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lunch with mick

Mick Dooley and I sat around a restaurant table at Manly today and had a three hour lunch, wives in attendance, fish and oysters on the menu, old times the subject and most everyone got a mention.

Andy Cochran rang halfway through the first course wanting to know how Wheels Williams was going. Not good I heard Mick say, the old lad is fading. Wheels is due in Aus this week to farewell his old friends, the pity is he may not remember some of them.

Then we spoke about Gordon Woods, who remains fit and well. Then Farrelly, Scott Dillon, Wally the Walker, Gary Moffat, Kevin B and the brutal destruction of his young life .. ..  old surfers:  bankrupts bastards and good men, their names inscribed on the permanence of thin air.

Old men have these conversations, fatal as they are, and for evey death of an old friend we remember a young friend, and all of us surfers, wedded to the waves.

About a year ago Mick felt a pea-sized lump under his ear and a week later a surgeon peeled off half his face to remove it. Joe Dancer come to play his end game.

So many of us gone, wandering the deserts of eternity, waiting for judgement.

Mick and I were both sent to the same boarding school when we were very young, fathers just returned from the war. He stayed, I ran off and came back. That is our bond.

I’m sitting in an apartment overlooking the surf at North Steyne. It’s rubbish out there, the sea blown to buggery by a south-easter but there are at least thirty surfers in the water trying for a bit of speed and space on the close-out faces, kooks mostly, from every nation on earth.


All they want to do is ride a wave.

Nothing changes.


Nat LJ Richards, Mick and Midget.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mike Bennett #

    Hi Pete,
    Spoke to Wheels, wife Jan & son Keone the day before they left for Aussie for his reunion with family and long time mates. John was in great spirits and excited about the trip. I hate to see your comment “pity he won’t remember any of them.” Take my word he will when he sees them. I only wish from time to time, in the future, he remembers all of us…that’s the way the dreaded Alz works. I just spent two months in Hawaii with Wheels and Andy C. We had brekkie together, talked, sat on the beach and checked out the surf. Pretty much the same kind of days we have now and had for the past 50 plus years. Lots of memories. I’ll see him again soon in Hawaii and Andy, Wheels and I will be doing the same old things together…brekkie, beach, and checking out the surf and oh, did I forget, the girls too. Some things never change. Wheels’ birthday is the 12th and he’ll be with all of you in his beloved Aussie with family and friends. It’s going to be a special day for all of you.

    November 10, 2017
  2. Thanks Mike, I’ll give Mick a slap for the misinformation.

    November 10, 2017
  3. Terry Jenkings #

    Good story Pete. Glad to see the bonds of the pioneers of Sth Bondi Boardriders are still strong – nothing changes . I filmed Mic and Gordon a few months ago for a Bondi documentary which should be ready early next year.
    Keep enjoying those Breekies.

    November 10, 2017
  4. Ta TJ, I should go up Brunswick way and ambush Bruce Rogers and Max B. I thought Max went mad forty years ago and the coppers shot him.

    November 10, 2017
  5. Mike Bennett #

    Hey Pete
    Don’t slap Mick, he’s a great guy and best friends of Wheels for a lifetime. John’s birthday is today, who ever is with him on this special day, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

    November 12, 2017
  6. Bruce Usher #

    Re the pic Pete not Nat the third Yank in the 64 final after Joey and Mike D….. knock at the door and journalist David Knox enters and says L J Richards.

    November 14, 2017
  7. Mike Bennett #

    Hi Wheels, it’s MJB, MJB, it’s your buddy Mike in Arizona, (that’s how he remembers me, Wheels is having memory problems). How was the trip John? “Really liked it Mike. Got to see all my old buddies. We’ve been friends for a lotta years. It sure was great to see my buddies again.” Who’d you see John? “Saw all my old buddies.” (Buddies is how John refers to all his friends). Wha,d you do John? “Sat around and talked with them, had a good time, had a really good time!” That’s great John, it’s must have been a lot of fun. “It was Mike, I really liked seeing those guys again, known those guys for a lot of years, a long time”. Terrific Wheels, I’m glad you had a fun time with them, I really am. Happy you had a great trip. See you soon John. Your buddy Andy, you and me will go out for brekkie, shoot the shit and go check out the surf, ok? (Just like we’ve been doing for the last 55 years.). “Sounds good Mike, see you then.” (Life is still pretty damn good!)
    Thanks to Andy for setting up the getogether. And thanks to the “buddies” who showed up! John does remember the trip and he does remember the great time he had with everyone!

    December 10, 2017
  8. Wheels, the hipster ….. in full model mode. He was as bad as Cochran when a camera showed up.

    December 10, 2017
  9. Mike Bennett. #

    Hey Pete, you sure dug into the archives for that one. What about poor Andy now, he’s gonna get jealous, he’s not in the photo.

    December 13, 2017

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