Saturday 7th September

JAMES WHITE:

There was another fine battery of bloodshot eyes at breakfast. Mal had gone to meet his wife; Sheila, who was to join him that morning, but the Schultheis thing was still making like the undead. I ran down Walter, Madeleine, Chuck & Arthur Thomson in the upstairs lounge and Arthur introduced me to a foully corrosive drink comprised of tonic water and Disprin which tasted like a mixture of ammonia and quinine, After a bit I left to nose about the other lounges, figuring that as I was supposed to be doing a report I ought to know what was going on.

In the lobby I was introduced to Wally Weber again. I had had this particular person introduced to me several times before, but had not yet seen what he looked like - in fact I never expected to see Weber. The first few times we had met I had tried, how I had tried, but the introducer had only got as far as "This is Wally Web--" when the Seattle fan's flash camera would explode in a blaze of searing radiation which immediately bleached the visual purple in the eyeballs of everyone within fifty yards. Everybody had met Weber but nobody had actually seen him, so this time I automatically closed my eyes when we met and noted with grim amusement the way my eyelids turned bright pink as his flash tried vainly to blind me again. I had decided that the only defence against Weber was a white stick and black spectacles. I blundered on into the lounge.


Rear: Bobbie Wild, Chuck Harris, Madeleine & Walt Willis, unknown, Rory Faulkner, (all unknown in front).

The place was fairly crowded and I caught sight of the Silverbergs talking to someone whose broad back was towards me. I sneered a greeting and suddenly found myself confronted by the equally broad-shouldered front of no less a personage than John W. Campbell himself. I got the sneer wiped off just in time, shook hands and fought an overwhelming urge to bump my forehead three times against the floor. But our Guest of Honour turned out to be a pleasant and quite uncondescending type of person, a great amiable bear of a man whose conversation and mind processes were either stimulating or over-stimulating, but never dull. I remember an incident which occurred on the last day of the convention when Mr Campbell was giving a talk on psionics. A certain femfan with a camera had. been moving up and down the aisle and to and fro along lines of seats, jockeying for position to get a good shot of him up on the stage. He must have been noticing this, although it had no effect on his delivery, for just as the girl demon photographer was about to snap her shutter he broke off to point out that she would obtain a better picture without the metal cap over her lens. The remark was delivered casually and without sarcasm, and the incident passed almost unnoticed without embarrassment to the girl.

Mr Campbell also remembered and complimented me on the one and only story I sold him, three years ago. This means that he can have three wishes, one eighth of my literary estate and my daughter's hand when she grows up, and if anyone says an unkind word about him in my presence it will mean plonkers at six paces.

I engaged in desultory shouted conversation with Mr Campbell and the Silverbergs for a few minutes - the shouting being necessary because of the background jazz music blaring from loudspeakers scattered around the place - then left to rest my ear percussion section. The only people who were chatting comfortably in the lounge were two other loud speakers, Moskowitz and Duncombe.


John W. Campbell, H. Beam Piper (ns)

At 1.15 the luncheon was supposed to start, but it was considerably later than this before everyone had found his seat - so much so that there was a suggestion going round our table about the advisability of sending out for something to eat. I discovered on taking my seat that the empty space next to me was reserved for no less a person (?) than Wally Flash Weber. I shut my eyes out of sheer reflex, then thought that at last I might get to set this Weber because it was fairly likely that he could not use his flash camera while wielding a knife and fork. Then somebody nudged me and said "Weber's coming!"

Through the door of the dining hall came Weber's camera, Weber's adam's apple and Weber himself in that order. In the flesh, what there was of it, he looked out to be a boney, blond-haired drawling thing with a devastating but economical sense of humour, tall enough to qualify for Irish Fandom. On the other side of Wally were H. Beam Piper and his wife. I asked him if he was H.B. Fyfe.... Or maybe on second thoughts it I asked him if he was H.Beam Piper. Anyway, he said no.

WILLIS (in 'SF Parade'):

The convention programme proper began this afternoon with the banquet. There was some confused delay over the seating arrangements, which may have been a blessing in disguise since it gave many people time to recover their appetites from a late breakfast; though indeed this was unnecessary since the banquet food was quite good, the duck being definitely not the foul left over from New York.

