Sunday, April 17RON BENNETT:
On the Sunday morning Keith Freeman demonstrated to anyone interested that his 'Brandy For Breakfast' slogan is more than an empty one.
At the Annual General Meeting of the British SF Association, the legal position re. the Sandringham cancellation was discussed. It transpired that the BSFA has no written record of the transaction but that there is enough evidence to constitute a verbal contract which lays down that neither party could have cancelled the booking within a week of the convention. Accordingly, it was agreed that a solicitor’s letter should be sent to the management of the Sandringham, explaining the position.
A scheme introducing postal ballots was discussed and the meeting moved on to the election of new officers for the coming year. Mike Moorcock, ex-editor of the Tarzan Adventures comic magazine, and friend Gerry Mosdell (who had produced the Convention programme booklet) put forward their manifesto towards producing the BSFA’s official organ, Vector, and Jim Groves, a member of the Science Fiction Club of London, did the same. (With the aid of various other London fans Moorcock had edited the previous three issues and the one-off VECTOR EXPLANATION - Rob.) On the ballot taken, Jim Groves narrowly defeated his rival duo and immediately announced that he was inaugurating a newsletter scheme for members, the first newsletter being scheduled for within a fortnight.
Ella A. Parker, editor of Orion, was elected as BSFA Secretary, and after appreciation had been expressed for the magnificent job done by Treasurer Archie Mercer, an appreciation echoed even by a non-member present, Archie was voted into office for the third year in succession. He stated that while he was honoured, he wished to make it clear that this would be his last year as Treasurer.
The election of BSFA Chairman caused some little discussion. Eric Jones and Arthur Thomson both declined nomination and finally Ina Shorrock beat Doc Weir on a straight vote. Brian Aldiss, who received a plaque from the Detention Committee as Best New Writer of the Year, narrowly defeated veteran H. Ken Bulmer in the ballot for Association President.
Room parties.... on Saturday night I gave them a miss. Had a feeling that I should be as wideawake as possible for the BSFA meeting the following morning, which was just as well because soon after it started I found I was more or less chairing it, much to my surprise. Meanwhile, Bill had taken Don to see one of the traditional sights of London - Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park.
We got back to the hotel in time to hear Kettering voted as the site for next year's con. Ina Shorrock was voted in as BSFA Chairman, Brian Aldis as Assoc. Pres, Archie Mercer as Treas and definitely for the last year he says and Jim Groves as publisher.
A goodly mob of us went out for lunch at the Moulin Rouge. We went downstairs and somehow or other I got into a conversation with the owner who looked to be Italian, He said he used to live in the U.S. until he got deported following his sentence. Been in England ever since. I asked him what gang he used to be with and what he got sent up for. It was for bootlegging and he used to be with Capone's mob, he said.
I kept telling him what a nice set up he had for a casino down in this cellar, and asking him if he knew the Detroit Purple Gang and mentioned names of some of the gangsters who'd been in an article in LIFE some time back. When we left the restaurant, Carnell looked at me with awe and asked me how I knew so much about the gangsters in the U.S. "Next time you're in Cincinnati, Ted, let us take you to the hot spots in Northern Kentucky." I said.
Ted had some little difficulties with two cameras, so Peter West took over Norman's camera and bobbed out and in the first two rows of seats with camera in hand. He decided he needed a plug and reached for the one Eric Jones had on his tape recorder and narrowly missed getting backhanded. The show of Jones beating off West was almost as good as the one on stage. Eric had to alternately change speed and synchronize with Bentcliffes script, while beating off Peter West. All in all, it was a wonderful production of a spoof of Norman Shorrock's life, which of course, the Liverpool and Cheltenham group conspired to do without Norman finding out. Even Ina kept her mouth shut, and who says women can't keep secrets?
Nickie - who had been brought by Vince - decided she needed changing during the next item (a talk on Karel Capek by Doc Weir) so we all missed it. And anyone who doesn't believe it can sometimes take three people to change a baby, when said baby is determined to parade her nakedness round a con hotel, doesn't have any children! In the evening there was a TAFF auction conducted efficiently by Ron Bennett, during the course of which the audience was treated to the spectacle of an Atom monster parading in their midst. The costume by Don Geldart was worn by Innocent-Sex-Kitten Irene Potter. The programme ended with the showing of a 16mm version of 'The Day The Earth Stood Still' which provoked one or two quiet chuckles in the back rows... such as the time some character on the screen ran screaming down a street "The Flying Saucers have landed!!!" and Vince quietly remarked that he'd obviously recovered his Sense of Wonder. And the time somebody on the screen said "Goodbye" and Nickie spent the next five minutes waving her hand and saying "Ta-ta, ta-ta". After that Ron took Vince and Nickie home again while Joy and I organised a short OMPA meeting in Ethel Lindsay's room.
Out to supper with a group, again, we passed an outside telephone booth, I heard the phone ring and suggested to Ron Buckmaster that we answer it. He strung someone along at the other end with phrases like, "I'm sorry, the Duke is out." etc. It was all we could do to keep from laughing and giving the joke away.
