Alice Kohler: 'The story of Phoebe and Leigh will be strong, beautiful and forever', for sister Phoebe & Leigh - 2015

5 December 2015, Richmond, Melbourne, Australia

Hello, it’s so wonderful to see everyone here and see so many friends and loved ones in the room, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Alice, I’m Phoebe's sister, and I’m thrilled and excited to say a few words tonight.

To talk about Phoebe is to talk about stories, because she is in all of mine. I could tell you the story of Phoebe and me, but really it's the story that has told me, it is this story that has made me who I am.  Phoebe has been my story, and has taught me how to be a sister, how to love, how to be a good friend, how to be more patient (which I often fail miserably at), how to laugh, how to cry and how to listen.

Rebecca Solnit, a woman whose words I have come to love, says,  “Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice. To love someone is to put yourself in their place, we say, which is to put yourself in their story, or figure out how to tell yourself their story.”

The truth is, Phoebe is my story.  She told me the other day that we've been mucking around for 30 years now, and even though it feels like 5 minutes, it's very true. Nearly 31 years now actually!  Since the first day we met on January 2nd, 1985, Phoebe has been a constant source of laughter, love and kindness.  Giggling Girties as our Mum used to (and still does) call us, we used to have sleepovers in each other’s rooms, just to continue laughing into the evening.

Phoebe has a wonderful ability to laugh, and make everything feel like it’s going to be ok.  She is brilliantly intelligent, and this, matched with her kindness is an unusual, and glorious combination.  This year has been her hardest yet, but she is brave, and level headed.  We speak nearly everyday when I’m in London, and these conversations are a gift I keep in my heart, and for which I will always be grateful.  Our story crosses oceans easily, and without it, I may not have been brave enough to make the leap.

When Leigh came into the story, or, musicguy75, the screen name we first knew him by, I saw him as a quiet, thoughtful, and … tall presence.  Perhaps the quietness was contagious, because soon Phoebe was also quiet about him.  What I soon realised was that this quiet stillness was a kind of certainty that has been there from the first glass of wine at the Black Cat, to this gorgeous dinner we are sharing tonight.

Leigh has felt very much like a big brother to me, with his incredible ability to cut any embarrassment out of any situation.  He makes one feel completely as ease.  I could illustrate this with a story – not about me – but about Phoebe.  When Leigh was living in Sydney, he was coming back to Melbourne for a much needed weekend.  Phoebe eagerly awaited his return by making a pizza, buying a bottle of wine, and lighting some candles.  Unfortunately, after a bit of a delay, the pizza became cold, and eaten, the wine was a little bit gone, and the candle wax had somehow spilled all over the new couch.

Now, a lot of people would have been dismayed to return home to this scene, after a long and tiring journey.  Not Leigh.  He pulled Phoebe into a hug, and they had a lovely night after all.

Phoebe and Leigh are, as our Nan, Noel would say, mates.  They are together in a way that makes total, and perfect sense to anyone who meets them.  Leigh remains calm when Phoebe loses her phone (because it’s always in her handbag), and Phoebe’s beautifully nurturing way is home to Leigh. In the last few years my admiration for Phoebe has grown, even when I thought it couldn’t get any bigger.  One of the things I’m most certain of, is that the story of Phoebe and Leigh will be strong, beautiful and forever. 

 

Jules: for Kate and Peter

Mount Buffalo, date

In this beautiful mountain-top. I remember when Kate and Pete were discussing the location for their wedding, kate wanted somewhere beautiful for romance and Pete wanted somewhere high altitude, as we all get pissed a lot quicker and it saves on grog.

No it’s a really stunning place Mount Buffalo....so quiet and secluded... enjoy it while you can Pete as it’s probably the last moment of peace you’ll ever experience. 

It really came as a great surprise when I was asked to MC the marriage of Kate and Pete, mostly because so many people had dropped out before me, but I consider it a great honour. I have known them as a couple and also as individuals...and love them both...and I feel very privileged to be able to share this moment with them.’

Kate and Pete met while travelling through Asia, which, having been “embedded” them on a few overseas trips myself, I think is quite poetic.

In many ways the way a couple travels together, is a good indication on how they’ll cope with life together, and Kate and Pete travel with a great sense ofadventure, a tremendous respect and warmth for the people they encounter, and most of all a profound love for each other. While I’ve been overseas with them I’ve always been impressed by their remarkable energy, their generosity, and the constant stream of shitbox hotels they choose to stay in.

I met Kate in 1994 at RRRwhen I was contributing to the Breakfast Show. Before Kate began on RRR the breakfast show was a highly successfulteam, after she started we were a family. The energy and talent that became evident during those years owed a lot to the remarkable influence of Kate, she cared about us, took an interest in our lives, often broke our balls, but generated this tremendous spirit that still exists between us all today. 

Kate’s friends are tremendously important to her. If you had a birthday Kate would be there. If you were depressed Kate would be there, if you owed her money, Kate would be there....remarkable. Kate has been a friend in every sense of the word to me over the last decade. She’s been supportive when I’ve been down, given very wise advice on everything from my career, relationships and dress sense, she’s acted in pilots for us for nothing, been to every show we’ve ever done, and always been there to celebrate milestones in my life. And I’m sure many others of us here would have similar stories.

You can never just be a work-mate of Kates, she cares too deeply about people to be that flippant, you’re part of Kate’s family, which is why we’re all gathered here tonight. 

In fact despite all her success and celebirity Kate hasn’t changed in the whole time I’ve known her...from 1993 to 2003, she’s alwayssaid... “Have you met my friend Julian, he’s a homosexual.

I met Pete through kate, and we soon became close friends and have remained so ever since. Both through the time when he and Kate weren’t together, and even when moved into a house with a girl who talked about freezing sperm in the ice-box.

Having gotten to know Pete, can I just say that he’s a sensitive, gentle, beautiful person....at least I thought he was until he picked up a guitar.

I think the thing that struck me first about Pete was his really quick and clever wit. When you get paid to be funny you are sometimes shamed to meet people who are just as funny if not more, with Pete houwever I soon got over that shame and learnt to steal many of his jokes and broadcast them as my own however.

Pete, like Kate, also has a great family of friends around him, they’re great,  I’ve met many of them, and again stolen their jokes.

And now of course Kate and Pete are beginning life together and starting a family of their own. A family that will become the core of the already extended family, us, who they have invited along tonight. And can I just say Kate and Pete, on behalf of all your friends here tonight, we’re honoured to be part of your family, we can’t wait to be there while you begin your own. Thanks for all the love you’ve shown us over the years...  congrats....