|Extracts from correspondence | FOOTNOTES Page | Obituary Page ||
Last addition: 12/15/19 November, 1997
I guess Terry Carr must thing of us old ex-fans who returned to the everyday world for long periods as having infinite leisure! Where would I find time to write autobiographical details to fill in my "missing" years, when I have a struggle just keeping pace with current distractions? Essentially, it's just a matter of the energies devoted to fanac being diverted to activities that promise to be more rewarding.
So after dealing with the mundane necessities, like earning a living to support a family and paying off the mortgage, I concentrated my interest (and most spare cash) into drawing, painting and music and such-like cultural areas. The outward and visible signs of that time and effort are an art-history library, and a record/tape collection of jazz and classical music that currently presents storage and filing problems even after overflowing into two adjoining houses.
I can cheerfully spend the next twenty years (if I live that long!) exploring these resources to the full. I could say that I found I got along very well without fandom - relegating it to the "goddam hobby" category - but admit that it's pleasant to look in on it occasionally to renew old acquaintances and to get to know a few new friends, and see and hear what they're doing - even to know they're still around, like Terry Carr.
But a little exposure to fandom goes a long way. Fannish preoccupations tend to be repetitive over the years and I guess they bore me, so that I gladly return to what seem to be more varied and rewarding activities elsewhere. The hell with writing about unfannish life - what self-respecting fan-editor would want to print it? ■
LoC to Microwave #8 (March 1985), published by Margaret Hill and Elda Wheeler
[From a "One-time member of the SCIENCE-FICTION ASSOCIATION"]
Thanx for answering my question about filking - though I wasn't really expecting you to devote most of an issue to my plea for enlightenment. Well, I guess I did my bit of filking, but that was a long time ago when I was young and carefree. Now I'm old and carefree, I'm happy to leave the filking to your generation. It's just that we didn't call it filking then; we just did it and didn't bother about a name. Mercifully, we didn't have recorders in those days and nothing is preserved, for which you contemporary filkers ought to be grateful.
I am currently more involved in re-exploring the vast accumulation of jazz LPs, tapes, and cassettes while in the process of rehousing the collection... ...And it's a lengthy, but full of rewarding moments, process playing 'em over and indexing them too.
If you must know, the immediate reaction of my fannish generation to Quatermass and Journey into Space and suchlike phenomena was an affectionate hilarity. Ditto Star Trek and Blake's 7. I don't understand people who take these minor manifestations so seriously as to elevate them to cult status. They must have something lacking in their lives.
But I must cease pontificating (though as an Old and Tired Fan I feel entitled to on occasion). Don't let the urban fannish culture get you down; it's just that they always get better media coverage becasue the media don't get around to the countryside. Especially when you've got a foot of snow. (But not during May, surely?) ■
LoC to Dave Bell's Real Soon Now #2 (1990)
Editor's Note: I had to look this up but apparently, fans started singing folk songs at social gatherings back in 1930s and making up their own sciffy lyrics for traditional tunes. And the "filk" bit was a fanzine typo for "folk" which caught the fannish imagination.
PROZINES: VERY CASUAL WORK
Odd how one thing leads to another. Andy's request has aroused my own curiosity about what I was doing in the fifties. I lost all interest in doing artwork for struggling publishers who couldn't pay the rates, and kept no record of what I'd done.
Philip dug out his files of Nebula, and I was surprised at the amount of stuff I illustrated for Pete Hamilton - some of it I can recall with a certain amount of pleasure; a lot of it I'd like to forget! I suppose it all depended on how tight the deadline was, and whether I actually was free to work from the typescript or had to follow instructions at secondhand as to what was needed.
Maybe I should try and make a record; looks as though I've another future copying job ahead of me! Not yet started to investigate Science-Fantasy... Andy tells me that according to Alan Hunter, I did the cover of the second issue, but I have no memory of it, and suspect Alan is thinking of something else. I'll believe it when I see it.
I suspect that most of the illustrative work I turned out in the 50s was pot-boiling; I fancy I put my heart and soul into the amateur publications. Certainly, I seen to have wiped the memory banks pretty clean of my involvement with the pro sf mags of the period; there seemed a general assumption on the part of the editors that seeing your work in print was reward enough!
