I am afraid!

One of the things about the way I write is that it just spews forth. I don’t spend a lot of time composing, re-writing or editing what I post on my blogs. Basically you get pretty much what I would say if we were involved in a conversation.

That sometimes means that I miss putting into a post some of the things that I would have said had I spent a bit more time thinking about it. Such is the case with the previous post on my experience, or lack of it, with alcohol.

It came to me overnight that whilst I stated that I didn’t drink because of a promise I’d made to my grandmother, that maybe, that was only part of the story. I realised that I am actually afraid of drinking. For two reasons.

Firstly, I am afraid of losing control of myself. I have built a facade of dependability, of seriousness, a sober personality if you like, and I am petrified of being put in a situation where I can’t control myself. I fear being laughed at or of making myself look stupid. I remember the embarrassment when my mates came around and Dad was under the weather. They thought he was cool, I just wanted to shrink back to my bedroom.

The other fear is that of being an alcoholic. Totally irrational I know, but it has been demonstrated to run in families and there is enough in mine to make me believe that there may be a genetic basis. So if I were a drinker would it lead inevitably to alcoholism? That tied in with the lack of control is enough to make me wary of ever doing so.

I’ve said often enough that I am a rational man, maybe that’s only true up to a point as well. Because looking at what I’ve written doesn’t make me appear all that rational. Midlife is about questioning who and why we are what we are, maybe trying to understand our own motivations and putting decisions we have made into the context of a life that now has the breadth and depth we lack as children, teenagers or early adults. It’s about understanding what the warts mean in the “warts and all” tapestry that makes us who we are.

May I finish by saying to you who read and comment – thank you. In giving me feedback you are making me understand myself more fully. I feel at times that in blogging I am wiping the sleep from my eyes.

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I am afraid!

One of the things about the way I write is that it just spews forth. I don’t spend a lot of time composing, re-writing or editing what I post on my blogs. Basically you get pretty much what I would say if we were involved in a conversation.

That sometimes means that I miss putting into a post some of the things that I would have said had I spent a bit more time thinking about it. Such is the case with the previous post on my experience, or lack of it, with alcohol.

It came to me overnight that whilst I stated that I didn’t drink because of a promise I’d made to my grandmother, that maybe, that was only part of the story. I realised that I am actually afraid of drinking. For two reasons.

Firstly, I am afraid of losing control of myself. I have built a facade of dependability, of seriousness, a sober personality if you like, and I am petrified of being put in a situation where I can’t control myself. I fear being laughed at or of making myself look stupid. I remember the embarrassment when my mates came around and Dad was under the weather. They thought he was cool, I just wanted to shrink back to my bedroom.

The other fear is that of being an alcoholic. Totally irrational I know, but it has been demonstrated to run in families and there is enough in mine to make me believe that there may be a genetic basis. So if I were a drinker would it lead inevitably to alcoholism? That tied in with the lack of control is enough to make me wary of ever doing so.

I’ve said often enough that I am a rational man, maybe that’s only true up to a point as well. Because looking at what I’ve written doesn’t make me appear all that rational. Midlife is about questioning who and why we are what we are, maybe trying to understand our own motivations and putting decisions we have made into the context of a life that now has the breadth and depth we lack as children, teenagers or early adults. It’s about understanding what the warts mean in the “warts and all” tapestry that makes us who we are.

May I finish by saying to you who read and comment – thank you. In giving me feedback you are making me understand myself more fully. I feel at times that in blogging I am wiping the sleep from my eyes.

Josie’s Interview Part 2 – A non-sozzled Loz

Here is part 2 of Josie’s interview of me. The link to the other people she has interviewed can be found here.

2. You have chosen to lead an alcohol-free life. Though you have probably discussed this elsewhere on your blog, I’m not familiar with the story. What are your reasons for making and staying with that choice. You stated that “drinking has had a huge impact on who I am, for good and bad”. Please elaborate on both facets of that impact.

My Dad was a drinker, in fact he drank to excess, less in his later years than when we were growing up. There is a culture of drinking in Australia and a considerable amount of pressure put on young men to drink. In some cases that can lead to people having drinking problems. Dad’s story is told in part on my other blog Sunrays and Saturdays.

