*** The Official Programme ***

Saturday 5th June


Perhaps I'd better start at breakfast time Saturday morning. The second one, that is. Pete Taylor and I had already fed. This one was in the hotel and consisted mainly of greeting the Irish Contingent, Chuck Harris, Tony Thorne, Ken MacIntyre, and the majority of those who had stayed in the hotel Friday night. We all lined our stomachs well in preparation for the drinking. At intervals we poked our heads out of the window to look for the London Circle.


The sun was shining on Manchester when Irish Fandom arrived. Before we could explain to the bewildered inhabitants what it was, we were met by Fred Robinson and Terry Jeeves, plenipotentiaries for Eric Bentcliffe, and escorted to the hotel. After everyone has fed their sensitive fannish faces we drifted along to the Convention Hall to make sure that everything was all right. It was.... the public address system had just broken down. Pleased to see that all was proceeding on traditional lines we drifted out again and mounted guard on the front steps to look out for the motorised convoy of Londoners. After an hour or so the others - fake fans all - got tired of waiting and deserted their posts.


Best of all the new fannish faces though, was George All The Way Charters.... After leaving Walt to guard the hotel entrance and keen for the London Convoy, Madeleine, Bob, James, and I, went off to mail some poctsarcds. The Post Office was right next door to the Airport Terminus, and as we came out GATWAC 's bus drew up. (To save Archie Mercer writing in, - George flew over from Belfast, and the bus had brought him from the airport into the centre of Manchester.) Anyrate, as George arrived he was so overwhammed by what looked like a Reception Committee, that when Madeleine introduced me, he stuck out his hand. My reflexes are pretty good, and before he could remember I'm a Pariah Dog, I'd grabbed it and shook it. Yes, I shook hands with George Charters, WHO HAS APPEARED IN HARD COVERS, - and it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference that he wiped his hand on his trouser leg afterwards. George, of course, wouldn't stay at a joint like the Grosvenor, so we had to leave him for a while, go back and collect Walt and some others.


At about half-past nine we came to a fairly large town, and the sight of well-breakfasted Northerners doing their Saturday morning shopping made us realise how hungry we were. We couldn't afford to pay town prices for the size of breakfast we wanted, but at the first transport cafe the other side of the place we drove in. This was an odd joint, an ex-RAF mess-hall by the look of it, converted into a civvy cafe by installing a couple of pin-ball machines and a juke-box. We sat down in an immensity of tables and forms and engulfed a huge bacon-and-egg breakfast . . . all except one fried egg, which, swimming in a little pool of fat, was left by someone with a too-vivid memory of that blue smoke. We looked at the thing, and it reminded us of something. Amongst the props we had brought from Town was a realistic rubber fried egg. We had, as far as I can recall, no very clear idea of why we brought it; it just seemed a Good Thing To Have Along. Refreshed with breakfast, we began to think again. If we could work something with the rubber egg, then substitute a real one for it for a Northerner to grab...we found a newspaper and wrapped the egg up in it and went out. We felt a lot better. The car started and moved to the gate and another car came past on the road from London and someone yelled "That's Ted's car" "You're dreaming!" "No, I recognise the EYEs in the back." The issues of No. 1 had been arranged tastefully around the windows in case we could sell any en route.

Ron put his foot on the accelerator and we surged forward, but it seemed hopeless. Ted's car was much faster. We cursed stopping for that egg. But luck was with us; there was a hill ahead and a string of vehicles crawling up it, and we managed to get behind Ted's. A frantic tattoo on the horn; heads swung around and jaws dropped......

Five minutes later, in a roadside cafe, eight of us swapped our terrible experiences, and we heard about the taxi. Vandy had her instructions. . .drive straight to the rendezvous. So she had drove. Ted, getting worried about the absence of Bert and the Buchmaster's car, had tried to catch her up and couldn't. Vandy had been averaging 45mph at least, which meant she'd been hitting 50 for periods. We found out later that they thought the speedo was broken. . . Vandy had been told not to rely on it. (it was probably registering about 5mph out.) However, she waited about 10 miles short of the rendezvous, Ted caught it up, and the party had waited for a couple of hours and breakfasted. Then, very worried, Ted had unloaded Jim Rattigan into the taxi to make room for Bert and/or myself in his car, sent the taxi on and travelled back at high speed. He must have passed the garage where we were fiddling with the gasket without either of us noticing the other. He'd gone back an incredible way...about 40 miles, I think, and must have turned towards Manchester again about 10 miles short of Bert.

