The various convention reports from which the composite report was edited together are presented here in their full, original, and unedited form.

Ron Bennett:

It was with no small misgivings that I attended the National Con at Birmingham held over Easter weekend. For one thing this was the first convention held under the auspices of the British Science Fiction Association, and the policy of attempting to provide interesting items for both the hard and grizzled veteran and the freshly talcumed newcomers suggested that there might be failure on both counts.

To make things worse, the first news that greeted me when I walked in the hotel in the company of Terry Jeeves, Archie Mercer and Phil Rogers, all of whom I had met on the train, was that there had been a mix-up in arrangements concerning the provision of alcoholic refreshments and that the bar closed at 9.30. To complete the dismal picture, the hotel itself seemed to be disappointing for a three star AA rating. Quite apart from the frayed stair carpets and dingy decorations, the service was of the standard normally associated with a hotel in the western backwoods at the turn of the century. This point alone, combined with the hotel's high prices, decided fans to eat out.

Friday's session was one of informal meetings. I met Jim Linwood and Brian Jordan for the first time and renewed acquaintances with Norman and Ina Shorrock (whom I had not seen for three whole weeks), Pete Taylor, Dave Cohen, Ken Potter, Ken Mclntyre, Ella Parker, Bobbie Wild, Bob Richardson, Eddie Jones, Sandra Hall, Ivor Mayne, John Roles, Paul and Joan Hammett and Norman Wansborough. After the bar had closed Pete Taylor managed to smuggle in several bottles of gin, sherry, whiskey and beer and the convention moved from the lounge up to his room on the third floor. There was a good deal of chatter and wild laughter which was not unduly rowdy, and it was therefore surprising to find the manager coming along to complain about the noise. I think we made a tactical error in not inviting him in for a drink, but Ella Parker rescued the situation by suggesting that we moved along to her room which was in a 'fan' block. We did so and it must have been well after four that the party broke up for early morning coffee. We returned to the lounge until we were all ready for bed. Ron Ellik will be shocked to the marrow to learn that we did not play brag. Instead we indulged in a session of what was to become the predominant cardgame of the weekend, pontoon (blackjack).

The first programme item was held on the Saturday afternoon, although there had been an 11am OMPA meeting. Strict interpretations of OMPA deadlines had been thrashed out. After general introductions by Chairman Terry Jeeves, the programme moved to Science Fiction Twenty Questions, which balanced Terry's polished performance as Chairman by being extremely ragged. Apart from newcomer Ken Cheslin's inclination to 'have a go at all costs' the panel seemed unwilling to put forward any guesses, whether wild or logical and the most interesting parts of the session came from some unruly comments and heckling from the audience. Questions included Van Vogt's Games Machine and Ploy No 1.

Later in the afternoon there was a tea-drinking test which I entered, having been given a little practice at the Solacon. Here, however, there was a difference in the rules, for the preliminary ten cups had to be drunk in half an hour. I'd drunk five in twenty minutes when I found out that anyone failing to qualify with ten had to pay for the cups already consumed. Seeing myself doomed to failure I opted out. Peter Davies, a newcomer from Stourbridge, won the contest by being the only one to qualify with ten cups. It was a meagre affair, all told. Why, nobody was even sick.

On Saturday evening I showed the colour slides I had taken in America. This was followed by a short play put on by Sandra Hall, Ella Parker, Bobbie Wild, Pete Taylor and Peter West which boasted not a few laughs, quite a few wrong and missed cues and a wonderful bem by Brian Burgess who arrived early Saturday morning after hitch hiking around the country.

Bob Richardson auctioned a pile of books and magazines during which Eric Bentcliffe arrived and the convention moved on to the fancy dress party. This promised to be quite a fine affair, but was marred during the early hours by a religious maniac who crept into the proceedings and upset a couple of femme-fans with his rather thoughtless insults. Sandra Hall, with sparkling green finger nails, won the fancy dress prize.

The promised Russian Beer Drinking Contest didn't come to pass. Instead a group of us played Pontoon on the Committee table smoking Russian cigarettes - the type you have to twiot in order to stick the foul taste. Around three we adjourned to the nearby railway station whose tea room boasted an all night service. Afterwards there was a room party thrown by Bob Richardson.

The Annual General Meeting of the BSFA took place on the Sunday morning. The retiring committee members gave their reports and a new committee was elected - Archie Mercer remained as Treasurer, Bobbie Wild took over from Terry Jeeves as Publications Officer, Doctor Arthur Weir became Secretary in place of Eric Bentcliffe and Ken Slater was offered the chair. There was little discussion on the Consite for 1960. I put forward the suggestion that as the BSFA is now holding itself responsible for organising more formal conventions than have been held at Kettering during the past two years, there is probably a chance of obtaining a suitable hotel in Harrogate. 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.

