Tuesday 15 December 2015

We Won The Grand Final!

Sport was a huge part of my teenage life. It was an especially handy excuse to escape the ‘slavery’ of house and garden chores at home. Me and my girl peers played so much sport in the 1970’s it seemed like we were making up for whole generations of ladies before us who were prevented from engaging in physical exertion because that was something boys and men did, like maths, and driving panel vans.

My main pursuit was netball. I played on weekends with our Team, the Tigers; for my school team against other schools; for my school against our annual exchange with Jesmond High School; for the Lower Blue Mountains in Representative Netball; for older teams when they were short of players, and in other competitions like the Coca Cola Comp. I umpired netball and coached from scratch a footloose but ultimately champion under 8’s team. I took my team responsibilities seriously and never missed a game, unless it was out of my control. I also went into all school sporting events I could possibly qualify for. Most years I was champion athlete for my year. I competed in swimming competitions, did lifesaving to the Bronze level and then coached my peers. I played in the school volleyball team and did fencing. I rowed, abseiled, played basketball, softball and competition squash. At home we had a badminton and volleyball net, a ping pong table, totem tennis, a netball hoop, high jumps to train on, and a slip and slide for fun. I’d probably be sedated on Ritalin were I a 21st century urbanised teen today with no space or athletic outlet to expend my boundless energy. My diaries point out, I didn't enjoy boredom: “Did nothing today. How Boring”, would be the only diary entry of an uneventful day. If my body couldn’t do anything, my brain had to. Even reading a book was better than doing nothing, and one book wasn’t enough for me. I had to read at least two. My craving for sport was good for my parents too. “Go and play with a moving truck” was Dad’s deadpan refrain when we got in his way. As I got older, it was “Sorry Dad, no time to slave today, I have a grand final to win.”

The only activity I wasn’t even tempted by was hockey, not being keen on permanently sporting the Three Sisters on my shins, or losing my teeth, or an eye, or as we used to half joke – having my brains splattered all over the hockey field. Solid wood wielding Hockey players were tough, brave and scary.

Sport was also a socialising medium because our Blue Mountain community was spread wide apart. If you didn’t play sport, the only people you saw outside school were your immediate neighbours and visiting relatives, until the Forum Dance or someone’s long awaited party, even if boys traversed great distances on their bikes to visit girls. We would train along side the soccer and rugby players from other clubs and schools at various ovals, and affectionately taunt each other as we did our laps. On the weekends, boys from other schools and our team’s brothers and their friends would come to watch us play, and we would scan the fields for new guys we didn’t know.

School exchanges were the most fun because we would stay overnight, billeted to families from the host school, or billeting visiting players when we were hosting. Everything about the exchange was exciting, from being selected to represent your school, lunchtime training on the quadrangle, the cacophonous bus ride there, the anticipation of being billeted with complete strangers – will they be cool, nice, pretty, square? –  the arrival and introductions, the moving from match to match to support your school’s teams, and the competition to cheer the loudest. Some kids would have semi romantic interludes, which became hot gossip around respective schools. It all culminated in a dance, a presentation, a promise to write, and returning to Springwood High armed with a million tales to tell. The same sort of high school comeraderie reigned over district, regional and state athletic competitions.

As my diaries embarrassingly reveal, I had to be in the A team in Netball because being in B Grade was ‘humiliating’. We loved playing for fun but we played to win. My club team, the Tigers, were undefeated year after year, until one day. Having won the Grand Final in the Grade competition, we went on to come 2nd in the NSW Champion of Champions Coca Cola Competition.

I played goal attack. Andre Stephens liked playing goal attack too, and while we were never competition at the Tigers, I feared Andre when we both made it into some other team, like school or Representative. She was a great goal attack but she was also a great wing defence and wing attack and goal shooter, and even centre - anywhere but goal attack pleeeeease - because I wasn’t a great defence. I was a run-away-from-and-catch person, although I could jump high. Sometimes I played Goal Shooter and Andre, Goal Attack, but my proud teenage self felt demoted when that happened, unless I was having an off shooting day then I volunteered myself elsewhere.  And shock horror when I was made goalkeeper – even though it’s as important a position as all others. Sometimes I shot well. Along with Robyn as Goal Shooter, we won games 80 something to almost nothing. Other days I couldn’t put the ball in the hoop if the survivability of polar bears depended on it.  How could those balls just glide into the ring one after the other one day, then bounce right off it as if repelled by a field-force the next? 

We were undefeated because we had a combination of tactic and strong players. We never stood still with the ball looking for someone to throw it to. We were fluid - always running down the side, projecting the ball ahead of the player expected to be there to catch it, and they usually were with their arms outstretched, their finger tips just reaching the surface of the ball in time to spring it forward to the next positioning player. Boom, boom, boom, down the side and into the ring dropped the ball. We also had the amazing Helen Campton as Goal Defense. She was strong, wild and unpredictable. Helen jumped like she had a jet pack on and didn’t know how to use it. You could always count on Helen to leap to the moon to catch the ball our poor opponents were trying to lop over her head to their goal shooter or goal attack. Helen almost systematically caught the ball on the rebound of a failed goal. If she missed the ball it was unbelievable, “Oh my God Helen missed the ball. How did that happen? Helen never misses the ball”, is how much we relied on her to save the day. Often, as sure as she would intercept the ball, she would throw it down court with the force of a hundred Popeye’s, over our own goal third and into another court. But at least she got the ball out of our opponent’s goal circle. And we had Cassandra Van Dyke as centre – tall and fast but with an equally unpredictable and forceful pass. We were never sure if Helen or Cassandra would turn up for a game. When Helen didn’t turn up or if she hurt herself - which she often did with all those impossibly angled acrobatics she performed - it was going to be a bad day. Helen was my main competition at athletics High Jumps. Only she learned the Frosbury Flop and I didn’t. 

The netball competitions we played went on for 1 and 2 weeks, 10 -12 half hour games a day. We were incredibly fit. Netball didn't cost anything to play either, except for transport and accommodation costs during state or other competitions. Councils weren’t trying to make a profit out of leasing sports fields and land that sport was played on wasn't yet competing with developers for purpose. Coaches weren’t outsourced or professionalised. Key enthusiastic Mums coached and umpired our Club competition for free. They sewed our uniforms, designed and made our team banners and drove us to our matches. Our Mums took it in turns to provide segmented oranges to quench our thirst between quarters. We could afford to go away for weeklong competitions without doing a cost benefit or opportunity cost analysis. We didn’t compile a risk register, take out public liability insurance, and keep a Work Health Safety Incident Report Form on hand. It didn’t cost a hefty monthly fee to be in the school footy or netball team either, or to learn to swim. Government policy was to get Australians active in sport so school sport was government funded and subject teachers doubled up as sports teachers (the Physical Education teacher couldn’t do it all). At the minimum they supervised as we muddled through training. The downside was that if you wanted to train there often wasn’t anyone to help you improve technique, and teachers were stretched. 
1970's Dunlop sand-shoe
Like many others, I ran my races, hurdled, long jumped, high jumped, threw the discuss, javelin and shot-put bare foot, because despite bindies, sharp stones, spikey and prickly seeds, and bees and other stinging insects lurking in the grass, we were more nimble bare foot than in the only sports shoe available at the time – the heavy flat soled canvass Dunlop sand-shoe.

Sport kept me busy, out of trouble, and fit and healthy, all without meaning to. My parents played no sport whatsoever, except golf, which some might argue isn’t really a ‘sport’ – well not a huffing puffing muscular development type sport anyway. But at least they were walking. Dad was de facto fit since he spent a lot of time engaged in manual labour around the house, building extensions, maintaining our subsistence vege patch and our extensive lawns. But Dad did do his bit to uphold our reputation for being a sport crazy nation. Like so many millions of Australians today, he loved to watch the football and cricket whenever it was on. Of course he deserved to lobotomise in front of the TV for a bit watching his favourite sport, but the house full of women he lived with - Mum, me and my sister - hated it. The unrelenting high pitched bellowing of the sports commentator impinged on our serenity like the dentist drill on a tooth nerve, and the fetid stench of rolled up champion ruby tobacco, Dads smelly feet, spilt beer new and old, seeped deep into our shaggy carpet, wafted out of the lounge room along with his couch-side heckling, “Go you bastard!” “You beauty”! “aaaargh!”.  We just couldn’t relate to his joy. And that accumulated man-cave smell lingered on to punish the rest of us indefinitely. Only it wasn’t a man cave. It was our lounge room.  

Australians love their sport it has been said, written and orated about over and over. It’s our national obsession, our international pride, and it’s about all you can watch and listen to on weekend free-to-air radio and TV. Our national identity has been sculptured by events like the Ashes, the Melbourne Cup, the Americas Cup and our proud Olympic performances (13th on the medal charts per capita, London). A big chunk of our population is involved in sports from Little Athletics to golf, from tennis to car racing, from mountaineering to the 'Cities to Surfs'. Many more again are cycling, going to the gym, bushwalking, torturing themselves through Tough Mudder mud miles, battling blue bottles in oceans swims, eating sand in beach volleyball, family bonding in backyard cricket, and tempting fate skateboarding our streets and beach promenades. Is there a sport we Australians are not up to?

The English bought us our first sports of course - cricket, Australian rules, football, rugby union, and horse racing – and we ran with them to excel. As is well known, our obsession was so remarkable that in 1890 a famous Victorian era novelists, Anthony Trollope, remarked, "The English passion for the amusements which are technically called 'sports', is not a national necessity with the Americans, whereas with the Australians it is almost as much so as home."  In 1962 Sports Illustrated, named Australia as the most sports obsessed country in the world. Kevin Rudd said in 2008, "Australia's sporting history is marked by great successes, great stories and truly great moments. Sport speaks a universal language in this country – we are a nation of players and enthusiasts."

But then, the hemisphere north of the Mediterranean does have a miserable climate to play sport in, unlike Australia – perfect one day, perfect the next, almost. Although our wonderful weather, immense space, and stunning landscape is conducive to engaging in sport throughout every season, the democratisation of sport and our international performance has not just been a product of our environment, or of individual determination on a mass scale, or even a happenstance. It has been enabled by purposeful government policy, in particular under Gough Whitlam, and then the Hawk-Keating governments.

Australian Rules, 1860's
Early sport in Australia was played along class and gender lines. Horse racing (which women could watch from women only podiums), cricket, sailing competitions were organized for the wealthy by the wealthy as they owned the land and assets and could acquire equipment and fund event management. Australia's lower classes were often engaged in blood sports like cock and prizefights and beating each other up with their bare knuckles, a pastime which hasn’t evolved outside adding gloves. While men forged ahead in athletic pursuits through the classes in the 18th and 19th centuries, women were held back because men, and conservative women, considered it unsavory for women to play sport. Our 'medical' condition (periods) wouldn’t allow it, and we didn’t have the physical strength either, said men.
Women tennis players 1922
However, gentile type physical activity was on the school curriculum for girls since the 1890’s like tennis, fencing, and bowling. Two women, Fanny Durak and Mina Wylie, were allowed to swim in the Olympics in 1912, and Isabella Latham became the first woman surfer in 1914 when she volunteered to go tandem with with the visiting Hawaiian champion, Duke Kahanamoku during a demonstration surf.  Nonetheless our Y chromosomed ancestors wanted more more. Apparently, in 1922, a committee in Australia investigated the benefits of physical education for girls. They decided that girls should probably not play cricket, lacrosse, golf, hockey, or netball. Football was completely out of the question. We were allowed to swim, row, cycle and ride a horse, just as along as we didn’t compete!

