Friday 19 July 2019

Oh God, Please Don't Let Him Die. Or Be A Vegetable.

"Oh God, please don’t let him die. Or be a vegetable.
He can’t. It isn’t possible. It can’t be real.
I can’t accept that he’s gonna die.
Please don’t let him die. Lord! Please!
I’ll pray for him tonight. I swear.”

On the night of May 26, 1977, I begged God to save Stephen Grunders

Stephen was on his way to play basketball for Springwood High School. Normally his coach drove the boys to their match. But on this day he couldn’t.

Instead, Stephen and his team took a train. I saw Stephen that afternoon at the station. I wished him luck. Said, “I hope you win”.  Once arrived at Katoomba, the team began to walk to the venue, which is when Stephen was hit by a 20-year-old drink driver. Fellow player, Mark Willmot, tried to resuscitate him, but Stephen’s extensive head injuries put him into a coma. When I found out, I begged God not to take his life. I promised to pray, if God saved Stephen.

And pray I did.

My parents tried to console me but my father would have been squirming had he have known I was praying. “Praying does not put food on the table”, he once told us.  I wasn’t raised with the promise of heaven and the threat of hell. I was denied privileges if I failed to obey household moral and ethical standards, and vice versa. My parent's attitude to church was like sex, if I wanted to know religion, I should wait until I was 18 and could reason, analyse and think for myself.

Nancy Drew Mysteries
I did have a baby blue covered bible with delicate translucent pages. My catholic grandmother gave it to me. I tried many times to read it to see what the fuss was about. It’s just that Nancy Drew was much more exciting, and easier to follow. Whereas God was some old bearded bloke who couldn’t speak English properly, and who knew nothing about us Aussie teenage girls. How could he? The Australia I lived in didn’t exist when the New Testament was written, and rewritten, over and over again - 400,000 times at least.

Occasionally I was allowed to go to Sunday school with friends. I recall standing among the pews holding a hymnbook, mouthing away as if I knew the words, and wondering if cleaning the dreaded bathroom and toilet for Mum would not have been a preferable Sunday morning activity after all.

The only time I saw my parents in a holy building was in a photo at the church portal on their wedding day. A ceremony organised for my grandmother, since Mum and Dad had already married at Hendon Town Hall, London.

Mum had been inoculated against Catholicism following a traumatic boarding school experience. Deprived of love and care, brutalised by sexually frustrated, cranky old (alleged) virgins, severe in their discipline. Even if there were Catholic schools nearby, we were going to have a secular education.

“No school is going to shove God down my kids throats”, Dad assured us. Mum agreed.

Mum was as good as a Nun anyway.

Jehovah Witnesses would come around regularly. When my parents weren’t home, I’d let them in out of curiosity, and politely listen. They believe that the Bible’s sixty-six books are the actual word of God and are historically accurate. The ones knocking at our door, pioneers, live on little money, spend 18 hours a week knocking at people’s doors on top of working, and can be dismissed for the most minor of transgressions, like having a beer. Witnesses are disobedient when it comes to things other people do: no military or jury service, or voting in elections, no Christmas, no Easter, no attending religious festivals or secular celebrations like birthdays. Jesus didn’t ask for his birthday to be celebrated they say. Why should we? 

CT Russel
What I really remember is the banging on about the end of the world. Like Jesus did before the end of the world didn’t happen. Jehovah’s believe that humanity is now in its last days and that the final battle between good and evil will happen soon. They have been harking this for the entire 148 years since American Christian restorationist minister, Charles Taze Russel, first invented Jehovah’s. 

I was just a teen at high school. Mum and Dad owned our home. We had plenty of food. The little netball team I coached were playing the grand finals, as was my own team. Our swimming holes were clean and fresh. There were trees as far as my eyes could see, and plenty of birds in them. Life was good in my 1970’s Australian universe. How could the world be ending?

I thought they were weird.

Jehovah’s never did know when to leave. They would come around repeatedly because they believe in a slow and methodical conversion by wearing you down. They must have loved it when parents were away. We were low hanging KPI’s.

I used to confuse Jehovah Witnesses with Seventh-day Adventists. Adventists also think the Bible is a failsafe guide to living because its' authors were inspired by God and so the Bible is 100% factual, including the six day creation of earth. Adventists are puritanical like Witnesses. They don’t smoke, drink, use drugs, or socialise. They don’t dress elaborately – no jewellery for the ladies. They can watch educational programs but no movies, because movies pervert
Kellogs Corn Flakes caught on fast
the soul and are partly responsible for the poor moral state of society. Their strict observance of the excellent but rather ignored 6th commandment - Thou Shalt Not Kill – justifies their refusal to undertake military service. The body is a temple to be healthily fed, preferably with a vegetarian diet. John Harvey Kellogg, doctor, nutritionist, health advocate and inventor, was an Adventist. He created Kellogg's Corn Flakes to replace the fat loaded fried English breakfast. I'm pretty sure Mr Kellogg would be rolling over in his grave knowing how much sugar is in Kellogg's products these days. The Sanitarium Health and Well Being Company is also owned by the Adventist Church. Weet-Bix is its flagship brand. Both Corn Flakes and Weet-Bix sat at my childhood breakfast table. I'm pretty sure Dad had no idea, or else they would have been banned.
Unlike Witnesses, Adventists take Saturday off: the biblical Sabbath being the 7th day of the week, and ‘advent’ meaning Christ will return to earth on the 7th day– so they need to be ready every Saturday just in case.

W. Miller
Seventh-day Adventism was another American patriarchal invention (one of 56 new religions created during the 18th and 19th centuries in a type of appropriation of religion the American way, called 'Great Awakenings': there have been three Great Awakenings in Europe and the USA between 1730 and the early 20th century.

William Miller preached that Jesus would make an appearance on October 22, 1844. Unfortunately for Miller, Jesus had other things to do that day and didn’t turn up. This non-event became known as the Great Disappointment. Many of Millers followers left his movement, well, greatly disappointed.

What to do?

Ellen G White
One of his devotees improvised. Ellen G. White said Miller wasn’t seeing things clearly (had Hollywood existed, Ellen would have made a fabulous movie sequel writer). She said Jesus had indeed come again, but not to Earth. Jesus had actually returned to the ‘most holy place’ of the heavenly temple (floating somewhere in dimensional space), which he was busily cleansing of evil. Once he has finished that, THEN he will come to earth and begin his purge of us humans. Taking a page from the Jehovah’s, she said the second coming of Christ would be ‘soon’, without fixing a date this time. ‘Soon’ is imminent enough to happen in our own lifetime and scarily imminent enough to be any minute now. One is more likely to hold onto followers with a ‘soon’, than a confirmed date and a no show.

Miller’s resurrection of Adventism made her a prophet.

At least the prophet was a woman for a change.

When Christ does return, he will head to Adventists in America first, and then to the rest of the world. On that day, the unrighteous living will die. The righteous (but already) dead will be resurrected and taken with him to heaven, together with the righteous living (that would be us).
That is, one minute we righteous will be alive, and the next: poof! Dead. Whether we like it or not. Even if we wanted to go on living for a bit.

After we’ve all been forcibly removed from living, one thousand years will go by (the Millennium) during which Earth will be deserted except for Satan and his helpers. While we righteous are living with God in Heaven, the ‘wicked dead’ are being judged in a fire and brimstone cluster eff.
BUT THEN, all us good folk come back again after a thousand years are over. All the evil cluster effing zombies rise from the dead, and along with the evil living, including Satan, are executed by fireball. They don’t go anywhere. They are simply incinerated to fertilise the earth with all that non biodegradable phosphorus, so that humankind can start all over again (as long as God adds a solubiliser to dissolve the calcium in the ash. Like lots of soap, but then that would pollute the soil and water…………mmm…….
Anyway, for the rest of time going forward God and humanity will live harmoniously together in paradise.
Nancy Drew Mysteries
Almost as good as Nancy Drew!
Except that surely the fireball also killed all of God’s innocent creations (plants and animals) so once the earth has been lathered with ash and soap, it will take more than a million years to produce all the species the next lot of humans will need to survive: more like 3.7 to 4.1 billion years.  
Science... Who needs it...
Evangelising is also important to Mormons, so they too were regularly knocking at our door. Mormons are a denomination of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, another 19th Century religion Made–In-The-USA. Mormons believe only THEY are the true church; all alternative Christian versions have gone astray. Although they do say other religions raise the spiritual and moral awareness of humanity.

Thirteen articles of faith underpin Mormonism, one of which is, it wasn’t all Adams fault; we are all individually responsible for what we do, and we will be punished or rewarded accordingly.

Adam must feel vindicated. I can see him in his fig leaf fisting from the apple orchard, “I told you it wasn’t all my fault!”

It’s downhill from here though.

According to Latter Day Saints Dot Org, Mormons “believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth”.

And so forth?  

What could ‘and so forth’ possibly mean? The imagination boggles.

Ellen G White would have made an Iliad and an Odyssey out of a ‘so forth’.

Mormons also believe that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built in America because Christ returns there, bringing with him another rise of the zombie dead. Lucky for Americans, the world has made over 543 zombie movies to refer to in preparation for when this happens. Spoiler alert: shoot them in the head. No one ever seems to learn this simple 'zombie down' trick from almost every previous Zombie movie ever made.

Mormons say the Bible is the literal truth as a long as it has been translated properly. Since they don’t think that’s been the case, they have their own back up bible.

The Book of Mormons. The most correct book on earth.

Smith's vision
Joseph Smith, Mormon Church founder, said he received a revelation from God - first through an angel, and then through a book written in reformed Egyptian and inscribed on golden plates. He then translated the plates – having suddenly become fluent in reformed Egyptian by the gift of God - into the Book of Mormon.

Mormons claim to have Jewish descendancy by lineage through the Manasseh, Ephraim and Judah tribes who supposedly migrated from Jerusalem to an unknown location in the Americas around 600BCE (this would make American Indians Jewish too...mmm...).

Mormons regard themselves as the chosen ones, but hold Jews in high esteem as a covenant of God people. Naturally, Hebrew religions reject Mormon claims, because the Torah - the only book of God - was given to Moses at Mount Sinai, to be passed on to the Jews, the real chosen ones.

Mormon theology maintains that the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct beings (but not the same substance as in Trinitarian Christianity) whereas Jews believe God is one, therefore a trinity is impossible. No Jewish religion recognises Jesus as a divine figure – except Jews for Jesus, an organisation created in the 1970’s, a shopfront of which used to be on Oxford Street, Bondi Junction, Sydney, Australia. Jews for Jesus believe that Jesus is the true messiah of the Jewish people and that the Jews who betrayed him and had him crucified, stuffed up royally. The Founder of Jews for Jesus, Moishe Rosen, spent 17 years trying to convince Jews of this very fact while working for an organisation aimed at converting Jews, called the Chosen People Ministries.

Mormons say God has a physical body, is married, and can have children. This mortifies the preponderance of homosexual men in the Vatican for different reasons to the Jews, who believe God is not a physical being so it can’t have children. In addition, Jews believe God is the only entity to whom we should offer prayer – not Jesus, Mary, the Holy Ghost, Saints, Kings, Queens, Dailai Lamas, Emperors, Gurus, Raj Patel, Maradona, the Duke of Edinburgh or anyone else who fancies themselves a God and manages to convince others.

