Sunday, July 28, 2013

BITS AND PIECES



A POTPOURRI OF CONDENSED TALL TALES FROM WAY TOO MANY YEARS AGO.



My son and heir to the Fuller fortune has requested his old man provide further information and details of past sins committed by said same sire.
Without resorting to the placing of these historical incidents in any chronological order, I will begin to relate snippets from my exciting and meaningful life, the bulk of which occurred during those long lost days of political incorrectness that meant so much back then and even more so to many today.

                  
The Boss and Bob

The Boss was my mum Molly Grant Sym, a Protestant who married my dad Robert James Fuller, a devout full on practising Catholic. Mum only wanted one or two kids, but Dad was happy to let nature decide, he would have been delighted with a cricket team.
We were living at Nelson St. Annandale in my Uncle Jack's house and after several years of marriage, things were going off the boil. Bob and Molly may not have been seeing eye to eye, but I was loved by all and sundry in the household. There was, besides my parents, Uncle Jack, God bless him. Jack's brother, my Uncle Dave and his wife Aunty Kit several years later would be additions to the household when their rented house in Lilyfield was sold. When that occurred there were two left footers in the household and they were Aunty Kit and myself. We would always attend Sunday Mass at St. Brendans Annandale and of course on all the special feast and religious holidays as well.


St. Brendans, Annandale.

I was being raised as a devout little Catholic, but I still used to help Uncle Jack deliver bottled soft drinks to his Masonic Lodge in Trafalger St. on a regular basis. I would also attend the Xmas concert and other events put on by the Lodge as well. 
While attending St. Brendan's Infant School, I became quite good at reproducing patterns in my pastels book and acquired a reputation as a creative little bugger. Even the most talented artists, at times run out of inspiration and when this began to affect my visual masterpieces, I was forced to look elsewhere for patterns and ideas.
I copied the symbol on Uncle Jack's Freemason apron and was extremely pleased with the result. At school however, it went down like the proverbial lead balloon. There was even talk of excommunication...........OOPS!!!!




Every now and then Uncle Jack would take me with him on the Campsie bus to visit his daughter Valerie and her mother, who was Uncle Jack's ex. On one visit we were sitting upstairs in the Double decker bus, Jack up towards the front and me in the back seat. I was 6 or 7 at the time. I thought we had reached our destination and I saw who I believed to be Uncle Jack about to descend the bus's steps, so I followed him off the bus, then it took off. Oops! wrong bloke.

There I was stranded on my Pat Malone somewhere in or near Campsie. A friendly shopkeeper realised I was in big trouble and took me in to his shop and stuffed me full of lollies and soft drinks, until Uncle Jack made an appearance thirty minutes later and claimed me. When the story was revealed at Nelson St. Bob was not at all impressed and he and Uncle Jack began to have a few choice words. I have no idea who swung the first punch, but it was on for young and old. I was in the front bedroom at the time the blue started in the hallway outside. Jack and Bob went at one another like a pair of tom cats. The two relloes went the full 30 feet of the hall from the front of the house and into the living room where poor old Uncle Jack hit the deck. Molly stepped in screaming abuse at both and told Bob to leave the house which he did immediately. This heralded in what was to become the end of their marriage. Bob went to live with his sister, my Aunty Dos at Rosebery and eventually bought her rented house and did an excellent job of raising his three nieces, Maureen, Margaret and Valerie. As the years rolled by there was more than just toleration and life continued along its merry way. When Molly remarried, no one was more happy for her than Bob. Another interesting fact was not one of the uncles and aunties on Bob's side of the family would hear a harsh word said about Molly. Uncle Herbie loved her.

Sadly everyone has entered what we hope is immortality and if so they would be all reunited once again and would be on much better terms than during their mortal life.  Of course it goes without saying,  they would all be attempting to talk over the top of one another.
  

Trev's amateur boxing career.

I was only 10 years old at the time and was waiting my turn to enter the boxing ring at St Thomas's Lewisham. This was the semi final of the Christian Bros. Boxing Tournament and I had managed to go through all the elimination rounds undefeated. Years later when it came to football, I was slow as a wet week, but during my outings in the ring, they couldn't lay a glove on me. This all came about through me seeing Errol Flynn as James J. Corbett in the movie Gentleman Jim. I copied the footwork that was filmed in close up during many of the film's fights and became a difficult target for my opponents.




