5. THE ANDY YOUNG VISIT

JULY 1960

Note: The text by Ella from this section through to '10: YEAR'S END' is taken from her editorial in ORION #26 (Nov' 60).

Ella Parker:

Iris and Ted Tubb were going on holiday and asked me if I would 'sit in' with their animals while they were away; said animals being Judy, a very affectionate dog, a large friendly cat and, a lovely hamster called, Roddy. I would move over there to live during their absence and have the run, of the house. Wheels clicked madly into place in my head... this is the chance you need to go off by yourself and get ORION onto stencil without interruption, etc. I said I'd be glad to do it, Ted came to collect me and my belongings on the Friday night, and he was prepared to cart the electric duper over there as well, so I could get the whole thing done at one swoop. I knew I wouldn't get that far ahead so we left the duper where it was. The peace and quiet was wonderful. I got all of ORION done with the exception of the lettercol, fmz acknowledgements and my editorial. This was great; I actually looked like putting out an ORION, right bang on the promised date. I'll never learn.


Ella with ORION 24 (Jan 1960)

I may not get what follows chronologically correct; it's a confusion of names, dates and events milling round in my head, but it goes something like this. Iris and Ted left for their holiday on the Saturday, July 16th. I began work on the stencils about at hour after they left, and worked all that day. Sunday there was a club meeting of the SFCoL which was to be held as usual at my house. I took Judy with me and she made a great hit. It was at this meeting that I first learned the firm date for Andy Young's visit to London. Arrangements were made for those of us who wanted to meet him to go over to New Cross on the following Saturday evening. Ethel wailed - "I'll miss him; I'm going to Scotland on the Friday." I mean, we'd read of Andy, but even I thought it was taking things a mite far to leave London just as he arrived, but Ethel was adamant: to Scotland she was going in spite of our promises to provide her with a bodyguard for the length of his stay among us. I did get her to agree that if I accompanied her - for protection - she would go and see him for a couple of hours on the Friday, before her coach left for the North.

I had had a letter from the Tubbs telling me it was possible they would be home on Saturday instead of staying for the second week. I packed my belongings, tidied up what mess I'd made 'just living' so was later than I'd intended to be arriving at New Cross to chaperone Ethel on her visit to Andy. My arrival was the signal for the kettle to go on for tea.

What did I think of Andy? We-ell, you wouldn't want *that* kind of talk in ORION, now would you? I knew he had a beard, of course, but that was all I *did* know of him. He's tall, but doesn't give the same impression of 'largeness' as does Don Ford, maybe because he's a lot thinner. This doesn't mean that Don is fat by any means, but he has breadth as well as height, where Andy has mostly height, The first thing that struck me was HAIR. Masses of it on his head and a veritable bush of it on his face. I did dare him to "come out from behind that hedge," but he wouldn't take me up, on it. Something to do with a woman in his life... Jean, I think he calls her, who likes the beard. These first meetings with a fan from the States are always a riot. You want to know all about the part of the States from which he comes, he wants to hear from you about Britain; fan names crop up, what is so and so doing now; is such a 'zine folding? and so it goes-on. This was no different, Having arrived on Thursday it was pretty certain that Andy had a good nights' sleep tucked under his belt so as the next day was Saturday I stayed pretty late talking after Ethel had left. I know you're going to laugh at this, but a report of these meetings loses any value they may have unless the whole truth is told. I'd been afraid of meeting Andy! No kidding. Ethel had wanted me to be there when she met him because she was too shy to meet him alone; I wasn't shy, just scared. I knew of Andy's reputation for erudite conversation and intellectual attainments. Mine are of the sub-zero quality and as for erudite conversation.... I'm lucky if mine is intelligible let alone intelligent. I was scared I'd bore him to death, it could have sparked off an international incident. I could see the glaring headlines in the papers:- "Eminent Astronomer-Engineer Bored to Death!" If it happened that I did bore him, he was too much of a gentleman to let on.

On the Saturday, oddly enough, the thing that most occupied may mind was:- should I take Judy with me in the evening or should I leave her at home. Ted and Iris might be home that day. I don't like leaving a dog alone for hours in the house, especially when I know it has been used to constant company. In this instance I decided to chance it as I knew Judy would go mad with joy when they came in. A couple of times during the ensuing evening it crossed my mind whether I'd done right or not. Had they come home?