After lunch Doc Weir discussed the theory that the lost city of Atlantis was situated in the Mediterranean region and afterwards there was a replaying of the Liverpool tape 'Last and First Fen'. This went down extremely well with the newcomers and I was delighted to realise that it has not dated since it was made. 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. 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.

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.

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.

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? And so on and so forth......


TAFF did very well over the weekend. The TAFF auction realised over four pounds and the TAFF raffle over thirty shillings. A dozen fans voted and the poll is now in full swing. With a quarter of the time for voting having now elapsed it is interesting to see that the money in the fund is matching the time element. If the money continues to pour in at the same rate, there will be no difficulty in bringing an American delegate to the British Con next year.

...published in APORRHETA #10 (Apr '59, ed. Sanderson)

Brian Jordan:

Even on Good Friday morning, it hadn't really sunk in that I was actually going to a con. But then, it was such a miserable wet morning it didn't seem possible that anything at all wonderful could happen.

After an uneventful journey to Manchester, I met Alan Rispin. We hurried across the city to get our connection to Birmingham. This turned out to be a diesel train, something I'd been wanting to see for quite some time. Once inside though, my interest turned to disgust, as I found that it was just like a bus on rails, with a temperature which made it like hell.

As we travelled along, there was still no sign of the expected excitement, other than a horrifying apathy towards food - and that was probably due to Alan's case falling on my head.

We reached Birmingham only about an hour late, and wandered off the station. We found the hotel without much trouble, but we were amazed to see it was lit by candles! I thot maybe Vince Clarke had come after alls but the porter said it was bucause they were having the mains changed. No doubt from water to bheer. The register revealed that no-one had arrived before us, so after unloading our baggage, we went out to find food. Returning stuffed with dingy chips (bought at an even dingier shop), we found the register bore the mark of Ken 5later. We could see into the lounge from our vantage point at the receptionists desk. While we were trying to decide which of the few people there was Ken (it was later that he dyed his moustache green), Ivor Mayne and George Locke came up to us and introduced themselves, then taking us to the hotel dining- room they identified for us the rest of the London contingent, they were - Bobbie Wild, Peters West and Taylor, Sandra Hall and Ella Parker. Service in the dining-room was terrible. Ell1a took to muttering imprecations when they wouldn't serve her with whiskey.

After helping Ella upstairs with her luggage, I wandered into the lounge with Ivor and Alan. We had just located Ken Slater, Alan Burns and Ken McIntyre, when we saw coming towards us a Tall, Ghodlike youth. One single aspect of His features dominated all else - His, EYES. They held a 'far look', of great poweer,and wisdom. this alone made Him as a Ghod. We gazed reverently at Him. He spoke.

"Er....are you"

Yes. This was Jhim Linwood, Lord of Sherwood. For some unknown reason we took him to show to Ella. We had a sub-sub-room party, drank liberally of her whiskey, and chattered about things fannish (serconfannish, that is.)

Later in.tho afternoon, Ron Bennett, Jhim, Ivor, Goorge, Alan and I went in search of food, We found a snack-bar, which had a restaurant above, Ron, Ivor and George took to the restaurant, but soon joined us in the snack bar, mumbling something about high prices. Back in the hotel lounge, we sat chatting and meeting people (drinking too, natch), got our lapel badges and programme,books - the latter wonderfully duplicated by Norman Shorrock. Oh, and we played a funny fannish game called 'Giving MONEY to Bennett'.Like I didn't win tho'.

We got quite a shock, when we found that a rumour which had been going round, proved to be true - the bar was to close early, in spite of previous promises that drink would be available most of the night. Because of this, there was a period of hanging around, waiting for the outside supplies which Pete Taylor was smuggling in. Pete looks rather strange with several £'s worth of drink under his coat. We had all been told the number of Pete's room and that there was to be a party there. Eventually we reached it, way up at the top of the hotel, surrounded (roomwise) by mundane types. The hotel was large and rambling, so the manager had naively spread us all through it. Slowly a party began to take shape as people filed in. Some Qf the folk around were Pete (of course), Ron Bennett, Dave Cohen, Arthur(Doc) Weir, (who saved the evening by producing a corkscrew in a moment of great need), and more, but more.

Around midnight, the mundane types made themselves heard, their mouth-piece being the manager, so, we moved down into more fannish territory, Ella's room. More folk flowed in, likewise the drink.... flashbulbs popped....people chattered .... still more folk came....the room got hazier....I eventually got me a chair and almost went to sleep. I staggered 'home' (fortunately only next door, as early as 2-30; thanx to the vast yantities of gin Alan had been surreptitiously pouring into the Cyprus wine I'd determined to stick to (he confessed this next day), I dunno what he'd been drinking though, he had been dragged out long before.

