1970’s Flicks, Chicks and Chastened Chases

The rain is hosing down and I let the dog (“Mr Lee” – named after Bruce) in through the sliding door as I write this and he dashes in through and under the curtains like a bull through a matador’s cape.

Shades of Bruce in the Colosseum and elsewhere with his waving ‘Don’t do it’ finger like a metronome. A rhythmic wiper blade drag smudging a car windscreen. The snap of his head and it’s curtains for Chuck Norris in the Way of the Dragon (1972). No bulls were harmed in the making of that movie. But there was a lot of bull and a cat.

Chuck had fur back then, like duck down. Chuck fur. Possibly more fur than even Mr Lee.

Like a curtained Confessional, Bruce gently covered Chuck’s face after he’d broken his neck.

Hand-made curtains on the Bernette sewing machine

Growing up we boys were outfitted exclusively, not by The Gap but by my grandmother wildly stomping on the accelerator pedal of a Bernette sewing machine while gesticulating wildly with her tongue as she concentrated. A tongue that to us was as prominent as an orca at Sea World being fed.

She rode that Bernette pedal better than Steve McQueen did his Mustang’s accelerator in Bullitt (1968).

For the big night out, to impress the ladies I had a pair of striped half shorts and a yellow t-shirt hand-made by my grandmother with “Go49ers !” emblazoned in black felt sewn into the front so that I looked like a smudged banana.

Gran’s Bernette

Big Night Out

I was sure I was going to get a girlfriend that night – the night of my first real party, with actual girls and everything.

I went with my friend John who was well put together for the evening. He had the same faded belt, extra long with holes he’d added himself with a fork, holding up a double wrapped pair of over-sized trousers around his wiry teenage frame. He’d gotten the belt from his brother who worked in the tannery and it always reminded me of the stories he’d tell of the workers huddled together eating old meat.

Chuck-like he had a cowlick of chest hair poking out of an unbuttoned denim shirt. Short of a Stetson hat, he looked a lot like Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy (1969). I told him as much and he looked well pleased with the comparison.

His brother Steve had tagged along too. He was decked out in an oil blackened boiler suit from working on his car that wasn’t a Ford Mustang. More like a Hillman Imp. Short of the bowler hat he inadvertently had a Malcolm McDowell vibe going on from A Clockwork Orange (1971).

Actual Girls

She was at the Bar with a group of friends. Flicking and playing with their hair and glancing over their shoulders.

I had no idea that was female for “Hey Go-49ers ! Get your hand-sewn shirt over here and come talk to me !” No-one ever told me about the displays and ways of women. I still have no idea.

Her finger beckoned. I talked…and talked…and then talked some more.

After a while, she politely told me her name was Natalie, not Bernette. Through the booze I in-turn politely disagreed and that her name was in fact, Bernette.

I had gotten her name confused with Grandma’s sewing machine !

Surely you mean Bernette ? I said. Possibly spelt Burnette. At least I didn’t call her Brunette, because she was a brunette. A temporary slip of the memory. Perfectly understandable on her part.

That wasn’t a good move. Instantly her eyes were gone and she was lost to me.

I’d see that look of detachment replayed many times afterwards as a woman quickly lost interest. Curiosity replaced with disappointment. Like a Hitchcock body silhouette falling off a rooftop and spiraling away from my desperate, grasping clutches. Not quite Munch’s The Scream from a girl but close enough. You get the picture.

I combed down the back of my wiry mullet with the sweating palm of my hand and in a single diagonal, lurching, stumbling movement was at the Bar and ordered a drink. Like a dodgem just bounced off another dodgem. She was already talking to someone else.


Oh well. Women would have to wait.

Anyway, Damn this chase was so cool !


Grandma actually had a Bernina in the 1970s followed by her Bernette sewing machine. Which makes it worse as I must have been calling the actual girl, Bernina.

The advertising jingle for the machines back then was: Berninabernina so easy and so versatile.