I don’t want to imply that Dad was abusive because he wasn’t, but his drinking did lead to arguments and those arguments had a profound affect on me when I was growing up. There was rarely a time when we went out that Dad didn’t eventually have too much to drink. There were often times when he came home late from work because he’d been at the pub and often my sisters and I would be in bed when he got home. I often used to lie awake in bed waiting for him to come home and there would inevitably be a shouting fight when he did arrive home. I would call out to him when I heard him come in the door and ask for a drink of water and it’s only recently that I realised that I wanted that drink because it meant he would come down and I could see that he was home safe, not because I was thirsty.

Dad also had a brother who drank to excess and I have been told that he began to drink after a truck he was driving ran over a small car and killed a couple of ladies who were in it. It was not his fault but it triggered his alcoholism. I guess in those days things like post traumatic stress disorder were unheard of and there was no support for anyone who found themselves in that situation. Additionally my Mum had both a brother and a brother-in-law who also drank to excess.

I count myself lucky that there was no physical violence associated with the drunkenness of any of those men, or at least, if there was, that it was hidden from us.

At some stage when I was around 6 or 7 years old I remember promising my Nana [Dad’s Mum] that I would never drink and I have stood true to that promise. That together with an incident when Dad left the family home for a while and a neighbour pulled me aside and told me I was now the man of the house at around 9 or 10 years of age meant I really had no choice other than to grow up a non-drinker.

Over the past 18 months I have come to understand my self better than I ever have before. I had always thought that I had embraced the responsibility of being the man in the house but in reality it lead me to become a loner. I was far more comfortable in my own company than with other people. Those of you who are loners will understand the nature of a child who spends a lot of time in his bedroom reading, writing, painting soldiers and listening to music. The bedroom was a safe place. It was mine. A place where there were no arguments, to where I could retreat and get lost in a world where I could tread Barsoom with John Carter, or walk Mirkwood with Frodo, or sail the oceans with Captain Nemo.

Alone and in that room I could control what was happening and I didn’t have to be put in situations over which I had no control. I wrote about one of those times with Dad when I had no control at all over what was happening and as a kid I just had to sit back and accept my lot at the time. You can read that here if you wish in a post I called “A Bleary Road”. Again, compared to the horrors faced by some people, these were minor, but still made me what I am today.

I wasn’t a recluse, as I’m not now, I was just comfortable with my own company. I will admit to some apprehension about having friends around because I was embarrassed by Dad’s drunkenness. So whilst there were friends who visited it wasn’t something that I really looked forward to. Was I a loner because of the experiences I had growing up or was I always going to be one. It was a question I pondered in another post earlier this year.

Josie asked me what I meant about non-drinking being good and bad. Well the good is that I have in these matters anyway, stayed true to myself. The bad, is the feelings of loneliness or of not fitting into social situations. I don’t wish to imply in any of this that I had a bad childhood. I didn’t, we never went without and the good times far outweighed the bad. I never ever doubted that Mum and Dad loved me, that was evident in everything they did for us. But alcohol can have a profound affect on even those of us who do not use it.

Josie’s Interview Part 2 – A non-sozzled Loz

Here is part 2 of Josie’s interview of me. The link to the other people she has interviewed can be found here.

2. You have chosen to lead an alcohol-free life. Though you have probably discussed this elsewhere on your blog, I’m not familiar with the story. What are your reasons for making and staying with that choice. You stated that “drinking has had a huge impact on who I am, for good and bad”. Please elaborate on both facets of that impact.

My Dad was a drinker, in fact he drank to excess, less in his later years than when we were growing up. There is a culture of drinking in Australia and a considerable amount of pressure put on young men to drink. In some cases that can lead to people having drinking problems. Dad’s story is told in part on my other blog Sunrays and Saturdays.

