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Iain the Person

As seen by his family (continued)

Iain's older brothers, both of whom had travelled back from overseas in time to spend the last week or so of his life with him, spoke at the celebration, giving their impressions & memories of Iain.


Jeremy, seven years his elder, came from the UK, where he remained to complete his Uni studies when we returned to Australia in 1981 and who has lived and worked there ever since.

He had inevitably seen much less of Iain over the years but nevertheless retained a strong bond with him and spoke movingly of his "cute little brother'' as follows: –


  My first thoughts of Iain are simply that he was my cute little brother who had his own way of doing things. He grew up into a handsome young man and a special human being, and I am increasingly learning what an extraordinary individual he was.

   One vivid memory of his early life is preventing him from crashing dads’ car. Iain was probably about 3 or 4 years old and so I would have been 8 or 9 at the time. Curiosity presumably led him to play with the handbrake, and the car ended up rolling backwards down the drive. I managed to get behind the car and slow it down a bit while shouting for Mum, who came and saved the day (despite not knowing how to drive !).

   Probably my fondest memories are of bonding as teenagers with Iain and Matthew while spending 18 months travelling through Europe in a campervan. It was a tour of fantastic scenery, art and culture. This was a remarkable journey that influenced us all in many ways, though I suspect Iain drew more from the art and culture than Matthew or I - Iain was engrossed whereas we would make a cursory tour of the museum or gallery and skulk off at the first opportunity to find something more engaging to do. One abiding memory of Iain’s enigmatic ways was when we were due to fly from Greece (where we had spent the first few months of the trip) to the UK to pick up our campervan. The air tickets went missing and dad had no end of trouble getting replacements. We only found out much later that they had been hidden under a bed, and Iain eventually owned up (though I’m not sure if we ever got to the bottom of why he had done it).

   We also spent 4 years living in West Yorkshire, coping with horizontal rain and snow in a very small terraced house. Iain, Matthew and I shared the attic room and this was also a special time.  One regret I have from this period is that my sporting prowess was never sufficient to get 4 Turnbulls – father and 3 sons - playing on the same team which would have been a nice touch.  But we did practice cricket together a lot and that was memorable.

   Most of my memories of Iain are these early years, as I was the brother who stayed behind in England when the family returned to Brisbane in 1981. So I have seen less of Iain in our adult years. But one continuous thread along the way with Iain has been much witty banter and humour, and this reflects Iain’s lifelong love of language. On one of my recent visits I picked up one of his books “Death Sentence: The decay of public language” by Don Watson, and we had a very enjoyable discussion about this; one example we ruminated over was the often incorrectly used word “robust” much in vogue currently with politicians in particular. But it wasn’t all high brow – we also reminisced over his copy of “The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin” which was a cherished TV comedy from our Yorkshire days.

   I would like to pass on my wife Marion’s thoughts on Iain:
“Quirky house, piled books, quiet spirit; and your art. We’ll miss you, Iain”.

   Iain was an extraordinary individual and I feel privileged to have had a brother of that calibre. He has left us far too soon, but the love, the memories, and the impact he made on many of us, will certainly live on.

   I’ll finish with these words from my daughter Sophie who summed up our thoughts succinctly:

  “Iain, the world has lost a kind, brilliant and creative soul which we can never replace. Now at least you can have your rest, forever”.



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Go to >>  Iain as seen by his friends & colleagues


Go to >> Thoughts from Iain's notebooks




Untitled (1982)  Ed.7
Etching 22cm x 15cm
Caption pending
Untitled (2003)   SPI
Etching   19cm x 19.5cm




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