I have mentioned many people in this series of letters because they have been integral to many of the events I have written about.
There are are however, so many other people who have just, always “been there”.
They have been my solace in an hour of need, they have provided the lighthearted moment at the right time and they have have picked up the phone to say hello when a kind word was truly required.
The past nine years have been a roller coaster; desolation, joy and the curious mixed emotions of the hiatus over the past four years.
Billy says I am like a bad pineapple. I look OK on the outside but I am rotting on the inside. Even worse, he insists my attempts at humour are now often tasteless.
He is cruel that man!
Mornings are my time, I am up around 6.00 am to do the rents, my diary and the journal before the shutters come down around midday.
Most afternoons and evenings are lost in a fog of tired, but at least once a week, we will have an early dinner with friends.
My “Guard” insists I am home by 8.30 pm and one glass of anything alcoholic is one glass too many. The look on his face, as I order my solitary glass of red is priceless, if I am lucky he has forgotten about it by the time we get back in the car!
I complain to the Professor about everything taking two or three times as much energy as it used to, he just nods his head and agrees. There is however, one benefit in all of this; I seem to be able to eat anything without putting on extra weight. It is almost as if I burn the calories at a rate greater than I can possibly consume them.
The downside of this, is the constant fear of choking and the fearsome re flux in the middle of the night, when the acid invades the lungs and I scream for the ability to breathe.
The unexpected joy of my hiatus has put petrol in the tank, but the engine is still stuffed. The plateau, as the Professor calls it, has simply given me a few more K’s before the final trip to the wreckers.
This Journal has given me a purpose and I am sorry I am getting to the end.
Ah well; there is plenty of editing still to be done.
There is one simple conclusion I have drawn after laboring through this series of letters, whatever has happened in my life has been made infinitely better by the people I have had the good fortune to have had by my side.
I have labored as to how to recognize these good people, afraid of leaving some one out but equally adamant I cannot close without at least an attempt to say thanks to the many who have been, as I have said “just there” for at least a part of the journey.
An old friend I have known from the Wagga years, we have traversed similar paths with family and our search for honesty. Baz, you have done it better than I, but we have been there for mutual support when it was needed.
Thanks Old Mate.
Suzana and Peter
The perfect Australian migrant story. Staunch in your faith, but totally supportive of my journey. You have been there for me, in business and personally for the past seventeen years and I could never have become the person I am without your loyalty and faith.
Thank you for your compassion, your hardheadedness and for being a very special part of my life.
Trevor, the taciturn but gentle farmer and Christine the perfect foil with your laugh and sensitivity.
We have loved having you people in our lives, you combine the innate decency of your country roots with a casual and warm acceptance that has meant so much to Billy and I. We have shared with you, the joy of seeing Lish and Steve become parents and have watched Chris squirm as despite herself, she falls madly in love with little Addy
Your support and love over the past years, as I have tried to maintain a semblance of normality has been tempered by your fierce determination to never let me feel sorry for myself.
For over fifteen years we have been Sunday breakfast companions at least a couple of times a month.
The quietly determined gay academic, disparaging of anything not to the left of politics and given to a verbosity matched only by my own.
Your support and honesty when I have needed it, has been so important to me
The fierce, gay man who votes conservative and is never short of an intense argument as you try to justify the unjustifiable. The would-be Neo Con, saved from a total descent into conservative madness by your open gayness.
You and I have argued for so long and so often over a coffee at Trop. on lazy Sunday afternoons that my blood pressure would be dangerously low were it not for these regular sparring sessions.
Hidden under the bombast lies a gentle heart and I thank you for your caring support.
Another lefty academic! loud of laugh and forthright with your opinions, we have enjoyed many a meal over the years. You would be the perfect friend, were it not for your habit of taking Billy’s side in every argument LOL
Your innate generosity and warmth has meant so much to both Billy and I over the past 10 years.
It is great to have you on our team
Franko and Shirley
A Friendship which sprung from business has given me so much joy over the past 8 years. You two are my own private indulgence, mainly because you are not here that often and I don’t think have ever met Billy.
That doesn’t stop Shirley berating me when I dare to speak of his latest affront!
