Australian legendary cartoonist Larry Pickering died from lung cancer yesterday aged 76. He joins his compatriot in brave honest journalism, Bill Leak.
Lawrence D. Pickering
18 October 1942 – 19 November 2018
Australian political cartoonist, caricaturist, illustrator, columnist.
Died: 19 November 2018, Arundel, Queensland
Spouse: Carol Pickering (m. ?–2018)
Awards: Walkleys x 4
Children: lovingly many
We share a published tribute by Larry’s mate Harry Richardson, November 20 in 2018, from The Pickering Post, http://pickeringpost.com/story/farewell-old-friend/8693
‘Farewell old Friend. There is nothing worse than the sight of a grown man crying. We aren’t robots of course and sometimes we just have no choice. Like most of my gender however, I make every effort to shut myself somewhere out of sight or sound of anyone else before allowing myself to break down.
The thought of dissolving into tears in front of a large group of strangers is the stuff of my nightmares. Last Friday night that nightmare came true and it was Larry I wept for.
I’d like to say that him and me were best mates, thick as thieves and sharing a special bond. It wouldn’t quite be true though. We have become very close and I thought the world of Larry. We were good mates, and I loved spending time with him, but I have lost closer friends and never even welled up over it. So, what was so different about this old bugger.
Larry speaking at a Reclaim rally not long after I got to know him.
I’ve known Larry for about 5 years I guess, but for a long time, I didn’t get too close. Larry was quite a private person and I didn’t really want him thinking I was trying to push my way into his world. There are plenty of social climbers about and I didn’t want to be mistaken for one.
Strange as it may sound, me and Larry are both quite introverted and slow to open up to people. Sadly, it wasn’t really until after Larry’s first brush with death when he had a lung removed that we started to get to know each other.
I think Larry was glad to be alive. He was probably thankful he hadn’t had a lung transplant (I can’t imagine anything worse than coughing up someone else’s phlegm).
Whatever the reason, we got to know each other much better after that and I spent many a happy hour with Larry. Most of the time I spent with him, he was sat on his chair in front of his giant TV, rolling up ‘ciggies’ or occasionally something a little stronger to enjoy through his one remaining lung.
We might have lived very different lives, but we somehow had a lot in common. I always remember the picture he had in his living room. I recognised it as soon as I walked in. It was Rose Hill racecourse in Sydney. I have never been there, unlike Larry I have zero interest in horses or horse racing.
I knew it however, because in the background was Shell’s Clyde oil refinery (long since demolished) where I had worked as a welder on a couple of shutdowns. It was funny to laugh about daft things which I had done in a dirty old refinery while Larry would tell stories of funny things he had done on racetracks. I have a lifetime fear of horses while Larry trained, and clearly had an extraordinary bond with them.
He trained a horse ‘Rising Fear’ which came within a whisker of winning a Melbourne Cup in 1986. Larry so confident upon winning the Cup, dedicated a week training his contention horse ‘Rising Fear’ to bow to an audience, and he had rehearsed his acceptance speech.
Larry remains convinced that if his jockey had done as he was instructed, that the Cup would have been his.
We laughed about stupid things I did on old motorbikes. We laughed about how he lent his Aston Martin to a friend who didn’t have the hang of the weird gear change mechanism.
He shoved it into the wrong gear (not discouraging throwing “pillow-biting” homosexuals off buildings) and the thing came to a screeching halt in a plume of smoke from a well fried clutch. “Cost me thirty bloody grand to fix the thing,” he laughed.
He told me how Rupert Murdoch loved to come into his office and gas-bag for hours on end. “It was alright for Rupert, he didn’t have a bloody deadline to meet,” he chuckled. “I had to get a frigging cartoon out by 3 o’clock.”
He loved to talk about flying his helicopter. “I would fly it to the pub, have a skin full and then fly home – no breathalyzers up there,” he snorted.
The thing with Larry was that he wasn’t trying to impress you with the fact that he had owned an Aston Martin and a helicopter, or that he was friends with one of the world’s great media moguls.
To Larry, he was just a bloke having fun in an Aston Martin or a helicopter or with Rupert bloody Murdoch. The fact that his toys were bigger just added to the fun. He was just as happy to talk about his life as a runaway 14-year-old living in a phone box and stealing eggs from a local chook farm to survive.
That was what was so special about Larry, he never forgot who he was or where he came from. He never looked down on people for who they were, or where they came from.
I wasn’t anyone special or famous when I met Larry, but he never ever made me feel that way. He always heaped praise on my work and had huge confidence in my abilities.
I know that Larry believed it too because he wouldn’t have said it if he didn’t. Larry Pickering never peed in anyone’s pocket.
Those compliments were special to me however, for two reasons. Firstly, praise from a writer of Larry’s calibre is deeply humbling.
But there is another reason. Larry was a media superstar with a huge following. I was a much younger nobody. When Larry posted articles of mine, particularly on Facebook, sometimes people would mistake them for his own. On some occasions, commenters would praise Larry for writing such a great piece.
