a City visit

Recently I attended an author night at the Joondalup City Library. In case you wondered, yes, I was the author.

Did I arrive in time to hear myself speak? Only just.

It was not easy getting there. First, there was the long drive, over 450 kilometres, all the way from the deep south of Western Australia, Kincinnup Kinjarling, Albany, home of the Noongar Menang.

Not easy for two, okay, three reasons.

First – the distance.

Second – I drive the longest route.

Third – if I stop for a wee break, I clean up the immediate area of human debris.

Given the distance, the stoppages, and the nightmare of peak hour Boorloo Perth traffic, you can imagine I might have struggled to arrive at the designated start time. Correct, I got there with five minutes to spare.

I was greeted in the car park by Todd Shilkin, an old friend, ready and willing to stand guard as I removed my pants and shirt and pulled on fresh items. You can’t talk to a group of people who have dressed up to hear you, with you  in clothes imbued with the stale stench of long-term car sitting.

Once in the fresh coverings, out of the carpark and up the stairs to the front desk.

“The author talk?”

“Down there,” she replied. “No need to rush, he isn’t here yet.”

“They live in their own times zones, those authors.”

We laughed. She joined in when my friend pointed at me.

It could have been a blur from then on, but it wasn’t.

The first face I saw in the room was Chris Albany, ex-boarding house captain at Christ Church Grammar School, 1965, our final year. He, by the way, completed his year with academic excellence, as I failed the lot, except history. My favourite.

Margaret Brooker, Adult and Senior Services Officer at the City of Joondalup, introduced me and away I went, hyped up on the euphoria of long-distance driving, naked carpark wardrobe switches and seeing a face I had not spotted since 1965.

And you know what happened next. Well, not all of you, but those of you who live in Western Australia – COVID!

Perth dove into a three-day lockdown and I got out just in time.

Some chap, returning from China, tested negative, left quarantine, hung about town, flew to Melbourne, tested positive, and the West slammed shut.

But not us in the deep south. We stayed open. Because we are clean and strong and healthy and nothing will get us. However, some of the sneaks snuck out of the city and threatened us with their face masks. We thank them for their vigilance.

A couple of days later, Margaret Brooker sent me the feedback comments. I would not normally post such things, but we are, in this crazy time, often in need of positivity outbursts. So here they are. And, as you read them, remember that these are city people, they do not get out much and the author, me, is a country chap and well used to over-active conversations with large clumps of people.

And, in addition, in keeping with a family tradition, I took gifts for the assembled – garlic I grew myself and small bags of walnuts from Manjimup.

  • Very entertaining, humorous presentation. Quite tempted to read his books
  • After hearing Jon, even a non-reader would want to take it up. Thank you
  • Keep these events coming! A big thank you to Jon for the entertainment – cheers from another garlic grower!
  • Too funny!! What a great evening! Loved every moment
  • Entertaining, inspiring (to read and write), generous (garlic & walnuts), humorous. Great, thank you
  • Very entertaining book club event – I’m glad he drove all the way from Albany to entertain us
  • Engaging talk from Jon. Compassionate and intelligent discussion
  • A very entertaining & energetic presentation! Thank you for organising this event
  • Interesting and entertaining – not long enough
  • Entertaining, liked the surprising gifts
  • Very interesting and humorous
  • Enjoyable, good presenter
  • Very entertaining night. Thank you
  • Funny, I had a good laugh
  • Very entertaining
  • Fun evening thanks!

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