posted on November 24, 2006 at 8:06 pm

when we 1 st arrived in australia
i was 2 or 3 but i was already me
we at first stayed in a caravan
out the back of uncle chas n aunty ivys place
in unanderra
aunty ivy was uncle erns sister
uncle ern was married to the infamous aunty lu-lu
my dads sister as y’all remember
it seemed that everyone i mingled with was english
next door to ivy n chas was uncle fred n aunty may
n next door to them were uncle harold n aunty doris
with their 2 teenage daughters sheila n christine
(who i thought were very pretty)
in fact i used to sit under the table n gaze at their feet
which i thought were slim n tanned n perfect
my dad arrived in australia with 30 pounds to start his new life
but things were flourishing in the 50s
he quickly got a job working at hg palmers
a kinda white goods sales n service chain
my mum was a secretary too
and she could type hundreds of words a moment
and she spoke fluent shorthand
hey up n hey down mother!
so she gotta job too i guess
we were living in fairy meadow
in a little bungalow
we had only a couple of records
frank sinatra sings for only the lonely
+a doris day record
and later a stereo demonstration record
“let me see (sound of mans footsteps going left to right)
how can i best describe the sound of stereo?”
i listened to frank n doris along with my parents
oh the lyrics on frankies album were sublime
so i jumped in at a good place
i puzzled over angel eyes that ole devil sent
when frankie implored the willow to weep
i knew just the willow, i could see it in my minds eye
when the sea rushed in to plant a kiss on the shore
i could feel the thrill of real adult romance
my teeth were pretty bad
and i had to have an op to pull some of em out
they hadda put me under n everything
maybe i’d turned four by this stage
and they did it in hospital
i can still remember them taking me home afterwards
it was night
i think my mum n dad were quite relieved i made it thru
anaesthesia was a bit more hit n miss in those days
and they bought me a white rabbit n 2 white guinea pigs
we let em runaround the garden n they were quite tame
one day my mum n me came home
and my mum said
someones dipped cotton wool in red paint
and they thrown it all over the garden
unfortunately it was the beloved rabbit n g. pigs
that had been ripped to shreds by the vicious dogs over the fence
whod jumped over in our yard….
when my mumndad went to work
i stayed either with aunty may (another one)
she was the one i liked , remember?
or sometimes
i hung out with aunty lu-lu!
anyway one day at lu-lus i ran thru a doorway
as i did the door swung open
and i “split my head open” on the edge of the door
i had 3 stitches in my forehead, crikey , did that hurt…
and a jelly bean from the quack
gee thanks , doc!
i still have the scar there on my forehead
a little white indentation
that will never tan
i like it, actually…
after a while
my mum n dad bought a block of land in dapto
5 billabong avenue…its still there today
and we had a little fibro house built on the edge of the bush
there were frogs n lizards n birds that attacked
snakes n skinks n trees to climb
a bunch of kids to run wild with
barry, glen and neil harvey
the whittets, the maltese family called the briffas
they had a hundred kids all with names like emmanuel
which sounded strange to me
we roamed the bush getting into misadventures
chased by farmers
a gang of kids
falling out of trees, pursued by dogs
hiding from the bigger kids
stumbling across abandoned cemeteries
a real mark twain childhood
of course i was always the most timid of the bunch
the last to cross the stream n the first to run off home
a lot of houses were being built in the area
and we climbed around inside their wooden skeletons
jumping from the roofs into sand
an ice cream van
and a sweet -van came around on saturdays
i loved my licorice cigarettes
and my polar bear vanilla ice creams
after i turned 5 i started school
my 1st teacher was mrs allen
who was a little olde n cranky
on my first day i cried
and i got sent outside to cry on my own
i was crying cos i had convinced myself
that my mother would not come by
to pick me up for lunch
i was standing outside crying
when i saw her drive up
i started to laugh hysterically
half-laughing, half-crying
i wassa real playground mess
aurora has the the same trait
and i often recognize myself in her
when shes laughing/crying
i was not a popular lad
neither was i unpopular
pretty neutral in many respects
at least half the kids were english
or had english parents
it was pretty working class
i visited kids houses afterschool
that shocked me
and we were by no means livin’ it large
i saw people sitting on fruitboxes on bare floorboards
most families had dunny cans for lavatories
which were just metal buckets in an outhouse
once a week a truck came round
and blokes dressed in blue singlets
went in the yard
picked up the dunny can
and took it out to the street and emptied it in the truck
no we had a regular toilet im thankful to say
but most of em didnt
and my dad was always joking about the time
the dunny can man tried to take our next doors dunny can away
with mrs peyton still on it!
(am i blowing my mystique?)
another incident that remains etched
on my mind with razorlike clarity
was walking in the woods with my usual gang
when we met this older girl
who asked us if we’d like to see her “do a wee”
we all said yes, by all means
and lo n behold she did
and we all got an eyeful
and i went home that afternoon
feeling quite guilty n strange
our gang was ruthlessly cruel to creatures
and i remember once when we walked all the way
to kanahooka which was then wilderness
some of the older boys had these whip kinda things
and they would whip these huge one foot skinks clean in half
being the most naive n timid of the gang
i was often the butt of their pranks n jokes
i was the only one without a brother in the gang
and blood was thicker than water
when it came to a good bully
auntie lu-lu lived just round the corner
and she rained down hard on little stevens parade
i never understood how my dad had a sister like that
everything i said made her snort or go tut-tut
i wish i could have ‘er on as i am now….
she was always sayin’ how disappointed they were with me
christ, what effect was that bloody having on my infant psyche?
my “disobedience” shocked her…what was i, a german shepard?
it reminds of a school report i got from mr ferguson in 5th grade
“steven often interrupts the class with a comment
which he regards as smart,
but which is usually immature”
would ya credit that, an immature 10 year old?
actually my comments were very fucking funny, gang
if only you’d been there
i know you woulda laughed
but the kinda turkeys around in them days
just couldnt see my latent geniushood
in those dapto days it was already decided
that brian jarratt was the best fighter
and wendy fuller was the prettiest girl
i thought it only logical that they should be “together”
but wendy fuller was going for the second best fighter, gary simpson
i was secretely enamored of shirley urban
who was the second prettiest girl
but i had no rank as a fighter
and therefore my status was indeterminable
sometimes we danced together
and i nearly swooned
i really loved christmas time
and i got a crush on an older girl of seven
who played an angel in the second years nativity play
she would for years n years define how an angel looked
in my imagination
when i sang hark the herald angels sing
i thought of her
in her cotton wool wings
soon i would turn six
the future was out there waiting

45 Responses to “fairy meadow n dapto days”

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