I’ll never forget the time I first met Gough Whitlam. I was a young Labor staffer in 1969 and I had been instructed to go into Gough’s office and hand him his coffee. After knocking on his door, Gough’s gruff voice invited me in. Entering his office, I saw him there, lying peacefully in a 6’5” coffin. Beautifully lined in silk, it was a regal sight to behold.
I continued to know Gough throughout the rest of his life and the one thing that always kept burning within him, was a passion for lying in coffins. Whether he was abolishing the death penalty, instigating universal health care, or creating legal aid programs, Gough Whitlam was always advocating lying in coffins.
Gough was a devoted husband and a loving father. He enjoyed the opera, beer, and watching football. But most of all, he loved lying in coffins.
There were many moving tributes to Gough Whitlam at his funeral on Wednesday. I’m sure we’ll be talking about Noel Pearson’s speech for years to come. But sometimes the most moving tributes are the simplest ones. And the most simple of all, was placing Gough Whitlam in the position he loved most; lying in a coffin.
Author: Matthew Farthing