Today, I missed the funeral of an old friend. Nic moved into our residential college at ANU at some point during our first year. His older sister was my next door neighbour, and they moved in because their diplomatic parents were moving to Geneva.
Needless to say, they seemed tremendously glamorous to me. I was strictly the country mouse, and they both spoke fluent French, had lived overseas and had traveled widely. Apart from the glamour, Nic was one of those people with a true sense of himself.
Nic was incredibly intelligent and was always generating eccentric theories. My favourite was when he decided that sleeping on a mattress prevented the body from relaxing fully while asleep. He placed the board from his bed on top of his mattress, and slept on it for weeks. He only stopped when he realised that the board might have something to do with the unusual drought in his love life…
His approach to study was always erratic, but he was surprisingly reliable at figuring out the minimum effort required to pass an exam. He was the only person I knew that studied for the Contracts exam after only reading from an out of date Canadian textbook. He hadn’t bought the designated text (which unsurprisingly covered NSW and ACT law), and all copies of it in the library were only available on short term loan. Nic still passed.
I last saw Nic 12 years ago, and got to meet the woman who would become his wife. We lost contact, and he refused contact with all his old friends (including me) while he underwent treatment for lymphoma. While that might seem surprising, as a long term friend of Nic’s, I can understand him not wanting to have people see him while he underwent treatment. The brutality of cancer, and chemotherapy would have created an identity for him that he did not want to share. We are in Phuket, and I’m pining for Canberra on a cold winter day. RIP Nic.