Our family always tried to achieve middle-class respectability, and never quite got there. The kids at my school had made up their minds. I was the Trax boy, the school kid who wore the cheapest sneakers. Most of the kids’ families had farms with parents who wore flannelettes – not the untucked Western Suburbs style which smelt of bourbon but the settled, crisp, happily country garb which reeked of ‘contented money’.
These rich come-ins lived on cheap land (well, cheap for them) with newly built double-storey houses; driveways manicured by shiny white pebbles – not the sharp suburban asphalt ones which ripped our legs to threads.
When my family’s debt mounted and loan repayments became exorbitant we would sell up and buy a cheaper house further away from Sydney. You could count on the housing market to skyrocket after we moved away. We missed the housing booms every time.
My father had to travel at least four hours in any one day to and from work because we couldn’t afford anything closer to Sydney. Even when he parked his car in the city, he had to walk forty minutes to work. How he did this for twenty-five years straight is beyond me. Even sadder being, he did it for nearly half his life.
I couldn’t be bothered driving five minutes down the road to get a missing screw for my mower.
As Muddy Waters might grit, ‘Now ain’t dat a man’?!