Sunday 29th March - [Programme]ARCHIE MERCER (on BSFA AGM):
To anticipate the official Minutes, five members of the Management Council retired under the rotation system Brian Aldiss, S.R. Dalton, Archie Mercer, Beryl Mercer, and the Chairman, Bruce ("Edmund Crispin") Montgomery. Three of these five (Aldiss, Beryl Mercer, and Montgomery) did not wish to stand for re¬election. The other two, Dalton and Archie Mercer (speaking!) were re-elected.
Also elected to the Council were E.J. Carnell, the well-known editor, and Roger Peyton, one-time editor of VECTOR who has rejoined the Association and been given specific responsibility for publicity.
The astute amongst you will have deduced from the above that the Association no longer has a Chairman, This post is filled by the Council from among its own number, and the new Chairman's name will be announced shortly.
For the first time in living memory (so to speak), there were three parties interested in staging next year's convention. A group from the Manchester area (which ran the 1968 convention at Buxton, Derbyshire) wanted to hold it in either Blackpool or Southport, depending on what terms they could get from various hotels, whilst a "loner" from Bournemouth had a specific hotel lined up in Swanage, Dorset. The vote, however, went to a group from Birmingham who thus have the go-ahead to arrange next Easter's sf convention either within or without that city, again depending on what terms they can get from various hotels.
And the retiring Chairman, Bruce Montgomery, was voted by the meeting into a Life Membership in the Association.
Breakfast is taken with Roy, Arthur, and Ian (I think, but am not entirely awake, so...). I make my way to the Con-bidding, however, and am surprised to hear of three bids for 1971; Bournemouth (Brian Burgess) , Southport (Harry Nadler), and Birmingham (Pete Weston), The latter is successful on open show of hands (ah, the joyful and absurd difference from Worldcon bidding!). Four or five bids are then made for 1972 - an unusual display of enthusiasm. Pete Weston tells me that afternoon that he has received some 75 registrations for the Brumcon...not bad for first day.
A lunch expedition forms as we walk off to Indian Restaurant of some cheapness, but considerable interest. Mulligitawny soup, vegetable curry, and lychees are consumed in the company of Ken Eadie, Brian Hampton, Roy Kettle, Greg (missing the mock Wimpey and sitting surly and foodless), Ian Williams, and Nigel Haslock, moustachioed, gun-slinging, and expressing interest in games - this leads to a complex game of multiple noughts and crosses on a serviette (v. Brian). The waiter watches suspiciously.
Back to the convention to listen to 'I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again' and then out to an afternoon tea with Mary Reed, Charles Legg (always somewhat reminiscent of an Old English sheepdog), Alan Chorley, and others. I play an amazing Japanese chess with Nigel Haslock; total confusion exists, since I am unable to recognize pieces, let alone adapt to the un-British idea of replacing opponent’s taken men whenever and wherever wanted. More puzzled waiters watch warily. Return to auction.
That was the auction, with me at the side sorting the items into suitable bundles for Mike to sell. These were the days before I had the nerve to do it myself. Mike did a few auctions in those days.
Anyone know the day and time for this programme item? I'm wondering why I'm wearing a tie.
We always wore ties in those days! You stopped with 1971, I carried on a bit longer before lightening-up.
The schedule was:
16:15 Tom Morgan, Scientologist in the con hall and Tolkien Society Meeting in foyer
Thank you Mark. That solves the problem. Sunday lunchtime, Arline and I went to an expensive Hotel up the road for lunch, and tie and suit were stipulated dress code. I'd obviously hurried back from lunch for the auction and not removed that offending object. Despite what Pete thinks, I never wore a tie unless absolutely necessary.
Ken Eadie is buying everything Mike Moorcock, Ted Tubb, and Ken Bulmer are selling. But not a full set of HYPHEN which goes for £5 - I watch with clenched teeth and empty pocket. John Muir is even more heartbroken at the sight, but later alleviates woe with some cheap 'Golden Age' fanzines from the U.S.
