School Daze

I have been contacted by a couple of people from school in the past few days.  They weren’t looking for me, but hoping to make contact with others who we shared time with some decades ago now.  I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on childhood and the wonder years in this blog and I think that may well be a symptom of midlife episodes.

I do remember both these people but I cannot remember ever having spoken to them.  One is a girl and I was as shy a school boy as anyone would ever come across so it’s not surprising we never had a conversation during school days – apart from being shy I wasn’t a “jock” and being bookish I tended to shrink a bit into the background, which was probably exacerbated by the fact that some of my mates alwyas did well with the girls, if you know what I mean.

So for these two people I think I was basically one of those forgettable people, someone whose name you may remember, but whose face was never one that was going to leave a lasting memory, or be easy to recall when the name was mentioned.

There are some things I remember from Burwood High School that seem seared into my brain and will be there forever.  But there are far many more things that seem shrouded in fog and have continued to fade, not unlike the photograph here of the front gate of the school.   The contrast is going, fading to grey, the corridors and class rooms hinted at behind the walls of the building have also remained for the most part hidden from the view of my memories.   The six years spent wandering the quadrangles and learning the things that still echo in the man writing here today, are lost somewhere and may never be recovered. 

I could make things up about those days.   Talk about the clarity and the teachers who changed my life, or the lifetime mates who I still see.  But the truth is that whilst some teachers made a mark, there was no Mr Chips or John Keating in my life.  Not their fault either.

When I look back I realise that I was an observer rather than a participator and I regret that, as I regret that even in the observation I failed to record the things that mattered.  If I had, I may now be able to recall those days with greater clarity.  There’s a photo of me here in the Junior Boys Basketball team and I feel I made that team by default too.  I could jump, but not dribble, I later learnt to shoot, but back then, I tended to be one of the kids who was last to be chosen in any team or group activity, so whilst I did represent the school I didn’t get a lot of minutes.  As with the rest of my school life, the other members were far more outgoing and talented than I.  

Did I have self esteem issues?   No, that came much later on.  I wasn’t aware of anything different at the time.  I was who I was and not capable of being anything else.  I froze in social situations and because it made me uncomfortable I tended to use excuses not to go to parties.  At school I hung around with a group, but was one of the less inspiring, tending to listen rather than participate.  I don’t even know now if any of them actually liked me.  Maybe I was just tolerated, no threat, so no reason to be ostracised, no dill, so no reason to laugh at me, no opinions or personality, so no reason to be remembered, a bit of a misfit who didn’t know he was one at the time.

Sometimes, when I’m alone and thinking of the past little bits of those times come back to me.  It’s like peering through a window with a blind fluttering in the wind, sometimes revealing the outside world, other thimes threatening to, but rapidly closing it off again.   So I will try and reach back to understand why I am who I am, because the one thing I can say is the boy from that school carried baggage with him into manhood.

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School Daze

I have been contacted by a couple of people from school in the past few days.  They weren’t looking for me, but hoping to make contact with others who we shared time with some decades ago now.  I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on childhood and the wonder years in this blog and I think that may well be a symptom of midlife episodes.

I do remember both these people but I cannot remember ever having spoken to them.  One is a girl and I was as shy a school boy as anyone would ever come across so it’s not surprising we never had a conversation during school days – apart from being shy I wasn’t a “jock” and being bookish I tended to shrink a bit into the background, which was probably exacerbated by the fact that some of my mates alwyas did well with the girls, if you know what I mean.

So for these two people I think I was basically one of those forgettable people, someone whose name you may remember, but whose face was never one that was going to leave a lasting memory, or be easy to recall when the name was mentioned.

There are some things I remember from Burwood High School that seem seared into my brain and will be there forever.  But there are far many more things that seem shrouded in fog and have continued to fade, not unlike the photograph here of the front gate of the school.   The contrast is going, fading to grey, the corridors and class rooms hinted at behind the walls of the building have also remained for the most part hidden from the view of my memories.   The six years spent wandering the quadrangles and learning the things that still echo in the man writing here today, are lost somewhere and may never be recovered. 

