(illo: Ross Chamberlain: The Pickersgill house interior)
"WHO WAS THAT ON THE PHONE, Linda?"
"Oh, er, um ... I'll tell you in a minute. I think it's a matter for our weekly general business meeting later tonight. Switch the video back on and let's carry on with the film programme."
Life wasn't always easy for the Fan Family. Try as they might to schedule their non-mundane time in a manner as close to a convention as possible, the real world kept creeping in. Phone calls were tolerated as a link to outside faanish interests, but it was a nuisance to get one in the middle of the film programme.
"Was that Pam Wells? I thought we'd sent her a copy of the weekly HomeCon programme so she'd know when our free time was scheduled. She knows better than to call during the film programme."
"Yeah, it was Pam, but it was important news. I'll tell you after the film, during the business meeting. Just get on with the video."
Greg flipped the VCR to "play" and Forbidden Planet rolled on. Both had seen the film hundreds of times and wee truly bored with it but it was a Faanish Classic and as such had to be tolerated. An hour later they bid farewell once again to Robbie the Robot and turned off the TV before getting out their notes for the WGBM, the last event of the night.
"OK, meeting in progress. Let's cut out all the minutes and attendance crap and get straight to the new business. What did Pam have to say on the phone?"
"Well, it seems Alun Harries will be moving to a new job in the London area and is looking for a room. She thought we might be able to rent him one of our spares until he can find a place of his own."
"Our spare room, eh? I dunno. I mean, Alun is a good guy and I'd like to help him, but is he faanish enough? You know I hate to sound like an elitist snob here, Linda, but we have chosen to live the faanish life: restructuring our homelife in a convention format, converting our dining room into a replica of a hotel con bar and lounge, setting up our living room as a miniature programme-hall ...."
"Yeah, and don't forget the hotel room door on our bedroom complete with room number, lock and only one key."
"Right, and we've programmed all our non-mundane time for our many fannish activities. Does Alun know what it means to live a faanish life? Can he cope? Does he have the stamina? the will? the credentials? ..."
"He has twenty quid a week to pay for the room."
"... the courage? the faith? the ... twenty quid?"
"Yeah, Pam says he'll pay up to twenty quid a week and that's less than he'd expect to pay for most flats in London."
"Hmmmm ... that's eighty pounds a month. And he'd have to buy all his own food and prepare his own meals, right?"
"All right. I move that we take in Alun Harries as our new HomeCon member for the fee of twenty quid a week."
"I second it."
"All in favor?"
Linda raised her hand and Rastus flicked his tail in a positive way.
Ant'ny padded out of the room and was heard digging in the cat litter tray. "I'll take that as two for and one against. I'll call Alun and make him the offer."
* * *
And so it was that HomeCon gained its first -- but not only -- new member. Within a few weeks Nigel Richardson, the Joy Boy of Yorkshire found a job in London and for another twenty quid a week took the other bed in the spare room. Pretty soon Michael Ashley joined his Chicken Brothers in London and for five quid a week was allowed to crash on the floor. Soon after that Steve Higgens along with wife Leah and little baby Jophan were forced to flee Reading for greener pastures and for a mere thirty quid a week were granted the entire second spare room.
"Greg, we've got to do something. Things are starting to fall apart around here. The Chicken Brothers have started their own alternative program upstairs and Leah has requested that we provide a creche. You know that we find alternative programming ideologically unsound. Greg ... are you listening? What are you doing?"
Greg looked up from the old duplicator box he was using to keep the convention membership money in. "Huh? What? Did you say something?"
"Greg! We're supposed to be having a panel discussion here on 'The State of the Con: Is All Well on the Home Front?' remember? Now stop counting the money and pay attention. I asked, are the Chicken Brothers ideologically sound?"
"Sound? Of course they're sound. They pay up full in cash every Friday, no problem. It's terrific. Just look at all this money."
"That's not the point, Gregory. I'm worried about the faanish life we're supposed to be living. Last night we scheduled Alien on the film programme and only Rastus and I turned up. You were off taking a bath and the Chicken Brothers were holding a disco upstairs."
