CYTRICON 2 - 1956
TRIODE 9, January 1957 (edited by Eric Bentcliffe)
Four of us sat in a train compartment and the hot sun stifled in through the window. We sipped Creme de Menthe, brandy and evaporated milk out of half a chocolate Easter Egg to allay our thirst„ Ken Potter sprawled in one corner, glooming industriously as he brooded on his impending return to the noble life of a National Serviceman in the army, and, every once in a while, vocalizing his misery. "Ghod!", he would say, " I feel as though I've shot an albatross!"
That was Easter Monday and we were coming back from Kettering and the Convention it was one of the few things about the convention that I can remembere Now, in case you are the Worrying Type, I would like to trot out the bland assurance that you need have no fear - I do not intend to write a Con Report here ( or, for that matter, anywhere else). Having trotted out this bland assurance, I intend to follow it up in the best traditional manner and ignore it. That is what all the Best People do with bland assurances. (Personally, I prefer the treatment the Worst People give them, but unfortunately that's unprintable.) However, I do not intend to write a report of the 1956 Kettering Convention. I could not have written one the day after it finished, and I certainly could not do it now, so you may stop palpitating so. There was a time when I thought of trying to write an account of it, but that was mostly before it took place. How I felt about the task when I made notes - afterwards - of possible 'angles' from which to write it, can best be judged from the notes themselves:
" I lost a weekend. That's not good. But why should it be the weekend of the convention ? A very special-type weekend. Others, maybe, I could spare, but not that one. But I lost it all the same."
" Pathetically looking at con-programme to try and find some glimmer of reality? some memory-trigger. Something to convince myself that the convention really happened."
"A hazy, unreal bemusement. A shoal of faces, a sea of people and an ocean of puns."
That was how I felt immediately after the convention about trying to write about it. I had made notes,of course, of the sequence of events at Kettering. You can judge the immense help I got from these:
" When we came out I think we parted from Eric and Terry and the three of us went back to the Royal where Walt checked the register and discovered Lee and Larry in. Or did he? When did we find Jan and Ellis at the desk ? And when Vince and Joy? At the same time as Jan and Ellis? When any of them ?"
Yes, my notes were a great help.
I have now attended three major conventions and each one has faded faster than the one before, but this one was a lulu. It was fading even while it was happening. It's just about dogboned time that someone invented a durable type of convention - one that would stand up to a little wear and tear. Something guaranteed to last for at least three weeks or so. If conventions go on at this rate, next thing we know they are going to have faded even before we get there. After the Supermancon in ‘54 I wrote a report called MY FIRST REAL CONVENTION. Over breakfast at Kettering this year, Walt Willis, with whom I was sharing a room (for sleeping in, that is, not for breakfast) suggested that I write a report this time and title it MY FIRST UNREAL CONVENTION. The fact that even the lure of using such a beauty of a title couldn't induce me to do it shows something. I’m sure. Considering all these facts,then, I did the easiest and most logical thing and let it drift; I did not write a con-report, which was a very happy state of affairs.
Then however, over the months since convention time, I would keep remembering some extremely chucklesome incident, or re-reading some quote that struck me as a distillation of pure genius, and I would think that it would be a great shame if such things got moldered into musty archives and - to all intents and purposes - wasted. Eventually I came up with the conclusion that, even without a coherent account of the convention, these things should be put down somewhere. I considered the most humane possibility of putting them down, say, in a bus and forgetting to pick them up, but I decided against it. You have probably guessed by now where I finally decided to put them down. Have you ?
Prime examples of these Things, for instance, were two remarks of Pam Bulmer's - "We should go into my room and guggle to them through the sink" and " Sit down - you're rocking the bed" ( For the peace of mind of the bearded founder of the Bulmer Aqueous Vapour Company - just in case he didn't hear it - maybe I should mention that this remark was made in the middle of an all-night party and the 'you' in the sentence was a plural 'you' applying to roughly six hundred and seventy five people. Then there was Terry Jeeves struggling to break the all-time tea drinking record in one of the cafe's nearby, and breaking off to exclaim "Phew - I shall be glad when I've had enough.” Or Lee (Hoffman) Shaw asking Walt, "Walter, why didn't you speak to me when you first saw me ?" and Walt replying "you hadn't got a hamburger in your buttonhole." Or Larry Shaw explaining "INFINITY was late because of a genuine, honest-to-goodness shortage of paper" and Lee adding drily "Yeah - the green kind."