They had. It was one of *those* evenings. ATom was there with his wife and child; Joy and Sandy, Ken and Irene Potter, Ivor Mayne and girl-friend, George Locke, looking painfully neat and well-dressed in civvies, Don Geldart, Ted Forsyth, Jimmy Groves and me.... oh yes, and Andy. That night saw the birth in Anglofandom at least, of the catch-phrase that reigned in popularity for some time after he left:- "within the bounds of astrophysical accuracy." This was found to be a favourite saying of Andy's and we hurled it into the conversation whenever opportunity afforded. Andy and ATom went at it hammer and tongs; some of it was way up there among the stars, lots of it was sheer goon-type back chat. I know he was fascinated by ATom's ready wit and even readier tongue. ATom was the hit of the evening and we were very proud of him; but then, we always are.

Reluctantly, the party broke up. Buses and trains had to be caught. I was lucky, George had the car with him or I'd have had to walk back to Forest Hill; not as far as West Kilburn, admittedly, but far enough. Before I left I wrung from Andy the promise that he'd come to me for a meal on Tuesday night to meet Ron Bennett who was coming to London for six weeks, arriving on the Monday. He promised.

I could see Iris and Ted were home as the room in the front of the house was lighted. We had a quiet drink together while they told me of their holiday and their disappointment with it. I told them some of the things I could remember of what had gone on that evening, then up to bed. Sunday Ted brought me home where I began making preparation for housing Ron. Knowing how we gab when we get together I took the precaution of having an early night. No, not that kind of an early night, a real one this time.

Bennett arrived.

In those two words it's difficult to realise the chain which was building of which this was the first link. By Tuesday I had told Ron some of what had gone on among us before he arrived and that Andy would, be coming to see us that evening. I'd also mentioned to him that he (Andy) reminded me very strongly of someone he as well as I, knew. Musing to himself Ron cased what he imagined to be the salient points: "hmn, he has a beard, tall and thin, well, he must look like Vince Clarke." Very proud of himself, was Ron, he was wrong. I had told him that Andy was going to the Science Museum that day before coming to the house. Ron busied himself with dreaming up ploys to play such as standing next to Andy beside some showcase with a SF book well in evidence, get into conversation without disclosing who he was and meet him that night at the house. The only,thing that prevented Ron doing any of this was the minor detail that I didn't know at what time Andy would be in the place. I was upstairs in the kitchen when the bell rang announcing the arrival of Andy. Ron called up:- "I'll go" as if, I'd intended coming down all those stairs. I finished the job on hand and went; down to the fanden. I cocked an enquiring brow at Ron. "John Brunner," he said, I nodded in affirmation and Andy looked at us wondering whathell was going on, but he soon rumbled as I'd hammered into him just how much he did, resemble John.

That was some meal! Well Ted, George and ATom had turned up.

ATom kept on drawing our attention to the method Andy used for getting the peas from his plate to his mouth. What fascinated ATom more than anything else was the flick of the wrist which threw the pea into his mouth from a distance of two feet (ATom's measurement). This didn't help Andy in the delicate manouvre involved of having the pea delicately poised on the fork prior to giving that gentle flick which would land it neatly far back in his mouth - Just as he'd be all set to go ATom would say - "watch this, how *does* he do it?" Andy would dissolve into helpless laughter and, of course, lose the pea. I reckon he lost more peas than he ate that way. ATom had Andy try it in slow-motion so he could solve for himself the trick of the flick; he even went to the length of drawing a small diagram for his own guidance.

(unreadable) we settled down to have ourselves an evening's chatter and a couple of drinks. Once again ATom held us spell bound while he entertained us. I know it's frustrating to be told that ATom talked without a report of some of the things he said, but this is an instance of either being right there in the group or sitting apart with note-book missing out on the fun... I sat in.

One by one the party went their reluctant ways. ATom drove Ted home, Ron went upstairs to bed and George, who had to be on parade at 8 am. the following morning; stayed talking with Andy and I until about 6-30 am. He was going to hitch a ride back to camp and I was doubtful that he'd make it in time; I've learned since that he did. Andy was leaving that day for the Conference which was the ostensible reason for his trip to Europe, but first he had to go all the way across London to collect his baggage. I made him a hasty breakfast (recipe on application) and sent him on his way. He'd be away for three weeks.

Peace? Quiet? Don't be daft!

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