“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)





24 February 2016


29th of February will always be a day of reflection, not much of it morbid, on the life of my dear friend of many years, Stephen Tracey, who died on this date in 2004. 

There've  been only only three twenty-ninths since then, which may help explain why it seems more like three years back than twelve that the dear man finally returned to wherever he was before his conception.

The above photograph was taken by Leo Davis in 2000, when Stephen had just discovered his cancer was back. I think it was the third bout he'd had over many years.

We spread most of Stephen's ashes in a row of Shiraz beside Greg Trott's house at Wirra Wirra. Trotty was a beloved mate of Stephen's. He intended to make a special barrel of wine from Stephen's row but he too was dying of cancer and didn't live to get it done.

I met Stephen when he worked for Remy Martin in Melbourne about 1982. He became the SA state manager of Remy Blass until he was chewed out by the savages at Bilyara. 

Robert O'Callaghan gave him work on the road for Rockford, but Stephen was too ill and depressed then to function.

He would never talk about it at that stage, but he gradually improved.

Stephen then spent many happy years working as a top sales dude for Gerald and Wolf Viergever at AQ Printworks, the wine lable experts in Nuriootpa. The sort of person who took every service upset personally, he knew acutely how to look after his customers, none of whom will forget him. 

In return, AQ looked after him through two more bouts of cancer 'til his death.

Not a day goes by without a moment when I itch to call him to arrange drinks or swap winebiz scandal.

Some of his ashes were spread around the world, on all his favourite cricket grounds, from Edgbaston to Adelaide. Realising now what happened to some of that sacred turf as the planet turned plastic, I love the thought that most of the Big Lad Stemmo is in a row of old Shiraz,  just down the road from here.

all these photographs by Leo Davis

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