posted on June 1, 2008 at 9:30 pm

go on
what happened after that?
which bit?
any of it…dip in again
ok…um…nothing coming to me
try man try…
yeah my dad bought his first ever house in dapto
the fibro one….
5 billabong avenue..
how very australian….
my mum n dad made fun of australians accents
mum sent me to the shop to ask for sort
for sort ?they said
yeah i said you know sort n pepper
you mean salt they said
but we say sort n pepper i say
whose we?
us! i dunno… family
les n joyce n steve 5 billabong ave, dapto nsw
practically in the bush
kids went to school in bare feet
there were frogs n turtles n goannas n skinks
n kookaburras n snakes n ticks n ants n beetles
we play cricket n some kid’d knock it out into the bush
we jumped from the roofs of half finished houses into sandpits
we climbed up trees n got attacked by magpies
we roamed through the trees hunting little creatures
we went to school where we sang lavender blue dilly dilly
we did our work in lead pencil n later little wells of ink
we got hit behind the knee with the nasty bit of a feather duster
my teachers were miss rowan, mrs allen, miss dewgood n mrs mcguiness
we had 2 sets of twins the abbotts identical
n the holloways non identical
i felt lonely n naked without any brothers or sisters
everyone said bloody steven cos he’s an only child
didnt they know i was gonna write some stupid pop song 20 years on?
everyone seemed to wanna take you down a peg or 2
being precocious was not where it was at in dapto in 1960
i can see that now but sometimes i felt like a freak
but not an unhappy childhood?
oh no no no oh bless me no my unhappiness was merely melancholy
i was always interested in sad films sad songs sad people
didnt like happy endings…cept for myself, of course
i liked to play alone
i liked to play with my soldiers
how did you play? how did you while away those hours?
you know…i cant really remember
i was a soldier performing heroic tasks
being shot over n over again
i made up some brothers glen kilbey n kevin kilbey
they were heroes as well in your battles
yeah we were a fighting heroic family
as the battle swung between my bed and the wardrobe
sometimes i’d play the game with decks of cards instead
i guess i was kinda writing a story
starring steven kilbey as tragic courageous ‘andsome lieutenant kilbey
or as the jack o’ clubs….
ah….the imaginary bloodshed in that room…
relaxed days
halcyon days
watermelon days
guns n holster days
binocular days
dog n cat days
riverbank days
roaming days
being cruel to bugs days
school holidays that went forever
sitting in the back of the car
hardly any bridges in them days…lotsa ferries
dad was always wondering at the raw wild country
the inchoate roads
the barbaric conditions
a long way from welwyn gdn city, herts
but he found the freedom…yes he did
he was exhilarated by the open road by the possibilities
in those days…
no internet
no mobile phones
no colour telly …only 2 channels
no cassette tapes
no ensuites or lifestyles
no walkmen or discmen or ipods neither
there were electric guitars
but no one was playing em prop’ly till the beatles
i remember i had a friend called andrew bristow
he was a real boy genius
this cat could read n write n converse with grownups
when he was only bloody 4
he came round one day and told my mum jfk had been shot
i d never ever even’ve known who he was when i was nine
he also had a magazine
this 8 year old kid had a magazine featuring these young blokes
the whole magazine was about them…
i’d seen em on telly
my dad said they were daft ..that they wouldnt last
he changed ‘is mind for a while later tho’
said they were as good as bloody batehoven or mose-art
until they went all weird n the japanese bint arrived
he used to call her yokohama…
hey im jumping way ahead of yourself now
back then you didnt really differentiate em
they were just all this hair
yeah this hair waving around
and when the drummer waved ‘is hair around
the kids in the audience went bloody nuts
silly bits of girls my auntie lou said
and a local show sent them up by having a group called the butterflies
oh the butterflies….oh ha ha oh how funny….
but andrew bristows gotta whole magazine full of em
whose your favourite? said bristow sitting in our back yard
what? i said…i looked through at em
they all looked the same
i couldnt believe andrew had paid one shilling n one penny for this
but he was totally fascinated
he got me to test him on pauls favourite colours
what kind of girls did george like
what did ringo think of life as a beatle
john was married
bristow was really disappointed that i wasnt interested
a bout six months later i got that same magazine
my uncle harry had lashed out n bought please please me
and i was hooked
was their hair really long?
no it was very neat n washed n shiny
why all the fuss?
cos they had fringes (bangs to yanks)
thats it?
thats it..before that blokes had combed their hair back
but the beatles combed it forwards n it touched their ears
its hard to estimate their impact on this world…
unless you were there noting the changes
my dad eventually even grew sideburns n combed it forward
what a groover….?!
oh no he never really got the sixties
i think he liked the seventies better…
the sixties really were a mini renaissance then?
gee it seems like it…not in 1963 in dapto tho’
it seemed a long way off
it was all lawn mowers n timber n blokes with greasy overalls
it was rothmans for me dad
n viscounts for uncle dennis
it was aunty lous chutney n spotted dick (a dessert)
it was tadpoles n mud n sticks n stones
salad days
the inviolate past

