Sunday 2nd April


The first part of Sunday morning was spent sitting in the lounge, talking to Kench [Ken Cheslin] and Terry Jeeves and attempting to con innocent passers-by into buying old OMPAzines. Kench's sales-talk was very persuasive, but to little avail. The B.S.F.A. A.G.M. loomed near, so we adjourned to the bar, talked to Brian Robinson and Fred Hemmings and played hide-and-seek with the B.S.F.A. press-gang in the form of Jill Adams.

Jill Adams, Keith Freeman


The AGM of the BSFA was interesting. Attended by about twenty people it was difficult to know where to look for the most fun. Should we tune into the low mutter of the science fiction writers at the back? Or should we watch Jill Adams and Doreen Parker pass letters between themselves with noisy rustles and feline snarls, slinging them back with an audible 'Nothing to do with me dear'. And Keith Freeman caught in the electrically tense airway between these two murmuring volcanoes, his hair standing rigidly on end. Or, even more fun, should we watch the squirming, excited shape in the front row, one Kenneth Eadie, and try and guess what, he would volunteer for next or whether he would propose or merely second the next motion?

In the bar, where they had been sitting, motionless, since Friday night, were Greg Pickersgill and assorted baddies from County Durham. Greg, due to an unfortunately timed attempt to fall in love with somebody's wife, was very difficult to spot, being only three inches tall by now. Ians Maule and Williams were kind to me, something that I hadn't expected. And there was Thom Penman, looking his usual plucked-battery-chicken, happy, carefree, scrounging magazines and drinks self. He was kind to me too.

Greg Pickersgill, Leroy Kettle, Ian Williams, John Piggott (im)

Thom Penman (im)

The Grandfather clock sitting in the corner of the bar was Fred Hemmings in his fancy dress, or maybe his pyjamas - who knows? He was hiding in the works with two or three local women; the activities of the minute hand had to be seen to be believed!

Fred won an award for the Fancy Dress Costume Concealing most of the Contestant's Features (all of the contestant's features). Ted Tubb made a boob when he managed to break the bra of one of the warrior-women contestants. It was very pleasant. She went on to triumph---cor!


Enjoyed (well, almost) lunch in the Chinese restaurant and returned in time for the Blish and Aldiss show. After Brian's usual hilarious opening, complete with fake telegrams etc., they then went on to give a talk which was mainly about pollution - interesting, but not what we'd expected.

James Blish, Brian Aldiss (mb)


I, of course, passed rapidly by, finding this sort of publication trivial and too expensive. In the art room was a feast-for art-hungry, imagination starved eyes. KELLY FREAS ORIGINALS. It was very difficult to see these original pen and ink drawings from the pages of Analog as a large gentleman was constantly pressed against the wall, examining with bloodshot, adoring eyes these various items. Murmurs of 'My lovelies, my lovelies' could be heard coming from his lips. Later, in the bar, I was talking with a Practica-swinging, merchant-man-about-the- world-sailor, all about the pitiful fools women tend to make of themselves when in the presence of charmers like ourselves, when in came the gentleman (who I believe was called Andrew Stephenson, or something) clutching... two of the FREAS ORIGINALS. They had cost him everything in the auction. Retaining his modesty in a barrel he clothed himself in copies of MACROCOSM and sat, crooning softly and brushing non-existent specks of dust from the drawings. Shortly after he too said YES to the Contessa and became co-editor of ZIMRI. Yes, Andrew, THAT's how it happened.


The auction followed, conducted in the main by Ted Tubb and Phil Rogers with guest appearances by Ken Bulmer and Harry Harrison.

Phil Rogers, Harry Harrison, Ted Tubb, Chuck Partington (l-o)

Proceedings were slowed down by Ted Tubb's insistence on spending up to five minutes on a single item:

"I'm next, am I? Selling books are we? Look at this, I mean, these are books. These are called "Arabian Nights" - are you ready for "Arabian Nights?" No, seriously, these are books that you couldn't buy. I'll just tell you about these books and you can make private bids....I don't have to tell you what plot material is in here. Burton himself said that if you take a minute thing and blow it up big you'll achieve wonders - right, Larry? Burton as you know was condemned by the Victorian society in which he lived for being too prurient in mind. You see, every page has been dusted lightly with Spanish Fly, and it's guaranteed that if you breathe over it and read them words you'll have remarkable results. I don't have to tell you these signed by the author on his deathbed....For the collectors only, for those who cherish the unusual, for those who want to put that private book in their private bedroom, to investigate the incomprehensible complexities of the human ego, these books are offered at what you choose to pay for them.... Illustrated with a magic mantra, which I daren't show you, because if anyone can solve that crossword, they like Christ will live forever, and you know what happened to him, don't you....
Ted Ball - Do you just have the two volumes?
Tubb - A complete set, sir, yes, a complete set.
Ball- But there's seventeen...
Tubb - Shut up. A complete set, I mean nobody's got room to put seventeen bloody books in their lounge, have they? These are the best two, absolutely. I'll prove it to you, and if you buy these I'll make my usual offer, if you're not thoroughly happy with your purchase, I personally will give you twice your money back. All you've got to do is find me...."

