Starting From Scratch: Thursday, 17th November, 1977

I met a Cypriot at work today. He asked me if I knew anything of Cyprus. “Nicosia, Famagusta…” I replied. He told me that he was from Famagusta. With the thought that I’d done rather well, I pushed my luck by volunteering to draw a map of the island on a sheet of paper. He, however, was unimpressed with my effort and drew a detailed one that showed the Greek and Turkish parts.

He is from the northern territory where he had owned twenty-three flats — in two blocks, each six storeys high — before he lost the lot in the Turkish invasion. He is starting all over again, here in Australia!

We gave a workmate of Tiki’s a lift home to Ramsgate as clouds threatened to storm. En route I told him of how, in 1970, it had cost me but two dollars to see The Beach Boys play for ninety minutes as the audience sat on the extremely hard wooden floor of the disused bowling alley in Corrimal. Even he stated that that had been “unreal” value.

It began to rain as I opened the doors to our garage, but it was destined to only continue for half an hour. I watched some of the Colgate ladies’ tennis on Channel Seven. Jeanne Evert, Chris’s plump sister, won her match. On “Willesee”, at seven o’clock, presenter, Paul Makin, interviewed John Denver, who is in Brisbane.

During our walk we stopped at the Gymea Hotel and purchased a bottle of Kahlua coffee liqueur at a cost of ten dollars. The hotel is owned by the former boxing champion, Vic Patrick. We tried to dodge the puddles on the way home, as stars shone above.

Take Two!: Monday, 12th December, 1977

Tiki suddenly remembered that it is the second anniversary of our marriage and immediately accused me of having forgotten this fact as well — which I had!

The early overcast cleared to a warm sunny day. The now open blister, that was caused when my finger stuck fast to a coil in our fridge, is now oozing a watery pus.

After work, Tiki drove to Manly. She parked the car in Wentworth Street and we walked down one side of the relatively new Corso Plaza before doing likewise on the other. Turning to the left, we headed northwards, past the large area of flat land on the corner where the old, white Pacific Hotel once stood. At North Steyne’s dressing sheds our course was altered by one hundred and eighty degrees — give or take a couple — and we set our bearings for K’s Snapper Inn, which we reached by half past five.

Because the restaurant was several minutes late in opening, an old grey-headed bloke, who was dependent upon a walking-stick and wore a gaily coloured shirt, began to knock impatiently on the door. Once inside, we were seated in the lower section and one table back from the front windows.

Tiki ordered calamari as an entree while I selected scallops kebab and a half-litre carafe of rose. I swapped my bacon for some of her chewy calamari. Tiki had a whole, grilled lemon sole and I, a whole flounder. My dessert consisted of pavlova served with ice-cream while Tiki had opted for the banana fritters. A cappuccino each rounded off our meal.

An obese lady, who had been to Canada and the United States, sat opposite us and talked to a young woman about her travels. At one point I heard her state that Australia has the best beaches in the world.

My chair backed on to that of the criminologist, Dr Gordon Hawkins, whom I recognised from “Casebook”, the television series that is compered by Geoff Stone. Dr Hawkins twice left his seat and in the fairly cramped conditions apologised on both occasions for the fact that his chair had made contact with mine. He appears to be about sixty years of age and was wearing a green safari suit over a pink shirt.

Having paid the bill of twenty-two dollars and twenty cents, we departed to walk to Queenscliff Beach and the green seat on the foreshore at which I’d proposed to Tiki on the fourth of November in 1975. She, not altogether unexpectedly, had me re-enact my original proposal.

It was half past nine before we arrived home. Tiki turned on Channel Two to watch the old movie, “Sherlock Holmes”, which features Basil Rathbone, only to fall asleep about half of the way through it.

Annoying Habit: Tuesday, 13th December, 1977

I was compelled to arise on four occasions this morning between twenty-two past three and half past five, stricken by diarrhoea and pains in the stomach. It was only twenty-two past six when I awoke for the final time. The morning was bright and clear, with a maximum temperature of twenty-five degrees Celsius forecast. Tiki, too, feels unwell.

This afternoon we received a letter from my sister, Susan and brother-in-law, Roger, who live in Melbourne. She states that our father, who is known to me as “Brutus”, recently turned up, unannounced, on the doorstep of their unit in South Yarra and proceeded to stay for five days.