But our female sporting trailblazers had the same attitude as of the first woman jockey to win the Melbourne Cup in 2015, Michelle Payne: Get stuffed, because women can do anything and we can beat the world”, forming Australian Women's Hockey Association in 1910, the Australian Women's Rowing Council in 1920, Australian Women's Cricket Council (AWCC) in 1931, the Australian Women's Amateur Union ( athletics) in 1931. Netball Australia was founded in 1927 as the All Australia Women's Basket Ball Association. At this time in or history, playing sport on Sunday was banned everywhere but in South Australia. Imagine that.

It's a tragic irony that between 1941-1945 when Australian men were off practicing another activity women (thankfully) were not allowed to – warring – women’s sporting organisations grew and continued to compete, while men’s sporting clubs were coming home in body bags, going missing in action on battle fields, and being tortured in prisoner of war camps. And because in Australia we didn’t suffer self sufficiency issues like post-war food and petrol rationing, population dislocation, and general nation rebuilding, like our Commonwealth and European competitors did, Australian competition sport remained unscathed, going from strength to strength. But it was still not accessible to all.
National Fitness, 1960's

Sport didn’t really become available to all Australians until government recognised the need to get behind it. Before the 1970’s, Prime Minister Robert Menzies, heading a Liberal Party government, made a token effort to get the nation active in 1941 when he passed the National Fitness Act, which set up the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness (with a minuscule budget of £20 000 for five years). But the real reason for this was to get men ready for World War II. The lower classes, who were being shoveled off to war and who couldn’t afford to play sport all this time, were resultantly unfit for combat. When the war was over, the funding all but evaporated. Following the war, the Australian government continued to provide small amounts of funding in the 1950s and 1960s to our amateur sports teams, and through the National Fitness Council which sponsored National Fitness Camps.

National Fitness Camps were hugely popular and were great fun for kids. Nestled in some sublime Australian bush setting, great adventures summoned the wild child. After the morning's callisthenics, we learned survival skills, like orienteering, used bows and arrows to hot targets on trees, abseiled down rocks and scaled up and between trees – much like we did in the Blue Mountains, just somewhere else, and with people we didn’t know. Everyone was assigned duties in the canteen, dormitories and bathrooms. At night we’d sneak out of our dorms when we thought the teachers were asleep and get up to naughty primary school antics. The best was sitting around the campfire and toasting marshmallows, singing innocent campfire songs like: 

“One day I met. One day I met. A great big bear. A great big bear. A great big bear. A great big bear.  A way up there. A way up there

One day I met a great big bear, a great big bear a way up there. 

He looked at me. He looked at me. I looked at him. I looked at him. He smiled at me. He smiled at me. I smiled at him. I smiled at him. 

He looked at me, I looked at him, he smiled at me I smiled at him. 

And so I ran. And so I ran. Away from there. Away from there. And right behind. And right behind. Me was that bear. Me was that bear. 

And so I ran away from there, and right behind me was that bear. Etc.

We never wondered why we sang about grizzlies when we don’t have them in Australia.

Margaret Whitlam 
But happy camping wasn’t going to win us Gold Medals on the international scene. By the 1970s, my lucky teenage years, sport was on the political agenda. Our nation had to get fit and show the world what it was capable of. Labor in opposition under Gough Whitlam, decided sport was ‘a legitimate focus for public policy’. The benefits of sport were put to Whitlam in the Report titled, Recreation in Australia, its role, scope and development: improved national health, greater spiritual well being, discourages the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, reduces violence, enhances functional capacity, promotes social interaction, integration and cohesion, reduces cardiovascular and diabetes type 2 and other weight related illness, helps protect against some forms of cancer, strengthens the musculoskeletal system, reduces the likelihood of osteoporosis and the risk of falls and fractures, and enhances mental wellbeing by reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Sport binds communities and families together and unites a nation said the report. It also enriches national and local economies. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), records $8 293.8 million (1.5 per cent) of the total expenditure by Australian households in 2009–10 was spent on sporting and physical recreation goods and services. Workplace activity programs reduces short term sick leave (by between 23-50%) equal to an approximate net benefit of $848 million to the Australian economy, increases productivity and decreases health care costs. What was not predicted at the time, was the cost of sports injuries to the Australian economy – a whopping $2 billion today, apparently on par with the health costs of obesity, reports Medibank Private, probably not to keen to pay up.

The Whitlam Government provided substantial grants to national sporting organisations and to state
and territory governments for the construction of community sporting, arts/cultural and recreational
Gough Whitlam
facilities, laying the foundations of what was to become the sport system we have today, one which lead to the expectation that sport should be supported by government, be available and subsidised at school, and be an integral part of our individual, communal and national life.

Enter the Frazer government and we get all fat and lazy again. Frazer disbanded Labor’s Department of Sport, scaled down programs, and cut sports funding drastically because he simply beleived sport is not something government should fund. All a nation needed to get fit was ‘a pair of sandshoes and running shorts’. That same year, 1976, it was leaked to us via our teachers, that our Principle Mulheroon would axe inter school sport and our annual sports exchange with Jesmond.

Other countries around the world were developing Ministries for elite sports, funding facilities and training and education, while Australia was being creamed in international competitions, especially at the 1976 Olympics where we didn’t win one single gold medal. If you think Australian commentator response to our lacklustre swimming performance at the London Olympics was over exaggerated, Australia’s non-existent performances at the Montreal Olympics in 1976 led to public protest across the land.

So Frazer agreed to provide $1.8 million in funding over three years for a Life Be In It campaign. In this campaign, middle aged Norm (as in NORMal Aussie bloke) told Australians, the Frazer government is not going to fund the common people's sport, so get off your lazy butts and look after yourselves by doing these cheap or free self funded activities. This successfully memorable campaign was aired in the USA for years as well, where self funding of everything is strenuously advocated.

                                                     Video: Life be in It. Walking (hillarious)

The middle aged Norm was predictably never going to be an Olympic athlete, or produce one. So by 1981, Federal funding ended for Life Be In It and was redirected towards elite programs via a newly created Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), which sat just as well with LNP philosophy. To avoid funding sport outside the AIS, Frazer funded an enquiry into the efficiency and effectiveness of government expenditure on sport called The Way We Play. The report had the reverse desired outcome, and recommended sport be expanded by government, which is what the subsequent Labor Hawk and Keating governments did, adding disabilities funding.

The Hawke Government introduced tax deductibility for donations to sports, and focused on children’s sports participation in response to concern that young people’s activity levels had declined under the Liberal government. They launched Aussie Sport, emphasizing that sport was not just about winning; it was also about having fun. By 1995, Aussi Sport was being played in 96% of Australian primary schools. The Hawke-Keating governments investigated and addressed the reasons young people ceased playing sport, supported programs to assist volunteers involved in sport and encouraged participation by mature-aged Australians. They also established the (able bodied) Women’s Sport Promotion Unit which operated on a budget of half that of the Disabled Sports Program. 

Then came John Howard and the Liberals again. Although Howard wouldn’t miss an opportunity to have himself filmed jogging - jogging is free - he too didn’t believe in government funding for sport facilities and axed government funding again. His preferred model was corporate sponsorship, much along the lines of how professional sport has operated in Australian since the 1970’s. During the Howard years, the Federal Government was responsible for just 10% of the $2 billion national sports budget. The remaining 40% came from state and territory governments, and 50 % from local government, mostly directed to facilities and their maintenance.

The highest rates of sports participation among Australian children today is informal, non-organised sports with 66% of all boys and 54% of girls bike riding, and 55.9% and 42% of girls skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a scooter (2009-2010). Girls also dance (26.3%), swim (19.8%) and still play netball (17%), while boys enjoy soccer (19.9%), swimming (17.2%), and play Australian Rules at 16%. Once we leaver school however, the numero uno of women's sport is walking (30%), followed by aerobics/fitness/gym at 16.7%. Female swimming drops to 8.4%. Men end up walking too (15.6%), and they also go to the gym (11.2%), while 8.2% of men don the lycra and hit the road on their bycicles.

Australia's women have repeatedly triumphed at the highest levels in international competitions. Our national netball team has won the Netball World Cup a record 11 times. The national women's cricket team has won the Women's Cricket World Cup a record five times. The Australian Women’s National Field Hockey have won the Gold Medal at the Olympics and the Women's Hockey World Cup five times altogether. Our national women’s soccer team, the Matildas, have appeared in all FIFA Women’s World Cups except the first in 1991, and they have advanced past the group stage in each of the last three tournaments, only losing in the quarter-finals. It took the Socceroos 30 years to make it to make it back to a FIFA World Championship after their brief appearance 1974. And yet, our fabulous athletic abilities and team work isn’t appreciated by male dominated corporations or the viewing community, including the Media. Male sport news made up 81% of television sports news coverage, compared to women at 8.7% in 2015. Even horses get more airtime than women’s sport in Australia.

The Matildas, 2009 in Italy.

What a difference government policy makes. It if weren’t for Whitlam who offered me the framework and funding to play sport just at the right age, I could be Norm’s wife. Not the fit and healthy person I am today.

The World in August -September 1976

The Trouble With Ireland 

In August 1976, a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteer was shot dead by the British Army while driving his car, which then span out of control killing 3 children. Over
Betty and Mairead
10,000 women from Northern Ireland demonstrated for peace to end the Guerilla War that was paralyzing Northern Ireland, called The Troubles. Two women, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for the Peace Movement they initiated.

In Australia we had migrants from every part of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. They all looked the same to me as a child. Their hair and eye colour varied, but they were generally 'white’, English language speaking – even if some of those accents were ‘mental’ - and many of my friends, neighbours and much of the Blue Mountains were related to them somewhere along their genetic line. Yet back in their countries of origin, the English, the Irish, and others of Scott and Welsh descent were entrenched in the latest chapter of a centuries old epic quagmire of colonial conquest versus self determination, of betrayal and elitist self preservation, of capricious and determined Kings and Queens, and of religion used as a tool to invade, differentiate, control, suppress, disinherit, disempower, disposess, murder, slaughter, and to almost totally deforest Ireland.

The impression our media left me with, was that there were the good Irish – the ones that support the British, who supported them back, and there were the bad Irish, supported by terrorists called the IRA. Just the other day my mother said to me, “weren’t the IRA the ones committing all those terrible atrocities in the 70’s?” as if a halo hung over the England she cherished almost more than her native Holland. My circumcised father would bemoan the number of children “the bloody Catholics” had (like my Dutch grandmother: 9; and my Dutch great-grandmother: 19) as if predicting the coming of Monty Python’s Meaning of Life and the satirical Protestant and French ticklers scene where the Protestant husband tells his Protestant wife: “Look at them! Bloody Catholics. Filling the bloody world up with bloody children they bloody well can’t afford to feed”. Because the Protestant Reformist Church successfully challenged the autocratic power of the Papacy in the mid 16th century, he extolls, Protestants can practice birth control whereas the Catholics who, “never made the great leap out of the Middle Ages”, can’t, because to Catholics “every sperm is sacred” and so birth control devices are taboo.

                                        Video: Monty Python French Ticklers Scene

To be sure to be sure, the Irish asked for ‘troubles’ when they physically tore themselves away from England during the Ice Age. England didn’t know it yet, but they were going to want that significant chunk of acreage back one day. Those living on the breakaway landmass back in Irish prehistory were animist hunter-gatherers whose life centered upon the family, clan and nature. Earth was sacred. Every part of what made up their life sustaining ecosystems – mountains, lakes, forests, earth, sun, sea, clouds, water, every precious plant and animal, and even the weather, possessed a soul that could become destructive if not protected.

