Thursday 26th AugustTED WHITE:
I rose at the ungodly hour of 8:30, and luxuriated in a deep tub bath. Since I have only a shower at home, I treasure every opportunity to try out a tub elsewhere. (Boyd Raeburn, on the other hand, detests tubs, and told me he'd had his room changed upon discovering there was no shower.) I also discovered that wash-cloths are not supplied, and I had to make do for baths and shaving with the face towel. Ah, barbaric England!
I'd been wondering what my Continental Breakfast would be like. I'd been told it would probably consist of some sweet buns or the like. I was writing a letter to Robin (from which letter and subsiquent letters I have drawn the details for this report) when there was a discrete knock at the door and a maid came in bearing a tray. The contents of the tray in full were: two pots, one of which held coffee, the other hot, boiled, milk; sugar; a coffee cup; butter; and two rolls. The rolls were unadorned dinner rolls. I wolfed the lot down, drinking all the coffee and about half the milk. And I did not bother ordering another Continental Breakfast during my stay at the hotel, Indeed, I rarely rose early enough for one during the remainder of my stay.
I was just finishing the letter when Harry Harrison came up. He asked if I had anything planned for the day and I told him I didn't. He suggested I join him for a drive out to Ted Carnell's place, "We'll show you a bit of London," he added. I was delighted.
Harry is an extremely ebullient, outward-going fellow who is often to be found laughing loudly and who drives like a madman. I consider myself a talker, but I found with Harry I could just sit back, look at things and listen, without any awkward pauses developing in the conversation.
Harry and his family have lived in Denmark the past several years, but they were now in the process of moving to England. He has a dark green VW Microbus, fitted out nicely as a camper, with which he and his family have toured all over Europe. "The U.S. is all right for a starter," he told me, "but sooner or later it's time to leave, see the world, get out and do things!" I think if Harry had his way we'd all be expatriates.
We took a scenic route along the Thames, past all the Famous Buildings and over the Tower Bridge. I was more impressed by the fact that at low tide the ships moored on the river's edge are grounded than I was by the Famous Buildings, which, after all, looked pretty much like most Famous Buildings. But then, I'm not a sight-seer, at least on most occasions.
London, as I mentioned, has almost no expressways. It took over an hour to travel the seven or so miles out to Ted Carnell's place, every bit of the way on local roads, fighting (and that is the word) local traffic.
Ted Carnell lives in one of the London suburbs on a quiet sidestreet in a rowhouse. Harry was mumbling to himself that he never could find it, but he did, and with no trouble at all. As we were approaching I said, "Do you suppose Ted knows of any place I could get a copy of NEW WORLDS number one? It's the only no I'm missing."
We'd been sitting around in Ted's living room chatting with him and his wife when I asked the question again, this time of him.
"Oh, I think I might have an extra copy kicking around," he said, to my astonishment, "I have a bound set of my own."
"You know," he continued, "we simply couldn't sell that first issue. That was in early in 1946. But we went ahead with the second issue. I worked up a cover around an old, 1937 Rogers black and white drawing which we had redrawn in color -- a couple of spaceships on a deep blue background."
"That second issue virtually sold out. I should imagine it is rarer than the first; I've never sen it in backissue stores. Well, we had all those extra unsold copies of number one, so we ripped the covers off, and we had new covers printed up, exactly like the covers for the second issue, except that they said 'No. 1' on them. And we put them out to sale again, and they did very well." Obviously the true collector's items are those variant first issues.
Ted added that he had a second set of the early NEW WORLDS and SCIENCE FANTASY, bound in buckram, for sale if anyone was interested. "I have my own set; I don't need two."
He inscribed the contents page of NEW WORLDs #1 for me: "To Ted White, in editorial, appreciation," I felt like a humble neo.
On our trip back, Harry and I argued mildly about the Direction SF Is Travelling In. Harry is in the Aldiss-Ballard camp -- as his editorship of SF HORIZONS with Aldiss makes clear -- and very much for the New Thing in British sf, I am not, We more or less agreed to disagree. Harry said he would state his position in his talk Friday, and I said I'd rebut it in mine, Sunday.
