Sunday 18th April

(early programme | late programme)


At the Annual General Meeting of the BSFA on the Sunday morning it was announced that the association had a paid membership of 269. Roy Kay took over the Chair from the retiring Chairman Ken Cheslin, and Librarian Joe Navin was elected Vice-Chairman, beating Charles Platt in a straight vote. Graham Bullock resigned as Secretary and Doreen Parker agreed to step into the breach. Charles Winstone continues as Treasurer and Roger Peyton as Publications Officer.

Joe Navin announced that he would shortly have to surrender his post as Librarian and that the whole Library, the largest purely sf library in the world, would be transferred to the hands of John Nash. Mike Turner agreed to look after the fanzine side of the Library.


Sunday morning - the A.G.M. I can't, even now, recall who was eventually elected to the Vice-Chairmanship. I was too absorbed in trying to figure out Ella Parker's motives for nominating Charles Platt for the post. (I hope that both Ella and Charles will excuse me for mentioning this fact).

Ken Slater enjoyed himself enormously; every time the meeting threatened to swing away from its officially-appointed course, Ken firmly steered it back again. Appreciating this elegant performance, I afterwards went to buy books from him. And had a natter with Joyce, who deserves full marks and a jelly-baby for putting in an appearance in spite of poor health.

Ken and Joyce Slater, Doreen Parker (ks).


My main recollection of the AGM is that I found it disappointing as AGMs go. There was plenty of meat around for consideration, but it seemed mostly to get itself bogged down in unnecessary cross-purposiveness. There was a faction - one forgets precisely whom it comprised - that seemed to want to tie down the Committee to a hitherto unprecedented degree, by having the meeting issue a directive that the fiction magazine TANGENT should be dropped in favour of an improved VECTOR. One would have thought that such a matter should be left to the Committee's discretion in the light of the current availability of such things as finance, equipment and volunteer labour. After what I consider to have been an excess of argument and counter-argument, this particular move was defeated. The tenor of the meeting seemed to indicate a general desire to see VECTOR produced by an offset process rather than duplicated, the 'Alien/Delta' group from Manchester and environs (particularly Salford) being a visible object-lesson that such production methods are entirely feasible on a do-it-yourself basis.

Another lesson of this AGM is that once again there is too little continuity from year to year - not so much of policy, but of comprehension of what has gone before. I was in on the ground floor and have been closely connected with the administration on and off ever since, and can claim as a consequence to have a good perspective on the Association's affairs that does not, somehow, seem to be easily transmissible. Since, however, I declined nomination as Vice-Chairman, I suppose that it's my own fault if this state of affairs continues into the future.

Since (as a consequence of me declining nomination) there was no constitutional nominee for the Vice-Chairmanship, the matter was passed to the AGM, and Joe Navin of Liverpool (who has been in charge of most of the library for several years) was elected in his absence - and unopposed, if memory serves. Roger Peyton kept the editorship of VECTOR by defeating Charles Platt in a postal vote; Charlie Winstone kept the Treasury, unopposed; and Roy Kay as last year's Vice-Chairman succeeded to the Chair. The most bizarre aspect of the committee Changes was that Graham Bullock, having defeated Doreen Parker in a postal vote for the Secretaryship, decided that he didn't want the job after all, and Doreen wasn't exactly nominated to replace him - she simply took the job and that was that. Doreen even stood-in at the AGM, traditionally conducted by the outgoing committee. This tickles Beryl and me pink, of course, because from what we know of Doreen we have reason to suppose that as a Secretary she could hardly be bettered.


VECTOR's sister magazine TANGENT was discussed at length, editor Roger Peyton mentioning that he had had over 70 responses to the first issue. It was generally agreed, however, that before a second magazine is consolidated then VECTOR itself should be put on a more professional basis. Comparisons were drawn between VECTOR and the Delta Group's fanzine ALIEN WORLDS, which is now produced in photo-litho. It was pointed out that the expense would probably be prohibitive (it might also have been pointed out that an abortive attempt to produce Vector by this method had been made in the past) and the ALIEN WORLDS editors were asked whether they would agree to producing Vector. They regretfully refused because of other commitments.