The trouble was I had run out of the easybeats and some Christian Brother wanker decided they had to up the quality of my human punching bags and on the night of the final I ended up against a bloke twice my size.
I'm not kidding, this guy was huge and in a higher age division and several months earlier he had belted the living bejeezus out of me down at the Annandale Flats after I fronted him for stealing a football that belonged to some extremely young schoolkids. Some of the other members of my boxing team were actually openly praying for my well being.

During round one he almost connected with several good shots that my tap dancing enbled me to partly avoid and when he was off balance I clobbered him with a vicious left hook that knocked him off his feet and he took an 8 count. I rushed in for the kill and all it took was one decent punch to the side of the head to end the fight. Everybody in the hall saw it coming, all except me. All I remember was travelling home on the bus with my extremely concerned mother and nursing the daddy of all headaches. I still made the finals of the boxing comp which was held at the old and long gone Leichhardt Stadium, my last fight being a draw against a fellow classmate from Lewisham, Lawrence Saidi.


The old Leichhardt Stadium. When it finally closed sometime during 1958, it eventually became one of the many Brunswick ten pin bowling alleys.

Three years or so after joining the Avalon Surf Club, I was walking down Trafalger St. towards Parramatta Rd. Who did I see approaching, none other than Samson the bully and thug. I said g'day to him and reminded him who I was, but he recognised me anyway. He may not have noticed, but I had gained some weight and a fair bit of muscle and quite a bit of self confidence. I cannot recall what he said to me, but I do remember resenting it and before he knew it I king hit him flush on the jaw and got several hard thumps to the solar plexus spot on target. He went down like the bag of shit that he was. 




To my satisfaction and enjoyment he never got up. I went along my merry way to the old Olympia cinema. I think I saw the biblical epic, King of Kings.
With Jeffrey Hunter in the leading role it became known as, 'I was a Teenage Jesus.' 


"I sincerely hope you all like fish."

Brussell sprouts.....I told you so.


Not a lot needs to be said here. My mother was one of those folk who hardly liked anything when it came to eating. Some of her shocking habits rubbed off onto me. I was only fed what she liked and never anything that she didn't.
The last person to talk about how one must eat all their vegies should never have been Molly Fuller, as she was at the time.
Despite liking double the variety that she did, nevertheless I was continually being berated for not liking brussel sprouts........Yuk! 
After two years of cajoling and at times pure unabated bullshit Molly decides her young son Trev was going to eat his brussel sprouts whether he liked them or not. Grown ups and more so mothers believe they know better than their progeny when it came to just about anything. I warned her that she was wrong when it came to my likes and dislikes in relation to food.
A large serving spoon piled high with the evil smelling excuse for a vegetable that is brussel sprouts was forced into my cakehole by one determined parent. 
"You are not leaving the table until you swallow it," I was informed.
Being an obedient son I swallowed it and almost immediately I was proven to be a prophet when it, along with whatever else was in my stomach spewed forth all over the table cloth, with a considerable amount landing in Molly's lap. I didn't have to ask to leave the table as everyone else had already done so with great haste to avoid the multi coloured overspray.

Sprouts were immediately withdrawn from the menu......Yay!!








Learning how not to drown

I cannot remember how old I was when my dear sweet mother decided I should learn how to swim. I informed her I was already capable of swimming freestyle and had been doing that for at least 3 years or so. Mum was not having any of that and she made arrangements with the NSW Amateur Swimming Association who were conducting classes at the North Sydney Olympic Pool in the shadow of the Harbour Bridge for her little boy to commence swimming lessons.
Despite knowing it was all a waste of time and money, I began taking the tram to Wynyard and then leaving by tram from the underground station for North Sydney every Saturday morning.

Sure enough, all the other learners were being instructed how to dog paddle the length of the 25 metre long kiddies pool, with several weeks of boring theory and leg kicking while hanging onto to side of the pool. I put up with this for 3 weeks and decided to drop out. Over the next several Saturdays I could be seen swimming in the main pool and jumping from the highest platform on the diving tower. Occasionally I would spend the odd hour or two at Luna Park using my swimming fees on the many rides on offer. When one of the local Annandale kid's parent informed my Mum how proud she was of little Johnny receiving his swimming certificate, I was asked, "Where's yours?"
I answered simply by saying I was never given one and then was told to make sure I was given one the following Saturday.

Arriving at the pool a week later I asked one of the instructors where my certificate was and was told I had to be one of the learners who had completed the required number of sessions to be awarded one. I lied and said I had completed all my sessions and was told to swim one length of the kiddies pool.
After freestyling one lap I was informed that's not how it's done and only after I dog paddled the 25 metres did he agree to issue me with a certificate. Mum was thrilled and I was blessed and dead lucky to have gotten away with it.
Even after I joined the Avalon Surf Club years later and obtained my Bronze Medallion, the certificate stating that Trevor Fuller could swim 25 metres still hung proudly on the kitchen wall for all to gaze upon in awe and wonder. 