I don’t want to imply that Dad was abusive because he wasn’t, but his drinking did lead to arguments and those arguments had a profound affect on me when I was growing up. There was rarely a time when we went out that Dad didn’t eventually have too much to drink. There were often times when he came home late from work because he’d been at the pub and often my sisters and I would be in bed when he got home. I often used to lie awake in bed waiting for him to come home and there would inevitably be a shouting fight when he did arrive home. I would call out to him when I heard him come in the door and ask for a drink of water and it’s only recently that I realised that I wanted that drink because it meant he would come down and I could see that he was home safe, not because I was thirsty.

Dad also had a brother who drank to excess and I have been told that he began to drink after a truck he was driving ran over a small car and killed a couple of ladies who were in it. It was not his fault but it triggered his alcoholism. I guess in those days things like post traumatic stress disorder were unheard of and there was no support for anyone who found themselves in that situation. Additionally my Mum had both a brother and a brother-in-law who also drank to excess.

I count myself lucky that there was no physical violence associated with the drunkenness of any of those men, or at least, if there was, that it was hidden from us.

At some stage when I was around 6 or 7 years old I remember promising my Nana [Dad’s Mum] that I would never drink and I have stood true to that promise. That together with an incident when Dad left the family home for a while and a neighbour pulled me aside and told me I was now the man of the house at around 9 or 10 years of age meant I really had no choice other than to grow up a non-drinker.

Over the past 18 months I have come to understand my self better than I ever have before. I had always thought that I had embraced the responsibility of being the man in the house but in reality it lead me to become a loner. I was far more comfortable in my own company than with other people. Those of you who are loners will understand the nature of a child who spends a lot of time in his bedroom reading, writing, painting soldiers and listening to music. The bedroom was a safe place. It was mine. A place where there were no arguments, to where I could retreat and get lost in a world where I could tread Barsoom with John Carter, or walk Mirkwood with Frodo, or sail the oceans with Captain Nemo.

Alone and in that room I could control what was happening and I didn’t have to be put in situations over which I had no control. I wrote about one of those times with Dad when I had no control at all over what was happening and as a kid I just had to sit back and accept my lot at the time. You can read that here if you wish in a post I called “A Bleary Road”. Again, compared to the horrors faced by some people, these were minor, but still made me what I am today.

I wasn’t a recluse, as I’m not now, I was just comfortable with my own company. I will admit to some apprehension about having friends around because I was embarrassed by Dad’s drunkenness. So whilst there were friends who visited it wasn’t something that I really looked forward to. Was I a loner because of the experiences I had growing up or was I always going to be one. It was a question I pondered in another post earlier this year.

Josie asked me what I meant about non-drinking being good and bad. Well the good is that I have in these matters anyway, stayed true to myself. The bad, is the feelings of loneliness or of not fitting into social situations. I don’t wish to imply in any of this that I had a bad childhood. I didn’t, we never went without and the good times far outweighed the bad. I never ever doubted that Mum and Dad loved me, that was evident in everything they did for us. But alcohol can have a profound affect on even those of us who do not use it.

Josie’s Interview Part 2 – A non-sozzled Loz

Here is part 2 of Josie’s interview of me. The link to the other people she has interviewed can be found here.

2. You have chosen to lead an alcohol-free life. Though you have probably discussed this elsewhere on your blog, I’m not familiar with the story. What are your reasons for making and staying with that choice. You stated that “drinking has had a huge impact on who I am, for good and bad”. Please elaborate on both facets of that impact.

My Dad was a drinker, in fact he drank to excess, less in his later years than when we were growing up. There is a culture of drinking in Australia and a considerable amount of pressure put on young men to drink. In some cases that can lead to people having drinking problems. Dad’s story is told in part on my other blog Sunrays and Saturdays.

I don’t want to imply that Dad was abusive because he wasn’t, but his drinking did lead to arguments and those arguments had a profound affect on me when I was growing up. There was rarely a time when we went out that Dad didn’t eventually have too much to drink. There were often times when he came home late from work because he’d been at the pub and often my sisters and I would be in bed when he got home. I often used to lie awake in bed waiting for him to come home and there would inevitably be a shouting fight when he did arrive home. I would call out to him when I heard him come in the door and ask for a drink of water and it’s only recently that I realised that I wanted that drink because it meant he would come down and I could see that he was home safe, not because I was thirsty.

