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.

Photoblog recycle: August 2009

The Carrington Hotel, Bourke Street Surry Hills

Posted on August 30, 2009 by Neil

Quite a pleasant bar in Surry Hills. I’ve been there from time to time but my “local” is The Shakespeare in Devonshire Street.

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There is a much more famous Carrington in the Blue Mountains.

Lord Carrington was the Governor of NSW 1885 – 1890. Apparently he was nicknamed “Champagne Charlie”, so it is only appropriate a pub or two should perpetuate his name.

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You could do a nice little production of Romeo and Juliet here…

Posted on August 27, 2009 by Neil

Balcony on a Surry Hills side street.

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Seen in a Surry Hills side street

Posted on August 22, 2009 by Neil

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Glebe: my home 1987-1988

Posted on August 8, 2009 by Neil

Here it is, and after that what I saw when I came out the front gate each morning. Just a few doors up in the other direction is the Forest Lodge Hotel.

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Glebe: St Johns Road 10 – coffee shop

Posted on August 6, 2009 by Neil

When I was living in Glebe in the 1980s this was Roy Garner’s Coffee Shop – and left-wing bookshop. There I would go for the excellent coffee and healthy food, for conversation with the very interesting Roy, and soon also the band of local regulars for whom, as for me in due course, the shop was a virtual home. Such a mix was there, including a few genuine crazies – like the conspiracy theorist who always had with him a great folder of items about the Lindy Chamberlain case. It was there too that I met Kristina, mentioned in the previous post.

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Glebe: St John’s Road 8 – The Nag’s Head Hotel

Posted on August 4, 2009 by Neil

In my earlier periods in Glebe this was reputedly a great place to plan a crime, but today it is quite up-market, though not off-putting. In fact it is a really great pub with a fine selection of beers and great food. The Rabbit and I had a couple of sessions there this century. 🙂

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August retro–2–I have measured out my life with coffee spoons…

In the early to mid 1980s: Glebe. 30 Years! Roy Garner’s cafe/bookshop, as it was then in St John’s Road. This is as it had become in 2009.

In Surry Hills: Feedback Cafe in Elizabeth Street, and a forgotten blog of mine:

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And who could forget Madam and Dimmy at Cafe Max in Devonshire Street, later to become Cafe Omelette?

But of course the king cafe – partly because it was so good and partly because in Elizabeth Street Surry Hills 1992-2010 it was just downstairs was The Coffee Roaster/Juice and Java. Bob Carr hung out here sometimes, when he was Premier of NSW. But this didn’t happen then: Bob Carr, in my dreams.

And now mornings most often find me in Yum Yum Cafe!

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And the reading I started over coffee this morning and will get back to:

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Yes, printed ones! Old-fashioned, me… Despite my Kobo.

Treasure from Wollongong Library

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A great companion, too, to this:

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It so happened I had both books with me at Diggers yesterday. I was sitting among the Macedonians after lunch, having a quiet shiraz and a read in the companionable hubbub of voices and languages. As he was leaving one of the Macedonians asked what the book was, and then went on to say how he had read and enjoyed much of Patrick White’s other work – whether in English or translated I didn’t establish. But I found it interesting. There are many (Anglo) Aussies who still do not take kindly to White; perhaps there is a European sensibility after all that can see the man’s brilliance more easily. Certainly I find myself just savouring sentences and paragraphs that just shoot fireworks like few other Australian writers. Good to see the masterworks being republished now. BTW, both those pics are linked to more information.

Now to the Wigram Allen book. It is the book of a 2011 exhibition at the Museum of Sydney.

Sydney lawyer and identity Arthur Wigram Allen, a tirelessly enthusiastic photographer, was fascinated by the social and technological changes occurring during his lifetime. His talent for amateur photography produced extraordinary pictures that offer a fresh insight into the Edwardian years in Sydney.

The Edwardian era was sandwiched between the great achievements of the Victorian age and the global catastrophe of World War I. The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 heralded a new century of significant inventions and social changes, including powered flight, the rise of the motorcar and a new federated Australia.

An Edwardian Summer will present a selection of Arthur Allen’s beautiful images, depicting intimate moments with family and friends, motoring and harbour excursions, theatrical celebrities, bush picnics, the introduction of surf bathing on Sydney beaches, processions, pageants and mass celebrations, and new freedoms in fashion. Most have never before been published, and they form an unrivalled personal pictorial record of these rapidly changing times.

