Have We No Rubbish Bins

I was aghast when I read that a Melbourne school is getting rid of all its bins and asking students to take home their chip packets, juice boxes, and other leftover rubbish from their lunches. I started to wonder if this would be the end of the yard duty I once knew. This would take a few ice colds to think through; would yard duty be replaced by random inspections of students’ lunches to check if they’re zero waste.

image source:jmcadam

I went to a Technical School in a working-class suburb of Melbourne. My five years as a student at Williamstown Technical School was defined by rules. There were rules for the classroom, rules for the school grounds, and rules for when you went on a school excursion or outing. One of the rules was you couldn’t leave the school premises without permission; so to leave school at lunchtime you needed a lunch pass. Boys living close to school usually had a permanent lunch pass so they could go home for lunch. If there were special circumstances and you needed to go home at lunchtime it had to be planned in advance. Your mum would send a note to the headmaster requesting a temporary lunch pass. At random lunchtimes, teachers would perform lunch pass checks at the school gates, and patrol the fence perimeter to catch any miscreant who left, or tried to leave, the school grounds without a lunch pass. For some boys the temptation of sixpence worth of chips and a few potato cakes from the nearby fish and chip shop, or an egg and lettuce roll, a vanilla slice, or a bag of mixed lollies from the close by milk bar was overpowering, and they foolishly left the school grounds without a lunch pass. When the transgressors were caught they were offered yard duty or the cuts. As well as copping yard duty, or the cuts, for leaving the school grounds at lunchtime without a lunch pass you could also receive yard duty or the cuts for dropping any paper or food scraps on the schoolyard, being excessively rowdy or running in the corridors, wagging on sports afternoon, or any behaviour a teacher deemed as reckless. Most boys chose a single-hander instead of a week of yard duty; but a week of yard duty was always chosen over a double hander, backhander, or six of the best. And a day of yard duty was always chosen over any type of the cuts.

image source:shutterstock

The cuts were being hit across the hand with a two-inch wide, two-foot-long, leather strap. Yard duty was picking up greaseproof paper, paper bags and canteen lunch bags, or anything a lunch had been wrapped in, half-eaten sandwiches, sausage rolls, pies, the scattered leftovers of food fights, or any rubbish that had been dropped, or thrown, on the ground instead of into a rubbish bin. Yard duty was done during lunchtime. When the first lunch bell rang to signal eating time had officially ended you were free to wander around with your hands in your pockets as boys do, play a game of footie, cricket, British Bulldog or bat tennis, and head off behind the shelter sheds and the far end of the oval to smoke; it was also when the yard duty boys reported to the head yard duty teacher to be assigned an area of the yard. The size and location of a yard duty area seemed to be decided on by the whim of the yard duty teacher, and they were inspected just before the afternoon locker bell rang. If an area was judged as unclean the boys assigned to that area would receive an extra day of yard duty. The rule-breakers never saw yard duty as an experience to understand the importance of proper waste disposal or the opportunity to appreciate the effects of littering on the environment; it was seen only as a punishment, not as a chance to participate in the upkeep of the schoolyard and to develop a sense of school pride.

image source:irishpost.com

My lunch sandwiches were the standard sandwiches of the day; nothing fancy, just school lunch sandwiches that you’d find in every boy’s brown paper lunch bag. Mum made my school lunch sandwiches each morning; she’d butter two slices of white bread and then add the fillings. I always knew what day of the week it was by the sandwich filling; Monday was cold lamb leftover from Sunday’s roast, Tuesday was salad, and then jam, tomato, and cheese to finish off the week. Mum never made beetroot sandwiches because she didn’t like the way beetroot juice soaked into the bread. She’d wrap the cut-in-two sandwich, and a piece of fruit cake, in greaseproof paper and put both packets of goodness into a brown paper bag. The paper bag sat on the kitchen table, waiting to be taken to school. Each day when I finished lunch I folded the greaseproof paper along its creases and put it into the empty paper bag, and then folded the paper bag into a small packet to put into my trouser pocket. We had to bring our lunch paper bag back and wrappings home so mum could reuse them the next day. Mum kept all the brown paper bags from her Friday afternoon shopping at the fruit and grocer’s shop and used them for school lunch bags; every week I had a new brown paper bag to fold and put into my pocket.

image source:youtube

I learnt the hard way that mum knew best when it came to school lunch sandwiches. Whenever she made banana sandwiches she’d butter two slices of bread and wrap them in greaseproof paper. I’d take a bread and butter sandwich with an unpeeled banana for lunch; lunch was a mouthful of bread and butter sandwich and a bite of a freshly peeled banana. I must have been picked on, and the target of jokes whenever I took banana sandwiches for lunch; I remember coming home from school one day and telling mum that from now on I must have my banana mashed onto the bread.

The long main school corridor was lined with airtight, three-tier, metal box lockers. When the locker bell rang the corridor became crowded with students; it was perfect chaos. You’d put your lunch in your locker in the morning when you collected your books for your morning classes; there it stayed until the lunchtime locker bell three hours later. No sandwich was safe inside a small, airtight, metal locker; jam, and tomato sandwiches were turned into a limp bathroom flannel as their juices soaked into the bread, and cheese sandwiches were transformed into cardboard as the bread and cheese dehydrated. My banana mashed onto the bread sandwich was soggy, and moist, and filled with pulpy, brown, mushy banana; my locker was filled with a bouquet of very ripe bananas. That was my last school lunch banana sandwich.

image source:pixabay

The migrant boys had different sandwiches than us. At the end of the second world war, the Australian government started an ambitious immigration plan that first targeted British citizens, but then expanded to accept immigrants from continental Europe. A migrant hostel was established at the old Williamstown Racecourse; it was a couple of miles further down Kororoit Creek road from Williamstown Tech. Yugoslav, Cypriot, and Maltese boys were bused to school each day. We looked at the migrant sandwiches with askance and never thought of swapping lunches with them; their sandwiches were an assortment of crusty wedges of bread, slabs of pungent-smelling cheeses, and strange-looking dried sausages. Today those cured meats, artisan bread and cheeses are the foundation of gourmet sandwiches.

Most of my full-time working life in Australia was spent with the Victorian Education Department as a Mathematics and Science teacher. I started teaching in the early seventies and was at three different inner suburban Technical Schools. It was the seventies so I thought of myself more as a conduit than a teacher. I was in the classroom to create an aesthetic sensitivity for scientific discovery and to share the beauty, and logic, of mathematics with preadolescence boys. I soon learnt that being a conduit was more than creating a circle of learning and curiosity; it also meant student supervision. Because students had to be supervised during recess and lunch, teachers were assigned yard duty responsibilities. As a teacher at Williamstown Technical School, I walked the same corridors, wrote on the same blackboards as Mr Baldwin did, and enlightened young boys in the same rooms I sat in as a student. And as a yard duty teacher, I walked the same area where I ate a mouthful of bread and butter sandwich with a bite of a freshly peeled banana.

image source:victoriancollections.net.au

As a teacher, I loathed yard duty with the same intensity I did as a student. I’d wander out of the staff room still with a cup of tea in hand five or more minutes after the first lunch bell so I’d reach the schoolyard after the wrongdoers had been assigned their area to pick up the leftover scraps from food fights, pieces of greaseproof paper, shreds of paper and canteen lunch bags, half-eaten sandwiches, and remnants of sausage rolls and pies. I knew to avoid the back of the shelter sheds because the smokers still smoked there; discipline procedures were still in place for students caught smoking and I would’ve had to assign a week of yard duty or a couple of double-handers to the smokers. I loitered in front of the trade rooms and strolled the area where the boys had to sit to eat their lunches. Not many students stayed in the lunch area after the first lunch belt so there was very little chance of a fight, or any other questionable behaviour needing disciplinary punishment. Sometimes I wandered over and watched the migrant boys play soccer.

And now you’ll need to excuse me. Tomorrow is rubbish day and I need to start sorting the polystyrene green, blue, yellow, red, and grey bins in the basement to prepare my rubbish for collection. And I need to call the Solid Waste Helpline to check if it’s the collection day for the green and blue, the red and blue, the red and yellow, the blue and grey, the red and blue, or the blue and yellow bins.


