Monday, 29 October 2012



I finished my duties with the Hotel at the end of '92 prior to them closing down for the six week makeover in January '93.

My son Jazz was now six years of age and in his first year of primary school at Redlands Junior School, a co-. educational school in the lower north shore handy to where we were living at Neutral Bay.We had been living apart for fifteen months and in that time I would pick him up from Balmoral where he was living with his mother and take him to school and sometimes after school and always see him on the weekends.

 Lynne, his mother had moved a lover in where they were staying at Balmoral. I started to notice that Jazz was losing his sunny disposition.He was always happy, smiling and laughing, whenever I arrived to see him or to pick him up for school. He  always had a little mischievous smile on his face , and loved playing any game and still does. One morning he was waiting outside the small row of townhouses just back from the beach where he lived, for me to take him to school,with a glum look on his little face. When he got into the car,  I asked him what was wrong and he said "Mum and Scott were arguing." After I dropped him off at school,I took this up with Lynne, who said her relationship with Scott "was  over" and Scott would not move out. I then stepped in, as I was paying the rent  and their had been no assistance towards it from him. so I told him" to pack his gear and be gone as the lock would be changed that day".

Lynne and I discussed, living together as room mates, to make life more stable for Jazz.Which is what we did and  moved into a  large three bedroom apartment in Neutral Bay overlooking Forsythe Park.That arrangement lasted for about three years. Then it started to become intolerable with arguments and Lynne then moved out with a girlfriend and Jazz stayed with me.

During this time having a park on the doorstep of the apartment made activities like cricket, kicking a football, easily accessible. I bonded back with Jazz who fortunately became a lover of all sports.We loved fooling around around on the sports oval. Now he was of the age that he could take instruction of how to bowl a cricket ball and keep a straight bat, keep his  eye on the ball and hit the ball in the middle of the bat. Making him more confident to increase his skills.

Mum and Dad had moved from Coffs Harbour to Terigal on the Central Coast and every second weekend we would drive up to spend the weekend with them. Close by there were some sporting fields with cricket nets to which Dad, Jazz and I would go with bat, pads and ball.  Spending time with Dad and Jazz at the nets, bowling and batting, instructing him on his techniques  were golden moments especially for "Pop" as Jazz called my father.When it was time to go, there was always from Jazz " one more ball Dad"- this normally went on for another half dozen or "until you get me out" or "till I get the next wicket".He would always ask for confirmation on his performance and I would always be honest - " you batted well, sometimes you would lose concentration and your head would start to move" I gave him a mantra when he batted to repeat in his head, when he faced the ball -  'head down and keep you eye on the ball and move your feet'.

We both had our own bedrooms at my parents place, they had bought a villa in a small cluster development, about half a mile inland from the beach at Terigal. It was a good break for me when we went up to stay with Mum and Dad, as  they both loved having us there for a couple of days. Mum loved cooking for us, you were never allowed into the kitchen when Mum was cooking - that was her rule. My father adored his grandson seeing him grow from a toddler to a budding sportsmen and as he got older someone he could impart some of his considerable wisdom  to. Further into his teens, when we arrived at their home and after the hellos and hugs and kisses Dad would steer Jazz into his study and they would have a chat one on one for a while before they would come out and join Mum and i who would be sitting in the lounge room.

Redlands had an active academic and sporting curriculum and Jazz thrived in the schools co educational atmosphere.The school was  close to where he lived, making  many friends as he did, with a teaching staff that was  nurturing, reignited his open, sunny, effervescent personality.He loved his school,his teachers, his friends and the sports.Not being  academic myself, I Ieft the teaching to the teachers.

Athletics,cricket, rugby, skate boarding ,skiing, surfing, Jazz took to them like a 'duck to water' . He had plenty of help from others in mentoring and coaching.

We went skiing when he was five to to Perisher with Susie Graham and her son Oddie, who was with the Australian Institute of Sports Ski team. The first day Susie organised  Jazz into the 'beginners learn to ski' and he won his first race. Robert, Susie's husband, advised - "Tone don't get him involved in skiing because it costs 'an arm and leg' and if he's good, which he probably will be, the next thing its off to Switzerland and Austria for the downhills".As it turned out that is exactly what happened with their son Oddie. He became one of Australia's best downhill skiers and daredevil extreme skiers.

Even though Redlands had an active ski school,I did not have to worry as when winter sports came around the sport Jazz excelled at, was Rugby. As Redlands did not start till their Rugby competition till year 3, Jazz commenced playing with the Mosman Junior Rugby Club who started teams from age of six. As they were short of coaches I was asked to help and ended up coaching his side for four years.

These were some of the most enjoyable times, coaching these little guys in the intricacies of a game that had been so good to me.Teaching them from an early age and watching them develop and progress through not only in Rugby, but  in their lives.He has kept these friendships  and at his age, now 25, several of them are still close, though non of them play rugby anymore.

