The news came yesterday that my old friend Gavin has passed away. It was a shock, though, owing to Gavin’s somewhat precarious state of health, not totally unexpected.
Death makes you remember, so this post will be a memorial to my old friend.
I first met Gavin in a pub circa 1981. At that time he sported a goatee and dressed like a hippy. He was an instantly likeable character and we remained friends for the rest of his life.
I last saw him sometime last year. He has lived for the past eight years in Portland a coastal town 360+ kilometres from Melbourne. It was his choice to live there; he was tired of city living and he always loved the country. This meant that his city friends rarely saw him and he rarely saw us.
So most of my memories of Gavin are from his years in the city.
After meeting Gavin in one pub the friendship continued in another pub, the Dan O’Connell hotel in Carlton. A social group formed around the Dan O’Connell and we all became drinking buddies and partygoers, a state of affairs that continued for many years. This group of people were fun and instantly created a party wherever they went. Gavin was part of this scene. The Dan O’Connell cricket club developed out of this group and had great boozy contests against other local hotels. Gavin was one of the original eleven and even though he was famous for losing his temper, and the most obvious choice for the “spit the dummy” award at the end of the season, he continued on and off in the team. His nickname was “mad dog”. It is sad to consider that of the Dan O’Connell cricket team, four have now departed life.
A person of passion, possibly manic-depressive, Gavin was also a very lovable man. He had a delightful whimsy about him and, even though he was something of a bad boy - falling into a drug habit that almost destroyed him - he was genuine and unaffected. The interesting thing about his drug habit is, that although he was a junky, he never alienated his true friends as so many junkies do.
I remember his place in Brunswick, a communal household of itinerant guests. Gavin lived in the loft and left the house to the tenants. He used to have a Boxing Day party for some years, and we’d all roll up, hung over and compare notes on Christmas Day with drinks and a barbeque.
I always found him easy to talk to. We had lots of deep and meaningful conversations over the years.
In recent years, his health suffered. He developed diabetes about 10 years ago, which forced him to moderate his lifestyle. He gave up the city shortly after contracting diabetes and moved to the country. A couple of years ago he was in a serious accident, where he fractured his skull in a fall. He was in hospital for ages and tried to escape several times, running down the road in his hospital gear with half his skull missing. We feared the worst in terms of brain damage, but amazingly he recovered. Not completely though, for he told me in one of our last conversations, that his head wasn’t right, that he heard voices telling him to do things. He felt there was someone else in his head and it gave him the creeps.
His last few years of life passed fairly peacefully, despite the brain damage, and when he died he was happy with his life in Portland.
The above photo shows Gavin and his sometime lover, always close friend, Jenny. It always seemed to me that they were soul mates and they loved each other dearly, though they couldn’t live together.
So now Gavin is gone and the voices in his head are silenced forever.
I’ll miss you mate.