This evening, in the Australian series of the decade past, “Skippy”, Tony Bonner’s character is involved in a crash when he wrongfully uses the park’s helicopter to rendezvous with a girl.

“Mum” drew my attention to the fact that I possess the annoying habit of humming at the dining table. She stated that Tiki’s elder sister used to do the same.

Despite my torrid early morning, I remained up until twenty to one as I caught up on my diary and wrote Christmas cards in front of the movie, “The Ski Bum”, on Channel Seven. The English actress, Charlotte Rampling, is a member of its cast.

The Top 40 Fantasies: No. 13

  1. Gimme Some Loving (1966) The Spencer Davis Group
  2. Not One Minute More (1959) Della Reese
  3. Boogie Woogie On A Saturday Night (1951) Steve Gibson and The Red Caps
  4. Saginaw, Michigan (1964) Lefty Frizzell
  5. Did You Ever See A Dream Walking? (1933) Eddy Duchin and his Orchestra, vocalist Lew Sherwood
  6. Mr. Lonely (1964) Bobby Vinton
  7. 9To 5/Morning Train (1980) Sheena Easton
  8. Goody-Goody (1936) Benny Goodman and his Orchestra, vocalist: Helen Ward
  9. More Than I Can Say (1961) Bobby Vee
  10. Don’t Knock My Love – Pt. 1 (1971) Wilson Pickett
  11. My Whole World Is Falling Down (1963) Brenda Lee
  12. Nobody’s Child (1969) Karen Young
  13. Three Steps To Heaven (1960) Eddie Cochran
  14. The Caravan Of Love (1985) Isley-Jasper-Isley
  15. Hello Darlin’ (1970) Conway Twitty
  16. You’ll Always Be A Friend (1972) Hot Chocolate
  17. Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1965) Patti Page
  18. Concerto For Clarinet (1941) Artie Shaw and his Orchestra
  19. Soul Kind Of Feeling (1984) The Dynamic Hepnotics
  20. I Wouldn’t Live In New York City (If They Gave Me The Whole Dang Town) (1970) Buck Owens and The Buckaroos
  21. Together (1928) Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra, vocalist: Jack Fulton
  22. Starman (1972) David Bowie
  23. I’m Not A Juvenile Delinquent (1957) Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers
  24. Smoke Stack Lightnin’ (1956) Howlin’ Wolf
  25. Together (1961) Connie Francis
  26. Nobody’s Child (1967) Hank Williams Jr.
  27. 1984 (1970) Spirit
  28. The Fire Brigade (1968) The Move
  29. Bonfire Heart (2013) James Blunt
  30. Abergavenny (1968) Marty Wilde (Kim Wilde’s father)
  31. On The Beach (In The Summertime) (1970) The 5th Dimension
  32. I’ve Had It (1959) The Bell Notes
  33. No Charge (1974) Melba Montgomery
  34. Let’s Stomp (1963) Bobby Comstock
  35. Dick-A-Dum-Dum (King’s Road) (1969) Des O’Connor
  36. Rock Lobster (1980) The B-52’s
  37. The Only Way Is Up (1988) Yazz
  38. Vicious Games (1985) Yello
  39. Hot N Cold (2008) Katy Perry
  40. The Shag (Is Totally Cool) (1959) Billy Graves

Peter McCann

Peter McCann was born in Connecticut, in March of 1948. His finest year as a singer and songwriter became 1977 when Jennifer Warnes took his composition, “Right Time Of The Night”, to No.6 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

“Do You Wanna Make Love”, Peter’s one and only hit, came in the middle of that year when it reached its zenith at No.5. In the process the single sold in excess of a million copies.

Apparently, in South Africa, “Do You Wanna Make Love” topped the chart. In Australia, it entered the chart in August before it advanced to sit at No.19.

‘…A Bus Ticket Will Do’: Wednesday, 14th December, 1977

Despite having awoken at twenty past six from a sound sleep, I still felt quite exhausted. In fact, I did what I seldom do, that is return to slumber but only until twenty-two minutes to seven, by which time the “2KY News” had been and gone. When I decided to stretch in the kitchen, I must have pinched a nerve in my upper back. Fortunately, the resultant acute discomfort gradually began to ease as the day wore on. The temperature was twenty-one degrees Celsius, as we made our way to work, with the maximum forecast to reach that of thirty-two.

