THE LATE DAVID WALL was born in 1936, so he was one of those lucky people who got to Papua New Guinea in the 1950s. Those years, from the expatriate's point of view, were the halcyon days of Australia's involvement in the country.
There were a lot of colonial buffoons and Colonel Blimps around in those days but there were quite a few enlightened individuals like David too.
Another was Chips Mackellar, the paperback version of whose book I've just had the pleasure of publishing. I don't know whether David or Chips ever met but they would have got on well together.
It was the stories that the men and women of David's generation told that inspired many of us johnny-come-latelies to go to PNG in the 1960s.
Thinking about that when I heard he had died, I pulled David's 2007 novel Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk off the shelf and flipped through it. I think David was aware that with fiction it's not necessary to let facts get in the way of the truth.
The novel has a strong autobiographical element to it, so if you want to know more about David and his time in PNG it is well worth reading.
There is an irreverence to it similar to Chip's book that cuts through the blinkered and upright vision promulgated by the colonial types and tells it how it really was at the time.
I'm working my way through Manning Clark's monumental history of Australia at the moment and, when I've finished, I think I will re-read David's book. David would have got on well with Clark too.
There will be a requiem mass for David at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Lennox Street, Newtown at 10.30 am on Friday 3 January.