Archive for July, 2012

Walking on the moon.

The science fiction unfolds.

Just after lunch

Eyes glued

To the black & white TV inside the classroom,

Positioned for viewing from outside.

Images from afar,

Really afar

Not just across the seas,

Across space!

We’d watched for years

Space missions inching forwards, upwards.

And now:

That’s one small step …

Man’s moonwalk.


Some moonwalking from Michael Jackson almost went here , so did Walking on the Moon from The Police  … but how can you go past Bob Dylan and his take on the relevance of that first step:

Man thinks ’cause he rules the earth, he can do with it as he please
And if things don’t change soon, he will.
Oh! Man has invented his doom
First step was touching the moon.

Now, there’s a woman on my block
Who just sits there as the night grows still
She says, who’s gonna take away his license to kill.

And here is Elvis Costello & The Imposters and their rendition in a celebration of Bob’s 70th birthday.

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The PE (Physical Education) class

Centred on the “monkey bars”

Metal bars, varying heights,

Instructions for different skills.

I hang upside down

Holding on with folded legs.

At the knees.

Start a slight swing and …


Landing head first.

Afternoon in sick bay.

First time, last time.

Uncomfortable & boring.








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Saving lunch money, pocket money

Money from odd jobs.

Back to Fletchers,

Album collection expansion.

Electric Ladyland

Double album, 4 sides of vinyl

Of sounds completely new.

It’s on the stereo.

“Is that the record you just bought?
That’s not music, it’s noise.”

The Experience,

Beyond my experience

… and parents’ comprehension.


The catalyst for choosing this album was the very accessible and powerful cover of the Bob Dylan song. Here it is …





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Industrial Arts –

Metalwork, Woodwork, Technical Drawing.

Drawings smudge,

Metal messes,

And woodwork …

My magazine rack,

Two solid ends, held apart, upright & stable

By lengths of dowel.

My prized creation


Stained & polished.

Handiwork that works!!

Magazines in place, it takes pride of place

… until it collapses,

As does craftsmanship aspirations.

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Early high school

With “mates” in every “tribe”.

Dam boys, Mountains boys, Penrith High boys

Footy teammates.

(Girls? Soon!)

And they all take precedence over school.

Hence, academic slide.

I guess I am seeking my place.

Looks like a place

Beyond the focused & studious.

A place dispersed & distracted.

Hedonist perhaps.

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School report time

Marks & class positions are reasonable

But not great.

Teacher’s comments though …

Easily distracted
Can do better
Needs to concentrate.

The previous year’s focus is lost.

An academic slide begins.

A cycle relentless

Interrupted only by rare

Inspiring and inspired teachers.

Fact remain,

It’s a cycle I authored,


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Gaunt, emaciated

Can’t hear, can’t see.

But skin soft, silky as ever

Imagination & drama alive, well.

From his Hospice cot, in his delerium

He abuses a taxi driver.

For weeks his hand gently held, caringly stroked.

As he  talks, yells, laughs,imagines.

He breathes

Then, 21 years ago today …

He stops.


This memory is from 1991 and is outside the period it is meant to cover (up to my final year at school) but  …

I was last to arrive at St Vincent’s Hospice on this day. Roger, Mum, Stephen & Phil were outside, on a balcony a little way from Peter’s room. I joined them. As we consoled each other someone announcement:

Max, we had a family meeting and decided the last to arrive today has to do a eulogy at the funeral.

We laughed. I did it … you can find it here.

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Peter Cowan

His strength is often hidden

Under the veil of his

Love for drama and dress-ups.

On stage or off

The dramatic is central to Pete.

But below the guise

A growing sense of self

And understanding that

Being open and forthright

Will mean

Discrimination & derision.

But his strength permits integrity.

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Peter the Provocateur

Is also Peter the Performer.

On stage,

As Mr Bumble

Commanding. threatening presence.

Oliver: Please sir, I want some more.
Peter (Mr Bumble): WHAT?  MORE?

Tone escalates – deep rumble to screech

Transforms into song

While cruelly twisting the ear of young Oliver.

Relishing song & ear-twist.



This performance was a couple of years after the 1968 film of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! but Peter was great in the role that Harry Secombe played in the film. And this opening sequence is one where Pete performance really shone.

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Next door.

The vacant lot.

Doubles as a carpark* for trots

And  Panthers games.

20c per car!

Most importantly,

Paddock Footy HQ

Local urchins team up and play.

There is abundant skill & speed.

Toughness shows, tears are shed

And dummies spat.

After hours of play.

Mum calls.

Time to eat & drink.

Notes & Extra:

* Ironically the “paddock” is still a carpark – see Short Memory #118.

Unfortunately the following video is poor quality. But you see some of the characteristics of our Paddock games. Some of the plaers you’ll see are:

Stephen Cowan, Peter Cowan, Phillip Cowan, Ronald Noort, Gary Trevena

Would love some help identifying others.

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