Such was my response as I watched Episode 2 of The House Of Windsor: A Royal Dynasty on ABC the other night. The episode dealt with George VI, with the embarrassing Edward VIII and his American wife walking on here and there from time to time. The link takes you to the gloriously eccentric Professor David Flint’s account of the series for Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy. I have even so found the series interesting and I certainly have nothing against George VI. But oh my, how patronising were those old newsreel voice-overs!
I notice my parents became “Australian citizens” in January 1949 – not that they had come here from anywhere else. But before that they were just British Subjects, for all practical purposes, such as passports. They still were, but now they were hyphenated: British Subject: Australian Citizen. (See Australian nationality law.)
We still had a Labor government: Chifley. Later in the year we got to know a lot about candles and kerosene lamps, and fuel stoves. We had such a stove in the kitchen at 61 Auburn Street Sutherland. It was to be a year of coal strikes and blackouts. At the end of the year the Reign of Menzies began.
Consider the things we didn’t have: TV, coffee (or anything we would now call coffee), hamburgers, wine – unless you were a wino or in a somewhat different social circle to that which we inhabited, Aborigines, Asians, even Italians – I speak of Auburn Street Sutherland there. Italians, Greeks and so on were just over the horizon, but hadn’t disturbed our world yet, and Asians, apart from market gardeners in some nearby suburbs, were not part of our scene, while Aborigines were to be visited at La Perouse on a Sunday afternoon, should one want some different entertainment. Salami, pizzas and garlic were totally unknown. As was green tea. Tea was always black, and in two main varieties: Ceylon and Chinese. The latter (Lan-Choo) was a minority taste. Biscuits, like just about everything else, came in brown paper bags, weighed out from bulk tins by the grocer. There were no supermarkets, none. Not such a bad thing that…
We didn’t have preschools either. I had just started at Kindergarten, but was already reading – Felix the Cat among other things.
We did have the Sutherland Odeon for the flicks or, more formally, “the pictures” — or perhaps “the pitchers”. No-one talked of “movies” and only the pretentious said “cinema”. At the flicks we all stood to attention as God Save the King was played. No-one I knew questioned that. We were all very much Union Jack people.
My first students at Cronulla High in 1966 were being born too, or some of them…
I grow old.