Celtic Costumes, Krakow Museum
By 300BC, these wild nature babies had become sedentarised around organised agriculture when the Monarch lead, oligarchical, animistic/pagan/polytheistic, slave taking, openly male homosexual, head hunting, European Celts arrived and starting breeding with the local animists. The Celts spread some of their customs to the Irish, like going to war stark naked (almost the only people in the whole world to do that apart from the Amazons and Papuans - who at least wore penis gourds - and they had good reason to go to war naked because they live in HOT climates, unlike the Irish. Although they all have rain in common). The baby they produced together over the next 200 years was the not surprisingly, complicated, Gaelic civilization, opulently embroidered with oral, musical, spiritual and legalistic tradition. Crucially,the Celts bought with them the practice of Kingship, establishing the main eight kingdoms of Ancient Ireland.

St Patrick. St Benin's Church. Ireland
Ireland’s remoteness and fierce weather – raining every day of the year except for days 366 to 376 - was enough to put the heart crossways in the Romans who never made headways into Hivernia or ‘the land of winter’ as the Romans justifiably called Ireland. It is believed that Christians dribbled into Ireland and proselytized for a bit during the decline of the Roman Empire, before the famous St Patrick arrived in the 5th Century, the man logged in Irish lore with bringing Christianity to Ireland, and in particular of bringing the Roman alphabet, so that Pagan/Celtic/Gaelic oral history and literature, mythology and Irish code law, called Brehon Law, could be documented and preserved. Irish scholars took to Christianity like rain does to Ireland, their isolated sought after monasteries would become centers of Latin learning during the early Middle Ages while their unique art imprinted itself on the Gothic and Romanesque styles incubating in Europe.

By the mid 7th century, plague and famine decimated Ireland’s growing population, during which England revealed itself to Ireland for the first time. King Ecgfrith of Northumbria sent in a looting raiding force, which bought home human slaves for souvenirs. Ecgfrith was widely condemned.

Luckily, the Irish wouldn’t hear from Ecgfrith again, or the English for another 500 years.

In the meantime the Vikings arrived from Scandinavia, burning monasteries, plundering and slaying whoever annoyed them. They did this for around 300 years until around 1166, also breeding with the locals and building trading towns all along coastal Ireland, including Dublin.

Gaelic Society was convoluted. Large related kin groups wove a mosaic of Kingdoms headed by Kings, and one High King. Being King was not a birthright of one family, even if sometimes the sons of Kings would in turn become Kings. Eligible families could put up their sons, or tanists, for nomination and the most suitable ‘tanist’ would become King. Spreading the crown around reads like a equitable way to keep the peace but in reality large numbers of eligible tanists lead to devastating dynastic civil wars between Kings and High Kings.

Irish gaels
Remnant animism/paganism made Gaelic Ireland a much more gender friendly society than elsewhere in Europe because of its intrinsic respect for women, even if patriarchal elements of Celtic culture had left its mark, and Christianity was carving out its' place. Women could own property, share power with their husbands, had equal right to divorce and could cohabit before marriage. Legitimate and illegitimate children had equal standing before the law. Even priests and monks had wives. The Gaelic Brehon customary legal system was comparatively decent too: if you did something wrong, you and /or your family had to pay the fine to the victim and his family, with a distinction made between intentional and unintentional harm. The death penalty didn’t exist either, being routinely practiced in Europe, except for when it came to very bad outlaws. Offences against the wealthy were taxed less severely than crimes against the poor. Gaelic Kings were not "above the law" and could not arbitrarily decree like European Monarchs did, unless required by emergency.

So now we get to the late 12th century and the famous Norman invasion of Ireland. This invasion ushered in the beginning of the end of Irish self determination. The Normans were originally Viking raiders and pirates from Denmark and Norway who swore allegiance to King Charles III of West Francia. The Normans were doing well in mainland Europe and had invaded Wales by 1066. Intermarrying and alliancing with the Welsh, they formed the Anglo-Normans, running semi-independent strongholds throughout Wales. Their ultimate authority however rested with the Papacy, not a with a Monarch.

The only Pope ever to be English happened to be Pope at this time. It had come to Pope Adrian IV’s attention that the Gaelic/Pagany/half hearted Christian Irish, were up to no good with their long plaided hair and lengthy beards, almost as long as their flowing hooded robes, furs and skins, were wasting God’s time orating endless mythology and law - as endless as this post – more endless even – and projecting multiple octaves through an equally interminable flow of rain with their flutes and fiddles, as they waxed limericky on the metaphysical - or on a fair maiden's breast - and generally having a whale of a time, since men were allowed two wives. This was just not the Catholic way. So the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest authority of the Church of England (still answerable to the Papacy at this point in history), began scheming on bringing the Irish church into line with 12th century Gregorian reforms which sought to make the Roman Catholic Church the ultimate power above the power of the state. The story goes that the Pope Adrian IV issued a Papal Bull in 1155 giving King Henry II of England the green light to invade and govern Ireland and take over the semi autonomous Irish church, because 100 years had gone by and the Irish Church was behaving like the Pope didn't exist. King Henry II didn’t do anything about it for ten years though, and no copy of the Bull exists. A Bull is a letter or instruction written by the Pope. Whoever called it a Bull, either had a sense of humour or called a spade a spade.

Lucky for the Archbishop and King Henry II, Irish Kings were, as usual, fighting each other for the position of ‘High King'. In 1166 one sore loser King, and one equally self-interested High King, provided the opportunity for a foreign takeover, although it probably would have happened anyway – if one is to believe the ‘Bull’. High King Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair (Rory O'Connor), enlisted the help of other Kings to remove King Diarmait Mac Murchada of Leinster, because he was a serious contender to the ‘High King’ role. The pretext for the ousting was that Diarmait supposedly kidnapped another Kings’ wife (evidence seems 50/50 she was there by choice or as a refugee).

But anyway, Diarmait fled Ireland and sought help from the all powerful King of England, Henry II. King Henry agreed if Diarmait swore allegiance to King Henry, which he did. With the support of mercenaries and Anglo-Norman Marcher lords - the famous England/Wales boarder guards which included Maurice de Prendergast and Richard de Clare (AKA Strongbow) who Diarmait promised his daughter in marriage to, as well as the Kingship of Leinster upon his death - Diarmait and the Normans marched on Ireland in 1169. To cut a long story of offensives and counter offensives short, they won. An agreement was made (the Frens Agreement) in which High King Ruaidrí agreed to give Lienster back to Diarmait if Diarmait recognized Ruaidri as his High King. And Diarmait would have to boot the Normans out. Diarmait gave up some hostages to demonstrate his commitment to the deal, including one of his own sons.

Marriage of Aoife, Diarmait's daughter, to Strongbow

Did Diarmait send the Normans home? No. He marched on with his new son in law, Strongbow, who massacred the Irish, burned famed monastic towns, captured prisoners, broke limbs, beheaded, threw people off a cliff, and took as much of Ireland as he could.

In retaliation, High King Ruadri executed Diarmait’s son.

Was it of any use?

No, it was all for nothing, because devastated by his son’s execution – to whom it appears  he gave no thought during his rampage - Diarmait retreated to Ferns and died, suddenly, leaving Ireland irreversibly rolled over a barrel.

Were the Anglo-Normans going to leave? Of course not. Not with all that lovely fertile land and humans to be taxed. King Henry II, concerned the Anglo Norman mercenaries would gain control over Irish territory and be beyond his authority got personally involved and decided to take Ireland for himself, landing at Waterford in 1171 with 500 mounted knights, 4,000 men-at-arms and archers hauling siege towers

This was the first time an English King had stepped foot on Irish soil, and it was also England’s very first official colonial conquest, branded in history as an aggressive, unlawful and hostile invasion.

After 4 years of Irish resistance, the short-lived 1175 Treaty of Windsor was agreed between King Henry II and Ruaidrí. King Henry carved up Ireland giving a big portion of it to the Anglo Normans calling their territory the Lordship of Ireland. He made his ten year old son, John Lack-land, Lord of Ireland, since he had no territory to reign over and one can’t have a Prince without land to be Princely on.

Pope Adrian's successor, Pope Alexander III, ratified the Papal Bull supposedly made 10 years earlier, giving King Henry II dominion over the ‘barbarous nation’ of Ireland. High King Ruaidrí, who swore fealty to King Henry, became Overlord of the rest of Ireland. The Irish now had to pay tax to the Papacy. Pushed off their fertile soil, the Irish were forced to survive on marginal lands, which left them with no safety net during bad harvest years (such as 1271 and 1277) or during famine (virtually the entire period of 1311–1319). Except that it did save many from the 1348-1349 Bubonic Plague which tended to kill off the English and Normans who were concentrated in towns, sparing many marginalised Irish.

When John Lackland became King of England in 1199, the Lordship of Ireland came under the direct rule of the Norman-English Crown for the first time, rather than a local Anglo-Norman lord, but lucky for Ireland, King John didn’t have much to do with Ireland, which went on to enjoy a Gaelic Revival thanks in part to Edward Bruce of Scotland who invaded Ireland, rallied many of the Irish and Norman lords against the English, and helped local Irish Lords win back large amounts of land. This temporary victory was prolonged a tad with the onset of the 100 Year War between House of Plantagenet, rulers of the Kingdom of England (Henry II lineage), against the House of Valois, running the Kingdom of France, for control of the Kingdom of France (1337-1453). The war left the English few forces to be mucking around in Ireland with. The French won but English property losses on the continent enraged English elite, sparking the War of the Roses (1445 -1487) for the English throne, fought between supporters of two rival branches of the Royal House of Plantagenet, and the Houses of Lancaster and York. So England relegated control of Ireland to the not so obliging Irish, House of Kildare. Fearful of the resurgence of Gaelic Ireland, the English monarchy banned anyone of English descent from speaking Gaelic, wearing Irish clothes, or inter-marrying with the Irish.

The English now referred to the Gaels as "His Majesty's Irish enemies”.

With the European Renaissance and Humanism well under way, Europeans are thinking differently about life the universe and everything, but especially about the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church which had developed a market based system that allowed ‘sinners’ to buy/pay off/work off/ and otherwise negotiate their sins to reduce the time they would spend in purgatory, among other grievances the burgeoning reformists lead by Martin Luther had against the Catholic church (like the interpretation of the gospels, the merits of the saints, Catholic doctrines like sola scripture and sola fide and purgatory itself, a wholly Catholic invention). Martin Luther and others, began to ‘Protest’ through meetings and writings, and so became known as Protestants. The Protestant movement split into different churches. The largest groups were the Calvinist and Lutheran churches founded mostly in Germany, the Baltics and Scandinavia, while the Reformed churches established in Switzerland, Hungary, France, the Netherlands, Scotland and England.

At this time Henry VIII (1509-1547) was King of England and was not producing a living male heir to the throne with wife Catherine of Aragon. He figured the only way he could have an heir would be by annulling his marriage to Katherine, taking on a younger wife and trying again with her. But Pope Clement VII wouldn’t hear of an annulment of his marriage as union before God between man and wife was forever. It was intolerable to King Henry VIII that some Pope should tell him what to do when HE was KING, this was HIS England, ENGLAND was an EMPIRE and this Empire needed to be in charge of its own affairs, including divorce. So Henry VIII had the Ecclesiastical Appeals Act 1532 passed in parliament forbidding all appeals to the Pope on religious or other matters. This law made the King final legal authority in England, Wales and other English possessions. A year later was passed the Act of Supremacy making King Henry VIII "the only supreme head on earth of the Church of England". By making English civil laws absolute over laws of the Church of England, Henry VIII ensured they couldn’t be revoked by a future Pope. Then just to be sure, he passed the Treasons Act which made it treasonous to follow Papal rulings. 

