Phil Eastick

It’s five years since Phil left us and twenty years since I first met him.

I like to remember that we first met because of music.

I was working in ArtsSA and Phil came in to do a consultancy on venues for live music performances. His new office was just across the corridor from mine and the first thing he did was set up his mini hi-fi system.

Our first contact was through the music drifting from his office. It was my kind of music, something from the UK 60s wonder years, and I was drawn in. We introduced ourselves and I commented on the music. I’d seen the band back in the day. Phil was interested that I was interested in it. We were still talking about stuff an hour later.

Our careers overlapped and criss-crossed for the next 15 years, starting in the arts area and moving through Ngapartji and then the Government’s IT and online services, where Phil’s vision was powerful and inspiring.

My word, Phil, they are still talking about doing some of things you envisaged way back then.

In parallel to our journey of exploration into using the online world to improve people’s lives, we were also on a quest to find the perfect coffee and the best cheeseburger in town.

We came darn close to the perfect coffee on many occasions. But we nailed the cheeseburger! It was in a very ordinary looking, old-fashioned café, long since gone, in the Renaissance Arcade where the Asian Food Court is now.

Our conversations, over coffee or cheeseburgers, usually followed the same pattern. After we’d dealt with the work issue of the day, the conversation would come round to music and musicians past and present, and the latest interesting and sometimes bewildering events in local and national politics.

Politics, music, coffee and cheeseburgers. It doesn’t get much better than that.

When I quit working for the government in 2004 and started playing in a rock and roll band, it was a great compliment that you came to see my very first gig at Fowlers Live. Later, when the band had evolved and got a bit better, it was an honour that you and the wise and wonderful Robin came to see us at the Blumberg Hotel in Birdwood. Both of you were so generous with your time and knowledge.

Now, when my band gets up to perform on the big stage at the Gov, where the celebration of Phil’s life was held, when I go into any of the many coffee shops around Adelaide where we used to meet up, when I wear something red, and when I see a cheeseburger, I remember Phil.

And I still laugh when I remember (and occasionally use) one his famous lines that he would sometimes say at the start of meetings, seminars and the like, when the facilitator goes round the table getting participants to introduce themselves and explain their role: “My name is Phil, and I drink coffee for the Government.”

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