Rough And Tombola

CHE’s Autumn Fair

Autumn is upon us once more, and as I watch the golden brown leaves flutter limply to the ground … you mean this isn’t Readers Digest?? Well, actually I feel as though Autumn has been upon me since last July. However, this is almost all completely beside the point, you see to brighten your autumnal gloom, London CHE groups decided to get together and produce another sparkling fair. Only this time it’s bigger and better and we’re holding it in Autumn, which explains the incredibly stupid content of the first few lines of spiel. Yes, an Autumn fair, and what better way to raise money for the CHE London Club, that we so badly need, than to give people a really good time? Well, that’s what we thought anyway.

You may remember that last year, despite little or no advance planning or publicity, we did much the same thing and managed to raise £300 in just five hours for the club. Now, £1 a minute isn’t bad going by anybody’s standards is it? Unfortunately, London prices being what they are, £300 isn’t going to get us very far, but apart from all this fund-raising bit, we wanted this fair to be an opportunity for all the London groups to involve themselves in what almost everyone agrees to be a worthwhile project. So this year’s preparations started that much earlier, giving us more opportunity to get the goodies together and to pick up the bargains you’ll be finding on our heavily laden stalls. We now have contributions from all our London groups and even one from the Home Counties (Windsor’s Fruit, Flower and Veg Stall).

We hope we’ve learnt from past experience, and although last year’s fair was quite a success it was by no means perfect. So this year, we’ll be aiming to ‘keep the customer satisfied’ by laying on food and hot drinks not to mention somewhere to rest your aching feet and have a chat with your friends.

Our idea is that this fair should be fun for everyone and certainly not just the participants. Of course, with some fund-raising events you can find your hand in your pocket every five minutes, but we know that this fair couldn’t be a success based on the rip-off principle. That’s why you’ll be finding fantastic bargains from 5p to £5.

To give you some idea of what we’ve got in store for you I’ll list out just some of the stalls. We’ve got the New Books stall; Cards and Calendars; Framed Prints; House Plants; For HIM For Christmas, (sorry girls, but nobody put forward a For HER Stall); Homes and Gardens Stall; Pickles and Relishes; Cakes; Bottles; Antiques; Candles(!); White Elephant Stalls; and so it goes on, not to mention Fortune Tellers, Bingo etc, and of course our own pivotal CHE stall where you can find out about us and some of our aims. Then at 7.30 pm we’ve got entertainment lined up for you in the form of our own CHE players who will be presenting three comic one-act plays: ‘Gladys Otherwise’ and ‘One Blast And Have Done’ both by N.F. Simpson and Harold Pinter’s ‘Trouble In The Works’. As well as all this there’ll be a Revue which will present some of our ‘home grown’ talent in glittering style!!

Although we’re hoping that many of our own CHE members will support our venture, it would be a great pity if this turned out to be an ‘in’ thing. We want as many gay people as can make it to come along and, for that matter, anyone else. This is why we’ve tried to keep the entrance price so low (20p for the fair; 30p for the evening entertainment; and a 40p ticket that will get you into both). Then, as a kind of bonus, we’ve numbered each ticket and at 6.00pm there’ll be a draw to see who’s going to win themselves a Mediterranean holiday for two.

So you see we’ve all been quite busy getting what should be something really special together for your delight, and dare I say, titillation, and we hope that you won’t want to miss it. The fair opens at 11.00 in the morning at the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1 on Saturday 4th November. If you’re going to come by the tube you’ll want the Holburn stop which is on both the Piccadilly and the Central Lines. If you want to try and get tickets in advance send a postal order and a stamped addressed envelope to Charles Micklewright, 46 B Chart field A venue, London SWI5 6HG or you can call in on our CHE London Information Centre, 22 Great Windmill Street. For my sins I will be ‘on the door’, I hope not literally, and I’ll look forward to seeing you there.

Platform Wreathed With Flowers

03-197207XX-03Che’s all-London Congress could, depending on your standpoint, be regarded as a success. Quite a few ideas were aired, there was none of the tension that has sometimes characterized previous mass meetings. The platform had been wreathed with flowers. Maybe thats why. About 200 people turned up and sat in grave rows in the Holborn Assembly Rooms. Gavin chaired alone, deciding (rightly) we could do without a line of glum celebrities flanking him.

Most of the time was spent discussing the Che club. The establishment of a nation-wide series of non-profit making, well equipped clubs for homosexual men and women is one of Che’s prime aims. It looks as though it is up to London Che to do it being bigger and therefore richer (though not necessarily wiser) than the provincial groups.

The treasurer told us early that the Building Fund now stood at £449.96. A great deal of discussion ensued about priorities – that is, should this club start right off as a sort of C.O.C. enterprise, or was the acquisition of a small permanent office more important just now? David Bell claimed that the Che club would “be the one thing that Che is known for the world over”. Gavin decided it was not very rewarding to look to Europe where things were different and had been so for some lime.

A few lone voices expressed doubt about the wisdom of apparently competing with existing gay clubs, and someone else told us to avoid the church hall syndrome since members wouldn’t come to meetings.

However, this wasn’t exactly supported as the entire meeting heavily agreed that they would attend Che meetings no matter where they were held. The temperature rose just before half time when one guy, obviously cheesed off with the debating stood up and threw a 50p piece on the floor and bullied everyone to do the same. His idea was action now and to hell with the chat. His enthusiasm was partly infectious as that little episode added an instant £70.86 to the Building Fund.

There was some inconclusive chat about Che’s central London groups and the growing number of local ones. We heard that gramophone enthusiasts, poetry-lovers, drama-buffs, car rally maniacs, musical souls, sporting types were now being catered for by a series of groups set up to pursue these hobbies. There was to be a choir as well, and a sports club. And a dining club.

The assembly was intended to provide an opportunity for members to sound off about Che, to criticize and make suggestions. So the larger part of time was spent, inevitably, on internal topics. But the meeting was opened and closed by discussion of more general and more relevant topic. Immediately the dynamic Jacquie Forster of Sappho harrangued the meeting about male-domination of Che. “Do you spend any time at all thinking about Lesbians?” she cried, “equality must mean more girls in Che”. And we agreed. There was, she added, no evidence of any campaigning activities. And why not? The IT case was touched upon, but briefly with a reminder that a great many people had written letters to all sorts of publications and indeed, that week Che had scored highly with letters published.

Altogether the meeting produced a tremendous feeling of unity, enthusiasm and confidence that in London Che is doing the right thing and beginning to do it rather well.