Little boys around five and six remind me of lion cubs, they love wrestling and tussling with each other, their energy and exuberance is inexhaustible,  rugby is so good for channelling it all.It made me realise how much I liked children and I could see the enjoyment teachers must get from teaching and seeing  the results of their efforts.

We trained on Thursdays early evening down at Balmoral Oval. To commence I would have them do a run around the oval, then an easy exercise routine and then a game of 'Cocky Laura' which would then quieten them down.Then we would have a 'huddle meeting'.They would love this, you get them in a close circle and then explain the program for the next hour.I can still see their little faces intently listening and absorbing what you were saying and their responses when you asked questions.  You give them the base idea of the game and a few rules, then the ball, split them into two equal sides, explain about running the ball when they have possession and touching the runner who has the ball,  they don't tackle till their second year and then let them go. Which is total bedlam and anarchy and on the first few evenings of training it is hilarious and out of control,  you wonder will they ever get it. Off course they do.That's the fun part, as you start to see each little individual start to grasp the fundamentals and help their mates who may not be so quick on the uptake.

Our team was the Wales, there were normally two to three sides per age group and the coaches would organise games amongst each other as part of the training and in preparation for the competition game on Saturday mornings against other clubs. These were great fun as the parents would all come along and be sideline coaches. In the first two years the coach would be on the field with his team coaching from behind, cajoling, yelling,encouraging,congratulating and tearing his hair out.At half time the boys would all sit around the coach in a circle and listen to the coach's message and what was done right and where they 'blown it'.The parents standing behind their children, and the team manger handing them all an orange to suck on to replenish the energy the first half had sucked out of them.Then you would give them the strategy for the next half of the game and run behind and try to help them carry it through which sometimes they did sometimes they did not.

Sport helped Jazz blossom into a very confident, well adjusted young boy who became captain of cricket, rugby and athletics and  the junior schools sports captain at Redlands in his final year. He was selected to play for the Combined Independent Schools Rugby fifteen and then represented the NSW Schoolboys, the first ever for Redlands Junior School.

I was asked to a meeting  with Brother Ernest Headmaster at St Josephs College, Hunters Hill. This was initiated by Bob Baraket, a mate who thought Jazz had potential. Bob had friends in the Joey's old boys network and at his commendation they organised the meeting.Thanks Bob for that.

At the meeting in the headmaster office, we both met Brother Ernest.Jazz after some informal chat, was taken for a tour of the school by one of the students. Then Brother  Ernest informed me of how the college operated, the day boys and boarder situation, with boarding becoming compulsory in year eight.I explained how this program appealed , as I could see the added responsibilities and obligations of single parenting would become onerous as Jazz became older combined with the burden me having to work and keep him on track with his studies, sport and social life. Brother Ernest asked how I was faring financially, I told him that I was doing it tough  at present. At the time I was getting spasmodic consulting work and was in throws of re inventing myself and moving from the hospitality industry and looking for a full time job. He asked if a relief of school fees would assist for the two years whilst Jazz was a day boy and then full fees would apply when he became a boarder. "Oh yeah " I happily replied. Jazz returned from his tour of the school and Brother Ernest asked if he had any questions, he had one. "Sir how often do they have religious studies"? Brother Ernest replied "two periods per week Jazz do you think you can handle that" Jazz replied " yes sir ".

Leaving Redlands was not the wrench I expected,because several of the blokes he started with, like him, went from the junior school to other senior GPS schools. Yes, there were definitely aspects of Redlands missed - there were some teachers that we had a fondness for, it was a school where he shone and flourished. 

For the next six years Jazz attended Joey's. Commencing as a day boy for the first two years, I would drive him to Greenwich Wharf where he would hop a ferry, which would take him across the Lane Cove River to Woolwich, there the bus would take him to school.In the afternoons i would pick him up after sport and home we would go.

On Saturdays it was sport, sport as he got older was our bonding. in some ways our communication tool. it enabled discussion points, that then led elsewhere in broaching other topics.Such as courtesy, manners, team ship and working within the team, being a leader and being selfless, other peoples strengths, failings and foibles. The opportunity of driving him to school in hid first two years at Joeys' was a godsend for the reason that he was "captured." As they get older it is harder to gain their full attention, the driving to and from school allowed for discussion about studies which was never his pet subject. Although Jazz always seem to fare well enough in his tests and exams. Like myself he leant more to the Humanities than Maths or Sciences. Drama was becoming a subject he was starting to connect with and through out his years at Joey's it became his favourite subject.

I have never read a book on parenting, it has always been by seat of the pants, intuition, speaking with other parents, confiding with Mum and Dad.  Also Lynne who was always only a phone call away, we got on better by not living together and Jazz saw her often.The combination of these were all important in helping me guide, direct and lead Jazz.Plenty of times I blew it, I am not one to keep my feelings intact when I deal with and issue concerning Jazz, I let off steam quickly and he knows where he stands,it blows away as quickly as it fires up.Some of my personal indulgences would not stand up to scrutiny either, as i have explained none of us are perfect but we try and strive.