"Yeah, yeah, OK, OK. Listen, I got a phone call today ...."
"No. Not another fan moving to London."
"Not quite. This is even better. Some Canadian woman called and she's touring Britain with her local fan group. They wanted suggestions about places to stay and I told them they could stay here. And they'll pay 5 per head per night. Can you believe it?"
"Wonderful. And how many are in this group?"
"Six! Where are we ever going to put six fans? They are fans, aren't they, Greg?"
"Of course they're fans. We're living the Faanish Life, reeember? Now calm down; I've got this all figured out. We'll put them in the duplicator room. With the duplicator and all the accessories out of the way we can build two triple bunks along the walls. It's perfect."
"And where will the duper go?"
"We'll put it in the kitchen for now. Don't worry. It's only for six weeks. Think of the money we'll be getting. We may even be able to afford that tabletop photocopier you've always fancied."
"Really? Do you think so? Will we really have that kind of money?"
"Linda, we're making a bomb here." He dipped his hand into the box and brought out a wad of bills. Ant'ny lept up to Greg's lap and swatted a fiver out of his hand. Rastus picked this up in his little kitty mouth and the two ran out of the room through the back cat flap.
"What the hell was that about?"
"I dunno," said Greg. "They've done it a couple of times now. Ghu knows what they're doing with the money. Anyway, don't worry about it. I've rescheduled our weekend programme. We're cutting out all films, fanzine reviews and loc sessions and we'll be building bunks instead."
"Building bunks! Greg, that's ... that's ... that's mundane."
"Think of it as an investment in our faanish future. Remember the photocopier."
"Oh, all right. Let's get on with it."
* * *
"I don't believe it. I just don't believe it."
"What's the matter, Lin?"
"Have you tried getting in the kitchen lately?"
"You can hardly move. There's a queue out the back door of people waiting to use the duplicator. I want to run off my apazine. The deadline was yesterday and I promised Hazel that it was in the post."
"Did you take a number?"
"You gotta have a number to use the duplicator. I'm afraid that Higgins, Richardson, and Wells are ahead of you."
"Pam Wells! What's she doing here?"
"Oh, I forgot to tell you. HomeCon is proving to be such a popular focus for fannish events that we've started selling day memberships."
"You're joking. Greg, you've got to be kidding. How could you?"
"Calm down, will ya? We're getting a fiver for every head that walks through the door. Say, I wonder if that means we get ten pounds for Rich Coad's two-headed boy?"
"Greg, that's terrible. You can't just keep thinking money."
"Do you want to keep thinking photocopier?"
"Poot. Where do I take a number?"
(illo: Ross Chamberlain: taking a number for the duplicator)
* * *
(illo: Ross Chamberlain: fannish crowd in breaking down house)
"Greg! Greg ... where are you? I can't ... pardon me ... I can't ... excuse me ... I can't find you. Greg, where ... oh, get out of my way, dammit. Who are all you people?"
"I should ask you the same thing. You're not wearing a con badge."
"Badges? Badges? I don't need no steenkin badge, I live here. And you don't. Who are you? And where's Greg?"
"If you mean the con chairman, he's upstairs knocking a hole in the wall. I'm from the Central Texas Fan Group and my friends and I have been sent over here to scout out the British fan scene before the worldcon so that we'll know what kind of femmefans will be available and what to expect from the room parties. The con chairman said that there'd be room for the twelve of us during our London stay as soon as he finished knocking a hole in the wall. And for a reasonable price as well -- only five of these pound things per head and ... say! Did you see that? A cat just ran by with a bunch of money in its mouth. Hey, guys, did you see that?"
Pushing past the herd of Texans Linda raced up the attic stairs, where she met Greg on the way down.
"Did you see Rastus run by? The damned animal grabbed more money out of the money box and just ran off with it."
"What the ... what's the hole in the wall? What are you doing?"
"Oh, I figured that if we could get into the attic space we could convert it into a dorm to sleep the Texans. Uh, didn't I tell you about the Texans?"
"No, you did not. Oh, look at that mess. Greg, you can't expect twelve people to sleep in there. It's dusty and old."