There were incidents too, which seemed as though they ought not to be allowed to fade into The Mists of Time - or whatever - without at least a little struggle. There was Ted Tubb Buying A Book At The Auction, for one. He didn't really intend to buy the book - he just bid for it himself (he was also doing the auctioning, of course) to push the price up a little and everyone sat stolidly like good fans and forced him to knock it down to himself. Ever after that there was Ted Tubb wandering around trying to sell a book with a mildly astonished look on his face. And there was a femme fan-type remark - " Ted Tubb doesn't speak to me unless I'm drinking", and a bit in the notes that Sheila made about the convention, which went: " We went to the con hall where Irene was searching for a glass to drink the revolting punch Ted Tubb was concocting and he proffered me a loving cup which I in turn proffered you (what would Laney say?) "
Then of course, there were top-level discussions on Steam, in all its various and invaluable aspects, and the best uses to which it might be put in modern society, with Ken Bulmer representing the Bulmer Aqueous Vapour Company (whose product is all right, of course, if you like that sort of thing, but completely colourless, you know), Lee Shaw for the Fort Mudge Steam Calliope Company, and myself on behalf of Ashworth Amorphous Abstracts Associated (Coloured Steam Division). The preliminary talks came to a gurgling conclusion with Lee saying that the Fort Mudge Steam Calliope Company was in the market for large quantities of corrugated , sheet steam, punched with holes down the sides.
It was at Kettering this year, too, that I became Probably The Only Fan Ever To Keep Ghod Waiting On The Doorstep. Like so; As I said,I was sharing a room with Walt, When Sheila and I arrived on the Friday Walt hadn't so we collected the keys of both our rooms (Sheila's was a single room next door to ours), dumped our luggage and ate a.sandwich tea sitting on the window-ledge in Sheila's room, looking down into the street below to watch for Walt arriving,. Someone - maybe cleaners, or porters, or rickshaw boys or diamond miners maybe - kept tramping up and down outside in the corridor, but we saw no sign of Walt arriving. After an hour or so we decided to go. out and see whom we could , and - what do you know ? - yes, of course you do, Walt had been walking up and down the corridor for about an hour, waiting for me to turn up with the key so that he could get into his room.
And there was the fan Who Lost Kathie Youden. We were sitting and discussing odds and ends in our room - several of us - and I had just tried to suggest an answer to Ken Bulmer's wonderings as to how he came to be the second most popular author in the NEBULA poll when he had had only one story published in NEBULA, by offering that maybe it was because he had had only one story published in NEBULA that he was the second most popular author, when, The Fan Who Lost Kathie Youden first appeared. He knocked on the door and asked if Kathie Youden was within. Walt told him no and he went away,. Half an hour later he came back,. Were we sure Kathie Youden wasn't in there? We looked around; sure we were sure she wasn't there. He went away again. Half an hour later there was a knock on the door. Well, had we maybe seen Kathie at all? No, we we're sorry, we hadn't seen her anyplace. Another half hour went by and another knock came at the door. Well - rather wearily by this time - did we perhaps have any idea where Kathie Youden might be? Again we were sorry but we didn't.. He went away and didn't come back that time, so perhaps he found KathieYouden after all, or, on the other hand he might have joined forces with Sir Galahad. Certainly Sir Galahad would have found things a lot easier ( the Holy Grail in particular) with that fan for company.
There was lots more to the convention than these little things, of course. There were some very excellent all-night parties; or - rather - there were some very excellent sounding all-night parties. Alas and alack-aday, however, - being in the Royal Hotel whilst the main body of the convention was in the George we saw comparitively little of these fine, fabulous, fannish affairs. We stopped by them once early in the evening and once they actually penetrated up to the Royal but the couteous and tolerant manager there threw them out with some remark about not wanting any bloody circus in his hotel. We did the next best thing and sat around in the lounge of the Royal - a fairish sized band of us - having a minor party on our own. It was only about one o’clock but the fact that anyone should actually still be awake at that hour obviously horrified the manager. He popped his head around the door, looked around the assembled fans (who were being hellishly decorous for fans - mere sitting and talking, they were), 'Teh Tched' and went away again. All in all we found the Royal to be strongly recommended - if you ever get the chance to visit Kettering - stay somewhere else. The manager - judging from our stay - will probably be very glad not to see you.