Unfortunately in Mormonic real life one cannot be a God, like God is, but one certainly can be a God in the afterword. That’s because both God and Jesus were originally humans from another planet. When they died, they resurrected as Gods. So we can too. Also, one doesn’t have to be dead to be a prophet, like Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, or Ellen G White. AND, if you become a true orthodox Mormon and move to Utah, America, you can be among the 16,000 or so fundamentalist Mormons practising polygamy there (or you could just convert to Islam).

Unlike Jews who don’t proselytise and who discourage conversion, Mormons are really keen to swell their ranks – even among the dead. For two reasons. Mormons believe that after you die, you continue to live in the afterlife. So they baptise the dead to rescue them. Secondly it helps legitimise Jewish ancestry.  Much to the shock and horror of the Jewish community, Mormons began baptising (converting) dead Jews to the Mormon faith, including famous ones like, Albert Einstein and Menachem Begin, as well as holocaust victims.  Then they added the converted dead to the Mormon Church genealogical database to prove their Jewish ancestry.  So successful and brazen was this post mortem spiritual identity theft, that in 2005 it forced the Jewish community to cooperate with the Mormons by setting up a joint Jewish – Mormon Committee.

Mormons think the Jews will come around to their way of thinking one day.

Billy Graham on crusade
All our neighbours were Catholic. I don’t recall ever hearing or seeing the more exuberant and fanciful evangelical movements in the Blue Mountains growing up. Except when Dad changed TV channels and discombobulated if he fell upon the late Billy Graham, the most notorious televangelist crusader on earth. British author, Christopher Hitchens, called Billy Graham "a self-conscious fraud" and "a disgustingly evil man".  I remember thinking if the devil existed, his eyes and mouth would look like Billy Grahams's. 

Evangelicalism is a global Protestant trans-denominational movement. Evangelicals, such as Pentacostals, say the Bible is literally true, without error, and applicable today (like chopping off a wife’s hand for disobeying her husband, having to eat your babies and your neighbours if you disobey God, having slaves and beating them just enough so they don’t die, handing over your (underage) virginal daughters to house guests for sex, killing witches, putting to death anyone who utters the name of the Lord, and other such absurd and horrific things which are totally inapplicable today that the Bible says is okay for mostly men to do (frequently to women). Evangelicals believe their movement is returning to pure and simple Christian basics. In contradiction to this belief, they give priority to preaching the gospel over leading by example, and living humbly like Jesus did. After all, Jesus was poor. And who wants to be poor.

The other major pillar of evangelicalism is the doctrine of salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ, through personal conversion (being ‘born again’ in a one off sudden moment when you realise you are besties with Jesus, you say so out loud - something like “The Lord is in me! I can feel him!” - and you believe this in your heart of hearts with desperate earnest). Evangelical baptism – the immersive dunk in the lake – happens after being ‘born again’, not before, and whenever is convenient ( thus children are not baptised as they need to be 'born again' first ). This is very helpful for criminals trying to get out of jail early and who have no on-site lake to be baptised in, having discovered it was Jesus inside them during their moment of ecstatic revelation, not their fellow inmate.

Early evangelicalism started in England in around 1738 during the First Great Awakening. Back then, evangelicals stood as accused as they are today of religious fanaticism and enabling uneducated men to become itinerant preachers of gobbledygook. The Revival was most enthusiastically adopted by the USA, which is now home to the largest concentration of evangelical Christians in the world, representing around 25% of Americans.

The modern Pentecostal movement started in the USA in 1900, when a student at Charles F. Parham's Bethel Bible School in Kansas, began speaking Chinese at a service. Because no one knew what Chinese sounded like then, everyone present thought it was a miracle, and claimed she was 'speaking in tongues’. The story goes that two days later Mr Parham himself and a dozen other students also suddenly spoke in 'tongues'. Parham went on to found the Pentecostal Spiritual Revival in Texas in 1905.

Pentacostal Laying Hands

Pentecostals - the current Prime Minister of Australia is one - are amazeballs.
They can whip themselves up into such ecstatic frenzy (God is moving through them) that they start babbling incomprehensibly (still called ‘speaking in tongues’). They have dreams and visions (I want to be Prime Minister. I’m going to be Prime Minister), can perform exorcisms (out dam socialists), can heal with their hands (who needs Medicare), and can perform other miracles, like playing with Death Adders and surviving (without the most definitely required anti-venom), and getting devotees to donate 10% of their income to the Pentecostal church (multi millions, tax free. Thank-you Lord!).

Taking the Pentecostal movement by storm is the Hillsong Church. Hillsong was begotten in 1977 Australia by the late Frank Houston. If Americans can just whip up new religions whenever, and 1800 years after the death of Christ, why can’t we Aussies (although Houston, an accused and admitted homosexual paedophile, was a Kiwi - no offence NZ). Our own Aussie brand of charismatic euphoric god worship broadcasts across 160 nations, is a YouTube hit, has ‘churches’ in 15 countries across Europe, Asia and the Americas, and includes 10 mega churches. One of the world's largest churches - the Yoido (very, very) Full Gospel Church in South Korea, overflows with 250,000 over an entire Sunday.

Evangelical concert like sermons
The marketing success of Pentecostals like Hillsong is age old, and practised by religious parents the world over. Get those little kiddies between the ages of 4-14 hooked on religion, while their developing brains are malleable. Hillsong offers young people an alternative route to stardom than Little Athletics, NIDA, Hollywood and Sony Music offers the seriously talented. They promote ambition and success through sport, rock music, theatre, performance and belonging – all infused with opium like Christian messaging.

It has been said of Hillsong, which has charitable tax deductibility,  that it is “not a church where the leader washes the feet of beggars", but is rather an "evangelical/ industrial complex", whose CEO’s, Frank Houston and Wife Bobbie, “head up an international multimedia entertainment company’’. They have been accused of teaching "Word of Faith heresy" because they teach that “God wants you to be rich and prosperous so that you can be a blessing to other people," almost to the point of “to be poor is sinful.”

Also, the Hillsong Church has no ecclesiastic oversight. There is no ‘Pope’ to ‘fact check’ sermons against the Bible :-).

Hillsong CEO and lead singer of the Hillsong United Rock Band, Joel Houston, told America’s PBS News Hour, “Music has the ability to connect to the heart, it bypasses the brain, which is a good thing”

Amen to that.

Who wants the brain interfering with all that money gushing in, or anyone questioning the legitimacy of ‘miracles’, or the relevance of ancient texts written in a void of science and reason (or perhaps at the dawning of it when science and reason were mere embryos of human consciousness). 

Even if commandments 5-10 may be morally relevant today, science has moved on from a world created in six days, and Genesis 1:28, “be fruitful and multiply” - because we are now fast approaching an unsustainable 10 billion humans on earth and our own survival is at stake at current rates of resource consumption. And let humans “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth ” because 30-50% of species on earth are likely to be extinct by 2050, and there has been a 82% decline in flying insect biomass the past 27 years.

We need these species for our own survival, separate from the fact that they have a right to life as much as humans have.

We don’t want people asking themselves why God would create a planet that just one species - Homo Sapiens - would destroy almost instantly compared to the age of the earth and the amount of time we humans have been on it. Did he skip Ecology and Sustainability class at God School? Or is he some sort of bored and malicious brat son of a billionaire Daddy God, who failed a practical science exam (Design a Sustainable Planet) but got to keep his pet planet just to see what happens? 

Dancing and singing to faith songs is undoubtedly more fun for children than standing lugubriously in a church singing hymns and being preached at. The danger for secular democratic states is when these children grow up and with ‘forked’ tongues, espouse public policy, such ‘tax breaks for billionaires will make everyone better off’, or if you don’t ‘have a go’ your government will not provide you with support in times of trouble. Or much worse, not doing anything about climate change, or human over population – humans being a gift of God and all – or mass extinction and ecological collapse, because it’s 'Gods providential doing'. If it’s the end of the world, let’s go with the flow. We told you so anyway. It’s all there in the Book of Revelation when the seven bowls are poured onto the earth to destroy it. We are safe but you aren’t. God will save only ‘born again Christians’. Everyone else, every other religion, including all the other Christian faiths that are not ‘born again’, will die and go to hell.

Yes, Pentecostals think THEY are the chosen ones.

Occasionally we’d see some Hare Krishna’s strolling down the road in their pale purple, pink and ivory robes, shaven heads and rats tails, banging drums, shaking tambourines, and chanting, “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare ...” The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), was another cult like religion born in the USA in 1966 drawing from various Hindu scriptures, particularly the 15th century West Bengali, Bhagavad Gita. US victims of 1970’s and 80’s sexual abuse, filed a nine hundred million dollar compensation claim against ISKCON in the year 2000. George Harrison of the Beatles, was a fan of Krishna Consciousness. He donated to the UK branch, and screenshot his experience with his song, "Living in the Material World".

Video: Living in The Material World. George Harrison.
Hare Krishna’s had only been around for a decade before they started drumming down 40 Koala Road, chanting away all cheerful while selling the Baghavad Ghita to Mum and Dad. I still have my parent's oxidised copy. I tried to read it too but you know, the 1.0 spaced highfalutin texts in minuscule typeface was too much effort for my 15-year-old self with homework going on, a netball team to train, and boys to worry about. Plus I still had the Bible to get through.

So it was back to Nancy Drew.

Anyway, Mormons, Pentecostals, and all the other religions who think they are the biggest, bestest, yugest, correctest religion EVER, are all wrong because according to the Hares, Krishna is the source of all the avatars of God, ‘the Supreme Personality of Godhead’. THE God of Gods.

Except that my English teacher told me the Krishna’s were wrong too. He was a Baha’i, a Persian religion founded in 1863. They say that all forefathers of the world’s major religions are simply manifestations of God. God himself cannot be known or understood because how the universe came into being is just way to complex for us mere mortals to comprehend. But we CAN come close to God by working for a unified world using truth, love and kindness, to create prosperity of all nations, races, creeds, gender and class, as well as harmony between science and religion. And that’s how my English teacher spoke and lived. But then, they also believe Miller's Great Disappointment didn't actually happen. The second coming of Christ did in fact occur back in May 23, 1844 when an ancestor of the Bahai, the Bab (aka Siyyid Ali Muahhad Shirazi, founder of Babism), declared that he was the promised one...but to avoid being put to death for heresy, he went on to predict a new promised one, a title which was claimed by the Baha'i faith founder, Baha'u'llah, in 1863.

Baha’i philosophy grates on the nerves of most religions, which makes ‘others’, out of everyone who is not one of theirs. Especially Muslims in Iran where the Baha’i religion dared to originate, because Muslims claim there is no God but Allah. All the rest of us are infidels.

I guess that makes Muslims the chosen ones.  

Also on our bookshelf was Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics. None of us know, or will confess to, how it got there. Probably Dad, the curious know-it-all. The know-it-all of know-it-alls. Dianetics was the founding book of the Church of Scientology established in 1952.  Hubbard didn’t believe in any Gods or religion: just aliens, self-development, reincarnation, and making lots of money. He also wrote the fictional novel, Mission Earth, the 5th longest book in the world. Almost as long as this post. Longer even, by just under 1.2 million words.

Scientologists believe that people are immortal alien beings (called Thetans) who have forgotten their true nature and are trapped on earth in a human body. Each Thetan has lived numerous past lives, both on earth in our physical bodies, and on other planets. By undergoing a series of classes and teachings (called auditing), people can be free of their human form and reclaim their true Thetan selves.

