Some Special Events
The yanks called it Guy Fawkes and the Poms Empire night, but to
us kids it was good old CRACKER NIGHT.
And a cracker of an idea it was - back in the days when people seemed
happy (from a kids perspective that is).
We had our spots picked out every year, just as our parents had for
themselves selected when they were kids. A nice wide street (hard
to find in the inner city), just off the main drag with little traffic
value, and residents that didn't seem to mind or were resigned to
the annual revelry. For us it was the same spot every year, just
down from the park off Balfour St. Chippendale, in Bartlet St. near
the corner of Abercrombie.
For days before, we started the mandatory bonfire pile and on it
we placed anything that would burn and not blow away.
Piles of firewood from Tooths brewery, old lounges chairs - tables
boxes - cardboard - railway sleepers and anything at all that would
burn - except car tyres, which had been banned because of the smoke
they gave off.
A totally wonderiferous and scorching event that was eagerly awaited
for the spiffing good times to be had by all.
The big night would see every kid in the area there for the lighting,
which was always as night fell . If we had known how, we'd have
helped the night fall - about midday if we could - we were so excited. This was
The stuff of life!
And all our parents turned up as well, because they'd always had
a cracker night too when they were kids and I guess they liked to
look on and watch us. Sort of relive it themselves, I guess.
As the fire was lit (by an older boy or adult), there was always a
big cheer, loud hand clapping and much leaping about. The fire would
quickly rise up and engulf the pile - often threatening innocent
passers by as well. The heat would drive everyone back from where
they'd stood at first and us kids would be busily popping off our
penny or double bungers and the girls - their more sedate and showy
catherine wheels, star pots and sparklers (yawn).
The girls ended up with a lot more material than us boys. Our
parents used to buy us the 'packs" of crackers, which had bungers
and 'pretties'. Boys wouldn't be seen dead with "pretties" so we
swapped the girls, where possible, for the girls bungers on a one for
one basis. Cunning blighters we were - and quite impressed with our
trading abilities. Only thing was the "pretties" were much dearer
than the one bang bungers and lasted ten times longer.
Even though the girls were still going strong long after we'd blown up
half the street up and run out of "ammo", we did exactly the same
thing the next year.
No wonder girls grow up thinking boys are stupid and need managers.
And our teachers wondered why we found learning so difficult. (der!)
There were fire alarms going of all over the place as the firemen
checked (mostly) false alarms, but quite a few were not. I wondered
often why they didn't put out our bonfires. They were so busy with
everything else I suppose. There again, Firemen were fathers too.
I was in my teens when bonfires were finally banned because of the
damage they caused by starting other fires, road damage and the
many injuries from the fireworks as well.
I dont think today's kids would have missed it like we did at the
time - today there are so many other things to do that were not
there when we were young, so cracker night would probably seem
To me, cracker night was a wonderment in an age of innocence that
has long since disappeared.
School breakup was not just the and of another year, or that we
had completed another phase of our education - we were free for
a long time. (six weeks!) Freedom became alive and well!
That was all it meant to us - free from the shackles of school.
The school breakup day was party day. I doubt we felt it was worth
attending school for the past year to qualify going to , but it was
looked forward to as an event in itself.
The headmaster would call assembly around half an hour late and
proceed with the usual ramblings of how well we had done this year
(always better than last!) and we were all another year closer to
becoming fine adults (?) ......rabbet rabbet...... How proud he
was of us all, etc. etc. (hadn't he learned anything from us?)
As if this was not enough, when assembly ended, we were marched back
to class and told nearly the same thing by our teacher, who up to this
stage, had never given the slightest indication of mental imbalance.
Now came the interesting part. The party. Our parents supplied the
tucker and drinks and had set it up while the principal was giving
his speech to us. And we were away......gutsing ourselves as fast as
as we could while boasting where we were all going over the holidays
and what we were going to do. We were chockers in more ways than one!
Most of us had some outlandish claims and plans for over Christmas
that could not be afforded by most parents, but they were made anyway,
to keep up with those who we knew would be doing what they said they
would and in the best tradition of not buggering up a good story with
the truth, we boasted wildly and loudly.
The teacher would excuse himself from our classroom after a short
time, telling us we all knew how to conduct ourselves while he wasn't
there. (All year - and he chooses now to be dumb!)
Well, we still managed to get home early despite having to clean up
The hunt for Easter eggs, the parties and presents that all younger
kids look forward to.
The adults paid attention to us for one day only and then we were
(sort of) left to our own devices. (another "adult" mistake)
As young kids, we enjoyed Christmas greatly. We believed in Santa
Clause, sang Carols with gusto (and gutso) and were easily organised
into whatever activity the adults wished on us. Lollies, cakes and
drinks came out of our ears (at one end!) and we enjoyed it immensely.
Outings, picnics, games where the adults joined in but we always won.
"We can beat our parents. WE can beat our parents".
(God - how DID they put up with us.)
The opening of our presents. Seeing for the first time what present
we had given to our mums or dads !!! Magic..........
As the years rolled on, Santa was exposed as a store employee, the
Christmas Carols became old hat, the Easter Bunny was hit with
mixamatosis.....The Tooth Fairy became unemployed......our childhood
seemed to come to an end and all the magic drained away.
Passing down the exuberance of kids to the next eager generation of
little ingrates hasn't been without trauma for us .......but life
apparently goes on.
When I was at Blackfriars School, my mate Keith Laxton lived with
his mum (who was the second best mum in my world) in an apartment
above the Commonwealth Bank on the corner of Broadway and Mountain
Street. The Broadway Theatre ("bughouse"!) was on the lower corner.
Behind the bank was the Shavian Playhouse, an amateur group who we
observed and admired from time to time. At the age of eight I was
asked to audition for a role in a musical play as a little street
boy who sang 2 songs in the play. I had to bring a note from my
mum to say it was OK. Mum gave me the note and I got the part.
I dont know what the name of the play was now but I remember I had
to sing with a 'cockney' accent.
When (at last I thought) it opened, I remember the scary first
Saturday afternoon matinee and me hoping no one I knew was there.
I got through it OK and was afterwards quite proud at curtain calls
to have to repeat a song for the audiences.
The play was performed on Wednesday night, Friday night, Saturday and
Sunday afternoons for two weeks as I recall and the final night was
the niftiest - with the party after the show. I was so impressed
and "without the aid of wines and beers" too.
I was asked to become a permanent member of the group. A few of my
mates had been ribbing me for being with these "fairies", so I
made up an excuse and never went back.
I regret now that in this and on many other occasions, I allowed my
life to be governed so much by my less flamboyant 'peers'.
I remember I was in fourth class ( Mr. Chapman) at Cleveland St.
school. We did a school play, along with other schools similarly,
at the Lawson Theatre at Redfern. I played a teacher in a schoolroom
and my mates were the pupils.
Gardners Road school put on a play about a steam engine (with some
great props) and one of their girls played the character of Casey
Jones, the driver.
I was fascinated by her and promptly decided I was in love. She wasn't
pretty or even petite and she played a tough guy role. She had more
freckles than you'd see at a nudist colony. I probably thought she
would make an excellent fullback for our football team and mistook
it for love - I dont know - but that was the first time I thought I
was attracted to a female and thought I was in love.
I was nine!
How exciting...........all ye of short memory and little romanticism
THE WATERED BALL
On the Western corner of Tooths Brewery, there was a small pub, forgot the
name, but remember it was the time of the "six o'clock swill" when the
pubs closed at 6pm. Drinkers would down as many as possible as the time
approached and the publican would call out "Last drinks gentlemen please"
Not that anyone noticed he'd said "please" as they grabbed some "tallies"
as well to take home with them. The publican then gave his ultimatum of
"All out gents please", which was generally adhered to by the those still
in their right mind. We used to play in the street nearby.... (O'Connor
Street) and witnessed this many times...
It must have been summer, this particular afternoon we were playing footy
in O'Connor Street when the pub emptied and my mate Rowley was lining up
a "shot at goal" and had the ball placed upright. All of a sudden this
much despised local drunk, raced out and kicked Rowlies placed ball. It
went onto a roof and didn't come down. The "dippy" drunk laughed madly as
he wandered off and left us kids to figure out how to retrieve our ball.
We were little villains I guess but not vindictive or given to revenge,
especially with our elders, who we were brought up to respect, but I guess
even the little angels we were had found their breaking point.
So we devised a plan to get square with this annoying "elder". We retrieved
our ball OK and filled it with water. It didn't look any different, so we
set out to put our plan into effect. He wouldn't get this onto a roof!
That afternoon, at exactly six PM, the pub emptied and the same drunk came
out and was presented with another opportunity to repeat his annoyance on
these dumb local kids. There was Keith (waiting patiently) with the ball
all setup, lining it up for the kick. Mr. "smartypants el drunko" just
couldn't resist, tore in with a mighty flourish - and kicked it as he did
the afternoon before.
This time the ball didn't go up in the air and onto the roof 25 yards away.
In fact it only travelled about 3 feet. The drunk took an ungraceful dive
foreward and dropped his two bottes of beer... both broke... and all the
drunken "elders" (?) laughed themselves silly at his performance. We ran
We laughed later, but thought we'd killed him then. Rowley had the sense
to grab the ball as we ran from the scene.(His ball motivated him I guess)
No one knew what we'd done. They all thought he'd kicked the ground before
his foot hit the ball, so no one looked to punish us. The annoying elder
was carted off in an ambulance, but was back in the pub the next afternoon
on crutches and with his foot bandaged up. The next week he was walking OK.
How did I know that? Because I felt guilty and watched his recovery.
We only did that once as it alarmed us more than anyone else.
THE "KNOCK DOWN GINGER" INCIDENT
I don't know where this game originated, but I'll bet many people my age
and later played or were the victims of it in their life.