Then there was the convention programme. The programme was fine, too. I seem to recall reading somewherethat the height of praise in Cool Cat Bop Type Talk is the phrase 'It didn't bother me'. That's how the programme was. It didn't bother me.It was good. It was interesting if you wantedit and unobtrusive if you didn't. And, to ask more than that of a convention programme is asking a lot.
One bit of it I do remember ( apart from the superb Liverpool tape-recorded play, which was far too excellent to be skimmed over in a mere couple of lines) was Dave Kyle's outline of the plans for the New York World Convention. His listing of all the committees and sub-committees they had lined up for this affair caused me great doubts as to whether we should have enough fans in Britain to have one on each of these committees if London got the Worldcon in '57 (which, as you know, it did).
Things like the all-night parties and the programme were the mainstays of the convention, naturally; the frame around which the rest of it was built. But it is the odd little things which I remember most clearly — Peter Reaney, for instance. Er - Peter Reaney's jokes and the jokes made to and about Peter Reaney, I mean. And remarks like Chuck Harris's " I said I was an ex-sex fiend, I didn't say anything about giving it up", and Ellis Mill's "You have to be in bed by 7am to get your early morning tea", Ken Potter's "middle-aged sandwich spread" and Irene Gore's "You wouldn't want me to get sober, would you ?". Those are the parts of the convention I still remember; and added to the fact that I can't remember much more they seem to indicate that the whole thing was pretty terrific.
A KETTERING CONVENTION REPORT – and more
ERIC JONES, ELLIS, MILLS, PETER MABEY
Published in SIDEREAL 3.1, 1956 (edited by Eric Jones and Ellis Mills)
The most significant thing about this year's Con at Kettering was the fact that none of the Kettering fans attended the Con. This is as far as can be ascertained at the moment, but we did see Denny Cowan for a very short time on Sunday, but he was obviously 'just passing thru'.
As far as the official programme was concerned, this year it was adhered to as near as advertised in the programme...It could have started on time, but so as not to start a fannish precedent it was allowed to commence at half-past eleven with general intro's and a slight change in programme to allow Harry Powers more time for his demonstration of Hypnotism, which was the first item on the programme. This demonstration was an outstanding success - so I'm told - but Harry had some difficulty in persuading quite a few of his subjects to remain under the influence at first and he therefore called for more volunteers of which I was one. Apparently I went under quite fast, and to those who have never been hypnotised I can assure you that it is a weird experience - but nothing to.be scared about - not to have full control over ones actions but at the same time being able to remember and be aware of all that is going on. The effect of a final suggestion that I should stop smoking had an effect for four hours afterwards....it would probably have lasted longer had I been anywhere but at a Con…
After Lunch the Pro-Editors panel held sway for an hour and the thing most discussed was the art-work in British SF zines. Ted Carnell informed us that he was intending to gradually decrease the amount of illos in NEW WORLDS and SCIENCE ... FANTASY due to the fact that good artists were not forthcoming. ... AUTHENTIC is drcpping a number of its factual articles ( not before time either) and is changing its title from ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE fiction monthly’ to ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION monthly’ in the near future.
The next item on the programme was the LIVERPOOL GROUP'S tapepic "LAST & FIRST FEN” which ran for 50 minutes. In conjunction with this tape all around the hall were displayed the most excellent etchings of scenes from the tape....Attila the Fan...Bonnie Prince Hamilton. . . .A poster proclaiming '!Hear and Thrill to the exploits of Robin Shorrock and His Merry Fen!”. The tape itself went back through the ages to the time of Cleopatra and Mark Fantony and came up to the future when Fen would travel - or would they ???- to Mars. The tape was excellent as is typical of the most active group in the Country. However, this will be the last tape they will make unless they get some competition from other sources next year, so I'll take this opportunity to urge that everyone who has access to a tape recorder should make some effort for the World Con next year...I'm hoping to bring one from the Cheltenham Group next year.
