What the world needs now, I think, is a volunteer to suffocate Caroline Mullan, who's developed an alarming habit of gazing wistfully into space and saying 'You know, if we were to carry this on ...' instead of applying herself to the problem in hand, which tends to be a deep theoretical question about whether it's her favourite joke or mine which Has Got to Go. But I have to confess to a touch of sympathy; dammit, producing The Intermediate Reptile has been fun.
Not that there weren't moments of agony and despair. Two paragraphs of D. Langford's Orycon report failed to find their way on to the printed page, which Dave (who'd responded virtuously to a request for more material now now now) found irritating, to say the least. (It turned out to be down to the tidy-mindedness of the DTP system. Apply to Bernie Peek for technical details, if interested.) Cathy Gale's response to another Langford piece had us checking the prices of bullet-proof vests and libel lawyers, but it blew over as these things so often do. Avedon Carol took the usual offence at the usual joke. Well, Avedon, if you're sick of people making tired old jokes about the Nova award, you'll have to get off your bottom and do something even funnier.
More generally, I was a little disappointed at the lack of contributions from fanzine fans of what might be called 'my generation'. We actually had much better luck with pros. Since distribution outside London was always haphazard (replace by the euphemism of your choice), provincial fandom can hardly be blamed for this, but in London I sometimes detect a certain negativity about fanzines, which seems to be rooted quite frankly in snobbery.
Then, of course, there was the bane of every fan gossip-columnist's life: 'Don't tell her that, she'll only print it!', usually said of some juicy item so arcane and context-dependent that for the average Tun-goer it might as well have been written in Linear A. Well, deep down we're all prey to the egotism that supposes our own little naughtinesses and indiscretions are everyone else's first concern, but in fact whatever it is, fandom has seen it all before. The purpose of a gossip-column is not information, but entertainment; it's a place to dump all the funny little things people have seen or heard at conventions or social events, the ironic incidents and the current running jokes which add up to this time, this place, these people. I have little patience with the anti-gossip lobby; if people won't credit me with any common sense, I wonder how much of it they have themselves.
Well, who the hell cares anyway? The best thing about the past year has been something I never expected -- the sheer glow of gratification I felt at the Tun, every Tun. That sea of hands attached to faces I vaguely recognised! The way people grabbed the thing and immediately stopped talking and started reading it! This is what fanzine publishing should be like -- fast, furious and for everyone; but sadly, simple economics on one side and the prejudices of non-fanzine-fans (now the majority) on the other, ensure that it won't. The Reptile seemed to find loopholes in the usual rules. Being a strict single-pager it was cheap to produce in quantity, while the use of DTP allowed a quite surprising amount of wordage in the space available. Because the work was shared between four of us one person's holiday, personal troubles or exams didn't blow the schedule to hell. But most of all, because it didn't have the coterie image that fanzines seem to have, all sorts of people felt able to join in, by sending contributions or simply by passing on a piece of information. It actually seems to have supplied a focus and a bit of common ground for the Tun.
Heaven knows, the Tun needs these things; well, now it'll have to find another source. I really don't want to end up editing a newszine from here to eternity. But it has been terrific, after all these years tarred with the elitist brush, to see how a fanzine can actually become popular.
Chicken Bones 2 (1990)
With apologies to the much-misused Sylvia Starshine [who drew The Intermediate Reptile's platypus logo]