EIGHTIES LETTERS AND FAN DIARY
15: TAFF TRIP, AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 1984My report on the trip, with photos, can be found here. Alternatively, you can download it as an ebook, without photos, here.
16: SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 198421st Sept 1984 - letter to Avedon Carol
5.25 am: I woke at 3, rose at 4, and am still waiting for the sun to come up. But then given that I went to bed at 4.00pm yesterday, after having been awake exactly 24 hours, I suppose this all represents a perfectly adequate period of sleep. God, isn't jet-lag weird! I wonder how long it'll take me to get back in tune with the time over here?
I got into Gatwick shortly before 7.00am yesterday and was greeted by torrential rain and a temperature a good 20 degrees below what I'd left in Washington. What a welcome home! Got to work by 9am, spent the next few hours concentrating on fairly mindless tasks like filing (just about all I could manage) and left shortly before 1.00pm. The rain hadn't let up at all and as I trudged over Blackfriars bridge, pulling my case on its trolley with one hand and holding my umbrella into the wind with the other, I failed to notice when that small flat brown bag of mine slipped out from under the straps holding it against the suitcase. When I did notice I retraced my steps, getting totally soaked to the skin in the process (wringing the water out of my socks when I got home was a whole heap of fun), but there was no sign of it. All in all then a totally miserable return to Britain. Fortunately the notes on my trip, the one wholly irreplaceable item on me were in my pocket, as were my house-keys, which I'd removed before leaving the office and without which I'd've been in real trouble.
Same day: 8.20pm.
22nd Sept 1984 - letter to Avedon Carol
Oh well, I crashed out at 11.00pm (I was determined to hang on as long as I could) and I woke at 1.25pm, which makes it around 14 hours of sleep. This kind of thing is fascinating, to me it is anyway, and I'm hoping I've gotten straight now. I'll go to bed around midnight tonight and so long as I wake sometime around 8 or 9.00pm tomorrow things'll be just dandy.
Bumped into Kev Williams and Dave Cockfield outside FORBIDDEN PLANET this afternoon, the first fans I've encountered since getting back. Kev had just flown in from somewhere or other (he has a fairly high position with Proctor & Gamble and gets to fly all over the place, including visits to their head office in Cincinnati about twice-yearly) and was taking advantage of the hour or so before his train left for Newcastle to buy in some deathless stefnal prose. So naturally I stood and chewed the fat with them for a while, told them a few choice anecdotes about US fandom and like that, and got the low down on what's been happening back in blighty while I've been in the land of the free. Turns out that Henry R. Bell, who I hope is still gonna be my co-editor on the forthcoming POOT!, has found himself a new woman and turned into something of a recluse, rarely even turning up at Gannetfandom meetings anymore. He's in Greece at the moment but when he gets back I think he and I will have to have a little long-distance heart-to-heart.
Damn! Just realised that little screwdriver you gave me for my glasses was in the bag I lost as well. Wonder what else I'll discover is missing?
23rd Sept 1984 - letter to Don West
A couple of things. Firstly, I know you gave me permission in your last letter to say that you were perfectly happy with TAFF administration and like that, but do you mind if I reproduce the letter in its entirety? I'm not planning on using it in a general distribution magazine but in a format where I'll bring it, and one or two other things, to the attention of the individuals in the US who are raising the biggest hue and cry about all this. As you predicted there are quite a few people over there taking this whole thing deadly seriously and some major rifts appear to be developing. Ted White was highly amused by your comment about ”...snappy rejoinders...”, by the way.
Secondly, there seems to be quite a bit of enthusiasm for the idea of a special one-off fund to bring you over to the US to attend the 1986 CORFLU which will be held in the general Falls Church area during the first half of the year. CORFLU has the advantage over the Worldcon of being a con specifically set up for fanzine fans of course, so you're never going to find yourself unable to find someone to talk to, as happened to me once or twice. I've been told to ask you about this and to see if you'd be interested. I'd also be this end it actually works out easier for me to do this than for anyone else except maybe the GUFF administrator. Let me know, OK?
23rd Sept 1984 - letter to Avedon Carol
First the slumber report: in bed by 1.25am followed by a couple of hours tossing & turning before eventually falling asleep and waking at 1.25pm. Getting up for work at 8.00am tomorrow looks as if it's gonna be a whole barrel of laughs. Time for TAFF business....