FORRY ACKERMAN:

The banquet hall was unfortunate: about a mile long and an inch wide. By its narrow, elongated construction, a number of speakers were forced to show their backs to one third of an audience. For the first time that I can recall, banqueteers were assigned seats (by whom I know not) rather than being free to pick their own company, and I'm afraid the locations were not universally popular. Many of the Americans who had made the greatest effort and travelled the farthest distance were relegated to least desirable positions. And as for myself---! Now I love Dorothea Faulkner, in fact I think I am partly responsible for having introduced "Dotty the Demon Grandma" to fandom; but I'll be damned if I appreciate travelling 6000 miles to have lunch with someone I could in effect have lunch with any day of the week. The horrible part about making such public complaints is that I have the unhappy feeling I may be hurting the feelings of some well-intentioned individual who reasoned that the two Californians might like to sit side by side, but Rory Faulkner can not only sit next to me any old time at home but, if she wants to, on my lap. I can well imagine on the occasion of the banquet that Rory would infinitely have preferred the company of Wait Willis to Forry, or any of a dozen other "foreign" fans; while for myself, I would have far greater appreciated being seated next to virtually any non-American present. Future meal managers, please note!

En passant, I was almost the inadvertent cause of an International Incident with the Queen of England. Deliberately chosen to give the "natives" a little touch of California flair, I had elected to wear a "bolo" tie with my best shirt and suit. This was a personal production by Bjo FantaCrafts of Southern California, and featured a cluster of polished desert rocks at the usual cravat knot-point. This unusual tie was a hit elsewhere an the Continent and in New York, but at the penultimate moment before going in for lunch I was hustled aside and instructed in no uncertain terms to "get rid of that ridiculous doodad" as toasting Her Majesty was a solemn occasion and such a sartorial innovation would be considered egregious. Seems something called Teddy Boys -- Britain's teddible equivalent of our teenage delinquents--currently effected similar ties, I'll never really know why my innocent little bauble should have upset the Queen so, considering all the bobbly bubbles she's seen when Marilyn Monroe, Diana Dors, Jayne Mansfield and other mammary queens have bowed low to her; but I fetched a proper tie and the show went on.

It was my pleasure and privilege to toast Absent Friends, among whom I counted . (on all our behalves) those departed Greats, Wells and Stapledon, as well as familiar Worldcon faces we were missing: Tucker, Bloch, Asimov, Boucher, et al.

JAMES WHITE

According to the menu, the Queen was to be proposed by Mr Wyndham and seeing the shocked look beginning to form on Wally Weber's face I reminded him quietly that the Queen was married to some friend of Chuck Harris's and that it was merely Her Health that was being proposed. Weber nodded slowly, saying "Yah, I worried...." WC rose, bellowed "The Queen!" and looked round for a fireplace to hurl our glasses at. There was none, so we sat down. From somewhere a slightly awed American voice observed that this was; the first time a science fiction convention banquet had opened with a serious honest-to-goodness toast to Her Majesty!


Arthur C. Clarke, Peggy Campbell, John Wyndham, John W. Campbell, Ted Carnell

WILLIS (in 'SF Parade'):

After the toast to the Queen (another Worldcon first) drunk in Burgandy (imported), Arthur Clarke introduced John W. Campbell with a brilliant little speech in the serious part of which he referred to Campbell as a scientist rather than a technologist, this being, he suggested, the difference between Gernsback and him. Campbell, in his response, took him up on this, and said he thought of himself rather as a philosopher, physical science and sociology being mere facets of this field. He went on to more abstruse realms of thought where, after four hours sleep and fortified only by one cup of coffee, I am unable to follow him. However, his speech was, of course, interesting and well received.


Campbell, Ted Carnell, Sam Youd, Bob Madle

Bob Madle followed as TAFF delegate with a few well chosen words, in the course of which he pointed out that this was really the first Worldcon. Later, Sam Moskowitz was to revive memories of the first titular World Convention in 1939, pointing out the remarkable fact that there were no less than 8 of those original attendees present, 18 years later and 3000 miles away. One difference, he pointed out to the general amusement, was that they had tried to throw out Dave Kyle, and here he was in a seat of honour.


