Most of these were scanned, OCRed, and - in some cases - lightly edited by Greg Pickersgill, to whom many thanks.

From LURK 2, July 1972, edited by MIKE AND PAT MEARA.


- uncredited by probably Mike and Pat Meara


With memories of last year's breakdown and consequent late arrival still fresh in mind, we decided to play safe and set off at the veritable crack of dawn. So we set off at about 10am (we-e-ell, the sun rises late in the Midlands, y'know) and reached Chester at about 1pm, with no more trouble than a slight delay in Stoke, due to the alnost total lack of direction signs. We knew Chester fairly well, so we made straight for a Chinese restaurant for lunch. We found our overflow hotel, the Riverside, with no difficulty - very nice, and only five minutes' walk from the Blossoms (a good thing too, since the weather was so lousy) and only half the price. By the river too, would you believe?

We got to the Blossoms about half an hour before the afternoon programme was due to start, collected our literature, and sat down in the bar to read it. We happened to overhear Ken Bulmer and Ted Tubb at the next; table discussing the way to their hotel with Tony Edwards. Since they were also at the Riverside, and we'd forgotten the camera, we offered to show them the way. Returning to the Blossoms, we agreed that the afternoon's films looked pretty boring, so instead we made a preliminary survey of the bookroom, open pleasantly early compared with the Worcestercon, Returning to the bar, we were confronted with Pete Presford, Pete Colley, Brian Robinson, Ian Maule, John Piggott, Greg Pickersgill etc. etc. We and Brian took various photos of the assembled drinkers, amid many protests and offensive gestures. Brian brought from his roon a pile of BRE Astoundings I'd arranged to buy from him, and another trip to our hotel began to appear necessary. Somehow we got talking to the Cheslins about the OMPA bid for the 1973 Con., and the combozine. Deciding that now was as good a time as any to collate it, we made our way up to the Cheslins' room and spent an enjoyable hour walking round in circles, urged on by cries of encouragement from young Matthew Cheslin.

By now it was tea-time, so we journeyed again to the Riverside, dumped our accumulated purchases and went look-for food. Suitably curried, we arrived back in time for Tony "All-Talking" Edwards' opening speech, followed by Dave Kyle's introduction of personalities, i.e. about 25% of the audience. Despite the onset of the dreaded drooping eyelids, we stayed to see "Fahrenheit 451" which we enjoyed despite the handicap of only one working projector. This was followed by a very enlightening discussion of the film, led by Philip Strick, which went on well after midnight (we think). Pausing only to down a couple of Cokes, we staggered back to the Riverside and bed. Obviously we weren't in training yet.

Somehow we were up in time for breakfast the next day, thence to the Blossoms by 9.30, in time for the OMPAcon meeting in the Cheslin's room, along with Brian Robinson, Fred Hemmings, Dave Rowe, Terry Jeeves, Darroll and Ro Pardoe, and of course the Cheslins. We discussed details of the bid until 11.00am, then wandered down to the Con hall to find that Pete Weston had already begun his illustrated talk on S.F. It was about this time that we thought the photographic jinx had got us for the third Con. in succession - somehow the electronic flash unit had switched itself onto discharge sometime during the morning, with the result that it was nearly flat. Having once got into this state, it never really recovered during the weekend, though surprisingly few photos were spoiled as a result. In his talk, Pete made the point that Gernsback might have done S.F. a lot of harm by separating it off as he did - could be. Philip Strick's talk on violence in S.F. was interesting but inconclusive, with some superbly ridiculous readings from the "New Worlds Quarterly" series.

On Friday we'd spent too much on food, so we economised with a fish-and-chip lunch, then back to the Blossoms for Larry Niven's GoH speech, which was concerned with various unorthodox constructed worlds related to his Ringworld concept. Interesting to scientists (such as ourselves) and Ring-world fanatics, but not to many others, we'd imagine. The whole thing wasn't helped by the fact that, as a public speaker, Larry makes a good window-cleaner. Next on the programme was the fantasy film "Jester's Tale", which we decided to miss and meet a few fans, in which aim we were thwarted by Jill Adams, on the prowl for B.S.F.A. subs. Luckily we were able to assure her that at least one of us was a paid-up member. Somehow we missed part of Fred Pohl's talk on the future of S.F., but what we heard was very interesting, and a lively discussion ensued, during which the ire of several people, notably Brian Aldiss, was aroused. After this we met Pete Weston in the foyer, and went off to lunch at a Winpy bar with him, Pauline Dungate and Jeff Hacker. Can't remember much of what we talked about, but the B.S.F.G. and foreign cars figured in the conversation.

After lunch there was the Fancy Dress parade, with a small entry but a higher than usual overall standard, we thought. Photography was difficult because of some nut with a dazzling cine-light. High spot of the proceedings was Ted "Tarzan" Tubb hoisting the Spirit of Planet Stories over one shoulder and pretending to make off with her. She landed unhurt, but with some damage to her metal fittings, ably repaired by Eddie Jones with a pair of pliers. Can't remember much about the prizewinners, except our own, our very own, Fred Hemmings as the Technicolour Time Machine.

"Captain Celluloid vs. the Film Pirates" was disqualified from the amateur film contest, a pity really, as the standard of the other entries was nowhere near as good. The adaptation of Jules Verne's "Purchase of the North Pole" was especially diabolical, and inspired some derisive comments, notably from Fred Hemmings. We stayed to watch the first reel of "Barbarella" (no prizes for guessing why), then wandered into the lounge and got into conversation with Arthur Cruttenden, Dave Rowe, Hazel Reynolds, Brian Hampton and two others whose names we've forgotten. We ate Dave's biscuits, marvelled at Arthur's consumption of Brian's whisky, and talked about sundry things. We later learned that this lot were involved in the notorious round-the-walls-before-breakfast marathon, obviously the result of some little-known side-effect of eating Brian Burgess's pies.

The first part of Sunday morning was spent sitting in the lounge, talking to Kench 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. 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.

The auction followed, conducted in the main by Ted Tubb and Phil Rogers with guest appearances by Ken Bulmer and Harry Harrison. 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. Pete Weston then presided over that part of the auction in which we were most interested - the fanzines. Apparently it was the B.S.F.A. fanzine foundation he was "butchering", as Pete put it, but more of that elsewhere in this issue. The amount of money around this year was unbelievable, so we didn't acquire as many goodies as we'd hoped. Joanne Burger appeared to be the main opposition, with an apparently bottomless purse, but nevertheless we were able to get some HYPHENs, TRIQDEs and a complete run of THE SCARR, as well as various oddments which turned up in the mixed bundles.

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 the banquet we were seated near a French quartet, who were apparently not amused by the steady stream of Terry Jeeves' quote cards, many filled in by Harry Harrison, which kept drifting up to our end of the table. As fast as they arrived, the Frenchies would write some reply on the back and send 'em back down the table. Well, it helped to keep our minds off the food, which was miniscule in quantity and mostly diabolical in quality. By this time the flash unit had well and truly expired, so after the interminable presentation of awards Mike decided to give Larry Niven's speech a miss, and called on Brian Robinson with the intention of borrowing his flash equipment. Not much was missed, apparently — Larry seems unable to give a non-technical speech. 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?

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.

The Monday morning film programme was cancelled due to the absence of Harry Nadler, so we missed the planned repeat of "Godzilla vs. the Thing". Ah well, maybe 'twas a good thing after all. Instead, we bought some more fanzines, took some more Con. registrations, and sat in the lounge talking to various fen including Eric Bentcliffe, who very kindly invited us to pay him a visit sometime. Apparently Pete Weston was looking for us, wanting to talk about using some of our photos for his SPECULATION photopages, but we saw him not. Eventually we said goodbye at about 11am, loaded the fanzines into the car around Pat, and set off for a leisurely drive home, this time avoiding Stoke, musing the while on an enjoyable Con., though one which lacked an indefinable something which the Worcestercon had in abundance. Maybe we're losing our sense of fannish wonder already.

From LURK 2, editorial (JUST FOR A LURK)

The Fanzine Foundation is dead. It died at Chester during the Easter weekend, and the various parts of its dismembered body have been carried off to various parts of the fannish world, even to America. There seems to be some confusion as to how this was allowed to happen, but it seems to me that a combination of reluctance to intervene by the B.S.F.A. officials in a position to do something about it, together with a connivance by certain people - I don't intend to name names; the guilty ones know who they are - to hide the true source of the material, was the main cause. However, the Foundation is dead, and will not rise again, not from this address anyway. The task of rebuilding it up to anything like its former glory would require a very large cash outlay and/or a number of very generous donors, and is not one for which I have much inclination. In addition, in order to perform a useful service for fandom, the Foundation must be administered efficiently, and in the past this has not been the case. No doubt Charlie Winstone would have made a good job of it but for ill-health. Anyway, the point of all this is to say that from now on all fanzines sent to me will be deemed to be for my personal use, and I have informed the B.S.F.A. accordingly. Still on the subject of fanzines, I'm in the market for 'em, and will pay good prices for those I particularly want, Please let me know if you have any to dispose of.



All the other members of NIF (New Irish Fandom) set off for the Chester convention* on Friday afternoon, but because of work commitments I had to put in a full day at the office, and Sadie and I didn't leave until evening. That sort of situation always makes me rigid with despair "Here I am at work while everybody else is enjoying fabulous adventures at the Con," I kept telling myself, while knocking hell out of a brand new office typewriter (it was a mint Imperial). "I'm being Left Out. I'm Missing Things." As it turned out, all the gloom was unnecessary because the early plane - carrying Jim and Peggy White, James and Ann Lavery, Brendan and Denise McHugh, Graham Andrews and Tony Moran - went via Manchester and it took the group hours to make train connections to Chester, with the result that they didn't reach the Blossoms till mid-evening. In contrast, Sadie and I took off from Aldergrove in an elderly Viscount at 7:30, landed at Liverpool, haggled with taxi drivers until one volunteered to drive us to Chester at a reasonable fee, and we walked into the foyer of the Blossoms an incredible 115 minutes after leaving Northern Ireland. This produced such a pleasant sense of somehow having come out ahead of the game that a modest celebration was called for. So we headed for the cocktail bar and skelped back a number of gin and tonics while saying hello to old friends. It wasn't until I noticed how much we were being charged for the gin and tonics that the feeling of euphoria wore off slightly - I can assure you that at the Blossoms cocktail bar prices, alcohol is non-habit-forming.

