Retrograde Selection: Monday, 17th October, 1977

Four out of every ten suburban trains aren’t running today, due to a strike. On this gloriously sunny morning John Burles, an announcer on 2KY, played Bing Crosby singing “Muddy Water”. The song was recorded on the 3rd of July, in 1927 when he was a vocalist with the highly successful orchestra of the bandleader, Paul Whiteman. Crosby, whose death was announced on Saturday, achieved his first hit, as a soloist, in 1931 with “Just A Gigolo” on one side of the record and “Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams” on the other.

Bob Simpson, at the age of forty-one, is named as Australia’s captain for the forthcoming Test series against India. Australian officials have deemed the retrograde selection to be necessary because of the ban placed upon all of those Australian cricketers who signed to play for Kerry Packer’s renegade troupe. The former Australian captain, last played for his country in 1968. He is also named as the new captain of New South Wales.

This evening we watched the first half of the film, “The Last Of Sheila”. Produced in 1973, it stars James Coburn, James Mason, Dyan Cannon, Raquel Welch, Richard Benjamin and Joan Hackett.


Footnote: David Lee Roth, in 1985, included a more lively rendition of “Just A Gigolo” on his medley that combines it with another hit from the past, “I Ain’t Got Nobody”. Bing Crosby, on the other hand, is credited with being the most prolific recording artist of the twentieth century. Between 1931 and 1962 no less than three hundred and thirty-two of his recordings entered or re-entered the American charts as singles. This number does not include those he performed with other artists, the most notable of these being The Andrews Sisters.


Great Crisis!: Tuesday, 18th October, 1977

We were almost at the intersection of Rocky Point Road and the Prince’s Highway on a gloriously sunny morning when John Burles broadcast the news that the favourite for Saturday’s W.S. Cox Plate, “Luskin Star”, had been injured in an exhibition gallop at Moonee Valley this morning and that his future in racing might be in some doubt.

However, when I bought a copy of “The Sun” at lunchtime I learned that the injury to the horse was not as bad as was firstly believed although it is still uncertain if he will run on Saturday.

This evening, “Willesee”, was devoted to a debate over the strike by workers in the industry that generates and provides power, which has virtually crippled the state of Victoria. The Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, described its duration of nine weeks as this country’s “greatest crisis in industrial memory”. Union leader, John Halfpenny, and the Federal Minister for Labour, Tony Street, were also on the programme.

Heedful of the requirement for some levity, we watched “The Dave Allen Special” from half past seven. The Irish comedian really has perfected the art of telling a joke!

Strike Drags On: Wednesday, 19th October, 1977

“Mum” and Wendy travelled into town to attend a screening of “Smokey And The Bandit”. The film stars Burt Reynolds, Sally “Gidget”/”The Flying Nun”/”The Girl With Something Extra” Field, Jerry Reed and Jackie Gleason.

This evening “Willesee”, again, centres upon the strike by workers within the power industry that has virtually crippled Victoria. I am listening to the radio for a change. Towards the end of a day that delivered extreme heat and humidity and a maximum of twenty-nine degrees Celsius, it is raining and we are, therefore, not going for a walk. I am listening to “Don’t It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue”, which is sung by Loretta Lynn’s sister, Crystal Gayle. It isn’t a hit out here, yet, although it is doing well in the United States.

At nine o’clock we watched the film, “A Cry In The Wilderness”. George Kennedy and Joanna Pettet occupy prominent roles in this production from 1973. Another motion picture, “Victory At Entebbe”, was being shown on Channel Ten.



‘Luskin Star’ To Start: Thursday, 20th October, 1977

It has been a gloriously sunny day, yet a little cool, with the maximum having settled upon twenty-two degrees Celsius. “Country Road” this evening was hosted by the Melburnian Johnny Chester. American actor, Richard Widmark, narrated the documentary, “Tiger, Tiger”, from half past seven. David “Shane”/”Kung Fu” Carradine and Barbara Hershey appear on Channel Ten from half past eight in the film, “Boxcar Bertha”. It was produced five years ago.