The scene was Dick Street Chippendale (Sydney) in the later half of the
post war 1940's. As a measure of how dumb I was… I lived about 60 metres
down the same street from these French people who lived in this particular
"Knock down ginger" is the art of knocking on a door and not being there
when it is answered. Fiendishly funny when you're bored and awfully
stupid into the bargain… but the games we play suit the moment I guess.
We determined how to enlarge on it for better return and prolonged value.
Plan as envisaged was, we tie some cotton onto the door knocker and
retreat to a factory lane, 60 odd metres up on the other side of the
street - there we could guffaw silently to each other each time the man
came out, without having to scurry away each time or be caught in the act.
My partner in "crime" Keith and I ratted through mums sewing stuff but
could find no reel of black cotton needed, as this would be a twilight caper.
However, my dad's fishing box had some very usable fishing line that we
judged admirable for this momentus occasion.
We tied this onto the "victims" door knocker and carefully fed it through
the front railings next door then over to our "safety bunker" in the lane
opposite. We chuckled in anticipation - then pulled the line.
Within 5 seconds a lady appeared…. looked up and down the street, but
seeing no one in the fading light, she went back inside and closed the
I look back now and marvel at the amount of joy and laughter kids can get
from the pranks they get up to… as we did then. Never mind your designer
clothes, mobile phones, computer or TV games, this was the pinnacle of
joy and the success of our "experiment" added fuel to our elation.
This was the life... well then anyway!
We pulled it a second time. Just about immediately, a man launched
through the door and onto the verandah, obviously ready to catch the
culprit (us). He looked quickly up and down the street, shook his head
and went back inside.
Wuz we too smart for him or what we thought as we rocked back and forth
with our mirth.
Now at this stage, a person with even below par intelligence would have
realised that luck is not usually so kind to 9 year old kids trying to
outwit adults and they would have packed it in as winners.
Not us, we were on a roll! So we pulled the line a third time. The man
ran out the door again and onto the footpath.
Now this was a weekend. Not many people around owned a car and there was
no business open after 12noon Saturday till Monday. But you know the saying
"the mail must get through". Well just then a PMG van (Australia post was
the Post Master General back then) came barreling around the corner and past
us at speed.
The line across the road was caught by the van and had it been cotton it
would have simply broken… but it was made of a much higher breaking strain.
It tore the line from our grasp and the door knocker was reefed from it's
mountings on the door, whizzing narrowly past the mans ears and cart
wheeling down the road and around the corner with the PMG van. The man ran
after his fast disappearing knocker. We on the other hand found we had
business in the opposite direction in need of our urgent attention.
Out of fear of retribution, we never mentioned this incident for years after,
but a few weeks after, Dad was telling Mum how he'd been told about the man
up the road who'd chased a PMG van to the depot half a mile away to retrieve
his door knocker and found it had a tangle of fishing line tied to it (?)
and that reminded him, had she seen his roll of fishing line. A little
later, Mum called me aside and said to me "maybe your Dad can't add up, but
I can. Make sure that never happens again".
The next Friday Mum secretly bought and miraculously found dad's "misplaced"
roll of fishing line.
Every person thinks their Mum's the best.... and I'm no different.
I rode juvenile for Botany. I wasn't the greatest sprinter or
trial rider but I had the other kids thinking I was a great rider
because I told them I was! .
I could beat them all (I said!) and mostly I could over a couple of
hundred metres but unfortunately, competition rides were between one
and 10 miles(1.6 to 16 K's). I won pennants for most distances but
had more fun clowning around. I even helped some kids win pennants by
'shunting' other kids out of the races so they could do it. I was
always in trouble when I did and for my constant clowning around.
Funny though, shunting was OK in the team events!
The organisers probably breathed a sigh of relief when I left
I only rode 1 season. Age 12+
I first started playing 'league' with South Sydney juniors . I dont
know how its graded now but I played in a 'weight' division, rather
than age. Some of the kids I played against were up to 2 years
younger than me and made me look good. That's how I got to play in the
the 'rep' team so regularly probably.
I can still remember some parents running backward and forward down
the lines screaming "kill him - drive him into the dirt - take his
face off - smash him in the head" etc. It certainly got our
adrenaline pumping and it didn't matter if we were even badly hurt,
we wouldn't ask to come off because we would be laughed at for being
I saw kids that were seemingly concussed try to wander off the field,
only to be pushed or pointed back into the game by abusive parents or
Its an absolute fact that 14 year olds dont make plans for being 17,
and in the true spirit of our demented coaches expectations, we were
so fired up, we would have had to be comatosed before we agreed to
Our coaches would tell us - "if you're not tough you shouldn't be
in the team". That was enough to keep us on, even if we had to die
in the attempt.
It was exciting and they really made you feel important if you 'stood
and delivered' the goods.
But I had a decision to make - league or soccer. I played both at the
time and my quick decisions on field were confusing the rules and
causing me trouble. At league, if someone threw me a quick high
pass, sometimes I would try to head it on. At soccer, several times,
if the boy with the ball got past me, I would tackle him from behind.
I had to make a decision and I ended up choosing soccer.
I played soccer with the passion of a young man trying to make the
big time. I made rep. teams regularly and gave it my all. But I soon
came to realise that to be chosen for the reps, generally you had to
be someone's son, know somebody important, or have a standout talent
the selectors couldn't overlook. I must have realised even then that
I had none of those allies or attributes.
By the time I was eighteen I just played for the team and I was lucky
to be part of some very good ones. I was still selected for rep.
teams at times, but knowing I was only a filler until a favoured player
was fit or other influences prevailed, most of the time being picked
was just a nuisance value to me.
I only enjoyed playing with my own team. The selectors must have
thought me crazy when they asked me did I want to play rep. and I
They never asked me to attend a trial after that and I enjoyed my
soccer more, not feeling I was being casually used.
The teams I played for included Cleveland Street. Coronation,
Pyrmont - Balmain, Southern Districts, North Bankstown, Lamex,
Revesby Pacific, Georges Hall, Bankstown, Liverpool United, Western
Suburbs, Panania and Carss Park over 30's.
I played soccer continually for twenty years, until we moved to
Queensland and I never played again.
I was thirty three years old then.
I trained for boxing to increase my fitness. I had a grudge 'box'
one afternoon with an older boy who had been giving me a hard time
for a while. Billy McConnell did not allow this in his gym, but he
was away at the time. I beat this bloke pretty easily and one of the
trainers by the name of Les Waters approached me.
Les had been a big name some years before and well respected.
Les told me he could train me to be a champion ( he obviously didn't
know I'd already dubbed myself one!).
Les was what we called punchy and slurred his words when he spoke.
I soon found out he was still no slouch in the ring.
When I found he could still hit hard, I concentrated on countering
and making myself a hard target so I could stay with him. He later
told me he went hard at me to toughen me up and lift my ability.
He seemed keen so I had seven amateur fight tournaments and won the
When I lost in the seventh, it was a good excuse to give it away as
I didn't go for all the time I was asked to put in. And I didn't
like the people in it, except Les, who was a gentleman compared to
most of the others.
I contested tournaments at McConnels and Milmo's Gym, South Sydney
Police Boys Club and St Benedicts Hall.
I was sixteen when I gave it away.
When not just drinking or socialising in a pub, I played darts.
I wasn't brilliant but quickly learned that the less you drank, the
better you played (by comparison that is). As the average person goes
to a pub to drink, I played for money quite confidently. There were
a few times I was beaten by much better players, but nine times out
of ten I came out winning around various pubs.
Besides, seeing how easily I could be beaten by a good player only
made some more determined to give me their money anyway, so a loss
was often good for "business".
Its funny how most people want to "play the loser" and forget just how
good the one who beat him was.
I played for the Lullarook Hotel Darlington, The Rose and Crown Hotel
Paddington, The Thurless Hotel Chippendale and The Teetotalers
(who didn't adopt a pub and weren't teetotalers either) and Jakesy's'
Pub at Bankstown.
Stopped playing pub darts when I married at 29.
I started playing table tennis more or less by a dare from the local
Sydney City Mission Minister. We ended up with two full teams and
I was the lead player in the 'A' team. I played competition for 3
years until my family moved to Milperra Bridge.
Chippendale A won the senior Sydney Pennant twice in that 3 years and I
was selected several times to play against visiting combined and
I stopped playing when I was 19 years old.
I had my first motor bike and riding it when I was 15, much to my
mothers horror. It was a CZ 125 cc that I had built at work. I had
it for over a year until I bought a 350cc AJS. I lost 3 of mates
in the 3 year period I was riding bikes and came very close, quite
a few times, to doing myself in.
It was fun if you didn't think about it, and at that age you didn't!
I went completely to motor cars when we moved to Milperra Bridge.
We used to play (haunt) the Wembley Billiard and Pool Room at Railway
Square Sydney. We went to other pool rooms, but the Wembley was our
'home' hall. I saw a lot of money change hands between some
very tough, mean and often wanted people.
I used to do deliveries for this tattooed bloke called Mike (that's
what he called himself!) who gave me thirty shillings to deliver
a parcel to several parts of the near city - mostly around The
I was usually back in the Pool hall within the hour, so it was good
money. I never knew what was in the parcels but I guessed the light
ones were money and the small heavier ones were a gun. That may
have been a young mans imagination, but even now I believe it.
Why else give a young bloke an easy one hour job for the equivalent
of 30% of his weekly working wage. I was treated like one of "the
boys" when they were there and it made me look important with my mates.
I stopped regular visits to the pool halls when we moved to Milperra.
COACHING THE UNDER 16s
I was called on to coach a new u/16 for the coming year. I had never
seen them but I figured I should put back something in the playing
arena. I was also heavily involved on the administrative side .
I reasoned they wouldn't be a crash hot combination because we didn't
have an u/15 or u/16 team from the year before, so they'd be an
Even I wasn't prepared for just how bad they were. Most couldn't
play soccer - but boy, could they brawl! They were local Liverpool
kids who had been recruited under threat I think, from their Parole
They didn't seem the slightest bit interested at first.