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Fluff n’ Stuff

You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone !
The Twilight Zone T.V. Series (1959-1964)

Come with me if you will tonight on a journey into the Twilight Zone…

What if the discrepancy between the memory of a place you haven’t seen for a period of time and what you find isn’t down to your patchy recall but due to the failure of a manufactured reality to faithfully reproduce one hundred percent of that memory ? Like a wound healing leaves a scar where something is no longer able to be perfectly replicated (sometimes permanently), do gaps in time and place reveal a reality construct because the memory gaps don’t independently allow the environment to create what you should encounter ? It takes time for you to access that particular memory and for the environment to faithfully reproduce that but until that happens and it catches up what you encounter externally doesn’t quite add up.

Are time and place differences evidence of a reality construct in this world ?

Does your external physical environment inform what your reality should be ? Or, in reverse, is the reality first in your mind and only then drawn by the environment ?

Take a fixed forest setting. Twenty years have passed, the majority of which are without conscious recall of the events or order of trees I planted back then. There should be little or no prospect for change yet the planted landscape features don’t add up. Only three trees are the correct species planted and in their correct places. The large rambling rose I could never get rid of, gone completely and not due to a lack of light through canopy closure. I can’t explain the variance in species I planted and the mature trees that are now in their place in front of me.

So I leave with a patchy external environmental confirmation of reality.

Once time has elapsed and I’ve focused on finding the particular detail of that planting memory then the jumble is somewhat sifted into place and the next visit to the site better confirms my reality of past events. I see more that makes sense but not complete sense. More is revealed but discrepancies remain. The faded landscape plan of the plantings back then tucked between the fading pages of a gardening book independently confirms that.

So is the mind the driver and not the other way around – not the physical environment ? What I encounter externally doesn’t inform my reality. What my mind determines is instead then created by the environment ?

Anyway, kinda weird but that’s what I pondered last night.


Photo by Nikola Majksner from FreeImages

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Seven Years Old

I discretely check to see if my friend Joe made it through life. Despite everything, he had a family and career. I’m glad.

Joe, with Snow White blonde hair, was adopted. His parents were an elderly Dutch couple. The Dad was a bus driver. I went over to Joe’s house a few times and could feel the crackle and friction in the air. Something was amiss.

I used to coax him out of the bathroom at school for the teachers when he couldn’t deal with a particular day.

When we were very young Joe taught me how to tie my shoelaces. I’m eternally grateful.

Another memory I have is of getting into a fight with a boy four year’s older than me in Elementary school. Bloodied nose and ashamed I sat outside my classroom. Like Joe I guess. Not wanting to go inside as I’d be asked all sorts of questions and I felt embarrassed.

I should have walked home but Mum wasn’t there. I think she was going through a tough time.

They must have done a roll-call or else my teacher went looking for me. She told me to clean myself up and I washed away the blood from my face in the bathroom that I’d coaxed Joe from on that very same day. Swirling blood tinged water arched the basin sides. Gargling down the throat between the plug hole sides.

The humiliation of it all.

Once in class people eyed me over, up and down. My eyes never met theirs.

Strange thing was the girls were actually kind to me. That was nice.

I got home and Mum wasn’t there and I was dying to use the bathroom but the house was locked. I sat on the lawn on that hot summer’s day and waited for Mum.

In the end I shinnied up the toilet pipe and got through the unlocked window just ajar. I would make a good cat burglar I thought, if I was that way inclined.

What a day.


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Casio fx-82 and Mercurochrome Memories

Swirling thoughts spliced with a twist of memory have been trying to find a way out of my head today. Like a fat bottomed blow-fly bouncing off glass windows on a summer’s day.

Mercurochrome is not Finger Lickin’ Good.

So sayeth me as I look into a bottle of the stuff from 1982. The mercury has pulled away from the other gelatinous goo in the red, hazy bottle. Like a swirling lava lamp I roll it between my fingers.

1982 was the year of my fx-82 Casio calculator that my hoarding Mum has also retrieved from some dark corner of the family home to show me. Like a cat with a bird she leaves it at my feet. The fx-82 has an old bit of gaffing tape to keep the batteries from falling out. The plastic backing bit lost with the passage of time.

Those clunky plastic keys of hopes and dreams still work.

“It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!” I say. The monster lives. I switch it on and a zero appears.

