posted on January 14, 2010 at 7:30 am

its summer in sydney just after christmas
i guess everyones gone away coz its real real quiet
yeah you can park anywhere
the people have all gone north n south
in little villages on days like this….what do they do…?
they play cricket on the beach
they drink beer and smoke
they sit in little deck chairs in the warm prehistoric darkness
some surfers “root” girls in the back of their vans
some take acid and sit around fires on remote beaches
they swim in the lagoons and they fish from the bridge
“no fishing allowed” but there they all are
they have a last swim in the motel pool before mum n dad go out
they eat toasted cheese n tomato sandwiches n chips
n a chocolate milk in the bandstand or grandstand or pagoda
they play euchre on card tables and eat crisps
they get the stuff ready for tomorrow
the holiday is drawing to an end
seems like it never would but there you go
we drive from albion park to oak flats
dad up front of course driving
uncle harry next to him
im in the back between aunty margaret n mum
aunty margaret nurses terry
mum nurses russell
uncle harry n dad smoke n smoke n smoke
dad smokes “filthy rothmans”
uncle harry smokes temple bar n 555
these seem exotic to me
dad always always smokes rothmans
uncle denis smokes viscount
sometimes denis smokes one of dads if he runs out
sometimes i see dad say ” give us a viscount , symonds!”
and he’ll smoke a viscount
i look at him n raise my eyebrows
he looks at the cigarette n shrugs
he is a confirmed rothmans man until they invent benson n hedges
then suddenly everyone starts smoking benson n hedges
do you suppose there really was a mr benson n mr hedges
its like lambert n butler isnt it?
two snobby names giving tobacco a fancy air
my dad only smoked british cigs
no sir he did not like american style cigs
my dad called cigs fags
all the english blokes did
long before the american meaning became known to us
one of our roadies jokes was
gotta fag for an old digger?
gotta a digger for an old fag?
ha ha ha well maybe you hadda bee there
anyway isnt shocking that i should be so well acquainted
with my dads nicotine habit
but we didnt know in those days it was so bad…did we …?
so we drive along us women children n babies
no seatbelts
as many as you like
a car full of fowl smoke
driving to oak flats
where theres a beach n a lagoon n pine trees
n fishnchips n maybe some kids from my school
yeah theres joy ballard
and theres john trevanion
and theres ian morris
and theres christine cameron
and theres colourful towels against the white sand
we didnt know sunburn was bad for ya neither
we’re all as red as beetroots
you can beat an egg but you cant beat a root
ha ha
dad and uncle harry have movie cameras
aunty margaret n mum dont like being filmed
go away les .!
my mother mouths silently on super 8
and she pulls an annoyed face
everyone looks so young young young
russell is like a white blur
his head is full of snowy white hair
dad films me
and i run around cross eyed n bucktoothed
flapping my arms like real stupid brat
suddenly i stop and i look into the camera
theres a flash and a bang
and we’re travelling across the waves
the lens is spotted with droplets of water
dad is trying to fish but he doesnt know what hes doing
hes got the perpetual rothmans in his mouth
as he reels in a big nothing
a lovely sunset has come down n we go over to visit some people
they serve food i cant eat n i run outside and explore
i brutally kill any bugs that i find
i squash em n crush em n hit em
i find some matches n i burn leaves n things
i pull out my plastic soldiers n i melt ones leg off
poor thing i think a battle injury
i stage a little war in the grass
people die heroic deaths in my little garden war
it gets dark i go inside
the grown ups are drinking beer n my dads playing piano
mum n dad drink only shandies..half beer n half lemonade
dad is in his element on the piano
but it bores me n even makes me a little angry to see him show off
i say some cheeky things eventually
and my mum promises me a good smacking when we get home
luckily they forget about it by the time we get home
into your own little beddybyes says mum n dad together
ouch i got more sunburnt
mum slaps on calamine lotion
you caught the sun son she says
the cold calamine lotion does actually soothe it
i lay in my room with my golden book encyclopedias
with my rubber knife and my cap gun and my drawers
with my school uniform n my good clothes
its raining outside softly
so softly
i fall asleep
to a gentle drip drip drip

15 Responses to “oak flats”

  1. avatar
    Alberta Gallo | 14 January 2010 at 8:44 am #

    Was'nt life great then…simple but peaceful.I wish time could stand still:)

  2. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 14 January 2010 at 9:43 am #

    Thanks for making me laugh! 🙂

    "one of our roadies jokes was
    gotta fag for an old digger?
    gotta a digger for an old fag?
    ha ha ha well maybe you hadda bee there"

  3. avatar
    phil in Canbagerra | 14 January 2010 at 10:28 am #

    Glad your still with us..No seatbelts! Smoke filled cars with kids…ah ..those were and were not the good old days…amazing what past karmas seep through into child's play.