After their first game ( lost 0 - 14} they came to me and just about
begged me to show them the finer points. Up till then they had been
giving me a bad time, so I told them I'd think about it. I waited
till the next game for a 'payback' - they lost 0 -7, and promptly
beat up the other team. The other club agreed not to make an issue
of it, because their boys had goaded mine how hopeless they were and
the other coach agreed his kids were unsporting.
I agreed to coach them more and they gave me the attention I asked
for. They were still pretty bad at the end of the year but won a few
games (it was like a grand final win each time) and ended up 8th
from a 12 team competition.
They weren't bad kids . Most didn't come back the next year and
I didn't put myself forward to coach. I often wondered what happened
That was my only sortie into coaching but I did enjoy the kids and
was greatly entertained by them.
My first car was a Willys 1937 Overlander. I blew it up after a
couple of weeks and just before one Christmas. With a crankshaft
grind included, I got the complete motor rebuild done in 8 days and
finished on Christmas eve.
As I was still working my job plus travelling three hours a day and
did the job on our driveway, that was a pretty good effort I still
remember with pride.
I remember many late nights under the car. I wasn't alone though - 50
thousand insects accompanied me!
I had many cars after that, but the fondest memories I have was for
a 1937 6cyl. Pontiac Chieftain sedan, which I had sign written across
the boot and on the bonnet with "BIG CHIEF". It was a great car and
well known around Bankstown and Liverpool at the time. I had it
when I met my wife Eleanor - it was a special memory that will always
be part of my fondest memories.
When I was 17, I was asked by a girl to go with her to a dance in
the city. It was called "The Australian Hall" in Elizabeth Street,
just up from Goulbourne Street (is the spelling OK ? ).
I enjoyed the night and happened to know a lot of the people there.
I was very impressed with how well the bouncers were organised
and how popular they were - so I decided that was for me.
An older bloke I used to know at the gym was a bouncer there, so
I asked him about it. He told me what to say and vouched for me
with the owner Harry Yates, who was a well known radio announcer
during the war years.
So I entered the wonderful world of the thirty bob ($3) a night
We used to dress the same as everyone else except we wore casual
waste length brown and cream jackets. Also we wore rubber soled shoes
for advantage in any fights that started. I think the first night I
went is the only night there were no fights. And when a fight did
break out, I made sure I wasn't left out either. I was probably what
you'd best describe as overzealous, but it always irked me that some
guys sole aim in life seemed to be making sure no one enjoyed
Here's the satisfying bit....a lot of people enjoyed seeing these
jerks thrown out - almost as much as I did throwing them out.
There was a pub just down from the dance, on a lane corner and Harry
had given strict instructions that the bouncers were not to go there,
or get involved in anything outside the dance hall. Good advice.
Most people used to go for a couple of beers there, at the dance's
half time break. One night a group of Surry Hills hoons set upon
some of our regular dancers in the lane at the pub. So the five of
us tore down and rescued them. Everyone cheered us on against the
Surry Hills mob and when they ran, everyone cheered loudly and clapped
Just what the average attention seeking young lair looks for.
There was a great feeling in the hall that night and they all came
back the next week with friends. The place was packed out and it
was the best attendance for a long time. Harry had just come back
from being away somewhere and was delighted, until one of the dancers
told him of the fight and "rescue" at the pub. An innocent mistake.
Sure enough Harry sacked us all after the dance.
Well - another promising career ruined. I could have been a HEAD
BOUNCER one day !. (Probably my head bouncing)
** I still went back there to dance but I had made a lot of enemies of
some bad elements while a bouncer. One night I got into an argument
with one and I was thrown out on the word of a mate of his who had
become a bouncer there. I remember counting the stairs as I was
heaved down them. I knew I could not go back up without the bouncers
ganging up on me, but I had to "have out" this bloke who'd done this
My brother Bob was a fireman at the Castlereagh St (HQ then) station
nearby and was about to knock off just then, so I went around and told
him my "get square" plan. He agreed to help, but only after I reminded
him we were brothers .......then sometimes he surprised me.!!!
We went up the stairs toward the dance with me calling to the bouncer
on the door (who was my quarry!) that I had brought back a policeman
with me. Bobs Fire Brigade uniform looked exactly the same as the
police uniform apart from numbering and small braiding differences.
This bloke thought Bob was a policeman too and didn't call in his
mates because he probably worked out he didn't need them with a
We were a couple of metres from him when he recognised Bobs uniform
and cried out for help. It was too late as I leaped on him and he
went down under a flurry of blows from a very angry lad - me.
The other bouncers didn't get to us quick enough either, as a lot of
my friends milled around the door and blocked them until Bob and I
casually left the scene giving high finger signs back to them.
And I wonder still - was it as good for them as it felt to me!!!
** One night at the dance, a good mate of mine (Sam) had just had a fight
with a soldier when the MP's arrived. One had pushed him, despite
other soldiers having said it wasn't Sam's fault. Sam flattened him
too and his mate called for backup as the soldiers too boo'd him.
There was a taxi cab rank outside the dance hall which was - at this
time lined up with cabs.
Sam jumped up on the roof of one of the cabs - hopping up and down and
asking who's next. The driver - who had been reading a newspaper
and regardless of the obvious damage to his cabs roof - leaned out
of his door window and called to Sam, "Quieten it down fella - I'm
trying to read in here".
To a man, everyone burst out laughing, the hostilities broke off.....
and everyone went their way.
Seemed the civilised thing to do at the time I guess.
I knew you'd enquire about the cab's roof damage.... (???)
(No, I didn't misspell it!)
Before I realised that having a drivers licence didn't guarantee that
a person is proficient at driving a car, I was quite happy being a
passenger without a thought for who was driving.
Cars had a big advantage because you could get a heap of your mates in
one and actually talk to one another and horse around as you went
along. A bit more expensive to run than a bike, but great otherwise!
There was this young madman from Alexandria who owned an Austin A40
(I had one later on), his name was Billy. Billy impressed me for
that very reason.....because he was mad. Billy drove up footpaths,
stairs, onto railway stations, loading docks, around the wrong side of
trams, through parks, pools, footy games in progress and many other
"cool" things. I was 15 years old and Billy was a hero to me.
We were driving toward Wattamolla, in the Royal National Park at
Sutherland one night. I still dont remember which turn off it was
but it was one too many. We had just "loaded her up" (car full of
booze) at Sutherland. We bought 15 bottles of beer and 2
Billy was at his "coolest". Turn off his lights before a bend and
'guess' the turn, wait till the last minute to spin into a turnoff,
hit the brakes at the last moment. Sssssooooooo clever.
One of the turnoffs was like an upward off ramp. Unfortunately Billy
had two wheels going along level and two going up the ramp. Everything
seemed to be in slow motion............ and to this day I really dont
know how Billy slowed time down like that?
Witnesses said the car rolled end on end at least twice as well as
sideways several of times. Personally I gave up counting as I was
wondering what Billy intended doing for his next trick!
Did you know that in the 50's/60's lemonade bottles were stronger than
beer bottles? We had 15 broken bottles of beer - and 2 bottles of
shaken lemonade survived that even the tow truck driver wasn't game
to get too close to.
Some broken bones, cuts and bruising among us and we were very lucky.
Our driver Billy didn't have a scratch so we made sure he didn't feel
left out later. We refused to get in a car with him after that - not
that he asked us to again!.
Aint the innocence of youth priceless?
INTRO TO MILPERRA
When we first moved to Milperra we didn't know anyone locally and
I didn't have a car or motorbike to start off. This was a big
culture shock for an inner city lad who'd been used to everything
being a short walk or bus ride away. Although the local store was
only one kilometre away and Bankstown or Liverpool only six kilometres
.........but to me this was the "outback".
I used to walk to the local store regularly to get urgent groceries
and mum would bus to Bankstown once a week for bulk shopping.
My dad didn't have a car either and he would WALK EIGHT KILOMETRES
to the railway station five nights a week to get to work, so it
wasn't easy for him either.
We'd been in our new house about a week and mum sent me to the local
store for some milk and bread as I recall. The store was built up
above the flood level over that side of the bridge and there were
six steps up into the store. I went in and ordered what was on
It was a Saturday afternoon and there were a bunch of young blokes
in the shop and one in particular started asking me some smart mouth
personal questions. I answered the first two and then told him I was
there to pick up some groceries and wasn't looking for any trouble.
This bloke was so ugly - even his mother would have denied paternity!
Unfortunately he was also one of those guys that reasoning with made
you a coward in his eyes - and he wouldn't give it away. As I picked up
the milk and bread he jumped in front of me, blocking the doorway.
I didn't know this guy from Adam. He was a lot more solid than me but
I could tell he wasn't very bright. First of all you dont pick on
someone you dont know for no reason at all and secondly you dont pick
on anyone with a flight of downward stairs lurking behind you.
Finding his brain would have been like getting hold of the Pope on a
I tried to go around him but he pushed me back into the store. Not a
good move either. I had put off the inevitable as long as I could
as I knew he had 4 or 5 mates with him. I knew I had to get first
strike for any chance of "survival", as slim as it looked to be.
Amazingly - when I look back - it was all so clinical.
Sure I was scared quite a few times by people or events that I thought
would suck me into them, but when it got to the stage where I knew
exactly what was next, I seemed to be more engrossed in planning my
next move than wasting any mental or physical effort on my nerves.
I remember his leering face and chin jutted toward me as I dropped
the groceries and hit him in the same action as hard as I could.
There was no science in it, just the urgency of desperation.
I watched for a second as he looked like his pet parrot had just died
before he collapsed and hit the third or fourth concrete stair and
rolled down into the gravel outside.
It was customary where I came from, to expect one bloke against a mob
to use everything he could to protect himself. I'd been "done" by a
gang once before and I remembered the drill vividly.