Sam Moskowitz

Between these two speeches there were short informal addresses by John Brunner, Forry Ackerman, Lars Helander of Sweden, and Rainer Eisfeld of, Germany. All were excellent, but Rainer Eisfeld registered a remarkable personal success, the sensation of the convention so far. This 16 year old boy, speaking in a strange language in a country he was visiting for the first time, spoke so fluently, interestingly and sincerely that in fact he received a louder ovation than any of his predecessors, even Campbell himself. Some of the speakers had undoubtedly had more to say, but at about 4:30 Peter Daniels pointed out it was just about time for tea, so of course the session was closed.


JWC, Sam Youd, Ted Carnell, Rory Faulkner, Forry Ackerman, unknown, Frank Arnold, unknown, Pete Daniels
(bringing things to a close), Fred Brown.

There was some delay in starting the evening session because the recipient of one of the achievement awards, John W. Campbell, had gone off to dinner with Eric Frank Russell, who had appeared later in the afternoon for his first convention for years. An auction period was substituted.


Christine Moskowitz, Pam Bulmer, Peggy Campbell, Eric Frank Russell attending only his second convention.

About 20 minutes later, Ted Carnell got up to make a grave announcement. The remainder of the programme, had been delayed by a serious calamity; the Convention gavel had been stolen! Fortunately the affair had immediately been put in the capable hands of a famous detective agency, not the FBI, but an organisation of similar scope - The Goon Defective Agency, At this moment James White arose in the body of the hall, drawing a gun. At the other side Arthur Thomson plunged into the hall, shouting "Vile agent of Antigoon!" and a running gun battle ensued, after which White collapsed on the floor (after having dusted it with his handkerchief), and was carried out attended by Sister Ethel Lindsay, as Stephen Schultheis made a triumphant entry with the missing gavel, The whole thing took a mere two minutes but it certainly started off the Programme with a bang... or 13 of them to be exact ...and is.to my knowledge the first time such a purely fannish affair has figured in a Worldcon.


James White lies 'dead'.

JAMES WHITE:

Ethel Lindsay, a nurse and a very nice person who has unfortunately been led astray by John Berry, was supposed to appear, then take my pulse and temperature, and help me stagger off the scene. Instead, Unethical Lindsay was standing on a chair with a GDA badge stating that she was Stephen F. Schultheis pinned to her chest, hooting and screaming "Down with Antigoon!" And Shel Deretchin, who had no part to play whatever except lending pistols, became overcome with excitement and dashed out and began dragging me off by the feet. At this point Arthur Thomson, out of respect for my suit if not for me, grabbed my other end and lfted me clear off the ground. I didn't think it was possible for the relatively diminutive Arthur Thomson to carry the heavy end of a fourteen stone weakling like myself, but he did it. For half an hour afterwards, however, he looked as if he had been shot 13 times instead of me.

The GDA-Antigoon gun battle was supposed to be a surprise item and it was. So much so that quite a lot of people in the lounge missed it. These, I found out later, had put it down to Sam Moskowitz having an attack of hiccups.

For James's full report on the incident see: THE CASE OF THE MISSING GAVEL.

John W. Campbell finally appeared and the three Achievement Awards, aka the Hugos, were awarded. These were for Best American prozine, Best British Prozine, and Best Fanzine:


The audience. Note J.G.Ballard in front centre. He did not stay long and it would be over a decade before he attended
another convention.


John Wyndham hands John W. Campbell the Hugo for ASTOUNDING as Bobbie Wild looks on


Ted Carnell receives the Hugo for NEW WORLDS


John Peterson receives James V. Taurasi's Hugo for SF TIMES


The Hugo winners

A talk on a new planetarium followed (by a representative of Madame Tussaud's ), then an auction. I missed both because Mal and I, commissioned to write conreports, had gone out permeating again in an effort to discover something dramatic or scandalous. Everyone was enjoying himself hugely, yet somehow contrived to be well behaved. Out of sheer boredom I plucked a bloom from one of the many floral decorations and stuck it in my lapel. Carefully then I reminded Mal that I had been shot and that the James White he knew and loved was dead, but this, I ended triumphantly as I pushed the flower in my lapel towards him, was my rein-carnation!

I left Ashworth suffering from a sudden malaise as I spotted Peter Phillips. I went up to him respectfully, steadied him, then tried the same pun on him. Mr Phillips staggered back against the wall, then he straightened up, threw back his shoulders and for the first time in my knowledge of him he went clear around the edges. He said distinctly: "My Ghod, man, you've shocked me sober! I hate you!" Then he grabbed for the shoulder of a passing waitress and began to sob.