I wonder where I stand after all the overhauling of the copyright laws? As I recall, I was just asked for artwork, and received a cheque looong long after delivery, with no written contract, stipulations about copyright, or whatever. Hmmm. I got very few of the originals back; in the case of Pete Hamilton I heard rumours, long after Nebula folded, that he'd been auctioning artwork at several cons.
Ah well, it's like investigating the activities of someone I knew in the distant past. As fast as I seem to get some details in focus, the mists around get thinner, and a larger picture emerges. ■
Letter to Steve Sneyd, 07/03/1991
"SERIOUS" ERIC NEEDHAM
Steve Sneyd has waved a copy of Idea 8 in front of my nose with letters from Chuch Harris reminiscing about Eric Needham and Widower's Wonderful products. I must admit to smiling at the revelation that Chuch has believed in actual existence of a Widower's Store in Manchester for the past few decades... when Eric and I published Now & Then, we found a general tendency among readers to take the fiction seriously and scoff at the facts. Just to keep the record straight I should perhaps ask you to print the version of the Bloch jingle that Chuch tried to recall - it went thiswise:
When viewing the wringers of washing machines
I'm a bit baffled by Chuch's reference to Eric's "serious" poem. I fancy he's thinking about a piece called 'Nocturne' that appeared in our first issue of N&T which starts off "As Manchester daylight falls/O'er Lewis's and Baxendales..." and goes on to list a string of company buildings that were familiar to Mancunians in the 50s, but have almost all disappeared during the last 40 years, and ends "And there the window cleaner's Nemesis/ An unlit block of empty premises!" More of a window-cleaner's lament and written (and published) long before Widower's advertising campaign got under way.
I first met Eric in the early days of the original Science Fiction Association in 1937, when he was a regular visitor to my Manchester home, and we visited the SFA branches in Leeds, Liverpool and London together on several occasions. I lost touch with him during the war years (we were both enrolled in the RAF), but we met up again when a new generation of fans started up the Nor' West Science Fantasy Club in a Manchester pub), in the early 50s.
We helped to resuscitate the club fanzine, became involved with the disorganisation of the SUPERMANCON. After which I moved house and family to Romiley and that led to the formation of the Romiley Fan Veterans & Scottish Dancing Society and the publication of its proceedings, initially as a contribution to the newly-formed OMPA.
But I ramble on. It occurs to me that it might be more to the point if I wrote a memoir about Eric: he certainly deserves it. Would you be interested in such an offering? ■
Letter to Geri Sullivan, 21/11/1992
Have been trying to gather together a few memories of Eric Needham. Over the past year and more, I have been quizzed by folk writing about the Widower's verses, mainly in US fanzines. I had a few exchanges with Chuch Harris who, it turned out, was firmly convinced that an actual Widower's store existed in Manchester, and claims to have encouraged ESN to try and do their legitimate advertising for them. He was also wildly misquoting some of the Widower's verses from memory. It seems time to write a piece about the Eric Needham I knew, while the interest in his literary flights continues!
Been trying to reconstruct some of the NorWest Science Fantasy Club period, when I resumed contact with Eric again. There was a Mancon in 1950, but I don't think I was in touch with the NWSFC until after that event - probably around 1951 or so. I'm sure I met Eric Bentcliffe, Dave Cohen, Paul Sowerby, Roy Beresford, Fran and Cyril early on - I have a feeling that Brian and Sandy Sanderson came on the scene later. I have memories of B & S turning up in uniform... National Service? This was when we had a house in Church Lane, Moston - opposite the Dog's Home - and I'd started working in Hyde.
Paul Sowerby had produced the first issue of the club's zine Astroneer, a ghastly hekto'd bulletin that earned raspberries all round, left the editor in a low state of morale and led to me being persuaded to help out with the next issue. It was supposed to be a joint production with Paul, but in the event he backed out and left me to a solo effort.
I have memories of meeting his mum - a somewhat formidable lady - who expressed her firm convictions that Paul was wasting his genius and time with the low life sf fans at the Waterloo, and ought to be doing serious work with the BIS. She was probably right, too, and thereafter Paul disappeared from the scene.
