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.