Independent Australia is in mourning as our famous and highly esteemed senior correspondent, Barry Everingham, died this week. Broadcaster, journalist, raconteur and renowned royal watcher with a uniquely republican bent, Barry was with IA from start and losing him is a bitter blow. This week, a moving editorial tribute to Barry has been written by his former radio colleague and long-time friend, contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence. Barry and Tess were verbal sparring partners on and off radio. They traded barbs and insults as if they were Bitcoin shares. But they were great cobbers and there for each other when needed and worked on several humanitarian campaigns together, including bringing home David Hicks. Tess was with Barry for some of his final hours and shares a personal and complicated tribute to a complicated man.
THE FINAL DEADLINE came for journalist Barry Everingham on the morning of 4 June 2018
Overcome by cancer and pneumonia, he had declined further medical treatment.
His son Dougal said he
‘... passed away quietly…. he was ready to go and had made his peace.’
Indeed he had. His was a volatile and adventurous life, flamboyant, noisy and vociferous. But away from the madding crowd he invariably assembled, was a surprisingly quiet and reflective man. In his end days more so because he was physically constrained by illness. It was a blessing that his mind remained agile and noncomformist; his default position.
A blisteringly funny, at times viperish and compelling raconteur, Barry could – and did – speak on any topic, invited or no. He was a born storyteller, a restless buccaneer scribe, an intellectual chameleon with the gift of the gab who easily drifted to and fro the hoi polloi, the royal, the posh and the would-be-if-they-could-be types.
Indisputably, he was a political player and in his public relations endeavours, a skilled manipulator and adviser, a suppressor of news, a spoiler of breaking stories to counteract and protect reputations he was paid to maintain. We clashed at times over such things. For a while, there would be no talkies. I’d be sent to Coventry. Then I’d get a phone call from him at 3am, or so, to apologise.
He was a big personality who instinctively filled a room and here he is now before me barely filling his hospital-type bed, more skin and bone than flesh, long past that fork in the road and taking the track less travelled, beckoning death with courage and serenity, and a grace that just paralyses this coward’s heart of mine.
I hold his hand – he has beautiful hands with long fingers – and rub his upper arm, as we talk. It is hard work for him to make even a single utterance. All the while, the phlegm in his throat gurgles, like an engine, idling.
Luckily, we have a shorthand language, because of shared stories and experiences, so he can just say a word, like “Fraser” or “Imelda” and I will know what particular incident he wants to talk about. Erudite with a mellifluous voice that commanded attention, the irony that now he can barely speak did not escape him …
*Tess Lawrence HERE