We considered phoning again, but for all we knew Bert night have arrived at Manchester by this time, or at least sent a message to the Grosvenor, and we were feeling too dead to do anything but press on like a horde of lemmings. We went on, though slowed down by the morning traffic; the two vehicles were separated on the outskirts of Manchester again, but it didn't matter now. We found ourselves in streets marked on the AA large-scale map of the city, then, in the streets marked on the Convention map, and at 2.30 or so someone raised the cry of "There's the Grosvenor" We swept past it and around the nearest convenient corner and parked. It was incredible. We had arrived! Ted Tubb's car came up a few minutes later. Feeling light-headed with fatigue we went into the hotel.


I held my ground steadfastly, scanning the horizon with keen eyes and directing other strangers to Manchester to various places, and was eventually rewarded by the sight of a London taxicab tearing past loaded to the gunwales (the zapgunwales) with fans, the top layer consisting largely of Walter Gillings wearing a tropical pith helmet with a home-made aluminium propeller on top. My opinion of Gillings soared.

John Roles, Pete Taylor, and John Brunner with the pith helmet

I waved and shouted at the taxi and it drew up at the next corner and began to disgorge an apparently inexhaustible supply of fans. I welcomed them to Manchester and helped them in with their luggage. I got no tip, except that Bert Campbell's motorbike had broken down outside Rugby and nothing had been heard of him since. This was so completely what might have been expected that nobody believed it for quite a while, and the Northerners obviously expected Bert to materialise in their midst at any moment. I think it was this, and not the official programme, which was responsible for the general air of expectancy throughout the Convention that any moment something might happen.


Pat Doolan and I, with the rest of the Liverpool Group, arrived at the Grosvenor just after 10.30am. We had to battle our way through the crowds of fen (and Brian Burgess) waiting to greet us on the steps and in the foyer, in order to reach the reception desk.

After finding our rooms, which were all in the same corridor, we wended our way downstairs to the Con room. On the way we met Sandy Sanderson who greeted us with "Shush, I'm still in Egypt".

The Con room was very crowded with folk greeting each other and setting up their displays. Womanlike, the first thing I looked for was the FEZ display which was not bad, considering we had very little to display really. In the FEZ corner I met Ethel Lindsay and Frances Glynn. Frances Evans was at the door very busy helping Brian Varley to collect subs. I hope they eventually managed to collect all that were owing, as the London Circle and a few others seemed a little, shall we say, shy.


In 1954 the annual Convention was to be held in Darkest Manchester, and about four weeks before this event took place I was approached in the White Horse tavern by Ron Buckmaster and B..... Provincial Campbell who asked me if I'd accept the role of the 'sacrifice' in a sketch the London Circle would be putting on. I agreed and said I would provide my own props.

Three days before the Convention I went into a butchers and bought l/6d worth of lights for use in the sketch.

I arrived in Manchester on the Good Friday at 8 a.m. just in time to take Peter Hamilton's morning tea in to him. As I wasn't sleeping in the hotel I asked Peter if I could leave my rucksack in his room. Peter said "yes."

Later on, about 4 p.m. I was very tired as I'd had no sleep the previous night, so I asked Peter if I could kip down on his bed for a few hours.

When I reached his room, I unloaded the rucksack and, for some reason, put the paper bag which contained the lights, and which by now were beginning to smell a bit high, under the bed. I left the hotel about 2 a.m. the next morning, forgetting all about the lights. On my return to the hotel after breakfast, I went to Peter's room to collect the lights, which, by now, were becoming an embarrassment, and found he'd wakened in the night because of the smell, he'd scoured the room looking for the source of the stink and finding it under the bed had nearly been sick before he managed to crawl to the window and throw the whole shebang into the canal below.

I've never been allowed to forget this incident and the topic is recounted to all newfen joining the London Circle.