    Dr Phil

  4. avatar
    Anonymous | 14 January 2010 at 10:37 am #

    Yes I remember…

  5. avatar
    princey | 14 January 2010 at 10:40 am #

    Aw, that was sweeeeet, man:)))
    I always love reading about your childhood memories, hope there's more to come.
    (or a recent song/video would be nice too!,it's been a while)
    love Amanda

  6. avatar
    Anonymous | 14 January 2010 at 11:44 am #

    Pretty much sums up my upbringing here in florida, give or take. Fantastic writing!

  7. avatar
    Ady | 14 January 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    My Dad perpetually puffed on Camel (soft pack) & pipes of rich treacley smelling tobacco that came in moist coils in tins & eventually smelt acrid after hours of slow-burn…..seatbeltless in the back of the Falcon coasting to or from the beach……blistered skin, smell of Coppertone or coconut oil, frangipanis, melted Paddlepops, squatting in deep concentration beside rockpools trying to catch crabs, catching my brothers sizzling innocent ants with artfully angled magnifying glasses (boys can be so cruel even you SK!)
    I can still feel & smell the calamine cool from the fridge….pleasure n pain as it was dabbed on ….

    Dads family smoked like chimneys (always Rothmans & B&H)……shandies always remind me of Xmas……

    WOW, went on another trip back in time after reading your words Mr K, you certainly know how to transport a gal, just like Mr Winton & Mr Carey….no wonder you call it the Time Being!

  8. avatar
    Ady | 14 January 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    Just had a Church flashback….seeing you guys supporting Dire Straits at the Hordern Pav with my mum (well she was there for DS, I only had eyes for the Church)……in the heaving mosh of mods n skins n punks n bovva boys in that old theatre venue on George St seeing Madness gloriously preceded by the Church….
    Did this really happen SK or are my 80s memories mirages? I was pretty young…

  9. avatar
    Freddie | 14 January 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    Nice..nostalgic..notable, natural, nutritious n'good reading 😉 xoxo

  10. avatar
    cazziem | 14 January 2010 at 9:25 pm #

    It's always a lovely read when you invite us to share you childhood memories, so thanks SK. Typical boy and matches scenario you had going on there, especially the melted leg. Not funny really, but soldiers and suffering seem to go together when you're a kid and you have not concept of pain and suffering. Having said that, almost 40 years ago I had a 3” doll bought for me at Christmas by our neighbour, ‘Auntie Joyce’. (Strange how we seemed to be related to almost everyone in the street years ago, these days my neighbours barely acknowledge I'm in the same air space!) My doll was bendy rubber with wire through the arms and legs and I wanted her to stand in a classical ballet pose but she kept falling over and would position her arms over her head correctly, so I bit off her feet and hands. Sad thing is I still have my little doll a feel really bad for what I did to her. I wonder if we were all such little angels???

  11. avatar
    andychrist | 14 January 2010 at 9:49 pm #

    I have fond memories of youth,
    before I became more jaded.
    Age has just done that.

    Brilliant memories my friend,
    I could surface them if I try
    and as good as they are
    they always bring tears to my eyes

    Why…..oh why?

    I think that's why I used to like psychedelics so much
    They brought back some of the "wide eyed" innocence

    But not today…why…oh why?

  12. avatar
    davem | 14 January 2010 at 10:06 pm #

    So similar to growing up in blighty except for the sun, the surfers, cricket on the beach, motel pools, sunburnt landlords and choccie milkshakes.
    When I was a kid they always seemed to have run out of choccie but never the banana or lime…….. And why lime? In 1972 limes in England were about as prevalent as tasteful trousers, unless you were 7 and wanted a bloody milkshake in any flavour except lime.

  13. avatar
    this one from b.raine | 15 January 2010 at 12:31 am #

    sometimes i think
    i might tell
    that theres
    a rhyme

    for a time
    its as tho someone
    was there who could
    be amoungst the others

    one who saw so much
    only sometimes the thoughts
    and are so many
    like forevers upon forevers

    they randomly come
    unprepared to see the
    clusters knotted
    dressed upon all linen
    they will be found

  14. avatar
    WantonMyth | 15 January 2010 at 5:03 am #

    Mundane suburban rituals, observed with existential angst . . .

  15. avatar
    Skinned Heart | 19 January 2010 at 12:03 am #

    Do you know what Rothmans stands for?

    Roll Over Tina Honey My Arse Needs Scratching

    Har Har dems teen jokes are the best.
    Where do they come from?

    Show us your childhood home movies!
    Please pleasse please please!
    Bet you coiuld edit them into something fantastic.

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