ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

IT ONLY SEEMED LIKE yesterday when 56-year-old retired banker Richard Cullens was sitting in the lounge room  – listening to Prince, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, George Michael and watching Carrie Fisher in Star Wars films.

But today, those nostalgic memories of a time gone by, before he had a wife, kids, Labrador and Mercedes ML320, are now dead.

When American actress, actress and writer Carrie Fisher passed away on early this morning, an alarm inside Richard went off, something that had failed to do so when earlier this year when David Bowie, Prince, George Michael and Alan Rickman all fell off their respective perches.

“Carrie was a year younger than me,” said Cullens.

“That’s a real wake-up call. I could honestly drop at any time. You should’ve seen the shit I put up my nose in the 80’s. I was a bad man. Fuck I don’t know what shape I’m in, I could have high levels of bad cholesterol for all I know?”

“This is the first time I’ve actually been confronted with the idea that I’m closer to dying than I think I am. Now I’m afraid I’ve wasted my life because I took the safe option. I wanted to be a midwife.”

“Ali, man. He died too. He was the Greatest”

Richard’s feelings aren’t dissimilar to other members of the baby boomer community, with many Australians aged over 50 now seeing the heroes of their youth begin to drop off.

The impact is profoundly worse if the hero dies of natural causes.

Professor Bennet Paul agrees that dying celebrities are causing anxiety among baby boomers, a generation that’s beginning to see their end of their shelf life.

“People expect these larger than life characters to live forever – and they do. It’s just that, they don’t breathe forever or have a pulse,” she said.

“Dying in your 50 or 60s is like coming fourth or fifth in a running race. Not the worst possible outcome, but by far not the best,”

“The biggest handbrake on life, in my professional opinion, is that people tend to get bogged down and anxious about things that are out of their control. Seriously, don’t do that.”

More to come.


  1. Dear Sirs,

    As a Western Australian of advancing years who has been present at the interring of others into both marked and unmarked graves over a long period of time now, I can find some empathy for this young chap’s position. Even for the ones where there was that wonderful sense of relief that no-one’s seen you doing it, and you know you’re home scot-free, there will still be that brief existential moment where you ponder what would have happened if you didn’t have a musket handy, or had paused for long enough to find out what the man had actually wanted to talk to you about. It always passes after a few minutes I tend to find, and with this Cullens lad being an easterner I’d suggest handing back stolen GST money might be a useful way to take his mind off his anxieties. It certainly wouldn’t hurt.

    I remember back in the early days of the colony when good King William passed away and some unstable people were overcome with grief to the extent that they’d even lost interest in shooting natives for a time, and so I know jolly well how troubling these feelings are when they become manifest in those left behind. Lots of “We’re finished as an empire”, or “This slip-of-a-girl Victoria will be the ruin of us”, or even “Next thing they’ll be inventing steam locomotives, and we’ll all die of speed poisoning” sort-of wailing, and a very real chance that public discipline would disintegrate is suddenly hanging heavily in the air. Fortunately, the more level-headed amongst us shot these unstable mutterers mid-lament as and when we came across them, and a general sense of calm returned to the populace quite quickly.

    Psychiatrists and other interfering so-called ‘mental health professionals’ frequently sedate me and ask questions like “Ron, aren’t you saddened by all the people you’ve seen off during your frankly quite improbable lifetime?”, and I always give them the same answer – absolutely not. Death for others means there’s now one less person who will want to argue with you and tell you that you’re talking rubbish and that it never happened that way at all. As long as it happens to somebody else, it isn’t anything to fear or to cause you unnecessary anguish. This Cullens chap needs to get his finger out of his bum and start seeing the positives in life.


    Ron Muppet


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