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.

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.

The Hollywood Flames

The Hollywood Flames was a vocal group, from Los Angeles, which specialised in rhythm and blues. Although its origin can be traced back to the late 1940s, its lineage featured many changes in both name and membership.

It was in 1957, when recording as The Hollywood Flames, that the group achieved its only major hit, “Buzz, Buzz, Buzz”. The single reached No.5 on the rhythm and blues chart and No.11 on the national pop chart.

“Buzz, Buzz, Buzz” was played in the film, ‘Blow’, in 2001. Johnny Depp, Ray Liotta, Rachel Griffiths and Penelope Cruz are among the stars of the film, which is centred upon the life of George Jung, an American who is a smuggler of cocaine.

A Hard Nut To Crack: Sunday, 18th December, 1977

It is a cloudy, sometimes overcast and humid morning. The temperature at ten o’clock is already thirty degrees Celsius. To add to this unpleasantness one has to consider that because of daylight-saving it is really only nine o’clock! I had to heat the water in an electric jug in order to wash the dishes properly because the element in the archaic, supposedly instantaneous electric heater on a wall of the kitchen became spent the other day.

Early this afternoon I began to watch the keenly contested men’s final in this year’s New South Wales Open of tennis which was played between the Americans Roscoe Tanner and Brian Teacher. Whilst this was still in progress I turned to Channel Two’s coverage of the Test from Perth where one commentator described the batting of Steve Rixon and Bobby Simpson, as ‘living with luck’.

My elder sister, Penny, and brother-in-law, Warren, arrived at half past three. The pair had travelled by train and looked to be tired and drawn. We partook of drinks in our backyard, beneath the shady rubber tree. When I pointed out the green macadamia nuts growing on the tree opposite us, Warren, who would crawl across hot coals for a one-cent coin, began to forage beneath it amongst the spiky leaves and found a surprisingly high number of nuts from the the tree’s previous crop.

He attempted to break them by employing the edge of a section of paling, but as this proved to be an exercise in futility I returned from the garage with a hammer. Even then, the nuts weren’t easily cracked!

We shared the kernels between the four of us as we watched more of the Second Test. Australia fought back to post a score of three hundred and ninety-four, which is just eight runs shy of India’s first innings. Bobby Simpson, at the age of forty-one, was by far the major contributor having amassed one hundred and seventy-six of these.

Channel Seven’s news at six o’clock showed the latest footage from the bushfires in the Blue Mountains. In the men’s final at the tennis, Roscoe Tanner defeated Brian Teacher in five sets. The women’s final was won by the Australian Evonne Cawley (nee Goolagong) who defeated her British opponent, Sue Barker, in straight sets.

“Hawaii Five-O”, at half past seven, includes among its guest stars, Patty “The Patty Duke Show” Duke and the late Lane Bradford, whom, as an actor, became synonymous with the genre of westerns.

The Top 40 Fantasies: No.12

  1. The Chattanooga Choo Choo (1941) Glenn Miller and his Orchestra: Tex Beneke and The Modernaires with Paula Kelly
  2. In The Army Now (1986) Status Quo
  3. Down The Road A Piece (1947) Amos Milburn
  4. I (Who Have Nothing) (1963) Shirley Bassey
  5. Walking On Sunshine (1985) Katrina and The Waves
  6. In The Army (1982) Bolland and Bolland
  7. He’s Gonna Step On You Again (1971) John Kongos
  8. Tears On My Pillow (1958) Little Anthony and The Imperials
  9. Down The Road A Piece (1940) Will Bradley and his Orchestra, vocals: Ray McKinley and Will Bradley
  10. Wipe Out (1963) The Surfaris
  11. Humming Bird (1955) Frankie Laine
  12. I Wish It Would Rain (1968) The Temptations
  13. Slow Poke (1951) Pee Wee King and his Golden West Cowboys
  14. For Me And My Gal (1917) Van and Schenck
  15. The Chicken And The Hawk (1956) “Big” Joe Turner
  16. No Regrets (1976) The Walker Brothers
  17. The Penny Arcade (1969) Roy Orbison
  18. Whistle While You Work (1938) The Seven Dwarfs
  19. Centerfold (1981) The J. Geils Band
  20. Buzz-Buzz-Buzz (1957) The Hollywood Flames
  21. Shoo-Fly Pie And Apple Pan Dowdy (1946) Dinah Shore
  22. It Ain’t Necessarily So (1935) Leo Reisman
  23. Mini-Skirt Minnie (1969) Wilson Pickett
  24. Vanessa (1952) Hugo Winterhalter and his Orchestra
  25. Blockbuster (1973) The Sweet
  26. I Turned You On (1969) The Isley Brothers
  27. Don’t You Just Know It (1958) Huey (Piano) Smith and The Clowns
  28. A Fine Romance (1936) Fred Astaire
  29. Move Like Jagger (2010) Maroon 5
  30. Gilly, Gilly, Ossenfeffer, Katzenellen Bogan By The Sea (1954) The Four Lads
  31. The Little Dipper (1959) The Mickey Mozart Quintet
  32. White Wedding (1983) Billy Idol
  33. The Big Bopper’s Wedding (1958) The Big Bopper
  34. So Long (It’s Been Good To Know You) (1951) The Weavers, with Gordon Jenkins’ Orchestra
  35. Peach Picking Time In Georgia (1932) Jimmie Rodgers
  36. How I Lied (1965) Jade Hurley
  37. I Got Religion On A Saturday Night (1951) Webb Pierce
  38. The Place Where I Worship (Is The Wide Open Spaces) (1950) Al Morgan
  39. Aba Daba Honeymoon (1914) Arthur Collins and Byron Harlan
  40. Geronimo (2014) Sheppard
  41. MERRY CHRISTMAS!