Saturday, January 5, 2013


My current lot in life.
Throughout one's life technology improved ever so slowly at first. Major advances in the electronic industries heralded in many new and improved ways to get things done. Today many state of the art systems change almost overnight as technology has overtaken and surpassed mankind's ability to adapt. Although welcoming change and adapting to it myself, I have often wondered has it all been really necessary as I have turned into a physically handicapped individual and a typical full on grumpy old couch potato. I should never have sold my 4 metre tinnie and should still be out and about on the lake stalking those elusive flathead along the Swansea Channel. For God's sake I'm retired. What am I doing sitting in front of arguably technology's most frustrating invention typing all this meaningless crap?

The Office.
No longer am I able to enjoy the odd fishing excursion that gave me so much pleasure since moving to the shores of beautiful Lake Macquarie. Any angling now has to be shore based. A marvellous example of how things have changed is, no longer am I able to save up for even a small tinnie as every spare cent is now going towards a pre paid funeral......Fair Dinkum, can you believe it? At least I've acquired over the years, more fishing paraphernalia than Rex Hunt or Steve Starling, which includes a good collection of those soft plastics and I have managed to locate a few comfortable shore based locations where I can wet a line when inspired to do so.

Gabi and I enjoy dining at several of the local clubs and restaurants, Yum Cha at the House of  Peking in Jesmond, attending Arts and Craft exhibitions and have been known to frequent many of the Hunter Valley wineries in order to sample some of their produce occasionally. Gabi derives great pleasure out of working on the odd masterpiece in her air conditioned studio and has become an accomplished artist who when inspired can paint up quite a storm.

Our futile attempts to maintain a modicum of fitness sees Gabi and I swimming three times weekly at the Toronto heated pool and I am giving the upper body a mild workout in the home gym (ie the third bedroom). 

Tyrrell's Winery.
Although now under control through medication, sugar levels can still rise to unacceptable levels, both legs rely on fitted stents to maintain minimum circulation, my teeth are all plastic, body weight has increased alarmingly, the old ticker requires tablets to refrain from missing the odd beat or two and I now have a Pacemaker and Defibrillator monitoring it all.

Breakfast 2013.

I have less hair than Bruce Willis and rattle whilst walking to the kitchen after taking my morning medication. I can no longer do many of those things that I would dearly love to do, but the memories of doing them in the past are still extremely vivid and I never want to lose them. Some of these memories however have faded and the best way to prevent this from continuing to occur is to put it all in writing before they're gone completely. It's only a matter of time before I will be hiding my own Easter eggs. 

Why is one obsessed with recollections of times spent in and around a small hamlet and beach 24 miles north of Sydney? Other surf clubs along the NSW coast had more up to date facilities than Avalon, more members, therefore less rostered patrols and considerably more rescue equipment. 

Despite all this it would have been unthinkable for any Avalon clubbie to even think of leaving. I believed that almost everyone thought the way I did. This was not just a civic duty or a public service, it was not just a weekend pastime, it was a unique and wonderful way of life that influenced one's general behavior, even away from the beach and surf. Over two thirds of the club would gravitate to the beach each and every weekend from all over the southern and western regions of Greater Sydney

My gang of mischief makers were far from being locals as they were from all over the place. Jim and Trevor (Marrickville), Mike and Jim(The Rodent) Carlingford, Tom (North Rocks), Sam (Fivedock), Ian (Doc) (Padstow), Michelle (Eastwood), Lesley and Paula (Fivedock), with me from the wilds of Annandale. The three girls all had cosy and well appointed holiday homes in Avalon that were put to good use on a regular basis. The amazing thing is no one mentioned why the girls could not complete training and become members back then as they are today. Several of the local cuties were, in fact, faster swimmers than many of the guys and could have  provided great support for the all male membership. Thank God commonsense prevailed and the doors were opened to them around 1980. It should have happened years earlier though. I personally would have loved sitting on patrol flanked by Denise, Lenya and Paula, all of whom were better board riders than me at the time.
Other members, both young and old were from Maroubra, Bondi, Redfern, Surry Hills, Glebe, Leichhardt, Abbotsford, Drummoyne, Summer Hill, Dulwich Hill and Ashfield. The outer west was well represented with guys from Granville, Merrylands, Wentworthville, Blacktown, Meadowbank and Parramatta. 

Some male, some female. From a variety of suburbs. Bonded together by a common love of all things sunny, surf and sandy.