Yarmouth in '66. At Peterborough last Easter it was proposed that the 1966 Con be held at Great Yarmouth and now Phil Rogers confirmed that the hotel had been booked (inclusive price £3 per day). A Guest of Honour had been approached and had accepted the invitation. Registrations are being accepted. Watch this space for further details. Suggestions were made for the 1967 consiting, these causing some amusement until Phil Rogers pointed out that it had taken a full year to finalise the great Yarmouth arrangements (It's taken most people a year to find Great Yarmouth on a map). Brian Burgess proposed that the '67 con be held in Leeds as this would properly mark the 30th. anniversary of the first British convention. Neither Mike Rosenblum nor Ron Bennett was present to boggle at the suggestion, but in any case the suggestion drew no seconder and Tony Walsh, mentioning that he and Simone would soon be moving to Bristol, suggested that Bath might be a suitable site. Somewhere in the West country certainly met with the meeting's favour and the motion was carried.

Brian Aldiss, Harry Harrison, James White (jg).

The Guest of Honour's speech has been widely reported in the national press, an unusual achievement in itself for conventions. But Harry Harrison is an unusual person, a man who lives as distinct from existing and who is the author of many recent and enjoyable works, such as The Stainless Steel Rat, Deathworld., The Ethical Engineer (Deathworld II) and Planet of the Damned. The Manchester Guardian described the talk thus: "This performance goes on for an hour during which he barracks the Salvation Army band playing outside, throws a meat pie at a friend in the back row, ignores a boy playing with a large, black toy spider in the third-row and makes a few esoteric asides to one or two fellow professional authors." Harry actually began his talk, "SF Confidential" by awarding an original manuscript to Mike Beard for naming the Tom Boardman-published crime series, the Boardman "Bloodhounds" (ah, shades of Brown, Boland and Dewey). He mentioned that various American professionals would be attending the London Worldcon in August and took it upon himself to warn his audience of what they might expect. Poul Anderson, he said, had a name which is consistently mispronounced. He then asked his son to step up and pronounce it correctly. He spoke of Fred Pohl in agenting difficulties and owing a well known professional about $1,000. The author went to see Pohl about the money and ended up by lending Pohl a further thousand. Talking of his own editing career with Rocket Stories Harry demonstrated the standard of batches of manuscripts he would receive in bulk from a West Coast agent. Eventually the state was reached where Harry was merely bundling up the manuscripts unread and returning them. Few authors escaped these revelations of the previously best kept secrets of American prodom. Blish, Kyle, Shaw, Campbell, Gernsback, Silverberg, Moskowitz, Knight and Ackerman were all attacked and the laws of libel obviously prevent an enlarged report.

The Professional Panel, consisting of Tom Boardman, Ted Tubb, Michael Moorcock, Brian Aldiss, Chairman Harry Harrison and James White, spoke on the difference between American and British sf, agreeing generally that there was a difference in authors' rates but not necessarily that the best SF came from America. On the length of time it takes one to write a story the panel agreed that this depended on the story; one might take weeks, another years. Ted Tubb spoke of being under contract and writing a novel in a week. On reviewing, Tom Boardman felt that a review should be limited to publication facts and a general synopsis, whilst Brian Aldiss went a little further, pointing out that whilst there was possibly a difference between a review and a criticism it was not the reviewer's place to make personal attacks upon the author.

Ted Tubb, Michael Moorcock, Brian Aldiss, Harry Harrison, James White (ns).


Somehow the panel turned into an auction, with Harry, Brian, Mike and Ted stoking up a frenzied atmosphere of compulsive buying. They sold the same books several times over to different bidders, hopeless rejects from the previous auction were boosted to extortionate prices, and Mike Moorcock knocked down an empty whisky bottle, allegedly autographed by famous authors, for four shillings and sixpence. When Harry Harrison finally ran out of breath and adjectives to damn the books he was selling, Brian took over in style. "I'll sign this C. S. Lewis trilogy;" he said, "since the author isn't around any more to do it himself."