Mercurochrome that external elixir of life almost cut me down in my prime. Or so it seemed to me as Mum and I sit quietly examining the exhibits in her front sun-room as though we were in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

I remember further back in time before 1982 when I was a young kid licking my fingers in expectation of eating fried chicken with newly Mercurochrome, domed, painted finger tips having applied it to a bad graze on my arm. Then feeling dizzy and putting it together in my brain working out that I had accidentally poisoned myself.

Probably not the case but I put the dizziness down to it. Then guzzling down gallons of water from the school drinking fountains to dilute the stuff. I hadn’t eaten anything that day and I was probably dizzy through being hungry. I can’t remember what happened to the fried chicken.

I still remember that swollen belly full of water and nothing else. That and the time they had to scan my bladder so I had to drink a swimming pool of water beforehand and try not to burst while they prodded.

Ah Memories. ‘M in’ ‘MR’

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Free-range vs. Battery-farmed Manneq”hens”

While shopping, my daughter and I o“pine”d the little-known plight of the shopfront mannequin. We did some “Navel-Gazing” about glazing gazing.

You can’t tell me these wretched woodland creatures are happy ?

Their wooden dead-pan expressionless eyes like does in the headlights beneath strong overhead shop strobe lighting.

Confined to a shopfront floor-space mandated by industry that’s less than the size of a piece of paper. Subjected by society at large to put-downs like “Window Dressing” or “Dummy”.

When was the last time you heard somebody say “Yummy Mummy Dummies” ? My guess is never.

Their complexions are invariably pallid, deformed limbs common.

“Batteries” deformed limbs

Yet unlike the ancient Chinese custom of bound feet, Society hasn’t moved with the times and put an end to this inhumane practice of dummy dysmorphic servitude.

Contrast the “Batteries” in the photos below, with the Bohemian ‘Rhapsody’ troupe of free-range, off-grid, active and social beings I observed at my local thrift shop where they have the virtual run of the place.














“Free-range Bohemian”

“Free-range Bohemian”









“Free-range Bohemian”

There’s colour in their cheeks and a doe-like sparkle of wonderment in their eyes. Splayed limbs and vigour has replaced rigor.

Do my eyes deceive me or can I detect follicle growth amidst the downright frisky ?


Cue to a hyperlink ode to the Mighty “Manne”- Quinn.

But then how free is too free ? When peace and love goes all Manson on you and gets kind of screwy.

Cue to a hyperlink of my favourite Doctor Who episode – Spearhead From Space.

Please note: This scared the shit out of me as a kid.

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The First [Short] Cut is the Deepest

As kids we used to short cut symptomatic of our sense of freedom. To get home from school, we thought nothing of unabashedly striding across someone else’s lawn and jumping their fence to save a bit of time. We steeple chased or gymnastically vaulted picket and paling fences. Pushing off one arm and then the other as we made our way home diagonally rather than wending our way around the square shaped, geometrically aligned and bylaw approved, street corner. We followed the letter of the law if the letter of the law was a forward slash – “/”. Not the “Return key” – “↵”.

In those days and in yet another country, we were living close to a School for the Deaf. I remember it was a live in, dormitory type of arrangement and I used to short cut across their icy field to get to school. There was always that smell from their oven. A fried, institutional, bulky, heavy smell that hung like a lard wall in the cold crisp air that greeted me in the mornings during their breakfast time. Funny how some things smell nice close up but an extractor fan and a few meters away and they smell like crap.

All was good with my world until one day the School Principal of said school rushed out of his office Benny Hill chase scene complete with the theme, and ran after me yelling that he was the “Headmaster” and therefore I needed to “Piss Off ! This is school property. Go away !”

A bit rough I remember thinking at the time. I was only a Primer 7 or 8 year old (Elementary School) and I would have to go the long way around the block – about another half an hour I calculated, in between him gesticulating and swearing at me. I’d been reading and enjoying one of The Adventures of Tintin the night before and at that particular moment in one of my more random thoughts he reminded me of Captain Haddock.

Bugger that I thought.

Am I not the deserving poor ? I remember thinking while he was yelling.

My hearing isn’t so good at times walking across the field with the cold wind in my ears. Besides I didn’t cause any trouble. All I left behind was crimped icy grass footprints. Given the lack of smudged icy grass I must have been the only short cutter across his school field.

Not PC now but because we were embedded in classes with deaf children, I had sign language down pat and through speech and gestures launched into a routine that managed to convince the Principal that I was a lodger at his deaf school.