A few years later when in my very early teens I spent the afternoon alone watching Bandstand and polishing off 6 cans of Resch's pilsener. I was not feeling too good, in fact you could say that I was pissed as the proverbial newt. When the folks returned home from the footy, I was finally confronted by my mum who asked me if I had been drinking.
I merely farted then burped and filled her apron pockets with liquid chunder......it still had a head on it.


Carn the Koalas

Transferred from Lewisham to Rozelle Christian Bros. as the former had no sport and the latter did. Would you believe, no sooner had I changed schools when the opposite occurred. Lewisham took up sport and Rozelle started to give it a big miss......bugger!
I made the cricket team in 6th class and when four Rugby League teams were picked I ended up, not in the Tigers or Panthers or the Kangaroos, but the mighty Koalas.......Fuck me dead.
The three other teams seemed to know what they were doing, but my mob, what a bunch of non talented wankers. We were so bad we even made Aussie Rules almost appear interesting. We were like the police force of the future as depicted in the Sylvester Stallone movie, The Demolition Man.
"I'm gonna give you a blow job," said a Koala forward.
I replied, "Dickhead, it's I'm going to blow you away." Fair dinkum.

Our team folded when several of the kids lost their handbags and dropped out. They probably ended up playing VFL as it was called at the time.


Annandale, the birthplace of Federation, Transport, Tojo and Bumper.

Most of what went on in Annandale has been recorded in my very first blog, (#1) Tiger Territory, Pre Teen Era (Part 1)

The trams ran from Lilyfield down Booth St., past the Harold Park Paceway, through parts of Glebe then all the way to Circular Quay, then back again.


All Aboard.
Trams and buses used to run down Parramatta Rd from several destinations and into the city. All services would pass through Central Railway and onto the Quay. Unlike way too many areas throughout Greater metropolitan Sydney, we were well serviced when it came to public transport. It was a direct ride into the CBD and merely a tram change at Central for the Eastern Suburbs and the surfing beaches.
I preferred to catch the tram from Lilyfield on Booth St. as the tram stop was much closer to home. I would nearly always return home on the Lilyfield tram as well. Trams had the ability to move people much quicker and more efficiently than the buses that eventually replaced them in 1962. The mind boggled at the speed with which the trams could disperse the weekend crowds at the football and/or the Randwick races.


Trams moved 1000 people per minute.

To make it easier for the public to identify the trams destination, the end boxes as they were called, had coloured patterns for each suburb............here's a selection.







Rozelle end box.

The three types of trams running at the time were as follows..............


Note the end boxes.





The nearest train station was Stanmore, south of Nelson St and Parramatta Rd.


Stanmore Station.

The electric trains back then were known as red rattlers and they went from Waterfall in the south to Hornsby in the north. No such things as auto closing doors back then. You had to either close the door yourself or be a thrillseeker and leave it open while leaning backwards reading a paper or magazine with half the sole of your shoe protruding past the edge of the floor. Every now and then someone would become a little to nonchalant and would suddenly disappear and later on that evening the television or radio news would report the incident, saying he was in a serious, but stable condition in either St. George or Prince Alfred hospital. Any destination outside of those aforementioned would have to be reached by one of the many steam engine services. The most famous steam engine was the green 3801 Newcastle Flyer and my Dad and I travelled on it quite often as we would be all the time visiting the Fuller and Halfpenny families residing in and around Newcastle.
Two extremely popular steam trains at the time were the 'Fish' and the 'Chips,' that would leave Central full of commuters heading home towards the Blue Mountains.
The Fish serviced Mt. Victoria, while the Chips serviced Springwood.



Red rattler.



Loco 3801.  The Newcastle Flyer.




The Fish.
 
The Chips.




Peak hour at Central. 1950's.
The ultimate in rail travel happened to be the interstate service between Sydney and Melbourne. The service was provided by the Victorian Railways modern looking, purple coloured 'Spirit of Progress'. I got to travel on it once when returning from the country town of Henty in southern NSW during 1963, when it made a special stop just to pick me up at the local station at midnight.






Things were totally different back then, as parents would tell their kids to go play in the street, which we all did. There was very little organised entertainment, so we all would make it up ourselves as we went along. Every afternoon after school there would be the mandatory cricket match in the street. Back then cars driving along Nelson St. would nearly always stop to watch an eight ball over before moving off again. This has been given good coverage in my other blogs, along with many other activities.