....and so on and so on.

Ken Bulmer, Philip Strick (l-o)

There followed a pro-panel on the subject of suspension of disbelief in S.F., in which Ken Bulmer kept remembering what it was he had been going to say, only to forget it again when his turn came to speak. The panel really got nowhere until Jack Cohen, from the audience, made the point that there are two kinds of suspension of disbeliefs, one concerning the conventions in writing operating at the time in which a story is written, and the other concerning the "facts" contained in the story itself, and that these two can operate simultaneously.


At last we can bid for '73. The result, uproar. Stolid and adamant Ken Cheslin declares his intentions for next year's Con and turns to face the barrage of "Not there you can't."

An eruption gesticulates in the top left hand corner. A stern father ticking off a naughty boy, Jack Cohen admonishes the hapless Ken. Seventy Brummies say NO! to OMPAcon in Brum.

Has anyone seen Brian Aldiss?


I was surprised at the passionate denunciation, by several people, of the Hotel choice for the next Con, although I dislike the Midlands area myself. There was strong support for a return to the Giffard, which, in my opinion is a nice hotel, but too small for a Con. The proposers promised to reconsider. There was even a proposal by Bram Stokes that the 74 Eastercon should be in London, while he admitted that the '70 one had been ruined by the poor hotel chosen there - and he helped plan it!

Bram Stokes, Mary Burns (l-o)

It was unfortunate that Larry Niven is not a natural public speaker, as, for instance, Phil Rogers, one of the Con site objectors, who, I regret to say, is absolutely no relation of mine. If he were, I might have a trace of his natural ebullience.


OMPA won the bid for the 1973 Con, with no opposition, but there was some disagreement over the choice of hotel. Several people still have unpleasant memories of the last Con. to be held at Birmingham's Midland Hotel. A London group including 'Bram' Stokes made a bid for 1974 - we understand that this is intended to be a multicon, with comix- and horror-freaks getting a look in, and 600-plus attendance is hoped for. Hmmm, doesn't sound too promising, does it?


At the banquet toastmaster Dave Kyle asked for a moment of silence for Ted [Carnell]. It was brief. Most of us had had our moments of silence privately before that, regretting the personal loss of one of the most decent people in SF.

Tony Edwards, Bill Burns, the Nivens (l-o)

The rest of the banquet program featured countless in-fan jokes delivered by David, a strange, unorganized but exciting sort of ramble by Larry Niven (four separate brief speeches he had started to write but never managed to finish, because he couldn't think how to end them), a number of awards of which I am sorry to say I have forgotten all the details (except one went to Brian Aldiss who kept disappearing into the bar every time someone tried to give it to him) and the usual quota of introductions and compliments.

John Roles, James Blish, unknown, Harry Harrison, Eric Bentcliffe, Ruth Kyle, Wendy Freeman, Dave Kyle,
Mary Burns, unknowns


When it comes to public speaking, John Brunner has a certain je ne sais quoi, but I don't know what it is. At the banquet he announced that Brian Aldiss had won the British Fantasy Award and I listened to hear which work of Brian's had earned him yet another honour. All I heard was John concluding with something like, "Never before has a moment of eclipse been turned into such an instant of triumph." As I had completely forgotten that Brian's latest collection was called The Moment of Eclipse, I was left with the feeling that John still had not told us the name of the award-winning work. After the banquet I met him in the lobby and confessed my ignorance. "It was for Moment of Eclipse," John said reprovingly. "You weren't paying enough attention." This prompted me to check with as many people as I could to see if they had understood John's reference to the award, and I didn't find one who had! Somehow I got the feeling that nobody really cared much about the award one way or the other.

Lisa Conesa, Andrew Stephenson, Josephine Saxton at left of picture, Dave Gibson bottom right


After the banquet there followed one of the most unusual films I have ever seen, 'The Saragossa Manuscript'. The programme description of it was very apt - Bizarre Gothic - and trying to follow all the twists and turns of the plot was beyond me.

We came out of the film to find that the entire Monday morning programme had been cancelled, with no reason given. A good thing I had seen the films first time round - moral, at Cons, grab what's going as it comes, its quite possible that's the only chance you'll get.


Later on that evening, Gerbish and Dave Rowe had planned a room-party for B.S.F.A. tape-group members which we'd intended to call in on, but somehow we found ourselves in the bar talking to Brian Robinson and Jim Goddard and we drank and talked and drank and... well, you know how it is. John Piggott, Greg Pickersgill, Thom Penman and others drifted in and out, apparently in search of room-parties. The notice-board in the foyer caught our collective eye, and we amused ourselves for some time by rearranging the letters to make up various obscene and libellous statements about some con-members. One of the staff even brought out a box of extra letters - now there's cooperation for you! After this we bought some tasty but expensive sandwiches for a late supper, and drifted off to bed at about 3.30am.

John Brosnan, Bob Rickard, Greg Pickersgill, Leroy Kettle