18 Responses to “ability”

  1. avatar
    veleska1970 | 1 June 2008 at 11:07 pm #

    “didnt they know i was gonna write some stupid pop song 20 years on?”
    mmmm….if they only knew that they were in the presence of greatness.

    your walks down mem’ry lane for the past few days have been delicious. thanks for these.

    lotza love….

  2. avatar
    linjo | 2 June 2008 at 1:32 am #

    Wasnt it great to be able to wonder round the streets and in the bush in those days. We had so much freedom. Poor kids now, you gotta watch them every second. No wonder there are so many fatties. Unless it was raining, we were usually on our dragsters. Engadine was a lot like Dapto in those days.Funny how you mentioned spotted dick. When I read yesterdays blog, I though to myself I bet Steve’s mum made spotted dick. yerk! as bad as bread and butter pudding, god us kids hated that along with tripe, black pudding, but we loved the puftaloons! tadpoles, silkworms being carted along in leggo containers. good days! LindaX

  3. avatar
    kat | 2 June 2008 at 2:45 am #

    a groover.. this runs in the family!

    ever seen beatles anthology, sk?


  4. avatar
    princey | 2 June 2008 at 3:14 am #

    It was soft-pack Peter Styvesants for my dad, morning,noon and night, in the car, outdoors, at work, straight after dinner, before brekky, actually I don’t remember him WITHOUT that smoking white stick in his hand…maybe that’s why I’ve never taken up smoking myself!!!
    (I have to say I’ve never seen or tasted a spotty dick, what the ‘ell is it?)
    Enjoy your day sk, it’s 2008, and where is that Painkiller!
    Love Amanda
    P.S. Ta Linda&Veleska,I was so paranoid about sticking a pic here, but what the hell hey, poor sk is the one that has to suffer seeing it everyday haha!!

  5. avatar
    Jen Jewel Brown | 2 June 2008 at 4:45 am #

    Fantastic reminiscinces SK, many familiar. Did you do Guy Fawkes Day? Enormous and reliably dangerous in North Balwyn. On the subject of Kennedy deaths, I have pre-remembered the 40th anniversary of Bobby’s assassination on June 5 1968. What a flash of hope he seemed. His speeches were amazing.

  6. avatar
    MEM | 2 June 2008 at 7:36 am #

    ability = capability + willingness. no?

    isn’t the present always taking on a whole
    new meaning as the past rushes past

    like those little monkeys who hear
    no evil, see no evil, speak no evil…

  7. avatar
    fantasticandy | 2 June 2008 at 9:45 am #

    i hated ’em!
    the fab four?
    please please me yeah?
    she loves you yeah, yeah, yeah?
    beep, beep ‘n yeah, yeah, yeah?
    greatest band in the world?

    hang on a min!
    norweigan wood!
    across the universe!
    all too much!
    yeah! yeah! yeah!

    in a pc world gone crazy a popular
    stodgy pudding is now found on the menu as ‘spotted dog’.

    smashin’ stuff today slim!
    all the best,
    andy L.

  8. avatar
    Lebrinho | 2 June 2008 at 11:32 am #

    A good guitar is 75% of all you need, ever.

