posted on June 10, 2008 at 9:33 pm

les n joyce meet
our lives are merely trees of possibilities
end of the war
summer of peace

les n joyce get married
i do i do i do
to have and to hold
time being a glimmer in the eye
time being coming down the line
time being getting ready
re: in car, nate

oh a little bundle of joy arrives

see me in my pram asleep
a golden child with tiny angels a’hovering
hear my dulcet tones
when i gurgle out my first phrase of da da esque poetry

see me walking talking living boy
see my budgie napoleon
see me fly my red plane and my blue plane
see me in watercolour memory garden
the summer nights in sweetbriar
dad bangin’ on a piana

im in australia
look its the ninety fifties
men were men
n women had those horrible hairdos with all the spray
how poisonous was all that bloody spray
sprayed all over yer face n in yer scalp
airborne glue
conditions in australia a little “rawer” than england
especially the matter of sanitation
hey les can do well here tho
he’s a photographer n pianist n mechanic
n a all round cockney geezer
hes bloody funny too that leslie
aint ‘e , ladies
ooh that les….such a comedian

oh idyllic days before i started school
sitting up in bed colouring
next to me mums having her afternoon nap
mum n dad have these curtains diffusing soft light in their room
im very quiet n still
i dont want to wake mum up
i am the custodian n guardian of her nap
i will keep still
and in the delicacy of each movement
in the extreme quietness and slowness of each moment
i colour my book in
such marvellous stories
little toy sailors riding fish that looked like dolphins
hobgoblins and witches
a door in a tree leads to a faery feast
the midnight hour kidnapped n rescued by a mouse
a fierce old man with a beard who turns out to be friendly
(first time i saw the word “fierce”…will always associate with that book)
i discover my favourite colours among my pencils were pink n mauve
they had some important link i could never fathom
same as the letters j and f
those two letters have some link my young heart told me
maybe coming from before….?

at one of our seemingly endless picnics
here we all are by the side of a lagoon on a perma-sunday
the dads are all snoozing in deck chairs
the mums are all getting lunch ready
the kids are all floating round on blow up toys
theres joyce with a flask of hot tea
theres les with his new fangled movie camera
a movie camera….that les…!
hes gotta have all the latest gadgets
he sweeps in low and films all the ladies legs
they all have a giggle except mum
shes used to his antics
oh look
that little freckle face kid
hes a skinny little sod
his hair is short backnsides and bleached sandy by the sun
his shoulders are red n peeling
so hes swimming with a t shirt on which he hates
some of my relatives are really lovely
aunty ivy was nice to me
seeming like she came from another age
aunty lou my dads sister was a hard lady to handle
she fomented revolt n dissent with all her rellies
humphing n tut tut tutting n shh n rolling her eyes
she wound em up n she set em against each other
a real matriach worthy of a roman dynasty
lou used to try to set me dad against me
it hurt me that my dad was taking flack from his big sister
over me n my bad behaviour
my cheekiness towards the groan-ups
my lack of the required subservience
the way i didnt eat my dinner
the only food i liked was fried egg n chips…!
lou had a million little aphorisms along the lines of
children should be seen n not heard
kinda trip
still on days like these
life seemed endlessly pleasurable
but anxiety had begun to pop into my stomach
a general uneasiness as i began to suss the lie of the land

i go to a school
everyday i go there and get educated
i learn how to sing christmas carols
i learn how to daydream
i learn how to look at the pretty girls
i learn how to compete
i learn the hit of winning
i learn the miss of losing
i learn the currents of popularity
i learn to compare
i learn to bully and be bullied
i learn to get in fights
i learn to avoid fights
i get threepence
wrapped in my hanky for bus fare n after school
my mum has already made my lunch and playlunch
at 11 oclock we drink warm milk left in the playground
(it wasnt supposed to be warm….)
we use this paint that had a wonderful smell
we do a play
we have yo yo experts come to school
we have a fancy dress competition
we catch the bus home
i watch superman starring george reeves
i watch zorro
i watch rin tin tin
i watch lassie
i watch the cisco kid
i watch robin hood
and the adventures of lancelot
mr squiggle n the gillypops
i watch bandstand
i go to bed at 7 30
dad tells me a story
anxiety creeping more
school is frightening
i realise i’ll never have those days with my mother again
they were over before i knew it
i decide i dont really like school

the roaring sixties

23 Responses to “memory lane changer”

  1. avatar
    veleska1970 | 11 June 2008 at 4:18 am #

    thanks for this. cannot wait until the next installment.

    lotza love….

