Archive for October, 2012

Interested in the political,

Political Party membership doesn’t fit.

I try,

As I did with


Air Force Cadets

Like them,

Too many rules,

Not enough action.

But party politics is driving passions,


Election agenda is driven

By a generation of issues, actions

Forcing Party relevance.


It’s Time!


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No seats reserved,

Gates open. Rush

To secure best spots.

We aim for grandstand.

Distant but removes height challenges

(Especially for Phil)

Band takes the stage,

Crowd surges across barriers

Filling vacant grass.

Slow motion.

Human tidal wave, watched from above,

The perfect choreography for concert opener

The Immigrant Song.




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Overnight stay means

Indulgences (somewhat tempered),

Dusty morning,

Early place in Showground entry queues.

We are near front. Success.

Crowd builds,

Queues turn to mobs

Crushing mobs. Relentless & uncaring.

Ten year old in terror

Eyes fearful, tearful.

In a flash,

Phil’s safe,

Astride the shoulders of

Giant-hearted Ian Elliott.*


* You’ll find Ian’s presence in a number of Short Memories, and he is an unnamed presence in many. He appears in a couple of the rotating heading banner photos … and he is in the class photo at Short Memory #70. Ian’s status in the Cowan family annals is one of legend – the story of Phil being rescued by Ian at the entry to the Sydney Led Zeppelin concert is told and retold.

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I’m taking along brother Phil, turning 10.


With mates.

Traveling light – it’s Summer.


Moore Park. Kippax Lake.

Kippax Lake – the lake in the middle of Moore Park

Big group, includes …  “Rosie McCann”

We split for Saturday Night entertainment.

Some have tickets for comedian, Marty Feldman.

The rest of us … ferry to Manly,


The Return of Count Yorga, Vampire.

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OK, kids. If anyone asks
“Where’s Roger?”, ..

On alert!

Roger’s secret trip to South Africa.*

Freeing Mandela?

No, … scouting for Panthers.

Phone rings, race to answer,

Wanting our place

In his clandestine mission.

Not 24 hours later

Back page headline,

Revokes our role.

No secrets in Rugby League!


* There were 4 people on this trip – Roger, Leo Trevena, Bob Boland, and Pat Russell.

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The Club’s cabins at Bendalong

Clubs Cabins & Beach at Bendalong.

A bush track to isolated beach.

No life-guards, no flags.

Beautifully clear water, refreshing

Waves well-formed for bodysurfing.

“Max!, Steve!”

Urgent shouts from the shore.

“Come in, quick. there’s a fin!”

We scarper.

Another fin appears, and another, and …

A pod of dolphins.



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Reel to reel is turning

Pumping continuous sounds

Through speakers in my back room

Speakers shifted, facing driveway.

Table dragged out, unfolded,

Net erected.

Someone bouncing ball on bat,

Coordinating eye with hand,

And simultaneously counting.

(We are skilful!)

Music on …

Challenge on …

Camera rolls,

Capturing a moment with friends.*


* I suspect this is late 1972. The competitors are, in order of appearance, Michael Talve, Noel Coughlan, Glen Davidson and me. Brother Phil makes a cameo at the end. I know many readers would have seen this before but it rightfully belongs in this collection.

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School Squash! I diligently attended sport.

Senior sport, multiple options

Team sports, standard seasonal mix.

Then …

Off-site individual selections,

Allowing latitude.

SquashTen Pin Bowling

Venues near home (or friends)

Offer easy early escapes.

Golf at Leonay,

A few holes, then down to the river.

Sport, well attended, easily escaped for

More imaginative, more indulgent, alternatives.


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We leave the performance* behind

Enter Sydney’s nightscape

In a dreamlike state,



Open to possibility,

And I see anew

One of my theatre-going compatriots

From a younger class.

Stunned by beauty & grace.

Time stops. Moment preserved –

Until now,

A secret, permanent,

Private touchstone,

To truth, freedom, & love.


* This moment was definitely after the St Mary’s Cathedral performance but it seems certain it was of The Tempest not Macbeth. Further, the 1972 date is more sensible chronologically than the 1971 date (which is when the Nimrod did Macbeth).

Still it doesn’t lessen the potency of that moment preserved, withheld, and treasured for decades.

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Let your indulgences set me free.



Being at odds with my peers

I researched some more on yesterday’s Short Memory

I discovered that in 1972, The Performance Syndicate

Performed The Tempest

In the Chapter House at St Mary’s Cathedral.

Here is an excerpt:

The following year, 1972, saw the Performance Syndicate’s greatest achievement with a highly physical but elegantly simple production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It was initially funded as a schools touring production for the Old Tote. Later it had a season at the Chapter Housel at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney and toured nationally. The actors marked-out a circle which became the playing space for this production.

It suggests my mates were right, my wires were crossed

And my charms are all o’erthrown.

But … this is good.

The power of the Macbeth performance is not diminished.

And elusive Mnemosyne closes in on the magical play at the magical venue.



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