Thursday, July 13, 2006

Goodbye to a mate...

On Monday I lost my oldest friend in the world. While I always thought that he was probably going to go in some stupid car crash or something, it turns out he was going to get wiped out by a stupid little virus that unexpectedly turned into pneumonia. He went into hospital Monday morning. By lunch time he was dead. This is what I wrote for his funeral…


We were polar opposites in so many ways, and yet we were the best of mates for years and, even though we moved apart to live different lives, we always found time for each other. Whether it was just to have a few beers and tell stories or whether it was to pull the engine out of my old Subaru because the bloody thing wouldn’t work AGAIN we somehow always managed to keep our friendship alive and well.

What do I remember about Alex? My earliest memory was wandering over to his place bored one afternoon because I had nothing to do. I must have been about 8 at the time. Both our parents were building houses at the same time so there was plenty going on, just not if you were 8 years old. So, I met Alex. Alex was always the one making stuff and I was the one just happy to go along. That afternoon we made a tree house around a tree. Sidonie was probably still in nappies, and James was about the most annoying child I’d ever met. Every time one of us told him to rack off he’d just ask “why” in his long, whiny, high pitched voice and keep on dogging us.

How things have changed hey.

Things just grew from there I guess. It seems we went through all the important stages of life together. From lego building to mild acts of public vandalism we pretty much went through it all. Here are just some of the things I remember…

… Alex stealing a bottle of port from Ian’s stash, the two of us getting incredibly drunk together then deciding to walk the 1km stretch from his place to mine. By the time we got to my place Alex looked so sick he was almost blue. I remember mum asking me if Alex was alright, and all I could think to say was he’d eaten some bad wallaby patties… Then he threw up everywhere! Luckily he’d made it into the toilet; however I think he managed to hit everything except the toilet bowl. All I can remember seeing is red everywhere. On the walls, the ceiling, the wall behind him… Everywhere! To his credit he cleaned up every bit, except perhaps for one stain on the wicker basket by the toilet. Come to think of it, last time I looked that stain was still there. It was such a funny memory I never told mum about the stain and never bothered to clean it off! Several days later Ian found the empty bottle in James’ cubby house. Neither of us was really punished though. The way we felt the next day was probably deemed punishment enough!

… Rocking the next door neighbour’s roof until he was so irate he chased us for over an hour! It was one of those things really. It was Alex’s old place so we knew the whole area pretty well and in those days we considered the new owner to be “a bit of a Wally”, so we often stood outside lobbing stones at the roof. What we weren’t expecting was the guy waiting for us to come back. The moment we threw our last rocks he came charging at us out of the darkness. We were so scared we split up and headed in two separate directions. I ended up jumping a fence and hiding under an old car in the middle of a paddock while Alex managed to run all the way back to his place. I’ve never seen him move so fast before or since! Over an hour later we met up and decided it was safe to walk to my house, when a car pulled up and offered us a lift. It was of course my friendly neighbour and he had some questions for us. As you can expect we refuted all claims at the time, but I guess I’m safe admitting to it now!

… Heading back to Back Cam Road after we’d both moved away to find local council had installed a traffic island at the juncture of Hoare’s Road and Back Cam. Well we couldn’t have that! Since when did Back Cam need and traffic island? Nobody bloody well asked us! So, what did we do? We walked back to my place, got some tools then went back up to the traffic island to remove the bloody thing. Sadly they saw fit to concrete the damn thing in and it wouldn’t budge, no matter how hard we hit it with the sledge hammer. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts right? You can’t win them all after all.

These are all funny, stupid things I remember about Alex and when it comes to memories of Alex I have millions. I remember random camping trips, drinking lots of coffee and playing stupid computer games until the sun came up, jumping on the trampoline until it was too dark to see, skinny dipping in the pool (why not, Roger did it), “Dookie” by Greenday, falling in love with the same girl in high school (Alex won that one - he got in a day earlier), playing catch with wallaby testicles (every country boy has done that surely), “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” by the Spin Doctors, building tree houses in the bush, getting covered head to toe in leeches and burning them off, “Voodoo Lady” by Ween, the Surprise Chef impersonation he would do every time he stayed at my place (yes he could actually cook – maybe even better than James!)… It would take me a life time to go through them all.

Over all these things though, what I remember the most is his ability to just listen. While most people around him would talk on and on about nothing (me included) Alex would shut up, listen and pick his moments. Of all the things I will remember about Alex I will respect this about him the most. Just by being himself he helped me through a number of tough times. He was my oldest and best mate and I’m going to miss him like a brother. I just wish I could have said goodbye.

Alex mate, I’m going to miss you.