(detailed accounts omitted)
TAFF US coffers should stand at $366 less than they did before I came over. I don't know if any of this helps you at all but that's how I figure things. While still on the subject of TAFF I was intrigued to discover that among the (not very much) mail waiting for me when I got back there was no sign of a nomination for Martha Beck from either Skelton or Presford. I trust that nominations from them, postmarked the 14th, have been received by you by now? If not then Martha has to be ruled ineligible. As you've pointed out we must play this one strictly by the book. Also, while on the subject of TAFF I propose that the ballot be the same as last time but with a minor alteration. I'd expand the first sentence of the 'What is TAFF?' bit so that it reads "...providing funds to bring across the Atlantic well-known and popular fans who are interested in fandom on the other side and have interacted with it.", since this is what it should have said all along. As soon as you get a ballot done send a copy over and I'll copy it and run off copies for distribution through ANSIBLE and the like.
Finally, thank Gary and Queenie again for putting me up while I was over there.
24th Sept 1984 - letter to Avedon Carol
God the weather has been stinking over here since I came back. Almost incessant rain accompanied by winter temperatures. What happened to the autumn? When taken with the fact that I seem to have picked up a bug currently doing the rounds in these here parts (symptoms include diarrhoea and weird pains in the stomach and groin) and the fact that I still haven't got my sleep in sync with British time yet and you'll understand why I'm feeling fairly miserable at the moment. There's one bright spot, however, something that really made my day. Shortly after lunch, maybe twenty minutes or so after I dropped yesterday's latter to you into a mail box, I got a call from the local police station. My lost bag had been handed in! Much joyous whooping on my part (and the main reason for this letter following hard on the heels of the last...couldn't let you rush around unnecessarily re-xeroxing Langford's letter and the like) and, following a short trip to the cop shop to pick the bag up, a certain amount of surprise at the items inside that I hadn't yet realised I was missing. These included my LACon programme booklet, my Friends In Space badge (now irreplaceable since Lucy had the last one), postcards of San Francisco, a weirdly wonderful postcard given to me by Stu that shows the Brooklyn Bridge as it was when it roam being built if viewed in one light and as it is now if viewed in another, two copies of a 'Journal of Do-It-Yourself Mental Health', and a copy of the party-invitation Rich & Stacy sent out for the bash they threw for me while I was in SF. Gosh. I tellya I'm mighty glad to see all this stuff again 'cos while it's of little or no value to anyone else it sure means a lot to me, and will probably come to mean more and more with the passing of the years.
There were two items of mail waiting for me when I got in tonight. One was an invitation to the wedding of Leroy Kettle and Kath Mitchell on 20th Oct, and the other was a xerox of the latest letter sent to you by that smooth-talking fiend at Lake Crescent, Daventry. I know you are but a weak woman Avedon, my sweet, easily swayed by the sweet words and seductive blandishments of this silver-tongued devil but don't allow yourself to fall for his slick blarney. I refer, of course, to his subtly offhand request to "...tell me All. 'Quick. (Meaning all the bits I'll never see in his con report)...". Don't you dare! However difficult it may be steel yourself and say him nay. You'll feel better for it.
Have started jotting down a few general impressions of TAFF trip for POOT! and even made a stab at first episode of trip report. The Kettle/Mitchell nuptials look like they might provide some good copy for the first issue of POOT! as well, always assuming Harry actually goes through with it of course. Given that he seems to be very involved with this woman of his at the moment that may no longer be the case.
Let's hope that everything currently causing disharmonies large and small on both sides of the Atlantic soon dies down. Oh for the calm fandom of pre-WIZ 10 days!
ps. I've just finished the last of the brownies Queenie gave me. Delicious!
