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Some years ago, a bloke got up at an Annual General Meeting to complain about the existing state of the B.B.  He said that the B.B. needed a face lift, that it was not regular enough, and that the chronic shortages of articles could be overcome by a bit of keenness and thumping all round.  The current editor rather doubted whether all this would have any effect, and the upshot was that the complainer was told to damn well go ahead and do it.

Now – some 120 issues; 1,300 odd pages, nearly half a million words and over half a ton of paper later – the complainer now finds himself in much the same position as the one he originally criticised and so, with this Christmas issue of the B.B., he is bowing out to make room for a new editor.

The fact is that, from time to time, nothing short of a complete change of direction is sufficient to inject a new shot of enthusiasm into a magazine like the B.B.  With the best of intentions, one gets stale and fails to take the extra trouble of breathing life into what otherwise becomes a humdrum monthly exercise.  Looking through older issues of the B.B., it is obvious that this sort of care was once taken.  The whole thing was set out in a readable form and strung together where necessary by suitable comments leading the reader from one feature to the next rather than presenting him with an indigestible mass of print.  More care was taken in getting articles of good standard and printing them speedily.  The record for this, in fact, occurred when a lecture which was held on a Wednesday night at the University was reviewed in the middle of the B.B. which appeared at club the next day.

Of later years, the only thing which could still be said of the B.B. was at least it came out regularly. This year, even this has only just been maintained.  In the last eleven years, the B.B. has missed only two issues.  This is six times as good as the regularity previously but of late it has been only just maintained.  It is high time that somebody else took over!

It is with pleasure that we welcome the new Editor – Dave Irwin – well know to you all as the “wig” – who will be your Editor from next month onwards.  I know you will join with me in wishing him a long and successful career. On second thoughts, it is not probably fair to wish him as long a career as I have had, as this has been rather too long, both for me and the B.B. readers.  It has been longer, in fact, than all the previous editorships combined. On the other hand, we can all wish him a much more successful career, and what is more to the point, resolve to help him make it so.  I don’t suppose he will want much from me, as you all have got rather too much of this in the past, but he will certainly want help from you.  He will have a lot to do as it is, without having the additional worry of where the next article is coming from.  No doubt he will be more methodical than I was, so even if I lost your article, don’t be dismayed, try again with Dave.  Remember…

A B.B. that is thin and small
Is not a lot of use at all
So rally round, and help the Wig
To make it good, and thick, and big.

At this stage, and after that outburst, it should be recorded with thanks that Alan Thomas also volunteered to take on the job of producing the B.B. should this have become necessary. Alan (Mayor of Priddy) Thomas is equally well known to all club members and has since taken over the even more onerous job of being Club Secretary.  A club which can produce two volunteers of this standard to do a job like the B.B. is in a happy position, and we should all be thankful that it is so.

As you know, it has been the policy for many years to attempt to produce the B.B. according to three ‘rules’ which the present editor formulated some time ago and which have guided him (not always successfully) ever since.  These ‘rules’ are as follows: -

  1. The B.B. should have its own distinct personality.  There is little point in attempting to make any caving magazine a copy of some other caving magazine.  One might as well try to make a club exactly like some other club, in which case the sensible thing would to join the club concerned.  Club magazines, like clubs, should be different.  The B.E.C. is a club – or at any rate used to be – which does a lot of good and useful work underground whilst avoiding the too serious approach to life.  Its magazine should thus reflect this point of view.  The danger in attempting to make a club magazine into a pukka scientific periodical is that, inevitably, the material offered will fall short of this aim, and the result will always be worse than the declared ‘image’.  On the other hand, a magazine which does not declare a high standard can usually manage to exceed its targets.
  2. The main function of the B.B. is to keep members in touch with the club’s activities.  Thus, the B.B. should not be aimed at the Belfry or Waggon regular so much as the member who lives in distant parts, but who is keen to be kept up with all that is currently going on in the club and elsewhere on Mendip.  This is best carried out by frequent and regular appearance of the B.B. and the selection of material.
  3. The B.B. should reflect all aspects of club activities.  We are primarily a caving club, but we also climb; walk; visit foreign countries (in addition to Wiltshire, Devon and Gloucestershire); hold dinners; crack jokes etc.  Ideally, each issue of the B.B. should reflect all these activities.  This is not possible, but an attempt has been made to try to make each issue appeal to the member who prefers any one activity at least in part.  Occasionally the importance of a specialist article may interfere with this aim but in general, it has been kept in mind.  The aim here is to include a mixed bag of good quality articles of all types.

I am sure that your new Editor wished to se a continuance of these basic principles, but he will have his own ideas as to how this can best be carried out.  Thus we can expect to see some basic continuity, but with refreshing changes.  I am sure that the innovations which he will introduce will strengthen and rejuvenate the B.B.

Under the present regime (for the last time!) a tradition has grown up whereby the Christmas issue has contained much material of a lighter variety – without sacrificing the more serious article.  I hope that this last issue will continue this tradition – and that it will be a record for the size of the B.B.  On this note, I will wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year and thank you all for putting up with me for so long.

“Alfie”

He tossed the boy a ….

……or to be more exact, twelve wrappers.  This is by way of introducing – in an eye catching form – the new scheme for the distribution of the B.B. for 1968.  Phil Townsend will be sending twelve wrappers to each recipient of the B.B. and you are all asked to fill in each wrapper in with you name and address and to post the completed wrappers back to Phil at 154 Sylvia Avenue, Lower Knowle, Bristol 4.  These wrappers will then be used to send out YOUR B.B.’s throughout the coming year.  If you move, it is up to you to send some suitable wrappers to cover the remaining months to Phil.

………...   WRAPPER