I wander into a Tolkien society meeting and am commissioned by Keith Bridges to draw aardvark badges - I retire with pen and am quietly fruitful. The auction is restarted, Mike Moorcock and companion remaining in an attempt to sell various objects. A heated bidding for a Mike Moorcock Fleetway comic manuscript is held between an inquisitive fan and MM - the latter buys it for 11/- and tears it into small pieces to erase its memory. A signed whiskey bottle fetches no interest, whilst a box full of oddments (including Aldiss and Ballard manuscripts) disappears for £10. I look miserably on.
Looking back I have rather negative feelings about SciCon, particularly as one of the opening speakers was a Scientologist who said "Unfortunately Ron can't be with us today..."
Probably the most dramatic item was an impromptu public confrontation between a practising Scientologist and one of his audience who claimed to have known that movement's founder (of whom you must surely have heard?) fairly intimately in days of yore - and was agin' the notion. This confrontation so fascinated those present that even when the item had over-run its allotted time by several minutes the audience was reluctant for it to make way for the next item. The hotel chosen came in for a certain amount of criticism - though come to think of it, which convention hotel (with the possible exception of the dear old "George" at Kettering) has not?
About my only memory was that towards the end of the Scientology talk there was an influx of fans (including me) for the next item on the programme. The talker was becoming flustered as someone from the audience (American?) insisted he was with ElRon when they both, inebriated though they were, discussed and formulated Scientology. George Hay rushed on to the stage to say they were running late and the next item was ready to go - thus stopping what could have been an interesting (as opposed to the earlier part of the talk from what I gathered) argument.
The Scientology talk was given by Tom Morgan, so the American in the audience was presumably Chapdelaine. Online sources say that he was Hubbard's personal auditor.
Play bad bridge with Nigel Haslock, Ian Williams, and Howard Rosenblum. Time passes. Ian and I talk vaguely to Lang Jones about his revised TITUS ALONE - due out from Penguin end of April. Gunther involves embarrassed Roy and Greg with two Swedish girls, one of long blonde beauty. Ken Eadie is stricken and moons the evening long, watching Gunther converse happily in native tongue. Sad, eh?
The revived British Science Fiction Award for 1969 was presented to John Brunner for his "non-novel" "Stand on Zanzibar".
Our very own Vice Chairman (and ex-officio Chairman of the Committee), Michael Rosenblum, officiating at the award-giving, was surprised to find himself the recipient of the "Doc" Weir Memorial Award - given annually for unspecified services by vote of those registered for the convention. To both of these winners the Association extends its heartiest congratulations.
'Things To Come' emits warped noises and plays painfully to a large house - I watch favourite excerpts, but rest mostly by the bar. Gerald Bishop is encountered, lean and bearded; he attempts to sell checklists... whoa-no!
A party is announced later, of large size (seventeen, would-you believe). Arthur, Keith & Jill Bridges, Nigel Haslock, Rosemary & Darroll, Brian Hampton, and many others. I sight upon a stray cucumber and devour same with hunger and joy, impulsively throwing lower end out of the hotel window. There is some noise and voices. A fan bearing the cryptic name-tag "Rubber-Boots"** leans out of window, looks down, and happily informs me that I have just thrown the cucumber through an open window in a mews opposite. I peer out - a woman in nightdress is waving fist through an open window and yelling incoherently. I answer to the best of my ability? "Leide kann ich Sie nicht verstehen, gnadige Frau!" and slam window shut, leaving party before I do further damage. A game of hurdling or corridor racing is going on outside, but I make my way hurriedly to the bar to recover with a Guinness or three.
Later I return to the party, there to sing aardvark and axolotl songs ('The hills are alive with the sound of aardvarks’ and such). I inscribe badge on decorated leg of unknown femme fan.
Back downstairs again, the bar has closed and I am drinkless; I sit and chat to Archie & Beryl Mercer, and others. The remains of parties trickle down - Ted Tubb's wine is seen, I gesticulate thirstily and Ken Bulmer recognizes serious nature of plight and sends aid. The result is too much, for I stagger off to bed.
((** This is Dave Rowe, Bram Stokes having christened him that because of his refusal to wear leather, Dave being a strict vegetarian. - Bill Burns))
Four hours later....