25th Sept 1984 - letter to Rich Coad & Stacy Scott
After leaving Rich at Oakland airport I had a pretty uneventful flight across the US (made more uneventful still by the fact that I forgot to ask for a window seat and so missed out on what I'm sure was a fabulous aerial view of San Francisco). I was met at Newark airport by Tom Weber Jr and only when I'd actually arrived at the Chinese restaurant in Greenwich Village where I met such luminaries of New York fandom as the Nielsen Haydens, Stu, Moshe, Lise Eisenberg, etc., did I realise that I'd left my camera on the plane. As you might imagine I was extremely annoyed with self over this since the film in the camera contained all the pictures I took at your party and also a nice shot of a bleary-eyed Rich Coad posing in front of Oakland airport and wondering, yet again, just why he allowed himself to be talked into buying a Donald Duck hat by the weirdo behind the camera (even if it did cause Grant Canfield to remark that: "the man with style looks good in anything"). Naturally a call to the airline revealed that no-one had found any camera. Grump.
New York was...ah...interesting. Great to see all those sights so familiar from innumerable imported American cop shows but what a surprise Manhattan was at street level. Only when viewed from the observation deck of the Empire State, or looking up from the pavement when on a street such as Fifth Avenue did it look like New York as I expected New York to look. Odd. Though I'd been warned about the subway I was still a bit shocked by the extent of the graffiti and by the fact that it was both inside and outside with some carriages having windows you couldn't see through for spray-paint. Still, I got to witness such famous sights of NY fandom as Stu's cockroaches, Moshe and Lise's celebrated restaurant tour-de-force where they engage in high-decibel argument while you slide slowly from your seat to the floor with mortification, Andy Porter's famous flat where you're not allowed to sit on anything (a slight exaggeration), and the Chinese restaurant in the basement that was once Towner Hall. Must admit I thoroughly enjoyed myself. My final week was spent in DC, of course, and marred only by the lunatic mail Avedon has been receiving, over this nonsense in the last couple issues of Dick Bergeron's WIZ. My only regret about the whole trip is that I didn't spend more time on the West Coast, and particularly in San Francisco. Oh well maybe I'll make enough money to make it out there again one day, but don't hold your breath.
I was just thinking about that neat apartment of yours with its Japanese robots that turn into Sony Walkmen, its intriguing collection of comics, great posters, oddly-named pet birds and, most peculiarly of all, its Lucy Huntzinger, when I began remembering some of the conversations I had there. I wish now I'd taken better notes of Stacy's story of the People's Park riot and how it impinged on her life since a serious tale like that would have counterpointed some of the lightweight fluff in my RSN TAFF report perfectly. Oh well, c'est le vie. Anyway, the purpose of this whole letter is really just to thank you again for putting me up, and putting up with me, during my stay in your fair city. It was nice to discover that while Rich may have lost some more of his hair since I saw him last he's lost none of his wit and good humour, and also that he has good taste in wives.
Goddamn, barely three weeks in the past and already I'm starting to feel wistful about all this. Say hello to Lucy for me, and to Allyn Cadogan and to all those other good folk I met. Who knows, if the fates are kind I may be seeing you both next year and they I can introduce you to some of the good folk in these parts.
30th Sept 1984 - letter to Avedon Carol
Went over to the BBC's Riverside Studios in Hammersmith this afternoon to see Angela Carter and Neil Jordan talk about their new film THE COMPANY OF WOLVES based on the short story of the same name by Carter (and contained in the collection THE BLOODY CHAMBER). Though not naturally comfortable and assured as a public speaker Carter can be very witty and had me and the rest of the audience laughing on quite a few occasions. Haven't actually seen the film yet but those who have have raved about it. It's a lush fantasy without the mindlessness of a RETURN OF THE JEDI or the over-sentimentality of an E.T. that's apparently a multi-layered fable about a young girl's sexual awakening told in allegorical and elliptical fashion. This goes to the top of my 'must see' list and I'll try and catch it sometime this week.
Enclosed with this letter is another I wrote this morning specifically for you to send out to anyone who gives you any shit over this Martha Beck thing and to anyone else you feel should have a copy. I put that bit about the veto in specifically to delineate our individual positions on this point and hopefully to direct most of the inevitable adverse reaction over this onto me rather than you since you have enough to contend with at the moment. Should you have objections to anything in the letter it can be amended (tho' I'd rather it stand as it is), and after I hear from you next I'll release a copy to Langford (I tested it out on Greg, who thought the whole thing was entirely reasonable, but I doubt that everyone will see it that way.). While on the subject of TAFF...I've finished the first draft of the first chapter of my trip report and am about to start on the first draft of the second. My plan is to get it all down while it's still fresh and worry about tidying it up later. I currently plan on having a complete first draft done by Xmas, but we'll see....