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Inside Every Grownup There’s A Monitor Trying To Get Out

There are two supermarkets, each about the same distance from my house. I didn’t consciously choose one of them to be my go-to grocery shop. It’s not that I’ll never set foot in the other shop. Whenever I have a craving for a ham and salad roll for lunch, it’s off to the other shop because I prefer the brand of cold cuts and lunch meats in their delicatessen. But I’ll leave only with the ham, and go to my grocery shop for the rest of the ham salad roll fixings; the lettuce, tomatoes, beetroot, cucumber, and grated carrot. Whenever I stand in front of the deli counter trying to decide between the Black Forest, Maple Glazed, Boneless Smoked, or Smoked Virginia ham I think back to buying lunch at Williamstown Tech.

image source:jmcadam

There was a process to buying lunch at school; and I’m sure the Victorian Education Department had the same process in all of it’s Technical schools. At the start of the second class period you’d tick off on a lunch bag what you wanted for lunch; a sandwich or a roll, a pie or pasty, or a sausage roll. The form’s lunch monitor took the lunch bags, and the form’s lunch tray to the canteen. The school canteen lunch ladies made the lunches and put them into their correct lunch bags. Ten minutes before the lunch bell the lunch monitor collected the form’s lunch tray with the filled lunch bags and brought it back to the classroom. I always struggled over what to buy for lunch; I’d stare down at my printed lunch bag and be wracked with indecision. My lunch bag was always the last lunch bag into the form’s lunch tray. The lunch monitor would start pacing the front of the classroom. He was eager to head off to the canteen; it meant more time out of the classroom hanging out with the other lunch monitors. I toiled over what to order every time mum gave me the rare privilege of buying lunch; a salad roll or sandwich, a pie or pasty, or a sausage roll. I always chose a salad roll; a bread roll filled with shredded lettuce, grated carrots, sliced beetroot and tomato, and cucumber.

image source:slwa.wa.gov.au

The traditional Australian salad sandwich or roll never had slices of meat in it; and the Willy Tech canteen ladies adhered to that standard. I don’t know when, or why, I started to add a few slices of meat to my home made salad rolls.

A few days ago I had a craving for a ham and salad roll. As soon as I stepped into my grocery shop I headed for the delicatessen; I was half way down the aisle when I came face to face with an associate pushing a shopping trolley and holding what looked like a deadly next generation Buck Rogers ray gun. I didn’t even pretend to be shopping so I could surreptitiously spy; I stood in front of her and blatantly watched. She took an item from the shelf, aimed the ray gun at it’s barcode, and then put it in her shopping trolley; she pushed the trolley down the aisle a bit, and repeated the process. I followed her down several different aisles; she continued to take items from the shelves and point the ray gun at them. I approached the associate.

image source:jmcadam

Me: G’day
Supermarket Associate: Hello; and what brings you in to see us?
Me: Just getting some ham for a salad roll. I’m a bit of a sticky beak so I wondered what you were doing
Supermarket Associate: I’m shopping for a customer; it’s our online grocery service. You go online and add what you want to your cart. When you’ve finished shopping you just click on checkout
Me: Crikey; just like filling out my lunch order at Willy Tech and the lunch monitor taking it to the canteen ladies
Supermarket Associate: Ah right. Your shopping list is displayed on my hand held scanner screen
Me: Blimey!!!!! you’re a shopping monitor
Supermarket Associate: If that’s what you want to call it
Me: Great; Were you ever a milk monitor or an ink monitor?
Supermarket Associate: (Looking at me as if I’ve got a few roos loose in the top paddock) Enjoy your salad roll

williamstown tech forms 1AB

image source:jmcadam

Grades at the Victorian Education Department’s Technical schools were called Forms; there were about twenty students in a form. The first year students at a Technical school were in Form1; the first form in Form 1 was Form1A, the second form Form1B, and so on. A teacher was assigned as a mentor to each form, and they became that form’s Form Teacher. The Form Lunch Monitor was a highly sought after job. It helped your chances of the Form Teacher assigning you as the lunch monitor immensely if you you had been a Milk Monitor, a Blackboard Monitor, or an Ink Monitor in Primary School; previous experience as a monitor always impressed the Form Teacher. Some boys resorted to the most obsequious sucking up to the Form Teacher to be chosen for the position of Lunch Monitor.

Hoping to be Lunch Monitor: Good Afternoon Mr Baldwin. Sir, you may think that I’m not very good at English and Solid Geometry, and that’s because I think I was born to be a Lunch Monitor. I was the best ink monitor that North Williamstown State School ever had; the ink wells never ran dry. Thank you for considering me, Sir

It had to be grade three in Primary school when I started to use an ink pen instead of a pencil to do school work. The ink pens were a piece of wood with a metal sleeve on one end to hold a replaceable steel nib. We sat two to a desk, and at the top center of each desk was a small hole that held a shared ink well. We dipped the nib into the small ceramic ink well to load it up with ink; it held just enough blue ink to write about three words in cursive.

image source:ambaile.org.uk

I think I was an Ink Monitor; or maybe it’s just wishful remembering. Each morning before Writing or Arithmetic the ink monitors filled the ink wells. A large glass bottle of blue ink was in a cupboard at the front of the room. Two glass tubes poked out of a cork stopper in the neck of the bottle; one bent at a right angle from the stopper, and the other sticking straight up. The ink wells were filled by angling the large ink bottle over the ink well so the curved glass tube was just above the small nib dipping hole. Skilled ink monitors controlled the flow of ink by putting their small index finger over the end of the long straight tube and slowly raising, or moving it, to vary the air pressure. And they filled the ink wells just to the top of the nib dipping opening; without leaving a hint of ink on the rim of the well, or on the wooden desk top. All skilled ink monitors when they were filling the last ink well would smear a little ink on the inside of their index finger to wear as a sign of ink greatness.

Two grades later pens that sucked up and stored ink appeared; we wrote more than three words in cursive script and solved arithmetic problems with three numbers without dipping our pens in the ink well. It was the passing of the ink monitor.

image source:abc.net.au

When I went to North Williamstown State School the Australian government provided every Primary schools student with a daily allowance of milk. We all had to drink our third of a pint of school milk from a small glass bottle before morning recess. The milkman delivered the small glass bottles in metal crates, and stacked them in the shelter sheds. The school year was divided into three terms, and the teacher of the fifth and sixth grades assigned two milk monitors for each grade for a term. I had the privilege, and honour to be chosen as a Milk Monitor. My job was to carry the class’s milk crate from the shelter shed to the classroom with the other monitor; and to then carry it back to the shelter shed with the empty milk bottles. Being a milk monitor was a coveted, prestigious job; you got out of class for fifteen minutes each morning, and if there was left over milk you got to drink it. But being a milk monitor in the summer months before and after the Christmas holidays was less than coveted. On those hot summer mornings the milk sat in the shelter sheds in ninety degree heat for over an hour. The metal crates were hot to the touch and always seemed heavier; maybe because the milk had thickened and the bottles were filled with floating biological blobs. The extra bottles of hot milk were hard to swap with classmates for favors, and no milk monitor was ever known to thirst for the summer’s left over milk.

image source:pixabay

To a youthful boy in Primary school it seemed as if the front of the classroom was covered with a blackboard; and it most likely was. The blackboard had areas reserved for permanent material; a cursive alphabet, counting numbers, multiplication tables, or the names of exotic animals, but the rest of the board was for the teachers daily chalk talk. Each day the teacher surrounded themselves in chalk dust as they filled their blackboard with new enlightenment’s for their class of young unripe minds. And because they wanted to start the next day with a clean blackboard; so became the blackboard monitor. The blackboard monitor’s job was to clean away the teacher’s wisdom with a duster before the end of the school day. Every couple of days the dusters were taken into the school yard to be cleaned of chalk dust; the monitor held it in one hand and smacked it with a ruler until it was free of chalk. Inventive blackboard monitors, at the risk of being caught, would bang the duster on a wall; leaving an anonymous, shapeless film of dusty chalk for other students to admire. And if other blackboard monitors were cleaning dusters there was nothing better than a full fledged duster fight; with dusters thrown at each other and flying through the air.

I think I should moderate a Monitor’s Blog. Retired monitors would share monitor tips and tricks, their stories, and our love of being a monitor; and as such, the blog would serve as an inspiration to aspiring Shopping Monitors, as well as a resource for new emerging monitor jobs. The first posting could be “I was a quintessential corridor monitor in Primary school”.


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You’re Only As Good As Your Last Haircut

Not all that long ago I decided to grow out my hair. It had been over forty plus years since I last had long hair. Hair that cascaded over my shoulders. Hair that I could pull back, and gather up into a ponytail and fasten with a lacker band. When I decided to grow my hair the undercut top, not ponytail, man bun, and ponytail with a side part were just starting to show up on every wannabe hipster’s head. I wasn’t interested in following the latest men’s hair fashions, and I didn’t need long hair for a comb-over. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could once again grow my hair below the shoulder; just the way the young john mcadam did.

image source:jmcadam

I don’t remember when I first went to the barber’s shop in Ferguson Street that was just down from the Hoyts picture theatre and a few shops up from Douglas Parade; I think I was either in first or second form at Williamstown Tech. When mum decided it was time for a haircut she would give us the money for the barber when we left for school in the morning. From when I first started at Williamstown Tech I rode my bike to school; riding up Peel Street into Wilkins Street, and then up to Melbourne Road and into Power Street. Houses lined one side of Power Street, and the Newport Workshops and railway lines the other side; all the way up to the North Williamstown Station. Williamstown Tech was a couple of pedal pushes down Kororoit Creek Road from the station.

