My husband Andrew, who began this blog in October 2007, died peacefully on September 3rd 2012, at the age of 83, after long and well-controlled illness culminating in a sudden, brief decline. He worked on his autobiography for years but never completed it. Instead he left behind various pieces of life writing which would have formed part of it. I will gradually include this material here, giving the dates on which the pieces were written. I'll also add some of my own reminiscences and items of information I have about him. At some point this blog will become an archive, without further additions. — Rosemary Nissen-Wade

Friday, October 19, 2007


My childhood was a nightmare. I didn't know who I was and I spent my time trying to please everybody or being terrified of everybody. In class I was too scared to speak for fear of making an ass of myself. I don't remember much about State School except that I felt like an oddity. To make up for my shyness I worked hard and was noticed by the principal. But I was soon in trouble. There was a game we played call "cock fights". Don't know why it was called that as it had nothing to do with 'cocks'or penises. The game consisted of splitting up into two teams and forming pairs. I can't remember whether the girls took part. I suspect not. So the boys paired up and one boy hopping on the shoulders of his partner. Then, on a signal we would charge the other team and try and dislodge the boy on the shoulders of your opponent. It was good fun although it often resulted in someone getting hurt. The thing is we were not permitted to play it and one day at the lunchtime assembly all those who were playing cockfights during the lunch hour were told to step forward. I didn't. I was too scared. But then one of my class...turned around and pointing straight at me shouted: 'He was playing too!' I was a wimp, already taking on the mantle of my parents. I still remember the shame of that moment. I can't imagine how I expected not to be found out. I must also have been very dumb.

We also had a great headmaster (they were called headmasters then, although now I hear they are now called principals). His name was Mr Chrisophers. He was an energetic little bloke and for some reason he took a shine to me probably because I was a little bloke too. He used to organise excursions for the school and on one of these we went to Phillip Island, down the coast and were taken out in launches to circle a small island inhabited by very smelly seals which leapt into the water making ghastly.........

I had two embarrassing experiences at this school. The first was on the morning my mother delivered me and I lay on the floor outside the front entrance kicking, screaming and crying, putting on a bang-up show to convince everyone that this was a very bad idea. Fortunately I didn't succeed.

The other embarrassment was being put in a music class to play the violin at the insistence of my mother who constantly tried to live her life through me. The noises I made with the violin were appalling and it wasn't long before my pleadings to be taken out succeeded. Thank God! What a blessing.

Roger Carr said...

Never dawned on you that "cockfight" may have something to do with rooster fights?
October 18, 2007 1:39 AM


I was born into the beginning of an economic mess. It was 1929, the start of The Great Depression. My Dad, Stuart Edward Wade, a veteran of WW1, was, like my Mum, a Pommie, and they'd come to Australia to find a new life. They didn't have a great start as the passenger ship they boarded was ploughed into by a French liner in the English Channel. They lost everything.

That ship was headed to New Zealand. The next one they caught was destined for Melbourne Australia. They knew no-one in Melbourne. It must have been tough. Dad tried various ways of making a living. The only one I really know about was his attempt to run a small restaurant in Collingwood or somewhere like that. He redecorated the whole place, changing the colour schemes to brighten it up and lost all his clientele.

Somehow he'd found himself a job at the Myer Emporium as an artist in the advertising department where he drew fascinating objects like kettles, saucepans and anything in fact that was for sale in the large department store. He proved, later in his life, that he was in fact quite brilliant as an artist when he drew portraits of world leaders in his book Making You. I've often wondered why he stuck it out. I can only assume his time on the Somme in the Royal Arm
y Medical Corps had knocked the stuffing out of him.

When I was growing up I remember Dad would come home from work on a Saturday, after a session with his friends at the local Brighton Beach pub, and lie on the couch and fall asleep. He was no friend to me and I resented it deeply. War is a destroyer of mankind, both physically and mentally. No-one comes out of it scot-free.

Mum, Florence Irene Wade, was no friend to me either. Like Dad, she was the product of a large English family which crushed any feelings and suppressed all emotions. My mother went through life fearful of everything and laid most, if not all of her fears on me.