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:

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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:

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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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Cricket: lighting up our troubled times

I love this photo from Cricket Australia of part of the crowd in Brisbane for the first test between Australia and Pakistan.

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And what a game it turned out to be! Pakistan as near as did the seemingly impossible.

Australia ultimately pocketed their predicted win but it was Pakistan that emerged with a lion’s share of the plaudits after a history-making run chase that ultimately fell bravely short.

The manner in which the first Test ended – tailender Yasir Shah run out by Steve Smith’s laser-like throw from second slip having wandered inattentively out of his crease after staving off a Mitchell Starc yorker – was in keeping with many a previous failure from this most mercurial of Test teams.

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And I really like the day-night pink ball format. It is certainly drawing the crowds, and could be the saviour of REAL cricket – five day tests.

Meanwhile look at India go! Karun Nair triple century against England fuels India to highest ever Test innings.

There’s no doubt cricket is one of old England’s greater legacies! And a bit of sanity in a troubling world.

2014 ends and we reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy

My “Floating Life” blog set – that is all but the English/ESL archive – is heading for the quietest month in the past twelve months, possibly for years. Sitemeter is showing page views at the moment of 3,416, compared with 4,351 last December. In May 2014 the blogs hit 5,870.

Yesterday’s post here was generated by WordPress. Yesterday this blog had 117 reads, the best ever here! The top posts and pages here in 2014 have been, after Home Page/Archives at 10,453:

  1. Anzac Girls last night on ABC 664 views in 2014
  2. About 143
  3. Tom Thumb Lagoon 128
  4. Family history–some news on the Whitfield front 128
  5. All my posts 123
  6. Some thoughts on Once Upon a Time in Punchbowl 105
  7. Barry Spurr trending on Facebook 96
  8. Lost Wollongong 90
  9. My former workplace in the news today 86
  10. Barry Spurr is still trending 84
  11. Channel 10, the Commonwealth Games, and Ian Thorpe 81
  12. Kiama in the early 50s, and memories of car sounds… 80
  13. The silence of the trams 70
  14. What a treasury of family history! 70
  15. It was 50 years ago today! The Beatles in Australia 67
  16. Thomas – 2014 teacher of the year 64
  17. Tangible link to the convict ship “Isabella” and the immigrant ship “Thames” 64
  18. Sydney High memories 61
  19. Links 55
  20. Nobel prize winner’s obituary triggers memories 54

Note “Silence of the trams” hit the top 20 in just one day!

Cricket

I like the opening paragraphs of Malcolm Knox in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

A hundred and ten years ago, the Victorian Test all-rounder Frank Laver asked if audiences would bother watching cricket games that ran for five days and finished without a winner. “It must be acknowledged that the length of time cricket takes in this age of progress and bustle is far too great,” wrote Laver, who was also the manager of Australia’s 1905 Ashes tour. “Football, baseball, lacrosse and nearly all national games are decided on two or three hours’ play. These games have a great advantage over cricket for that very reason. Life is too short for long contests.”

Life is thought to be even shorter now, notwithstanding the evidence. But Test cricket’s popularity – nearly 200,000 came to this Boxing Day match, the most ever to an Australia-India contest in this country – suggests that 110 years of progress, while providing ample alternatives to the five-day match, has still not cured the demand (or is it tolerance?) for something long, slow and inconclusive…

I won’t go into detail about this series except to say that I really have enjoyed it. I much prefer the long-form game. I can’t even bring myself to watch T20 or Big Bash!

And back in 2004 I blogged as follows during another India-Australia series:

Sunday, January 04 to Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Sunday: Special for American Readers

Since about 30-40% of my readers are in America, I thought you’d better have some explanation of this strange game I have been talking about lately. It does, I’m afraid, require a longer attention span than baseball 😉 — as you may see:

Each side has two innings (plural same as singular), and when each side has completed its two innings, the side with the most runs wins. This is not as simple as it sounds, because cricket matches almost always have a previously agreed time limit, generally in days, with the hours of play for each day specified in advance. If both sides do not complete their innings within the time specified, the match is a draw, regardless of the score. (In cricket, a draw and a tie are not the same thing. A draw is a match that is not completed; a tie is a match that is completed with the scores even.) Therefore to lose a cricket match you have to have your two complete innings and still not get as many runs as your opponents. If the number of runs needed for a side to win is too many for them to make, they can still play to achieve a draw and deprive their opponents of the win by avoiding being “all out” before “stumps” (the end of the match, when the umpires pull the stumps from the ground).

