An Alpha-Beta-Gamma Guide to Attitude

Easter 1997 -- Volume 2, Number 2½

This is Plokta 6½ not actually available for the usual as such, but rather so that we have:

Of course, if anyone actually wants to trade with us, we'll gladly co-operate. Alison's allowed to drink again (hint, hint!). Our email address is:

For more scurrilous rumour and rampant technophilia, you could try the following website:

The Plokta cabal consists of Alison Scott, Steve Davies, Giulia de Cesare, Steven Cain, Sue Mason (Trilby award winning artist), Marianne Cain (Trilby award winning editor) and Mike Scott (Trilby awards administrator).

Plokta supports San Francisco in 2002, Toronto in 2003 and Britain in 2268.

This fanzine has been produced from a minimum of 47% low grade recycled material (mostly recycled from Babes With Attitude.) For every in-joke used, two more have been planted in sustainable conversations.

Well, Attitude explained that they wanted to include conreports in issue 11. "Fine," said the Plokta cabal. "We'll send you camera ready copy, three column format, with photographs, no spaces round the emdashes, and three dot ellipses." "Er, we don't think that would fit our style sheet," muttered various of the Attitude ruling Triumvirate. So we've been forced to go freelance.

Following his breakdown during the production of issue 6 of Plokta, Dr Plokta was advised to get some fresh air, peace and quiet. He therefore decided to take the waters at a quiet Worcestershire sauce spa town, thinking that this would make a nice change from taking the piss. Imagine his surprise to discover the hotel he'd chosen was rapidly overrun by science fiction fans; the very people he'd been told to get away from. Feeling slightly faint, he sat down with a pint of the convention beer, the Wyre Piddle brewery's Piddle in the Hole, to read his copy of Attitude 10. Being fond of pop psychology, he thought he would answer Mike Abbott's quiz about alpha and beta fandom. Dr Plokta scored -3, and now controls the small African country of Wingding.

If it's an Attitude con report, it ought to have interlins.

Alphas and betas were much in evidence at the convention, as part of the committee's concerted effort to create an atmosphere. There were badges with Greek letters on for all members. Alison rooted through, but she couldn't find an alpha badge. "Don't worry," chorused the committee. "We've put one in your con pack". There were also badges with interlineations from the fanzine, and further interlineations were stuck up all over the walls.

Alpha and beta fandom was a major topic of conversation throughout the weekend. When was the last time that people at a convention spent so much time discussing an article in the programme book?

If Gamma is a gamma, is Omega an omega?

Despite the presence of Dr. Plokta, Great Malvern is a fine place to hold a convention. It's the largest of a number of local towns all called Malvern, including Lesser Malvern, Chipping Malvern, Lower Malvern, Beta Malvern and Malvern Piddle. The Abbey Hotel had bags of character and charming staff, with numerous unique features. The hotel, not the staff. Of course, there were problems with having the hotel so close to the Abbey—like working out which building to go into.

Could they by any chance be related?

Abbey Hotel and Abbey

Abbey Abbey Hotel

Possibly the only neo at Attitude was Marianne Cain, having a whale of a time at her first con. Within minutes she'd acquired an alpha female badge, starting as she meant to go on. She went to her first room party and stayed up till six in the morning. She did of course spend much of this time asleep, but as we've been to many room parties at which Paul Dormer was asleep in the corner, it's obviously allowed. Having a baby along was a new experience for the Plokta cabal, who spent some time helping Marianne put the finishing touches on her first fanzines.

Alison and Steven
Novacon: "Having a baby isn't going to change our lives" enthused Alison.

Marianne herself spurned the historic technology available in the repro room, in favour of a secret cache of PCs and laser printers. However, for those people who weren't trying to reproduce 600dpi half-toned photographs, the Critical Wave photocopier was available. For the determinedly low tech, one of the mighty duplicating engines of Folkestone had made the trip up to Malvern, along with an ozone-spewing electrostencil. And last, and definitely least, was the massive vat of hecto jelly. Dr Plokta took great interest in this last item, but when its principles were explained to him he had a funny turn and had to be helped out of the room, muttering quietly to himself "But where do you put the toner?"