The fifteen-minute morning bike ride was no big deal; except when it rained, or if a North wind was blowing. We set off every morning in our school uniform. The winter uniform was long woollen grey trousers, a grey shirt with tie, a light maroon v-neck jumper, a light maroon blazer, and a cap. If it was raining we wore a lightweight see-through plastic raincoat and rolled the legs of our long trousers up above the knee so they wouldn’t get wet. Your cap never got wet. All of the boys folded their caps and pushed them into their back trouser pocket with the tip of the cap just sticking out; making it easy to quickly slip the cap out and onto your head in case of a sudden school cap inspection. We’d all keep our raincoats on until the locker bell rang; as you headed for your locker you’d drip water onto the floor, producing small puddles of water the length of the corridors. You’d drip more water as you took your books for the morning classes out of your locker. Most of us shook our raincoats before stuffing them, still somewhat wet, into our lockers. And we didn’t care about our wet, drenched, straggling hair; we sat in the first period classroom with bedraggled rain slickened hair and waited for it to dry into an uncombed snarled mop. And today generous amounts of hair gel and glossing spray are used to produce the wet hair look that we obtained by riding our bikes to school in a Melbourne winter’s cold rain.

image source:menhairstyleslab.com

I was in the fifth form when I started questioning my hairstyle; surveying it with the demanding eye of a teenager, and the insight of peer pressure. It was a pot cut; short on the sides and back, and looking as though the barber had put a pot on my head, and then cut off all the hair he could see. It was the sixties, and so with a proud act of defiance, I rejected the pot cut.

I started my rebellious life’s journey at Footscray Technical College by getting rid of all traces of my pot cut. I set my sights on being an unkempt, eccentric, brilliant Industrial Chemist relentlessly chasing reactions waiting to be discovered; dismissing all pressures to be a clean, efficient and organised, white lab-coated scientist performing everyday experiments. Even though I enjoyed the thrill of putting a pipette into my mouth and sucking an acid or a base into the pipette bowl, and then to just above the graduated marks on the stem, I lost interest in the meniscus. I no longer cared if it was concave or convex. My fascinations turned to the student drama club, hotels along Nicholson Street, The British Invasion, and growing my hair. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the message of dissatisfaction the Rolling Stones embraced in I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, instead, I focused on Mick Jagger’s hair. With the same strong commitment I had made to be an outstanding scruffy Industrial Chemist I ignored mum’s emotional haircut pleadings and pronouncements.

john it’s about that time for you to get your hair cut
john have you thought about getting a haircut
john will you please get your hair cut
john you used to look so nice when you got your haircut
john you look so handsome when you get a haircut

With my desire to be a dishevelled Industrial Chemist waning I was able to focus on growing my hair and finding other ways to nourish my newfound creativity; the success of my efforts was captured in the review of the college drama club’s yearly production.

image source:jmcadam

The college year was again “blessed” with the advent of unusual performances by members of the Drama Club. There were many old faces, but lots of new stars were born when the Group performed the one-act plays “Passion, Poison and Petrification” and “The Crimson Coconut” supported by an extremely well-written revue called Lady Loverly’s Chatter.

The main new star to arise this year was John McAdam. John’s ready-made beard and flowing locks, along with his untamed flare for the melodramatic, presented the audience with a convincing villain, who was both evil and yet passionate, but nevertheless perfect to hiss and boo at. John made an extremely good job of his part and some mused that he wasn’t really acting nut being himself. However, this displays the creativeness and sensitivity of his nature, which could quite possibly take him to the theatre in time to come.
Drama Club Notes. Blue and Gold 1965. Magazine of Footscray Technical College.

My growing hair was a symbol of my rebellion against an authoritarian culture; I in defiance of mum, the old ways she stood for, and the haircuts that she had forced upon us. It was the sixties when All You Need Is Love. I don’t remember any haircuts after Footscray Technical College even though I would have had them as I whiled away four years working as a white lab-coated Industrial Chemist performing everyday experiments. and teaching Math and Science.

image source:jmcadam

I set off on the Aussie hallowed right of passage with neat, shaggy mop-top hair, and smartly trimmed mutton chops; they grew into a beard and long tangled hair as I searched for inspiration and idealism in the ordinary. I thought of my hair as a symbol of my self-determination, and I admired the ragged, weathered, tired, frizzy look of my long hair; especially the ends as they flowed over my shoulders. My hair had been without products, or trimming, for two years and more.

Time went by, and eventually, I had my wild free-wheeling long hair, trimmed and shortened at a barber’s school. The young barber in training confidently explained how the bounce in my hair was caused by split ends. I remember dismissing the suggestion from the yet-to-be barber because the only split ends I knew about were the New Zealand band who renamed themselves the Split Enz; sometimes described as a twitchy weirdo cult band. Before I left Australia to traipse around South East Asia and the Middle East I had my shortened hair trimmed once again; throughout the next few years, it grew and was without products. I maintained the belief that my hair was an expression of my thoughts and an extension of me.

The mullet, flat top and let’s look like my favourite hairband, welcomed me to the US. My hair was introduced to shampooing, styling, the blow dryer, and hair care products at a Lincoln, Nebraska, hair salon. It was my first time in a hair salon and I remember being mystified when the stylist, after draping me with a cape, warned me that she was going to adjust the chair. And I thought I was just getting a haircut. She explained that she was going to shampoo my hair before styling it. It became short but not short; shorter than the Beatle’s mop tops, but as long on top as the pot cut I got from the Ferguson Street barber. The sides were also longer and layered into the top. She styled my hair for as long as we lived in Lincoln and Omaha.

image source:jmcadam

Gimme head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming
Streaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, oh
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

After spending five years in Omaha we moved to Illinois; returning after a two-year absence. Over the next thirty years, the same hairdresser pampered my hair. They styled it as a mullet, through to full length on the sides and back and spiky on top, to a ponytail fastened with a lacker band, Then came their retirement; I was in a tonsorial wasteland. I was wracked with indecision about what to do with my hair; would it be haphazardly layered into beautiful chaos, styled into an amorphous blob with my eyes peering out, or would it be fashioned as a long blond streaked messy comb-over. I strode with purpose into a strip mall barbershop and confidently announced I want hair so short that I’ll be mistaken for Brad Pitt in Mr and Mrs Smith.

image source:jmcadam

When I think back I should have acknowledged mum’s innate understanding of male hair fashion more than I did; she was introducing her young teenage boy to the long hair undercut. My hair is now the shortest it has ever been for as long as I can remember, but it does bring a certain ruggedness to my personality. I need to start ordering three eggs lightly scrambled, bacon, and toast with marmalade for breakfast.


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Speak Softly And Escape The Double Handers

It seemed as if I’d been standing in the front of the Traders Joe’s freezer for an eternity; just staring down at the neatly arranged boxes of Steak & Stout Pies, and Chicken Balti Pies. For the life of me, I just couldn’t decide between the hearty chunks of tender beef in a stout based gravy, blended with copious amounts of gold potatoes, carrots, onions, celery and mushrooms, or the chunks of chicken in mild curry gravy, combined with generous amounts of carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes. And then I was distracted from my pie conundrum by a voice just behind me

and if you report them they have people dedicated to that sort of thing and they’ll have them in custody in no time.

It only took a couple of seconds to turn around, but the man with the mobile phone had already moved to the end of the freezer and turned the corner. I was curious about the mobile phone man so I decided to follow him.

image source:jmcadam

I picked up my shopping basket with its two boxes of frozen Chicken Tikka Marsala and a packet of frozen Seafood Paella and set off after mobile phone man. The mobile phone man didn’t have a shopping basket or trolley; he meandered around and through different aisles of the shop, always talking on his mobile. When the mobile phone man stopped in the cereal aisle I feigned interest in a resealable pouch of Organic Rice & Quinoa Hot Cereal. I sensed I must have looked just like an average Trader Joe’s shopper to mobile phone man; he didn’t look twice at me. He spoke into his mobile with a slow and emphatic voice

and that man has saved the country twenty-eight billion dollars.

Mobile phone man wandered down the cereal aisle and into the produce section. I was losing interest in mobile phone man and was starting to think about a warm and savoury Steak & Stout Pie; I headed back to the freezer aisle. As I made my way to the check out I saw the mobile phone man still wandering the aisles; he didn’t seem to care if he was overheard or not. I was deep in thought about mobile phone public conversations and absentmindedly emptied my shopping basket; as the checkout assistant scanned my boxes of Steak & Stout Pies I announced in a faraway tone of voice

there are two types of public mobile phone talkers; those that talk in a wake up the dead hushed voice and those that speak in a deafening booming voice.

image source:dissolve.com

I don’t think we trust mobile phones; we can’t believe a human voice can easily travel to faraway places through thin air so when we use a mobile we raise our voice, thinking we’re giving it the oomph it needs to fly through the air. We talk louder than if we were speaking in person; whoever we’re talking to talks louder, and before long we’re both shouting at each other. Our everyday use of mobile phones creates an unrelenting wall of sound; a noisy environment of persistent loudness that threatens noise-induced hearing loss, and other negative health effects.

When I think back, I now realise the teachers at Williamstown Tech knew about the dangers of noisy environments. Those teachers were my guardian angel. I was an innocent teenage boy naive to the hearing issues, and other negative effects caused by second-hand noise. But the teachers knew of the dangers and hazards lurking in a noisy classroom; loss of concentration, fatigue, apathy, boredom, and even disinterest. With our welfare and aural safety foremost in their mind they commanded

there’ll be no talking in class; talking will only be allowed when I ask a question. You’ll raise your hand if you know the answer or I will just call on someone for the answer. Be prepared. And when you have a question you’ll raise your hand. It’ll be the cuts for anyone I catch talking in class; anyone who doesn’t follow the no talking rules. Understood. Any questions. Remember, hands up.

image source:victoriancollections.net.au

The cuts were the strap; being hit across the hand with a three inches wide, two-foot-long, piece of leather. The cuts were a part of everyday school life. They were a reminder for; no talking in class, that you didn’t do your homework, that you didn’t bring the right books to class, that you forget your apron for woodwork, sheet metal or fitting and turning, that you were caught fighting, that you were rowdy in the corridors, that you left the school grounds at lunchtime without a lunch pass, and that you wagged sport.