There was a period when several of us trainee juvenile delinquents would inform our parents that we were visiting our friends and neighbours, but instead would don our Super Hero clobber and it would be off to the small estate being constructed on the banks of the Annandale Canal opposite the Harold Park Trotting track. Any work fully or partially completed that day would be all for nought as the masked and caped crusaders would set about pushing over brick walls and knocking off timber and other materials to be used to construct a cubby house where we could plan our clandestine activities in a degree of comfort.

Sadly our delaying tactics were only responsible for a temporary delay in construction, as the small number of houses were eventually finished and in no time were full of new residents. 



Still here, no thanks to us.

Being so near the canal, some of the kids would use it on a stinking hot day, when the tide was in, for swimming, splashing and paddling home made boats. I am certain no one was aware that where the canal entered Rozelle bay, there obviously was nothing to prevent large fish from entering and swimming upstream. I for one had absolutely no idea.


Low tide with Rozelle bay in the distance.
High tide looking upstream.

All the aquatic events ended suddenly, when what was believed to be either a tiger shark or bronze whaler became responsible for one of the young local lads losing a leg while swimming.
I never swam in the canal, but many of us used to race our home made model boats from the bottom of Chester St. Annandale, through to Jubilee Park Glebe and back when the tide was coming in.




After leaving school at age 14 during December 1957, I had to wait until I turned 15 to be permanently employed by Collies Inks at Lilyfield as a Laboratory Assistant. During 1958 our family became the proud owner of Tojo the wonder dog. 
Tojo was a border collie/kelpie bitzer, with a small amount of God only knows what thrown in for good measure. His mum obviously was extremely popular and got around a bit. Tojo was never trained to do a single solitary thing, yet somehow managed to be gifted with abilities and awareness no other dog I've ever known came within cooee of, not even our fully trained labrador Casey.

When he was still a small puppy, the tiny part fox terrier bitch Judy, from across the road, who had only just had all of her pups taken from her, adopted Toj as her own. She would come over and lick him clean on a daily basis and spend at least 7 to 8 hours a day playing with him. As for Tojo, he adored her, even when he was fully grown and three times her size. She mothered him for around  2 years or so and he still idolised her, played with her and protected her.

Tojo loved everyone and everyone seemed to know and love him. He would chase tom cats, yet play with and protect kittens, on walks he never would heel, but would always wait at every intersection for you to catch up, then cross the road with you. You would  ask him softly in a very matter of fact way if he would like a walk and after several spins and the odd somersault, he would unhook his lead in the walk in pantry and start hustling you to extract the digit with it in his mouth. I have no recollection of him ever wearing the lead, because whenever we took it with us, he would carry it in his mouth. Every Saturday he would toddle off to Jack Buff's Butcher shop on the corner of Nelson and Booth Sts. and return home with his huge dinosaur bone that would always be waiting for his weekly arrival. He would guide old folk across the road when required and would always look both ways before crossing the street while chasing those tom cats.
You could literally have an intelligent conversation with him and when the family would be in the living room chatting away he seemed aware of what was being said. Uncle Jack would ask Uncle Dave a question and Toj would look at Dave waiting for him to answer.
Whenever the North Annandale Ladies Dart Club was competing and/or practising on Tuesday nights, their mascot Tojo would always pay them a visit in the Saloon Bar to watch the President, Aunty Kit playing and to lap up his complimentary Middy of Tooths New from his bowl on the floor in what was known as Tojo's corner.
After almost five years as the wonder dog's proud master and companion, I left home and went to live in Avalon, leaving him in charge of the Annandale mob. Whenever I would pop in for the odd visit, Toj would be all over me with love and affection. After 12 months had passed by, I moved into a semi in Marrickville with my mother Molly, who had married the new love of her life Jim Stokes and when Uncle Jack would regularly visit every Sunday morning, he would always bring Toj who could never contain his excitement.

When he was around eight years of age he began to go missing, sometimes for three or four days at a time, but would always return and it would be business as usual according to Uncle Jack and the others. His behaviour was hard to understand at the time, when he vanished for over a week and a half. Once again however he did return and for the next few weeks he was his normal loving self. He took off again on one of his mysterious adventures and was gone for over two and a half weeks. Our next door neighbour saw him reappear in the middle of the day filthy dirty and dying of thirst. He ran up the side passage and drank a large quantity of water from the bucket that Aunty Kit would replenish every day and before the neighbour could lock him inside the backyard, he jogged off, over the front wire fence and was never seen again.