I could make things up about those days.   Talk about the clarity and the teachers who changed my life, or the lifetime mates who I still see.  But the truth is that whilst some teachers made a mark, there was no Mr Chips or John Keating in my life.  Not their fault either.

When I look back I realise that I was an observer rather than a participator and I regret that, as I regret that even in the observation I failed to record the things that mattered.  If I had, I may now be able to recall those days with greater clarity.  There’s a photo of me here in the Junior Boys Basketball team and I feel I made that team by default too.  I could jump, but not dribble, I later learnt to shoot, but back then, I tended to be one of the kids who was last to be chosen in any team or group activity, so whilst I did represent the school I didn’t get a lot of minutes.  As with the rest of my school life, the other members were far more outgoing and talented than I.  

Did I have self esteem issues?   No, that came much later on.  I wasn’t aware of anything different at the time.  I was who I was and not capable of being anything else.  I froze in social situations and because it made me uncomfortable I tended to use excuses not to go to parties.  At school I hung around with a group, but was one of the less inspiring, tending to listen rather than participate.  I don’t even know now if any of them actually liked me.  Maybe I was just tolerated, no threat, so no reason to be ostracised, no dill, so no reason to laugh at me, no opinions or personality, so no reason to be remembered, a bit of a misfit who didn’t know he was one at the time.

Sometimes, when I’m alone and thinking of the past little bits of those times come back to me.  It’s like peering through a window with a blind fluttering in the wind, sometimes revealing the outside world, other thimes threatening to, but rapidly closing it off again.   So I will try and reach back to understand why I am who I am, because the one thing I can say is the boy from that school carried baggage with him into manhood.

Who peers from faded photographs?


“You say you should have died instead of me. But during my time on earth, people died instead of me, too. It happens every day. When lightning strikes a minute after you are gone, or an airplane crashes that you might have been on. When your colleague falls ill and you do not. We think such things are random. But there is a balance to it all. One withers, another grows. Birth and death are part of a whole…”
– from The Five People You Meet in Heaven – by Mitch Albom

I have started a Facebook group for my old secondary School, Burwood High, and have spent a bit of time scanning and uploading old photos to the website. And continuing the theme of Absent Friends in a recent post to this blog, I got to thinking about the people I met through school and where they may be now. It struck me how many have actually passed away – good friends some, others passing acquaintances but all gone too young. I suppose as we age then we will know more people who do die young, and as we age and reach yet another milestone that age also seems young.

I’m 50 now, well past the 14 that David Green saw when crushed by a Gravestone at Maldon cemetery in around 1972; also beyond the 18 seen by Spiros Tamaris and Brett Evans when car accidents took them in the mid-1970’s; a few decades beyond those of Peter Jones who died of cancer in his early 20’s not long after graduating as a doctor in the early 80’s, and now 11 years past the age of my good mate Fog who died of a stroke aged 39 in 1997.

There have been others – Ian Black sadly taken suddenly in 2005 a few short months before our 30th Graduation anniversary reunion – still more who I have heard have gone but which I cannot confirm because I have not seen nor heard from them in years. Where is Peter Marsh and Meredith White? Who else of the images who peer from those old faded photos have passed from this world and what were the final chapters in their stories?

**********************************************************
As a P.S. who can pick me out in the photo?

Who peers from faded photographs?


“You say you should have died instead of me. But during my time on earth, people died instead of me, too. It happens every day. When lightning strikes a minute after you are gone, or an airplane crashes that you might have been on. When your colleague falls ill and you do not. We think such things are random. But there is a balance to it all. One withers, another grows. Birth and death are part of a whole…”
– from The Five People You Meet in Heaven – by Mitch Albom

I have started a Facebook group for my old secondary School, Burwood High, and have spent a bit of time scanning and uploading old photos to the website. And continuing the theme of Absent Friends in a recent post to this blog, I got to thinking about the people I met through school and where they may be now. It struck me how many have actually passed away – good friends some, others passing acquaintances but all gone too young. I suppose as we age then we will know more people who do die young, and as we age and reach yet another milestone that age also seems young.