Most teachers would bring their straps to class. Mr Stonehouse carried his strap, along with his blackboard duster and chalk, in his chalk box; it was rolled and coiled in a defensive position ready to strike. Some teachers wore their straps under their coats. When they caught anyone talking they’d reach up and into their coat and slip the strap out; similar to Paladin drawing his gun in episodes of Have Gun Will Travel. Mr Baldwin kept his strap in his office. When he threatened the cuts he’d disappear through the door in the front corner of the room, and reappear carrying his strap; he’d leave it resting on the table as if it were a snake basking in the sun. It was a constant reminder there was no talking in class; that Mr Baldwin had our auditory welfare foremost in his mind. You got the cuts in front of the class. When more than one of us were getting the cuts we’d be lined up to wait our turn; teachers favoured an efficient assembly line delivery for the cuts.

image source:bbc.com

None of us knew where the different classroom offences rated on the institutional severity scale; a graduated system only known to teachers. The scale was used to determine the type and number of cuts you earned. We knew that after your third warning you most likely would be in for a double hander; most times it was waiting until the strap was raised above the teacher’s head and you’d listen for

Hand up now (one hander)
Hold straight and don’t move it
This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you
Up again (two one-handers)
Other hand (three one-handers)
The sequence is repeated for six of the best.

Two hands up and hold them together (double hander)
Hold them steady now
Wait; wait
Up again (two double handers)
The sequence is repeated for the number of double handers

One hand up (backhander)
This is for your own good
Just as the strap hits the palm of the hand it’s given a flip so it also curls onto the back of the hand.

The backhander is an extremely difficult cut and would need ceaseless practise for one to become skilled enough to pull it off. I think teachers who were masters of the backhander must have practised in the teacher’s staff room; probably putting sticks of chalk on a table and then trying to flick them onto the floor with their strap. It wouldn’t come easy; accuracy and a deft movement of the wrist would need to be seamlessly combined into one fluid action. A lot of chalk would be smashed to smithereens before one became a master of the backhander.

image source:shutterstock

I went to a Technical School in a working-class suburb of Melbourne. A lot of boys had already planned to leave school as soon as they turned fifteen. They spent three years at tech school aimlessly wandering from Form One through to Form Three; most were going into a five-year apprenticeship in the trades and had no interest in Math, English, Science, or Social Studies. Some of these boys saw the cuts as a rite of passage, and it seemed as if they set themselves a goal of getting a certain number of cuts per week; taking it like a man and enduring the pain, demonstrated their readiness for manhood.

I spent five years at Willy Tech as an obsequious, hard-working, well behaved A-grade student. Very few of the boys in Forms 1A through 5A ever got the cuts. The fateful day happened when I was in Fifth Form; during an Art class Mr Allen became somewhat irritated by the occasional creative schoolboy mumbling and chatter and announced

it’s the cuts for the next one who talks.

I don’t remember what I said; I think I was answering a question from someone when Mr McEwan looked up from his table

mcadam go down to Mr Baldwin’s class and ask him for his strap

I stood in front of the class and held my hand out straight and motionless; it was the only one hander I’ve ever received.

image source:jmcadam ( John McAdam 2nd from your right top row)

The cuts played an important role in reducing public conversations in the classroom. I see no reason why the strap couldn’t be used to quell, and silence mobile phone public conversations in supermarkets and other public places. No mobile phone public conversations signs would be posted at strategic locations; along with a listing of the type, and the number of cuts, for the severity of mobile phone public conversation. A strapper would be stationed at the entrance of the supermarket, or would randomly patrol the aisles, to deliver a one-hander or a double hander to anybody talking into a mobile phone. There could be a private area, maybe alongside the produce section, for anyone receiving the cuts more severe than a one-hander or a double hander. I know most people would applaud any effort taken to ensure humankind a healthier lifestyle; nothing would be more selfless than creating a world where the threat of noise-induced hearing loss and other negative aural health effects, caused by mobile phone public conversations, has been stamped out.

If you’ll pardon me. I have to go grocery shopping so I need to practice talking into my mobile phone in a hushed raucous manner; some made up grandiose conversation sprinkled with utterances about my successes, the demands of my job, how much the project I’m working on is costing, and assertively giving instructions to whoever I’m talking to.


Cruel And Unusual Punishment At Schools

No Phones On The Throne

Health Effects Of Environmental Noise Pollution

Australia Day

It’s not that I don’t have faith in US news sources, but ever since I’ve been hanging about in the US I’ve persisted in reading Australian newspapers and at one time even The Times of London. After spending my first few years in the US in Nebraska I moved to Springfield, Illinois. It took a little time to gain employment in The Land of Lincoln, so to avoid my anguish of collecting food stamps, and the empty fruitless days of searching for a full-time job, I visited the Springfield Library one morning a week and sat at a reading table with The Times of London and the Australian Age. It was the golden days of print. The newspapers were folded over long wooden holders hung on a newspaper rack. I would carry the large wooden stick newspaper holders to a reading table and spend the next several hours consuming the latest, three weeks old newspapers. And now I hold my reading table; each morning I scan the Melbourne Age, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation news, the HearldSun, and the News Corp Australia on my smartphone or tablet.

image source:jmcadam

The other morning as I started my digital skimming of the Melbourne Age I was jolted from my somnolence into a critical reading mode. I fell back onto the sofa and stared at the headline. I wondered if the writer’s sound judgement had been replaced with a rhetorical wordplay to create the striking headline; Second Melbourne council to vote on ending Australia Day citizenship ceremonies.

On January 26th, 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip guided the First Fleet of eleven British ships, into Sydney Cove and raised the Union Jack. Six of the ships were convict transports. It was the start of white colonisation and British ownership of Terra Australis. For the Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, it was the day of mourning; they were dispossessed of their land and culture. Invasion Day. January 26th is the official national day of Australia and a public holiday; Australians come together as a nation to celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian. Australia Day is celebrated with community events, Australian of the Year Awards, the announcement of the Australian Honours Awards list, speech’s from the Prime Minister and Governor-General, and citizenship ceremonies.

image source:australiaday2017.com

I don’t remember Australia Day growing up. The tradition of Australia Day started in 1935 but nobody cared about it because most Australians were committed to celebrating Commonwealth Day; cities and towns came to a standstill as the citizens listened lovingly to the Queen delivering her Commonwealth Day message. And as young lads, our social studies classes groomed us to be unswerving in our duty to the Commonwealth.

Our social studies teacher at Williamstown Tech, Mr McDevitt, taught the history of Australia as it was taught in all Victorian schools; Australia, a triumph of the Empire, was built upon the courage and strength of British explorers and adventures. Our Mr McDevitt was different from most social studies teachers; he was a master of the blackboard. He described the sweeping grandeur of Australia’s colonisation with colourful chalk panoramas; Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth crossing the Blue Mountains, Hargraves flying his box kites, and Burke and Wills perishing on their return journey, after crossing Australia from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. The blackboards were Mr McDevitt’s Sistine Ceilings; with deft and swift movements of his coloured chalk, the voyages of Bass and Flinders, or the journeys of any of the British adventurers who explored Britain’s new colony would appear on his blackboards.

image source:pinterest

Sometimes Mr McDevitt created his blackboards before class, and as we lined up in two rows outside of the room, we would marvel at the sweeping colourful tableau on the boards; as we marched single file into Mr Devitt’s room all eyes stayed fixed on the chalk reproductions. Mr McDevitt filled the parts of his blackboards not covered in coloured chalk with sentences describing the courage and determination of the sons of the Empire as they colonised Australia. We dutifully copied the blackboards into our Social Science exercise books; our coloured pencil drawings were mere untidy scribblings of fourteen-year-old boys.

The valour and heroism of Arthur Phillip and John McArthur were how Mr McDevitt’s blackboards summarized Australia’s convict era; nothing about the thieves, trollops and charlatans that were the true founders of the country. By the end of transportation in 1868, around 162,000 convicts were sent to the colonies of New South Wales, Van Diemen’s Land, and Western Australia. Until recently being a descendant of a transported convict was a source of shame for Australians. An estimated one in five Australians has convict ancestry. I am a third great great grandson of the convict Thomas Raines, sentenced to fifteen years transportation for stealing sheep. I am a descendant of Australian Royalty.

In the sixties, every Victorian School had a Monday morning assembly. At Williamstown Tech they were held on the asphalt quadrangle used for bat tennis games during recess and lunchtime. The flag pole stood alone on one side of the quadrangle. The teacher leading the assemblies stood on a small raised platform in front of the boys. The fifth, fourth, and third forms to the left, and the second and first forms to the right; we stood at ease, lined up alphabetically in descending form order, with caps on.  And every Monday morning the boys of Williamstown Tech mumbled the Creed.

image source:bbc.com

School AAA-TEN-SHUN. And we snapped from our legs apart, hands clasped behind the back at ease stance, to hands by the side and legs and feet together.
Caps OFF and FAAA-CE the flag. The assembly turned as one and swiftly removed their caps.
REEE-PEAT after me.