Saturday morning I was up early, ate a cautious breakfast, and collected Alan for a wander round the town to look at some of the shops. Back to the hotel, where Ella lured us away from the impending OMPA meeting by mentioning food. On our way to the restaurant we spotted Archie Mercer, standing in the middle of a rush-hour crowd crying: "Please, can't anyone tell me how to get to the OMPA meeting?" We hustled him away from the approaching policeman, and directed him to the hotel. Before reaching the restaurant - which was the same one Ron and a crowd of us had used the evening before, Alan and I, under the disbelieving eyes of Ella, bought ourselves some carrots, she was even more disbelieving when discovering we were too early for a cooked meal, we sat and ate with evident relish rolls and butter with raw carrots.

Back at the hotel AGAIN, we found that Archie had reached OMPA safely, but was now hungry after his voyage, so, off with him to find real food. Archie stood us, George, Alan, and me an excellent meal (NO - each), only we had to make do without cutlery.

In the early afternoon, there was a short preliminary meeting; Ken Slater was introduced as Guest of Honour. This was followed by a game of '20 questions', which was rather dead, in spite of the valiant efforts of quizmasters Terry Jeeves and John Roles. Next there came the Tea-Drinking Contest (barbaric affair), which was won by Pete Davies, a newfan from Stourbridge, who drank 11 cups of the poison, A Martyr!

After a decent interval for tea and a wash the programme continued with Ron giving an illustrated talk on his TAFF trip to the Solacon last year. This was followed by a short play from the London `grougr, The play was hopeless, but it was redeemed in part by the wonderful sight of Brian Burgess as Monster, wearing tin-foil boots, and green make-up on his face. Afterwards he made a tour of the public bar, much to the consternation of the customers.

Then came the auction. Bob Richardson officiated, and did well, in spite of rather reserved bidding. There was to be a fancy-dress party, but it died. The clearest memory I have of that evening is wandering round the corridors with Jhim and Alan, drinking the milk we had invested in, mindful of the night before.... chasing Bobbie Wild and Sandra Hail into a bathroom...drying up when confronted with a mike. Most of the evening was jumbled. We, Alan and I found Bobbie on the verge of collapse from malnutrition, she claimed. We saved her life by feeding her some of the milk we had bought earlier. Unfortunately, she went into a trauce, and wandered off muttering. "Omighod. MILK at a con!" We followed her and Sandra to a party in Bob Richardson's room, where she collapsed again. This time I revived her with a packet of biscuits I found in my pockets. After a while, everyone went down into the conhall. People there, were spread too thinly for much to be going on, so, Jhim, Alan, Ivor, Archie and I went up to the top floor, and down the fire-escape onto the roof. We wandered round drinking brandy and gin, but couldn't find any skylights to dr,op the bottles through. We found an open door which led to the second floor. Back inside, we stood in an empty room for about an hour discussing religion and like that, mostly like that. The night ended for Alan and me, sitting in Ken Slater's room, sleepily sipping whiskey and listening to Ken and the Shorrocks discussing cyclic changes in dance music .... and so to bed.

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 BSFA business meeting was the first thing on the official programme for the day. Eric Bentcliffe and Terry Jeeves put down their burdens for a well earned rest. Arthur (Doc) Weir of Cheltenham was voted in as Secretary, Archie remains as Treasurer. The new Editor of VECTOR is Bobbie Wild with Sandra Hall as helper. bob Richardson, who had the thankless task as ConSecretary, gave out the glad news that the con had been a financial success. There was a short discussion for votes to be taken on the consite for '60. The only suggestion put forward was Ron's for Harrogate, The question was left open.

After a break for lunch, Doc Weir gave an interesting talk on Atlantis. This was followed by a tape talk given by some of the Cheltenham O to their local IFL group on stf. About then, I helped judge the artwork competition with Eric Jones, Ella and Norman Shorrcck. 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 TArF 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. Then things broke uprfor another meal.

In the evening there was more programme. All that hadn't been auctioned off earlier was now to be knocked down to any who would put in a bid, Ron sold a painting for the TAFF funds at least six times, if not oftener, netting around £4, on it. Later there was a looong and wonderful film show, courtesy of MAD Productions, the Chelterham O, Norman Shorrock, and Ted Carnell. It was good.

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. 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!

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?

"Harrogate in '60!"

.............published in ORION #22 (July '59, ed. Ella Parker)

Ivor Mayne:

The convention really should have started on Thursday evening, I was expecting it to I got down to the Globe early, There was only the usual crowd. We left the Globe early and as is usual more fannish things were done and said outside the Globe than in.

