My parents are working class parents, my dad’s trade was national manager of freight, warehousing and logistics for a textile and of fabric company, my mum’s was in a series of admin jobs usually obtained via my dad’s professional network. My greatest memories of my childhood were at the adventure-land that was his office. His company supplied material to the then large market of designer fashion firms across Australia. These days the majority of fabric items are pre-made overseas to meet corporate profit targets and the company, whilst still alive, the presence feels insignificant compared to the heaving empire it is in my memories.
After school I used to catch the train from the working class western suburbs into the city’s rough and run down Central station and excitedly wait to drop my bags off at his office, an elevated room with Windows covering 180 degrees of the room overlooking the docks and despatch where goods would be in various stages of loading or waiting for their turn to be distributed across the globe, his domain. He was in charge of a series of misfits, larrikens and questuinably sane individuals who all worked hard though their primary objective was clearly all to have a good time. Not a second seemed to go by without someone planning or acting on a practical joke, taking the Mickey out of someone else or generally getting into mischief. At young ages I was taught how to operate the aptly named ‘elephants foot’, various types of forklifts, the vatious manually operated lifts and numerous other toys that never once seemed like a chore or burden, certainly not a task someone would have to pay me to do. Admittedly I was not doing anything productive or of commercial benefit, mostly moving things around and trying to test the speed limits of each machine. There was machinery that could wrap anything in plastic, an industrial metal ice cold water filter dispensing the coldest liquid known to man. The toilets contained the required classic Australian toliet graffiti which at a minimum required someone’s phone number prefixed with ‘For a good time call…’ and the classic toilet wall ping pong (For those unfamiliar with the sport this required two opposing walls with text staying to look at the other wall, repeat, brilliant.).
At any given moment vicious sword fights could break out using cardboard rolls of various lengths and density, swords broke, bruises were common. These were great people, out for a good time at work and would define my working persona in the years to come.