I’m 50 now, well past the 14 that David Green saw when crushed by a Gravestone at Maldon cemetery in around 1972; also beyond the 18 seen by Spiros Tamaris and Brett Evans when car accidents took them in the mid-1970’s; a few decades beyond those of Peter Jones who died of cancer in his early 20’s not long after graduating as a doctor in the early 80’s, and now 11 years past the age of my good mate Fog who died of a stroke aged 39 in 1997.

There have been others – Ian Black sadly taken suddenly in 2005 a few short months before our 30th Graduation anniversary reunion – still more who I have heard have gone but which I cannot confirm because I have not seen nor heard from them in years. Where is Peter Marsh and Meredith White? Who else of the images who peer from those old faded photos have passed from this world and what were the final chapters in their stories?

**********************************************************
As a P.S. who can pick me out in the photo?

Who peers from faded photographs?


“You say you should have died instead of me. But during my time on earth, people died instead of me, too. It happens every day. When lightning strikes a minute after you are gone, or an airplane crashes that you might have been on. When your colleague falls ill and you do not. We think such things are random. But there is a balance to it all. One withers, another grows. Birth and death are part of a whole…”
– from The Five People You Meet in Heaven – by Mitch Albom

I have started a Facebook group for my old secondary School, Burwood High, and have spent a bit of time scanning and uploading old photos to the website. And continuing the theme of Absent Friends in a recent post to this blog, I got to thinking about the people I met through school and where they may be now. It struck me how many have actually passed away – good friends some, others passing acquaintances but all gone too young. I suppose as we age then we will know more people who do die young, and as we age and reach yet another milestone that age also seems young.

I’m 50 now, well past the 14 that David Green saw when crushed by a Gravestone at Maldon cemetery in around 1972; also beyond the 18 seen by Spiros Tamaris and Brett Evans when car accidents took them in the mid-1970’s; a few decades beyond those of Peter Jones who died of cancer in his early 20’s not long after graduating as a doctor in the early 80’s, and now 11 years past the age of my good mate Fog who died of a stroke aged 39 in 1997.

There have been others – Ian Black sadly taken suddenly in 2005 a few short months before our 30th Graduation anniversary reunion – still more who I have heard have gone but which I cannot confirm because I have not seen nor heard from them in years. Where is Peter Marsh and Meredith White? Who else of the images who peer from those old faded photos have passed from this world and what were the final chapters in their stories?

**********************************************************
As a P.S. who can pick me out in the photo?

Dabbling in Religion

Those who have been reading here for a while may remember my post about hating Sunday School. But it maybe was also partly fear of sin and of having people tell me that God new absolutely everything that I not only did but that I thought as well. I was happy for Father Christmas to know when I’d been naughty or nice because I knew that if on balance I was more often good than I was bad, then chances were that Christmas Day would be a good one. But it worried me what God might think? I mean how was I supposed to know what was good and what was bad and more importantly what weight was put on each of the things. I never knew where I stood on the scale of goodness and badness and that was scary.

But at a young age and growing up in a God fearing if not totally devout family, God was there, lurking in the background, waiting to judge me, and I’m sure there were plenty of times I thought about disobeying my parents but didn’t because I was scared of judgement. If I couldn’t always be totally good, I wasn’t gonna be bad and start getting a heap of black marks against my name. So everynight I’d kneel beside my bed and say my prayers even knowing that I hated Sunday School.

As my sisters and I got a bit older, Mum and Dad finally gave up on forcing us to get up early on those Sunday mornings, so if we weren’t out visiting family for lunch on a fortnightly basis, we’d be able to sleep in, and there were many days when I could just lie in bed and read my books or comics.

My next real experience with religion was around third form [Year nine for those of you closer to 30 years old than 50] when a group called MOC [Melbourne Outreach Crusade] got a hold amongst some of the kids at school. Two I remember who were pretty heavily involved at the time were MarkMitchell and Kim Silverman. They spent many a recess and lunchtime standing on seats in the school quadrangles preaching from the bible and talking in tongues. It was pretty exciting times for young impressionable kids and pretty soon they both had a fair following. Kids would come to school each morning and talk about whether during their prayers they had babbled in tongues.