Now King Henry VIII could have his long-desired divorce from Catherine, and marry Anne Boleyn, already pregnant with one-day-to-be-Queen, Elizabeth. He didn’t produce a son in her either. She was falsely accused of incest and adultery and was beheaded, along with five other proclaimed adulterers. Henry VIII then married Jane Seymour who died giving birth to his long awaited male heir.

Beheading of Anne Boleyn
Six wives later, was it any use? No! Henry VIII made all his wives miserable, especially the two whose heads he lopped off, along with several hundred other heretics and Catholics executed as traitors under the Treason’s Act, the only male heir he produced died at 15 and never assumed the throne in his own right, and before King Henry VIII himself died, he turned his wrath on Ireland, land of intolerable Catholics, a land which was not yet his possession.

Remembering that the Lordship of Ireland had been granted to the King of England by the Pope when the Pope was Supreme Authority - before Henry VIII bought in the Act of Supremacy - Henry VIII worried the Holy See would revoke his title over Ireland. So in 1540, wily as he proved to be, Henry VIII declared himself King of Ireland, thereby making Ireland a Kingdom rather than a Lordship, with himself as Supreme Head. He then confiscated the property of the landed Irish and gave it back to them in the form of a royal land grant and an English title, and representation in parliament if they bade allegiance to him. Inheritance of land also had to go to the first son by primogeniture as in England. This had the deliberate effect of reducing the distribution of landed wealth to an elite few. Most Irish landowners in the business of self-preservation, acquiesced. The rest of Ireland found themselves stuck between obeying Papal authority or the English monarchy.

The Tudor Plantation
Apart from a brief five year Catholic Counter Reform under ‘Bloody’ Queen Mary, things are about to become even more irreversible for the Irish. Between 1556 and 1652, Queen Elizabeth 1, King James 1, Charles 1, and Oliver Cromwell (who was running Britain during the third of England's Civil Wars which saw parliamentarians behead a 'tyrant, traitor, murderer, public enemy' King Charles 1) went on a determined and massive colonisation spree, by confiscating Catholic land, mostly in northern Ireland, and giving it to up to 150,000 foreigners ( English, Scottish, Welsh). It was called the 'Plantation'. Catholics were barred from public office, marrying Protestants, and from living in towns. Central government control was established over the whole island for the first time. Irish culture, law and language were replaced by England’s ways. Protestants dominantly ran both houses of parliament. Feudalism was imposed and taxes were increased. Catholic landowners who didn’t convert to Protestantism lost their lands and hereditary authority.

For the next fifty years, the descendants of these planted foreigners emerged to form the 'Protestant Ascendancy' of the landed ruling minority in an Ireland plunged into bouts of civil war which versed Irish Catholics against British forces and British settlers. This period ended in the almost complete dispossession of the Catholic elite. Up to a third of Ireland's population (400-600,000 people) died, either in fighting, or in the accompanying famine and plague. Many more fled to live in permanent exile. By the end of the 17th century, Ireland's population was about 25% Protestant.

Protestantism didn’t take hold in Ireland for many reasons, including the availability of technology, like not having a printing press in time to spread the Protestant word. But even if all of Ireland had have converted to Protestantism, it is likely that Britain would have found another way to categorize the minority have’s from the majority have not’s, because this was a battle for land and resources amid the expansion of the British empire whose own resources were depleted, especially the very precious, strategic, tree.

Britain had run out of forest.

By the end of the 17th century 'Plantation', the British had felled 88 % of Irelands ancient old growth forests. The biggest destroyer of forests in Britain at the time (and mainland Europe) was shipbuilding, especially under Elizabeth 1 who was in a race with other European seafaring nations to claim new territories. Ships needed wood for construction, but also for making iron, and there wasn’t enough of it to satisfy the demand. It was said during this time ‘one could ride all day through Ireland and not see a single tree’.

Irish migration during potato famine
By the 18th century, amid the industrial revolution, it was trade, commerce, agriculture and taxes that bound Ireland to Britain. England’s trade with the developed rich Protestant North Ireland was the most important branch of English overseas trade. The Protestant Anglo-Irish absentee landlords siphoned off £800,000 annually in the early part of the century, soon rising to a whole quarter of Irelands £4 million GDP. Catholic Ireland remained an almost cashless subsistence economy dependent on one single crop. The potato. They were paying high rents, and taxes to the Irish church, and enduring evictions and enclosure of common lands. Although the Irish fought back, attacking livestock, landlords, bailiffs and the militia, and tearing down fences, the British were firmly entrenched. Conditions were perfect, along with unfavourable weather, for an opportunistic potato crop failure in 1740 -1741, followed by famine. More than 400,000 people starved to death. This was an incredible 38% of the 1740 population of 2.4 million people.  A century later another 1 million Irish would die of starvation during the Great Famine of 1845–1852, and another million fled Ireland forever, leaving behind a country that barely spoke Gael anymore.

Between the two famines, and on the heels of the 1798 Irish Rebellion when Catholics sought emancipation and universal suffrage, the 1801 Act of Union – apparently bought about by open bribery of votes in both the British and Irish parliaments - made Ireland part of the United Kingdom for the foreseeable future. Devastated by the Great Famine, rebellious Irish turned their attention to land reforms, labor conflicts, and autonomy. The UK parliament tried to introduce Home Rule bills but World War 1 and House of Lord resistance got in the way. In 1912, a militia called the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), formed to oppose Home Rule desired by the Catholics. In response, the equally militarised Irish Volunteers was established by Irish wanting independence. They later became the IRA.

Irish War of Independence
It was also during World War 1 that Sinn Fein – the political arm of the IRA – came to preeminence. The Irish had given up 350,000  men to the war effort, 30,000 of which had died. A ruthless Britain tried to forcibly conscript Home Rule sympathisers. Irish outrage lead directly to Sinn Fein’s success in the 1918 General Elections where they won 73 out of 105 seats. Sinn Féin's new MP’s refused to sit in the British House of Commons, sitting at the ‘Revolutionary Irish Parliament’ in Dublin instead, and proclaiming an Irish Republic. This sparked the War for Irish Independence (1919-21) between the now IRA and the British Army paramilitary units during which Britain partitioned Ireland into two self governing territories under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. Catholic, Southern Ireland became the Irish Free State. Under the Anglo-Irish Treaty which gave Southern Ireland dominion status like that of Australia, Northern Ireland exercised its right to "opt out" of the newly established Irish Free State. Civil War followed. The Irish Free State declared itself a Republic again in 1949, while Northern Ireland stuck to Britain. Catholics made up 33% of Northern Ireland, and were discriminated against when it came to housing, employment, and representation in government and security. Protestants felt threatened by Catholics who were outbreeding them, which in turn significantly added to the poverty Catholics were living in. Poor Catholic nationalists viewed the partition of Ireland as illegal, illegitimate, and against the will of the majority which needed to be liberated from Britain, while Protestants Unionists didn’t want to be ‘liberated’ from the comparative wealth and privilege they were living in. Severe rioting followed between 1930’s and 1950’s

British soldiers beating on peacefully protesting Irish women

In the mid-1960s, a The Troubles was accompanied by a non-violent civil rights campaign in Northern Ireland to end discrimination against Catholics. Protestant unionists claimed the campaign was an IRA front. By now the main actors on the Catholic side are the Provisional IRA, Irish National Liberation Army, and Ireland's security forces. On the Protestant side, there were the Ulster loyalist paramilitaries (such as the UVF and Ulster Defence Association), the British state security forces
(the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Northern Ireland's police force). Both sides head banged and murdered each other right up to August 1998, four months after the Good Friday Agreement, when the dissident Real IRA ignored the agreement, and murdered 29 people in Northern Ireland. Since then, Catholic factions have been fighting among themselves as the Good Friday Agreement restored self-government to Northern Ireland on the basis of ‘power-sharing’, along with significant reforms that would see the demilitarisation of Northern Ireland, and representation of Catholics in security and government.

'The Troubles' engendered the death of 3531 people with a further 500,000 'victims' directly affected by 'bereavement', 'physical injury' or 'trauma'. It was a very dirty conflict. Approximately 60% of the dead were killed by Republicans (IRA and Co), 30% by loyalists, and 10% by colluding and occupying British security forces. People were disappeared on both sides of the conflict. Civilians and militants alike were interrogated under torture and then executed. Extrajudicial slayings, targeting of innocent civilians, covert weapons supply, inaction and collusion of security forces, coercion, extortion and the threatening non 'politicized' civilians to carry out horrendous crimes, were the hallmarks of this conflict.
Despite their history and living on an island, birth control and the termination of unwanted pregnancies is still illegal in the catholic Republic of Ireland, with a birth rate at 1.77%. Lucky for the Irish, and for the countries that welcome them, there are still places to migrate to, like Australia where they: mutinied on the Convict ship Anne in 1798 on the way here; produced folkloric bushrangers like Ned Kelly and the not so revered Mad Dog Morgan; continued to oppose the British in failed convict rebellions like at Castle Hill in 1804 with the intent to steal ships and sail home to Ireland to continue their fight for independence; revolted on Norfolk Island's convict prison; attempted a daring rescue of Irish political prisoners in West Australia; and produced a notable explorer, politicians, writers, poets, trade unionists, and historians, among so much more that in no insignificant way, contributed to Australia's fine democracy.

Forty thousand Irish convicts were transported to Australia between 1791 and 1876. Most Irish migrants were free settlers however, although they felt Britain continued to discriminate against them vicariously. By 1891 the Irish made up 27% of immigrants from the British Isles. Over 4,000 young female Irish orphans were shipped to Australia as domestic servants. Many were abused. Australian Catholic groups began importing children in the 1920's to increase the Catholic population in Australia. This went on for 30 years, especially after World War Two, and until the 1950's when it was phased out with so many children being abused and others taken from their mothers by deception. 

At the 2011 Census, 2,087,800 Australian residents identified themselves as having Irish ancestry. Over 10,000 come to Australia on work holiday visas annually.

Diary: August - September 1976

It's a full on two moths of sport as my netball team, the Tigers, win the Grand Final, we play in the Coca Cola Competition and other netball comps during the school holidays. I also go on our school exchange with Jesmond, playing netball for Springwood High School. My attention is now focused on an Aboriginal boy at school called Lex. Lex used to sit on the fence top on the corner of the quadrangle, tall and statuesque, like a Shepard herding his flock who were his friends sitting on benches below him. Jo from my school gang, and I, go camping out the backyard and Dad has to come out with his gun because we hear noises and a neighbour has previous told us that he saw someone walking up the side of our house. It's my birthday. I am finally 15! 

Sunday August 1 Did nothing today. Mum and Dad played golf and I worked and made some beef chow mien. It was real nice. Seeya

Monday August 2 ­- There’s lice going around the school. UGH

Dear Diary,

Today starts the first day of 4th form exams so for the rest of the week it’s gonna be peaceful. There’s lice going around the school. UGH. We had Jesmond training today. It was real good. We worked out tactics and had great fun. Mrs Griffith reckons there won’t be anymore Jesmond cause Mulheron doesn’t like it. He gives me the pip. That guy doesn’t like anything. He’s gonna cut out grade sport too! That’s not fair.

