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Byron Shire
May 28, 2024

Ode to a ‘Byron character’ – Richard Maloney

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Richard Maloney was gloriously eccentric. When I was a child, he spoke to me like a full human, with formed opinions and compelling ideas. He would test some of his trivia on me, or make me read the Australian Constitution. One of my fondest memories was of an 11 course meal he made for my sister and I. The first five courses were varieties of apples, the last five were varieties of chocolate, with a meal in between. 

Richard is someone who fully encompassed the spirit of this region with none of the stereotypical tropes. 

He walked his own walk, quite literally with a gait few could match. He peppered his speech with words of idiosyncratic origin and definitions the New York Review of Books would admire. And he could tell you the plot lines and describe in great detail the characters of every book he’d read and they were many and varied. 

Richard wasn’t a hippy or a surfer. He was a lawyer by trade, but his views were alternative, anti-establishment and often confronting. He taught science at the Byron Community School for a time, he ran trivia nights and he read voraciously. He read TinTin and crime fiction; cookbooks by Edouard De Pomaine, books about people, politics, and travel – there was nothing he wouldn’t read if it was written well. 

For my 18th birthday, Richard gave me 18 crime fiction novels carefully curated across eras from the 1920s to the 2000s, male and female authors, detective and thrillers, all fabulously unique.

Richard loved his Ducati, and days before he passed was happily delivering lollies to delighted kids. I will forever hear Richard’s commanding, yet playful, voice in my head, reading Suddenly to my four-year-old or relating the plot of his latest book. 

Thank you, Richard, for forever widening and encouraging my love of books and the magical worlds and ideas they take us all to. Your unconventional perspective on the world is a loss to our Shire.

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