FAREWELL MY OLD FRIEND
Marie has a PhD. In languages and literature. She is a J.P. who is fluent in seven languages and has taught history in Africa and Australia.
The news of Larry’s departure from this vale of tears has knocked me for six. I fell down in a heap, unable to formulate any intelligent thought. The world suddenly became a darker place. I knew he wouldn’t make Christmas, but the knowledge didn’t help with the reality of the painful loss.
After several days of deepest mourning, I found myself meandering down memory lane, right back to nearly 50 years ago, when I first discovered Larry.
We had only just arrived in Australia, I was like a kid in a lolly shop, looking around, totally awe struck by the absolute wonder of this amazing country!
And the freedom of being able to eat an ice cream on the street without getting attacked . . .for ’ showing off'!! The freedom of being able to stick a stamp on a bit crooked without running the risk of being jailed for contempt of government.
My Aussie friends couldn’t even understand what I was talking about! To them, bless their hearts, they just thought I was a 'mad wog’.
Apart from eagerly delving into Australian history, discovering the likes of Edmund Barton, Alfred Deakin, John Christian Watson and all those who were the breath of early Australian government.
I also found out about The Drover’s Wife! The unbelievable hardships she suffered. I was, and still am, awed by her strength and resilience. I had Steak For Breakfast with Minnie. I went to The Never Never at Elsey Station.
These are the stories which inspired me to volunteer a little bit with the School Of The Air! Those excited little kids in far flung places, their lovely little voices on the other end of my earphones touched my heart then, as the memory of them still does today. I often wonder if they remember that crazy lady with whom they laughed so much?
In the midst of all that discovering, and laughter, I came across Larry Pickering with his crazily funny cartoons . . .highly intelligent, irreverent, witty, funny, and OH such a gorgeous human being.
He just blew me away! Can anyone even imagine how I felt when I discovered Larry Pickering? I kept asking myself ‘can this man be REAL?’. Where I come from he would have been long jailed for opening his mouth and making fun of our esteemed leaders!
I had collected ALL his cartoons which I found in a variety of papers and magazines. My very favourite of his drawings, were the nude calendars. It’s been a very long time, but I’m STILL laughing about them!
Larry's depiction of PM Hawke after he vowed to give up beer and drink milk instead!
Sadly though, when we moved into a new home, the ‘Larry' treasure box disappeared. I made phone calls to the Movers and complained and carried on like a pork chop. . .to no avail! I never saw that precious box again!
It is extremely difficult for me to visualise an Australia without Larry in it. He made such a huge impact on my life. I feel as though a very beloved family member has died. So, if I feel like this, how will his family be feeling?
I just can't imagine. I hope they’re all coping. I hope they’re all together, fortifying each other, encouraging one another to keep going, as I know Larry would want them to.
Larry’s passing has left an enormous gap in MY life, and I know it has in many other people’s lives.. No amount of words can possibly describe the feeling of utter loss. I am bereft.
I just want to say : Thank you Larry for all the years of laughter and provocative food for thought you provided for our everyday. Thank you for the wondrous gift of your essence. You shall live in my soul, and I shall mourn your passing, for as long as I live.
Like a brilliant shooting star, you lit up the night skies and etched your name on our hearts and minds. The world feels a bit dimmer without you in it. Australia will never be the same for me.
I know that Larry has passed the PP torch on to the very capable Harry. I wish you all the best Harry.
Vale Larry, may you rest in perfect peace.