likely larrikin if ever there was one, even if I do have to say so myself. Born 21/9/1949 in Glasgow, Scotland I was one of 6 children brought up in the rural village of Chryston in the area known as Strathclyde, but then North Lanarkshire, near the base of the Campsie Hills, the gateway to the Highlands.
The fields around the village were in those days sown with wheat, barley and oats and some were, in the summer, full of milk cows chewing the lush green grass together with the odd buttercup. Four miles to the north west is the small town of Kirkintilloch where there are still remains of a Roman wall - Antonineís Wall, stretching about 40 miles from the Firth of Forth towards the River Clyde.
Beyond Kirkintilloch and the Campsie Hills the summit of Ben Lomond can be seen from the village of Chryston. To the east of Ben and Loch Lomond is a stretch of lochs in a glen known as the Trossachs. This is Rob Roy MacGregor country and as a lad I used to fish for brown trout in Loch Ard. Thank heavens for tins of baked beans.
In summer we would collect the fruits of the land - wild strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, brambles - all to be made into jams and jellies.
Rosehips were also collected and the chemist shop paid us two pence per pound weight. I believe the fruit was turned into a syrup and tea to help the ailing.
A Sunday treat was to rise early in the morning to collect freshly laid eggs of birds such as peewit, partridge or wild duck. Together with mushrooms picked from the field these would make a delicious omelet.
My father grew lots of vegetables and fruits in the garden and hothouse and with an abundance of chicken and fresh produce from the local farm we ate better than most in the 1950s, at a time when a lot of foods were still in ration mode after World War 2.
Chryston has some notable buildings - Bedlay Castle, gifted to the church in the 12th century by King William the Lion and Garnkirk House, at one time owned by the well known insurance broker A.R. Stenhouse.
But there was also a harsh side to village life beside the icy, bleak winters. In 1959 some 50 odd miners were killed in an explosion in the nearby Auchengeich colliery. Iíll never forget the rows of coffins laid out in the church car park on the day of the funerals. There was hardly a home in the village unaffected by the tragedy.
My fatherís 42nd. cousin was a Ďpop starí in the 1930s and 40s going by the name of Monte Rey and singing for the bands of Geraldo and Joe Loss. He had a huge hit record with the song Donkey Serenade. When he died he was the retired estate manager for the Duke of Argyll.
My mother's uncle was Walter Alexander, pioneer of coach tripping, coach building and tourism in Scotland. Walter's vast estate has now been broken up and his home in Kinross-shire, Solsgirth near Dollar, is now a luxury hotel.
Mention Dinkum Aussies to your hosts Denise Burgin and husband.
Now back to the star of the show, me. My father died when I was 14, on the same day that the great U.S. singer Jim Reeves was killed in a plane crash. One of Dadís proudest moments was when I won the dux medal at primary school and was presented in front of what seemed like the whole world in the local church.
From an early age I had always had a job, delivering fruit and vegetables, milk, working on a small farm. Not only did this keep me out of mischief but also put a Pound or two in my pocket at a time when wages for a working man were low.
On to high school and the pubescent years. It was the 60s - The Beatles, whatís No. 1 this week? Somehow I managed to enjoy these years and achieve enough academically to enable me to move on to tertiary education. I moved into the big world of employment and found a job where I worked for 3 days a week and attended college on the other 2 days - and got paid for 5 days. Having studied accountancy, economics, shorthand and typing since I was 13 I found it rather easy and the 120 words-a-minute shorthand came in handy for taking notes.
Work was varied with a change of department every 6 months and an all round commercial experience. At one stage I looked after a fleet of some 20 chauffeur driven cars organising the busy travel schedules of directors and dignitaries. One mistake - curtains! I was only 19 years old.
Having seen some of Europe when I was 17 the wanderlust was on me again. I applied to emigrate to Canada and was accepted, however a friend talked me into giving the cold the flick and moving to Australia instead - so here I am!
It took me about 6 months to settle here. I had arrived in summer and found the heat oppressive but when the cooler months came I realised I liked the place.
I was playing soccer and after a game one Saturday I was a passenger in a vehicle which had an accident. The driver and another passenger in the back seat beside me was killed. I suffered a severe whiplash which still gives me trouble to this day.
My brother followed me out to Oz in April 73 and in the September we took off on a trip round the country in a 1964 EH Holden.