I was saddened by your last letter, saddened that all this nonsense with Bergeron has got to you to the extent that you could write what you did about Malcolm. All this because he said at a party that Dave and I were at (the only occasion on which he's expressed a view on the matter to my knowledge): "If the quotes are accurate Bergeron may have a point". Have you never had any doubts about your friends at all, or has this game escalated to the point where anything short of total unwavering support is seen as eternal and undying enmity? If it has then we may as well all pack up our bags and go home now because Richard Bergeron has won. Malcolm Edwards is not your enemy. The view expressed on that occasion was expressed on the day he received WIZ 11 and may have been occasioned by having given it only a cursory reading. I don't know. I do know however that when Ted took the two of us back to his room at Worldcon and showed us his sheaf of correspondence with Bergeron both Ted and I were very disparaging of Richard Bergeron and his 'investigation' into your administration in WIZ 11 and Malcolm raised no dissenting voice. I'll convey to Malcolm, when next I see him, that you're "a bit pissed off with him" but I don't think he deserves all that stuff in your last letter any more than I thought that that other comment that someone perceived as an attack on him deserved the outpouring in WIZ 10.
With this being my third letter to you in a week I've sort of run out of anything to say. Take care, ignore future letters from Locke and Bergeron, and keep your spirits up. Don't let the bastards grind you down.
30th Sept 1984 - open letter to Avedon Carol as US TAFF Administrator
Further to my phone call of yesterday I think it's only fair that I go into print with the points I raised then....
It's a shame that we have to disallow Martha Beck's candidature but unfortunately we really have little choice in the matter this time. Since a particular individual with a grudge against you has chosen to use TAFF as the stick with which to beat you, the fund is currently attracting a lot of unnecessary flak, some of it from people with axes of their own to grind, and is probably under greater scrutiny now than it has ever been. This being so we must be seen to be carrying out the duties of TAFF administrator strictly according to the rules as currently constituted. A deadline was given by which the candidates had to have all their nominations in. One candidate failed to have them all in by this date and so has to be disqualified.
From what we know, Martha Beck decided to run for TAFF at a convention held over the same weekend as L.A.CON, the con at which Rich Coad decided to run, and so had the same time to get things together as he did. Rather surprisingly she and her nominators seemed ignorant of the requirements of TAFF and her platform arrived at your house with no $5 bond, no signed declaration that she would take the trip if she won and agreed to be the US TAFF Administrator for two years thereafter, and with a list of names in lieu of signed nominations from her supporters. Though you were not required to do so you then phoned her and explained what she still needed to do, said you'd allow her nominations as long as they were postmarked before the deadline, and even allowed that her overseas nominators send their signed nominations to the UK TAFF Administrator rather than to you as they should do. Having done even this much you were laying yourself open to charges of having shown preferential treatment to one of those wishing to stand and so, with all the charges flying around at the moment, leaving yourself open to further attack. To cut Martha still more slack at this point would be unfair to the other candidates and doubtless bring more criticism down on you. Which is why, while you may be inclined to show some leniency in this case, I'm afraid that, reluctantly, I would have to veto any moves of this sort on your part. As Kevin Smith pointed out, the only justifiable grounds for extending the deadline are if there is only one candidate standing, which is not the case on this occasion. I suppose it could be argued that allowing her candidacy would be useful in appeasing certain sections of American fandom but as UK TAFF Administrator I'm not interested in internal US fan-politics and can't allow myself to be swayed by such considerations.
Previously, TAFF has been run in an atmosphere of friendship and trust, an atmosphere in which TAFF administrators were fairly liberal in their interpretation of the rules and could have allowed Martha Beck's candidature to proceed. Sadly this is no longer possible.
cc. whomever it may concern.
