Remembering Shane Parrish, 18 Years On From His Untimely Death


Originally published on JUNKEE – March 13, 2014

Today is a solemn day. It marks eighteen years since Shane Parrish, resident bad boy-turned-love sop of Summer Bay, tragically passed away — introducing a nation of scarred, scared children to the word ‘septicaemia’ and to a new reality, where death hid in every rusty hinge or crooked nail.

Shane and his young wife Angel had a rough twelve months leading up to his untimely death. First Alf Stewart, driving in classic anger-blackout-mode, mowed Angel down in his four-wheel drive, placing her in a wheelchair weeks before their ill-advised teenage wedding. Following this incident, Angel was feared dead after a sea-plane she was in crashed into the rugged terrain that borders the Bay. Weeks later, Shane made a foolish late-night ice-cream run and came off his motorcycle, forcing him to undergo a splenectomy.

Here we are, though, at their one-year anniversary, and it’s a beautiful scene: Angel is glowing with child; the waves are crashing in the background; salt-air whips furiously around them; a packed picnic basket is being lazily decimated; Hunters and Collectors’ ode to determined stalking, numerically specific foreplay and animalistic one-night stands –  ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’, which from this point forward was bestowed with a rather undeserved weightiness in the Australian psyche – is playing out of a boom-box so awesome it has twin-tape decks and a CD player; a cricket bat perched in the background suggests a few romantic overs are in the near future; and Shane cut himself on a rusty nail a few weeks ago — but let’s not dwell on that, after the past twelve months it hardly seems relevant.

Look at him: strong, blonde hair like a Test cricketer from the ’90s. What a catch. Although, now the lens focuses on him fully, he does seem a little off-colour, and he’s moving slowly and sluggishly — like a test cricketer from the ’80s. Angel immediately jumps into panic mode in the way that only a person who has been repeatedly slapped by life’s cruel hand can, and a faint Shane tells Angel bravely that she should take him to hospital.

Angel, stuck in the pre-mobile wasteland of 1996, yells into the empty ether for help, the music swells, and a thousand teenage romances are reconsidered, or clung more tightly to.

The love story of Shane and Angel is a tale as old as time. Meeting-very-cute at a Frente concert, during the band’s well-publicised ’93 run of East-coast surf clubs, the two were instantly taken by each other. On first sight, she thought Shane was a fucking jerk because, well, he was a fucking jerk, while he thought she was lively, lovely and spunky because, well, she was a fucking jerk, which guys dig, especially bad boy teenagers with a rap sheet longer than one of Irene’s week-long booze benders.

Like approximately 95% of all youth in the greater Summer Bay/Yabbie Creek district, Angel was homeless and parentless at the time, and upon developing some ailment serious enough to land her in the emergency ward, Donald Fisher – who, like 95% of all adults in the area, was a licensed foster parent* – took her in. With Shane also a stray living in Fisher’s house, love bloomed. Proximity is a powerful aphrodisiac.

Naturally, with eighteen appearing fast over the horizon and the HSC soon to be a distant memory, the duo realised the most sensible thing to do was to get married — despite their uncertain futures, non-existent income streams (although Shane’s lovingly-crafted Wikipedia page hilariously lists his occupation as ‘caravan park assistant’), and the fact that every second scene had them fighting over some unspecific transgression, usually involving Isla Fisher.

Still, as Paul Kelly often sang from the remarkably contemporary jukebox in the diner, love never runs on time, and the quite-liberal Summer Bay parental unit soon realised that they best get on board. Plus, Summer Bay loves a good wedding.

Sadly, Shane and Angel’s love was brief, although its impact stays evergreen. Rest in peace, Shane Parrish. You went out the way most men can only dream of: by being scratched by a rusty nail while renovating a farmhouse. The Bay still misses you.


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