First of all, we trekked down to the 'Black and White' milk bar, in Fleet St. The people here seemed to have met with fen before, because they made no attempt to serve us. Eventually I suppose I went to sleep in front of the counter, because I suddenly glanced round just in time to see the last of the fen disappearing out of the door, while I was still standing there like a dummy, bearing a vacant expression and a saucer with two doughnuts on it. I put this down and tried to pretend I'd never touched them in the first place, while I backed hastily out. I dunno, Perhaps they were all zombies or something.

When I got outside, Bobbie Wild, Ella Parker, Daphne Buckmaster and Sandra Hall were going down the road in one direction, while George Locke, Pete Taylor, Ron Buckmaster, Sandy Sandfield and Peter West were going off in the other. I couldn't quite make it out, but since two of the others were dragging Pete Taylor, who was shouting "I wanna go with the wimmen", I gathered there had been some segregation. We climbed on a bus, and Sandy explained that 'the wimmen' were going in Ron's car and we would all meet up at Charing Cross. We brightened the journey up with remarks like, "is that your car Ron? The tall thin me? The tall thin one with three wheels?"

There was no sign of the girls when we reached Charing Cross, so we stooged around while Pete Taylor told some jokes that wouldn't do much to help Anglo-French relations. Ron went off into the park and came back with a bunch of daffodils. Pete said "don't tell me they've started growing them with elastic bands round them?" Ron stood there holding his flowers, trying to look coy. Pete then stopped two policemen and asked them if they'd seen a car full of women, while the rest of us walked on and pretended we didn't know him. At last we all met up and descended on Forte's snack bar for a fannish supper. Ron gravely presented his daffodils to Daphne. Ella took one and stuck it in her hair. She took it out afterwards and began to scratch her head with it, claiming it helped her to think. Oh well, it takes all sorts to make a world, I suppose.

Strangely enough, Friday morning dawned bright and clear. I needn't have worried though. It started to rain before I left home, it was a typical Good Friday, in other words. Bobbie and I met at the station so we walked on to where we were supposed to meet Ella, who was already there, A few minutes later George turned up, he and I went to get tea while Ella and Bobbie looked for the others. We'd just paid for the four cups when Bobbie told us Sandra and Peter West had arrived, She took the tea we'd already brought and George and I went back for two more cups. We just got back with those, to be met with the news that Pete Taylor had just stumbled - half asleep - out of a taxi .... back for more tea!

On the platform we found there a relief train as well as the scheduled one. They were both full, so we climbed into a luggage compartment, expecting to be hauled out any minute. Nobody seemed to mind 'tho, except the two cyclists who were already in there, they gave us rather a peculiar look, but didn't say anything. We slung our bags down, hung our coats up and generally made ourselves to home. As soon as the train left the station we all relaxed.

Somebody suggested putting out a oneshot, but Bobbie had forgotten to bring her duplicator. It isn't a spirit duplicator, but the idea was still scotched, Then George had the bright idea of writing his conrep as he went along. He borrowed Sandra's typer, and whenever he ran short of ideas Pete Taylor or I took over for a spell. It was just plain unlucky that neither George or I was used to the typer, so we produced the most amazing collection of typos you ever saw in your life. The people in the corridor kept giving us funny looks. Maybe it was because Pete was hanging on the wire mesh telling them what it meant to be a leper and ostracised.

` The journey to Birmingham didn't seem to take too long. On seeing Birmingham we almost wished it had taken longer. Still, there was really nothing else to do but face up to it. We took a taxi to the Imperial Hotel, the driver cheerfully told us we could have walked it quicker, then took us round a maze of side streets to prove it, I could see I was going to love Birmingham. When we reached the hotel it was lit by candlelight! I thought the staff had arranged a specially ghoulish welcome for the fen, but the explanation was just a simple, mundane powar cut. We signed in - in the semi dark - and then went to the dining, room to eat. We eventually reached a compromise between what we wanted and what the staff were still prepared to serve, while we were waiting - and waiting - and waiting for our food, George and I decided to go out and see who else had arrived. The receptionist snatched the register away from us saying it was private. I think the receptionists were just about the worst people on the staff, the others were a Ghodawful shower too. Two suspicious looking characters approached us, I thought for a moment they were two of the Birmingham toughs you hear so much about, but they introduced themselves as Brian Jordan and Alan Rispin.

Things were looking up. After all, this is what you come to conventions for, to meet people, and here I was meeting people. Brian and Alan had already eaten - fish and chips - but they came in to help us wait for ours. After we'd eaten - yes, we did, eventually, we all went up to dump our things in our rooms and freshen up. George and I got back downstairs to find a whole crowd in the lobby, Terry Jeeves, Ron Bennett, Norman and Ina Shorrock and Archie Mercer .... see, people! Well, fen anyway.

