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Dreaming Again

Grimes and the Gaijin Daimyo the first A Bertram Chandler story to be published in 24 year is now available in the Anthology Dreaming Again edited by Jack Dann.

Forerunner Quarterly No: 1 - Aug 1975
(Cover Keith Curtis)

Forerunner Quarterly No: 1 - Aug 1975


The above title is as good as any. It conveys the impression of something not right angledly square. It is also a geometrical expression, although the geometry is Euclidean, which is rather a pity, as it was Einstein who pointed out that all things are relative. One man’s square is another man’s tesseract, and all that.

I got the idea for this short article when I was having morning coffee in town with an old friend and fellow shipmaster. He told me that in Hobart he had been taken by his Chief Officer, a notoriously pious gentleman who is a member of one of those obscure Bible-bashing sects, to a concert given, by the League of Light Singers . He admitted that he had enjoyed it. I said that they might be the finest singers in the world, but that I, personally, would never contribute to the support of a wowserish outfit like the League of Light. Furthermore, I went on, even if I were on their free list I wouldn’t be seen within ten miles of them. And so on.

My friend said the sort of thing that so many real squares do say, that the League of Light is doing good, and that there is too much pornography around &c &c. Somehow, in his eyes, the Permissive Society was wrong.

I said that I, as a writer, like the Permissive Society. These days can put all the obscenities and blasphemies I like in my dialogue without having them blue-pencilled by some timorous editor.

He said, “But you don’t swear..”

I said, “You should hear me on the bridge sometimes when things go wrong.”
He said, “I was referring to Grimes. He never uses anything worse than an occassional ‘Bloody’.

I said, “But Grimes is a square.”

He said, “Grimes a square? You must be joking!”

S0 there it is I, who created Grimes, think that he’s a square. At least one of my readers thinks that Grimes is far from square. Which of us is right? Regarding myself, I admit that by the standards of one of my professions I am somewhat less than square, but have always considered that by the standards of the other one I am as square as all hell.

A recent example was the affair of the proposed SFWA tie. Somehow I always like ties that means something. I own three British Interplanetary Society ties, one black, one blue and one maroon, each with the design of a little silver rocketship on a background of stars. I have two Union Steam Ship Company ties, one blue and one maroon, each bearing the Company’ s coat of arms. Then there are three Merchant Navy ties, one with the red, white and green stripes on dark blue, one with gold Tudor crowns on blue and one with red Tudor crowns on blue. Finally there is my Tattersall’s Club tie, narrow red stripes on black. Oddly enough I don’t run to an Old School tie. If I locked back on the establishment in which I was exposed to education with any affection I would have one. But I don’t.

I tried hard to persuade the committee of management of the naturist club to which I belong to make a Club tie available to members. (My proposed design was brown bears on a green field.) I was told that nudists don’t wear ties - which, of course, is true only when said nudists ore on club promises. My idea did bear fruit of a kind, however. Now one can purchase Club lapel badges - but I am a nudist with an aversion to lapel badges...

It seemed for a while that I would have a little mere success with the Science fiction Writers of America. I persuaded my uniform tailors to do a mock up of the proposed tie - a silver rocketship crossed with silver quill pen on a dark blue ground. I sold the idea to the officers of the SFWA quite easily. They, then, tried to sell the idea to the SFWA membership. A more and more acrimonious correspondence raged for months in the pages of the SFWA FORUM. A frequently expressed opinion was that only morticians (chartered accountants) (shopwalkers) wore neckties. The ladies got jealous and started screaming for SFWA silk squares, capable of being converted into bikinis. One member, referring to some of the more hysterical anti-tie letters, said that he had gained the impression that everybody was to be forced at gunpoint (a) to buy the tie and (b) to wear it.

Of course, frantic sartorial nonconformity is, itself, a sort os square-ness, So much (too much) of the nonconformity of the young is, in actuality, rigid conformity, not more (and no less) than a keeping up with the Joneses. I decided, years ago, that the only way to get through life with a minimum of discomfort is to decide that you are a Jones and to live according to one’s own standards. If your standards coincide with those of the League of Light, then chart your course accordingly - but don’t have the crust to expect others with different standards to steer by your compass. How did I get from Old School (&c &c) Ties back to the League of Light? The train of thought seems to have become derailed. Oh, well, I may as well keep on this track now.

The League of Light (whoever thought of that name for that outfit?) seems to be against R Certificate films. Personally, I never go to see a G Certificate film. One film that my everloving and I saw recently was that rather odd, effort, LA GRANDE BOUCHE. The story, such as it is, concerns four successful men, who, tired of life, decide to commit suicide by eating themselves to death; as one of their number is a master chef this seems, at first glance not an unpleasant way to go. One of the men, an airline captain, maintains that there are more ways of killing a cat than choking it with cream and gets three call girls to join the party. A young , but fat, school mistress sort of drops in just by chance. The three trollops very soon drop out; possibly they were concerned about the effects of gluttony on their excellent figures, The fat girl stays the course, proving her proficiency at two of the Seven Deadly Sins, Lust and Gluttony. She is the sole survivor.

The reactions of the critics to the film were interesting. One said that it put him off food for a week. Another said that after seeing it he and his wife enjoyed a large French Meal. After seeing it my wife and I went for dinner to our favourite Greek restaurant. But we did not finish the meal,

The baklava was stale and we sent it back.