It was on all the TV news channels and I knew it would make the headlines in all the morning papers: Prize-Winning Australian Journalist Dies in Africa. Kevin Moran’s Last Battle. But I remember his first battle.

Even as a boy he was a battler and a rebel. My first memories of him are of a slightly built red-headed boy, defiant eyes blazing, his four foot eight inches drawn up to its full height, confronting Brother Ignatius O’Riley. The Christian Brother was swinging a leather strap against his thigh, as he gazed down with a bemused expression.

“But it’s not Fair!” Kevin said in his clear high voice. “It is unjust to punish him without a fair hearing.”

And I, the beneficiary of Kevin’s astounding intervention, could only stand and stare, as astonished as the teacher who was intending to beat me. Kevin, you see, knew that I was innocent of the offence. He knew the real culprit; and while schoolboy protocol prevented him from naming him, his sense of justice would not allow an innocent person to suffer.

When Br Ignatius recovered from his astonishment, he strapped us both, Kevin getting three more than I for ’’Insolence”. From that day on we were dose friends. It was a mixed blessing. That was the first time we shared a strapping. It certainly wasn’t the last.

Things were always so clear cut for Kevin. Right was Right. White was White. In Kevin’s world, there were no shades of grey. Champion of the underdog, Righter of Wrongs, he was a Quixote completely unimpressed by the size of windmills. Inheriting the verbal skills of his Irish ancestry, he could talk himself into, and out of, trouble with amazing ease. I, slower off the mark, was drawn along willy nilly. The school authorities routinely assumed that I too was as guilty as Kevin. Sometimes we were; and, to be honest, I preferred it if we were. It was when we were innocent that we were in real trouble. Kevin’s sense of Justice would not be compromised. “Why not plead guilty?” I groaned. “We know we’re going to cop it anyway. Denying it will make it worse!” “Right is Right,” said Kev,

“It isn’t FAIR!”

At university, there were no strap wielding Christian Brothers, but there were authorities. Kevin took them on with missionary zeal. In his spare time, he challenged the established factions amongst the students, becoming thoroughly disliked by both the Left and the Right. He uncovered corruption wherever it was to be found. He was majoring in Journalism and was an active writer for the student newspaper. Several of his articles provoked major scandals, but no one could deny his writing talent.

You have all read his dispatches from the trouble centres of the world. Wherever there was a lost cause there was Kevin. He survived the dreadful persecutions so rampant in South America, escaped with his life in Timor, and was almost engulfed in the breakup of Yugoslavia. Kevin brushed aside as unimportant the many journalistic awards that were bestowed on him. He often ignored invitations to their presentation, dashing onto a plane that would take him into new dangers.

He bore a charmed life, until now. His luck has run out. No longer will I hear his battle cry: IT ISN’T FAIR! Who said it would be, Kev!

(c) Copyright H.St.V.Beechey, 1994