Dad also had a brother who drank to excess and I have been told that he began to drink after a truck he was driving ran over a small car and killed a couple of ladies who were in it. It was not his fault but it triggered his alcoholism. I guess in those days things like post traumatic stress disorder were unheard of and there was no support for anyone who found themselves in that situation. Additionally my Mum had both a brother and a brother-in-law who also drank to excess.

I count myself lucky that there was no physical violence associated with the drunkenness of any of those men, or at least, if there was, that it was hidden from us.

At some stage when I was around 6 or 7 years old I remember promising my Nana [Dad’s Mum] that I would never drink and I have stood true to that promise. That together with an incident when Dad left the family home for a while and a neighbour pulled me aside and told me I was now the man of the house at around 9 or 10 years of age meant I really had no choice other than to grow up a non-drinker.

Over the past 18 months I have come to understand my self better than I ever have before. I had always thought that I had embraced the responsibility of being the man in the house but in reality it lead me to become a loner. I was far more comfortable in my own company than with other people. Those of you who are loners will understand the nature of a child who spends a lot of time in his bedroom reading, writing, painting soldiers and listening to music. The bedroom was a safe place. It was mine. A place where there were no arguments, to where I could retreat and get lost in a world where I could tread Barsoom with John Carter, or walk Mirkwood with Frodo, or sail the oceans with Captain Nemo.

Alone and in that room I could control what was happening and I didn’t have to be put in situations over which I had no control. I wrote about one of those times with Dad when I had no control at all over what was happening and as a kid I just had to sit back and accept my lot at the time. You can read that here if you wish in a post I called “A Bleary Road”. Again, compared to the horrors faced by some people, these were minor, but still made me what I am today.

I wasn’t a recluse, as I’m not now, I was just comfortable with my own company. I will admit to some apprehension about having friends around because I was embarrassed by Dad’s drunkenness. So whilst there were friends who visited it wasn’t something that I really looked forward to. Was I a loner because of the experiences I had growing up or was I always going to be one. It was a question I pondered in another post earlier this year.

Josie asked me what I meant about non-drinking being good and bad. Well the good is that I have in these matters anyway, stayed true to myself. The bad, is the feelings of loneliness or of not fitting into social situations. I don’t wish to imply in any of this that I had a bad childhood. I didn’t, we never went without and the good times far outweighed the bad. I never ever doubted that Mum and Dad loved me, that was evident in everything they did for us. But alcohol can have a profound affect on even those of us who do not use it.

A Bleary Road


1969 and this album was on high rotation. There were only three school terms in those days so the holidays were usually around May and September and that year was my first at High School. Mum was working full time, my sisters were being baby sat by the neighbour across the road and Dad must have agreed to take me to work on a few days.

He was a “Commercial Traveller” and at that time worked for a company called E.C. Blackwood’s who were paper merchants and their warehouse was on southbank in the days when it was an industrial area a long way from the riverside boulevard and café precinct that it has become. The railway line and the river were the true boundary of the city. In fact the river was disdained and in lot’s of ways Melbourne seemed embarrassed by it in those days – the river that flowed upside down, a sewer.

The southbank was an industrial area, warehouses, factories, cobbled laneways, narrow streets, trucks, and that was where I headed with my Dad on those school holiday mornings.

Dad had a company car and it was updated annually. The first one I can remember him driving was a mini minor and that must have been around 1964-65 because we went on a holiday to Adelaide in it – five people plus luggage piled high on the roof. After that though, the company began to supply Holden’s and in 1969 I’m pretty sure he was driving a grey HR Holden sedan like the one in the picture.

Amazingly for us, this car had a radio and it was that which became my friend those long afternoons when I went to work with Dad. Usually the mornings were spent seeing clients, driving all over the city, taking orders and selling new paper products. Most of Dad’s sales were in paper bags – no plastic bags in those days, wherever you went, grocer, greengrocer, milkbar, bottle shop, everything was put into paper bags.

