Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Dedication and foreword

For Joan
and for
Daniel, Justin, Cathy and David
Jerome, Hamish, Reggie, Hilary and Mackenzie

When Spike Milligan's friend asked if he wrote forewords, he gleefully pressed a homophone into service and wrote:


But this book is free.

I began writing it on Friday, 17th August, 2012, sixty days before my sixtieth birthday.
I've enjoyed the time spent remembering so many joys, times of fun and odd things that stick in my mind.
The greatest joy has been getting to know Jesus, my Lord and Saviour and Friend.
God's great kindness in bringing Joan and me together (and I say Joan and me deliberately) has resulted in so much love and happiness and fun and in our being favoured with nine descendants to share the joys with.
Aren't I the lucky one?

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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

PAGE FORTY-EIGHT: a different sort of church

When we arrived in Narromine, we discovered there was no Baptist Church and no Church of Christ, in this little town of only about two thousand people.

But the people in the Narromine-Trangie United Parish were friendly and enthusiastically welcomed our family of three. They loved having a young family with a baby, and when Danny grew and began wandering up and down the aisles, they didn't bat an eyelid.

In the church I grew up in and the one we attended after we were married, there was no printed liturgy. We may have occasionally said The Lord's Prayer, but we did not say any creeds or read from a prayer book.

However, although there are not set prayers, in actuality there can be a lot of repetition in the supposedly informal churches. And sometimes the oft-repeated things can be a de facto liturgy, except that it has never received the care that has been given to the written-down liturgy in the formal churches.

I was surprised when I found myself enjoying saying the creed and the order that results from a liturgy. Our second minister in our time at Narromine was Rev Joe Eddy. When Joe led us at The Lord's Table, he often said something like the following words to us:
Come, not because you are strong, but because you are weak
Come, not because you love the Lord a lot, but because you love him a little, and would like to love him more.
Then, in saying a prayer to help us to confess our sins to God, he would say something like this:
We have treated those closest to us in a way that we would never treat a stranger.
Joe also had his fun side. In one service, he colluded with Laura Forrest, the organist, and had us singing a well-known hymn to an alternative, but very well-known tune - but none of us could figure out where we had heard the tune before. It was maddeningly familiar, but what was it? After the service was over, he revealed we had been singing God's praises to the tune of The Pub with No Beer!

Danny with Grandad Sims
Our minister in our first year at the church was Rev Barrie Wright. He was very kind to us when we needed to get Danny to hospital quickly. One day when Joan was changing his nappy, she turned around for a moment to get something and found he had rolled onto the floor in that split second of time.
He seemed to be fine, and went to sleep, but the next day, he was in pain and Joan wasn't sure what to do. I was at school, and Barrie came to the rescue and very kindly drove Joan in to Dubbo for Danny to be looked at the Base Hospital.

The medical staff discovered that Danny had broken his collar bone. He healed quickly and everything was soon back to normal. But apart from his kindness, what impressed Joan was how Barrie observed the speed limits, shall we say, religiously. He was scrupulous to slow down to the speed on the next road sign a little before he got to it. The roads would be a lot safer if we all drove like our minister, who modeled the life he recommended to his congregation.

In the Narromine-Trangie parish, there were lots of little churches, as well as the two main ones. Dandaloo, Eumungerie and ... I forget the others. To cope with these demands, the minister had some lay preachers, both men and women.

Although I had been brought up with conservative views on lady preachers, (and still have conservative views) honesty requires that I record that the women in the parish usually did a better job! Their talks sounded prepared and interesting, whereas the men's talks were often rambling and sounded like they needed some work. 

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

PAGE FORTY-SEVEN: are you new here?

It wasn't long before I discovered that the Narromine High School song had been written by the headmaster to be sung to the famous Ode To Joy theme from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Unfortunately the way it had been fitted to the tune made it sound like the above representation. I wonder what Philip Percival, the Christian songwriter who taught there after me, thought of it?

We had a few funny experiences in Narromine. One day we went into a milk bar and asked for some creaming soda. The man behind the counter asked if we wanted
crim - a - SOH - nuh, 
a- CRIM - a - SOH - nuh
which both sounded the same to us.  I think he meant
Do you want creaming soda, or crimson?
But I'm not sure.

Then, we were driving along a country road and came to a flock of sheep in the middle of the road. We stopped the car, and waited. A farmer came over and yelled:
Are you new here?
We discovered you can drive through a mob of sheep, if you do it slowly and don't disturb them as you move through.

And when we took our growing boy to Dundas Park, we were delighted to see him walk and walk and walk all around the big park. He was loving the freedom.

And Danny loved to play with Gran and Grandad's tennis equipment, when we went back to Newcastle for a visit.

In those days, children used to visit their parents. Parents also visited their children, but it worked both ways.

I haven't yet worked out why so few young folk travel home to visit Mum and Dad, as was done in the past.

Someone told me it's because the trip from Sydney to Bathurst is much further than the trip from Bathurst to Sydney, but it seems to me to be more than a crossing the Blue Mountains thing, because this is the experience of many parents in many different circumstances and places of residence.

Another possibility is that children whose parents have left the home they grew up in are disinclined to visit a house and town they are unfamiliar with. What do you think?

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

PAGE FORTY-SIX: super revelations

I made two discoveries when we went for our medical check-ups for superannuation, just before we received our first postings to schools:
1. It isn't easy to pee at call!
It was the first time that I was given a jar and told to provide a urine sample. We gathered in the canteen at Newcastle CAE and drank lots of soft drink. Others also found this a bit daunting.

2. I was born with cataracts on my eyes.
When I went back to my ophthalmologist and asked him why he hadn't mentioned it to me, he told me that it wasn't significant, and I hadn't needed to know.

Now where do you suppose students were hoping to be sent to, after they left college?
I had spent 19 years in Newcastle, and was interested to see where the Department of Education would post me. But some students, particularly those who had grown up in Newcastle, had their hearts set on staying there. I was looking for a bit of adventure!

As it turned out, my first appointment was at Narromine, which I'd never even heard of! Narromine had been a central school (combined primary/high school) and had only just been upgraded to be a dedicated Years 7-12 High School. The town's population was 2,200 and the high school had about 400 students. The principal, Bernie Gallagher, had come from being deputy at Broken Hill High School, where there had been 400 in Year 8!

I was the only Music teacher, and had to teach Music in a science lab. I don't recommend it: there are too many temptations for kids to play with. Even if the teacher turns off the central gas tap, someone will find a way to distract you, and their accomplice will turn them on again.

I was very relieved when I was given my own classroom.

We had an appalling old green record player, issued to P E departments, for dancing classes. The sound was so bad, the kids confused the sound of the french horn with the sound of the violin. On that old monstrosity, they did sound the same!

Joan and baby Danny, 22 Sixth ave, Narromine
One day, 11th November, 1975, I went home for lunch with Joan and baby Danny and heard on the radio that the governor general, Sir John Kerr, had sacked the prime minister, Gough Whitlam. I went back and reported this in the staff room I shared with the Science department. The head teacher told me that I was mistaken. It was impossible and could never happen.

But when we came back to school the next day, did I get an apology? What do you think?

Speaking of Gough Whitlam and the Labor Party, early in my time at my new school, the Australian government gave small grants to every Music department in Australia, which was a part of an Arts grant they made. We got $2,200, which seemed like a lot of money. It was meant to be spent on musical instruments, and we did spend most of the money on some guitars and trumpets and clarinets and other instruments I thought I might be able to help students learn on.

But we also purchased a decent record player and cassette player. It made a huge difference to be able to play the music through a decent amplifier and speakers.

In 1975, Paul Hogan was very popular: mostly through his larrikin Winfield cigarette advertisements, which used Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony as their theme, with the punchline:
Any'ow, have a Winfield!
So when I attempted to play my students some Beethoven, they called him Bate Hogan, as if he were Paul's brother. I could never tell if they were serious, or were pulling my leg.

Abba was at the height of their fame, and the students enjoyed watching black and white videos of Abba's Australian TV special. So when I managed to get a choir together, their first song was SOS.

After we got the kids to sing at a school assembly, the deputy principal commented that they sounded out of tune. Thanks Noel!

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PAGE FORTY-FIVE: for the want of an essay

 In the week before Joan and I got married, my Dad's sisters, Ruth and Trixie, came to stay with our family. I was busy getting an assignment finished on my very ordinary typewriter. I used to make almost as much mess typing as I did with my handwriting, and often had to tear up the page and start all over again.

When my aunties heard I had an assignment to complete, they hounded me relentlessly until I finished it.  They never let up:
David! Have you done your assignment yet?
Oh, the agony! But ... I got it done.

Moving forward  a year, I had a little essay to do. This time, I didn't have anyone nagging me. Joan was not, and is not, a nagger. I wonder how many men can say that, after thirty-nine years?

So I'm lucky to be in this photo, because at the end of 1974, I had an essay that I hadn't handed in. We had something else on our minds: the impending birth of our new baby.

But when we were getting our correspondence from Newcastle College of Advanced Education regarding our graduation, I did not get a letter telling me I was to receive a Diploma in Music Education, but one telling me I would be paid as three year trained, certificate attainments. And instead of being paid a mighty $10,000 per year, my pay would be about $8,000. (If $10,000 sounds small to you, it sounded astronomical to me. The prime minister in those days was paid about $50,000 per annum, if you want something to compare a school teacher's salary with.)

But, I'm in the photo, because when I got the message that I had failed fourth year for the want of an essay, I was able to make up my own essay topic, quickly write it, send it to Nigel Butterley, my lecturer, send off letters to the Department of Education, and get my back pay. Phew!

All of the people in the graduation photo above, except one, met with a few of my other lovely classmates in December last year for a forty year reunion of our first year class. I have mixed feelings about reunions and wondered what it would be like.

It was a relaxed, friendly get together. It was so nice to see our old friends again. The photo at left, of Christine, Sue (the Art student who preferred the company of us Music students) and Catrine, captures the informal, pleasant afternoon well, I think.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

sixty: table of contents


table of contents

dedication and foreword
page two: how I got hooked on Music
page three: tucking in at Tuckey's
page four: a girl with a piano
page five: school
page six: sisters
page seven: my first piano
page eight: when Grandma came to visit
page ten: the best house in the world
page eleven: the school on the hill
page twelve: church
page thirteen: going to camp
page fourteen: a new beginning
page fifteen: quantum potero
page sixteen: a big family
page seventeen: parties, Paul and Peale
page eighteen: becoming a conman
page nineteen: a chat at the bus stop
page twenty: inspiring pastors from the church I grew up in
page twenty-one: music in our house
page twenty-two: my father's diaries
page twenty-three: great expectations
page twenty-four: piano with orchestra
page twenty-five: third form
page twenty-six: my first piano students
page twenty-seven: a cheap education
page twenty-eight: how things have changed
page twenty-nine: it started with a ferry ride
page thirty: an unexpected solution
page thirty-one: singing
page thirty-two: Maths and Science
page thirty-three: the B haitch P 
page thirty-four: just the beginning
page thirty-five: Dad to the rescue
page thirty-six: meet the family
page thirty-seven: new discoveries
page thirty-eight: from girlfriend to fiancée
page thirty-nine: Illawarra Bridal College
page forty: two weddings, a gig and a funeral
page forty-one: a new home
page forty-two: new church
page forty-three: new piano teacher and new baby
page forty-four: the worst day of my life
page forty-five: for the want of an essay
page forty-six: super revelations
page forty-seven: are you new here?
page forty-eight: a different sort of church


some recollections of God's grace
in  my life
David McKay

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

PAGE FORTY-FOUR: the worst day of my life

I have spent my life in pleasant, but sedentary work: mostly Music teaching, whether in a classroom or studio.

But on three occasions I have had the experience of seeing how the other half lives - and I didn't like it. There was the period between school and Teachers' College working at the B haitch P, a period between finishing college and getting my first teaching job, working at the Sulphide Works at Cardiff, and one day's work for Avery Scales.

The advertisement said Men wanted: one day's work. Avery Scales.

I assumed it had something to do with scales like the one on the left. But when we arrived, we were told we would be testing a weighbridge, by placing two fifty-five pound weights on it at a time, all day long, with a break for lunch.

It was a long day.  They issued us with gloves and urged us to wear them. I wore them. And I'm glad I did, because it was hard enough picking up 110 pounds of weights at a time, with them on.
At lunch time, we slept on the weighbridge. Even in 1974, it seemed such an old-fashioned way of going about things.

I was so sore, by the end of the day. It wasn't worth the meagre amount I got for my pains.

I suppose you get used to it, but I can't imagine having a job that involved such hard work, every day. It was easier at the Sulphide Works, though sometimes I had to carry ninety pound jackhammers up several flights of stairs. They tested us regularly for lead absorption, and made me shave my beard off, which I've only done three times in my life.

This photo, taken in 1978, is one of the few of me as an adult, sans beard, in Mum and Dad's back yard at Wommara Avenue. But we have a long way to go before we get there ...

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PAGE FORTY-THREE: new piano teacher and new baby

In about March, 1974 we discovered we were infanticipating. It was a pretty busy year, because I was in my last year of studies, at what by now was being called Newcastle College of Advanced Education. The name Teachers' College was so passé! 

After I was awarded my A Mus A (Associate Diploma of Music, through the Australian Music Examinations Board), I changed piano teachers and began learning from Joan's teacher, Neta Maughan. Miss Maughan was much more like Christine Keeler than Eileen Keeley ever was: she was young, and pretty and used to travel to Newcastle to teach at the Con, one day per week.

Mrs Walton had given  me a friendly introduction to piano, Miss Keeley had taught me disciplines and scales and the importance of playing precisely and using logical fingering and now Miss Maughan was going to continue the good work Joan had begun in teaching me how to play musically.

I'm grateful for all four of my teachers - especially for my lovely, live-in teacher! When we discovered that we had a baby on the way, I didn't think I could do the last year of college, act as Newcastle Youth for Christ director and also do my L Mus A (licentiate), which Joan and Miss Maughan were encouraging me to do. And it was also pretty expensive. Miss Maughan kindly said she would pay half my fee. I love a bargain - so that clinched the deal!

I'm so pleased that I was pushed to undertake the project and very gratified that I managed to pass. I played some wonderful pieces: César Franck's amazing Prelude, Chorale and Fugue, Haydn's Sonata in E Flat Major, Hob XVI:52 ,Schumann's In der Nacht and Mátyás Seiber's Scherzando Capriccioso.

But the excitement of getting my L Mus A was nothing compared with becoming a father. We were excited when my sister Robin's first baby, Jonathan was born on 13th August, 1971. She used to bring him in to my bedroom for a cuddle in the mornings.  Then my sister Margaret and her husband Kevin had Jamie, on 5th May, 1973.

Another baby came on the scene when Joan's sister Kay (her only sibling)  and her husband Richard had their first child on 31st October, 1973, which was the first grandchild for Joan's parents, Llew and Nesta Sims. Jenny was there at our wedding, but Richard wasn't going to let anyone near her. But he did soften fairly soon after that.

Our own first child, Daniel was born on 6th December, 1974. In those days, fathers were not allowed into the delivery room, and especially not when the mother is having a Caesarean operation. And Belmont hospital wouldn't allow fathers anywhere near their children at all!

But Joan's Dad had a cunning plan: he asked if he could take a photo of me with my new son. Thanks Dad!

I was really impatient to hold my own little boy, and was staggered that I was not even allowed to carry him to our car. This had to be done by the nurse! I was so cross, I left Joan with the nurse in one lift, and went down fuming in another, meeting them at the ground floor!

I did try to teach Daniel good habits, as you can see in the photo, but I'm sorry to say that today he buys The Age newspaper to read the sport pages!

The grandparents adored our baby boy, as you can see from this lovely photo of Joan's mother, Nesta with her second grandchild.


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Sunday, September 23, 2012

PAGE FORTY-TWO: new church

Charlestown Church of Christ, 1980
I had attended Belmont Baptist Church from when our family arrived in Belmont in about 1955, until Joan and I got married in November, 1973. So it was the only church I had ever known. We didn't know anyone at the Baptist Church in Charlestown, and it was on the other side of town.

But the church in the picture was only a short walk from our house. We turned up there on the Sunday after we arrived in Dickinson St and were greeted by Jim and Jean Williams, a couple who were a few years older than us, with twin babies, Linley and Lauren. They were lovely, friendly people and made us feel at home.

Jim used to lead the singing at church, and I remember his rousing rendition of the song, Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary. Jim's version was much more lively than this one I have linked to.

The minister was a young man called Geoff Risson. Geoff was a few years older than us. In those days, almost everybody was older than us! In his sermons, he used to often ask What is a Christian? He would go on to say that being a Christian means living out the message you say you believe, not just having an idea in your head which makes no difference to your daily life.

We loved the wording of the pamphlet he got folk to put in the neighbouring letterboxes:
What are young people coming to, these days?
Some young people are coming to your house.
Sometimes Geoff would get his words a bit mixed up, but, as The Two Ronnies used to sing,
We heard what he said
But we knew what he meant.
On one occasion, he preached a whole sermon about Jesus turning the wine into water. And another time he talked to us of the importance of going through the bapters of wartism.

We found that the teachings of the church were very similar to what we had heard at Belmont Baptist and also in Youth For Christ and other Christian organisations we had been involved in.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

PAGE FORTY-ONE: a new home

When we returned to Newcastle, we didn't have a place to live, because Uncle Ben had passed away while we were on our honeymoon. We must have stayed with Joan's folks for a few days, but in a short time we found a flat in Dickinson St, Charlestown.

It was one of four flats, and was advertised at $16 per week. But don't forget that my teacher's scholarship allowance before I got married was $28 per fortnight. In those days, students who lived away from home and married students got an increased allowance, of a whole $88 per fortnight.

When we moved into Flat 1/64 Dickinson St, Charlestown, the rent had been increased to $17. The landlady was Mrs Hedges, a pensioner, but her son Lionel handled things for her. Our first experience of renting was positive, because they were very kind and helpful.

Shortly after we moved in, the power went off one night, due to a fuse blowing. I didn't have a clue how to rectify matters, but the next-door neighbour, Mr Parmeter, the Adamstown postmaster, soon had our lights on again.

The flat was so small, it appeared that our piano was in the kitchen. But we managed to teach a few piano and guitar students to supplement our meagre funds. (And our parents made sure we didn't go broke.)

I'm in our little flat in this photo, but a few months after we were married, we took the opportunity to move into Flat 3, which was a little larger, having a lounge room and separate kitchen. It also had fleas, but the owners kindly fumigated the flat for us. This flat was a whole $20 per week.

A new couple took over Flat 1, who used to enjoy playing their radio at fairly high volume. You would often hear Abba blasting the airwaves with Waterloo.

In those days, I used to enjoy accompanying a singer called Shirley Frazer. I don't remember us having many gigs, but we must have done a couple. Shirley and her husband had been members of Park St Methodist Church, but had decided that the Methodist Church was straying further and further away from the teachings of the Bible, and had joined The Christian and Missionary Alliance, a church I had not previously heard of.

Shirley told me that she and her husband got a bit of stick from one family who held similar conservative views, but felt that loyalty to the local church trumped loyalty to the gospel. (Martyn Lloyd-Jones and John Stott had a similar disagreement.)

Shirley was probably in her late forties or early fifties. She and her husband ran Al's Pizzeria, on Pacific Highway, Charlestown. When we had a few spare dollars, we used to go there for an occasional meal. They used to play tapes from a very dodgy wonky cassette player, which made you feel a bit whoozy, due to the music continually speeding up and slowing down.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

PAGE FORTY: two weddings, a gig and a funeral

This is a photo of the world's most beautiful bride, in the wedding dress which she made herself. I think Joan has the most lovely face and such a winning smile. She also looked pretty good in a certain purple bikini.

We got married at Belmont Baptist Church on Saturday, 24th November, 1973 at 1.30 PM It was a warm day: rather hot to be dressed up in a suit, as you do. Joan's schoolfriend, Susan Ridley was bridesmaid, and Joan's sister Kay was matron of honour. My best man was my best friend, Paul Stocks. Our minister, Albin Betterridge, conducted our wedding.

Susan Rawling's group Maranatha sang Susan's song The Marriage Supper of the Lamb, based on Revelation chapter 19. We had wanted to have The Lord's My Shepherd as our wedding hymn, but were told we couldn't, because people sing it at funerals! I even got a complaint this year when I included it in our church service from someone who had heard it at her grandfather's funeral, a few weeks before.

I think it is a great hymn to sing on any occasion. But, when we were told that it was perfectly acceptable to sing The King of Love My Shepherd Is, we went with that one, which is also based on the grand words of Psalm 23, which I had memorised in Sunday School.(Ironically, it was the latter hymn which was sung at Princess Diana's funeral.)

Our reception was held at 23 Colarado St, Adamstown Heights, Joan's home. It was a small, two bedroom house, but somehow we managed to fit in our fifty guests.

Joan's Dad kindly locked my car in the garage, so we didn't have to endure the hijinks of people tying things to it. Weren't we party-poopers?

When we arrived at Shoal Bay for our honeymoon, we couldn't find any sheets for the bed in the flat we were staying in. So we spent a quite uncomfortable very first time in a bed together between rather prickly blankets.

The next morning, I went to see the landlady to get some sheets, explaining that we couldn't find any, so that my fiancée and I had to sleep under blankets.
Now I'm guessing you didn't blink when you read that, but I was horrified when I heard myself say it, because Joan was no longer my fiancée, but my wife. I guess I was thinking similar thoughts to my mother's, in India, back in 1952. I wonder if there is anyone left who would think like that in 2012?

 When we got married, I had just turned twenty-one, and Joan was twenty. What would you think of me if I told you that I spent quite a bit of our honeymoon in tears? I was not regretting being married to Joan, but was feeling rather overwhelmed by my new responsibilities. Unlike Joan, I had lived at home for the whole of my life: Joan had at least experienced life away from home in the eleven months at Bible college.

I don't think we planned our honeymoon particularly well, because we were offered a gig at Coffs Harbour Methodist Church, and we accepted it, although it was to be during our honeymoon! We enjoyed the drive up the Pacific Highway, and our Morris Mini Deluxe behaved itself and didn't boil over once.

The weather was delightful, as was the company, and I remember when we drove over some bridges Joan looking into the water and exclaiming Lovely river!

 Joan and I only had about three or four gigs, with me playing guitar, Joan the flute, and singing a few songs together. Don't tell anybody this, but no-one ever asked us back! We had one memorable gig at Dungog BYF (Baptist Youth Fellowship). The compere introduced us by saying, in all seriousness, that they had asked two other performers, who both declined coming, so they ended up asking us as a third choice, and we accepted.

I couldn't resist retorting that we were just there rehearsing for our gig at Newcastle YFC the following week!

The day after our performance in Coffs Harbour, the minister of the church called around to tell us that Uncle Ben had passed away. Ben Broadhead had sponsored Joan's family coming out to Australia, and they had lived with him in Mayfield West for a few years, before moving into their own home in Adamstown Heights. We had intended to stay with him for a short time, until we found ourselves a flat.

We drove back to Newcastle and attended his funeral, and also our friends Paul and Lee's wedding. Lee was in Maranatha and had sung at our wedding the week before. Maybe we should have another honeymoon to make up for the one that was so full of other things: what do you think?

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PAGE THIRTY-NINE: Illawarra Bridal College

It came as a surprise to me and a shock to her parents when Joan announced that she was intending to go to Bible college in Katoomba.

She had seen an advertisement in the Methodist monthly newspaper, I think.

At first her family thought we were splitting up and she was escaping: get thee to a nunnery, perhaps?

But that wasn't the reason she decided to go. The college was run by Ambassadors For Christ and had previously been located in the Illawarra: hence, the title as one of my favourite people says.

The dark old building in Katoomba used to be a guesthouse.

It was pretty sobering being so far apart, just after I got back from India, because Joan began college in early 1973 and stayed there for the rest of the college year. We married on 24th November, 1973.

My title was one of the parodies of the college's name. I understand that many Christian organisations were similarly lampooned. The China and India General Mission's acronym was said to stand for Come In: Get Married.

But while it was true that Joan came to college unwed, and was married a few months later, it wasn't anything to do with the college.

Joan had been busy with her music when she was growing up and had not spent much time in the kitchen. One advantage of her year in Katoomba, was that she learnt to cook.

She wrote some very interesting assignments at college and I even typed at least one out for her on my old Olivetti typewriter. I think it was an assignment on Creeds and Confessions.

The college had strict rules about how long you could spend in the shower and I certainly wasn't allowed in Joan's bedroom. You couldn't hang your washing out on the Lord's Day, even if it was the first fine day in a fortnight! I attended a few lectures, which I found very interesting.

It was not an easy year, being apart from one another for most of the time, but I made regular visits to Katoomba and Joan came home a few times, too.

The road to Katoomba was not nearly as good as it is today, and most of it was only two lanes. there were a few places where an overtaking lane had been created, but these were only a few hundred metres long. If you wanted to overtake a slow truck, you had to do it pretty smartly.

During  Joan's year in Katoomba, there were a few people who made us feel at home, and I'm pleased that we are still in contact with some of them, today.
This photo shows a farewell at Belmont Baptist Church to Keith and Merle Cox, who went to The Grange, a Scripture Union campsite in Mt Victoria. I attended  some camps there, we went there as a family, and Joan and I were always made to feel at home at The Grange and visited Merle and Keith several times, both before we were married and afterwards.

Keith was a gifted bricklayer and handyman who transformed so much of the campsite. Merle had a flair for cooking for large numbers of people and some of her recipes were featured in the book Ministry to the Interior. Merle had poor health for many years and died at quite a young age. She was a great friend to my mother, who had met her when Merle was working in the Scripture Union bookshop in Newcastle.

We also knew some Youth For Christ folk in Katoomba, and Joan gave Peter and John Armstrong their first guitar lessons. Their father, Bob Armstrong, was NSW YFC director. He and his wife Enid are lovely people who were also very kind and welcoming to us.

Keith and Rosemary Painter were fellow students at the college with Joan. We have had contact with them, on and off, ever since. They now live in Raglan, an outer village of Bathurst. Keith is a tour guide at Jenolan Caves. We were both census collectors in the 2006 census.
Joan is 3rd from the right in the front row.

This cropped version gives you a better view of my beautiful fiancée.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

PAGE THIRTY-EIGHT: from girlfriend to fiancée

I loved having a girlfriend who did cartwheels, played the flute and piano beautifully and who was such fun to be with. Joan was doing the second year of the performer's DSCM (Diploma of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music), when she was in sixth form, while I was in first year Dip Mus Ed at Newcastle Conservatorium and Teacher's College.

We were excited to discover that we both had to attend the same Acoustics class. I can't say I remember a lot about Acoustics, though I do remember Eric Aubert, taking out a tuning hammer and demonstrating how a piano is tuned. I also remember who I sat next to for each lesson.

The next year, our choir conductor, Michael Dudman, noticing that Joan and I seemed to enjoy being together, asked us if we would arrange the orchestral reduction in the Bach Mass in B Minor vocal score to be played by two pianos. We only had to do a little reorganisation, and were soon happily practising the Gloria section, which was the first part the choir was going to perform.

I also loved the way that Joan expressed her new-found Christian faith by making posters and putting them up on the walls in her home. I can't help thinking of this when I read some of these passages in the Bible. One of these came to mind last week, when Pastor Mark Sutton was preaching from Peter's first Letter:
Humble yourselves therefore,
under the mighty hand of God
that he may exalt you in due time.
Casting all your care on him,
for he careth for you.
And I also remember the verse that Joan put on a poster in the kitchen in her Colarado St home:
Whether you eat or drink
or whatever you do
do it all to the glory of God.
In the second half of 1972, I was accepted to be part of a Youth For Christ team travelling to Singapore, Sri Lanka, India, Bangla Desh and Nepal, in January, 1973. The plan was that we would meet at the YFC Gold Coast camp and rehearse for a couple of weeks, before leaving for India, with Eric Leach, who was to be the speaker.

I thought I was going along to play the piano, but there were three pianists in the team, and my friend Mary Patty was chosen as the pianist. My role was to sing. Now, although I had sung in school choral groups and choirs, I had never sung professionally and have not been favoured with much of a voice, though I can sing in tune and hold a part.

They did allow the three pianists to play a piano trio arrangement of Ralph Carmichael's song, He's Everything To Me, which we enjoyed doing. But it wasn't easy for me to play a piano that was a semitone sharp, in one of the towns we visited briefly. My acute sense of pitch made this an excruciating experience, because when I played a chord that looked and felt like B major, it would come out sounding like a C. Very off-putting.

From the time that Joan and I began spending time together, I couldn't imagine ever splitting up, or wanting to be with anybody else. But I was only nineteen, Mum would remind me. However, after I was accepted for the team travelling to India, Mum told me that this might be a good time to give Joan some security by announcing my intentions. I proposed to her the next day, 19th December, 1972.

Don't laugh, but I asked her if she'd like to be a minister's wife, and she replied that it all depended who the minister was. This photo was taken just after we got engaged.

Communication was very different back in 1973 when I was in India. I was unable to ring Joan, and relied on getting a letter from her and sending letters to her. I missed her tremendously, though I look happy enough in this photo taken in India. (I've got the archetypical one at the Taj Mahal somewhere, but can't put my hands on it, at the moment.) In the photo, I'm wearing an Indian shirt and a very uncomfortable coat made of yak hairs.

The jokes about our Australian accent are true: other people really do hear us quite differently from how we hear ourselves.So when I bowled up to an Indian man called Nicanor, hoping he had a letter from Joan for me, I asked "Any mail?" and he replied. "No. We only have kilometres in India!"

Then he told me a favourite Indian joke: an Australian doctor, working in India asks a hospital patient
Did you come here to today?
and the patient replies
No, I came here to live!
and runs out of the room.

It was an eye opener seeing the huge differences in the lifestyles of people in India and neighbouring countries. It was also odd, seeing how differently some of the missionaries' lives were from the people they were serving. A Canadian Lutheran family in a southern Indian town had maple syrup flown in, but I was grateful they had Western toilets. I couldn't come to terms with the holes in the ground in other parts of India that we were sent to, when nature called, nor the long periods of travelling time where there were no toilets available at all.

It was in India where I heard this parody on We Three Kings of Orient, Are. Back in 1973, Indians were as mad about the Beatles as the rest of the world had been in 1964.
We four Beatles of Liverpool are
John in a taxi
George in a car
Paul on a bicycle
licking an icicle
following Ringo Starr
Witty, isn't it!

When I arrived back in Australia, I was so pleased to see Joan again. I knew that I never wanted another period of five whole weeks away from her.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

PAGE THIRTY-SEVEN: new discoveries

Getting acquainted with Joan and spending time with her at her home in Adamstown Heights taught me all sorts of things: one painful discovery was that there are people in the world who enjoy watching sport on TV.

Joan wasn't a particular fan herself, but her father enjoyed watching the soccer and cricket, and Joan's mother enjoyed watching the cricket and tennis.

I've long thought that George Bernard Shaw summed up cricket pretty well:
The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity.

But I also learnt a lot about music from going to Joan's place. Her parents had some great gramophone records and Joan had quite a collection, which she was building up, through the wonderful World Record Club.

The only classical music I knew was the pieces I'd played on the piano or had heard in my Elective Music classes in junior high school. I was quite ignorant, because for a long while the only classical record we had at home was an old RCA Victor record of Strauss waltzes.

Later on, Uncle Dave gave me a Beethoven Fifth Symphony LP, and then Mum and Dad bought a few 7 inch records (which played at 33 1/3 RPM) of pieces like Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik.

But I always gravitated towards the popular stuff, from Lloyd Price's Personality onwards. To me, classical music was like green vegetables: you know you should be eating them, but you tend to gravitate towards the meat and desserts.

But when I actually heard pieces like Mozart's Flute and Harp Concerto or Boyce symphonies, I loved them. I would say to Joan, I love this record and she would reply, The music's good, too. And it was Joan's Mum and Dad who introduced us both to The King's Singers. They had the terrific Out Of The Blue record, which is now out of print, like too many of this six voice male vocal group's recordings.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

PAGE THIRTY-SIX: meet the family

Joan's mother and father, Nesta and Llew, were kind and welcoming to me. Mr Sims was a newspaper man. He was chief subeditor on the Newcastle Morning Herald and a most interesting man. He gave good advice, but mostly waited to be asked.

I like this photo of them with their two girls, Joan and Kay, taken in England, before they came to Australia as Ten Pound Poms in December, 1963.

I had been brought up as a Baptist and teetotaller, and had been led to believe that all people who drank alcohol were raging drunks. Mum and Dad didn't teach us that, but we certainly got that impression from Sunday School and church.

When Nesta offered me a Christmas sherry, I wasn't sure what I'd get myself into if I accepted it.

I remembered being told about the progression from a man taking a drink to a drink taking a drink to a drink taking a man.

But, as I transpired, I thought it had the most revolting taste: whatever did people see in it? I still don't like sherry, but have learnt to enjoy other drinks. Joan's folks were very moderate drinkers. I remember Llew used to enjoy a drop of Ben Ean moselle or, what he used to call rough red, by which he meant cheap red wine (I think).

When I got my second car, which was a 1967 maroon Morris Mini Deluxe, it wasn't long before the brakes needed fixing. I took the car to a firm called Better Brakes and the mechanic said:
Bad news, mate: it'll cost you $220 to get it repaired.
That was a fortune to me: my Teacher's Scholarship was $28 per fornight! Llew gave me some very sensible advice. He told me to get a second opinion from Delore Motors, which was a Morris specialist. After looking at my car, the mechanic said:
Bad news, mate: it's going to be expensive. I think it will be about fifty bucks.
I was amazed at the difference in the two quotes. Guess which one I went with? But I was also pleasantly surprised when I went back to collect the mighty Min. The mechanic smiled and said:
You're in luck. Not as bad as we thought. Thirty-three dollars
Someone later explained to me that the brakes place made their money out of the parts they sold, and probably replaced parts that the other place didn't think needed to be taken out.

While I'm ferreting around in old family photos, I can't resist including this terrific one of Kay and Joan at Stonehenge in about 1958, in the days when the public were allowed in. Kay is five years older than Joan, and is a fellow music teacher. She was in fourth year at Newcastle Teacher's College and Conservatorium when I was in first year.

One very helpful thing Kay did for me, in my second year of Teachers' College, was to invite me to come to Glendale High School and teach a small guitar class. I could hardly play myself! But it was a good experience to be put in charge of a few students, before being thrown into the deep end in a classroom of thirty kids!

Talk about Qui docet, discit! (That's the motto of the NSW Teachers' Federation and means "the one who teaches, learns." These days they have put it into more contemporary English and render it as "It's amazing what you learn when you teach.")

I had a painful learning experience one week, when a girl called Narelle brought in her nylon string, acoustic guitar and asked me to restring it. She handed me some steel strings and I had no idea that they shouldn't be put on her guitar.

Bang! The bridge broke right off and her cheap nylon string guitar was ruined. My father used to say "You'll never learn younger."

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PAGE THIRTY-FIVE: Dad to the rescue

What do you do when you have a girlfriend, but no passenger seat in your Morris 1000 panel van?

You ask your Dad to put a seat in for you.

I have never been a handyman, and find most things to do with household repairs, fixing cars, and the like to be a big mystery. I have learnt to do some few things, but have also had to know my limitations.

Dad worked so hard in his job and also at home, but he was very pleased to help me with my car. He did some work on it on 25th September, 1971. Maybe that was the day that he removed the gigantic battery and the box over it, and replace it with a passenger's seat.

Now Joan and I could go out for picnics, and off to Youth For Christ and other places together. The two photos, taken on the same day, were from one of our picnics up the Hunter Valley somewhere; possibly Paterson.

We enjoyed going to two YFC camps at Tallebudgera Creek, on the Gold Coast in 1971 and 1972. The first time we travelled by train, but when we went in 1972, we were passengers in someone's car. I forget their name: I wonder if Joan remembers?

At one of these camps, we first heard John Smith, the famous pastor to bikies. He spoke powerfully and wanted us all to know that being a Christian is more than having a set of beliefs. He taught us that encountering the living God should transform our lives.

John was a living example of this in his ministry to people often shunned by others.

At the camp, Joan introduced me to her lovely friend, Susan Ridley, who took this photo. Susan is such a lot of fun. she is a cellist and pianist, and has some unique expressions, which I love. When she was leaving she would say "OK you geezers: time to choof off," and off she'd go. Susan took this photo of Joan and me at the second camp we went to.

In 1971, the Rev Alan Walker, the Methodist minister who founded Lifeline, led a mission at Vision Valley in Arcadia. I went to one of the training sessions, and sat in a prayer group so close to Fred Nile, who was leading our little group, that our knees touched.

I drove to the Newness Mission camp and slept in my van on a mattress. When I got home, Mum told me to take that mattress out of the car ... and I did! My car was never going to be a shaggin' waggon, if Mum had anything to do with it.

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

PAGE THIRTY-FOUR: just the beginning

When I was in sixth form, I started a performance diploma course at Newcastle Conservatorium. It was a great experience, but I didn't last the year out.

I remember being nervous playing in this concert: but I still love playing the second movement of Beethoven's Sonata in E Flat major, op 7. The whole sonata is a terrific piece of music. A girl called Joan Sims played the Caprice from Bach's Partita in C Minor.

Anne Moss was a Christian girl and once took Joan and myself to a youth meeting (if I remember correctly) at St Augustine's church in Merewether. I adore the Chopin Scherzo in B Flat Minor. She played it so well, showing off its beauty and drama. I wonder whatever happened to Anne?

The next year, I attended a concert where William Coombes sang. He was a wonderful singer, and sang so naturally. We were privileged to hear him sing Vaughan Williams' Songs of Travel, and later the solo part in the Fauré Requiem.

It was 13th August, the day that Joan Sims got her driver's licence. I congratulated her, shaking her hand, which was rather courageous of me.

We sat together in the concert, which I enjoyed very much.

One month later, I bought Joan a present for her 18th birthday, which was Don Burrows' Just The Beginning, because I was hoping that this was just the beginning of our friendship.

It was the first Australian jazz recording to "go gold", and sell ten thousand copies.It has been made a part of The National Registry of Recorded Sound. Two of my favourite tracks are the first one, Passing the Bach and the group's terrific arrangement of Tárrega's Recuerdos, featuring the familiar intricate guitar part, but also Don Burrows' wonderful alto flute playing.

Before long, this beautiful girl played Debussy's First Arabesque for me. I was taken aback by the sensitivity in her playing. I had little nuance in my playing before I met Joan. I've certainly learnt plenty from my piano teachers, but more from Joan, who is a wonderful musician and teacher.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012


If you say haitch, shame on you! Does it ever grate on me! But so many Aussies say it. Haitch M V. The Haitch S C. The B Haitch P. Mum always told us it was spelt A-I-T-C-H, which was a guide to how it should be pronounced.

When I finished school, I went to work at the BHP (Newcastle Steelworks). In 1970-71, it was said they would give any boy who finished school a job there, if he asked for one. I think that was the only way I obtained a position, because I was a most unpromising labourer.

I was sent to the blacksmiths shop, where we were given salt tablets, to help us cope with the heat, and to encourage us to drink to replenish our energy. It certainly was hot in there.

I had very little to do: they mainly wanted me to keep the floor swept. For most of the long day, I was standing around. It was very boring. But if you sat down, and someone saw the shape of a chair on the back of your clothes, they would give you a sharp smack and call you a chair arse.

The men were very coarse. Lunch was supplied, but I found it hard to eat something that the men called Frank Farts. I lost my appetite at the thought of it!

One of the workers was called The Professor, because he was a bit of a know-it-all and had gone to Teachers' College for a term.

I felt like a fish out of water, but I did manage to keep it up for the three months between finishing school and starting at Newcastle Conservatorium and Teachers' College, and managed to earn enough to buy a car. My first car was a 1958 Morris 1000 panel van.  It had been used by the NRMA man from Griffiths Garage and had no passenger's seat, but a big box over a large battery, used for jump-starting cars.

A little like my car
The NRMA removed their distinctive blue colour and logo and painted the car white. It cost us $300. I think I paid $200 and Mum and Dad paid the rest. Dad chose the car, partly based on the fact that he understood Morris engines and would be able to work on it.

One of the first times I went out in it, was to go to the Wallacia Pop Festival with Susan Rawling and a few others. We were only just out of Swansea when my car conked out. We were going to the place to do some evangelism, and went equipped with a tape recorder to use to interview people.

Then, as now, Christians had some odd ideas about the way God guides us. I thought God was telling me something when the car stopped going. Did he want us to turn round and go back home? One of the folk found out that the fuel line was dirty, and sucked on it (yuck) which got rid of the blockage, and we were off again.

We heard the band Tully perform and heard Adrian Rawlins laugh a lot. Tully were devotees of Meher Baba.
It was interesting chatting with festival-goers, but also frustrating. Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 4:4 spring to mind:
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

During those days straight after completing high school, I bought a guitar. It was made in China and was not like the terrific items that come from that great country today. It cost me $15 and had steel strings, which cut my fingers. It was very poorly made.

And, I bought a copy of Elton John's self-titled album. I still love it. It is an intriguing collection of songs, brilliantly performed and arranged.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

PAGE THIRTY-TWO: Maths and Science

What did the Arts graduate say to the Science graduate?
"Do you want fries with that?"

I was firmly in the humanities mould. I coped with Arithmetic pretty well in primary school (but still don't know why they marked it out of 200 and everything else out of 100), but didn't do nearly as well in high school. My marks were quite reasonable, but not near the top of the class as they had been.

I found the geometry theorems interesting, and enjoyed the pun which my father told me, when he said that Q E D, written at the end of a proof, signifying quod erat demonstrandum (which was to be proved), also stood for Quite Easily Done.

We had a good Maths teacher from first to fourth form: Mr Steinmetz, whose hair had gone prematurely white. He was a kind, but no-nonsense sort of man.

My three high school Maths teachers are in this photo. Mr Steinmetz is the white-haired man in the back row. My teacher when I was in fifth form was Paul Danks, the young man on the left in the back row. When we got to sixth form, my teacher was John Sheriff, the bespectacled man in the middle of the front row.

Boys in my fifth form class gave our new teacher a hard time, and used to mimic the opening music from the 1950s Dragnet TV series when he entered the room:
And some also used to play table tennis at the back of the classroom, while the lesson was in progress, using black gloomy-looking Maths textbooks for bats and net.

Maybe that's why our teacher in sixth form was the Maths master, John Sheriff. He didn't like students mindlessly copying things from the blackboard while he was speaking.

When we were at school, blackboards were actually green, but they were most certainly chalkboards. However, towards the end of my time in high school,  the Music classrooms had whiteboards and textas, so that the chalk would not get into the gramophone records.

But Mr Sheriff's solution was to make us put our pens down and watch and listen. Then, after he had demonstrated his point, he would rub the material off the blackboard, and then tell us to write it down!

Although I had a better memory then than I have now, I missed quite a bit, and had to buy a book of formulae to get me through 2S Maths.

John Sheriff became deputy headmaster of Warner's Bay High School, when Margaret and Kevin's children Jamie and Tammy were there. The students used to love singing
I shot the sheriff
But I did not shoot the deputy
which they knew from the Eric Clapton version of Bob Marley's song.

I was even worse at  Science than I was at Maths, and was demoted to 3B, in 1967. Oh, the ignominy!
Our teacher was Bob Horne. He was young then. He enjoyed geology, but I found it thoroughly boring. Mr Horne's Science experiments never seemed to work. After each failure, he would say, "Well, this is what was supposed to happen."

But, on one memorable day, an experiment worked. He was demonstrating the displacement of water, and when he put a rock into a beaker of water, voilà! The water rose.

He used to enjoy goading the Christian students. We were firmly against evolution in Belmont Baptist Church, and one of the girls told the teacher she didn't believe in it. This was like a red rag to a bull, and Mr Horne invited God, if he existed, to strike him dead. Amazingly, the Almighty didn't let our teacher set his agenda, and Mr Horne survived.