11th Oct 1984 - letter to Martin Skidmore
As an occasional contributor to the letter columns of both FANTASY ADVERTISER, and the pre-US version of BEM I've gotten a glimpse of British comics fandom and for quite a while now I've kinda liked the idea of doing a cover for FA. This being so your mention in issue 87's editorial about being interested in seeing examples of artwork from any whose style you might be unfamiliar with finally prompted me to do something about it. The examples I've enclosed are from various covers I've done for SF fanzines over the last few years. EPSILON is my own fanzine (which I trade with Martin Lock for FA and which I'd be happy to send you further copies of as well if you find it at all to your liking) while the picture of the two women in Chaykinesque gear was drawn to directions of the two women shown (one of whom watched over my shoulder as I drew - I kid you not) for a fanzine they co-edit called RUDE BITCH. The Eisneresque cover was a collaboration between Dan Steffan and myself, further details of which can be found in the enclosed fanzine in the article 'Fanart For Fanart's Sake'. If you should be interested in having me do a cover at all let me know what you want to to draw, whether you want on to draw it in my own style or in a pastiche of the artist who draws that character in comics, whether you want a logo, what size to do the piece, areas to leave clear for copy, etc. One area I'm afraid I have no experience in however, is colour overlays. I can indicate on a xerox of the cover where to lay down the colour but have no knowledge of what's involved in overlays. One colour should be no problem at all but with more than that I'd have no idea what effect overlapping overlays would produce on a finished print. Though I'd be happier with longer I could get a cover back to you inside of a week if need be.
It's funny, I've been reading American comics since whenever it was that GREEN LANTERN 10 appeared (1963?) and still buy vast quantities of them every month whereas my Science Fiction reading has slowed to a trickle, my urge for books being more likely to be satisfied these days by writers such as Gore Vidal, Italo Calvino, Angela Carter, & D M Thomas. Yet I became a major-league SF fan and an, at best, dilettante comics fan. Maybe it's just because I stumbled across SF fandom first? Who knows. It's certainly given me a lot, most recently a trip to this year's Worldcon in Los Angeles as British fandom's duly elected 'ambassador', but I still can't help wondering what might have happened if things had been the other way round. Maybe I ought to ask the Watcher.
14th Oct 1984 - letter to Ted White
I've been meaning to write to you ever since I got back but what with one thing and another I never got 'round to it. First off I came down with a spell of 'post-con depression' to beat all such spells, and I've been ill twice in the three weeks I've been back, which led to me taking a coupla days off work last week and just lying in bed staring at the walls. However, this is all behind me now (funny how the aftermath of something as personally significant as a TAFF trip is such a downer) and the ol' fannish energies are brimming once again...which is just as well with what's coming down the pike. As well as getting this next TAFF race under weigh I've got to get the first issue of POOT! together by NOVACON (itself less than a month away), get the first draft of part one of my trip report rewritten in time to submit to Malcolm by next weekend (the occasion of Leroy Kettle's wedding - look for a report in the first POOT!) for possible inclusion in the next TAPPEN (which he swears will be ready by NOVACON - and which I also have to duplicate before then, naturally), and I still have yet to mail out many copies of the last EPSILON. Then there's the socialising, of course, a vital part of being a London fan that included the North London pool night last Wednesday, the Westminster Comic Mart yesterday (at which Pickersgill somehow talked me into joining the organising committee of a putative comics convention provisionally planned for next May), a trip over to Vince Clarke's Welling abode for a meeting of Kent TruFandom this afternoon, the BSFA meeting next Friday, Kettle wedding next Saturday, and Friends In Space meeting next Sunday. It's just as well I don't make Surrey Limpwrist meets as well or I'd never get anything done.
Following your advice (not to mention that of Greg Pickersgill and Lucy Huntzinger) I finally started picking up on LOVE & ROCKETS (the first issue of which I bought when it came out and wasn't particularly impressed by) and now I'm hooked. For some reason, though, I can't find anywhere that has copies of issues 3 & 4 in stock, not even yesterday's mart, but I'm hoping the comic shops of Birmingham will plug that gap when I go up for NOVACON next month. We'll see. I'm looking forward to seeing your interview with Los Brothers Hernandez. I assume this'll be appearing in COMICS JOURNAL and if so I hope Groth doesn't keep it 'on file' as long as he has some of the pieces that've appeared of late.
