Tag Archives: university

How to succeed at University – by REALLY trying.

As you may be aware, I’ve been fully immersing myself in past editions of the Sydney University Newspaper: Honi Soit over the last couple of weeks.  I’ve really stumbled across some ripper stories and I particularly moved this one by Graham Sawyer from 1963:  How to succeed at University – by REALLY Trying . While he admits that it wasn’t entirely original and was based on an article from Esquire, I found it very enlightening and wish I’d read this before I first arrived in 1988 as a humble Fresher with my map out in front.

Naturally, the procession of students from school to university continues. Indeed, Year 12 is currently sitting for their HSC or final exams and all being well and that being their goal, they’ll be off to uni in the new year. So, who knows? Perhaps, this advice from over 50 years ago will stand them in good stead:

Honi Soit Supplement March 5, 1963.

THERE IS too much time wasted in your first few days at this sepulchral establishment in telling you how to pass exams. If you have managed to enrol, register, and in general to get into the University, then it is self-evident that you have the required ability and intelligence to graduate. You will find that study and exams are a mere formality and can be taken in your stride. It is far more important to enjoy your course, and to make your years at student level the most memorable of your life.

This means of course as much time as possible should be spent away from study. The successful student is not necessarily the one that passes. This you will realise within six months, so you may as well learn it now. The ultimate goal or criterion for success as a student is the attainment of power within the University. Now power is a nebulous concept and it can take many forms. There is political power, power of personality, power of opinion, power in talent, and even (and this will appeal to many) power in lack of talent. Only at University can a talentless bum be regarded as a somebody. Exploit it . . . So we present a few simple rules and paragraphs of guidance which if carefully followed will lead to your recognition as a person of status in student society.

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The Main Quad, Sydney University 2018.

  1. Arrival.

Note here that the first hundred days of your career are crucial. This is the time when foundations are laid, and it gives rise to our first rule: DONT JOIN ANYTHING YET IF YOU CAN POSSIBLY AVOID IT. Sound out which clubs are fashionable, which have the smallest membership and which you can become president of most quickly. Don’t worry if you are not interested in the Club’s activity. you will find that it mostly boils down to self-administration anyway. Don’t be afraid to go to the functions held in Orientation Week which involve afternoon tea, because the population at these is largely starving third-year students and not enquiring freshers. Some very useful contacts can be made here. In conversations, raise your age, be uncertain about what course you wish to take, be indifferent to people, be self-contained.

  1. Friends, Making and Breaking.

Don’t keep in with the friends you have made at school, you will find they’re inadequate for your progress at Uni. Seek out new friends who are rich, influential, very bright, or very talented. When going out, the rule for the student on the move is this: GO OUT WITH WOMEN WHO ARE EITHER OLDER OR VERY GOOD LOOKING. Do not waste time with any others. If you cannot attract this type of woman, mumble something about an affair with a married woman. This is as good.

For the freshettes, only go out with second-year (and upwards) fellows, this is far better for status. If you cannot get a guy, say you are being faithful to a young doctor in Melbourne. Have a picture. Don’t just go out to enjoy yourself, the luxury of this comes later. Be conscious of the impression you are making.

  1. Conversation.

There are two points which will enable you to carry on a very impressive conversation with a member of the opposite sex. Firstly make sure you have evolved a philosophy of life. Contrary to the opinion of the “world outside” students are heading back to morality. The “what’s the use — let’s do it before the bomb comes” attitude is decadent. The best philosophy for this season (and very big on sex appeal too, incidentally) is idealistic cynicism (i.e. what has happened to the moral fibre of the world etc.). Adopt this philosophy and you are sure of success. Also make the most of your background, whatever it is. Never apologise for it, no matter how squalid. Make it sound exotic. Talk about how your mother and father make love a lot. Be personal and feel free to criticise them whenever possible. Call them “oldies”. By the way, a knowledge of carracing is desirable (though far from essential) to aid conversation with the rich and social set.

  1. For Those In College.

Although a book could be written on entry into college the following hints may be of assistance.

  1. Be gracious, even when yelled at to answer the phone.
  2. Be mysterious, never take anyone (at all) into confidence.
  3. Get long distance phone calls, exciting letters . . . arrange these yourself,
  4. Rent a good painting for your room, when you have to return it say the artist was having a show, Australian art only of course.
  5. Buy from a junkyard a smashed up TR3 grille and inscribe it “September 1961, Sandra”. Put it in an obvious position.
  6. Have an affair with a girl in Sydney, and one in the old home town. Talk about it with passion, let whole college advise. Break one of the girl’s hearts, and plead guilty to the whole college.

 

5.A Note on the Academic Side.

Remember this maxim: “A friendly lecturer is like money in the bank’. Make at least one friend, preferably in the Psychology Department for they are young, generous and above all, understanding. For now, go to all Classes, lectures and do all your assignments. Do not be too smart immediately. Let lecturers think they have helped you. Preferably do your essays on time, but if you need an extension, red eyes and a plea of “family troubles” never fail. All other comments on this topic I reserve to my later paper to be entitled “How to Pass Exams, Find Religious Faith, and Have a Traumatic Love Affair Simultaneously”.