Even the North Sydney Police were involved. When he was eight, on a Saturday afternoon, after he had been playing cricket at Forsythe Park, next to where we lived. He was off playing with some of his mates or so I thought.  When he has burst into our apartment breathless, to tell me the police were after him. I asked him why, and he replied "they caught me and Jimo grafittying the bus shelter, but I ran away" I replied "that;s a dumb thing to do,how do you know there coming here" he replied that "Jimo will tell them where I live".True to his word, within about five minutes the police were knocking on the front door. He scooted into his bedroom, hiding under the bed, I went and opened the door. There, crowding the front door were three large male cops and one female in blue uniform.I showed them where he was hiding and out he came, his blond face red as a beetroot. After being interrogated and admitting he was the other culprit, they said he was to be taken to North Sydney Police Station. The female cop took him out to the car,I then spoke to the other three and I asked them -" on the trip to the station, would you put him between two of you in the back seat and scare the shit of him, about what he has done" You have my permission to intimidate him and  and squeeze him a bit between the both of you in the back seat". They understood where I was coming from and I also asked them to throw him in a cell. They were good, they scared him enough, they thought throwing him in a cell was not necessary - we never had problems like that again.

 We were fortunate that we had some exceptional early times with Jazz. Where he was smothered in so much love and affection in his toddler years which has given him a foundation to know what great cuddles and kisses are like from both of us.The times when we managed the Country Comfort Property at Coffs Harbour, where he was adored by all the staff, where his his little blond head on top of his brown body would pop up around the resort in playing hide'nseek with his Mum and Dad,members of the staff or guests children.There was a serendipity in obtaining that job when Jazz was only a year old that gave great pleasure, bonding and nourishment to our relationship with our son.Still,single parenting is sure better than, no parenting.

Jazz adjusted quickly to Joey's, as going from Redlands where he had made so many friends of both sexes and where he was a star.Then to Joeys with a thousand boys and it's    great reputation of being the 'Rugby Nursery', was a big transition to make and to his credit he handled it smoothly and with out any complications.Made easier because one of his best mates from the Mosman Juniors, Richie Lamberton, also an only child, who was also a gun sportsman, started at Joey's at the same time. Often Catherine, Richies mother and I would share the car ferrying roles of taking to and picking up from the school.

I related to Joey's easily as having gone to Newington College, through from prep school to senior school. I knew the culture that prevailed at Sydney's GPS schools. How the old boy networks influenced and permeated these schools and over time I explained to him how to handle the situations as they arose, and they did.The sucking up to the sport' coaching staff was prevalent and influenced selections and was no different to what I had experienced when I was a schoolboy at Newington.

Jazz fortunately is very competitive and this assisted him with his initial transition. As an only child he revelled in the competitive companionship and the nature of the  all male testosterone driven atmosphere  that is inculcated in this  GPS environment .This would not suit a lot of kids who went to Redlands or similar co educational schools.Being an only child you yearn for friendship, mates and companions.

Being a Dad has been the most enjoyable endeavour I have undertaken. Hindsight is a bitch, wisdom is a virtue I wish I had a lot more of it.One of my few regrets is not having more children, it was not till Jazz and the parenting that went with it that I realised how much you love your children and how it would be such a buzz to have more.

Having Jazz was a surprise and when  I knew Lynne was pregnant I embraced the news. At the age of 45 I knew there were not going to be  more opportunities around the corner for fatherhood.From the time my son was born I fell in love with him and that love has increased over the years. We have experienced the highs and lows that continue with adulthood, the beautiful aspect with love for your child is that it never dissipates,as in my case with my relationships with women.

Now he has completed his education at Joeys which was an excellent school for him. He became  independent, learnt to cope with the discipline and strictures in place to manage  a large boarding school. The school enabled him to mix with a diverse cross section of students from many backgrounds and cultures that  this school promulgates.

He learnt that his actions have ramifications, that  have effects that don't necessarily go the way of expectations. Jazz for the first four years, was the champion 800 meter athlete for his year and was always selected in the rugby  and basketball A teams.

In the under sixteens he decided he did not want to run the 800 meters, when the athletic season came around. As he found the training, consisting of long distance road running through the suburbs around Hunters Hill, was not what he wanted to do any more.He found it lonely and dispiriting and this he explained to the Athletics Coach. Jazz found that for the rest of his rugby day at Joeys he was relegated to lower rugby sides, much to his disappointment.  

To his credit and determination he made basket ball his focus sport and was selected and  played with their Firsts Basket Ball Team for the last three years at the college. For this he was awarded his colours and honours blazer, which is no mean feat at a school that prides itself as one of the elite sporting schools in Australia.

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