Published on November 1st, 2006 | by The Beige Baron


Vale Ian Rilen

By The Doctor

Assuming that I stick with this one, it has now been 36 opening paragraphs and a full bottle of the greatest bourbon in the world (Jimmy Russel’s Reserve Wild Turkey, RRP $10,000) since I first tried to write something in memory of Ian.

I’ll assume by now that you have all heard the news, for those who haven’t Ian died yesterday morning just after 10am from bladder cancer.

I’m sure that there will be enough biographies and discographies that I don’t need to do that here. All I want to do here is try and remember a mate, as a man who lives by the anecdote, and I have one that I would like to share. As a bonus it may go someways as to explaining the Baron’s predicament.

Dateline: Monday Evening, Slurry Hills, Sydney. C2000. (A little bit hazy on the exact dates but reasonably sure the Olympic fiasco hadn’t occurred.)

The Baron and I are sitting on the remains of the ancient Indian burial ground that I loosely called my pub. There had been a Brisbane act booked to perform that night but something went awry during their trip south, the same involving rubber gloves and men in uniforms we heard, so the prospects for the night were dim, to say the least.

Ian and the band, then known as Skindiver, were doing a small gig at a pub in Chippendale called the Royal Oak. (For those not familiar with Sydney, Surry Hills is like Docklands and Chippendale would approximate to maybe Parliament).

Having spent way too much time that afternoon bemoaning the fact that both of our lovelives had recently experienced some major downward trends, though admittedly much more for the lad than myself, and with the better part of a bottle of Austin Nicols finest in us, it was decided that I should close the pub for the night and assume my duties as a sideman in the band at an away game (for once). So sallying forth like Mulga Bill we hit the cab rank in Foveaux St, and shortly after, despite my warning that “This Could Be Dangerous” we negotiated transit to The Royal Oak Hotel.

Upon entering the establishment two things became very apparent. The, admittedly short term, object of my affections was sitting there with… gasp… another!!! and as misery loves company, the same for the Baron. There are moments in any friendship were it becomes incredibly obvious that the best course of action is simply to shut the fuck up.

It is with some pride that I can now state that neither the Baron nor myself said but a word. In fact, as cool would have it, the only words uttered as we entered and appraised the situation were “Turkey?” and ” Yep”.

As luck would have it before I got to consumate my new relationship with said drink, Ian called me up onto the stage, and it was there I remained for the next 15 minutes or so till the end of the set. Coming off the stage I headed immediately to the bar to pay for the beverages only to have one of the three Indian brothers who owned the place say “No no no no. Your with the band, you don’t pay”. While in hindsight I admire his dedication to the arts, it should also be noted that these same guys went belly up about nine months later, but enough about them.

What was important to both the Baron and myself was that the mere presence of an instrument in my hand had somehow gained us the keys to the kingdom. I would love to recount the gig in it’s entirety.Truly I would, but sadly the only real memory is of about four caps being peeled off Wild Turkey bottles. The rest is silence and a weird montage of memory stills that may in fact be a remnant from the Late Movie Show with Izzy Dye, its truly hard to say.

Sometime later on the gig came to an end, as they do, and it was time to go home. The Baron, in the spirit of those great explorers of the 19th century, headed inland. (As he woke up seven hours later in the rain under the footbridge at Sydney Uni, he did in fact achieve something approaching the same degree of success as those valient adventurers from times of yore) whilst the band, or the three of us not committed to a life of sanity or reasonableness, headed back to the burial ground for a “nightcap”. (Note to self: Never invite people back for a nightcap to a pub.)

Things remain hazy. The guitarist, Kim, had to catch the early coach back to Melbourne the next morning. His significant other, the lovely Penny, was asleep upstairs in one of the rooms. Our intention was to simply load the gear into the pub, have a quick nightcap, then away to sleep. Yeah right. So instead there’s the three of us at about 4am standing behind the bar drinking (saved walking). Two of the three of us, miserable in our momentary solitude, are crying on each others shoulders about the ways of womenkind in general when Ian decides it is time to ring his ex and patch things up.

Now as drunk and fucked up as Kim and I were, we did realise that there was absolutely no way that good could come of this, so quickly leaping to the task we formed a two man scrum (two out of three codes use it, get a clue) and successfully kept him from what was potentially one of the most dangerous moments in the history of drink and dial. As we lay on the floor, exhausted from our efforts, Ian says, “The problem with you and me is we’re both love addicts. Hmm, thats not a bad name for a band.”

The rest, as they say, is history. There may be typos. The grammar may suck, but I can’t find a spell check in this thing and I may as well be using the bottom of the turkey bottle for a monocle for all the good my eyes are right now, but I’m sure you’ll get the gist of it.

Peace Out.

— The Doctor.

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Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.

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