I "danced" on him for quick effect and turned to meet his mates, who
by this time I expected to be just about on me.
But they were still standing at the top of the stairs just gaping
down at the scene. They seemed to be frozen where they stood and not
certain what to do next.
I knew from experience that loud boasting and ranting impresses "those
who believe in the spoken word"...... as well as the faint hearted,
so I proceeded to call them down in no uncertain manner......(With
macho prancing and "lots of" gesticulating generally considered mandatory
in such situations!!)
But they wouldn't come down. I mean they did COME DOWN but only to
pick up their fallen mate and cart him off.
The storekeeper seemed quite concerned about the whole matter and
suggested I get out of town.......(a town - Milperra 1956?)....as he
kindly replaced my groceries for free and I went back home.
And in the true spirit of self preservation - I didn't tell my mum.
That was how I gained some respect from the locals. The guy I put
down evidently had a big reputation in the area. (God we were dumb)
One thing that really worried every
one was how easily I'd finished him off. They'd never seen that done
before they said afterward.
Thank goodness. It kept me out of many fights later in the area
and away from a couple blokes I thought were much better than me!!!
All that - and all I wanted was some milk and bread.
The only time I left home before I was 29 was for a month or so when
I lived with the Gypsy families called the Stereo's and Joanne's.
I'd had an argument with my dad and stamped of in a huff. Boy, did I
miss the comforts and security of home.
I had got to be friendly with gypsies, who camped around the corner
from where we lived at Milperra Bridge, at a big park called the
Vale of Ah.
Both the gypsy families were travelling together at this particular
time. They were very good to me and all were kind hearted, likeable
larrikins, which helped them co habitate, with the fierce rivalry that
existed between their families.
They had simple tastes and habits, loved takeaway, bbq meals, beer
and wines ("Plonk a la Chateau de Flagon" types), dancing and anything
shiny or flashy. They also were very competitive amongst themselves
and with any one they were familiar and friendly with. I spent a
lot of time "answering" challenges. As tiring as this got, I was
absolutely flattered that they saw me as someone of note for them to
constantly compete with.
I was invited to stay with them because they knew I had left my home
and they 'owed me a debt' they said. This 'debt' was for 'rescuing'
one of them being attacked by a mob of young blokes in Bankstown one
night. They had a very strong code of debt.
They lived in these medium to large caravans and would camp anywhere
handy to towns - preferably on a creek or river for water. They
would use the Council bins for their garbage (they were very tidy)
and use any park facilities such as toilets and water.
Locals would always complain about them wherever they camped because
they were strangers, and people see strangers as a danger. Also people
see camping in public areas as threatening to their use of these places
so they are understandably against it. Its here that the system seemed
to break down.
The locals make complaints and the police visit the gypsies regularly,
presumably then doubling their efforts to make them move on.
You had to be one of the gypsies to know this was merely a pretence
and that the police only came to collect payment to not take immediate
action against them.
After a few months however, a court order would be issued and they
would move on without further ado, to another pre picked spot.
The gypsy men would make their money by reading palms, blessing money,
all sorts of clever 'impossible' tricks and doing odd jobs for people
they'd convince no one else could do better. They were excellent
salesmen (of themselves) and - outwardly anyway - good workers.
This too was one of their illusions.
I never learned how they did it, but there were quite a few churches
and others around, that got them to polish their gold and silver.
On these occasions, the men would come home and hand their polishing
cloths to their women, who went inside a tent or van and somehow
extracted quite a bit of gold or silver dust from them.
Johnny was their favorite son - Syd their favorite uncle and there
was 'Blondie', who I fancied for quite a while and being single, she
was allowed to work for herself - after her family were paid their
They had an elder (Joe) who they said was 'King" of the gypsies, yet
as much as they took me into their confidence and seemed very sincere
that he was king, I was never convinced. I had come to recognise that
they loved putting on a show and impressing people......and they
owed their very existence to this.
I noticed though, when Joe spoke, everyone jumped and it was
unthinkable to argue with him, so he was obviously their leader.
He was an affable large man and like all of them, very superstitious
and jumpy at night.
The local hoons used to give them a bit of stick before I moved in
with them, so I squared it with them to stay away. 'King' Joe was
aware of this and thought I was the greatest thing since the Mafiaso.
There were a couple of outside groups that raided the camp while I was
there. A couple of times the local boys joined in with us against
them. Evidently this was a regular hazard for the gypsies wherever
they went and they had to defend themselves - and no one usually
There was never a dull moment and with the experience of this
association, I developed a great deal of insight and respect for the
gypsies........ as I found them anyway.
Even now, I think of them and their perilous existence and how tough
it must be for them if they still live the same way.
OFF TO PRISON
A little time after I left the gypsies and went back home to live, I
still hadn't got a job. My dad had prevented the government from
contributing to my induction into "youth retirement" (getting dole
money).....and I was seriously considering joining the workforce
It was a Friday on which I had arranged an appointment for a job as
a storeman in Bankstown for mid morning. I had no reason for getting
up earlier than normal then.
I awoke to heavy knocking on our front door. My dad hadn't arrived
home from his 11pm to 7am night shift job and it was 6.15 am one
cold morning. Mum answered the door.
She came in and told me the police were at the door and wanted "the
money or the body" for an outstanding parking fine. I didn't have
the money and mum didn't have it either. So they took "the body".
I was taken to Bankstown police lockup and held till around 9.30am
when I was put into a police "Black Mariah".......which is like a
large pantech truck split longways into two compartments with a
space left at the rear for a seat either side for officers to sit
This was evidently a regular daily run to a string of police stations
along the way to HM Prison Long Bay.
As we passed through Sutherland (going the long way around!) a young
probationary constable relieved the escort officer and away we went.
He asked me what I was in for - and I, relishing this as a great
experience to relate to my mates later/and regarding the whole thing
as a huge joke anyway - replied I was in for ARMED HOLD-UP!
Well, that was that. When I asked him for a cigarette he made me
stand as far away from the door as possible while he pushed one
through the mesh into my compartment. One of the other "crims" in
my side got to it first and I had to threaten him to get it off him.
When we got to the reception area at Long Bay, I was allowed access
to my possessions again which included a pouch of "Champion Ruby"
tobacco and papers. I had to take the contents of the pouch and
transfer it to a brown paper pouch. I was told that "boob" issue
tobacco came in these brown pouches which was the floor sweepings
(literally) from WD and H O Wills Tobacco Co. Some inmates could
get really rough if they thought anyone had something better than
them I was told. I also was not allowed my leather belt which they
replaced with some weak rope.
As it was just after lunch and I hadn't been fed, they gave me this
decent sized stainless steel bowl with a lid on it. I was starving
by this time, but when I got the lid off there was one thin slice of
roast, quarter of a baked potato a desert spoon of peas all floating
in a pool of gravy. I was told there wasn't much left over after
lunch. I believed them ........and ate it anyway.
I dont know what the layout was of my area, but as far as I know
there was a factory with several different cell blocks adjoining.
There may have been more to it but the workshop I was led to made
car number plates and various other items of a metalworking theme.
I was taken to a trustee there who assigned me to someone else who
told me to try to look busy and not talk too much.
One simpleton there kept telling everyone he had discovered "the way
out" and another kept telling me he wanted my home address so he could
keep in touch, while another raved on he had a "stash" hidden for
when he got out. I reckon they'd all still be in there.
After the bell rang for knocking off, people started to empty out
through different exits. I vaguely remembered being told I had to
leave through a certain exit, but there was a long queue there, so
being smart, I used the next door where not so many were waiting.
I went out and sat on the edge of a raised outdoor slab which
adjoined toilets and rows of wash basins. I looked around and
noticed that the "long termers" and "lifers" had the ground floor
cells and Tv's - and their cells were like a home away from home
Suddenly, the guy I had refused to give my home address to had arrived
on the scene and ground the hand I was leaning back on, under his
boot. "Boob boots" were big and heavy.
I jumped up and got stuck into him but he had a couple of big mates
with him and I saw no future for me. Without warning several other
guys joined in and we cleaned up this bloke and his couple of mates.
No warders were visible or came to interfere.
I went to thank the blokes who helped me and they turned out to be
some of the mates I'd had in the city before I'd moved to Milperra.
I can tell you I was ESPECIALLY happy to see them.
I'd just got talking to them when we were told to fall in for roll
call and they started the call. I noticed the "alphabetical" call
had passed the M stage, but thought nothing of it because mine
was probably at the end because I'd arrived only that afternoon.
Suddenly whistles started blowing madly and I was rushed away in a
non too gentle manner and told I was a troublemaker. (Moi?)
I had no idea what they were talking about at first but it appears
I had gone out the wrong door and into the wrong cell block. So
I had gone too far and one past the door I was supposed to.
I was marched to a cell and fed. A couple of hours later another
inmate was put into the cell and told me the bottom bunk was his,
so I let him have it. He probably saw this a sign of weakness and
kept up a barrage of insults at me until I jumped on him and battered
him near senseless. (Not that he wasn't already senseless!)
I got back up to my bunk and a little while later this guy wants to
join me in my bunk..... so while I'm battering him again 3 warders
arrive laughing and take me to another empty cell. Still cold and
damp..... but at least I can get some sleep.
Behind the scenes, my dad has told mum to leave me be for a while as
it will probably be a good lesson for me, but mum works on him and
he finally gets out of bed and drives her to Long Bay prison where
they arrive about 7pm at night.
Mum pays the outstanding fine and is then told that releases are only
between the hours of 10am and 3pm (or similar) during the week and
I will have to stay in over the weekend and she can pick me up on
the Monday. Whellll now. Ho lee !!!!!
My mother. Her baby behind bars. They let her pay the full fine
yet no discounted time for it and "her baby" (yes me!) in danger
with all those bad men influences......
To cut a long story short they agreed I was much better off with my
mummy, so they came to my cell (9.30....I was asleep) and got taken
out into a big darkened yard. I could see a truck parked over near
a building and one side was weakly lit by moonlight and I could see
a blank tall wall. I was marched up onto a verandah and told to stay
directly in the light of the doorway and not to move while they went
inside to get my bag of belongings.
On this verandah there seemed to be notice boards on the wall next
to the door with lists and other pinned there. But it was dark
outside the light I stood in, so I shifted over so I could see what
was on them. I didn't notice, but I had stepped out of the light.
There were "Wanted For..." sheets and lists of names, activities
and rules that I had just started to adjust to the light and read
when a siren started to wind up and bright searchlights were turned
on and sweeping the yard. A group of offices jumped me and threw
me to the ground. I gathered they played rugby because they
couldn't find the ball in the dark and "scrummed" me instead......
(an accident of course!).
When they finally got me to where mum was - I didn't look the best for
wear and she went off at them for not protecting me from the crims.
They looked pretty sheepish and were probably thankful I didn't tell
her then who had marked me up. I cant remember if I ever told
We then set off, with poor exhausted dad having to go straight to work
when we got home and mum too busy fussing over me to fuss over him,
as she usually did before he left.
And me.........it was an experience of a place no one wants to return
to yet repeat business is their specialty.
They didn't impress me enough to want to return there though.
THE DRESSMAKERS DUMMY
Once upon a time..........(sound familiar? - but its true!)
I had an Austin A40 tourer (soft top/convertible...), and my best
mate at the time and I had collected (we did a lot of collecting)
a female type dressmakers dummy (mannequin) complete. We saw great
possibilities for "her" (as we saw in most things).
As soon as we had spent the required time painting her to her former
"attractive self", we could hardly wait for Friday night to roll
around so we could 'show her off'. As it turned out, she was more
than the big hit we hoped she would be.
Friday night was the last day of the normal working week and the
first night of "Bedlam - Oz style" Friday night was the time you
usually let your hair down with mates, because as much as Saturday
night was for girlfriends to dominate -Friday night was "boys night".
We laid our 'model' along the back seat and out of sight to passing
traffic. With the hood (top) down and the wind in our face....we set
We decided we would be seen as more credible in an 'away' area.
Around our usual haunts, whatever we did was treated with extreme
suspicion because we had caught out so many who were wary of what
they saw as our practical jokes and "constant antics".
So we chose way over at Parramatta.
I've no idea whats there now, but in the late fifties/early sixties,
Parramatta began just off the highway dogleg as you passed the
Fire Station, which was next to the rockingest dance hall in town
(and the only one we could find at the time!)
That's where all the fun began.
We had just sat our model up in the back seat and my mate had climbed
in (and over) her. By rehearsed movement she looked quite real and
the fact she was nude, she attracted stares from young and old alike,
quite apart from the "R" rated performance she was being part of.
In no time at all the local "cruising squadron" took up positions
behind us honking their horns, waving their various booze bottles in
the air, yelling out encouragement and advice to my mate and it was
generally a huge entertaining laugh .
Until it got out of hand and nasty.
Now it was always well known to me that there are those out there
who cant stand to see others enjoying themselves or having a good time
of any type. Its like waving a red flag at them. They have absolutely
no sense of humor whatsoever and cant see why the rest of us should be
allowed to have fun even.
Their sole aim in life seems to be dousing happiness and upsetting
There we were...sailing along...the wind in our hair (and the randy
blond's as well), giving the local peacocks a show to tell their grand
children about.......when out of the pack came these "Derros from
It was obvious by their behaviour that whatever was eating them was
very sick and they meant to beat us up and take the randy blonde away
But first they had to catch us.
Now an Austin A40 is far from a formula one performance vehicle.
Coupled with that....asking an A40 (4 cylinder) to outrun a Ford V8
monster is a bit much. Fear not though....we had a contingency plan
for such an occasion (we thought of everything you know!).
We would throw the bloody dummy at them as a last resort. But first
the fun of the chase to see if the other driver had any nerve.
Off we went, chased by the "derros from grumpyland" and about a
dozen other fun loving loads of well meaning cheering locals .
We didn't know the back streets of Parramatta too well. We found that
the Ford V8 driver had plenty of nerve - most of the other thirty
'party animals' on our tail dropped off in the chase and by the time
we decided to "spit (throw) the dummy" there were only 4 cars behind
us. I told Dick to throw "the blonde" - a split second BEFORE I
noticed we were in a dead end street......and trapped !!!
Dick threw the 'naked blond' out the back. The Ford V8 tried to
avoid it but couldn't. They crunched over the "naked girl" and ran
up the kerb into a fence. We had to turn and come back as it was the
only way out of the street.
As we approached the hoons car, we expected them to pull out in front
of us, but they just sat there.....crying loudly! We were puzzled
why these 'toughs' were in tear mode and stopped to see if they were
OK. Maybe they had inadvertently glanced into the rear view mirror
and frightened themselves we thought.
"We hit her" they were sobbing, "why did she jump" they cried. " WE
TRIED TO MISS HER"......."Call for help - please help".
God, these idiots thought the "randy blonde" was really real!
"We'll race over to the ambulance station" I graciously yelled out to
them, "we'll get help" I said, "but dont you go near her - she's too
badly broken up" I yelled.
They started wailing louder as I sped away.....past the other three
carloads of stunned "witnesses" who had clung to and survived the
wild chase.......and witnessed the "tragic" accident
On to freedom........ unscathed.
As we drove away from Parramatta we breathed a sigh of relief and
nervousness ......then split our sides laughing.
I often wonder how long the "humourless stricken" waited there, frozen
by their own remorse, for the ambulance to come.......and when they
finally realised the truth......how much they identified themselves
with the "randy blonde" dummy.
How much they probably wanted to kill my mate and I.
There was no other time in my life that involved such a comedy of
errors or events or gives me more of a chuckle to remember.
We later heard various versions of this story from a few people who
were either there or told it by blokes that were there at the time
in other cars. And like all relayed "true" stories, it was built up with
extra content for maximum impact.
And I loved it each time, because each time it was told differently.oooooooooOOOoooooooo
We were always dreaming up some way to play pranks and there were many
hilarious attempts that failed.....even in some instances backfired
onto us but were still funny, because that was the whole thrust of our
efforts.....and a laugh was a laugh, even if we were the victims at
the odd time.
One was quietly and serenely driving past a daydreaming pedestrian
halfway past crossing the road and suddenly bashing the outside of
the door with the flat of your hand. The resultant loud bang seems
like an authentic car prang and most would get a visible start and
jump the proverbial mile in shock.
Then we discovered the technological method of barking quickly
could attract good results also.
And there is nothing like the sight of a pedestrian walking peacefully
along the road minding his own business and suddenly "set upon" by the
sound of a snarling and vicious dog from nowhere. For some reason, the
shock seems to turn most people into vigorously animated marionette
types of characters who react like startled rabbits and it takes some
time for them to calm down after the "dog" stops its barking.
At times whole street full of people would jump with varying degrees
of nervousness. Only the few with calmer reflexes could muster the
immediate sense of humour we saw as befitting the occasion.
THE BIRTHDAY CAKE
I worked for American Dry Cleaners as a delivery driver with an
FJ Holden panel van.
I remember one late afternoon I was at Wynyard Station in the city
and had just finished a delivery there. It was my mums birthday, so
I had just bought a big cream cake to take home to her.
As you walked up or down the mall like exit to the station platforms,
there were shops either side and huge support pillars up the middle.
These 3 (real big) guys were coming down as I was going back up the
mall. One passed a comment about me "sucking up to someone with
my cream cake". Not having learned about discretion or when best to
just shut up, I replied " I guess you ugly bastards haven't got a
Well, talk about 'can give it but cant take it'!
They came at me, screaming obscenities (naughty words) and swinging.
I caught the front bloke with (mums present) the cream cake to the
face, which stopped him temporarily while he figured out why he was
feeling so crummy!.
The second guy though, caught me and hurled me against the wall,
where I made my stand. (General George Custer, I salute you!)
I got the third bloke as he rushed in wildly and bloodied his nose
which steadied him a bit. Then they pranced up and down telling me
what they were going to do to me. Sure they would - and I knew it.
While all this was going on, people were just giving us a wide berth
and walking past as if nothing at all strange was happening.
I noticed a uniform up a bit from us. He was standing there for a
minute or so and then two other police arrived and they walked over.
"OK break it up - whats going on here" they said.
The biggest bloke of the 3 blokes replied (boy was he still mad)
"and what are you going to do about it".
The policeman seemed taken aback to start with and then said " Tell
you what we'll do - your under arrest". And they grabbed me!
I was taken to Phillip St. police station and questioned. I objected
to being arrested and put on quite a show. I was then told I would be
charged with resisting a lawful order (I refused to pick up the
contents of my money bag they threw on the floor at the police
station). I also got a "biffing" from the police for it - but they
lost the argument and had to pick up the coins themselves in the end.
They charged me with resisting arrest. Nothing else!
How dumb can you get? Why arrest me in the first place?
The matter went to court where the judge admonished the police for
not taking action against the unknown blokes and told them they could
not lay charges of resisting arrest unless there were grounds for
an arrest in the first place - and dismissed the case.
The thing that plagued me then and to this day, is my mum never
got the cream cake I bought for her that afternoon.
CRACKERS AND COPS
Strangely enough, cracker night was alive and well in the (extreme)
outer suburbs, as we found when we first moved out to Milperra.
The kids still had bonfires but they were in someone's paddock, where
public fire laws could not be enforced. I was too old to enjoy it as
much as I did once, but we used to watch that the kids didn't burn
New South Wales to the ground. And we'd have a few beers and try
to look important and civilised to maintain the young kids respect!
This particular night we bought ourselves some crackers. We let a few
off and gave some to the kids that didn't have many.
We had a few beers and had 'stocked' my car boot up for later.
We drove back to near my place after the young kids had gone home
and parked just opposite. It was about midnight, and we settled
down for a chat and a few more beers inside the car.