We ducked back,upstairs to tell Ella who had arrived. By this time of course) I felt the con had really started and I was on top of the world, When I got to Ella's room I was brought down to earth with a bang, Jhim Linwood was there! Yecchh! I collapsed in a stricken heap on the bed, Brian Jordan passed me a whisky bottle - empty, lucky for him I didn't have the strength to throw it at him, We sat around for a while trying to persuade Ella that Jazz-Type Music is a Good Thing. Somehow I don't, think we quite got through to her. Oh well.

The crowd of us went back downstairs and settled round a small table. Jhim and I wanted to talk about things generally since our last meeting had been some time ago. This was the first time we'd met Brian Jordan, so we all had a lot to talk about. In a way, it was just like the Globe, with the younger fen sitting on their own around a table and all the other feh talking round another. Later our little group broke up and Jhim and I spoke to Norman Shorrock and Ron Bennett. Ron, of course, was selling subscriptions to PLOY and The FanDirectory. No old mags this time, but he's got a new racket in TAFF. I hope nobody was stupid enough not to give money to a nogood character like Bennett.

When Ron had made enough money we invited him to eat. On reaching the street we saw Normal George shambling along in front of us, so we all turned sharp left. We watched him disappear down the hill into the sunset. In the restaurant Brian, Alan end Jhim, went downstairs for a snack, Ron, George and I went upstairs for a meal. Unfortunately, we couldn't afford anything we wanted, so went back downstairs to join the others. On the way back to the Imp Ron suggested to me that we should go and see 'Pal Joey', but it wasn't showing anywhere. Obviously Birmingham is a town without a sense of fannish tradition, (That's a subtle esoteric joke. So esotoric, only Sid Birchby can understand it!).

When the bar opened all the fen gathered round it - natch! Norman Shorrock was distributing copies of the programme, a very well produced book of 40 odd pages, and I do mean odd! Someone rashly mentioned to Pete Taylor that nothing much seemed to be happening so he decided to hold a party. He dragged me out with him to help him get the bottles back to the hotel. Getting them back was okay, it was getting them IN that was the trouble. The staff weren't particularly friendly - you've gathered? - and we hated to think what they'd do if we walked in with £9's worth of booze. While Pete stayed outside to look after the other stuff, I stuck one bottle into my pocket and two others under my coat. I walked straight through the lobby and upstairs to Pete's room, I'm sure that both the hotel staff and fen gave me some peculiar looks, but I didn't dare look round to see. After leaving the stuff in Pete's room, I found Ina and told her the mess we were in. Ina came out and helped carry some more in and then Joan and Paul Hammett drove up and agreed to smuggle the rest through for us in their cases.

The Hammett's would turn up sporadically throughout the con, and then disappear about five minutes later, muttering something about having to join the Aldermaston march.

After all that I never got to the party in Pete's room anyhow. I found myself in Bob Richardson's room, along with Norman and Ina, Peter West and Sandra Hall. Quite a lot of the time Pete was there too. We sat around and talked, then listened to a tape Bob had made for Norman. Eventually, we decided, it was time to look in on Pete's party, but there was nobody in his room, It wasn't long after twelve, so obviously the party hadn't finished yet. Ina did one of her celebrated reccies and located the party in Ella's room. Apparently the manager had come round to Pete's room complaining of the noise, so they had all moved down to more fannish territory. It was quite a Party too. Norman Shorrock and I managed to wedge Ron in between the washstand and the wall and started explaining to him why he was Penelope Fandergaste. Then Ron got freer and started explaining to us why he wasn't Perielope Fandergaste. Then the three of us and Archie Mercer went downstairs to get coffee. The talk now was of fannish matters generally, and pretty soon everybody from the party had come down to join us. I think it was about 4-30 when that session broke up and people moved on to start playing brag etc. Me? I went to bed!

Saturday morning I had breakfast with Arthur (Doc) Weir, Alan Rispin and Normal George. Doc gave us some interesting information about various psychical phenomena. He obviously hadn't met NGW before. Still, he must have got some idea of what he was up aginst when NGW interrupted him with.

"I think what this country needs is a National Lottery."

After the dining room staff had finally condescended to serve us, Alan and I went to look for Brian. We found him talking to Jhim, so the four of us went out to look at Birmingham. Jhim had apparently got there early on Friday and had nosed round a lot already, he took us along to have a look at a Communist bookshop, We had a good browse round in there. I asked the bookseller if he sold 'Freedom', but he didn't blow his top. Matter of fact, he looked as if he'd never heard of it, Foiled there we went down the road to a religious shop, where I enquired about books by Henry Miller. This drew a complete blank too. We looked quickly into Smith's to see if there were any cheap records, but we met Archie coming up from the record dept and he told us there weren't any. Jhim and I decided to skip back to the Imp for the OMPA meeting.

