A Jump In Time
I’m taking a big leap from 1960 to 1974, whether I get back to those missing years is anybody’s guess, some of that period has already been covered but there are still several gaps to fill in.
After the disaster that was Nhulunbuy on the Gove Peninsular of the Northern Territory I made my way down to Sydney via Darwin for a few weeks, then Mt Isa and across to Townsville by rail, it was still the wet season and it was a slow train trip as sections of the track had been washed out. After a couple of weeks doing nothing in Townsville I headed south by road to Sydney. I wasn’t paying much attention to the dates or times, just a peripatetic Pommy wandering along having a good time. Money wasn’t short, I’d saved a bit whilst at Shay Gap!
I didn’t know but I suppose it was late March maybe early April when I lobbed into Sydney and the weather was a bit on the chilly side for me. All of my clothing was for the warm/hot weather of the West and I needed to shop for some warm clobber, I hadn’t a clue how long I was planning on staying in Sydney or whether I’d make my way back to the West or even back to Melbourne, I suppose you could say I was drifting aimlessly. 🙄
Suitably outfitted from top to bottom I started to explore Sydney, I hadn’t been there for ten years or more and there was a few changes and I had some catching up to do so I hoofed it, which was a stupid thing for me to do. When outfitting myself I’d naturally bought some new shoes, now buying shoes has always been a big problem for me. I have very small feet, in fact they are ridiculously small, I can go to a children’s shoe store and get a better fit trouble is the style is for kiddies not grown men.
Anyway come late evening I was still wandering around and actually trying to find Chinatown I’d never been to Sydney’s Chinatown and being partial to Chinese food was looking forward to a feast. By this time I was virtually hobbling along my feet killing me but I was enjoying Sydney and so put up with it, I was approaching the Haymarket area so was getting pretty close when a gobble-up truck pulled up beside the kerb and a couple of policemen got out, one opened the back of the truck and the other told me to get in! True! I said “what for “, and the cop said “your drunk” and I said “I haven’t had a drink and my feet are killing me with these new shoes” he told me not to argue and to get into the gobble-up truck.
Discretion being the better part of cowardice I did as instructed and climbed into the back and took the last seat, one doesn’t argue with big burly coppers who carry guns. I suppose they needed to get one more passenger to fill the truck to make up their number for the night and I was the lucky one selected. My companions on the trip around to Central were obviously used to the ride and warned me under no circumstances to argue or disagree with the police, I saw why a few hours later.
We were tipped out at the Central Police Station and shoved into the worse most disgusting cell/room I’ve ever had the misfortune to be in my life. Here I was, all dressed up in my nice new clobber, my feet killing me in my new shoes and I’m stuck in this monstrous cell with all the drunks and deadbeats imaginable and there’s absolutely nowhere for me to sit except the floor. And there was no way I’d sit on that floor, along one wall was an open urinal and the stench from booze and vomit would have normally made me throw up but I cringed and just stood and waited.
And I waited and waited forever, or so it seemed. We were kept in this “tank” for four hours, apparently it was the normal thing, the gobble-up trucks would pick up their quota and dump them at the tank where the miscreants were given four hours to sober up before being paraded before a magistrate I suppose he was, charged $1.00 for bail, yes one dollar, and allowed to go to appear in court the next day which was just a ruse and you forfeited the $1.00 for not turning up to waste the courts time!. 😡
Before going before the beak we had to go past the police sergeants desk and collect our wallets watches whatever and one of the blokes in front started to argue with the cop on duty that his wallet had contained quite a bit of money which was now missing, this poor bloke got a whack from behind with a night stick/truncheon or whatever the thing is called dragged out of line and taken off somewhere else. My turn came and the sergeant looked at me and said “what are you here for” I said “I’d been picked up for being drunk” he said “you don’t look like you’re drunk to me” and I said “I’m not and my feet are killing me with these bloody new shoes and all I was doing was trying to get to Chinatown to get a feed” , he said “sorry mate you’ll still have to pay the dollar” I said “fine now where can I find a restaurant open at this time”, it was now after 1 am. and he said “I doubt if you’ll find anywhere open now but good luck” , I said thanks very much and departed and made my way back to the pub where I was staying.
The following day I met a Scot in a bar in George street, moved out of the pub where I was staying, into a different pub in The Rocks and changed my life forever.