Roy Rowland Johnson in 1942 - from the JMRosenblum
From the account in THEN:
Between 23rd and 26th April the BFS sponsored a convention, MIDVENTION. Originally
scheduled for Birmingham, MIDVENTION eventually took place in Leicester and was
attended by fourteen fans. The committee was directed by Roy Johnson with the
help of Rosenblum, Don Houston, Arthur Williams, Ralph E.Orme, and A.W.Gardner,
with assistance from a Birmingham based sub-committee of Tom Hughes and Arthur
Busby -- quite a team for such a small convention. There was an auction conducted
by Ron Holmes, a debate between Terry Overton and Bert Lewis on the difference
between fantasy and SF. Bert Lewis recalled the con as part of a longer fanhistorical
article (which can be read in full at the Kimota site
Most of the regular fans were either in the forces or on war work, but some young fans
in Leicester had enough time to organise a convention. luckily, this one day event was
held in summer, on a Saturday. I managed to get a spot of leave and travelled to Leicester
by rail. It was an overnight journey with two changes of train - each of these changes
involved a long wait. Due to the rationing, no food was available on the journey. I was
met at the station at 8 a.m., by the young organiser who took me back to his home where
his mother cooked me a very welcome breakfast. This gesture can only really be appreciated
by someone who has been through war time rationing.
As for the fencing contest Lewis remembers, Ron Holmes recalls that:
The 'con' was to be held in a small room in the local school, courtesy of a friend of
the organiser. As was to be expected, only 15 to 20 fans managed to attend. We did a lot
of talking and the organiser produced a fencing sword and imitated John Carter of
Burrough's Martian Trilogy.
It was good fun but the highlight of the event was still to come. As in present day
conventions, the auction of S.F. items aroused a great deal of interest. It consisted
mainly of books and American Science Fiction Magazines. In spite of the low attendance
these were quickly snapped up. The final item, though provoked the greatest interest.
It was a shining metal model of a spaceship made by the organiser's father who was an
engineer at the local works. The bidding was keen even though wages and pocket-money
were low at the time. When the bidding reached two pounds I began to despair. Then it
went up to two guineas; an absolute fortune in those days. I raised it to two pounds
five shillings and prayed. Luckily it was just enough and I clinched it. As it was all
metal it was very heavy but its beauty outweighed any fault.
"In fact the event did not happen even though it was on the programme. Roy
Johnson and I had never met, but we were both swordsmen of a sort so it seemed
to be a good idea to have a bout. We were to enact a scene from 'Warlord of
Mars', he to be John Carter and I Tars Tarkas. The casting being that way because
I was taller. In the event, when we came to practice, he produced real sabres for
us to use. He was very much smaller than I (I'm over six foot) and wore glasses.
I did not think he looked the part very much, but when we practiced I could see
that I had the superior weight and strength of arm and eventually I decided not
to go on practicing because I thought it was dangerous. He was rather
In 2003, Roy Johnson discovered THEN online and contacted me via email:
"I have just had an amazing, and perhaps a disturbing experience - disturbing even though,
despite being well past the first flush of youth, I am fairly familiar with computers and
Surfing idly through e-bay last evening, I came across some offers of Astounding Science
Fiction. I did not bid, but it set my mind back to long ago when I used to read s-f, and
on impulse, not expecting anything, I asked Google for "Midvention". You can imagine my
surprise when the very first item referred to the 1943 Leicester Midvention I organised,
along with my own name (R. Rowland Johnson in those days - an affectation which amused me
at the time, I can't imagine why).
From there I was led to your own fan bibliography, and was even more astonished to discover
references to The Mighty Atom (Mite), which I perpetrated during the war years and had quite
On to your Then, and, damme, anyone in the world can now discover, utterly obscure though I
was and am, that in the middle years of WWII I was in Leicester, and Manchester, and Leeds,
and climbing Pendle Hill. Perhaps more embarrassing (though it amused my wife) was the
account of the little swashbuckling Ron Holmes and I indulged in at the Midvention. (For
the record: I went on to captain my college fencing team, and I believe that by that time I
would have caused friend Ron some problems, strong wrist or not. It is true that I produced
real sabres: fencing equipment was very difficult to come by during the war, and friends and
I used to go to junk shops to buy old army sabres, bayonets, whatever, with which we practiced
enthusiastically. This explains why I still have a scar on my right thumb, the result of using
an old French bayonet with no guard, and another near the bottom of the thumb, the result of
making a pig-awful attempt at a stop-hit.)
An unrelated point: at the time of the Midvention I was busy working (though not much) for my
School Certificate (approx. = G.C.E.), at the then Wyggeston Grammar School. One of my
contemporaries - as, later, at University College, Leicester, for a year before he went up to
Cambridge - was David Attenborough.