We’d all gather in a big circle and pray together several times a day. Now as with a lot of things I did, I was pretty much a fringe dweller here. I participated because some of my mates did and it was easier to be involved than not be involved. Some of them made it a way of life for a while attending prayer meetings out of school and on weekends. There was no way I really ever wanted to get that involved but I guess it didn’t hurt to have a couple of bob each way. If God was really still making marks against my name, maybe I could pick up a few brownie points by getting involved during school hours at least.

It all seemed to peter out as soon as it began, by fourth form [Year 10] we’d moved onto hypnotism and for some that was actually letting the devil in. For most of us, it was a passing fad that was a bit of fun at the time.

Now I have no idea whether these two blokes, Mark and Kim, still regard themselves as Christians, or whether as budding teenage evangelists they embraced God because they genuinely believed at the time or not. I always thought they did. I can say though that both have pursued some very interesting careers since leaving Burwood High School.

Mark Mitchell has become one of Australia’s finest comedians and actors famous for a number of characters he created including Con the Fruiterer.

On doing a search for Kim Silverman tonight I found that he graduated from Monash University in 1977 and, now a doctor, he is Principal Research Scientist for Apple in the US. He also happens to be the President of the Society of American Magicians.

Amazing really that two people from a middle class background attending Burwood High School in Melbourne who were so caught up in an evangelical movement all those years ago have both gone on to become famous and well respected in their chosen fields. Those days of schoolyard performances obviously stood them both in very good stead.

Dabbling in Religion

Those who have been reading here for a while may remember my post about hating Sunday School. But it maybe was also partly fear of sin and of having people tell me that God new absolutely everything that I not only did but that I thought as well. I was happy for Father Christmas to know when I’d been naughty or nice because I knew that if on balance I was more often good than I was bad, then chances were that Christmas Day would be a good one. But it worried me what God might think? I mean how was I supposed to know what was good and what was bad and more importantly what weight was put on each of the things. I never knew where I stood on the scale of goodness and badness and that was scary.

But at a young age and growing up in a God fearing if not totally devout family, God was there, lurking in the background, waiting to judge me, and I’m sure there were plenty of times I thought about disobeying my parents but didn’t because I was scared of judgement. If I couldn’t always be totally good, I wasn’t gonna be bad and start getting a heap of black marks against my name. So everynight I’d kneel beside my bed and say my prayers even knowing that I hated Sunday School.

As my sisters and I got a bit older, Mum and Dad finally gave up on forcing us to get up early on those Sunday mornings, so if we weren’t out visiting family for lunch on a fortnightly basis, we’d be able to sleep in, and there were many days when I could just lie in bed and read my books or comics.

My next real experience with religion was around third form [Year nine for those of you closer to 30 years old than 50] when a group called MOC [Melbourne Outreach Crusade] got a hold amongst some of the kids at school. Two I remember who were pretty heavily involved at the time were MarkMitchell and Kim Silverman. They spent many a recess and lunchtime standing on seats in the school quadrangles preaching from the bible and talking in tongues. It was pretty exciting times for young impressionable kids and pretty soon they both had a fair following. Kids would come to school each morning and talk about whether during their prayers they had babbled in tongues.

We’d all gather in a big circle and pray together several times a day. Now as with a lot of things I did, I was pretty much a fringe dweller here. I participated because some of my mates did and it was easier to be involved than not be involved. Some of them made it a way of life for a while attending prayer meetings out of school and on weekends. There was no way I really ever wanted to get that involved but I guess it didn’t hurt to have a couple of bob each way. If God was really still making marks against my name, maybe I could pick up a few brownie points by getting involved during school hours at least.

It all seemed to peter out as soon as it began, by fourth form [Year 10] we’d moved onto hypnotism and for some that was actually letting the devil in. For most of us, it was a passing fad that was a bit of fun at the time.

