Harrison Country
1968 TAFF Report: Steve Stiles

Chapter 6

Published 1970 in Focal Point Vol 2 No 12.5 ed rich brown and Arnie Katz
Scanned by Paul Skelton; OCR and proofing by Bill Burns

Chapter 6

Well, it was a long few weeks ago, Wasn't it? Or was it? Actually, these time dissention effects are tricky and often subjective; the last few weeks haven't been long enough to tackle everything I should have done. Maybe the most urgent fanac I have accomplished amongst all the urgent and important doings has been my work with TAFF -- I wasn't loafing all the time! You regular readers of Focal Point & that sort of thing will remember that TAFF recently had an election and that Elliot Shorter won it. I've stencilled the Progress Report, and you should be reading it just about now. I'd also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Elliot, as well as gloat over my newly acquired Lame Duck TAFF Administrator status -- I'll never have to decipher another illegible scrawl on a ballot again (You know who you are; I didn't.)

Elliot will make a damnfine TAFF representative. Moreover, Elliot will make an efficient TAFF administrator -- a hell of a lot more efficient than...well, I guess this sounds modest on paper, but, gosh, Elliot will probably not stick everything he receives relating to TAFF into a paper bag at the bottom of the broom closet. Yes, fans, although the method has a lot to say for itself as far as simplicity is concerned, ultimately as book-keeping it is all very confusing.

As the Lame Duck TAFF Administrator, I just want to say that sometimes it is a good thing to get these things off your chest.

We can now calmly consider future confusions.

But, I digress, of course. I also *envy* Elliot for that first few days' glow that every TAFF winner must get. How to describe it? To place the feeling, we can say that TAFF is a great wish-granting mechanism. Like Christmas, to use a cliche. The thing about Christmas at nine years old is that the whole charisma holds true. Same for other national holidays & TAFF...

Same of you may remember, you regular readers of Focal Point, you, that Harrison Country is actually a trip report. In the last exciting episode of my adventures at Buxton's Eastercon,my report ended as Ella Parker, Bob Shaw, Ethel Lindsay, James White, Billy Pettit and I walked back to the convention hotel from the local Chinese restaurant. It was chilly and Billy mentioned it. Bob Shaw flashed him a gratified look.

"Oh that," said Bob, "that's just the cold that came in from the spa." And now back to our story:

"THIS IS YOUR FAN LIFE" went on at eight. It was quite a production as it developed, and Eric Bentcliffe was the mc, obviously enjoying the festivities. I remembered how Eric and I had set up a rickety ladder below Eric's attic trapdoor a few days earlier, and how hard we had worked to bring down each dusty stack of fabulous fanzines, the like of which few fans see today. Things like 1938 Michelist pamphlets written by Wollheim, The Devil's Motorboat of Falasca Fandom fame, and Cry of The Nameless from the days of L. Garcone. Actually, Eric did most of the work, while I curled up in a corner with a few stacks. Now, a few days later, there had been an auction, and, as I learned, few of those fanzines had been sold at all. It unnerved me (ah, fickle fandom, things that were are!), but Eric was in a fine fettle.

I don't have to tell you what famed old tv program this bit was modelled on, but it ran true to the format in a good-natured and studied corny way. Harry asked Ella Parker to come up on the stage, and just after that happened, there was a blast of stirring music, and a startled Harry Nadler, the real subject of the "program" was hustled to the front.

"Harry," Eric announced, "you were born during the World War Two period, in 1941. It is therefore difficult to trace your beginnings..." However, it turned out that Tom Schluck had found a recording in Transylvania. The recording was turned on; "Blood, blood, blood, Glorious blood..." sang a demon chorus, which was actually Liverpool fandom in action. It developed that Count Dracula and Baron Frankenstein had injected a fluid into British drinking water to produce monster lovers; the result: Harry Nadler, naturally.

Like I've said, the proportion of film freaks in the UK are higher than in US fandom, with our few fringers like bhob Stewart and John Benson. I had thought that productions like "The Musquite Kid" were all done with, in fact, until I heard that Barry Gold was beaten up with a 7-Up bottle (particularly fannish touch) while recently filming a THRUSH training film in LA. Films were Harry's game, too, and we saw funny clips from The Attack of the Chopped Liver People, Breathworld, and its sequel Halitosis Planet. Quite a few of the clips featured Harry frantically running from an unseen pursuer, going over hill and dale, finally reaching some sort of shelter only to get suddenly doused with a bucket of water; the Laugh-In "Sock-It-To-Me" Routine, only Harry did it first.

