by Cath Gardner

First published in Siddhartha 4, edited by Ian Williams

(Editorial interuptions by by Ian Williams ((in double brackets)).

Once Ian had given up asking me to come to Tynecon, I decided I would. All I had to do was catch a train from Sunderland to Newcastle, a mere twelve miles, but me being my confused 'morning after' type self been out boozing with a friend)), nearly got on a train to Middlesborough, which might have been better for everyone.

It was as I got off the train that I began to have second thoughts, well, wouldn't you if you saw (with great difficulty) a rather small, distraught looking figure trying hard to smile whilst pushing in vain through crowds of what he calls giants.

We entered the hotel via a back entrance, which at once aroused my suspicions. Was he, I thought, trying to hide me, an insignificant, ignorant non-fan in his hotel room in case the weekend became boring? ((No, absolutely no, comment)) Had this been his motive, I can guarantee I would have played snakes and ladders alone all weekend, which Thom Penman probably thinks is hip anyway.

The first person I met at Tynecon was the one and only Mary Legg, who really put me at ease, took me under her wing and introduced me to to many interesting people. Unfortunately, Mary left on the Saturday night so I didn't get the chance to say goodbye and thanks.

((Ah Mary. It was great to see her again for the first time in nearly two years. She did exactly the same thing for me when I first went to the Globe in January 1970 when I was just getting into fandom. And here she was doing the same for my girlfriend whilst I was running around along with the rest of the committee.))

The rest of the first morning was spent on the registration desk, which proved to be more interesting than it sounds as everyone pass there sometime and, by Mary's directions I was able to pick out the famous and the infamous. John Brunner was one of the first famous or whatever. (Ian says the latter.) ((Lies! All lies! Honest, John.))

Hovering nearby in a crowd of fans, he was easily recognisable being the only guy there in a crimson velvet suit. That may be startling enough but when he appeared at the banquet in a silvery sequinned jacket he reminded me of a fannish Liberace minus candelabra, or a younger Gary Glitter. I'm still recovering from the eyestrain. Lunchtime came round all too soon making me realise I was hungry enjoying myself, which Ian found incredible, he now has ideas I may be a potential fan. Good God, what have I let myself in for?

We went to a Chinese for lunch and ended up with Ian Maule {sauteed with breadcrumbs). We sat with him as there weren't any other seats and had quite a good time. Ian and I found oursalves wanting to get back, and after he tried to sidetrack me into thouands of jewellers shops, we arrived back at the hotel. ((And if you believe that, you'll believe anything, Thom Penman.)) This was just in time for me to be introduced to Brian Aldiss, who is even nicer than heappears on the back of books ((yeuchh!)), again this meeting was due Mary Legg to whom I shall be eternally grateful (but why did she have to introduce me as Ian's girlfriend?)

The rest of the afternoon was spent (much to Ian's anger) in mooning over a copy of Cinefantastique which contained the lifestory of the man I love best next to Rob Jackson, Bob Shaw, ((Ian Williams?)) CHRISTOPHER LEE.... ((She does go on a bit more after this, but I'm going to spare you the paragraph. You're lucky, I have to put up with it all the time.))

During the weekend I didn't see all that much of the committee ((not really surprising, as we seemed to spend a lot of the time looking for each other)) except for Ian and I could have done without that. Rob, as usual, looked rather like a bemused, bumbling, bewildered, befuddled budgie, in the process of moulting, whilst he fluttered from one floor to another in search of various obscure people who I'm sure were just figments of his overworked brain. Ian Maule really rose to the occasion. Every time I caught sight of him he was ordering everyone around like he thought he was God. Ian W. has since informed me he does. By the end of the day he was shattered and could only muster a grin and a wink which definitely suggested something was wrong especially when these were directed at Harry Bell.

Irene Bell, lovely wife of the even lovlier Harry ((Twisted)), was helping to man the registration desk, which I'm sure was less taxing than trying to keep score for the so-called quiz on the Sunday, however, I shall not go into details at this point. Suffice to say, afterwards she told Ian not to get so ratty as she can get a whole lot rattier. ((Oh no she can't!))(((Oh yes I can --I.B.))).I wondered if this had anything to do with Ratfandom.