  2. avatar
    Paul Lightfoot | 11 June 2008 at 4:19 am #

    Did your dad ever read you Briar Rose back then? It was such a great and scary book.

  3. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 June 2008 at 4:49 am #

    Nicely evocative of an aussie childhood. I also came to Sydney from Europe at the age of three, but can’t really remember much from that time…hey, maybe this blog will kick off some memories in future tense for me!

  4. avatar
    Richard | 11 June 2008 at 5:07 am #

    I was about ten years later and in Northern NSW

    but we had the milk too (sometimes flavoured – never cold enough)

    and the yo-yo people

    and the smelly paint

    and I remember we had those carpet-mat things for the afternoon nap – did you have those?

  5. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 June 2008 at 5:48 am #

    i can still smell the vegemite sandwich n the warmed banana in the brown paper lunch bag,n the smell of that paint,kinda smelled like play-doh ,in a way,n the painting smocks n eisls,n singing god save the queen at assembly…what a rotten waste of tax payers money as well,to have a picture of lizzie in every classromm,with her blue sash,just next to the silver framed,black handed clock..sculptures from pencil shavings,n the lizard n bug population at the back of the oval,near the fence,just by the drainage points…my teacher,a pink floyd fan,playing his guitar,n wed sing tambourine man,n purple people eater,n windy,n blowin in the wind,n its a small world,n joseph n his technicoloured dreamcoat,n the bananaboat songn the sloop john b..plaits n green sandshoes,n boys with sling shot pentubes full of spitbombs!;) x

  6. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 June 2008 at 6:57 am #

    death and taxes homeboy

  7. avatar
    lily was here | 11 June 2008 at 7:02 am #

    The 60’s, my favourite music decade. The Archies, Snoopy vs the Red Baron and ‘Smiley’. I love that photo of Les and Joyce on the motorbike, p214 of your mums book and the ones of you, sometimes with your shoes on 🙂


  8. avatar
    count yer blessings, y'lucky aussie bahstard! | 11 June 2008 at 8:53 am #

    Man, you’re damn lucky you got out of this shithole, otherwise you’d’ve had to contend with Thatcher!

  9. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 June 2008 at 9:09 am #

    So, you came to Australia at the age of two or three. By all reckoning you’re an Australian. Why, then, have you persisted in speaking with that faux English accent all your life?


  10. avatar
    princey | 11 June 2008 at 10:02 am #

    I love reading about my idols childhood memories. Can’t wait for the sk teen years, was he a lean, mean, fighting (or writing) machine? I think you wrote about your first girlie crush, but I’d love to hear more, more,more.
    love Amanda
    P.S. 7.09pm, last time I spoke to sk (April), he sounded like a true blue Aussie, not pommy sounding at all really.

  11. avatar
    nickfiction | 11 June 2008 at 10:23 am #

    hi steve, stopped in to say hello, we clevelanders are getting ready for your 2008 summer tour. i promise i’ll bring some friends and some friendly green for ya! NF

  12. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 June 2008 at 10:36 am #

    Anon, 7.09 haven’t you taken any notice of Steve’s comments on here when he’s said he emphasises an Aussie or an English accent depending on a) who he’s talking to, and b) how much they’re pissing him off ?

  13. avatar
    Celticat | 11 June 2008 at 11:10 am #

    I loved that sk. While reading I could smell my memories – does that make sense?

    The warm milk (I sussed that one early on and volunteered to be the most concientious milk monitors ever – and of course I always got a coldie LOL).

