Laurie Carmichael

"There was no-one like Laurie." Last Thursday morning that refrain bounced off the concrete walls of the Nursing Federation union’s headquarters auditorium in Melbourne, as a few hundred people gathered to farewell Laurie Carmichael. Laurie Carmichael! Some readers will say. Was he still alive? Yes, to the age of 93, and fully compos pretty much to the end.

That old Broadway hit "The impossible dream" played at one point in the proceedings. Laurie like Mahler; this tune has the complexity of "Shaddap You Face". Nevertheless, the story of a questing night, out of time works; Laurie’s name comes out of the past like the personnel of a medieval chronicle, of ancient battles in blurred crusades. The official record has him as the perpetual state or assistant secretary of the Metal Workers Union, but try and remember any general secretary from the time.