Sunday March 29thJORDAN:
Sunday morning, which everyone spent chattering in the lounge, and passing round photos of the '58 Cytricon. A few of us went collecting hotel stationery, and found some photographic slicks, we loaned them to Norman Wansborough - they were never seen again.
The official programme began at 11.30 a.m. with the A.G.M. of the B.S.F.A.
After a congratulatory telegram had been read - from Dick Eney - and extracts from a letter by Bob Madle (Kt.S.F.), who wished the first B.S.F.A. Convention well, Eric Bentcliffe gave the assembly his report of the year's progress since the inception of the organisation at Kettering last year. He said that between 500 to 1000 members would be needed before the Association became an effective force in Science Fiction. Up until the Convention membership stood at 112 ( we may be in slight error here ). Archie Mercer gave us a breakdown on expenses over the nine months; 11 per cent of which was devoted to advertising, mainly in New Worlds and Flying Review. During the discussion later, Ken Slater suggested coding the advertisements in order to ascertain their effectiveness. Terry Jeeeves gave his report on B.S.F.A. Publications, and the New Worlds Index was on sale to members at the Con. The Galaxy Checklist (or Index) will be forthcoming soon.
Then came the Election of Officers for 1959-60. This culminated in the following: Ken Slater - Chairman. Dr. Arthur R. Weir - Secretary. Archie Mercer - Treasurer. Roberta Wild - Publications (assisted by Sandra Hall).
Bob Richardson (for the Convention Committee) stated that the profits of the convention (up until that time) stood at £8. (At the end of the Convention this was amended to £12 for the whole Con.) This would be handed over to the Con Committee for next year as a 'float', but on the understanding that the TAFF Delegate's Hotel Expenses (B & B ) would be paid for by that Committee (this was after a preposition by Ron Bennett to that effect).
The only objection to this seemed to be travelling distance from the south. 'New Worlds' was voted the best British SF magazine, 'Astounding' the best US magazine, and 'Triode' the best British fanzine. 'Aporrheta' tied with 'Hyphen' for 2nd place.
By unanimous vote ALL the past year's S-F FILMS fell into the category of "The Worst S-F Film of the Year".
After lunch there was a talk by Doc. Weir. This had, for its subject, the legend of the lost continent of Atlantis, and when Terry Jeeves said at the end of the discussion that he had been changed from a sceptic to a believer, he just about summed up the feelings of the majority of Doc Weir's audience.
'Doc' Weir himself, however, began his talk with a disclaimer - he said that there was not an atom of real proof that Atlantis ever existed at all, and that it was his personal opinion that it did not - however, he continued by presenting an entertaining theory which left us all wondering whether there was, after all, somethihg in the old legend.
Doc's talk was followed by Fantasy Free, when tapes were played of a talk given by Eric Jones on S-F to the International Friendship League in Cheltenham, and Liverpool's famed 'Last and First Fen'.
About then, I helped judge the artwork competition with Eric Jones, Ella and Norman Shorrock. First place was gained by Terry Jeeves, second by Eddie Jones, an entry under the enigmatic signature of R.E.D, took third, this later turned out to be Bob Richardson hisself, Ron announced the results of his TAFF raffle for four prozine cover paintings. We were content by now to settle down and listen to a replay of the tape epic 'Last and First Fan' - which hadn't lost anything for being heard a second time.
This was a terrific laff from beginning to end, Jhim and I were killing ourselves laughing at it. It seems to me that as long as fandom can produce such terrifically inspired zaniness from it's own background then that's a sufficient raison d'etre for fandom.
In the evening there was a final auction during which several cover paintings were donated to TAFF. One of these, donated originally by its artist, Jack Wilson, was auctioned off no fewer than six times.
This was supposed to be all the rubbish they couldn't sell at the first one. Maybe it's just me.... but all the things I wanted came up at this auction. A painting by a well known Fan fetched the most, chiefly because it was returned for resale so often. Ron who was holding a TAFF auction, was really having trouble finding new ways of describing it, he was really stuck for words....! And when Ron's stuck for words! I think he was holding it upside down when he finally sold it.
These auctions were followed by a lengthy and interesting programme of fan films which included the Liverpool groups offerings, "May We Have The Pleasure?' and films of the Brussels Exhibition, London Convention films and two films by the Cheltenham Group, one of which, "The Test", was straight sf and will be entered in the best amateur films of the year.
Now we were ready for the film-show. We saw Cheltenham's film "The Test", which was very well received. I don't want to sound snobbishy but because it was so acceptable to a SF oriented crowd I think it will be largely lost to the general public, just as commercial sf movies seem so.... to people who read sf, We'll see, anyhow. We also saw some fannish movies which I'd seen before at the Worldcon, they were definitely worth seeing again. Some of the cracks were fabulous. I think the one I enjoyed most was the one that described John Roles. as a "student of Oriental pornography".
Jhim had to leave just before the end of the films, There was supposed to have been a party in Ella's room but I kept hearing different accounts of where it had been moved to. I decided to stay in the Conhall and talk to Norman about jazz.
A party was planned for Ella's room, but was diverted to that of Terry Jeeves, as some mundane type had moved in across from Ella. The party didn't suffer though, I enjoyed it. Alan fell under the bed and went to sleep ....Burgess called with a bottle of milk .... Jack Wilson and Ken MacIntyre fought bitterly over a seat, compromised by sharing it.... Archie was fascinated by my permanantly miserable, expression .... Alan woke up and began reading prozines.... and on,and on.