Some memorable jobs came our way on this trip -
Firstly working at Holdenís factory at Dandenong, Melbourne, making seats for Bedford trucks and fitting windscreens. GMH still owe my brother and I four days pay each.
Next we did labouring to bricklayers and then the heaviest job of all, steelfixing, laying steel for reinforced concrete.
On to Perth and working in a brick factory at Midland in the heat of summer and the heat of a brick kiln behind us. For years afterwards I dreamed of lifting wet clay formed bricks off a conveyor belt.
Then picking strawberries at Badgerup Road, or were they flies?
Finally picking tomatoes near Mudgee, on our way home, with our team of 3 being outpicked by a man with one arm. He went so fast he must have thought Richard Kimble was after him.
A trip to remember - blacked out at Ayers Rock (Uluru), almost run over sleeping on a very outback sand Ďroadí in the Northern Territory, losing the brakes coming off the then unsealed Nullarbor Plain road, isolated by floods in Rockhampton, Queensland. Mosquitoes everywhere, but we were thankful for a cold beer most places we went.
Eventually back to reality instead of virtual reality - a job, that 4 letter word, work! I landed a good job as financial controller for a group of companies with an American parent and put my head down and bum up to carve a career for myself.
I had been in Australia for just over 6 years when I went back to Scotland for my sisterís wedding. This trip was funded by a compensation payment for the car accident of years gone by. Nothing had changed in the village and I was even asked if I had been working in London or somewhere as I hadnít been around for a while. In Scotland some people are born, live and die within a five mile radius of their birthplace, having been nowhere, having done nothing - just existed, not even having their Andy Warhol 15 minutes of fame.
I was now 32 years young and bored with making everyone elseís fortune.
I decided it was now my turn. I had gone Ďinto businessí or self-employment as some may say. A good friend with wife troubles then threw himself from a building, or fell - we will never know. Anyway he was dead and for a fleeting moment the police suggested I had pushed him. In the face of a Ďmurderí rap I remembered he had had treatment for two failed suicide attempts. A quick phone call cleared the air and I was free to go.
With my major possessions in storage I took off around Australia again, Melbourne, Adelaide then up to North Queensland.
The holiday was over and I arrived back in Sydney in October 1983, establishing myself in Neutral Bay. I picked up some part time accounting work for a few small businesses then began installing computerised accounting software packages. This came easily to me as I had been involved with computers since the mid sixties when they were the size of a family lounge room.
I met my wife Anna on Friday 13th January, 1984, unlucky for some, and we were married on 22nd September, 1984, the day after my 35th birthday.
I had always said that 35 was a good age to marry. After the ceremony I spent the next 12 days in hospital. Itís a long story, youíll have to buy the book to find out what happened.
Anna went into an employment agency business with a colleague and after much success sold out to her partner. Together we then started a troubleshooting consultancy in banking and stockbroking and enjoyed the fruits of our labours until the stockmarket crash of 1987, Black Monday the 20th of October. I had the experience of actually working in a stockbrokerís office when the financial world crashed for many, including ourselves.
Moving on to other ventures - a restaurant, horse racing & breeding, conventions and tours, a small telephone company with time charged calls.
Weíve tried it all and all we ever saw was everyone with their hands out for money. We did the hard work and got nothing.
We did have some small successes - a yearling filly we bought in New Zealand and named Belinda Was Mine. She won 5 races and was good enough to run at Group 1 level as a 2yo and 3yo. She grew another leg in wet weather and the Moet champagne flowed on Anzac Day 1989 when we collected a 50/1 win at Royal Randwick. Will it still be Royal when the Republicans take over?
During these years we did a lot of travelling to Hawaii, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Bali, Singapore, Thailand and to U.S.A. and U.K. several times.
Today it is a reality with a CD ROM adventure game, storybook music album and television film in various stages of production. Hyperlink to Marathon Man to hear 9 songs from the project.
What you are reading is part of another concept called Dinkum Aussies, relating to the arrival of the new Millennium and a celebration of a great country.
This is just a brief summary of my chequered life but now at the age of 50 I feel I have found a niche in my working life and with a follow up of Marathon Man for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and numerous exciting applications of Dinkum Aussies there is enough to last my lifetime and beyond.
You, too, can have your life chronicled as I have. All you have to do is become a subscriber to Dinkum Aussies and open up the wondrous Universe of Cyberspace.
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