I am amazed by things that happen in this world but more so with a couple of my best mates and me – or should that be I?
Many many years ago in a small suburban hospital in Lidcombe, then the western suburbs of Sydney, two babies were born on the same day with mothers in beds side by side, whilst on the far side of the world in England another baby was born.
At the age of four, the two Lidcombe babies started school, one from the south side of the railways tracks, the other from the north side. As there was only one Kindergarten class, both went into that school room with the other thirty or so kids. At the play lunch break, one little boy stood against the wall as he didn’t know any of the other kids at school, when this blonde haired boy said “hey, do you want to play with us?” Among the group of boys was a red-haired boy who later was found to share the same birthday as the shy dark-haired boy.
These two boys, Wayne and I – or should that be me…..shared much of their life….same classes at school right up to when the red-haired boy left high school to get a trade…..both were in the same Boy Scout Troop, occasionally in the same Patrol….went to the same church and church fellowship.
One day, while travelling to an event in Burwood in a red rattler at the age of fifteen, three railway detectives manned the turnstiles, checking tickets. In those days, once over the age of fourteen, in order to travel as a school child you were issued with a school concession card. As we were travelling with a child excursion ticket, the detectives asked to see our concession card as we passed through the thick wooden turnstiles. Some of the group passed through, handing over the torn off half of the cardboard ticket, keeping the other half for the return journey but as I was tall for my age, I was always asked for proof of age.
Well as fate would have it, I left my school concession card at home which caused the finger to beckon my to one side and the other railway detective decided to look at the last few of the gangs….thats gang as in a group of girls and boys who hung out together, not gang as in band of wanton criminals…and as fate would have it, Wayne also didn’t have his concession card…..the only two of the gang (see above)
Once taken to some dingy office in the bowels of Burwood railway station, we were confronted by some fat bloke puffing away on a cigarette, with two of the others standing behind him. We were told of the seriousness of our crime..depriving the State’s coffers of around 20 cents…..thats twenty cents each!!! and how that now we were criminals….sort of changes the whole gang theory now doesn’t it?…..he would have to take down details and enter us in the huge red covered ledger so we would be on record forever as miscreants who had little regard for the NSW Railways Act of 1885 or whatever.
Well the questioning started with the lick of the pencil tip…..”You, lad….name”….then with a look over the top of dark rimmed glasses….”yours”….pointing to Wayne with the pencil, then came the order “address”……Lidcombe from one, Lidcombe from the other…..date of birth…..twentieth July from one twentieth July from the other. A serious look followed and the blokes behind folded their arms. “Fathers names” which were duly given……”Mothers names” Phyllis said one….Phyllis said the other.
Well that’s when the fist slammed the book and accusations of being smart arses emanated from spittle flecked lips while he kicked back the chair and leant forward, red face close and a nicotine coated finger waving hysterically in our faces. It did take a bit of convincing that we were telling the truth….finally we were escorted back to the sunlight where the gang (unchanged from the before mention explanation even though now two of the gang had heinous criminal records) were waiting. The telling of our experience to our mates led to gales of uproarious laughter which no doubt echoed down the dark corridors to the dingy office where no doubt another fag was being lit, waiting for the next load of fare evaders to face the now somewhat miffed detective sat, drumming his fingers on the fat red covered ledger.
Fast forward to the mid 1970’s, when I started work in an office North Sydney where I met this English lad named Michael. Well Michael and I – got it right this time – hit it off and hung out together, shared houses with others, rode motorbikes, were flag marshalls at motorbike races, including Bathurst (tales for later no doubt) hung out with a different gang (see first explanation)…..although no one know of my record he he he……and that first year discovered that we shared the same birthday.
I still have those two as mates and it was last year for the first time that the three of us got together in a pub in St Peters as, when Wayne left school and worked, got engaged and married Sue, we didn’t see each other all that much probably, among other things like single mates tended to upset women leading their bloke astray etc and maybe because I used to go out with Sue before they married.
Coincidences are amazing things aren’t they?
Photo courtesy of Marg, Michael’s partner and supportive bestie.
UPDATE: This year we all got together to celebrate our birthdays for the first time. A great weekend with my best mates and friends.