Anyway, Friday night turned out to be really good - the sort of night which is the main reason I go to conventions. There was a generous complement of the familiar, intelligent, interesting, knowledgeable, humorous faces of the fans I really like and - as is the way at British cons - it all seemed even better because it was Friday night and everybody knew the whole thing still lay ahead. We all had fannish fortunes in the Bank of Time. One way in which US conventions score over British is that they are spread out over more days. At the Boston con in September I was very much aware 178 of having that extra time in hand, and so there was none of that sense of urgency which leads British fans to stay up all night and become too tired to get maximum benefit of the following day. Dave Kyle, I'm glad to say, is a leading member of a new movement to go to the Eastercons on Thursday and stay over till Tuesday. He and Ruth almost sweet-talked Sadie and me into an extra day in Chester this time, and if we hadn't had arrangements made to go to London we'd have done it. See you next year, Dave!

I suppose that in what purports to be a con report one should make some mention of the official programme. Regrettably, I have a tendency to go to conventions and not see any of the programme items, but this doesn't mean that the programme isn't important to me. I like to be near the programme and let it induce currents in me, a coil of nerves in the vicinity of the con hall's electromagnetic field. Some other fans feel the same way (I won't name any names) and it is pleasant to sit with them in the bar, speculating on what is actually happening in the hall and listening to fragmentary reports from runners - "George Hay has got up to ask a question", "The projector has broken down", "There's been an outbreak of sporran rash among the Scottish fans", "George Hay is still asking his question".... At the Chessmancon, however, I decided to pay attention to the official programme. I set out after it on a number of occasions, tracked it down in its lair, and sat there and stared at it. The experience left me with the following jumbled impressions and memories: I enjoy Harry Harrison's talks - they're like a series of sound effects which convey a message. Larry Niven was Guest of Honour and his more serious approach to talks, on the other hand, isn't entirely suited to the mood of British conventions where there is a tradition of irreverence to pro authors. At American cons the author gets up and projects himself as seen through his books, emphasises the difference between himself and his readers, and this is fine because there's a sense of importance about a big US con and it is to be expected that the speakers will be important, successful men. On this side of the Atlantic the conventions are more homely. We all know each other, and we remember the pros turning up at the White Horse on their bicycles, not so long ago, and we respond to the Big Name who gets up and lets us see that he's a small name at heart, which is another way of saying that all of us really are Big Names if the truth were told.

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. Enough about the programme items.

Other pleasant memories are of Chuck Partington producing four bottles of an excellent beer called "Oh Be Joyful" and giving them to me as a gift. Incredibly, he had remembered hearing me praising this beer (I used to drink it when living in Bolton but it is unobtainable in Northern Ireland) at the previous con and had brought them specially all the way down to Chester. What an example to other committee men on how to win friends and keep your conventions happy! What a credit to British Fandom Chuck Partington is!

A similar pleasant memory is of Brendan McHugh producing a full bottle of 180 proof spirit which, in his profession as a food chemist, he can distil with yeast, sugar and impunity. (He always keeps a bottle at home - plus a number of little phials of flavouring such as peppermint, aniseed, etc. - and has earned a reputation as a lavish host by offering his guests a choice of any liqueur they desire. When somebody asks for, say, Pernod, he dashes into the bedroom, adds a drop of aniseed flavouring to his almost tasteless spirit and hands them a large glass of it.) Somehow the convention bottle came into my keeping at the end of the con, so Sadie, George Hay, Sam Lundwall and I went into a bar near Chester Station, ordered four gin and tonics and discreetly boosted their contents with it for about thirty minutes. And there was still enough left for a modest booze-up in London a couple of days later! What a valuable addition to fandom is Brendan McHugh!

The reference to a room party brings up an interesting point, concerning the very noticeable lack of them at Chester. Peter Roberts, writing a con report in Vector (who also, by the way, got in first with the title I was going to give this report), says the reason was that the hotel bar was open most of the night, but I disagree. The big attraction at a room party is the company, not the liquor, therefore the bar being open wouldn't make much difference. I think that 1972 was simply the year of the jackpot for British conventions. The room parties are a vital part of a convention, yet we tend to leave all the work and expense of them to a small dedicated band who have thrown open their rooms for many, many years with little sign of a relief column emerging from the ranks of newer fans. There was bound to come a time when the perennial hosts would say, "I'm tired - let somebody else hold the party this year, and we'll go to it." And there was bound to come a time when all these good fans would experience the same reaction in synch. That time was Easter 1972. I am more guilty than most fans in this respect because I love the room parties and have done since the Festival Con in '51, yet it never occurred to me to act as host. The thought has occurred now, of course, and next year New Irish Fandom will hold a party which we hope will be among the noisiest and most crowded on record. But, as the late night room parties are obviously so important to the success of a con, should our thinking on them not be taken a step further? Should some room parties not be made official or semi-official events with some backing from the committee? The fans lucky enough to be invited regularly to the existing "exclusive" type of party may see little point in the proposal, but it could mean that many conventioneers who aren't members of in-groups could get a lot of extra enjoyment and be brought further into fandom instead of having to drift off to bed like Cinderellas at midnight. At US conventions the big fan groups actually advertise their parties in the programme leaflet and - whatever the drawbacks of such a party may be - there is no doubt they promote our old ideal of a science fiction fellowship. It's just a thought.

From BSFA BULLETIN no 47, MAY 1972 edited by Archie Mercer


According to all reports, Chessmancon was both well-attended and thoroughly enjoyable. The following Awards were presented during the proceedings:

B.S.F.A. Award; to Brian Aldiss for "Moment of Eclipse". A particular congratulation to Brian, who was not only the Association's first Chaiman, but before that the (unincorporated) Association's first and only President: this Award has thus, in a sense, "come home".

British Fantasy Society Award; to Michael Moorcock for "Warlords of the Air". (This Society was previously known as the British Weird Fantasy Society, but wishes to attract a wider membership.)

"Doc" Weir Award; to Jill Adams, Treasurer of the B.S.F.A.

Ken McIntyre Award (for fanzine artwork): to "a bloke named Pitts", alias "James (l think) Pitt" - both of which vague identities (such is fame!) are suspected to refer to Martin "Santos" Pitt of Birmingham.

Delta Group Award (amateur cine): tie between "And on the Eighth Day..." (Altrincham Cine Club) and "The Visitors" (Peter Phillips) (E&OE!)

(Not to mention sundry fancy dress awards, art-show awards, spot prizes etc. In any case, the Bulletin wishes to add its congratulations to the rest in respect of all those named above.

FANZINE FOUNDATION Another side-effect of Chessmancon is that the B.S.F.A.'s "Fanzine Foundation" (otherwise collection of fanzines for librarious and similar purposes) is now firmly in the custody of Mike Meara, of Flat A, 5 Kedleston Rd, Derby, to whom enquiries should be addressed.

AND FOR OUR NEXT CONVENTION In accordance with recent tradition, the precise location of the 1975 Easter S.F. Convention is not yet cut and dried. Ken Cheslin of 36 Chapel Street, Wordsley, Stourbridge, has been deputed to investigate once again the situation in the Midlands. You may register with him (50p) in complete safety. Further new will be published when it happpens.


(from the same issue - no clear reference as to where this is extracted from, correspondence to the Bulletin, perhaps?)

re CHESSMANCON, Lisa Conesa writes: "One last word about the Chess Tournament - it was a bit chaotic because I had many more contestants than I thought, people wanted to sign-on on the spot, and only three chess-boards were available, so the only thing to do was to have everyone in the room play everyone else, then winners eliminated each other etc. People kept disappearing and I had great fun chasing then down each time a game came to an end, looking in bars first of all (there were four) and reviving myself with a drink from time to time; it was a very gay Lisa that trolled back! Finally, or semi-finally, I couldn't chase down Fred Hemmings who was to play the winner and had to disqualify him for being invisible as the results had to be read out at the Banquet, When I did find Fred (too late) he was very nice about it, but I would like to offer my 'official' apologies, because Fred night well have won if only he'd been at any of the drinking places I visited - frequently... The winner was Hans Loose from Heidelberg and the prize was a bottle of whiskey and a certificate."

From THE TURNING WORM 2, May 1972, edited by JOHN PIGGOTT

I SPENT MY BIRTHDAY AT CHESTER AND LIVED a saga of wine and water.


I arrived. Such a statement does not begin to communicate the myriad struggles and setbacks I experienced on my way... the ordeal in the dank subterranean tunnels of the creature known only as 'Bakerloo', the Adventure of the Crewe Bookstall, and other sundry odds and ends. But the full story of these must wait; the world is not yet ready for such a harrowing saga. Suffice it to say that I found myself, at last, standing outside the Blossoms, wondering how to negotiate the ingenious revolving door which confronted me. Did I dare enter to brave the thousand and one perils of the '72 Eastercon?

Yes, I dared. With an imperious gesture, I swept in, to be confronted by Greg Pickersgill, Peter Roberts, Rob Holdstock, and others. Small-talk flew around. . .

"The Turning Worm. Just great. I agreed with every word you wrote."
"I sent you Checkpoint 14 three times. And three times had it returned."
"It's egregious crap, Piggott. Egregious crap."

Roy Kettle bamboozled me into taking his Egregious Guide, a shoddily produced pink pamphlet which was nevertheless not without interest — indeed, a whole four lines of this publication had never appeared before in any guise. I took it away and galloped upstairs to perform the ritual of registration — a transaction notable only for the vast quantity of money which changed hands.

Checking in at the hotel reception, I received a key with '72' embossed on it... this cryptic legend turned out to be a device whereby I could find out which room and not which year I was in, and after wandering the corridors of the hotel for a half hour l finally arrived at my room.

Entering, I perceived two doors in front of me. One led to fairly large open space with two beds, a window, and other objects as permeate hotel rooms, while the other door was a way to a toilet and bath. So great was the magic of this sight that I immediately flopped down on one of the beds in amazement, but this state of affairs did not last long. Voices sounded from outside, and in walked Ian Maule, the famous sex-maniac and also my roommate, accompanied by three other foreigners: Ian 'Tiger' Williams (the biggest small fan in show business), Tom Phenman (whose making fun of my accent and love of Zelazny automatically preclude him from receiving serious consideration), and Dave Douglass (who drove the car, though he looked a bit young for that...). These three were destined to freeload on us, an arrangement which was not entirely satisfactory for reasons which will become apparent.