The last race on the card at Rosehill Racecourse was declared a ‘no race’ after an attendant had accidentally pushed the ‘no-race’ button.

Tiki and I donned the same clothes that we had worn to her birthday party and departed to collect her parents and accompany them to Kamahl’s concert at the Opera House. The night out was intended to be our Christmas present to the pair. “Mum” informed Tiki that her father was in an awful mood. He had arrived home from a do he had attended in Wollongong last night, reeking of alcohol and with the admittance that he had gambled on the pokies, for what must be the first time in his life! This peeved “Mum”, as he doesn’t permit her to play on them when they go out together.

“Dad” informed us as he entered our car that he felt “buggered”. With that admission out in the open he proceeded to be restless for the entire journey although, admittedly, it did feel quite uncomfortable to be travelling in such heat.

Having positioned the ‘Galant’ in the queue at the entrance to the parking station between Circular Quay and the Opera House, I was soon to learn that not only would our car be parked for me, we would be called upon to produce the fee of two dollars and fifty cents, in advance. Both demands raised disquiet in me, but not to the degree it would have had I known that hours later we would return to the vehicle and find it to be unlocked, with the keys in its ignition.

We walked to the Concert Hall and up the stairs to door fourteen. It wasn’t until we were seated that I observed others looking at their programmes. Wanting to make it a special night for our guests, I firstly became angry with myself and then Tiki over the fact that we hadn’t so much as asked the pair if they had wanted one.

Tiki, who usually carries all of our money when we venture out, was so slow to produce the two dollars that were necessary in order to purchase one that her father had long had the amount in hand. This culminated in my impatience and my irritability — at the way the evening had unfolded to that point — getting the better of me and I loudly instructed her to hurry up.

Money in hand, I told the usher at the door to remember me and left on the long walk down to the foyer. The programme was accompanied by a forty-five r.p.m. record, “Christmas With Kamahl”. Returning to my seat five minutes before the show commenced, I removed my coat because of the heat. This didn’t make me feel out of place, for “Dad” hadn’t so much as donned his at all!

With the Concert Hall’s seating about seventy-five per cent occupied and those seats which are located at the rear of the stage completely empty, the first half of the concert proceeded at a slow tempo. Kamahl sang Dave Mills’ hit of 1971, “Love Is A Beautiful Song” and gave all of us the chance to ‘sing at the Sydney Opera House’ by joining in. “Let Me Be There”, Olivia Newton-John’s hit of 1973/’74, was sung prior to Kamahl’s introduction of harpist, Alice Giles, to the stage. Her performance, at the age of just sixteen, sounded like a meritorious one to me and, upon its conclusion, she told of how she dearly wanted to purchase her own harp. Whilst Alice told of how she’d already saved the sum of two thousand dollars towards her fulfilment of this goal, she also explained that she still had much saving ahead of her as a new harp costs between eight and nine thousand dollars.

Kamahl sang a song without the use of the microphone, in order to demonstrate the power in his voice. He was born in Kuala Lumpur of Sri Lankan parentage and emigrated to Australia in 1957. He told of how he used to sing in talent quests in Adelaide, with the “Amateur Hour” being one of those brought to mention.

During the interval, we adjourned to the top level where we assuaged our thirsts to some degree with an orange juice each at the combined cost of two dollars. We gents used the modern individual urinals. I also took the opportunity to comb my hair, however, when I had raised my arms to do so, the top button flew off my new brown coat. As this was only the second time that I’d worn it and as it had cost me eighty-five dollars, I was displeased to say the least!

The second half of the concert featured the three women and one man that are The Claire Poole Singers. The vocal group excellently performed its renditions of such songs as “Amazing Grace” and “Harmony”. A barefooted Kamahl, clad in a kaftan, re-emerged to sing his last bracket of songs. My three companions weren’t completely honest when he asked for those who hadn’t been to the Opera House before to raise their hands. This concluding segment included “Are You Lonesome To-night?”, which I believe dates back to the 1920s, “The Impossible Dream” from the musical, ‘The Man Of La Mancha’ and ended with “My Way”. “Old Man River”, from the musical, ‘Show Boat’, was sung as an encore.

