I last saw Philip Rubinstein, two days before he passed away.
‘How’s it going Phil?’ I asked, rather inanely – he’d been unwell for some time. Phil raised his eyebrows, pointed to the heavens and said, ‘waiting’. I saw a familiar smile cross his face. It was a kind of gotcha moment delivered by one of my favourite secular humorists.
Phil was never short of the ability to laugh at himself and the world around him. ‘Plenty of material’, he’d say.
He was one of those ego-in-the-box characters, who makes the world go round: warm, witty and intelligent. A person too of eclectic interests: cricket, poetry, any songs by Frank Sinatra (Perfect Timing).
I first met Phil on a rain-soaked day outside my house in Brunswick Terrace, Mullum.
It was an accidental encounter, but we soon got stuck into a conversation about the parlous state of Australian universities. Phil was a graduate of Oxford University, so he knew a thing or two about what a decent education looked like.
He went on to have a successful career in marketing before eventually working for NSW Health, where his marketing skills helped thousands of people give up smoking.
His interest in health continued, in retirement designing a mindfulness program to reduce stress and anxiety. He experimented on himself, and hey presto, it worked!
Phil loved to travel, albeit virtually. I recall once popping round to see him as he lay on his favourite window seat perusing some glossy travel brochures. Pointing at photos of palm trees, beaches and blue oceans, he said: ‘Look, I’m on holiday… I’ve just been to the Caribbean, Costa Rica and Colombia’.
Although Phil had given up on the idea of boarding a plane – and who can blame him? – he took great delight in strolling around the streets of Mullumbimby, stopping regularly to chat with one of his many acquaintances.
One of his favourite local excursions was to the Mullumbimby Neighbourhood Centre, where, over lunch he’d talk to folk who’d fallen on hard times.
Kind and generous
Phil was a kind and generous soul, never judging others, and always seeking to understand.
I’ll miss him terribly.
Phil is survived by his wonderful partner of 51 years, Gillian, and three beautiful children: Suzy, Matt and Tess.