Why he couldn’t sign I have no idea but he wasn’t deaf. Without the ability to playback and self check, deaf children’s speech was usually a bit off but his swearing was intonation perfect. Like tapping a crystal wine glass.

Deaf children were integrated in with us at our Elementary School and we played sports together. But I often thought how much harder it must be to be deaf than blind. We just couldn’t communicate whereas if someone was blind we could have conversed. The deaf children were sequestered away in their own groups which was a shame as we never really got to know them.

Afterwards I always gave the Principal of the School for the Deaf a happy wave and he gave me a happy wave back as I short cut across his school field. All good mates now. Thinking about it now, as one of the pupils he was probably a bit worried I’d tell my parents what he’d said to me assuming I could have lip-read it. He needn’t have worried as I didn’t understand half of it and my brothers and I were coached by some of the finest young swearers in the business.

As my mother was wont to remind us, “Antony D. ruined you lot.”

Antony D. had to be cut from an old fridge that lay upturned on his overgrown front lawn by the Fire Service. In those days fridges didn’t open from the inside. Not sure the mums watching down the end of the cul-de-sac with us kids to see if he made it out alive were that keen to see him emerge still breathing. His front lawn housed a collection of abandoned old upturned cars and whiteware with long grass comb over. Last I heard he’d joined the French Foreign Legion.

Just to keep the Tintin, French theme going.

Anyway, the Principal of the School for the Deaf was so friendly now that I actually went in for breakfast one morning and got away with it. Jesus I had some cheek !

I sat down and had fried eggs with toast.

The deaf school lodgers went home on weekends and school holidays so there was a bit of a turnover and maybe the seated kids thought I was a friend come to stay / brother / relative. God only knows ?  But somehow I got away with it. I only did it once though as I thought about it and although I was hungry, I felt it was wrong.

Later my uncle became one of the caretakers of the School for the Deaf for a stint and we had the key to the gymnasium on weekends and school holiday’s when they’d all gone home.

We played basketball from sunup to sundown.

These spent 1970’s hearing aid batteries were like spent uranium rod / shell casings littering every nook and cranny of our Elementary School. I guess they weren’t recyclable in those days.


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Toil and Graft

My workplace is a Dickensian dystopia in an old building deep in the dirty bowels of the old part of the City. I step over vomit most mornings. Our recessed deep doorway is ideal for hurling if you had a few too many overnight. The hairdresser washes it away with a bucket of hot soapy water by morning tea time.

Wet toilet paper blocks the smoke alarm in the pokey downstairs / lobby toilet so the girls from the retail store on their breaks can have a smoke without setting it off. Next floor up is the Spa Massage Wellness Clinic or the “Rub and Tug” as we call it. Then the smell of nail polish from the hair salon below me that wafts through the entire building. Nauseating. 

I see a gull devouring a dead pigeon through the double-hung broken window in the men’s toilets that face the long-faced wall of the building next door that is unbroken by smiling window openings. Bits of pigeon crap and feathers coat the window ledges where they roost in a precarious existence leaning in hard against the prevailing wind and horizontal sleet. Chicks not fully formed or feathered lie abandoned on the ledge. Poor little buggers I think. I can’t see too far down if I look out but in that abyss there must be a pigeon graveyard of gigantic proportions.

I’ve worked in a few offices in my long and illustrious career.

My daughter asks me exactly what I do, but the simple fact is, I haven’t a clue. It matters not a jot despite all the toil and sweat. Legal stuff I tell her. The Law. The words vertically proportioned.

What then have been the highlights of the various Sick Building and Stockholm syndrome neurotic, musty carpeted, cesspits I’ve toiled away at over the years ? Better still, who are some of the characters I remember who nodded off from time to time at their desks and now dwell in the eternal Land of Nod ?

First up was “Phil” [Not his real name of course, nor the others below]. Also known as “Phil ‘er Up” The Bowser or “Sticky Phil” (Sticky Film). Phil stair climbed and pissed on the front office doors of opposing counsel on multiple floored buildings while simultaneously and nonchalantly talking on his cellphone and exchanging high brow legalese and pleasantries with his clients. Some sort of fetish.

