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It all started recently when I was greeted warmly by a female friend of my daughter’s. It was as if it was yesterday when we last met, but it turned out to have been 27 years ago. Where have the years gone? Where have they gone indeed, as Sir Robert Menzies would riposte, and whom subconsciously I still regard as Prime Minister. I last saw him speak in Forrest Place in Perth in 1963, and it once again seems like yesterday.


And that takes me back to the day in 1958 that the last tram ran up Beaufort Street from Perth City to Inglewood. The dignitaries were all assembled to mark the historic occasion before the tram left. All the trams had driver’s compartments in both ends, and on moving from one compartment to another in order to reverse direction, the driver would take a removable control handle from one compartment to the other. At the critical moment, some uni students (who will remain nameless) grabbed the handle necessary to start the tram moving and shot through. I can close my eyes and imagine I am still there.


Every year WA Uni would have a procession through Perth Known as Prosh. Students would parade in weird and wonderful costumes, all for the purpose of collecting donations for charity.  One that stands out as it is right before me is one student who dressed up as a vicar, white collar, black apparel and all. He was leading a male student wearing a dress with his face blackened, by a rope around the neck.  He was carrying a large sign advertising Vickers Gin, a popular alcoholic beverage in those days. Imagine that today.


It is the same with Prince Charles. Whenever I hear that he is to appear on TV in relation to the Prince Harry betrayal, I half expect to see the black-haired, fresh-faced kid who spent a term at Geelong Grammar's Timbertop in the Victorian Alps in 1966. (Rumour has it that he was dispatched to the Colony while Camilla delivered his progeny). Instead, I am surprised to see a kindly grey haired old chap, with his wild oats well and truly sown, one would think, or at least hope.

 I began investigating if there was a way to avoid the seemingly inevitable aging process, and went through the options. The cosmetic ones included wearing a rug, dyeing your hair, having a face lift and wearing a corset.  I discounted all of them as they make you look ridiculous, and you have to try to explain your sudden transformation. The life-style options included rings in your ears, a pony tail out of the remnants of your hair, tai chi and moving to a commune. I crossed those off the list as they not only emphasise your age, they make you look doubly ridiculous.



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I did not even consider marrying a young lady sixty years my junior, as I have a perfectly good wife in Mrs Flysa who would not understand. The only way that might work, I figured, was to obtain a Dorian Gray type portrait, which would age as I stayed forever young while carousing, until it was time to shuffle off this mortal coil. However, it is too late for that, as time has already wreaked its havoc, so I went no further.


Although I now have a Senior's Card, at the insistence of my good wife, I resisted it for many years in the mistaken belief that it was a tacit admission of being over the hill. When asked in a coffee shop if I was a senior, I would retort that I only looked old, as I was really young, but had a mis-spent youth to thank for my looks.  When I was asked for my first name so that I could be called when the coffee was ready, I would pick a name at random such as Boris, Jacko or Ulysses, in an attempt at juvenile humour.

However, there is one exception to the aging rule. They are tennis players who age one year in ten.  I am sure Roger Federer was playing when I was at school.

I may be in my eighties, but I am still able to turn back-somersaults at the door and balance an eel on the end of my nose.  The other things which I indulged in as a youth I am not so sure about, and will expand no further.

father william




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