Given ten guesses, you could never predict Patrick Quinn’s age. The Shepparton local describes his daily routine: he wakes each day at 6:30am and cycles 12 kilometres, followed by an afternoon walk and another bike ride at 3pm. He enjoys tennis, too, and plays piano at least twice a day. It’s an impressive itinerary, especially given Pat seems to fit more into his days at 86 years of age than most teenagers would in an entire week.
“Well, there’s plenty to do,” he says matter-of-factly. His lust for life and learning is palpable as he shares his love for music, fitness and everything in between. Aside from his daily cycles, Pat can recite most of his favourite poet Banjo Patterson’s works – but his “very favourite” ballad is by Thomas Edward Spencer, a comedy about a Scot finding unlikely success in bush cricket (‘How M’Dougal Topped the Score’). In terms of music, his passion goes way back. The trumpet was his specialty, and he played at dances in a five-piece band called the ‘Dapper Dans’ with his late wife, Clare. Nowadays, Pat prefers the piano, and he loves that music performance runs in the family – his son is a guitarist.
A retired barber, Pat relishes the social connections he’s made throughout his life and career in Shepparton. He describes his group of mates as “great fun” and “very humorous”, and enjoys outings to his local coffee shop to chat with his favourite baristas. Pat remembers his barber shop with fondness for the customers and the flexibility it gave his family over the years. Their biannual holidays to Surfers Paradise were always great fun, with three kids piled into a 1970s Dodge for the long drive up the coast.
Now, in a world of coronavirus, Pat is appreciating the extra time to sit down and sort through old slides of those Queensland holidays and more. “I love looking at them”, he says, noting that the process of projecting slides onto a wall to revisit memories feels more special than the instant iPhone photographs we take nowadays. Other than not being able to sit down in cafes due to restrictions, he says life hasn’t changed much. His granddaughter visits most mornings to interview him – “whether it’s for my eulogy, I don’t know” – and while he misses playing tennis, he’s still able to go for his daily walks and cycles. As well as this, Pat and his partner Helen have been cooking dinner together every night, and attempting to eat meat-free once a week to help the environment. He describes Helen, who he met over three years ago in French language classes, as “drop-dead gorgeous… she’s the best looking 73-year-old in the country”.
Ultimately, Pat is grateful for a life that is so full even throughout the recent times of global crisis. His warm wisdom advises us all to stay fit and always be kind, because “if you’re nice to people, people are nice to you”. He feels lucky to be surrounded by wonderful people, and to be leading an active lifestyle that makes him happy every day. “I am so blessed, I can’t believe it”.
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