About an hour had passed, when we saw a police car coming toward us.
By the time they pulled in next to us, we had quickly got rid of the
drinks we'd been holding.
This older man (sergeants stripes) got out flashing his torch and he
had a young constable with him. "What are you ...'s doing " the older
officer asked, in the usual loud aggravated fashion accorded to young
blokes like us.
I saw he was showing the young officer the ropes on how to win friends
and influence people - old time 'walloper' style.
He looked in the cars boot and saw we had around one and a half dozen
bottles of beer there. He flew into a rage, yelling what a bunch of
no good drunken b......'s we were.
I spoke up and told him we were just talking. He demanded to know had
we been drinking. Now I knew we must have smelled like six breweries,
but he honestly couldn't have expected us to say yes could he?
He was infuriated when I said no - and clobbered me across the face
through the drivers side window with his torch. I felt the 'claret'
run from a wound above my ear and felt rage more than pain.
"That's it" I roared as I leapt from the car. The sergeant back
pedalled and the younger officer ran for the police car and started
It flashed through my mind I could be in big trouble threatening a
police officer.... so I followed up with "I'm gonna get my mother".
To sort of lighten up things. Rather cool eh!
I walked over to my house - I could see mums bedroom light had
come on anyway and she was walking out toward me.
She wanted to know what was going on. The police had regained their
composure and said to her "your son has been drinking and has just
tried to threaten police officers".
Mum believed I didn't drink (I never had the heart to tell her) and
she told the officer this 'fact'. She knew I could make someone feel
threatened, but only in retaliation and she knew I wasn't silly
enough to attack a police officer. So she told them that too.
This young officer poked his bib in and told mum she was probably
right, because I seemed to be a wimp anyway.
This did not help. I told him to take his jacket off and step down
the back. Mum told me to be quiet (which I did) and she told him to
apologise, which he wouldn't. So mum said " Right O', whip off your
jacket, get around the back with my son and we'll see who the wimp
And I walked toward the back ripping my tee shirt off (for maximum
effect) and beckoning him to follow.
My cocky, arrogant performance must have really worried him, so he
apologised to mum and was visibly shaking.
He didn't say another word from then on.
The sergeant told mum of the beer in the boot of the car to prove his
point that I could not be the non drinker I said I was. He showed her
to the car( where my mates were still sitting) and ripped open the
boot with a flourish, to show her 'the beer'.
But there was no beer !.
The mates had taken the booze from the boot and unnoticed, had run
it into the bush while all the hullabaloo was in progress.
Well, didn't mum hit the roof on "police harassment" and what they'd
be better off spending their time doing instead of picking on decent
young men. (like us?).
This was way too much for the sergeant. He waved the young constable
to the car and they drove off, shaking their heads.
We got a lecture from mum on how late it was and why us "young boys"
should always get a good nights sleep. Then she went back inside.
(And so did all our neighbors)
We all went home and polished the beer off the next night.
THE NEIGHBORS RUBBISH
When we moved to Milperra, it was quite a culture shock for a lad who
previously knew nothing that wasn't walking distance from the centre
It wasn't exactly the bush because we had neighbors next to us and
opposite, but there was an abundance of bush paddocks with no road
kerbing anywhere and a long way to town. The buses stopped for lunch
and after six o'clock at night.
OK........my parents had taken me to the Outback!
One night a few of us were sitting opposite and just back from my
house....having a quite sip or two, minding our own business - and
lamenting we had not seen any opportunities to mind someone else's
business that night, when suddenly..... the opportunity miraculously
Talk about "seek and ye shall find".......and we weren't even seeking
We saw the man from next door come out and look suspiciously up and
down the road, as if to see if the coast was clear. Then he went back
inside and came out with a big bale of rubbish and put it down at the
side of the house. Just then his wife came out and complained that
it looked terrible where it was and their "visitors" would think they
were untidy.....couldn't he take it somewhere else? So he did.
We watched as he incredibly lifted it onto his back and struggled up
the road about 100 metres to a bushy patch and dumped it there.
After he came back and went inside - and after we had finished
marvelling at his feat of strength doing it - we got down to seeing
this event for what it really was........a disgusting act of wanton
littering that demanded our attention for retribution and summary
punishment. We were responsible citizens you know!
So we set our minds to the task at hand.
The "visitors" they had mentioned arrived and were greeted by our
"ecological vandal neighbors", then they all retreated inside the
house for socialising and manufacturing more litter for our planet.
We hit on the only solution we could think of at the time. We would
pick up the rubbish bale and return it!
We drove up to where it was and decided that carrying it all the way
back was too much for us, so as my car boot lid opened downward, we
lifted it onto that and drove it back. We left it right at their
front door and hid the car. Then we took vigil in the paddock opposite
their house to watch the fruits of our labour.
Two and a half hours we vegetated there and very nearly gave it away
several times.....only we remembered just in time that we had nothing
better to do!
Suddenly the neighbors front door opened.
Have you ever noticed that some people intent on impressing others
seem to fall over themselves in their haste. And people showing
other people the way always look back towards them and not where they
are going......yet never seem to trip or fall over?
Well this is another story.
As they emerged from the house, our neighbor was walking out backwards
(if you dont mind!). But why not. He had been in and out of that door
literally a thousand times. He could walk out with his eyes closed, so
why not backwards?
Because now there was a big bag there that had returned to haunt him!
He went over the bag of rubbish, his smiling wife nearly followed him
and she lost her smile somewhere, their visitors weren't impressed with
my neighbors yelling at each other about the rubbish (?) and all the
dogs in the street were barking uncontrollably.
At the same time there were five young youthful litter inspectors in
the bushes opposite suffering silently with extreme laughter.
You had to be there.
THE SOLDIER & THE KIDS
I remember when I was growing up, it seemed to be an unwritten law,
that a kid in trouble had to be defended. That became ingrained into
I hadn't known Eleanor that long, so I was 24 or 25 at the time, even
if I never acted it.
I was driving with Eleanor across Milperra Bridge toward Liverpool.
McVicars bus services were the bus company that serviced the local
area from Bankstown and they were red buses. The buses from Liverpool
were the Liverpool Bus Service and they were predominately a light
colour (cream I think). Both would pull into the shops on the western
side of Miloerra Bridge and turn around from there to make their
I could see a bus moving away and back toward Liverpool.
As we crossed the bridge, the bus stop was on my right and I noticed
these kids (13 to 15) that were lined up against the shop wall of
Kings Store. They were local kids that I knew. In front of them was
a soldier with his web belt off and he was menacing them with it.
I knew the damage these belts could do because I had been shown how
to use one and had seen them in action in a few pub brawls.
So if I was going to do something it had to be quick, because the
soldier was carrying on like he was demented and these were just kids.
I stopped the car and sauntered across the road to where he was and
then pounced. He saw me coming fast and I had to duck, as the
swinging (no...not musical!) belt whistled past my head. I caught
him on the temple as hard as I could (even though I'd aimed for his
chin) and he went down in the loose gravel in front of the shop.
I didn't know if he still had the belt, but I was determined he
wouldn't get the opportunity to use it on me.
Each time he got to his feet, I'd knock him down again. And the
fight moved across Moorebank Road - traffic everywhere - as he'd get
up, down he'd go again.
Cars were slowing down and weaving around us.
Suddenly he turned his back, jumped up and flung himself into the
passenger side of a passing car screaming, "the bastards mad - get
out of here". The poor driver didn't know what was going on but he
The kids told me they'd had an argument with the soldier in Liverpool
and he had followed them to the 'Bridge', where he got off with them.
He hadn't had a chance to hurt any of them so everything was OK,
except with Eleanor, who wouldn't speak to me for a while after that
because she reckoned he might not have hurt the kids so I shouldn't
That was my El....do nothing....... all will be OK.
I remember this date (the day after my daughter Melissa was born).
It was Thursday 20th June 1974.
I was going in to visit Eleanor in Brisbane Hospital. The blokes
had closed the office on the stroke of five and had taken me to
the local to celebrate. We'd had "a few" and I was heading in
to town. Gino lived near the hospital and was in front of me.
We were crossing the Storey Bridge and an unmarked police car that
had pulled out in front of me just prior, waved for Gino to pull
over. I continued past them and stopped around the corner. I
had no plan to start with, but couldn't just abandon Gino.
I locked my car and walked back around the corner to where Gino and
the policeman were stopped. The officer was alone and had just walked
up to Gino - book in hand and pen out.
I had an urge to distract the officer before he put pen to paper as
I'd heard the 'old story' of "sorry but I started to write the ticket"
I walked up and said "Excuse me officer, can you tell me how to get
to Central Railway". He turned to me and gave me a set of directions
and turned back to Gino. As clear as the directions were that he gave,
I still had to try to take his mind off Gino.
I said "Excuse me officer, but the directions you gave me may be OK for
a Local to understand - but I'm from Sydney and don't understand them".
He was actually quite polite up to the point I said I was from Sydney,
whereupon he became a little 'testy'. "From Sydney eh. Then I see why
you dont understand.....look sir" he said, "I am trying to do my job
here...you are not helping me at all distracting me from that are you".
I told him he was not helping his public image or interstate relations
and how we were all Australians first and that the police in New South
Wales had a much friendlier attitude and showed compassion toward lost
people etc etc.
He told me "taxi drivers know how to get there" and I told him I
couldn't afford to pay for a taxi and I was going to be late to catch
the train home if I didn't get there soon.
It was all too much for the poor bloke. He turned to Gino and told
him he would overlook the reason he pulled him over if he would do
him the very big favour of getting me off his back and dropping me
at the station because "none of us Queenslanders would want to see
this man (me) miss his train back to New South Wales would we driver?".
So Gino and I drove away - trying to hold a straight face.........
MY BRIEF TV CAREER...
