Stories about James

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Karen Scott

 

James lived his life to the fullest through a set of principles and advice he often shared with me. It is these that have helped, and continue to help me get through this difficult time and will always be my reference point to helping me become the person he knew I could be.

 

These principles are not only relevant to me, but they can help others to realise their potential and live life to the fullest, the way that James did.

 

This is, as he would say, James’ advice for a happier Karen:

 

1. You are perfect as you are – remember that you are smart, strong, capable and independent

 

2. Don’t get stressed over the little things; keep everything in perspective

 

3. Be positive – no whinging is allowed.

 

4. Do exercise, not to lose weight but to be healthy and happy.

 

5. Don’t be bitchy

 

6. Control your hangry “angry when hungry” vibes

 

7. Remember how lucky you are

 

8.  Do what is best for you

 

9. Live in the moment; plan – but only for those things that you can control not the many unknowns and assumptions

 

10. Set goals and work towards them

 

 

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It was almost a miracle that James and I got together at all in the first place.

 

We met back in 2008 when we were both working on the same large IT project at Telstra but for different consulting companies.

 

As soon as we met we had eyes for each other, but both were too awkward to know if the other was interested. So although there was a lot of flirting, particularly on my behalf, with many a fake reason to go up to his floor of the building, it took him over 6 months to ask me out and it was only then because I was very unsubtly telling him it was my last week on the project.

 

Even after he asked me out there had been miscommunication and he thought I’d politely let him down. Only when I emailed and followed up about the date did it finally ring true to him – “She really does like me!”

 

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When James was working in Sydney, I had come to visit him for the weekend.

 

For the Saturday night he had wanted to treat me, so he had booked us into a “nice” restaurant for dinner. He said he read about this place in the hotel guest book and it was meant to be pretty good but they were very busy..

 

James: “It’s called something like rocks or water or something”

 

Me: “you mean Rockpool?”

 

James: “Yes that’s it!”

 

Me: ”That is one of the nicest restaurants in Sydney! That’s why you couldn’t get us in until 9:30pm booking!”

 

The thought was so nice and I felt so spoilt and we had a delicious dinner there (even if James did insist on having a small snack beforehand because dinner was so late!).

 

We were pretty lucky to be able to do so many special things together.

 

 

 

 

 

Calum Sutherland

 

James was not an idle man. While I loved spending time with him, afterwards I often felt like I was wasting my life compared to what James was achieving.

 

Despite working long hours, exercising like crazy, volunteering and socialising, he always managed to find time to remain well-read and was ready with interesting conversation based on something he’d recently read.

 

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He once told me he thought of himself as “proactively lazy” because he would write computer programs to perform some of the more mundane tasks at work, giving him more time to read up on his own interests.

 

I told him that was ridiculous; he was simply being incredibly efficient. This typifies James’ attitude towards life. Cram as much in as humanly possible.

 

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James was a true friend. Some of my favourite memories are sharing a beer at the pub while I would confide in him about whatever was going on in my life at the time.

 

He would always listen carefully, then offer a completely different perspective that I would never had thought of.

 

Of course the whole conversation would be interspersed with comedy, which always helped put things in perspective.

 

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Comedy was something James loved. We used to go to amateur open mic comedy nights, where he would often say “I can do better than that!” and he was right.

 

A skilful storyteller, James would polish the delivery of his stories until they were perfectly timed.

 

Although this did mean that those close to him often heard the story many times! It was always funny no matter how many times you heard it.

 

 

 

 

Meagan Lee

 

 

My story about James is also about the first time we met at Whitley College.

 

It turned out that James was my neighbour for our first year at Whitley. After we had moved in, met briefly and had lunch, we all met on the front lawn and were told to pair up with someone of the opposite sex.

 

I quickly looked around and found that the tall, skinny guy who was now my neighbour was standing next to me. I turned to him and said 'you'll do', he was a bit surprised by this and did his classic eyebrow raising look and said 'gee thanks', with a grin on his face.

 

I can't remember much more about that day, but I had a good feeling from the start that James was a special person and that we'd become good mates over the next three years at Whitley.

 

 

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James and I were elected sports reps together in our second years at Whitley.