At the insistence of Ina Shorrock, we all moved down to the conhall, and drifted. I sat a while with Bobbie and Archie, helping Bobbie to try and explain the difference between the various breeds of apples to Archie. Mention of apgles brought on Bobbie's illness again and Alan had to revive her with a meat pie. A while later, Alan and I took to the corridors with George Locke, On the way out of the conhall we passed a solitary policeman (Berry?) on his way in; he must have felt the need of company.
There was more pontoon and brag in the evening at the party which took place in the convention hall. This achieved the traditional honour of being raided by the police, a solitary constable coming in at three to see what was happening.
Upstairs, we found Ivor slumped in a corridor, and carted him to his room, we found later, he'd been sampling Norman Shorrock's artistry with bottle and glass. It was just after this we met Pete Taylor, searching for somewhere to kip (he had checked out the morning, before). We wandered for ages, trying to find someone who would have him. We saw Sandra Hall, and after a chase Pete begged her to take him in for the night, but she wouldn't. Disheartened, we trudged off... What was fandom coming to that no-one would even loan a destitute fan a nights floorspace? Then we heard footsteps. We cowered round a corner thinking it was the porter. George Locke peered out, and suddenly, shouted: "It"s Bennett!" We all dashed into the corridor after him, but Ron jabbed his spurs mercilessly into Cecil, they pelted into their room and slammed the door, "Ron, let'me in, please," moaned Pete, beating his head against the door, but all we heard was the sound of a bed being has dragged across the room up to the door. Bennett is a hard hard fan. Finally, Pete kipped (slept) in George's room. Back in the conhall, nothing was happening, so, off to bed once more.
Monday, I was wakened by George, who wanted help in smuggling Pete out of the hotel. We were baffled at first, but solved the problem by simply surrounding him with Barry Hall, and walking them out en masse.
The last memorable event of the, con was listening to Brian Burgess telling of his continental love-life, Mighod!
At breakfast on Monday we must have looked more like a zombies gathering than a Science Fiction Convention. Dave Cohen said that he must look pretty fit in comparison with the rest of us, Norman Shorrock lurched in and when he sat down promptly went into an Alan Burns type-trance.
After breakfast Brian and I went out to buy shopping bags to pack some of our stuff in. Then we started on the job .... of saying good-bye to everyone. I know I said good-bye to Pete Taylor at least six times .... and he lives in London! We all gathered in the visitors lounge until people slowly drifted off. I got talking to Norman Shorrock again 'til the LASFAS crowd drifted off to eat. Finally. There was just Archie and the London crowd left.
Monday came round to the expected partings and goodbyes. I went off with Terry Jeeves to spend an invigorating train journey and a couple of enjoyable hours in Sheffield before travelling back up to Harrogate. Looking back I would say that I personally found the convention to be an out and out success. Financially, the affair was well on the credit side, but fannish enjoyment is not reckoned financially. Once the convention had surmounted its initial disappointment at the hotel's service the situation became better and better. There was a good spirit of fannish wellbeing and companionship and if the programme lacked polish at times, this was readily forgiven. The weekend was well balanced in sf and fannish affairs and there prevailed an informal and easy going atmosphere of such an intensity I don't remember feeling at a 'sercon' gathering before. After the first night's complaint, the hotel left the convention pretty much alone to do as it liked. There was no disadvantage in holding the con in a hotel in which there was a majority of nonfannish residents, a realisation that surprises me and which tears down a theory I've held for five years.
As one of the British Science Fiction Associationís staunchest critics since its inception at Kettering a year ago, I think it only fair to mention that while I contested the Associationís implication that British fandom needed such an organisation in order to survive, I do congratulate the BSFA on the way it has gone about achieving its aims. There were several new faces present at the BrumCon, all of whom have been brought into fandom by the BSFA. Nor were these newcomers, as might have been expected, stuffy. They fitted in well and wore most interesting to talk to.
It would be interesting to hear views on the con from those who were attending for the first time. Was the newcomer left out in the cold by the old stagers who gathered together (an old fault)? Did the programme cater for the newcomer? Was the newcomer lost amongst the esoteric references? Did the newcomer expect more sf to be discussed?
The con was not exactly like I'd expected it to be. Some things were more so, some less. But, it levelled out at a wonderful time (there Archie, now you know!), likewise the memories (in spite of a few fused banks). Just one strange thing -- fans came from all over the country, but, apart from Ella and Norman Wansborough, no-one seemed to have a noticeable accent.... or was that the drink?
Somehow I just don't know how to sum. it all up. It was fun, of course, tremendous fun, and I wished it didn't have to end, just yet anyhow. Norman Shorrock, Bob Richardson, as con secretary and everyone else did a terrific job with it, and they even managed to make a profit too! All the same I felt there was something lacking. I've just realised what it was: where were all the BNF's? I know that fandom needs new blood, and you could have called this the Bloodcon since there were so many new faces there, but where were the BNF's apart from those who had to be there because of their positions on the concommittee or the BSFA? It's no good now people coming into fandom if all the old guard are going to drop out. Fen have said that what fandom needs is to get the old-time fen back into the fold. Perhaps then the new blood might feel more desire to STAY in fandom once having found it.
Thanks are due to Peter Weston for loan of the convention literature, and a copy of
the VECTOR #4 report. Below is a listing of the original reports used in compiling
this composite report, with links to these:
Thanks are due to Peter Weston for loan of the convention literature, and a copy of the VECTOR #4 report. Below is a listing of the original reports used in compiling this composite report, with links to these: