Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Saturday, 20 October 2012


5am departure from Goondiwindi for St George

My work this week had me in Goondiwindi.

This town has a special place in my heart.

I started teaching near there in 1968, at Inglewood. I had 25 year threes – a very small class in those days. The other year three teacher was also in her first year. She was Italian, her dad was one of the wealthiest tobacco farmers in the district, and she was easy on the eye.

It was too good to be true. Overnight I was transferred to Goondiwindi, where I was given a class of fifty-five year fives.

It was sink or swim. I swam.

I boarded with a family in Callandoon Street. I found the house the other day. It looks much the same.

Out the back is the laundry in which the father of the family (a drover) would slaughter a sheep on the comparatively rare occasions he was home. There were two adolescent boys who were always in trouble. Sometimes their mum prevailed on me to try to talk some sense into them.

I failed – they took absolutely no notice. They were, however, scared stiff of their dad, and there was often a reckoning when he came home.

Their mum decided I was too skinny and tried to fatten me up by providing enormous helpings of mutton most meals together with other bits of sheep anatomy not usually eaten.

It didn’t work – I stayed skinny.

I owned two Volkswagens whilst I was there – two, because the first one blew up. It put a valve through a piston at 68km/hour, which was its top speed.

The second one did the same, but at 72km/hour and on my way to Singleton after call-up. It was a later model, hence the slightly higher top speed. I realised after a while, that it wasn’t necessary to drive everywhere absolutely flat out.

My stay at Goondiwindi was brief. At the beginning of next year I was marched into 3TB Singleton, and then in June 7RAR. I didn’t darken the door of a classroom again until 1971.

I was walking down the main street this trip, when a woman in her forties with two kids, bailed me up.

I had taught her in 1968. She has a good memory.

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