Hubbard giving a scientology class
You have to take all the scientology auditing classes in order to unlock the ability to control life, matter, energy, space, and time, and become a Thetan. Like Tom Cruise almost is. Apparently he is up to Operating Thetan Level Seven (out of eight). Although I'd say he is already a genuine Thetan. How do I know? Cleary Tom has mastered life, matter, energy and space since he keeps flying off sky scrapers, hanging off soaring aeroplanes, scaling vertiginous heights unattached, and leaping from high speed driving car to high speed driving car, and just never dies.

But it was in 'The Mummy' where Tom finally mastered 'time', and therefor, true Thetanism. He crashed to the ground in a C30 Hercules from at least 3000 meters and survived, returning to us as AN IMMORTAL.

I just want to know if Tom will resurrect on earth once his homo sapien carcass caves in, or if he's heading off to the universe to make movies with other aliens. Personally, Top Gun kept my young heart throbbing, and daily viewing helped me survive Japan in a shoebox, so I'm all for him coming back here, a clone of himself, for other young women like me to drool over in the future. But that's just me.

Anyway becoming a Thetan is hard work. And pricey. Tom Cruise could afford it. Common Pentecostals bypass all that. They can just magically think everything into existence.

The Church of Scientology is legally recognised as a religion (with tax-exempt status) in eight countries, including the United States and Australia. Other sensible countries (including Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany) refuse to grant Scientology an official religious status because they consider it a cult. The church has been accused of brainwashing, financial fraud, kidnapping, blackmail, theft, witness tampering, and murder. Much like so many catholic Popes of the past.

And that wasn’t the only pycho American sect that was on a recruitment drive in Australia in the 1970’s when my young self was ripe for the picking. There were the Children of God. Its founder said he was God's prophet; his sect nothing more than a paedophile ring that raped children. The Twelve Tribes just beat children into believing that Christianity is the whore of Babylon, and that Israel will be restored to its former glory one day soon. The Australian chapter of the Pentecostal Jesus People USA, was founded by polygamist and millionaire property owner (and communist party member), Daniel Landy-Ariel. He operated three Christian orthodox run Kibbutz’s whose adherents had to learn ancient Aramaic and surrender all their money and possessions to him. Although no threat to me, but certainly to boys in Ballarat, there was Scott Williams who used a brand of Pentecostalism (Christian Assemblies International) to mask a homosexual ring while using 95% of his sect’s $20 million to enrich himself.

I am so thankful my parents weren’t unhinged….

By the time I went to high school I was more than happy to sit out scripture class while everyone else dutifully attended ‘brainwashing’ as Dad called it.

Nonetheless, God was in my vernacular. My diaries are full of God blasphemies and God beseechings. After all, I couldn’t appeal to Mum and Dad, because usually it was their punishment I was complaining to ‘God’ about.

Until 1984, we sang ‘God Save the Queen’ at school assembly. And who didn’t wonder from what. I asked Dad once.  “From bloody socialism”, he said. If the whole school had to stand to attention, gaze reverently towards the sky, and beg God on key to save someone so important as the Queen, what would it take to save 15 year old comatosed Stephen Grunders in one of the Queen’s far flung colonies?

Apparently way too much, even with the entire Blue Mountains praying.

God did not answer our prayers. He took Stephen's life.

The next day at assembly, our Principal informed the school that Stephen had passed away. He pronounced his name and the time of death wrong, causing us girls to burst out in tears, including Stephen’s poor sister standing behind me. We went running from classroom to classroom, to the library, to sickbay, to anywhere, looking for solace.

When I got home I went straight to my diary and, Reverend Scott from the Poseidon Adventure style, confronted God: 

“He’s dead. He died last night.
Oh God why? Why Stephen? Please tell me.
Why did you do it God? Why did you do it? Why?
What did he do to you?
You bastard. I don’t believe in you anyway.
All you are to me is someone I ask questions and implore from, and now look at the damage you’ve done.
And you do it every day. Why!!!!”

Video: How many more sacrifices! How many more lives! You want another life?"

God has killed a lot of people around me in my short 15 years, starting with 19 year old Uncle Peter in a motorcycle accident the year I was born and after whom I was named; nine year old Vicki Barton, murdered and raped by a 15 year old boy; both my grandparents on Dad’s side before I was two so I never knew them; my grandfather on Mum’s side on Mum’s birthday (a really nasty thing to do to Mum by the way God); Mr Skerrit and his grandson, burnt alive in a house fire - why would you roast an innocent little baby who isn't old enough to receive the gospel? Mr Anderson and 82 other people when God decided to send a train off the rails and into Bold Street Bridge at Granville; my Baha’i English teacher’s wife – God dropped a tree branch on her. And now Stephen. And there is more to come before I finish high school.

What sort of ‘loving’ god would do that? Either God doesn’t exist, or he is not a loving god. If he exists, he could only be a psychopathic serial killer who deserves to be banished from the human mind for eternity. Given an infinity life sentence, no parole, or all the evil he has committed against all life on earth - not just us humans - ever since the day we dreamed him up.

I was having a Charles Darwin epiphany. Like the one he had when his sister died, albeit the version of a 15 year old girl who hadn’t studied biology yet. Charles Darwin was supposed to become a clergyman but, thankfully for humanity, became a scientist instead. He had the benefit of studying nature in a brutal ‘survival of the fittest’ bloodbath. There is no sin creating story for animals. There is no Bambi who ate some spring shoots from the forbidden grassy valley of good and evil, bringing wrath upon all future Bambi’s in the form of Bambi eating bears and wolves. So why have animals been so severely punished? Much more than humans. Darwin concluded that death is part of nature: it is neither good nor evil. It just is and always has been. 

Darwin wrote in his autobiography:

“A being so powerful and so full of knowledge as a God who could create the universe, is to our finite minds omnipotent and omniscient, and it revolts our understanding to suppose that his benevolence is not unbounded, for what advantage can there be in the sufferings of millions of lower animals throughout almost endless time?”

Another Charles, Charles Templeton, a prominent evangelist who died in 2001 and who also rejected Christianity, concurred with Darwin in his 1996 book, 'Farewell to God':

"Geneticists say it is ‘nonsense’ to believe that sin is the “reason for all the crime, poverty, suffering, and general wickedness in the world. The ‘grim and inescapable reality is that all life is predicated on death. Every carnivorous creature must kill and devour another creature. It has no option.” ….  “Why does God’s grand design require creatures with teeth designed to crush spines or rend flesh, claws fashioned to seize and tear, venom to paralyse, mouths to suck blood, coils to constrict and smother—even expandable jaws so that prey may be swallowed whole and alive? …How could a loving and omnipotent God create such horrors as we have been contemplating?”

Christian theologians say God created such horrors and took Stephen, Mr Skerrit and his 2 year old Grandson, Mrs Kerrison and all those people on the train to Sydney, 15 year old Stephen Grunders, 75–200 million Europeans in the bubonic plague, 9 million in World War One, 50 to 100 million by the hand of the Spanish Flu, too many tens of millions of Chinese under leadership and regime change, and sends all kind of destructive natural disasters because of the stupidity of one bloke, Adam. He ate that damn apple when God told him not to.

Well, there are plentiful examples of one man changing the course of history for the worst, so I suppose the author of this story might have been inspired by evidence around him at the time.......

But THEN God gave us a second chance by sending his son Jesus Christ, and some stupid men stuffed that up too by rejecting Christ and nailing him to a cross.

And that’s all we need to know as to why God, who is all loving and all powerful, doesn’t use his power to stop evil, suffering, pain, and death. 

Oh and, God has to be cruel to be kind says ‘All About God Dot Com’: "An all loving, all powerful, all knowing Being could permit as much evil as He pleased without forfeiting His claim to being all loving, so long as for every evil state of affairs He permits there is an accompanying greater good”…“Evil is a side effect of love. Evil serves the limited purpose of establishing real love relationships between creation and the Creator, and evil will be done away with after that purpose is achieved”, and other asinine justifications, that allow for humans to do horrendous things to each other.

I would have thought cruel kindness immoral. But what would I know. I have not accepted the gospel and if I don’t accept the gospel theologians say, then I don’t know what morality – the difference between right and wrong, or good and evil – is, because God, and only God, is the creator and giver of morality. If I loved God on the other hand, and believed in the gospel, I would be, ipso facto moral (whether I actually am or not).

This simplistic concept tells us we have no individual power over our own morality.

For morality to come from God, God would have to exist. His existence has not been proven (including his gender, so I might call him her from now on).

If God did exist, how do we know God – anyone’s God - is moral? There are around 4200 religions in the world and many more Gods. Hinduism alone has 33 million Gods. Religions differ tremendously in their interpretation of morality (e.g over polygamy, punishment, slavery, child marriage, revenge, divorce, women). Plato wrote a dialogue in which Socrates asks, “Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?” (known as the Euthyphro Dilemma).

If it is morally good, which is why God endorses it, then morality exists independently of God. God would be an observer, just like we are. And divine commands among the world's Gods would all be exactly the same. But they’re not. This objective morality is the evolution of human consciousness and intellectual and emotional instinct, and is codified in secular laws and civilised behaviour.

On the other hand, if something is moral because God simply commands it, then morality is arbitrary and subjective. This explains why there is no moral consistency among religions, and how radical groups, such as ISIS, or how paedophile priests, or charismatic sect leaders and religious zealots, can enslave women in chains, rape and murder them, sexually abuse young boys, burn imaginary ‘witches’, wage immoral wars, or tell fellow Australians if you don’t have a go, you won’t get a go.

In the words of Atheist Alliance International, “Theists who say their morality comes from God face an unpalatable conclusion. They must either accept that they follow an arbitrary morality from an arbitrary god and an arbitrary religion, or they must accept that their god is not necessary for humans to understand morality”

Even allied religions, like those of the Christian faith, vary consequentially on issues of morality like abortion, women in clergy, and homosexuality. Why is it morally okay in one Christian faith for a woman to be free to use contraceptives, or terminate an unwanted pregnancy, but to another Christian faith it isn't? To other Christian faiths however, it is morally acceptable to force a raped child into having the baby of her rapist, and then force her to share custody with the criminal father (now law in nine US States). Or more recently in America and Mexico, it is morally okay to jail women for murder who miscarriage.

One can only conclude that “if you truly attempt to take your morality from a god, you have no idea whether your actions are moral or not”. 

Atheist morality is derived from understanding how the actions of one human affects the well being of another. An even higher evolution of consciousness is taking place and gaining critical mass in the homo sapien world of the ultra civilised. They consider not just how our actions affect other species - which have a right to life independently of human existence - but also how we impact geographical matter, like mountains, rivers, seas, trees, air and land. Because what we do to plants, animals, mountains, soil, bodies of water, and our atmosphere, affects everything and everyone that depends on them for survival, including humans.

We are using science and reason, not ancient edicts, to understand that many of the things humans do to the earth and it's non-human inhabitants is morally wrong.

Meanwhile, while someone religious was no doubt calculating where 15-year-old Stephen Grunders sat on the morality scale in order to determine if he was going to heaven or hell, I was busy disbelieving that someone I just saw a few days ago was now dead and in a wooden box, about to be lowered into the bowels of the earth:

"When I saw the Hearse and all these flowers everywhere I nearly cracked up. We went inside and sat down, and everyone arrived. Then I realised that Stephen’s coffin was right in front of us, and when I saw it I cracked up. I didn’t like the priest. He was too casual about it. I bawled all the way through and couldn’t read the hymns through my tears. The worst part of the sermon was when they picked up his coffin and carried it down the aisle. I balled my eyes out. I couldn’t take the fact that Steve was inside. They put the coffin in the car with the flowers and I was howling like anything.

