My speech from the last night of M.S.F.C. at St. Davids Hall West Brunswick

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the last night of this incarnation of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club.

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”
- Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

For the last 27 years the MSFC has met here in St David's hall in West Brunswick. I remember when we first came here in late January 1986, it seems so long ago now, the hall seemed so big, the kitchen old and cramped and it was in West Brunswick, far away from the lights, shops and attractions of the centre of Melbourne, where we used to meet, wander off to shop or to get a coffee. How was it all going to work out here, on Friday nights, in the dark and quiet of West Brunswick?

It did, but it took time and experimentation. We had to change and adapt. Which we did. Meetings were later in the evening, rather than from 6-9 in the city. A 7.30pm start meant people could finish work or study and then catch a number 55 tram to West Brunswick. I opened and ran the kitchen for the first 9 years we were here, so people could get a drink and a snack and the club could raise some money. In those early days I learned about Coffee. Would you believe we actually had Pablo instant coffee, till David Syber proved to me it was rubbish and put me onto the path of real ground coffee beans and a drip filter machine? I used to love going to the Footscray market on Fridays in my lunchbreak and buying 250 grams of fresh ground coffee. I love the smell of freshly ground coffee and the way the paper bag is slightly warm to the touch.

So we were doing things at club meetings; next the committee gave them themes and the What's On at the Club calendar first appeared, drawn by Gunny. Now you could plan to come to a discussion night or an author talk (Did you know we had Terry Pratchett twice in the early 1990s?) or to the show and tell nights, the create an instant fanzine night, the film screenings (who can forget the night I showed a 16mm print of Stalker, the great Russian film which went for well over 3 hours!) (or Shirley Thompson Verses The Aliens—check it out, it is Bodgies and Widgies in Sydney up against Space Aliens!) and many others. When we couldn't think of anything there were cake and conversation nights. I opened and ran the kitchen for the first 9 years. Finally you could get a pretty reasonable cup of coffee and something to munch on from our own kitchen. Of course we had Twin Peaks nights with “Damn fine coffee and cherry pie, although no-one got wrapped in plastic, that I know of.

More infamous nights were the Medical Oddities night, where people brought along their X-Rays and compared notes, shudder—we swore an oath on the skull of St Fanthony never to repeat that and we never have. Some of the Bring a Salad nights were wild too; fans can have odd ideas about food—I remember Les Robertson's five bulbs of Garlic salad—you could smell that from past the tram stop on hall street. I saw him prepare it in my kitchen, with a claw hammer wrapped in a plastic bag, smashing up all the bag of Garlic he had bought. We also had odd concoctions of blue food, a couple of times there was bright green chocolate cake, whichfew people would eat and of course the amazing iced cakes David L. Russell used to turn up with, usually to celebrate a birthday or anniversary.

My wife insists I tell you about the craze for electric water pistols one summer. People were running about shooting one another and everyone seemed to get wet some nights. The kitchen floor was awash and finally the committee asked people to stay outside, as it was annoying some people, especially when people started to throw around buckets of water. I remember George Ivanov coming into the hall dripping wet. Someone (not me) had seen him get off the tram and as he did had thrown a full bucket of water over him.

Best I can work out there have been over 1240 meetings of the MSFC in West Brunswick. There were lots of good times, but there were also arguments and disagreements. On the whole it has been a good time. I know I had a lot of innocent and not so innocent fun (Yes, I started Get Stuffed fanzine here in the hall—I was annoyed with the people running Natcons, who did not believe there really was a fanzine called Ethel the Ardvaark. We showed 'em, when we won a Ditmar in 1989 for best fanzine at the Natcon.)

We made the club work out in the remote darkness of West Brunswick. I don't know how much of the ride you in the audience were along for, but I hope you have enjoyed being a Science Fiction fan in this place. This has been a good place for our community for 27 years. I would like to thank the congregation and elders of St David's for putting up with us for all that time. We were the people who managed to smash a window with a Teddy Bear. Gunny was swinging it around his head on a chain. The chain broke and this teddy went straight through a window. I was outside and saw it come through. Amazingly it mad a teddy bear shaped hole-head, arms, body and legs. The Callistenics club broke windows when they used the hall, but we managed something weirder.

I want to end with a quote from someone much in the news again lately, (No, not the Tenth Doctor saying “I don't want to go”, which is true, but irrelevant); no, I look to J.F.K. speaking before the Democratic convention on the eve of his presidential nomination:

I believe that the times require
imagination, and courage, and
perseverance. I'm asking each one of
you to be pioneers toward that New
Frontier. My call is to the young at
heart, regardless of age; to the
stout of spirit, regardless of party;
to all those who respond to the
scriptural call, "Be strong and of
good courage. Be not afraid, neither
be dismayed." For courage, not
complacency, is our need today.

Thank you.