Fortunately, I still had some material left over from Zenith files, even after Ron Beresford had raided them for material for his zines, and in the new job I had charge of a small offset printing section. So the mag appeared mid-1953 with material from wartime by Marion, D.R. Smith and Eric the Needy, plus an article by Sandy, and graced with a two-colour cover drawn and printed at work. Philip helping me out with the duplicating and collating and binding. A note of the finances still survives, showing a net profit of 6d overall. Owing to the noticeable lack of support we never got around to a third issue.
Just found a note assuring me that I was indeed at the 1950 con (at which Fran gave a display of 'Future Fashions'; how could I have forgotten that?).
Afterthought on the death of Astroneer: did Eric Bent's Space-Times take over as NWSFC publication? Or did I just get involved reviving Zenith with Derek Pickles? Must think that one through. And when did Stu McKenzie take over S-T? An event which led to Triode starting... but I guess the details are not particultly relevant to the Needham story. I am getting distracted by detail. Afterthought about S&y: did he join the regulars, or was he always a regular? And did Paul's mum look askance at fans after meeting Eric?
I remember agreeing with Eric to keep clear of the wild arrangements being dreamed up by an irresponsible Dave Cohen as the Manchester-London feuding hotted up, but as matters degenerated so far near the time of the event, we found ourselves involved trying to rescue something out the chaos that built up before and during the Supermancon. It was a relief when things went so far 'wrong' that everyone enjoyed the sheer informality - and the planned London sabotage was disarmed.
In retrospect it was fun, but it was a trifle harrowing trying to prop up Dave and his associates, and I think that was when we parted company with the NWSFC.
I think Brian had gone down to London, and that you went down there too. I had to go to London on exhibition work fairly frequently, and met you quite often, in between visits to the Bulmers, when I met Vin¢ and Ted Tubb. We were living in Romiley by then, and Eric used to come over most weekends and that was when we cooked up the RFV&SDS and Now & Then for OMPA, and when it caught on, expanded to wider circulation. ■
Yes, the Stu Mac memories raised the spectre of that fannish misfit and the Bentcliffe frustrations over Space-Times. I came across a print of a hand-drawn litho printed cover run off for Eric the Bent on the Redfern's printing gear: for a Christmas issue, obviously inspired by plastic toys bought for the occasion - a spaceship money box and an assortment of spacemen that Woollies sold as stocking fillers.
I'd put it on one side to write to Eric and ask what other covers I'd printed for him, but Vin¢ told me of his death before I got round to writing. Am I too harsh in my judgment of Dave Cohen as a happy moron? I recall that I was glad to part company with him after the Supermancon fiasco. In a recent letter Ethel [Lindsay] told me she'd met him at some fannish occasion and enjoyed meeting him again. Maybe I have too long a memory. Yeah, I can see he'd have been in love with a title like 'Editorial Consultant'. I could never quite understand Stu's behaviour: he seemed intelligent enough but all the attempted manipulation that went on in his fannish links seemed over the top. But I guess a trip to the States on the TAFF fund could seem a dazzling prospect. This would be round about the time that the Bulmers went over, wouldn't it?
I never had any contact with ESN after he left Manchester at the end of the 50s. I think it must have been Vin¢ that told me that he'd surfaced in Yorkshire in the late 70s, married and all. Apparently he made contact with Ethel; and appears to have been a quieter version of his slightly abrasive earlier self. Then not long after, someone wrote to say he'd had a heart attack and died. I must get more details from Ethel and see if she'll write a footnote to his career. Like you, I was sorry not to make contact again.
Yes, he certainly got Ethel all steamed up at the time he descended on her unannounced at the Eye Hospital. He could he acutely embarrassing to someone who didn't know him, though, as you say, it was all very hilarious to the observer. Eric was quite unrepentant over the stir he caused and I had to write some fast letters to try and smooth ruffled Scottish feelings! ■
Letter to the Varleys, Fran & Brian, 24/11/1992 & 10/12/1992
The only other excitement was a letter from Steve Green, of Critical Wave (a somewhat sercon review), suggesting that "as an artist active in sf fandom for more than 50 years" a portfolio "reflecting the range of illustrations you've produced over the years" is long overdue. I suspect Steve Sneyd has something to do with this sudden rush of interest.
