Beyond the Mnemonic Statute of Limitations
1965 TAFF Report: Terry Carr

Published 1984 in Raffles 8 ed Larry Carmody & Stu Shiffman
Rekeyed by Jim Singleton

I take it that Stu and Larry were chiding me, in the lettercol, for not taking notes during my TAFFtrip and thus never writing my TAFF report. *sigh* It didn't seem so important at the time to take notes, since I assumed I'd be able to remember everything with utmost clarity anyhow -- I remembered that I'd written my 20,000-word con-report on the 1958 worldcon, 'I Heard the Beat of Fannish Drums', three months later with nary a single note, and that was complete with lots of pretty much verbatim conversations. I used to have a remarkable memory for such things, and still have sometimes -- but for some reason it wasn't operating during the 1965 worldcon where I was TAFF delegate. Actually, maybe it was, but the mnemonic statute of limitations ran out while I was busy with pro work during the several months afterward, so that by the time I had a change to consider writing about the trip and con I found my memories pretty blank. Horrorshock!

Just for you, I'll tell you now everything I remember about that TAFFtrip, so you'll see what you didn't miss. Carol and I began it by flying to Paris, where we rendezvoused with Ron Ellik, AL Lewis, Boyd Raeburn, and Lois Lavender, who'd been touring France for a couple of weeks already; we spent several days touristing around Paris with them, visiting the Louvre and so forth. One night we visited a three-star restaurant and I had my first taste of meurseault, a white wine that I loved even though I still can't spell it. Afterward, we repaired to Carol's and my room to drink a bottle that Ron had bought earlier, but when he tried to open it using a device that pops out the cork by injecting gas beneath it, the whole bottle broke and we had to end the evening early. In the next couple of days we touristed with Boyd alone, the others having gone before us to London, and mainly I remember waiting on a chilly afternoon while Boyd photographed some statues in The Tuileries; Boyd took a lot of time getting his light-readings and such right and I, shivering, swore a mighty oath ('By Ghu!') that his pictures had better be worth it. (They were; Boyd sent them to us later and they're now in one of our photo albums.)

Thence we went to London by train, passing through many fields of French produce, mostly grapes, though I was pleased when we stopped at Amiens, where Jules Verne's tomb is, according to what I've read in ancient Gernsback magazines. We didn't have time to get out and look, though; we continued to the French coast and took a boat to the white cliffs of Dover, which really are, and thence went by train to London, where Carol and I stayed with Arthur and Olive Thomson for a day or two and Arthur showed us around London; we went on a trip on the Thames, for instance, and I remember Arthur's marvelous impression of a cockney's directions around London: 'You take the Firty-free bus,' etc. That night there was a small party at Ethel Lindsay's place where Ron Ellik said many hilarious things non of which I remember, and Arthur did the same with ditto memory results, and we heard lots of gossip about then current London fan politics, all of which I forgot almost immediately. It was hilarious, though, I assure you.

The night before the con we went pub-crawling with Arthur and Olive, eventually running into several fan types (by plan, I think) in one of them. I remember standing foot on rail when Mike Moorcock introduced himself and insisted on buying me a pint even though he was in his scuffling days then, We talked about the time a few years before when he was scripting the British Tarzan comic book or some such and Tuckerized Dave Rike as one of the characters; Mike also mumbled and muttered, in that way he had even then, about London fan and pro factions -- the New Wave was just getting started in 1965 -- and I never did get straight just who hated whom or why, except that everyone seemed to hate Charles Platt. Plus ca change ...

Next day, Carol and I moved to the con hotel and got caught up in the hurlyburly of an international worldcon, meeting old friends from the States and new ones from England, and things went fast and furiously thereafter; it's all a blur in my memory and I think it was even at the time. As a recent TAFF winner wrote to me, it's a 'pain in the ass, remembering the names of all these foreigners,' and that difficulty must certainly be one reason many TAFF reports were never completed or often even begun.

I do remember that Carol and I hosted a big party in our room one night, assisted by Pete Graham, whose room was one floor beneath ours, just down a flight of stairs nearby; we made several trips back and forth bringing booze and ice, and the party was a rouser. I have no idea who was there or what was said by anyone. Another night, we were invited to a party outside the hotel at someone's flat, given by Charles Platt and friends (Langdon Jones, etc., I think); we didn't want to take sides in the London factionalism, so Carol and Pete and I went. The attendees were all scruffy and dourly jocular, and Charles was -- dare I say it? -- both charming and thoughtful to us. But we hardly knew anyone there (the attendees probably included Chris Priest, but I didn't know who he was at the time), so we mostly talked among ourselves or with the one or two others we knew. At some point during the party Pete behaved outrageously, as was his wont in those days, baiting and putting on various people (he probably claimed he was Robert A. Heinlein), and an altercation nearly developed; Carol and I took Pete away, all of us giggling senselessly.

