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Ansible 48, February 1987

Cartoon: Dan Steffan

PLEASE NOTE that this old ANSIBLE is a bit of history. Addresses may have changed (though the editor's hasn't), prices and agents' credits are invalid, etc. • Dave Langford, 1993.

ANSIBLE 48 • FEBRUARY 1987 • ISSN 0265-9816
Reasons For Publishing Your Belated Fanzine, No.48 (collect the set!): Greg Pickersgill tactfully intimates that sending out TAFF ballots before the deadline is on the whole less trouble than having broken bottles ground into your kidneys. Craven DAVE LANGFORD, cowering as ever at 94 LONDON ROAD, READING, BERKSHIRE, RG1 5AU, UK, has decided not to argue. Indecision about life after issue 50 still prevails: you take your solvency in your hands if you send £2 and hope for 5 issues (pro-rata for fewer). Cheques/money orders to ANSIBLE, Girobank transfer to account 24 475 4403. Or $3.50 to US agents Mary & Bill Burns (23 Kensington Court, Hempstead, NY 11550); or $4A to Aussie agent Irwin (Famous GUFF Winner) Hirsh, 2/416 Dandenong Rd, North Caulfield, Vic 3161. Phone: Reading (0734) 665804 and shout. Art: Dan Steffan (without), Alexis Gilliland (within). Print run 600. Bloody hell.


The inertia of fandom is a strange and wondrous thing. For years, on the first Thursday of each month, fannish pilgrims have travelled from the remote boundaries of known space to their ritual London meeting-place the One Tun pub... there to spend an merry social evening complaining about the bloody awful crowd and the emetic beer, in terms suggesting that by comparison the Black Hole of Calcutta was an oasis of airy tranquillity. A select few pros (screened for ideological correctness by Malcolm Edwards) withdrew to the nearby Sir Christopher Hatton. A select many simply stayed home rather than face the Tun.

This steady decline was arrested by the decisive action of no less a 100% macho man than the One Tun's manager, who in January blew his top at scenes of sick depravity (reportedly, Oscar Dalgleish with an arm round his boyfriend) and banned the offenders. Suddenly it was solidarity time; outraged petitions were circulated; and February's meeting was definitely rescheduled for the Cittie of York in Holborn. Or the Wellington near Waterloo, depending whose definite information you listened to. If I'd known it was that easy to trigger the long-overdue move, I'd have kissed Greg Pickersgill years ago.

The February Tun (as people kept calling it, followed by "You know what I mean.") was thus a bit scattered. The Wellington sounded most promising, but I made the mistake of following detailed route directions from Avedon Carol: "Right opposite Waterloo station." In the darkness of a winter evening it's remarkable how many hundreds of square miles of London turn out to be opposite Waterloo....

Situation reports and fans trickled into the vastness of the Wellington. The Cittie of York contingent was suffering severe and familiar overcrowding. Hitch-Hiker fandom had apparently cried with one voice "Good riddance," and adopted the Tun for its own. [*] A few stakhanovites like Martin Easterbrook touched base at all three locations, spreading pro-Wellington propaganda with a will. Your editor had already allowed himself to be swayed, as it were, by the beer – not to mention the luxury of being able to breathe in without a prior written request to surrounding fans. Everyone seemed happy: the Wellington it is, henceforth. (From the Tube, aim for the Waterloo Road station exit, following Old Vic signs. Verb. sap.) This has been a Public Service Announcement, couched in Lofty Moral Tones. Pass it on.

[*] False rumour, as Robert Newman got around to telling me in late 2002. "Belatedly, for the record can we get quite clear that at the January 1987 Tun meeting, the Towellies walked out with everyone else. We met at the Wellington for the Feb meeting."

Novacon 16 Guest of Honour Speech
Chris Evans

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Unsigned (Glasgow postmark): "LANGFORD! We, the 10th of October Scottish Committee for the Furtherance of Cyberpunk (OctoberAlbaCyberpunk), are shocked and disgusted at the scumbaggish treatment meted out to Bruce Sterling within the pages of your pustulant, despicable, libellous, nose-dredging excuse for a fanzine! Sterling is an artistic writer of considerable – nay, consummate skill, and to mention his name or any of his works in your purulent, grotty, shoddy, meretricious feuilleton indicates a staggering presumption on your part! Let it be known that our OctoberAlbaCyberpunk minions are everywhere, monitoring your every move and recording your every utterance and typed letter by the use of ultra-sophisticated hardware totally alien to the feeble mind-sets of limp flaccid Home-Counties-SF writers such as yourself! Our intent is to compile a dossier of your terrifying and nauseating pastimes and release it to Fandom worldwide. Never again will you be able to hold your head high in convention bars – indeed, your only solace will be that found in the snore-hung darkness of post-midnight film programmes. We dare you to print this letter and thus avoid the even more horrifying retributions we have in store!


[I wasn't so terrified as to miss the American spelling "libelous" in the original of this. H'mm.... DRL]

Dave Collins: "Terry Broome & I are collecting money within fandom to be donated to charity in memory of Rob Gregg. Closing date is 30 April; cheques should be made out to me." [21 Exleigh Close, Bitterne, Southampton, SO2 5FB]

Alexis Gilliland: "On [my novel] Wizenbeak, the third payment from Bluejay, due three months after publication, was not forthcoming. At the Atlanta Worldcon Jim Frenkel bought me lunch and said it would be mailed out in a week or two. The end of the month I called him three times, and when the calls weren't returned I sent a letter saying that if I wasn't paid by Oct 31, the contract was void and the rights reverted to me. October rolled by. On the 31st, I called and asked the person answering the phone to return the MS for the sequel which had been in submission since mid-May.... At WSFA's fifth Friday party that very evening, Jack Chalker told me that Bluejay was going down the tubes. It figures. I'm about 70,000 words into volume 3 of the trilogy, and should finish it up this month [November]. When I do, I can try to market all three as a package, Wizenbeak (rights having reverted), The Shadow Shaia (which Frenkel liked but never offered a contract for) and The Lord Of The Troll-Bats. How did we ever get so far ahead of the publisher, finishing book 3 before he made the third payment on book 1?"

[Andrew Stephenson later reported that Frenkel had given up publishing and switched to packaging. DRL]


Novacon 16 (long gone, snows of yesteryear, this is the kind of news Ansible prefers) definitely happened. From a smoking trail of charred synapses I reconstruct: On arrival at the De Vere Hotel, Coventry, we were personally met by Chairman Tony Berry Himself, merry as a funeral bell: "Hello. It's not very good so far. The bar's pretty nasty, I'm afraid...." To inject spontaneity, the committee had neglected to brief speakers and panellists on when the printed programme said they'd be appearing ("Bloody hell", quipped Terry Pratchett, arriving late Friday evening to find his panel was already supposed to have happened) or, in extreme cases, that they were appearing at all (I got a letter two days beforehand, asking me to run a panel. Instantly I rang to say "No, I hate running panels, I'm lousy at it, Brian Burgess could do better than me," etc. It was too late. "Oh dear, we've printed the programme now.") But all this is traditional and I enjoyed the con a lot. Famous US author Kim Stanley Robinson and David Brin made a terrific impact in mere hours: G. Pickersgill was seen dancing around the latter at 3am, crying "This man is a fucking alien, he has got to die!" – causing tolerant Avedon Carol to rail against anti-American bigotry and explain that David B. was a sociobiologist, so one must make allowances for this infirmity. New Era (the L. Ron Hubbard publishing outfit) confined their campaigning to a popular free-beer party with a table full of The Books, all of which were duly signed by ever-witty Malcolm Edwards ("Yours in decay, Ron", etc.) who never noticed that he was being stared at throughout by a New Era person not quite courageous enough to tick him off. The Nova award results (fanzine and fan writer both to Owen Whiteoak, for his Pink Fluffy Bedsocks alias practically any name you can imagine; fan artist to ATom) were popular; less so the stunning announcement by Novacon 17 boss Bernie Evans that despite Tony Berry's detailed mathematical proof in the programme book that Novacon could never be squeezed back into the Royal Angus, 1987 would see a return to the Royal Angus. Apparently this year's was the first Novacon ever to have fewer people attending than were listed as members in the program book (i.e. dropouts exceeded walk-ins), which may have had something to do with the decision.

BFS Open Night (3 Apr, upstairs in the Royal Connaught, High Holborn, WC1): free to all from 6pm.

Fanderson 87 (3-5 Apr, Caister, Norfolk): a mere £12 for days of non-stop bloody Gerry Anderson, to 147 Francis Rd, Leyton, London, E10 5NT.

Beccon 87 (17-21 Apr, NEC, Birmingham): Eastercon with ever- swelling guest list, now including Ian Watson and Jane Gaskell. £6 supp £11 att to 191 The Heights, Northolt, Middlesex, UB5 4UB.

Telly-Con (18 Apr, New Imperial Hotel, Birmingham): TV-fantasy affair with Patrick Macnee, Joanna Lumley, Gerald Harper: £8 to 132 Cambridge Drive, Marston Green, Birmingham.

Nat. Con Of Poets & Small Presses (25-26 April, Festival Hall, Corby): "strong SF presence" with Cassandra group and Bob Shaw (on "open day" Sat, not "poets' day" Sun). £5 to Tom Bingham, 82 Dresden Close, Corby, Northants, NN18 9EN.

Sol III (1-4 May, Liverpool): Trekkie fun, data from 39 Dersingham Ave, London, E12 5QF. See AMOK TIME again!!!

Rubicon II (29 May - 1 June, Chequers Hotel, Newbury): the substitute Silicon rides again, with a substitute date owing to Conspiracy. £5 to Bishop's Cottage, Park House Lane, Reading, Berks, RG3 2AH.

Albacon 87 (19-23 June, Central Hotel, Glasgow): GoH Josie Saxton, Brian Stableford. £4 supp £10 att (£12 from 19 May) to "Burnawn", Stirling Rd, Dumbarton, G82 2PJ.

Connote8 (3-5 July, New Hall, Cambridge): Unicon 8, £4 supp £8 att to Trinity College, Cambridge, CB2 1TQ.

Conspiracy 87 (27 Aug - 1 Sept, Brighton) has considerably de- emphasized its awkward given name in recent flyers, preferring to stress the 45th World SF Convention bit. (Cheques to the latter name.) £30 to 1 April, £38 to 31 July; PO Box 43, Cambridge, CB1 3JJ.

Fantasycon XII (4-6 Sept, Midland Hotel, Brum): GoH J.K. Potter. £3 supp £10 att, to 15 Stanley Rd, Morden, Surrey.

Nicon II (late Oct, Belfast): "80% positive" GoH Katherine Kurtz, Robert Anton Wilson, Jim Fitzpatrick. £2 supp £5 att (£6 after Easter, £7 after August) to 60 Melrose St, Belfast 9, N.I. Insider Thomas Ferguson quotes 1986 NIcon highlights: "Yes, Peter Morwood is a prat." (Anon). "She terrified me!" (Anne McCaffrey escort). "Who the fuck is running this bloody mess... I'll murder the bastards...." (Various voices as the con committee unanimously vanished on Saturday night).

Congregate (10-12 June 88, Peterborough): £5 supp £11 att, or find out more (this is all I know) from 67 Ayres Drive, Stanground, Peterborough.

Nolacon II (Worldcon: 1-5 Sept 88, New Orleans) has persuaded Linda Pickersgill to be UK agent: she hasn't had any other information whatever, but might know £ rates real soon now: 7a Lawrence Rd, South Ealing, W5 4XJ.

Eurocon XIII/Hungarocon IX (10-14 Aug 88, Budapest): an enthusiastic but vague flyer hopes this will be "the first Eurocon where there won't be travel problems on account of money restrictions, so fans from East and West can meet." Info: Hungarian SF Society, Eurocon Committee, Budapest 5, PF.514, H-1374, Hungary. (Address from flyer letterhead: in my ignorance I trust part of it isn't a phone number....)

Somethingorothercon (1988 or 1989, Somewhere In South Wales): "We, the Swansea group, are half thinking of putting on a con," writes, if that's the word for what he does to hapless postcards, D.M. Sherwood: "It (there's no name yet) may or may not be at the Grand, Port Talbot (a place with all the refined charm of the Central, Cardiff, provided the carpets haven't been stripped out yet). It may include items for fantasy games computer buffs, folk/filk singers and anything else on the cheap. SAE for info to my address pretty please." PO Box 23, Port Talbot, SA13 1DA.

Contrivance 89 (Eastercon bid) plans to offer a Jersey venue, following a Novacon straw poll at which Jersey votes exceeded those for other suggestions (Birmingham, Brighton) by factors varying from approximately fifty to approximately infinity. Pre-supp £1 to Tim Illingworth, 63 Drake Rd, Chessington, Surrey, KT9 1LQ.

Noreascon 3 (1990 Worldcon, Boston): GoH Andre Norton plus Ian & Betty Ballantine. Info: UK agent Colin Fine (see COA).

Contravention (1990 Eastercon bid) woos fans with dulcet, honeyed phrases: "In 1990 you'll get what you want whether you like it or not!", says the flyer, and suggests that you send £....... [sic] for pre-supp membership to Chris Donaldson, 35 Buller Rd, London, N17.

Holland In 1990 (my preferred Worldcon bid): a savage clog sank into my groin at Novacon thanks to ANSIBLE's mention of a £3.50 pre-supp fee when really it should be £4... to Colin Fine at his new address (see COA) or Ian Sorensen.

LA in 1990 (other Worldcon bid) got missed out last time, by accident rather than cunning pro-Holland design. A recent circular announces the demise of that controversial plan to fund the bidding with $20,000 of past LA-con profits (wise decision!). Instead, members of the bidding group SCIFI Inc are "paying an assessment of $25 a quarter" while "name" fans/pros are being invited to contribute $25 and become Associate Bid Committee Members with GoH voting privileges.


DAVID BRIN (for some months yet, I think) 26a Gayton Rd, Hampstead, London, NW3 1TY • TERRY BROOME, Ward 7, Harlow Wood Orthopaedic Hosp, Nottingham Rd, Mansfield, Notts, NG18 4TU ("for anyone wishing to send funeral cards") • BILL BOWERS, 1874 Sunset Ave, Apt 56, Cincinnati, OH 45238, USA • JOHN BROSNAN, 6 Lower Rd, Harrow, Middlesex, HA2 0DA ("I now reside in Chris Evans' old flat in Ortygia House – the building that has nurtured so many other great literary talents. I expect to see an improvement in my work any day now.") • ALLYN CADOGAN, 1324 E Cotati Ave (103), Rohnert Park, CA 94928, USA • MIKE CHRISTIE, 38 Gloucester Rd, Acton, London, W3 8PD • JONATHAN COLECLOUGH, c/o Digital Type Systems Ltd, Standard Wharf, 60 Wapping High St, London, SE10 9QR • MALCOLM EDWARDS c/o Victor Gollancz Ltd, 14 Henrietta St, London, WC2E 8QJ (mark letters PERSONAL) • DAVID ELWORTHY, 151 Victoria Rd, Cambridge • COLIN FINE, 28 Abbey Rd, Cambridge, CB5 8HQ • LINDA GERSTEIN & ELI COHEN, 440 West End Ave (14E), New York, NY 10024, USA • CAREY HANDFIELD, PO Box 1091, Coulton, Vic 3053, Australia • LEE HOFFMAN, 401 Sunrise Trail NW, Port Charlotte, FL 33952, USA • KIM HUETT, PO Box 649, Woden, ACT 2606, Australia • SUE JONES, 89 Sutton Rd, Shrewsbury, SY2 6ED • JON LANGFORD, 164 Harehills Rd, Leeds 8 • BERNARD LEAK, H1 Whewell's Court, Trinity College, Cambridge, CB2 1TQ • KEITH MITCHELL, 19 Meadowplace Rd, Edinburgh, EH12 7UJ • MIKE & DEBBY MOIR, 27 Hampton Rd, Worcester Park, Surrey, KT4 8EU • KIM NEWMAN, 45 Church Lane, Crouch End, London, N8 8DR • KEVIN K. RATTAN, 150 Bow Common Lane, Bow, London, E.3 • GRANT SINCLAIR, 2/5 Sturt Ave, Toorak Gdns, SA 5065, Australia • BRUCE STERLING, 4525 Speedway, Austin, TX 78751, USA • SUE THOMASON, 31 Barfield Rd, Muncaster, York, YO3 9AW • JEAN WEBER & ERIC LINDSAY, 6 Hillcrest Avenue, Faulconbridge, NSW 2776, Australia • OWEN WHITEOAK, temporarily c/o 24a Beech Rd, Bowes Park, London, N.11 •

The Fleisher/Ellison/Comics Journal Libel Case
Charles Platt


Cover-Up Scandal! Long-term readers will know I've often been danced on by irate persons in spiked boots for printing some tasty little factoid. Brian Earl Brown adds a new twist: he reckons I have no journalistic integrity because of something I didn't cover in Ansible 46, to wit, Ted White's drug bust (see A47. TW, by the way, was released on 4 December). Why, asks Brian, this shameful cover-up? I will admit it. Secretly my every action is controlled by alien radio waves beamed by Ted White into my brain. Past unflattering references to Ted in these pages are of course just camouflage. It is no use to plead in pathetic mitigation that owing to 1986 reclusiveness, when A46 appeared my only hard information about the arrest had come from Ted himself... in confidence. Brian demands higher journalistic standards: confidences should be ruthlessly violated when it comes to "major news" (his phrase) of a fan's misfortune. Must try harder, Langford.

Grand Old Man Lashes Out! Informed that his next paperback blurb quotes John Fowles again, Chris Priest worried that the "young" in "One of our most gifted and poetic young writers" might now violate the Trade Descriptions Act. "Go on Chris, just ONE more time," said Gollancz persuasively.... In future, Mr Priest will be insisting on "Dean of British SF".

Stolen From SF Chronicle: A new US mag SF International has appeared, featuring worldwide fiction: Andromeda Press, 99 Teardrop Ct, Newbury Park, CA 91320.... Nebula novel nominations dominated by Orson Scott Card's Speaker For The Dead.... St Martin's Press is buying Tor Books....

Fan Funds: GUFF was won by Irwin Hirsh (address as colophon), who therefore represents Aussie fandom here at Conspiracy and is doing his best to find a hat with corks round the brim. DUFF went to Lucy Huntzinger (2215-R Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114, USA), who will be travelling to Australia and is widely not rumoured to be devising a punk hairstyle with corks round the brim. TAFF ballots enclosed (where deadlines allow), containing all ye know on earth and all ye need to know. COFF, the Concrete Overcoat Fan Fund, was overwhelmingly won by COFF (runners-up Mal Ashworth and Graham Poole), amid titanic applause at the announcement that COFF would henceforth cease.

Curse Of Worldcon: A particularly dismal bit of fannish folklore is that Worldcon committee membership breaks up marriages. Note the sort-of-COA for Malcolm Edwards, who is not currently living at the 28 Duckett Rd, N4 1BN, address where Chris Atkinson is still to be found. OK?

The Garnett Alternative: "Having read the report in Matrix, which seems to be about different people at a different place, and re-read the one in Ansible 47 which excludes two of the essential participants, I think you need An Alternative Milford Report:

"It was observed that at Milford 1986, Scott Baker and 14 others wore glasses. The one exception was –

"David Garnett."

1986 Hugo Fuss: Johan-Martijn Flaton contributes a last word. "What most of the audience didn't know was the little scene afterwards with the winners and press. As Kees van Toorn and I (disguised as 'Press') entered the press-room with Harlan Ellison, the latter saw among a pile of Hugos one with a piece of paper taped to the bottom. It was Judy-Lynn's Hugo and the paper stated: 'Dead Editor'. I'll spare you Harlan's profanities...."

Nova Award Runners-Up Leak Horror: Writer 2 D. West; 3 L. Pickersgill & H. Ashworth. Fanzine 2 Pulp; 3 Prevert; 4 Nutz; 5 TNH/Stomach Pump/Xyster. ARTISTS 2 Atom; 3 D. West; 3 P. Lyon; 4 M. Molloy; 5 R. Calverley. (See also Novacon report.)

Secrets Of The Professionals Revealed. Terry Pratchett: "Signing books is better than sex." Ansible: "Really?" TP: "So long as the pages don't stick together...." Tom Shippey had a harrowing 1986 (confides D. West): having hurt his famously non-hirsute cranium on holiday by diving into water which proved to contain rocks, he was then belted with a bottle on the same spot, by Kate Solomon, for the social gaffe of dragging her round the room by her hair.... MALCOLM EDWARDS protests R.I. Barycz's scepticism about the Empire Of The Sun film: "Spielberg's already been over to London, has cast 'Jim' and starts shooting in February...."