Alan Whicker and masqueraders

An hour or so later the BBC TV unit routed a skiffle group from the back lounge as cameras and equipment began moving in. The Fancy Dress costumes were hurriedly donned and the BBC began a long series of filmed interviews. (According to Willis, these were "with the Kyles, Dietzes, JWCampell, Rory Faulkner, John Brunner, and others". The interviewer was Alan Whicker, who was later to become much more famous.).


The dance

Meanwhile a band of surprising brilliance (Pete Daniels' Merseysippi Jazz Band) had replaced the auctioneer in the hall and dancing commenced - or maybe it would be more correct to say mixed wrestling or rhythmic mayhem: that band really despatched those couples.

I don't know how the fen liked the night's music, but I can tell you that the band was most impressed by the audience. As you are well aware, jazz musicians are somewhat offtrail herberts themselves, and not well used to being understood, as it were. After a little while at the con, one of our lot leaned over to me and said, in tones of great wonder: "Hey, Dad, these people are just like us!"

....Pete Daniels

I can't remember much after that except that I was enjoying myself. I do remember however one point where I tried to talk Bob Silverberg into strapping ourselves back-to-back and entering the masquerade part as our Ace Double. But Bob said he wanted to think it over, and as I left I saw him talking earnestly to Barbara and some members of the Committee. Later he told me it grieved him terribly, but he couldn't do it because his wife had been picked as one of the judges and it would be unethical. I hinted that maybe the real trouble was that he had never been taught at school to walk backwards on his hands, sneered politely, and withdrew.

CHUCK HARRIS:

The fancy dress ball was already in full swing by this time. Some of the costumes were very wonderful indeed, and it must have been a hard job to judge them fairly. I think though that the Dietz's, dressed as a pair of E.T.'s in red and black, complete with face make up and tendrils, well deserved their win. And, for that matter, so did the Kyles and John Brunner.


The masquerade/ fancy dress ball. Bottom left are Paul & Joan Hammett, top right is Mike Moorcock

The one that impressed me most of all though was that of Paul Hammett's exquisitely beautiful wife, Joan. It wasn't stefnic, -- she was dressed as a typical English schoolgirl in a gym tunic and sandals and her hair in plaits, -- but it was so realistic that most everybody was completely fooled by it, and didn't connect this brat with the sophisticated, groomed Joan that they all know. She had every childish mannerism right down pat, -- even to the way she tugged excitedly at people's sleeves before speaking to them, - and Paul was having a high old time going around introducing his child bride to all and quandry. I offered to babysit for him, but he wasn't having any.

Pete Daniels, of Liverpool fandom, was leading the dance hard, and blows a very hot horn indeed. I haven't danced since I went deaf ten years ago, but I could feel the beat from the way the floor was vibrating and I badly wanted to try again. Arthur persuaded me that I could, and Little Sister Ethel Lindsay said she'd be glad to dance with me, so I trotted out onto the floor for the next quickstep with her. She was good and patient, and after a couple of false starts, I found my old groove again, didn't tread on Ethel and had myself a pretty big time. Afterwards, for the next ten minutes, I wandered around happily asking everyone if they'd seen me, and being reassured that they hadn't missed a single misstep. Truly, I do so enjoy being told how wonderful I am.

JAMES WHITE:

The band packed up at 2.30 and Mari Dziechowski, Mal & I who had been listening to them from close up, went back along into the curtained-off section used as a dining room. As we trooped along the carpeted floor we noticed that already things had been set out for breakfast. Suddenly we were accosted by a night porter who told us politely but firmly not to come through this room again. He gravely gave the reason for this interdict: we were getting dust in the cornflakes.

We three despoilers of pure and innocent cornflakes slunk away, trying not to raise a cloud that would increase the poisonous dust fallout.

The small lounge, where we found ourselves next, was well filled ...most of Irish Fandom, the Bulmers, Boyd Raeburn and Peter Phillips being some of the people present. Boyd Raeburn was apparently being introduced the the local sport of snogging by Pamela Bulmer, chaperoned by her fond husband who was supplying the fog. Peter Phillips, once more fuzzy round the edges, was eyeing the process owlishly and pulling, or at least bending Boyd's leg. There was no harm intended, of course, but Boyd's leg was not built to bend that way. I admired the way Boyd kept control of and Chuck Harris terminated what could have been an awkward incident. But immediately after this Phillips started playing a harmonica, quite brilliantly, with his left leg wrapped around his neck. Then he produced a sort of musical banister which he called a recorder and began to play that as well, and at the same time. At this point he fell off the table. After tottering to his feet he stated gravely that the discord he had just produced had been due to the harmonica and the recorder having been, in different keys: then he reeled away, bumping the doorway on both sides as he left. It is impossible to describe or to dislike Peter Phillips ...!