6.After the First Hundred Days . . . The Move to Power.

The primary and most important task now that you have laid the foundation is to choose the role which you must assume for the remainder of the year, unless of course you stage a conversion later in the year, which is good if done tastefully. Sportsmen are unfortunately no longer powerful student figures, real power lies in the assumption of one of the following roles and exploiting it to the full. Rule of thumb here is: Make sure your name is on it.

Different Student Types

  1. The Newspaper-Literary Complex.

Student Graffiti Artist

The home of this is the “honi” office where gather all the literary types to belt out their muses on ancient typewriters, and swap theories as to primordial excretory functions of Kerouac in 20th Century literature. It is a quick and sure rise to power for both sexes when they join “honi”, for its staff are really the elite. You merely sit in the office, think up sick or dreary jokes, find lesser people who can be sent up. All this without the need for any talent. If you have talent you should write endlessly. Be prolific; it’s fashionable. Write poetry, it takes less time. The best gimmick to assume power in the newspaper field was last year when a group got the editors thrown out and took over the paper. Don’t try this again, it has been (as it were) done to death.

The sure way to power in the literary field is as follows: Submit a very dirty fortnightly article with either your own name (if it is something like Carslaw Gardfish) or a pseudonym like Gloster or Alkie (if your name is commonplace). Never let either editor or staff see you, until you have been published three times, then boldly walk into the office and present yourself with your next opus.

You are made.

2. Student Politics Group.

At the elections in June campaign vigorously for the S.R.C. Your platform should be: More representation for freshers, and abolition of the S.R.C.. Note: only your own sex can vote for you, do not waste campaign time on members of the opposite sex. Union elections are also beneficial, but cut your teeth on the S.R.C.

Join one of the political clubs, preferably the Labour Club if you live in a blue ribbon Liberal electorate. This proves you are sincere. Join the C.N.D, (three stars) or Student Action (two stars).

Get your bloc votes from a religious group (two alternatives here) or the very helpful college Or faculty vote (especially in Engineering), When on Council, Or any semi-political committee, speak often and vigorously using big words. Go to Union Night. Resign conspicuously from small office and talk vaguely about pressure being brought to bear. Whatever you do, don’t be a Communist … it simply isn’t a good joke any more. Organise a protest . . . against anything . . .

Politics can be rewarding in ways other than simply status. There are many free trips to “conferences” and other perks which are yours for the asking.

3. The Charismatic Party-Giving Non-Joiners.

Firstly look up “charismatic” in a dictionary. Now give parties anywhere you can find, Paddington, an old ice-works, a brothel, East .Sydney Tech, (but you get the idea). Wear an impeccable suit with perhaps a bullethole in the shoulder. When people ask, give no details. Drink only Rum-and Coke (very IN). Invite the Royal George push. Spend the night in the window of a furniture store, and chunder on the display carpet. Apologise to the owner. You’ll be a legend in no time. Be a big wheel on Commem. Day. Race off women (more of this in another paper entitled “Ovals and Bars — another view of University Life”).

4.The Arty Theatre Set.

Student Theatre Type

You will find this group in the Union Theatre Foyer at any time. Go to castings for plays and make a grand entrance by slamming the door or somersaulting into the room. Try for only big parts, refuse the small ones as unrewarding. Carry a book on Becket with you wherever you go. Say you would rather read a play than see it acted. Have a successful audition with the A.B.C. and Tibor Rudas. Try to establish a Rep. Company but bow out to commercialism when you find it costs too much. Wear the hair longer than average and wear quite old clothes.

Deplore method acting and speak loudly about the corruption of the Independent Theatre. Go to lessons with Hayes Gordon even though you hate the Method but tell the set that the man is a great teacher. If you can play the piano, try to play for Revue. Compose modern jazz or perhaps a concerto for bassoon and bull-fiddle. If you are an actor have one speech that you really can do, even if it is only eight lines. Memorize the Henry VI speech (part III, act II scene 5) which goes:

For what is in this world but grief and woe,

O God! Methinks it were a happy life.

To be no better than a homely swain.

Say it very softly and sadly at any given opportunity.

5.The Intellectual or Crackpot.

Do something legendary, like in a final exam say that you disapprove of the question and answer one of your own brilliantly. Be friends with libertarians (on the way out, but still useful) or perhaps the Philosophy Department. Someone is sure to think you are brilliant. Give blood donations, steal books from Fisher, have only one set of clothes. Admit something that no one else would, like that you are illegitimate. Do bicycle presses on the Quadrangle lawns and learn the names of the Union waitresses. Shave seldom, but do NOT grow a beard (this is pretentious and only for the pseudos).

Read poetry, submit things to “honi” at a distance, Quad lounge, have many ideas and theories. Go out with the most beautiful girl around (she’ll go, don’t worry), do not shave for the occasion and wear odd socks. Change your course as often as you can. Don’t go to lectures explaining that “lecturers have nothing new or original to offer”.

