6. THE BSFA "FRIDAY NIGHT AT ELLA'S" BEGINS

AUGUST 1960:

Possibly feeling their absence when the twice-monthly SFCoL meetings moved to Ethel Lindsay's flat in Courage House, Ella placed the following in BSFA NEWSLETTER (First series) #2 (July 1960):

"Starting on Friday August 5th, and every Friday thereafter, it will be open house here for all BSFA members living in or near London. The only charge of admission will be the showing of a current BSFA membership card; no charge will be made either for the light refreshments provided which will be tea, coffee, biscuits and the like. You want a drink (alcoholic) you provide your own. Who knows? It may develop into a full-scale BSFA club; if it does it will just happen that way, I've no plans for making it so. I'm doing this only to provide you with a definite meeting point on a definite evening for talk and exchange of ideas. I hope that those of you with plans to visit London at any time will call on me anyway (giving prior warning of course), but it will be fun for you if you could arrange things so that you are here for a Friday evening. If any of you, living in no matter what part of the country, have the facilities for entertaining members living within visiting distance of you would like to do the same kind of thing I'd like to hear about it and we'll print an announcement in either of the publications due out at the time with frequent re-runs in the succeeding issue for the information of new members. But whatever, Friday night is Parker night if you live near enough to get here or are on a visit to Town. See you? From 7 pm onward.

I'm not extending any personal invitations, this is intended for all of you, no matter if you've been a member from the inception of the Assoc. or joined only last week. You want to come, then come, and I do mean ALL of you.

I'm starting this on a Friday as most of us don't have to go to work or go to school on a Saturday; if it transpires that Friday is inconvenient for too many of you it will be changed to suit the majority but rest assured the change will be well advertised before taking place."

Later in the issue there is a rather necessary note by newsletter editor Jim Groves:

"Editor's note - for those of you who are going to take up Ella's offer re the Friday night meetings the address is 151 Canterbury Road, West Kilburn, London, NW6. The nearest Underground station is Queen's Park on the Bakerloo line. From the station proceed as follows - turn right and cross the road, then a couple of minutes walk brings you to a cross-roads, Canterbury Road leads off from here. At 151 ring the top bell. If you want any more info write to me. See you there maybe?"

Ella Parker:

Now that Bennett was staying here there began a trek to my door such as I've never experienced before, no, not even in the week preceding the Eastercon earlier this year.

Ron and I were off to visit the Liverpool bunch for the August Bank holiday. But more of that in some other fanzine. Ron came back on the Monday I returned on Wednesday. He was out when I got home so thinking to get some rest - and I needed it! - I went to bed, early in the evening though it was. I hadn't been long settled when Ron came in. We were sitting having a cup of tea when the bell rang. Ron came back with a character I'd never seen before; this turned out to be Tom Porter who had lived in Newcastle but had come to work and live in London. He had ORION 22 with him and wanted to know why he hadn't received any more.... this wasn't the reason for his visit to me, but he just thought he'd mention it. After a couple of hours with Tom who left early, Ron and I had a couple of hands at cards then off to bed he went.

First of the out of town visitors to come was, I believe, Ken Cheslin. Ken had to stay at the Roehampton Hospital for a few weeks and it wasn't all that far from me. Any chance he got to come up he took and sometimes he was able to get them to release him for the weekend. Round about this time we had word that Bruce Burn would be arriving in England from New Zealand on the 27th August. Ron was trying to arrange a reception committee for him at Southampton and the SFCoL were to give him a surprise party at my house. On July 31st the club went on a picnic. Arthur had hired a Bedford for us and when we returned to London that night I well remember sitting in Arthur's car with him, Ron, and Ken down some dingy back street planning a ploy for Bruce. This was the plan. When the boys got to Waterloo Station, Arthur, who would have checked at which platform they were coming in, would allow himself to be bumped by Ron who would apologise for his clumsiness. As he turned away he'd call to Arthur: "can you tell us how to get to Putney?"

Arthur was to say: "if you wait a minute while I check the time of a train I can take you there, I have the car outside. Ron would make sure the offer was accepted and arrange with the others to see them another day. Of course he'd be seeing them at the party in the evening, but Bruce wasn't to know that On the way to Putney Arthur wouldn't speak unless spoken to; it was doubtful that Bruce would even realise the driver was being ignored, he'd be too busy rubber-necking out the windows... we hoped. At first Arthur wanted to lean out and call: "Courtesy of the GDA," but we discarded that in favour of him keeping his anonymity until Ron brought Bruce to the house that night; he wouldn't use his key but would give a special code ring. Arthur was to open the door and see if Bruce recognised in him the driver of the afternoon. I hoped it would work.

SKYRACK 23 (6 Sep 1960):

SFCoL STORMS SOUTH COAST SOCIETY. Ken Cheslin reports that on Sunday 20th August the following members and hangers-on of the Science Fiction Club of London travelled down to Middleton-on-Sea, Sussex: Ella Parker, Ken & Irene Potter, Ted Forsyth, Jimmy Groves, George Locke, Ethel Lindsay, Don Geldart, Ron Bennett, Ken Cheslin and Bedford 12-seater driver Arthur Thomson with his fan club Olive and Heather. Passing motorists were subjected to a back window sign reading “Annual Outing of the Escaped Prisoners Society” which later gave way to another sign which bore the slogan “National Society for the Abolition of Life: Annual Outing.”

Middleton is a nice little village, a dwelling place for the idle rich. Fortunately the beach is devoid of “amusements.” The tide was in when we arrived and we picnicked before wandering round the high tide mark and the bordering greensward. Jimmy Groves had brought his hammer to collect rock specimens from the locale. Bennett had forgotten the cards – he’d had to get up early - so we didn’t play brag. We did play cricket with Groves manufactured equipment. Stars were batsman Groves, Bowler Forsyth and Fieldsman Locke whose catching (he dismissed Bennett’s entire side) was worth an England test place. Both the trip out and the return journey were significant for their general merriment, songs and pun-gent conversation. Heartfelt plaudits for Arthur whose idea the trip was and who worked so hard on the project, both with arrangements and with the actual driving.

Recent visitors to London have been Jim Linwood, Archie Mercer, Chris Miller and Joe Patrizio, now in the metropolis job hunting.

Ella Parker:

The Penitentiary was keeping 'open house' by now and fen were in and out practically all the time. Various publishing schedules were met, such as OMPA, Skyrack, and the different BSFA publications that had to come out whatever else went by the board. The next date for which anything definite was planned was August 24th when Andy was returning from Amsterdam. I'd left a door key for him with a friend of mine as it was likely he'd be in before I got home from work. In fact as I got out of the train I saw them with camera ready primed. Ron had been pretty certain I'd get out of a particular car, but the train had been crowded and I'd gone further down the train so was able to sneak up behind them just in time to hear Ron say: "she must have missed it." I toyed with the idea of leaving them there and going on home, but my better nature asserted itself and I spoke to them. Andy now has in his possession some very good pictures of Queens Park Station complete with underground train.

We didn't have many come in that evening, but it was a nice night for all that. We kept Andy talking for hours telling us something of his trip and the people he'd met. My main impression is the amount of time they spent drinking in a dungeon type bar that had been set up for them. I suddenly realised that he wouldn't be with us for the Burn Party (sounds like Burns night, don't it?) as he'd be on his way next day to visit IF (Irish Fandom). Pity.

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