Monday March 30th


I felt sorry for the hotel staff, some of whom stayed up till 4-am; but I felt much sorrier for myself when I awoke on Monday morning at 7.30 to the rhythmic pounding of fists on my door. Had it all been worth it? It had been worth meeting Beryl Henley and Pete Weston two days before the Convention; there had been so much to talk about, then. But somehow when over 100 other fans are present, not just one other, the magic of conversation is lost, and uncertain boredom takes over. This is what happened for me at the Con.; perhaps no one enjoys it at first, or perhaps I was somehow at fault. Either way, it was a bit of a disappointment.

But... see you at Birmingham, next Easter?


I've never wholly enjoyed a convention since I became a celebrity; and at Easter, among all the new BSFA fans at Peterborough .I had the pleasure of being a carefree nonentity again... introducing neofans respectfully to my famous friend James White, no responsibilities, no speeches... I tell you, it's soft at the bottom.

I must mention what a superb TAFF delegate Wally Weber proved himself. Seattle and American fandom in general can be proud of him. And the professionals can be proud of Leigh Brackett and Ed Hamilton who registered an immense personal success and whose programme item (their first) was one of the best I've seen at any Convention.

There was also a refreshing outbreak of sanity. For 25 years some members of convention organising fandom has suffered from the delusion that sf conventions should have press coverage. Apparently they have this fixed belief that anyone reading in a newspaper any reference to a Convention will dash madly to the nearest newsstand and buy every promag in sight, pausing on the way home to take out postal subscriptions to the others. Whereas the bitter experience of a quarter of a century should have convinced them that the only purchase likely to be made by anyone reading the average newspaper report of a convention would be a bargepole for not touching fans with. At last it has. On the second day of the Convention word went round that there was a Reporter present, but that it was all right, nobody was talking to him. Sure enough, everyone he approached told him politely but firmly that this was a private function. Not only that but at the next Convention session Chairman Tony Walsh, a young fan who seems to have been born with mutant sensibilities, issued a Public Warning. So the reporter sat alone in the bar writing his piece out of his head. No doubt it was just as accurate as any other newspaper report but it did no harm because it didn't get published. Which just proves what I've always claimed, that what Convention Committees need is not a Publicity Officer but a Security Officer.

(Ken Bulmer and Vince Clarke shared a London flat between 1949 and 1952, one they dubbed 'the Epicentre' and which became a hive of fannish activity.)


On the way back to London on the train Irish Fandom and Ken Bulmer got seats together in a compact little group which encompassed only two non-fans, an elderly couple who seemed to be going up for a day's shopping. They were understandably bored by our conversation but I noted a gleam of interest in their eyes when Ken casually remarked, "We'll be able to see The Epicentre from this train." God only knows what sort of vision the word Epicentre conjured up in their minds, but it must have been something good. They got more and more excited as Ken ticked off landmarks leading up to The Epicentre and when he started a count-down in the last few seconds the old boy was slobbering with suspense and nudging his wife so that she wouldn't miss it.

When the row of sooty old houses finally came into view Ken lept up, gnashing his pipe, and shouted, "There it is! There it is! Look!" He gazed out for a few seconds in silent rapture, and the old boy's eyes made audible clicks as they bounced from side to side in their sockets in an effort to find something resembling his idea of an Epicentre. Finally he slumped back in his seat with an air of uttter misery, and I'm sure to this day he is wondering what he missed.



The convention ended far too soon, and early Monday morning ("early" means "before noon") I left with Terry, Val, Pauline and Sandra Jeeves. The trip to Sheffield was an introduction to such interesting subjects as Soggy-approved restaurants, lamb-herding, and expecting car trouble without actually having any.

After leaving a quote card in the menu of a Chinese restaurant in Sheffield -- something about crottled greeps I believe (remind me to tell you about the Liverpool Group and their quote-cards someday) -- we drove to the Jeeves' home where I met Bonnie (dog-type) and eventually Keith (boy-type). Bonnie stood up to meeting the fabulous TAFF delegate quite well, but Keith left for Europe the next day.

Wednesday, April 1, Terry and his family were starting their vacation to Southport, and they dropped me at Eric Bentcliffe's home near Manchester on their way. In addition to such assets as his wife, Beryl, and girl-child, Lindsay, Eric has some great fannish tapes and much knowledge of British fandom. Yes, there was much enjoyable listening to do at the Bentcliffe home -- a new and beautiful home, too -- and that night when I went to my room I found two of the many quote cards that were following me around the country since the PeterCon; these said, "PSNEER" and "STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND."

Friday, April 3, Eric managed to overcome my natural talent for getting lost, and I found the right train to Birmingham. From all the construction going on, it looked like Birmingham was just being built. Since I still wasn't convinced that my TAFF trip was real, the thought occurred that the trip really was a hoax and I made the Birmingham set before the scenery had been finished.

Saturday, April 4, a bus delivered me at Ken Cheslin's place in Stourbridge, throwing Ken into his normal state of confusion. Ken had been elected BSFA President at Peterborough, and the 1965 Easter convention was to be held in Birmingham, so Ken was all covered with responsibility and duties. He shrugged them off, however, and spent the next couple days showing me scenery, history, fans, games, Archie Mercer, and a truly magnificent break in billiards. Tony and Simone Walsh miraculously located us in the tavern during the billiards game, and before the evening was over another ever-present quote card turned up, which happened to have Norm Shorrock's address on the back. We all signed it, Tony found a stamp small enough to fit on the tiny card, and promised to mail it.

Monday, April 6 I was in Liverpool to attend the Monday evening meeting of the Liverpool Group. Their clubroom is absolutely unbelievable, but then so is the Liverpool Group. After a session of wine-tasting to get into the fannish meeting mood, a moderately wild official meeting took place during which I was appointed Seattle Chapter of the Liverpool Group. Little did we know then...

Tuesday, April 7th, I visited with Ron Bennett, who had his voice back and no longer had to communicate with the quote cards, and in the evening we watched a -- well, Ron called it football, but I don't know. Football game I mean.

Wednesday, April 8th, I had some weird notion of going to Ipswich, but I didn't want to leave as early as the train did, so about ten o'clock at night (about the time England rolls its streets up disappears until dawn) I was once again calling Mother Parker to ask for shelter. "Weber, you've got a stinking cold!" she said in her sweet way, and it was all arranged.

Through the lounge doorway at Ella's (ww).

Dicky Howett, Dave Busby, Pat Kearney (ww).

There followed a week in London doing indescribable things, like visiting transient managers of Worldcon hotels, attending Friday night sessions at Ella's and meetings of the Science Fiction Club of London, seeing American movies, and buying Beatles records.

Obviously the whole trip was a hoax, just as I suspected all along.



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 a *lot* of extra material:

.....Rob Hansen


Here are some links for those interested in learning more about the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund as it relates to Wally Weber's win and the 1964 race between Arthur Thomson and Phil Rogers: