This was a submission I made for a publication celebrating 20 years of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society.
DWAS 20th ANNIVERSARY CONTRIBUTION
By David J Howe
1) Why did you apply for an Exec Post?
I didn’t. I was asked by Jan Vincent-Rudzki when Jeremy Bentham resigned whether I would take over the Reference Department. I did and the rest is history.
2) Why did you decide to leave.
I had been running the dept for 6 years and felt that I needed to move on. I also wanted to spend more time on projects of my own rather than everything I did coming under the DWAS banner.
3) What was the greatest achievement?
Getting publications out on time. Over the six years I averaged over one new publication a month, which isn’t bad going. On a personal level, it was the MAKING OF THE FIVE DOCTORS magazine and poster.
4) What aims never reached fruition?
Completing the Plotlines seasons that I started!
5) What was the working relationship like?
Generally good. The only serious run-ins were with David Saunders.
6) Memories of Panopticon?
The only con I attended in a non-assisting capacity was the very first one. Therefore all my memories are of how much hard work it was to get them running. I remember collapsing from physical exhaustion at one of them as well. Happy days.
7) How has fandom changed since the formation of DWAS.
DWAS brought people together. Many of my current friends I met through the DWAS. This was its single greatest strength.
8) How has fandom benefitted?
9) The low points on the Exec?
Attending exec meetings where certain people would go on and on and on for literally hours about things that had been agreed at the last meeting and try and change decisions because they personally were not in favour. The petty politics and backstabbing – it was only a fan club and yet some people behaved as if it were a major political party.
10) Further comments
Separate article attached.
DISCOVERING THE PAST
I first found out about the Doctor Who Appreciation Society from two sources simultaneously. The first was when historian Jeremy Bentham had a letter printed in some newspaper pointing out that there had been a companion called Katarina. They printed his address and so I wrote off for more information. I also, at the same time (around the end of 1976) received an address from the BBC in response to a letter I had written – I forget now what it was about. When I got the membership forms through I joined immediately and started writing n to the newsletter with swaps of various things.
This put me in touch with some local members and so we started meeting and decided to do a fanzine … but that’s another story.
One of the things that fascinated me was when I received a list from Jeremy of the story synopses and story information (STINFO) sheets that he had available. Up until that point I had not really been properly aware that Doctor Who had a history going back to 1963. I had bought the 1972 Piccolo MAKING OF DOCTOR WHO and had kind of assumed that the journeys article was made-up (for some reason). The Radio Times tenth anniversary special showed that there were these stories after all, but the details were so vague and sketchy. They tantalised rather than explored.
With the DWAS’ reference department I could at last find out some more and so, seeing that there was a STINFO for 'The Invasion' available, which was a cyberman story and I liked cybermen, I sent off for it.
I cannot describe my feelings when, a couple of days later (and it really was a couple of days, Jeremy was always very good at sending things out promptly) a rolled piece of paper was pushed, slightly crushed, through my letter box. The roll was the synopsis of 'The Invasion' and I devoured it. I realised that this was the story that I remembered watching as a child, where the cybermen are in the sewers. It was astonishing to me that someone else had seen and remembered it, and that here, somehow, was a complete synopsis! I still have the synopsis and you can still see the crush marks where it was rolled up to be sent to me.
Very soon after that I was a regular buyer of Jeremy’s wares. I discovered all the old stories and some newer ones. We started corresponding. Then we met and got on well. I discovered that audio tapes of the old stories existed and got my mitts on some. 'The Invasion' was one of the first and I was in heaven. I cannot even today watch or listen to that story without a shiver going down my spine. It’s the music. I can’t shake it off!
I then asked Jeremy if I could write some STINFOs myself … and, again, the rest is history.
In those days the DWAS was the key to the mysterious and hidden world of Doctor Who. It opened up the house of delights and wonder that this sixteen-year-old kid had stumbled into and from which he has so far failed to emerge.
I owe the DWAS a great debt, both for initial and enduring friendships and for showing that a fan club could be great fun.
David J Howe