Of Fog


My friend walksfarwoman at Kissing the Dogwood has written a wonderful post about a person from her past and in the comments mentions that the memory came flooding back when she saw an advert for a forthcoming program. It’s often the way that memories do come seemingly unprompted and reading that post triggered some for me too.

My mate Fog lived around the corner from me in Box Hill South on the Golf Club Estate. We went to different Primary schools but the same high school and in the early teen years I would call us acquaintances rather than mates. I don’t know when that changed but at some stage we began to circulate in the same circle of friends and started to socialize outside school.

Fog was a corruption of his name – Geoff spelt backwards, which although was actually FFeog got shortened very quickly to just Fog. And he was anything but foggy, he was one of the brightest persons I have ever met, with a keen wit but an underlying ageness about him that in retrospect made him way older than his years.

Fog introduced me to music. His bedroom had the best stereo system I had ever heard to that stage and we spent many a day sitting in arm chairs listening to the Eagles, Genesis and Yes to name a few. I well remember the excitement of listening to Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and later Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. There were days listening to Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Focus, ELO and Supertramp.

Every Sunday night Fog would turn up at my place after dinner and we’d sit and watch a Sunday night movie on the telly. This would happen without fail and continued really until I got tied up with a girlfriend who was to become my wife.

Fog had terrible eyesight and a bad back. I wrote about my first bushwalk here, where his back became an issue for us, but far more of a long term issue for him. [That’s him leaning on the car door in the photo above.] I remember talking about the future at times with him and he stated very early on that he would not have children because he didn’t want to pass on his bad genes to the future of humanity. Can you imagine making that sort of decision in your late teens, it staggered me at the time but it was easy to write it off because that was just Fog. He could say those sorts of things, mean them and you knew that it was likely that he would follow through on it.

At some stage in High School he took to wearing a grey dustcoat and a peaked “CAT” hat. In those days baseball type caps weren’t common in Australia but Fog wore his everywhere.

We went to different universities but unlike some of our other mates we continued to live at home. Still it was around that time that we started to drift a little apart I think. We were moving in different circles of friends, he was making firmer friends amongst his uni mates than I was and I was in a relationship with my future wife and as sometimes happens, the mateships can often begin to take a backseat to love.

Fog went to Nepal when in his early twenties and I remember he came back around 3 stone lighter than when he left after a bad bout of dysentery. I remember him proudly telling me that he had buried his old dust coat in a glacier at Everest Base Camp – not something anyone would probably admit to in these more enlightened days.

Fog was a groomsman at my wedding in 1982 and when my first son was born in 1984 and the burdens and excitement of fatherhood began to encroach on my free time, Fog and I drifted apart. We didn’t see a lot of each other over the next few years. Fog continued to work at the same institution at which he studied and moved into a house around the corner from work. He began to drink heavily and his bad back meant that he did little exercise and as a result his weight ballooned. He called the front bar of his local pub his loungeroom.

In 1997 I was at work one day and got a call from another mate who told me that Fog had been found dead in his house, having had a stroke and dying alone on the cold tiles of his bathroom floor. He was 39 and I still miss those early days. When I hear Supertramp or Genesis these days those good times come flooding back.

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