My latest very odd article published

02 Sep

Here it is.


You folks probably don’t remember when Glebe was one of the “City of Villages” and Clover Moore, our Lord Mayor, had this capsule buried. Yes, the narrow spit of Glebe was once a peninsula! (Sorry we squibbed so badly on climate change, people.)

A colourful place, the old Glebe. Work took me there from Wollongong in 1977 to Alexandra Road – no water views then. Heard of the Bodyline Tour? I lived opposite George Borwick, the cricket umpire in Sydney back in the 1930s and heard a lot about that from him, and about life in Glebe going back forty or fifty years. Next door: Jorge Campano, a Spanish guitarist so good that when he practised I just turned off everything and listened. Then neighbor John Waterford, a former prisoner in Changi and on the Burma Railway, with no hatred for the Japanese. He and his family opened my eyes to politics. I met famous Labor politician Peter Baldwin through them later on. Glebe politics has always been colourful.

Lots was happening: the Church of England’s old lands (or “glebe”) which go right back to the First Fleet chaplain Richard Johnson had been turned into a landmark public housing restoration where they preserved the buildings instead of building more tower blocks. Gough Whitlam did that. Great, but governments change and the project, while still there, has passed to other hands. There was a first too: Elsie, the Women’s Refuge, which had dramas including at least one shooting episode.

I was back again in 1981. After a while circumstances took me to a kind of doss-house close to Harold Park, a bay in your time I believe. They used to have the trots there in those days. Hard to believe, isn’t it? But then the Gadigal could have told you that Glebe was once fifteen kilometres inland compared to what it was in my day, and not on the edge of Sydney Harbour at all.

I sure met colourful in that doss-house. The stoned artist who kept painting the same painting on the same canvas. The schizophrenic Aboriginal woman who ended up making a lot of sense really. She was a member of the Stolen Generation. The retired burglar with whom I wandered back alleys at times, amazed by his powers of observation. The Catholic priest who was a friend of Redfern’s Ted Kennedy. The writer who invited me to become a cocaine import drop box. (I said no.) Real Peter Corris territory!

So many memories…

I didn’t really put this in the time capsule…

You can find it in the South Sydney Herald.

Or read it on PDF right here: SSH_SEP09.



2 responses to “My latest very odd article published

  1. Julie

    September 4, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Okay … read this post and checked out the original article in the paper. REally cool story and way of writing. I am learning so much about Glebe. Such a great suburb in which to spend my time. Glad I made the switch from Waterloo – even though I am back there every two days!!

  2. Neil

    September 4, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Thanks, Julie. Glad you enjoyed it.


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