Alison, Steven and Marianne
Attitude: "See, cons are still as much fun as ever."

Interestingly, nobody had considered that a typewriter might be a useful addition to a museum of fanwriting through the ages.

Alison editing a fanzine
Why's there a handle on this printer?

Felix Cohen, son of the more famous, was fascinated by the various technology available, and produced several one-shots over the weekend.

Felix Cohen

Gosh, doesn't Felix look younger in this library photo from Evolution than he did at Attitude?

Felix had never previously heard of stencils, but his head was quite turned by the scent of mimeo ink. Visitors to the repro room were charmed to see ancient and wizened Grandmaster Noel passing on the secrets of his traditional craft to the young apprentice. ("Then you kick it just here.")

More people will come over and talk to you if you put your tit away

For many years, the Critical Wave photocopier has been maintained by shadowy forces of darkness. For the first time, Plokta is able to rip aside the veil and reveal their identity in an exclusive photograph taken at great personal risk.

Noel Collyer prepares to deliver a baby photocopier. Bridget Hardcastle and Jo Mills watch.
[FX: sharp intake of breath] Don't get much call for these nowadays, Squire, can't get the parts.

In total, more than a dozen one-shots were produced at the convention. Is this a record? (No, it's a large pile of copier paperà)

Ian Sorensen alleged that fan history is all about what people write in their con reports. He explained that if we say that Mike Abbott was at Attitude in a red sparkly dress then that's what will have happened. Anne Wilson retorted, "Mike, if I ever find you wearing a dress, that's the end of our relationship." Lesser fanzines may tell tales of Michael's sartorial excesses, but only Plokta brings you incontrovertible evidence. Remember, chaps, the camera never lies.

Michael Abbott wearing a red sparkly dress
Showing who wears the trousers on the Attitude committee.

Of course, in reality, Michael Abbott wearing a red sparkly dress is nearly as unlikely as Ian Sorensen wearing a pink tutu.

Ian Sorensen in a pink tutu
We haven't doctored this one at all, folks.

We're all primates really -- sort of Gorillas On The Piss

The hotel was possibly even harder to navigate than the Radisson Edwardian. John and Eve Harvey were astonished to discover that they could only reach their room by going through the restaurant. This would not have been a serious problem, except that the hotel had employed a tactical nuclear strike pianist who sonically repelled anyone trying to get through. Meanwhile, rumour had it that the hotel was haunted. One con member, who shall be nameless, always took someone with her when going to her room because of her fear of ghosts. Expect lots of young male fans to suddenly develop miraculous ghost-repelling powers the next time we use this hotel.

There were certainly some ghosts at the convention. At least in the American sense of turning up to the public areas of a hotel where a convention is taking place. This seems to be becoming more common at British cons. Attitude was visited by the shades of Carol and Tony Morton and Chris Bell. What's more, after drinking an immense quantity of alcohol, Greg Pickersgill came face to face with the spirit of David Mellor.

Alison Scott, Chris Bell, Rhodri James
Alison Scott, Chris Bell and Rhodri James (sorry, no David Mellor)

Pigeon in hotel room
"Room service!" said George.

Ghosts weren't the only intruders in the hotel. Steve Davies was much occupied with trying to keep his hotel room free of avian invaders. They entered through the window when Giulia opened it to get a little bit of fresh air, and showed little inclination to leave again. Until Bree (Brie?) the hotel cat turned up, at any rate.

Steve and a lot of pigeons

For some reason, Steve has never been fond of pigeons.

