Hi Andy, it’s Andy

I had a routine with Andy, whether by email or phone, where I’d immediately greet him with ‘Hi Andy. It’s Andy.’ This amused me inordinately and Andy agreed, telling me once, ‘It never gets old’.

Way back in 2011, in fact this same month of July, I met Andy for the first time. I was trying to set up my business as an editor, having left my work in the HIV sector. I had done a course on Book Editing and Publishing. I’d gotten some initial work, editing reports for PwC. But at that point in time, I didn’t know how I’d make a living from editing, what my strengths were, what more I had to learn. I’d also never run my own business before, and while it was a huge relief to not be working in an organisation with all its potential bad management and fighting and rivalries among staff members, it was also daunting to strike out on my own.

My friend John said that he knew someone who worked as a copywriter and that we should meet up. We did. At the time, Andy had started a small business with a colleague, working for many different clients. The role that I could play was to edit and proofread what they wrote. It was a great way for me to start learning about the writing services required by mostly other small businesses. I learned that everyone needs an editor, including editors and copywriters. And that someone whose strength is writing engaging text, like Andy, may not be as concerned with the details of grammar and punctuation.

We did lots of bits of work together over the next years and soon enough, Andy was referring me onto other clients who needed a proofreader, and to clients that I was a better fit for, or he didn’t want to take on. Not all of them were great clients. One contact of ours had taken on the job of project managing a website, setting it up and creating it, for I think a guy who had a security company. But the guy was dodgy as hell. She eventually called up Andy to ask his advice. ‘I’m being stiffed and not getting paid by this guy. Do I still have to pay Andy for his work?’ And Andy replied, ‘Of course you have to pay Andy for his work’. We made up an unkind nickname for her and laughed for ages about her incompetence and general cluelessness.

What I’ll always be grateful to Andy for was how generous he was in sharing his experience. I really had no idea how to price my work, particularly, and he walked me through how he’d quote for a job, and charge for it. He was so generous with his contacts, and to this day, I’m still doing copyediting and proofreading for one of his referrals, a terrifically talented and creative design studio. He even, when I was setting up my reiki business, provided me with the tagline that is on the back of my postcards and that I use on my online profiles: ‘invite the wellness of reiki into your life with a treatment today’.

Andy was a huge talent, so clever and creative. I was in awe of the way that he could find the right voice for different clients, from the City of Sydney to the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, from restaurants and food and beverage producers to tourism campaigns. He had a particular ear for a clever Aussie way of saying something, to the point of making up words that would not be found in the dictionary.

I admired his creativity outside of his work too. Years before I had met him, I had been a big fan of a comic strip that he published in the weekly gay newspaper, ‘Mr Gisby’s Totally Gay Pet Shop’. It was ridiculously funny, warped and completely original. He did skate board deck art. I found online some of his latest work, where he’d digitally printed the covers of pulp fiction novels that exploited queer identity (‘Gay Buddies’, ‘The Bashful Lesbian’) onto old-fashioned crockery, or ‘nana plates’ as he called them. He was funny, intelligent and subversive.

I also admired the life that he had created for himself. Long before the COVID exodus from Sydney of folks moving south and north, he had decided that he and his partner would move to Tasmania, which he loved, and from where he could still keep up with his work as a much-in-demand and world-class copywriter.

And now he’s gone. I just got the news a few days ago of a horrific car crash and accident in Tasmania, that happened in the late morning, almost noon. He was injured mortally and died in the hospital sometime later. If I’m being somewhat discreet by not mentioning his full name, it’s because he himself seemed to be keeping himself offline with few digital traces. When I searched for him online after hearing the news, I saw that he’d removed himself from Facebook, but not only that, he was barely to be found. His work website and LinkedIn profile are still up, but considering all the ties he had built in his new community, and his talent as an artist, I was surprised to find so little. There are also others online with his name, even another copywriter.

I’m surprised how unsettled I feel. I knew Andy more professionally than as a friend, and we weren’t close. But, as I said, I’ll always be grateful for his generosity to me while I was setting up this career, and I’m upset that he’s no longer alive in this world, prodding and needling it with his fierce humour and clever, clever voice. I don’t write outside of my work as much as I used to, but it seems appropriate to honour this talented wordsmith with words. Hi Andy. It’s Andy. I’ll miss you. Thanks for everything.

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2 Responses to Hi Andy, it’s Andy

  1. Gavin says:

    He was one of a kind, and he will be deeply missed by all those he touched. Thank you for your words, I can absolutely hear him saying “ hi Andy, it’s Andy!” Heartbroken.

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