Monday, April 17, 2006

A Fannish Funeral - vale Diane Marchant!

I remember my early days in fandom, when I had just started to make friends. I was a member of Austrek, which at the time was the only Trek club in Melbourne (and maybe it is again, now that the others have died off!). I was invited to come along to one of the Friday evenings at Diane Marchant's home in Mordialloc. At the time, she was living therewith her mother, Jessie, but Jessie was always in bed when we arrived, so I rarely saw her. Diane was delighted to have visitors and always made us welcome. We would sit in her living room talking Star Trek, then we were invited into her special room, where she kept her collection of Star Trek memorabilia - signed photos, books, jewellery, toys, cards - and that massive collection of fanzines. Diane was only too willing to lend them out to us and that gave me the chance to read fannish Trek fiction. Afterwards, we would retire to her kitchen for supper. My favourites were the cheese and pickled onion sandwiches (I still make them, and think of her when I do). I remember, later, when she and Helene Shaw, my friend who passed away almost exactly thirteen years before Diane (about two days difference), used to play a game called ENCHANTED FOREST and argue good-naturedly abvout who was winning. Eventually, the Friday nights no longer happened. For personal reasons, Diane withdrew, even from the Star Trek Welcommittee, which she had helped found, and although she never quite lost touch - I used to get a Christmas card each year - she made most of her friendships in her local church.

Her funeral, on Monday April 10th, was in that church. We did get the fannish tree going, and most of her friends and acquaintances found out. Only about a dozen fans actually made it to the funeral, though I'm sure everyone who could get there did, but the church had quite a lot of people there, because she also had plenty of friends in the congregation.

There were some of her most cherished items on the coffin, including her signed photo of a very young Leonard Nimoy, who was one of her friends in the old days, and probably knows by now.

The actual service took about an hour, then there was a morning tea and Geoff Allshorn did a very good eulogy - the official one was during the service, but this was the fannish one. Helena Binns, our indefatigable photographer, was there taking group shots of everyone. She had taken a picture of Diane in bed, looking very much herself and waving cheerily, made copies and kindly distributed them to all of us.

We went on to the Springvale cemetery, which is surprisingly beautiful, looking more like a park than an old-fashioned cemetery, where Diane was laid to rest in her family plot, and we threw rose petals on the coffin. After that, we all went off to the cemetery cafeteria, would you believe, and had a belated lunch. It was nice having company to cheer each other up. Fandom just won't be the same without her.

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