I Love God and my country
I honour the flag
I will serve the Queen
And cheerfully obey my parents, teachers and the law

School SALUUUU-TE the FLAG. And on cue the national anthem, God Save the Queen, played over the PA system.
School FAAA-CE the front and caps ON.
STAAAA-ND at ease.
If there were no school announcements or a snap uniform inspection, the call was music please.
School MAAAAA-RCH off.

Each year through primary and secondary school we were told about the victory of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps not being defeated at Gallipoli and Anzac Cove. The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula on April 25. They were fighting for King and country and the Empire; the mother country. We were told about Simpson and his donkey, and the heroism and courage shown by the ten thousand Australian and New Zealander boys who died on the Gallipoli peninsula; they gave birth to the ANZAC legend and spirit. ANZAC Day is April 25 and Australians recognise it as a day of national remembrance.

image source:sligotoday.ie

Since 1979, the federal government began promoting an Australia Day that was less British and more Australian, and in 1994 Australia Day became a national public holiday on January 26. In Victoria, Commonwealth Day celebrations were moved to the same day as the Queen’s Birthday public holiday.

I think Australia must be one of the only countries that celebrate its national day on the date it was invaded and colonised. The British colonies of Australia federated on January 1, 1901, creating the Commonwealth of Australia. America celebrates its national day on July 4; remembering its revolutionary war with the British, and its Declaration of Independence on July 4 1776, rather than honouring the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World. January 1 would seem like a good date for an Australian public holiday; a day when people could come together to share and celebrate unity. A day for celebrating Australian traditions and for those who call Australia home to reflect on what they have achieved.

Nothing is more traditional in Australian culture than the great backyard barbecue; throw a few snags on the barbie, slap them between two pieces of bread, add a dollop of tomato sauce, and eat the sangos while your throwing down a few ice-cold beers, or wine, with your mates. The backyard barbie is about sharing and mateship. It’s all about emptying the tinnies from your ESKY into the host’s fridge. And if you leave early, the host can assume ownership of the few beers you’ve left, so anyone who’s consumed their own tinnies can take up the generous offer of the host to have one of theirs. And when you throw your chops or steak on the host’s barbie it’s no longer yours; anyone can choose the juiciest and best for themselves, or feed whatever they want to the host’s dog.

image source:.dailymail.co.uk

Maybe Australia Day should become Snag On The Barbie Day. It wouldn’t have to be celebrated on January 1 or 26. Victoria and most states in Australia already have the following public holidays.

Holiday Date
New Year’s Day Monday January 1
Australia Day Friday January 26
Labour Day Monday March 12
Good Friday Friday March 30
Saturday before Easter Sunday Saturday March 31
Easter Sunday Sunday April 1
Easter Monday Monday April 2
ANZAC Day Wednesday April 25
Queen’s Birthday Monday June 11
Friday before the AFL Grand Final TBD
Melbourne Cup Tuesday November 6
Christmas Day Tuesday December 25
Boxing Day Wednesday December 26

image source:.australiantimes.co.uk

Snag On The Barbie Day would need to be squeezed between the current holidays; sometime in summer, January through March. Snag Day would have to be celebrated on a Tuesday, and it would need to be a Tuesday each year, so every Australian could chuck a sickie on Monday and enjoy a four-day weekend; a long weekend of sharing snags, and a few ice-cold beers or wine, with your mates; even a game of backyard cricket. There is nothing more Australian than gathering around the backyard barbie, with a few mates, celebrating what’s great about Australia; with an ice-cold tinnie or stubby, and committing to making Australia an even better place for the future.

I think I should nick out the back and throw a few snags on the barbie. Crisp on the outside and spongy and juicy inside, and then wrap them in a thin slice of white bread and smother it with tomato sauce; with a squirt of fat when you bite into it. Nothing like a sausage sango to kick off Snag On The Barbie Day.


The Anzac Day Tradition

National Australia Day Council

The History of the Aussie Icon THE BBQ

It’s Elemental Mr Priestley

I had to go on hiatus from walking Westroads because Christmas time at the mall means Hickory Farms pop up kiosks; and that means holiday gift baskets filled to the brim with summer sausage and fresh cheeses. I refused to let fate find a way to my taste buds. And now I’m back walking the Mall five mornings a week. The other day I forgot to charge my Walkman so I spent my five times circling the perimeter looking for a mental distraction; I’ve grown accustomed to the window displays and the mall has lost it’s uncertainty of what’s around the next corner. So I started to think about the things I learned in school and have never used. In fourth form I spent a lot of time memorising basic cloud types; I began to silently chant: nimbus, cirrus, stratus and cumulus; nimbus, cirrus, stratus and cumulus. But then I paused and tried to think of the last time that I wondered if the clouds in an overcast sky are cirrus or nimbostratus. And then I thought about the Geometry and Algebra theorems that Mr Baldwin tried to instill in us; I couldn’t call to mind the last time I had to prove that two triangles were congruent, or to perform matrix multiplication, or to solve how long it takes train B to catch up to train A, if train A leaves the station travelling at thirty miles per hour, and two hours later train B leaves the same station travelling in the same direction at forty miles per hour. I think I was starting my third time around the mall when the elements of the periodic table, sorted by atomic number, started to flash before me.

There were three science rooms at Williamstown Technical School; they were alongside each other on one side of the central, long section of the school. The art room, clay room, and Mr Morrow’s accounting room were opposite the science rooms and they shared one end of the long section with the science rooms. Hundreds of lockers reached to just below the classroom windows and stretched the length of the building; they formed a long passage from which doors lead into the rooms. The science rooms had long wooden benches with gas taps for bunsen burners; and we sat ten to a bench, in a straight line, on lab stools. And how we delighted in those lab benches and stools; they released us from being jammed two to a desk. There was also a long bench around two of the walls; they housed sinks with curved taps and extra gas taps for bunsen burners. The middle science room had an inside walkway into the other two science rooms; it was the way into the two small equipment and supply storage rooms between the rooms. The science rooms always seemed to have a pervasive chemical smell.


image source:bastow.vic.edu.au

Mr Fraser introduced us to fourth form chemistry in the middle science room. We watched Mr Fraser perform experiments at his teacher’s front science desk; and he would diagram the assembled equipment and experiments in coloured chalk on the front boards; along with detailed descriptions, observations and measurements, calculations, and conclusions. We neatly copied his chalkboard journal into our science exercise books. If the lesson didn’t deserve an experiment then Mr Fraser, with his back to the class, would fill all three boards with chalk written scientific theories, postulates, and laws. As the year wore on I had more and more difficulty reading Mr Fraser’s chalkboard journals. I asked Mr Fraser if I could move from the third row bench to the front row; and I could see once again to copy his chalkboard journals. I never did tell mum or dad that I had had trouble reading off the board. It was close on three years later when I was at Footscray Tech that I confessed that I had trouble seeing; and so I eventually got glasses. If only I had worn my glasses back then; that air of sophistication I had from smoking Kent cigarettes would have been enhanced by a somewhat mischievous and cultured look. Nowadays I wear classic tortoise shell Ray-Ban Clubmasters.


image source:johnmcadam

I think the most intriguing postulate that Mr Fraser wrote on the board was: atoms make up elements and atoms can neither be created nor destroyed. Back then my squinting had become the norm so I hurriedly copied into my science exercise book

athens is made up of elegance and elegance can neither be cheated or destroyed

And it wasn’t until my final year at Footscray Tech, and after what seemed a lifetime in the chemistry labs and classrooms, that I figured out what Mr Fraser had written on his science room chalk boards.

I was starting my fifth and final loop around the mall and I thought about air; that air was made up of a mixture of gases. Mr Fraser told us that gases were either compounds or elements. And I knew that elements contain only one type of atom. I had my epiphany; nobody uses all the oxygen they breathe in, and because atoms can neither be created nor destroyed I was breathing in oxygen that others have exhaled. I have other person’s exhaled oxygen in my blood; oxygen that was in their brain neurons absorbing their neuron attributes was pulsing through and soaking into my brain neurons.


image source:pixabay

Whilst growing up and living the The Land Down Under I would have inhaled an incredible amount of oxygen that at one time was carried in blood as it flowed through the brain neurons of a crowd of commanding Australians; Richie Benaud, Reg Grundy, Germaine Greer, Greg Norman, Albert Namatjira, Slim Dusty, Errol Flynn, Edward Hargraves, Barry Humphries, Dame Nellie Melba, Cathy Freeman, and Robert O’Hara Burke to name just a few.
But how do you decide who are the great Aussies; and then whittle that back to the great among the greatest in Australia’s history.