After the Tea Break the next item on the programme did not materialise due to the fact that Fan editors couldn't be found - they were still at Tea - ."Two minutes Please”- caused a great deal of mirth from the audience when volunteers stepped up to the platform to pit their wits against the clock and the Committee to speak for two minutes on such subjects as 'What do do with an Empty Bottle'"....''Money is the root of all evil"…”The Inner Rot”…”The Ever-Diminishing Spiral".... Norman Wansborough spoke on “The Inner meaning of Symbolic Art'". All these were picked from the hat and the audience decided whether or not the speaker had successfully spoken on his subject; failures had to put 1/- into the TAFF Fund.
This was followed by a Punch Party when everyone put a glass of liquor into the bowl and took out a similar (?) quantity ...this was followed by the auction which was disbanded quite early due to the fact that many fen were still under the influence of the Punch Bowl.,... This wound up the first day's official programme and was followed by the parties which I'll let Ellis describe.
Eric was unable to watch the entire hypnotic session as he was under the influence most of the time. Harry wound up with two subjects well under and was able to provide an interesting exhibition. The other subjects were slow to respond and as it is poor form to keep the audience waiting, Harry put them through a few simple stunts and then brought them out to watch Eric and Hal Kennedy. Eric was a new subject and not as responsive as Hal who had been hypnotized on previous occasions. The power of post-hypnotic suggestion was demonstrated with Harry awakening his subjects several times and putting them under again with a snap of his fingers and a chord on the guitar. Eric's attempt to quit smoking via post-hypnotic suggestion probably failed for several reasons, the eagerness of many of the attendees to discover if the prohibition on lighting a cigarette held good and their frequent attempts to test him gradually wearing down the suggestion. We react to suggestion at all times regardless of whether it is given by a hypnotist or not. This of course does not tell you much about the parties on Saturday night. I shall have to let Eric describe the party at the George as I spent the latter part of the evening at the other hotel. About nine-thirty several of us went over to the Royal and dropped into Vince and Joy's room for a drink. As the evening wore on our spy reported that the Residents Lounge was clear of native life and we aliens transferred our base of operations. With more room the party expanded. Jan Jansen brought out his Phlegmish typewriter and suggested that we put out a one-shot. He started it by introducing everyone that was in the room at the time. Unfortunately we could not keep up with the influx of fen and our record of attendance at this party must forever be incompleat. The party was very quiet until the masqueraders from the George arrived. The hotel manager came up and raised a terrific outcry, “We don't want any Bloody Circus in here!” This ruined the even tenor of the party momentarily. We soon ejected the manager and settled down again. It was a typical fannish party with clusters of fen in corners and along the walls and sprawled out on the floor. Of course there was a fan crawling on hands and knees out along the corridors to his room, to return triumphantly clutching a bottle. The party collapsed about 0230 with Jansen and Needham on the floor finishing the .third page of the one-shot.
Sunday evening the manager of the Royal received the biggest shock of the convention. He opened the door of the Residents lounge about 0130 (alright so it was Monday morning) and was so astounded he could only go “Tch Tch!”. There we were discussing of all the unlikely things, SF and fandom. I am not stretching the story a bit when I say there was positively no liquid of any type in evidence and the only items relative to the consumption of any beverage were two tea trays. It is no wonder the manager was nonplussed, looking back I find it shocking myself. We had been in Room 10 at the George until about 1130 when the congestion became too great for us and we retired to the Royal. Present at this a-typical fan gathering were WAW, LeeH and Larry, Mal and Sheila, HK and Pam Bulmer, JJansen and self. We gave up about 0230. I return you now to our reporter from the George, Eric Jones...
Yes, I guess I forgot that Ellis went back to the Royal before the Liverpool party had really got under way - which was about 9 – 9.30 on Saturday evening. Unlike previous years (and quite rightly too) L'pool did not purchase drinks for the party, but left it to attendees to bring their own or order it from Boris who was on constant duty throughout the night with his perpetual good humour, fast service for beer and tea etc. Eventually the L'pool group made their appearance in costumes ranging from Vikings and Norsemen to Egyptian beauties, harem maids, green goddesses,and Norman Shorrock wore a most weird rigout which comprised a Davy Crockett hat complete with a powered propellor. Yours truly appeared as a genuine ATOM Bem which was complete with facilities to imbibe liquor, food and even smoke. Archie Mercer's regaila as 'Fandom's Herald' included a dress made of stencil backing sheets on each of which were quotes such as .... 'Yvingi is a Scouse - Because he makes you wear Fancy dress”
Approximately at this point, the Manager of the George came around persuading all non-residents to leave the Hotel. Most fen who were staying at the Royal did so without protest but a few managed to remain at the party. After some discussion amongst those in fancy dress it was decided to parade to the Royal with Archie leading the procession blowing like hell on his trombone. After a false start we got under way - and under way it was too for my Bem outfit acted like a full-rigged ship in a gale in the wind that was blowing outside. After struggling against well-nigh imponderable odds we eventually arrived at the Royal (outside of which stood two very large policemen) and manoevered our way through the revolving doors then proceeded past the bar - which was still rather full - and headed for the upstairs lounge where, according to information, the other party was in progress.