Next morning at the con there was a panel scheduled for 9:00 AM that included Bob Silverberg; despite a great effort on my part, I missed all but the last ten minutes of it. Afterward I asked Bob how he managed to be coherent at that time of morning at a worldcon and he just said, 'It's not as hard as you imagine -- remember that all of the audience is just as sleepy as you are.'

And there was the night I walked the long halls of the con hotel in search of Mal Ashworth, who was reputed to be among the hordes at the con; Arthur or Mike or somebody led me on this fruitless quest. Mal was not there; he'd gone quite gafia at the time. But we stalked the halls for hours, drunkenly, and became more so as we visited party after party. I remember the halls at that con hotel as being about two blocks long, like some scene from Last Year at Marienbad -- I think the hotel had been enlarged by combining with another and knocking out the walls between them. Late at night and under worldcon conditions, those halls were like some surreal slice of cinematic life, endless and filled with enigmatic happenings. Can you wonder that I don't remember the details of the nights?

I remember even less of the days, which were filled with the panels and speeches that clutter my memories of thirty years of worldcons. I attended many of them and probably was on one or two myself, but memory says nought. I do remember inviting every former TAFF delegate at the con to a summit meeting at which we discussed TAFF policy and especially the next TAFF election; it was at that meeting that I proposed 'Hold Over Funds' as a choice on all ballots (thereby anticipating No Award by several years), and most people agreed to it. At that time, even as now, some people were worried that there might not be a qualified TAFF candidate to be found; but though the 'Hold Over Funds' option has appeared on every TAFF ballot since then we've never yet failed to find a candidate to elect. Someone took a photo of the attendees at this meeting and I still have a print of it: it shows all of us, with spouses, crammed onto one bed (no, no, it wasn't that kind of party!): Ron Bennett, Ethel Lindsay, Wally Weber, Ken and Pamela Bulmer, Arthur and Olive Thomson, Carol and me, Walt Willis, and all the other TAFF winners up to that time except Don Ford, who wasn't there. I suppose it's a Historic photo; I'd planned to put it on the cover of my TAFF report, but of course I never wrote that.

At the Hugo banquet later that day, I sat next to Brian Aldiss up front: he was the Pro GoH and I was Fan GoH. I was terrified by the prospect of having to make a speech, however short: I'd never done that before at a con. I barely touched my food, whatever it was, and Brian was wonderful in the way he chatted with me to calm me down. Forry Ackerman, the toastmaster, stood up and said, 'I'm delighted to have Brian Aldiss here as Guest of Honor, but I wish the late E.E. Evans could be here with him ... so I could say that we had Aldiss and Evans too.' The attendees groaned, even as I did, but for different reasons: I was thinking that that lousy pun was probably better than anything I had to say. Forry introduced Brian, who gave a polished speech none of which I remember (I was too busy trying to keep from throwing up from nervousness), and then Forry introduced me.

I have no idea what words of praise Forry used; I was too twitchy by then even to listen to egoboo, and could only sit there wishing Forry would make endless puns till the whole audience went away. But he didn't, and I had to get up and make my speech. I'd written it out beforehand, and even practiced it once or twice, but I was still terrified. When I began talking the microphone failed and somebody had to fix it; I prayed that it would dissolve and we could all go home, but that didn't happen, and there I was before the whole convention audience who waited for me to speak.

Astonishingly, I managed. I even ad-libbed an opening -- something that insulted Dave Kyle's bid for next year's worldcon in Buffalo, New York and got several laughs; I think I said, 'Next year we'll be in Cleveland unless we get lost and go to Buffalo' -- and then I went into my prepared speech. I delivered it almost word-for-word from my text, and since I've managed to save my script to this day, I can reproduce my TAFF speech here:

'One of the most accepted manners of beginning a talk as a banquet seems to be to open with An Anecdote, or A Quotation, which should either be about or by a famous person, and which should preferably be funny. If it isn't, no matter -- the only function of this opener is to catch the attention of the members of the audience, who have until this point been having a good time listening to the talented speaker before you or, more enjoyable still, talking among themselves, which is what people come to speech-sessions for anyway. (That's what I came for, at any rate, and I was having a fine time until I had to interrupt myself by coming up here and booming over the microphone like a mathematics lecturer with a cold who'd misplaced his decibels.)

'Well, I'd love to start off with An Anecdote or A Quotation involving a famous person, but the trouble is that whenever I try something like that I either get the story wrong or I misquote the famous person or I forget who the story was about or the quotation by in the first place. It happened to me earlier this afternoon, as a matter of fact, when I was telling a story and I came to the punchline and it just flew away from me, completely forgotten. It's a rather dread disease which I call aphasiastic flu.