The madness was infectious and it was reported that an auctioned copy of Starship Troopers bore a "Robert Heinlein" autograph strangely reminiscent of Michael Moorcock's writing. And Ted Tubb appealed to our instincts for self-preservation as he held up a 2-inch-thick fantasy novel and assured us that paper was the best shield against gamma rays. "Protect your unborn family from harmful radiation," he solemnly advised.

I put in a bid for a piece of artwork by British artist Jim Cawthorn, and was surprised and pleased to get it for only three shillings and sixpence. Titled "Entry to Dragonsguard," it was a two-foot piece of white art-board upon which Jim had sketched a fantasy scene in what looked like blue fountain-pen ink. A real bargain, I thought, though I had no idea what I was going to do with it.

Afterwards, Archie Mercer stood to present the Doc Weir Award, an event originally scheduled for the morning session but postponed because of the non-availability of the silver goblet.


I have one of the least functional memories in captivity - I refer to it as "an eidetic sieve". However, I did remember to bring along the Doc Weir Award goblet. Newly-polished, too. Little Did I Know... it would probably have been easier all round if I had forgotten it. On registering at the hotel, I asked for the goblet to be deposited in the safe. The girl went away, came back again and asked me to return later because she couldn't find the receipt-book. I trotted off obediently, innocently assuming that nobody would get around to stealing the thing in the twenty minutes specified. Nobody, in fact, did, and I breathed easily again as I walked away with the receipt, having been assured that the article would be available when required on the Sunday.

Thus passed Friday. And Saturday. And Sunday arrived. I ascertained from my programme when the Award would be required, and checked with the Con committee. Then I went to the desk, displayed my receipt (I hadn't even lost that), and asked for the goblet.

But I couldn't have it.

The hotel staff were very apologetic, really, Friday's receptionist was not then available, and nobody knew which compartment of the safe she'd locked it in. Everybody did their nuts, trying various keys in various compartments, while I cooled my heels at the desk. Eventually it was announced that the goblet must be in the head receptionist's special safe. So far, so good. However, said H.R. would not be on duty again until the afternoon. So that was that. Pro tem, like.

Dave Kyle, Brian Burgess (ns).

Two o'clock approached. I sat in the Con hall not quite listening to the programme (I'd rather read an article than hear a speech any day), waiting for a summons from the nether regions. Word failed to come, so I went to seek it. No, the head d/e/c/e/p/ receptionist was later than had been supposed, and wouldn't be in until about three. Back I went to the programme. Three o'clock came and went. Down I went again. Yes, the H.R. had arrived - unfortunately the goblet was not in her safe. The entire staff were extremely apologetic. They had the matter completely under control, however. The goblet was in a particular compartment of which one of the under-managers held the only key. Said U.M. was week-ending in Bradford, Yorks., and said key would be arriving by passenger train at 8 p.m. The staff were abjectly apologetic, like.

It was decided to go ahead with the presentation in the goblet's absence. There was no more need for me to hang around the Con hall - the auction was on at the time, and was not to be interrupted because it was making money. I would be Sent For when required. So down I went again to find somebody to talk to. (Probably Beryl.)

And, in the fullness of time, sent for I was. The auction was still on, but due to close at any moment. The auction staff didn't know this, mind, and lot after lot was being stacked up alongside the table where the professionals were taking it in turn to conduct the proceedings. By this time I was beginning to get somewhat annoyed with the way things were going, and prevailed upon somebody to call the auction to a halt. Quelling the non-existent storm of imaginary internal butterflies, I began to speak.

I called attention to the state of the hotel's security, comparing it to that thing by A.A. Milne about the king, the queen and the dairymaid. (There was a cow in it as well, but I overlooked that.) Having (dairy) made my point, I launched into a fulsome eulogy of the qualities of the Award's new holder. This worthy had, I said, been prominent in fandom for approximately twenty years - certainly longer than I had myself. He had published fanzines, written for fanzines, and illustrated them - with both serious artwork and cartoons. He had attended just about every Convention available, and numerous lesser fannish occasions. He had served on the BSFA Committee in a number of capacities, including that of Chairman.

