Sydney, 4 August 1971. We were here at last! Although it was cold
and windy, I did my level best to inform the family that this was the
worst scenario and things would get better. Memories from twenty-five
years ago came flooding back, but I put them aside and focused on the
We left the ship and cleared customs. Our hold baggage was sent on
later to the hostel where we would be staying. After the luxury of the
ship, the hostel was a letdown. As time went on, I let the family know
that this was a temporary situation. Getting out of the hostel became a
At the Villawood Hostel, about ten families of differing ethnic origins
were waiting outside the manager.s office. The manager was a polite
Italian migrant with a flair for English. Although alphabetical order is the
normal way to go, that day, it seemed the Z.s, U.s, Y.s, and Q.s went first.
My friend.s family and ours . the E.s and S.s . were last. A seven-foot
tall, blonde, middle-aged Prussian bimbo announced to the manager, .Ve
now haf the last of the Queen.s relatives..
I replied, .You must be the Whore from Stalag Four.. Then I said,
.Sig heil. with an erect middle finger. The manager said he would speak
to her later and that I must be more tolerant. I replied, .I am always
tolerant when it suits me..
Having sorted out the cockroaches and settled into our Nissen hut, we
went to the main dining room. A good selection of poorly cooked but
sustainable food was the normal fare. The only problem was that the
knives, forks, and spoons had to be washed outside the mess hall under a
cold-water tap. We made other arrangements.
Back to Australia
John Leonard Spencer . 209
The nights were cold (mid winter in Sydney) and the showers thirty
yards away. Despite the English shower and soap joke, we were more
frequent users of the showers than most people.
The second day after we arrived, we were visited by friends who had
lived one house up from us in England . Ron and Margaret Ryan. We
would see a lot of them in days to come.
The next day, we decided to take the train into town from Leighton
field Station. A recently arrived migrant announced the destination for
the next train in a strange, garbled form of Strine, a badly spoken, Aussie
Brumby English. Two old geezers sitting close by noticed that I was
having difficulty understanding it. One of them said, .When youse been
.ere. a bit more, sport, you.ll learn English..
I looked him squarely in the eye and replied, .Now isn.t that nice to
know, you silly old fart..
One of the boys said, .You are being rude again, daddy..
Later in the day, when we called into a local shop to buy a hot water
jug, Andrew sat on the glass display shelf. I snatched him just in time. I
had no idea glass could bend.
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BTW. Today in Sydney and NSW it has been boiling hot around 30C.