Thank you Justin for being a massive part of my art.
I’m going to talk about why I’m angry, why I fought with Justin, but also why Justin was not only my brother but also my Teacher & why he was the friend you wish you had.
The first reason I’m angry is that I won’t get to tell you all of the stories today that deserve to be told. The little things, the big things, the adventures. I’m angry because I didn’t get a few months to write this for Justin & to share with you all. It doesn’t seem like I can really do justice to how important Justin was in creating who I am, and more importantly who he really was
I’m angry of Justin’s crappy timing of when he chose to leave, but I realised it was the right time for him & rather it was my timing that was crappy because only just recently did I realise what a great Teacher Justin was. Now I know you’re thinking that Justin wasn’t known for scholarly pursuits, but he was my teacher. I learnt this too late & I didn’t get the chance to thank him for the job that he never signed up for, that he never knew he was doing, that he was never thanked for, but one that he excelled at. His methods were a bit obtuse, but effective never the less. They say sometimes you can’t see what is in front of your eyes & that is one of the reasons I am angry. I didn’t see one of my greatest teachers & like many others I never thanked him for it.
We fought, we fought often & we fought until there was tears & bruises, but I don’t remember the big fights only the small.
Justin loved green & orange lollies & I loved red & orange lollies. So of course we fought & I like the wussy boy that I am, ran off to mum to complain & Justin being the teacher he was, just punched me…. and ate all the orange lollies. I learnt from Justin that in this world, instead of a well constructed complaint to the appropriate department, it’s often far more efficient to give someone a swift punch and just get on with what you want. It was conflict resolution at it’s simplest, no third parties needed. But not being keen on Justin’s conflict resolution I soon learnt how to compromise (which was another thing that he taught me). We switched to eating frog lollies because as we all know, they only come in red and green…… problem solved.
Our red & green compromise also extended to the 5 cent red skins and spearmints at the Wyong swimming pool where he taught me to roll Kangaroo tails from beach towels…… Then we fought. We would whip the living daylights out of each other until we almost bled and it started the cycle all over again & boy did that salt water sting, but I’m tougher for it now
We were Chalk & cheese. I liked books & buddhism, Justin liked mud and motorbikes. But I only learn’t Zen Riddles & how Hobbits had adventures. Justin was real life in the real world, he taught me how humans have adventures. He shook me up, he got me dirty, he got me outside. He was the scout, he was the Hucklberry Finn & he was completely unaware of his limitations. You could tell this just by looking at our childhood underwear and singlet sets. I was the Smurfs, useless dilettantes that wear funny hats & Justin was the Incredible Hulk, because he thought he was invincible
If you try to look up Justin Kershaw on the Net, you’ll find an American NFL footballer, you won’t find Justin, because Justin had no interest in technology, no twitter accounts, no iPhones. He was only interested in people. Even if you were to give him an iPhone he would have pawned it for $50 to buy his mates a few beers. And that’s how Justin taught me what it is to be a friend. He would skip his hospital treatments & sign himself out just to hangout for a bit longer with mates. & I ask you… How many of your friends would put their personal health at risk and pawn their possessions just to hangout with you a tiny bit longer & buy you a beer?
I desperately wish to someday have friend as good as Justin, a friend that I don’t think I will ever see the likes of again in my life
Justin taught warmth, he taught me that when your out on a freezing night in a boat & your father is too cheap to turn the gas on, or buy blankets warmer than tissue paper, there is another way to keep yourself nice & toasty. Whilst dad wasn’t looking Justin stole his Shamrock cream (because dad was to cheap to buy Baileys). It’s a warm memory of one of the first times I got tipsy. But It was actually the second lesson about alcohol Justin taught me. The first lesson was when we were little kids & Justin discovered much to dads horror that the mysterious yellow stuff called Galliano, was perfect for drowning cockroaches in the garage. Later when I was 18 we shared Galliano again, but this time it was us that ended up on our back with legs waving in the air.
