Contrivance Memories

Ah, Contrivance, I well remember that fun-drenched time. Everyone who was anyone was there. The things H.G. Wells got up to amongst costumed female fans cannot be repeated for fear of libel suits, but how we all laughed when good old H.P. Lovecraft ate the Hotel de France out of ice-cream. As Jules Verne quipped to me while furtively spiking Cliff Simak's mint julep with absinthe, "Merde!"

What else? Cyrano de Bergerac didn't appear much on the programme, having spent his time sightseeing around the locations of the TV series they'd named after him. James Blish held everyone fascinated for an hour with his plan to adapt Finnegans Wake into a Star Trek movie. "It must have been brilliant," Doc Smith said afterwards, "I couldn't understand a word." Then the whole Fan Room party went roaring upstairs: Bob Heinlein had gone to bed early and we chorused "Spung! Spung! Spung!" outside his room until in his crusty but lovable way he started blowing holes through the door with a Lee Enfield rifle – how we all laughed.

It was Phil Dick who late one night passed me a very strange cigarette and said, "But you're not here."

"Neither are you," was my shrewd repartee.

Borrowing John W. Campbell's future-scanner apparatus, we checked on the forthcoming issue of the fanzine Conrunner and found a letter bemoaning the absence of many other named authors.

"It hasn't occurred to some of these fans," said John Wyndham, "that most full-time British SF authors except me and Pratchett are pretty bloody broke and rarely travel far to cons, while the only snag about this totally wonderful and deservedly praised Jersey venue is that it discourages the cheapskates who usually share a car or pop in for just one night."

"It'll all be the same in a million years," slurred Olaf Stapledon, who was pissed.

We went on and had a great if low-budget time, and hope you did too; but if any more crummy little fan politicians mention the word "boycott" we are going to scream, do you hear me, scream.

Meanwhile, I wish I had space to tell you the one about how Mary Shelley tried connecting a nine-volt battery to this very tall and very drunk member of the Technical Ops crew, who lurched appallingly erect and gazed at her with watery, speculative eyes. Or how George Orwell booked into Room 101 and found it did indeed contain the worst thing in the world, being the manager of the Brighton Metropole Hotel....

Next time I hope to arrange matters so that my anecdotes will be more reliable (though not much). See you there.