I inhaled oxygen that once percolated through the brain of Cyril Callister. Cyril was a food technologist and is known as the man who invented Vegemite. In 1922 he was asked to make something from the left over waste yeast from the Carlton & United Brewery; to which he added celery, salt and onion and came up with a black sticky paste that looked like axle grease. It’s not because Australians are fed Vegemite from the time they are babies that causes them to travel the world with at least one small jar of Vegemite in their luggage, it is because we have inhaled oxygen from Cyril’s brain.


image source:pinterest

I’ve had Errol Flynn’s used oxygen coursing through my brain neurons. Errol was born in Hobart, Tasmania and was known for playing the freedom loving rebel, a man of action who fought against injustice, a man who won the heart of many a damsels. Even when he wasn’t acting Errol was a spirited womaniser who gave the world the expression; in like Flynn. It is claimed that the doctors who examined his body when he died at the young age of 50 said it bore the physical ravages of someone who should have been 75 years old. And that would describe the average Australian male.


image source:cloudpix

Innovation, ingenuity and entrepreneurial flair comes naturally to Australians; it’s accepted as a way of life. I’ve sucked in some of Lance Hill’s second hand oxygen. Even though Lance didn’t invent the rotary clothes hoist he demonstrated true blue Aussie creativeness by using metal tubing salvaged from the underwater boom that hung under the Sydney Harbour Bridge to catch World War II enemy submarines to make his clothesline. And he came up with a simple winding mechanism to hoist his big metal tree up into the breeze. The Hills rotary clothes line became an icon of Australia suburbia; the wind spinning the clothes around in the backyard. I think all Aussies have a little of  Lance Hill in them; who wasn’t told by mum to get off the clothes line. When she wasn’t looking you would hang from the line and spin each other around until you became so dizzy that you couldn’t walk. Every great backyard had a Hills that was always tilted at a weird angle and with the clothes lines stretched and saggy. Thank you Lance.


image source:pinterest

I lived in the sixties and grew up in the seventies. When the Beatles toured Australia in June 1964 and the Rolling Stones a couple of years later Melbourne was maturing as the epicentre of Australian progressive music. Berties, Sebastian’s, and The Thumpin Tum would become nationally known discotheques. You danced to what would become classics of Australian music every Saturday night. Harry Vanda and George Young formed the Easybeats in the early sixties and Friday On My Mind, the first international hit by an Aussie rock band, escorted you up the stairs and into Berties; a three story building of Edwardian opulence on the corner of Spring and Flinders Streets. And soon after, George’s two brothers, Angus and Malcolm, were in a new band called AC/DC; and they guided the new bands future by producing their first five albums. I must have taken in oxygen expelled by Harry Vanda & George Young; I can’t think of any other reason why I still wear my old Williamstown Tech school tie.


image source:johnmcadam

I remember the streets of the old historical neighbourhood of Athens being lined with small pastry shops, old men playing backgammon, nightclubs, and street vendors selling what I though was the best ever pita wrapped souvlaki. I walked and climbed the twisted hilly narrow streets of the Plaka to wander freely and sit alone among the Acropolis stones; sometimes using one as a back rest to watch Athens endlessly stretching out below. On other days I sat inside the curved outside pillars of the Parthenon and mused over the irony of Greece; the birthplace of democracy and the Olympics: And now a country under military rule, a dictatorship of repression, torture, and grief. And I remembered what Mr Fraser wrote on the board

athens is made up of elegance and elegance can neither be cheated or destroyed.

Just as I completed my fifth and final time around Westroads I remembered that the symbol for oxygen is O; it has an atomic number of eight and is a member of group 16 in the periodic table. We were fortunate that Mr Fraser’s didn’t mess around with developing our self-control, motivation, focus and resilience skills but instead focused on creating chalk boards of notes detailing scientific laws and principles; to be neatly copied into our science exercise book.


The Greatest Of All: Our 50 Top Australians

Curator’s notes Friday on My Mind

11 Facts From Down Under About Vegemite

If my National Anthem Could Sing

The announcement that Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, otherwise known as the UK Parliament or the British Parliament, voted to introduce a bill as to whether or not England should have its own official national anthem instead of God Save the Queen caused me to muse over when Australia’s national anthem was God Save the Queen.

Six months after Queen Elizabeth II was crowned monarch of the UK she became the first reigning monarch to set foot on Australian soil. She visited all the Australian states and the capital cities, except Darwin. Where ever She visited there were chants of we want the Queen; we want the Queen; and She was met with a sea of waving flags. Australia’s national anthem, God Save the Queen, filled the air. All Australians were swept up by the thrill of her visit; the McAdam’s were no exception. One evening we joined the excited crowd lining Victoria Street in the hope of catching a fleeting glimpse of Her as she was leaving Melbourne’s Lord Mayor’s Royal Ball at the Exhibition Building. We waved madly as the royal car hurried by.



In the sixties every Victorian School had a Monday morning assembly. At Wiliamstown Technical School our assemblies were held in what was the asphalt quadrangle used for bat tennis games; at least six courts were painted on the asphalt. The teacher’s car park insulated the quadrangle from busy Kororoit Creek Road. It was bordered on one side by the wing of the school that housed the teachers staff room and the principal’s office. The flag pole stood alone on the opposite side and beyond was an open green space; the assembly hall was yet to be built. The front of the parade ground faced the wing of the building that was the Science, Art, and Mr Morrow’s Accounting rooms.



The teacher leading the assembly, Mr Mellington the senior science teacher, stood on a small raised platform in front of the outside of the science rooms. The fifth, fourth, and third forms lined up to the left, and the second and first forms to the right on the parade ground. The flag pole was to the left of the school assembly which always started with all students standing at ease lined up alphabetically in descending form order, and with caps on.

And we waited for his commands.

School AAA-TEN-SHUN. And we snapped from our legs apart, hands clasped behind the back at ease stance, to hands by the side and legs and feet together.
Caps OFF and FAAA-CE the flag. The assembly turned as one and swiftly removed their caps.
REEE-PEAT after me.

I Love God and my country
I honour the flag
I will serve the Queen
And cheerfully obey my parents, teachers and the law

School SALUUUU-TE the FLAG. And on cue the national anthem God Save the Queen was played.
CAAA-PS ON and face the front.
STAAAA-ND at ease.
If there were no school announcements or a snap uniform inspection then the call was music please.
School MAAAAA-RCH off.

Years ago someone had worked out an intricate marching order for each form based on the location of the room of the first class that each form was timetabled for on Monday mornings. The parade ground became twisting, inter twined, writhing, lines of five hundred or more marching, disinterested, students.



Every Monday morning we saluted the flag and recited the Oath of Allegiance. Most of us didn’t think about the words during the week: but we recited them every Monday.

It just seems like yesterday when God Save the Queen was played in every picture theatre, concert hall, and at every public event in Australia. As soon as the picture theatre lights dimmed God Save the Queen played and we stood in silence, at attention, in the darkened theatre. Late comers being shown to their seats, by the light of the usher’s torch, promptly stopped and stood at attention when they heard the opening drum roll of the national anthem. We were told by mum that it was bad manners and disrespectful to the Queen if we didn’t stand at attention when God Save the Queen was played. At first I felt ashamed when I saw some latecomers ignore the anthem and push past the usher so they could find their seats before the newsreel started. I would steal furtive glances at the late comers and would secretively watch them as they found their seats: this was my initial introduction to a social political demonstration and anti monarchy protest in a public place. Several years later I became one of the disrespectful. Playing the anthem had been migrated to the end of the main feature. When the lights went up and the theatre transitioned from dark to dim the national anthem was projected on the screen and we were expected to rise from our seats and stand at attention facing the screen.



The day I decided to stay seated as the six opening bars of the anthem filled the theatre was no different than any other. The screen filled with a splendid montage of Her on horseback taking the salute at the Trooping the Colour, sitting majestically on the throne wearing the royal robes and crown, and then cavorting stately with the corgi’s. I was admonished by the man behind me standing at attention as I stayed seated: what of my allegiance and reverence to the queen. I had heard my young inner angry voice grunting out against the monarchy: I wondered how important the Queen was to Australia as it started growing into Australia.

Before Australian television stations started 24 hour broadcasting they would sign off around ten o’clock at night. Sign off was announced by playing the national anthem, God Save the Queen. The drums rolled, the Queen appeared on horseback surrounded by her gold-braided soldiers; this image then dissolved into a cackling kookaburra and then the Australian flag. The sign off was always followed by the test pattern. And I refused to jump out of the chair and stand at attention in front of the television while the anthem played; to be upstanding for Her Majesty during the television sign off. But I did wonder if God Save the Queen was played at the end of the day’s programming because of the tradition in picture theatre’s of playing the national anthem at the end of the main feature.



The seventies were defined by change. Many saw the 1972 Australian Whitlam Government as a catalyst of change. They introduced reforms that included included establishing formal relations with China, repealing conscription laws and withdrawing all Australian forces from the Vietnam War, abolishing tertiary education fees, returning traditional lands in the Northern Territory to the Gurindji people, and adopting Advance Australia Fair as Australia’s national anthem. In 1975 the Whitlam Government was dismissed by the Governor General Sir John Kerr and the subsequent Malcolm Fraser government reversed the national anthem decision. This insidious act by the Crown’s Australian representative was another stimulant that caused many to question Australia’s identity with Britain and the Queen.

And I never stood at attention again for the playing of God Save the Queen.