This was pretty well the same as last year's OMPA meeting. Everyone else just sprawled around in armchairs listening to Ron talk. That isn't mean't as a crack at Ron either, its meant as one at everybody else. Near the end of the meeting Ina looked in to break the glad news that Burgess had just arrived. This was enough to drive Jhim and I straight out of the hotel and into a jazz record shop that Jhim had located. We browsed around here, and I was surprised to see such a good selection of records, even one or two American L.P's, Birmingham was surprisingly well stocked with books and record shops. After we left there Jhim and I wandered vaguely Impwards,looking for something to eat. We met Barry Hall, but we weren't that hungry. At the hotel the first session of the con was being held in the Connaught Room, Terry Jeeves as Chairman welcomed us, then introduced Ken Slater as Guest of Honour. Ken spoke for a few moments on the BSFA, then the programme started. Like most fen at conventions I had promised myself that I wouldn't attend anything on the official programme, but somebody had obviously tipped them off, and they forestalled me by arranging a practically all-fannish programme. Damned good it was too.

The first thing was a Science Fiction 20 questions, in which several volunteers from the audience were called on to guess various unlikely items. I wonder what diabolically fiendish mind thought them up. The panel members all did very well, I thought, despite the efforts of quiz-masters Jeeves and Roles to confuse them.

I wanted to talk to John Roles about the loan of his hat for a play which some of us from the London Circle were doing. Unfortunately, he was involved in the tea-drinking contest, and when he withdraw it was hurriedly, he dashed off somewhere, I can't think where. Brian, Jhim, Alan and I went out to eat. When we got back Ron was just getting ready to give his talk on the TAFF trip he had enjoyed so much. I saw John in the hall and we went up to his room to get the hat. As he said, it wasn't really the sort of hat a reporter would wear but still, you can't have everything. We got back just as Ron was starting his talk. This and the slides with it made things very interesting. The slides Were projected in a most unfannish manner, i.e. right way up, and in the right order. Apart from this they were a wow, especially when Ron showed one of the White House, just to prove it was against the law to stop and photograph the White House.

After this came our play, no doubt this would have been enjoyed much more both by me and the audience, if I hadn't been in it, but still.... I still want to see a photo of what I looked like in Pete Taylor's coat and John's hat. It was a play in two scenes. We cut most of the first one out, and didn't do most of the second, but what was left seemed to go down okay. Ella, George and I weren't taking any chances though, we stayed behind the screen and disclaimed all responsibility. Not even Terry Jeeves could bully or coax us out.

We came out for the auction, I bought one or two American pb's, there wasn't much else I wanted. George bought some old fanzines I'd have liked, but not at those prices. There was a copy of Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye", too, but just as I started bidding Jhim shouted out that it was the best book ever written, thank you, Jhim!

That was the end of the organised programme for Saturday. I somehow got mixed up in a brag game with Ron, Phil Rogers and George Locke, I left this to join Jhim, Alan and Brian on their miniature Roofcon. We looked around for a cat, but we couldn't find one, and anyhow I wasn't really sure which skylight it should be. We thought of dropping bottles down chimneys, but Alan lost them. Oh well, The rest of Saturday night went the way Saturday nights at conventions usually do. At least, I suppose it did. The only part I can really remember is when I went to bed and Jhim went to sleep on the floor of my room. I still don't know why he pulled the chair over his head. Perhaps to shut out the sight of me.

When I got up in the morning - well, later in the morning, I went downstairs and tried to join the others for breakfast but one of the waiters - waiters? Hell, we were the ones who had to wait - told me I couldn't sit at that table because it was only meant for three, Jhim, Alan and Brian immediately, got up and moved to a table for four. The waiter stood and glared. He probably took longer to serve us but we were so used to sitting around having to wait for food that any extra delay wasn't noticeable. Jhim ordered a cup of tea. Brian suggested that Jhim should ask for a refund on his money since he wasn't having breakfast, Since Jhim hadn't paid any money in the first place I didn't think it was really such a good idea.

After breakfast we went for a wander round the hotel, finding some parts of it we hadn't seen before. The place was an absolute maze. You could spend hours wandering round finding new corridors and rooms. By the time we had found out just where we were in the hotel, it was time to trek back to the Conhall for the BSFA, AGM. (I love initials, don't you?). I take it this meeting will be reported in full in VECTOR, so there's no need for any great detail here. Of course, some ORION readers may not be BSFA members and therefore won't get VECTOR, but let's not bother about them, shall we? Arthur (Doc) Weir was elected Secretary, Archie Mercer remained as Treasurer for another year (I always knew Archie was a hero), and Bobbie Wild was elected to the post of Publications Officer, to be aided by Sandra Hall. New Worlds was votted best British Prozine, ASF the best American. Triode best British Fanzine, No decision was reached on the consite for 1960, It was decided that the recent SF movies have all been so horrible it was impossible to pick out the worst.