That used to make me nervous. Larry could have felt jealous or threatened by that.
Many lesser men would have been. He could have started sniping and picking faults in what I wrote. He could have rejected articles. But Larry never gave me anything but praise and encouragement.
That is why I admired Larry so much.I know that Larry’s success never came at anyone else’s expense. Larry Pickering never climbed over anyone else to get where he was.He did it all on his own merit.
Larry was always ready to give someone else a hand up without worrying about whether that might diminish his own position or status. When I measure the size of a man, that quality adds considerably to the numbers on my tape rule.
People may think that Larry simply had a talent for cartoons but talent or no, you still have to put in the hard yards. There is a proper way to draw a cartoon which needs to be learned. Larry told me he drew three cartoons, every day for a year before submitting one to the editor.
18C? Don’t make me laugh!
That was what made Larry special. As well as his talents, he had true grit and never backed away from a challenge.
It is a couple of years now since Larry’s doctors told him that if he didn’t take the Chemo, that he would be dead by Christmas. Larry stuck two fingers up at them and confounded them since.
Who does that?
Larry’s toughness was legendary. He would fight tooth and nail for what he believed was right (and wrong).
A four-time Walkley award winner, he had a successful yet contentious career drawing for newspapers and books. He was also famous for political calendars, featuring caricatures of naked politicians, in the 1980s.
A traditional Aussie, a patriot, and a champion of free speech, Larry got stuck into useless Julia Gillard while she pretended to be PM. Last year, hey gave a speech to the far-right Q Society slamming Muslims. “I can’t stand Muslims,” he told the audience. “If they are in the same street as me, I start shaking.”
In January 2017, he was placed under protective police surveillance after posting a cartoon showing the Muslim prophet Muhammad on a spit roast, skewered on a pencil.
That followed the Paris terror attacks on the Charlie Hebdo office. As well as Islam and Muslims, Pickering’s other favourite targets included Aborigines and quota women.
To see him succumbing to the inevitable was beyond sad for me. On Friday, I spoke to his wife who was passing on instructions on the eulogy he wanted to go on the website.
If that isn’t hard enough to take, he grabbed the phone part way through. “Hello Chief!” he exclaimed with his old enthusiasm for life and began telling me what he wanted me to include.
Before long however, he was struggling to get words out and had to hand the phone back to his wife again. It broke my heart and that is why I broke down last Friday night and cried in front of all those people.
Larry was fighting like a tiger to spend just a little more time with his beloved family. He refused painkillers because he didn’t want to miss what little time he had left with them. Sadly, it was a fight that even Larry Pickering couldn’t win forever.
They broke the mould when they made Larry and we can’t all be like him. But the fact that Australians made a hero of Larry speaks volumes as to why this country is one of the most envied in the world. Larry did everything he could to keep it that way.
He leaves behind a gigantic pair of boots to fill.
I can never be Larry, but I will do my best to keep this site running and the community together. I know that was what Larry wanted because he told me so.
Larry’s parting post on his The Pickering Post – Friday October 26 in 2018:
The Pickering Post was never just Larry. All of us have added to The Post with our comments and links, and all of us are still here for now.
Farewell old friend. You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten and the Pickering Post lives on as your legacy and a gift to all of us.’
“We aren’t silly, we got exactly what we wanted… a spanking for Turnbull but not such a belting that would have delivered us Shorten. It was a fine line to tread but we managed to do it once again.”
– Larry Pickering, July 4, 2016.
Pickering’s death from lung cancer, aged 76, was reported by News Corp publications on Tuesday. Larry had checked himself out of hospital on prior Friday. He went his way.
Pickering was a trailblazer of Australian cartooning who paved the way for a new generation of political cartoonists.
So where the bloody hell are ya?
He fought a long battle with cancer after he was diagnosed in 2016 and given just a few months to live.
Fellow cartoonist Paul Zanetti said Pickering’s spirit kept him fighting.
“He just had the most indomitable spirit, very defiant …” he said. “He was given only a few months to live a couple of years ago when they first diagnosed tumours in his lungs. “He just refused to accept he was going to die.”
Zanetti said the influential cartoonist embodied the true Australian spirit. “He was unique, he had a unique mind …. he was a one-off larrikin, he embodied the true Australian spirit.”
Pickering was famed for his political cartoons of the 1970s. He worked for titles such as The Canberra Times, The Sydney Morning Herald as well as The Australian where he stayed for five years before leaving full-time cartooning in 1981.
Zanetti said Pickering’s work defined a politician in the public eye. “However Larry drew a politician was how the public would see that politician.” he said. Zanetti said Pickering had become frustrated with public life which was increasingly compressed by political correctness.
A Pickering cartoon from 1977. “He was definitely frustrated by our politicians and by the way our society was becoming politically correct.” he said.