Unfortunately, no-one could remember exactly where the Lounge was except for the fact that it was on the first floor. Some delay at this point proved fatal as the Manager appeared on the scene and told us to 'git'. Going back to the George was a little easier - I had the wind behind me. From this point onwards things began to get a little hazy...I recall a mundane local (whose kite was flying high) pestering all fen with the question “Are you a frumious-Wunkered Quat? Or a wunkered-Frumious Quat?” He seemed satisfied with the reply that I was a Quattered Frumious Wunk from the Fourth Dimension and that I would haunt him in his dreams.
Things moved ever onward, some of the L'pool party returned to semi-normal dress whilst I made my way around the Hotel, dropping in at Room 12a to hear Dan Morgan's taper run through the 'Last and First Fen' epic again. Somewhere around this point they almost had to call in the Fire Brigade as I took one step backwards into a gas fire and the base of the Bem outfit caught fire. Fortunately Frank Mines was present (to whom I owe a very real debt) and quickly put out the inferno. Thank Ghod they are altering all the room heating to electric (guarded) fires during the renovation . After this I moved along to Norman Shorrock's room - the number of vhich evades me at the moment - where, for a brief spell we held a semi-roof con ( the first since the Bonnington in 1953) but as it was so damned cold we soon came back inside. I ought to mention at this point that Dan Morgan had inveigled one of the receptionists at the Hotel to join us - a thing which proved to be very interesting......Events thereafter moved swiftly. I recall Dave Newman getting rigged up in the Bem outfit.... falling down completely flat in one of the corridors and being unable to get up....(that there Bern outfit is a mighty difficult thing to handle without tuition and a few trial runs)... Boris got drinks .... Boris got coffee, and about that time I got to bed.
SUNDAY April 1st
By the time I had put my specs on and had got the breakfast plate in focus I was feeling very much better after last evening's party. Wandering down the stairs to the Con hall where a jazz (?) session was in progress only made things worse so I adjourned to some undefinable place where Terry Jeeves found me and said that Arthur Thompson would like some snaps taken with me in the Bem outfit... this was- duly done with a vast crowd of passers by ( not passing by) looking on. These might possibly appear in the next issue of Triode but there's no guarantee to this. Things just went quietly along until after lunch when the discussion began on The 1957 International Convention. Perhaps at this point I should mention that the Debating session scheduled for 12 p.m. just didn't take place - or if it did I was missing. On the Platform, for the discussion was Dave Kyle (from America and President of the '56 Worldcon in New York), Ted Carnell who is Chairman of the '57 Convention, Jan Jansen, Pam Bulmer, Joy Clarke, Bobby Wild. A full report of this discussion was taken down in shorthand and will be issued to all attendees at a later date. Briefly the venue of this Con will either be London or, if not, a Holiday Camp at Yarmouth. Apparently some small difficulty has arisen re finding a suitable Hotel in London, but investigations are still proceeding. The date of the Convention will be between August and September 1957 instead of the Easter date which is unsuitable for our American fen who hold their con in the States over Labor weekend and would not have enough time to save up for fares etc in the short interval. The main Committee is based in London and is comprised of London fen...I cannot quote names here off-hand as I did not take any notes... and there are also provincial members of the Comnittee of which I (Eric) amone, Doubtless further ( much more reliable) reports will follow in due course about this discussion.
Tea took far longer than was anticipated and the programme degenerated from then on. I dutifully made my greetings on tape for the 14th Worldcon, had a mosey round the hall, bought a few mags and books from the auction and then, after another brief spell for food adjourned to room 10 where Dave Newman was holding a party. This commenced at 10 p.m. and ended at daylight...I fell by the wayside somewhere around 5 a.m....
