Bad Planning

Hey Kayla

Somehow, I could never get the timing right when it came to telling you about myself, the HIV diagnosis was no different.

Mum, I and the two elder girls had all agreed you should not be told before your HSC at the end of 2000.

Ah, the best laid plans!

Towards the end of winter in 2000, you, Jassie and I went to Bowral for a weekend away.

I had hired a house for two or three nights, we were all looking forward to this time away. Just Dad and two of his daughters having special together time, it was also a great opportunity to give you a break before the hard slog of study was to begin.

The trip down on Saturday afternoon was a cacophony of hair brush microphones with Springsteen trying vainly to compete with his own songs.

We wandered out for dinner and bought some food to make a big breakfast in the morning, before coming back to our little cottage for a movie night. We hadn’t planned on the weather turning wet and icy cold but it didn’t matter, we were determined to make the best of this precious time.

The soundproofing of the house was not great and the 2.00 am pills and spew session obviously filtered through from the bathroom.

There was nothing said next morning or over the rest of the trip, but Jassie told me later you had been asking questions.

There was no room in our family for secrecy anymore and I knew I had to bite the bullet and tell you. The worry and suspicion would be worse than the facts.

I went down one afternoon to pick you up after school and we drove out to the Audley Weir for an ice cream and some time together.

You were prim and proper in your crisp uniform complete with Prefects Badge and I was dressed for work in shirt and tie. We must have looked an odd sight, sitting on rocks above the water licking ice creams and deep in conversation.

You have never been a pushover darling, and this day was no different. You searched for the right questions and I told you about the combination drug regime and the hope for this new treatment.

It was hoped this regime would have the effect, of reducing the impact of HIV from a death sentence, to a treatable chronic disease. We spoke about the trial and the impact this level of poison was having on me.

We hugged and didn’t speak much afterwards, as I drove you home to Mums.

I didn’t come in this day, I wanted you to be free to speak to Mum on your own if you wished to.

I drove the hour home to my place, deep in refection and sadness that I had been so stupid as to have brought this on our family.

This was just one of the times in my life when I seriously wondered if the journey to honesty was worth the pain.

I have spoken about Jassie and Annie being two ends of the see saw or; the Ying and Yang of my life. You darling, are the slippery slide, there is always fear and trepidation at the top of the ride, but usually; we end up with joy and laughter at the bottom of the slide.

I sometimes dread the fear and trepidation involved in our “deep and meaningfuls”, but I would never swap them if it meant losing the love and closeness we share afterwards.

Love Ya Heaps



The Boss and me

To The Opinions Editor SMH

Bernard Zuel’s article, “Bruce Springsteen live: a trust exercise in the age of Trump” SMH 8 February was a wonderful tribute to an ageless, troubadour. I was prompted to write the following personal account of my history with the Boss

The concert on Tuesday night was brilliant.

Of the three Springsteen concerts, I have seen over the past five years, each one is better than the last. Perhaps, because there is the thought, that this one; may well be the last.

That Bruce is getting older and this Bruce is running out of time, a withering brain disease is slowly catching up with me

I didn’t feel all that well before last night’s concert, I was tired and everything was just a bit sore, I felt even worse on the way home in the crowded train.

After almost three hours of the Boss, it didn’t seem to matter anymore.

I had just spent a night with a hero, a humble hero in many ways.

For a guy who has achieved what he has, he carries success like an old comfort blanket, he still has fun with the old team and Patti is always there.

He is quite ordinary, but he is also extraordinary, he is a hero I have lived with and believed in, for over thirty years and he has never let me down.

He has infiltrated my family to the extent, that even when my two youngest daughters were half a world away, they went to see him in London in 2010. There was no prompting from me, they just wanted to, and they told me about it afterwards.

My youngest daughter Kate tells of her big sister, surging to near the front of 100,000 people in Hyde Park.

“It was like she owned him, Dad” 

Every road trip, when the kids were kids, was accompanied by one or other of his CDs.

The “Jersey Girl” track died from overuse and was replaced, it was the hairbrush anthem of choice.