Apparently he’d calmly descend the stairs once the dirty deed was done and was rarely confronted. If he was his excuse was a botched prostate operation that had left him “Severely incontinent”. I’m thinking more of a “Dam Buster” than a dribble. His undoing was the frequency with which he answered his Call of Nature and an insatiable adrenaline rush of excitement from his foul deeds that led to him chancing his luck over and over again. Until his luck ran out and he was nabbed – “The Phantom Pisser” unmasked. Unplugged / Plugged. Drained and Run dry.

Come to think of it, I don’t think Phil was averse to the odd wayward spray in our lift judging by the smell in it at times.

“Bazza” (Barry) was a barrister who worked above me and had the habit of throwing heavy objects around like chairs, desks, monitors, computers when he lost a case, which was quite frequently by the way. At times it sounded like a Grand Piano was being flung around his pokey little office above my head. Barry was so good at throwing objects around, he decided to throw himself out the window one day and landed at the feet of a client below.

Bazza was an unofficial bookmaker and heavy gambler on the Gee-Gees who regularly posted the results of the various track meetings that had been run on the front door of his office. After one big race meet where he lost big-time, he posted his name with the words, “Also ran” beside it. He hid out for a quite a while but eventually returned only to fall out the window while rounding the first corner of the Grand National steeplechase.

“Jock” was a stamp collector who specialized in stamps of the Commonwealth. He believed in fortifying his immune system by rubbing his lunch and other food on the floor (the place that got the most germs) before eating it. This was our office deep, pile carpet that hopefully hadn’t been watered by Phil to make the deep, piles grow faster. Although maybe that would have helped old Jock.

He’d forever be wiping his sandwiches over the floor. Meticulously first one side, then the other.

Jock also had the strange habit that whenever it rained, he’d suddenly  lurch himself bolt upright out of his chair and fists clenched with head held aloft to the heavens, would yell out the words, “Send her down Harry ! Send her down you Bastard !”

What the Hell that ever had to do with anything, we never quite worked out.

Jock was detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. Sectioned and never got out. A mutual friend installing a sound system in the asylum – and that’s what it was, was shocked to see him warming his pecker on a radiator on a cold winter’s afternoon.

Poor old Jock.


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My Black and White TV

When I was 11 I scored a Black and White TV.

My sports team fundraised by collecting old 750 ml beer bottles for recycling – a “Bottle Drive” – every Saturday morning in the inner city for a year so that we could compete in another part of the country for a big tournament.

The Saturday mornings had the air of a firework that had gone off a bit earlier. A musky, gunpowder smell hint of the night before that hung in the air. The violence of the Friday night now be stilled. Replaced with the washed out, unwashed, beaten up and hungover. There were a lot of social problems we kids saw first-hand on those early mornings. Men and women bloodied, glassy-eyed stares. There was a brutal honesty about it. No time to put on makeup. Wet washing on lines and sullied Selzered humanity.

One fateful Saturday we came to one place and after knocking and running through the usual patter and asking the man who angrily answered the door if he had any bottles we could have for fundraising, he told us to, “Fuck Off ! Do You Think I’m an Alcoholic !” and got right up into my face. My team-mate legged it but I was cornered and couldn’t move.

I felt like saying, “No. But if you were, that would help with our fundraising.”

But as I looked a bit closer, he had a lopsided stretched woollen jumper hanging longer than the other arm, no pants, and smelt of piss. I think he’s a probable pass on that score I remember thinking to myself.

But I tactfully answered, “Sorry Mister, no offence intended. We’re just trying to fly on a Big ol’ jet airliner.” Why I said that I had no idea but I think I got it from the Steve Miller Band song. The answer threw him a bit and it was then that I noticed a Black and White TV with the squiggly aerial dumped, upended outside on his porch. He saw that I’d seen it and said, “You can have that if it’s of any use to you. It works.” Then he comes on all hoity-toity and says, “I’ve just got a colour TV.” With that tilted head and a bit of a flourish he went back inside and semi-slammed the door behind him.

WOW ! I thought but if I tell my parents they’ll say no and there’s no way they’ll want me going back to this guy’s place to pick it up. So I stayed shtum. However the next morning I got to it. I headed off with my trolley I’d made from a beer crate, a plank of wood, wheels and a bit of rope for steering to transport it. The trolley was a bit of a story in itself. A local response to the soapbox derby’s we saw on TV in America.