My stepfather Jim always believed he was looking for me, but I believe he had found himself a girlfriend and had simply gone feral. If this was the case, Tojo would have most certainly bent over backwards to assist this ladyfriend if ever she bore a litter. I have always been certain he never would have abandoned her, as it simply was not in his nature to do so. Also, his intelligence was so apparent and his personality so strong, it would not have been that difficult for some other family to adopt him. As sad as it was for all our family members, Tojo's final years saw him doing what he wanted to do, with whom he wanted  and where he wanted to do it.
He knew where his Annandale home was and how he was loved by all and sundry, but chose a new life that to him, I truly believe, although different, was as happy and satisfying as his previous life at Nelson Street. Although convinced that the preceding is true, nevertheless the tears are streaming down my cheeks as I put in writing what occurred all those decades ago.

The garbos from Annandale, Glebe and Leichhardt all knew him and promised to keep an eye out for him, but to no avail.  
All that's left are memories of a one off special and my favourite memory is one that indicates just how popular and well known he was.
 
As mentioned earlier, in my younger days, I was a devout RC who attended Sunday Mass on a regular basis. Midway through Father Heffernan's Sunday sermon, who should wander in through the Collins St. entrance, none other than the wonder dog himself. Locating me he hopped up on the pew and became settled, just before one of the volunteer vergers arrived to remove him.
"That's OK," said Father Heffernan from the pulpit, "Leave him be, it's only Tojo." 

Throughout Annandale's history there have been two remarkable and famous historical figures who resided there, one was the Father of Federation, Sir Henry Parkes and the other was Tojo the wonder dog.


Sir Henry Parkes.


Tojo, local legend.


'Kenilworth'.  Johnston St. Annandale. Home of Sir Henry Parkes.
Kennel.  Nelson St. Annandale. Home of Tojo Fuller.

Decades have passed  since I was last a member of the Annandale and Glebe community, yet I still am guilty of having many nostalgic thoughts on and memories of the area in general.
Every Wednesday back then we would stroll down to the Glebe Police Boys Club that used to be on the shores of Rozelle Bay. We would arrive around 7:30 pm and leave at 9:30 pm or thereabouts, running like the clappers through Jubilee Park to avoid all those shirt lifting pillow munchers waiting in the shadows to seduce us sweet and innocent young lads. During the winter months it was Footy training at Jubilee Oval with the Glebe Youth Club Rugby League team every Tuesday and Thursday. This involved more sprinting home after training to once again avoid those warped chocolate highwaymen lying in wait to rape us all.
The street that was between the Club and Park has now been replaced with a walkway through a beautiful landscaped reserve that once was home to heavy industry, which included an oil and fuel storage facility.
Today, the area provides visitors with wonderful views of the harbour and surrounds and many take advantage of it and go there to picnic. 

Ten out of Ten for all those responsible for the transformation.


From this........


.........to this........


........to this........


........to this........




........Ahh!  Peel me a grape.

Frank Farrell was a former Newtown Rugby League forward who went on to lead the 21st Division vice squad. He also captained the Bluebags and represented his country at League and had a fearsome reputation as both a footballer and no nonsense copper. 


Bumper on the charge.

His nickname was Bumper and he served mostly in the inner city precincts, occasionally making an appearance in Annandale with some of the boys in blue. Generally speaking there was never any trouble with the police, but every now and then something would occur that would get someone's dander up and the next thing you know the police would start throwing their weight around. Quite often young kids, some not even in their teens would be threatened  by the boys in blue if they were seen walking their pushbikes along the footpath......Give me a break. The local milk bar would be visited and everyone hanging out and/or enjoying a shake or soft drink would be hustled out and ordered to go home. None of us streetwise nutters would have been game to say boo, but unfortunately Tommy did. He was taken down to the station and given more than just a good talking too and a boot up the bum. He literally had the living tripe kicked and beaten out of him. 
What followed later on did not involve me and some other not so brave locals, but I personally witnessed the aftermath. The guys marched into the station when the word was spread that one of their mates had been cruelly bashed and was being held in the local lock up. All I will say is he was set free and those on duty at the time all ended up on sick leave. I cannot recall whether this civil disobedience was taken further by the parties involved at the time, but I can categorically state there were no more police bashings from then on.


Chariots and petrol guzzlers.

1964........1967      Morris 1100.  I knew nothing about cars, but decided to go one better than Uncle Jack and his Morris Minor.

1967........1968      Austin Healy Sprite.  Thought owning a sports car would be hot, it wasn't.


