Cloud Chamber 11
January 1982

CLOUD CHAMBER ELEVEN more for FLAP from Dave Langford, 22 Northumberland Ave, Reading, Berkshire., RG2 7PW, UK. This one dated 20 Jan 82.

Hello again, everyone. I'd relate the story of my life since the last ill-fated (ie. time-warped) CC, but I've just hammered out some occasionally truthful autobiography for FAPA. Well, if A. Hlavaty can do it then so shall I: a copy of my FAPA stuff (CC10) follows. Life has mostly been work with a brief pause for one (l) wedding and l (one) Christmas; the wedding, in early December, was that of nearby fannish friends and sots Martin Hoare and Katy McAulay, and. the event was most notable for heavy snow before, during and after the ceremony. The photographs show the just-married pair standing in a foot-deep drift with more and yet more snow streaking down like cosmic confetti: one regrets to admit that in later photos of the series, a purported best man can be seen thrusting snowballs with delicate dexterity into the bridegroom's ear. (I don't know what came over me, your honour.) As is usual at the first fall of a snowflake, the entire British transport system was paralysed and only about a dozen of thirty-odd guests could get to Reading that day; Martin failed to look as regretful as he might have, perhaps because of the effect this low attendance had on the (already lavish) allotment of champagne per head. With this and a slightly better-attended party the next day, recovery wasn't complete until Christmas, when the weather was worse than ever. Imagine the horror of it, being trapped in Reading with Hazel, Martin and Katy, our only resources being tons of food, hundreds of gallons of booze and a nearby pub serving the best beer in fifty miles. I don't know how we survived .... Onward, to drunken mumblings about FLAP mailing 13 (Dec 8l): –

One of my favourite silly purchases when I did visit the USA was an Olde Englysshe typeball, though it's damn difficult finding an opportunity to use it. But I don't mind your picking on the English, Roy. I don't understand them myself – I married one, yes, but I wouldn't want my sister to marry one since I haven't a sister. As a Welsh fan I can take an unbiased view (except of people who have the temerity to call me English, mutter, mutter, snarl).

SomeThymeOrOther/Stopa: Utterly avoiding the subject of your zine, Joni, I still have this burning question for you (1 think I've seen it raised elsewhere in FLAP but can't remember where). Last year you and Jon sent along a staggeringly huge TAFF donation raised at your 4th of July party, with the amount broken down to give the incomes from things called the Atari Troll and Pun Troll and Poker Troll: did you ever get my letter asking what on earth these things were? I used to think I knew what a troll was until then. All my imagination could come up with was this vision of fans hideously garbed as loathsome trolls, threatening their victims with fearful puns, pokers or video games until paid huge sums to go away. It wasn't like this in Tolkien, or Isaak Walton.

ViewFromUnderASixtyWattLamp/Loeke: So this is where I saw someone else baffled about Trolls. Isn't that wonderful – my second appearance in FLAP and already I'm insinuating (see above) that Co-Boss Locke writes rotten lousy unmemorable fanzines. Any more of this and people will be getting together in a friendly way to set me on fire and not piss on me, or piss on me but not set me on fire, or whatever the suggested endearment for Our Joseph was ....

TheHighAestheticLine23/Hulan: Ah, someone else who likes early Michael Innes while having misgivings about the later stuff (or at least only a 'mild liking' of the later books) – or so I interpret the comments on What Happened at Hazelwood. The first dozen Innes detective stories are by far the best of the forty-odd, I think, full of outrageous and bizarre ideas which were diluted to merely unlikelyones in Appleby's later life. Favourites include the 4th, 8th and 10th books (as well as Hazelwood, the 12th): Stop Press – issued in the USA as The Spider Strikes, probably a blow to sales – The Daffodil Affair and Appleby's End. All three are lunatic in the extreme; and Appleby's End, perhaps the funniest and silliest of them all, features Appleby's resolve to marry the eccentric Judith Raven (after certain discreditable adventures in a floating cab and subsequently a haystack) and to leave the police force. Marriage, it seems, was intended to be the Reichenbach Falls for Appleby. Like Holmes, though, he was brought back; and as they said of Holmes, he was never the same man afterwards. The books following Appleby's End are From London Far (with no official detective at all), Hazelwood (with the egregious Inspector Cadover), A Night of Errors (where, an ominous sign, a retired and now much older Appleby is asked to assist the police), The Journeying Boy (Cadover again), and A Private View – with Appleby back in Scotland Yard as Assistant Commissioner. Despite his later knighthood and even later retirement, Appleby features in most subsequent Innes books, most of them mildly likeable but no more. Beware, or I nay print a complete bibliography!

CautionRoadDifriculating/Helgesen: 'Inventing bizarre drinks was something of a popular pastime ...' Have you ever played Jacks, a game which evil Kevin Smith keeps suggesting in the small hours of conventions? The rules are simplicity itself. A small number of players sit round a table and a well-shuffled pack of cards dealt round, face up. When the first jack is dealt, there is a pause, and the person who got it must name a drink. The unwritten rules demands that this be fairly revolting: Guinness and Pernod is a popular choice. The deal continues, and the recipient of the second jack must 30 to the bar and buy the chosen drink. When ready, the concoction is duly admired ( 'Mark how the purple bubbles froth upon/The evil surface of its nether slime!' – Max Beerbohm, 'Savonarola Brown'), the deal continues, and the duty of the next jack-getter is to taste the drink. Finally ... you guessed it. He or she who gets the final jack must drink the drink, every last drop of it. After an understandable pause, the cards are reshuffled and the game resumes. Try it sometime.

Kenning/Causgrove: Oxfam America? If it's got any connexion with Oxfam over here, it certainly isn't a religious organization. Hazel wouldn't donate to it if it were religious, she having strong views in that area. Probably it's the best-known organized charity in Britain, and particularly quick off the mark in setting up emergency aid to places hit by disasters (famine, earthquake, epidemic, Thatcher, Reagan, and so on). Perhaps they cleaned up Boston after Noreascon?

MeaningfulRelationships/Bowers: I too find the business of apa-as-conversation difficult to sustain. A mailing arrives, is read with pleasure, and is filed: there's never time until later to write comments, and one has to work desperately through the mailing again in search of something to talk about. Well, that's all OK, that's just Langfordian sloth and the Human Condition. What really drives me up the wall is digging out ancient mailings again and again in frantic search of a context for stuff like 're your ct Joe, I agree with Ann's reaction to Fred's ct Esmeralda' – all right, all right, I exaggerate. But top applause goes to the wonderful folk who make a special effort to have their comments meaningful even alone – I've tried this myself, as best I can. / Hey, Bill, why is it that your short item seems one of the longest in the mailing? Is it ... because of ... your ... idiosyncrasies of ... punctuation: the ones which ... make ... the eye ... have to slow down ... every so often ... in deference ... to what appear to be ... pauses ... ? Do you ... speak ... like this too ... or does it only happen when ... you write ...?

That was Cloud Chamber 11, to be followed anachronously by Cloud Chamber 10 – >