No problems about filling up the four A4 pages available I suppose, but "reflecting the range of illustrations produced over the years" is something of a complication. Most of the stencilled stuff of yesteryear does not survive the size reduction necessitated by the limitations of space; but fortunately, I'd got copies of several covers I'd done for mags in the 30s and 40s from Vin¢ Clarke's archive, with a view to using them as illustrations in fannish reminiscences, and have been able to rescue a few of the simpler line jobs. Even came across some scraperhoard illustrations for Wally's Science-Fantasy, done in 1950, so I reckon that should give them plenty to go at.
I gain the impression that these latterday fans imagine I have a vast archive of all the artwork I've ever done, all on file and ready to be shown on demand. Maybe I should have been more methodical and forward looking, but I guess one has to shuffle off a lot of acquired baggage periodically - this place is cluttered up enough! ■
Letter to the Varleys, Fran & Brian, 03/08/1993
The list of cons [in Critical Wave 35] - some fifty to be held before the end of the year - is frightening, especially when some nut is already organising the Millennium Con for 1999-2000. Among my notes for that 1939 article is a reference to a nucleus of fans muttering about the probable consequences of the promotional activities of Carnell, Gillings and other sercon evangelists: needless, to day, they fell far short of imaging today's reality.
None of the book reviews tempted me. Still Chuck Connor's comments in the lettercol about review copies (and the dearth of them), and the tear-up of Helena Bowle's fanzine review col raised a smile. He must have enjoyed writing that. ■
Letter to the Varleys, 24/06/1994
COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD
My exchanges with Arthur [Clarke] are more in the nature of terse notes. Like informative snippets such as the fact that viewing conditions aren't too good in the middle of Columbo; his next-door neighbour is the Iraqui ambassador, who has security lights on all night. I seem to be writing at greater length to Ken Bulmer, whom I caught in reminiscent mood recently. I was trying to remember when last I saw him, and decided it was at the Tynecon in 1974. Which is also the last place and time that I saw you. Twenty years back. Wow. ■
Letter to the Varleys, Fran & Brian, 07/07/1994
VERY EARLY DAYS
Haven't you seen Zenith ? It started out as a few pages contributed to Mike Rosenblum's combozine, Futurian War Digest, and then I luckily got hold of a quantity of green duplicating paper and decided to publish my own zine to mark my birthday in 1941, using a broken-down duplicator my father had acquired.
We got out five issues, and a sixth was in preparation when I was called up. Somehow, we never seemed to find time to finish it whenever I was home on leave. Most of the material was passed on to Ron Lane for use in his mags, but a few oddments that survived in the files eventually finished up in Astronaut, the NWFS mag I tried to perpetuate. No doubt you have a copy of that. I'll dig out the Zenith file for you if you promise not to eyetrack it too much: the molecular structure of the wartime paper is getting a trifle unstable after all these years! ■
Have reread those later copies of Zenith, and found 'em entertaining still. Enclosed herewith . . . There were plans for a couple more issues but the RAF call-up effectively buggered them up! ■
Yep. All the Zenith artwork was drawn direct on to stencil. I'd had lots of practice, from 1937 on, when I started doing the covers for the Science Fiction Association mag, Novae Terrae, and went on to do regular work for New Worlds, the fanzine, when Ted Carnell took over, as well as covers and interior illustrations for frequent issues of Sam Youd's Fantast, (later taken over by Doug Webster) and John Burke's Satellite. Even sent cut stencils over to Forry Ackerman... and did no end of work for sheets included in FIDO during the war. In great demand in them days, so I had plenty of practice!
Must have had lots more patience in them far off days, too. The Zenith duplicator was a battered old Roneo my father had got from somewhere for running off lists. The machine was hand-fed, a sheet at a time, and as the inking mechanism didn't work, the stencil had to be periodically lifted from the drum, while fresh ink was applied. This could be a fraught operation with detailed stencils! It was this defect that I exploited to get the multicolour runs, all in one printing, by applying different coloured inks in appropriate positions on the rollerno problems with register, and so, in a very roundabout way, timesaving, too. I admit to enjoying the egoboo...
I fancy you'll have to send back the file copies before you get any answers to your queries about Marion's piecesshe's not looked at that file for a good many years now and will probably need to refresh her memory!