"He must be a fannish paragon," put in somebody from the back of the hall.

"He is a fannish paragon," I agreed, modestly forgetting to add that all holders of the Doc Weir Award are ex-officio fannish paragons. I then drifted into bathos by saying that the individual in question was not actually present to receive the award, ill-health being understood to be the cause.

By this time everybody (except for those who'd counted the votes) were beginning to wonder who, if anybody, the new holder was, and I let slip that it was Terry Jeeves. The crowd went appropriately wild - an ovation which Terry richly deserves. I handed the certificate to Phil Rogers, who was to convey it and the goblet to Sheffield in the near future, with the final message that if Terry was to have as much trouble getting rid of the thing as I was having, he had the my sincerest sympathies.

Incidentally, just in case anybody's wondering, the missing key was eventually produced, and the goblet duly disinterred. So a hearty congratulation to Terry.


Then the convention plunged from its high to an absolute low as a tall thin man with a crewcut and red blazer stood up and talked slowly and deliberately about the Rotation Plan, which governed U.S. Worldcons, and why he thought it should be set aside. It was Dave Kyle, who had come all the way from Upper New York State to lecture us about the merits of his Syracuse bid against the opposing, and more legitimate, Tri-con.

We didn't have the slightest interest in American fan-affairs, but this year British fans were being wooed because voting for the 1966 site-selection would take place at the London Worldcon in August. However, Dave's presentation was counter-productive; he had chosen his time very badly, and all he achieved was to bore everyone rigid, and generate a lingering resentment that he had spoiled our party. Not for many years afterwards did I get past that initial impression to find Dave was really a fun person when he wasn't talking fan-politics.

Frank Herbert (not the writer), Dave Kyle, Ted Tubb (ns).

The programme had scheduled a fan-panel for seven-thirty, but it never happened. After a very brief closing ceremony in the Main Hall we went next door into a party sponsored by Tri-con's George Scithers, who appeared in a very loud check-jacket and spoke at mercifully brief length. It was here I discovered he edited a fanzine called AMRA. I had no real interest in Conan or heroic fantasy, but was so impressed by its appearance that I subscribed on the spot.

The Tri-con people had kindly donated £25 for drinks all round and the con-committee had thoughtfully spent it on a mixture of beer, sherry, gin, and a few mixers, dispensed by Ted Tubb with his usual enthusiasm. It was here that Charles Platt had several drinks too many, and while doubtless already being somewhat tired after the previous night's exertions, he now became highly, emotional as well. After many adventures, which included falling off a step-ladder in the convention hall and nearly braining Ivor Latto in the process, and after having put his fist through Lang Jones' door, Charles finally sank into merciful oblivion in Harry Nadler's room.


At tea-time most of the Brummies headed for the "Fleur de Lys" cafe at the top of New Street, and spent a mad hour there. I spent most of the time coaxing the waitress into giving me more custard on my apple pie. Finally we went back to the Hotel and staged the official close-down. After the final speeches had been made, we heard a talk by George Scithers on behalf of the Syracuse Convention After this, booze was provided by the Tricon Committee. As the drink sank over the horizon, many fans drifted away to the inevitable room-parties or sat around in groups talking and singing etc. Cynthia and myself circulated round for a a bit and then headed for my room. It was when we got there that we met the G.O.H. Harry 'Deathworld' Harrison and his charming wife. They were in the the next set of rooms to mine. Harry very kindly invited Cynth and me in for a drink, we duly accepted (me always being ready for a free drink) and sat there for a long time talking about anything and everything. Arthur Pottersman from the 'Sun' was also there,... and later Brian Aldiss. (How's that for name dropping!)

Harry had us in stitches with his conversation and so did his wife, who was one of the liveliest people we'd met. I was delighted to learn that Harry was once a comic strip artist and then a strip writer. He related many interesting stories from his comic-book days, and both of them expressed a certain gratitude to "Flash Gordon" who served as 'bread and butter' to Harry in his his early days of writing.