I am amused to recall , from those schooldays, that a physics master predicted with some
irritation the career I would have ahead of me.. He had some cause for being irritated, since
instead of attending to his waffling about gold-leaf electroscopes or whatever, I was sitting
at the back of the lab reading - the Futurian War Digest. It was when he saw the title that he
said he could give me a digest of my future - as a road-sweeper. I took some satisfaction from
eventually gaining more, and better degrees than he had ever thought of.
Don't let anyone tell you that nostalgia ain't what it used to be: I have been wallowing
delightedly ever since Google came up trumps."
"How I Missed the Midvention" by Harry Turner
Scans and OCR/copyediting by Greg Pickersgill.
-The BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY-
extends it's fraternal salutations to it's sister fantasy organisations ;
The NATIONAL FANTASY FAN FEDERATION (of the US.), and it's regional sections ;
The ILLINOIS FANTASY FAN FEDERATION,
The INDIANA FANTASY FAN FEDERATION,
The MICHIGAN FANTASY FAN FEDERATION,
The OHIO FANTASY FAN FEDERATION,
as well as
The MINNEAPOLIS FANTASY SOCIETY,
The LOS ANGELES SCIENCE FANTASY SOCIETY,
The STRANGER CLUB of Boston, Mass.,
The GALACTIC ROAMERS of Battle Creek, Mich.,
The PHILADELPHIA SCIENCE FICTION SOCIETY,
The FUTURIAN SOCIETY OF NEW YORK,
The SOLAROID CLUB, of Westwood, N.J.,
The GOLDEN GATE FUTURIAN SOCIETY,
The WESTERN PENNA SCIENCE FICTIONEERS,
The SCIENCE FICTION FORUM (New York),
The COSMIC CLUB OF INDIANA,
The "WINDY CITY WAMPIRES" (Chicago),
The FUTURIAN FEDERATION OF AUSTRALIA,
The CANADIAN AMATEUR PRESS ASSOCIATION,
The FANTASY AMATEUR PRESS ASSOCIATION,
any other societies inadvertantly omitted.
On behalf of British Fandom,
T H EB R I T I S H
F A N T A S Y
S O C y.,
wishes to emphasize it's great debt of gratitude to those American
fellow spirits who have been so kindly sending material for our
And in particular to those generous souls -
FORREST JAMES ACKERMANN(Hollywood)
MOROJO (Myrtle R. Douglas)(Los Angeles)
JOHN MEYER CUNNINGHAM(Beaumont Texas)
- founder and organiser of the British
War Relief Society.
E. EVERETT EVANS(Battle Creek, Mich.)
Capt. PAUL J. SEARLES(Homestead, Pa.)
ARTHUR (Bob) TUCKER(Bloomington, Ill.)
JOE GIBSON(Alberquerque, New Mex.)
for the many favours we have recieved at their hands. We are most
grateful for this proof of solidarity within the fantasy movement
and consider that it strongly stresses the closely-knit, intimate
and friendly atmosphere existing between fellow fantasts all over
the globe, mebbe soon throughout the Galaxy !
J. MICHAEL ROSENBLUM (Director)
D. R. SMITH(Secretary)
H E L L O ,|
M I D V E N T I O N !
Hearty Greetings and Good Wishes
T H EC O S M O SC L U B -
(Anglo-fandom's newest galaxy)
Producers of --
"BEYOND" - the amateur fantasy magazine
"Cosmic Cuts" - Cosmos Club's news organ
...The strongest local group in England..
(Two dozen members - maybe more by now!)
The Cosmopolitans take this opportunity of
saying a very large Hello indeed to all
friends at home and across the Great Water.
- TO ALL FANS EVERYWHERE!
- Live near Teddington? It's
- 30 mins. from Waterloo by
- An outsize welcome awaits
- you at any meeting of the
- Cosmos Club you're able
- to "make". The Secretary
- will reply pronto to all
- letters, giving you. the
- latest news on what's
- going on. . . . . . . . .
Secretary - E. Frank Parker, 6, Greytiles,
Queen's Road, Teddington, Middlesex.
Firstly, I take this opportunity of conveying my best wishes to those fans who
manage to 'make' the Midland Convention, and also to the greater number who will
only be able to be present in spirit, and amongst whom I perforce have to be
numbered. May the Midvention be a thorough success in every way!
AND GREETINGS TO THE
ASSEMBLED FANTASTS !
We have come together because of a mutual interest in scientific fantasy! How
is it that we should develop this interest at all; and even so, that we should
desire to come together, by correspondence, in the pages of both professional
and amateur publications, and not least, in person? Surely this widespread urge
is the great why and wherefore of fandom which has agitated its corporate mind
ever since the organism arose.
