A Week in the Life of LOTNA

by Kelly Dillon

When I first joined up with the League of the Non-Aligned I thought, "Great, I'll be spending two Saturdays a month with a fantastic group of people at a pub." At this stage I had some inkling that they ran things like trivia nights, and had heard of them screening Doctor Who episodes within the pub, but really didn't think much else went on. A year down the track I look back and laugh, reminiscing on the fun I've had since joining. LOTNA is so much more than I first expected.

It's Thursday, the middle of an unremarkable week (July 23rd 2009, if you must know), and I glance up at the LOTNA calendar in my room. This month it's Buffy's Dark Willow (Jo) menacing a suddenly repentant Warren (Darren), and I check my schedule. Tonight a bunch of us are meeting up, as per usual, at a pub in north London to enjoy the antics of two comedians who run a free 'Geek's Night Out' sci-fi comedy special. We've been going for about half a year now, LOTNA is always a strong contingent in the audience and know the comedians quite well.

So well that they've started working some of us into their routine, much to our amusement. Tonight is a nostalgic - and hilarious - look at the classic movies from the 80's, and a preview of a performance to be taken up to the Edinburgh Comedy Festival, called 'The Army of Dorkness'. Both acts are very good and have all nine attending LOTNA members laughing out loud at jokes that 'normal' people/non-geeks would never grasp. It's a great night out with good company.

The Saturday following is a LOTNA pub night, but before that a group of us head down to save the world - otherwise known as taking part in a sci-fi live action role play game. It's a monthly event that usually costs no more than a tenner and has us running around the woods (or tunnels, or fort) for the full day as we chase/flee various aliens/monsters/zombies etc. This month was a Doctor Who U.N.I.T and Torchwood game, with the two teams working together (somewhat) to discover and repel a Cybermen invasion. The Cybermen looked like they'd just stepped out of a Doctor Who episode and the game was won with the smoky destruction of a large transmitter - it literally feels like you're living the excitement you only ever see on TV.

There's just enough time to head back to London Bridge and kick back with a drink or two, catching up with the 40-odd friends who have turned up that night. Come 8pm and we're all engaged in a five group-wide game of Spaceships (created especially for LOTNA), an amended version of Battleships that includes trivia and special abilities for the various ships (starburst, repair, and not to mention to dreaded wormhole). We're kept entertained well into the night and I always head home a bit regretfully, surprised that the night's flown by so quickly.

For me Sunday was another busy day spent with LOTNA members, as a number of us made our way down to Kent which hosted what I believe is the largest military fair in Europe, War & Peace. Not the usual subject for sci-fi fans, granted, but of great interest to those of us who Larp (live action role play), as while you can run from aliens wearing Hawaiian shirts (photos can be provided for a laugh), it's generally not recommended. I now feel much more confident in my ability to avoid the unwanted attention of the Cybermen/Cylons/Zombies/Terminators we regularly face now I've got a good few sets of camos behind me.

Monday and Tuesday were spent in recovery - I only had to work, which was restful in comparison - but we're back at it on Wednesday. The Science Museum held a late night event with the theme of space and specifically the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. Eleven LOTNA members went along and took part in a mobile planetarium display, a space-based pub quiz (in which we were a force to be reckoned with, despite just missing out on a place), a silent disco, and a talk with the man on the other end of the phone when those famous words came in, "Houston, we have a problem". There was so much we couldn't possibly hope to cover it all, but I think we sampled most of it and had a great time in so doing.

Thursday again and something else going on. A sci-fi theatre night - why not? Nineteen members filled the first few rows, although I'm sure at least one person regretted being so close when an actress was flamboyantly sick - luckily all part of the show. We crowded into a nice little café afterwards to discuss the performance over a plethora of drinks and cakes.

London is alive with possibilities and there's always something to do. LOTNA members are constantly posting ideas for events on the Yahoo mailing list which are usually met with great enthusiasm and participation. There was a time I lived behind my computer and TV screen, but since joining with LOTNA that time has been pushed well into the past, and I've never looked back.

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