 

I'm pretty sure James didn't expect to get elected, given he wasn't the typical footy guy you might expect to be in that role. But people realised he was a great sportsman and more importantly, reliable and enthusiastic about sport and college in general.

 

I really enjoyed going to meetings with him, organising events and helping each other out. I certainly increased my vocabulary that year, given I had to get James to explain the meaning of almost every second word he said to me!

 

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Another story is from one of the last times I saw James.

 

We were catching up at a pub for lunch with a few other mates. I remember sitting opposite James having a good old yarn and we ended up talking about exercise and boot camp type things.

 

He was telling me about starting to try and do chin ups and how it is much harder for a male to do than a female. His reasoning was because he was so much bigger and thus had much more to lift.

 

I don't think my argument that his arms were in proportion to his body and that males normally have much stronger muscles than females went down too well, I just think he wanted to make himself feel better that a chick in his class was a lot better at chin up than he was.

 

So from now on every time I think about attempting some chin ups or see someone doing them, I think of James at that conversation. It was always good fun trying to get him a bit riled up over some random topic.

 

 

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I also remembered this one yesterday, which always makes me smile.

 

A group of us college mates were having a party at my place in Werribee one night, we were having a cocktail party and it was a great night.

 

At the start of the night I remember standing in the kitchen with my housemates and we were talking with James, he looked down at the bench and asked if it was beef jerky that was in the plastic bag. Helen and I (who are both vets and were studying at the time) looked at each other and said yeah sure it is, did you want to try some.

 

James and his constant hunger thought this was a great offering and gladly accepted, but on his first taste you could see he was wondering what kind of beef jerky it really was. We asked if he liked it, and being polite, said yeah it wasn't too bad.

 

Helen and I then started to crack up as it wasn't actually beef jerky, but some liver treats that Helen had brought back from the vet hospital! Poor James, we felt a little bad, but the look on his face was worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle Boyle

 

I am not really a present person, always requesting instead the presence of friends rather than gifts. Jimmy however was both a presence and presents person.

 

Always there to celebrate in person and keeping great company at all events – but also coming along with a gift if seemingly necessary.

 

For me, these gifts were always very 'Jimmy'. Those who knew him will know what this means; best summed up as practical and well thought out! For those who don't know I give three examples; a fan, a bike vest, and a hammock. All birthday gifts over the years.

 

Firstly, a fan. I knew Jimmy through Whitley college, and like Jimmy came from an akward time in high school, where being smart wasn't that cool. Like Jimmy I found college to be an amazing experience, with so many fond memories of my time there. While I stayed for three years, the rooms were often small, and in summer often sweltering! I obviously was whinging about this one time, and Jimmy being the all caring and all noticing man remembered. So along comes my birthday, and along comes a free standing fan to add to my room. So practical! So hilarious – who buys someone a fan for their birthday!? But lets be honest, this fan, like my friendship with James, kept on giving after my college days and was carried around from house to house, always whirling away and cooling the room.

 

Secondly, the bike vest. I started riding to work when I came back to Melbourne in 2007/2008. I bought a bike with Kevin 07 stimulus money, and Jimmy as always was practical and concerned about safety. While others gave earrings, scarfs and wine, for my birthday that year he gifted a very practical bike vest – I can remember him telling me how great it was, as it wasn't too 'uncool' to just slip on over my work clothes for my trip home. His concern for my safety always touched me.

 

Lastly, a hammock. I am truly lucky that Jimmy and Karen came and joined me and Aiden in San francisco this last year in 2013, for my 30th birthday. As we were all recent transplants to the USA, I was so so lucky to have them both join us to celebrate turning the big three zero. We had a lovely long weekend, visiting the Napa valley, and then on to Lake Tahoe. We had planned to go to Yosemite, but due to government shut down madness, had to have a plan B but had another reason to discuss the madness that is American politics. Like I started with, Jimmy was both a presence and presents man. His presence was more than a gift enough, however he also brought a present – a hammock to take hiking, which is a thing I do often. We tested this hammock out this weekend just gone, and cheered to dear Jimmy.

 

For me, the memories of having Jimmy with me to celebrate my 30th were more than gift enough. I will treasure this time with him always, and will now also remember it every time I am sitting in my hiking hammock.