Speaking of Ratfandom, they were certainly there in force. I was able to recognise Greg Pickersgill complete with red and black scarf, which, I'm sure, arrived attached to him as an umbilical cord. Actually, I'd always imagined him to be a lot taller, but looking undergrown, underage, and overfed. Instead he would have made and ideal twin brother for the Gannet Goblin.

The afternoon merged into evening and soon I had to leave on the train back to Sunderland, unfortunately this didn't give me time to see the fancy dress which was disappointing as Ian said it was very good especially when someone in a devil's mask asked to be introduced as John Brunner.

((What was even funnier was that I had to do the introducing. I stood at entrance to the hall and had to bawl my head off to be heard as I didn't have a microphone. Some people called themselves by the weirdest of names. I could have sworn one scantily clad young lady asked me to announce her as a 'Urinal from Micturition'. Once they'd all gone in I couldn't get down to the bar fast enough.))

Easter Sunday dawned with sunshine and blue sky everywhere including Newcastle. I didn't have to catch a train as Ian Penman was giving me a lift. We met about 2.15 and spent the journey talking (so Ian W. thinks) about his adventures in the Boy Scouts which would no doubt amaze all his friends and make him the laughing stack of the Gannets. ((Not with me it wouldn't. I used to be in the Scouts and would believe anything of that organisation.))

We arrived at the hotel just after 2.30 and could find no trace of Ian (Williams)((who else, I might ask?)) probably due to the fact that someone had mistaken him for a plastic gnome and had used him as a doorstop. When we finally found him he was both dishevelled and flustered and looked as if he'd been stood on. We drew our own conclusions that he'd had a busy morning, nevertheless the human dynamo continued to race on, reducing his height by another two inches (if that's possible). When I got sick of following him I went and talked to Jim Marshall and Judith Ahl on the registration desk.

Later in the afternoon was the, for want of a better word, 'quiz' badly chaired by the plastic gnome I spoke of earlier. What with mixing his bonuses up with his starters ((lies)) it's a wonder poor Irene managed to keep score. It really was very confusing indeed. The reason everything got rather mixed up was that the Banquet was to follow soon afterwards and everyone had to get dressed (no, I don't mean it was a streaker's quiz, though fandom's first streaker was spotted somewhere during the weekend but I won`t go into that.) ((I will, later.)) Getting ready for the Banquet proved to be quite funny as with Ian W. in the bathroom and me in next to nothing, what could be done when Ian Maule came a-hammering on the door shouting 'Hurry up I want to get dressed and other obscenties.' Finally we were ready and went down to the Banquet. This was a great success, the food was nice although I don't know what happened to my chicken, my idea is that it was a yoga fanatic and the chop had come in the middle of a lotus position, rigor mortis had evidently set in, thus making it incredibly awkward to disentangle one leg from another. After many furtive attempts I gave up, decided to become a vegetarian and never practise yoga again.

All this took place during a very serious conversation with Mark Adlard on the demerits of moving Stephenson's Rocket away from the North East. The speeches followed and amazingly enough one didn't have to be an avid fan to appreciate some of the jokes. Bob Shaw did the most fantastic mickey take of Star Trek and showed up all the faults of Planet of the Apes, such as Charlton Heston not knowing the planet was Earth despite the apes speaking perfect English and a mist conveniently covering the sky at night thus making it impossible to see the moon.

The applause for the committee was well-deserved and there seemed to be tremendous emotional vibes coming fnm every corner of the room, it was extremely touching. ((Modest blush)) After the banquet, everyone went to the bar and as lan and I were in the process of going we encountered Thom 'Gosh that's hip' Penman with camera and I promise I won't tell anyone about the oddities he managed to catch. ((Actually, dollink, you seemed to think he was photographing us quite a bit.))

We finally got to the bar in time to hear John Brunner telling the barman that he finds it incredibly hard to stay up till three and four in the morning it cons any more. Y'know it's at times like that that I begin to worry as at sometime around one I was almost asleep on my feet. ((You should worry. As I remember it, it was only midnight and you`d been slowly going for the previous half hour.)) I left with Ian Penman and to tell the truth I don't really remember much more except that the high emotional pitch seemed last throughout the following days. I guess Ian might be right and that I am a potential fan.

-- Cath Gardner

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