You are wise and you are compassionate, the loud hugs from Shirley and the gentle glint in the eye from Franko when we catch up, are things I look forward to with eager anticipation.
Your work in China is motivated by your warmth and your pride in your students is something to behold. I am privileged to know you both.
I don’t know exactly when we first met, it is lost in the mist of time. All I know is that I am very glad this no nonsense, politically correct and visceral hater of all that is hypocritical in the world, is on my side (most of the time!)
You have become a great friend to both Kayla and Billy and your rational judgement gives me the shits when I am arguing with either of them.
Despite this, I would never swap you for a friend, you have been by my side through the light and the darkness for almost twenty years.
Your simple pragmatic and very Scottish view of things has given me strength when I have most needed it.
You, Billy and I have shared many meals together, we have solved all the problems of the world, but; I must admit, not had quite the same success with your tangled love life or lack thereof.
You are a sensitive, caring muso full of heart and compassion, both Willy and I look forward to the times when we can get together.
It is always fun to see George is calling
The rampantly heterosexual, Greek Tradie whose solicitous phone calls “How you doing Brucie?” are always a welcome addition to my day.
Our coffees together are a mad run through of your latest sexual conquests laced with real care and compassion.
You are a tough man George D, but your heart is as good as any man’s I have ever known.
Be Good old mate
You are the decent, kind and at times; outrageously camp, Greek man I have known and loved for many years.
Your heart is even bigger than your flamboyant personality.
Even my, in some ways conservative daughters; who love the gay men in their life, but would prefer their Father’s friends to at least attempt some facade are smitten by your outrageousness, your kindness and your wonderful generosity of spirit that knows no bounds.
I will sometimes call one of the girls after one of our (now much soberer) lunches and there is no mistaking, the warmth as they ask about you.
If anyone can make carking it seem like fun, you can old friend
Di and Phillip
Di ,we first met through Kearns in Melbourne many years ago, Billy and I nursed you through a few broken romances before Phil arrived and the perfect middle age romance bloomed.
I know you would both argue that statement but you guys argue most things, so what the heck?
Laughter and old friends are incredibly important to Billy and I your “mad moments” are the perfect tonic for us both.
The ability to forget for two hours and just have fun is such a treat and I thank you both for these mad light hearted moments.
Over the past 20 years I have got used to unlisted calls from all parts of the world and that booming Chicago accent asking “Brucie, how the Fuck are you?”
Friends often ask “Have you seen Phil lately?” my stock standard answer is usually, “No, but he will turn up soon, bad smells always do!”
A loud, giant of a man with endless optimism, but underneath one of the most decent and caring people I know.
Thanks Philly, any thoughts of self-pity I may have, are in your parlance; “hit out of the ballpark” whenever we are together, and; for a straight man you give the best bear hugs in the business.
All good, Old mate.
Justine, Britt, Krystie, Kath, Julie, Marian, Kath and Jeannine
All of you come from a religion that could have hardened your souls against Billy and I. All of you have shown me, the vast difference between faith and religion.
The last eight years have taken their toll on Billy and I know how important it has been for him to have you guys in his camp.
Thanks for making him happy.
Your faith has never been more sorely tested than it has been recently, as the full enormity of the Catholic Church’s guilt and complicity has been exposed at the Royal Commission into Child Abuse.
Justine answered this so beautifully when I asked her about it.
“I love my faith but I am ashamed of my church”
Billy and I love your faith and treasure your friendship.
Defining our friendship is impossible, it just is and has been for almost 30 years. We have shared some wonderful moments in Sydney, Melbourne, Malaysia and Thailand and always, despite how long it may be since we have last seen each other it is as if it were yesterday.
You have spent much of the last 20 years living Overseas and much of the time since 2008 in New York which means we don’t see you as often as we used to.
It doesn’t seem to matter, a phone call, an SMS and the times when you are in Australia are very special.
You are a good man old friend, thanks for being you.
I never dared to dream I could write about this many people and know my thoughts would be reciprocated, even as I close this letter I am aware of others I have missed.
For those I have not mentioned, I apologise, but please know how much you have all meant to me.
I am grateful and humbled your support, a support that at times; I am sure I did not deserve.