The exhibition will also include artworks by Rupert Bunny, Ethel Carrick Fox, Arthur Streeton and Grace Cossington Smith, examples of male and female fashion including evening and day wear, motoring ensembles and children’s dress-up costumes, jewellery and accessories, furniture and decorative embellishments characteristic of the Edwardian era.

Now I lived in 1977 and 1978 just down the road from Toxteth Park, now part of St Scholastica’s College, and I have been inside the mansion. This is where Arthur Wigram Allen was born, and later I lived in Boyce Street, named after his brother Boyce, which once led down to the Allen orchard.  An Edwardian Summer makes a delightful companion to The Vivisector’s first few chapters because it illustrates the way of life, the time and place,  the novel also depicts.

There is also a Shire connection, as the Allens had a holiday home on Port Hacking at Little Turriel Bay, where the cover photo was taken.

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On Cronulla Beach

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At The Zoo – now Sydney High School

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On the verandah at Little Turriel Bay

REPOST: In 1983 I learned more than I knew I was learning…

NOTE: From time I will repost from my former blog. Such posts are ones that “belong” here and may be followed up in future posts.

At that time I lived in Glebe and was in some ways at a rather low ebb, in hiatus from teaching but still editing Neos. I lived for a while in a boarding house in Boyce Street with assorted students, crims and schizos and one or two ordinary folk. It was an education. Among my neighbours was a schizophrenic Aboriginal woman whom I call “Marie”.  As I listened to Marie, who was also kind of concierge to the house, I found a story emerging amid the apparent randomness and even craziness. I tried to capture that in a poem at the time. Every word in the poem she actually said, though not all at once, and I have structured it so that her story emerges, as it did for me over a much longer time. An artist who lived upstairs read it and said I had captured her exactly.

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The house in Boyce Street. At the time I occupied the front room. “Marie” was on the second floor at the landing. The artist had the balcony room.

It is clearly no longer a boarding house.

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Marie: Glebe 1983

(for the “stolen generation”)

my mama was black
dadda a scotsman

in the home there was a flower
it woke us up

see here it is

and here’s one i’m saving for matron
(i loved you matron)
i’ll write a book for matron

she’s gone now
they say she died

sometimes
i think i will come back to her

she said “you’re in trouble, marie”
she said “have the baby”
(i was nineteen or twenty)

i know all about cocks
men can be cheeky
but the girls are worse
two backyard jobs

matron’s gone now
see her flower?
i’ve pressed it for her

i’m forty-two years old i am nothing
a woman not married in this society
is nothing

my dream is to get married
i said to matron
“i will have babies for you”

tomorrow

i’ll give up smoking
i must control the grog
but when my head’s upset i need a beer

the pub is good
nobody looks down on you there

i hope my joseph is happy
he chose his family
and thomas
where is thomas?

there have been too many men

i’ll go picking again
on the riverina

this is not my place

this is a dead end street this is a dead man’s house
but there is a lane

they call me
abo
schizo

words are very powerful
you must be careful how you use them

do the children still read?

the television
i got mine at the hock shop forty bucks
it freaks me out

sometimes

i see myself and matron and joseph and thomas
i learn a lot
it freaks me out

sometimes

this is not my place
my head hurts here

all that fucking going on
over my head

i’ve never hurt no-one
let them kill me it’s good
it doesn’t matter
i’ve never hurt no-one
but i’ve been hurt

do you know my dream?

this is my dream
i’ll have a coffee shop
and there will be little huts
and no-one will be turned away

we did that once
had pillows all over the house

i learned
dressmaking
and elocution

i’ll get up early and get a job
it’s good i reckon
tomorrow
will be good
after christmas
next year
i’ll leave this place

but it’s good
i reckon

see this flower?
i’m saving it for matron
and here is the one
that woke us in the home

my dadda was a scotsman
my mama was black

****

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Each photo is linked to its story.  See A guide to Australia’s Stolen Generations and 100 Year Commemoration of the Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls Training Home.

See also Punishment and death at Cootamundra for a contrarian view from Keith Windschuttle. BTW, if you happen upon that chapter directly via a search you could be forgiven for thinking it had some kind of official status. I find that a bit deceptive, but then I guess it is up to me (caveat emptor) to check the home and about links.

Archie Roach at Cootamundra Girl’s 100 years playing ‘Mum’s Song’ by Kutcha Edwards.

Full of hatred and full of anger
Which I needed to release
But with love and understanding
I’ve moved on and I’m now at peace

Late at night I still remember
I would cry myself to sleep
The scars they hurt no longer
But the memories are deep

As we come up to Australia Day tomorrow it is time to reflect soberly and honestly on the full picture of our country’s history.

Originally posted 25 January 2013