Blogging the 2010s — 10 — January 2017 again

Sic transit: Lee from the Albury; TIGS ex-student

The previous post reprising January 2001 mentioned the Albury Hotel. It was a hub for our group in those days, in my case from around the mid-80s through the time it finally passed into history. See More “Neil’s Decades” – 11: 1986 – 2001 at The Albury.

As I said in 2012 in Priscillas I have known: “Oh yes: The Albury – where I met M in 1990 and Sirdan and chatted with the former Premier of South Australia, Don Dunstan – and The Unicorn, and all that 1980s-early 1990s scene.” There are some vids there.


Is it that long ago?

31 Oct 2007

The Empress has sent an edict:

Lest We Forget

31 October 2001


See also mais où est l’Albury d’antan?

Last night I confessed on Facebook:

Instead of watching what I intended on ABC2 I have found myself deep in memories thanks to Bruce Part’s photos of The Albury Hotel. This is a rendition of one of those photos.

And someone comments on Bruce’s album:

Such an beautiful original old pub destroyed! I was saddened when I finally moved to Syd and it was gone. I met a lovely guy there on my first visit around 1996 and didn’t leave empty handed….a big deal for a country boy!!!

“Such an beautiful original old pub destroyed!” indeed. I hope Bruce finds a few more to share in that “boot box full of photo memories.”

I have cropped a couple and given them the art makeover treatment.

FotoSketcher - 16042_232492893548533_882882010_n

And a face and smile we all got to treasure in those days: barman Lee Bowman. But much more than just a barman at The Albury: see also this 2010 post. A little while ago Sirdan, now in Queensland, rang me to tell me that Lee had passed away. Today he rang again, having discovered the details. Many a conversation did we all have over the years.

YOU only had to look at how many Bondi clubbies turned up at the hospital in Lee Bowman’s dying hours to realise his popularity.

The 59-year-old was rushed to St Vincent’s Hospital on New Year’s Day after he collapsed on Bondi Beach from a stroke, just hours after winning a club swim race.

Two days later, Mr Bowman was given only hours to live.

More than 50 people gathered by his bedside to say goodbye, some still with sand between their toes.

A nurse was so impressed by the clubbies’ solidarity, she penned them a letter to say she would never forget the day.

“Never in my 15 years of nursing have I ever seen such an amazing group of friends,” she wrote.

“This speaks volume of Lee. He must have been such an amazing man.”

Mr Bowman died late on January 3 but Jacob Waks, president of the Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club, said he would never be forgotten.

“He was part of the furniture down at the beach,” Mr Waks said.

“If someone walked past the club, they would see him either sitting outside the club or in the club gym.”…

“He never complained,” Mr Waks said.

“He was one of those people who made everyone feel special. He’d always be there for you.”

Long-term friend Michelle Rogers from the Royal Motor Yacht Club of NSW, where Mr Bowman used to work, said he had a rough beginning in England.

“He kind of grew up on the street until a kind man brought him to Australia in 1977,” she said.

“But whatever happened to him in life, he always showed integrity and humour.”

A service in celebration of Lee Bowman’s life will be held at Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club at 3pm on Sunday 22nd January.


Surf lifesavers paddle out for Lee Bowman.


Here in Wollongong I was informed by an ex-student I taught in 1971-1974 that one of his classmates (Class of 1975) passed away in the last few days. In October 2016 there had been bad news via Facebook:

Hi Neil I have some sad news. GL has been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. He is currently at home being looked after by his mother and, thankfully is pain free. G and I have grown very close in recent years spending time together each Friday at Wollongong markets. He has seemingly a constant stream of visitors representing his many networks of friends and that is a testimony to what a steadfast, reliable and generous friend he is. He is in good spirits and is prepared for what is to come refusing surgery and chemotherapy. Sorry to be the bearer of such unhappy news….

And then last Tuesday:

Hi Neil…..sadly G passed away this afternoon.

In fact G was the first of my ex-students that I met when I returned to Wollongong in 2010, and I had seen him quite often in the years since. And his amazing mother from time to time.

Until the official announcements appear I am suppressing names, but will add a copy of the relevant notice when it is available.



