About 12 years ago, Larry emailed me a draft copy of his unfinished autobiography.
It was raw, honest, funny, adventurous and riveting.
After 3 days of gripping reading, I told Larry his life story was one of the most inspiring of anyone I knew or read about.
From a very young age, Larry had his own mind, clear thinking and rational, causing him to be turfed out of his deeply religious home at age 14.
From that moment on, Larry’s life became a ‘boys own adventure’, where street survival forged his spirit.
He lived in a telephone box in the middle of a bitterly cold Melbourne winter, until he could get a job and get his life on track.
Despite all the shit that life threw at Larry, he never lost his impish, ribald humour .
His raw, unedited book draft was filled with descriptive ‘colourful’ language.
After reading it, I told Larry the book should be a must read for every kid in Australia…but…might need to remove all the adjectival ‘fucks’ just so parents wouldn’t feel uncomfortable about their kids reading it.
“Geez, mate…”, Larry pondered. “If I remove all the ‘fucks’, it’ll be a pretty short read.”
The past 10 years of Larry’s life we became very close.
Hardly a day went by where he wasn’t asking, “what are we getting up to on the weekend?” (We had a private chat box, where a very bored Larry suggested the most outrageously funny shenanigans, which, if most were followed through would end up getting us arrested or on the front pages. Or all over social media where the easily offended moral police would get triggered into being ‘offended’.
So for 10 years weekends on the Gold Coast were filled with outrageously mischievous fun.
In his 60s and 70s Larry remained a teenager with an eye for trouble.
If he picked you as his mate, your life was guaranteed to be a riot. Many nights were spent drinking his favourite ‘South African reds’, with Larry holding court, telling adventure filled stories of events, characters and politicians.
Most stories could never be publicly told, so didn’t make it into the book, to protect…the guilty.
“I don’t fear death,” he would sometimes say.
“My only fear is being bored.”
Which is why he was always on the hunt for new adventures.
People were drawn to Larry due to his sense of mischief, reflected in his cartoons and writing.
Larry’s autobiography has finally been published.
Imagine a real life Ginger Meggs, Indiana Jones, Hemingway, Norman Lindsay, Howard Hughes, Alvin Purple and Hoges, all rolled into one person.
At this point I want to pay tribute to Larry’s incredible widow, Carol, who stood by and loved Larry to the end. Carol shares a similarly wicked sense of humour. She was the perfect mum, caring for three kids in the family, their two young ones, and Larry, bringing him cuppas and making healthy smoothies.
In his last days, Larry suffered terribly. He was in excruciating pain, sitting in his favourite TV lounge chair, trying bravely to not show his pain, but the constant grimacing and whincing betrayed his stoicism.
Carol did everything she could, while attending the needs of their two beautiful young kids, to make Larry’s last days as comfortable as possible.
I don’t know if he ever told her, as Larry wasn’t much for showing his sentimental side, but he would often tell me, “She’s the best person I know. I can’t believe how lucky I am.”
And yes, Carol is a special person, much loved by everyone around her.
After Larry passed away, Carol told me on the night before he died, Larry woke up around 1:00 am and said, “Call Paul. I need you to call Paul. There’s something I need to tell him.”
Carol said, “Larry, it’s 1 o’clock in the morning. He’ll be asleep. Tell me, and I’ll tell him.”
“I can’t,” he replied.
“It’s a secret.”
The next day Larry drew his last breath.
There’s not a day that goes by I don’t think about my mate, Larry.
The weekends of mischief.
I occasionally wonder about ‘The Secret’ he took with him.
Larry’s autobiography is a must read for every Australian. It’s the story of one of our country’s most unique characters and dead set legends, the template for a great movie or TV series.
Larry Pickering, ‘Winding Up’, in his own words.
The perfect Christmas pressie.
Larry Pickering (1942-2018), a well known larrikin and often controversial Australian political newspaper cartoonist, caricaturist, and illustrator of books and calendars. The winner of four Walkley Awards, a #1 in the Australian Best Seller’s list, an entrepreneur, racehorse trainer, adventurist, and devoted father.
Larry is best known for his political satire and nude characterisations through-out the prime ministership of Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser prior to his retirement in the early 1980s and later Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, and Tony Abbott following his return in 2010. His work blew away the nation and his life was just as fun and exciting as he was. Larry passed away from cancer in 2018 at the age of 76 and is survived by 11 children, 18 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren and his wife, Carol.