Photo By Jools Thatcher

Photo By Jools Thatcher

The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “Vanda – Young” (and it’s live).

Not known for my brevity, i was forced to cull this weeks epic from around the length of “Lord of the Rings” to about the size of “War and Peace” here are the words in their entirety

Now this is the place where I would normally have the recording BUT the gods of technology seemed to have left early for Christmas. The recording didn’t quite work this week.

In the meantime have a listen to my album “Drifter

Vanda – Young

October 69.
The Easybeats live at 54321, a weekly dance held at Ormond Hall.
After more than three years in England they were finally coming back to Melbourne – well, for one night anyway.

Barry caught wind of it first, listening to Stan Rofe on 3UZ.
There was never any question, we were going, end of story.
The only impediment was our permanent cash flow problem.

The Easybeats were gods – like The Stones, The Who, The Kinks – except they were Australian – they were ours!

Ours! – Two Dutchmen, two Poms and a Scot who’d met at The Villawood Migrant Centre in 63 – ironic, given these days it’s used to detain illegal immigrants.

The famous, from Russel Crowe to Pavlova, are instantly claimed as Australian – for the rest, it can take several generations.
These boys had barely stepped off the boat and already they were hailed as Australia’s answer to The Beatles.

Barry had a mate, Lindsay.
At sixteen, he was a few months older than us but had left school and was working as an apprentice fitter and turner.
Job equals money – he was in.

Between us we scraped together just over $8, including six from Lindsay – enough to cover bus and train fares, get us into the dance, and a packet of Viscount 10’s.

But what to wear? – Very important!
Barry was tall and blonde – he could have worn his school uniform and still looked cool.

Lindsay had a head like an over cooked date loaf, but he had a job – so it didn’t matter what he wore.

I, on the other hand, had neither the cool nor the cash.

In desperation I poured myself into skin tight, red tartan, stovepipe trousers topped off with a pair of borrowed winkle pickers, needle pointed and five sizes too big.
To compensate I filled the toes with toilet paper and put on seven pairs of socks.

I couldn’t sit down on the train for fear of splitting my pants, while a bunch of Sharpies spat at me, called me a poofta, and threatened to kick my head in.

But I wasn’t complaining – we were going to see The Easybeats!

We queued at the door for over an hour – Barry and Lindsay sharing a stolen beer decanted into a Marchant’s Creamy Soda bottle.

I abstained, knowing drinking would lead to the urge for a leak.
A leak would require undoing my fly.

If I undid my fly the likelihood of doing it up again was about the same as spearing a shark with a toothpick.

The prospect of heading home with a trainload of Sharpies and an open fly didn’t bear thinking.

Eventually we made it through the door, joining hordes of emotionally fraught teenage girls immediately in front of the stage.

Intoxicated by the sheer volume of female company, Lindsay attempted to exploit the situation.

To this day I have no idea what he said or did, but the violent reaction forced a quick retreat up the stairs into the stalls, where we found sanctuary for the rest of the evening.

Nine o’clock, nine thirty, ten – Still no Easybeats.
“They’re coming” assured the compere.

Ten thirty, Eleven o’clock.
“They’re on their way” promised the compere, a little more tenatively.

Eleven fifteen, with hope and trust fading they bounced onto stage.

Little Stevie, the gymnast – cocky and hyper.
George and Harry, guitars up under their chins.
Dick Diamonde, static and impassive, Australia’s Bill Wyman.
And Tony Cahill, a great drummer but we still missed “Snowy”

The crowd went nuts.
We went nuts.
The energy, the waiting, the emotion, the songs – our songs.
All the hits and those that should have been.
The music that helped me survive puberty.

Not yet sixteen and I was thinking at least now I can die happy.

It was the last show The Easybeats ever played in Melbourne, discounting a reunion tour a couple of decades later.

Forty five minutes and it was over – just in time to miss the last train.
No money for a taxi, we’d have to walk to Sandringham.
Still I wasn’t complaining – at least there’d be no carriage load of Sharps.

Half hitchhiking, we trudged down Nepean Highway, attracting occasional wolf whistles and abuse from passing cars – but no offers of a lift.

Barry had a weekend job pumping petrol at Bennett’s garage starting at six in the morning.

He kept pushing us to walk faster.

In tartan stovepipes and oversize points? I couldn’t even bend my knees.

Lindsay’s left leg was four inches shorter than the right.
Said if he walked any faster he start going round in circles.

Barry left us at Glenhuntly Road.

Half frozen, Lindsay and I plodded on, reaching his parent’s house in Highett around four.
I was too buggered and cold to walk any further.

His parents would crack it if he let me stay, he moaned, but I wasn’t budging.

Eventually, begrudgingly, he agreed I could sleep under his bed, on a hunk of foam, previously occupied by his recently departed beagle “Biggles”

Judging by the smell, “Biggles” had continued to reside on that foam well after he died.
Still, I wasn’t complaining.

I woke around eight.

I shook the mattress above me – nothing.
I gave it a really good thump with my knees – nothing.
I reached up the side of the bed and grabbed the pillow – Lindsay, the bastard, was gone.

Peering out from under the bed I had a clear view down the hall to the kitchen, where Mr and Mrs what ever their name was, were eating breakfast.

I could make out enough of their conversation to establish Lindsay had ridden his pushbike to his Grandmother’s in Moorabbin to mow her lawns.
I was busting for a leak.
I tried to pull a small rubbish bin under the bed but it was too tall.
Luckily I spied a motor cycle helmet, and managed to hook it with my foot.

It made a perfect bedpan.

My fly, however, was less co-operative. As I envisaged the night before, it would go down well enough, bit that’s where it stayed.

What was I supposed to do?
I had two choices.
Wait until he got back or amble into the kitchen, fly pulled open and announce “Hi, we’ve never met but I live under your son’s bed and I come in peace”

I chose the former.

At midday Lindsay arrived home, but I still had to wait another hour while the prick had lunch and watched the wrestling on Television.
A further fifteen minute delay while he showered.
Finally Lindsay walked back to his room, dropped his towel and nearly died when he saw my head appearing from under his bed.

“Jesus, I forgot all about you” he gasped, covering his manhood with a Darwin Stubby.

I thanked him for the bed and the motor cycle helmet and while he distracted his parents in the back yard, I slipped out the front.

Home, at last, I ferreted through my collection of much played and much mistreated 45’s, spread coverless across the dressing table.

I chucked “Friday on my mind” onto the turntable but got the B-side instead.
“Made my bed (Gonna lie in it)”

“Lie under it, more to the point” I grunted

Bed! What a beautiful thought.

The Easybeats were great, but God it was good to get out of those pants!
Still, I wasn’t complaining.

© Copyright 2010 Ian Bland

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.