Alan Oliver has not got long to go. The seafarers' scribe and long time union activist has terminal cancer. So on Friday, August 14, his closest comrades gathered by his side to raise their glasses in his honour, spin a few yarns, and set out on his last voyage together.
It was their regular get together at the Spanish Club in Sydney - group of maritime workers, an entrepreneur, an artist and cook, a Cuban, a doctor and a lawyer.
Also there to demonstrate the standing the MUA veteran had in the union was the national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia Paddy Crumlin:
"He found his fluidity when he picked the pen up," said Paddy raising his glass in tribute to the union veteran. "To Alan Oliver, wordsmith extraordinaire,the Damon Runyon of the Australian maritime and international working class."
The gathering moved on from drinks to more drinks over a Chinese lunch and went well into the afternoon.
Retired Seamen's Union leader Pat Geraghty read from Alan's many contributions to the Seamen's Journal over the years and Assistant National Secretary Mick Doleman recalled his last strike.
"I love the guy,"said fellow seafarer John Cleaver. "Make what you will of this, but that's how I feel about this comrade. I've known him the major part of my adult life, loved him, learned from him and enjoyed his company. He'll be my mate forever."
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