Which reminds me that I also used to do occasional stencils for covers of Miss Eadie's Urania, journal of the Junior Astronomical Association, during my stint as Hon. Treasurer, of that worthy organisation. Gosh, that was all a long time ago. ■
I FIND IT EXCEEDING HARD to link up with the mind behind ZENITH of fifty odd years back. I don't think I considered myself a writer in those far-off days, and content to let the verbalisers get on with it while I concentrated on the artwork. Hence my pot-boiler on cities in the first issue was probably a sign of a desperate shortage of material, never needing to be repeated once the readership were persuaded to fill up the pages. And don't leap to conclusions about the artwork. I had been a regular attendee at John Bold's studio and life classes, in Grosvenor Street, for several years. I think there's a relevant fragment in the file marked "Autobiography"must do you a copy... ■
Letter to Fran & Brian Varley, February/March 1996
Many thanks for the FC. [Fantasy Commentator] The Cleator article was of decided interestI didn't know of his death and wonder why he didn't qualify for the Garudian obit columns. I see that he was born in 1908, making him around 30 when he took an interest in MIS activities. I remember being impressed when he first rolled up at Longford Place in a car, accompanied by his fiancée, to give the society a talk. He gave Eric Needham a lift home after the meeting, which Eric always proudly claimed to remembers as the first time he'd ever ridden in a car.
He also gave the society generous sjupport in the way of providing material for the journal, and he was a paying sponsor when we decided to go for a printed replacement of the duplicated journal. I fancy that he took an interest in our efforts because after all his pioneering work, he felt pushed out by the machinations of the London BIS membershipjust as the Leeds fans felt edged out by the London takeover of the SFA organisation. I guess these things rankle at the time despite the official whitewashing that goes on...
Though a more personal memory is of Cleator as a militant atheist, an attitude which impressed me greatly at the time when I was forming my own irreligious ideas; the place was awash with National Secular Society publications like The Freethinker and the works of Chapman Cohen that he passed on, much to my mother's horror. And I still have a copy of "Rockets Through Space" he autographed for me as a momento of one of those visits. ■
Letter to Steve Sneyd, 17 March 1996
IT JUST SO HAPPENS that Steve sent me a "taster" of the Moskowitz article in Fantasy Commentator, which answers your query about Z. Suspect that Sam's main interest is in 'fan politics' and the opportunity to have a dig at his old Arch-Enemy Don Wollheim... ■
Letter to Fran & Brian Varley, 31 April 1996
Have no recollection of this letter to the MG (Manchester Guardian) at SuperMancon time that you mention, though the name Hella Jaspert has a faintly familiar ring. I shall add her to Mike Wallace, on a growing list of people to re-investigate. Seem to be discovering all sorts of holes in my memories... like it was a faint shock when it dawned on me that I had apparently precipitated the FWOP28 thing. And I seem to have been the prime bringer of Fanarchism on to the fannish scene to judge from references in wartime fetters and my readings of FIDO and anguished comments from Mike at the opposition to his efforts to get the British Fantasy Society under way... ■
During recent correspondence with Vin¢, the subject of "The first word on page 28" cropped up. Vin¢ had mentioned the name of Daphne Buckmaster when we were commenting on the early days of OMPA, and I was reminded that when she was innocently discussing high society functions such as balls, the word happened to start off page 28 of her Ompazine, enabling some low mind subsequently to quote "TFWOP28" as a handy euphemism.
Latest newsletter from Vine announces that he has a grand-daughter... He also mentions that the Welling Archive had a visit from one Helen Merrick, an Australian lady working for her Ph.D. on the history of female fans, who made copious notes from fanzines such as FEMIZINE and SPACE TIMES...
And mention of SPACE TIMES prompts me to ask if you have any copies still in your archives? All I have are copies of two covers I printed in 1953 on the Multilith machine when l worked in Hyde, for the anniversary issue (in two colours!) dated June, and a Xmas issue. (Just noticed that this last is dated December 1953, while my artwork is signed '1954'. I musta had trouble with Time even in them days!). I know I printed some photo-pages for later issues, but am uncertain if I did any more covers. I'm also trying to remember how Stu Mackenzie got mixed up with SPACE TIMES... did he take over the printing? ■
Letters to Fran & Brian Varley, 5 & 8 August 1996
Overwhelmed by all these ancient fanzines from the Varley archives! Thanx for clarifying several vital issues. I now have the matter of TFWOP28 sorted in my mind after seeing HYPHEN, and relationships with SPACE-TIMES begin to make sense. I had all this stuff once, but passed it on when I gafiated at the rear end of the 50s.