Kim Huett enlivened the convention with his Antipodean charm, wit, and oddly stapled fanzines. Purely in the spirit of scientific enquiry, he explained that a good thought experiment to try on mixed groups of alphas and betas was to ask them to list the ten most shaggable women in fandom. Unfortunately, we are unable to bring you the results of this amazing sociological breakthrough for legal reasons. Kim had to quickly retract his findings on discovering that including a woman on such a list can be considered a contract of engagement under UK law.

Kim Huett Gary Farber

Foreign Fans -- Collect the Set

Incomprehensible gibberish

Foreign fans were boggled by the concept of a beer called 'Piddle In The Hole', but it brought back many happy memories for the Plokta cabal. We once moored our canal boat at the Anchor in Wyre Piddle. After a typically massive repast provided by Giulia, we trooped up the beer garden to the pub for pudding. The puddings were so good, we all had two (apart from the metabolically challenged Mike Scott) and ate their entire evening's supply of chocolate profiteroles in under 20 minutes. Then we took a large quantity of beer back to the boat to help us sleep. But we digress.

Attitude naturally had a set of awards, the Trilbies. The administrator was none other than our very own Mike Scott. In order to vote in the Trilbies, you had to be active in Trilby fandom, and list six hats which you had worn in the last year. Mike was scrupulous about not revealing details of the secret ballot, but one voter's hat list ran as follows:

Nightmare before Christmas baseball cap, Intersection baseball cap, Filthy Pro baseball cap, ... oh, and of course, SFX baseball cap.

It's that picture of Simo again
Who was that masked man
baseball-capped voter?

Some of the winners were:

Best Spoof Award: "The Hugos. Sadly, they couldn't be with us tonight, so Dave Langford will be accepting the award on their behalf. He will be ringing Martin Hoare at Boskone at four o'clock in the morning to let him know they've won."

Award I would least like to win: "This award is won by Pat McMurray, for his suggestion 'Fanzine most suitable to be made into a paper airplane'. We're also awarding a special committee award, to Pat's one-shot Altitude -- Fanzine most suitable to be made into a paper airplane."

The Race Most Likely to Rule the Sevagram: The Westons.

Special Fakefan Award: Tony "What's A Sevagram?" Berry.

Oh, and in case you hadn't realised, Marianne won "Best One-Shot".

Steven and Marianne
Steven and Marianne celebrate with a Piddle

Tom Becker
Tom Becker comes hunting for people to help edit the LoneStarCon2 Newsletter.
We said "Run away! Run away!"

It seemed funny at the time—well, at least we all laughed.

There had been an auction for the United Fan Funds early in the con. Pam had announced there would be a further auction after Stance, Erudition and Scorn on Sunday night at 11:30. Unfortunately, there wasn't much stuff left to auction, and Alison decided that she would have nothing to do with it. This lasted until Michael Abbott talked her into it and the rest of the Plokta cabal agreed to help.

Unfortunately, there was only total tat left to auction. Many of the items had been left over from previous auctions, and people had already been offered the chance to come up to the stage and make an offer on all the things at the end of the first auction. So the Plokta cabal had to come up with some ideas that would actually raise money.

What we came up with was personal services. Yes, we would auction people's personal services for the United Fan Funds. Alison solicited a few services from people at the bar to start us off, and, as we'd hoped, more services appeared from the audience as we went on. Bidding was brisk on a variety of different backrubs, foot massages and so on, but many of the services were much more original than that.

Steve Lawson, Simo and Nick Mills, groping for an answer
Steve Lawson, Simo and Nick Mills, groping for an answer

In between the services, we auctioned tat. A Bay City Rollers album came up for auction. "Signed," said Steve. "Signatures printed on the album cover," said an ex-Bay City Rollers fan from the audience. "It's signed now," said Mike, flourishing a ballpoint. Eventually it was sold, on condition Alison destroyed it. "Fine," she said, bending it vigorously. It bounced back. Hmmph. "Put it on the floor and jump up and down on it," suggested John Dallman. She put it on the floor, took an enormous leap, and came down again, howling in agony and clutching her boobs. The audience rolled on the floor laughing. Alison whimpered a lot, and resolved to always check in future that she'd reclipped her nursing bra before pulling stunts like this. Jilly Reed came to the rescue, destroying the offending record with a single blow from her strong right arm and spiked stiletto.