I've talked to Graham Charnock about your plan to maybe put out the Astral Leauge tapes on vinyl and he's sending you master copies. I also took the videotape you gave me around to the Pickersgills and tried it out on their VHS. The results were weird. To begin with American machines clearly play at a different speed (maybe deliberately) and the sound was like a 33 played at 45 while the picture, or what could be seen of it through the snowstorm, split into four images across the screen. Greg recorded something or other over the top and I'm shipping it back over the water to you. You won't get anymore joy out of it, I imagine, but the result might be interesting. Linda tells me that a group of fans she knows in the South have got hold of some special unit that will play UK tapes on US sets but won't record. They sent over and asked her to record episodes of DR.WHO for them *gaaacckk*. By the way have you sent that copy of my UK fanhistory piece off to Marty yet?
I enjoyed finally meeting you and all those other a US fans I'd previously known only as words on paper and it's a real shame that, as you said, the UK isn't a lot closer to the US so that visits could be cheaper and thus more frequent. Speaking of which, just when exactly is the 1986 CORFLU? I ask because this may well be the occasion on which I next try to get over and since the next MEXICON is also scheduled for the early part of '86 I want to use such influence as I have to ensure there's no clash so I can attend both (yes, MEXICON 2 has been put back a year). Then again, of course, maybe you could get some sort of cheap flight deal that would make stopping off in Europe on your way to Australia a viable idea. After all, SILICON is the week before the Worldcon.
Saturday 20th October - from fanzine
KETTLE IN SHOTGUN WEDDING SHOCK!
On Saturday 20th October 1984 Leroy Richard Arthur Kettle and Kathleen Mary Mitchell were married at the Civic Centre in Wood Green. The groom wore white and was fooling no-one.
It was a glittering fannish occasion and attracted such luminaries as Malcolm Edwards, Chris Atkinson, Chris Priest, Lisa Tuttle, Graham Charnock, Faith Brooker, Chris Evans, Rob Holdstock, Peter Nicholls, and, surprisingly, Peter Roberts. John Brosnan filled the role of Best Man in a hastily-assembled suit of clothes and a pair of shoes borrowed from the groom.
At the reception that followed enormous quantities-of food were served. So much, in fact, that the unheard-of occurred and Robert Holdstock reached the stage where he couldn't eat anymore! Malcolm Edwards immediately phoned the editor of The Guinness Book of Records while Rob himself was last observed by your reporter staring at the uneaten food and whimpering softly, a look of anguish on his face.
I'd last seen Malcolm two nights earlier when he turned up on my TV screen attired in a hired Moss Bros dress suit and looking like a particularly glum penguin. That had been the occasion of the annual Booker Award Ceremony and Malcolm was there in his capacity as SF editor at Gollancz since one of the company's authors, J.G.Ballard, was not only among the final half-dozen short-listed for that prestigious literary award but the hot-favourite with his novel EMPIRE OF THE SUN. Even so Ballard lost out in the end to Anita Brookner (who?) and she pocketed the £15,000 prize money. I asked Malcolm how the Gollancz table had taken the result.
"We were all sunk in gloom and despondency except for Ballard himself. He was quite philosophical about the whole thing."
After talking to Malcolm I chatted briefly with Peter Nicholls, urging him to include more on fandom in the possibly-soon-to-be-revised edition of his justly praised Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, and moved on to Chris Priest. I had a message for Chris from Patrick Nielsen Hayden on how best to deal with Doubleday, the New York publishers who have US rights to THE GLAMOUR (or THE GLAMOR) and as I relayed it I was suddenly struck by the fact that everyone at the wedding that I knew either worked for a publisher or was a professional writer of some sort, right up to and including the groom and his best man. Feeling paranoid I sought refuge in the company of Chris Atkinson (a social worker!) before deciding to check out what Peter Roberts had been up to in the last few years. I remembered Pete as a civil servant and asked what he did for a living these days.
"I work for David & Charles - the publishers."
He had substantially less hair than I remembered but other than that was physically unchanged and as witty and urbane as ever. That he now drives a Lotus came as a surprise but not so much of a one as his casual mention of an already stencilled and duplicated section of his report on his 1977 TAFF trip - no less a section than. the convention report itself - and did I know anyone who might be interested? I did, and the Worldcon report will be appearing in that person's fanzine no more than a few pages from now. The already-printed pages were originally intended for the never published next issue of Peter's own zine, EGG, this section of his report having only previously seen the dark of duper ink in some obscure apa or other (called FAPA, I believe - probably a pale imitation of FRANK'S). The bits on either side of this piece, Pete explained, had already appeared while still other parts exist but have yet to be published.