Tonight’s concert was Kamahl’s twenty-third at the Opera House since November, 1973. I didn’t say anything to the others, but there was nowhere near the atmosphere that there was when I attended the double bill which featured Cliff Richard and Harry Secombe on the night of the twenty-first of October, 1973; just one day after Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, had officially opened the building.

However, Kamahl possesses an enviable philosophy and outlook on life and is presently assisting the National Parks and Wildlife Foundation. As we walked back to the parking station, we passed those people who were queuing to receive Kamahl’s autograph. He’d earlier told the audience in regard to this: ‘You don’t really need to have a programme or a new album…a bus ticket will do.’

Although I was nearly falling asleep, due to fatigue, I still drove home. “Dad” had dozed through the greater part of the concert’s second half.

Temperatures Rise: Thursday, 15th December, 1977

I awoke slowly from twenty-four past six. Perhaps I still wasn’t fully awake for, as I lifted my leg over the rim of the bath, I stubbed my right little toe. Tiki, who’s not known to me for her sympathy, remarked that at least it would take my mind off my finger and back.

Matters didn’t improve because I reversed the ‘Galant’ into one of the gates across the entrance to our driveway. This occurred because Tiki, who had brought in our garbage bin, had failed to leave the gate fully open. Contact left some white paint on the bumper-bar, but hadn’t really caused much damage either to the gate or the bumper. Although the external temperature was already twenty-four degrees and en route to thirty-two, I could sense that my bodily reading was rising much faster from its base of thirty-seven degrees!

This is the final day of school for the year for those children who attend public schools in New South Wales. In another piece of trivia, it costs eighteen cents to purchase a stamp for a letter of an average size, if it is to be delivered nationally.

We partook of Christmas drinks at Tiki’s parents’ after work. However, due to the fact that I’m to undergo a blood test tomorrow, I drank only low-calorie lemonade. When “Dad” and his other son-in-law began to talk about the engines of vehicles, I took that as my cue to ease out from between them and went to converse with the ladies in the kitchen.

“Mum”, who became aware last night of just how expensive a new harp can be, exclaimed in jest, ‘Tiki expects me to get her a new harp for Christmas!’

I continued the jocularity by exclaiming, “Yes. She’s been harping about it for sometime!”

No Laughing Matter: Friday, 16th December, 1977

“Mum” rang at a quarter past nine to ask me to call in “sometime this afternoon” to collect perishable foodstuffs, for tomorrow they depart for Wyangala Dam. Before I left to visit the doctor, 2KY’s George Gibson played David “Starsky and Hutch” Soul’s hit of the past few months, “Silver Lady”.

In the waiting room a loud-mouthed, middle-aged blonde spinster, who wore a straw hat, began to earbash an elderly couple about her two weeks’ holiday in Tahiti that is due to commence on Sunday. Then she started to tell another woman about how the headmaster had pulled off a jackpot as he was playing on a poker machine at the staff’s end-of-year gathering last night and of how he had fed most of his winnings straight back into the machines.

I was the sixth patient to be called and informed my doctor that I have walked seven hundred miles since April, to which she exclaimed, “You must have worn down all the roads in New South Wales!”

The radio was playing beside my head and as the needle penetrated my skin to take a sample of my blood, at nine minutes to midday, the announcement was being made on 2CH that Peter Coleman had become the new leader of the Liberal Party in New South Wales. He replaces Sir Eric Willis who stepped down yesterday.

Shortly after ten minutes to four, I witnessed the left-handed batsman, David Hookes, receive a fracture to his jaw when he attempted to hook a delivery from Andy Roberts, in World Series Cricket’s “Super Test 2”, which is being played at the Sydney Showground. Hookes, with eighty-one runs beside his name, was assisted from the field as blood streamed from his mouth.

At four o’clock, the presenter of Channel Ten’s “Right On”, Kobe Steele, introduced Bonnie Tyler’s follow-up to “Lost In France”, “It’s A Heartache”. Although I’d not heard it before, I immediately deemed it to be an outstanding recording. The single is reportedly selling at a rate of twenty thousand copies per day in London.

It was a quarter to five when a chap in his late forties came to our front door. In his words I’d come to the door ‘too quickly’ and this had startled him. He enquired into whether I would be interested in a service that cleans carpets and after I’d told him that I wasn’t he changed the subject to that of large clouds of plume-like smoke and asked if I’d heard anything about a serious bushfire on the news.

