Friday 16th April

(early programme | late programme)


"I told you the stairs would be quicker..."

The Convention really started for me some time between 10 and 11.a.m. on the Friday, when a large vehicle known to its friends as TAK.10 was perceived approaching from the right. This wagon, veteran of several earlier Conventions, was being driven at the time by Simone Walsh. It also contained the persons of Tony Walsh, Sarah Walsh (a maiden of as yet somewhat tender years), and John Berry. Not, of course, the Belfast John Berry. Inasmuch as the latter is himself a Brummie, there was, naturally, not the remotest chance of his attending a Brumcon. The TAK.10 J.B. is from Somerset, and should therefore be dubbed J. Somerset Berry.

TAK.10 delivered its cargo at the Midland Hotel not long after mid-day. Having registered, the components of said cargo collected Doreen Parker and a couple of other bodies and went to eat. There were eight persons all told, not counting Sarah, so naturally they wore allotted tables for two. This gave me the opportunity for an intimate tête-à-tête with Doreen; after the meal, I sought to prolong this pleasant experience by accompanying Doreen to Redditch to collect Beryl. Alas for his hopes - Ted Tubb came too. In fact, Ted drove, as Doreen was not feeling very well. About a week earlier, she'd had an accident resulting in some nasty bruises. (She swears that nobody will ever believe that although she's had four accidents in that incredible car, every time she's been stationary). In addition to that, she'd had an anti-tetanus injection that had gone wrong, leaving her with a very sore arm and an upset tum.

Once in Redditch Doreen was able to give directions, and piloted her car skilfully round The Fearnings to No. 59. At that point the Convention really started for Beryl.

Archie Mercer, Beryl Henley, Doreen Parker (ns).


The Midland wasn't a particularly welcoming sort of hotel, with a gloomy reception area furnished with padded, purple velvet benches behind a revolving wooden door, which led out into the busy traffic of New Street. I hung around in there for most of the afternoon, anxiously looking out for familiar faces. Sure enough, along came good old Roy Kay, down from Birkenhead on the afternoon train, and Dick Howett from London, carrying a big, black projector case. Mary Reed appeared with her pal Julia Stone, and after a hasty greeting they vanished into the depths of the hotel, not to be seen again for some hours. Suddenly I was startled by a loud "Ta-ta-ta-tarrara!" and looked back to see Mike Moorcock running down the stairs with his pal Langdon Jones, who was wearing a large, floppy Cavalier hat, both of them playing imaginary trombones. The London extroverts had obviously arrived early!


If it were not for the programme booklet, I'm convinced that I wouldn't have the faintest idea of what happened when. Perhaps this confusion results from the fact that this was, after all, my first Con. There were so many people I wanted to meet, people who had until then been only signatures at the bottom of letters. The first of the Great Unmet turned out to be those august personages, Mike Moorcock and Lang Jones, who were introduced to me by my fellow-Tribester the Gt. O'Reed, shortly after my arrival on Friday afternoon. Mike was, he said, suffering from bubonic plague, and expressed a fervent hope that it wouldn't spread. Later that evening he made a brief appearance on TV in the "Midlands News" programme. One concludes that he must have been ashamed of this, because he never told anybody.

Round about the same time, I met Terry Pratchett, Frank Herbert (not the writer), Brian Burgess, and Roy Kay. I also renewed acquaintance with several old friends, including Alan Roblin, who informed me: "When I walked up New Street a few minutes ago, I thought everybody was laughing at my badge - until I took it off..."

At the Con registration desk, Ken Cheslin lumbered me with three badges, Charlie Winstone had his Treasury enriched, and Bob Little asked me, "How do you spell your name?"

Normal Weedall, Dave Kyle, Norman Shorrock, Tom Holt outside the Midland (ns).


The convention opened on the Friday evening with short introductions, appeals to support Great Yarmouth for next year's consiting, and a brief encounter with a tardy arrival in the shape of Harry Harrison who excused his late coming on the grounds that the opening ceremony had been late, a readily accepted excuse!

Quote cards were also prevalent. Though not in the abundance of last year, they appeared from several different sources. Archie Mercer produced. a confetti-like series of "do it yourself" cards.


Round about 8-45pm we got the Friday Film-show under way. Dick Howett very kindly acted as projectionist (he supplied his own film projector, too) The main film was 'Forbidden Planet' which was probably one of the corniest space opera films I've ever seen. However, it seemed to please everyone present, so maybe my opinion isn't worth that much. I will admit though, that I thought the "Monster" in it was damned good, but the whole thing simply stank of Hollywood glamourization. Also shown were three (I think) cartoon films. Roger Peyton had insisted to me that they were not 'cartoons', but 'documentaries'. I, being of superior intellect in the cartoon line, was proven right, heh heh!


Later that evening, I was hauled off to a room-party. This was held in Norman Weedall's room. Norman himself wasn't there, of course. Eddie Jones was, though, and so were Ted Tubb and Ken McIntyre. The last-named began upbraiding me for having submitted something to a fanzine instead of to a prozine. I never did find out exactly what, though.

I parted with some money to Phil Rogers, thus registering myself for the 1966 Con in Great Yarmouth. This induced a kind of recklessness in me; I debated whether to stand at the head of the staircase and shower largesse on the heads of the impecunious fen in the lobby. Deciding that this would be a little too ostentatious, I finally went in search of Jim Groves, and brutally forced him to take money from me for Worldcon registration.

After a snack, another group gathered downstairs in the Back Bar. It may have been at this time that Don Geldart and Bette Woodhead turned up, accompanied by a pair of rissful Blispins. Or it may not. At any rate, the two senior Walshes were definitely there; so were Archie and J. Somerset Berry. Possibly Phil Rogers, too - or was that on Saturday?

Tony-in-his-cups is very amusing. He paid me a series of ridiculous compliments, topping them with the glorious line: "You look at least ten years older." Bette chided him about this; Tony turned worriedly to me, laid his hand on my knee, and said he hoped I wasn't offended - which, of course, I wasn't.

"You're embarrassing her," said Bette.

"I'm not," said Tony. "I'm propositioning her."

I distributed some copies of LINK #3 - even sold a few! - and promptly forgot who'd had 'em and who hadn't. Thus I didn't save as much on postage as I'd hoped to, because the following week I had to send out about 47 postcards saying: "Help! Did I give you L-3 at the Con?"

Simone Walsh, Phil Rogers, Chuck Partington, James White, Peter Day (dk).

At about midnight, the hotel was strangely quiet, the 'Aliens' having mysteriously disappeared some time earlier. An hour later, its peace was shattered by the thunder of Mancunian feet, as said 'Aliens' galloped around the place, distributing copies of a leaflet which had (so it announced) been produced in a local garage, and which purported to describe the events of the Con's first day.

(This appears to have been the first convention newsletter ever produced at a UK con. It can be found here.)

It may have been later that same evening (or it may have been on Saturday, but no matter) that a perfectly innocent remark made by Simone led to a heated, though happy political argument between Tony and Phil. Everyone else had long since left the Back Bar, the waiters were switching off lights and issuing martyred Looks free of charge, but Tony and Phil were having far too good a time to worry about that.