“Redheaded Woman” became our guilty secret to be kept from their mother. She, not unreasonably, may had some problems with two teenage daughters and one preteen listening too closely of the lyrics of that song.

In 2012, while I was fading faster than I have been over the past few years, I went to see The Boss at Homebush with my eldest daughter. It was a reunion for both of us, the last time we had seen Bruce was in the Capitol Theatre on his small scale “Ghost of Tom Joad” acoustic tour, a few years earlier.

I first saw Springsteen in North Carolina in the late eighties, I think. I can’t remember the year, but I remember that concert like it was yesterday, it was my awakening to just how powerfully this guy and the E Street band could perform.

He sings to Trump’s lost Americans but he warns about easy solutions and false prophets, he sings the praises of Migrants and rehashes the old Woody Guthrie classic “This Land Is your Land” to embrace the world as it is today.

My partner and I saw him the last time he toured, I was stagnating then, not getting any worse but not getting any better, the tiredness and the pain was forgotten then, just as it was on Tuesday night when the two of us, struggled back home.

My Grandkids know immediately when a Springsteen song comes on the radio.

The thought of one more concert is enough to keep me going, but if it doesn’t, so be it.

I have shared my love and faith in this man with family and lovers and they will never listen to a song of his, without thinking of me.

His legacy has become my legacy.

Bruce Ingrey


Puff -The Australian 7 January 2017


Dear Brian

I was alerted early this morning by an SMS from an old friend,  insisting I buy a copy of the Weekend Australian,  I jokingly replied by saying, I had better things to do than spend my Saturday morning reading a Murdoch rag.

They were insistent, telling me I would have to go no further than the front page, on that basis, I thought it must be something earth shattering.

The front page was dominated by a photo of Rosie and you, sitting at home, perfectly poised behind large vases of blue and purple flowers, with a background of abstract art and a Grecian urn.

“From tin shed to harbourside mansion, family values never lost at the White house”

The headline and the photo almost said it all, but; I was heartened to read your three-level home came complete with its own lift, private jetty, pool and stunning views of the Harbor Bridge.

The rest of the article was pure hagiography and I don’t understand the purpose.

You and I used to joke about pieces like this, I would call and tell you what business was likely to crash and burn in the next few months. This was based purely on the printing of articles such as this one, more often than not, I was proved correct.

We would laugh at the accuracy of the “bullshit factor”

You though, are in no need of the publicity, but at least, you got the front page of the major National paper!

Brian, you have worked, planned and executed your triumph to a level very few people achieve and I am proud to have played my part in your success.

What was missing from the article was any acknowledgement of the work of so many people who were not family. Not necessarily myself; but people like Myffy and Andrew who have been with you for the very long haul.

Your belief in family and the development of your sons is something you can truly be proud of but the lack of recognition of those other people was a glaring omission.

I think I know you well enough, to know that you do nothing without a purpose, I look forward to the passing of time to understand the reason behind this very un- Brian like  piece of puff.

Anyway, you don’t need the griping of an ex to tell you how to suck eggs, so I will close with simple words.

Well done and I wish you well.


A special Man

Thanks Billy

This is the last letter to you before I close the chapters of my life, you have been an integral part of that life for the past 13 years though good times and bad .

We have used “The Plateau” to share several trips overseas since 2013, we have cried together and we have laughed together.

There have also been times when we have erupted into open warfare; your frustration and anger has boiled over and frankly you have been bloody difficult, I have no doubt you would level the same charge against me.

All that is nothing when compared to the times we have shared; the coffee and early dinners with friends, The movies, the simple times when we have stolen out to share time together, the wonderful times like the two most recent Springsteen concerts and the close times, when we have rested together on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

We are both uneasy and frustrated by the future, the lack of money has hopefully, been mitigated to some extent by the likely consultancy which should see us through another 12 months, but I know you share my concerns as to whether I am up to this.

I am weak and tired, everything takes longer and seems to draw the last remaining vestiges of energy. I am hoping I can hide this to get us through this job and I am pleased you will be by my side, without you; I doubt I would have attempted to take it on.