“Luskin Star” has been declared to be a certain starter in Saturday’s W.S. Cox Plate. The race is run over two thousand and forty metres at the tight Moonee Valley Racecourse, in Melbourne, and is regarded as Australia’s premier event under the scale of weight for age. “Luskin Star” is yet to finish unplaced in any of his twelve starts. Last year, at the age of two, he won Australia’s Triple Crown, in Sydney, having been victorious in the Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill, by a margin of seven lengths, and thence the A.J.C. Sires’ Produce Stakes and Champagne Stakes, which are both contested at Randwick.

Cardinal Gilroy Dies: Friday, 21st October, 1977

“Mum” possesses the appearance of death warmed up or as a grossly obese landlady of mine, who once confided in me that she had been declared clinically dead on five separate occasions, used to say: “…has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana skin!” Another saying of hers was, “There’s nothing wrong with me that a sharp axe won’t fix!” All jokes aside, it really is quite depressing to witness “Mum” suffer as she is. There is really nothing that one can say to brighten her mood and nothing that we can do to ease her intense discomfort.

This evening, at six o’clock, we viewed the documentary series, “Wild, Wild World Of Animals”, on Channel Two. Entitled ‘Ostrich’, this edition stated that the world’s largest flightless bird has ‘the largest eyes of any land animal’, before going on to add that a baby of the species can grow at a rate of a centimetre per day or ‘a foot per month’. Afterwards, this led me to quip to Tiki, as we were walking, “… after two months it has two feet!”

We skylarked in the bathroom as Tiki continually tried to tread on my toes. At nine o’clock we viewed the corny film of 1973, “Guess Who’s Sleeping In My Bed”. It features Dean Jones and Barbara Eden. Unsurprisingly, I began to doze off towards its conclusion. Having awoken for the last time, I threw sheets on the mattress in the spare bedroom and exclaimed to Tiki, “I’m going to get a good night’s sleep for a change!” This marks the first time that we’ve slept apart since last December when she spent several days in hospital.

Sydney’s Cardinal, Sir Norman Thomas Gilroy, died today at the age of eighty-one.



Articulate English: Apostrophe Of Possession

Sadly, many children have no idea when it comes to using the apostrophe of possession correctly. They will be writing when, suddenly, they presumably think to themselves that they haven’t used one of those ‘commas in the air’ and proceed to use one in a word that bears no connection to ownership.

Even worse, from what I have witnessed on television, quite a few adults do not place such an apostrophe in the correct position, either!

I trust that the following is of help to those who are unsure.

I find that if one inverts the relevant part of a sentence, where to place the apostrophe of possession becomes more obvious.

Example: the babys bottle becomes “the bottle of the baby”

In this instance the apostrophe is placed after the last word in the inversion, which, in this case is ‘baby’. All that remains to be done then, is to add the ess: the baby’s bottle.

Example: the babies bottles becomes “the bottles of the babies”

As ‘babies’ is plural, we only add the apostrophe after the last word ‘babies’, hence, the babies’ bottles.

Example: Smithville Girls High School becomes “Smithville High School (for) Girls”.

Again, the same rule applies and the apostrophe is placed after the last word, namely ‘Girls’.

As ‘Girls’ is plural no ess needs to be added: Smithville Girls’ High School.

Example: Mothers Day becomes “a day for mothers”

Applying the same rule, it becomes Mothers’ Day.


Sometimes a second ess should be sounded and, therefore, added.

Examples: Spartacus’ sword (“the sword of Spartacus”) becomes Spartacus’s sword.

Hughes’ boatshed (“the boatshed of the Hugheses”) becomes Hughes’s boatshed.

Amos’ pride (“the pride of Amos”) becomes Amos’s pride.


Floored Pillow: Saturday, 22nd October, 1977

I arose at 5.15 a.m. and whilst Tiki was outside on the toilet, I sneaked back into our double bed and threw her pillow on to the floor. She invariably does this to my pillow when I don’t retire for the night at the time that she does.

A pair of jeans purchased at Fletcher Jones cost me twenty-one dollars and forty-five cents and a pair of casual trousers in Kenrays, thirty-five dollars. Tiki, with some prompting from me, bought three pounds of T-bone steak for one dollar and ninety-nine cents.