  9. avatar
    Hellbound Heart | 2 June 2008 at 11:37 am #

    …did you guys ever have yorkshire pudding…
    one of the joys of being a teacher is that you never have to grow out of being fascinated by silkworms in a box or tadpoles in a jar…at the moment football cards that come out of chip packets are all the go at school although yu-gi-oh! seems to be an evergreen favourite with the boys as well…as for the girls, there’s a bit of a lull at the moment with things to be nuts about…
    god, what you said about holidays lasting forever when you are a kid is so true…time is a such an elastic concept when you’re little (my daughter wanted to know the other night if there were dinosaurs around when i was born-she was being dead serious!)
    love always…

  10. avatar
    restaurant mark | 2 June 2008 at 12:23 pm #

    i really love the trips through your memory…so visual i feel like i’m there. then i just start connecting and thinking of certain memories of my own…thanks…good stuff. i think i spent half my time when i was 8 and 9 either playing starwars in my room, or outside catching lizards…my mom loved it when i brought them inside to show her!

    your dad became a groover? like father, like son!

    congrats on the new baby john garratt!

    take care everyone

  11. avatar
    Matthew | 2 June 2008 at 12:27 pm #

    inviolate town?? Nicely nostalgic, reminds me of my halcyon childhood years in semi-rural western brisbane. Thought they’d never end.

  12. avatar
    Ross B | 2 June 2008 at 2:19 pm #

    Great story. My sister, much older than I (she’s a Sep’54 child) tells of the coming of the Beatles and the impact it had on her life in a similar way you do – it’s that generation I suppose, I just missed it though I’ve embraced the Beatles dearly ever since. I almost miss too my bro & sis experiences of growing up on a farm out in mid-NSW; by the time I came along it was all urban neurosis!! I’ve made up for it since, getting out in the sticks alot etc.

    Someone mention smoking? That generation too, my old man was heavily into Rothmans then settled for the Winfield Red, matched with a healthy appetite for schooners. He just smoked everywhere, he didn’t give an f – in the valiant, and in the house, I didn’t mind though, we were taught to put up and shut up. He lasted well did good old dad, made it into his sixties.

    I love this country, for the wide open spaces, the sometimes obtuse nature of the landscape, its gawkyness and wonder, I’m glad to have come here.

    I wish you well John, June is a nice name!

    Kind regards to all in BlogLand! r.

  13. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 2 June 2008 at 2:29 pm #

    Today’s blog made me realize why I have such a MACCA bias. The first songs in my life that I ever heard and loved were “The Long and Winding Road,” “Let It Be,” “Eleanor Rigby” and “She’s Leaving Home.” Then when I was ten I learned about him and Linda Loving animals so much. I also heard “Helter Skelter” and realized that MACCA could also write and sing psychedlic music !

  14. avatar
    ScaughtFive | 2 June 2008 at 3:16 pm #

    I’ve never liked happy endings either. It wouldn’t be fair to steal one away for meself, would it?

  15. avatar
    CSTCoach | 2 June 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    “my unhappiness was merely melancholy
    i was always interested in sad films sad songs sad people
    didnt like happy endings…cept for myself, of course
    i liked to play alone
    i liked to play with my soldiers”
    “i was a soldier performing heroic tasks
    being shot over n over again”

    i’m amazed at how much we had in common. not the 60’s and the beatles and all that (my musical era was the 80’s – yeah, yeah, i know your take on that 😛 ), but this outlook above. very cool.

    “spotted dick (a dessert)”

    glad you clarified that. frightened me for a second there…

  16. avatar
    William | 2 June 2008 at 5:57 pm #

    Your post today reminded me of that amazing poem you wrote on the inside of Starfish. I haven’t read that in awhile actually, but I will get it out now. I’m remembering how reading it took the connection I was feeling to your music (that I was hearing for the first time) to another level. It was a very powerful piece of writing.

    I feel very fortunate to be able to enjoy your writing here on the interwebs all these years later.


  17. avatar
    The Kipper | 2 June 2008 at 7:20 pm #

    It’s interesting to know that your childhood was so similar to many of our own, being kids in the ’60s. Roaming the flora and fauna, playing with toy soldiers, watching the world go ape over the Beatles.

    Those interested in The Beatles Anthology can visit the best online guide at (shameless editor’s plug.)

  18. avatar
    davem | 2 June 2008 at 7:48 pm #

    I used to have a Beatles obsession – Beatles pen-pals even – until 1982, when I saw the vid for “The Ung Mo”……nothing has compared since.

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