 Jim Mackenzie came up and held my hand, put his arm around me and comforted me, which was really nice cause I was so upset I needed someone. Then everyone was just standing around. The guards of honour lined up and so did our school and everyone else, so the hearse could drive through. I balled again. Then we went to Pinegrove. On the expressway there was the hearse, the black car the Grunts’s were in, a whole string of cars - stacks of them. We got to Pinegrove, which was quite a nice cemetery, and we got out. Stephen’s basketball team carried the coffin to the burial place and everyone gathered around this massive hole. They put the coffin on these levers and gradually lowered it down.

I couldn’t stand the thought of walking all over those dead bodies. And that Stephen would soon be joining them.  As he disappeared into the ground I balled again and so did everyone. Then they put this big wreath to cover it. Mr and Mrs Grunts threw some dirt down into the hole (ashes to ashes, dust to dust and all that) and then this other lady threw some flowers down. I had to cover my ears because I couldn’t stand the sound of it going down and hitting the earth where Grunts will now lie forever".

It was my first funeral, a classic English one, depressing and solemn. I had never been to a funeral before, and at 15, I was not expecting to be burying a classmate. 

Clearly, I had already figured Stephen Grunders was going back to the dust whence he came; not to some fluffy white heaven or some fiery burning hell. He wouldn’t have gone to Hell anyway even if such a place existed. Stephen was a good boy.

 'Ashes to ashes, dust to dust' comes from the Kings James version of Genesis 3:19: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”. 

Even though it was scary, dust to dust made sense to me. From the earth we are born via all that food grown on it that Mum ate and pumped into us via her umbilical cord, then through her breast milk, then onto our dinner plates. And to the earth we return, putting all our bodily nutrients back into the ecosystem by way of the decomposition process. It is the infinite circle of all life on earth. We are all made up of everything and everyone else from the past, in a motherhood cosmic statement kind of way. A type of reincarnation, except not in a whole new body, but as squizillions of atoms distributed throughout the earth, both methodically and serendipitously, to form the building blocks of new life.

Dust to dust was literally how it was for a very long time. By about 100,000 BC, probably when we realised leaving dead bodies lying around was a bit unsightly and distressing, humans began to bury the dead. It started in shallow graves, which got deeper, and higher - into mounds, crypts, temples and giant tombs like the pyramids, the more megalomaniacal the human was (today that would be cryogenically freezing oneself or cloning). That was fine before the industrial revolution when, with some exceptions, the things people were buried in were not toxic to the environment and biodegraded naturally.

Cremation is old too. Funeral pyres was the pagan way. Pagan practises were copied by the Greeks by 1000 BCE, and then the Romans, both of which incinerated corpses on the battlefield, to take the ashes home for ceremonial entombment.

Cremation became such an unconditional conclusion to a heroic and patriotic life that by about 100 CE, Rome had burnt all it's available forests down to burn bodies. In parallel, Christianity was on the rise. Cremation was one of those barbaric pagan rituals to the Catholic Church, so it had to stop. Plus, Catholics felt the body wouldn’t be able to reunite with the soul if it’s been turned to ashes (Unlike pagan Scandinavians who believed cremation helped free the spirit from the flesh and also kept the dead from harming the living). By the time Christianity had swept through Western Europe, cremation became rare, except in emergencies. Like during the Black Death, when 60,000 bodies were torched over one week in 1356.

By the 19th century there was a revival of interest in cremation in space challenged Europe when Queen Victoria’s surgeon, Sir Henry Thompson, published 'Cremation: The Treatment of the Body After Death'. Shorty after, a British court ruled cremation legal. The US built its first crematorium in Washington in 1876. But it didn’t really catch on. A very religious America still had plenty of land. For the next 100 years a battle raged between the pro cremation camp and the anti-cremation camp. By the time I was in high school in the 1970’s, the religious anti cremation lobby was holding fort: only about 8% of Americans opted for cremation, compared to England, Germany, and Denmark, for example, where more than 50% chose cremation. In Japan, where cremation was illegal in 1875, but where the population grew exponentially and land became scarce, cremation has become almost universal.

The reality that Rome faced in 100CE - not enough wood to cremate any longer - and that Japan faced - too many people; not enough land to bury the dead and provide for the living - is a problem faced all over the world today. 

It’s not just a shortage of space and resources that is reaching crisis levels, burying and incinerating ourselves has become a real problem for our planet because we have stopped returning our bodies to nature to reuse.

We have instead weaponised our dead bodies against our earth and its non-human inhabitants, as well as ourselves, and starved our earth of essential life giving nutrients.

From beginning to end, a full service burial (a casket, tombstone, flowers, heavily manicured grave sites, or vaults and embalming) has unsustainable environmental impacts. According to the Berkeley Planning Journal, to put dead Americans into the ground or into above ground vaults, requires 2,700 tons of copper and bronze, 104,272 tons of steel, and 1,636,000 tons of reinforced concrete every year. The amount of wood needed is equivalent to almost 4 million acres of forest, which contains enough trees to sequester 65 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and to build about 4.5 million homes. This timber, so much of which is tropical hardwood, is coming from the going, going, gone tropical rainforests of other countries.

A lot of energy is used and carbon emitted to fell trees, transport wood, manufacture caskets and to transport them, to machine dig graves, in cement manufacturing, mowing, watering and feeding garden lawns with toxic weedicides, pesticides, and fertilisers (ironic given the human body is a natural fertiliser). Even those beautiful flower arrangements are grown in industrial scale overseas hothouses, are treated with a wide range of toxic chemicals and pesticides, and use volumes of fresh water in a world running short of it.

In the USA, funeral homes often push for embalming the body, the process of pumping several gallons of formaldehyde, phenol, methanol, glycerine, glutaraldehyde, humectants, skin colour dyes, anti-edemic chemicals, and disinfectants into the body through an artery to slow down decomposition and make you look presentable to friends and rellies at an open casket send off.

Embalming started with ancient Egyptians who believed the body needed to be preserved for the
afterlife. Christians denounced the practice as pagan. It is not widely practised by Islamic or Jewish faiths who have to bury their dead within 24 hours so the soul can head for heaven asap (Jews) and for hygienic reasons (Muslims), therefore there is usually no need for embalming. Embalming is the norm in the United States though, a practice that goes back to the Civil War when casualties were preserved to be transported home. Today the American funeral industry falsely promotes embalming as a health and sanitation issue; pumping 800,000 gallons of carcinogenic formaldehyde-based embalming fluid into American soil and water every year. In northern Ireland, cemeteries have been found to be leaching these toxic chemicals into the soil and ground water in city areas.

Despite the downsides of burial, cremation is not that environmentally friendly either. It uses a lot of gas at very high temperatures; gas dug up by destroying fragile ecosystems or through fracking, which contaminates our water table. It releases toxic chemicals into the air we filter through our lungs, including carbon monoxide, fine soot, sulphur and carbon dioxide, furans, dioxin, heavy metals, and vaporised mercury emissions from dental fillings.

Hindus believe the Ganges River is the earthly manifestation of the Goddess Ganga.  Lower castes hope they might return higher up the socio-economic ladder in the next life if they put their ashes in the Ganges (this belief, where the extreme poor imagine that they can upscale themselves in future lives to become as rich and powerful as Gautam Adani, is an amazingly successful crowd control/social stratification technique). Due to a shortage of wood, around 35,000 partially cremated bodies are thrown into the Ganges every year; the same Ganges people bathe in and drink from.

There are some human communities that have, or had, environmentally friendly dead body management.

Buddhists in Mongolia and Tibet still downsize a corpse before placing it on a mountaintop to be consumed by vultures (the soul has already left the body by then). Sky burial ensures vulture's continued survival (where downstream in India they are endangered).  Pre Islamic Zoroastrians in Iran and India (to where persecuted Zoroastrians fled in the 10th century) do something similar by placing the deceased on ‘Towers of Silence’ to be consumed by carrion eating birds. Only they recover the bones and place them in an ossuary pit. In Iran and elsewhere, ritual exposure has been replaced by cremation. While still practised among the Parsis in India, urban sprawl and a shortage of crows and vultures, killed off by the widespread use of agricultural chemicals, is leading to its demise there too.

At Adashino Nembutsuji in Kyoto, the buddhist Kukai used to put their dead on a forested mountaintop to return to nature though exposure to the elements. The Philippine Caviteño entomb their dead vertically in preselected hollowed-out tree trunks. As long as there are more trees than people…..

Every year, 55.3 million of the 7.4 billion people on earth, and rising, will die. In Australia, 2 million people are still buried every year. In places like Hong Kong, if you insist on burial, your bones will be dug up and the grave repeatedly reused.

Traditional burial as we know it will have to change because we are running out of space and the environmental impacts are just too wasteful and destructive. In NSW, Muslim and Jewish communities in particular are demanding more land for burials be made available in western Sydney because their faiths prohibit cremation. Making more land available for cemeteries means councils have to weigh up the opportunity cost of allocating a significant amount of land constantly being required for the dead, that could otherwise be made available for our ever-expanding living.

Lack of land space is leading to innovative ways of disposing of the human body like in South Korea where you can have your your relatives remains compressed into gem-like beads. In the US you can mix your ashes with concrete and lower them into coral reefs to help to repair reef damage, while also providing new habitats for marine communities. A Swedish company looked at freeze drying bodies (promession) to reduce them to small inert particles but the company was not able to develop a facility to demonstrate effectiveness. In the US, water cremation (resommation) has been approved in 19 states. Resommation uses high temperature water mixed with potassium hydroxide to dissolve flesh to the bone. The bones are then pressed into a powder and returned to the family. The outcome is comparable to cremation but results in an environmentally friendly process that does not release chemical emissions and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, while the used water is treated and returned to the water cycle.

None of these options are really available to the vast majority of the world as yet, so in the meantime how can we help those we leave behind be environmentally friendly with our bodies?

We can:
·      Carbon offset the entire funeral process to third-party verified projects furthering the cause of environmental sustainability;
·      Be buried in a biodegradable casket made of non-toxic materials such as wicker, bamboo, paper, wool, banana leaf, willow, or recycled cardboard, or in a shroud of organic material such as cotton or silk;
·      Don’t embalm;
·      Be cremated in a bamboo vessel;
·      Store ashes for later dispersion in biodegradable urns made from cardboard, wicker, or un-lacquered wood;
·      Opt for a Spiritree; an urn where ashes, soil mix, and a seed are placed in the ground. Overtime the ceramic breaks and a tree grows out of it;
·      Check the emission ratings of the crematorium,  especially for mercury emissions;
·      Ask the cremator if they will remove non organic body parts like a pacemaker, medical implants or prosthetic limbs, and then dispose of them at a recycling facility;
·      Buy eco-friendly, organic flowers or ask people to make a donation to a carbon reduction fund or some other environmentally beneficial projects, like tree planting projects, national parkland acquisitions or biodiversity preservation funds;

Or have a real green burial. Green burials are fast catching on and are an opportunity to conserve, reclaim and expand important ecosystems.