Passed away surrounded by loving family on January 10, 2017. Dearly loved son of Sandria and Robert (dec). Loving brother of Rodney, Karen and uncle to Sam. Gerry will be sadly missed by his loving family and many, many dear friends. Aged 59 Years. A true gentleman and exceptional person who will be forever in our hearts. At Gerry’s request no service will be held.

Blogging the 2010s — 9 — March 2010

This one’s out of sequence, but I happened a few days ago to be talking to someone at City Diggers, while watching the start of the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race, about the time I went to Watson’s Bay by water taxi. So here is the replay!

Guess who and where?


Water taxi to Watson’s Bay 1 – the Opera House

Photography from a leaping water taxi is a challenge.



As we hit the stretch towards the Heads and Watson’s Bay the chop grew higher and so did our leaps…




So do forgive if the horizon tilts a bit…


Some thoughts from 15 years ago

December 2004!

Christmas Day: later: A surprise visit from M with gifts. 🙂 Also a letter had arrived here from his older sister in Shanghai, the gist: thanking him for reuniting his family during his visit earlier in the year… Very apt for the season…

As was the Queen’s Christmas Message, I thought. I still have considerable regard for that old girl. Can’t link to it yet as it is still under embargo, it only being morning in London: but we have heard it here is Sydney half an hour ago. It sent a strong message on pluralism and tolerance.

Christmas Day 2004: My dinner companion last night tells me he has now had AIDS – not HIV but AIDS – for nine years. He is just out of hospital, again, having had a sojourn there since I last saw him two weeks ago. He looks well, considering, and his spirits are as ever amazingly good. We talk of many things, such as the “political correctness”, which he opposes, that makes some paranoid about Christmas. I too don’t accept we should be too namby pamby with all this “Happy Holiday” stuff: so far as Christmas symbolises peace on earth and goodwill to all men (I don’t mind the odd bit of so-called sexist langage either) I am all for it.

“After all,” my friend says, “Australia is a Christian country.”

“No it’s not,” I reply. “It is I hope a secular country. Of course George Pell and Fred Nile would like it to be a Christian country, but it isn’t.”

But of course it owes a lot to the Christian tradition. Really, the best we can do is cherry-pick the decent parts of all religions and live and let live, don’t you think? I find the God of so many in this world seems merely a cosmic extension on an earthly tyrant, prone to jealous rages, psychopathic attacks, and given apparently to punishing thought-crimes, or failure to accept the party line, with eternal flames in Hell. Or so your very traditional Christian or your full-on Muslim believer would have it. Jews seem much less fond of Hell. Perhaps they know deep down, after their historical experience, that Hell is here on earth and in the dark hearts of human beings. Especially of True Believers….

16 December 2004: Started the day at The Mine, where I am again, having been to and from Bondi Junction by train for X-Ray, which the dentist now has. New appointment next week.

Interesting quote from the Salt Mine’s internal site: “Dr Andrew Refshauge, Minister for Education and Training, visited the school yesterday. He made a press statement about the performance of New South Wales students in an international study on performance in Mathematics and Science. Apparently New South Wales performed second only to Singapore in the study. Australia as a whole was further down the list. Other breaking news (unauthorised access to HSC results) meant that the statement did not receive any coverage in the news last night. There were some shots shown from here: glimpses from a Year 11 Physics class and questions relating to bullying and Clover Moore’s approval of an upbeat National Anthem. “….

15 December 2004 – later: Bad news. I should have known, as a pretty good omen was that amid much sparks and smoke a power line fell down in Kippax Street right outside the dentist’s just as I arrived!

So, I have an abscess, it seems, but I think I knew that, and I must continue with the antibiotics and get a full mouth X-Ray in Bondi Junction. Then I will very likely lose two teeth. Eventually this will probably mean a partial denture. Other options are just two troublesome and expensive.

I feel God made a mistake in the dentition department….

