“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





26 May 2013





After the funeral I took all your shirts
and scrubbed the collars and cuffs
with lemon and eucalyptus, so they shone
brighter than they’d ever done before.

I soaked your work trousers then washed them,
edging the temperature to the boil,
feeding the copper with kindling you’d cut,
while that old wringer surged and sang

like you did as we laughed those years
away, surprised at our hunger and lust.
The starching came next, and the iron.
Handkerchiefs, cravat - even your ties.

Now that they’re hanging on the rack
it’s obvious: you’re never coming back.


Philip White

Howard Twelftree was foremost amongst Australia's great gastronomy writers. He wrote for decades under the pseudonym John McGrath. To read my contribution to his various eulogies, and see photographs of his wake at his local, the Duke of Brunswick, click here. To read his first food review, click here.



Bob Colman said...

Philip, some call you Whitey. Hope you don't mind if I do too. I'm afraid I didn't know your friend Howard, despite considering myself to have a reasonable knowledge of aficionados of Australia food & wine scribes. Lovely words - you were obviously fond of the gentleman.

Timothy John said...

I am crying
such beautiful words, i can smell them.

Christine Beal said...

What Bob and Timothy said...

Sal said...

One of the simplest and purest expressions of grief for a loved one that I have ever read; or ever will. Clean as a blade.

Ian Were said...

Wonderful words. Thank you.

Di Howison said...

Thank you Philip for your evocative poem. It has given me some solace to know how much others loved him too.

Mollymegs said...

Heard the news too late to pay my respects so doing quietly here now, savouring your intense sense of loss (and ours shared) through your words. will miss sharing a drink at the brunswick.

Anonymous said...

How do you do that?

Anonymous said...

How many shirts did he have, Whitey? Thousands?

Andrew Male said...

Dear Phil,
Can't find right words to try to follow your writing on Howard with any kind of style.
Thanks for being smart enough to give us a glimpse of what we will miss.
Howard had a special gift, but it was always so much more complicated - and much better fun - than just that.
I can hear him gently laughing at us somehow, as we write about how much he was loved and how deeply we'll miss him. Well, he was and we will.
Best always.
Andrew Male and Gail Bartel.

JC said...

So wonderful - I want to die before you simply so you have the opportunity to write about me, should you choose to.

Why you're not recognised, and getting appropriate remuneration, as one of Australia's important writers I simply don't know.

thankyou said...

a song of love

littlebro said...

thank you Philip, beautifully written. A fine and humble man with a huge heart and great generosity was our Howard.

slossy said...

Lovely Philip. Didnt know Howard well, but Milt just told me this evening. We lose another 'character' in our world, and unfortunately I don't think they are being replaced.

Robbie said...

Don't stop now. I could read that a thousand times and it would still be new and ticklish.

tubby justice said...

I just got home and poured myself a drink in order to toast Howard's life. I threw a cube of ice in and it exploded and I said out loud "Jesus Howard settle down." Such fond memories of getting to hold Howard"s and Philip's hand at the same time walking down Gouger street a hundred years ago. Love you like a beautiful rock Howard.
Tubby Justice

Ian Parmenter said...

Philip, great writing at InDaily... from another of Adelaide's fine wordsmiths. I have only the fondest memories of Howard over the 17 years I knew him... a magnificent and generous human being.
Ian Parmenter, Margaret River.