Sydney is missing one of its icons following John Marsden's death in Turkey a few days ago.
John was always larger than life: forthright, loud, generous, emotional, loyal and funny. He knew everyone, knew everyone's business, and loved it. He loved the law and the justice system with faith and passion, even when it clearly didn't live up to expectations.
Sometimes, especially during his own court case saga, he was low and his face clouded. He worried about God, about judgement, about the world. He was no saint, but he worried about other people, supported thousands in myriad ways, stuck by people when they were down, and raised issues nobody else wanted to discuss.
We always had lunch in the same Italian restaurant, at the same table, and he always ate the same thing. Bright silk ties, striped shirts, suits cut just right - it was a bit like attending a baron down on his luck: people dropped by the table to say hello, or waved from afar, and he'd wink across the room.
He got mad at me a couple of times (with reason) and while I'd rather not be shouted at by John Marsden, I prefer his blunt, tearful and passionate honesty to other people's creepy backhand politicking any day.
He was one of the great scrappers - a good bloke to have on your side, and he was on the side of many. It's hard to imagine Sydney without him.