We arrived home at ten minutes past twelve and watched the remainder of “International Pop Proms” on Channel Seven. The British programme featured Georgie Fame singing his hit of 1965, “Yeh Yeh”; Vicky Leandros, performing her classic, “Come What May”, from 1972, and the American vocalist, Johnny Mathis, delivering a medley of mostly recent songs.

As we travelled down the hill at The Spit, en route to North Head, I listened to the broadcast of the weight-for-age W.S. Cox Plate from Moonee Valley. “Family Of Man” ridden by New Zealand jockey, Brent Thomson, defeated “Raffindale” and “Vice Regal” respectively. The favourite, “Luskin Star”, finished unplaced for the first time in his thirteen starts.

North Head was the victim of a heavy overcast and a strong wind, as we parked to view the harbour and the city. At the tip of the promontory, where I’d not been before, we walked and ran to the railing and peered down three hundred feet into the water below. Empty, concrete emplacements along the cliffs’ edges once contained artillery. However, this afternoon, they only contained primitive traces of habitation and the smell of urine.

A visit to “Brutus” followed. After which Tiki drove us home by ten past six, having passed through some intermittent rain.

“Echo Of The Wild”, a documentary on animals, screened on Channel Nine from half past six. Channel Seven’s authority on the cinema, Bill Collins, introduced the movie, “The Lost World”, at 7.30. This offering, from 1960, features the late English actor, Michael “The Third Man” Rennie, Jill St. John, David “Five Fingers”/”Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea” Hedison and Fernando “Run For Your Life” Lamas.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s royal coaches were on display, in Miranda Fair, this morning.

Merle Haggard

Bakersfield, California was the birthplace of Merle Ronald Haggard, in April of 1937. The death of his father, when Merle was just nine years of age, had a profound effect upon him and, as a juvenile, he became associated with crime.

Convicted of robbery, in 1957, Merle was sentenced to spend time in gaol. It was while he was incarcerated in San Quentin Prison, in 1958, that he attended a show performed for the prisoners by Johnny Cash. Motivated by the concert he had witnessed, he joined the prison’s band.

Merle was paroled in 1960 and once he had adjusted to life on the outside, found that he could procure a living by playing in nightclubs. This eventually led to the opportunity to record, and, in 1964, his first entry to the country chart reached its zenith at No.19. A duet, “Just Between The Two Of Us”, recorded with his then wife, Bonnie Owens, followed and although it did not rise above No.28, it remained on the chart for twenty-six weeks.

Merle’s first entry to the Top Ten, “(My Friend’s Are Gonna Be) Strangers” eventuated in 1965. The year he formed his backing group, The Strangers.

“Swinging Doors”, “The Bottle Let Me Down” and his first number one, “The Fugitive”, appeared in 1966, as did the awards they brought. “Swinging Doors” and “The Bottle Let Me Down” had both been written by Merle and it was this ability to write songs, that was to propel him into the top echelon of country recording artists.

“I Threw Away The Rose”, which ascended to No.2, in 1967, commenced a succession of thirty-seven hits in the Top Ten of which a staggering twenty-three reached number one. The first of these twenty-three, “Branded Man”, arrived before the year had finished.

Three more followed in 1968: “Sing Me Back Home”, “The Legend Of Bonnie And Clyde” and “Mama Tried”. A personal favourite of mine, “Mama Tried” featured in the film, ‘Killers Three’, which also heralded Merle’s debut as an actor.

Merle’s biggest hit, “Okie From Muskogee”, released in 1969, was destined to be named as the Country Music Association’s ‘Single of the Year’.

Having recorded on the label, Capitol, for twelve years — alongside the influential Buck Owens — Merle switched to MCA, and, in 1981, to Epic. This also marked the year in which his autobiography, ‘Sing Me Back Home’, was published.

By the end of 1990 Merle Haggard’s singles had visited America’s country chart on one hundred and two occasions. Thirty-eight of them having reached number one. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame, in Nashville, in 1994.

Merle died on the sixth of April, 2016, precisely seventy-nine years after his birth.


Working Like ‘Dogs’: Sunday, 23rd October, 1977

I awoke at 5.00 a.m. and arose by half past five because I couldn’t regain sleep. I jogged and walked to the first newsagent on Kiora Road to buy a copy of “The Sun-Herald”. The telephone rang at a quarter to eight as I was reading the paper in the lounge room.