......Some years ago, while still laden with the spirit of adventure and
ample friends and acquaintances with kindred spirits, I was
advised by a 'friend of a friend' that a certain opportunity
existed - where good money was being offered for what seemed a
challenge to ones' sense of daring (as well as humour).
It seems a certain agency that this 'friend of a friend' was the
proprietor of, had been engaged to supply 5 suitable people for
final customer selection of someone to contract for voice-over of
TV advertisements. The applicants (of course!) were to have had
previous experience in mimicry and display linguistic aptitude.
Naturally WE all qualified!!!!!!
The agency was to engage the applicants for one day for a fee of
$250 each and the successful applicant would be offered a contract
worth in the vicinity of $25000 in the first year for around a
maximum of 30 days work.
After careful scrutiny and exhaustive testing (questions like
"Ok my good drinking mates, who'd like some easy money?"), I was
luckily "selected" (despite the stampede) as one of the five
qualifiers (from the five people present!).
We were picked up one morning at 8.15am at the agency and driven
to a TV studio (?) at Mount Cootha. We were interviewed as a
group and told what was required of the successful applicant by
a man who looked familiar to me (he was very large). We were
each given a sheet of sentences to practice in various dialects
and sent away to peruse and practice them.
I guess, on reflecting, it was probably expected we would all
"melt" to the outside grounds of the studios where we would have
been more inconspicuous and less of a disturbance while in
pursuance of perfecting the challenge of our "profession".
Well - we weren't professionals and we didn't know that did we!.
We all wandered around the INSIDE of the studios - amateurs as we
were - AND in amongst the multitude of "saner" people who were
all valiantly trying to do their normal every day jobs despite our
cavorting and giggling attempts at mimicry . And these poor
souls would have succeeded doing their work too - had they not
mingled with us as we practiced.... spitting out.... over and over
again, in the most hilarious and disturbing attempts at capturing
the 'spirit of the accent' - as it was put to us at the briefing
earlier, that we must do.
Come lunch time we all retreated to the first sitting at the
canteen where we honed on with our readings in Italian, German,
French, Scottish, Cockney, Irish (which sounded very much like
Scottish) and Indian (which also sounded Scottish) - plus other
accents that we and probably no one else could identify anyway!.
I must say the workers at the studios thought we were a comedy act
or some sort of new show............... and they gave us rounds of
applause on several occasions.
One of our group later swore he was approached by a young lady who was
a temporary typist and asked for his autograph!.
At the end of the day we all tried out our wares at the audition,
which also had the "Large" man and several others, cracking up
at our collective antics.
He thanked us all for our efforts and congratulated us all on our
obvious (?) talent.
We were told who had the contract and chauffeured back to the
agency at Milton (I think it was Milton?)
We each got our promised cheques plus the "Large Man" had given
each of us a $50 bonus for a job well done(???) - and we adjourned
to a hotel in Caxton Street for a well earned rest and to recover
from our "ordeal". I caught a taxi back to Daisy Hill and got
there around 10.30 that night.
I can still remember several of the sentences over 40 years after .
MICKO, ME AND THE BREATHALYSER
It was a hot uneventful (boring) late Tuesday afternoon. I was at
my Marsden office getting ready to pack up and leave - as the rest
of my staff had already left over an hour earlier.
It was the tail end of summer in Brisbane - hot days with balmy nights
......a daytime thirst followed by late evening "drink" and I was just
packing up in my back office.
"There mate" called the distinctive hoarse voice of "Micko the Fisho"
from outside in the main office, which was empty two minutes before.
So often done in the past, Mick and I would sit in my air-conditioned
office chatting for hours and downing the "odd" coldie.....never the
This time we decided to "kick on" to the Waterford (Riverwild) Hotel
and rang our wives to say so (?). Well we made our excuses anyway.
I drove my car and Micko drove his "Fisho" van there and once inside
we were promptly dismayed that being a Tuesday, the place was just
about deserted and not the "fun place" it usually was.
Micko suggested that seeing it was after 7.30pm we would miss out on
a meal at home and as he had some great fish on board his truck....
perhaps we could go to my place and bbq some for our dinner.
I thought this a great idea for two reasons...........a meal because
I was starving and our wives would be happy being home early and
knowing where we were.
To get back to my house involved crossing Waterford's' Logan River
Bridge - a left turn into Tygum Rd. and second left into William St.
My house was on the corner facing the side (William) street.
A total distance from the pub of about around 700 metres roughly.
So we got into our vehicles and headed towards my house with Micko in
front and me following him.
We had just turned into Tygum Rd. when a car flashed up beside me
with this hatless guy hanging out the window waving his arms at me.
I yelled out "P...O.. mate - we're too hungry to play".
He then accelerated up beside Micko doing the same thing, but Micko
gave them the raised digit and turned left into William St.
The police car (by now I had worked it out!) being on Micko's
outside, nearly overshot the corner. They then flew past him again
and skidded to a sideways halt blocking the road in front.
This would have been a devilish clever action and talented driving feat
by the police except for one thing - the second driveway into my house
was on the right and just before where the police car had blocked the
road and Micko just turned in as he had originally intended.
To this day I genuinely think the police were more upset that their
brilliant roadblock had been made to look silly - than their intent
of doing their job calmly........the way they were trained to.
I had driven into the first driveway and parked my car in the carport.
Micko had come in via the second entry and had stopped at the end of
the circular drive and the police had screamed in behind him and they
jumped out with hands on holsters telling us to stand with our hands
on the car and legs spread.
A bit like Clint Eastwood would have done when saving the world!
The seriousness and urgency of the two officers proved overwhelming
to Micko and me as our emotions proved.
We burst out laughing.
We laughed at the irony of the events and the reactions of the police
because it was all so comical and more deserving of an armed holdup
situation. The fact that neither of them had a sense of humour and
couldn't see anything funny was not going to spoil our mirth either.
That they had failed to impress us as police officers.....that on
the way there they had caused themselves to look silly overshooting
the William Street turn......the fact of their nice driving broadside
to block Micko's course in William Street looked silly when he calmly
turned into my drive and parked........the fact their wild west
approach and performance was comical........ any wonder we laughed.
All this rumpus had drawn the attention of our neighbors opposite, my
wife had come out of our house and my mother-in-law also.
My mother-in -law was staying with us and she was the reason I had so
willingly agreed to stay out for a while with Micko.
There was the usual reasonable young policeman and unreasonable older
officer.......sort of good guy/bad guy combination they must have seen
They insisted we blow into one of their breathalyser bags to see if we
were over the limit for driving.
Now several years earlier I had been "done" by the system and convicted
for driving under the influence on a technicality. I swore it would
never happen to me again and I was well versed with the law on the
subject by this.
At the time, the law was that no driver could be pulled over at random
for a breathalyser test UNLESS there was just cause, ie......he was
observed driving erratically or staggering as he entered his car or
a tail light was out or he was speeding etc etc..
So I regained my composure (tried to look serious) and told them the
law as I knew it......and they were carrying out an illegal random
The older officer told me he was sick of bush lawyers and the younger
policeman confirmed what I said was true, "But we observed you crossing
the double lines as you came over the Logan River Bridge and that gives
us the right to ask you for a sample".
I asked him to repeat his "lawful reason" which he did, but the smug
looks both officers had, disappeared when I informed them there were
no centre lines at all on the bridge. They got really angry and
demanded a breath sample which I again refused to give.
Then they both tried to bundle me into the Holden Police car, but after
several minutes they failed this too. My wife had tried to stop their
manhandling of me and the older officer was bleeding from his elbow
to his wrist from fingernail scratches Eleanor had inflicted on him.
When I saw this, the gravity of the situation sank in on me and while
the two officers were panting and blowing and discussing calling for
help, I offered to blow into their bag to kill the situation.
At first they were suspicious that I was planning to make them look
silly some more, but I finally convinced them I was fair dinkum.
Micko had already blown into their bag and was clear. When I gave them
my sample they adjourned to the headlights of their car arguing between
themselves that there was or wasn't a "slight" colour change.
They were so engrossed in their conversation that they seemed unaware
of the presence of anyone else there.
Finally they pronounced I was clear and told me as they drove off that
they would keep an eye out for me and "get me" another time.
Mick and I never had that fish BBQ because my wife was mad - like it
was all our fault (Micko and I) and we were not allowed to "play"
any more that night!
Oh - and I never saw those policemen again thank goodness.
THE OFFICE BURGLAR
I have always disliked intensely (hated maybe!) the people of this
world who find it acceptable to take property from others. I have
found the people who carry out this activity under the cloak of
darkness and with little regard for the property damage they incur,
to be particularly offensive and regard them with as much contempt
as I can muster to waste on them.
My offices at Marsden consisted of my real estate office and five
others, which I rented out to help repay the mortgage on them.
Next to me was my accountant, a hairdresser, my solicitor, my doctor
and a small produce store.
I had security patrols visiting the centre and each tenant was
responsible for his own internal alarms. I was the contact for the
security people and police should anything arise after hours.
There were several times I was called for late night or early morning
break-ins that required re securing premises until proper repairs could
be effected - usually the next day.
And each time I prayed that one day I could catch and face the person
This particular night I was called out by the security patrol people
at 2am in the morning. As usual the security people remained at the
site until the owner arrived and they also notified the police, who
could take quite a while to come.
When I arrived the very young patrolman man showed forced entry had
occurred in my office as the back and front door were open. We then
found the back door of the doctors surgery had been forced too. It
was a prime target for "druggies".
I was puzzled why both the front and rear doors of my office forced as
this was unusual and out of character. The security man said he
had come in the back door and I asked him didn't he think it strange
the burglar had gone in one door and out another and that it was the
back door that was "busted".
I asked the young patrolman had he checked the area and he said he had
checked all around and the only thing he had found was a drunk sleeping
it off in a car just up the road.
I had since figured out that the reason the front door was open was
that the security man had driven in from one end and straight around to
the back to check the rear doors because this is where all intruders
usually enter. The burglar may have been inside and escaped out through
the front door without him knowing.