Later, back downstairs, I was confronted by Pickersgill and Kettle, who asked if I wanted to go for a meal with them. I accepted, and waited outside the doors with Roy, John Brosnan and fellow Australian Peter Darling, while Greg wandered off to find Peter Roberts. (Greg and Peter had checked into their hotel the previous night, only to later find that it was not an official overflow hotel at all. They were thus at a loss to know what to do.) We waited for a few minutes, and then Roy went to look for Greg. That was the last we saw of him, too. At length, getting tired of waiting, the two Aussiefen and I went towards the usual Wimpy Bar, only to find it was crowded out. But we found a Golden Egg eventually, and we feasted there on goose with reckless abandon.

When we returned to the Blossoms we found Greg sulking in the lounge. He wasn't much fun at this stage, so I made my way into the bar where I was confronted by Lisa Conesa and other Manchester fans. Lisa, whose charm and beauty were marred only by the leering presence of Rob Holdstock nearby, at once gave me a fanzine to keep me quiet. Whereupon Holdstock made to give me one of his, but he rapidly desisted when he realised I had no intention of paying for it. (He let me have one for free eventually, though.) Nearby sat Brian Robinson, who surprised Greg by being twenty-five instead of fifteen, Pete Presford, a cheerful eighteen-looking six-year-old who surprised everyone by being thirty, and Pete Colley, who looks sixteen and, as far as I know, is. Fans are weird. Despite warnings I bought myself my first vodka and lime of the con, and I really needed it after finding out the price! But by this time, a downstairs bar with slightly lower prices was reputed to be open, so I accompanied Rat and Gannet fandom on their way down there. I swilled back vodkas with a certain amount of contentment, in the company of Bob Rickard, Glaswegian Peter Campbell, Hartley Patterson and others, and even Greg may have thought the con wasn't too bad at that stage.

At half past eight the programme officially started, and certain of us, including myself, stampeded upstairs for the opening. It was a mistake. Dave Kyle spent what seemed to be hours introducing at length just about everyone in the room, fan and pro alike, except me. Most of the pros were still down in the bar, anyway. After that fiasco, the Avengers appeared on the all-electric talking picture palace screen, and while this was in no way entertaining at least it wasn't downright objectionable. Eventually I returned to the bar, where I should have stayed all along.

Nothing much seemed to be happening that Friday night; my birthday had gone almost unmarked by fandom. The four Gannets retired to bed at about midnight, which surprised me no end; but I stuck it out a little longer. Greg came up to me while I was sitting in the lounge and told me of his deep feeling for a certain female in the hotel, and I was unwise enough to make fun of his droolings. Greg went on and on, saying such things as "no meeting of minds" and "piss off", but eventually Kettle came along and saved me. I returned to my room, pausing on my way only long enough to read what Fred Pohl was having for breakfast in the morning. The room was in darkness, and in a fit of consideration for others I refrained from turning the light on. Later in the con I learned better. In the darkness I groped for the toilet door, and finding it locked I trekked back to a public one some seven leagues back down the corridor. You see, I didn't want to rouse everyone by banging on the door, and Williams was blocking the window. Returning to my bed, I went to sleep and was awakened abruptly by movements in the room. It was still dark. A shadow figure lurched across my field of vision. Ian Maule had been awakened also:

"Williams, what the hell are you doing? Don't you realise its five in the morning?"

A hammering on the door of the bog gave the answer to that question. After the whole of Chester had been awakened, Penman opened the door. He had taken refuge inside the bog since the rest of the room was full. Voices emerged:

"Hell, Williams, do you have to piss on my bed?"
"I would use the bog, but there's so much junk in here I can't even see it, much less get to it."

When Williams emerged from his ablutions, we heard the sound of pills being shaken from a bottle. Junkie fandom? Williams claimed he took them as anti-hangover tablets. That's his story, and he's sticking to it. At last sleep returned...

... and this time it was light at the rude awakening. Once again Williams was the culprit — he had risen at dawn and drawn back the curtains so that he could read his programme book. I stayed in bed to watch the Tiger and Dave roll up their sleeping bags and airbeds (at which time Penman emerged from his hideaway and actually allowed others to use it) but I eventually condescended to get up myself.

Breakfast with Ian Maule in the dining room was a ludicrous affair. I didn't feel much like eating a conventional breakfast, and they didn't seem any too keen on the idea of anyone having ten grapefruit and nothing else. During the meat we concluded we were not the only fans in the Blossoms itself, as we had originally thought. The exceptions were few though... Ethel Lindsay, Joanne Burger, the Pardoes, Eric Bentcliffe, Brian Robinson and Crut being the more obvious examples.

Saturday wasn't really a very good day. I spent much of the time divided between drinking at the bars (the expense of which often only made me feel more miserable) and examining a load of costly uninteresting books of depressingly negligible quality. The art show, however, was something better, and contained some really superb paintings, particularly those by Eddie Jones. I couldn't afford to buy any, of course, but I did enjoy looking at them.

In the afternoon Chris Priest appeared with his wife. Bemused by the aura emitted by this famous science-fiction well-known professional writer, Ian Williams hung around them, dog-like... I believe he'd have licked Chris's boots had he been permitted to. Chris (who incidentally kept making eyes at us all through the con) had the good sense and tact not to complain about this adulation by his most loyal fan, but it made the rest of us snigger a bit I can tell you.

Later I was drawn into Lisa's chess tournament, and that was a shambles if ever there was one. (The presence of only three boards was the main cause, probably.) Eventually I was matched against Hans Loose, who would have been a nice guy if only he were not such a damned good chess player, and after doing surprisingly well I fell victim to a trap laid by Hans at the same time as Brian Burgess switched on the television to watch Dr. Wfeo. Maybe the two events were not unconnected... Anyway, since Hans turned out to be the eventual winner, my defeat was perhaps not too ignominious.

During the evening, a series of amateur films were shown, which we watched for want of anything better to do. One of the films, 'The Horla', was the best-produced film I saw during the entire weekend, and it well deserved the prize it was awarded. The Fancy Dress Parade, which occurred just before the films, was notable mainly for the paucity of the number of entrants, though the general standard of entry was good. Fred Hemmings in a titanic hollow clock and Tricky Micky Fox as himself were anong the high points. About midnight I stumbled along to a room party: some said it was being thrown by Lisa, but in fact the room was occupied by a newspaper guy, complete with Press photographer's outfit. Lisa was sitting on the bed chatting with Brian Aldiss, while Holdstock glared. Indeed, this was the only time during the whole con, it seemed, when Holdstock was not keeping Lisa all to himself for his own foul purposes. It wasn't a bad party, as parties go, though the first part of it in particular was a fairly sercon affair, if indeed room parties can be called sercon at all. It seemed to be breaking up as time went on, and so Gannet fandom went to bed. Shortly after, however, the film programme ended and the party swelled again to its former proportions. Ian Williams and I returned to it. From time to time Presford and Penman disrupted the proceedings by blasting water guns (blasphemously labelled 'Ethil the Frogs'), but apart from this drag the whole thing was pleasant enough. We left eventually and returned to our room, waking up Maule in the process.

There were a few drops of blood on Ian's pillow, and he told us gleefully how Penman had hit him on the head with a brown ale bottle. Fortunately, the bottle had been empty at the time. Ian considered this bloodbath to be a fannish achievement second only to having had his arm round a married woman.

In the morning nobody seemed willing to get up (well, after all, it was Sunday), Williams being tired after his excesses of the previous night and the other three just being phlegmatic. I managed to get Williams up, though, by letting down his airbed, and he struggled to his feet, standing inside his sleeping bag and holding it up to his chest in order to hide the private parts of his anatomy. He jumped about like some kid in a sack race for a while, but I tired of this game and pulled the bag off him. Ian stood revealed in his full glory, if you can call it that, and there was a general rushing towards cameras. But Ian grabbed a copy of Vector in tine to save his reputation.

After breakfast, Williams (fully dressed this time) confronted us again, exhorting us to watch 'Godzilla vs. the Thing'. From this recommendation we imagined that it was a film of some high quality, and Gannets and Rats together accompanied me to the con hall, where the exhibition was to take place. Actually it was just another run-of-the-mill moster movie, though with a few more unintentional laughs than some. Godzilla turned out to be a vast dinosaurian creature, seemingly very fierce; this illusion, however, was shattered when we heard the cries emitted by this gargantuan fossil — a feline mewl, in fact. 'The Thing' was a tatty old giant moth, so tatty indeed that it died halfway through the film, leaving the entire world at the mercy of Godzilla. Happily for us, its egg then hatched and two maggots bearing a remarkable resemblance to the creepy-crawlies you find under thousand-foot-high boulders in your garden emerged. They proceeded to wrap Godzilla in a silken shroud. I gather Godzilla is a Japanese folk-legend; but I should have thought that the Japanese could conjure up something a little frightening.

Sunday afternoon we organised a Diplomacy game in the corridor, and after being moved on by Tony Edwards we alighted in television roon. I took Turkey and came second, but would undoubtedly have won were it not for the cowardly treachery of Maule, who paid for his sins by being deservedly eliminated in 1905. Hartley Patterson as England also got beaten fairly quickly, which was a little hard on him since he had done nothing to deserve ny vengeance.

The advent of the banquet put an end to the game, and after a fairly good Chinese meal with Hartley Patterson and Ian Maule, I returned to the Buttery Bar in the hotel. Several fans were already there: Peter Roberts, Greg, Roy, Petes Presford and Colley, and many others known only to Ghod as the saying goes. By this time I hadn't much money left, but drank notwithstanding. When Penman rose from the table to buy another, I pestered him to get me one

"It's all right, don't worry. I'll give you the money."
"You can get me a vodka and lime, surely. It'll cost only eighteen pence or so."
"Come on' It must be more than that."
"Well, Tom, it's what I usually pay."

Penman wasn't convinced by my show of innocence, though. I saw him consult at length with the bartender; nevertheless, he did buy me something.

"What's this?" I asked.
"But I didn't want gin."
"Look, a vodka costs more than you gave me. I bought gin as it's the drink I hate the most."

The ratfink. I drank the gin anyway. It wasn't all that bad. During the session I tried the same ploy on Kettle, and it didn't work with him either. He spent the money I gave him on a drink for himself.

It was during this drinking session that the concept of holding a party in my room was finalized. Pete Presford took his van out to some beer (possession of motorised transport covers a whole family of sins) while the rest of us drifted off. In one corner of the bar now lurked a selection of Chester citizens (it was they who had christened Ian Williams 'Tiger') whose antics, we discovered, are a regular part of day-to-day life at the Blossoms. Rumours were flying about that on a previous occasion the lovely Lisa had herself alone amid this clique of queers, though I consider the story unlikely to say the least. We all know Holdstock would never have let go that long.