Further honors included a filmed speech from the President of the Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Monsters, a clip of Transylvanian peasants dancing in honor of Harry, and lastly, as a special toast, the entire room stood up, locked arms, and gently and solemnly sang "Harrison": "H-A-Double R-I-S-O-N spells Harrison"... It was a pretty dramatic moment, almost religious, and I was spell-bound. This Harrison fellow seemed like some combination of Bloch, Tucker, and Burbee to the British fen. Later, much later -- well, as I type this, I had the opportunity to check my copy of Fancyclopedia II, which had to say the following about Harrison: "The mainstay and chief support of the British Empire, though such people as Churchill, Montgomery, Cunningham, et al filled star supporting roles. Triode ran a lengthy series, Beloved Is Our Destiny, which revealed the part played by Harrison in a few of his less important deeds such as saving Asia, America, Europe, Africa and other areas of the world from menaces like the plague, revolution, nuclear warfare, usw. His more vital accomplishments cannot be discussed in a public document..."

How could I possibly do less than name this report Harrison Country?

The next item on Sunday evening's program was the presentation of the Doc Weir Award, handled by Archie and Beryl Mercer, for fannish services rendered. This year's winner was attractive Mary Reed, publisher of the popular Crab Apple, Mary was pretty surprised, and promptly burst into tears.

Voyage to the End of the Universe was a "thing" to watch. I emphasize "thing"; it might have won an award at an international film festival, bus it certainly was awful; something like an Analog engineer's story set to film. The only good thing about the movie was that it gave me the opportunity to meet Alex and Phyllis Eisenstein, who were out in the corridor during intermission, moaning and groaning about it. This dynamic duo became my travelling companions later on, as I dragged them all over London -- much to the distress of Phyllis' aching feet...

As long as I have FANCY II out and sitting on the very desk that James Blish typed Black Easter; on, I might as well use it to describe what St. Fanthony is in order to fill in the reader of Harrison Country in this issue of Focal Point. Incidentally, in the interests of accuracy, I might add that I'm not exactly sure that James Blish typed Black Easter; on this desk, or perhaps anything else, but the desk was in the Blish household when I purchased, in Mrs. Blish's den, come to think of it. At any rate, it certainly is a big desk. Which is why I can't find the rest of my notes on this chapter.

"KNIGHTS OF ST. FANTHONY: Invented by ((Dick Eney writes)) the Cheltenhamites (Eric Jones, Peter Mabey, and Bob Richardson) who maintain a Shrine of St. Fanthony and initiate the deserving into the order of his knights." Which was what was happening that evening. A line of fans stood at the front of the hall dressed in medieval jousting costumes. I recognized Norman Weedall under a black headsman's hood. Several Knights circulated through the crowd, eyeing various fen eyeing the Knights. Knighthood into the order was a fannish honor in great demand. People held their breaths -- suddenly there was a flurry of motion -- startled little cries -- and three people were bum-rushed up to the stage: Ken McIntyre, Beryl Mercer and Doreen Parker. After the first moment's surprise, they began to look pleased. Then Eric Bentcliffe explained that, as part of the ceremony, they would be required to drink the Waters of the Shrine of St. Fanthony; all 102% proof of it, 102% proof was perhaps a conservative estimate -- at any rate, it seemed that the smiles began to waver and take the aspects of bravado. Several fen stood behind Ken McIntyre, as if to catch a falling body.

As an added attraction, Ted Tubb and Brian Burgess engaged in a duel and proceeded to demolish about six wooden swords, and three wooden shields. I still have a piece of a wooden shield, which I planned to hang over the mantle with perhaps some crossed broken swords. Anyway, the piece of broken shield fascinated the customs inspector on the way back. Tubb and Burgess showed much enthusiasm and prowess. Somewhere during the welter of splinters, somebody passed me a note: "Mr. Steve Stiles -- if you would try VERGUZZ, come to room 118 at ten."

That was the party in the German Suite. When I got there, the place was packed with fans in every square inch of corridor and room. I had gotten past three bodies when somebody handed me a drink with the words, "Greetings mate -- Ramblin' Jake is me name, and drinking is me Fame; here, you look dry." Ramblin' Jake was actually, I think, Charlie Griggs, and was somewhat like a tall Mike McInerney in the vibes department. I never did get to meet his sister, Mumblin' Mary.

[2016 editor's note: Ramblin' Jake was in fact Jake Grigg. BB]

I found myself talking to Ken Bulmer and Ted Tubb both who had just seen 2001 and who were raving about it. I was a bit skeptical; up until then, the most "mature" and "adult" s.f. films had been on the level of, say, Destination Moon, or Forbidden Planet. Bulmer and Tubb sounded too enthusiastic. Little did I know...

We were talking about 2001 and Camp Concentration when Hans Werner-Heinrichs handed me a tumbler with a bit of green liquid at the bottom. My interest was up. "What is it?" I asked, and was given to understand that this green stuff was "VERGUZZ" and was, in fact, alcoholic in content as well as being the continental version of blog. I felt flattered by Hans' bestowing the stuff on me, and casually drained the glass in one swallow. Bulmer, Tubb, and Heinrichs were aghast and as for me, as soon as the burning sensation in my throat and stomach wore off, as soon as my eyes stopped watering, I strangely lost interest in writing things down in my little brown pad. Things went round and round. I guess it was a psychedelic experience. I suspect it probably leads to heroin.