Yet whatever the cause - and most of us have interesting theories thereabout -
the obvious fact remains that in fandom we have something absolutely unique, a
closely-knit and yet worldwide group of intelligent people drawn from all sources
and with many outside interests in politics, science, art, and culture, looking
progressively towards a future bright with hope.
For whatever our different philosophies of life may be, the very essence of our
interest in fantasy is a strong disinclination to remain immersed in the slough
of today. Some of us merely project our imaginations, others wish to help form
the future and have a hand in the world of tomorrow.
But throughout our ranks there exists a deep Cameraderie which is itself one of
the most remarkable of phenomena,and this comradeship is surely something
worthwhile, something we should endeavour to retain as fully as possible during
our corporate existence.
So let us develop a spirit of give and take, reinforce the friendship-making of
fandom, welcome newcomers to our ranks with enthusiasm, and be pleased and proud
to be amongst the community of science-fiction fans, of which the outside form
of the British section is the British Fantasy Society.
J. Michael Rosenblum.
The first thing to do is to extend a cordial welcome to all those who are
attending the "Midvention", and to wish "better luck next time" to those fans
who are not with us.
By Roy Rowland Johnson.
I don't know, as I type this, whether our Convention will be a big, or a small,
affair. I am hoping for the former, but suspect the latter.
Travelling is difficult,, holidays are difficult, lodgings are difficult,
everything is difficult nowadays, and it is not to be wondered at that
comparatively few fans have been able to support this Convention at all. I'm
willing to bet that most of those who attend will have overcome greater
difficulties than the Chosen One who was given the award at the Denvention,
two years ago.
We on the Committee have had a pretty tough job to do - especially in finding
accomodation for the visitors, and in finding a suitable hall for the Convention.
However, we have finally succeeded, and thus, barring unforseen eventualities,
in the next few days, we can say that the "Midvention" is a practical success.
The programme is a varied one - but we think and hope that it is one which will
be suited to the likes of Homo Essefanus. We want you to take part in everything,
and to feel when you leave that you have had a darned good time - we will do our
best to see that you do feel that way.
Finally, from all at the "Midvention", we would like to send ........
GREETINGS, TO ALL FANS, EVERYWHERE !!
FRIDAY. APRIL 23rd;
OF THE MIDVENTION
"OPEN DAY". No organised program with visitors arriving at all times of the
day. Possibly some music of some kind, almost certainly some informal
discussions. Meals waiting for fans as they arrive.
SATURDAY. APRIL 24th;
A.M. 9-30 - l0-30;
Opening ceremonies and short speeches of welcome by RRJ. and committee members.
10-35 - 12-30;
Games, recreation, etc. etc.
P.M. 12-30 - 2-00;
Lunch (At an outside cafe}.
2-10 - 3-30;
Two main speeches, one by the Director of the Committee.....
3-35 - 5-00;
Non-sciencefictional Brains Trust.
5-00 - 6-00;
Tea (At an outside cafe).
6-15 - 8-00:
Debate - subject not yet chosen.
8-00 - 10-00;
Informal discussions, games and recreation, music, time for snacks, etc...
SUNDAY. APRIL 25th:
A.M. 9-30 - 10-00;
MONDAY. APRIL 26TH;
Informal discussions, etc. etc.
10-00 - 11-00;
Lecture - subject and lecturer not yet chosen.
11-05 - 12-30:
Auction, and sale of Raffle tickets.
P.M. 12-30 - 2-00;
Lunch in the Convention Hall.
2-05 - 3-45;
Science-fictional Brains Trust.
3-50 - 4-30;
Acting of short scene and duel from the "Warlord of Mars" By E.R. Burroughs.
4-35 - 5-00;
Music - "Warsaw Concerto", Polonaise in A Major, also a selection of swing,
jazz etc, Prelude in C Sharp Minor.
5-00 - 6-00;
Tea in the Convention Hall.
6-05 - 7-30;
Photographs and Autographs of visiting fans, plus informal discussions.
7-30 - 9-30;
General discussions on any topics advanced by fans.
Irregular departures, informal discussions, etc, but Farewell Lunch in the
Convention Hall from twelve-thirty to two-thirty.
|page 11: ||
BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY
MEMBERS UP TO APRIL THE FIRST, 1943;
Ackerman, Forrest J.|
Aiken, J.K. Ph.D.
Burke, J. F.
Baker, C. A.
Brewer, G. H.
Gardner, A. W.
Gibson, Dr. W.A.
Medhurst, R.G., B.Sc.
Orme, R. E.
(F - in the forces.)
MIDVENTION COMMITTEE ;
R. R. Johnson (Director)
Don HoustonA.W. Gardner
Art. WilliamsRalph E. Orme
J. Michael Rosenblum
SUB-COMMITTEE (Birmingham) :
Tom HughesArt. Busby
MIDVENTION BOOKLET, etc: