Monday 19th April

Dave Kyle, Norman Shorrock at breakfast (ns)


One of the delights of regular Convention-going is that one can each year meet new faces, and make new friends. The latter don't have to be drawn from. amongst the former, necessarily - a Convention sometimes provides the atmosphere in which one really gets to know, for the first time, friends of several years' standing. And so far as the brand-new faces are concerned, I derive a sort of double-benefit from this because I never remembers anybody - well, hardly anybody - at first acquaintance, and have to meet new faces all over again the second time. This happened with Jim Grant of Christchurch, Hants., for instance - Jim swears he was at some previous Con and met me there, but I hadn't the slightest recollection. Anyway, I remember Jim from this occasion all right - a large, bland young man who thinks that fandom along the south coast should be more aware of its corporate existence. Naturally, I agree - fandom everywhere should be so aware.

For the first time in more years than I care to remember, some genuine Scottish-domiciled Scots had travelled to the Con. There were three of these - each of whom, furthermore, had travelled separately from a different point of origin. Ivor Latto was one of them. A quiet, bespectacled young man with a short ginger beard, Ivor gave the impression that he wasn't quite sure if he wanted to be classed as one of "this mad lot” or not. After reading his brilliantly funny "Uncle Ivor's Neo-Fans' Guide” in BEYOND #8 (distributed by Charles Platt at the Con), it is quite clear that, like it or not, Ivor is "One Of Us.” And I wish I'd been able to have more conversation with him.

Another was Richard Gordon, a youngster whose main claim to fame is that he does not write books about doctors - or. even about one doctor. (In any case, you were probably thinking of James White). The third was David Marwick, somewhat older than the other two and of more serious mien. His definition of J.G. Ballard as "a very capable writer of unintelligible stuff” endears him to Beryl and me. Curiously enough, a number of the local Brummie-fen never showed up at all. A pity, because I've never met either Janet or Margaret. (I'm not so concerned about the male absentees).


One hitherto-unheard-­of Brummie who did show up was Gordon Smith. Gordon sports a sort of Norfolk jacket, a full beard not unlike Archie's own, an attractive wife called Jane, and a mind of decidedly fannish potential. He's a teacher at a Birmingham school - a popular one, we'd guess - and has three small children of his own. I was interested to discover that he had served in the (post-war) Fleet Air Arm as a radar-man, and hope that the future will provide an opportunity for mutual Service reminiscences.

He was one of my best customers at the Saturday auction, and turned up at the Fancy Dress Do in a very ingenious costume, in which he looked like a cross between Yuri Gagarin and Davy Crockett. A young meerschaum added to the happy incongruity of his outfit. And I think he won one of the prizes - in which case, good for Gordon!

After breakfast on Monday (during which a blizzard raged outside), some preliminary packing, bill-paying seemed to be in order. In the lobby, Ella was telling Archie how relieved she was to have handed over (pro tem) the OMPA Presidency to him. "I'm now an ex-President,” she added, "and I'm looking forward to being an ex-everything.” I wondered if that included being an X certificate …

Eddie Jones took some last-minute photographs, and with a gallant bow presented a spent flash-bulb to me as a souvenir. I accepted it, swore and dropped it. It was still hot.

Having seen off a number of fairly early departers, including Doreen and the Slaters (still travelling in convoy), the original TAK.10 party sat on the stairs (opposite the erstwhile Slatershop) in company with me, a couple of Normans, and a few others. Ken Cheslin appeared: Archie thanked him for a great Con, which brought forth applause and cries of "Speech!” He made one, too. In spite of his aching heart - his Wendy had been unable to attend after all - he had maintained a brave front, and had done a Grand Job.

Mike Moorcock and Lang Jones paused in their stately exit to bid farewell. Referring to an apparently barkless dog which is at present a member of the Moorcock household, Archie said "Give my regards to the basenji”. Mike said he would, adding: "As a matter of fact, I'm returning to London by basenji train...”

In twos and threes - e.g., Mary, Julia and Pete - the fen stole away, returning to their respective wildernesses. Simone bewailed the fact that there wasn't a Con every week, or at least every month.

Some nine or ten people dashed through spatters of icy rain to the "Clover” for a final Brumeal. At least, most of them did the dashing - Sarah was carried by her Dad.

Linda Rispin, Simone Walsh.


Monday morning, the end of the Convention. Fans were crowding about making final arrangements to leave. I paid my bill and went upstairs to pack. Most of the people had drifted away by the time I came down again.

I left to get my van, to take my stuff home. When I got back to the Hotel, everyone had gone, the Hotel seemed strangely empty and silent... The staff looked relieved though. I got my luggage and walked out into the mid-day sunshine.

On the way over to Cynthia's, for lunch, I got to thinking that maybe this hadn't been the best Convention out, but it had had its moments. I reckon that if the Brum Group hold another Convention, it'll be a real swinger. We've made mistakes, but I think we've learned by those mistakes and this is surely the best way... see you at Brumcon 3?



"The Guardian”, surprisingly enough, presented very much the kind of report that one has, over the years, come to expect from low-quality papers - a generally mickey-taking air of "look at them all showing-off how different they are”. The wearing of "long beards or long manes” (and how long is a long beard, anyway? None of those in evidence at the Brumcon was outstanding for its length) is not necessarily done to demonstrate one's "apartness”. In my case, far from it - I happen to be an introvert, and would far rather be unrecognisable in a crowd. "As a demonstration of apartness,” the report continues, harping on the same theme, "one member wore a cardboard placard of hedges (=sic=) and mottoes...” That sounds like me again, But no reporter asked me why I wore such a placard. The answer, if requested, would have been in two parts. I wore the badges (with a couple of small exceptions) because various people had either asked me to, or expected me to, and I had them all pinned on the cardboard to save myself several minutes of unpinning or repinning every time I left or re-entered the hotel.

Both the other reports, however, showed a surprising understanding of fandom that would not normally have been expected of any paper except "The Tewkesbury Register” or "The Oxford Mail”. One of them even dealt sympathetically with Harry's much-reported meat-pie missile.

The "Sun” did slip up when it commented on the very poor attendance among the feminine element which, it said, consisted only of some six wives and girl-friends. Whilst the relative proportions of the sexes remain indeed considerably out of balance, with the males in a large majority, the situation isn't quite that bad.

The Sun report.



Thanks are due to Greg Pickersgill for scanning/OCRing many of the convention reports. Below is a listing of the original reports used in compiling this composite report (and others available online but not used), with links. These contain extra material:

.....Rob Hansen