So much for the AGM. See VECTOR for further details.

After this Jhim and I went to lunch and then to some cinema or other to see what time "Secret Life of Walter Mitty" started. It had been carefully timed to clash with both the afternoon and evening sessions, We practically gave up.... but decided that if Ella would come with us, we'd go.

We went back to the hotel, where we met Ina Shorrock who told us that by going to bed Saturday night weld missed a talk on jazz. When Ina had gone to hear Doc Weir's talk on Atlantis we quietly blew our tops. After a crushing blow like that we didn't feel up to the Atlantis talk, and we wondered who else might not be there. Ella was in her room, so we suggested Danny Kaye to her.... no go. We stayed there talking fandom 'til we figured it was time far the LASFAS tape "Last and First Fen", 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.

We, Jhim and I went for another meal, but we made sure we got back in time for the auction. This was supposed to be all the rubbieh 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.

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. After this I talked to Eric Jones for a while, then, when people started trickling in from Ella's party I went to bed. At least, my story is that I went to bed, Brian and Alan swear they found me lying in the corridor and put me to bed, I just don't believe it.

At breakfast on Monday we must have looked more like a zombie's 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.

hat was the end of the con, 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.

On which philosophical note, and not before time, I quit.

.............published in ORION #22 (July '59, ed. Ella Parker)

Eric Jones, Frank Herbert, Keith Freeman:

Convention reports by one person usually means that some detail is lost in limbo, so, for the first B.S.F.A. Convention, we have amalgamated and condensed somewhat all the happenings over Easter weekend at the Imperial Hotel in Birmingham. As Terry Jeeves didn't warn us of his requirements until the Saturday evening, some; frantic recalling of events had to take place before this could be written ..... even now, we are bound to have missed something!

For us the Convention began at about 2.55 p.m.- on Saturday afternoon - we had just arrived. Conveniently missing the Chairman's speech we entered the "Connaught Room" during the'°Science Fiction 20 Questions" where quizmaster Terry Jeeves was aiming to confound each new panel as it appeared. His system of Panel selection was extremely reminiscent of Service days...."You", "you" and "you" .... consequently Keith and Eric found themselves included in the last panel of the session. After finding the answer relating to 'an abstract' - which on the 17th question turned out to be "The other side of th- Moon", the team ware rewarded with pocket- books from Ken Slater's display. Ina Shorrock was kept busy during this session, conveying the answers to the audience alone by means of cards.

At 3,30 p.m. , Norman Shorrock started off an informal tape recording session. The main purpose of this was to send greetings from individual fans, or collective groups, to DETROIT, where the WORLD S-F CONVENTION will be held in September. Elsewhere in the Hall at this time, preparations were being made for the Grand International Tea Drinking Contest (British Chapter), ....a large thermo-urn filled with tea, dozens of cups.and saucers, and a large bowl of sugar were laid out on a table. Among the contestants were Norman Shorrock, Bob Richardson, Les Childs and the winner Peter Davies. Exactly how many cups of tea Peter consumed escapes us, but the Judges presented him with a silver chalice, duly inscribed "Champion Tea Drinker, Birmingham 1959".

Strangely.enough, there was then an adjournment for TEA - until 7.30.p.m.: This gave us an opportunity to view the displays around the hall. Ken Slater (Fantast Medway,Ltd.) had secured a corner for his book and magazine stand, whilst at the side of the stand was his cover competition. For this competition one had to state the magazine title, year and month or number of issue - all these of course had eitiier been cut out or otherwise de-faced. Next to Ken's stand, on the wall, was the yearly Convention Cartoon, by Ken McIntyre. This covered a space some five feet long by three feet high and was auctioned on Sunday and bought by Norman Shorrock for the Liverpool S-F Society's clubroom, Moving down the hall another few feet we came to the "S-F Art Exhibition". There were many entries by Eddie Jones, Terry Jeeves, Ken McIntyre, Jack Wilson and Bob Richardson in poster paint, oils, and line drawings. On the other wall of the Convention Hall, there were many original cover paintings which were later to be raffled in aid of the Trans- Atlantic Fan Fund. Last, but not least was an advertisement by the Cheltenham S-F Circle for their film "The Test", with still photo's of film sequences. This film was to be shown on the Sunday evening.

