Taral: Touch Down!

Taral Wayne and Jim Mowatt.

Taral Wayne and Jim Mowatt.

By Taral Wayne: Jim Mowatt’s whirlwind tour of North America as the TAFF winner began Thursday when he touched down at Pearson International airport in Toronto and was whisked away to The Only Café to meet a contingent of fans. I was unable to attend, but Jim emailed me this: “The ‘pub’ was really nice although didn’t feel like a pub in any way.  It was what I think of as a bar. Interesting design in that it is half coffee house and half bar with the two halves being separated by a black curtain. Of course we didn’t follow direction and sat in the coffee bit and drank beer.”

I met the Jim on Sunday, however, at the party organized at Catherine Crockett’s and Colin Hinz’s place –  a bit of a tight squeeze, what with the Mechano Ferris wheel, and the drum kit and stacks of old player piano tubes – but everyone made it in.

Catherine prides herself on providing good quality party foods … consequently, there were plenty of carrot sticks, mushrooms, green pepper slices and other veggies on the table. As a conciliatory gesture to slobs like me, there was a bowl of pretzels in the dining room and a bowl of some sort of corn chips in the sitting room. I had no complaints about the cherries, soft cheese or the sliced sausages, though. There was an abundance of beverage choices as well, from dry wine to raspberry Chambord, soft drinks and beer. Of course. A British visitor and all…

I thought I may have come on a little strong at first, aggressively describing the English part of my coin collection, without ever taking stock of whether Jim’s eyes were glazing over. But after a bit, I relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed the conversations over the course of the evening. Things were surprisingly fanzine oriented. But then, apart from Jim and myself, Keith Soltys and his wife were present. Keith published a fanzine named Torus in the 1980s and apparently still remembers how it was done. Both Penneys were here as well. It should be pointed out that the evening’s hosts, Catherine and Colin had also published at one time or another. The only conspicuous omission from the local fanzine clan was Murray Moore.

At one point Jim asked if he could take a photo. If I had been more vain, I would have said “No,” because the naked filaments in the overhead chandelier were beginning to bother my eyes, and the left one had begun an alarming droop. I took my pills, but it would be a while before the effect hauled the delinquent eye open again. Jim roped in a third party to take a picture of both of us – the grumpy looking one is me and the reasonable looking bloke on the right is Jim. I really must get out more, because I think I’ve forgotten how to smile again. Also, my right eye looked almost entirely closed. Fortunately, when Jim emailed me the shot this morning, I was able to fix the eye with Photoshop. Nobody will ever know … oh, wait … I just told everyone. What I need now is a distraction… As you can see, Hope Leibowitz and Catherine were photographed unknowingly as well, caught in the background.

By this time, Shirley Meier was feeling her drinks and holding forth in one corner. We had a nice talk about mutual hopeless acquaintances. The SFContario people – Alex von Thorn, Marah Searle-Kovacevic, Diane Lacy – seemed to prefer to sit in the front room where perhaps they laid schemes for their next con in November.

The party began relatively late – around 9 p.m. – and people were already leaving relatively early. It was midnight before I knew it. Hope was squirming in her seat because she didn’t want to leave but neither did she want to miss the last subway train north to get home. She left rather too late, but was fortunate enough to get a ride to the subway station with someone. I was lucky myself, and hitched a ride with Alex and Marah down to Queen Street. The streetcar runs 24-hours, and I avoided making two other connections. Nevertheless, I still wasn’t home until well past two.

The party must have ground on, however, and on and on. Jim had a very early flight on Monday, so the plan was to stay up all night and see him off to the airport next morning.

Where is our intrepid TAFF winner now? It’s probably best Jim tell us…when he next touches down.



Update 08/11/2013: Corrected a name, per comment.