I didn't do Science in fifth or sixth form, and studied Music privately, doing the AMEB HSC course, which involved doing Seventh Grade practical and Sixth Grade theory. I think my piano teacher, Miss Keeley supervised my Sixth grade theory. Don't tell my Music Craft students at Mitchell Conservatorium, but I only managed a credit!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Senior Choral Group, 1970
I enjoyed singing in the school choirs and choral groups throughout high school. I knew almost nothing about singing before I entered high school (though I had performed a couple of songs in primary school, both in fourth class). I was briefly a tenor in first form, but soon became a bass. I was so ignorant, I had to be told not to breathe in the middle of phrases, and especially not in the middle of a word!

When I was in fourth class, we had a lovely teacher called Mr Warburton. Unfortunately he smoked like a chimney and died a few years after I left school. We were going for a medical appointment at Royal Newcastle Hospital, and met his daughter, Ann coming out of the revolving doors at the front.

I asked after her father, and she said he had died and she had his clothes in the bag she was carrying.

He played the piano, but I could hear some fudging in his left hand accompaniments at times. He was a friendly, kind man and I remember him directing us in a little play about Robin Hood. At one point in the play, Robin Hood is disguised and is speaking to the Sheriff of Nottingham, telling him that he, a humble archer, has killed Robin Hood.

The Sheriff asks: Are you sure that Robin Hood is dead, lying in the forest?

and Mr Warburton used to enjoy delivering the next line:
Robin Hood (in disguise): No man could ever lie, as Robin is lying now.

During fourth class, Mr W had me singing I am the very model of a modern major general, from The Pirates of Penzance and also dressed up as a black woman singing Lazybones to Ian Wyse, and giving him a whack with a broom as I did so. (It hadn't occurred to me that actors pretend to hit. Poor Ian!)

But, back to high school. In the photo you can see our two music teachers, Mrs Masters and Miss Johnson. Little did we know that there were two famous sex therapists who worked together with the same surnames. Students would have enjoyed the joke!

The students are myself, Greg Bellamy and Glen Davies, Margaret Maskey and Colleen Webb in the middle row, and Vicky Gleeson and Jan Gilkison in the front row. We used to sing negro spirituals, such as Who's that a-callin'? (These days they are called African-American spirituals.)

I used to play piano in an informal band with Greg and our friend Leonard Turnbull. But I was uneasy about forming a band when they asked me, because I thought it was wrong for a Christian to play in a dance band. (But I used to happily listen to the music. If we're honest, we are all inconsistent, aren't we!)

I'm told that Greg became a distinguished heart surgeon.

Glen and I spent a lot of time together at school and I used to go to his house in Lewers St and stay for a day or two, every now and again. His father was a butcher and had Liberace records. I think he found me to be irritating: I couldn't stop talking. It was probably a great relief when I went home.

I had lots of interesting conversations with Glen over the years. we had quite a lot in common, because we both learnt piano and both studied Music in the junior school. Glen attended the Methodist Church and took me with the church young people to his family's holiday place in Seal Rocks, where we slept in tents. I didn't enjoy the experience of having someone deflate my blow-up bed during the night.

But I did like the jaffles which were toasted over a campfire. A boy called Duncan told me that a jaffle was a cast-iron bra, which he thought was a huge joke.

I first heard the Rolling Stones compilation album Flowers at Greg Bellamy's place. I still think it is a great collection of songs. It was one of the first which I played on my community radio album program.

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Sunday, September 09, 2012

PAGE THIRTY: an unexpected solution

We were pretty strait-laced in Belmont Baptist Church, as the photo of our Sunday School teachers reveals. The men wore suits and the ladies always wore hats. And of course we were not alone in this.

When David Aiton became a Christian and came to stay at our place (sharing my tiny bedroom with me), he discovered that he needed to buy a suit to be accepted as being dressed for church. That was a tall order for an apprentice fitter and machinist. After he got one, a deacon informed him that he could join the communion servers' roster, now that he was properly dressed.

I fell foul of these dress rules myself when I wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt and no tie, while playing the Hammond organ in church on a hot summer morning. The choirmaster objected and I was told I must dress formally when I played the organ. Interestingly, Mr Thrum himself was breaking the code, too, because he was a smoker! (In those days, we were told that the verse in 1 Corinthians about our bodies being a temple of the Holy Spirit, was put there to prohibit Christians from puffing on cigarettes.)

There were all kinds of rules that we were expected to follow. Baptists didn't dance, smoke, drink alcohol, play sport on The Lord's Day, or even go swimming or picnicking. Everything was going swimmingly until the Livingstones put in a pool.

Arch and Gloria Livingstone had a poultry farm, which was called Ringal, based on their names, from youngest to oldest:
Clever, isn't it!

I think the Livingstones were the first to own a pool. Now it is one thing to not go to the local pool on a hot Sunday, but quite another to refrain from having a dip in your own pool. So Ian asked Mr Betterridge to clarify something:
Ian: Mr Bett, is it OK to go for a walk on the Lord's Day?
Mr Betterridge: That's fine, Ian.
Ian: And is it OK to lie down on the Lord's Day?
Mr Betterridge: It's perfectly OK. After all, Sunday is meant to be a day of rest.
Ian: Then I think it's OK to go swimming too, because that's just a combination of walking and lying down!
One Sunday afternoon, David Aiton and I went to Wallsend Baptist Church to hear the Rev Rowland Croucher speak. He mercilessly lampooned some of our most treasured rules. I remember him engaging in a similar piece of logic to Ian's to point out how crazy it was that we were taught that it was fine to go for a walk on the Sabbath (which people equated with Sunday and the Lord's Day) and fine to eat, but doing both together ( picnicking) was verboten. 

 Yet another rule was that women should not wear men's clothing, nor men women's, and especially not in church. And so our new music group was faced with a problem.

We had a group uniform, which consisted of  a brightly covered top, which we wore over our slacks. It was perfectly acceptable at Katoomba Youth For Christ on Saturday night. But we were warned that this would not be accepted at the church where we would be singing on the following Sunday morning. (It was either Leura or Lawson Baptist Church: I can't remember which.)

We did not have an alternative change of clothing, so what were we to do? I didn't expect what came next: the girls turned up without their trousers! If the conservative church folk didn't like girls wearing slacks, fine. Just take 'em off!

And, believe it or not, going bottomless, or if you like, wearing micro-minis, was more acceptable than girls in modest slacks.

My mother had an expression which she got from her mother: the sights you see when you're out without your gun!

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