Thursday, December 07, 2006
By Adam Gibson
the doc was a shuffle of grey trouser-legs
and it was a soft-shoe shuffle of a man
who knew how to come home late at night
and whom women liked to hug
he wasn't a doc of any specific training
but that mattered not, i was told,
because he was still called 'the doc'
and that was that, full stop.
he had the smile of a bloke who
knew he was still young despite
what everyone tried to tell him and
though his heart was running out of puff
he wouldn't hear it,
not for a minute.
he sat at the side table at the
writer's workshop in broken hill
for each session and
he'd slip his latest writing my way
to be read aloud.
he'd been building towards these moments,
via barossa red and jack kerouac and a
distant connection to the sydney push of the '50s,
clive james, et al, for years
and he was one of those characters
who knew about both grapes and cricket
and could give you the teachings of marx
in five-minute précis.
when it neared time for me to leave
he kept asking to share a bottle of wine or two,
even though his wife had taken me aside
and warned me that's what he would do:
he shouldn't drink, she said,
it would be the death of him.
but he caught me off guard and
we found ourselves at the pub
and it was there the doc,
after two bottles of a smooth red,
pulled three books from his coat and said,
"here, take these."
three 1960s editions of kerouac novels
"take them," he said,
"they've done all they can for me,
but I think you're gonna need 'em."