A sad day

Pinnaroo

Part of Pinnaroo Memorial Park

I’ve just got home from the burial ceremony of an old friend from Channel Seven and later, Les Beck. He died last week from a massive stroke and was on life support in hospital, but he had told his family that he wanted them to withdraw support if it came to it, and so he died. He was 72, so we were the same age. Makes you think.

I’d known Les for many years, from sometime in the ’70s, I think, when he started at Channel 7, up to 1999 when I left and we remained friends in the years since. He visited me out here several times and helped me with my OSMO gimbal camera. In the usual way, time drifted on and I thought, “I must give Les a call.” But I didn’t, and now it’s too late. There’s a lesson there. He did a demo flight of his drone for me in the park near my house (it’s silent). There’s a shot of Les and me at the end:

He was notable for his calm manner and ready wit in crises at work. No matter how serious the problem, he always managed to smile and crack a small joke.

There’s a joke whereby a guy has jumped from the roof of a tall building. People notice him falling past the windows and call out, “Hey, how are you going?” The falling guy answers, “OK so faaaaar……”  That was Les’s standard reply if you asked him how he was. Unfortunately, his luck ran out.

He had rheumatic fever when he was a child and therefore had a weak heart. It caused a crisis in the late ’80s and he had to have a transplant of a pig’s valve. It worked very well, but it left him with a mechanical click sound on every heartbeat. He was proud to show it off to us in quiet periods at work, with a big cheery grin. Always joking was our Les.

I wonder how many know that his surname actually used to  be Beeck, in the Dutch style, and we called him Beeky or Beaky then. But he grew tired of explaining the spelling and that the pronunciation was actually Beck, despite the double e, and changed his name to Beck. We didn’t want to call him Becky, so Beeky it remained.

I also used to call him Lessss, after a character in WKRP Cincinatti, a crazy funny show about a US radio station. One of the sales guys in the show was called Les (pronounced Lessss in the American way) Nessman. So to me, Les was always Lessss.  RIP Lessss.

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That was my first time at Pinnaroo, which I’m a bit ashamed of because I haven’t attended many funerals. It’s a measure of how good a friend he was that I made the effort for this one.

I also joked a little that it was my induction course because that’s where I want to be when I go. Take note.

The funeral was conducted by another old Channel 7 guy, Harvey Deegan, who used to be a sports and racing commentator. We remembered each other and had a little chat.

It was a secular, non-religious service mainly, although God got a few mentions. Being an atheist, my service should remain God free, please, although mention him if you will. And maybe I’d better write some notes for anyone who thinks they want to read my eulogy.

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It’s a very welcome break with winter today, 31C forecast and it feels like it. I wished I’d worn a hat even at 9.30am at the service.

My garden is doing nicely. My kangaroo paw was looking a bit wilted in the cold weather a couple of months ago, but almost without me noticing, look at it now!

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My West Indian lime tree, after about five years of growth, is now producing fruit and flowers.

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Only small buds at the moment.

I’ve had about six limes from it so far, and although small, they are very juicy. But the spines on the branches make gathering them hazardous.

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I’m off to the doctor’s surgery in 20 mins. I’ve been summoned to take part in an osteoporosis survey. Crumbs, I’ve fallen so many times in the past 20 years, especially in Bali with their giant steps, but never with any problems. I’ve never broken a bone in my life and I don’t feel in any danger. 🙂

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