Sadly, Dr. Laurie passed away at 5.25 pm yesterday in Royal Brisbane Hospital. He had been ill for a long time and when I spoke with his wife yesterday afternoon he was in a coma, but his family were all there with him.
Laurie was our doctor in Sai Gon and became our good mate. He was arguably the most irreverent, politically incorrect person I have ever met, but that was all a part of his charm and he could get away with saying outrageous things because it was obvious that he loved people, well, those he didn’t consider were wankers or poofters anyway.
I will never forget the nights in Sai Gon at Thanh Nien restaurant opposite the surgery where Laurie loved to hold court as friends drifted in and out. Laurie, Terry, Tranny, Lisa and I, sitting for hours drinking beers and talking absolute Aussie bullshit. And why? Because we didn’t have to spend hours explaining what we were talking about as we had to with people from other nationalities. It became our safety valve, the place to let off steam as it were.
Football, cricket, religion, politics, local Sai Gon gossip, work; they all got a hammering at those sessions and the best part about it was the laughter. Gut wrenching, side splitting, bordering on hysterical laughter at conversations that, to outsiders at least, must have seemed slightly insane. I know we kept the Vietnamese staff in that place highly amused, but then it was obvious that they loved Laurie also and we were always treated with the utmost respect.
Neither will I forget the nights at Cafe Latin on Dong Du St., watching AFL football on the big screen below, or in the privacy of the 3rd floor eyrie with Laurie, Sister Trish in her beloved Carlton footy club guernsey and the horde of Aussie football loving ex-pats hollering away in the smoke filled beery atmosphere.
However, the memories of Dr. Laurie are not all only to do with drinking and having good times. He was instrumental in arranging medicals for the children and parents of ROMAC patients that we got back to Australia for surgery and for Laurie, it was never too much trouble to help out and fit these people into his schedule. Laurie was also involved in helping Interplast surgical teams from Australia and he did so selflessly.
Sadly Laurie was too ill over the last 12 months to stay in Viet Nam, and the times when we met up with him here in Brisbane he was not happy being back in Australia. Because after all, as Laurie would say, “This place is full of BMW driving pretentious wankers, just look at em!”
We’ll miss you mate!