Wednesday, 28 November 2012



I started writing a journal when my parents passed away- more for cathartic purposes, than commencing a chronological biographical.

Then through encouragement from Peter Richardson, who has been mentoring me on social media, I commenced writing about my travels and anecdotal experiences till now.

Living as closely as I did with my parents as an only child over their early years of struggle must have shaped and conditioned me as only a psychiatrist could determine. As an only child I was lonely, wishing so much for a brother or sister, so envious of blokes at school who had both.

Later I sometimes wondered about my father, if war had not broken out and had he not met Mum and been forced so early into marriage and fatherhood. What his life may have been ?

When I was going to Newington for all those years (1949 - 1959) called a "LIFER". someone who started in first class in the prep, at Wyvern House and finished their final year, in the Main school.Each morning I would drive with Dad and Mum to Milsons Point Station where he would leave the car.We took the train,Dad and Mum to Wynyard and myself to Stanmore. I remember,I was in the school cadet uniform, which I hated, with my Mother in the train, when I overheard some bloke say to his mate looking at 13 year old me "Thank Christ we've got a Navy".

As I got older, I used to think, seeing all these people in the train, dressed in  suits, herded in like sheep, standing on each others toes, every day doing this for the rest of their working lives, that it was not for me.I also detected that my father used to to wonder if there was more to it all.

I enjoyed the prep school, as there were several teachers I got along with - Miss Pearce, Don Brown. The main school was different, there was not one teacher that I liked and that probably went both ways. The only aspect I liked was the sport; rugby, rowing and athletics.That is the defining feature of private schools over public, their sporting facilities.Newington was a hard disciplinary school when I was there, the cane was used plenty and I often was on the receiving end. Their was a school sergeant major, Mr Goldsmith who was also the physical training instructor, he had a whistle and the eye of a hawk, if he saw anyone out of bounds or up to no good you'd hear his whistle across the grounds, which were large and you knew someone was in for some pain. they would have to report to him and right there, attached to his whistle he had this leather plaited strap, that he would put across your arse about three time, it used to sting like fuck.

Maths was not my strong subject, I dropped it in my final year, the humanities were my strong subjects. Jack Butler my final year maths teacher asked me " do you have an idea what your doing when you leave here" I replied "travel and probably become an international news correspondent" he said "well  Mathers you don't need maths for that, sit up the back and don't disturb any of the others".

On my last day of school before "swat vac" in the last period before break up, two of us went up to the "castle", this was the Main Schools' toilet block built of sandstone in the shape of a small castle, for a cigarette.One of the masters, Phil Davis, saw the two of us going for what he presumed correctly was a smoke. He sent another student to check out what we were up to , he reported back the obvious. We were then told to go to the deputy headmasters office, where we received six of the cane each.The other bloke, Howard Sneddon, had acne badly, not only on his face, but over his back. He went in first and after about three cuts of the cane I heard "fuck you"! Out of the office he came, bawling.Harry Dean never had the reputation for being a big hitter, so I was surprised at Sneddon's reaction. I went in and received six, then went back up to the Castle where I knew he would be. He was there with shirt off and trousers down to his knees. His lower back where Dean had miss hit him was a, red mess of blood and puss from the cane, which had broken his flesh where his acne was. Sneddon brought his father to the school, what happened after, I never knew. I couldn' wait to get out of the place and into the real world.

My first job out of school was with Consolidated Press. Starting as a copy boy at the Telegraph  when I passed the Leaving Certificate being promoted to a cadet journalist, assigned to sports department. As it was a morning paper I would not finish work till late evenings and getting home was ridiculous as the buses had stopped running and the trains were so few and far between, I used to walk up to the toll gates at the  start of the Harbour Bridge and hitch a ride, eventually I bought a car.

Gerry Pynt was the sports editor, Phil Tressider was the feature writer, John Pilger would have been just out of his cadetship and Norm Tasker was still a cadet journalist.I was at this time playing rugby with Lindfield Juniors and having a good time, trouble was I was hot to get into a good side, but I could not train - as I was working nights and training was early evenings.

Hitching home one night I was picked up and became involved in a conversation with a gentleman who was very enthusiastic about a new method of processing and keeping food fresh in supermarkets. His name was Jim Summerton and  was the MD for Edgell Birdseye Frozen Foods. As we spoke more,he asked me was I happy with newspaper life and I probably said it was early days, but I certainly found the late nights curtailing on social activities. He ended up driving me home to my parents house. In the car parked outside, he outlined to me a new position that he was to commence  at their office in Rozelle - an executive trainee.Then he  offered me the position.

 I handed my notice in as I had thought sufficiently about the position offered and decided to take it. I spent three years with Edgell Birdseye, being trained in all the facets of frozen food production, wharehousing and distribution. At the same time playing rugby with with Lindfield and then playing grade rugby with Norths and Eastwood.

These were some of the best times of my life till then. I had recently turned 21 and decide I wanted to take off overseas, as some other blokes had already gone and were writing back of the great time they were having in london. 

Two other friends, who I met through playing rugby, Bruce Currie and Ross Mc Pherson  decided it was time for us travel. So booked a passage on the Fairstar and in March 1964 we departed for London. 

I spent six months in London working for Unilever Birdseye as sales rep, got bored did a quick trip around Spain and France. Went back to England and joined up with another  couple of Australians and flew to Canada. We drove across Canada to the Rockies obtaining work in the Chateau Lake Louise and  then Vancouver where I obtained another position with Unilever taking over  the territory of Northern Alberta as a sales representative. 

Only an Australian would be silly, naive and desperate enough take on the job, especially in winter which was when I was there. As the territories go this was the pits.Canadians were to weather wise to take it on.After a three day training with their manager in Calgary.Unilever based me in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta which was out in the middle of nowhere, but smack bang in the middle of Canada's largest oil field. 

I found an apartment to share with another Canadian who was a rep with a dental supply group. I was given a Ford Fairlaine to cover a territory that included Lesser Slave Lake, Peace River, Grande Prairie and Fort Saint John, exotic sounding, in name only.A round trip with detours of 1500 k' that took a month to cover.The task itself  was easy selling soap,detergents and toiletries to the large chains like Safeways and to the lesser general stores dotted through the tundra. The hard part was doing it, the driving.

I had never driven  on ice before.As mentioned it was winter.The car had special snow treads and a heater. I started off along the main highway which further up the track linked with the Alaska Highway. I had only gone about 50 k out of town and I noticed on both sides of the road a big ice embankment, about eight foot high.Like a big ice wall on either side of the road.This was from huge snow ploughs, that spewed the snow to the side and kept the roads clear and then they sprayed  salt on the road to stop the ice!!!

I further noticed these holes like small cave every so often that were in the embankments, wondering what the were, I soon received the answer. as i was belting along i appled the brake on a section and the car hit some black ice and i was spun of the road into the ice wall, totally out of controll the car speared into the embankment and stopped within about ten feet. I was in my own little ice igloo. Quitely in shock, I backed out and there was my little cave I had been wondering, what the fuck are they!!

I did that job for six months, saved sufficient funds to get myself to Nassau and that where this story started and this one nearly ends.

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