Lismore Bushland Cemetery saving Koalas
There are shades of green burials ranging from burial preserves and eco cemeteries to conservation burial grounds, according to how close they come to replicating the models of nature. It's called the Campbell Principles for Green and Conservation Burials ( no relation to this Campbell that I am aware of, but clearly we are kindred spirits :-)

The ultimate goal is the Conservation Burial. This is where burial fees fund the acquisition and management of new land to benefit native habitat. They have a high degree of intrinsic social and ecological value, with land selection based on conservation science and community needs. They are protected by law to ensure conservation values are retained. The burial function is an important part of the site’s identity and sense of place, but does not overwhelm the conservation site itself (taking up only 10% of land). There is a great emphasis on the cultural celebration of the person’s life and the development of rituals that bind natural and human communities and strong affiliations with community-based institutions, including those with conservation, education, scientific, religious or art based missions.

Green burials are cheaper than a vault, burial or cremation. With a Green burial, Jews can still face Israel, Muslims can still face Mecca, and Christians can still face east to witness the second coming of Jesus, even vertically.

If you are in America, you can be ceremoniously composted. From May 1, 2020, Americans can have themselves aerobically composted over a 5-7 week period in a mixture of woodchips, alfalfa and straw. The resulting soil is returned to family like ashes are, or to local councils for landscaping use. Only unlike ashes, the soil is fertile, not sterile. No solubilising soap required.

In the US, the Green Burial Council has approved 40 environmentally friendly cemeteries. In the UK, there are 270 natural burial sites. In Australia we only have a handful. Legislation, planning, funeral monopolies, and religious lobbyists are lagging behind Aussie early adopters, global trends and environmental imperatives. Australia’s funeral monopolies are worth  $20 billion, 37% of which goes to one company alone, Invocare. 

Change is possible, and it will happen. The Romans stopped cremating when they ran out of trees. The Japanese started cremating when they ran out of space. Churches turned to public cemeteries when they ran out churchyard. Catholics came to accept cremation where it was once forbidden. Koreans now hold their funeral ceremony in hospitals where people are most likely to die, rather than at home as culture once prescribed. Anyone would have once  been mortified at the thought of recycling old grave sites or burying multiple unrelated people on top of each other in one grave, but it is done with regularity today. And who would ever have thought composting humans would become legal and culturally accepted - and in a country as religious as America is? 

I had no idea at the time that Stephen was making such a mess of the planet as he was being lowered into the ground, but when I got home from his funeral in 1977, I decided I was going to keep Stephen’s memory going in our backyard. My own green burial of sorts. So, I reincarnated Stephen in the chook pen. I named our three new chickens Grunt, Grunts, and Grundies.

Global and Australian Events, March and April, 1977

Of note: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin resigns and Menachem Begin becomes Prime Minister; attempts to make Chad a Muslim state fail; Egyptian President Anwar Sadat meet with US President Jimmy Carter for the first time; the Communist Party is allowed to exist in Spain after being banned for 40 years; George Lucas's Star Wars opens in cinemas and becomes the highest-grossing film of it's time; scientists report using bacteria in a lab to make insulin via gene splicing; America performs a nuclear test at Nevada Test Site and USSR reciprocates at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalatinsk; and Ireland sets fishing zone at 50 mile to protect its fisheries.

It's been quite eventful in Australia. A new political party, the Australian Democrats is launched by former Liberal MP Don Chipp.  In a sign of things to come, John Howard tabled a White Paper on the future of the manufacturing industry. The paper noted manufacturing depended substantially on tariff protection and other government assistance, as well as facing ever-increasing competition from other countries, particularly in Asia. 

We have a referendum! Four questions were put to voters on 21 May. The Liberal Party wanted to amend the Constitution to: ensure simultaneous elections for both Houses; to require that casual Senate vacancies be filled by a person from the same party as the departing Senator, to allow electors in the territories to vote in referenda; and to establish a compulsory retiring age for federal judges. Despite a virulent negative campaign by the corrupt Queensland Premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, three of the questions were supported in all states. The fourth (simultaneous elections) failed because of concern about encroachment on the independence of the Senate . 

We also voted for our national song. ‘Advance Australia fair’ won at 43% followed by ‘Waltzing Matilda’ (28%), ‘God save the Queen’ (19%) and ‘Song of Australia’ (10%). ‘Advance Australia Fair’ was finally adopted as the national anthem by the Hawke Government in 1984, when God Save the Queen, was shown the door. In case you are scratching your head like me, wondering, what on earth was "Song of Australia", here is is (sounding a lot like someone's else's anthem you never remember): 

Video: Thankfully voted "no" proposed Australian National Anthem, 1977

Also in May 1977, American Christopher Boyce was arrested, convicted of espionage and sentenced to 40 years prison. Boyce worked at a MacDonnell Douglas facility that built satellites for Pine Gap and saw cables from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) discussing the agency's desire to depose the government of our democratically elected Australia Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam. Boyce claimed the CIA wanted Whitlam removed from office because he wanted to close U.S. military bases in Australia, including the Pine Gap secure communications facility, and withdraw Australian troops from Vietnam. The Queen's Governor General, Sir John Kerr, was referred to as "our man Kerr" by CIA officers. Boyce saw that the CIA was orchestrating events not just in Australia but with other democratic, industrialised allies. He stills believes Whitlam ousting was a US 'coup' and that Australia is like an Alaska the US. So also in May 1977, President Jimmy Carter gave the Australian Government his personal nudge nudge, wink wink, that US agencies (in particular the Central Intelligence Agency) were not meddling in Australian affairs. Coup Liberal leader, Malcolm Fraser, announced this much to the House of Representatives

Video: The Falcon Lands: Did the CIA interfere in 1970's Australian politics?

                                           Diary - April  and May 1977

I'm still obsessed with boys. This time it's a guy called Stephen. He has already left school and seems to ignore me but then finally asks me out and we go to the movies in Sydney. When I told him I might leave school too and become a police woman, he laughed saying just because I can throw a discuss doesn't mean I can bash up drunkies in a pub.

I'm not getting much on with my parents right now. My Dutch grandmother is visiting and Mum is high maintenance, while Dad teaches me the meaning of retribution because not only did I not go into Cross Country when he told me to, I failed to look up 'retribution' in the dictionary when he told me to. So I am not happy with his revenge.

I'm still trying to get a Thursday night/Saturday morning job at Coles, but to no avail. I'm still going to typing class and I complain that we're not 'learning anything' because we are just 'typing words'. I haven't caught onto the fact that that's what typing classes are for.

Ted Mulry and a visiting UK band, Walrus, play at a Dance at our local Civic Centre in Springwood, and I am an usherette at the school play, "Eat at Cinderellas".

Tragically, something we will never forget, fellow school student, Stephen Grunders, passes away at the age of 15 after being hit by a 20-year-old, drink driver. I attend his funeral along with so many fellow students.

April 1977

Friday April 1 - Helen told me Steve was at Penrith. Wouldn’t you know it? I go and he doesn't, he goes and I don’t. It’s not fair is it. Well Seeya

Saturday April 2 – Ted Mulry Gang was absolutely fantastic 

The dance was quite good. I wore my pinstripe suit. Everyone said I looked nice. Steve was there. HOORAY. But then tragedy struck. Boo. Mrs Priestly drove me up and when I got out I walked to the civic centre.

Steve was sitting down. I said "Hi. How's work?".
"It's getting boring"
"Is It?"
"How's school?".
"Oh fun. Just as boring. I might be leaving though".
"Are you in 4th form? What are you going to do? Be a secretary I suppose?"
"Yes. I'm going to be a police woman", and he laughed. I said, "What's wrong with that?".
"I can't imagine you bashing up drunkies in a pub".
I told him I came 2nd in Discus, and he said, "That's throwing a thing".
I said, "Oh well, seeya".

Most of the time he wasn't even looking at me. He hates me. I know he does. That was all I said to him all night, not even 'hello' or anything. I looked at him stacks of times and he knew it. He looked at me too but only to see if I was looking at him.

Graham came and I talked to him a lot. THEN Geoff went up to him and said,"I know a chick who likes you " (well this is what Jo told me anyway). He said, "Oh yeah, where is she?". He said, "I don't know. I have a fair idea who it is anyway. She's spot on". (with his thumbs). Bullsh't. I bet he said nothing of the sort. If he thought that, why didn't he ever come and talk to me? When we were leaving he was right behind behind me but he didn't say anything. Why. God damnit. He knows dam well I like him but he tortures me. There's only one reason; he hates my guts.

Stephen Lay came up to me and talked and raved on about how he was a free man now that he wasn't going out with Amanda, and then some guy came up and said,

"Is she yours?" . He said, "I'm working on it". He didn't get very far. I walked off. 

Later Graham asked me who it was I was talking to. Andrew Cockrine was there. Keven Fox made it out to look like I like Andrew and he told Johnny (Andrews brother). I must admit if I was Johnny I'd certainly think I liked him. But I don't. I like Steven Lyons. Geoff was nearly in a fight. These guys were picking on Peter and Geoff laid into these guys but then agreed on something and they stopped. Robert Gollege was there. Said hello. On the way home from netball he stopped and talked to me ( he was just back from W.A.). Talked to stacks of guys and kids. Megan Taylor was there talking to this blonde spunk.

The first group were okay. The 2nd group ( Walrus) were awful. Specially the lead singer. A real fat slob.UGH. THEN Ted Mulry came on. They were fantastic. We were right in front of Les. God he's a spunk. He's really young and nice looking. His complexion is perfect. His hair was really soft and fine and clean. Gees he looked nice. Everyone was going, "Les" "Oh Les". I looked at him, smiled, and waved and he smiled back. Same with Gary and Ted. I couldn't keep my eyes off Les. God he is nice. Ted Mulry Gang was absolutely fantastic. I enjoyed every minute. Even the kids who came to knock them joined in.  They promised they'd be back too. Great. We left the hall and I was waiting for
Dad. When he finally came, he blew me up cause he was waiting for me. Just as I was going I saw Steve, the real spunk. It's not fair. Why wont he talk to me? He hates me. He must. Why. Why. Why. Why can't I ever get anybody I want like most chicks? But not me. I have to be difficult and get the real drips. If I had a wish right now, I'd wish Steve would like me and ask me to go with him. I'd work it out from there. If he even 1/2 liked me, he'd wave or say hello, or anything. So he doesn't even half like me. Well its my own fault. Seeya.

My little team won 1-0. We Tigers also won 46-16 against the Viscounts.

Sunday April 3 - Slept in. Washed cars. Typed. What a fun Saturday.

Monday April 4 - Trained my little team

Thought about Steve all day today. Hopefully staying home tomorrow. Best I don’t. Damn it. Trained my little team. Seeya

P.S. Got a letter from Joanne and now I’m going to write to her. Seeya

Tuesday April 5 - Dad made me go to cross country

Dad made me go to cross country. Talk about boring. I just sat there. Didn’t go in the run. Went to Odessa File. I wore my long dress. Everyone said it looked nice. Except this girl. The mole. She hates me. I don’t know why though. I’ve done nothing to her. Think I’m headed for a fight with her. She’d beat me too.

The film was rather boring. It was good though. Gees I like Steve. I mean I luv him. But he doesn’t like me at all. He’s not on the train. Yes he is. He just sits over the other side. He must hate me otherwise he wouldn’t avoid me so much. Why? Gees I wish it were me he liked. Wish I knew how to get him, or any guy for that matter. There’s only one word for it - SH-T

Trailer: The Odessa File
Wednesday April 6 - He's okay as a friend.

