Saturday, April 21, 2018

7.9.67 I arrive in Sydney

The first of a number of letters dating from when I went to Sydney, Australia, in 1967, to spy out the lay of the land regarding possibility of repetiteur work. Handwritten letters. Most of the letters have no date on them, but back in 1992 I appear to have got them sorted. I typed them up that year, printed them out, and then the original on-computer versions were lost. This year, 2018, I've typed them up again so that I have more than just a paper record. 
The comments in square brackets were added at the time the letters were first typed up, and a few more have been added in the 2018 update.
I’ve left some of the quirky spellings, most of which will have been intentional rather than accidental. 
The young fellow writing the letters - 22 years old at the time - was somewhat naive, a good Catholic, and sociable. And close to his mother, having not had a father in sight since he was three.

Manhattan Motel, Greenknowe Ave, Potts Pt, Sydney. Postmarked 7.9.67

Dear old

Please accept all apologies for general lousy treatment by yours truly of you over last couple of days. As you said once I got on the plane I was okay and thoroughly enjoyed the trip over. Chris Beckett and I had a couple of chats because we both had three seats each (the plane being only about half-full – it must hold up to 200!). [The identity of Chris Beckett is now not known at all – possibly he was someone I’d met at a Summer Music School.]
Tea (or Dinner) was the funniest thing you’ve ever seen. First a man (one of about four cabin stewards) appeared with a couple of very odd looking trays – he was holding them so high I couldn’t see what was on top, and I thought (the meal was four course, or supposed to be) that he was just bringing a few starting implements. However, the entire four courses were on this one tray! (About 18” by 24”). Soup was in one corner, sitting bubbling, then 2 little pottles (one with milk and the other with mint jelly for the lamb), then a tiny pair of pepper and salts, a packet containing two different biscuits and one of those quarters of Chesdale, a cup for the coffee (which arrived a little later), a packet containing knives, forks, etc, an oblong dish (divided down the middle) (about 6” long!) with a small piece of lamb in one side and two baby potatoes and a lot of peas in the other. There was also a small bread roll, and some butter. A real mini-meal. I’ve never got through a four course meal in less time!! [Things haven’t changed – they just don’t advertise it as a four-course meal anymore.] [Note in 2018: the very idea of a four-course meal is almost as unlikely as getting the sort of service that used to be provided on flying boats.]
Chris is going to Paris (via London and Vienna) to study piano!! Just like that – in the middle of a school year! (Upper sixth.)
The Manhattan is very enormous, compared to my usual sort of hotel (and is in the middle of dozens Kings Cross, naturally.] I am in a room with two beds, and a bathroom!! (Shower, bath, toilet.) And since no one else has arrived, I guess it’s all my own. [I have no idea why I thought I’d be sharing with some stranger, though it’s probable that had happened in NZ in a less expensive hotel.] It’s not luxurious, but it will do me fine. [Not quite sure what I expected for my money.] I have a fourth floor view of a lot of lights, and other buildings, and some ferry floating past. (And no fire escape either.) [Never satisfied. I probably hadn’t realised that the fire escape would be down the corridor, not directly off my room.]
More recent view from Greenknowe Ave window 
of other equally large hotels, just a couple of quite long streets away from the Cross. [
I wandered up and down for ages around the general area trying to get a paper, and finally gave up. Then I went into a bookshop that was open, and when I bought a book that I haven’t seen in NZ (and wanted) the lady gave me her paper when I told her me troubles.
Must mention customs. Of course, the moment the man started asking me questions I went all red and stammery and so he looked through my satchel (with such pornographic literature as David Copperfield) and through my bag (not the hanging one – he gave up before that) (and I’d recovered my self-control by then too!) and found all that carefully hidden contraband: Elastoplast, Enterovioform, underclothes, towel! [2018: Enterovioform is no longer generally available; apparently there were neurological side effects.]
Better go, this place looks quite interesting, after all!!!
XXXXXXX see ya, Mike.
A wee bit later,
(A) I’ve recovered me sense of humour (on the plane!) By the way, hardly saw the sea till practically at Sydney – flew over clouds from our West Coast.
(B)  I’ve fallen head over heels for Sydney!!
I went out before to post the rest of this letter, but couldn’t find anywhere with envelopes (although there’s all sorts of odd shops open) and couldn’t get the stamps I needed (PandPandP. Office on our corner.) [I think this means that there was a post office on the corner which I missed on the way out.] So I decided I’d have a look at the Cross before I went to bed. Well – (as it happens we came thru in the taxi before anyway) it seems to thrive mainly on strip-shows, with barkers outside telling you that the ‘show’s just started’ – and believe it or not a young frizzly blonde lady asked me as I was walking by, ‘Do you want a girl, love?’ (No, I didn’t believe it, either!) – she looked, and sounded quite nice, that was the funny part. I chuckled to myself all the way down the road! Bought meself some fruit (singly, not by the pound, I was informed!) because I’m starving.
See ya, Mike. [Oh, the arrogance of the naïve.]

These letters are indexed here