He was placed under police protection in 2015 after posting a cartoon of the prophet Muslim prophet Muhammad on a spit roast and skewered by a pencil on his website.
His blog Pickering Post became a haven for disenfranchised Aussies, Zanetti revealed. “So many of these online platforms are so politically correct and his blog was the destination for so many people who felt they had nowhere else to go.”
Larry is survived by his wife Carol and his thirteen children and his controversial website The Pickering Post, up there with The Bulletin.
On an Aussie nationalist note…
by Larry Pickering
‘Many of us came from convict backgrounds, sent in to exile for stealing a coat or a loaf of bread or a silver spoon. Some came for murder and robbery or prostitution. Tough people. Many came from China to work on the Gold Fields. Some came from Italy to work on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electricity scheme. Some came from Hungary during the Revolution. Some came from Vietnam during the Vietnam War. But they came for a chance to work and start a new life.
And they worked hard !! The Greeks, Serbs, and Irish, so many more that it would be impossible to name. There were no hand-outs, no privileges offered. These people were given a chance to start a new life, in Australia, to become Australians. And Australians they became. They learned English and embraced our country while offering the gift of their food and culture and music. We accepted that gift and sat together at the same table and laughed and drank their wine, ate their food, danced to their music and married and loved their people. As they did us. I have spoken with friends from Hungarian, Italian etc, backgrounds and, while they embrace and celebrate their roots, they consider themselves Australian. The common denominator with this terrible situation that we find ourselves in is that our current immigrant population do not want to embrace our culture but to destroy it. They do not want to learn our language, but to annihilate it. They do not want to work but to get us to work for them.
When our feminists ignore the genital mutilation, oppression of women, rape of little children of both sexes, we have a problem. When our Politicians condemn an elected member of the Dutch Parliament for coming to Australia to speak his views, we have a problem. When Australians are callously murdered in cold blood by immigrants of any Nationality, Religion or Race and our Government offers sympathy to the family of the perpetrator of the crime before offering sympathy to the family of the victim, then we have a problem. When Australians are living below the poverty line and have nowhere to live while immigrants of any Nationality, Religion or Race are prioritized, then we have a problem. When 16,000 English-speaking skilled-professional workers are refused visas and 12,000 uneducated, non-English speaking refugees are accepted, then, guess what, we have a problem. When Australians are called racists and bigots for speaking out about their concerns about the above, then again, we as a Nation, have a problem. When people prefer to debate the best bachelor or best contestant on X Factor to debating our Nation’s future, our children’s future and our grandchildren’s future, well, you got it, we have a problem. When our news is censored and we have to delve in to the internet to find out what is happening in the world and in our own country, dare I say, we have a problem.
The one thing that sets Australia apart from almost any other Nation on Earth is the Aussie spirit. It can be seen as a “she’ll be right mate” attitude that suggests apathy; or “she’ll be right mate” because we will take care of it. I went and saw “Bridge of Lies” yesterday and it is well worth the watch. The Berlin Wall was put up to separate two different Political views. It was a physical wall.
Today, we have a wall being built in Australia.
It is not made of bricks and mortar. It is made of censorship, Political Correctness and insidious manipulation through media control, Acts of Parliament and Social media trolls.
There is no razor wire, no watch towers. Just the ability to call someone a racist. I am reminded of the words in the old childhood saying: “Sticks and Stones may break my bones – but words will never hurt me.”
Well today, apparently words can hurt you, but only if you live on the side of the wall that our Government and Politicians have elected as the “right” side of the wall. No longer are people in Australia even able to scale a wall. Bullets are not needed.
To shoot us down, all that is needed is to call us racists or bigots.
I am hoping that the Aussie “she’ll be right mate” translates to “don’t worry, we will take care of it” and rise up and say that this is our country Friends, this is not a Refugee crisis. This is an Australia Crisis.
I fear that it will be too late if something does not happen while we still have enough Aussies left. – Larry Pickering.
Larry Pickering’s books:
- The Best of Pickering: A Collection of Some of the Best Cartoons of Larry Pickering, Australia’s Most Popular and Successful Political Cartoonist, 1973
- Pickering’s Year 1974
- It’s Pickering’s Best, 1976
- The Jungle Series: Recaptured in a Collection of Hilariously Penetrating Cartoons from the Pen of Australia’s Foremost Political Cartoonist, 1977
- Pickering Again!, 1977
- Pickering’s Salute to the Sentimental Bloke, 1978
- The Pick of Pickering, 1978
- It’s Pickering, 1979
- Care for Your Child, 1979
- If Your Aunty Had Bowls- [she’d be Your Uncle]: An Offbeat Look at Bowls for Both Sexes, 1979.
- Pickering Recaptured, 1980
- A Decade of Pickering, 1980
- The First Australian Dictionary of Vulgarities & Obscenities, 1987
- Playing Politics: The Cartoons of Pickering and Pryor, 2002.