Had maths test and lifesaving. That blond guy talked to me at the pool. Had a bite of my Chokito. Went to Penrith to do a stack of things but did nothing. Island boy on train. Talked to him, also at the plaza. He‘s OK as a friend. There were some real spunks in the plaza. They looked at me and called me but I ignored them. I shouldn’t have. Niceness.  In the copper shop there were some spunks. I think one was called Terry. I used to watch him at Coles. This guy called Kim followed me at Coles. I think he was nice. He asked me if I knew this guy whose foot I trod on, but I couldn’t remember. He asked me what I was doing tomorrow, and I said school. And tomorrow afternoon? Training my team. He asked when I’d be in Penrith next. Didn’t know. Bye. Won $1 off Steven Henessy. Thought he was tough. Seeya.

Thursday April 7I luv inter-school visits. They’re real fun.

Had three inter-school visits. Basketball first. 2 spunks. Wagged maths. Then came the Rugbies. SPUNKS!! There was one absolutely gorgeous guy. Brown curly hair. Yum (again). Wagged all the afternoon. Bodd called me back from History.  Then came a whole stack of other spunks too. I luv inter-school visits. They’re real fun. I wish I was good enough to get into a team. I’m going to try my guts out to get into Jesmond team but I won’t, I know it.

Friday April 8 - Did nothing today. It’s cold and windy

Saturday April 9 - I didn't look up retribution  

I asked Dad if I could go to the dance and he said no! You know why? I didn’t look up 'retribution'. I don’t remember why or what is was about. I’ll have to find out. I balled and balled, cause I won’t see Steve for another five weeks now. God I hate Dad, the F’ing poofta. He thinks he’s King Sh-t. Well he tries to be anyway. Lex rang. He’s coming down on Sunday. Gees what I am going to do? I’ll have to give him the big A. Well I’m about to cry again. Seeya

PS. I’d just fixed what I was going to wear too!

Sunday April 10 - It’s all about nudists and it’s very funny

Did nothing today, It’s cold and miserable. Seeya

I balled again, I almost forgot. Saw Gone with the Wind with Mrs Priestly and Leanne. It was quite good. I cried but I think it was because I was thinking about Steve in the sad parts. I’m watching TV while I’m writing this. It’s all about nudists and it’s very funny. Mike Willissee’s nice. Steve Lyon is 3 times nicer. Seeya.

Monday April 11 - While I was washing the car I worked out what father meant by 'retribution'

Well, while I was washing the car I worked out what Father meant by retribution. I confirmed my thought of discovery by asking the poofta. He is getting revenge for me not going in the cross country - two times. Not going to the dance is one, there is another retribution to come. The b’tard is going to make me wait to see Steve. He would to. I HATE HIM!  This is supposed to be good for me when I get older. We’ll see. Dad, if you’re reading this, serves yourself right. Remember?

Tuesday April 12 - I bought a cream Satin Jump Suit

Went to Parramatta. Steve wasn’t on the train or up back. In fact, he was in Penrith! Met Jo up there. I bought a cream Satin Jump Suit. Don’t like it. Bought a jumper too. Going to knit a red and white scarf to go with it. Jo and me were up the top of Westfield and I got my leg stuck in rails. These two guys saw me and were having fits. Talk about embarrassing. There were all these guys looking at us and vice versa. Gees it was funny. A whole stack of them honestly. Three lots of them were nice. Two lots kept following us and then we followed these other three guys who were very nice. All we did was watch people and then they would look at us. It was really funny.

I was having good fun. Jo bought a black satin jump suit. Glenda reckoned she liked it. Sharon said she didn’t. 

Wednesday April 13 - Can’t go in the army, navy, or air force either

Well I’ve had a million and one let downs today. Firstly, Steve was on the train and I was facing the other way. The one time I decide not to look and he was on it. I saw him and waved. He saw me too but didn’t wave. Typical. Secondly, I got in B grade netball team at school. Boardman got in hockey, so did Jo. They get to wear the skirts too. Not fair. Thirdly, got a letter from Coles. Thought I got the job BUT it turned out to be a $1.60 tax thing return! Fourthly, got a letter from the police department. They have no Cadetship. Fifthly, can’t go in the army, navy, or air force either. Sixthly, have to go on at school. UGH. Seventhly, can’t go to the dance I desperately wanted to go to. Eighthly, I luv Steve and he doesn’t like me. Ninthly, I can’t take school much longer. Tenthly, I ABSOLUTELY LUV STEVE!!!!!

Thursday April 14I can’t go because my Daddy likes to think he’s God.

Ooops I’m getting a bit behind the date. Well tomorrow is the fantastic forum dance and I can’t go because my Daddy likes to think he’s God. With capitals. You know what that means! I have to wait two or more months to see Steve because there isn’t a dance in the holidays. Wouldn’t that just shit ya! God my parents drive me up the wall. Why do they have to be so unreasonable? If they ever read this, they’re being even more so. Serves themselves right. They shouldn’t be reading my private property. Graham nearly saw my pencil case and he kept trying to read it. All over it had ‘I luv Steven Lyons' and all this. Now Graham thinks it’s something about him. That’s a bit funny. I luv Steve, not him. Why or why can’t he like me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PS My little team is winning the comp. Fantastic eh? – 2 games!

Friday April 15 - Dad won’t let me go to Penrith to get a sloppy Joe

Well tonight I could have been at the dance. But I wasn’t. I wonder if Steve went. Probably. Why has everything piled up on me this week? Absolutely everything. I had a good ball last night. Dad won’t let me go to Penrith to get a sloppy Joe.

Then he called me out and we talked. He kept emphasising that if I have any problems I should come to him and all this. Trouble is, Dad isn’t at all sympathetic and what is important to me wouldn’t at all be important to him. Also, he talks too much. I say one word and he talks about that one word for one hour, I say 2 words and he talks for 2 hours. I can’t have a say cause he really won’t let me. He always has to talk, and I can’t bring myself to ask him questions and tell him problems. Seeya

Saturday April 16 - My little team played today and won 4-0. Isn’t that fantastic!

My little team played today and won 4-0. Isn’t that fantastic! And guess bloody what! It’s not counted. All that for - no it’s not for nothing, it’s very good practice for them. Gees I was proud. Wouldn’t it be absolutely fantastic if they won the grand finals! But I doubt that very much. We, the Tigers, won 57-16. Not bad. These three guys that were at the first dance this year were there. At first, they stayed to watch Daryn’s game. But then they came down to watch our game – most of it anyway. They left at the end of the third quarter. They were quite nice too. I should have said hello. I didn’t play too well either. Greg and Rod came and watched our game too. The last half when I was playing shooter. Always happens. Went over and talked to them. Mrs Peterson was there too. Football spunks. Glenda at milk bar. Steve didn’t go to the dance. Fantastic. I wonder why.

Sunday April 17 - I dropped him. He didn’t seem too enthusiastic about it.

Lex rang, and we had a little chat. I forgot he was supposed to come down today. I dropped him. He didn’t seem too enthusiastic about it. I said I’d meet him at the football, but I didn’t go. I should have. Gees I’m a bitch. He had some friends with him too. Glenda, Cathy and Michele went to the footy and they saw him. They came and visited me this arvo. They said he was with a blond chick. Woop woop. Well I must go. Seeya

Monday April 18 - Brown hair and eyes, good build

There’s a new guy who works down our street, he’s quite nice too. Brown hair and eyes, good build. He didn’t know where to go at first… was quite funny. Seeya.

Tuesday April 19 - Went to bloody typing. I hate it

That guy who passed today said, “Hello. How are you?” I didn’t hear. Glenda said hello and I just smiled. I’m trying to forget about Steve since I never see him. It’s not fair is it? Went to bloody typing. I hate it. It gives me the sh-ts. We’re not even leaning anything either. Just typing words. Wish I didn’t have to go. But of course, Mummy and Daddy don’t realise it’s a waste of time now. They’re too busy worrying about their waste of money. Seeya.

Wednesday April 20 - I’m in the B team. Degrading. We beat the A team 50-16

Sport today. I’m in the B team. Degrading. We beat the A team 50-16 OK. I suppose the A’s won 105-5 but they played the B team. No wonder. We’re having skirts now to rap around. We have to make our own patterns. I can imagine what mines gonna look like. Well Seeya.

Thursday April 21 - Jo and I are usheretting for Eat at Cinderella’s

Jo and I are usheretting for Eat at Cinderella’s. We have to wear real miniskirts – black. Black stockings, stiletto shoes, Eat at Cinderella’s shirts, black choker, white apron, and cap. I think it’s a good idea too. I can’t wait. Went shopping tonight. Bought the black material. Green and yellow socks, blue and white wool for hat and scarf. Couldn’t find white shirt. Went into Coles and talked a lot. And finally got the guts up to ask for a job. He turned me down. There were vacancies though! I know it. He just doesn’t like me. Talked to Greg and Rod. Greg likes Cath de Graff. They walked me to the station and the train. I don’t mind them that much raving on about other chicks but they were doing it too much and it really gave me the shits. It makes you feel really ugly. Probably cause I am. Seeya.

Friday April 22 - We just laid in bed and talked till honestly about 4 in the morning.

Jo, Julie and I saw Logan’s Run on Friday (that’s tonight). I thought it was really good. I’d like to see it again. They slept the night at my place. We drew straws at school. Jo and JB got the double bed and I got the mattress. Came home after Logan’s Run and had some hot coffee. Then we just laid in bed and talked till, honestly, about 4 in the morning. We got up at 8. Four hours sleep. Jo and JB kept going on about how they were getting sea sick and to keep on each other’s side of the bed. I had to keep breaking them up. It was really funny.  We got to the stage where we were too tired to sleep. But ended up sleeping anyway. Then Jo started going through all my clothes, excitement. Yes well. I quite enjoyed that night. Seeya.

                                                             Trailer: Logons Run

Saturday April 23 - My team won 2-0

Got up and gave Jo and JB breakfast in bed. Cheese on toast and a cup of tea. We sat and crocheted for a while then we got up and trotted off to the station. Got on the train and got off at Lapstone. We had to walk up the mountain again too. We got to the grounds then my team started arriving.  I introduced them all to Jo and JB, then we had to go so I said bye, seeya and off I went. My team won 2-0. They played pretty bad. I’m really worried about next week. I don’t know if we can beat the King Parrots. Gees I hope so. We, the Tigers, lost against Daryn Gordan's team. That was expected. Boy was I buggered. I mean really buggered.

Sunday April 24 - Got up at 12 this morning. Tiredness. Started on my skirt and finished it.

Monday April 25 - Made choker and sewed and crocheted. School tomorrow. UGH! Seeya

Tuesday April 26 – No diary entry.

Wednesday April 27 - "Gees, I like what's on your T shirt"

Today I had fantastic fun. Jo and I both got dressed for the matinee. All the little primary school were there. Also, a high school. It was really funny cause everyone was staring at us, especially the guys. The high school guys didn’t stop. It was really funny. They were a bit young though. 2nd formers, or 3rd. There was no real blond spunk. Two guys said, “gees I like what’s on your T shirt” and one chick pushed a guy forward and said, “here's your chance" and all this. It was great fun. Stewart and Fabrice looked really good too. You should have heard them go on. My God.  Everyone back stage said we looked good too. The night was just as fun only we got stuck outside. That blond guy from Waltons was there with his girlfriend. I said hello. Not many people turned up. Seeya.