Tuesday August 3 It’s been really windy the last couple of days. My hair went all over the place. Today I looked like Cousin It! I think I’ll wear it in tomorrow.

Wednesday August 4 - Played Nepean today and won

Dear Dairy,

We played Nepean today and won, but we’re not in the finals. Damn it. Because one time when we were supposed to play Katoomba it was snowing so we had to make it a draw. So that puts us one behind Nepean and Dunheved and unless Nepean beats Dunheved next week, we’ve had it and by the way, Nepean going’s, “Duneved will win”. Bum. I really wanted to win that. Had Tiger training this afternoon. I put my hair up in plaits and at first everyone laughed at me but then they said it looked good. Chris Schwears gave me 91/2 – ha! Thanks a lot. Seeya.

Thursday August 5“No you won’t Petra, Piss off. I’m hungry”.  

Dear Dairy,

I had my hair in a ponytail today but Glenda said it didn’t look right so I took it out. Had a fight with Boardman today. We were in the canteen and Jo and Debbie came in. I said “Oh we’ll wait for them” and that B-tch goes, “No you won’t Petra, Piss off. I’m hungry”. I haven’t talked to her since.  Seeya

Friday August 6 - I had to go in front of everyone in assembly and get my Bronze Cross

Dear Dairy,

I had to go in front of everyone in assembly and get my Bronze Cross. How embarrassing.

Saturday August 7 - Went into Coles and asked if I could put my name down for a job

Dear Dairy,

Went to Penrith today. Went into Coles and asked if I could put my name down for a job and he said he’s not taking any names yet and to come back in October. I knew then and there he didn’t want to give me a job. So that cuts that off. Dad said he might be able to get me a job in Nick and Kirby’s, but probably not. I hope so. Met Wain. Sharon and I got some cards for the Bulls and would you believe Greg drove me home. Went to a Beef and Burger night at the Kerrison's. We were getting paid $2.00 for washing up – what a washing up! It was huge. Food was OK, especially Mrs Corbett's. So was the desert. Everyone was tipsy and we sang to the piano and it was good fun. Got home at 2 o’clock. Didn’t get my $2,00 and probably won’t. Seeya

Sunday August 8 - How else am I going to get money if I don’t get paid?

Dear Dairy,

Sharon woke me up at quarter past 8 this morning. Boy was I tired. Dad told me not to accept the $2.00 and that was disgusting. That’s not fair. How else am I going to get money if I don’t get paid? Went to Sharons’ for lunch. Mum and Dad have gone to golf. It's 4 o’clock and I have to wash the car, do the bathroom and toilet, weed the garden, plant  some plants, and cook the tea. Christ. I’d better get a move on.


Monday August 9 If we win the Grand Finals we go in the Coca Cola CompetitionI

Dear Dairy,

Did nothing today. Had training this afternoon cause the grand finals are on Saturday. Jees I hope we win cause if we do we go to Orange next week and in the Coca Cola Comp and the Bromley Sheild, not to mention being undefeated.  Seeya

Tuesday August 10 - Had Jesmond training this afternoon

Dear Dairy,

Did nothing again today. Had Jesmond training this afternoon. Guess who we trained against – the Viscounts. Would you believe it? Mrs Griffin didn’t know we were playing them in the Grand Final this Saturday. Diane Edge wrecked her ankle again. She’d be an idiot to play on Saturday. Seeya

Wednesday August 11 - Played Saint Mary’s today. We won 53-7

Dear Dairy,

I’m going to see Mad Dog Morgan for History next Tuesday. Debbie goes, “God, I thought I’d get rid of her. That’s the only reason I’m going”. That made me cranky. I went up to her and said, “I’m so sorry I’m seeing Mad Dog Morgan too. Don’t worry, I wont be crawling around your ass all night” and walked off. I haven’t talked to her since. Played Saint Mary’s today. We won 53-7. I shot shockingly, so I asked Miss Griffin if I could umpire instead. I have definitely concluded that these two kids are staring at me. They’re in 5th form. Every time I look at them, they’re looking at me. I didn’t mind at first, but now – oh well. Had training this arvo.


Thursday August 12 - Watched a Student V Teachers footy game today. Teachers won of course. I was going for the staff though cause that spunk bug was in it - Steve. Jees he looked good in those uniforms. So did practically everyone else. Was supposed to have training this arvo but we didn’t. Was a beautiful day today.


Friday August 13 - Well tomorrow the big day. I’m nervous

Dear Dairy,

It rained today and we were supposed to have netball training today but I didn’t go cause of the rain. Well tomorrow the big day. I’m nervous. This was important cause it’s the last year we have in the Juniors. Next year we haven’t got a chance.  I went in the library at recess and lunchtime and those two kids came in – in the same room - and sat practically on top of me and kept staring at me. They’re real creeps too. Oh well. Not everyone’s beautiful, especially me. Seeya.

Saturday August 14 - Today was the grand final and guess what! We won!

Dear Dairy,

Well today was the grand final and guess what! We won! By 3. We were winning by a mile all through the game and then all of a sudden in the last 5 minutes they caught up stacks. Boy did they have me packen. There were spunks all over the place. Had the March Pass and collected our trophies (the runner up were nicer). Mum bought me some UDL to drink. I was ballen my head off after the game. Mrs Marsh started playing the Balmain cheer song all over the place. Peter Hitchens came. I talked to Steve and bloody hell, the first time he sees me it has to be with my hair up and all over the place. He didn’t think much of me. Sugar. Why Lord! Oh well. He didn’t really want to talk to me. So I talked to Peter. Huhm. He raved on. Then suddenly he had to go. I’m glad we won the grand finals. Seeya.

Sunday August 15 - Well, I slaved all day today and did some homework.

Monday August 16 - Tomorrow we see Mad Dog Morgan. Its gonna be good fun. Did nothing today, it was boring. Seeya

Tuesday August 17 - They postponed the excursion

Dear Dairy,

Guess what they’ve gone and done – they postponed the excursion.  Battle of Midway is being shown. They had to have a preview you see. It was just by luck I found out about it. That’s not fair. Everybody bought stuff for the bus trip too, so it was very boring. Seeya

Wednesday August 18 - God it was a bitchy game

Dear Diary,

Michael Stephenage asked me to go to Janine Hookvilles party on Friday – would you believe? I’d like to go too. Jo wouldn’t think too much of me. Dad said I could go. Mum was protective as usual: "How old is she?" I was told that he was going with Annette Isenhauer, so I don’t think I’ll go. We played Colyton today and won but God it was a bitchy game. Mrs Griffin threatened and gave a talk to the GD ( goal defence) and GK ( goal keeper) 4 times and so they started layen into me ( Goal Attack) and me the same, and she went off ballen, and after the game she tried to pick a fight with me, but I waved and smiled and said "I love you too". In the rugby they had 3 fights and 2 juniors threatened to take on Mr Robonson but he said if they touched him he’d take them to court so they stopped the game and called it a draw. Went to Winter Follies. It was quite good. Steve was there. Went home with Mrs Penfold. Told Jo about Michael and she laughed – hahaha (real put on like ‘ I want to go now”). Seeya

Thursday August 19 - Today was the Area Sports Carnival and went for discuss

Dear Diary,

Today was the Area Sports Carnival and I went for discuss - and came absolute last. How embarrassing. Terese and Vicki met these guys and they got me and we talked for a while.
Then we went down to the Pizza Hut. They were gonna buy us a pizza but it was closed and I didn’t want to hang around much longer so I left them. One was quite good looking. They asked us if we smoked ‘shit’. They did. They were absolutely stoned. They stripped off in front of everyone too.  There was this absolute SPUNK there today. He was at the Zone Sports Carnival too, but he got his hair cut and it looks even better. He’s got an absolute olive complexion, beautiful, real spunk, brown eyes, and is gorgeous. This guy kept staring at me (from Nepean I think) and this guy (the spunk) went over to him and the other guy said something and he looked at me. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him. He was gorgeous!!!!  I wish he was at our school. Caught the train up and back and on the way this other Nepean spunk (the one that is always at swimming) was there across from me.

Friday August 20 - Everyone was tipsy but me. I’m a good girl.

Dear Diary,

Well today was Janine’s party. Mr Stepehage picked us up at the station and the minute we got there, Michael was trying to kiss me. On the way up hardly anyone said anything. We walked up the station to pick up March and Monroe and company and it was freezing, but Michael kept me warm. Everyone kept saying something about me. I really felt out of place. But then Janine said not to worry about it and Jenny said she was glad I was here. There was some booze there but all I had was some Apricot Brandy and Amsterdam. Everyone was tipsy but me. I’m a good girl. I was with

Michael all night. He asked me twice to go with him but I didn’t give him an answer. I wanted to, then I didn’t. I don’t know what stopped me. No, I guess I do. For some reason I wanted to tell him I love him which isn’t true. But I don’t feel ashamed about anything. He didn’t do anything with his hands either. Boy has he changed. I didn’t eat very much. I had a piece of pizza. And some chips and half a fish finger. When Mr Stephenage came, everyone was going “Bye Petra”. Stirring me again. On the way back nobody said anything. Mr Stephenage took me home. Glenda was with some guy and he asked her to go with him but I don’t know if she is. Seeya

Saturday August 21 - Sun-baked cause it was a beautiful day

Did nothing today. Did some work and sun-baked cause it was a beautiful day. Tomorrow I go to Orange. Its gonna be good fun but an early rise. Watched ‘The Thing with Two Heads’. God it was funny. Seeya

Sunday August 22 Today was the Coca Cola Champion of Champions

Dear Diary

Today I had to get up at 4.oclcok to go Orange for the Coca Cola Champion of Champions. Boy was it a long trip up there. 177 miles or so in a bummy bus too. We had to play on ashfelt courts all full of gravel and the chick I was playing against tripped me over and I went for a 6er on my knees. You should see how hacked up they are. All the blood came gushing out of them now I’m gonna have three more scars on my knees. That gives me the poos. We came 2nd but we didn’t get anything for being runner up. Christine twisted her ankle and everyone reckons it’s busted. Orange won our age group. Same with every other age group. We stopped half a dozen times on the way home and the bus driver got the shits. Once we stopped so I could go to the loo. And the whole bus ended up going. Tomorrows Jesmond. I can’t wait. I have to get up early again. Seeya.

Monday August 23 - The Jesmond School Sports Exchange

Dear Diary,

You know what I did today? (Jesmond) Missed the bus to white cross corner. Wasn’t that smart. And I just made the bus to Jesmond. I was having hernias all over the place. I thought I was going to miss it. I had to get dressed on the way. I forgot my bloomers. The trip was a long and tiring one and I was real nervous when I got there. We had to walk through this sort of covered way full of seniors welcoming you. I felt like I was getting married. We deposited our bags and gathered in front of Jesmond kids. They gave us welcoming speeches and then they called out names of Jesmond kids and then their Springwood billets. We had to go out in front of everyone and meet. Boy it was embarrassing. When my name was called out I was scared my billet would not be very nice. But she was. Her name is Joanne Hardy. I got billeted with Glen Couchman. 

"Hi. I'm Joanna's Friend"

After we came down from in front of everyone, these boys were pointing at me and yelling at me to come over but I didn’t want to go. But Joanne said she’d better introduce me or they would kill her. They asked me if I was going to the dance, and one of them, I’ve forgotten what his name was, asked me if wanted him to go. But he couldn’t cause he got pissed at the last one and isn’t allowed to go anymore. I was embarrassed. Joanne took me around and introduced me to everyone, mostly guys. I felt awful cause they all knew my name and I didn’t know theirs. Anyway, we went past these bunch of guys and they yelled out, “Hey, I’m Joanna’s friend” and she introduced me to them. That night she told me that she hardly ever talked to any of those guys and that they just wanted to meet me. They all signalled to her to introduce me. I didn’t mind though. I like meeting guys. 