It suddenly hit me that it was difficult to tell the difference between
a bombed out druggie and a drunk.
I yelled to the security guard as I sprinted in the direction he had
said the "drunk" was sleeping it off. When we arrived at the car the
occupant was sitting up and starting to ask what we were hassling him
I told him to get out of the car and open his boot, the security guard
told me he was "just a drunk and we did not have the right to search
or detain him" and I was making a big mistake. The bloke in the car
was flat out agreeing with the guard as I yanked him from the car and
marched him to his boot. The security guard was still apologising to
the "drunk" as the boot flew open and the evidence sat in there staring
back at us.
I had always promised that if ever I did catch a guy breaking into my
shops I would thrash him on the spot. This guy was so inoffensive and
also so downright apologetic and stupid into the bargain, there was
little I could do to remember my dream to thrash him.
Amongst the "booty" he had were 3 ashtrays from my office and I asked
him - "why the ashtrays, they are not resalable and cost so little".
He replied "Because I live with 3 other guys and you can never find
an ashtray when you want one"
The police thanked the young security guard for his diligence and
dogged pursuit of the perpetrator by risking a lawsuit and forcing
him to open his boot. (!!!!)
I was left to secure the building once more and miss some sleep again,
knowing there would be a next time.
THE AUCTIONEERS BATH
I'd held my Real Estate Agents Licence for over 15 years and decided
I would apply for an Auctioneers Licence. At the time we lived at
Eumundi and had the office at Pomona.
It was a condition I had to have a letter from a licensed Auctioneer
to say I had attended so many auctions under his control and have been
supervised by him, so I asked this well known licensed bloke who our
office had given business to in the past. He was unsympathetic and
less than helpful to say the least.
Another man - a little further afield - who I had been introduced to
and purchased cattle from in the past agreed to help me out. His
name was Alan Henderson ("Hendo") and though he was a stickler for the
rules of the licence application - I was greatly indebted to him - for
without his compassion for my predicament at the time, I would probably
have not got my Autioneers ticket.
To fulfill the demands of the application, I travelled to Gympie for
four cattle auctions and got up onto the catwalk with Hendo and his
partner Ian Petersen for the calling of the auction by Hendo.
I'd been to these auctions before and had noticed that Ian was never
on the same side of Hendo every week.............. but didn't think too
much more of it.
The first week I got onto the catwalk, Ian came up to me and directed
me to the other side of Hendo - and I thought there must be some good
reason and I'd ask him later. I didn't have to.
I was standing to the left of Hendo and Ian was to the right of him.
The wind was coming from my right and as Hendo worked his way to an
"auctioneers frenzy" - as he usually did - he would salivate heavily
and spray as he called.
When I looked at Ian I noticed he had a faint grin on his face and he
seemed reluctant to look at me! He seemed to maneuvre me every week
to downwind of Hendo, until the last week of my attendance, which was
a late afternoon sale. I worked out which way the wind usually blew
from and asked Ian could I stand on the "other" side so I could see
the auction from another perspective .....and amazingly he agreed!
I then thought what a great guy Ian was because it was obvious I
was trying to maneuver him now. I guessed it was probably because it
was my last auction with them and Ian was being a real good sport.
The evening came and true to his word Ian was on the other side where
he told me he would be...........unfortunately for me the wind was
coming from the opposite direction and I copped my usual "bath" again.
I realised that obviously there is some sought of pattern in the wind
at noon that tends to reverse later in the day that Ian knew and I
The only clue I was given was Ian had a faint grin on his face and
he seemed reluctant to look at me again during the whole auction!
MY LAST DISCO
One night in 1990 my daughter Melissa convinced us she should be
allowed to go to the "local" disco at Noosa Heads which was known
as "the Underground". Eleanor and I had given in to Melissa's
plea's to let her go, but we decided (also against our better
judgement) to accompany her and her boyfriend at the time (Michael)
because of her then tender age.
Actually I will probably always view her age as "tender."
With us was Michaels sister Caroline and our neighbour Jack's
Everything progressed along smoothly as we clung to anything handy
that prevented the loud music from blowing us from the room.
Melissa seemed to be enjoying herself, Michael looked quite at home,
I had a pleasant sip or two and got up and danced with my daughter
and my wife was as always, beaming with pleasure that her family
were enjoying themselves.
How a blissfully restful situation can come to an end in these places
was soon to be demonstrated.
There was a group of young guys in the club seemingly intent on having
a good time themselves without consideration for anyone else and one
of them just happened to have a run in with Melissa's friend Michael
on the dance floor. Michael demanded an apology from him and was
given short shift by the young lair. I made Mike promise me he would
ignore the guy inside the club and pointed out the bouncers would have
no mercy on anyone starting a fight in there.
Now I've got to say that Mike seemed admirable for his control inside
the club and this continued as he suggested we leave and go home.
So we left the club and headed outside to our car, which was in the
Noosa Fair parking area opposite.
What I didnt know was that Mike had planned our leaving to coincide
with the young lair, who was also leaving the premises at that time.
As we got to the opposite side of the street from the club, Michael
suddenly leaned into a car we were passing and grabbed the driver
asking did he get an apology now. Obviously this was not forthcoming
or to Michaels satisfaction......and it was on......Michael dragging
this guy across the seat and peppering him with blows in the process
......the lair screaming in terror....and a crowd quickly gathering
to egg the combatants on.
I was about five or six yards ahead with Eleanor and the others while
Mike and Melissa had brought up the rear. It all happened so quickly,
at first I wasn't aware where Mike and Melissa were. Melissa's screams
soon told me Mike was in it.
I pushed through the crowd and hauled Mike off this other bloke and
had a job restraining him up against another parked car. From the
corner of my eye I could see a group of five or six bouncers running
across the road toward us and I knew we were in for a hiding because
of my own experience many years before that bouncers hit first and
ask questions never. I had visions of Mike, me, the lair....and
anyone standing still too long anywhere near us suffering serious
pain and injury. The bouncers looked very "businesslike" and with
hurried intent, so there was no doubt what came next as far as they
I knew I had to think of something fast.....and it was no good trying
to talk sense to them because from my experience, most guys want to
be bouncers because they want to hurt someone.....and the more they
can do this the better their career prospects seem to them.
As they got to the back of the car I had pushed Mike up against, I
reached for my wallet and held it open at them and yelled "Licensing
......you guys have no jurisdiction out here......back inside and
mind your own business......this is under my control."
I dont pretend to know why I said that or why it seemed to work.
Was it the dull light that they couldn't see what I flashed to them....
was it my confident manner, my obvious age compared to who they
usually dealt with...was it the word "licensing" that authenticated
me to them.......I dont know. All I know is they sought of mumbled
"right" "OK" "sure".......and wheeled around and went back to the
I grabbed Mike and Melissa and Eleanor etc and threw them into the car
and took off. I dont think I took a breath till we got clear of the
Noosa CBD.........well, I felt that way at the time.
Later I gave Mike heaps for his loss of control and pointed out to
him that while he was satisfying his own ego, he had no thought for
the fact he had jeopardised all of our safety and had left my daughter
Melissa unprotected in the process.
I think he knew afterwards, but I had to impress on him that proper
control would have reminded him beforehand and saved a lot of trouble
I guess it was all a moment to remember for me because its in this
chapter isnt it?.
I'm not sure this qualifies in most peoples mind as anything special
...... I have not included a few conversations I had with other well
known people for fear of being labelled a name dropper. I relate
this for the interest I look back at it for.
While I was living at Noosa Heads in 1994, I did many things I had
not had the time to do or would have felt guilt in doing in the past.
One such habit I enjoyed was a random once a week 2 kilometre drive
into Hastings Street for an early morning breakfast at one of the
many cafes that provided this service. It was relaxing, delicious,
inexpensive and I usually ended up engaging in conversation with
someone or other - usually a tourist telling me how lucky I was to
live in Noosa. I needed this company..... and someone telling me I
was lucky around that time of my life was a bonus that I really tried
This particular morning I had arrived about half an hour early and
was sitting on a seat outside the cafe waiting for it to open.
I noticed this bloke in casual (touristy) clothes and sunglasses
moving slowly along the footpath looking a little lost, so I said
"you look lost mate". (Brilliant of me what!)
He smiled and nodded, then came over introduced himself as Barry and
he shook my hand - and sat along the seat from me. We got to talking
about him being from Brooklyn in the U.S., how he had not seen his
dad for many years and (me) I'm lucky because I speak to mine etc.......
We chatted on for a little while - he seemed a nice quiet intelligent
type of bloke as I asked him about America and he wanted to hear me
say things like "mate", "g'day" and "Melbourne". He told me he was
a "bar piano player" and in Noosa for a quick "battery charge" and
loved it.....and......you guessed it ......how he thought I was lucky
to live "right here in Noosa".
It must have been around fifteen minutes later that this other bloke
rolls up and says something like "dont press your luck" and
"breakfast is coming up". Barry (?) invited me to join him for breakfast
but I declined saying I always ate at this restaurant here.
I still didnt know who he was until he removed his glasses and shook
my hand again. He was from my era of music and I recognised him then.
He asked me had I known who he was before he sat down to talk to me
and I fibbed and said "yes....why?". He thanked me for a "straight
and open enjoyable chat" (?) and told me it was nice to find people he
could relax and talk with.
Well thats it. He went back to his hotel.........I went and had my
brekky, having a chat with a South African visitor there (who wouldn't
believe I was just "chatting" to Barry Manilow....and yep....told me I
was lucky to live in Noosa). I had a stroll along the beach boardwalk
.....then went home well satisfied with my morning out and more than
ever believing Noosa WAS a great place to live.
Of course there were many other occasions I could relate, but I
would end up with something the size of an encyclopaedia.
I cant imagine it (?) - but you could possibly be bored already !
©Ted Middleton 1999.