At the auction I had almost no money left to spare, having lent Pickersgill a quid in a fit of insanity. However, I did acquire one bundle of old zines containing a few Retributions for 40p. From afar I saw Mike Meara buy twenty HYPHEN for £8, and there was another guy near the front who seemed to own a money tree in his back garden as well. Peter Weston was proving quite a good auctioneer, that is when he managed to get a word in edgeways against the booksellers. But after a time we left the auction to try and get this party started up.

We sat around for a bit, and nothing happened, so we went around looking for people. But it seemed nearly everyone was watching 'Barbarella' or some such barbarity, and so about six of us only sat in state in the room Greg arrived with bottles of a clear, watery liquid which he assured us packed a powerful kick, though I wasn't convinced. At length, people started arriving in decent numbers... the Gannets, Pete Weston talking shop, Fred Hemmings with his clock, Presford and Penman soaking each other, my bed, the walls, me, and others with their ubiquitous Ethils, Ramsay Campbell looking like the prototype of Nicholas van Rijn, and other specimens. Roy Kettle, in a mad fit of evil scheming which I'll never forgive, attempted to crush me into Fred's clock, cleverly contriving that while I resisted I should shatter a glass against my teeth. His vile scheme worked beyond all his hopes, and as blood surged forth into the room for a second time Ian Williams turned bright green and rushed to barricade himself in the toilet. A sound of retching was heard by the more fanciful at this point. Luckily my cut lip was not badly done in (though I now have a scar with which to titillate my grandchildren and future con-goers) and the blood stopped flowing after a short time. About this time the party broke up, most of the attendees (and most of the hosts) leaving for other pastures. Penman was left to repel all boarders. He told us later that Larry Niven had arrived in search of a party, but had left when he found it was over. Reports that he went away muttering, "Gee, I thought I'd made the kzinti pretty weird, but that guy's accent..." were generally discounted as slightly exaggerated.

But it was now two o'clock, and nothing much was happening. We had investigated a party being given by Joanne Burger some time before, but it hadn't appealed. Someone then told us there was a party in room 23, and a search was organised. Rooms 21, 22, 2k, 25 and 26 were found fairly easily, but not 23... We concluded it didn't exist. I proceeded back to my room, where I discovered the two water-guns unattended. Realising what a heaven sent opportunity had presented itself, I filled the guns at the tap, and when Penman appeared I let him have it with both barrels — a fitting punishment for the myriad indignities I had suffered at his (and Presford's) hands.

Ambling down, I lit on Chris Priest, whom I suspected of having originated the room 23 hoax. He threatened me with a fate worse than death if I squirted him — "I'll dedicate my next book to you!" — and casting my mind back to the extreme nausea of 'The Head and the Hand', I scuttled off, eventually finding Fred Hemmings, trailed by Ian Maule with John Brosnan who was nursing his broken umbrella. An amazing game of chess (two-a-side) ensued. This lasted for two moves only, since Fred and Ian could not decide which pieces to move, and we emerged to find certain fans making messages on the hotel's notice-board. Several of these inscriptions were photographed and I could give the names of the perpetrators; Lisa would probably kill them, though, if she found out who they were. Later we wandered back to my room, where we were stupefied by the fearsome apparition of Greg's body lying prone upon my bed. For a happy moment we thought he was dead, but our fond illusions were shattered beyond all repair when he started giving vent to a raucous snore. We considered for some while this gruesome sight, wondering whether the joy of being relieved from the foulness of the noise would be worth the effort of carrying him to the window and throwing him out. Suddenly who should come in but Peter Roberts, Greg's unofficial guardian. We immediately decided to give him a problem to solve. The Easter Bunny wasn't very interested, though, and eventually Greg solved our dilemma for us by waking up and walking out of his own accord.

The two lans and I wandered about the hotel corridors for some time, eventually gaining the ground floor after a series of adventures. Greg was there, peacefully sleeping upon the floor. I suppose one of the hotel staff must have come along with a dustpan and brush at some stage and swept him up, since later when we passed was gone. We stood awhile by the side of a card game, watching Peter Roberts adjust piles of money in front of him. His long hair was matched only by his long face, and though, as we later found out, he had ended the game with a ten bob profit, he must have been richer than that at some stage and lost the excess. But bed was calling. As the sun came up we went down...

... but not for long were we asleep. Only an hour, in fact. The Gannet morons wanted to leave at nine o'clock for some totally inane reason. So after a very early breakfast, Ian Maule and I went to pay our hotel bill... £21. I threw two £10 notes casually on the desk, as if it were the kind of thing I do regularly, and Ian contributed a fiver. After receiving our change we adjusted our mutual resources to ensure each of us paid the same contribution to the bill. This seemingly simple manoeuvre, involving merely the transfer of £9.50 between Ian and myself, nevertheless took us twenty minutes to accomplish; and after that the Gannets left, and I was alone.

I had a bath, on the theory that since I had paid for the thing I might as well use it, and then I forayed into the lounge where Terry Jeeves was huckstering OMPAcon memberships with expertise. I paid up my ten bob with some misgivings. . . do these OMPA people realise what they're up against? Outside, in the foyer, people were packing up and getting ready to leave, all the time bombarded by Presford's two children throwing paper aeroplanes. He's got 'em well trained, has that Presford guy.

Everyone left was either wandering around or else sitting in a bemused state, myself included. At length I decided it was time to part with such sweet sorrow. Pete Presford kindly offered me a lift to the station, but he nearly killed me by driving into my legs just after I'd got out. I hope it was just tiredness, else god knows what he'll do to me when he reads this. At length, swallowed up in the British Rail network, I resigned myself to oblivion....

From MADCAP 1, 1972, edited by Peter Presford and Pete Colley


Peter Presford:

Yep, it is another Conv report of sorts, well I mean it helps to fill a page don't it?

In the early hours of Good Friday I set forth towards Manchester, the springs of the Paddy Wagon already groaning with the weight of John Muir's old fanzines. Pausing to collect further baggage in the shape of Pete Colley and Bri Robinson, I did collect one more (more shapely too), and that was Jill Adams from Piccadilly Station, so after picking Jill up (phew) we at last headed for Chester.

We arrived at Chester without any mishaps, which was surprising, and quickly dumping Biro, Jill, complete with their survival gear Pete and myself shout round the corner, to drop off our stuff at a small Bed and Breakfast place we had booked by phone, no foolish prices at Conv hotels for us. The hotel seemed rather devoid of fans on arriving back, but we said hello to the few we knew then dived down stairs to the bar. Ratfandom was already there and met us with their standard catch phrase "Hello, we'll have a pint each." to which we replied with our "Hi Roy hi Greg, Piss off."

The day brightened later on with wind blowing the Gannets in, and so passed the first night, just full of stupid talk (but fannish), and bhright sparkling double D bheer.

The next day dawned, as it will, and I saw down in the Blossoms to wait the arrival of my wife and family, Anita, Mark (6) and Justine, who was four that very day.

And so into the Buttery downstairs for a nosh.

Later on Saturday sitting in the lounge with said family, and also my mate Ken Appleton who had brought them down in his car, and was to take them back on Sunday, about dinner-time; well in troops the Gannet mob, who much to my surprise acted like gentlemen, or a good facsimile of anyway.

We sat there musing on the quiteness of the Conv when I suggested to Penman that a walk round the shopping precinct would be order, anyways Messers Colley and Douglass tagged along too; once outside I broached to them my idea of water-pistols, glad to say it was accepted en-masse. Everyone bought Ethel the Frog pistols, all but Penman of course, big head had to go and buy a Luger, and walked back to the Blossoms with one hand inside his coat pocket clutching it, much to the amazement (or fear?) of all the passers-by.

My wife, like all wife's spoilt it all by saying "Come on, what have you been buying now." its not fair thee knows. Aaah, the fun we had, childish I know, but fun. The many silly things we did that night will no doubt be reported elsewhere, my own triumph that fair night was in the chasing of The Mad Mole into Lisa Conesa's room party, when as he burst into the room., he ducked, I fired, and lo and behold hit Harry Harrison right in the middle of his Stonehenge, ouch nasty.

My lad Mark took to the Conv like a duck to water, just vanished into the Con Hall watching films, and ended up with oblong eyes.

I must mention the barman upstairs who was great no matter what time of the day or night, and the young lady of about 50 in the one downstairs, she ended up giving Ian Williams, or was it Pete Roberts, these fans all look alike you know; well she gave away ten bob or so (50p) with the orders, "Go and buy some S/F books". She even later purchased one giant sized grotty oil painting from the art-show(!), but like all true cowards told her it was wunderbar. The clique of Penman, Douglass, Williams, Mauler and myself must of unnerved her somewhat, we never left the bar, well only for short squirts (hi Ian) for you know what, she actually gave us some bheer for nowt, true.

Sunday came, and I dutifuly waved the wife and kids away into the Sunday traffic, 'Bye'; and ran back into the bar quick like, it was Penman's round. The room party at No 72 that evening was ok. I quite enjoyed Kettle raping Fred Hemmings clock.

Some say that I was responsible for all those rude things on the notice board, not true; someone had already started mucking about with it, and I merely suggested several improvements, and asked, for some extra letters, which arrived, amazement...

Robinson had all the fun taking pictures of it, and now refuses to print them, coward. Mind I wouldn't either.

Aaah well, it weren' t a bad Conv. And to all those I did not mentions, never mind, you've got a full year of Con reports, yeuk...

From VIEWPOINT 9, October 1972, edited by FRED HEMMINGS

(This piece extracted from editorial)

Anyway, the subject is Cons, not exhaustion, even if one does often bring the other. This issue and the next are going to be largely Conreps so if you don't like them you might almost as well chuck the zine now (come back, I didn't mean it). I've got rather fed up with people telling me the end of my Worcester one was too late: it could be said you've brought this on yourselves. Here then are versions of what went on at Eastercon 23 - Chester, while in the next, if everything goes well, you'll learn a bit about Speculation 3 - Birmingham (where else), Eurocon 1 - Trieste and something of my trip to attend the latter. There is a saying about travelling hopefully being better than to arrive, about this I'm not completely convinced but some of my journeyings seem to be fairly memorable.