Poor Joanne was worried about Glen not liking her

After all that was over we went and watched the basketball at the stadium. Joanne introduced me and Glen to some more kids. One of them that was with us – Andrew – was real nice. He was billeting Tracey Greenaway. On the bus on the way to the stadium we talked to this red headed kid who looked a lot like Broughton from Tangalooma, and this real spunk Terry. He had goldish hair, really long and sort of curled at the bottom. I remember him from last year. He was nice. Poor Joanne was worried about Glen not liking her, but after that they had no need to worry. They got on REAL WELL. We caught the bus back to their school to watch Glen play soccer.  And once again I got introduced and talked to and about, and we talked to Trevor and Mitchell and all of them. Joanne thought he was a scream. Trevor bought us both a chuppa chup. 

I went to a cabbage patch and went eennie, meenie, miny, moe and found my name

Anyway I was going back to our room where all our luggage was parked and on the way a soccer ball was kicked just past me and I said, “I’ll get it”, so I ran after it not knowing that this kid (Kent) was right behind me. I went to chuck the ball and he was right behind me. He goes, “are you going to the dance?”. I said “yes”. Then he asked if I was going to the pub. I said, “Yes, I think so”. He said, “what time will I pick you up?” I said, “YOU pick me up?” He said, “Yes”. I said, “I don’t know anything about it”. He said, “Well, I’ll see you there” I said, “Yes, seeya”. I introduced Joanne to some of our guys and Lex, and she flipped over him. After the soccer we went down to the Jesmond Centre and Plaza and I went to the loo. We caught a bus back to Joanne’s place and she introduced  me to her Mum and she fussed over us. Then we went for a walk to the shops and met Andrew on the way. We walked through the shops and I went to the vege shops looking through all the cabbages. I was getting a whole lot of queer looks. You see, at the basketball Andrew asked me where I got my name from and I told him that I went to a cabbage patch and went 'Jennie, meenie, miny, moe' and found my name. Then I explained about my real name being Peta. But God it was funny. 

I wore the satin dress again and Glenn told me straight out he hated it

Anyway, we came home and Joanna’s friend Katrina arrived. John Avory and Julie Barton came over for tea and we all got ready for the dance. I wore the satin dress again and Glenn told me straight out he hated it. Then I didn’t want to wear it anymore. When we got there (Mr Hardy took us down) me, Joanne, Katrina, went to the pub and they have this little room, like a lounge and you just go in a buy a drink. And they serve you. It was really good. I had a masala, a cherry advocaat. Anyway Kent was there and I sat next to him and we started talking and he bought me a drink. Then we had the dance. Someone told us they had a breathalyser and I was packen it. But they didn’t. When we got inside Joanne introduced me to everyone again and told me that Kent’s name was Kent. He told me to sit on his lap. That’s where I was all night. I got up the dance once.  That was for about two minutes. I found Lex in a corner (pissed) and he tried to pash me off. As I went past everyone I could feel their eyes on me. And also everyone’s hand on my bum either hitting or pinching it. I kept my eye on Terry too. Me and Kent talked a lot about everything absolutely. He’s a beautiful person. He’s got a gorgeous laugh and smile and has a great personality, and is good looking, and he had his arm around me and was holding my hand all the time. Mrs Smith called me away and told me to behave myself.

He kept on taking his false front teeth out. Boy it scared me

There was this guy there that looked like a ferret. He kept on taking his false front teeth out. Boy it scared me. He looked horrible. He did it all the time. Kent is really ticklish. I kept tickling him and he couldn’t stop moving around and laughing. There was this other guy there. Terry. He was really nice and he kept looking at me. This chick came up to me and Kent invited us to a party after the dance. I talked to Joanne about it but she said she couldn’t go. It would have been great fun.  Around the end of the dance Kent went to kiss me and as we did I noticed some parents looking at us and smiling so Kent got up and closed the curtain and we continued. There was this cute teacher and this chick said to me, “Gee he’s got a cute bum”. So I said to him, “turn around and show me your bum” and he went all shy and said, “No”. But later he walked off and turned around and did a fancy kick and kicked Fowler. God it was funny.

All the teachers were absolutely drunk and they were dancing like crazy

All the teachers were absolutely drunk, and they were dancing like crazy.  They have these horse and buggies to carry their bread around. We told them we had cars. They said, “don’t they smell of petrol”. Would you believe? Some chick asked me where I got my scarf from. I told her I grew it on a tree. And she believed me. At the middle of the dance, Joanne came and dragged me away from Kent and said,“You have to meet Johnny. Every chick in the school is after him and he wants you. You’re a real lady”. So I met him and he’s real nice: blond hair, brown tan.  Then she dragged me off in about two minutes and said,“You’d better stay with Kent”. Everyone reckons Petra’s a nice name. Jeanne goes,“I knew you’d be pretty cause you have a pretty name”. Anyway, after the dance we went outside. I said Bye to Kent and everyone, and talked to Johnny, and then we went home with Mr Hardy. When we came home we discussed the dance and everything over something to eat. Katrina and her billets were there. During the dance I sprung Joanne and Glenn together. Oh and Trevor kept coming to me and saying, “Who are you with now ?” and I’d say,“No-one” and he’d say, “Good” and drag me off, so I went to the loo.  Anyway, after we had something to eat and got changed we went to bed. Jees I wish we could have gone to that party. It would have been good. The next day I found out Kent went to the party. He said it was up the duff. But I would have liked to go anyway. Seeya.

Tuesday August 24 - We WON!  Isn't that fantastic!We were the only team that won

I woke up and got dressed and had breakfast and waited for Glenn as usual. We gave pennant things to Mrs Hardy and Joanne and then we picked up Katrina, John, Julie and walked down to the bus stop. The bus came while we were walking to it but it stopped for us. When we got to the school we got rid of our bags and wandered around the quadrangle for a while. Then we went down to watch the senior netball.  At about half time I got changed and we practised a little.  Kents soccer was on while I played netball. Damnit. We WON!  Isnt that fantastic! We were the only team that won: 31-11. Pretty good hey. I went to the room to get changed but I had to strip off so I went to the loo and forgot my shirt. On the way back I saw Kent. And he called me over. So I went over and sat next to him and talked to him. All his friends were playing soccer next to us, and the one that kept saying ‘come here’, all the time ( Steven)  said to Kent “you F’ing K-nt” 

I had my arms around him and I had a good old nag to everyone 

Ferret pulled his teeth out again at me. I talked to all his friends and that. Then the rugby was on, so Kent said he’d wait for me while I got changed. So I got changed and came back down and he was wating for me. We went down to the oval. Then it started to poor and was being real windy. This kid in front of us who had two blankets wouldn’t give us one, so we went into one of the blocks upstairs to watch it from there. I stood on a stool and he was standing on the ground. I had my arms around him and I had a good old nag to everyone up there. We mucked around, then me and Kent went down near a wall and were leaning against it. Then all his friends came and God it was funny. I tried to sit on the wall but I couldn’t get there. His friends reckoned they slagged (UGH) on me but they didn’t. They were playing  chasings with this mental kid. God it was funny. And we had a good old nag. The me and Kent took off and they followed us and he went to a brick wall and started scratching a brick. I said I wanted to say good bye to his friends, so I did. They followed us again and gave us a good stir. Boy Kent is ticklish. I was tickling him at the rugby, and at the wall he broke my watch but I can fix it. 

They started cheering and yelling and whistling and shouting and clapping

Then we went to the oval for assembly and to give the shield back, and he had his arms around me and me all this. We walked up to get my luggage hand in hand. Everybody staring at us, but I didn’t care. Anyway, we were walking through the arch and he saw his friends and so did I. They were yelling at him to kiss me goodbye. He said "wait until they turn around" I said “they’re not going to turn around, don’t worry about it” and he got the sh-ts and walked off. But then I found him and we were walking up to his friends and they started cheering and yelling and whistling and shouting and clapping, while Kent kissed me goodbye. EVERYBODY turned around from the buses and the path and they were all smiling and laughing and staring and I felt really embarrassed, and so did Kent. I said goodbye to his friends and went in the bus. Through the window I was talking to them and Kent was blowing me kisses. Then I got out and went to Kent again to talk and one of his friends said, “here comes Kent’s chick again” and once again we kissed goodbye and everyone was cheering. Then I got back in the bus and Joanne came. I got out again. We talked and I gave her my address. Then I went to Steve and Johnny and all them and told them about the cabbages and beany seeds and scarf seeds.

Then I went to Kent and asked him if I  wrote would he write back

He promised me he would. We finally had to go and we kissed goodbye again and everyone cheered AGAIN. It was all very embarrassing. I said goodbye to his friends and I told Steve I liked his beanie. He said, “you’re not having it so don’t try and crack on to me”. He had the shits with me. I said, “you don’t like me do you” and he turned away and smiled. Then he said something to his friend and he said, "Steve wants something to remember you by". I said, "Do you want some of my 'steel wool'? You can give it to your Mum to clean her pots and pans” He smiled and said something like, "She’s mad". Then  he sort of smiled his eyes and mouth and winked at me 3 times in such a way as if to say, "I luv you" or something. It was real weird. I said my final goodbyes to everyone and Johnny cause he was sweet, and Joanne said she’d write. She was crying when Glen left. She got his address. Then the bus started leaving and I waved and blew a kiss goodbye to Kent and everyone and I didn’t stop waiving until I couldn’t see them anymore, then I started ballin my eyes out. Its not fair. Every time I I go somewhere, I meet someone I like a real lot and I have to leave. Kent asked me if I had a boyfriend. I said, "No I don’t like going with with anyone". And I asked him if he had a girlfriend and he said, "No". Now I have to wait  a year before I might see him again. Bot that’s a long time. I tell you what though........

Practically everybody up there is on drugs 

They’re all getting busted. In fact I met 2 of them. Their parents spring them. Kent had them about 3 times. Thats what he told me. So did Joanne. God I wouldn't touch the stuff. They’re mad. Jee I wish I could see them all sooner. I went to sleep on the way and

before I knew it we were at Pete's Ridge. The Oak. I got out and went to the loo and bought a chico roll and a cup of tea and talked with everyone about Jesmond. Had a talk to John Koutsoukus about Steve.  He kept saying to me all the time I was there was to stay away from Kent. As if. I liked him A LOT though. After we left Peats Ridge, Julie Stevens came and stayed next to me and we talked about Jesmond and
everything. Then we got to Whitecross and we swapped buses, though I stayed on the same bus and everyone talked about Jesmond again. Carol Irons told me that Kent and I made a good pair, and that he was good for me. Imagine that. I never thought myself a good pair with anyone. I tell you what though. If I was going to that school, I’d go with him. He was real nice. Anyway I got off at my station and

me and Meshelle had a Hamburger and a cup of tea at the milk bar. Then we walked home and I told Mum and Jenny about it and Jenny kept interrupting me. Then I had  shower and wrote some of what happened but then I got too tired . Dianne told me that Eddie's billet said “I wouldn't mind having a piece of her”. I'm missing Kent already. I wish I had have bought my camera and taken a photo of everyone. Wouldn't that be fantastic  if I could go up there for a week or so in the school holidays. I’d lose some weight and get nice and brown and we could go to the beach. Boy it would be fantastic. I had a FANTASTIC  time at Jesmond. I wish it were for longer. The kids were so nice. Especially the guys. The chicks were nice too. I didn’t meet one that wasn’t. Boy I had a good time. Especially with Kent. Seeya.

