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a life

It’s usual to see an ‘about’ page on a website  .. something about the author – a little flesh and bone – an autobiography of sorts.

Fair enough – so here’s mine.


Sent to boarding school aged seven / taught to box by the nuns / buggered off out of a bathroom window after two years and headed for Sydney 73 K’s away, never made it / educated later in life at Waverley College / played breakaway / terminated early and without a Leaving ticket due to some irreparable behavioural problems / had my best mate monstered by a paedophile / continued the education at South Bondi / bleached my hair / bought a couple of balsa surfboards / challenged the front row of a local football club unwisely late one night under a full moon / blood everywhere / missed the Vietnam birthday call-up by five days / never played golf or tennis / took an office job in Sydney purely on the grounds that two lovely girls sold black Nepalese hashish in a stairwell across the road every Friday afternoon / continued the Walk of Life at Hawkesbury River and Tallangatta with the Outward Bound School / met Antarctic explorers, mountaineers and merchant seamen / buried five boys and two instructors who drowned in the Hume Weir during a winter squall / met the Duke of Edinburgh at a boat handover / tried for a job on Bill Tillman’s Antarctic expedition / behaved badly in every pub in the eastern suburbs and paid handsomely for it / blood everywhere / travelled south from Sydney to South Australia via Melbourne on the fruit-pickers’ train / picked grapes until my hands bled / crashed enough church hall dances in Mildura to know we weren’t welcome / stayed at a mate’s place in Melbourne who’s sister was an airline hostess, she short-sheeted my bed for three nights but I never got the message / travelled north to Noosa looking for the perfect wave / drove past Lennox Head without even looking at the Point  / grounded in Byron Bay ’63 with only Queenslanders as friends / didn’t have the cash to by a fifty quid plot of land at Wategos / found work and the meaning of life at Walker’s Slaughterhouse / realised that the smell of powdered blood never went away / bagged a seat in Jimmy K’s red Merc with all his South Sea Island brothers / made friends with the hardest boys in town / met their sisters mothers fathers and uncles / was taught the meaning of generosity.


Got on a ship and sailed away forever / landed in the UK in winter and got on a train to Earls Court / found the poms a little moody, their girls were a different matter completely / challenged a tough little pom to a street fight but didn’t see his mate behind me holding a bottle / blood everywhere / ate fried rice in a chop shop for dinner every night for six months / did Calais to Oporto in the back of a car with two Canadians who didn’t understand me / found that Portugal had a few waves and cheap beds / met one of Salazar’s senior ministers in a Lisbon bar but all he was interested in was the American girl I was sitting with / found Tangiers was full of English ‘Strange’ and quality kief at bargain prices / didn’t surface for a month / ate a lot of tuna fish and tomato rolls and reckoned the literary whiff of Burroughs and Kerouac was still strong / travelled over the strait to Gibraltar and stayed for a year / took certain liberties on a game fishing boat from time to time / met the sharpest cigarette smuggler in the Med /  just avoided being seriously smacked around by armed UK marines full of piss and on leave from the Biafra uprising / saved a nightclub boss from a solid belting by the local plod and earned his lifelong friendship / found many Moroccan men were ‘hands-on’ friendly.

Got on a ship and went to the US forever / bought a wreck in Trenton New Jersey and drove to Mexico via Florida along some very strange roads / came across a lot of state police who didn’t like long hair on a man / met a black waitress in Phoenix who thought Australians ate Aboriginals / found stopping for a feed in an all-night truck stop in Alabama wasn’t a wise move, long hair again / found quality waves in Mexico and had my board thrown off a cliff in Baja then shat upon by a mob of Californian dimwits  / washed up in a Vancouver motel in winter for a month with only $54 US and two old paperbacks by Steinbeck / ate serious clam chowder for the first time / sat in a train for four days travelling from Vancouver to Quebec with a young bloke who looked like Bob Dylan / flew back to Gibraltar for the dark-haired girl / introduced Blonde on Blonde as ambient music in a couple of nightclubs / bought the dark-haired girl back home to Bondi to meet the family / worked in enough Sydney pubs to learn how to land a punch / washed cars / wired up old river mansions / worked in bars, hotels, nightclubs, building sites / slaughterhouses / worked in China and Singapore making two plus two equal five / established a financial reputation / ate plenty of chilli offal / found work in hotels / farms / orchards / car-yards / boat sheds / game-boats, river boats / offices / bought tickets for John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, John Fahey, Larry Coryell, David Fanshaw, Weather Report, Dave Brubeck, Mike Oldfield, the Stones, the Necks, Philip Glass and Miroslav Vitous / qualified as the Australian spreadsheet champion of all ages / re-visited Hong Kong every year for thirty years / challenged the Avalon Mafia to stop me from taking photos of their surf for an online surf reporting site/  studied for five years to get an accounting certificate so I could get into the big money / helped build ten one hundred foot ocean-going yachts / helped meaning I counted the company’s money for them and was trusted with the petty cash / bought a farm back of Bangalow with ten mango trees, no fences and a hundred wild dogs living in a gully just down the rise / killed every brown snake I could find / met an over-large wild cat named Big Ginger late one night when she sat outside my bedroom window growling like a hungry bear / grew a bit of this and that here and there / found cattlemen to be a different breed of working man / wrote five books / still go to church / just another old man kneeling in the back pew.

Living on the Richmond River now – watching the water and reading the sky.

.. and thanks for getting this far.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. joe green #

    killer read thanks

    March 15, 2020
  2. anytime joe ..

    March 15, 2020
  3. Chris Burgess #

    A fine life, well lived.

    March 15, 2020
    • Burgo .. ! We were only talking about you the other day. TonyF still alive and kicking.

      March 15, 2020
  4. Mike Holmes #

    And still lived to tell the story. Bit of a dark horse, Bowesy.

    March 16, 2020
  5. Mike Bennett #

    An old saying “if you live in a cave nothing good or bad will ever happen to you.” I’m happy for you Pete that you left the cave, bet you’re happy too! Isn’t it sad that some people never left it!

    March 19, 2020
    • All my caves had a back door out, Mike, even the polio pit at south Bondi ..I learnt how to run away at an early age and never forgot the freedom it gave.

      March 19, 2020
  6. Johnno Pseudonym #

    An interesting life full of variety. A really minor, minor thing, and not trying to be a smart A: you use “bought” instead of “brought”, not just in this piece but others too. Feel free to give me a whack over the ear and send me on my way.

    March 26, 2020
    • 650 words written under the influences of black rum, Eureka green and old age and you find the one out of order … I had teachers like you Johnno P, thank goodness … never too late to learn eh?

      March 26, 2020

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