Archive for the ‘Nepean High School’ Category

J stays with Paul K

For summer work in the city

Transitioning school to university.

They share a Mosman top floor.

Windows surround spacious room

Where we lazily lounge

Harbour breeze blows through,

Fresh chilled watermelon,

Voice of Baez, pure crystal chimes.

Combination perfect (if transient).

While, out west …

Summer winds burn.





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Skis strapped, boat pulls Paul*

He glides the water, two circuits, home.

Speeding towards “home beach”,

Sudden turn whips skier’s speed,

To reach shore unpowered.

Is he going too fast?

Shore looms.

Drop! Paul! Fall!


Hits beach – speeding.

Skis stop.

Paul continues – momentarily upright, running,

Finally tumbling into campfire.



* Paul Smith again – previously makeshift surgeon and advisor on the medicinal properties of plants. This was on the family holiday at the Gold Coast … the journey their is told in Short Memories #307 – #311.



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Norm’s in his chair,

Facing B&W TV screen.

Cricket Test MCG – viewing compelling.

Fan facing him cools.

Our heat escape,

Short trip south to Menangle

Nepean River bend, perfect swimspot.

One bank:  beach & paddling shallows,

The other:  deep water, steep cliff, overhanging tree (with rope).

Safe(?) diving, jumping, swinging.

Brothers & cousins frolic.


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The old Stafford Street house.

Victorian architecture.

Decades uninhabited, untended.

Appearance supports haunted reputation

Perfect for late night entertainment.

Ouija Board underarm, we enter.

Living (“living dead?”) room.

Circle forms,

Fingertips lightly touch planchette.

Incantation (from someone).

A rattle, pointer moves, … everything moves.


We run, whipping up fear & laughter.



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One of Noel's favourite albums.

One of Noel’s favourite albums.

HSC Art – Major Work.

Submission due: 24 hours.

Noel*,  panicking, organises workshop – friends.

Large backroom, stereo screeching Hawkwind, Can, etc.

We fold coloured cardboard into tetrahedrons. Hundreds of them.

He paces,

Non-stop & frantic.

Occasionally petitioning:

“Oh shit! What now?”

Folding complete, we leave.

Sleepless Noel constructs overnight,

Morning submits this “spontaneous” work.


* Noel Coughlan who lived in Woodriff Street. Always on the search for new sounds, unheard of musicians – recently Garry Cockle said to me, “A lot of people talked about artists like John Cage, Noel actually listened to them”.  You might remember Noel is captured on film playing table tennis – Short Memory #297. Unfortunately, Noel was later hit by a taxi while crossing the road at Taylor Square in Darlinghurst.  He suffered severe brain damage – he was in his early twenties. He often drove us crazy, sometimes to the point of fury & frustration, but he remains fondly fixed in many memories.

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Close to midnight arrive home

After afternoon shift

Hands coppered green (despite gloves)

Smelling of metal, metallic mouth.

Wash it all away & feel brand new.

Onto the porch,

River & plains stretching below night sky.

Everyone’s asleep.

Sit, watch, listen

Melt into the night.

The silence, solitude, tranquility

Touched with beautiful melancholy.


This wasn’t written back then but expresses the feeling of those nights after finishing work at Crane Enfield. The song was written by Jimmy Webb but this instrumental version from Pat Metheny & Charlie Haden is the one for me.


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A favoured workstation, tubing is

Counted, weighed, bundled, boxed.

Heavy work but a lot cleaner.

And the boss cracks me up

Helme Karachi (spelling?) – The Lion of Egypt.*

My hammer’s missing, they took my hammer!!
They take my hammer, I’ll take their whole fucking toolbox!!

5′ 2″ of Egyptian lion on the warpath.**


* A title Helme gave to himself … well, that’s how he introduced himself to me.

** This probably sounds like he was violent but no …he could act that way when really rile up. But he was a diminutive lion with a big roar, and little bite. Helme was also very smart and really really funny. Well, at least that is how I saw him … I think there were others who did not have any respect for him at all.




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Castlereagh Rd, Crane Enfield – Copper Division

Tim Armstrong* & I

Hit bundy clock – 3pm daily.

Enter cavernous factory hall.

Miles & miles of copper tubes.

And brassy characters.

The silver-haired “dogman”**, pommy, union leader.

Struts along factory floor

Roll-your-own smoke stuck on his lip,

Barking orders & profanities.

Until 11pm, home whistle blows.


* Tim Armstrong was a year below me. He was a teammate in the last football team I played with – the photo is here at Short Memory #323 – Tim is standing to my left.

** The dogman is the bloke who instructs the crane driver.

*** Bloody hell this is Short Memory  #351, as I write this it is December 19th … 12 days of 2012 to go, and 14 stories to get to #365!! Two behind … and I had a day in hand (there being 366 days this year). So, really 3 days have disappeared somewhere – don’t worry they regularly disappeared back then too. I’ll fixed it in the next 12 days.

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Fire trail, nature walk

Winding up the mountain

Emerging at East Blaxland.

Follow regular road back down

Through residential zone

Down steep sharp curves of Old Bathurst Road.

Reports back to Mum.

Spied your son walking Old Bathurst Road,
Dressed to lead a funeral procession.

Love my hat, cane, & coat.

Wearing my hat, someone poking me with my cane, ... that's a different coat (my robe chinoiserie)

Wearing my hat, someone poking me with my cane, … that’s a different coat (my robe chinoiserie)

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Lights low, volume up

Sound clear, crisp, almost visible.

Voodoo rhythms, erotic, haunting

Soulful croaking vocals,

Voices echoing from beyond …

Language unknown … somehow understood.

Gris gris, gumbo ya-ya.

The only tense is the present.

Let it roll, let go control.

Night – very cool

In the house with the purple pool.

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