Somehow and I have no idea how, I managed to get the thing home. I walked alongside the Highway for part of the way with this incredibly heavy TV that weighed a ton sitting sideways atop the beer crate seat of my trolley. I remember a car slowing down, winding down the window, and asking me if I was, “Running away from home are we ?” Then laughing and accelerating away.

When I got home I told my parents I found it dumped which was ‘semi-true’ and wedged this huge weight of a thing between the wall and atop the narrow bookshelf that sat in my room.

And for the love of God, it WORKED ! HALLELUJAH !

Thereafter my TV gave me immense enjoyment probably until sometime after the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. I remember the jet pack in black and white.

I loved the American programmes like M*A*S*H, WKRP in Cincinnati, Alice’s Flo with “Dingy” and Barney Miller. Abe Vigoda was great and even had a spin-off show of his own – Fish. He had a long life and reports of his death were greatly exaggerated. He was regularly reported as having died in the newspapers. Abe’s probably still alive today for all I know ! [Postscript: Abe died in 2016].

The Latino / Hispanic culture was booming out from America in the 1970s to the rest of the world even in programmes like Sesame Street with Maria. Welcome Back Kotter and Chico and the Man spring to mind with the beautiful theme featuring the talent of José  Feliciano. So cool.

I distinctly remember one Sunday reading in the newspaper that Freddie Prinze (1954-1977) (Chico) had committed suicide. It was the first time that I had dealt with the adult concept of suicide and I felt so shocked and sad that this wonderful man should feel compelled to end his life. My mum cried.

Bliss though for me and my Black and White TV was Doctor Who with Jon Pertwee.

Jon was my favourite Doctor, followed by Tom Baker. I’d buy four Mars chocolate bars with all of my pocket money on a Friday after school in the summer and eat them all in one sitting of the show. I so much wanted to be a semi-regular in Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart’s UNIT (Unified Intelligence Taskforce) that mopped up after the Doctor and fought it out with the bad Silurians, Ogrons, Sontaran or whatever alien happened to be threatening the earth that particular week. More of a semi-regular though than a random in UNIT as the randoms invariably died gruesome deaths at the hands of the aliens and pretty early on in the piece too.

Ah sheer bliss was my Black and White TV…







This is our family Black & White TV on Christmas Day 1969

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Wonka’s Golden Ticket

It’s hard to recall your happiest childhood memory. Childhood is being left further and further behind me as I stare down the barrel of popping my mortal clogs.

Fortunately there were a lot of happy childhood memories. I can’t say that I had one that stood out more than the rest, more of a (T.V.) series of them.

The earliest one I can recall was from Kindergarten, when aged about 5 I’d observed that on your birthday you were given a large intensely, brightly-coloured cake that most definitely piqued my fancy. Brightly coloured as all the late 1960’s-70’s psychedelically coloured rooms, clothes, T.V. and movies seemed to be around that time.

I couldn’t wait for my birthday but when it rolled around after time dragging the more I thought about it (as it invariably does), I was bitterly disappointed to find that it was made of Play-Doh.

I’d assumed that the cake we were served up to eat at other kid’s Kindergarten birthday parties and the vividly coloured obelisk that sat in the centre of the table with candles ablaze were one and the same. They weren’t. My happiness was intense but fleeting and illusory. I even took a big chunk of it into the locker room and tried really hard to swallow it but there was just nothing there that gave me the will to chew and swallow. It wasn’t like I was asking for much. Just some small spark of hope that there was something infinitely small but pleasurable from getting it down my gob. But there wasn’t. So there was no cake on that fateful day. Mum hadn’t made me one to take into Kindy as I’d assured her that we were going to be given a “Huge One” on the day. Sigh.

Why they put so much effort into a Play-Doh cake and not into making a real one was beyond me even at that young age. It made no sense I remember thinking. I guess it had to do with health and safety reasons, food allergies and those sorts of things. Although I can’t recall food allergies back then, just the occasional bee sting allergic reaction.

Another childhood memory was in reverse from that one in that it started a bit dodgy but had a happy ending.