... Brian Burgess

Brian Burgess and Joy Goodwin (later Clarke) (ns)


Burgess came around later to collect them and was highly indignant at Peter for putting out his lights. He explained that he had intended to put them in Norman Shorrock's bed. I am sorry to say however that this eminently reasonable explanation was not in accordance with the facts. Actually the entrails were part of the props for a highly secret item the London Circle proposed to put on tomorrow---a fake human sacrifice to culminate in Ted Tubb throwing entrails among the audience; just another of the wonderful London Circle ideas which when the time came they found they hadn't the guts to put on.


At 11.20 the Con. started and as it showed every sign of running true to form I joined Bob Shaw with a view to the procurement of bheer. However, I wasn't a resident of the hotel so I apparently legally couldn't have a thirst there and then, so Bob, James White, and myself went out to lunch.


At precisely 11.30 I went along to the Convention Hall to see if the Londoners would carry out their secret plan to draw attention to the official starting time with a rocket take-off count. Judge of my horror to find some brash Northern neofan called Harry Turner getting up to declare the Convention open and calling for witnesses that it had started on time. Some of the older fans would have collapsed from shock at this unheard-of breach of hallowed tradition, had not Dave Cohen swiftly restored an atmosphere of security with a few ritual apologies and by failing to introduce half the notables present.

One of the apologies was that because of the failure of the public address system it was not going to be possible to start the proceedings with a rocket takeoff count as the Manchester Group had planned. After this the lunch break was declared.


I tottered down the stairs and found the bar. Clutching a beautifully cold glass I spoke to three fans I knew and two I'd only met at Conventions, but before I could even finish the glass the hotel manager or somebody came up and asked us if we'd change the venue of the Con to another room. He couldn't find any of the Committee.

Les Johnson, Norman Weedall (ns)

Being asked to change the venue within ten minutes of arriving at the place was so outrageous - if the Manchester boys had come in during it they'd never have believed us and there would have been a pitched battle - that we just clutched our glasses tighter and indicated that we "no speakee Mancunian!" The manager went off, looking bewildered. It was good practice for him, seeing what was coming later.

I couldn't even finish the drink in peace. I got involved with Walt Gillings, Ken Bulmer and a couple of current pro-eds in a discussion about some uninteresting damn thing like "science-fiction - whither?", or "science-fiction - how much?"... I forget, because James White and Bob Shaw drifted into the lounge and sat there gaping at me, so I excused myself by saying I only wrote for trufanzines and the slicks and lurched across to them. They said someone was looking for me, but it was only Walt or Chuck, so I left them the glass and went to dinner with someone - oh yes, it was Ken and Pam Bulmer - because I remember Pam saying she'd laddered her nylons seven times already and I thought this was fast going even for a convention, but anyway we wont to dinner and the waitress gave us a dirty look - Manchester had so many of them to give away - but we left her a good tip - a quotecard under the plate reading THE POO IS MIGHTIER THAN THE YOBBER - and went back to the Grosvenor.


When we got back we were told that the Convention Hall had been moved from the First Floor to the Ground Floor. I assumed at first that the Manager had been warned about sf conventions and had decided to move the Hall down a floor before this took place in the normal course of events, but in fact it turned out that his ignorance of Conventions was so blissful that he was only worried about his newly decorated walls being disfigured with cellotaped notices. He didn't seem to realise how lucky he was he still had walls. At any previous Convention the notices would have been fixed on with thumbtacks, nails or even daggers.

The eventual con hall - Vince Clarke at left (eb)

However the gentlemanly Manchester fans had spent the entire lunch break moving everything from one hall to another, and were still running around in little circles uttering plaintive cries. My heart bled for them, and for future Convention Committees. This was another Mancon 'first'. Many terrible things have happened to Convention Committees, but having to move to another Hall in the middle of the Convention is a new and ghastly weapon in the armoury of Fate.


On our arrival back at the hotel I found that the rest of the London convoy, with the exception of Bert Campbell, had arrived and that the convention as a whole had apparently departed. It was only while I was searching around for somewhere to quench my thirst that I found that some genius had had a brainstorm and moved the convention hall to a place immediately adjacent to what was, I believe, the hotel's lounge bar. This was an excellent thing as the drink was dispensed by a team of waitresses which obviated the distressing necessity of having to get up and get the stuff oneself.