Thursday April 28 - Since when do you thank someone for talking to you?

I had great fun tonight. Chunk and Rob and all them said I looked ravishing (that’ll be the day). The chicks at the door weren’t directing anyone so we copped the lot.  The first 10-15 minutes was bad. Bloomin Melody came in and made it to look our fault. I bet we don’t get the middle isle Saturday I just bet. OK$10.00. Game on.

This guy came and sat next to me and we had a good old rave. Blond – not bad, a funny sort of character, quite good looking. Told him I was 15 and he didn’t believe it. He certainly didn’t look it. When he left he said bye and "thanks for talking to me". Would you believe? Since when do you thank someone for talking to you? Oh well. Good kid. Eat at Cinderella’s was very good today. Well I had fantastic fun. I luv dressing up etc. Seeya.

Friday 29 - “Great show, fantastic” and all this, as if I should take the credit

Tonight, was even better. Ushering went really well. I had fantastic fun, ushering the guys especially. These three guys who were at netball were there. Also the guy who followed me at Coles once and at the dance came. Steven Lay (having a good perve) all ex 6th formers. One of the first 3 said hi (when I said hi first though). Steven Taylor was there. I heard him say, “there’s Petra”. The play was fantastic.  Two guys came up and went, “great show, fantastic” and all this, as if I should take the credit, so I said, “Yes well, it’s all my fault”. Steve hasn’t turned up and won’t either damn it. He was on the train this morning. Woop woop. Seeya.

Saturday April 30 - They reckon they came from Penrith just to see me

Well tonight was the last night at Eat at Cinderella’s. It was absolutely fantastic. I was in the middle aisle tonight. Great. One of the guys, one of the three that came yesterday, was there with some other guy. Gees they were funny, they really were. They reckon they came from Penrith just to see me. I bet. They have to hitchhike home tonight too. It’s bloomin freezing too! I talked to everyone and likewise it was great. Peter Sheen and them lot talked to me and stirred me, and then said I love myself. That hurt. I probably act like it.

The show went well. At the end they were thanking everyone, and we usherettes were the last mentioned. The spotlight went on Melody and Andree, Fab, and Steward. Howard (who was doing all the thanking) said we were beautiful. After it was all over, congrats was going around and I went for trondles and ended up talking to 'Me and Him' ( that’s what they call themselves, I don’t even know their names, they know mine). Rob was there too. Glen and me had a good rave, then we went out of the hall and froze to death, drank a bit (we were supposed to have a party but it sort of didn’t work out).

Then we went home. Well in the car was – the front seat – me, the guy, Helen, Jimmy, Mr Simpson. In the second seat was me Robert, Him, (on top of us all). Donna and boyfriend, Rob Wallace, and in the very back was little Alan Wallace, Brad Cabel and someone else (I can’t remember who). We were yelling and singing and laughing and God it was funny. Then the fuzz was right in front of us. They dropped me off. Me (the guy) is really nice to talk to. Great lad. In all we had fantastic fun; we might be doing it for Jesmond. Wouldn’t that be great?

Video: Top single in April 1977 - Don't Give Up on Us Baby by David Soul

May 1977

Sunday May 1 - Worked today. Both house and home.

Monday May 2 - Did nothing today. Netball training for my little team. Seeya.

Tuesday May 3 – No diary entry

Wednesday May 4 - I don’t like him as much now. Wonder why he came down. Wish he hadn’t had left it so long.

Guess what! Well this morning I was walking to the station and I heard a whistle. I looked up and saw Steve on the stairs! I said "Hi. What are you doing here?” He said he rode his bike down and pointed to his new bike. But I looked in the wrong place. I found it and it’s yellow. OK. I said, “you got your hair cut” and he said, “yeah, it looks terrible”. I said, “no it doesn’t. It looks good”. Then he said something else. I said, “I can’t hear you”. So he came down! He told me he got his bike stolen, and then the train came and he had to go. I asked him why he came down to the station and he mumbled something but had to go cause of the train. Well wasn’t that exciting! I don’t like him as much now. Wonder why he came down. Wish he hadn’t had left it so long.

Anyway, today in sport we were supposed to play Nepean but when we got there Jamison wouldn’t let us use the courts because of Rep so we waited a round for an hour. Then walked to the tennis courts in Penrith and sat there for 2 hours and no buses came. The Mr Dillan came and said we missed the bus so Debbie Weir and I raced to the station to catch the train. And when we got there it had been cancelled, so we had to wait an hour for the next one.  That spunk with gorgeous brown eyes is back. He must have gone on holidays. SPUNK. Talked to him and his friend. Heard them talk about me. Michael O’Donnell talked to me most and on the train. All St Dennis kids had a good geek. Tonight Wain rang and we had a god chat. Wanted to know if I was playing Rep but I’m a big girl now. They got home on Saturday and Sunday. He said he’d see me when he sees me. Excitement. Overall I had a good day I spose, considering everything. Gees I wish Steve hadn’t have got his hair cut. Left it so long. Oh well. Seeya.

Thursday May 5 - "When will we see her again”

Steve was on train and he waved. Wain rang again, Mac was with him, so was this new kid (he was really weird). They were so funny. I was killing myself. They were going to go to Gaven’s party but when I told them I wasn’t going they changed their mind. Told them about 3 weeks no netball and Mac said, “when will we see her again?” So I invited them up sometime in the holidays. They said they’d come back on the weekend. So we’ll see what happens. Seeya.

Friday May 6Breakup - HOORAY

Saturday May 7 - Dad offered them a drink and raved on about how anything in skirts goes

Wain rang again with mac.  Had a long stupid conversation. I got a bit hesitant towards the end. They didn’t believe I lived near the Beatles in England or anything else I said. It was funny through. Wain sounds a bit boring over the phone. I probably do to him because I know I sound boring in real life. They’re coming down on Wednesday. Mums playing golf. That’s good. Something will go wrong. Either Mum won’t play golf or they won’t come up. I bet anything they don’t turn up. I bet! Oh well, must go. Last night, Dads birthday, Wain Humphreys and Peter Ryan came up. Dad offered them a drink and raved on about how anything in skirts goes. We sat in the lounge room and talked. If I had have asked to go to the party, it could have been retribution no. 2, but no I didn’t talk. All I did was maintain it. Glad Wain and Peter dropped in. It made me feel good. Seeya.

Sunday May 8 - He said he’s got a lot of money (though it didn’t matter to me)

Guess who rang today. Steve. He has a day off tomorrow and he asked me out to the pictures. I said I’d like to go but I had to tell him to ring back cause Dad had to think about it. Well he thought about it and he said ‘yes’. Steve rang back. He’s coming around tomorrow on his bike and we’re going in by train at 9.35. He said he’s got a lot of money (though it didn’t matter to me). We’re deciding tomorrow what to see. Guess I’m scared. I bet I have a dreadful time. I wish he hadn’t have got his hair cut. I liked it the way it was. Oh well. Another experience. Let’s just hope it turns out ok. Well Seeya.

Monday May 9 - They all kiss the same to me 

Steve came around a bit late but we made the train. It was 15 minutes late. Mark Downard and Wendy Horton were at the station. Looks. Chat. Just my luck I had to get the same carriage as 'these girls and that lot'. They'll tell Wain that I went out with Steve, and they won't come around on Wednesdays anymore. I bet $10 they don't come around. Well anyway, we had to stand up all the way into Sydney. Got off the train and had some hot chocolate. 

Then we walked to George Street to see what pictures we wanted to see. We were going to see Carrie but it was on at 3.00pm and we wouldn't have made it in time, so we ended up seeing F.J Holden. It was dirty, vile, disgusting, weak and absolutely useless. The acting as bad (held in Bankstown) and the whole lot was just absolutely terrible. Oh well. We went to MacDonalds and Steve had a Junior Burger. I had nothing. After the film we went to the Chrystal Palace, where they have pinballs and all that. I had some goes on it. 

Video trailer: The F J Holden.

After the Chrystal Palace I put my hand on a sexometer. I got, 'easily excited'. Steve got, 'passionate'. We went to Pizza Hut and had a big pizza and coffee. Very nice. Then we just wandered around Sydney. We went to a cafe and bought two doughnuts each, and tea, and fed the pigeons. Steve tried to buy me a necklace but I refused.  We got on a train and Steve was drawing all these pictures. I was having fits. He is a FANTASTIC drawer. He really is. He used to work for Hanna Barbera. 

We walked home. I invited Steve inside. He stayed for two hours talking. Then finally he went home without saying goodbye to Mum and Dad. He flooded his motorbike, and before he went he asked for a kiss goodnight and so I gave him a kiss. Average. They all kiss the same to me. In the theatre he had his arm around me etc. Had a fairly good day. Steve is a really nice guy. Something's wrongs. Seeya. 

Tuesday May 10 - Did homework today. Woop. Seeya

Wednesday May 11 - Jenny broke the lock to the door and I broke quite a few pot plants

Wain and Mac came around today. God they’re funny. I was in stitches. They stayed from about 12 to 4. I had fights with them but they won of course. I certainly wouldn’t anyway. Jenny broke the lock to the door and I broke quite a few pot plants and made a mess but cleared it up again. At least it gave me a day’s rest. Seeya.

Thursday May 12 - Steve rang and asked to watch my little team and I play but I told him not to and we weren’t playing anyway. Then he went. Wain and Mac rang.

Friday May 13 - Wain and Mac rang. Did homework.

Saturday May 14 - Stayed all day and boy was I bored stiff.

Did homework again today and it’s raining. Finally finished homework. Wain and Mac rang. Went to Tante Marie’s to pick up Oma. Stayed all day and boy was I bored stiff. Then we went to the Leagues Club and I had to wait for them. Never again. Believe me. Never again.

Sunday May 15 - Did nothing, Wain rang, Finished homework.

Monday May 16 - Raining. Wain rang and asked me out to the pictures, but I invited him around instead. Fighting with Mummy Dear.

Thursday May 17 - Still fighting with Mummy Dear. Wain came around with Mac. I bet if I had have gone to the pictures with 'them', Mac wouldn’t have turned up. We went to Glenda's and stayed a long time, then when we left Glenda came too. Wain rang again later.

Wednesday May 14 - Sunday night she came in and turned the TV off for no reason at all

Got a letter from Greg. Wrote back. Still fighting with Mummy, b’tch. Ever since Oma came she’s changed completely. She’s a real b’tch now and won’t get off our backs. And whenever you try to explain, she says “I don’t want to hear”. Sunday night she came in and turned the TV off for no reason at all.  We were half way through the movie too. Seeya.

Thursday May 19 - I went out of the shop and called him a poofta

Went to Penrith today. Gary’s back at the station. Jenny came with me. Met Julie there. She’s come back from Queensland and had a good time. Bought some wool and lip-gloss. Went into the shoe shop where that poofta works and he said, “I don’t remember any such credit" or anything and he couldn’t even remember me or what the shoe business was all about and all this, and that I’d lost my credit lip. DAMN IT. I went out of the shop and called him a 'poofta' and everything and told him I’d be back, which I probably won’t because Dad can’t do anything about it. He’s already saved me once. Tomorrow I'm hopefully going to Parramatta, that’s if Mummy decides not to let me go because of our fight. She’ll tell Daddy and we’ll get copped for her b’tchiness.