'There is one quotation I suppose I could give you accurately, however. The story goes that Louella Parsons once waxed lyrical in on of her columns, and wrote, "Oh to be in England, now that it's May." I can quote this line because of course it's a misquotation in itself, so I'm in tune with it.

'Oh to be in England, now that it's May ... or even August, the time of the world convention. Worldcons are a marvelous institution, combining as they do the most prominent features of a circus, a Roman orgy, a meeting of the National Society for Antiquarian Beekeepers (keepers of antiquarian bees, I suppose), a debate in the House of Lords, and dinner in an automat.

'Over the years they've developed a number of traditional features: the costume ball, for instance, and of course the banquet and the talk on What's Wrong with Science Fiction This Year (it's Ted White this year -- I mean he's the one who's giving the talk); and the Introduction of Notables, a sort of name-dropping session in reverse -- in this case the Names are asked to rise, and some of them, depending on what they were doing the night before, are even able to; the Ceremony of and ancient and mystical order of the Knights of St. Fantony (Not a Religious Organization); and, of course, the Business Session, where fans from all over the world gather to discuss in democratic fashion the matter of who can raise the greatest number of points-of-order.

'Oh to be in England, now that it's worldcon time ...

'And you see the most mad assortment of people at world conventions: the hurried, harried committeemen, constantly looking at their watches as though they were rushing off to a meeting with the Red Queen; the sharp-nosed editors, sniffing for new talent, and the vodka-gimlet-eyed authors in the bar; Old Guard fans sitting in corners and grumbling that science fiction hasn't been the same since G. Peyton Wertenbaker, or Polton Cross, or Kendell Foster Crossen, or Joan the Wad, depending on just how Old Guard they are; the newer fans -- the New Wave or Second Deluge or something like that -- violently agreeing with each other, like Ayn Rand acolytes discussing objectivism, full of sound and fury, simplifying everything; hucksters hawking, panelists talking, neofans gawking. And there are, somewhere around here no doubt, the inevitable Gentlemen from the Press, who want to find out where we think the flying saucers come from now that Mars has been ruled out; writers, editors and fans who have been nominated for Hugos and who wish to God I'd get this talk over with so we could get on to the presentations -- some of these nominees, in fact, may have made the trip to the convention only because they are on the ballot: tough most of the attendees have interests that are more catholic, these nominees might be called Hugonauts.

'And, I'm afraid, we have among us the inevitable TAFF representative, who in this case is me.

'Most of you know that TAFF is the Transatlantic Fan Fund, a sort of science fictional cultural exchange program that sends fans across the ocean alternately to conventions in the United States and those in England. It's a system by which fans can get to know in person other fans widely separated from them geographically -- and, to some extent, culturally. Fans from this side of the Atlantic have made such discoveries in the United States as the fact that it's big over there; that there are several other kinds of Americans besides cowboys, Chicago gangsters and Dave Kyle; that science fiction fandom over there is bewilderingly varied but uniformly hospitable to visitors; and that despite all, it's good to see Britain when they come home again. Similarly, Stateside fans have discovered in England that places are so handily close around here -- I could get to Scotland in the time it's sometimes taken me to drive across Los Angeles -- that the British aren't all Beatles, butlers or Bennett; that fandom over there is bewilderingly varied but uniformly hospitable to visitors; and that despite all, it's good to see the United States when they get home.

'This year I'm the one who got the nod to make the TAFF trip. I've been having a wonderful time, and I want to thank each and every one of you.

'And speaking of TAFF elections, we're going to have another one in the next few months ...'

At which point I formally announced the opening of nominations for the next election, explained the new 'Hold Over Funds' option, and sat down. The speech had drawn some laughs in most of the right places, but I'd noticed that they all came from either the first few rows in front or the last few in back; I was told later that the PA system hadn't been working quite properly, so that only those near the rear speakers had gotten the benefit of the microphone, and, since I tend to speak softly, only those near the very front had heard my voice unaided by the speakers -- so even if you were there that afternoon, this may be the first time you've had to find out what I said.

Walt Willis, who'd been sitting near the back with Chuch Harris, had a somewhat different theory, as I discovered later when he showed me the notebook in which he'd been exchanging written comments with Chuch, who's deaf. Chuch had written, 'What's happening? Only a few people seem to be laughing,' and Walt had replied, 'Terry's making puns that are too sophisticated for them.' I wish Walt had been right.

Mentioning Chuch Harris reminds me of what happened when I first met him a day or two earlier. We were on an elevator, just getting off at some floor, and next to the elevator was an automatic shoeshine machine. Chuch said, 'Look -- an electric neofan!'