Wednesday August 25 - Bloomen Deneved won 26-24

Today everyone talked non stop about Jesmond. I told Jo and all them about Kent and everything and bloody Helen Compton and Sue Macowan told them that he had red hair and freckles and was horrible, which wasn’t true. They never talked to him so how would they know. Stupid $#^%&!!! We played Duneved in a play off to see who made the finals and bloomen Deneved won 26-24. With a slightly biased umpire. I said, “You’re a disgusting umpire” and walked off. The Centre chick said to me, “Are you in the Coca Cola Comp?” I said, “Yes”. She goes, “We’re goona beat youse” Jesus Christ. Yesterday when we played Jesmond, Karen Gibbons goes, “I’m better than you and that’s a fact. We both know it”. God she gives me the shits. Seeya.

Thursday August 26 - They called off the Buffalo concert till tomorrow and nobody came to school today so I was left on my own.


Friday August 27 - Today Buffalo came to our school

Today Buffalo came to our school and played for 45 minutes. It was supposed to be a concert but it turned out to be a dance. They were quite good. The singer and base guitarist are quite nice. Everyone was out the front wanting to touch them and the guitarist threw his scarf out and Sue Swan caught it. Everyone kept pinching my bum. Jason came up to me and put his arm around me and fiddled with my boob so I gave him one fair and square across the head. Bloody Dad won’t let me go to the dance because none of my friends are going. God that gave me the shits and he hung up on me too. God I want to get out of this place.  The holidays started today. Sh-t. I wont last through it. Had a massive fight with Mum and she took my bikini, the ???!!!!


Saturday August 28 - Today I worked and did a little sunbaking. I wrote a letter to Kent and I didn’t like it so I wrote another one and I still didn’t like it, but I sent it anyway.


Sunday August 29 - Sun-baked again a bit. I didn’t write the letter to Kent yesterday, I did it tomorrow.

Monday August 30Got a letter from Joanne

Dear Dairy,

Today I wrote a letter to Kent. I’m not sure it was today or tomorrow. I got a letter from Joanne Hardy (my billet) and she said that Stephen and Kent are still talking about how pretty I am. I think they need glasses. She wrote to Glen yesterday. I hope Kent writes back.

Tuesday August 31Wrote a letter to Mandy

Dear Dairy,

Wrote a letter to Mandy and sent t. Sent Joanne’s letter too. I’m allowed to go to Brisbane in the holidays to see Mandy but I have to go by coach. Drats. I wanted to go by plane. Well, as long as I get there.


The number one single in August 1976 was "Don't Go Breaking My Heart by Kiki Dee and Elton John


Wednesday September 1Well, it’s raining. Mother has the shits because of Jenny. I hate every second of the holidays. Glenda said she’d write and hasn’t yet. Boardman said she’d write and hasn’t yet (cause of Dixon). Bailey hasn’t written yet and she’s been away for 1½ weeks.

Thursday September 2 - Well its sunny but very windy so we called camp off. Tomorrow
Jo and me are going to Parramatta maybe to see something at the pictures. I hope, Ode to Billy Joe.

Friday September 3 - Went to see Grizzly

Today me and Jo went to Parramatta- caught the train up and went to Westfield. These two guys followed us around until we gave them the slip. Dada! These guys kept giving us the eye. We roamed around then met Geoff for lunch and he shouted us it.  Then we went and bought father this Mug thing for Fathers Day. Then we went to see “Grizzly” at the new Cinema in Parramatta, which now has 8 theatres. That was real good: gory and all that. We missed the train we were supposed to catch so we had to catch a later one. Smart little old me left my brush at the theatre. Well done. I’ve run completely out of money. Joe had to pay 50 cents for me to get into the theatre. If only my damn parents would give me more than 50 cents a week. Came home late but was ok. Had a really good time (for once) Seeya

Saturday September 4 - I was trying to ring 2SM to answer questions

Dear Dairy,

Ronnie Sparks
Did nothing today. It was really boring. The other day I was trying to ring 2SM to answer questions and I finally got through when there were no more questions to ask. Ron E Sparks got on and he goes, “2SM Hello”. I said, “Hello. A while ago you played a thing on Paul McCarthy being dead and I was wondering if you could play it again”. He said, “I’m sorry but the last time I played it was the last time and we cant really play it again”. I said, “Oh” and hung up. Then later I rung up and I said, “I got through did I? Could you please play ‘Boogie Fever’?” and he said, “Yeah. I’ll see if we can get it on for you”. An hour later – mind you – they played it! Once before I got a prank call and another time I got the Midway Land Developers.

Sunday September 5He saw someone running up the side of our place and disappeared up the back

Went to the Taylor's tonight to watch their slides of New Zealand. We watched some of them then retired to Glenda’s room to babble. Then we had some coffee and cake. Glenda and Sharon walked me home cause I was too scared to go by myself. Cause Rodney said the other day that he went outside with a torch when he heard all the dogs barking and he saw someone running up the side of our place and disappeared up the back, so I’m scared now. Today was Fathers Day. Gave Dad a cup mug thing – an old fashioned one for his bar.

Monday September 6 - Today I went up the shops, came home and sun-baked. Wow. Seeya

Tuesday September 7 - I had ¼ of the bed and she had 3/4 of the bed

Dear Diary,

I got 3 letters today: one from JB that she must have written on the boat, but it was sent from Springwood. One from Mandy and says I can come up. And Dad said I can go – by coach. The other was from Kent! I was real excited cause the envelope was lumpy but all it was was a card that said ‘I’m thinking of you, doesn’t that just make your whole day” And on the inside it said, ‘Well it did mine’ – KENT. That’s all. Just plain old KENT. God I was disappointed. He could have at least written something, even just “Love” Kent, or “From” Kent, or “Hi” or “Thanks for your letter” or something!  I have the feeling he didn’t really want to write and he only wrote because he felt obligated to. Gee I feel bad now. All them questions I asked him and all he wrote was, “KENT”. I don’t even know whether to write back or not. Gee I wish he’d written more. Jo came down today. We got the tent up and everything ready. We were in the tent and it started raining and didn’t stop. Then it started flooding out and everything got soaked so we had to come back inside. Jo had to sleep in my bed with me all night and she was practically on top of me all night. I had ¼ of the bed and she had 3/4 of the bed. I couldn’t budge her either. We watched TV for a while. When I told her she said I snore. But I had a cold. I didn’t get an ounce of sleep. Boy was I tired.

Wednesday September 8 - Dad came up with the gun

Today we cooked our breakfast on the fire, which wouldn’t start so Dad chucked some kero on it. It was real nice. Went to Penrith today. Got my uniform, socks, pants and JC’s, and this necklace thing. Walked around. Had lunch. Went to the station and Ian Mackay came up and talked to us. Then he got on with us to catch the train. Then he followed us and tagged along at Springwood, and while I was trying on my uniform, and to see us off at the train. God he was like a bad smell. He bought us some chips though. 

When I got home Mother reckoned my 3 pants cost too much ($1.25 each) so I’m not allowed to put the hem up on my uniform, which practically reaches my knees. So she took it off me and will probably keep it until either Sunday night or Monday morning so I can’t put it up. But I will all in due time. THEN she accused me of stealing $2.90  something or rather when I didn’t. I owe her 50 something cents. SHE counted up wrong. She deliberately tried to find something expensive or wrong with something. I had to borrow some money cause all I was allowed to take there was 90 cents would you believe. 90cents! That includes 55 cents for the train. That left me 35cents for lunch. I’m damn well sick to death of scrounging for money and never having enough to go
anywhere, getting 50 cents a week if I wash the cars properly, and if there’s one tiny thing wrong with it I don’t get my 50 cents. It dam shits me. I hate it. I’m always scabbing money because my parents are too stingy with money. I have to pay $5,00 plus spending money on Saturday to go to Manly to play netball. Anyway we made a fire and cooked our tea in the dark which was absolutely delicious. Then we started hearing noises and got scared so Dad came up with the gun. After that we toasted marshmallows and popped popcorn. Jo played the harmonica. All in the dark. Then we went to sleep in the tent and we talked a lot. It was absolutely freezing. I had a sleeping bag and blanket and my dressing gown, and I still froze. Got up in the middle of the night to go to the loo and everyone was still up. Then I went back to bed.

Thursday Sept 9 - Went to Geotze’s to get my uniform for the Coca Cola Comp tomorrow.

Dear Diary,

Today for breakfast we had grapefruit and savoury mince on toast and tea. Yesterday morning we had bacon and eggs on toast and tea. For tea last night we had steak and onions and BBQ pineapple, and beans and carrots and potatoes in a jacket. For desert: fruit salad and ice cream. Jees it was nice. For lunch today we had jaffles but the egg wasn’t cooked properly so they weren’t nice. We popped some more popcorn and just lazed around in the tent. I went to Geotze’s to get my uniform for the Coca Cola Comp. We’re leaving Friday and sleeping in a caravan, and going out around Manly on Saturday night. I don’t know where the hell I’m going to get money to go to Manly with. I bet my parents won't give it to me. Oh lord I wish I had a job. Well the shorts are too big and baggy. Jo left with her Dad. Mother took the TV out of my room as soon as Jo left (figures). I’ve left no space to write here. Seeya.

Friday September 10We hired two caravans

Today I went to manly with our netball team. We all arrived at Goetzes’ and piled in the cars. Me , Robyn and Meshelle were in Mrs Goetzes’ car and the rest in the Marhses’. It was a fairly short trip and we stopped on the way. But we finally go to the caravan park at Narrabeen. We hired 2 caravans. Me, Robyn, Denise, Mrs’ Goetze and Marsh are all in the one caravan. I didn’t mind all that much. Anyway, we unpacked and everyone piled in our caravan for supper. Then after that I went and had a shower, but before that I went for a walk around the park and up to the lake and then I went to bed. I kept bumping my head on the cupboard because the bed was on a slope. And I was cold and tired and bloomen Goetze and Marsh wouldn’t shut up. Oh well.

Saturday September 11We played 11 games and won 6.

Got up early and had a shower and breakfast (in our caravan) and we all drove off to pick up Denese on the way. On the way we had a flat tyre. Got to the courts and we had a march pass. And got given banners (which Marsh got), then started our first game. We
played 11 games and won 6 of them. Played half hour games and had ¼ hour break between games but it only felt like five minutes. We had no lunch break either. Everybody was buggered by the end of the day. We all had blisters and were really burnt and what made it worse was that it was really windy. Anyway, drove back to the park and we all had tea – Chinese (yum). Then I had a shower and changed to go out. We were going to the surf club dance, then the discotheque, and the circus, but we ended up at the fun pier. The only thing open was the dodgems which weren’t that much fun. Had showers and supper and went to bed, seeya

Sunday September 12We won 7 out of 10 games

Got up early this morning and went for a walk along the beach. My jeans got soaked so I went for a swim clothes and all. My wet jeans and sand kept rubbing against my legs and I was freezing. I now have a rash. My feet nearly dropped off. The sand was like ice cubes. So when I got back I had a nice HOT shower and I took half an hour to defrost. Had breakfast. Was five minutes late for the first game so they forfeited us. We won 7 games, drew 1, out of ten games. Pretty good eh. Got real sunburnt again. I’m gonna peel. Bankstown won the competition and a trip to Queensland the lucky stiffs. After our games we went back to Narrabeen beach, stripped off and went for a swim. Attracted a crowd. The Manly Footy team invited us to a BBQ but Goetze wouldn’t let us. Boy. Then we all got changed in the open (everybody staring). Most got into PJ’s. God there were a lot of SPUNKS hanging out all over the place. Mostly blond, but jees they were nice. Short trip home. Shame we didn’t win the comp. If we had have played like we did today yesterday, we would have come somewhere. We had a really close game against Chatswood. Beat us by 1. Had a fight with father. Won’t let me put my hem up.

