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Today's quote:

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Ian Grindrod Memorial Library

 

Some people have lots of friends, mainly because they can't spell the word 'acquaintances'. My best friend ever, Noel, was almost a lifelong friend as we first met aboard the good ship PATRIS that took me back to Europe after my compulsory first two years in Australia in 1967, and we remained friends until his untimely death in 1995.

Ours was not a mushy friendship: we only occasionally met which was usually around Christmas because that was the only time we both got time off from work and not because we were celebrating Christmas; neither did we celebrate each other's birthday simply because we didn't know each other's birthday, and if we had known it, we wouldn't have celebrated it anyway; which also meant that we never knew each other's age which seemed similar since I've always felt older than I really am, and Noel seemed younger than he really was. As I found out only after his death, he had been a whole twenty-five years older which seemed to explain the inexplicable when he suddenly passed away.

Noel's passing left a big hole in my life, and I didn't find another like-minded friend until by chance I met Ian Grindrod down here in little Nelligen. It was an almost instant meeting of the minds, and we had endless discussions about books, politics, philosophy, world affairs, in fact, just about anything because Ian knew something about everything.

He was the most knowledgeable and the most widely-read man I had ever met, and the kindest and most helpful as he helped me repaint my unit in Sydney, convert my garage into a library, and scores of lesser things. It almost became a catch phrase: "If you need help, call Ian!"

In more recent years he had become more withdrawn. Some personal tragedies and worsening health issues made him shun other people's company, although I tried to stay in touch with the occasional phone call. The last one was in May 2020, after which I emailed him:

"It was certainly good to talk to you. Raise any of the subjects that we discussed and you'd get nothing but a blank stare from the rest of the unwashed majority, so what's stopping us to have more such conversation? I almost dread phoning you - even though I want to keep the connection alive - because I can sense I am intruding and you are not telling me to piss off only because of your misunderstood "British" politeness. You came from Coventry, so send me there, if that is what is on your mind.­čśÄ Cheers Peter"

His reply was immediate:

"No, Peter, I won't be sending you to Coventry as I do savour the flavour of these conversations. Why can't there be more? There can, but I'll leave it to you to pick up the phone as I feel I'm slipping into geriatric agoraphobia probably stemming from a retiring personality, health issues and this terrible run of external events. But tell me, do you ever feel contented with your lifestyle? I rarely have that luxury as I feel there is always something driving me on. Maybe I need a Freud-like interlocutor. Anyway, as one of those historical British characters remarked 'if at first you don't succeed ...' I need intelligent intrusions to get me off the self-imposed treadmill of chores that I fill my life with. Thanks for the call and the message and call again. Cheers Ian
P.S. The last book I got from Booktopia was "DARK EMU" authored by Bruce Pascoe. Don't think it would sit comfortably with you but gives a little-known perspective on our First Nation people."

And then came yesterday's text message! Ian, remember the garage we converted into a library? After you'd done such a wonderful job with all that woodpanelling under the domed roof, I half-jokingly suggested we call it the Ian Grindrod Memorial Library. Well, I am no longer joking: the Ian Grindrod Memorial Library it is! Every time I sit in it, I shall remember you - and every other time as well! Rest in Peace, my friend!


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P.S. Looking back to happier times - click here and here.