Wednesday, September 26, 2007

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.


WalksFarWoman said...

What a great post Loz!

We get the opportunity to meet some great characters in our lives and they touch us in a wonderful way.
Fog must have been a highly individual man and as you say very intelligent - realising that he couldn't chance producing children that may carry his afflictions, how unselfish is that!

You write with such emotion and empathy, a touching tenderness.

Love your recollection of the music of the times too, why have we drifted away from sounds like Genesis, Mike and the Mechanics and the mighty ELO. Thank goodness we still have vinyl - although I just saw a little machine that converts records to DVD, now there's another great idea!

Thanks for sharing the memory! x

Loz said...

It was unselfish and I still marvel at it - little Fogs I'm sure would have been a great contribution to the gene pool, myopia and bad back notwithstanding.

Musical memories have such great power too! Let me know where to get one of those machines :)

HollyGL said...

Records to DVD!?! What in the hey!
I wanna know about that one too.

Loz, I'm sorry about your friend. I so understand the music-memory connection. Definitely Genesis and Supertramp for me as well (Breakfast In America), Elton John and Stevie Wonder (Songs In The Key Of Life and Innervisions). *sigh*...

Gypsy said...

Ah your song choices brought me back Loz. Those were carefree, wonderful days.

That was such a sad story in many ways. For anyone to die at just 39 is such a waste and I'm very sorry you lost your mate that way.

Thanks for the link to walksfarwoman, that was also a fabulous story.

Loz said...

Steph - Breakfast in America, Crisis! What Crisis! [which incidentally is the sub-header on my other blog], the lamb lies down on broadway, nursery crimes, were all favourites done to death on a Technics SL-1200 turntable. I could add bands like Pink Floyd and Emmerson Lake and Plamer to add a couple more. And I loved Songs in the Key of Life.

Loz said...

Gypsy - I guess we have all lost people way too young, it's part of growing older.

terri said...

You write so descriptively, I could vividly picture each place and event as you described it, as well as feel the emotions I imagine you experienced. What a great tribute to your friend!

Random Magus said...

I haven't been through an experience of losing a friend but lately I seem to be surrounded by death and feel a total loss as to how one deals with it.
How does one?

Loz said...

Terri - what I wrote is not enough in so many ways. I didn't get the chance to talk at his funeral although some of his friends from later times did but it seemed to me that I should have because the days I described here were a gap in the tale told.

Loz said...

Amber - i guess we all deal with it differently and it will depend to a large degree on the nature of the relationship you have with the person who dies. Whilst I didn't see a lot of Fog in those later years his passing has left a hole which the memories try unsuccessfully to fill.

FindingHeart said...

It's already been said, but you do have a very nice writing style. I really liked this piece.

..of course, I also keep reading because you use words like 'mate'. Ha!!

"The past is never dead, it is not even past." ~William Faulkner

Loz said...

Stone the bloody crows cobber! What's wrong with using the word mate? ;)