Thursday, 2 April 2015

Goodbye Ole Mate Brian

I have written about our friend Brian on here before. I met Brian about 20 years ago when I was in a lapidary club. He was the first person to come forward and show me the machines and he loved to talk about the rocks. He would slice them open and polish them only to see what was on the inside. No jewellery making or anything for him. He liked the colours of the rock and seeing the transition from muddy old stone to a beautiful colour.

I left the club after awhile and so did Brian. I learned he lived in South Hobart and had been here since he was born. I kept running into him.

Another love of his was books and movies. He loved stories about American boxers, he loved Zane Gray and Louis L'Amour westerns. He told us stories about Alan Villiers who Penguin published books about years ago. He lived here.  He loved Jack London and tales of explorers and adventurers.

Brian worked in a number of jobs over his life. He was a wharfie, he worked doing odd jobs on the mainland and he finally settled on the production line of the Cascade Brewery.  The only way I can describe this man is to say he was rough as guts with a heart of gold.

In his later years, once retired, once done with the grog, done with fighting and getting in trouble with pubs he settled down. Brian was the kind of person who many people would walk past, walking around on his little missions in his flannel shirt and big heart that no one knew of. He hated injustice and a myriad of other things he would read in the papers. People didn't appreciate how smart or well read he really was.

Night time seemed to be the time he would read. He was a terrible insomniac and he spent the nights listening to the radio and reading books.

In his latest years he was an op shop junkie.  His favourite was the Red Cross Book shop. They are a great book store that raises money selling books for their organisation. The volunteers are wonder and helpful and the ladies are older and very social.That is where I hooked up with Brian again. He would stop in there regularly and they would give him a coffee.

We talked a lot when we met and a friendship grew. As Brian never married that we knew of and lived a life that was rough his experiences were very different over the years. But we both had a love of books and could talk about them for hours.

He also told us his childhood stories of growing up in South Hobart. The "other side of the tracks" stories though we don't have any tracks here.  His laughter was infectious and he loved to hear the stories he told again and again.  They were funny.  They were tales of petty crime and who people were and family histories and what a crook the woman in the charity shop at the church is.

As we learned of Brian's illness and as he lived alone and didn't take the greatest care of himself food wise we started inviting him up for coffee. Coffee turned into meals and quiz shows on the tv and more stories of books.  Tom would fix him a chicken dinner or spaghetti bolognese and afterwards he would pronounce that was the best meal of his entire life. I think at times he meant it.

Monday, 30th March our mate Brian passed away in palliative care. It has been a sad time and I know we are going to miss his visits. His visits with a paper bag filled with chocolate bars, wafer cookies for our dogs and stacks of Penguin books.

His favourite line was, "Do you have this book?"  And I would always say "No, I don't think so, doesn't look familiar." and he would reply, "well you do now!"  It gave him so much pleasure to bring the Penguin books to our house.  He got pretty good at finding the vintage ones I collect.

He would bring me any book that had a Penguin logo on them. I would pass them on to other people because our small house can't possibly keep all the books Penguin published from 1935 to current times. I had to be careful what Op shops I would leave them at because they would find there way back to me.

In return I would get him his western magazines of the 50s I would find, Zane Grey. Zane's son Rumer Gray,  and boxing dvd's from America's eBay.

I could say a lot more about this friend but the one thing I know the most, Boy are we going to miss him.
I would like to dedicate this post to Brian and I hope he knows how much he meant to us.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you. I hope you raise how much I enjoy your posts too. Have a lovely Easter and hope you get a big chocolate rabbit.

  2. What a lovely tribute to Brian. I'm sure he valued your friendship & care just as much as you valued him. He was fortunate to have good friends to look after him at the end.

    1. Thank you Lyn. Such a nice thing to say. Hope to spend our rainy Easter weekend with the books and some calm. Have a wonderful Easter and hope you get lots of chocolate.

  3. as said above...thank u for posting and sharing all your posts. it's sort of like having a cuppa at your house and speaking of books in a peaceful place and hearing our old stories, sharing them so as not to lose them and share the laughs.
    thank u. thank u also brian.

  4. so sad to lose old friends. it seems like part of one's own life lives in others, especially in those that are close. condolences.

    1. Thanks so much. It is lovely when others understand.

  5. My beautiful wife Pam has written this heartfelt tribute to our friend Brian. We will very much miss him.

  6. So beautiful, Pam, you made him come alive in your words. I hope you have a peaceful weekend.

    1. Thank you Lisa. Your comment is much appreciated. Have a wonderful Easter and don't eat too much chocolate. (!)

    2. I will be buying too many bags of Cadbury mini-eggs today (I have a coupon :) - and also a chocolate bunny.

  7. Beautiful, Pam. I'm sorry for your loss.


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