Archive for September, 2012

Shops are open

On a Thursday night

Penrith Plaza – early 70’s.

An ideal time for hanging out

The new centre, Penrith Plaza,

New record store: Light ‘N’ Sound

Ideal place.

Alternating between mingling, watching passers-by,

Flicking through albums, hoping for something new.

The Thursdays At The Plaza Paradox:

Simultaneously boring and the escape from boredom!


Maybe we were not really hoping for something new in the Light ‘N’ Sound LP racks … but something new happening with the passers-by:

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English classes become interesting

Teachers wanting to share

What they see, feel & love

They transport us.

Metaphorically, by their care & passion.

And, literally, by bus, train or car

Anywhere, anytime

To venues, events, theatres,

Anything …

Enlivening texts, engaging us.

Ms Purcell & Mr Young 

Dedicate many private hours

Opening our eyes.

NHS Staff 1970: Ms Purcell is front row, extreme right. Mr Young back row, 7th from left.

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Despite successfully negotiating

Through successive years,

The Nepean High English Department

Maintains its belief that a text is unread

Unless it is read aloud … in class.

Makes sense for Macbeth.

Our first taste of Shakespeare.

Language obscure & unfamiliar

Our voices stumble, stutter.

Helped along by tension, mystery, murder, evil.


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It’s one of those aimless nights,

We seem isolated from

A desolate, even alien, world.

Behind St Stephen’s church

A small historical graveyard.

Behind St Stephens Church – a small historical resting place.

There is an odd sense of belonging

Respectfully, we enter

Find a friendly soul – (Alice?)*

Have a quiet drink,

Discuss – quietly, for hours

Life’s meaning, hopes, desires, & love.


* I think the name of our soul-mate was Alice, but I could be wrong. I could also be wrong about who might be in a position to confirm of correct this – Glen Davidson definitely, I’m pretty sure Greg Totman was there and Paul Smith may well have been there too.

Precinct of St Stephen’s Anglican Church Penrith.


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Saturday nights – out, about,

Sometimes parties,

Sometimes private, close-friend gatherings,

And sometimes (often) wandering aimlessly

Around town …

No plan, no goal.

Only contingencies for encountering adversaries.

Sharpie “toughs” touring streets – evasive tactics:


Curious cops – false personal information,

Name, address … at the ready:

Paul Smith, 63 Parker St, Penrith.

Paul doesn’t mind.


The Sharpies (later Skinheads) were aggressive and had a pretty aggressive dance style … I wouldn’t have thought Daddy Cool was a band they liked. I think Lobby Lloyd was one of their Australian musical heros and then,  of course, there was Slade. Anyway this  footage is from 1974 – a few years after our schoolboy times steering clear of sharpies – and its here because it has some  classic archetypes.



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Two sets of children

Demanding attention.

Two Fathers

With demanding jobs.

Two Mothers … absent

Away on overseas tour!!!

Compelling opportunities for

Teenage boy with a garage room!!

And a flame-haired colleen,

My “Rosie McCann”

Short visits extend, and extend.

One visit blurs with the next.

And my room becomes my …

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Moratorium Badge circa 1970

Political polarities

Becoming very personal.

The spectre of conscription &

A shrinking world

Sparks debate – often heated.

Kent State University*, another hemisphere?

A world away once, a shared pain now.

Julie McKenzie,

Julie in the middle – about 18 months after this memory.

Moratorium badge proudly worn

On NHS uniform

Brings cheers from many.

First in our year

To hit the streets.

Notes & Extra:

* Kent State University was the site where 4 students were killed and 9 others injured when the Ohio National Guards opened fire on them during an anti-war demonstration. A tragic irony – the war  to liberate the Vietnamese and gift them democracy began to fought on a second front, the domestic front, where the battle was to limit expressions of democracy. And “democratic” leaders seemed blind to the irony.

Neil Young wrote this song very soon after what has been called the Kent State Massacre …

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Sitting together,

Patterns, textures complex.

Watching TV.

At the football,

Riding on trains.

Click, click, click!!

A comforting sound


Speaks of home

And imminent warmth, when

Rapidly, but carefully, cast stitches

Rapidly become

New jumpers, cardigans

Patterns complex colour & texture.

Knitting needle percussion


Beats out the rhythm of the

World’s Best …






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Look, there!
In Mum’s wardrobe.

A priceless treasure amidst

The rack of worthless wire.

A piece of artistry.

The design masterpiece

Creating utility and beauty

From the simplest items.

A wooden cotton reel

A few nails

Lengths of discarded wool.


The wooden coathanger

Enveloped, transformed

Cloaked in french knitting.*

from the priceless collection of Bill Joyner


* I could not believe it when, over coffee, Bill Joyner reached into his bag and this beauty emerged. It’s specific story is his and it holds its own significant lessons for life (related to both the vast improvement in workmanship and the dangers of taking short-cuts). But Bill’s personal Alladin’s Cave continues to reflect my own (and yours too, I expect) memories.

Oh! I hope there is no need to remind you that my Short Memories are not meant to be chronological … generally they are pretty random. Anyway, in case it entered your mind … this Short Memory does not have its roots in a 4th Form (Year 10) art or craft class, despite my poor performances in matters crafty.

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School fights are common at NHS

Generally they

– involve juniors
– are stopped without damage
– happen on perimeters.

Quadrangle, heavily populated

Tensions escalate between

Senior boys.

It’s on!

Quadrangle becomes giant boxing ring,

Entire student body watching, stunned.

Mountains v The Dam??*

Serious battle rages,

Blood spilt, bones broken.

Finally, bell rings.


* Are the names of the combatants important? Maybe but really only to … well, two of the adversaries are in the team photo in Short Memory #154. On the same team in 1968, some years later these two duked it out on opposite teams in the quadrangle that day. If you can pick the two … I am sure the names of the other pugilists will come to you. If you can’t it’s probably not that important to know.

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