(This is a slightly corrected and altered version. It incorporates one or two little ad-libs. I was pleased I managed to stay on top of what I wrote and apart from a bit of emotion during the final JFK quote, it wasn't too hard to deliver. Jocko 17/12/2013.)

Boardgames night tomorrow at MSFC

Once a month we have a lot of fun playing boardgames at the Melbourne Science Fiction club. Tomorrow, Friday the 13th 8-11pm 74 Melville Road, West Brunswick.
Lots of times I play Smallworld, but there are many games, some belonging to the club and others brought along by members. Drip coffee and biscuits available for a small fee from the kitchen.

Late, hot, bit tipsy

You know using a half pint pot for cold wine with a bit of water is not a good idea. I'm a bit wobbly now. still hot, 41 degrees celsius here today. tomorrow not so hot, 27 degrees. wish i could sleep. ah well, working a bit on the writing. all the online ooptions, facebook, newspapers are distracting, but so far in 2013 I have posted a few things here. hello all my friends and readers, good to have you along. Someone once said my writing is woven with comments about food and drink. I like food and drink, too much, that's why I am overweight and struggle to lose kilos. Might have lost a few today. didn't really have an evening meal, although I did eat a small bowl of ice cream. trying to use the smaller bowls, rather than the huge chinese feast ones, especially for cereal or oats with fruit. Have yet to even find Eoin colfer's hitcdhhiker book, so that resoulution is on hold. Damn hot. need more cold drinks, not wine, though. Jug of cold water in the fridge. So far 2013 is better than 2012, relaxing enjoying life more. Saw Attach the block, nasty violent, enjoyed it. Good movie, but not for kids, even though it about 15 year olds. Young adult MA 15+, so the protagonists, if they were real cold not see it. Interesting. kept thinking the average age of vietnam soldiers was 19... '
cheerio Jocko.

Begin again.

Hope you all have a Hoopy New Year. (Yep, Hitchikers fan to the end) Gee I miss Douglas's books. Thanks to David Russell I think I have a copy of them all and no-one writes like Douglas Adams. I have tried the Eoin colfer continuation of Hithchikers guide. i really must have another go at it in 2013. There you go an achievable resolution. I also must loose weight. ( ate too much partying over Xmas) (There was a pause there while i went back, corrected a couple of spolling errors and tidied up the first little bit. computers, it wasn't like this when i used to use a typowriter--going back with correction tape/fluid was very analogue and a bit hap hazard--you can see this in early fanzines I did.) At this time of year i give thanks for everyone I know and miss those who have passed on. (Long pause while i reflect on loved ones I miss...) Life is a journey, so on we go. I am very lucky to have wonderful family and friends. I like telling my stories and hearing theirs. It is amazing how untidy life can be, yet that is quite a lot of its charm.
You know it is 20 years since the Babylon 5 pilot was made. Love that show still.
cheerio Jocko.

Got the tram today!

It was a lovely sunny day here, so we walked to Melville Road and caught the 55 tram into Melbourne C.B.D. today. Had lunch at Lord of the Fries and Harajuku (japanese crepes), then went shopping. After much searching finally got the $7.95 Marvel collection #1 Spiderman comic from the newsagent. Written by JMS, it is cool and I really wanted to read it.

It was awkward getting on and off trams with the walking frame and I feel a bit tired in the legs now, but I am really glad to have done the trip. Being stuck at home for a month is not much fun and I really am feeling better. The low floor trams were much more accessible than the z class and the train home was easy, although waiting for the bus from the station to the stop near home was a dull 25 minutes. I do look forward to when the doctors will let me drive again.
  • Current Music
    Masterchef ad

No MSFC tonight for me.

I just posted this to facebook: I cannot attend the M.S.F.C. Annual General Meeting. I am just too tired and not up to going out in the cold night. I hope to get along to con 9 on Sunday, perhaps by taxi. Good luck with AGM and to the new committee.
Bit disappointed, but I am tired and sick. My right leg is getting better, but i still have a wound with a vacuum dressing connected by a 2 metre tube to a portable pump. Looks like this will continue for another three weeks and then I hopefully will go into hospital for a skin graft over the wound. I think I can see the end of this episode. Ghod it is frustrating, as I need a frame to walk and am not allowed to drive. at least i am getting some model cars made.

hello, I'm here, but I've been sick

White tail spider bite on my right leg has made me hugely ill, been in hospital and am still in the hospital@home program. Can't walk without a frame, not allowed to drive, have a vacuum bandage on my leg with a 2 metre tube to a pump I carry about. June was a write off for me. At least I am getting some model cars made.

after con

Back home, back at work. Nullus Axietas 3 was great. We drove about two and a half thousand kilometres. Now to pay off my credit card. Watching hungry beast. It is great. Got a cough, cold, eh, it is almost winter, but not con bug.