Loved your account of Life with the Mackenzies. He sounds just like the creep that I remember. When he disappeared from fandom, didn't the EYE funds vanish too? Incidentally, in the Widower's Wart Remover episode, Eric mentions that he overcame his desire "to see Sir Mortimer Wheeler and Connie Mackenzie" when he converted his TV into an Electropsychometer. Any significance in the linking of names there? Was Connie a TV presenter?
You seem to have been destined to be everybody's Treasurer. A piece of paper that persistently survives from this period in my files, is a carbon copy of my account rendered for that copy of ASTRONEER, showing a net profit of 6 old pence (or was it a deficit?). Can't just lay hands on it now, but the financial report could well have been addressed to you, I guess. I printed a cover and odd sheets for a further issue, which never materialised; funds all diverted to ensure 5-T's survival probably...
I am still baffled by that Christmas 1953 issue cover being signed as "1954"d'you think the issue was delayed or sump'n and slipped schedulewise? (just idle curiosity). This was one of the jobs printed on the Multilith, when I was working at Redfern's in Hyde. Drawn direct on to the printing plate! The Rocket Bank and plastic spacemen, with removable helmets, were part of the kids' presents that year and a popular line available at Woolworths. Forgotten completely about the "End of the Voyage" cover on the July 53 5-T. Looks as though I printed it on the Zenith-several-colours-printed-simultaneously duplicator. Must make a copy of that for my files. It's a throw-back to an early Novae Terrae cover, seen from a different viewpoint, a subtlety probably lost on all you young fans... ahem.
The Glossary was produced when we withdrew N&T from OMPA and went public, because so many folk were asking to get on the circulation list. We decided to combine the first three OMPA issues into an introductory ish, with new illos, for the benefit of nonOMPA readers, and included the Glossary to fill in obscure references for the benefit of any puzzled American fans, though I fancy we created even obscurer items in the process. Produced just after the time of the third OMPA mailing, say April-May 1955. Might even get around to producing that promised update if the N &T project goes thru satisfactorily. Though I could finish up having to produce a Glossary of the Glossary at this late date... ■
Letter to Fran & Brian Varley, August 1996
MORE EARLY DAYS
Am appalled by a piece entitled "Romping Through Fandom With The Little Woman...", printed under my Henry Ernst pen-name. I never wrote that: I suspect this to be a BV forgery... ■
I can report other discoveries while clearing out the junk stashed in the unit. Like an almost full box of non-standard staples that will fit a stapler that had fallen into disuse; and all sorts of documentary evidence of my long-forgotten activities in the local art world, when I abandoned fandom in the 60s.
Found copies of EASEL, a journal I edited for the North West Federation of Art Societies, and catalogues of umpteen art shows where I'd had work on show. In between this and the Manchester jazz scene and my new job at the Guardian, it was no wonder I didn't have time for fandom for the next ten years or so!
There are files and notes here that I've not seen for decades. Must grit my teeth and not be distracted from the current programme of activities... But one day, will get round to sorting things. I hope. ■
Letter to Fran & Brian Varley, 30 August 1996
IN THE SEVENTIES...
Vin¢ will be happy to copy any Archive items you may want; he has a copier, provided with fannish support, so he should be able to fill any gaps in your Scottishe file... In his last letter he mentions that Derek Pickles is home after suffering a heart attack. Today [Friday] comes a brief note from Derek apologising that the get-together with Dave Cohen will have to be postponed...
And I've discovered an Ethel letter, dated 30 May 1994, in which she writes: "Somewhere in SCOT I have recounted the weekend he came to visit me in Glasgow but I dare not open the file to find this or you will never get this letter!"). Would dearly love to go on seeing DAGON, and must confess that there have been so many items of interest (DiscWorld, comic strips etc) that I still have the copies you sent lurking in my archive!
The remaining issues of ZIMRI will be included with this. One of these issues won Lisa a Nova Award, either 6 or 7 I think. Am baffled that they seem to have passed uncommented on by Ethel, just as I can't understand her lapses of memory about meeting me at the Bristol con in '73 and the Manchester con in '70. (I see I mentioned this in a letter in '92 but got no response!). So it goes...
