that the Manager found us, and peremptorily ordered us off the premises. Being a craven at heart I went. So did we all, I think. We were allowed, however, to retreat with full military honours, and to the stirring (in more than one sense) of 'Maryland, my Maryland', I piped the Procession back to the George - and a resumption of the Liverpool Party.

In retrospect, I wonder if blowing my trumpet INSIDE the Royal was a mistake? On the face of it, it probably was. Devil of it is, I could not truthfully say whether I actually DID blow it there! Knowing myself as I do, I am reluctantly forced to the conclusion that I probably did. Pity.


The hotel manager came up and raised a terrific outcry, "We don't want any Bloody Circus in here!" This ruined the even tenor of the party momentarily. We soon ejected the manager and settled down again. It was a typical fannish party with clusters of fen in corners and along the walls and sprawled out on the floor. Of course there was a fan crawling on hands and knees out along the corridors to his room, to return triumphantly clutching a bottle. The party collapsed about 0230 with Jansen and Needham on the floor finishing the third page of the one-shot.


Going back to the George was a little easier - I had the wind behind me. From this point onwards things began to get a little hazy...I recall a mundane local (whose kite was flying high) pestering all fen with the question "Are you a frumious-Wunkered Quat? Or a wunkered-Frumious Quat?" He seemed satisfied with the reply that I was a Quattered Frumious Wunk from the Fourth Dimension and that I would haunt him in his dreams.

Things moved ever onward, some of the Liverpool party returned to semi-normal dress whilst I made my way around the Hotel, dropping in at Room 12a to hear Dan Morgan's taper run through the 'Last and First Fen' epic again. Somewhere around this point they almost had to call in the Fire Brigade as I took one step backwards into a gas fire and the base of the Bem outfit caught fire. Fortunately Frank Milnes was present (to whom I owe a very real debt) and quickly put out the inferno. Thank Ghod they are altering all the room heating to electric (guarded) fires during the renovation . After this I moved along to Norman Shorrock's room - the number of which evades me at the moment - where, for a brief spell we held a semi-roof con (the first since the Bonnington in 1953) but as it was so damned cold we soon came back inside. I ought to mention at this point that Dan Morgan had inveigled one of the receptionists at the Hotel to join us - a thing which proved to be very interesting...... Events thereafter moved swiftly.

I recall Dave Newman getting rigged up in the Bem outfit.... falling down completely flat in one of the corridors and being unable to get up....(that there Bem outfit is a mighty difficult thing to handle without tuition and a few trial runs)... Boris got drinks .... Boris got coffee, and about that time I got to bed.