Today is the anniversary of Dad’s birthday, 29 October 1922, and he would have been 100, if he was still with us. He died on 2 August 2001 at age 78. Happy Birthday, Dad.
He was the best father I could ever have wished for. He was loved and above all, respected, by all who knew him. I wish I’d been able to say more about this when he died.
He was born in Sydney in, as he said it, Nineteen Tooty Too. That meant he was ten years old when the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932, and he was proud that he rode his bike across it on that day.
I was born in Sydney too, in Mona Vale, in 1947 and I still feel a kinship with Sydney whenever I go there. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever get there again.
We moved over to Western Australia, to Bruce Rock, in December 1949 and we’ve lived here ever since. We moved around, next to Cunderdin in 1955, then Wundowie in 1956, Rockingham in October 1959, Beverley in 1961 and finally to Perth in 1967. I was independent by then, having been away at boarding school in Northam from 1961 to 1964, then uni in 1965 and working at Channel 7 from 1966 on, living in South Perth, initially.
So anyway, Happy Centenary Birthday, Dad.
This date is also significant for me – it’s the 23rd anniversary of my “retirement” from my job at TVW Channel 7 in Perth. Yes, I took my voluntary redundancy on this date (it was a Friday in 1999) and walked out for the last time after 33 years. I had a break of eight months in 1974, but I don’t count that.
These days I’m regarded as one of the veterans, an elder statesman of the former employees, being able to say that I worked on the first Telethon in 1968, for example. I was so junior that I didn’t do much, but at least I was there and working in the videotape department.
In those days, we were politely asked to work a donated shift, and we did it willingly. But after a few years, maybe eight or ten years, we heard that the camera crew were being paid their normal rates, so we started to grumble. The company also stopped asking us to volunteer; they just rostered us without asking.
I think most of us in Engineering continued to work an unpaid shift for quite a few years – I really can’t remember what happened in the later years. I do know that the fun went out of it – it just became another shift, another chore.
Anyway, 29 October is a significant date for me.
One thing I’ll never forget – I used to be a Friday night regular at the North Beach Rugby Club, drinking with a few Channel 9 mates (apart from one guy, I could never get any Channel 7 Engineering guys to come along. It’s odd – when I was younger, I was super shy. I didn’t feel I fitted in at parties and functions so I hardly ever joined in. But as I got older, I became the only guy from Engineering who participated in work functions. Almost no-one else ever turned up.)
One night in about 2009, in fact 29 October, I mentioned at the bar the significance of the date, being my father’s birthdate and my ten year anniversary of leaving Channel 7. I got a couple of seconds of blank looks from my “mates”, then one guy said, “DILLIGAF”. Huh? I said. “What does that mean?” “It means, Do I Look Like I Give A Fuck” he said.
I was stunned. Apart from the sheer rudeness, he was insulting my memory of my father. I was so offended I slammed my glass down and walked out. That played a big part in my subsequent attempt to move completely to Bali to live. I was so sick of the racism, the rudeness, the boorish manners, the stupidity of the people I knew that after I saw the sign offering Bali villas for US$300K, I thought, “Get out of there! Walk away.”
At that time, end of 2010, January 2011, you could live in Bali and still get the pension, and get your prescription medications every three months on Medicare. Unfortunately the rules have changed now to make it more difficult.
Anyway, that started the Bali saga. I think I was quite depressed at the time, which lowered my defences, and putting a deposit down on a villa seemed quite a reasonable thing to do. Unfortunately, what I didn’t realise was that no dogs were allowed into Bali (due to rabies on the island) and it looked as if I was going to have to leave my beloved Labrador Minnie behind. I was distressed! I was distraught! It’s too long a story to tell here now, but things spiralled downwards from there, leading to a major family rift which still hasn’t healed and looks as if it never will. Dad would have been very, very sad to see us this way.