“They haven’t mentioned anything in the coverage of the cricket!” I replied and we both laughed. Later, I learned that it was, indeed, no laughing matter.

The Indian batsmen are scoring almost without restraint against Australia’s bowlers in the Second Test, which is being played in Perth. After “I Love Lucy”, at six, we watched the news on Channel Seven. “Willesee” included a report on what will be tomorrow, the tenth anniversary of the disappearance of the then Prime Minister, Harold Holt, at Cheviot Beach in Portsea, Victoria. Another brought the latest on the bushfires that surround Sydney, as well as the unofficial report that six people had died and three houses had been lost to the fires which continue to burn in the Blue Mountains to the west of the city.

We have walked through Gymea and Miranda in the heat and strong winds. Despite the strength of the wind, the smoke from the fires shrouds the city. Sydney’s maximum temperature reached thirty-five degrees Celsius today.

India is seven for three hundred and twenty-nine at stumps. Due to the fact that Sydney is three hours ahead of Perth, this occurs at nine o’clock.

“The Two Ronnies” screened on Channel Two and at half past the hour, Channel Ten’s “Eyewitness News” shows vision of houses as they burned in the Blue Mountains this afternoon. The latest report states that fifty homes have now been destroyed.

Channel Ten follows this news, from a quarter to ten, with “Drive Hard, Drive Fast”, a movie from 1970, which features the British actress, Joan Collins and Brian “Flipper” Kelly. Filming was completed shortly before Brian was left partially paralysed in a crash which involved the motorcycle upon which he was riding.

Human Clothes Horse: Saturday, 17th December, 1977

Some sixty-eight houses have now been destroyed by the bushfires in the Blue Mountains. Tiki and I weighed ourselves this morning and for the first time in years I tip the scales at less than eleven stone. Tiki is about seven stone ten.

Despite her having driven on to the roof of Miranda Fair we still couldn’t locate a space in which to park. Tempers began to fray before it was decided that we had no other alternative than to descend and park in the street. It was after ten o’clock when we entered Katies. There I stood with about ten articles of clothing draped over my arms as Tiki took it in turn to try on each one. These included twin-sets, dresses and slacks. A tape of Elvis’s hits was being played and afterwards I had “Don’t Cry Daddy” on the brain for much of the remainder of the day. At least Tiki bought something, a crocheted white and blue twin-set at a cost of sixteen dollars.

From there we moved on to Hartley’s on the corner where an elderly woman removed the dresses I was holding because, as she commented, some men feel embarrassed.

“I’m getting used to it!” I remarked with a smile.

Tiki and I concurred that she should purchase two summer dresses for twenty-four dollars and ninety-nine cents each. One is rose and white although it’s too long to do justice to her legs. The other is blue and orange with a white buckle on each shoulder-strap.

We adjourned for a cappuccino each at The Fair Restaurant, prior to buying a bottle of Ben Ean moselle, at the corner liquor store which is just up from the railway station, for a dollar and sixty-nine cents. Once we had arrived home at half past twelve Tiki donned and showcased her new clothes before finally getting into her red, black and white bikini in an attempt to beat the heat.

India was thrashing Australia’s attack in Perth, having added fifty runs in twenty-five minutes. Madanlal, himself, scored forty-three runs at a rate of a run per minute. The innings mercifully ended on four hundred and two, thanks to a brilliant catch by Bob Simpson at first slip. The catch just so happens to be his one hundredth in Test cricket.

Half past four heralded the arrival of a scruffy, long-haired youth who purported to represent the Morgan Gallup Poll on uranium. He asked to interview “someone on house over fourteen years”, however, when I asked to see his authorisation to do so, it was for the tenth and eleventh of December only. My subsequent declinature to answer his questions irritated him, to a degree.

After six, Channel Seven’s news ran film of those houses that have been gutted by the fires in the Blue Mountains. Upon our return from our usual walk at twenty to eight, Tiki watched the last half of “Eight Is Enough”, which includes among its cast the late Diana Hyland. She then viewed the film, “The Nelson Affair”, on Channel Ten. Produced in 1972, it stars Glenda Jackson, and the late Peter Finch as Horatio Nelson.

Australia is four for one hundred and seventy-one at stumps.