When I was asked to say a few words about Rex today my first thought was ‘How do you sum up Rex in a couple of minutes?’
I first met him in the late 70’s at The Magic Circle meeting when we met in at the YWCA. This little guy walked in and introduced himself and proceeded to show us some tricks we had never seen before. We hadn’t seen them because Rex had made them himself. This was a process he continued to do for the next 40 years. His skill and his generosity were amazing. He would come up with a really cool idea and make it, show it at the club. He would then say “Here you go I made one for you guys as well”. His linking coat hangers are still much sought after by those unlucky enough not to have them.
It wasn’t long before Geoff (Conrau), Richard (Wibberley), Rex and I started hanging around after the meetings. By that stage the club was meeting in South Melbourne and we spent many hours sitting and playing in McDonalds until the wee small hours. I should say Rex and Di had moved up to Shepparton by this stage and Rex had a 2½ hour drive to get home. We wouldn’t have missed it for quids.
I remember a magic weekend the club held at Rex caravan park. We went to see Mr Shiprex performing at the strawberry farm in the pirate show. He sang, he danced, he did magic, and generally entertained everyone. He was in his element. Sunday morning saw us gathered in his living room and the magic continued nonstop until Di made us stop for lunch. Di was always supporting Rex and putting up with all us strange magician types.
I remember while in Sydney for a magic convention we went out for pizza. Rex dropped the 3 of us at the shop and went to park the car. Richard told the waitress that a friend would be in shortly, he would look at the menu and then order a ham & pineapple pizza. He was never adventurous in his choices. He asked her to say that they were out of ham so he couldn’t have that. Sure enough Rex came in and ordered a ham and pineapple pizza. ‘I’m sorry sir we have run out of ham’ she said. Rex was absolutely stunned, His eyes bulged and he said “What? Call yourself a pizza shop, how can you have run out of ham?” The poor waitress had to run away hide for a couple of minutes as she, and we, were laughing so much.
As the years went by Rex’s health deteriorated, but he still attended the club now meeting in Bayswater. He loaded his oxygen in the car and came along still with the love of magic and the willingness to share with anyone who asked him for ideas. Di was coming down with Rex by this time as well, to make sure he was ok. She also became his assistant chauffeur to make sure he made it home again safely.
When I last saw Rex a couple of weeks ago he was still planning to make it to the next meeting. Sadly we won’t see his smiling face there any more or his warm “G’day mate. How are you?”
I, and all the Magic Circle members, will miss him and on their behalf I want to say Thanks for being our friend Rex.
In conclusion I want to leave you with a Jewish saying ‘Do not weep for me because I am gone. Rather remember me and be thankful that I was, and smile’
Rex, smiling is hard at the moment, but we are very thankful for your life and friendship and we will all remember you.
- John Cairns (Reproduced from The Magic Circular with permission)