John W. Campbell, Rainer Eisfeld

Some heretics among those present began suggesting that we go to bed. Mal and I left for a patrol of the other lounges in an attempt to find something reportable for our promised conreports. The BBC and the masqueraders were still occupying one lounge; another skiffle group had started in another, the ensemble including guitarists Dan Morgan & John (Hynan) Kippax. In the lobby John W. Campbell was deep in apparently philosophical discussion with Rainer Eisfeld and another German fan who seemed to know no English. Rainer was translating both ways and the result was sheer Marx Brothers. In another lounge a group contained such people as Forry, the Dietzes, Bert Campbell, Steve Schultheis and Bob Madle. At the moment they seemed to be discussing cars. We left and came back full circle to the small lounge, where Walter was alone in front of a typer doing an airlettered report for Len Moffatt. We discussed the discovery by Chuck Harris and Walter of the fabulous Ray Nelson, who had been at the convention for two days without anyone recognising him, then Madeleine lugged Walter off to bed.


Walt Willis, typing some of the very words that appear in this composite report

The BBC men had now spent several hours collecting material for what could be no more than a five minute spot on their 'Tonight' programme, and they were still at it. The skiffle group had exhausted themselves and gone, but there was a huddle of fans around the Ackerman-Dietz-Madle group in the corner of the large lounge, and George ATW Charters was benevolently overseeing a poker game between Ron Bennett, a very nice girl whose name I didn't get who was Ted Carnell's secretary at Nova, Peter Phillips, and some nameless others. Somehow, Mal and I found ourselves in a party containing the Silverbergs, Arthur Thomson, Ellis Mills and at some distance Wally Weber. I remember at one point a curious Tower of Babel effect overtaking us. Arthur suddenly began speaking alternate sentences with a Cockney and a broad Scottish accent, Ellis's and Wally's voices were definitely doing peculiar things, I was breaking into Wally's Western drawl, and Bob Silverberg was speaking pure North Irish. I'm sure this was the first time anything like this happened, probably because there has never been a convention like this before. I could see the light of madness beginning to grow in Barbara Silverberg's eyes as she protested wildly, "Bob, stop it! You're putting question marks everywhere, like him! You're beginning to lilt...!"


George Charters watches as Ron Bennett, the Shorrocks and others play poker

A couple of hours later, the Silverbergs, after nearly falling on their faces a couple of times, dragged themselves off to their room. I was beginning to feel tired, so was Mal, but nothing could have got us away from that convention or those people. Weber was not technically a member of this group, because he insisted on sitting three yards away from the rest of us so that he could pretend not to be with us when the level of punning got too low. He also kept Mal and me of how nice it would feel to lie down in a lovely soft bed, the fiend. To counteract this, I suggested to Mal that we go up to our room and dunk our heads in the wash-basin. This we did, and as we were leaving we paused at the door and looked back at our beds lying there so seductively and smugly. We snapped our fingers at them and sneered. They wilted, visibly.


Mal Ashworth, James White, and the power of the psneer (ww)

It was at this moment that we felt history was being made, that what we had done was no empty gesture but an actual weapon of war. After a sneer like that, why going to bed would be like fraternizing with the enemy. It had been at that moment that the art and science of Psneeronics came into being, the foundation of an entire new field of knowledge. But just then we were too tired to foresee this: proudly and kind of humbly we returned to the lounge.

George Charters, who had booked into a hotel 3 miles away so that he could be sure of getting his sleep, was still perched benignly on a table watching an extremely fuzzy Peter Phillips taking his cautious and sober fellow players to the cleaners. About this time, roughly 6am, the BBC technicians began to evacuate the hotel. Friendly jeers followed them and somebody shouted "Yah, weaklings!" Someone pulled the curtain aside to see them off, and daylight was revealed outside. A tired, ragged but triumphant cheer went up: we had done it!

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