Unless you have been hiding behind a particularly substantial sofa, you’ll know that the BBC recently put out ‘The Day of the Doctor’, 799th episode of the franchise and a celebration of fifty years of those naughty Daleks and whatnot… complete with a reunion of former Doctors.
Strangely enough, we of the Faerie Wood community just experienced a similar convergence. The complex and far-flung orbits of our grown-up lives achieved a brief perihelion, and just like Doctor Who, it was kind of awesome. I believe it may have been almost twenty years since we were all gathered in one place. (Mostly my fault; the others gather more often.)
The occasion that caused us to reassemble was a sad one, as we were there to mark the passing of Garry’s dad: the bloke I remember principally as gatekeeper and tea-provider. He’d welcome us inside when we went round, and no matter what strange games we were developing or playtesting, he always took an interest, and always encouraged. Some parents would probably have been unimpressed with guys in their early 20’s constructing and painting scenery for games involving faeries… Roy was different, and without his patience and encouragement during those lean times while Garry worked to build up his art portfolio, I can’t be certain that we’d have Faerie Wood in completed form today.
Seeing Alistair and Mark for what might have been the first time this century could have been awkward, but it wasn’t. Not in the least: if we overlook a little bit of hair loss and some greyness, it was as if we’d been apart for just a week or two. I think that shows just how compatible we must be.
This wasn’t just a gathering of four role-playing enthusiasts; I found myself with the only three people on the planet who had been Game Master for Faerie Wood games I’d played in. (Sue wrote a game – I found the notes for it a few months back – but I don’t believe she ever ran it. Other people have run games of course… but not games that I witnessed. So gathered at that wake, yesterday, was the nucleus of the game that once defined me, far more than my job, or my studies.
Nowadays Alistair runs a chain of used Zeppelin dealerships throughout south London, and you probably already know that Mark was instrumental in setting up the Pus Marketing Council. It was good to see that the gang was still on form; Alistair making puns so bad that they should come with hazmat labels, and Mark positing the sandwich monkey – a creature who should always blink into existence at your elbow, with exactly the sandwich you fancy. (We considered whether one would be able to request a Lost Car Keys Sandwich, and have yet to decide if this is not so much a sandwich as an underhanded form of more general wishing, more properly handled by a genie than a sandwich monkey. Demarkation is everything in the supernatural world.)
Garry’s eulogy for his dad was perfect (you can tell why he’s got his own radio show…) and expressed some wonderful memories. I don’t know if laughter is the best medicine, but what could have been a terribly unhappy time turned out to be a bittersweet day that I will remember fondly. It was the day when I learned just how cool Garry’s dad (the drummer, and Star Trek fan) really was… and when I learned that real friendships don’t need the constant information drizzle of Facebook, and don’t need to be wound up regularly like a clock in the hallway: they just are.
Even so, I’m not going to leave it so long, next time.