My brothers and I had just finished a stint of Kung Fu Fighting inside the house.

Back then in the early 70s, Bruce Lee was the man and “Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting”. Caine (David Carradine), the peace-loving Shaolin monk, was on T.V. in Kung Fu the series. There was the Kentucky Fried Movie Kung Fu spoof. Cato Fong, Inspector Clouseau’s Chinese manservant from the Pink Panther film series. Also I had a really good friend from school called Eddie from Hong Kong.

Chinoiserie was the flavour of the times.

After my brothers had taken their rough medicine from me, Enter the Dragon style, and yielded before my mighty strength, I’d wondered later on during the course of the day about scenes I’d seen of Bruce kicking where his foot would twist to seemingly right angles in between someone’s crotch and also just his sheer power at being able to go through a wall with a kick. So because T.V. reality and reality were one in the same to me at that age, I decided to kick the wall Bruce style not expecting my foot to actually go through it – but it actually did !

Bloody hell I thought, my parents are going to kill me !

But I thought fast on my feet, martial arts are about improvisation I surmised, and I found an old magazine that I put down on the floor just as my mum rounded the corner to see what the hell the bang was. I then sheepishly looked and acted as though I’d gotten myself up off the floor. “What the Hell’s happened!” she said. “Mum”, I answered. “I’m really sorry but I’ve slipped on this magazine while going too fast down the hall and put my elbow through the wall…I’m really sorry.” She didn’t look too impressed but my acting was good and she bought it.

Phew, I got away with that and learnt about consequences I remember thinking.

A couple of weeks later with the hole in the wall still there (in fact it was never fixed), my brother saw something on T.V. about time capsules in walls and an idea was born.

Soon he had written a long note about his life that he read aloud to us. It was for a school project he said – “An experiment”. He was keen on adding some biological material, a “human cellular sample” to the note like blood. However he decided instead (and this was typical of my brother, and the reason we never ate any of his food. He who had a poster on his wall next to his bed that he put his nose pickings on and graded from small – big before he went to sleep at night) that he didn’t like the idea of pricking himself for blood, so went for a hunk of snot instead that he drew ball point pen around with arrows pointing to it having affixed it to the note.

In those days science hadn’t miniaturised like it is now, or else he would have added a strand of hair or something like that I guess. Somehow he also got mum and dad in on the act having seen an old banknote on the time capsule story on T.V. and roped them into giving him a $2 note to put in with his capsule. How he wrangled that much money out of them we couldn’t work out, but he may have played on it being educational – which is always a good ploy.

Anyway in it went into the wall and nothing happened for a few weeks. But I’d been thinking about this $2 note in there. I’d also been watching T.V. and a story about a stash of old Roman coins being dug up in Britain. Metal lasts longer than paper I thought. So it made more sense for me to put a 5 cent piece I had in there and get the $2 out. It didn’t harm and in fact furthered the chances of the scientific experiment succeeding. A noble thing to do.

But how to get it out?

I spent a good day, making an improvised World War 1 trench periscope to look into the darkened narrow hole using a flashlight to illuminate the cavity and also fashioned (half-snapped through sawing and taping it up for strength) an old rim gouged drum-stick of my dad’s onto something else so that I had length and angularity to stick down the hole. Then I started saving my wads of chewing gum & on the day of the op I chewed it all up so it was as sticky as I could get it and wrapped it around the broken drum stick concoction. I waited until my brothers went out to some friends having encouraged them to leave in a non-descript way and then got to work.

It took ages but I got it all out, including the note with my brother’s dried snot that I then put back down into the hole having exchanged the $2 note for a 5 cent coin.

I then went down to the corner dairy to buy chocolate with the $2. I saw big King Size bars that I could have had all for myself but my developing conscience part of my brain, dormant for so long began to whirr into life, so I bought 3 smaller bars of chocolate for we three boys.

When my brothers got home, they were thrilled when I gave them a chocolate bar each. Found some money I said between a crack (“hole”) in the pavement.

Eating chocolate with ill-gotten gains with my brothers while none were the wiser was one of the memorable moments of my childhood.





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Corporal Punishment and the Lance corporal Who Lived Behind Us

My brothers and I liked to push the boundaries.