Manchester fandom at the time was dominated by Savoy Booksthere was a running fight between Dave Britton (Moorcock admirer) and God, the Chief Constabule of Manchester, who was determined to stamp out Dave's pornographical (alleged) publishing activities... I knew Dave, Mike Butterworth, Paul Skelton, Chuck Partington, Kevin Smith, Pete Presford, Brian Robinson and others mainly thru contacts with Lisa.
Steve was a regular visitor to Dave's bookshop and perhaps was more involved with them than I ever was. My fannish links were largely with the contemporary fanzine-publishing community and surviving old-timers. ■
Letter to Fran & Brian Varley, September 1996
As to your queries, the first issue of Astroneer was a hektographed nightmare produced in 1952 by Paul Sowerby, which is the one referred to in Pete Roberts' listing. I was asked to help out with the second issue, Summer 1953, in which both The Unicorn and 25thC Love Song appeared. I did some work on a third issue, and printed a cover, but it was abandoned when the Supermancon left the Nor-West Science Fantasy Club in disarray! The pome The Village STFan appeared in the lone postwar issue of Zenith in June 1953, and was a reprint from Fanfare, (Dec 1943) the US fanzine. Copy enclosed.
While rooting round the files I came across a few FUTURIAN/FIDO items: have you seen Harold Gottliffe's pome "Astronautics" (Sep '38) or his "The Unknown Sea" (March 41)? And the FIDO Litter had a Needham epic "The Internal Combustion Motor" (in Don Doughty's TIN TACKS), and a poem by Dennis Tucker, "Saga of Earth". Have you got Marion's "The Atlanteans" (May 41)?
[Afterthoughts department: I suspect that the rumty-tum Clarke verse I mentioned must have been an early version of his Twilight]. ■
Letter to Steve Sneyd, 12th November 1997
Well, it started off as The Fantast and in the last issue Doug Webster wrote: "We were with the editor of The Fantast when he first read the news" [see BOYCOTT FANTAST! in Chronological Notes #2]. So I guess, officially that's what it is/was... I notice that I omitted the "THE" from the title on the run of covers I did, from the Oct-Nov 1939 issue (Vol.1 No.7) on... whether that was a design liberty, or on instructions from the ed, I can't recall at this late date. It became general usage to refer to the mag as "Fantast" or "Fay", so you takes your choice! I have stuck to The Fantast in the text.
You seem to have the editor-run correctly aligned. Sam edited the first eight issues. During 1940 he wavered somewhat as he seemed to expect a rapid transfer into the armed forces (call-up was usually a month after registration at that time). I cut a stencil of a cover for an intended February issue (Vol.1 No.8) but Sam dithered over publication and it didn't appear until May, when the design was used with a typed-over date amendment and dubbed "Vol.2 No.1". John Burke was having difficulties continuing his Satellite, in the period following the lapse of SFA support, so Sam joined forces with him, and their combined editorial resources produced Fantast 9 (Vol.2 No.2) in March 1941, with Doug Webster helping out typing stencils, and John handling production and distribution.
Sam was still a "free" man at the beginning of August 1941, when he stayed for a week or so with the Burkes in Liverpool, and I joined them for the weekend. But Sam abandoned Fantast after that: Doug Webster took over available material and produced the next issue (Aug/41 Vol.2 No.3) on his own from Aberdeen. His father ran an office equipment business, which was fortuitous; Doug got past a tribunal as a conscientious objector, [though I never found out for what reason], and was "working on the land".
Whatever his job, he seemed to have lots of time off for fanac, including hitch-hiking on trips round northern fandom, and, with ready access to duplicating facilities, was able to take a lot of the production load off Mike Rosenblumalso a C.O. and doing farm workin getting out FIDO so regularly). Both Sam and John were dragged into the forces during autumn of that year, and Doug continued solo with Fantast until No.14, dated August 1942. By which time, the RAF had also whisked me away...
We all still kept in touch, somewhat sporadically. During 1942 and 1943, however, it was largely Mike and Doug's publishing activities that kept the flame of fandom flickering. ■
Letter to Steve Sneyd, 15th November 1997
Dear Steve: You really have got me rooting round one way and another... but first let me mention various enclosures; like the Gottliffe "The Unknown Sea" cover, the ESN epic of "The Internal Combustion Motor", Marion's "The Atlanteans", and another unmentioned Morton item from Zenith. You'll also find an updated draft of text, in booklet form, and also as loose pages (which I thought might help you manipulate things a little more conveniently), together with your copy returned for checking.