We got some drinks and set ups and went to Ella Parker's room for a chat....Ted Carnell, Ella, Brian Jordan, Arthur Thomson and myself, Told a few jokes, talked about the state of British Fandom, etc. Arthur reminds me a lot of Frank Robinson....they both have a voice which is very similar in tone, they think alike and have the same sense of humor. I suggested that we could have a party in my roon that night, but I didn't have the capacity to hold the entire convention, I'd also brought along some B.S.S. cards that the CFG has used ever since 1953 and gave these to Arthur. He took charge of passing them out and figuring who to invite. The whole thing to come off later in the evening after we'd all visited about.
Ted had planned to go on home and left. A few minutes later I was down in the lobby when he called me over to where he and Dave Kyle were talking to a Miss Bellamy, a newspaper woman from New Hampshire somewhere. She was hipped on flying saucers and had noted the s-f con on the lobby bulletin board. It just so happened that she was on an European tour and was staying at the Kingsley. She related some of the sightings she'd written about in her newspaper work. The movie, "The Day The Earth Stood Still" was now being shown in the con hall and after her taking a few notes for a possible column in her hometown newspaper, she adjourned to the con hall and Ted got his chance to dart out the door and head for home, now considerably later than he'd anticipated on leaving.
The professional film stood the test of time fairly well and it was during this film - just beforehand rather that we met an American girl, Ernestine Hope Bellamy, who had actually seen U.F.O.s. I had always kept an open mind about the things myself, but I was curious and we talked to her afterwards about it. And I should like to say right now that Miss Hope Bellamy was no crank, but a very intelligent young lady.
I watched the end of the movie and then circulated around a bit. A number of fans were leaving the con, now. Next stop was Ethel Lindsay's room where an OMPA gathering was in progress.
In spite of'the absence of members who weren't staying at the hotel that night, the room was packed - there must have been about half the OMPA membership there, which is a pretty good proportion, and we had an interesting session. Eventually President Joy wound up the official proceedings of OMPA and we were told to go and fetch any bottles we had in order to convert the meeting into a room-party. I went to fetch my Drambuie, then realised that there was still something missing. "Hold on", I said as I slipped through the door again, "I've forgotten my glass."
Mike Moorcook was in the corridor outside, Did I want a glass? He had one right there. He knocked on a door, and Sandra Hall let us in. Mike shoved two bar-glasses into my hands, I thanked him and prepared to depart.
"While you're here," said Mike (or words to that effect) - and started talking. I answered. Two or three or five minutes leter I picked up the glasses again and prepared to depart. Mike kept on talking, Sandra helping out occasionally. Eventually I gave in, produced the Drambuie, and we settled down for a session. An hour or two later, when THAT room-party broke up, I returned to Ethel's and Audrey's room to find that it was still fairly lively - but with hardly any of those originally present. That's fandom for you - never any shortage of sidetracks, Dave Kyle was there showing binocular slides of his home - "Viewmaster" or something, 3D style. Looking at these, I discovered that I have something unsuspected in common with Dave - we both live in caravans. I told him that Phil Rogers was another. Dave said he'd met him over the week-end but hadn't suspected it either.
Ron Bennett, Sandy Sanderson, Eric Bentcliffe and myself adjourned to my room for a brief TAFF discussion. Mal Ashworth had left. We discussed whether there should be any changes in the TAFF setup for the immediate future and after some discussion decided that only minor changes were necessary; that TAFF had worked in the past and should be able to do so in the future.
Next fans started drifting in and before long only standing room was available. Bob Parkinson auctioned off half his beard for TAFF and raised well over a pound I believe. I was chosen as the one to do the job and started hacking away with my razor, saying: "This reminds me of my old job...I used to be an orderly in a maternity ward."
The hotel rang a couple of times asking to keep it quiet and finally the Bell Captain came up about 3 AM and asked me to break it up. It was late and since it was primarily a sedate hotel, I didn't feel they were unreasonable about it. They were nice about it and I was getting a bit weary anyhow. So, with a flash of inspiration I turned to the crowd and in a confidential hoarse whisper said, "Quick everybody! Grab the booze and head for Dave Kyle's room. ..room 524!" There was that fatal split second of indecision. I opened my room door and gave the nearest person a strong shove and propelled him out the door. Same to the next person and then like sheep following a judas goat they all ran pell mell up to Dave's room.
I'd nearly completed the operation "scram" and was talking in muted tones to 3 or 4 fans still left when the phone rang. I didn't answer it. Later a knock at the door. I didn't answer that either. Finally a wrathful voice outside the door said, "MISTER FORD! This is the night manager. Please open your door immediately! I opened and saw this cat in a silken robe, with a hair net on, rising up on his tippy toes looking indignant. I said, "I thought you were someone wanting to get in and I've nearly gotten them all out now." He spluttered a bit, but when the others left, cooled off a bit. I then waited for him to tip toe back and slyly Knock, himself, later on when the coast was clear, but I guess he figured I wasn't his type.
I did not count the number of people who were there, but every inch of space seemed to be filled up with fans. The party broke up about 3 a.m., I think, and the Con proper was over.