But inevitably come lunchtime, there would be a rendezvous at a pub somewhere with some mates. Now as I think back on it, these dates must have been set up earlier because there were no mobile phones or pagers in those days, so it all had to be pre-planned. I didn’t think too much of it at the time if Dad would say, I’ll just pop in here for a while.

I was a kid of course, and kids weren’t allowed in bars, so I’d have to stay in the car and wait for him to come out. Usually he’d bring me out a lemon squash or something to drink, maybe a small bottle of tarax lemonade, and maybe a sandwich. But looking back I guess there was no real concern about leaving a kid in a car in a car park of a pub alone for a few hours, while he was in there drinking with his mates. I don’t suppose there was any real danger in those days, I survived, but we’d be pretty critical of anyone who did that to kids these days.

So the radio was my friend and that afternoon Abbey Road was on high rotation and that meant that the top 5 songs on the chart were played every couple of hours or so. When Dad was in the car the radio was tuned into the horse races but when I was sitting there by myself I could listen to 3XY or to 3AK “where no wrinklies fly”. I clearly remember even now the words of “Bang Bang Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, “Come together” and “Octopus’s Garden”. Look at this list of some of the other top hits of 1969 –
1. Aquarius, Fifth Dimension
2. Sugar, Sugar, Archies
4. Honky Tonk Women, Rolling Stones
5. Build Me Up Buttercup, Foundations
8. I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, Tom Jones
13. Hair, Cowsills
16. Crimson And Clover, Tommy James and The Shondells
18. Suspicious Minds, Elvis Presley
19. Proud Mary, Creedence Clearwater Revival
22. Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond

I’m betting everyone of them was played while I sat there waiting for Dad. But I don’t know how long I used to sit alone in the car on those afternoons. It was hours, I know that, because Dad was usually under the weather when he came out some time later. Funny, this particular day that keeps popping into my head was sunny, not hot, but not cold either. The sky was blue with light whilte clouds drifting slowly past. I can remember that we were somewhere on the Hume Highway, near Broadmeadows, the pub was in an industrial area, a large car park, with not a lot of traffic in it.

Looking back it’s really hard to imagine how socially acceptable drink driving was at the time. Dad was clearly pissed on those afternoons but thought nothing of driving home and showed less concern about driving home with his son next to him. The only way home from that pub on that day was down Sydney Road, through the city and then out Riversdale Road to home. We could follow the tram tracks. I guess it wasn’t possible to speed on that route so maybe that was how we got home safely every time.

I actually enjoyed being with Dad on those days, until we got to the pubs.

I know I keep returning to things about my Dad here and the reason is that there are so many of my midlife issues that keep pointing back to my Dad’s alcoholism. I will never say that I had a deprived or bad childhood, I didn’t, but I need to put the things I regard as my weaknesses into context – communication skills, inability to make friends and maintain friendships, self esteem, inability to express emotion, desire to run from and avoid conflict. I’m trying to understand why a father would do that to a son. I know there are people who have been treated far worse. But why did Dad think it was acceptable to leave a kid in a car in a car park of a pub for hours while he was inside drinking with his mates? Different times I guess. Just different times.

A Bleary Road


1969 and this album was on high rotation. There were only three school terms in those days so the holidays were usually around May and September and that year was my first at High School. Mum was working full time, my sisters were being baby sat by the neighbour across the road and Dad must have agreed to take me to work on a few days.

He was a “Commercial Traveller” and at that time worked for a company called E.C. Blackwood’s who were paper merchants and their warehouse was on southbank in the days when it was an industrial area a long way from the riverside boulevard and café precinct that it has become. The railway line and the river were the true boundary of the city. In fact the river was disdained and in lot’s of ways Melbourne seemed embarrassed by it in those days – the river that flowed upside down, a sewer.

The southbank was an industrial area, warehouses, factories, cobbled laneways, narrow streets, trucks, and that was where I headed with my Dad on those school holiday mornings.

Dad had a company car and it was updated annually. The first one I can remember him driving was a mini minor and that must have been around 1964-65 because we went on a holiday to Adelaide in it – five people plus luggage piled high on the roof. After that though, the company began to supply Holden’s and in 1969 I’m pretty sure he was driving a grey HR Holden sedan like the one in the picture.

