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Aural Delights Nov 2008

The A Bertram Chandler Story UFO is now available as an audio podcast from Starship Sofa Aural Delights No 48

SFWA Forum

Jun 1973


I just have to comment on Mr Toomey's suggestion that SFWA members wear uniform. It reminds me of a period during which I was able to achieve an advantageious, income tax-wise, financial schizophrenia. It was when I was sailing in trans-Tasman cargo liners under the New Zealand flag. I paid income tax in New Zealand as a New Zealand shipmaster, giving my address as the Company's Head Office in Wellington. I paid income tax in Australia as an Australian writer. To split one's income is, actually, quite legal. Anyhow, my Australian tax accountant absentmindedly included in my Return the usual deduction of expenses for "upkeep of uniform". The Australian income tax authorities promptly wanted to know what the hell a writer wanted a uniform for. Not surprisingly, the deduction was disallowed.

In any case, Mr Toomey's idea isn't such a good one. Service, regimental, or whatever ties are not worn with uniform, but only with civilian clothes. And, in any case, why give our top-selling members the rank of "General"? What's wrong with "Admiral" or "Commodore"? {How about Field Marshal The Inspector General of the Fleet?}

Still on the subject of neckwear -- I suppose that most people now have seen the latest Hitchcock thriller, FRENZY. It's about a bloke who murders popsies by strangling them with whatever tie he happens to be wearing at the time, leaving the piece of coloured, patterened fabric about the neck of the otherwise naked corpse. It would never do for me to go on such a rampage. All that the police would have to do would be to find out who, in the neighbourhood, was (a) a member of the British Interplanetary Society (b) an officer of the Merchant Navy (c) a member of Tattersall's Club and (d) an employee of the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand. And then I'd be qualified for a hemp necktie. - {Would they have to limit the search to the neighbo(u)rhood? I mean, are there two people in the whole Universe who belong to all those outfits?}

Still, Hitchcock did raise one good point. Falsely accused of the murders, and tried, and convicted, was an ex-Squadron Leader R.A.F. Throughout the course of the film this unfortunate gentleman never once wore the R.A.F. tie to which he was entitled. If he'd made a point of wearing his R.A.F. tie at all times he would never have become a suspect.

It all goes to show something or other.

Finally, did you ever hear the Bow Tie Song?

Some call it madness
Bow tie call it love...

With best wishes, /A Bertram Chandler/
Originally Published in SFWA Forum No: 30 - Jun 1973