Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Youth: 1972, a favourite year with the promise of tomorrow coming on strong!

So in early 1972 I am 18 and cruising around in my 1964 XM Falcon. What a car.. 50 MPH in first gear, 90 MPH in second.. and that was it. Fordomatic 2 speed auto transmission you see! Come late January of that year my good mate Ken Brand suggests a week of playing up in Kings Cross, Sydney. So we load our gear into his Torana GTR, surely one of the most desirable cars for a young bloke back then and point it southwards.

As I type this the memories come flooding back. Climbing Cunningham's Gap in the GTR with Ken treating the road as a competitive hill climb. Me somewhere south of Tamworth dragging an E Type Jaguar at over 90 mph. Dangerous you must be thinking? Yep! Surely was but somehow we lived to tell the tale.  The week in Sydney was amazing.. but I really cannot talk about it here. I can mention that I caught up with Bruce Vaughan my old school mate. He was on a RAN ship which happened to be in dock.. so we had 15 minutes on the wharf with him one night!

Back in Brisbane April comes around quickly enough and with it my first company car. A virtually new Escort 1300 which was surplus to requirements at the shop with staff changes etc. I loved it. And with that car I joined the Ford Escort Car Club of Qld which went on to become the Ford Car Club of Queensland. New faces and friendships soon formed. Geoff Gay, Ray and Bev Clarke, Ian Abercromby, Geoff Frohlich and also caught up with old primary school, high school and Scout mate; Peter Scott. Plus many others.

My 19th birthday arrives and the talk turned to national service and the then government conscription of young men by ballot of birthdays for military service. I did not want to join the army. No way! I had enough trouble with my time being structured by my apprenticeship. In third year and having to go to technical college 2 nights a week was enough for me.

And then somebody mentioned Gough Whitlam... from that July night on I was transfixed whenever he appeared on the TV. To this young man he appeared to be so different to other dreary politicians of the time. I was captivated.. my mother was too and my father spent many evenings at the dinner table trying to convince both of us that Gough was not a good choice to lead the country.

Then the adverts started on the tube.. how could so many show business people have it wrong I asked? The election day drew closer, Kay came into my life and it was to become a real Indian Summer for me. Drives in the country (when I first discovered the Lion's Road into Kyogle), Friday nights at Lennon's Pacesetter's high up over Queen Street and Saturday nights at the drive-in movies. Life was sweet.

On election day the Ford Car Club had a barbecue on at Graham and Caroline Cherry's home at Acacia Ridge. A hot discussion was the election of the ALP Government. Geoff Gay thought it would be bad for business. I was a whole lot more optimistic than that....

By 1974... Kay and I were over (actually over by March 1973) and..well Gough wasn't doing so well. He called a double dissolution election to get Medibank up and ran the slogan.. "Give us a go and we'll get the job done!"

He lost seats, but won and Medibank was born. I voted for him (my first ever time voting) and... by 1975 it was all going downhill so fast. Now I was "Technical Sales Rep" for the business and I watched how our business and so many of my customers too were affected by horrendous inflation and a scandal wracked cabinet that showed us a dysfunctional government in its death throws.

Fraser and his team blocked supply.. it was all over! And I have written about that elsewhere on my blog. As I didn't believe (and still don't) that the end justifies the means, I voted ALP on principle.

Looking back on the Whitlam experiment.. my only comments are to quote Gough himself from an ABC documentary...

"What can you say? What can you bloody well say?"

So 1972 was a year that started out with so much hope and promise.. it ended for me at least with that magic Indian Summer... which was a prelude to turbulent times in Australian Politics.

And as for Gough himself.. well I have met him and photographed him and he is amazing. His intellect is awe inspiring no matter what your political bent. He certainly was a giant in Australian Politics and you have to wonder about some of the pygmies who have followed in his foot steps.

My brother Max likes to comment on the colour of the card in my pocket!

So another of my favourite years put to bed....

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