On an ordinary Sunday, as I was sipping my beer, and drawing an imagined scene from a distant aboriginal past, the truth came to me. An old gentleman (for want of a better word), told me that he had no time for the aborigine, “who only wants to sit in the dirt and play with sticks”. It occurred to me that he was a sum of the parts of his own history, that those parts determined the words he spoke to me. When I suggested, “you think that because of how you were brought up, if you were raised aboriginal you might have a different view”, he conceded that was probably true.
So then I started thinking how I was raised, and how that impacted me, and how my own history is shaping me. But where does that journey start? Do I list them in the order that they come to me, the order they impacted, or chronological, I have no choice … I have to do them in the order they come to me and assume it is also the order they impacted…
So I start in grade six… and I introduce you to Thompson. Thompson would wait for me every day after school behind the row of shops. There was no question of not turning up, I was no coward. At any rate a beating was not a new occurrence to me. My feud with Thompson started after I succeeded him as high jump champion, a short lived title amongst growing boys. The beatings went on for what seems now like months, but in reality was probably only two weeks, tops. The worst inflicted ones were those that tore my uniform or school hat. The uniforms I had were hand me down from neighborhood boys, and had already been subjected to more punishment than a set of clothes should have to endure.
This battle I had to fight alone. There was no one in my corner, I could never talk to my parents about it. I believed at the time they had no compassion for it, if they did I never tested them on it. I know my Mum would ridicule my playing style on the football field on the few times that she would attend, and loved telling everyone that she nicknamed me “autumn leaves”, so I sought no solace there. The only other person with a vested interest in the story was Thompson.
Thompson had black oily hair, cut with the classic “short, back and sides” bowl cut. His uniforms were never clean and had obviously been new, long before he owned them. He was one of those boney gaunt kids that would grow to be a rangy adult. The thing about Thompson that never occurred me until I look back is that he always had bruises, black eyes, and a hunted look, and yet I always thought I was the victim.