Last night, I found myself at a book launch in Gramercy: the book in question was written by an Australian author and photographer, and had been largely produced by a great friend of mine, who was also an Aussie. In short, there were heaps of Aussies from all sorts of backgrounds, but the majority were society types, young cool hipsters from marketing, advertising and fashion and assorted other models and publishing people.
Not the kind of crowd one would associate with test cricket. Not the kind of crowd that would care about the passing of the great Richie Benaud.
It was amazing, as the news slowly crept around, how surprised everyone was (despite the fact that Richie was 84 years old, and in poor health), and how truly saddened they were. People didn't cry, or show emotion outwardly: it wasn't that kind of sadness. Instead, upon hearing the news, the crowd were transported - for a moment - back to their own slice of Australia; eyes clouded over, and people could feel the heat of the summer on their shoulders, the smell of the barbecue, the squeals of kids playing in pools, the crisp hiss of a cold beer opening, and the voice that underpinned it all: the voice of our summer, the voice of Richie.
People recounted stories of their dads, their mums, and their families: ordinary stories, united by that one iconic voice, and that one common pastime: even without loving cricket, it was always on in the background. It was omnipresent. It had meaning. And we all shared these stories, grieving for the man, but also for the past we'd never share with our kids, as our parents had; more than anything, it was incredible to see so many strangers share such similar memories, all with Richie as the common ground.
He personified dignity, gentlemanliness and understatement, and in an age of shouting, he was the considered thought, the sensible pause, the clever choice of words. He'll be missed, all around the world.