Things I remember

In bed this morning while I read I had a rush of long forgotten and seemingly insignificant memories come back to me.

I remembered when I was a boy watching TV on a Saturday morning at our big split-level home in Lower Plenty. I remember watching German soccer, most particularly watching the mighty teams of Borussia-Moenchengladbach. Afterwards B.A.Santamaria would come on and talk at us for the next 10 minutes or so. I didn’t really understand what he spoke of, but I always watched with a childish fascination. He was a strange looking man, foreign looking, small, bald, a beak of a nose and eyes fired with a passionate intensity. He gave the impression of someone for whom life was an intellectual and philosophical battleground. Later I came to learn what a critical (and controversial) role he had played in Australian political history, and one of the few political intellectuals on the landscape.

I remember other days – time has compacted my memories so I don’t know what came first, or if they happened at the same time – when we would visit Doncaster Shoppingtown where mum and dad would go off and do their shopping while my sister and I would wander around left to our own devices. I spent much of my time in the Collins bookshop, where I would occasionally shoplift a book by hiding it in my clothes. My preferred reading material at the time were war books, particularly the books of Sven Hassel; later, when we moved to Sydney, I got into the spy books of Adam Hall and Quiller – but that was later.

I remember how most Saturday’s we would buy bread rolls from a local bakery called Hades. We would have frankfurts for lunch inserted into one of Hades rolls splashed with tomato sauce and mustard. Then dad and I would get in the car and drive to wherever the football was that afternoon. I remember the long drives out to VFL park at Waverley, and I guess we must have gone to the MCG too, though my memories of that are dimmer. What I remember best were the trips out to Windy Hill, and how we would sit in the Allan Hird stand on the half forward flank and watch Essendon sometimes, and sometimes lose. I remember the noise and excitement, remember the absolute clamour whenever the Bomber’s got a run-on going, the drum of feet on the wooden floor of the stand, the reverberation of the chant over and over again”Ess-en-don…(drum, drum, drum)”. Coming home we would listen to the radio and the Captain and the Major, or Harry Beitzel and Tommy Lahiff give their round-up of the game.

Sundays I remember watching World of Sports, a Melbourne institution at the time, and another recap of the footy. In my memory every Sunday lunch was a roast of some description, mostly beef. Sunday night we would cook our own meals, before settling down to watch Sunday TV. Disneyland was on every Sunday night, and I remember the whole family sitting down to watch The Carol Burnett Show. It feels very seventies now, but I enjoyed the adult humour.

For some reason I remember those summer nights best. There were times on a fine, warm Sunday night that dad would shift our TV out onto the front veranda where we would sit in a semi-circle around us as the night became darker and the ring of the tickets became louder. We had the first colour TV in the street. Dad bought mum a 26″ Rank Arena colour TV for Christmas 1975 I think it was, just in time to watch the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy. We were delighted obviously, and the rest of the street envious.

My final memory must be around that time, lying in bed while mum and dad sat down to watch the big Sunday night premier movie, and the romantic, rousing music heralding the movie to come. It’s one of those memories, like Proust’s madeleines, the sound of adulthood, I was wistful listening to it, but knew also that soon I would be sitting there with them. Life was all ahead of me.

PS The shot to the right is of me at about that time. What a funky kid I was – great hair. I remember the day the shot was taken, lunch at the Salzburg Lodge in Heidelberg.

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