I well remember our chain-smoking suburban mum and neighbour Mrs Johnson, whose husband a cook did a runner with some sweeter ingredient – can’t say we blamed him, telling her brow-beaten son Jeffery (pronounced as “Jeff-errr-reee”), to leave fumbling around with their garden hose and just let our garage burn down.

The garage was on the boundary of both of our properties. This was after my brother playing with matches accidentally? set fire to the hefty pile of newspapers from his part-time job that he’d dump down the back of our garage rather than delivering.

“Let it burn Jeff-errr-reee, let the whole goddam place burn down” she said emotionless and expressionless with her emphysema-like ‘kicking a can down the road’ rattle-chest drawl, while drawing away on a ciggy that was permanently stuck in a long plastic cigarette holder that she flourished. That together with a permanent hairnet that seemed to have melded with her scalp was the image I have of her. I guess she liked burning things.

Somehow we put that one out ourselves, before Mum & Dad got home.

Speaking of down the back of the property, the other neighbour immediately behind us was an Australian back from Vietnam and somehow we’d gotten into his garage courtesy of an invite from his son, so that we could examine his various militaria collection, ammunition belts, canteens, guns etc. Irresistable to young boys. Anyway, he suddenly burst in on us and chased us out brandishing a World War 2 bayonet from his collection and we’d leapt / rough scrambled over the 2 metre back fence that was behind the garage with this mad fucker after us. We ended up hiding statue-like in disparate neighbour’s properties under steps, in the gardens etc. while he hunted around shaking his fists, calling, shouting and looking for us before finally giving up and going home to give his poor old son a walloping. I think he’d been on a bender with the turps. The wife was nowhere to be seen. Not sure what the whole family dynamic thing going on there was, but I’d hazard a guess that it was an emo-hazard.

Anyway, when we did get found out for our various misdemeanours (rather than felonies I like to think), the immediate reaction in those days for discipline with kids was to give them a whack.

We had two options punishment-wise.

The first was with Mum, who if we were in trouble would brandish and then use a wooden spoon against our butts. But dear old Mum being Mum, could never bear to actually hurt us – so the thing was about as heavy as balsa wood and she would more tap our behinds than take a good swing at it. Of course, we’d plead with her “for the love of God and sweet Jesus too and all that is holy, good and pure in the world. AMEN !” to be spared the horrendous pain of that wooden spoon, knowing that if we played up with crocodile tears and the works we’d avoid the other much more serious option that was my Dad and his drum sticks from Hell. We’d feign lameness with Mum and drag ourselves pitifully across the length of the hallway for effect to our bedroom in order to lie down and “let the healing process begin.” Poor old Mum, she always looked terribly upset and the hamming it up overacting had an added bonus that remorseful, she’d often appear later on with a plate of ice-cream and peaches for us.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Dad joined a band as a drummer with the drawback being that he developed a penchant for using drum sticks on the backs of our legs for discipline purposes. He’d started with the lighter 7A jazz drumsticks for his Ginger Baker (of Cream, lighter more reflective period) and that wasn’t too bad but then he got into the heavier rock ones, the John Bonham’s I think of them as now, and they hurt like hell. We’re talking big welts.

He’d make us turn with our backs to him, while we jumped or crumpled forwards at our knees, trying to anticipate the blows and in doing so lessen their directness and effectiveness so they didn’t hit straight on. Then just as we turned over our shoulders, unsure at what was happening, he’d strike and then the whole thing would be repeated for the dozen or so whacks he figured we deserved for whatever mortal sin we’d committed.

He was like a stumbling, crazed cymbal-crashing toy monkey on autopilot – to use a drumming motif with the cymbals, as is the fact that Micky Dolenz was the drummer with the Monkees. He just kept hitting, and the stumbling came about when he’d take a flying leap in order to ensure he connected with us when we managed a decent squirm sideways. Cold fish eyed, he had some sort of bulls eye in his mind which was the inside centre part of our calves.

Anyway, my brothers and I now give my Dad ‘stick’ for that. He honestly looks surprised and tells us “Aw you’re kidding me” when we explain to him just how violent he was.

To be honest though, we do take the opportunity to ham it up with him like we did with Mum.

Kids have the advantage of being able to play the long game…












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