You have looked on, with poorly disguised disdain as I have spent the last 12 months trying to put this Journal together, but how else was to spend my time, there is not much call for a Real Estate Agent who fades into oblivion by lunchtime?

I can only hope, that when you ever read this, you will truly understand how important you have been.

You didn’t come to Melbourne for Christmas in 2016, you made the excuse of work but I think you really wanted me to have this special time with Jassie and Kayla, Horrie and Esty.

I think we both know the Plateau is coming to a close, it is unspoken but the reality is inescapable.

You never tell me your honest reasons for the things you do, but after all this time, I can read you like a cheap novel, sorry darling!

Everyone was delighted to see you at Terry’s after Christmas and I really appreciated the effort you made, especially as I know, how much you hate Freeway driving.

For one night in Mid-February we could forget everything as we listened and watched The Boss in session, you held my hand and we could believe we would be back again in two years’ time.

The next day was a write off but it was worth it.

My birthday in late February was an extended series of coffees and dinners with old friends, they have all learned the shutters come down, a bit after eight and if they are in danger of forgetting, you are watching me like a hawk.

My special treat was the dinner with just you and I at Quay, it was wonderful darling. On the way home, I held your hand and thanked you, I think there were tears in my eyes.

“Well, I thought I should do something special this year, you may not be able to enjoy it next year”

As John said, when I told him about this “romance will never be dead, while that man is still alive”

Love you so much, thank you for the Journey!



The Billy Team


Justine, Britt, Krystie, Kath, Julie, Marian, Kath and Jeannine

You are all friends of Billy’s who have become great friends and supporters to both of us.

I know how 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.

Krystie; the madcap sexy, human being who I once said; would be the only person I know that could “Turn” me. We have loved having you in our lives.

When I get frustrated with Billy cos he is texting when we are out, he silences me by saying he is chatting to Krystie, I am damn sure, sometimes at least; he is lying!

Your George may have stolen you away to the other side of Australia but he can’t steal you from Billy and his phone.

Justine and Britt; you guys were a big part of Billy’s life in his charity days and your friendship has endured far beyond that.

Britt, you are now the earth mother to two gorgeous kids while Justine, you are still beavering away in PNG, doing do your bit to make the world a better place.

He is a very lucky man to have you guys for support.

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”

Kath and Julie

You had both moved on to greener pastures by the time I met Billy, but he would often talk about one or the other of you.

I am so sad that, I only got to know you as Kath was dying from her second and final bout of lung cancer, so cruel for a lady that had never smoked.

Kath’s death hit Billy hard and now, in the cruellest twist of fate, Julie you are now racked by cancer yourself.

You have both been a wonderful exemplar to us, in some ways especially to me; as I am not a person of faith.

To have retained your faith in the face of these monstrous events is to demonstrate the bravery of you both, and I admire that enormously.

I thank you for the love you both have shown for Billy, even in the times when you have been suffering terribly yourselves.

Maryanne, Kath and Jeannine

I don’t know any of you that well, Jeannine and Maryanne don’t live in Sydney and Kath lives on the rural outskirts of Sydney with her own family.

That is my loss, but I do thank you all for the laughter, humanity and fun you have forced on Billy over these last few years.

We can be down and angry and he will get a text about your latest exploits; that will force him to laugh and share it with me.

The times I have met you have been enough to show me what wonderful, warm people you truly are.

Thanks for making him happy.

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.

Billy and I love your faith and treasure your friendship.



Big Philou


Dear Phillip

Big Philou was a very famous racehorse so he really does not have much in common with you, plus; from memory he was a gelding, which you certainly are not!

The women in your life have always provided a certain amount of drama, most of it all your own doing!

We have been friends for almost twenty years, I have got used to unlisted calls from all parts of the world and that booming Chicago accent, asking how “Brucie, how the Fuck are you?”

Other friends of mine, you have met over the years, often ask “Have you seen Phil lately?” my stock standard answer is usually, “No, but he will turn up soon, bad smells always do!”

Sure enough, you will shortly be back in Sydney, we will have a couple of weeks of frenetic catch ups, before you head off again only to reappear like the Scarlet Pimpernel and regale me with a whole new set of experiences.

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.

Love Ya