"As an act of generosity I offered one part to a neofan for the first issue of his fanzine", said Pete, "and he rejected it."
How are the mighty fallen!
22nd October 1984 - letter to Avedon Carol
My time sense is all screwed up lately. Not only does my TAFF trip (now around 4 ½ weeks in the past) feel as if it happened about a year ago but I was convinced I'd had your last letter about three weeks, and was feeling guilty and like that, though the dates on it mean I've probably had it a little over a week. I still should've replied to it earlier, and would have done so if not for having to deal with the latest episode of the Bergeron/Locke/Causgrove soap-opera (a series clearly to destined to run on and on and on and....). I've enclosed a copy for your perusal and you might like to show it to Ted if Dave and Jackie don't run off copies and send it to all and sundry. The final line in that missive should really be more along the lines of "which is why I'm pretty fucking pissed off with him" but the one I've used has rather more dramatic impact.
I hope you are well and that your trip to New York cheered you up a bit. I've been a bit under the weather myself with a heavy cold that had me off work and in bed for a couple of days last week. Seems as if I've been getting hit by all manner of minor ailments since I got back, a not unusual occurrence after long holidays apparently and something to do with the way the change in routine upsets your body in various ways. At least I haven't come down with pneumonia like Willis did after his '52 trip. You needn't worry about the great speed with which I'm doing my trip report, by the way, since I haven't done anymore since I last wrote. I will, and still intend to get my first draft of the whole thing done as fast as possible, but I've been delayed by all manner of things in the last few weeks. And while on the subject of TAFF reports I got a letter from Marty Cantor today in which lets me know....
"...of a decision taken by the L.A.CON II concom. $500 has been set aside for TAFF, DUFF, GUFF - as soon as each of the reps of those funds who visited L.A.CON II makes their trip report generally available their fund will receive the $500 which has been set aside for it."
I'll have to ask. Marty to define 'generally available' since I don't know whether this means a collected edition or just on the publication of the final part in a fanzine, but that's a pretty powerful incentive to get it done. Malcolm was supposed to have first option on chapter one for the issue of TAPPEN he intended to have out for NOVACON but he's suddenly having to fly out to Canada with Holdstock in the next week or two and that's thrown a spanner in the works. Hell, I've given a garbled TAFF report already! At last Friday's BSFA meeting the ever-smiling Judith Hanna decided that I was to be the evening's entertainment and so I had to get up and pretend to be a raconteur, answering questions from the audience and shocking them with my revelations about the horrors of America - things like Coors, Schlitz, Budweiser Lite (shudder), and your bacon.
Bergeron's latest thing has been appearing in the mail of people who've had little or no previous contact with him, presumably because he's trying to drum up support in the UK and he imagines that his response therein to my last letter to CausgLocke scores some heavy points off me, and at both Kettle's wedding on Saturday and Friends In Space on Sunday I had people asking me why they'd received this stuff. It's extremely gratifying that I have yet to meet anyone over here who's taking them at all seriously. I also gather that Cesar has put out a zine called AEON (which I haven't seen and aren't terribly perturbed about missing), which has similarly been distributed to a wide variety of UK fans. This one has had an effect - everyone who's read it is now convinced it was written by Bergeron and that Cesar is therefore a hoax. Maybe. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that Tricky Dick got some local to make the various calls that were made a while back. If he's not a hoax then he's a clone (double-meaning intended), It seems to me, by the way, that various people who've written to BergCausgLocke Have fallen over each other and shot themselves in the feet and that a great deal more care ought to be taken. Galling as it is I've had to retract one thing I said (since I was inexcusably sloppy in my checking), not something I'd care to repeat. And while still on the subject of TAFF I agree that I shouldn't release that 'official' letter I wrote to anyone given that Stopa & co seem to have accepted Martha Beck's failure to make the ballot with equanimity. However if they intend to 'get it right next time' it might be an idea to ensure (somehow or other) that Martha Beck votes because if I pull off the amendment to TAFF rules I've discussed with you (& which would have to be approved by the next winner, of course) - the one about needing to have voted in two out of the previous five races to be eligible to stand - then she would need to vote now and next time to be eligible for the next US to UK trip. Of course, if I pull off the second amendment - the requirement that any winner must get 20 per cent of the vote in the host country - she'll also need to get herself known over here as well...but then if she expects to be welcomed over here that's the least she should do anyway. Also, I've done my own version of ballot and will be distributing it soon.
