Thanks, I’m honoured to be speaking today about my dear friend Paul.
On what turned out to be a momentous day in early 1992, I met Paul on our first day of our Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Melbourne. He was introduced to me by my now husband, Stuart who met him in a chemistry lecture and me in a maths lecture that morning. Five and half years later Stu and I married with Paul as a groomsman. We become a tight knit group of friends along with some of his high school friends, Sonia, Nick and Maria, and others along the way. In addition to spending most lunchtimes and lectures together, we hung out at the Clyde, had hilarious weekends away at Lorne at his uncle’s place and spent many good times dancing the night away at quality venues like the Chevron in St Kilda Road and the Sugar Shack in a vault under the Flinders St train tracks! Paul and I discovered our shared love of Kylie Minogue and dance anthems!
Paul quickly become a friend who I had lots of fun and silly times with but also one who would listen to my woes and provide sage advice in his caring, common sense way, also giving me confidence in myself and showing me that I already knew the right/best thing to do in whatever situation it was. I saw a LinkedIn comment from his colleague Louise, they had pledged to keep Paul’s spirit alive with the mantra “what would Paul do?”. I like that idea and know I’ll continue to hear him in my head.
As is reflective of the lovely man Paul was, I’m not the only one who had him as one of their bestest friends. He was a big hearted, loyal, wise, eloquent, considerate, intelligent, humble and generous gentle man with a beaming friendly cheeky smile and I always felt lucky to be one of his close friends.
We all did our Honours year and then moved onto work or PhDs. Paul loved hanging out in the Mircobiology department so much he may well have taken over 6 years to complete his PhD… He taught many students over the years in tutorials and prac classes and had a big impact with his enthusiasm.
Stu and I moved to Paris for a few years and Paul came on his first trip to Europe to visit us. We showed him around Paris, then spent a few amazing days in Tuscany with him and he explored Italy for a couple of weeks by himself, a dream he’d had since learning Italian in school. His school boy Italian got a good workout providing a couple of highlights on our trip when we went on a circuitous mission to buy a white truffle, pretty sure we procured it on the black market via some mafia folk! There was also the entertaining time when he was trying to explain that we were staying on a farm to Lucio, the wine shop guy who had been very generous with the tastings. Paulie couldn’t remember the word for farm so started to sing “Old Macdonald’s farm” in Italian. Lucio joined in and Stu and I had tears rolling down our face and were clutching our stomachs with the hilarity.
That wasn’t an unusual thing with Paul, as the years passed by we would often have decadent meals out where we’d end up in tears after making fun of menu descriptions or coming up, inadvertently or deliberately, with new portmanteaus (new words that are formed by combining two words like brunch) and spoonerisms (where you switch the first couple of letters of two words, try this one, Paul was a smart fella…).
I’m so proud of Paul’s career too, starting with a part-time job at Melb Uni in biosafety he grew quickly with the field into his role as Director of Research Ethics and Integrity at Melbourne and then his role here at RMIT over the last couple of years. I was lucky to be trained by him as a Research Integrity Advisor and in true nerdy research integrity fashion, we declared our conflict of interest when he gave a seminar or attended meetings at my workplace.
I’m going to miss all of Paul’s nuggets of wisdom about all sorts of things, he taught me about the bioluminescence on the beach at Lorne, helicobacter being responsible for stomach ulcers and the best house plants to get. He was obsessed with the weather and knew all the types of clouds, we shared book, tv show, music and movie recommendations.
My kids are going to miss him like an uncle, who they loved talking too and having a big Paulie hug from. He often shared with us how much he loved being an uncle to Nikki and Jamie and what they were up to. We saw him last on Cup Day and picked apart the fashions on the field and laughed at photos of my non-daredevil boys apparently being tortured on rides at Disneyland from our recent trip to the USA. But his love for my family and me will live on. We’ll go to the Escher/Nendo exhibition at the NGV that Paul was looking forward to and we booked our tickets to Kylie next year at the Myer music bowl just after Paul died. I’ll go along with my boys and reminisce about all the Kylie concerts we went to together and we’ll sing and dance and probably cry for Paul whilst holding onto all the memories and treasuring the love that we had for each other.