At 7.30 p.m. Ron Bennett gave an illustrated talk, with 35mm. colour stills, on his trip to the U.S.A. as Fan-delegate from Great Britain in 1958. Due to a faulty camera many of his early shots were lost, but among the most memorable were those of the Grand Canyon, the Meteor Crater in Arizona, and a number of catastrophes that seemed to occur wherever he was, including an overturned gasoline truck and a department store fire.

With the end of this session we reversed seats to face the other end of the hall where the femme fans of the London Circle were to present their playlet. Although faced with the prospect of performing it without a stage they made a very gallant effort ...don't ask us the name of the item - we can't recall it, but the whole point of the play terminated with Brian Burgess (as the occupant of a flying saucer) appearing and requesting fuel for his saucer in the form of a cup of Tea..... Brian liked his disguise (green face and pipe-cleaner antennae) so much that he wallked around in it for the remainder of the evening, and a barmaid was heard to say "I think he's collecting for charity".

9 o'clock and the auction started. Chief Auctioneer - Bob Richardson. Magazines, old and new, went for a song, and certainly helped the B.S.F.A. funds, as far as the Convention was concerned. Doc Hammett of Stafford put in a brief appearance at this point, purchased a telescope and magazines and then proceeded to Aldermaston for the route march to London .... At the close of the Auction a panel of judges for the art work was set up. Two paintings, one by Terry jeeves, the, other by Eddie Jones, and one line drawing by Bob Richardson, were awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes respectively (the line drawing was actually composed of thousands of dots ) They were titled °"Power Failure"; "Lunar Encounter" and "Enchantment".

Meanwhile preparations were going ahead for the Fancy Dress party. Sandy Hall as "The Girl From Altair" won the prize for her convincing portrayal, and, as is usual at Conventions, the party continued well into the early hours of the morning.... We went to bed at 4 a.m...............

Sunday morning began with Alka-Seltzers and a mad rush to breakfast before it finished at 10 a.m. (We made it!). This was followed by a short walk in the rain to find a cigarette shop - an entirely unsuccessful venture I might add - then back to the Convention Hall to survey the debris left by last night's revellers and to fill in our entries for Ken Slater's Cover Competition. The official programme began at 11.30 a.m. with the A.G.M. of the B.S.F.A.

We will not attempt to cover this item fully, for a comprehensive report will either be in this, or the next issue of Vector, however a brief run-over of the important points will now be given.

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).

Proposed Convention Site for 1960 was Harrogate, unless any other offers were forthcoming. Then the voting began for the Magazines. The Best British S-F Mag - NEW WORLDS. Best American Magazine - ASTOUNDING S-F. Best British Fanzine - TRIODE, and 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.

He said that the first mention of Atlantis appeared in the writings of Plato, and Plato got the story second-hand from an early Greek Historian who had flourished 200 years before. This historian (whose name escapes us) had heard the legend from the Egyptians who had told him that "it all happened 2000 years ago" ..... This meant that Atlantis had existed around 6000 B.C., and at the time of Plato "had been situated West of the Pillars of Hercules".

It has been (until now) commonly accepted that the Pillars of Hercules were the Straits of Gibraltar, but 'Doc'- now has substantial evidence that the 'Pillars' were, in fact, the Straits of Messina. (between Sicily and the Italian mainland) and this would therefore place Atlantis in the West Mediterranean and not in the Atlantic as heretofore. The breaking of the land bridge at the Straits of Gibraltar by the rising waters of the receeding Ice Age and the subsequent inundation and filling of the Mediterranean (which was at that time a fertile plain) are more logical explanations than the 'accepted' theories. Did any of the Atlanteans escape the waters? Well, Doc thinks that the Basques might have descended from them.....

Doc' 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'. Then the raffle tickets were drawn and various prizes distributed (we seem to have lost the list of who won what on this), then after tea the evening session began.

This was the final auction, preceded by the award,for Ken `Slater's Cover Competition, of WITCHES THREE to Eric Jones who managed by some weird stroke of luck to get the highest per centage of answers right. During the auction, equipment was being set up for the film show which commenced at 5.30. pm. with Ted Carnell's film of the "15th WorldCon", this was followed by the almost completed Cheltenham Film °'The Test'' which had a temporary sound-track. Then followed the Liverpool Film of the Exhibition, again not finally editied. These were the three new films of the Year and were followed by the films shown at the 15th WorldCon ....Liverpool's "May We Have The Pleasure?", Cheltenham's "Kingdom of St Fantony" and Liverpool's "Fanzapoppin". The programme went on longer than had been anticipated, but as soon as the equipment had been dismantled it was replaced by bottles and a Party was On... Which brings us to the end of a highly successful convention...Long may they flourish... And we are sure that all you members who didn't come WILL be there next year, now that you know What Goes On.........

....published in VECTOR #4 (Spring 1959).