When we got back, I found the hotel starting to swarm with fans, Ron Ellik and Al Lewis were there, and already engaged in setting up the art show, I met Lois Lavender, who was quite as nice and attractive as her advance billings had credited her with being.
I was hanging about the artshow room trying to be of some vague use when a French author and fan showed up, and asked Harry Harrison, Poul Anderson and me if we'd care to be interviewed for French radio, He carried a pocket tape recorder.
We moved into the all-but-deserted auditorium, but the Mt. Royal was in the final stages of renovation, and workmen occasionally begin hammering and pounding away within easy earshot of the taper, so I don't know how much of what we said was usable. We chatted about one thing and another, and it was quite low key. Presumably much editing was done before any of it went on the air -- if any of it did.
After that I returned to the artshow room. I was motivated by several feelings. One of then was a vague guilt for being of so little practical help on the show in years past, despite my sponsorship of no award. The amount of time and labor people like Ron and Al put into the show has rather shamed me. Another was simply that I had nothing also to do, nowhere in particular to go, and I was feeling gregarious, and here was where, for the moment, the fans were.
Indeed, in rather short order I was meeting some of my first English fans, including Ken Cheslin, Jimmy Groves, Ted Forsyth, Eddie Jones, and I forget who-all else.
Fortunately I found a way to make myself useful. Ron and Al had bought a quantity of lumber and burlap, and planned to make those into burlap- covered frames suitable far hanging the pictures on. "Ahah!" I said. "You're actually just stretching giant canvases." And I have stretched canvases many times. So, with my vast skill as a carpenter, I knocked together the frames and with Al I stretched the burlap onto two of them.
By this time I was becoming aware of several things: 1) I'd been at it for several hours, and it was past the dinner hour; 2) I'd not eaten all day; 3) the smallpox vaccination I'd been given the day before I left was starting to 'take'; and 4) I was suddenly weak, hungry, and almost shaking. Feeling guilty all over again for chickening out while four more frames awaited construction and burlapping, I asked Al if he figured he know how to do it now, and on his assurance that he did, I went out into the lobby.
In the lobby I bumped into Bob Silverberg. "Have you made any dinner plans yet?" I asked. "Well, as a matter of fact, yes, We're going to an Indian place with the Pohls," Bob replied. "But you're welcome to join us."
In the bar we found Barbara Silverberg, Fred and Carol Pohl, and a young couple of their acquaintance. I wish I could remember those people's names; they were very nice people, and I found that he and I had a common interest in rapid-transit. We split up into two taxis, and headed off for Piccadilly Circus and Verra-Swami's. As we left the hotel, Harry Harrison's VW pulled out behind us, but he was oblivious to our waves.
It was my first experience with Indian food in an actual Indian restaurant, so I ordered the mild curry. Not at all to my surprise, I found myself enjoying the food greatly, and the meal went quickly and pleasantly. It was a surprise, though, when Fred picked up the check. "I've owed these folks a meal for some time, Ted, and you lucked into it," he said, smiling.
We split up for taxis again, and the Silverbergs and I headed for the Globe, London fandom's traditional pub.
The night before the con we went pub-crawling with Arthur and Olive, eventually running into several fan types (by plan, I think) in one of them. I remember standing foot on rail when Mike Moorcock introduced himself and insisted on buying me a pint even though he was in his scuffling days then, We talked about the time a few years before when he was scripting the British Tarzan comic book or some such and Tuckerized Dave Rike as one of the characters; Mike also mumbled and muttered, in that way he had even then, about London fan and pro factions -- the New Wave was just getting started in 1965 -- and I never did get straight just who hated whom or why, except that everyone seemed to hate Charles Platt. Plus ca change ...