Amazingly for us, this car had a radio and it was that which became my friend those long afternoons when I went to work with Dad. Usually the mornings were spent seeing clients, driving all over the city, taking orders and selling new paper products. Most of Dad’s sales were in paper bags – no plastic bags in those days, wherever you went, grocer, greengrocer, milkbar, bottle shop, everything was put into paper bags.

But inevitably come lunchtime, there would be a rendezvous at a pub somewhere with some mates. Now as I think back on it, these dates must have been set up earlier because there were no mobile phones or pagers in those days, so it all had to be pre-planned. I didn’t think too much of it at the time if Dad would say, I’ll just pop in here for a while.

I was a kid of course, and kids weren’t allowed in bars, so I’d have to stay in the car and wait for him to come out. Usually he’d bring me out a lemon squash or something to drink, maybe a small bottle of tarax lemonade, and maybe a sandwich. But looking back I guess there was no real concern about leaving a kid in a car in a car park of a pub alone for a few hours, while he was in there drinking with his mates. I don’t suppose there was any real danger in those days, I survived, but we’d be pretty critical of anyone who did that to kids these days.

So the radio was my friend and that afternoon Abbey Road was on high rotation and that meant that the top 5 songs on the chart were played every couple of hours or so. When Dad was in the car the radio was tuned into the horse races but when I was sitting there by myself I could listen to 3XY or to 3AK “where no wrinklies fly”. I clearly remember even now the words of “Bang Bang Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, “Come together” and “Octopus’s Garden”. Look at this list of some of the other top hits of 1969 –
1. Aquarius, Fifth Dimension
2. Sugar, Sugar, Archies
4. Honky Tonk Women, Rolling Stones
5. Build Me Up Buttercup, Foundations
8. I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, Tom Jones
13. Hair, Cowsills
16. Crimson And Clover, Tommy James and The Shondells
18. Suspicious Minds, Elvis Presley
19. Proud Mary, Creedence Clearwater Revival
22. Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond

I’m betting everyone of them was played while I sat there waiting for Dad. But I don’t know how long I used to sit alone in the car on those afternoons. It was hours, I know that, because Dad was usually under the weather when he came out some time later. Funny, this particular day that keeps popping into my head was sunny, not hot, but not cold either. The sky was blue with light whilte clouds drifting slowly past. I can remember that we were somewhere on the Hume Highway, near Broadmeadows, the pub was in an industrial area, a large car park, with not a lot of traffic in it.

Looking back it’s really hard to imagine how socially acceptable drink driving was at the time. Dad was clearly pissed on those afternoons but thought nothing of driving home and showed less concern about driving home with his son next to him. The only way home from that pub on that day was down Sydney Road, through the city and then out Riversdale Road to home. We could follow the tram tracks. I guess it wasn’t possible to speed on that route so maybe that was how we got home safely every time.

I actually enjoyed being with Dad on those days, until we got to the pubs.

I know I keep returning to things about my Dad here and the reason is that there are so many of my midlife issues that keep pointing back to my Dad’s alcoholism. I will never say that I had a deprived or bad childhood, I didn’t, but I need to put the things I regard as my weaknesses into context – communication skills, inability to make friends and maintain friendships, self esteem, inability to express emotion, desire to run from and avoid conflict. I’m trying to understand why a father would do that to a son. I know there are people who have been treated far worse. But why did Dad think it was acceptable to leave a kid in a car in a car park of a pub for hours while he was inside drinking with his mates? Different times I guess. Just different times.

A Bleary Road


1969 and this album was on high rotation. There were only three school terms in those days so the holidays were usually around May and September and that year was my first at High School. Mum was working full time, my sisters were being baby sat by the neighbour across the road and Dad must have agreed to take me to work on a few days.

He was a “Commercial Traveller” and at that time worked for a company called E.C. Blackwood’s who were paper merchants and their warehouse was on southbank in the days when it was an industrial area a long way from the riverside boulevard and café precinct that it has become. The railway line and the river were the true boundary of the city. In fact the river was disdained and in lot’s of ways Melbourne seemed embarrassed by it in those days – the river that flowed upside down, a sewer.