I'm getting off the subject of this issue again, let's come back and concentrate on what you can read about now, Chester. Chessmancon was nothing like the convention at Worcester; some thought it better, some worse but I've heard no-one compare the two save to remark on the differences.

So far as I was concerned (and for that matter Concerned), Chester had both good and bad points. The bad are always easy to find, after all, they the ones that obtrude on enjoyment: the hotel with its tiny bars was far to small for a Convention of our size, then there were the distant overflows, a cramped hall with poor seating (which gets very important after an hour or so and a programme that started late (not that that is anything unusual but it's an irritation), carried on determinedly in the same way and seemed to feel a film should be shown on every possible accasion. Yet, to be fair, there weren't too many films (I discount the amateur ones, they were something else again), perhaps not even the number at Worcester, they just seemed very obtrusive. Perhaps the organisers being something like the Delta Film Group, in disguise, had something to do with this.

The hotel's faults were noticeable but it is worth remembering that Chester and the Blossoms were not the original site chosen for the Con, that was a bigger hotel and in Blackpool. What that one is like will probably remain a mystery but let us allow the Committee some leeway for conditions not entirely of their own choosing. Not that the Blossoms was a bad hotel, it was simply small for the Con, beyond that single fact there is only the chair question, it had many good points to offset the less fortunate. The things in its favour are led by an incredibly good staff attitude which, I feel personally, went a long way towards making it a good Con, again I hope OMPA can do as well next year. Perhaps you don't consider staff attitude particularly important, if know one certain thing, you did not attend the "70 one in London. I've said much of the accomodation was too small and this is true but it didn't apply everything; there was a large lounge situated conveniently close to one of the bars, even though not part of it (a necessity I do not accept); a much large bookroom than at Worcester, which had the additional advantage of being at ground level rather than being buried somewhere in the murky depths; a separate one for the art exhibition, by no means a necessity or perhaps, in itself, even an advantage, but it did mean a great deal more room; and a television room was just that - a room, not a masquerade on the part of a large cupboard. A big dining room meant that the banquet could be held elsewhere than in the Con Hall and laid up beforehand, a distinct advantage on the previous year's position and one of which full advantage was not taken, though a tedious wait was avoided, and finally the bedrooms; these were just that important bit larger than the Gifford ones and thus far better for throwing room parties, though still somewhat cramped. Overall I think things nearly balanced out with those at Worcester, which was after all a bigger Con; the only thing Chester really fell down on was those far distant overflows.

As regards the programme I can make little comment, save the obtrusiveness of films. I watched and enjoyed the Friday evening, having spent the afternoon meeting people; for the rest there was never enough time. Saturday morning went mainly on construction work, about which more in the Conreps and the afternoon at Lisa's Chess Tournament; then there was the OMPAcon meeting on Sunday morning, more chess, buying books, looking at the artwork, chatting and meeting people as well as such mundane tasks as eating, though these were usually combined with the meeting and chatting. I went to hear Larry Niven but found it impossible to stay, came in towards the end of what has been called the Blish and Aldiss show but never really picked up the threads, saw bits of a couple of crazy films: it could be true to say that after Friday the only items I really attended were the Fancy Dress, Auction and Banquet. In spite of this minimum attendance though I had a great time, and afterwards a small bonus; I've found this year's Conreps especially enjoyable because I wanted to know what happened elsewhere, like in the Con hall, as well as being reminded of what I was doing myself.

From VECTOR NO 62, June 1972, editor Malcolm Edwards


from Our Man at the Convention - PETER ROBERTS

[A walking tribute to the destructive power of Guinness, Peter Roberts is well-known as Britain's fannish fan par excellence. He's just completed a four-year course at Keele in - I think it was - American Studies, and is all set to join the dole queue. Which should allow plenty of time over to write Vector's second new regular feature, a column of fanzine reviews. First, however, a report on the Chester convention, at which Bram Stokes thought he was me. Which of us do you think should feel insulted, Peter? - MJE]

Last year at the Worcester Eastercon everyone told me how good a time they'd had on the Thursday evening before the official start of the convention, so I arrived happily and expectantly on Thursday afternoon, found no one in the Blossoms, and walked the mile and a half to my overspill hotel, the notorious Peacock. This bustling place was a giant Twenties pub and was closed until the landlord arrived at 6 p.m. "We generally go to bed at eleven o'clock," said his wife. "But I daresay you'll be back before then?"

Looks like a really good con, I thought.

However, things became somewhat brighter with the arrival of Greg Pickersgill, famed Fouler editor, and ex-Australian comic fan John Brosnan. We kept the poor landlady up till half past one waiting for Roy Kettle who, as it happened, was still sleeping peacefully in London. She had her own back the next morning, though, and charged John £4 for the double-room...

We made our way over to the Blossoms, where Greg and I found we'd been double-booked. Great. Last straw, and all that. Anyway, much of Friday was spent in long and tedious arguments and a great deal of trudging around; the monsoon came to Chester, the Peacock opened an hour late, and the police waited watching us, whilst we waited watching hamsters in a rat-race. If Greg and I looked sour and more than usually dishevelled on Friday, you now know why. The con committee later cleared things up and we parted fairly amicably, but the first two days of the con turned out to be a dismal and unlovely introduction to Chester.

Enough of my general woes, however. I shall now turn briefly to science fiction, the sub-literary genre to which, I'm told, the convention was dedicated. Professional writers in attendance were: Larry Niven, the Guest-of-Honour, from America; Brian Aldiss, fine British author; Harry Harrison, Anglo-American author and fan, currently plugging Stonehenge, an historical novel of sorts; Fred Pohl, well-known American writer, now editing Ace Books' sf line; John Brunner, Bob Shaw and James White, Irish fans and authors; Ted Tubb and Ken Bulmer, famed auctioneers and writers; Anne McCaffrey and James Blish, ex-Americans now in residence in Britain; and many more whom I should doubtless have mentioned. The programme was not an appealing one to a trufan, and I'm afraid I was not tempted by the various films and talks on science fiction. Such a gross neglect of fannish topics may well result in a backlash of sorts at future cons, I fear, to ths obvious detriment of sf addicts and casual visitors. It should be possible to produce a balanced programme - last year's Eastercon, for example, had a fine range of items, even a couple of serious things worth listening to, instead of "Sf in the Past, at Present, in the Future" (delete as applicable) and sundry other well-worn themes. Nevertheless one remarkable event occurred, I'm told: Brian Aldiss did a little Pohl-vaulting and a genuine argument was heard during a panel discussion!

The Blossoms Hotel itself was far too small for the con but had the most good-natured and extravagantly helpful staff I've ever encountered. The cocktail bar stayed open from 9 a.m. to 6 a.m. (hence, incidentally, the lack of room-parties) and was the setting for late-night singing, the (fool)hardier fans being supplemented by early breakfast-eaters. Have you ever heard Pete "SPECULATION" Weston singing "Danny Boy"...? Could make it a regular programme item.

The Buttery Bar downstairs was the watering-place of Chester's gay population, despite the presence of the Oddfellows pub nearby. Apart from one or two minor incidents, the regulars kept to themselves, although provoked by some idiot who persisted in carrying a whip around.

I did actually enter the con-hall for the auctions. A mass of fanzines were to be sold, part of the BSFA collection which had been rotting away unseen for many years (despite the gallant efforts of Charlie Winstone); these were unsorted, and Rog Peyton and I spent a frantic half-hour just before the auction trying to sift out some of the hideously rare items that had been mixed in with the general crud and chaff. It was a mark of the unfannish nature of the con that no one seemed to know anything about fanzines and none were in fact auctioned at the major sale. An unscheduled auction, however, grudgingly allowed a few of the things to be sold and, lo and behold, they fetched higher prices than the rare books and artwork put together. A set of HYPHEN went for £27, I believe... Visiting Texan fan, Joanne Burger, bought a large number of items against my bidding, and there was a loud, chauvinistic cheer when I finally managed to secure some pre-war stuff. Mind you, I could hardly have afforded all that I'd set my eyes on - my fannish exuberance almost had me walking home as it was. Good job my bus fare was only six bob.

Despite some setbacks, I finally found myself enjoying the con as usual; plenty of people were around, including the newly-degafiated Tony and Simone Walsh, German fans Gerd Hallenberger, Tom Schluck, Waldemar Kumming, Mario Bosnyak, and others, Rat and Gannet fandom en masse, and many more, all of whom will be rightfully annoyed that I failed to mention them. All I can do is write a longer conrep in EGG and cease to exhaust the patience of the massed readers of the BSFA who are probably bemused at the moment and now wondering whether they dare risk being seen at a con. Well, why not, eh? After all, did you do something better over Easter?

From VIEWPOINT 9 October 1972 edited by Fred Hemmings. Material by TONY ROGERS, PAULINE E DUNGATE, SAM LONG, JOHN STEWARD and FRED HEMMINGS

JOHN: CHEER our heroes as they battle their way to the last outpost of civilisation (Chester). HEAR the wise words of the speakers on the Convention panels. SEE the spectacular rush for drinks at the bar (cast of thousands, no expense spared). THRILL to the sound of Ted Tubb in full cry at the auction of the sacred writings. GOGGLE at the amazing orgiastic room parties.

- FRED; Well, something vaguely like that.

Any similarity between this Conrep and something which appeared in another zine is purely fortuitous and damn Gray Boak for coming out with his first. The doubting Thomas' amongst you can think what you like providing you also consider that a mimic is the sincerest flatterer.

I was going to give this piece the title, "It was a Black Knight when the Red King Pawned his Castle to attend Chessmancon", but thought better of it. Sam Long called his section 'Yet another Eastercon Article called Chester Song at Twilight or Fans for the Memory', which was almost as bad. Also, the first half of it has already been used and in addition, Arthur Cruttenden claims he invented it, so I had to think again. Finally, I came up with perhaps the most obvious of, so here is


My thanks are due:
to Terry Jeeves for illustrating this,
to the authors for writing it (TONY ROGERS, PAULINE E DUNGATE, SAM LONG, JOHN STEWARD)
to various people for saying things I thought quotable,
to the organisers for a Con I enjoyed,
to the staff of the Blossoms Hotel, who were marvelous,
and to nearly 200 fen who made it a Con.

JOHN; The story opens at Euston Station, early on Good Friday morning, where I began my trek towards the Galactic Rim, sorry Chester, to attend this year's annual British Convention. I had risen even earlier than usual that morning and was already feeling a trifle worn out as I staggered up the platform to the front of the train, where, believe it or not, there was actually a seat.

