Tuesday, November 13, 2007

HIV

This word has little relevance in my life now. I am not a promiscuous homosexual because I can't be bothered anymore. By the grace of Mohamed and a wish to live to fair age and the fact that at some times I just stopped and mentally stood back, I have avoided the disease. There were some close calls though.

I had people I knew, friends, who died. Sorry if I have written some of this before. I can't remember now.

1/ Brad Aiton was a friend. We and our brother friends knew him and his boyfriend. His boyfriend was alright, but Brad was such a sweetie. He was quite slim, nice enough looking and ever so cutesy pie. He behaved like he had discovered the world in every day life. They had a great neighbour when they lived in Marystone Street, Yarraville. Jean was a salt of the earth type and with the language to match. They would invite her in for a sherry and several hours later they would carry her home. She was an old Myer sales lass. She too has died.

We knew Brad was not too well and the brother friends invited him to their place where we all met. I was gobsmacked. He was skin stretched over bone. He had an air cushion to sit on. His personality was still the same and his talking but it was not the person we knew. We were so angry with the brother friends for not giving us an advance warning. He died and on a stinking hot day, we went to his funeral in a big Catholic church in Sommerville Road, now I think a Buddhist temple or something.

2/ I worked with David Ashcroft. He a very hot guy and very outgoing and charmed everyone around him. I have a vague memory of peeling skin off his back after he was sunburnt. It was almost an erotic experience for me. He was not behind the door when dicks were handed out and used this to its full advantage. When the Village People came to perform in Melbourne, he met up with one of them at Prince of Wales in St Kilda and scored. He left work, went to Sydney and worked for Qantas for a few years and I lost touch with him. One day when I was on a tram, someone came up and said hello to me. It was David and he was so thin and haggard, I could barely recognise him.

He had just bought a house in Pakington Street, St Kilda, a very nice place it was too. We had just moved to Balaclava and so we had a bit to do with him for a while, but he became sicker and sicker and then somewhat irrational. The second last time I saw him, he was swearing at a volunteer who had visited to help him with his clothes washing. He was screaming at the volunteer that he had hung the clothes all wrong on the clothes line.

He held what was to be his last party. At the party he invited people back the next day for drinks and nibbles and help him dig a pond in his back yard. It was a hot day and I don't believe anyone turned up. People just could not deal with him anymore. He died shortly after.

3/ Stephen Dawes. He was more of a friend of the brother friends but we had quite a bit to do with him. He worked in the fashion industry and we recently found out coincidentally that he had dealings with Dame M over a few years when she had her Cornelli Embroidery business. He had bought and sold a couple of houses in Richmond and Collingwood but he knew he would not last forever and so downsized to an apartment in East Melbourne. We saw him a couple of months before he died and this time we were mentally prepared and it was just as well. A righteous person might have said he was a shocking slut and deserved what he got. Nope, no one deserves that. Six months before he died, he was struggling financially and the brother friends bought his apartment and rented it back to him. They did very nicely out of the capital growth and only sold it last year.

It all seems dreamlike and so long ago, well it was around a decade or a bit more ago, and has no bearing on our present life. HIV is still around. People still catch it. It is a terrible problem in the third world. But for me thankfully and selfishly, it is history.

7 comments:

  1. Your posting brings back sad memories of someone I met and worked alongside for a short time when I was a Craftie in Residence at the (OK - no smartasre comments Shirl - that's my
    long suit!) Meat Market Craft Centre in Nth Melb.

    Doug Fuchs, a wonderfully talented, generous and wickedly funny artist whose life, like so many others in that field, was cut short by AIDS.

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  2. The only grace you'd be getting from Mohammed would be a coup de grace.

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  3. It does seem so much like a distant problem now. Having a father who worked researching AIDS and a mother who cared for the dying did help me gain an understanding of it at several levels. However, the only real contact I've had is the death of Freddie Mercury. Not a day goes by that I don't wish he was still around, given that marvellous voice and presence.

    These days you only really hear about it being a problem in 3rd world countries as you say. How far off does the Grim Reaper ad seem now?

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  4. The direct loss of so many people was tragic M'lord, and also the loss of them as mentors.

    You don't trust that version of god then RH?

    Rob, the Grim Reaper ad may not have been appropriate for Australia, but for the third world, it has come to pass.

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  5. Where do you get that from? I trust it more than the Christian church version, but they got me first.

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  6. I understand what it is like to lose friends. I have lost many myself and know of way too many others.

    When I was 20 I worked at the AIDS Clinic here in Sydney. Half of the staff there have died. I reckon not many people can say that they have lost half of their work colleagues/mates to this disease.

    A memory I have and one that I will never forget from my time working at the clinic ('87-'88) is the fear on the faces of the people waiting to get their test results. Their eyes would meet mine looking to me to offer up some clue as to what lie ahead. As I worked on the front desk I had access to their files and I would have to check that their result was in before putting it in the box and depending on the result, either for the doctor or counsellor to give.

    Thanks for sharing your story Andrew.

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  7. 87-88 were bad years. It was like a lottery. You had to deliver the winners and the losers. I meant to add a reference back to your post, ala inspired by Firehorse recent writing, but it got a bit too hard. I don't want to remember.

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