The southbank was an industrial area, warehouses, factories, cobbled laneways, narrow streets, trucks, and that was where I headed with my Dad on those school holiday mornings.

Dad had a company car and it was updated annually. The first one I can remember him driving was a mini minor and that must have been around 1964-65 because we went on a holiday to Adelaide in it – five people plus luggage piled high on the roof. After that though, the company began to supply Holden’s and in 1969 I’m pretty sure he was driving a grey HR Holden sedan like the one in the picture.

Amazingly for us, this car had a radio and it was that which became my friend those long afternoons when I went to work with Dad. Usually the mornings were spent seeing clients, driving all over the city, taking orders and selling new paper products. Most of Dad’s sales were in paper bags – no plastic bags in those days, wherever you went, grocer, greengrocer, milkbar, bottle shop, everything was put into paper bags.

But inevitably come lunchtime, there would be a rendezvous at a pub somewhere with some mates. Now as I think back on it, these dates must have been set up earlier because there were no mobile phones or pagers in those days, so it all had to be pre-planned. I didn’t think too much of it at the time if Dad would say, I’ll just pop in here for a while.

I was a kid of course, and kids weren’t allowed in bars, so I’d have to stay in the car and wait for him to come out. Usually he’d bring me out a lemon squash or something to drink, maybe a small bottle of tarax lemonade, and maybe a sandwich. But looking back I guess there was no real concern about leaving a kid in a car in a car park of a pub alone for a few hours, while he was in there drinking with his mates. I don’t suppose there was any real danger in those days, I survived, but we’d be pretty critical of anyone who did that to kids these days.

So the radio was my friend and that afternoon Abbey Road was on high rotation and that meant that the top 5 songs on the chart were played every couple of hours or so. When Dad was in the car the radio was tuned into the horse races but when I was sitting there by myself I could listen to 3XY or to 3AK “where no wrinklies fly”. I clearly remember even now the words of “Bang Bang Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, “Come together” and “Octopus’s Garden”. Look at this list of some of the other top hits of 1969 –
1. Aquarius, Fifth Dimension
2. Sugar, Sugar, Archies
4. Honky Tonk Women, Rolling Stones
5. Build Me Up Buttercup, Foundations
8. I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, Tom Jones
13. Hair, Cowsills
16. Crimson And Clover, Tommy James and The Shondells
18. Suspicious Minds, Elvis Presley
19. Proud Mary, Creedence Clearwater Revival
22. Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond

I’m betting everyone of them was played while I sat there waiting for Dad. But I don’t know how long I used to sit alone in the car on those afternoons. It was hours, I know that, because Dad was usually under the weather when he came out some time later. Funny, this particular day that keeps popping into my head was sunny, not hot, but not cold either. The sky was blue with light whilte clouds drifting slowly past. I can remember that we were somewhere on the Hume Highway, near Broadmeadows, the pub was in an industrial area, a large car park, with not a lot of traffic in it.

Looking back it’s really hard to imagine how socially acceptable drink driving was at the time. Dad was clearly pissed on those afternoons but thought nothing of driving home and showed less concern about driving home with his son next to him. The only way home from that pub on that day was down Sydney Road, through the city and then out Riversdale Road to home. We could follow the tram tracks. I guess it wasn’t possible to speed on that route so maybe that was how we got home safely every time.

I actually enjoyed being with Dad on those days, until we got to the pubs.

I know I keep returning to things about my Dad here and the reason is that there are so many of my midlife issues that keep pointing back to my Dad’s alcoholism. I will never say that I had a deprived or bad childhood, I didn’t, but I need to put the things I regard as my weaknesses into context – communication skills, inability to make friends and maintain friendships, self esteem, inability to express emotion, desire to run from and avoid conflict. I’m trying to understand why a father would do that to a son. I know there are people who have been treated far worse. But why did Dad think it was acceptable to leave a kid in a car in a car park of a pub for hours while he was inside drinking with his mates? Different times I guess. Just different times.