Among the exhibits now on display was a full-size water-closet marked "Vargo Statten" and a roll of toilet paper with the same marking fixed to a placard reading "Cause & Cure." I took this to be another courteous London Circle gesture to the Guest of Honour on the lines of the "International Fantasy Award" they'd proposed to give him----a tiny gallows---but they and everyone else I asked disclaimed responsibility. I'd like to have been there when Vargo saw it---I wonder if he'd have been flushed.

After some more apologies, including one for the number of apologies, the afternoon sessions started a mere 55 minutes late. The first item was billed as 'a talk on radio-activity by Frank Simpson'. Most of us owe Frank an apology for not realising this was a sublimated thiotimoline type of hoax, but there was an excuse. The first stages of a Convention--in fact probably any stage of a Convention--is not the proper atmosphere for this rarefied type of humour.

Frank Simpson (eb)

Poor Frank lost most of his audience during his deadpan introduction, while he was still waxing enthusiastic about the table of elements. Norman Wansborough walked out in disgust, but the restiveness of the others manifested itself in another Mancon 'first'----the passing of notes among the audience containing interlineation-type quotes and comments. I'm not sure whether it was Ken Potter or myself who started this, but the inspiration was probably Vince Clarke's 'quotecards'---small pieces of pasteboard bearing fannish messages which circulated all during the Convention. There were a thousand of them, with 100 different messages. Later Chuck Harris took to handing them gravely to passers-by in the street, sometimes with a muttered "Ghod bless you, Sir" and sometimes with a glance up and down the street and a finger pressed to the mouth. The rest of us lagged behind watching the victim's reaction to such items of information as "I HAD A POCTSARCD FROM GHOD THIS MORNING--Hyphen or "BLOODY PROVINCIALS". While we were walking around the square one evening he gave one to an old man sitting on some steps and the expression on the recipient's face was so peculiar that we had to run after Chuck and find out what the card had said. It had been "DEFY THE DEROES WITH DIANETICS --Redd Boggs."

Another made a wonderfully appropriate appearance at the Chinese restaurant where we had lunch, just as our orders had arrived and we were staring at them in a wild surmise. It was "IF YOU DON'T WANT CROTTLED CREEPS, WHAT DID YOU ORDER THEM FOR? -- Filler." We left this one tucked inside the cellophane cover of the menu.

The Medway Group's Brian Lewis and Tony Thorne (eb)

After a monologue by Geoff Lewis which went over very well in parts (the parts nearest the speaker) we had the Medway Group's offering. It suffered not only from the continued defection of the public address system but from the fact that the script and timing weren't adequately adapted to the slower reaction time of a large audience. As last year Tony Thorne was reduced to asking ruefully "Did anyone see that gag?" and it was no comfort to be interrupted two minutes later by a dazed shout of "My Ghod, I've seen it!" The slightest diffidence of the actors, though disarming, didn't help either. Apparently to be funny in public you must above all have authority. Alistair Paterson for instance, who came next, made some of the feeblest jokes it has ever been my misfortune to be exposed to, but he produced them with such confidence that the audience was confidence-tricked into laughing.

He also made some good ones, like "I had some notes but I lost them, so I'll just have to B natural" (this fell rather flat) and "The Vargo Statten Mag has a circulation of over 50000; if you don't believe me I can show you the cancellations." And on the pocketbook situation, "Some of them are incredibly bad; perhaps the ones I don't publish aren't any better."

Terry Jeeves, Alastair Paterson (eb)


I went up to my room and had a wash and came down to find the bar had closed. I don't know what the hell sort of a Convention those people thought they were running, closing bars like that, but I sat down in the lounge away from the yakking in the hall and started listening to a neo-faned who wanted something - I'm not saying what - and then the doors of the hall burst open and a 7th fandomer bounded out crying "The London Circle have taken over the Convention! The London Circle have taken over the Convention!" and as this was way ahead of schedule I went inside the hall (for the first time) and found the boys doing something wild and extempore on the platform... I think they were advocating holding future Conventions in places beginning with 'B' because it was also the initial of Bheer...but the absence of Bert Campbell stood out like a grunch in an eggplant patch and I started worrying about him again. He should have hitch-hiked in by that time. The Mancunians didn't believe anything had happened to him and they had worries of their own anyway, so I hung around and actually laughed at the Willis-scripted Liverpool group play.


