My 1977: Alexandra Road, Glebe

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In 1977-1978 I was seconded to the Faculty of Education at the University of Sydney, along with an old friend Richard Stratford. We were immediately responsible to Ken Watson, a name still well-known in English teaching circles.

The Ken Watson Address

To honour a remarkable educator, the ETA has named the keynote address of the annual conference for Ken Watson who has supported and inspired more than a generation of English teachers. The address focuses on an area of particular significance for the time and this collection of keynotes will provide a record of key concerns for the English teaching profession.

A colleague was the wonderful Roslyn Arnold.

Roslyn was an academic in the Faculty of Education and Social Work from 1974 until 2004 and was the recipient of a University of Sydney Teaching Excellence Award. She was subsequently Dean of Education, Head of School at the University of Tasmania and Professor of Strategic Partnerships.

I had the temporary rank of “Lecturer” (with parking privileges) and an office in the basement of Fisher Library, under that big stack on the right:

Fisher_Library,_University_of_Sydney

But it is where I lived that I wish to focus on now – Glebe Point, my first taste of inner city living. The house in Alexandra Road Glebe belonged to the sister of one of my Class of 1974 students at Illawarra Grammar, whose husband was captain of a patrol boat in the north. I was house-sitting, basically. But what a place!

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That’s the house in 2004, but little has changed. I was in the right-hand one next to the block of flats. Next door: Jorge Campano, a Spanish guitarist so good that when he practised I just turned off everything and listened. He is still at it. This is from 2012:

The family is in the business too these days.

‘What You’re Doing To Me’ is the new solo single from Cristian Campano, frontman of Sydney garage rock outfit Food Court.

With elements of emotive ’60s balladry, a soaring string arrangement and hypnotic Flamenco guitar, the track is a cathartic outpouring from the Sydney-based artist. After winning the Seed Fund songwriting competition ‘It’s All About The Song’, Cristian headed to Alberts Studios in Sydney where he teamed up with acclaimed producer Tony Buchen (The Preatures, Andy Bull, Montaigne, Bluejuice, The Church).

The song is a family affair, featuring Cristian’s Granada-born father Jorge Campano (an acclaimed Spanish classical/Flamenco guitarist) and his brother Adam Campano (Pretend Eye) on bass. Food Court’s Nic Puertolas played drums, while Buchen drafted in a local string quartet to bring his arrangements to life.

Over the road were a scientist, a doctor, and the man on the right in this cartoon:

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A 1932 cartoon depicting George Hele (left) and George Borwick, umpiring partners in the Bodyline series

This was in George Borwick’s house:

100th-Century-Ball

That’s the ball with which Donald Bradman scored his 100th Test Match century, now in the Bradman Museum.

At the conclusion of the innings the ball was souvenired by match umpire George Borwick. Bradman and Borwick knew one another well with Borwick having regularly umpired First Class and Test matches in which he played from the early 1930’s, including the infamous Bodyline series. At the end of the match, Borwick sought to present Bradman with the ball, but he refused, signing the ball instead and insisting that Borwick keep it.

George Borwick later had the ball mounted on a silver plate and bakelite trophy with the utilitarian inscription “Pres.by / Don Bradman / to / Geo. Borwick / 100th 100 / 1947”

George Borwick proudly kept it on his mantle piece in his Glebe home for many years on display. Later it passed on to his son and then his grandson David who recently brought it to the museum.

In giving the ball, David explained that he was seeking the best home for his grandfather’s prized possession. He had met Don Bradman through his grandfather as a child and spoke of the respect the two men had for one another.

He recalled Bradman, Lindsay Hassett and Keith Miller returning to the family home with George Borwick after an early conclusion to a Sydney Test match in 1969. While waiting for his grandmother to cook a meal of rabbit with white sauce and carrots, the four, together with young David, headed into the back garden for a game of cricket which progressed smoothly until Keith Miller drove the ball into Mrs Borwick’s prized roses!

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So I lived opposite George Borwick, the cricket umpire in Sydney back in the 1930s and heard a lot about that from him, and about life in Glebe going back forty or fifty years.

Neighbours on my side of the road were John and Nan Waterford and their family. John Waterford was a former prisoner in Changi and on the Burma Railway, with no hatred for the Japanese. He and his family opened my eyes to politics. I met famous Labor politician Peter Baldwin through them later on. Glebe politics has always been colourful.

I told something of John’s story in 2007.

When I lived in Glebe in the late 1970s one of my neighbours, very hospitable folk whom I came to know well, was John Waterford, father of the Canberra journalist Jack Waterford. He was a survivor of the Burma Railway and wrote up his experiences. Not only did John tell me about all this but I have also read his memoir Footprints.

Footprints by Pte. John Waterford (2/18 Bn)

A story of the experiences and philosophy of a young country lad, as he was, when he enlisted, who was lucky not to be in the firing line on those occasions, when his Unit had its two most important encounters with the Nips, in the Nithsdale and adjacent Joo Lye Estates at Mersing and on Singapore Island. As a P.O.W. was sent to Blakang Mati, but had need of hospitalisation for appendix operation, which sent him back to Roberts Barracks and therefore made him available for selection for “H” Force, when it went up on the “Railway”. A tribute to Father Marsden and Major Fagan.

He has been unlucky to have been stricken with multiple sclerosis. He turned his hand to writing as a type of a therapy, because of his physical handicap. His first effort was devoted to the research and writing of his Family History.

He was encouraged then by his brothers and sisters to write this book, “Footprints”. It is only a 54 page paper-back and the cost of printing it was met by the family.

John is long gone, but what I recall most is how little he hated the Japanese. Indeed, when I knew him one of his major points was his belief in the need for good relations with Japan, and China. The last chapter of his book is about that. He and his family were originally from out Coonamble way; they were also early champions of Aboriginal land rights and reconciliation and great supporters of the work of Fred Hollows. (I do get peeved when the Right appropriate all this tradition, forgetting even such elementary facts as the actual politics of Simpson: the Man with the Donkey at Gallipolli.) I notice John’s story is retold in Legacies of Our Fathers: World War II Prisoners of the Japanese – their Sons and Daughters Tell their Stories ed. C. Newman (2005).

Related: My latest very odd article published.

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