Greystoke Convention 1988
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Fantastic Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs
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When Frank Westwood, his princess Doreen, Ken Hall and myself attended the 1985 Louisville convention, it was suggested that a gathering should one day be held in England. The seed of thought had been sown and upon returning home the four of us got together to discuss the possibility of what we could offer. We soon realised that according to the novels, Tarzan would be celebrating his centenary birthday not too far away, so it was decided that this should be the theme for 1988.
By coincidence, Frank had visited a castle several years earlier near Greystoke, Cumbria. With this in mind, he paid a visit to the present owners who were delighted by our interest.
Arrangements were later made for us to visit the castle and have the convention dinner in the castle itself. From that point on it was a case of sorting out the finer details until finally in July 1988, three years after it was first suggested, the Edgar Rice Burroughs convention had at last arrived in England.
The First Day
Several of us were staying at the Halls of Residence in North London that meant it necessary to travel to Frank and Doreen's place by train. When arriving at their home, there is no need to know their door number - the 21 foot long mole from the Amicus film At the Earth's Core sitting outside the front door is enough for anyone to know they had found the right place. My biggest surprise however was to find John McGuigan at the door - especially since I had spoken to him only a month previously and he told me that he could not make it (Glad you did John - it was great to see you again). More old friends were there to greet us inside and with videos to watch, dealing to be done, and a lot of Burroughs talk, the 1988 gathering was well under way.
The Mole poised for launch in Frank Westwood's garden
The Second Day
We all boarded a coach that took us into Lamberhurst, Kent where we spent some time at a model museum that is owned by Alan Heaver who amongst other things, had created a model Thark. He later went on to make 10 more before finally destroying the mould. A visit to the seaside resort of Rye followed before finally returning to the 400-year-old home of Ian and Lesley Peters for afternoon tea. Apart from having my hair practically pulled out by their daughter who was accustomed to getting her own way (and woe betide those who deny her), we all enjoyed ourselves. Things did not quite run as smoothly on the way home as the coach ran out of fuel. The driver just managed to pull off the busy dual carriageway before finally grinding to a halt. Our driver leapt out of the coach and sprinted off down the road for help. An hour or so later he returned and we were soon once again on our way home.
The Third Day
What was probably going to be an uneventful trip to Cumbria seemed to be livened up by a set of photos I had taken whilst I was in Bangkok earlier in the year of girls doing some unbelievable tricks. By the time everyone had seen them I don't think I had much credibility left, I did however inform everyone that Barsoomian women are alive and well and living in Thailand - at least I think they were Barsoomian… I saw them on stage laying eggs!
On arriving in Greystoke, John and I were staying at a guesthouse on the outskirts of the village, and as soon as we were unpacked, we made our way to the nearest pub. At the 'Clickham Inn' I was immediately attracted to the blonde barmaid who just happened to be wearing a pair of tight blue jeans. As I watched her walk past, Frank informed the young lady in question that a certain person (namely me) was watching every move her shapely rear made. After some extremely embarrassing moments that followed, Donna (the barmaid) and I were persuaded to have our photo taken together to the cheers of everyone. Greystoke has obviously more to offer than just a castle.
The Fourth Day
The morning started with a visit to the local church where the vicar gave us an interesting account of Greystoke, its castle and past generations that have lived there. It was then onto the castle itself.
Neville Howard and his wife were there to greet us as we walked up the drive to the castle entrance. After brief introductions, Mr. Howard then took us around the perimeter of the castle and told us something of its history. At one point during the English civil war, Cromwell in his vengeance against the Crown tore the castle down until nothing remained intact apart from one tower that was discovered to have walls of up to 16 feet thick.
~~~~~~~ +1 mile ~~~~~~~
Clickham Inn ~ Blencow
Greystoke Church 443308
On Saturday evening we returned to the castle by coach for the convention banquet. As we approached the inner courtyard, the theme music from the film Greystoke was played through the speakers and with the Tarzan yell in the background, it was nothing short of a stroke of genius by Frank Westwood setting the tone for a wonderful evening ahead.
Our hosts greeted us as the great front door opened, the red carpet was laid out and we stepped into a magnificent hall where our tables were laid out in the shape of a letter ‘T’. A huge wooden staircase wound up at one side of the hall to a balcony above, its walls decorated with portraits of the family ancestors dressed in full regalia. Drinks were then offered to us before being led to our seats for the evening meal.
After dinner, speeches were made and the ERB lifetime honourary plaque was awarded to Pete Ogden for his services to Burroughs fandom over the years. It was beyond midnight before we finally said farewell to our hosts, and as we departed Greystoke the following morning for home, all were agreed that the Burroughs convention of 1988 had been a complete and wonderful success.
Greystoke Castle Interior
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