Phew! Meanwhile I am having problems trying to sort out why that third Zenith, obviously produced for the FIDO Litter in July 1941, didn't appear until several years later! The issue appears to have started as a cover, the Dennis Tucker poem "Saga of Earth" with page illustration, and a drawing for a Poe quote (all dated "'41"). The cover finished up in FIDO 26 (Feb '43) and the rest in FIDO 21 (July '42)...
So far as I recall, I supplied Mike with stencils for the first two Litter-Zeniths and suspect that I was not too happy with the repro. So I duplicated No.3 myself and while so engaged got the urge to pub an ish of my own, and probably held back sending the sheets to Mike in the circumstances... then when I got my call-up papers in '42, and had to give up Zenith anyway, I probably passed them on with other odds and ends of usable paper for Mike to use in FIDO. Which seems a reasonable explanation for the messy entry in Pete Roberts' bibliog: the best I can think of at the moment, anyway!
All of which makes me realise that I must have been (mistakenly) thinking of the Tucker poem when I invoked the name of Don Doughty, as reported in your original article. Does that merit another footnote? Sorry! Was amused to realise that "Roy/Rory" Faulkner mentioned in your article was actually the same Rory Faulkner who was appointed as Lonely Hearts counsellor of Now&Then (the Ancient Matriarch Of Remote California, no less). She visited Romiley in person, (a very spritely pensioner), to claim her membership of the RFV&SDS, while over here for the con following the SuperMancon.
Wow... hope I remember to put everything in the envelope this time... there seem a helluva lot of papers and files spread around the keyboard; just hope they get back in the right files. (Ever thought of hiring a secretary?). ■
Letter to Steve Sneyd, 19th November 1997
With a change of font and esoteric changes to point size, word & letter spacing, have succeeded in coaxing Steve's latest booklet into a convenient 24-page format. Almost ready for the printer now: just await the final OK from the Master... Meanwhile he has passed on a book of Sir Arthur'sAstounding Dayswhich is a rambling mixture of autobiography and comments on early pulp sf he came across, memory apparently being helped by access to Mike Ashley's The Complete Index to Astounding/Analog and microfiches of the complete run of magazines! Wow. It all refreshed fading memories of those early days...
Still, it was worth the read, rousing quite a few pleasant memories of fandom's early days... My conscience was stirred, but I lack the energy to finish off any of my many unfinished memoirs! (Indeed, I get occasional days when I lack the energy, period. Think it must be the continuing wintry chills getting at me!). ■
Letter to Brian Varley, April 1999
Currently got my nose stuck into an account of the work of Edwin Hubble: revives quite a few memories of my early years in fandom, a time when the question of the expansion of the universe was still a matter of hot debate, and the red shift was thought to indicate that the speed of light could be slowing down...
According to Novae Terrae, the SFA bulletin, I gave talks on the subject of the red shift on several visits to Leeds HQ; and even had an article published in the journal of the Junior Astronomical Association, edited by one Marion F. Eadie.
Wow, heady days! ■
Letter to Brian Varley, July 1999
Just had a note from Don West telling me that Mal Ashworth collapsed and died last Saturday. He's had heart problems and been in and out of hospital for some years. We've always kept in touch, then Mal slowed down on the correspondence and it became a standing joke between us that his typewriter was lost under junk, but he would write a long letter when he managed to unearth ithe always sent a Christmas card with a handwritten update on events filling all the spare space.
We exchanged cards last year, but with my own medical preoccupations this year I never got round to my usual follow-up letter. Fortunately when trying to restore some order to the chaos a few weeks back, I came across Mal's last card and realised I still owed him a response: so I put that right forthwith.
Had a card in return from Hazel & Mal during October, when they were spending a week in Somerset with Hazel's sister, and Mal mentioned that he'd finally fished out his hardly-used electronic typewriter the other day "and a proper reply is in the pipe-line".
Alas, I won't get that now... but I'm glad we made that last fleeting contact. ■
O&S 268 to Carol & Brian Varley, 30 November 2002
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