RIP: Cesar Ignacio Ramos (apparently – Alexis Gilliland's cartoon this issue was sent to CIR's Aeon, to be found and returned by another Puerto Rican denizen "while going through the effects of Cesar Ramos").... Cheap Truth exploded in November and ran its own obituary: "Node Zero, the global info-nexus of the Cheap Truth publishing empire, has been reduced to smouldering wreckage in a poorly-realized action-sequence right out of the worst tradition of macho adventure fiction. A dead Hollywood stunt dummy, with several burst squibs of chicken-blood attached to its head and torso, was discovered by hard-boiled investigators [and] identified as that of Cheap Truth editor Vincent Omniaveritas...."

ELECTRONIC SKIFFY: Michael Bernardi is one of those carrying on the torch cast down by an effete earlier generation (me) on the Prestel net. Enquire about "Earthlight SF&F" from him on mailbox 919994136. Contains fanish critisism [sic]!

Barycz Strikes Some Happy Media: "King Kong Lives! Alas. American SF glossy mags pullulate with pics of a great hairy beast, usually horizontal. Dino de Laurentiis has a hand in it, alas. Well, if they can bring back Spock why not Kong? That is not dead which can eternal lie... and talking of Lovecraft the U of Chicago offers a translation of Greek magical papyri (330BC-690AD) wherein you may make the acquaintance of the Demiurge of the Seven Laughs and the Headless Demon Who Sees With His Feet. Besides infallible methods of nobbling the chariot races and making your shadow invisible. Order your copy today! ....Something to drive Mike Moorcock into the arms of Mary Whitehouse: Gor is being/has been filmed. Our very own Oliver Reed in the cast and Klaus Kinski as well. Outlaw Gor being made back to back with it if I interpret the news items correctly.... This year our TV screens will be blessed by a new Yankee series, ALF, subtle acronym for Alien Life Form who crashes into the attic of your everyday American suburban family and the rest is a muppet looking like the result of mating an anteater with a shar-pei who wears his hair in a duck's-arse over his sloping forehead. Might be fun.... OBIT Roger C. Carmel (aet.54) found dead at home in Hollywood from an apparent overdose of exotic chemicals, Columbian nose powder for one: general character actor, best known to skiffy as Harcourt Fenton (Harry) Mudd in Star Trek.... Mr Cyborg himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is busy making Stephen King's The Running Man. Arnold recently married into one of America's first families. Wits say this is an experiment in breeding a bullet-proof Kennedy." [RIB]

Serious & Constructive: Unwin's "Orion SF" imprint seems to have been mysteriously short-lived, which is why the Evans/Holdstock anthology will appear as a plain Unwin pb (cf Chris's speech).... George Hay confides that a shortlist of novels for the fabulous Clarke Award has been drawn up, but neglects to name any of them.... Games Workshop is fomenting a Thieves' World kind of fiction series set in the world of their Warhammer game, whose ethereal flavour is best conveyed by such an extract as "Your blow smashes your opponent's spine and abdomen, tearing muscle and shattering bone so that your opponent falls to the ground in two separate pieces." British authors of pacifistic bent have already fled vomiting when invited to contribute.... Colin Greenland, while gloating over having arranged a Roger Dean cover for his ripping fantasy blockbuster The Hour Of The Thin Ox, is bitter about White Dwarf's subtle easing-out of his film column: "They cut my fee and mixed me up with Alex Stewart!" (it is not certain which is the greater insult).... Your Editor, momentarily delighted to see surprisingly non-awful cover art on the Baen Space Eater reissue, was swiftly crushed by Patrick Nielsen Hayden's discovery that the cover had actually been recycled from Asimov's SF Mag.... Douglas Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas has a lot on self-referential sentences, to which Damon Knight contributes: "Terry Carr... sent us the riddle, 'How do you keep a turkey in suspense?', and never sent the answer. After about two weeks, we realized that was the answer." Ansible's new title will be "How do you...."

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Hazel's Language Lessons:
The Marathi Word For Fandom, Revealed

avlyachi mot

... A term for a gang of fellows united by some present and common but evanescent interest. A very loose and patched-up union based on no consolidation of interests and with an ever-present tendency to separation.

ANSIBLE 48: 94 London Road, Reading, UK, RG1 5AU