Blogging and coughing and postponing starting the day’s renovations. I see from a comment by Tex that he’s from Darwin. He probably won’t thank me for this, but the penny’s finally dropped. Tex is the brother of Mark Textor, senior federal Liberal Party pollster and John Howard’s guru/architect of wedge politics strategies.
It’s a small world really. Mark is married to Davida Walker, a good friend of ours when she lived in Darwin. In fact her son Lindsay was Rebecca’s very best friend when they were small children. Lindsay was Davida’s child by her then long-time partner John Stirk, a lawyer colleague who now runs a firm in Alice Springs. When Jenny and I first arrived in Darwin at the end of 1982, John and Davida found us our first accommodation, in a granny flat under the house of their next door neighbours Russell and Mary Gluck. And that’s a story in itself.
Mary was a long-suffering Kiwi, while Russell was a recently born-again Jew and public servant. Picture a slightly anorexic Joseph Gutnick (although Russell supported Footscray as it then was). Russell was also a weekend neo-hippie, who’d decided to turn his yard into a productive suburban ecosystem. The family attempted to live entirely on what they produced in their own garden. Russell and Mary and their 4 year old son Sam were the most malnourished middle class people I’ve ever seen.
Russell had turned their swimming pool into a self-sustaining aquaculture system. As far as I could see, it only bred mosquitos, frogs and noxious green slime.
He also chainsawed all the mature palms in the garden and replaced them with exotic tropical fruit trees. Unfortunately Russell decided to leave the fallen trunks in place to rot down and provide mulch, or so he claimed. What he failed to realise was that this simply attracted white-ants, who didn’t differentiate between the palms and fruit trees, and also began munching happily on the main bearers of the house.
Russell also kept free range chooks, ducks and geese, most but not all of whom became quite adept at avoiding the local dogs. He fed them on kitchen scraps, which attracted free range rats who roamed at will through our granny flat every night. Jenny and I quickly found other accommodation. Russell and Mary divorced soon after. Mary and Sam returned to New Zealand, and Russell was transferred back to Canberra.
I bumped into Russell a few months ago, at a Greek restaurant in Manuka. He looked much the same, but considerably better fed. He’d wisely decided that neo-hippiedom wasn’t for him.