After the banquet, which was on the last day of the con, things began to wind down rapidly. Carol and I ended up the evening in Judy Merril's room where she held the dead-dog party at which occurred the conversation about Judy's forthcoming meeting with J.G. Ballard of which I wrote a letter in Raffles 7.5: Sid Coleman saying, 'The first line will be Ballard saying, "Fuck off. Call me Ishmael."' That party lasted throughout the night, and at dawn Willis said, 'I can see the rising sun coming through a chink in the curtains.' Forry said, 'Ah yes ... the Yellow Peril.' I marveled at Forry's quickness with a pun until I realized that Walt must have deliberately set him up for it. Walt's fondness for Forry, in part because of their mutual admiration for puns, had been demonstrated for me.

After the con, according to plan, Carol and I and Ted White went to Northern Ireland with Walt, where we stayed with him and Madeleine (who hadn't been at the con) for several days and were joined in due course by Pete Graham, who went by himself to Belfast and bicycled around a bit before he joined us at Walt and Madeleine's house in Donaghadee on the second day. We were all gathered on the Willis's front lawn (which Carol had dubbed The Gloating Sward because of its splendid view of the Irish Sea) when Pete rode up to us and Carol, who picks up accents quickly and subconsciously, said, 'Hi Pete!' he viewed her with jaundiced eye and said, 'Oh, come off it.'

Walt and Madeleine, the Shaws and the James Whites took us around the local sites of interest, including the hill Bob and Walt had in mind when they wrote The Enchanted Duplicator, a ruined castle or two (we have nostalgic photos of Walt and varied others among the tumbled stones), and a small forest part that was by U.S. standards, little more than a stand of trees. I remember hanging back with Ted and Peggy White while the others went on ahead; when we caught up with them we found Carol standing in the middle of a circle of the rest, all of whom looked puzzled. Knowing Carol, I said, 'Am I right in assuming that Carol has just told a joke?' They said this was so. 'Which one?' Carol told me, and I asked, 'Did she mention that the bishop was left-handed?' Immediately everybody got the joke, and there was much laughter. (Carol is great on punchlines, but sometimes forgets the details that lead up to them.)

Much more happened in North Ireland, including a tea with the Shaws at which Sadie Shaw had us in stitches, and riding in the back of James and Peggy's car while we all sang Gilbert & Sullivan songs (Peggy did this better than the rest of us; she was then appearing in an amateur production of one of the G&S operettas), and me taking the opportunity one afternoon to sit down at Walt's typewriter, in a room overlooking the wild Irish Sea (I suddenly understood one reason Walt hadn't managed to complete many fan-pieces lately) to write the first couple of pages of a Carl Brandon satire on Ballard's The Drowned World -- I never finished this, which in view of Walt's gafiation seemed appropriate. but eventually we had to leave and return to the States: Carol and I and Ted took the train to Dublin -- Pete had already left, having other plans -- and Ian McAulay met us in Dublin and gave us a quick tour by car around the city before depositing us at Shannon Airport at which we ignored the duty-free shops and boarded a plane for New York City. On the plane, while I was sitting with Ted, I ordered a martini, which caused Ted to accuse me of selling out to the establishment since I'd gone to work at Ace Books; he ordered a beer. I spent much of the flight trying to explain to him the virtues of having money enough to partake of sophisticated drinks, but he'd have none of it. ten years later, when Ted was editing Heavy Metal, he told me of his many perqs there, and I told him he had sold out.

But the truth, of course, is that despite times in both our lives when we had some extra money, both Ted and I have remained simple fans unsullied by big-money blandishments, twilltone-true forever. until we get a better offer, of course.

Carol and I returned to New York and took up our regular lives almost as if nothing like TAFF had happened to us. We seldom regaled our friends with tales of Paris, London, and Ireland. The next year, 1966, brought Tom Schlück to the U.S. as TAFF representative; he stayed with me and Carol in NYC and we introduced him to Americans at the Cleveland worldcon and fanhistory went onward as it always does. All this happened nearly twenty years ago, in a time few people remember and even those of us who took part in it find nearly mythic and recall it through a pint, stoutly.


Editorial Note: Larry Carmody

The preceding piece began life as a long letter and grew from there. As Terry wrote in a P.S., ' ... it's the only TAFF report of my trip that I'm ever likely to write,' so consider it as such. Now who's next? Elliot Shorter? Steve Stiles? Avedon Carol? Or even one of your co-editors, Stu Shiffman, who has already published a piece of his? We shall see. And, Elliot, we still have that stencil with the piece of art work to go with the installment of your TAFF report. Since that stencil was cut in 1978, we don't know just how well it will print ...