Dave Newman did the ritual shaving… this time instead of half his mustache he shaved half of his face ( which was liberally covered with a few week's growth). He shaved the wrong side of his face as the beard came out on the shaded side when they took the picture, (and so on). Entertainment was provided by Ina Shorrock and Shirley Marriott who danced a hula ( complete with grass skirts) on Dave's bed.....I then adjourned to room 12a where a tape was made up of sundry drunken fen singing, telling tall stories, all to the accompaniment of Dan Morgan with John Brunner's guitar....Ken Slater bought coffee, more songs were sung...we adjourned to the long-closed bar (4.30 a.m.) where Ken Slater ordered more coffee... I went to bed shortly after this but the remains (yeh!) of the party were still roaming around the Hotel until breakfast time...I understand-that they serenaded us with 'Over the Mountains' complete with Archie Mercer's squeeze-box and wash-board accompaniment somewhere around 6.15 a.m. So ended, the 56 Con at Kettering.....When shall we be back ????????
After the con I traveled with the Liverpool group to the Wirral peninsula where I stopped over with Robin Shorrock and visited a meeting Tuesday night of the group. The meeting followed the format I expected after having sat in Sunday morning on a discussion by the group on humane and inhumane methods of disposing of people with differing views from ones own. One technique mentioned was on disposal of unwanted sea gulls. Take a large bath sponge, cut it in sections about the size of tennis balls and fry. The sections will contract to a size suitable for ingestion by. the gulls*. Take the prepared sponge and some pieces of bread and go to the beach. Strew the bread and sponges about. The gulls who happen to swallow the sponge will find that their own digestive juices, cause the sponge to expand. Since it will not pass on, they will. We will now pass on to Wednesday morning when I boarded a coach for Cheltenham. As soon as I arrived in Cheltenham I started a search for a telephone intending to call the Jones and inform them of their rare good fortune in being able to entertain me for two nights. As I struggled along the platform I was startled to hear my name called. Whirling round three times and dancing widdershins about my suitcase I beheld Margaret J. They had just arrived from visiting Eric's sister and had only waited on the platform while Eric answered a call. Serutan. When we arrived at the Jones menage, the telephone proved to be out of order. As soon as Eric got the telephone people round and they got the phone fixed, he started calling members of the Cheltenham Science Fiction Circle and stressing the fact that he had brought back alive (?) an American fan he invited them to attend this evenings meeting. Sitting here in the front room at 44 Garbage Road are Eric, Margaret, Pete Mabey and myself. We have been discussing convention attendance in past years and postulating the trend in years to come. Pete is preparing a graph to go in the next page illustrating our point. Pete will say on.....
I wasn't there: next year, as the graph shows negative attendance, if I don't go next year I shall, in fact, be present - on the other hand, if I do go I would be absent, so it doesn't make a great deal of difference.
CONVENTIONS -------A SERICON ARTICLE by ERIC JONES
As an ooold fan something seems to be wrong with recent conventions. The graph overleaf is a true one - except for 1953 when no figures are available so an approximation has been made - and definitely shows a downward trend in the attendance figures culminating in a negative figure for next year. Why is this? What is wrong with fandom for it to be so off-hand where Con's are concerned? Here are a few facts which might possibly explain some of the reasons.
Firstly, collectors of s-f are diminishing each year. No one wants to collect these days it seeems and hence one of the most attractive features of past Con's - the stands and tables - have gone down until only Fantast (Medway) and five fan-stands are left as was the case this year. Ken Slater's stand was about the only one at which recent s-f could be bought....for a s-f con this is well-nigh disgusting! The excuse seems to be that the pro-publishers won't send reps out from London due to costs - which seems to tie up with the fact that there hasn't been a good display since the Coroncon (I am excluding the Supermancon since I was unable to attend thru illness) in London in '53. It will be interesting to see what happens in '57.
Secondly, it would appear that provincial clubs who hold cons break up very shortly after the con has been held (this is true for Manchester) thus robbing fandom of-future support for other cons.
Thirdly, perhaps the reason is cash but it obviously shows that Southern fen are loath to travel out of their area when the con is held provineially. What is needed in fandom at this very time is a Fannish Billy Graham to re-inspire fen to work for the Convention and to attend it... Come on! Follow Liverpool's lead!!!