In 1984, seven years after a plebiscite asked Australian’s their preference for a national anthem, the incoming Bob Hawke government officially replaced God Save the Queen as the national anthem with Advance Australia Fair. And in 1986 the Australia Act was passed by both the Australian and the United Kingdom Parliaments. The Australia Act terminated; the power of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to legislate for Australia, for the UK to be involved in Australian government, and for an appeal from any Australian court to a British court.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground was the place of perfect peace and happiness for ninety odd thousand raucous Australians when Olivia Newton John sang Advance Australia Fair before the 1986 Carlton Hawthorn Grand Final.

Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil
Our home is girt by sea
Our land abounds in Nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia fair
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair


The Sex Pistols: God Save The Queen 1/14/1978 Winterland

MPs vote to introduce bill on new English anthem

Australia Act 1986

College Interfered with my Learning

I drive past Do Space on the corner of 72nd and Dodge quite often, and every time I think of the outstanding learning opportunities that were presented to me during my studies at Footscray Technical College. Do Space was created by converting a Borders bookstore into a free to the public technology library and digital workshop. Do Space has been described in the Omaha World-Herald as a resource meant to provide access to educational and creative computer technology to people from all walks of life, but especially to people who don’t have access to it anywhere else.

In the last half of my final year at Williamstown Technical School, I had to choose whether, to continue taking fitting and turning classes on Wednesday afternoons, or take glass blowing at Footscray Tech. I don’t remember everyone that chose glass blowing, but there were at least six of us that included: Brian Jefferies, Phillip Daniels, Graham Brown, and Robert Ballard. Every Wednesday afternoon, we would catch the train from North Williamstown to Footscray and during each glass-blowing class, we attempted to make different pieces of chemistry laboratory glass equipment. We laboured to bend, melt, and attach glass to create; test tubes, condensers, three-way adapters, pipettes, and unique funnels. At the end of fifth form at Williamstown Tech, I was a decision away from a different life; attend Caulfield Institute of Technology to study Art or attend Footscray Technical College to study Chemistry.

For the next three years, I caught a morning train, with Brian Jefferies, at Newport Station for the trek to Footscray Tech. It was the new freedom of being a college student. It was the way we were. And I had chosen to smoke Kent cigarettes. I think it was the attraction of an all-white cigarette with a micro-nite filter; the suggestion of suaveness, sophistication, worldly allure and cultivated magnetism also helped. At Footscray I walked with Brian along Irving Street, smoking a Kent, to the three-story Nicholson Street Footscray Tech building. The chemistry laboratory and classrooms were on the third floor at the far end of the building and overlooked the railway viaduct spanning Nicholson Street.



The first female day students entered Footscray Tech in 1960 and studied commerce and commercial practices and they were an outnumbered group. I think there were only about ten or fifteen female students at the college during the two years I contemplated the tangled theories of inorganic and organic chemistry. The chemistry students were also in the minority; we banded together though and were easily identified by the chemical-stained white lab coats we all wore. There were probably about fifty of us. The commerce and commercial practices females and chemists were severely outnumbered by the engineering students.

Ron Lawton was from a farm in Sunbury. I never thought of Ron as the best-looking fella available and he was incredibly thin. Regardless of what and how much he ate there was never a change in his weight and appearance. Ron decided he was going to host a chemist’s party in one of the field barns on his parent’s farm. Some of us chemistry students saw ourselves as wild and rebellious and with a youthful rage inside. We started to question the standards set for us. Music was our way to rebel not just against the music of a previous generation but against the confining social status quo. We would build a new system on love, trust and brotherhood. And it would begin at Lawton’s Farm; Only a handful of us showed up at Ron’s party. As we waited for the commerce and commercial practices students to turn up we started to consume our booze booty; mine was a bottle of sweet vermouth. The Rolling Stones had just released Satisfaction and it played, blaring from the barn and into the darkness, on an infinite loop.



And the commerce and commercial practices students never did arrive. I blacked out at the podium smoking Kent and only hearing the Stones. I left the barn the next day.

What did I learn? Drinking vermouth and listening to the Stones without female commerce and commercial practices students is remarkably good fun.

Footscray Tech had its collection of clubs and a student council that attempted to promote a student culture and advance the concept of music and avant-garde drama as a universal language and social change agent. I think it was the drama club that had an open casting call and auditions for actors for the George Bernard Shaw short play Passion, Poison, and Petrifaction, subtitled The Fatal Gazogene: A Brief Tragedy for Barns and Booths. I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to better acquaint myself with some of the commerce and commercial practices students. I think I played the part of Adolphus Bastaple, or it may have been the landlord. We had a terrific run of two or three nights. Some of the commerce and commercial practices students and their girlfriends always attended the dances that were held at the College. I decorated the auditorium for Normie Rowe who along with others advanced the sounds of the Australian sixties music revolution. The auditorium throbbed to the brooding beat arrangement of Normie’s first single It Ain’t Necessarily So, and Andrew Lambrainew seized the opportunity and presented himself to one of the commercial practices students.


image:courier mail

What did I learn? That female commerce and commercial practices students preferred listening to Normie Rowe to talking with Adolphus Bastaple.

The sixties were an era when we believed we were special and trend-setting, and we wore our optimism and genuine faith of a better world on our sleeve. I don’t remember how the invite arrived but volunteers were needed to accompany the student float in the annual Moomba Parade. Some of the chemists honoured the opportunity to not only promote the perception of the student body as the guardian of humankind’s language and knowledge but relished the moment to be part of a parade that for the last fifteen years had inspired all Melbournians: And it still does to this day. We dressed in our white chemical-stained lab coats, gathered a large supply of lab wash bottles and massed a generous reservoir of water, and stockpiled an inventory of flour bombs. I don’t remember the theme of the float or who designed and constructed the float, but undoubtedly the engineering students were responsible for the majestic masterpiece. Our fellow students riding on the float, between waving to the crowds lining Swanston Street, cheered us on as we water-fought and flour-bombed our way down the Moomba Parade route. I would maintain that the crowd lining Swanston Street was delighted by the float and the antics of the chemists. Two years later Footscray Tech was banned from entering a float in the 1968 Moomba Parade.


image:state library victoria

On the students’ float, high upon his dog kennel roof, Snoopy rested with his machine gun. Below him, the Baron rested calmly on a red hearse. The ‘Footech Army’ supplied themselves with flour bombs. The Melbourne Herald reported that the students were dressed in bedraggled Australian army uniforms and pelted each other with flour bombs. They even threw a roll of mauve toilet paper to the reviewing panel at the Town Hall which landed at the feet of the Lady Mayoress.

They were readmitted in 1969.

What did I learn? We could flour-bomb female commerce and commercial practices students in a Moomba Parade.

It was either a Ford Anglia, Austin or Morris convertible; it was Philip Daniel’s car. It was our carriage for our going away to Rosebud camping weekend. Brian Jefferies, two of the other chemists, and I all crammed into Philip’s car. We pitched the tent in the thick of the tea tree and when our camp was secure went in search of a beer supply: And we learnt that we had unknowingly pitched our tent close to a hall hosting a Saturday night dance. Because we were students of the sixties; idealists, stewards of change in personal relationships, and purveyors of the new feminism, we were anointed to attend the dance. I didn’t dance with her but we talked a lot; between conversation threads and Kent cigarettes, I would retreat back to our tent for a fortifying beer. She attended one of Melbourne’s elite lady’s colleges.

reading room

image:state library victoria

I advanced that we meet next Sunday at the coffee shop opposite the State Library of Victoria; thinking that we could then both retire to the library’s main reading room. She agreed. Giddy with excitement and anticipation I retreated back to our tent for more fortifying beer. That Sunday I waited several hours outside the coffee shop on the corner of Swanston and Little Lonsdale Streets. She never did punch the clock. I don’t think I even knew her name.

What did I learn? You won’t meet female commerce and commercial practices students when you are camping at Rosebud.

After my education was completed at Footscray Tech I entered the workforce and spent less than two years as an industrial chemist at two different companies: Then I taught Math and Science in the Victorian Education Department for a few years; moulding young minds and preparing the youth of yesterday for their journeys of tomorrow. But life had to be more than judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree so I returned to a journey of searching for inspiration, and idealism, in the ordinary: My walkabout took me to London in the early seventies, hitchhiking through England, Scotland and Europe, and travelling overland in buses and trucks through the Middle East to India: And several years later to South East Asia and the Middle East.

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. Albert Einstein


State Library of Victoria

Australian Rock Music

History of Cars in Australia

These Malls Are Made For Walking And Swimming

At the start of April plantar fasciitis in my right foot and after surgery swelling of the macula, and a blocked vessel that carries fluids to lubricate the eye thwarted my retirement plans and caused me to adopt blogging. After laser surgery and two months of dropping liquid gold eye drops into my left eye, the swelling and the blurring retreated. The foot specialist that I went to had DPM listed after his name; my fervent hope was that it stood for Doctor of Pain Management. He did produce pain when he pushed the syringe into the heel of my foot and emptied a syringe of cortisone into my inflamed plantar fascia. I did learn after a couple of visits that DPM stood for doctor of podiatric medicine. He prescribed a dorsal night splint and a series of stretching exercises. I wore the splint to bed. After enduring about six months of misery in every step the pain mysteriously disappeared.