A day early and put on without announcement so that I hadn't time to escape, came the play I had written; brilliantly performed on tape by the Liverpool Group, who also deserve credit for the parody of US commercial radio inserted in the middle. This playlet seems to have become a yearly chore of mine, and it's a very welcome one--I can now refuse to make speeches with a clear conscience. I made up my mind a couple of years ago that I'd never speak at a Convention again--there's no point in trying to change one's psychological make-up at my time of life, and I don't see any other reason why I should force myself to do something I dislike so much. I did it at Chicago and Los Angeles, where it was necessary, but that experience didn't make me like it any better. Any more than being successfully buried alive is a cure for claustrophobia.

A transcript of this play, "The Alien Arrives", can be found in the free to download ebook at the link below:

Walt Willis, Dave Cohen, unknown, Madeleine Willis,
Chuck Harris, Brian Varley (jc)

James White, unknown, Madeleine Willis,
Chuck Harris (jc)


Who and what else did we see there? Sandy Sanderson, who came all the way from Egypt - and Margaret Finch, who came all the way from Australia. Harris! Ah yes, Chuck Harris; he spent an entire afternoon flogging raffle tickets (for the Transatlantic Fund, a worthy cause). I followed him around for the simple earthy pleasure of hearing him say time after time: "My very last ticket. Don't leave it on my hands, friend."

Margaret Finch at TRIODE stand (jc)

Sandy Sanderson


Later there was a curious interlude when Cohen announced that the London Circle was now going to demonstrate how to put on a Convention. Nothing happened for a very long time and eventually most people got up and went out or stood around talking. Finally Ken Bulmer went to the microphone and announced calmly that "The London Circle, having thoroughly organised this Convention, now hand over to the Manchester Group." I didn't know quite what to make of this...whether it was deliberate sabotage or a piece of London Circle self-criticism.


I had just nicely settled down and was halfway through my second pint of brown when Stu Mackenzie suddenly materialised beside me and said that an impressive array of bottles awaited my attention in his bedroom. I went along with him to Room 123 and had just finished stowing the stuff in the wardrobe when in came Ted Carnell trying to look as though he had just wandered in by accident. I took my cue and gave Ted, Stu, and myself a drink, and was just putting the stuff away again when in drifted Walt Gillings with an absent-minded look on his face. I gave him a drink too - then in came Ron Buckmaster, and John Brunner, and Joy Goodwin, and Ted Tubb, and Ken Bulmer, and about half-a-dozen others. I was there until four o'clock. Then it was tea-time.


We joined 15 or so fans at the local Lyons teashop. I had some tea that was so strong the caffeine-and-ephodrine tablet floated on top, and we agreed that the afternoon's programme had been lousy. This tea-party was one of those wonderful things that can't be put down on paper, tho' maybe as most of the London Circleites had been over 30 hours without sleep it was just hysteria.

Back at the Grosvenor again, I met Dr.Paul Hammett of Malta... you may recall that he searched the Maltese newstands for SLANT... and when I told him whom I was he looked slightly puzzled and then said "Oh yes, didn't I see your work in SLANT?", and someone behind me said THERE IS ONLY ONE CRUD AND AMAZING IS HIS PROPHET and a voice from a London group said IF IT WASN'T FOR ALL THESE BLOODY PROVINCIALS THIS WOULD BE A GOOD CONVENTION, so I went upstairs for a notebook as I was running out of the backs of old envelopes, and when I came down again walked out of the hotel and put in a trunk-call to the nearby police station and they didn't know anything about Bert or his bike and weren't really interested.

A London Group was, as usual, on the platform when I got back again, in a skit on preparing for a Convention. That was the outward design, anyway, but our idea had been to elevate it into a huge religous revival for GHU, with Bert and Ted Tubb leading the con into a mass outburst of Extasy (spelt like that), Brian Burgess to be sacrificed, and a few personable virgins from the audience to be invited up to do something or other.... I forget what, but it involved the gradual disappearance of the LC and the virgins back to the hotel rooms. Owing to the non-appearance of Bert, the fact that the incense would have been too over-powering in the small hall and various other reasons, but mostly worry over Bert, this item was cut very short. Everyone drifted from the stage and went to the rear of the hall to make bets as to how long the audience would sit and wait. After a time people were chatting quite freely to each other and a suitable atmosphere of camaraderie had been established, and we handed the Convention back to the Committee again. They refused to take the hint, though, and the programme went on. However, the next item was the auction, conducted by Ted Tubb, and as everyone knows, an auction conducted by Tubb is an artistic experience. Walt left me to make notes....

