Posted by BE on May 24th, 2010
At the bottom of this page you will see the words ‘Site: McGovern’. They refer to McGovern & Associates, the web designers Judy and I went to when we were thinking of launching this site. We really had no other choice, not through any shortage of web designers, but because it would have been unthinkable not to go to people I had known and liked ever since coming to Auckland in 1989 and perhaps longer than that – Paul Reynolds and his partner Helen Smith.
Paul died suddenly yesterday morning, a death as unthinkable to his legion of friends as it was unexpected. Russell Brown on Public Address and Bill Ralston on Facebook have both paid tribute to him and those who did not know him will find Paul’s extraordinary life and achievements graciously and affectionately summarised there.
My earliest memories of Paul Reynolds are of hearing him on National Radio. He was a regular on Kim Hill’s Nine to Noon programme where he enthused about books, commented in his lovely, lilting Scottish accent on anything and everything and, later, introduced so many of us to this new-fangled invention – the Internet.
He was a superb broadcaster, a natural: warm, enthusiastic, erudite, inspiring, wry, funny. Had Paul been a book, you could not have put him down. I used to do television reviews on Nine to Noon, and occasionally found myself following Paul doing a book review or talking about the Internet, him in Wellington, me listening on my earphones in the Auckland studios. Waiting. Kim could not put him down either. Who could blame her; regardless of his topic he was entrancing, hypnotic. And he was eating into my time. In a less brilliant communicator, it would have been forgivable, but Paul was altogether too hard an act to follow. In later years we confessed to and joked about our on-air rivalry, both seeing it for what it really was – the highest professional compliment possible.
I have a memory of him appearing on a TV3 arts programme called Sunday which I was hosting. He’d brought his laptop along and was going to demonstrate this still fledgling wonder, the Internet. The idea was that he would flick from site to site while we talked and we would all be amazed. But if the sites appeared at all, they did so at a snail’s pace. It was the only time I saw Paul angry. His beloved child had failed to perform.
Paul was not an angry person, except perhaps about social injustice. That made him angry. He had a towering intellect, yet I never saw him put another person down. He was unpretentious, generous, kind and he made you laugh. He was a good man, whom New Zealand could ill-afford to lose, and I am deeply saddened by his passing.
Judy’s thoughts and mine are with Helen and his daughter Melanie, whose loss is greatest.
Angry? No. But irritated, infuriated, pissed off? Oh, yes. Paul fought with his computer. He did everything too fast when people were watching, and then abused his precious toy as if it were not only human, but plotting specifically to drive him nuts. He talked to it like a perverse mistress – which indeed it was – and quarrelled, cajouled and bickered with it in a way that made the whole process very funny. I will remember Paul for many things, not least his wonderful voice, but my most precious memory will always be the hilarious battle of the Titans – Paul v. Computer.
What a loss. I had immense respect for Mr Reynolds and I will miss his contributions to the national conversation. He’s been in my ears for years.
I only knew of Paul through his broadcasts on RNZ.Great voice and always worthy of a listen.Obviously his frustration with the technology did not filter through to his listeners.Enjoyed his broadcasts immensly. I will be poorer for his loss.
I hope when I peg out I will have someone as eloquent as you to write such a moving tribute. Your feelings shine through.
I would pay many many pounds to have you back with us. Slan agus beannacht an leat Paul.
A lovely tribute Brian to a very special gifted and kind man.
It is, I think, a measure of the man’s impact on our lives that, when I heard the news, the world seemed, if only for a moment, to stop in its tracks, as if – like me – it was appalled to learn that this fine human-being would no longer walk upon it.
A worthy and moving obituary, Brian,
I was so-o-o sorry to hear of Paul Reynolds’ passing. He probably did not know me, but I felt as if I knew him, having first met him in a department store at the top of Queen Street when I saw my first demo of the Internet circa 1993. Being a fellow Scot, his interpretation of this new phenomenon impressed me and my grandson Liam (aged 11 at the time) to bits. When I listened to him on radio, it was if I knew him. Thank you Paul, I am missing you already.