It seemed like a good idea at the time. Let's face it, after AUSSIECON
almost anything seemed like a good idea. When Valma Brown suggested
that I run for DUFF I was suitably flattered and accepted nomination
unhesitatingly. With the support of the Magic Puddin' people I even went
so far as to put out the first issue of THE HAG AND THE HUNGRY GOBLIN
(then unashamedly a Duffzine), but I naturally didn't give the trip much
thought until I won.
By March 1976 I realised that I was scared of going overseas on my
own, but by then it was too late. I wanted to concentrate on my new job,
I wanted to get married, I wanted to do anything but get on a plane, even
though I would be received on arrival into the capacious bosom of North
American fandom.
Robin Johnson told me what plane ticket I wanted. Then he went
off to England leaving me to buy it for myself. I let time pass for a while,
writing a few letters to possible hosts, until I realised that the deadline
for the payment of my advance purchase fare was nearly upon me. I rushed
off a frantic telegram to Rusty Hevelin, who sent me the money just before
the onset of a postal strike! I won't bore you with reminiscences of my
war with the travel agents. Their cheerfully unbusinesslike outlook on life
would have qualified them for fandom, but fans don't do it for money;
not other people's.
With only minor assistance from the travel agents I obtained a visa
for the U.S.A. I was obliged to complete a curious form which indicated
that the U.S. Government was chiefly concerned with two matters. First,
had I ever been a Communist, even -- I read the question several times
to be sure -- unknowingly? Taking the risk that they would never find out
that I once went to a Fabian Society lecture on the Australian film industry
I replied in the negative. Secondly, they wanted to know what assurance
I could offer that I was definitely going to return to Godzone. I told them
that I could not possibly practise law in a foreign country, which no doubt
explains why they gave me a visa that expired the day I was due to come
home. (Eric Lindsay got a five year visa for the same trip...) This was
my first brush with what I found to be the normal attitude of the U.S.
Immigration Department, viz "Welcome to the U.S.A., when are you leaving?"
The bank, although competent, were similarly co-operative. Of course
they could arrange travellers cheques, if I said "Please" and curtseyed to
the picture of the Queen. I decided to turn almost all of my meagre savings
into U.S. dollars (I had assured Uncle Sam that I would be carrying plenty
of money). "What can I lose?" I said to them. "I can always get a refund
on what I don't spent, and I expect we'll be devaluing anyway." Stunned
silence. "Devaluing...Madam, this is a bank. You can't use language like
that in here, it's against Treasury regulations!" We did devalue, but clearly
well-brought-up young ladies are not supposed to know about such things.
On Leigh and Valma's advice I took no chances and had a smallpox
vaccination which gave me the opportunity to compare itineraries with
the doctor, who also had the travel bug.
On Sunday 22nd August 1976, farewelled by my family and assorted
fannish wellwishers, I joined the cast of thousands in that well-known comedy
of errors International Air Travel. As a seasoned domestic traveller I had
my suspicions that the people who write the commercials never actually

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