As you will have noted Kettle got married last Saturday (to Kath Mitchell, with whom Leroy has shared a home for close to seven years) and I was at the wedding along with other local fannish luminaries such as Malcolm & Chris, Chris Evans & Faith Brooker, John Brosnan (the best man), Graham Charnock (but not Pat, who gave birth on the 14th and was still in hospital), and, surprisingly, Peter Roberts. Langford's predecessor as publisher of the UK's main newszine and one-time owner of this country's most impressive fanzine collection, Roberts dropped out of everything fannish quite a few years ago so it was really nice to see him again. It was also really nice to tuck into the vast quantities of food laid on for the reception - far more food than those present could eat. A good and enjoyable day.
When I got in from Friends In Space last night I watched a film made from President Kennedy's press conferences and tonight I saw part of the, latest Reagan/Mondale debate. Kennedy displayed wit and compassion, the ability to think on his feet, and no fear of saying things which mightn't endear him to important sections of the electorate but which he clearly believed to be matters of principle. The Reagan/Mondale debate...my god what has happened in the last 20 years that these bozos are the best that can be found to fill the most powerful job on the planet?
A couple of bits of news.... Greg Pickersgill has left his job to be a full-time househusband...MEXICON II has been put back a year and will now take place early in 1986...Owen Whiteoak is reported to have put his Edinburgh home on the market in preparation for a move to London in the near future...Rob Holdstock hopes to set up home with lady-love Sarah Biggs in a house only a street away from the Kettle/Mitchell abode thus bringing the fannish population of Harringey up to quite ludicrous levels...Paul Kincaid & Pam Wells are rumoured to be looking for a house in London for a joint purchase, a purely practical and platonic business arrangement involving no romantic entanglements...end of bulletin.
Ah the mad social whirl of swinging London fandom! This must be the most bitty and incoherent letter I've ever written to you...random thoughts and observations presented as they, occur to me with no rhyme or order to them. As you may have guessed this missive is being hammered our straight on the page without being drafted longhand first as I usually do, a process which makes a single letter the work of a whole evening, as I once explained. Anyway, resist all attempts by Tricky Dick to drive a wedge between you and Ted and anyone else, and keep those spirits up. Will try and be more prompt in replying to future letters.
Saturday 27th October
Chris Atkinson phoned to ask me if I wanted to see a play with her. Malcolm was in Toronto until Tuesday and she had "reasons" for wanting to get out. The play was called 'The Diamond Body' and was a one-hander about a transsexual. It was staged at The Bush, a theatre pub where Chris sometimes helps out, hence our free tickets. The play was well-acted but somewhat over-blown for its subject matter, perhaps seeking to shock with things that are no longer shocking.
We had an Indian meal afterwards at an excellent Shepherds Bush restaurant. On the tube home, a large number of leather-clad and mustachioed guys got on at Earl's Court so I assume there must be a gay club nearby. All part of London's sexual diversity, I suppose.
Sunday 28th October
Typed stencils and ran off pages for FISH HELMET #8, copying stuff from letters for 'Taffman's Return' therein. In the issue I announced my resignation from FRANK'S APA. Time to move on.
Monday 29th October - adapted from fanzine piece
POOT!#1 was intended to be the first issue of a brand new monthly fanzine full of vim and vigour whose very frequency might well have made it the kick-in-the-pants currently much-needed by fanzine fandom in this country. Alas, it was not to be. The zine would have been co-edited and co-produced by Harry Bell and me but Harry decided that he wouldn't be able to keep up the necessary momentum and so decided to pull out before the project got started rather than leave me in the lurch later. A shame, but such is life. Since I felt I couldn't sustain the fanzine alone, that I needed someone else to play off if I was to build up a momentum of my own, that, effectively, was that. However, I had all these little bits and pieces that I'd written, a rough draft of the first chapter of my TAFF report, and a line on other material. Although it was less than two weeks to NOVACON I suddenly realised that I had the makings of an EPSILON to hand and decided to go for it.