Match lengths are generally agreed upon in advance as a certain number of days, with the hours of play on each day specified, as well as the breaks to be taken for lunch and tea. The most important international matches (“tests”) between sides supposedly representing the best their countries have to offer are generally scheduled for five days.

That is from Cricket Explained (for novices), an American site…

The current Australia-India Test commences its third day today, with India in a commanding position at 7 for 650. Probably India will declare this morning, that is say they have finished their innings, and send Australia in to chase that total. After that it gets a little complex, but the reason I worried last night that it might rain was that if a game is washed out it is a draw. Today is fine and hot, as it happens.

Lunch update

To my surprise India opted to keep batting this morning, eventually reaching 705.

I, in the meantime, went to Yum Cha at the Marigold with the Empress, Sirdan, Malcolm, James, a new person named Andy (not the sailor) and eventually Antony. Excellent duck. (The picture on my profile was taken at that Yum Cha by Antony.)

The crowd around Central on their way to the Cricket reminded me of the 2000 Olympics. Now I’m off to keep an eye on the game by TV and radio. (I prefer to listen to the ABC radio commentary with the TV on Channel 9 at least some of the time.)

Monday

Today has dawned cloudy, with possible storms later after a very hot and humid night. I was eaten by mosquitoes. But it is of course Day 4 of the Australia-India Final Test at the SCG. As the Sydney Morning Herald front page has it: “India declared for 7-705, with a resurgent Sachin Tendulkar nine runs shy of his 250. But the star Indian’s innings was his highest in his Test career. India’s 705 was also the highest score by a touring side to Australia… Meanwhile, as the Australian cricket captain slipped from view, like the late afternoon sun over the Members’ Stand, the federal Opposition Leader made his Test debut. Mark Latham, who has just embarked on his own leadership role, appeared as a guest commentator on ABC radio’s cricket broadcast.” I heard Latham’s effort and immediately began praying to the radio…

The great moment yesterday which everyone was anticipating was Steve Waugh’s (the Australian Captain) probable last innings: he scored 40. (He may get one more go in the next two days.)

Meanwhile (it’s now 2.30 pm) my grandfather’s favourite saying, “the glorious uncertainty of cricket”, is once again being borne out. What a classic this game has been! I’ll let you know the outcome tomorrow. Australia, however, is just all out and India have chosen to bat.

Tuesday

I went with Sirdan to The Return of the King at Fox Studio (next door to the Sydney Cricket Ground) at 9.30 am. The movie proper started at 10, and finished about 1 pm: a short three hours. You do need to have seen the previous movies, or have a good knowledge of The Lord of the Rings though. David Stratton of the SBS Movie Show now claims the whole set is the greatest epic ever made…

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

A late fish and chip lunch at the Shakespeare Hotel, the first time Sirdan has been there, rounded things off nicely.

Speaking of epics…

India declared slightly early last night after one of their number got a ball in the ear. Ganguly need not have declared; I think he was just giving Australia a sporting chance. And now at 2.53 pm Steve Waugh (the Australian Captain) has just come out to bat — his last innings. So far Australia has been scoring too slowly. What will happen next? Well, I am off to listen. Waugh survived his first ball and Australia are 171 for 3 at this stage, chasing in 46 overs remaining 272 to win… The weather is much more ominous than yesterday too.

Back to the end of 2014: perhaps Smith should have declared sooner yesterday?

Smart lad, to slip betimes away

The Sydney Morning Herald today quotes A E Housman’s “To an Athlete Dying Young”.

To an Athlete Dying Young

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.

Today is the funeral of cricketer Phillip Hughes (1988-2014).

Update

Yes, I watched it on ABC News 24, and I was very moved by it.

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Phillip Hughes 1988-2014

So sad. It casts a shadow over the coming test series. Maybe I felt it more because he was so young, had achieved so much, yet obviously had so much more to give – and also because the SCG and St Vincent’s Hospital are so familiar to me. But I have nothing to add, except my condolences to all concerned.

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I will not be posting tomorrow.