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(October 1999) [Printed in "Reality Module No.12."]
Colin Watson (1927-1999)
I came into work at Footscray Library on August 10th to find a faxed message that Colin Watson had died and that there was to be a memorial service for him on the 16th. I was shocked - I hadn't even known he was ill.
I first met him in October 1985 when Justin Semmel and I went to the inaugural meeting of the (as it was then called) Dandenong Valley Science Fiction and Futurist Society (D.V.S.F.&.F.S).
Colin was the white haired and bearded chief librarian at Springvale, a long-time SF fan, and founding president of the Society.
I was in awe of him - but I found him to be friendly and approachable, with a keen mind and an energetic personality - and we had some very interesting conversations. (His great love was SF time-travel stories.)
I was there when they celebrated the setting up of the (since scattered) special SF collection at the Springvale Library - the Text and Relevant Data in Springvale (T.A.R.D.I.S) collection.
I was very fond of Colin Watson. He was a real character and he taught me (without intending to) one valuable lesson.
When I was a very young man all the 'proper' adults I knew were pretty dull. I thought that a consequence of growing-up was that you became mundane and ordinary - that turning thirty would, somehow, spontaneously turn me boring!
Colin Stanley Watson was ever so much more than thirty - and wasn't boring at all! He lifted a burden from my soul - there was no obligation to become a boring person just because I was getting older!
Alas - in 1986 I got a Public Service job and moved away from Clayton and never having had a car - I found it was no longer convenient to get to the D.V.S.F.&.F.S. meetings. I lost most of my contact with Colin and a few years later he retired. (My sister Deirdre had been to his retirement do & told me how Colin and his wife had matching tattoos.)
I went to Colin's memorial service at the Gasworks Theatre. A stage with a portrait of Colin (as large as life and just as I remembered him) - and a podium where people who knew him well gave talks about how he had affected their lives. I met his daughters - both of whom he had 'infected' with a love of SF - and I found out things about Colin I'd never known: his long term membership in the ALP and interest in left-wing politics. His membership of the Fabian Society and (if I remember correctly) the Existentialist Society.
I'll miss him. He was a character and the world is a lesser place without him.
The "Inaugural Colin S. Watson Oration" is available on the Friends of Libraries Australia site.
Copyright © 1999 by Michael F. Green. All rights reserved.
Last Updated: 3 August 2015