I think Westroads Mall is typical of the majority of suburban malls. It is anchored at each end by department stores, has a central atrium, is two stories of mostly national brand retailers, and has had a couple of department stores built on as side attachments

westroads first floor

image source:jmcadam

Three weeks ago I returned to my old mall walking ground. I was somewhat excited: I now had some new walking socks and walking shows, instead of slip-on crocs and ankle socks, recommended by my doctor of podiatric medicine, and an MP3 player with earbuds. I was also slightly nervous; I wondered if my old walking mates would still be there and if I could keep up with the walking pacesetters I admired. They weren’t really mates; I had never talked to any of them or know any of their names. It was just a slight head nod or an indiscernible move of the index finger as we passed that bonded us as a band of mall walkers.

I start my walking journey around 9:00am; twice around the lower level and twice around the upper level; it is close to .64 miles once around the interior perimeter. Some of my mates are still walking: And I can see their inner smile welcoming me back when we pass.

3 ladies walking

image source:jmcadam

When mall walking you first notice the window displays but after a few weeks they become some sort of colourful mosaic panelling; it must be your motion that creates the peripheral moving lava lamp pattern. The patterns are hypnotic and mesmerizing. One morning when walking, my mind went back to Form 5AB at Williamstown Technical School and I was reminded of when a few of us would go down to the beach after school. We wouldn’t do a lot of swimming but would romp around doing adolescent teenage boy stuff. The speedos would get wet because habitually someone would be ganged up on and launched into the saltwater and shoulder fights, or a water modified round of British Bulldog would erupt.

I don’t remember John Colville or Robert Ballard kicking the sand at Williamstown Beach. I remember; John Savory, Kevin Thompson and Gunter Jergens. I wasn’t fat in my adolescence and I wasn’t thin. I thought I was just stocky around the waist: but maybe I shouldn’t have compared myself to John, Kevin or Gunter. Andrew Lambrianew had left Williamstown Tech in the third form, to start a diesel mechanics apprenticeship, so I didn’t have him as my reassuring friend. Instead of cavorting on the sand, I started swimming. About fifty yards or more offshore from the beach was a diving board platform on piles and about fifty yards across from that the leftover walkway and piles of a structure we called the racer.

water bw

image source:pixabay

The water was usually cold because it was October or November; the start of spring. Some days there was a cold wind blowing off the water; enough of a wind to cause two-foot waves and churn up the sand, enough of a wind to cause the water currents to carry the jellyfish and seaweed into the beach from the bay, enough of a wind to discourage the form 5AB lads from haunting the beach.

Every day I swam alone between the diver and the racer; counting off the laps until fifty. I had developed this slightly modified Australian crawl stroke and I only turned my head to one side every second stroke for a new breath.

video: Australia’s audiovisual heritage online. http://aso.gov.au

It was also an opportunity to open my eyes to orientate myself and to realign my bearings. I didn’t have swimming goggles and because I was in saltwater most of the fifty laps were done with eyes closed and head down in the water. I never did see the jellyfish or clumps of seaweed. At times the jellyfish were in swarms or smacks of large morphing, transforming, gelatinous blobs that I hit with my head or arms; resulting in painful jellyfish stings to the arms and legs. Most of the time I swam peacefully, without earbuds and with my eyes closed. I think the rhythmic breathing caused me to hallucinate and fantasize that I was the next Murray Rose. Murray Rose was an Australian swimmer who at seventeen won three gold medals at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games and the gold in the 400 freestyle again at the 1960 Rome Games. He also won a silver and bronze medal.

Every Wednesday afternoon at Williamstown Technical School was sports afternoon; usually football in the winter and cricket in summer: There was also bat tennis, handball, tennis, and maybe lacrosse. The school was divided into four houses, Gellibrand, Nelson, Hobson, and Kororoit to manufacturing teams to play against each other. There were several teams for each house cobbled together from different combinations of forms. Once a year the houses would play off against each other. I was in Kororoit house. It was the start of summer and just before the end of the school year. The houses were competing against each other in the annual swimming carnival at Footscray Baths. Overcome with my Murray Rose fantasy I singled out swimming; one hundred yards breaststroke in chlorinated water; twice the length of the pool. I was still blundering in the pool as the swimmers for the next event were taking their place at the end of the pool.

Image: State Library Victoria

image source:state library victoria

I stopped swimming between the diver and racer but I did try to conquer swimming in chlorinated water. I would take the train into the city usually on weekends and count off breaststroke laps in the indoor poll of the Melbourne City Baths, but that didn’t last. And I didn’t swim in front of people again until I got a summer job as a lifeguard in the early seventies in London at an outdoor swimming pool.

I stopped thinking about my swimming exploits when the colourful mosaic panelling at Westroads retreated; caused by the window display at the glamorous and cool H&M store changing to what the fashionable and chic would be wearing in fall. I mused about mall walking.

I wear Hawaiian shirts, tartan shorts, and usually lime green walking socks for my mall-walking; the lion’s share of walkers combine velcro fastening athletic shoes, or Hush Puppy Mall Walkers, with variations of relaxed, full fit elastic waist, chino pants. No one wears dedicated walking apparel or attire. Some mall walkers have walkers, rollators or canes: And some carry oxygen tanks or small portable oxygen concentrators. I walk alone, just as I swam alone between the diver and racer, but others walk in pairs or in groups of three or more. I think the only thing common amongst mall walkers are Toyota Camry’s.

man cane walkin g

image source:jmcadam

I think there should be mall walking competitions. It wouldn’t be about the fastest mall walkers but would have different categories such as; apparel and attire, poise and grace, individual style, coordinated group walking, and apparatus integration. Points would be awarded for; foot and leg action, posture, control of your rollator or concentrator, flexibility, and uniqueness of the walking routine.

I think it would be agreeable to have a gift, novelty, and souvenir booths at the competitions selling souvenir Tee shirts, shaker balls, fridge magnets, and coasters. Maybe mall walking could become an Olympic event. There is a precedent for unique Olympic activities; the biathlon, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming. But the avant-garde does take time to evolve and mature into a spectator obsessed sport.

I wonder how many laps of Westroads is equivalent to swimming fifty times between the diver and racer.

Westroads Mall

Zombies!!! 3: Mall Walkers Expansion 2nd Ed

British man making a film about the mall walkers of Westroads

Virtual Reality Head Mounted Display in the Seventies

Mr. Stonehouse looked so old and we thought of him as a real fruitcake. Thin hair on top of a head that seemed so pointy: or maybe it just seemed pointy because there was not a lot of hair to hide the top of his head. He always wore trousers with pleats so sharp you could sharpen a pencil with them, a tie, and a tartan coat. It wasn’t a loud tartan but a mixture of subdued tans and light browns. He wore horn rimmed glasses, the type that are fashionable now. They were probably Ray-Ban Wayfarer or ClubMaster. Each class once a week was always the same. We sat two to a desk facing the front of the room: there were four rows of desks. When books and pencils were out and hands clasped on the desk Mr. Stonehouse would get up from the chair at his table, and walk to the edge to step onto the slightly raised platform at the front of the room and approach his blackboard. He would reach down for a stick of chalk, raise it to his mouth and lick it and then with his back to the 4 rows of desks create with blazing speed the working out to solve for X for a simple linear equation. The front of the room was a cloud of suspended chalk dust and it would settle on Mr. Stonhouse’s shoulders and thinning hair.

image source:jmcadam ( John McAdam 3rd from your right top row)

There was no talking allowed in class. We would all sit quietly with our desk mate and diligently copy what Mr. Stonehouse had created on the blackboard. Sometimes he would slowly turn from the board, face the class and slowly ask a baffling question. John Colville and Robert Ballard’s hands always went up first: like a horse out of the starting gate. They were the brains of form 3AB. Mr. Stonehouse would stop time for several minutes waiting for other hands to slowly go up before pointing at a raised hand. That was the only talking allowed: answering a Mr. Stonehouse question. Sometimes the urge to talk without being asked a Mr. Stonehouse question was overwhelming and a few words were shared with a desk mate in hushed whispers.

image source:indystar.com

We waited for Mr. Stonehouse to be hidden in another cloud of chalk dust created from another solution for X in another simple linear equation before letting the whisper escape. No sooner had the guilty whisper escaped then Mr. Stonehouse would spin around, extend his arm, and point at the guilty whisperer with his stick of chalk. Mr. Stonehouse would leave the board and walk to his table and reach into his chalk box and remove his leather strap. Sometimes it would be six of the best for the guilty whisperer. No talking allowed in Mr. Stonehouse’s class.

We always wondered how he did it: no one had eyes in the back of their head. It’s only now that I realize Mr. Stonehouse wasn’t just some old third form mathematics teacher He was adopting and using wearable technologies. He understood and was applying classic Fresnel Formula to the laws of refraction and reflection of light. As he faced the dark board he would see an image of the class on his glasses.

I wonder if Mr. Stonhouse’s glasses could video record for later playback so he could review his board work.


 Wayfarer or ClubMaster: Choose your Ray-Bans

3D Virtual Reality: Oculus Rift