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By Ashley R. Pollard
Unbelievable, but true! Britain is still covered in snow! With weather like this, British people have plenty to talk about. I know, I know, compared to the snow in the American Rockies, what we get is nothing. When I hear complaints about the snow, I remind everyone of the Donner-Reed Party who died during the winter of 1846/47.
I’m good like that. It’s all part of my sunny disposition and ability to see the bright side of any bad situation. So, while villages have been cut-off, Britain is hardly the Wild West of the Great American frontier. No comparison at all. We haven’t eaten each other in many a winter.
So, no grumbling here. Or at least not much. It’s not like I’m in need of a St. Bernard to rescue me from an avalanche.
On a more serious note.
The sad news is that Sylvia Plath died, after she committed suicide. She was an American born poet who lived here in London, and the news was quite shocking.
In further shocking news, Kim Philby was revealed to be a member of the Cambridge Five. Shock, horror that this was a front for a Soviet spy-ring came to light when he escaped, via Beirut, to the Soviet Union. That’s meant to be sarcasm, for those readers who don’t know that Philby was forced to resign from MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, for being a suspected double agent.
Flabbergasted, I tell you. Who would’ve thought. That’s the trouble with us as a nation — were too nice.
Given that he was a top official in British intelligence the revelation that he was working for the Russians, has long been expected. But, it still caused ripples in the British establishment.
Quite honestly, given Britain’s reputation as spymasters par excellence—historically we were good at what is often called The Great Game—so this news makes us, as a nation, look rather inept.
One member of The Cambridge Five was also associated with a intellectual group called The Apostles. he questions being asked now are, where does it all end? So, Britain is now searching for any more Reds under the Bed, or as they’re known over here, Fellow Travellers.
Perhaps we should call them the Red Apostles? Are we living in some alternative reality, and if so, where’s James Bond when you need him? He has gadgets, and gadgets are good, right? What we need is some super science fictional spy detector. Perhaps, psionic’s or we could always bring back Dennis Wheatley. I’m thinking in the guise of his most famous character, the Duke de Richleau. He could uncover the spies through the his knowledge of the occult.
Sorry, that’s just my imagination running riot. It’s the cold numbing my brain, driving me mad. Mad, I say!
Back in the real world, just to take the biscuit, Charles de Gaulle, President of France’s Fifth Republic, vetoed Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community. Pah! I tell you, pah! I feel like our bright new future of tomorrow has been pulled out from beneath my feet.
No wonder I seek escape into the world of my imagination.
Anyway, moving away from the mundane mundanity into the glittering world of all that’s exciting. I am of course, talking about British fandom.
What fans are looking forward to, when hopefully the all the snow will be gone, is this years EasterCon. This will Britain’s fourteenth national science fiction convention. Something of an achievement, given that organizing fans is like herding cats, and therefore worth celebrating.
EasterCon is being held between Friday the 12th and Monday the 15th of April at the Bull Hotel in Peterborough. Unsurprisingly enough, it’s called BullCon. The committee consists of Ken Slater, Pauline Jackson, and Dave Barber.
The Guest of Honour will be Edmund Crispin. This is a pseudonym used by Robert Bruce Montgomery, who is known as an editor of SF anthologies, a composer, and author of crime novels. It’s all looking quite exciting.
So I promise that I will write a full ConRep, convention report, on BullCon for my April post.
Also, we—as in fans—are also looking forward to Ethel Lindsay’s TAFF report. For those who don’t know or remember, TAFF stands for the Trans Atlantic Fan Fund. She has promised her report will be out this April, by which time we hope all the snow will have gone.
There has been a flourish of fanac, fan activity, with new fanzines in the works from London fan Langdon Jones, who is working as I write this on Tensor 1. Probably because everyone has been trapped, snowed inside their homes, with little else to do.
Oh how we laugh at the weather.
And furthermore, I can announce the winners of the Skyrack fan poll for 1962, early. You heard it here first. Walt Willis gets Best British Fan Writer, ATom as Best British Fan Artist, and Ella Parker as Leading Fan Personality of the year. And, Skyrack by Ron Bennett was voted Best British fanzine.
Postscript to last month. After the recent death of Hugh Gaitskell, Harold Wilson MP has won the Labour Party leadership election. I mention this in passing, because the Conservatives have been in power since 1951, and the sense of imminent change is in the air. Recent opinion polls showed that Labour could win the next General Election, which has also caused shock waves in certain sections of society.
So, this is Ashley Pollard signing off from the depths of winter, in snow bound Britain. I’m going out now; I may be some time.
[P.S. If you registered for WorldCon this year, please consider nominating Galactic Journey for the “Best Fanzine” Hugo. Your ballot should have arrived by now…]