Another banana bender, Russ Hinze, was a close friend of mine and one of the filthiest, most evil, most atheistic blokes on the planet. But I liked him, and in his later years I trained his string of racehorses for him. None of his horses could run out of sight on a dark night but I told him lying stories beside his bed in Alamanda Private Hospital of emerging Melbourne Cup winners, because I knew he was rapidly dying.
To give you an idea of who and what sort of bloke Russ was: We were in New Zealand buying horses and were attending a racing function at a Wellington Hotel, James Cook, I think it was. Anyway the normally rancid cream of New Zealand society was there in all their fake finery talking shit as usual in groups.
One tallish middle-aged woman, in billowing floral chiffon and outlandish hat, was holding court for five or six blokes hanging on every word she uttered. She was spouting the normal Kiwi garbage when, without notice, Russ broke into the grouping and, in what I thought was a rather polite manner, asked her if she would suck his dick.
Well, the woman gave him a right cross Iron Mike would have been proud of (it certainly would have floored me). The loud guffaws of approval from the menfolk accompanied Russ who staggered into the foyer where he showed no lasting effect from the superb king hit. But knowing Russ, that was never going to be the end of it. And it wasn’t.
After I bought him a beer and chastised him, again without notice he wandered back into the reception area and proceeded to piss all over the back of this woman’s dress. Initially she had no idea what was happening and only when she turned to see behind her did all hell break lose.
Police came from everywhere and it took five or six of them to literally throw Russ and me out on the footpath. I took him back to his hotel and returned to the James Cook to apologise to all concerned. My apologies on Russ’s behalf were not accepted, so to hell with it… they were only Kiwis.
Back in Australia, years later, I was sitting beside his bed in Alamanda holding his hand. His life was visibly draining away as I talked more bullshit to him about planning the Melbourne Cup for a horse that couldn’t win a maiden at Ipswich. I could tell he was dying.
As I left I turned and took my last look at him. He said words that still ring I my ears: “May God go with you Larry”, I stared at him and he looked away. I only lost a smidgeon of respect for him that morning, and he died that afternoon.
I am unable to believe in the supernatural no matter what the circumstances, despite having been raised strictly Christian. After I was told I only had weeks to live my sole concern was to get home to see the kids. Pray? I wouldn’t know how to start! Sad? No, my life has been a ripper. If I’m due to go, I’ll see ya later (well, I won’t actually will I?).
But I didn’t need any God to appreciate my little girl’s tears falling down her silken cheeks as she refused to leave the side of my chair. You cannot hide anything from her. She is the most intelligent, caring and talented person I have ever known.
She was massaging my feet when she said, “I was really hoping to have you walk me down the aisle one day Dad”, …and my mood slowly changed to anger.
Why are these people I have never met telling me I have only weeks to live. Who the fuck are they? What would they know about me or my family?
“Okay, so you proved us wrong”, said the oncologists as I returned a year later for yet another PET scan. “We don’t know what it is”, they said. “Well, I know what it is”, I said… “it’s a load of bullshit! I’m okay and I’ll let YOU know when I’m about fall off the perch. And I promise I’ll give up smoking only if you take the other lung out!
My golf handicap is slowly coming down, I’m still working, I am broke but getting kissed goodnight by two of my eleven beautiful kids every night with an accompanying “love you Dad” and that is worth more than Turnbull can ever throw at a very healthy Barrier Reef,
… and I bet you I will be walking my daughter down the aisle one day.
So I wonder if old Bill Hayden did the right thing when he found a God only nearing the end of his life. Is his call from God much stronger than his will to live? Was Russ’s God stronger than Russ?
If I had a God, I doubt he or she would miss me anyway. Only my beautiful family would miss me.
So as far as I am concerned, any supernatural being can go and get properly fornicated!