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July 22, 2002
On the death of Andy Ingham
Exactly a year ago I was in Brunswick, reading a note with a stunned expression on my face. The note was on the front door of the Brunswick Library and it said that there was a funeral service for Andy Ingham being held elsewhere in the building. I didn't much like Andy, and he hated me, but the news of his death was an enormous shock. I'd seen him only a few months before ... but I'll come to that. Other things have to be mentioned first.
Andy and I fought over the same woman. He lost the fight. But the woman in question turned out to be a nightmare, so maybe we both lost.
When I first met her she had been going out with Andy for five years, and still was. I knew nothing about this, because she had accidentally-on-purpose forgotten to mention anything about him or their relationship. I distinctly remember the first time I met him, in the Lounge in Swanston Street. "So who are you?" I asked, and noticed the disbelief in his eyes. It was immediately obvious what she hadn't told me. "Well," he eventually said, "I'm the mayor of Brunswick." "Oh," I replied. Conversation suddenly became more difficult. "Well then," I said, "what's it like being a mayor?" He rolled his eyes. It didn't matter.
The next few months were tense. Eventually it became obvious that she didn't want to choose between us. So I moved to Sydney, and invited her to come with me. She spent a few weeks in turmoil, and then she accepted. He visited us a few months later, but by then the struggle was over, and I had her all to myself.
In retrospect, the best thing about that time was the chance to listen to a whole pile of new music. She had an impressive collection of cassettes, and insisted on playing me everything that I hadn't heard. One of those tapes was Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. It took a few listens, but it changed my life. I wouldn't be the same person now without that record. And I wouldn't have heard it without Andy. Not only did he have great taste in music, but he shared that taste with her, and she with me. I owe a substantial chunk of my musical education to him.
A few months before Andy died I went to the opening of an art exhibition in the Brunswick Town Hall, where he was still working. I saw him across a crowded room, surrounded by a crowd of admirers. It was the ideal opportunity to say hi, on his turf, and to thank him for making all those great tapes. But I didn't do that, and I've regretted it ever since. He was diagnosed with cancer not long after, and died a few weeks later. He was 46.
I still think about him. He's one of a number of people who I remember with total clarity. He was ten years older than me, and had a world view I'd never encountered before. He was very committed to the idea of local government, and totally committed to the community of Brunswick. He was very astute in his observations of people. And, when we weren't arguing over a particular woman, he could be brilliantly entertaining.
And when I saw that note on the Brunswick library I realised that I would never get the chance to say these things to him. And that still hurts. You've got to thank people while you can.Posted by Sean Hegarty at 11:17 PM in the Reflective category | Comments (0)
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