Friday May 20 - I went into the shoe shop and had a massive fight with that bloke 

Went to Parramatta today. I wore my cotton dress and chocker. Firstly I went to Penrith and got my money our of the bank. Then went to the station to see the spunk in the ticket office. Yum!! There was an accident at the station. Went to dee Dogs. Gees it was good.  I was so scared I didn't see half the movie. My face was buried in my knees. Really gorey and blood thirsty. UGH. It was fantastic. 

Movie Trailer: Dogs.

There were these dickheads behind me and they kept following me. On the way two guys asked me to donate some money so I did.  Then I went to Westfield. There wasn't anything there today.  I bought a brown scarf, but I couldn't find a cheap belt. I bought a rose too but its too small for my hair. Oh well. I met up with Chunk, David, Hollie and that lot. Talked to them for a while. Then I caught  a train to Penrith and Wain from Coles was on it. Talked to him. Then I went into Coles and sad hello to everyone and to Mr Valenze. Gee he's nice. Wish I was still working there. BUM it's not fair. I hate that new manager. What a poofta. I went into the shoe shop and had a massive fight with that bloke but because he knew more tricks in the book, he won. I went out saying I'd get my money back no matter what but I knew I wouldn't because there's no way. Wish I hadn't lost my credit slip. Takes me. When I got off that guy with the blond hair at the station, in the mornings, stopped and talked to me, He's a bit of a square. Well, didn't really have a good day. Seeya.

Saturday May 21 - Worked today and fought with Mum. Seeya.

Sunday May 22  and Monday 23After all, what will the neighbours think. 

My little netball team: the Wrens
Well today I got the shock and surprise of my life. I was training my little team and I saw these guys walking down the court. I thought, "oh yeah" and kept training my team. Then they got closer and I turned around and you'd never guess who it was..... Glen and Tony from Q.L.D!  I couldn't believe it. I screamed, "what are you doing here!!!" etc etc. Then I walked off leaving my little team behind. Then I remembered them and went back and said good bye and forgot my ball.  

Anyway, we got into the car (me in the middle) and went back to my place. I still couldn't believe they were here. Went inside and introduced them to Mum, then started to make them a cup of tea but Jenny needed a lift up the shops so they drove us up there, then we came back and had tea and biscuits and talked. Tony hasn't changed, not as good looking as at Norths. Glenn's beard has gotten more but I like it better the other way. Still nice though. 

Introduced them to Dad and they had a beer and a yap. Dad persuaded them to stay for tea, so I went out and cooked them mince. Later they came out and devoured two cans of beer and Oma was having a wet. I showed them photos from QLD. Then Glenn got my photo album but I got it back - too embarrassing. We had tea. I'm not sure if they liked it. Tony ate all his. Glen left a little. Then we went back to the lounge room cause the others were having tea. 

Tony and Glen had a rave about CB radio's. Glen and Tony have a CB radio. While they were having tea we went down into the car to talk on the CB. Glen and Tony on both sides of me. Tony got on it first and had a rave. Then I got on it. I had to say, "ZX, ZX, this is The Passionfruit calling, ZX on 1.1. Can I have a copy. Come on!" and all this, Gees it was funny. Then I came in on a breaker and I got someone who lives up the road and some others: Gemeni 1; Rover1; etc. We had a good old yarn and then someone got on and said, "these fourth formers that think they're real funny" Because one of them said is your last name Fide? I said "no, its celli". Anyway, this guy who called himself, 'Dave' got on and reckoned he was in 6th form and knew me and knew my phone number and all this. He said that I knew him once but don't really now. He said, "Dave knows everything". They asked me if I was a WYL and a YI ( spunk, chick, married). Meanwhile, Tony and Glen were killing themselves laughing. Me too. 

Then Dad kept calling me inside so finally I had to go. I said goodnight and off I went. All night, Tony especially, was being foul. Anyway, they slept the night in their panel van in the driveway. Mum had a shit at me cause I said I saw her looking out the window, and she said not to bring anymore guys into the house etc. After all, what will the neighbours think. Fantastic day. That made my whole week. Fancy them driving all the way from QLD. Incredible!

Tuesday May 24Bet anything they don’t come back. I just bet

Got up early and got dressed, then I went down and woke Glenn and Tony up. They didn't want breakfast, not coffee or tea. So I asked them how they slept etc. Then I went to school. Glenda didn’t come. Talked to everyone at school. Excitement. Wain rang last night also. Got home and Mum said they drove out this morning and Tony and Glenn followed, and said they were going into Sydney and wouldn’t be back for a couple of days. They’re going on Thursday. I bet anything they don’t come back. School dance tomorrow. Went to Penrith. Finally found a belt and brown rose. Got on station and Steve got off train and we stopped and talked. I said I’d be back cause I had to go to the loo. Then I came back and he said he had to get some tea and as far as I can see he never came back, although I was talking to Gayle. Dave Taylor talked to me too. Saw other kids. Got a lift home with Gayle. Seeya.

Wednesday May 25I explained that I didn’t like going to dances tied down

School dance tonight. Tony and Glenn aren’t back and won’t be. I wore my satin pit suit, brown belt and scarf and rose.  Everybody liked it and I got stacks of compliments. Jo and JB didn’t go. Debbie did but stayed with Chris most of the time. Adam Croser stayed with me a fair while. Then he asked me if I would stay with him all night or not, cause he wanted to know where he stood. So I explained that I didn’t like going to dances tied down. They keyboard player of the Startlighters kept giving me the eye. What a stir. Likewise. Then Wain Humphreys kept giving me compliments, and then he came straight at me and kissed me. He tried again but I said I had something in my eye, which I did. It was very funny. These 6th formers kept following me. We had a good stir. I found out it was David Neil on the CB radio, not Dave Goetze. I talked to him about that too. First, he played dumb, but then he said, "Dave knows everything". The dance was OK. Not enough people though. Seeya.

Thursday May 26 OH Jesus the most terrible thing has happened. Steven Grunders got hit by a car

OH Jesus the most terrible thing has happened. Steven Grunders got hit by a car at Katoomba the night I saw him on the train and wished him luck. He’s in a critical condition and is clinically dead. He’s in a coma and if he survives he’ll be a vegetable! Oh my God I can’t believe it. Poor Steven. He’s such a nice guy. Poor Mandy. Poor Mr and Mrs Grunts, they’ve already seen him through an open-heart transplant. What makes me sick is that he was hit by a 19-year-old drunken driver at 70 miles an hour. HOW BLOODY STUPID. Mark  Wilmet gave him mouth to mouth and is in shock. Oh God how can this happen. I mean, I was just talking to him. He can’t die. Oh God, please don’t let him die, or be a vegetable. He can’t. It isn’t possible. It can’t be real. I can’t accept that he’s gonna die. Please don’t let him die. Lord Please!! I’ll pray for him tonight. I swear.

Tony and Glen haven’t come back. They’re probably in QLD or on their way. Bye now.

Friday May 27 - He’s dead. He died last night. Oh God why? Why Stephen. Please tell me. Why did you do it? 

He’s dead. He died last night. Oh God why? Why Stephen. Please tell me. Why did you do it? I found out this morning. Helen asked Mark Wilmet and then he told me. I burst into tears and went to the library. Jo, Debbie and JB followed and we discussed dying and all this and burst out crying again and ran out of the library. Then on assembly Mulheron got up and announced his death, pronounced his name wrong, and when he died wrong. I burst out crying. His sister was behind me and she burst out crying. Went into history crying. And so did Helen, and so we went to sick bay, where Judy, Tracey, Lola, and Jenny were crying also. Afterwards we had a big discussion and I felt better, but I don’t know. Why oh why did it have to be him? Such a nice guy. The last thing he said to Mandy was “I love you”. Mrs Grunts said the last one and a half months were the happiest of his life. Mandy takes it well. I’ve been in a shit all day and am going to his funeral on Monday. Oh Lord I’d give anything to have Grunts back. Anything. It’s not bloody fair. Why! Why! Why!

Wain rang drunk. I had the shits with him and hung up. Upset about Stephen.

Monday May 30 - God. Why did you do it? Why? What did he do to you? You bastard, I don’t believe in you anyway.

Well today was Stephens’s funeral. My God it was horrible. Mr Cabell picked me up and we went to St Finbarr’s. Michael O’Donnell was there and the other St Dom’s boys. When I saw the Hearse and all these flowers everywhere I nearly cracked up. We went inside and sat down and everyone arrived. Then I realised that Stephen’s coffin was right in front of us, and when I saw it I cracked up. I didn’t like the priest. He was too casual about it. I balled all the way through and couldn’t read the hymns etc. through my tears.

Bloody this guy got up and pretended he was a Catholic and took communion. The lying good for nothing fake b’tard. The worst part of the sermon was when they picked up his coffin and carried it down the aisle. I balled my eyes out. I couldn’t take the fact that Steve was inside. They put the coffin in the car with the flowers and I was howling like anything. Jim Mackenzie came up and held my hand, put his arm around me and comforted me which was really nice cause I was so upset I needed someone. Then everyone was just standing around.

The guards of honour lined up and so did our school and everyone else, so the hearse could drive through. I balled again. Then we went to Pinegrove. On the expressway there was the hearse, the black car the Gruntz’s were in, a whole string of cars, stacks of them, and everyone was having a good perve. We got to Pinegrove which was quite a nice cemetery and we got out.

Stephen’s basketball team carried the coffin to the burial place and everyone gathered around this massive hole. They put the coffin on these levers and gradually lowered it down. I couldn’t stand the thought of walking all over those dead bodies. And that Stephen would soon be joining them.  As he disappeared into the ground I balled again and so was everyone. Then they put this big wreath to cover it. Mr and Mrs Gruntz threw some dirt down into the hole (ashes to ashes, dust to dust and all that) and then this other lady threw some flowers down. I had to cover my ears cause I couldn’t stand the sound of it going down and hitting the earth where Grunts will now lie forever. Then I had another crack up and everybody gradually left.

Mr Blackwell felt really bad cause he usually drives the basketball team to Katoomba, and just this once he couldn’t. After that, went to the loo at the crematorium and went home. On the way up, nobody said a word, and on the way back, nobody said a word. Walked home and have been a shit ever since. God. Why did you do it? Why? What did he do to you? You bastard, I don’t believe in you anyway. All you are to me is someone I ask questions and implore from, and now look at the damage you’ve done. And you do it every day. Why!!!!

We named our three new chooks, Grunts, Grunt, and Grundies.

Netball. Lost. Wain was there.

Tuesday May 31 - Nothing happened today. Still upset about poor Stephen.

Top Single in May 1977: Don't Cry For Me Argentina by Julie Convington

Written By Petra Campbell

Twitter: @petraau

The research for these posts are found as links in the body of the text.


  1. Great read Petra. Took me back to my youth in Melbourne's East. I to felt the pain of friends smashed by alcohol and cars. I laughed at the thought of wondering why that girl wouldn't look at me should I say something yeah nah, she was probably thinking the same thing. I cant wait to get my daughter (20yo) to read. I'm sure she'll say I'm just like your dad. THANKS

  2. I didn't think the link to my comments page worked LOL. Thanks so much for reading. One thing I discovered from subsequent school reunions is everyone thought everyone else was up to something they weren't actually up to - mostly. I started writing this for my kids because some things don't change with time ;-)