What struck me as being pretty nice was the fact that they were interested in me and listened attentively while I rattled on about my hopes and dreams. Many pro's only go on about themselves and never think about anyone else. Rather reluctantly, I decided it was time to hightail it outa there, when several of Harry's personal friends showed up. I hate to hog anyone's evening. Cynth and I bade them all goodnight and left them, about 10-00pm.


On Sunday night, Archie and I found ourselves members of a circle sitting in the middle of a half-stripped Con hall which had a rather mournful, the-party's-over air. Perhaps it was in an effort to dispel this that the circle started a sing-song. Ken Ches. was in good form and voice, and only by supplying second to whatever melody was being belted out I was able to make it apparent that there was a female voice in that otherwise male choir. I also provided solo entertainment by singing (?) "The Bold Aviator" - except for the final two lines which might have shocked the assembled company. (The things they taught in the Wrens!! No wonder Gordon Smith was chuckling...) Various old songs were "murdered", including "Show Me the Way to Go Home" - and then Bob Little, on my left, saw his chance, grabbed it, and enjoyed his Great Moment. Entirely without self-consciousness, he delivered a hilariously pedantic version of it the shining perfection of which was only slightly marred for Archie by its obstinate failure to rhyme. Whereupon I decided that this lad was definitely fun, and they would have to work out a duet for the Worldcon.

Alan Roblin, on my right, demonstrated his fan-worship of Elvis Presley; Ed James, though not participating, seemed to be enjoying the proceedings; and his friend Terry Pratchett was doing something incredibly funny in a corner, only I can't quite remember what. Archie and Ken had a go at "Harrison, oh Harrison", to the tune of "Maryland". (Or "The Red Flag" if you're a Trade Unionist. Or "Der Tannenbaum", if you're Dr. Karl Blomeyer. Or "McDonough, Let the Trombones Blow" if you're a Duke of Dixieland. Or just barely possibly - "Gaudeamus Igitur" if they actually used the right tune...) But the incantation didn't work; neither Bill nor Harry appeared in our midst. Pity.

Having heard about the hole in Lang's door, off went the gaggle to inspect it. There was a short flight of shallow stairs outside this door, on which the group sat down to have a gloom about the apparent no-party situation. A hotel liftman came along the corridor and carefully stepped over them. Feeling restless, I muttered to myself the famous Doddyism: "Let's see - whose wick can I go and get on now?" and went in search of mischief and devilry. I considered having a slide down the banisters, but the U-turns on them were a bit narrow, and I haven't lost that much weight. It was just as well I didn't, though, because on the next floor down we came upon Archie and Ella, sitting on the stairs and conversing quietly.


I took Cynth home and returned an hour or so later to find the Hotel terribly quiet for the last night of a Convention. Apparently, there were a lot of room-parties going on, but you couldn't hear them.

I finally located Ted Tubb's room and sat in at a rather 'after the ball is over' type of room party. Ted livened things up a bit by organising a final night march through the dim corridors of the Hotel. There was about 20 or 30 fans there and all of them were chanting "Go back to your wives"... with Brian Burgess out in front clanking time on a bottle.

Being a member of the Committee I didn't fancy being seen in such a position, so I held back - next minute the Hotel staff pounced and everyone made a mad dash up the stairs back to their own rooms. I wandered on, finally I came across Ken's room and by bending down and placing my ear against the key-hole, I could hear voices from inside. Knocking loudly, I was admitted to find Ella Parker, Ken Cheslin and some other soul, whose name escapes me at the present, sitting talking. Placing myself in a comfortable position, we proceeded to dissect the Convention, and sort things into their proper perspective. It got later and later. Finally, Ella left and the three of us carried on talking. The next thing I remember was waking up to see a Brumfan's face glaring down at me, saying that it was 10-00am, on Monday morning, and time to get up.

Finally, pulling myself together, I managed to stagger downstairs to the multitude. Ken informed me that I had dropped off to sleep the night before...suddenly waking, I'd staggered to my feet, looking as though I was at death's door and stumbled out into the corridor mumbling my goodnights to all and sundry. The last they saw of me was when I disappeared round the end of the corridor. Somehow, my glorious sense of direction got me to my room, where I must have crumpled into bed.