    The stay spray – yep I remeber the ads where they spray and spray and spray while the model smiled magnificently. How they kept from choking is beyond me.

    TV – I a 1961er so a few years behind you but Cisco Kid was still big!! I was always a bit sus about Pancho…

    Love to you and all who sail in you

  14. avatar
    Hellbound Heart | 11 June 2008 at 12:01 pm #

    …hey anon at 3:48…did you ever notice that the eyes of queen lizzie in the framed photo seemed to follow you around no matter where you were in the room…she was hanging in our school library and she used to give me the creeps, the way she seemed to stare at me all the time…
    my eariest viewing memories are gentle ben, mister squiggle,dr who, bill and ben the flowerpot men, playschool, skippy and oh shit i could go on for ages…
    i knew this girl at school, skinny as buggery but she used to pig out on those chocolate wagon wheels all the time…wonder if obesity’s caught up with her…
    magnificent writing, sir…
    love always…

  15. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 June 2008 at 1:59 pm #

    Why did you Aussies have photos of the Queen on yer classroom walls? We didn’t even have that in England (thankfully!).

  16. avatar
    matthew | 11 June 2008 at 2:42 pm #

    So much of that was very familiar Steve… interesting your observation about “the anxiety” creeping more; I so well remember that about school… I think that experience must surely be very widespread, especially given some of the stupidities and contradictions of the system.

  17. avatar
    fantasticandy | 11 June 2008 at 3:03 pm #

    being an anglo-australian has been a major factor in the development of your unique vocal style……
    plus not all people perceive the same things ie:
    after chrissy and i had a chat with you a couple of years back i said to her:
    ‘he’s still got an engish ‘twang’ in there somewhere,
    even after all these years’.
    she replied:
    ‘who…SK?, he sounds like a typical aussie to me!’.
    take your pick……..

    super bloggie today…took me back too!
    lovely easy writing style killer,
    concise yet evocative!
    love ya,
    andy L.

  18. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 11 June 2008 at 3:22 pm #

    In 1954 the angels came together and decided to make a dream come true. Joseph was a Carpenter. NK is close to you.

    Captain Sensible, Tony T.S. NcPhee are two iconoclastic British music legends. The latter is The Groundhogs.

  19. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 11 June 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    Tony T.S. McPhee and the legendary Groundhogs. Andy must know about them.

  20. avatar
    davem | 11 June 2008 at 3:42 pm #

    Lovely stuff.
    Oh oh oh………..the music to Robinson Crusoe.
    Much love to you.

  21. avatar
    eek | 11 June 2008 at 8:05 pm #

    i decide i dont really like school

    A man after my heart! I came to that same conclusion early on myself. Even now, decades later, I still can’t quite shake the feeling that all teachers are sadists who hate kids and become teachers just so they can legally torture them. (And I even have friends who are teachers too! Of course I don’t have any kids myself, so what do I care if they are torturing someone else’s kids? 😉 ) Can’t quite shake the feeling there’s something wrong with any child who loves school either.

    Yeah, I know I’m warped…but that’s all those damned teachers’ fault too! I actually wasn’t all that fond of most of the other kids at school either. There were a lot of mean kids at my school, so it wasn’t just the teachers who made it hell.

  22. avatar
    Cee | 11 June 2008 at 9:24 pm #

    I hit the US just in time to catch the Beatles on Sullivan – yeah!

  23. avatar
    linjo | 12 June 2008 at 3:38 am #

    Yeah Eek I think liking school or hating it is probably more dependant on whether or not you had good mates there to enjoy and just being accepted by your peers. I remember peeing my pants when I was in year 1, so I was a pariah for a while. Cant imagine my little miss G doing that now, she is such an alpha female, so self assured and beautiful, different to what I was.
    Steve, I wonder whether your change in nature coincided with the next sibling being born. My parents alway maintain that my brother was the most engaging child until I was born after which he become a little unloving. We only really got to know each other in the last 12years. Fk its cold up here today, cant go for my walkies, raining grrrrr. Have a good one all xxx

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