Three hours later I stood on the platform at Chester station. I had shared a compartment, for the whole journey, with a disgustingly healthy looking crowd of individuals who were going to spend the Easter weekend hiking in Wales, an intention which did absolutely nothing to make me feel more energetic.

I set out to find my overflow hotel (self booked; the booking arrangements for the Con this year proved to be somewhat, shall we say, erratic), and I immediately congratulated myself on finding a place literally just across the station yard. I booked myself in and then set out to find the Convention hotel itself, The Blossoms. I then encountered the first hitch; although my hotel was close to the railway station it was a long long way from both the centre of town and The Blossoms.

Still, the thought of treats in store kept me going.

The others came by road.

SAM: About 1215, Good Friday afternoon under cloudy skies, outside my flat at Oxford, I got into my car and started north northwestward.

The tale continues, three and a half hours later, as I got out at the Blossoms hotel, Chester, having had no trouble at all — no broken fanbelt or blown cylinder head gasket, no, not even a flat tire — during the 145 mile trip. It was raining, a not unusual state of affairs, though I, as a forecaster, was keenly aware that the two previous Eastercons had been bright and sunny and that people would doubtless rail at me for not having got them better weather. In fact nobody mentioned it at all.

PAULINE: Friday. Wending our way through the intricacies of motorway traffic jams. Struggling through the torturous turnings of Chester's one way system to be ejected on the far side and catapulted far away to a distant overflow hotel. Timorously, we creep back in search of a Convention.

TONY: My 1972 Eastercon had an unhappy start — I had to get up early on the Friday morning. (what self-respecting person is even conscious at 6.30am?). After this there came a rush to Kings Cross where the van hired by Ted Ball and Dave Gibson had to be met. As it happened I was almost on time but didn't spot the van at first as I was expecting something much bigger. However, that little surprise was nothing to my feelings when I saw the inside. There was the expected large volume of books from Ted and Dave's shop, Bookends, but quite apart from this, piled on the books were now five passengers and I was told I needn't have worried about being late because, as everyone else expected, Ted was still to come. In addition to all this was the largest single item, filling the entire left hand side of the van, a contraption of painted cardboard. This, Fred smilingly informed me, was his fancy dress costume. When I wondered how a grandfather clock painted all colours was a fancy dress costume I forgot Fred's addiction to puns: Technicolour Time Machine indeed. The lad has a twisted mind.

FRED; Rubbish, I am just not appreciated, still, I hope you were all waiting for the punch line.

TONY; Since everywhere else was occupied, Fred arranged for me to sit in the middle on my own case. I was rather dubious about this because it wasn't built to take that kind of treatment, and became even more so when Ted arrived and was shoehorned in to join me on top of it. The van now had its full load of eight people, their luggage, loads of books, and, of course, Fred's costume.

Off we went and a snag soon became apparent. Everytime Fred, who was driving, turned right, Ted and I slid left and mangled the costume a bit more.

FRED; Wreckers, the both of them; it took John and I a couple of hours to do the repairs. It was almost a rebuild job.

TONY; Another snag was the navigation, however, we didn't drive round in a circle more than once before turning up the Edgware Road. This had a special meaning for me because I live near it but when we drove practically past my house the resultant loud and bitter complaints that if I'd known I could not only have had a longer lie in but also saved the fare to Kings Cross, were met with the answer that they hadn't known either!

Eventually we got onto the M1 and Fred really opened up. I was surprised that the van was capable of such speed as it maintained a steady 70, but then I don't know much about them. I was simply grateful that the straight road meant no turns and I wasn't sliding onto the costume every few minutes. All I had to do now was worry about what the combined weight of Ted and myself was doing to my case.

We were moving faster than 90% of the other traffic. Some of the sports cars appeared resentful at being overtaken by a dumpy little van and one sat firmly in front of our hooter and flashing lights for several miles before finally being left behind. There were a few detours through back lanes to avoid jams and one of the places so passed had the unlikely name of Weston-under-Lizard. There were a lot of comments to the effect that we hadn't known that about him before. . .

The most important thing inside the van, it transpired, was lack of provision for cigarette butt disposal and the contortions Dave Rowe got into dropping them out of the little ventilator slots were something to watch. They became even more so when he missed and dropped one among the books. This gave an opportunity to get my case out from under but too late, it will never be the same case again.

Arriving at the Con hotel, after a quicker journey than expected, we all pitched in to unload the books and were then given lifts to our various hotels. Brian Hampton, the other driver, and I were staying at the same one, though not together. Naturally it was literally miles from the Con. Further difficulty was that the map provided by the Committee had very little resemblance to the roads provided by Chester. All too obviously the developers had got there first.

SAM: I went into The Blossoms and almost ran into the unpreposessing figure of Brian Hampton, with whom I was to share a room at the Green Bough Hotel.
"Where," I asked, "do I register?"
"Upstairs. Can you find it or do I have to draw you a picture?" said a voice behind me, none other than Dave Rowe, British Fandom's blond bearded Buonarotti, whose arm was curled around the waist of his current innamorata, Hazel (or Hazle, pronounced Haze-ley), Reynolds.

FRED; Something tells me its just as well for Sam that he's in America.

SAM; I have no doubt that the billing and cooing of this couple over the weekend aroused as much envy in less fortunate fannish breasts as John Brunner did when he came in to watch 'Barbarella' with his current girlfriend, she wearing only a pair of knickers and a long diaphanous gown.

FRED; what, no shoes, shocking.

SAM; Mind you, it was so hot, stuffy and smoky in the Con hall that it was soon obvious she was the most sensibly dressed girl in the room.

But I digress. I registered and dashed out again into the rain. There was no warden in sight as I eased my car out into the traffic. Navigating from Oxford to Chester was simplicity itself compared to getting around the city of Chester. Things would have been much worse without the map the Con committee had provided but it was, of course, very much out of date, seeing as how, since printing, a great system of ring roads and roundabouts had been built just (to use the antique phrase) without the walls. Nevertheless it was much better than nothing so it wasn't too long before I checked in at the Green Bough. Getting back into the car I noticed there was no green bough at the hotel. Not a tree or a blade of grass in the whole place, the whole front garden had been paved over as a car park.

FRED. So much for the trade descriptions act.

SAM; Anyway, I was soon back at the Blossoms, fanning about.

PAULINE: The Blossoms, chosen for the Convention hotel, stands neatly, in white and wood on a corner in Chesters Foregate Street, just outside the walls. Inside steps on the left lead directly down to the buttery and the bar while a little further on, still on the left, lies another bar. To the right a flight of stairs. At the head of these money changes hands, badges are claimed and you emerge a part of Chessmancon. Consultation of the programme booklet indicates time to locate alcohol, seek food and discover the whereabouts of the bookroom before the first item.

JOHN: I eventually tracked down the hotel and Con registered. Having done that I decided that the most important constituent of any Con required investigation; the bar(s)! Disappointment reigned, there were only two, and small ones at that. One was at ground level, long thin and very noisy; the other in the subterranean depths. I only visited it once and finding you could, almost literally, cut the atmosphere with a knife, quickly retreated. I didn't go down there again.

FRED; Coward! Actually, hell's lower.

TONY; The proverbial lateness of SF Cons was in evidence on my return and the first item, a time filler curiousity with Vincent Price demonstrating cookery, had only just started. This was interesting even if, like myself, you were more interested by what was on the table than how it got there. He even made a few monsters.

The next little short I consider a swindle. In the context of an SF Con one expects a film with the title 'Traveling Through Time' to be about time travel, not a commercial about watches. Both sound and vision were foggy too.

The main piece of the afternoon was an episode of The Avengers, 'Return of the Cybernauts'. This was a good example of the series and even better for being in colour.

With that over I began some serious work — looking for food. The first thing Fred taught me, when attending my first Con away from home, was to check the available sources of supply and very good advice it is too. Chester seemed adequately supplied with restaurants but I knew this wouldn't mean a damn thing come Sunday afternoon. I wound up having chips at an Indian Restaurant; marvellous how they soon learn to provide our staple diet. I had dinner with, amongst others the beauteous Lisa Conesa; they carried on an interesting conversation, I was a good listener. Indian dishes, I note, seem to consist largely of rice, I'll stick to chips.

SAM: The afternoon and evening, until the Grand Gala Opening, I spent meeting old fannish friends and new. There were Leroy Kettle, Jonn Brosnan, Ye Gerbish (tie longer than ever), Ethel Lindsay, Vernon Brown, Pauline Dungate, Fred Hemmings, Peter Weston (of whom one enthusiastic French fememfan is supposed to have said to her mother "Weston super, mere!", the Pardeaux, Hartley Son of Patter, Peter 'Egg' Roberts, Arthur Cruttenden and Kench Eslin, amongst others. Then there were the less familiar, like those undifferentiated bunch of Northumberfen, all of whom seemed to be named Ian (like Ian Maule and Ian Williams, by whose collective existence fandom is assured freedom from persecution, because, if the authorities tried to burn fen at the stake they would have too many lans in the fire and have to give over), the redoubtable Joanne Burger, the surpassingly beautiful Lisa Conesa.

FRED. Do you ever get bored with the adulation Lisa?

SAM; the fannish B. T. Jeeves, Esq., (with whom I had a long and fruitful conversation, and the Mearas (or Mearae). ! sorely missed the faces of Arthur G Boak, The Leggs, The Mercers, Frank Arnold, and Rambling Jake Grigg, among others who were, would they or nouldthey, absent. It was about 5pm when I received my first shock: at the cocktail bar on the ground floor, a bottle of not very good Double Diamond — a bottle mind you, not a pint — cost 15p! Prices were a bit more reasonable downstairs — a pint of Whitbread 18p — but I could tell early on that this would be an expensive Con. I can remember, only three years ago, buying a pint of bitter for the equivalent of 9p. After a light supper at a nearby Wimpy bar I returned to find Peter Roberts handing around the pictures he took at the Novacon including a couple of me in my Pontius Pilot outfit; I never knew my legs were so hairy.

PAULINE: Not until the evening and the official opening could anyone be sure who might be there, who ought to be there and wasn't or who was and hadn't ought.