“Left alone, abscesses can become quite serious. In the days before antibiotics and modern surgery, dental abscess was a common cause of death…”

“If you thought that dentists have only been inflicting pain recently, think again. New research has just shown that prehistoric dentists may have been using stone drills to treat tooth decay up to 9,000 years ago. Excavations at a site in Pakistan have unearthed skulls containing teeth dotted with tiny, perfectly round holes. Under an electron microscope, archeologists found a pattern of concentric grooves that were almost certainly formed by the circular motion of a drill with a stone bit. The scientists from the University of Missouri-Columbian suggest that such findings point to a stone-age knowledge of health and cavities and medicine. The holes, when drilled, would then probably have been filled with some sort of medicinal herb to treat tooth decay, something that has long since disappeared…”

15 December 2004: The good news first: my tooth problem (or rather teeth problems) calmed down during the day so that I was able to enjoy Yum Cha, including mango pudding, with M and a gathering of friends at the Golden Harbour. It is noticeable that having someone present who can request particular dishes in Mandarin does make a difference.

I then went to the Mine where I did a bit of work, after which there were farewell drinks at Fox Studios for Jenni, the Head Teacher Welfare, my immediate boss, and for a member of the Science Department. I had just one light beer.

The bad news: the teeth acted up overnight and I face the dentist later on today 😦…


12 December 2004: Lord Malcolm’s Christmas Picnic in the beautiful Sydney Botanical Gardens went well. I even spoke to the Empress and he even replied. Sirdan was missing, rumoured to be in Newcastle. Me – I have come home early with a hideous toothache (began yesterday) and a possible thunder and hail storm threatens outside, so I’m off now…

Must contact the bloody dentist tomorrow.

Last month, and December 2001

Here’s a summary of the top places this blog reached (for whatever reasons) in November 2019.

Screenshot (343)

Pretty modest really, but last month was up on October.

Now of course I am an Ancient Mariner of blogging, in proof whereof let us revisit December 2001 — except for some embarrassing bits. (If you want to see them they are there at that Internet Archive link!)

1 December: World AIDS Day: Stay safe and avoid complacency

Having said that, I mention that Ian Smith had some good news about a sometime Yum Cha friend whose recent visit to hospital caused much concern.

I reread December 2000 Diary (see Diary Key Page), and find it hard to credit the twelve months that have passed. One cryptic entry there is now cryptic for me too, as I do not recall what it referred to!

I have made additions both to the Gateway Page and to the page on Asylum Seekers. You will note a change to the subtitles of the Gateway Page, and alterations in my favourites. In its cryptic way, the third one is a tribute to the true highlight of my 2001. To which I just add: thank you, thank you, thank you!!! It continues to mean more to me than I can possibly say.

I don’t think I will have a problem recognising the reference there in twelve months time, assuming I am still on the planet. George Harrison, let it be remembered, was only six months older than I.

I am told George was an 80-a-day person.

I am pleased to report that despite a rather large number of hairy moments with withdrawal symptoms, I am still on track. The number of cigarettes is still zero. I feel the support of those who love me or care about me, and also value the good folk on Quitnet.

I promise to cease being boring on the subject of smoking in due course. Meanwhile, tracking my progress in public like this actually helps.

As I have said before, It took another TEN years before I finally gave up smoking!

6 December: Calmer…but not yet tranquil

Beware of a man giving up smoking, especially in the first week or two thereof. Do not confront him with sudden change or with anything that might tip his delicate balance. The result can be messy.

Friends need to be especially tolerant of aberrant behaviour. If they have supported the man in his project of giving up, they may be regretting their decison right now. They may be tempted to say “Please, start smoking again! We can’t stand this!” Do not give in to the temptation, but think of your friend’s better moments or track record over time, and remember that before long your friend will reappear as you remember him, and not as the writhing obsessive you see right now.

Yes, a good night’s sleep has helped. But I still need to be treated with delicacy… And on the subject of sleep, I blamed the 3-4 hours only I had on Tuesday night on two things: racing thoughts and leaving a patch on. Quitnet offers this on the latter: “Sleep disturbance almost always occurs in people who use the twenty four hour patch. Since your mind is unaccustomed to receiving nicotine while asleep, it can cause strange effects, including vivid, colorful dreams and difficulty sleeping.”

