When Dan and I met early November last year for a pre-arranged interview at a cafe in Claremont I carried a mild wariness of the press and media. I’d studied a communications degree like Dan, and my recent history working in film and television production both in Australia and abroad did little to abate my suspicions of how little was sacred in media.
However, Dan’s candour and ardour was immediately disarming. After two more lattes we were sharing our passions of film and travel with indulgent insouciance shaped from very different experiences and journeys, yet equally encouraged by the enervating midmorning weather, and both growing up on the west coast of Australia.
Dan attended the book launch a month later at the Bookcaffe in Swanbourne. The cumulative event naturally condensed and contested all my latent uncertainty against a new promise for the future. And while the cafe was filled with supportive family and close friends I remember Dan’s zeal and reassurance of my work – and from his encouragement and endorsement I still recall his presence as one of the most uplifting and affirming of the night.
The fact that Dan’s article was never printed in The West Australia was a mute footnote of reality. We stayed in touch and caught up for beers and talk of life and loves as writers do when we could. And when I needed help a few months later to dispel a damaging and small-minded online review I thought immediately of Dan – who came to the forum with gusto and glowing words. He later joked how he was forced to buy a copy of my book to write the review – but he didn’t mind because his ex had absconded with his only copy and he going to replace it anyway.
I find part of myself shocked by how deeply the tragic news of someone I knew so briefly has affected me – which is a tribute to Dan’s solicitous and passionate spirit, and how greatly he will be missed by all those fortunate enough to have met him.
The tragic news of Dan’s passing has reached me while in the United States – which I recall Dan energetically talking about visiting over beers at the Claremont Hotel. And I think how my recent departure had given rise to fresh texts and emails for a new excuse to catch up over a few jars before I left, which regrettably never eventuated. And I try not to lament missed opportunities such as these, and I know Dan would probably have scoffed at me for it – but it’s hard not to.