When Victorian Premier John Brumby warned last Friday that Saturday could be the ‘worst day in the state’s history’ I thought he might be exaggerating. Late on Saturday, even after Melbourne has experienced a record 46 degrees, I still thought that might have been the case. On Ash Wednesday in 1983, when Melbourne’s suburbs were full of smoke, city-dwellers knew that things were seriously wrong. Though on Saturday afternoon it looked like there was more haze than usual, the air did not smell.
But as all media have been reporting, Brumby was right. Among the 108 confirmed dead as of this morning is Brian Naylor, who read the Channel Nine news for twenty years from 1978, in the years when Nine news dominated the ratings. Almost everyone who lived in Melbourne at that time would have received part of their news from Naylor, who had the sober, sensible and reliable demeanour we prefer in newsreaders, but could also handle the touching or quirky stories that Nine often liked to finish with.
He ended each broadcast with ‘may your news be good news, and goodnight’. It’s so sad that he ended his life as part of a very bad news story, for so many people.
Brian Naylor and dozens of others, RIP.