My best wishes to you all 🙂


10 December: Looking back over the week…and quite a busy day

I have found myself is the extremely odd position, as someone who was terrified of computers even until late 1999, that I am increasingly regarded by the English Department at my school as something of an IT expert. I actually did talk to a real one tonight, Malcolm, about some issues regarding our school LAN, and this may lead to a new perception of me at large! The Librarian is still amazed at the (rather easy) accomplishment of being able to tell her which kids have loaded games onto the Library machines and when!

Malcolm yesterday awarded his Quality Sustained Evil Award for 2001 (10 out of 10 score) to one of our fellow-diners. I can only concur!

Should my knickers get particularly into a knot in future, just say “Thumbelina” to me. If that doesn’t work, shoot me.

Over the past week one plus has been learning that I have some very remarkable friends that I need to treasure carefully. I have also found my feelings to be truly deep, and learned that needs to be husbanded carefully too–with an eye to the good of all involved. Wise but cryptic tonight, but one day all may be revealed. Not now though. I am very happy though, in the event… And so I bloody well should be.

15 December: My brother.

My brother and his partner have been living in Tasmania for many years now; I am not quite sure how many, but certainly more than five. Before that they lived in various parts of Queensland.

One of the ironies of their life together was that they were both married on the same day in Sutherland, way back in 1955, but in two different churches and to two different people. My brother’s first marriage lasted ten years, and it was after the end of that that he and Norma got together. I remember once saying to them that they could have saved a lot of trouble by getting it right on that day back in 1955, to which my brother replied, “Oh well, we still celebrate our wedding anniversary.”

While my brother and I have been in regular contact by phone, especially since our mother died 1n 1996, I have not seen him for many years, and Norma even longer. Unfortunately there is no way I can go down to Tasmania either, not that I could do much.

Ian and Norma were together for over thirty years. A second attempt at partnership suited both of them. They were kindred spirits, and were very lucky to have found each other. In the past few years Norma was basically bedridden, constantly on oxygen for her emphysema. My brother could not have been more loving and more devoted. He certainly had more peace and happiness with Norma over the greater part of thirty years than he had ever had before.

He’s not a young man now; neither of us is. I am not sure what he will do eventually–stay in Tasmania or move back up north. At one time he said he might move back to Queensland, should anything happen to Norma.

My brother had four children by his first marriage, some of whom I see from time to time. Norma had at least one daughter, whom I met, by her first marriage. Ian and Norma had no children by their relationship.

And yes, I won’t harp on it, but Benson and Hedges had a hand in Norma’s suffering and death.


The deep blue skies wax dusky and the tall green trees grow dim
The sward beneath me seems to heave and fall
And sickly, smoky shadows through the sleepy sunlight swim
And on the very sun’s face weave their pall

Let me slumber in the hollow where the wattle blossoms wave
With never stone or rail to fence my bed
Should the sturdy station children pull the bush flowers on my grave
I may chance to hear them romping overhead.

–Adam Lindsay Gordon

And finally:

23 December: Almost Christmas

Yes, so close, but I still haven’t done my cards! Looks like I will be making a few phone calls, sending email or ICQ, visiting some (hopefully) and, a last resort, sending late cards.

Yesterday I went to the Green Park Hotel with Sirdan; in time PK, James, Sailor A, and a number of others, joined us. PK gave me a very nice bottle of whisky.

Today is another Christmas gathering at the Forresters Hotel, and it would appear quite a few are coming to that. The gathering there a couple of weeks ago was very pleasant indeed.

I received a lovely card from “Master Fu”, an ex-student (class of 2000) who has been doing well in Advanced Mathematics at Sydney University. He has a delightful way of expressing himself:

There are many thanks for many things, none of them comes easily with words, for gratitude is the heart’s memory: thank you for everything you have done. Yours, Xiang

Really nice.

If yours is a family Christmas today, have a really good one; treasure those times, as they do pass.



The Forresters offered T-bone and mash as their $5 grill today, and it is so long since I have indulged in something so decadently Western; it was delicious. Company comprised Sirdan, James, Malcolm, the Empress, Bruce, Sailor A, Dark Cloud (a rare manifestation) and myself.