Ted auctioneering. (jc)

Ted waved the audience to silence, solemnly opened the first magazine, nodded approvingly at it, shut it, and holding it out to the fascinated public said:


Frances Evans (eb)

Pam Bulmer (eb)

There's nothing I can say about Ted's genius at an auction that hasn't been said before. I can only say I enlisted Pam's help half-way through to jot down some Tubbisms in shorthand, but at the time of writing they're undecipherable.... she was laughing too much.

After the auction they prepared for the film show.


The talk at tea-time was all about the startling news that the film show that evening was to be Things To Come---NOT Metropolis. Shocked murmurings were heard when the announcement was made. Small indignation meetings were held. Neofans staggered about white and trembling, their world crashing to ruins about their ears. Old fans shook their heads forebodingly. No good would come from this mad craze for novelty. A Convention without Metropolis: It was unthinkable. As Rick Dalton was heard to complain, "It should at least appear on the programme!"

But there was even worse to come. No one discovered that the show was illegal under a twenty-year-old statute, the films arrived safely, on time, and wound the right way, no one ran around asking the audience if anyone had a 35mm projector, the projector did not break down, the film was not put on backwards, or even upside down. In fact the whole showing went off without a single hitch. It was terrifying, like the end of the world.

Ken McIntyre, Ethel Lindsay, Terry Jeeves, Frances Evans, John Brunner in mask (eb)


Around ten o'clock the London crowd gathered in Stu's room together with a number of people like Dave Cohen, Alistair Patterson, and others who had been invited by participants in the bheer pool. As time went by the gathering became more and more noisy and we had a couple of visitor from the night porters who apparently took a dim view of this sort of thing. Its just as well that they didn't come into the room or they really would have seen something to upset them. The room must have looked really bad, as it apparently even managed to upset some fans ..... and fans are the sort of people one expects to be fairly case-hardened to scenes of mild debauchery. I admit that when looking at the seething mass of bodies in the room it was occasionally difficult on casual inspection to determine precisely which arm or leg belonged to who, but this as merely due to the fact that two small single beds were accommodating approximately eighteen people. The floor was in a similarly crowded condition except in the immediate vicinity of the wardrobe which was kept clear to give me free access to the bottles. Round about midnight some of the fans decided that change of venue might be a good idea but, on going out of the door, were courteously chucked back in again by a lurking night porter.

Shortly after this people started drifting away, some to bed and the remainder to pay the periodic flying visit to the Liverpool party in 133. Some of these latter were to be seen later on fighting rearguard actions with the night porters, who proved themselves to be doughty and worthwhile opponents, quite undismayed by the silent menace of a zap gun.


The programme having died a natural death around 10p.m., the Convention proper began. The Liverpool Group had reserved a Lounge in the Hotel for a party, and also supplied the booze. My personal thanks to them for this. It would take an eidetic fan to remember all that took place at this party, Walt Willis was heard to remark that Chicago was never like this. Ina Shorrock and Pat Doolan, both of the Liverpool Group, wore (but only just) space-girl costumes for the party and were probably the most sought after persons in the room. If I attempted to describe their costumes I would probably have to spend a sojourn in Spain along with Hank Jansen, so will content myself with mentioning the fact that when Chuck Harris arrived at room 133 and perceived Ina, his eye-balls were on his cheeks for at least five minutes.

Eric Bentcliffe, Pat Doolan, Ina Shorrock, Bill Harrison, Ethel Lindsay (ns)


The Liverpool group extended hospitality and warm friendliness. A host of some of the most attractive and charming women I have ever met and a non stop drinking, talking session which lasted well into the small hours. Mrs. Shorrock looked both futuristic and ravishing in a costume apparently copied from one of Bergey's blondes and Pat Doolan made an equal second. Thinking about them makes me wish that we could really have a costume ball at the next do - think of what we're missing.