1968........1970      Chrysler Valiant.   When Jay bought a British Racing Green one, I bought a Turquoise one. Very comfortable, but no good at high speed and was a    petrol guzzler.

1970........1979     Mazda 1500.  Best car I had owned to date.



1979........1988 (thereabouts)........   Mini 1000 and inherited 1300 cc Toyota Corolla.                                   The mini was fine but the Corolla, what a gutless piece of shite that was. One day after a picnic at Balmoral beach everyone had to get out so I could reverse the car up the hill and when Holly, Patricia and Patrick went by train to Ettalong and Gabi and I took the luggage up in it, this car rolled backwards for 6 metres on a hill, with my foot flat to the floor before moving forward.

Since then there has been the 3 cylinder Suzuki Swift, the Nissan Pulsar, Hyundai Excel, Subaru Forester, the 21 year old Ford Fairlane, the Mitsubishi Lancer and the current Hyundai Sonata.

Of all the cars, my favourites have been the Mazda 1500, the Subaru Forester, the Hyundai Excel and the Sonata.
If I had to choose one it would probably be the Sonata.

When Jay was alive we would quite often spend Friday afternoon and early evenings washing, polishing and waxing both our cars out front at Marrickville. The difference was I wanted mine to look good to drive it, whereas Jay wanted to have intercourse with his. No bullshit, he used to polish inside the glove box and even the ashtrays. When he passed on I got out of the habit. As I type it has been just on 21 months since I last washed the car.


Whaddya mean I'm double parked?

At Marrickville between next door's driveway and ours, there was just enough space for the two Marrickville Mercedes to fit and whichever one of us brothers would arrive and park first we would always move forward leaving room for the second Valiant.
Early one evening I was forced to park 30 metres or so up the street as some mug had parked his car smack bang in the middle of the space out front. He was still there when Jay arrived home later on. At 11pm or thereabouts we noticed he had left so we went outside and reparked our vehicles.
Some days later he was there again, smack in the middle. This time we placed a politely worded
note under his wipers asking him to park further forward so at least one of us could park our car.
A week later he or she was back again completely in the middle. Jay's fiance Sue was visiting and she wrote a strongly worded message in lipstick on the windscreen, a message which warned of a possible reaction from Jay and/or I. The following Sunday this brain dead ignoramus was determined not to do the right thing and when Jay and I noticed his window was open we opened the car's door and I got behind the wheel while Jay pushed it forward in the direction of Livingstone Road. Reaching the end of George St. I took a left turn and stopped the vehicle in the middle of the busy road. I pulled on the handbrake, shut the window and proceeded home and parked our two Valiants in their proper place.

Never saw the car ever again, funny that.


Super Hero.

Coming home late from work one evening. Cannot remember what night it was, possibly a Friday. The train was almost empty and I felt like a cigarette. The carriage had a guards compartment at the back so I went and sat inside it with the door ajar. It was pitch black and those few folk who were boarding the train at various stations had no idea I was there puffing away illegally.

If my memory is correct the carriage downstairs had only one young teenage girl sittng in it as everyone seemed to alight at Redfern I think. Two rowdy young hoons, both in their teens entered the carriage at Redfern and the oldest one began tormenting the young lass. At first I thought they knew each other, but it became obvious the girl was becoming distressed. I was closely monitoring the situation and when the girl rose to leave the guy grabbed her and threw her down on the seat. Earlier on after work I had downed several schooners and the odd Tequila Slammer, which obviously had raised my level of courage. Because of this I flew into action, without taking time to don my cowl and cape, I hurtled down the stairs and let fly with a swinging left and the offending hoon fell semi concious and face down across the girls lap. His younger mate took one look at what had just happened and wisely decided not to become involved in any way. I told him to sit and stay where he was. The troublemaker rose to his feet and copped a well timed clenched fist that landed smack bang in the middle of his temple and he landed flat on his back in the trains aisle. When the other younger bloke attempted to leave by the front someone from upstairs appeared and grabbed him. I think I turned around just in time to see the older hoon pulling a knife as he rose from the floor. A second good samaritan appeared and when I attempted to kick the hoon in the cods, he retreated into the vice like grip of this samaritan.

What happened after that is very, very vague, but the girl was shaken but grateful and we all alighted at Narwee station to await the arrival of the police who were called by the station staff. 


Narwee station.

I believe we all spent at least another 20 minutes with the police before I hopped on a passing train on its way to Riverwood. I was never called to give evidence at any court hearing or trial.


A supermarket mystery?

