Dave Gardner:

Les Johnson was asked to speak on the Society at the Convention and the quotes which you will find below are taken from some of his notes.

In the first place I would like to say how pleased I am to be addressing this gathering, and to have the honour of being invited to do so. But I'm really here by the courtesy of David Gardner who wrote asking if I could say a few words, without first asking me if I had any words to say.

Forry Ackerman, in a letter to Dave, referred to him as A.E. Van Gardner; I am therefore dedicating this address to David Gardner and his collection of rejection slips.

So far, A.E.Van Gardner's only claim to fame is that he was the first British fan met by Forry on arrival at Liverpool last year; David has thus acquired undying fame, and editors like Ted Carnell might kindly note that in view of such fame it's time they stopped sending David such regular rejection slips for his hack stories.

To leave David Van Gardner for the moment, I am glad to report that the LaSFaS, is doing very well. The Society was formed last Autumn and we have eight of our members here at the convention today.

The numbers on the Society's books run to 22, plus three Hon. members: Eric Frank Russell, Ted Carnell and Forry Ackerman. Usually we have a turn out of about a dozen members each meeting, one of these days we may even have everybody there and that would mean that we really would have to see about new premises. As with the Manchester group, we were approached by the Manager of the Gaumont (TrocaDERO) Cinema, London Road. Les and Frank of the Milcross kindly lent some book-jackets and mags for a display in the foyer. Mock newspapers were also available to any who cared to pick one up, and both the Milcross and the Society had adverts on the back page of said paper. In the Society premises, which we had to decorate especially for the occasion, we had a display of S-F mags and art work, plus a five foot six model of a Space Ship built by Norman Shorrock. The mags numbered about 1,000 and succeeded in hiding most of the blotches on the walls, but what a job hanging those blessed things up. They all had to be bound in cellophane and then strung up on racks which were hanging from the ceiling. We told ourselves that it was a job which could be done in an hour but found to our sorrow that it took nearly all day Sunday to fix the place up. Well, we had some visitors and also brought in some new members to the. Society so we can't complain - except for one thing. We were all so busy arranging things and being on duty at the Dive the week that the film was showing --we didn't see the reputed epic. Can't anyone tell us the story or better still send us round the reels for a private showing?: I doubt if we'll ever look after film publicity again. (Les talking again):

We have our own Headquarters known as the Space Dave, (sorry - Space Dive) 13A, St. Vincent Street, Liverpool, and meetings are held there every Monday evening.

Unfortunately, I'm not able to attend many meetings, because my wife won't let me out on Mondays. The Space Dive is very well named, because one has to Dive down several flights of steps to enter its precincts, and once inside there's certainly a lack of Space. But it's very cosy, and with the help of Oxygen cylinders we're usually able to survive in the smoke laden atmosphere.

Of course, before the war, Liverpool was one of the major strongholds of Science-Fiction; the British Interplanetary Society was founded in Liverpool in 1933 by Phil Cleator, Colin Askham and myself, and we had some of our first Science-Fiction meetings about 1931.

I don't wish to drag on this diatribe too long, but there are a few more points that I would like to make. I am, I suppose, classified amongst "Northerners" and I know that amongst us Northerners there is a number of fans who complain and ask why it is that the Conventions must always be held in London. I am not one of these. I consider London is the best natural centre for a Convention, just as I thought in 1937 that it should be the natural Headquarters of the B.I.S., when in spite of protests and the 'Better judgement' of Cleator and Askham, I passed control to the London group.

There's no reason why we Northerners could not have our own conventions, as and when we may be able to organise them. But to my mind London is definitely the right and proper centre for a main Convention, especially in these days when S-F has grown to almost the stage of a nationally recognised avocation.

Finally I just want to make certain that A.E. Van Gardner is still here and has not as yet departed for the Windmill Theatre, because between you and me, his main purpose in coming to London was not to be at the Convention, but to go to the Windmill, where he'd heard tales that there were Beautiful Earth Maidens in various stages of undress. So if there are any others in the audience who would like to make up a party to visit the Windmill on Monday before going back home, I'm sure that if they contact Dave after tea he will make all the arrangements.

Know something? Only one person asked if I really did intend going to see the B.E.Ms. It was somebody from Manchester; I think he wanted to come along if I was going, however, I won't mention any names, it might make Eric Bentcliffe feel rather embarrassed.