Monday September 13 - Well its back to school with my real long summer uniform. My legs have gone brown and everyone’s asking me where I went on my holidays. Got my hair cut. Sharon cut it. Washed it and it feels nice.

Tuesday September 14 - I opened my presents for tomorrow cause Dad’s having an operation.

Got a present from Wayne Patrick today. It was a poster of a lamb giving another lamb a piggyback at their rear end. Went to Mad Dog Morgan tonight. It was real blood thirsty:
Everyone’s brains being splattered out. Trip was ok. Went to sleep on the way home. Went to McDonalds before we went to the pikkies. We stopped on the way. And God it was funny inside cause I was talking to this kid who was working there. He was real nice. Got home and I opened my presents for tomorrow cause Dad’s having an operation. I got a long nightie, cheesecloth top, white butterfly shorts, 2 pairs of earrings, and chocolate, 2 packs of cards, pants, brush, mascara, photo album and $14 in change, a string picture and 2 cards. Last years zipper too so I’m gonna take that back. The shorts too cause I wanted blue and they didn’t fit right. Good Birthday. Seeya

Wednesday September 15Happy Birthday to Me

Happy Birthday to me. Today everybody was saying Happy Birthday. Sharon and Glenda gave me this stationary and a pen with palm trees on it. Gees its nice. Chunk and Doug
Chalenor gave me this 4711 but there is something fishy about that. Everyone keeps telling me how brown I am and how do I get so brown and I don’t think I am. I can feel all eyes on me when I walk. UGH. Got home and Mum bought me a Cola which I had some of and then we went to a Chinese restaurant before picking up Dad. It was real nice. We went to the hospital and I ate Dad’s ice cream. There was a man there that had his big toe out and this old man and a bunch of people who were ballen their eyes out. Gee I felt sorry for them. I was almost crying myself. Came home, had a couple of drinks and the Priestley’s’ came over and we had a discussion about sex. Scary. Seeya.

Thursday September 16 - She pulled the knife down on my thumb

Did nothing today. People keep asking me how I get my legs so brown and I get the occasional, “fake tan". Today we saw this film on skin grafting and it was horrible and I was sick. We’re making sausage rolls in cooking. Then Jenny tried to hog all my birthday cake and I told her to leave it alone but she wouldn’t so I grabbed her hand and she pulled the knife down on my thumb. Gees it hurt. After I saw the skin grafting thing I was really sick. I wrote a letter too, but.....

Friday September 17 - Everyone practically reckons I’ve got a fake tan

I wore a thing on my hand today and everyone was asking what happened to my hand. I think I exaggerate a bit. Everyone practically reckons I’ve got a fake tan now. Maria Velle came up to me and said, “Are they your legs?” and I said, “No, I borrowed them from Jo”. Everyone reckons Lex likes me. Got blown up by Smith for getting in the Volleyball Team and doing Life Saving. Lex is doing Life Saving. God I’ve got a SHOCKING figure. I really have. I hate it. Wish I was really pretty. I wonder what it would be like.

Saturday Sept 18 - Milton said I’m brown

Went to Penrith today and exchanged my record for a jumper. Wow that’s all I did down there. Then I went to the station. You’d never guess who was there – Milton and his spunky friend. Guess who they were going to see – Megan Taylor and Wendy Harper. They moved up a seat and I talked to them. Milton said I’m brown. The train came and I got on and they sat next to me. We talked about everything. Gee his friend was nice. He asked me if I knew Taylor and Harper. I said, “Yes, is that who you’re going to see?” I wish I had a boyfriend. I really do. Then we got off the train. Wendy and Megan were there. Wendy said, “Hi Petra” and I said, “Hi”. Milton said, “Seeya ‘Ziggy’”, twice, and his friend said, “Seeya” and I said, “Seeya”.  Seeya.

Sunday September 19 - He was horrible so I walked off

Went for a walk with Leanne today cause she wanted to smoke and on the second time round I was riding her bike (how embarrassing). College and Glen Parkhouse were in their car and he waved to me. We talked for a while. I asked him how the army was and he laughed. He said, “I like your bike”. He asked me if any chicks had moved in here cos he wanted ........ God he was embarrassing; sneering. He’s really changed. He was horrible so I walked off. Then he drove past again and smiled and stopped. I said, “Found your friends?” He said,“No” and asked me where I was going. I told him, and he asked me what she is smoking and it was real embarrassing. Boy did I feel hurt. Boy he’s changed. I was wearing my daggy shirt and my hair up. Seeya.

Monday September 20 - I think I’m paranoiac

I think I’m paranoiac. I always think people are talking about me. Every time I hear someone whisper I think it’s about me (it probably is). Everyone reckons Lex likes me and everyone keeps asking me if I like him. But I don’t believe it. Even if he did, he soon wouldn’t cause I’d do something crazy to make him notice me or I’d go out of my way to get into his way. Something dense like that. Trudie asked me if I’d go with him. No matter what though, if I find out someone likes me, I try to get them to like me more and they don’t. Seeya.

Tuesday September 21 - I was the absolute last to leave the place

Tonight was the Poseidon Adventure. I stayed at Jo’s for tea and after school and then we went to the hall where we were briefed (I sound like a detective don’t I?) At first Helen, Andre, Stewart and Fabrice went OK, but then it got crowded. I helped someone knick off with these people’s seats and this old lady and her mother chucked a sh-t. God it was terrible. We fixed them up. There was this kid. Boy he was nice. I kept my eye on him. When it as over I was talking to someone (I forgot who) and he went past me and smiled. It was real busy when we had to serve in the canteen but it was good fun. I stayed afterwards to help clean up the hall. I was the absolute last to leave the place. Not a person in sight.

Video: The Poseidon Adventure Official Film Trailer

Wednesday September 22 - Got informed that Lex was going to invite me to the Gub party 

Today I got informed that Lex was going to invite me to the Gub party but I don’t believe him. By that time he’ll change his mind anyway. He came up and talked to me in woodwork and bloody Christen goes,“Gary reckons you’re going to ask Petra to the Gub party”,and he went,“Bullshit”. That’s why the ##$#^&!@$! God I hate it when kids do that. I really do. It’s embarrassing and I hate it. Did Volley Ball for sport. How boring. Seeya.

Thursday September 23 - Did nothing today. Was very boring and got into trouble for going to class when the bell went. Had to pick up paper and see Newby. Seeya

Friday Sept 24 - Prichard reckons I’ve done something really bad but I cant think what

Well that was a quick romance. Jenny Cubis is nuts over Lex and now he wants to invite her. How nice. She’ll be thrilled. Got into trouble in cooking but I have no idea what for. Prichard reckons I’ve done something really bad but I can't think what. When we were washing up the scabs – David Hurst and Andrew Curnow – got me into trouble by wanting some of my cake. So I was throwing them up some and Prichard sprung me and chucked a mental. And I’m not allowed to do cooking for 2 weeks. Also I got into trouble for going to cooking instead of going on library duty. Supposed to go back on Monday. Probably wont. Gave Lex some of my cake. Prichard said some thing about going to NW with her instead of cooking. Ok. Seeya.

Saturday September 25 -  She told my future, first with cards then with I Ching

Today I’m staying at Dawns cause Mum and Dad have gone down south somewhere to Coolangatta or something. After we had tea we went to Dawn's friend's mother and she told my future, with first of all cards, and then with I Ching cards. I’m supposed to be having a BIG CHANGE which is gonna be hard but turns out good and that long term plans are going to be abandoned (my trip to Queensland) and all this. I don’t really believe it but the lady who told it really and honestly believed it. They’re really nice people though. They’re going to invite me to one of their wild parties. I hope they remember to. It should be fun. Meanwhile I’ve been thinking up all these terrible things that could happen which probably wont. Tomorrow I’m going to the Schofield Air Show

Sunday September 26“Will you get lost so that we can catch up and talk to you later on?”

Well we arrived at the showground and got our stands and everything ready. First of all, Dawn and me were at our stand then we got kicked off and to another one. I was running around renewing everyone’s frankfurts and buns and sauce and paper. Two tents are for us: one for us and the other for Lost and Found, where all these guys were running into and looking at me. One guy came up and said to me,“Will you get lost so that we can catch up and talk to you later on?” I did and he (George) and his friends were real nice, especially his friend Casanova. But after a while he kept touching me and putting his arms around me and saying I was a very nice girl so off I went and avoided him cause he wanted my address so that he could come down to go out with me - and then I would have to go out with him. Just as we were leaving he saw me looking at him and called me over and asked for my address. But I wouldn’t give it to him. But I ended up giving him my phone number and said, "Bye" and Off I went. Fabrice and David Holice were there and lots of other kids I knew. This kid followed me everywhere and stayed right behind me and waved. On the way home we stopped at a Chinese restaurant and had wine. I got rather dizzy and I could hardly see what I was eating. So I had to go out for air. Then we went home. Anyway, had good fun that day. Seeya.

Monday September 27 - Gee I wish I was pretty. I really do

Was on library duty again today. Lex came in a couple of times in the afternoon and we had good fun. Everyone was trying to do the language competition and I was helping them all. Then Lex pushed someone into me and I whopped him one and he wouldn’t stop laughing so I went into hysterics, and then he tripped so I tickled him. Cathy Degraff, every time she walks past me says,“orange legs”. Lex is still inviting Jenny to the party. I asked her if she was happy and she said yes. I bet she is. Every now and again I’m surprised at how good looking he is. Gee I wish I was pretty. I really do. Seeya.

Tuesday Sept 28 - I had to write, “I must not speak in class”

Did nothing today. It was very boring. Had to stay in today for History cause our fizzlewit of a teacher said so. I had to write, “I must not speak in class” until she decided I’d written enough. It was a nice day today for once. Sunny and all, and a bit cloudy. Gee I hope it’s sunny on the weekend so I can sunbake before we go Lifesaving. That reminds me. I got a bit worried today cause I wasn’t on any roll for sport, so I saw Mrs  x, and she said it was OK that I do Lifesaving. Mum bought me the material for a dress. I don’t like it now. Seeya.

Wednesday September 29 - I’m instructing at Lifesaving

Well I’m instructing at Lifesaving. I have 1 bronze, 3 intermediate and 3 proficiency, and Cathy Scott. Jo’s in my group too. I don’t think Lex is doing Lifesaving cause he was changed today when he should have been in room 23 and 24. I had to change pens, I don’t like writing in red. I wish Lex was doing lifesaving, but so is Jenny  Cubis.

Thursday September 30 -  I was crying and my cheeks hurt and my stomach was aching

Nothing much happened today. I was in stitches today in science. Yesterday in English we had to do this group discussion thing and Helen Robson yelled out,“I don’t like this” and O'mally goes, “We haven’t started yet” and I burst out laughing and I just couldn’t stop. I was crying and my cheeks hurt and my stomach was aching. God it was funny. I never laughed so much in my life.


The number one single in September 1976 was Abba's Dancing Queen:

Video: Dancing Queen by Abba

Written By Petra Campbell

Web: www.petramcampbell.com
Email: kpmm@ozemail.com.au
Twitter: @petraau