JOHN; The con really got started on Friday evening with Dave Kyle's 'Meet the Celebrities', and celebrities there were: Larry Niven, Guest of Honour, author of Ringworld and other SCIENCE-fiction novels; Fred Pohl, famed author and editor, writer Harry Harrison, recent co-author with Dr. Leon Stover (who was also present) of historical novel 'Stonehenge', which he was doing a grand job of publicising. Also in evidence ws Harry Harrison's straight man Brian Aldiss, plugging Barefoot in the Head for the Eurocon Award in Trieste. In addition there were John Brunner, Jim Blish, Jim White, Ken Bulmer, and far too many others to mention here; the introduction were so arranged as to enable everyone in the room (including yours truly) to stand up and be counted at one point or other.

PAULINE; Harry Harrison headed back to the bar and Phil Strick introduced the film.

TONY; The Friday night movie (an American must have sneaked into the printing office)...

FRED: Someone named Burns?

TONY; ...was Fahrenheit 451, based on Ray Bradbury's famous work. It followed the book unusually closely and was well made. I have never really liked Bradbury works, considering them more fantasy than science fiction, but, for once, this was more of the latter. However, the pleasure was marred somewhat by the discussion that followed; I have always considered it a mistake to analyse such things too closely — you often wind up with a skeleton of techniques and no enjoyable flesh. The talk was over intellectual and ridiculous, especially from Strick, who seemed determined to run both sides down, saying that the society Montag joined seemed as static as the one he had left. You could say the same about a bag of stones and a packet of seeds.

JOHN: As I had seen Fahrenheit 451 only a few weeks previously, at the National Film Theatre, I adjourned to the bar. Much drinking followed and I was eventually hauled off to a mysterious room party (I am still trying to remember who was giving it). 4a.m. Saturday saw me walking rather unsteadily back to my hotel.

PAULINE: Friday evening conspiracy. Vernon.Brown lures away the enemy. Peter Weston and author sneak along corridors and up fire escapes. Pause; they listen. They knock. A door opens, they enter. Bodies lie strewn over the floor or perched on beds and other sundry furniture. Vernon Brown arrives, mission accomplished. Home brew flows freely. In one noisy corner, the room's owner, Doreen Parker, glamerous in her dressing gown, invaded whilst preparing for bed. The door re-opens and a captured captured Guest of Honour is ushered in.BR> Incident -
On one bed Larry Niven, in the corner Fred Hemmings.
Editor: (retreating further into corner) why is it always lovable I?
GoH: Lovable eyes, who's got lovable eyes? (Looks at authoress) Have you got lovable eyes?
Authoress: I don't know; have I?
Editor: Her Never!
GoH: (peering) I think so. You've got lovable eyes (kisses authoress).
Phil Rogers: (butting in). What's going on here?
Authoress: Has he got lovable eyes?
GoH: Yes, but I'm not kissing him.
Phil Rogers: (eying GoH beard) I should hope not, we might get entangled.
Editor: Then we should have to cut it off.
(It should be explained that the editor is refering to Phil Rogers moustache).

In the little hours, Chester saw the revellers staggering through her streets, heading for those elusive, long forgotten, overflow hotels.

SAM: Eight o'clock Saturday morning found me grudgingly awake. I went down to breakfast and remenber reflecting, as I stirred my coffee, on the inability of the average British landlady to conceive that people want anything else on toast but marmalade and wondering what made Chester scrambled eggs so watery.

JOHN: Saturday: 'Wake up with Harry Harrison as he discusses some symbols in Science Fiction', so the programme said, and wake up we did. Harry's symbols were mostly sexual ones. However, its not what you say, its the way that you say it, and, as someone at the con perceptively remarked, a Harry Harrison lecture is not so much a talk as a series of sound effects. Thats how it struck me too.

PAULINE: The convention is desperately seeking salvation from the little white pill in the little pink packet, suitably enlivened it watches the programme rush on, no time for questions. Some desperately seek bars or elusive waiters while those remaining are asked to travel back fifty years to the beginnings of SF. Poised above 1922, Peter Weston's time machine slips, plummeting the unsuspecting back to the Speculative era of the formidable Plato, when Icarus was star struck and Atlantis ruled the Weston seas.

A slowly growing throng climbs back through the Dark ages, Journeys to the Centre of the Earth, battles moustachioed Martians and leaps Planetward on a Galaxy of Astounding adventures, but time runs out and Philip Strick returns to read a violent dinnertime story.

TONY: Low point was reached with Philip Strick and his daft ideas. I have never met such a man for picking examples which prove the reverse of what he's saying, besides which I haven't forgiven him for that nauseating cartoon he introduced as a masterpiece at the Worcester Con.

PAULINE: Meanwhile the local newshounds had arrived to immortalise the festivities in black and white and capture on cellulose for the Chester Chronicle a preview of the fancy dress - the authoress, complete with feather duster and Linda Lewis at the reigns of a Peke drawn Palanquin.

TONY: In the afternoon came the Guest of Honour speech by Larry Niven. He is one of those who are definately not internally amplified. To make matters worse, lack of sleep the previous night was beginning to catch up and I kept on dropping off. Despite all efforts, I'd catch a few words, doze off without noticing, wake up to find I'd missed a great portion and then repeat the performance. To my annoyance, I missed most of the talk, not being concious for more than about ten minutes of it. This despite it being interesting technically, although I later met people who claimed they fell asleep for that very reason.

PAULINE: Afternoon, same day. An instructive talk entitled 'How to Construct your own Ringworld' by Larry Niven.

Take a cloud of cosmic dust and allow luminous body to condense in centre for 5x10to the ninth years. Mould remaining dust into a narrow strip of rock a few miles thick. Wrap around sun and join ends. Incubate for a further 4x10to the ninth years and introduce primative life. Construct shade zone and decorate with marginal walls. Serve Ringworld at perihelion, garnished with solar perturbations.

As dessert, another film.

TONY: I woke up for The Jesters Tale, a Czech film with subtitles. This was a slightly surrealistic mixture and had nothing to do with SF, but what the hell, it was good and highly amusing. I don't know what audience it was originally intended for but it reminded me strongly of the childrens Saturday morning pictures.

The afternoon was wound up by Fred Pohl with 'The Shape of Science Fiction to come', of which I remember not a blessed thing.

After dinner I returned to Ted and Dave's room in the Con hotel, where I promised to assist Fred with his fancy dress. While there I watched Dave Rowe preparing his costume, or rather being prepared for it, since, allowing his artistic tendencies to run away with him, he was going as the Illustrated Man.

FRED: Actually as Mr. Dark same difference.

TONY; It reminded me of the Heicon, where Poul Anderson's daughter, Astrid, went as the Frog Princess. Took days for the green colour to wear off her.

We carried Freds costume down to the Committee room on time, not that it made any difference of course, the show was late starting. Waiting there meant that I missed most of the early part but there was compensation for I had a close-up view of the other contestants waiting in the room. Many and ingenious they were too. Dave Rowe got a few extra decorations as the make up of Gollum was definately not colour fast. Of the two Planet cover girls I preferred the more covered version but I seemed alone in this.

FRED: No there were two of us at least.

TONY; After all, to take the legalistic view, no costume is no costume, even if she did provide some comic relief by requiring emergency repairs to her metal bra.

Building the costume around Fred (it was that massive), I conveyed him into the hall and pointed him down the aisle. It was hilarious because he couldn't manage more than a shuffle and he literally stopped the show while waiting for him to reach the dais. How he managed to see where he was going was a puzzle. It was even funnier when they tried to get him up the,steps onto stage but this proved impossible. They finally gave him a special award for what was obviously a lot of work (they should have had him judged by an architect). The costume was eventually abandoned somewhere in the hotel.

FRED; Actually it was grabbed by Rat-fandom for some nefarious purpose known only to them. I gather it wound up on the roof.

SAM: Saturday was spent in typical fannish fashion: sitting around talking, listening to talks, sipping bheer, dozing, strolling through the art show (some quite good stuff there by the way), flipping through the books and mags, including Penthouse and Mayfair (famous for their kinky letter columns), and some Olympia press SF cum Pornography paperbacks that some enterprising huckster had put out.

FRED: Courtesy Peyton enterprises almost unlimited.

SAM; I even broke down and bought a book — no, not pornography, a James Branch Cabell novel.

I watched the Boat Race on TV that afternoon: Oxford lost again. I kibitzed at Lisa Conesa's chess tourney, ead the OMPA mailing; in a few words I did my own thing all through that long afternoon. About 4 I noticed it was dry and looked likely to remain thus, so I took the car to the Green Bough and walked back. Now I could drink that evening with a clear conscience. Upon my return I dined with Joanne Burger and afterward went to the fancy dress party. Alas, it wasn't as good as last years. Something of a pity that I couldn't find something to top Pontius Pilot. I was tempted to step up there, in mufti and announce myself as the greatest fantasy writer of all time — a weather forecaster, or else get a weightlifter outfit and a Howie Rosenblum mask to go as C.S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength...

FRED: Definately Sam's safer in America.

SAM; ...but I didn't. Hazle Reynolds went as Florence from The Magic Roundabout and had the devils own time trying to find baby shoes large enough for her. Fred Hemmings went as a red white and blue...

FRED: Not to mention green brown and yellow.

SAM; ...grandfather clock — The Technicolour Time Machine. He won a prize for his originality and the audience gave him a big hand. His slow progress up the aisle in his outfit — how fast, after all, can you go with a cardboard box around your ankles — inspired the following:

Old Fred Heminings clock was too large for the shelf
So it stood all weekend on the floor.
It was taller by half than the trufan himself
Though it weighed not a kilogram more.
It was made on the morn of the night twas to be worn
And was always his joy and his pride.
But he stopped — short — never to move again
When he got — in — side.

PAULINE: Enter gaudily regaled participants. The brave amongst us proudly face the blinding crossfire of wicked flashguns. Roped in comes a closely-knit fan group, distantly followed by a tottering Technicolour Time Piece.

FRED: Time was obviously not on their side.

PAULINE; Attracted by the commotion, the Man from the Ministry followed Florence in pursuit of The Golden Apples of the Sun. In the confusion, produced by the appearance of the Captain of the Skeleton Guard, the hideous bug eyed compere abducted the Spirit of Planet Stories, whose costume promptly became unchained.

Once more, the projector purred into life.

SAM: After the fancy dress we had the Delta Group's film festival which was a great success. Several amateur films (of vastly differing quality), were shown, all of a fantasy nature. One was about everyone dying except two people who then come close to killing each other in cars. The hero comes out of hospital to find dead people strewn all over the street and cars up on the pavements. It must have taken a great deal of time and trouble to get extras lying down and playing dead, not just on one street but on many. Another excellent film was The Horla, in colour and sound, though it was easy to tell that it had been shot silent and the sound track added later. Then there was Captain Celluloid, a silent serial made in the late fifties, complete with an overweight superhero who fights the Master Duper, an evil masked character who nicks vintage films and duplicates then at a profit in sales to film societies: this was so bad it was good. Finally there was was The Man Who Bought the North Pole, a silent epic after Jules Verne which brought irreverent comment from the audience.

