Paul was my dear friend for 70 years.
In one of our last email exchanges he said that I have been the foundation rock of all his friendships. I doubt I deserve this – but the thought certainly reflects my regard for him.
A model aeroplane in a neighbour’s window started it all.
Replying to my knock the neighbor, after a few minutes, said:
“You should meet a young fellow named Paul. He could come over on his scooter.”
• He was soon teaching me chess and
• Helping fly my models
• We travelled many hundreds of miles – by train or in the back of a ute for flying events –
• We even took home a few trophies.
He was a favourite of my mother – he always had time to talk to her.
• My ancient Morris 8 gave us mobility for:
o countless parties around Sydney; and
o trips to the Mount Druit circuit to watch Jack Brabham in his Cooper Bristol.
One night in ’53 my journalist father was upset – a classmate of mine hadn’t turned up to start as a cadet.
• I said “Paul might be interested”. “Get him in my office in the morning” was the response.
• And so Paul became a journalist. The other fellow became a judge.
We were both cadets – engineering for me and Sydney’s Daily Mirror for Paul. Two years Later UPI, sparked his interest in international news.
We enjoyed the bohemian coffee shop atmosphere in Kings Cross
We were even “Stage Door Jonnies” together – Paint Your Wagon was playing at the Tivoli.
Paul’s first motor race coverage was the ’56 Australian GP – won by Stirling Moss. Somehow I was his “photographer” and we dodged a wheel flying towards us as one of the cars crashed.
In ’57, after the 21st birthday parties, he left from Sydney airport:
• Farewelled by a bevvy of beauties – all really sad as he left.
3 years later, at Heathrow, the conversation just started where we had left off.
I had a 12 month posting in the Midlands.
Paul had worked in Lausanne and in Geneva before moving to London – and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Many weekends we spent together – his flat in Hamstead the base – a wonderful introduction for me.
• And I met Gill. That bevvy of beauties in Sydney would wait in vain.
• One highlight of many – seeing Jack Brabham out smart a surging Graham Hill at Silver-stone and speaking to these masters after the race. Paul had the contacts to “get me in”
• Finally he guided me on a train tour – France, Switzerland and Germany
10 years passed before we met again – but we kept in touch.
His recently found diary notes give his career details. He and I seldom talked careers.
• In ’62 he started an English language news service for Swiss Radio International in Berne. Then a year with Reuters, London.
• UPI again called and in ‘64 he was suddenly transferred to Paris – life changed.
• But for the free phone calls – from the BBC (at Gill’s end) and UPI – the romance with Gill might have floundered.
• They were married in the November.
• To the delight of their many friends they set up home floating on the Seine for 23 years. When Ozy arrived he took that eccentric choice of home in his stride.
• Paris exposed Paul to news in France and French speaking Africa – and allowed him to cover motor racing professionally – Le Mans, Monte Carlo and others.
• He moved in ‘67 – to edit journals for the British and American Chambers of Commerce – he missed the challenge and the drama of “real” journalism.
• But had the flexibility to spend many weekends in London where his mother was in hospital dying from cancer.
• Then in ‘69, after a brief return to UPI, he was head hunted by Associated Press
• He stayed for 18 years, becoming news editor and No 2 in the Paris bureau.
This really suited him.
• He became AP’s motor racing expert in Europe, covering personally up to eight grand prix each year; but with contacts and
• Able to hand race coverage to a press room associate if a “real world” event developed.
• …….. refugees fleeing the Congo to Belgium, a Papal visit to Paris.
He covered major events in Europe ………:
• North Sea oil well blow outs;
• The Heysel football stadium disaster in Brussels; and
• The Spirit of Free Enterprise ferry disaster in Zeebrugge, Belgium
His Swiss passport gave him visa-free entry to the Middle East and to North Africa where
• His skills with French-keyboard telex machines was a real advantage
• for such events as
• The Moroccan invasion of Spanish Sahara; and
• In Algiers for the US hostage crisis in Tehran
These excursions could involve 24 to 48 hour non-stop stints running on adrenalin – but what wonderful dinner table stories!
In the early ‘80s, he became a specialist on AIDS research. He covered the ‘85 World AIDS Conference .
• In ‘87 he offered to write a regular newsletter on developments in AIDS for WHO, just as
• Liz Aves was offering him a PR job with the Tyrell team – but with a deadline –
• On that deadline he accepted the Tyrell offer.
• Next day the WHO agreed to his AIDS proposal
• But too late. Committed to F1 for the rest of his working life –
• He and Gill returned to London.
I was only vaguely aware of all this.
In ’70, Paul & Gill were international guests when Barbara and I were married.
• The post honeymoon photos of us all sitting on the floor are among our treasures – our first home being almost furniture free.
In ’73 I travelled to London for the press release of my baby – the Australian Leyland P76 and
• chauffeured Paul to the British Grand Prix in one of the press cars – drawing quite some attention.
• Somehow Paul again had a pit pass for me.
Later that year he went, with a moment’s notice and an overnight bag, to Jordan to cover the Arab-Israeli war. He stayed 6 months and Gill and Oz joined him.
He later chortled as he described one expense claim:
• ”To purchase of one suit to interview King Hussein”
Over the next 40 odd years Barbara and I – with a daughter in London for 18 of those years – travelled more and Paul’s F1 travels took him to Australia annually for about a decade.
• We camped at each other’s homes, repaying the hospitality with slap up meals.
• We stayed on MV Almeria in Paris and woke to see the Pont Alexander Trois in the morning sun.
• We did London things
• We saw the impact of the London tornado of ‘87 on homes near the Ts.
• We had many Languid days at Canehan with Rosé in the garden for lunch and
o Wine over long discussions by the fire at night.
We were a foursome – the most valued by Barbara and me. Often courtesy of Gill’s Intergalactic Travel – we had wonderful excursions:
• Visiting the many historic places accessible from Canehan;
• Touring the Route Napoleon and a lovely meal overlooking Nice;
• As tourists in Hong Kong;
• Drinking in history around Venice;
• Cruising the Norwegian fjords; and
• Our last trip together in October last – Canehan through Holland to Amsterdam.
• All delightful – we always got on so well together.
These expeditions often began at railway stations.
• I have lasting image of Paul striding along a platform hand outstretched – always wearing that Akubra hat. You can take the boy out of Australia – but….
So, as Adlai Stephenson said of JFK:
“Today we mourn him. Tomorrow and tomorrow we will miss him”.
Farewell Paul, me ol’ cobber. I am honoured to have been your friend and to be speaking of you in this:
• the Journalists’ Church
• the Christopher Wren version of the churches that have stood on this site through the ages; and
• in Fleet St. where my father – your first employer – worked as a War Correspondent during WWII.
So it is here that I bid you Adieu.