"They won't feel a thing after the bheer-tasting party we're having tonight. As long as they all roll over in their sleeping bags at the same time I don't foresee any difficulties. Neat, huh?"
"No, it's not neat. Oh, Greg, what's happening? Our programming is all shot to hell. I can't concentrate on any fanac, I can't get near the duplicator, the bathtub stays full of iced bheer and by the time I get to read any fanzines that come through the door they've been passed around by a dozen people first. Do you know that I can't even get near the typewriter? The cats keep hovering over it, playing with the on-off switch. Gregory. OUR FAANISH LIFE IS RUINED."
"Linda, I just don't understand you. The money is simply rolling in and soon we'll have enough for the photocopier and a word processor with a spelling corrector for you. Isn't that faanish enough?"
"Oh, all you think about is money money money. Even the cats have gone money mad. What are they up to?"
"I've no idea. Here, cone grab hold of this board and help me pry it loose."
"This is ridiculous. We can't just keep thinking about material gain when our faanish credibility is at stake."
"Who cares about faanish credibility when you can make a bundle of ...."
"STOP! That's it. I can't believe what I'm hearing. I'm quitting the con, Greg. I'm ... I'm ... I'm gafiating."
"Hand me that hammer before you go, will you?"
* * *
"There's a visitor to see you, Mr. Pickersgill."
"Greg, it's me. Hi, love, I came as soon as I could. The doctor told me it wasn't too bad -- just a broken leg, a few cracked ribs and a ten-stitch gash over your eye where you fell on the duplicator. Your hands are just fine, though, and you'll be pleased to hear that he feels that you'll be typing again in no time."
"What ... what happened? I was moving the last of the sleeping bags into the attic when there was a loud crash and ... oh, no. Don't tell me ..."
"Yes, dear, the ceiling fell through. Luckily most of the HomeCon guests were out at the local Indian restaurant for the banquet so no one else was hurt."
"That's just wonderful news. Cheers me right up."
"The only real damage, other than to yourself of course, was to the dining room and kitchen."
"How could I have let this happen -- the fans, the flat, the money! My Ghu, the money! What's happened to the money? Is it safe? Can I see it?"
"Don't fret; I've got everything under control. All the fans have moved on to other cons or lodgings. I've got a construction crew out at the flat this very minute starting on repairs. The money you've been collecting will pay for just about all of it. Isn't that neat?"
"What? You mean all of it? All of my money? Gone?"
"I'm afraid so."
"Well. What can I say."
"Not much, really. I think this has been a great lesson passed on to us, love. An act of cosmic justice from Ghu or Roscoe or whatever faanish deity you believe in."
"Do you mean a lesson like 'money is the root of all evil', or that material greed can lead you astray from the faanish path, that true peace and harmony can only be obtained through living the faanishly ideologically correct life?"
"Good lord, no. Don't be absurd. I mean a lesson like 'never underestimate the mind of a devious cat.' You know, I found where Rastus and Ant'ny were taking the money."
"I followed them out of the house this morning after they swatted a fiver from my hands. They were keeping the money in an old Whiskas cat food tin in the back alley. I also found a peculiarly typed note that said 'Fifty pounds of your best Scotch salmon'. Where do you think they got that from?"
"I give up."
"Yeah, it's a real mystery."
"Linda ... about the money you found. Does this mean we still have some?"
"Well, yes and no. There was over a hundred quid in the tin. The cats were pretty pissed off when I took it, but I figure I used it for a worthy cause."
"You mean you've spent it already?"
"Well, I was going to surprise you but I might as well tell you now. I bought us a new second-hand electric duplicator and a whole supply of paper, ink, and stencils. I thought that when you got back home you and I might ... well ... that we might .... pub an ish."
"I ... I ... I ..."
"I know. You're speechless. I did it all for our little fan family. The sooner we try again, the better. Why, look, here's the attendant with your breakfast. It's little eggy-weggies, dear."
"And greasy bacy-acon."
(illo: Ross Chamberlain: hospital bedside visit)
Data entry by Judy Bemis
Updated November 10, 2002. If you have a comment about these web pages please send a note to the Fanac Webmaster. Thank you.