Final organised event of the evening was Barbarella: as you know this was a French comic strip of faintly pornographic character before it became a movie. I've read the book in translation and enjoyed it muchly. The film was, well, not as good as the book but still most enjoyable, decadent, full of the most interesting (and kinky) special effects. I daresay the film wouldn't have been so coy if it had been made today...

TONY: We were asked to vote for the most entertaining of the Delta films but I didn't because I disliked them all, for one reason or another.

'And on the Eighth Day' had a very pessimistic attitude and was a mass of cliches. In fact it looked as if someone had tried to construct a script out of nothing but — succeeded, which produced massive Foghorn Fred's voice being noticable. Anyhow, is Calor Gas poisonous?

'The Horla':, based on a Dennis Wheatley devil worship situation was expertly made, almost professional in quality, even if it did telegraph the sisters involvement but it had a depressing outcome — I expect my heroes to win!

'The Visitors' had more telegraphing — it was simply a matter of time before he lost his pills and a very unoriginal way he did it too.

'Captain Celluloid v The Film Pirates' was banned from the voting because it was out to make an honest buck. An episode from an adventure serial it was another reminder of Saturday mornings.

'Purchase of the North Pole' was constricted by its format — a Verne story needs time to unfold and time to explain it. Lack of either produced something the audience enjoyed, but not in the way intended.

Following after came the professionals, if such can be said of 'Fine Finny Fiends', a Batman saga and surely a startling example of a deliberately badly made film.

The piece de resistance of the evening (or was it the early morning?), was 'Barbarella'. This was purely enjoyable, escapist nonsense; it had no message, just entertainment. I thought when I saw it the first time (this was the third), that if the opening nude sequence was cut (it had nothing to do with the slight story line, just being an excuse to show off Jane Fonda), it would have been suitable for children. Nowadays, you wouldn't even have to bother about that.

Again the long walk to my hotel in the small hours, past, incidently, a vast dark hulk of a church which looked quite morbid after watching 'The Horla'.

JOHN; After the amateur films and Barbarella things began to get a bit hazy (too many light ales?). However, I somehow found myself at the Irish fandom room party along with Bob Shaw, James White, uncles, aunts, wives, leprechauns, fans, spirits (disembodied and the other kind), and various other attendees from the Emerald Isle. It was at this party that I was handed a glass of something which looked deceptively like tapwater but was, I was solemnly assured, 170% proof. Saturday, or rather the early hours of Sunday morning, ended with Vic Hallett and myself staggering peacefully through the streets of Chester and being questioned by the local Fuzz as to the contents of our brief cases.

SAM : I found a room party, whereat I stayed and drank bheer for several hours, consuming enough to get me high but not drunk — a pleasant state of affairs - and I really enjoyed myself. Why, I even thought John Brunner was talking sense. Maybe he was. It's he who should have gone to the fancy dress with a wagonload of busts of the Chinese leader — John, carter of Maos. Finally, after a last drink downstairs, around fourish, serenaded by a bunch of half looped fen singing a particularly obscene rugby song, I stumbled out the door.

PAULINE; The time: early the next morning.
The scene: Chester.
Rooms have been abandoned; only the intrepid remained. While the liquor flowed they had serenaded the night and a long suffering barman, tastefully accompanied by the strumming of a guitar. Now, as dawn's cold fingers touch the sky with grey, our heroes, newly come from their battle against fatigue, stroll langourously along the rampart walls of this ancient and modern city.

Behind them, the sane sleep soundly.

Sunday is inevitable. In rooms where only the initiated dare to tread, various societies meet, their numbers desperately thin; 230 of the 233 convention members are still in bed.

TONY: On Sunday morning, I took good care to stuff myself with food at breakfast, even eating part of Graham Poole's, this after remembering Sunday at Worcester and starvation.

I hesitated between attending one of Sunday's discussions or seeing 'Godzilla versus The Thing', and nearly missed seeing Godzilla because a repeat was promised. However, a quick tour decided me and I went to the pictures. Godzilla is the same kind of hokum as Batman, but made straight, he (?), is also, obviously, the kingsize Japanese version of Hammer's Dracula — killed off at the end of the film to be revived at the beginning of the next.

SAM: Funny, you don't realise how bad those Japanese monster films of a decade or so ago really were until you see them again. Still, the special effects were, on the whole, well carried out, The Thing and its larvae defeated. Godzilla (whom I was rooting for), and the Thing, a gigantic moth, died; but what I wonder happened to the larvae.

Having woken after only about four hours of sleep I was dozy all afternoon. I wandered out from the lounge to bar and Con hall, watched a Diplomacy game, chatted and saw the auction; but all that afternoon I had at the back of my mind that I must be back at work by seven the following morning. Since I didn't want to drive too late at night and did want to get a good night's sleep I had to leave early. Therefore I bade my friends farewell and was off. Of the Con then, I can say no

JOHN: Most of Sunday was spent sitting around recovering, chatting, buying books, drinking (again!), and eating. (Ha! You thought I was going to give you another boring recital of the days various lectures and panels didn't you. Well, you were wrong; the fact is that I didn't attend any of them. Later on I looked in on the Auction which pursued its usual hilarious course with Ted Tubb and Phil Rogers at the helm.

TONY; The after dinner talk by Brian Aldiss is another complete blank, almost at least. Obviously I have a visual memory and not an aural one. The only things I remember him saying were that we need no longer worry about dumped radioactive waste drifting because our new knowledge of geology showed how it could be buried in continental trenches to be dragged down into the Earth's mantle for the next several hundred million years, and a neat switch on chicken manure disposal (of special interest to me after my methane production effort in VIEWPOINT #7), mix it with newspaper and use the result as cattle food, the manure providing nitrogen and the paper cellulose. Otherwise, I have a clear memory of Jack Cohen, another person with a built in amplifier, loudly and vehemently disputing some statements as being too limited, but thats it.

PAULINE; Brian Aldiss is beginning to think he is Harry Harrison and James Blish.

Between, them they herald in the auction and Ted Tubb offering, at bargain prices, cans of beer to a populace daft enough to give twice the price that's being asked for them ten feet below. Bargains galore - the BSFA fanzine library anyone?

There followed a discussion. Why is it that when a panel begins to get extremely interesting the winds of change have to blow everyone out of town in order to dress for dinner. (At this point it should be noted that most of the members of the Con believe they are Harry Harrison; while Harry Harrison believes he is Brian Aldiss).

Food! and prizes - has anyone seen Brian Aldiss? 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?

TONY; I was suprised 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!

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.

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, it's quite possible that's the only chance you'll get.

After a brief look at a room party, where things appeared rather hectic -

PAULINE: "Its full of rum and coke," declares winner of the Doc Weir Award, Jill Adams, drinking deeply from her trophy. She chokes and gazes into the half full vessel. "The barman's forgotten the coke."

TONY: - and getting steadily sleepier, I went off to bed. I'm just not a party goer at that time of night.

The now vacant Monday morning I used for a quick look at the walls of Chester. They look rather incongrous, old weathered stone, overshadowed on both sides by modern supermarkets, etc. Following them round to the river, I came to the weir and was suprised to see it feeding a small hydroelectric power station, although the fall couldn't have been more than six feet.

Returning to the Blossoms I helped pack the books in the van — there was more room now with those sold gone, but especially without Fred's costume. I found trouble brewing with Ted wanting to make a massive detour, with an extra passenger, to buy fan mags from him. There was considerable displeasure by all at the time this would take and talk of returning to London by train, this wound up with everyone threatening to leave the van, even Dave, Ted's partner. Outvoted 7-1 Ted gave in and told the bloke, only to be roundly abused and told that there weren't really any zines for sale, it had only a trick to get a lift home.

The final period at the hotel was enlivened by Fred going round and dunning everybody in sight into signing up for next year's Con, from which holy work he had to be forcibly dragged.

JOHN: Monday brought the usual sinking feeling associated with going home, and a resolve to go and read some of the books that everyone seems to talk of at Conventions, and that you've never heard of, let alone read. Something that I missed during lunchtime that day was free beer, apparently donated by Harry Harrison, to practically anyone in sight, or at least in the bar, which was a great shame.

After lunch; down to the station and onto the train to take me back to the centre of the universe (London of course, not Birmingham).

By the way, if anyone reading this has never been to a Con and thinks, from my report, that most of the time is spent drinking, I can only say you might be right! I wonder what teetotallers do?

FRED: They avoid hangovers and can watch all the programme if they want.

TONY: So, off to London once more. Onto the motorway and Fred pushed the van up to the speed limit, we were barrelling along when suddenly the van began to buck and sway; then it commenced to weave across the road. Stopping on the shoulder to examine it we found a rear tire flat, we had been doing 70 on it! Last year, as he was driving me home, he nearly fell asleep at the wheel; if this goes on I'm going to become paranoic about Fred.

When we came to repair the puncture one tiny problem arose, part of the tool kit was missing. We had to jump on a lever to get it in a shape that could be used to jack up the van and even then a bunch of us had to climb onto the opposite corner to offload the flat tire. Hanging precariously onto the van and each other, whilst being flogged by Stan Nicholls' long hair, will be my special memory of the Con. At that I had the easy part of it, the tough job was getting dusty under the van while levering it up a fraction of an inch at a time. There was a constant stream of traffic whizzing past a few yards away, all gaping at the sight we made. I was surprised that there were no accidents a hundred yards down the road.

The wheel replaced, off we went again, to a thence incidentless trip. Reaching London, I was the first to be dropped and my luck stayed in — I didn't even have to wait for a bus home.

PAULINE; Temporarily, still at Chester. Monday. A regretful time; goodbyes to be said, hangovers to nurse, bills to be paid.

A last opportunity to sortie, along the walls of Chester, to ponder on the words of the Rubaiyat and discourse on the inconsistances of Pythagoras.

A last chance to take a ride on a windy riverboat.

A final opportunity to sit quietly and discuss shocking pink mustangs with Fuzzy Pink and other trivialities with Larry Niven, far into the afternoon.

The final chance to prove that THAT is Harry Harrison, and Stonehenge is on a plain near Salisbury.

FRED; Roll on next year.