Unable to stand the strain, many people went upstairs to parties. The London Circle had one for which the admission charge was ten shillings, but the passports you got for this were the best thing about it. There was nothing that you couldn't see at the seaside for free with a pair of binoculars. I thought of making love to my own wife, but I was afraid the London Circle might be shocked.


Just after midnight, Pete Taylor told me that they wanted to see me upstairs in the Liverpool party. All the way along the corridor he was shooting a line about how much they liked me and how much they wanted to see me, and when we got to the door, somebody peeped out and said "It's Chuck Harris' Come in Chuck." I did so — and not less than twenty of the fiends were waiting for me with their water-pistols, — I was drenched to the skin long long before I could get to the soda syphon and retaliate. After this fond welcome they gave me gin and beer and whisky, and then, tiring of running backwards and forwards, told me to help myself. All the liquor was out on. a long table, there was absolutely no check on who drank what, but nobody was drunk or officious. I would have probably been both, but I just didn't have time - I was too busy talking to Mal and Ken Potter and trying to keep waterpistol experts from lousing up my drink.

unknown, Ken Potter, Chuck Harris, unknown (ns)

This, I thought, was a very fine party indeed, so I went downstairs to the London party to fetch Walt, Madeleine, and James. I was completely sober of course, and it was just an unfortunate accident that on the return trip I knocked on the door and gave the password: "This is Abnorm Wansborough" before making, certain that it was the right door. It was a genuine mistake, and there was absolutely no need for Walt to rush me off down the corridor before the door opened, instead of waiting so that we could make a courteous explanation.

After we got back to the Liverpool party, the rest of the London Circle began to trickle up. Vince, Mackenzie, Carnell, Gillings, Patterson, and just about everybody else who wasn't otherwise engaged, rolled in and circulated. This open-house policy made for a far more successful party than London's "closed-shop. " There was more than enough to drink in the London room, — apart from the admission fees, they'd been given beer-money by the permanent "Loncon" committee, - and it would have been a nice gesture to have invited a few Northerners in for a drink or two.


Much zapping was indulged in at the convention and it reached a high tide-mark during this party. Alistair Paterson, editor of the VARGO STATTEN MAG (and as such a target for every fan) was thoroughly soaked several times in the first hour or so, once by Chuck Harris who hadn't been paid for a story in the aforementioned magazine, and once by Peter Hamilton (likeable editor of NEBULA) who. apparently, just disapproved of Paterson's editorial policy. The London Circle were also holding a party in a room of smaller dimensions and with a more 'select' clientele (they refused admission to several fans, apparently because they were fans!) but around 1a.m. they ran out of booze and decided to gate-crash the party in room 133. They were met with a barrage from all zap-guns, and retired almost immediately.

There was much confusion about the London Circle and their drink and 'passports' policy, which Dave Newman explains here:

John Roles, Terry Jeeves, Frank Milnes, Norman Shorrock (ns)

Brian Burgess, Pat Doolan


The head night porter appeared requested that we break up the party as no-one in the hotel could get to sleep. After some little discussion and tearful leave-taking, the party broke up, ostensibly to get some sleep. In actual fact most of the attendees arrived by devious routes at a far distant corridor, most of the rooms on which were occupied (occasionally) by the Liverpool Group.

Brian Lewis, Pat Doolan, Fred Smith (ns)

My recollections of this phase of the convention are even more hazy than of the previous hours, I must relate however that Pete Taylor passed out on the bed in Pat's room, and, being suitably adorned with a lacy green night-dress, was used as a photographers model by Fred Robinson. As I left this passage, or gallery with doors leading into other rooms, Dave Cohen was racing, on hands and knees along the corridor and Fred was providing a photo finish. Such a night!

Pete Taylor - going, going....

....gone! (both photos ns)


At about four o'clock Sunday morning the only people present in 123 were Stu and Connie Mackenzie, Ted Carnell, and myself. We were enjoying a last drink in peace and quiet when in drifted Pete Taylor, who found his raincoat. rolled it into the semblance of a pillow, selected a vacant spot on the floor, and promptly fell unconscious. All this had been without a word being spoken and we got the impression of a weary and alcoholic fan finding his way by a sort of homing instinct to what he knew to be sanctuary. We slept......


Many interesting incidents occurred that night which I cannot report here because of my innate sense of decency and my respect for the English libel laws. I'll report them in Oopsla instead.