Now I have no idea whether these two blokes, Mark and Kim, still regard themselves as Christians, or whether as budding teenage evangelists they embraced God because they genuinely believed at the time or not. I always thought they did. I can say though that both have pursued some very interesting careers since leaving Burwood High School.

Mark Mitchell has become one of Australia’s finest comedians and actors famous for a number of characters he created including Con the Fruiterer.

On doing a search for Kim Silverman tonight I found that he graduated from Monash University in 1977 and, now a doctor, he is Principal Research Scientist for Apple in the US. He also happens to be the President of the Society of American Magicians.

Amazing really that two people from a middle class background attending Burwood High School in Melbourne who were so caught up in an evangelical movement all those years ago have both gone on to become famous and well respected in their chosen fields. Those days of schoolyard performances obviously stood them both in very good stead.

Dabbling in Religion

Those who have been reading here for a while may remember my post about hating Sunday School. But it maybe was also partly fear of sin and of having people tell me that God new absolutely everything that I not only did but that I thought as well. I was happy for Father Christmas to know when I’d been naughty or nice because I knew that if on balance I was more often good than I was bad, then chances were that Christmas Day would be a good one. But it worried me what God might think? I mean how was I supposed to know what was good and what was bad and more importantly what weight was put on each of the things. I never knew where I stood on the scale of goodness and badness and that was scary.

But at a young age and growing up in a God fearing if not totally devout family, God was there, lurking in the background, waiting to judge me, and I’m sure there were plenty of times I thought about disobeying my parents but didn’t because I was scared of judgement. If I couldn’t always be totally good, I wasn’t gonna be bad and start getting a heap of black marks against my name. So everynight I’d kneel beside my bed and say my prayers even knowing that I hated Sunday School.

As my sisters and I got a bit older, Mum and Dad finally gave up on forcing us to get up early on those Sunday mornings, so if we weren’t out visiting family for lunch on a fortnightly basis, we’d be able to sleep in, and there were many days when I could just lie in bed and read my books or comics.

My next real experience with religion was around third form [Year nine for those of you closer to 30 years old than 50] when a group called MOC [Melbourne Outreach Crusade] got a hold amongst some of the kids at school. Two I remember who were pretty heavily involved at the time were MarkMitchell and Kim Silverman. They spent many a recess and lunchtime standing on seats in the school quadrangles preaching from the bible and talking in tongues. It was pretty exciting times for young impressionable kids and pretty soon they both had a fair following. Kids would come to school each morning and talk about whether during their prayers they had babbled in tongues.

We’d all gather in a big circle and pray together several times a day. Now as with a lot of things I did, I was pretty much a fringe dweller here. I participated because some of my mates did and it was easier to be involved than not be involved. Some of them made it a way of life for a while attending prayer meetings out of school and on weekends. There was no way I really ever wanted to get that involved but I guess it didn’t hurt to have a couple of bob each way. If God was really still making marks against my name, maybe I could pick up a few brownie points by getting involved during school hours at least.

It all seemed to peter out as soon as it began, by fourth form [Year 10] we’d moved onto hypnotism and for some that was actually letting the devil in. For most of us, it was a passing fad that was a bit of fun at the time.

Now I have no idea whether these two blokes, Mark and Kim, still regard themselves as Christians, or whether as budding teenage evangelists they embraced God because they genuinely believed at the time or not. I always thought they did. I can say though that both have pursued some very interesting careers since leaving Burwood High School.

Mark Mitchell has become one of Australia’s finest comedians and actors famous for a number of characters he created including Con the Fruiterer.

On doing a search for Kim Silverman tonight I found that he graduated from Monash University in 1977 and, now a doctor, he is Principal Research Scientist for Apple in the US. He also happens to be the President of the Society of American Magicians.

Amazing really that two people from a middle class background attending Burwood High School in Melbourne who were so caught up in an evangelical movement all those years ago have both gone on to become famous and well respected in their chosen fields. Those days of schoolyard performances obviously stood them both in very good stead.