I have been asked to describe events that involved something that happened at Woolworths. I cannot recall any thing other than a misty, out of focus memory that maybe something did.
I do recollect the security staff at an arcade in Riverwood being given a decent payout by some young hoon caught skateboarding in the centre. He was threatening to sue if any of the staff laid a finger on him. What he was not aware of was me walking about three or four paces behind him and beginning to fume at all the cheek he was handing out. I grabbed his trousers in the groin region from behind and took a strong grip of his longish hair and lifted him off the ground, walked the 5 metres or so to the arcades entrance and threw him onto the footpath. When he threatened to contact the police we all said we would wait for their arrival. 




All the shoppers gave me a warm round of applause, while the security guys were singing my praises.


Resorting to violence.

I was never endowed with anything other than average physical strength, however what always worked to my advantage was thinking quick during a possible life threatening emergency and knowing when and where to hit for the greatest effect. Most street brawlers have a tendency to be headhunters, whereas I was taught and learned a quick hard rip into the solar plexus can end an altercation quite swiftly.

The number of fair dinkum fights I got involved in throughout my life can be counted on one hand and most of those ended quickly because I was able to get in first.
Coming home from golf at Leppington one Saturday, a dickhead drove through a stop sign and unless we both hit the brakes hard it could have been a disaster. He alights from his vehicle and in the middle of a busy intersection has the audacity to abuse me for nearly causing a accident. He was convinced he was in the right, even after I pointed out he had driven through a stop sign and started to get aggressive. I wasn't in the mood to put up with any of this so I simply let him have one of my better rips to the solar plexus. I re entered my car and continued on my way home, leaving a writhing piece of humanity on the ground in the middle of the intersection.

Balmain Tigers.

I never could stand Western Suburbs, because they always seemed to have the wood on Balmain. Years later it was a big shock to the system when both clubs were forced to merge to simply survive and became the Wests Tigers.

As young teenagers in Annandale we used to follow the mighty Tigers along with South Sydney for some reason. I personally had a soft spot for Newtown, who back then were known as the Bluebags and later on as the Jets.

During the 50's, 60's and 70's, there was only one code of football that interested anyone and that was Rugby League and most of us troublemakers believed it truly was the greatest game of all.
Union was played and supported by the GPS mob who wore tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows. Soccer was a game for non english speaking wogs and dagos who obtained great delight out of attacking one another and the referee. Aussie Rules, or VFL was played and watched by no one at all. The VFL grand final would attract around 300 people to Erskineville oval at the end of a big season.


In the League, it didn't matter how bad Balmain was, they always seemed to have the wood on Manly and thanks to 'Golden Boots' Keith Barnes kicking goals from all over the park, they were nearly always able to beat them.




On their day they could beat anybody, including the invincible St George, without ever threatening the premiership's top four positions. Apart from Barnes, the Tigers most consistent player was their centre three quarter Bill Bischoff. He never played for Australia, but he was a great club player who turned the tables on many a better player, including Reg Gasnier himself.


Rugby Reg in full flight.

There were so many good performances, yet near misses throughout the years, but in 1969 they were lucky to fluke a finals win over Manly and took on the previously invincible South Sydney at the SCG the following Saturday.
Souths believed they were odds on, but the Tigers forwards took them on and replacement winger Sid Williams dived over in the corner after receiving a great pass from centre Terry Parker.


The late Laurie Nicholls.



Never thought it could happen.

The final score    Balmain 11          Souths 2

I have no recollection of leaving home that evening, but Sunday morning I woke up on the concrete underneath someone's vehicle in the Balmain Leagues Club's car park at Rozelle with a sore back, a painfully stiff neck and the big daddy of all hangovers.
The opening match of the 1970 season saw the Tigers still pissed and partying on celebrating the Grand Final victory and were absolutely flogged at Brookvale by Manly 42 to 10. 
Entered the ground single and left with a new girlfriend. Would've preferred a Tigers victory though..........Sorry Jude. 

The Balmain Tigers premiership winning team members 1969

Bob Smithies            Fullback
George Ruebner       Left Wing
Len Killeen              Right Wing
Alan Fitzgibbon       Centre
Terry Parker            Centre
Keith Outten            Five Eight
Dave Bolton             Half back
Peter Provan (C)      Lock Forward
Joe Walsh                Second Row
John Spencer           Second Row
Barry Mc Taggart    Front Row
Garry Leo                Front Row
Peter Boulton           Hooker
Sid Williams             Replacement Right Wing 

Coach      Leo Nosworthy



1969 Premiers.

Today, cannot seem to get that interested in the Wests Tigers, but still have some affection for them. Regardless of who's playing, I still enjoy a good game of League as it is streets ahead of any of the other football codes and is slowly but surely spreading in popularity throughout the world despite the idiots that profess to be running it here in Oz.