More personal services. Two homebaked cakes from Pam Wells went for staggering amounts of money. Clearly her baking has a reputation. We auctioned a waistcoat as yet unmade by Giulia de Cesare, and a smutty picture drawn to the purchaser's specification by Sue Mason. The smut was eventually bought by Jilly Reed. She will be requesting Bodie and Doyle in corsets; however, in a late shock, Mike Siddall bid an extra fiver if he could be included in the picture. Jilly was worried that this would mean that she had to choose between Bodie and Doyle, but we assured her that Sue would be happy to draw all three. As we hadn't actually got around to asking Sue if she was happy to draw the picture at all (but she is, of course) we thought this was a safe bet.

More tat. Nightlights in the shape ofà well they didn't actually say what they were of, but someone with a mundane cast of mind might have suggested Jesus and Mary. "A great fannish antiquity" announced Steve. "The only contemporary image of Jophan distributing fanzines to the poor!" It was sold to a consortium bidding on Pam Wells' behalf. A second nightlight was brought out. "A great fannish antiquity" announced Mike. "The only contemporary image of Jophan distributing the fanzines!" Pam blanched and then insisted she had to have the set.

Mike Siddall, KIM Campbell and Dop, just groping
Mike Siddall, KIM Campbell and Dop, just groping

And more personal services. The right to give Naomi Saunders and Lillian Edwards a backrub. (Strangely, it didn't attract quite as much interest as some of the other items.) A personal lesson in the Astral Pole from David Cooper. A Chinese seafood dinner for 2 in Mountain View, California with Spike Parsons and Tom Becker. The right to have an extensive campaign of flattery from Mike Siddall for six months. Michael Abbott bid for this, looking devious. In the face of a scheme, Mike (S) bid for the item himself. After he'd bought it at vast expense, Michael (A) revealed that his scheme consisted solely of pretending to have a scheme. Expect to see Mike Siddall going around, chatting himself up and admiring his own appearance -- at least until August. Michael himself offered an article in Attitude 11 on a subject of the buyer's choosing; again, there was some consortium bidding here, and I think he's going to be writing about Bodie and Doyle, possibly with frequent mentions of superfluous technology and nothing at all about Mike Siddall who was the underbidder.

So many ellipses... so little time

The final item was the "Get Out of Pickersgill Free" card. This gave the holder the right not to be sworn at by Gregory for a full twelve months. Another whipround bought this for Rob Hansen (absent at Fanhistoricon in Boston at the time) who was deemed to need it more than anyone present.

Overall, we raised 200 pounds, which isn't bad considering that we had, for the most part, taken a coil of old rope and stood on stage selling lengths.

Sue Mason in a red sparkly dress
Shy, retiring Sue Mason (Trilby-winning etceteraà)

Also on the final evening was Pam's silly game, Whose Round Is It Anyway?, in which the various rounds were franchised out to suitably silly groups of fans. John and Eve Harvey presented an obstacle course round which the contestants had to walk in flippers. Kari, Phil Nanson and Sue Edwards acted out scenes from famous movies translated into Latin. Then there was the "Identify a fan while blindfolded round", the "Produce fillos using spray-cheese round" and the "Running around the hall balancing a tennis-ball on a squash-racket" round. The negatives of the resulting photos should provide fan fund income for years to come.

Steve Lawson painting with cheese
Trilby-losing artist Steve Lawson demonstrates his technique for painting with spray cheese

Well, all in all Attitude was a triffic convention. We had a great time, but don't tell Pam as she'll only get even more insufferable.

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