LONCON II, the 23rd World Convention, had a rousing send off on the evening of Thursday 26th August, the day prior to the conclave's official opening, when some seventy fans and professionals gathered extemporaneously at the traditional meeting point of London fandom, the Globe in Hatton Garden. Not since the comparable meeting of 1957 had the City public house enjoyed such a jostling throng composed of such names as Michael Moorcock, Thomas Schluck, Eddie Jones, Bobbie Gray, Peter West, David Redd, Tom Boardman Jr., Langdon Jones, Charles B. Smith, Dick Eney, Pete Taylor, Frank Arnold, Don Geldart, Graham M. Hall, Chris Priest, John and Marjorie Brunner, Arthur and Olive Thomson, Boyd Raeburn, Forry Ackerman, Dave Kyle, Ron Ellik, Terry and Carol Carr, Mack Reynolds, Poul and Karen Anderson, Harry Harrison, Brian Burgess, John and Joni Stopa, Bob and Barbara Silverberg, Fred and Carol Pohl, Sandra Hall, Ted White, Ben Jason, Lois Lavender, Al Lewis, Ken Cheslin, Jean Bogert, Barry Bayley, Ben Stark, Wally Weber, Ted Forsyth, Ella Parker, Jimmy Groves, Peter Mabey, Bob Bloch, Don Wollheim, Fred Prophet and Ethel Lindsay.
Many of the above also attended a party at the new home of Charles Platt, also attended by Michigan's Jim and Susan Caughran amongst others. A very memorable evening, especially notable for the fact that Harry Harrison had his car impounded by the police for illegal parking.
Fandom was really out in full flower there. Ron Bennett was carefully taking everyone's name down in his notebook, and the list in SKYRACK is probably as complete as any you'll find. I made no attempt to copy down names (or, indeed, to take any notes excepting my letters to Robin), and I did not try, in the press of the crowd, to meet everyone there.
The Globe closed at eleven or thereabouts ("Time, gentlemen!") and I found myself heading for the Underground station with John and Joni Stopa, two of the last people I'd expected to see in London. Joni had dyed her hair a light brown and I complimented her on it; I found it much more becoming than the platinum blonde of yore.
When we got back to the hotel, I found a small group of fans, including Ella and Ethel, sitting in the lobby having tea, and I sat down next to Ethel and found myself with a better opportunity to chat with her than I`d enjoyed at any time during her TAFF trip.
At various times during the con, people came up to me and asked me if I'd seen, or even if I was Terry Carr. Terry was TAFF delegate this year, and he had the impossible task of meeting and charming every fan in the British Isles, The more I thought about it, and such facts as the chats I hadn't had with Ethel during her TAFF trip, the more grateful I was that I had not stood for TAFF and had made the trip on my own money. For one thing, since I do not believe that people who can make the trip on their own and will anyway, or who have already made the trip on their own in the past should stand for TAFF, I have disqualified myself in my own eyes. Thus I have not only spared myself the grind of obligations every TAFF candidate is faced with, and which necessarily divides him too finely for any convention to be enjoyed, but also the controversy a campaign on my behalf would provoke, and the very possible chance of losing. The more I thought about it, the more relieved I felt.
DAVID REDD (in 2011):
Thursday evening I went to the Globe for my one and only time; no doubt I rubbed shoulders with hordes of giants, but all I remember is meeting Eddie Jones with delight. I moved on to chez Platt, where Charles opened the door to me with a backward cry to his other guests "Don't go - there's more coming now!" or some such. Despite the numbers being swelled by only me at first, people did stay, including an intense and promising young writer then called Richard Gordon, his real name, and not happy about some doctor's pseudonym getting in print first. Charles was pretty hospitable. I think I saw a stack of the first BSFA "Tangent" lying around. Also present was an amiable youth called Terry Pratchett, who after a very early first sale was wary about being called a fourteen-year-old author all his life (I think he found a way round that.)
We were invited to a party at someone's flat, given by Charles Platt and friends (Langdon Jones, etc., I think); we didn't want to take sides in the London factionalism, so Carol and Pete and I went. The attendees were all scruffy and dourly jocular, and Charles was -- dare I say it? -- both charming and thoughtful to us. But we hardly knew anyone there (the attendees probably included Chris Priest, but I didn't know who he was at the time), so we mostly talked among ourselves or with the one or two others we knew. At some point during the party Pete behaved outrageously, as was his wont in those days, baiting and putting on various people (he probably claimed he was Robert A. Heinlein), and an altercation nearly developed; Carol and I took Pete away, all of us giggling senselessly.