In our many moves & many different houses around the Central Coast, we were lucky enough, thanks to Mum & Dad to have pools in most of them. It’s one of my favourite times. We would swim all day & only surface for a drink and some food. We would swim until we were wrinkly. & of course we found a way to fight, but they were fun and epic fights, they were pool pony fights & they were tennis ball skimming fights. In the pool Justin & I were equal, we could only move at the same speed, we had the same stamina & we would both burn and blister until we looked like we had been irradiated by nuclear fallout
I remember Justin’s lesson to teach us to look before you leap. The park near the end of George Hely Crescent had a steep grass hill, so we grabbed some cardboard boxes & without a moments hesitation in true Justin style, he flew down the hill first, which was the first step to the lesson, the second was when the low fence at the bottom almost rendered him unconscious. So you can’t say that Justin never used his head. The irony is that just after I remembered this story and wrote it down, I nearly rendered myself unconscious on a low shelf in our shop, I’m sure Justin would have had a chuckle at what a bad student I am
In the early Eighties we had a holiday house in Wyong where Justin was being the teacher again. He taught me that 2 bean bags a ghetto blaster and an empty space is all you need to find friends. We spent the days making BMX tracks on a vacant block of land then afterwards we would invite all the kids in the street back to have Garage parties, listening to Culture club, The Cure and other classic 80’s rock. I’ve had classic Eighties music & 2 been bags even since. & you know what?, it still works. I hang out with friends every week, just the same as Justin & I did back then
Justin had 200 times the amount of energy that I did. And loved, really loved sports. If we went roller skating, Justin would be in his custom made calliper skates. He would skate faster and longer, Justin would win Monte Carlo & Justin would teach me how to turn left when I could only ever turn right. Squash, cricket, lawn bowls, golf, BMX, skateboarding, swimming, motorbiking, Softball, Volleyball, tennis…. The list goes on and on & on. And Justin would manage all this with what he would refer to as his spastic mongey hands but those spastic mongey hands were perfect for cupping a tennis ball and kicking my arse at another of his favourite sports and mine, handball. But as you could expect, it always ended in a punishing round of brandings
There was this muddy path we used to ride our BMX bikes on (Along with some of the Cronies kids (Glen & Collin etc) and in many spots the track was unfinished and with just a few fence palings to span the creeks. Then Justin taught me my next lesson. Don’t wait for permission, bend the rules, bend a few branches & heck even if you have to, go and get a hatchet and saw. Get dirty, get it done. You might all know that path now as the snazzy 3 foot wide concrete path that circles Tuggerah lake from Long Jetty through Killarney vale out the front of Nana & Pop’s old house in Lucinda Ave, past berkley vale, Tuggerah and beyond. Maybe we should name part of it after Justin, the part that was most difficult, the part that was muddy & challenging the part that I would have given up on and gone home. We can just call it Justin’s path
I also remember that on that same path he was fishing on one of the bridges and he got stung by what he thought was a wasp. Bad luck I suppose by anyones standards, but Justin’s bad luck knew no bounds and it was actually a Funnel Web Spider. 14 hours later he was in hospital thinking he was in a spaceship with Agro the puppet driving and that the doctor was Robert Palmer & the nurses were his back up singers. But he had some luck as it was about 2 years after the anti-venom had just been invented
Justin’s first move when he was old enough to rent an R rated movie was to sneak off to the video store whilst mum was gone and get a porn movie, the only problem was Justin panicked in the adult section and nervously grabbed the first Video with an interesting cover. After he got home, about 25 minutes into the movie he was wondering why they weren’t getting to the good parts & only showed girls feet in stockings until he double checked the cover to find it was a foot fetish movie. Thanks Justin for demonstrating that you can’t judge a book by its cover… or even a Video Cassette
I learnt from Justin about motors, cars, motorbikes & more. Of course if i had a peewee 50 he would have a kawasaki 80. He always had to be that little bit bigger, that little bit faster, Jump that little bit further, that little bit higher. I wasn’t sure if he was a daredevil or an idiot or if he just knew how to live to the fullest of his potential……
And Justin fought. He would inevitably annoy the neighbour, and the neighbour would inevitable fill Justin’s petrol tank with lawn bowls Grippo cream until the engine didn’t work. So he would steal mine. I was all suited up ready to go & he taught me my next lesson. Revenge is sweet & bloody funny. I took his bike and shoved it under the electric fence. When he went to retrieve it, I witnessed that his determination combined with impatience could be hilarious. An hour or so of Justin zapping himself trying to retrieve his bike & my sides splitting from laughter, I gave in before him & told him to just ask the neighbour to turn it off. Sometimes our fights ended in laughter.
But the real lesson Justin taught me about motors was that if you run your motor hard and at full speed, you’ll burn it out faster. He ran his motor full hard, at full speed & that’s why his motor burnt out faster. I also learnt that after many tune ups in the Gosford hospital workshop, it takes a lot of nuts, bolts & screws to keep it all together
In my 20’s I wondered why I picked up riding a unicycle so fast, then I remember all the times Justin was in hospital and to keep me amused whilst visiting him, Justin taught me how to balance on the back 2 wheels of a wheelchair. We would have races around the hospital doing wheelies & I could also probably trace my love of art back to when we hung out in the children’s craft room together.
I would never wish in a million years for Justin to be sick again. But sometimes when Justin was sick and calm, that’s when we could just hang out together, just talk. A part of me wishes that I could be sitting in those large green vinyl chairs they had in the children’s ward beside his bed and I could colour in my mystery men book with my magic pen, surrounded by colourful wall paintings & the mixed smell of kids craft glue & disinfectant, and together we could steal little triangle sandwiches, lumpy mashed potato & jelly off the food trolleys. But this time in the craft room I would secretly make an extra paddle pop stick basket. 1 for mum & 1 for Justin to break
Lastly to Justin if your listening….
I’m angry that I won’t get to see you at mine & Emi’s wedding ceremony. I’m angry that I don’t get to grow older with a brother. I’m angry that I didn’t get to say goodbye & I’m angry that I didn’t thank you for being my teacher. But Justin, I was happy that the last time we spoke, you apologised to me for all our fights & mostly because you told me that you loved me & I believed you
I’m gonna miss that firm handshake you always mustered from your spastic mongey hands, I’m gonna miss our small fights & even though I’m vegan & haven’t bought animal products in almost 2 decades, I bought this bottle of Shamrock Cream to share some warm memories with you again today.
Justin, on the adventure you’re now going on, there will be no callipers or pills, no potions, no pumps, no plasters or patches, no prosthetics, staples or screws. But I’m sure there will be fishing, mud, motorbikes, fast cars, a few drinks & hopefully some better porn
Thank you Justin for being my teacher, thank you for teaching me adventure, thank you for teaching me by example, thank you for keeping me safe & teaching me how to fight. Thank you for teaching me how to fall, dust myself off, & get back up again.
Thank you for teaching me how to be a man
You weren’t ‘Just’ my brother, you were Justin my teacher
& I hope, I really really hope, that you knew that I loved you too