Dec 29

Retros – Dave.

David Powell

Card distributed at the Funeral

I hadn’t spoken to Dave for a little while. The last time was July 2009 when Alan called and put Dave on the line, we chatted briefly, traded a couple of insults and that was that.

Alan rang to tell me Dave had died.

I got to Tamworth for the funeral. Alan was there and met me at the airport. He was resplendent in his monkey suite. It was good to see Alan.

We were early, it wasn’t clear whether there would be 10 people or 100, but as 11.00 a.m. Rolled around the crowd started to build until we had about 150 people packing the little chapel, as we gathered in the little brick building we listened to a medley of music from some of the productions that Dave had been involved in over the years.

Dave’s immediate family sat at the front of the chapel, I’m not sure who they were, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces. Dave didn’t really talk much about them over the years.

The service started with the celebrant who made her speech from the Funeral Directors Guide on how to say shallow meaningless things. There were plenty of nods about the place as she gave us line after line of ‘comforting’ words.

Stephen Carter from the Tamworth Musical Society then led the eulogy and related to us a brief story of Dave’s life and his involvement with the society spanning many years. Steve also read a short bit from Alan. Dave had been helping Alan’s Dad out for many years, visiting him and taking him for drives.

Alan Whitham and Gregory Storer

Alan and Gregory at Dave's funeral

Then we heard from the lead performer from the TMS production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat.

He began:

I closed my eyes, drew back the curtain
To see for certain what I thought I knew
Far far away, someone was weeping
But the world was sleeping
Any dream will do

His voice was clear and resonated about the building, the piano accompanying him wonderfully well. As he started the second verse from around the chapel groups of the TMS began to support him with the harmony and the effect was simply stunning. As he sang his line they responded and for a few brief minutes we were transported into the musical.

Next we had someone from the local Diabetes Society and he told us about Dave’s involvement with them, it sounded like a significant contribution.

Finally a song from the Boy From Oz, Dave’s last production. The vocalist struggle to keep the raw emotion to one side, however despite the over whelming nature of the day he carried it through to the end and did a marvellous job. Finally breaking down after the last note.

The part missing from this was what Dave meant to us, to me. The part about him being a big poof, a tart and a slut. No mention made of his sexuality or the ‘other’ group of friends he surrounded himself with. There were a number of gay people present, just about everyone from the TMS for starters. This is my story about Dave, and perhaps under different circumstances I might have got up and said this about him.

When I first stumbled into GAG in 1996, Dave was there, RETROS. He was quiet at first, but always there, always ready to say hello and engage in a little banter. As time rolled by and we got to know each other better we started to slag off at each other, having a good time trading insults and generally being gay. Neither of us knew about each others life outside the chat room and over those first few years we discovered more and more. He was at home, downstairs, his father upstairs. He was hiding behind the computer screen. Like a naughty school boy. We formed a strong friendship and during one of our daily catch ups it came to light that he would be in Western Victoria the same weekend I would be there. Both of us seeing family. So we arranged to meet. Strangely enough I chose the initial meeting place to be the public toilets outside the local footy oval, as we both knew where that was, from there we had a coffee and breakfast at a café and started chatting. One of his brothers had a farm just out of Hamilton and he had been visiting there, driving all the way from Tamworth for a few days.

Over the years I caught up with Dave several times, a visit to Tamworth, his visits to Melbourne and he even drove up to the Gold Coast while I was holidaying there to see us.

Dave was funny. He was quick witted, a slut with his language, able to trade sexual jibes at the drop of the hat or the drop of the soap. He was always prepared to have private conversations and at times was willing to listen to my worries and give a few encouraging words. In our irregular face to face meetings Dave was always ready with a gag or a practical joke, he had a wicked smile and always a twinkle in his eye. His eyes also roamed a fair bit, because after all he was gay.

It wasn’t until his death that I realised just how much Dave had been there in my life for a good solid 10 years, we would at least say hello to each other most days.

I regret letting it slide the last few years. Life gets in the way and friendships suffer as a result.

Dave, you are such a slut.

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