It was an enthusiastic “Dad”, asking for my permission to come and commence to dig the post holes for the side fence. He was disagreeing with “Mum”, as to their time of arrival. “Mum” kept insisting that it would be ten o’clock while he was just as insistent that they would arrive in ten minutes.

Between 8.00 and 9.00 I listened to 2KY’s tribute to Bing Crosby, which was narrated by John Burles. Bing told of his early days, when he was an alcoholic and of how he was sentenced to sixty days’ gaol for driving whilst drunk.

I was washing last night’s dishes when “Dad” knocked at the back door. He and I dismantled what remained of the old fence and dug the first of an estimated ten post holes. While this was easy, the digging of the second was far harder. We struck impenetrable rock at a depth of eighteen inches. “Dad”, recognising that such holes would not suffice, decided that we should alternately extend the holes by two feet on opposite sides and he would call upon his brother-in-law to weld a metal support to the bottom of each of the lengths of sturdy pipe, which we propose to use as the posts.

Despite having dug four holes with a crow-bar, I still was called upon to ask our neighbour, who had been just standing around and observing us, to relieve me. Without stating as much, it was obvious to us that he did not want a fence constructed. Presumably, because it would deprive his children of the run of the two backyards.

We knocked off at a quarter past eleven to enjoy a cup of tea and biscuits. “Dad” and I continued to dig, as the neighbour, a schoolteacher, cut up a few of the old palings for his barbecue.

By lunchtime my hands had developed numerous blisters and I was employing and discarding sticking plasters with rapidity. “Dad’s” old military shovels only exacerbated the situation in this regard as they were guilty of pinching the skin on our hands.

He had shown me how to dig holes in rock by rotating the crow-bar a little with each blow and when we stopped for lunch, only one and a half holes remained to be dug.

Our neighbour’s lack of assistance was only surpassed by his young son’s rudeness. He informed “Dad” that he was going to bury him and kept referring to the pair of us as “dogs”.

We mercifully finished the digging by half past two and after having placed the pipes in the back of “Dad’s” ute, gratefully entered the lounge room and sat in front of “The Bellboy”. The film, which bears the copyright of 1960, features Jerry Lewis and Milton Berle.

I chose to have a cup of tea while “Dad” opted for something stronger: a Scotch and dry. Tiki provided me with some cream, ‘Skin Repair’, to rub into my painful hands.

“Dad” and Wendy left at four o’clock as the A.B.C.’s live telecast of the latest qualifier in soccer’s World Cup was commencing in Seoul, South Korea. The match became a drab affair, with neither South Korea nor Australia able to find the opponent’s net.

“Mum” departed at ten to six and, at half past the hour, we witnessed ‘The Secret Of The Pond’, which comes under the mantle of “The Wonderful World Of Disney”. An hour later and it was the turn of “The Bionic Woman” on Channel Ten. It was followed by the opening episode of “The Moneychangers”. It stars Kirk Douglas, Christopher Plummer, Jean Peters, Anne Baxter and Timothy Bottoms.

Formerly Mrs Howard Hughes, the appearance of Jean Peters is only her second since her marriage, in 1957.


Operation Pending: Monday, 24th October, 1977

“The Big Match”, at 6.00 p.m., was only viewed for thirty minutes. It contained the highlights of the match from the Second Division, which was played between Crystal Palace and Southampton. The former stars, Alan Ball and Peter Osgood, were playing for the latter.

We drove to the hospital, where “Mum” had admitted herself an hour earlier. She was found to be in a cheerful mood, regardless of the fact that she was scheduled to have an operation on the top vertebrae of her spine tomorrow at 7.45 a.m.

The only other patient in her room was watching a television that she had rented from the hospital. Rather than do likewise, “Dad” and Wendy, both of whom were already there when we arrived, returned home to get the small portable, which would only receive channels Two and Ten, in black and white.

We left her to watch “The Rockford Files” and arrived home in time to view the second edition of “The Moneychangers” on Channel Ten. The English actress, Joan Collins, swims naked in a pool, in order to seduce the character that is being portrayed by the Canadian actor, Christopher Plummer.


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