A beautiful old song from an era that spawned them.
Now, a “true story” with a difference.It was during the 1980’s in Melbourne. I had already been resident in my new Country for more than twenty years, now 48 years old, I had already been working here for 22 years, having started permanant/part-time employment less than a week after arrival. I still remember my very first job here, as a “mail-clerk” in Melbourne Town, rushing to the Spencer-Street railway station each morning to pick up the mail-bags from the “Southern-Cross” rail & “back at the office” sorting out the thousands of letters, cards, etc., (parcels were dispatched from another section), for the Australian Postal Service, then sending them off to each & every corner of this huge Land.
It was my “first job”, it was a great job & I enjoyed it.
This was “the thing” about Melbourne at the time. As far as employment was concerned, Melbourne was the destination of so many of us simply because, unless you were an absolute “no-hoper” there was NO EXCUSE for being unemployed.
The one & only “problem” as far as I was concerned was the fact that, even just being the autumn of 1962 at the time, travelling from Dandenong (where we lived), on what was fondly referred to, as the “red-rattlers”, it was bloody cold. I still remember a little flat in Garside Street, Dandenong, about 3 kms from the Dandy railway station, buying a bicycle to “ride” back home each evening after work, just about twilight time (those were the days when a bike was still “safe” locked up at a railway station) and dismounting with my hands clenched in a fist, frozen& unable to open up my fingers for a few minutes. 1962, Autumn/Winter was an unusually cold winter, even for Melbourne. I still remember the water-taps being frozen. Open the bloody things and nothing would come out for a while.
Anyway, to make a long story short, I “left” the mail-job after a while simply because of the inconvenience of travelling back & forth and secured employment as a “quality controller” at a place known as the South Australian Rubber Mills (S.A.R.M.) office in Dandenong. My greatest moment in this particular job was the fact that I had the unheard of, privilege to meet and shake the hand of the greatest batsman in the World, Sir Donald Bradman, who was a Director of the Rubber Mills, the head office of which was in South Australia, also the “home” of the legend, himself.
He came down to Dandenong for a “meeting” & this is where I got the chance to meet & speak with him. Being the “icon” he was, I expected hime to be aloof and stand-offish, but he was exactly the opposite. This only went to prove that, in my book anyway, “Top-Australians” tend to be the greatest ones like the “Don”, down-to-earth, humble people who knew how to make “new Australians” like myself welcome in his great Country. The couple of years I spent at S.A.R.M., was made fully worthwhile for me by that one meeting.
To me, he was the greatest Australian Cricketer, & to the entire World, he will ALWAYS be the greatest batsman, EVER. I will never forget you, Sir Donald Bradman, May you always rest in peace on the beautiful green cricket fields of Heaven.
It would be remiss of me not to mention a few other great Australians I have had the pleasure of meeting.
They included Graham Kennedy, Bert Newton, Bobby Limb, Reg. Lindsay, Johnny O’Keefe,(whose nephew, Andrew, would have to be the BEST thing that has ever happened to Channel 7 in Melbourne), & a veritable host of other T.V. “stars”, both male & female. These people, (entertainers, all of them) were top-class & I was privileged to know them and “work” with them.
Don Lane was an American who worked extensively in Melbourne television, was one “star” I was not fortunate to meet and another, unfortunately, was the “Man in the hat” the late, great, Slim Dusty.
It would be quite noticable to my readers that all the above folk were in “Show-biz” & yes, although I was told personally by Sir Roden Cutler V.C. who was the Ambassador fir Australia in Ceylon that I would definitely NOT reach the status of entertainment that I enjoyed back home in Lanka, so why did I wish to migrate? , I replied “I’ll give it my best shot, Sir”, and I am proud to say that I did just that in my new home.
So, although I always had to have a “regular job” in order to “feed my family”, “Show-Business” was ALWAYS a part-time money-earner for me. While I was on “top of the entertainment tree” in Ceylon, Sir Roden Cutler could have been quite right in his advice to me, but, proudly being an ex-Royal Ceylon Navy man, challenges have to be met in life and overcome. I was also a naturally stubborn character and the worse the challenge, the better I felt, having “a go” at it.
To get down to the “nitty-gritty”, I was the only “bread-winner” in my family in Australia. This was my own choice. With my “day-job”, later, to become shift-work, part-time & show-biz jobs, TV & “recording jobs”, organizing & running the BIGGEST Hotel talent-quest called “Search for a Star” for the Federal Hotel group, 7 nights a week, part-time “Security-jobs”, later still owning & running my D.K.Security Company, managing several other “entertainers” & bands and getting work for them, THERE HAD TO BE someone at home to look after our own family and this job was designated to my wife of 48 years, Cynthia, who did a very good job of bringing up our four children, Michael, Douglas, Michelle & Warren, a TEAM of four of the very best and four of whom I am extremely proud.
As time goes by, @ 80+ I have finally semi-retired as far as general employment is concerned anyway. I cannot go out anymore to “entertain” as I have done for 75 long years. I miss the company of hundreds of fans and friends but that’s o.k. I want them to remember me, as they saw me “on stage”, I have no regrets, simply many many memories, so, finally, I find myself writing for, what I hope will become a TOP household word in the electronic media. I have been so very lucky to have so many “firsts” in my life, I am now proud to “write” for all the Lankan Aussies everywhere as the “Star of eLanka” & I sincerely thank my good friend Neil Jayasekera for this chance. “As time goes by”,
Desmond (Kelly From Colombo)