If a board riding surfer was asked to describe the thrill of surfing, it would be impossible to answer that question in a satisfactory manner, unless the person asking had surfed at some stage of his or her life. By the same token, if ever an Avalon member was asked what made his club so special, an accurate answer could not be forthcoming unless the person asking was, or had been, a member of another surf lifesaving club. One of the weekend's highlights was the Sunday arvo drinks that began at 5 pm when the patrol came off duty. At Avalon it was known as QY's. Many members, even to this day have no idea what it means, some think they know, others think they may know, a few believe they definetly know and others haven't a clue. I was reliably informed yonks ago of its true meaning and modesty prevents me from spilling the beans. Most of the members couldn't care less what it meant, long as the beer is icy cold. Around 7pm everyone would wander off home leaving the boat crew members to tidy up. It was the boaties responsibility to run QY's and we would quite often sip on a few cold ones after the cleanup and depart anytime from 8pm through 'til 10:30pm.

 Season 1970-71 

It was during QY's around 7 pm when a junior member and his extremely pretty blonde girlfriend asked me would I be kind enough to give them a lift home to her place in Booth Street Annandale and then have a word with the girls father. The young member lived in Artarmon, while she was from my old stomping grounds. Her parents house was only around two minutes walk from where I was raised in Nelson Street. Their problem was Dad was getting confused with surf life savers and the surfie set and he simply did not approve of his daughter going out with, what he perceived to be, a drug taking, good for nothing wanker from the North Shore. I was not too keen on getting involved, until I recalled how my Annandale mates reacted to my joining the Avalon Surf club back in 1959. They too had got it all wrong and seeing how her family was living in the suburb where I learnt to become a first class shit stirrer, I agreed to their request. They could not thank me enough.

Juliet's house was one of these.
After arriving at the Annandale home, a funny sensation swept over me as I could not remember the last time I was in the region, yet nothing seemed to have changed. I was introduced to Mum and Dad and the two star crossed lovers disappeared along with Mum leaving Dad and I alone. After explaining the difference between surfers and surfies and pointing out that I had held several positions on the surf club's committee throughout the previous years, it was obvious I was fighting a losing battle. He had a deeply ingrained mistrust of anyone from north of the harbour and would not be swayed from this belief. He eventually enquired as to where I lived and where I was born. He was under the impression I lived in Avalon and almost fell out of his chair when I told him I lived in Marrickville, was born in Camperdown and raised just around the corner in 94 Nelson Street, no more than 120 metres from where we were now seated. He asked me if I followed the football and I informed him that I had played League with the Glebe Youth Club and was a one eyed Balmain Tigers supporter. For a while he seemed gob smacked and appeared unable to speak, when all of a sudden he asked me would I like a cold beer. What a silly question to ask the likes of me and when I told him I would love one, he called out rather loudly, "Honey, bring us in a cold one from the fridge, will ya luv?"
All of a sudden there was this change in personality and some serious questions that were forthcoming regarding the surf club culture were answered more to his satisfaction and our young Romeo and his cute little Juliet, along with Mum returned and what followed could be likened to a scene from any of those schmaltzy family shows the Yanks are famous for, except for the numerous quantities of Resch's Pilsener being consumed by Dad and I.

I ended up leaving around 11 pm, burping and farting like a carthorse with at least three bottles of amber fluid sloshing around in my stomach. The following weekend the two lovers would not stop thanking me for the fine job I had done and guided to a satisfactory conclusion. I was told the boyfriend was allowed to stay the night and Dad even drove him home to Artarmon early Monday morning. As for the kids, I have no recollection what became of them. I sincerely hope that what they had going for them all those years ago remained with them indefinetly. At that time it stirred memories of how young I was when I first commenced that frustrating journey through puberty and of the romances that evolved. Seeing them together started me becoming aware of what a lucky boy I was and what a great life I had when I was their age. It was the beginning of me becoming more responsible than at any other period of my sinful life.

I did not know it then, but the following surfing season was to be my last, as somehow I was able to put my mischief making behind me to adapt myself to married life. Times were changing and I was beginning to mellow with age.

January 2013    

It has been almost 41 years since Gabi and I tied the knot. During the decades our bodies have obeyed the laws of nature and our physical appearence has transformed from Sonny and Cher to resembling Tweedledum and the Vicar of Dibley. If I keep on gaining weight, it wont be long before I can be seen from the Moon. I have no idea where the years have gone or how they managed to pass so quickly. This could be another reason why I still retain fond memories of the past. Back then three months would take at least a full year to go by, whereas today a full year is gone within three months. Despite the many mistakes made throughout the past decades, I would have no hesitation in doing it all over again, without changing a single solitary thing......Well, almost.

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