Surfing, learning to cook and singing.

It was towards the end of 1969 when I became a part of an inspired team of Avalon Beach Surf Club members who, under the inspirational guidance of friend and collegue Warren Mitchell, were responsible for the development of the first rubber surf rescue boat, the IRB, now adopted throughout the world as a primary rescue craft. Throughout the winter months of the 1960's I was a member of the beach football team and played in the Manly Warringah SLSA competition against clubs along the Northern Beaches strip. My longest lasting memory is crash tackling legendary League winger Ken Irvine into touch during a game at Dee Why against Collaroy.
The bulk of the Avalon members were from all over Sydney and on weekends they would nearly all hang out in and around the clubhouse plotting and engaging in anarchy. Some of us would be in attendance over the winter months and the surf club's kitchen would be taken over by would be chefs preparing and cooking culinary masterpieces. I was more adventurous than most and was responsible for many a first class nosh up on weekends. This has been covered in some of my other blogs in quite a bit of detail.

Years later after marrying a first class cook, I was conned by said same cook to eventually take over from her and become the head chef, so to speak.
Many skills were passed on to me and quite a large percentage of my better accomplishments were learned from watching TV cooking shows. It was from Jamie Oliver who I learned to bake and/or roast vegies. Elizabeth Chong unlocked many Chinese secrets and her fried rice is to die for. Most of my sauces were passed onto me by the missus and one thing I can guarantee is we live and eat extremely well for two old farts.

Another one of my loves that I still gain great pleasure from is singing. There is nothing more satisfying than learning the tune and lyrics of a decent song and being given the opportunity to perform it with a degree of professionalism.
Yonks ago I had the opportunity to enter the world of show business, but ended up getting cold feet and stuck with my engineering apprenticeship, as I believed it would enable my future to be more stable than singing for a living. 
In retrospect, when I listen to some of the headlining artists from here and overseas all those years ago, I now know that compared to many of them, I was definitely a better singer, but, unlike too many of them, I was also aware of my shortcomings.
To me, singing was a hobby that gave me lots of pleasure and much satisfaction when I would perform at the odd talent quest and win over the audience by being smart enough to give them what they really wanted.
Any old standard with a strong back beat, always seemed to deliver the best results. I cannot stand the boring, tuneless monotone style that passes as modern music and will go to the grave as a wild rocker and ballad singer still obsessed with the 'good old days.'

I met the missus during 1971 and discovered she too had a passion for music and was part of a quartet that achieved success on television.
Showbusiness being what it is, her musical career was over fairly swiftly and she went on to become an excellent artist, winning many awards for her paintings.

Throughout the many years that have passed by I have been a resident of many suburbs which include Annandale, Avalon Beach, Marrickville, Blakehurst, Oatley, Bexley, Mortdale, Peakhurst. During 1998 Gabi and I decided to retire and sold our tidy home in Peakhurst and moved north to the Hunter region, where we purchased a brand new Pole house south of Toronto in Arcadia Vale.
Several years later we moved just to the west of Toronto to Blackalls Park where we most certainly will be seeing out our final years. 


Although not a top priority, a savings scheme that appears so far to be working, should be responsible for me getting out and about on the lake in a second hand tinnie, to continue the never ending search for a decent feed of fish.

If it happens it will be a bonus, as life is still worthwhile and generally enjoyable and is most certainly much better than the alternative. Bucketloads of multi coloured tablets, insulin and a fitted pacemaker so far have kept me firing on five of my six cylinders and here's hoping exercise is going to be responsible for a massive reduction in weight, as my aching legs are simply incapable of supporting me for any longer than a few short minutes.

As time marches on I am discovering that it is quite often impossible for me to go and be where I want to be, when I want to be there, but as the late George Burns once said at age 99, when asked was he glad to be at a function dedicated to his late wife Gracie Allen.

"At my age," he said, "I'm glad to be anywhere." 




p.s.        Time marches on and circumstances are responsible for a rethink as to one's future. At first Gabi was not overkeen to sell up and move to a retirement village, but the garden was becoming too much and her joints, along with mine, were showing signs of wear and were causing considerable discomfort. We bit the bullet and moved to the Bayway Village at Fern Bay, just north of Stockton in Newcastle.
            
We are now part of a large community and when the settling in process is complete we intend to become active participants in the relaxed lifestyle. We have relloes nearby and absolutely love the area and way of life.


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