So there you are. Just a few hints on how to really get down to the important issues of University life. Girls can adapt the above comments to suit themselves. Of course this has not been an exhaustive list but we really hope it may help you. Good luck! Oh, by the way, we have been asked how one tells when one has attained power. Here’s how you know . . .

  • Freshettes’ -freshers’ eyes sparkle with interest when you are introduced.
  • Jokes are made about you in student political circles.
  • People tell stories about your exploits in Manning,
  • You fail, or are sent down.

(Note: This article, though masquerading as an HONI SOIT original was actually adapted from an article in Esquire  our American counterpart. — GRAHAM SAWYER

…..

Before I head off, I just wanted to share one little anecdote from my four years at Sydney University. While I was in first year, my bag was stolen from the uni gym. Quite aside from losing my wallet, my glasses were in the bag and my clothes. So, I had to catch the train home in my gym gear and I couldn’t see. Clearly, this was one of those things which are dreadful thing at the time, but becomes funny in hindsight. Anyway, about 3 years later when I was doing my final Honours year, I received a phone call from the University’s security service. They’d found my bag. Indeed, I think it had been there the entire time.

Well, after all that time, my old bag had become quite the time capsule. There were notes in there from friends  and all sorts. What really stunned me though, was that there were two maybe three bottles of red nail polish in there. What on earth was I trying to achieve? I’ve never been particularly vain or into makeup but I felt this definitely came under the heading of “trying too hard!!!”

University Graduation

The Graduate…I must’ve succeeded at something.

So, then…I’d love to know what you thought about all of that. Do you have any advice of your own you could add? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS The sketches appeared in the original article. Artist unknown.

Graffifi Tunnel, Sydney University: Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors.

Antonymns Rowena

Me on the campaign trail outside the Holme Building in 1990.

This week we’ve entering in a time tunnel and heading back to 1990 when I was running for election to edit Sydney University’s student newspaper: Honi Soit. Our team was called the Antonymns and the ant as our logo. Indeed, our intrepid leader was a massive 6ft black papier mache ant, which was hoisted up on top of a car and driven around campus. In retrospect, although we didn’t win, our campaign was actually pretty good and devising slogans, posters, t-shirts, stickers, cars mascots and then trying to convince the masses to vote for us was a massive undertaking. While some more astute politicians ingratiate themselves with key interest groups and hope the mob of sheep follow the leader, I went round speaking personally to masses of students. This included  interviewing students about the New Age Sensitive Guy or SNAG around campus and producing my findings in the university magazine: The Union Recorder.

antonyms in tunnel

As you can see, Graffiti Tunnel is a brutal, temporal place a lot like building a sandcastle on the beach, which is washed away before you’ve even stuck a feather in the top. I gather the Newshounds were either short or didn’t bring a ladder and that black ant does seem to be peering down and poking out it’s tongue at its miraculous survival.

Although election day probably should’ve been the pinnacle of our campaign, for me it was actually painting the tunnel. A friend of mine picked me up in his Dad’s station wagon and we must’ve got in there about 4.00-5.00am. It was pitch black, Winter and freezing. That’s what I remember…the cold. Yet, strangely I have absolutely no memory of any safety concerns. Seriously, who was going to knock a pair of mad students over the head during the middle of the night and run off with their tin of brown paint? Well, you can’t be too careful because our rivals, the Newshounds, had started sticking their posters up at the other end of the tunnel and they certainly were out to get us (and the feeling was mutual. The campaign had become rather heated.)

Anyway, getting back to our mission, we’d decided to turn Graffiti Tunnel into an ant tunnel. The plan was to paint the tunnel brown for that authentic look and then we stenciled Antonymns and blank ants over the top. In hindsight, I’d probably go for something more stylised using lurid colours to make more of a shocking impact. However, you live and learn.

Anyway, as I mentioned, while we were risking frost bite painting down one end of the tunnel, our rivals the Newshounds were sticking posters up at the other end of the tunnel and sometime long before dark, we met up. I don’t think the Newshounds thought too highly of the poo brown paint and the Antonyms really weren’t too sure that their intensely bright orange chalk quite conformed to election guidelines. From memory, their compliance with budget restrictions also seemed questionable. Minor things like this can flare up like a gangrenous wound during an election campaign and I lost a few friends during the course of this campaign, which I’ve regretted.

Anyway, as you may be aware, I revisited Sydney University last week and thoroughly inspected and analyzed my old haunts through the lens. This included returning to Graffiti Tunnel and feeling quite a sense of accomplishment that I’d actually painted that thing in my youth. That I was really living life to the fullest and seizing the day.

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However, while I was photographing Graffiti Tunnel this time, I was surprised to find many doors inside. As I photographed them for Thursday Doors, it never crossed my mind that they might actually lead somewhere. That there could indeed be a secret world behind those doors. I’d only ever seen it as a tunnel and never delved any further. However, that all changed on this visit and some of the doors were open, revealing corridors, labs and lecture rooms. It all felt rather macabre.

I guess places are very much like people. You can think you know someone rather well but then you see them in a different light and figuratively speaking a door either opens or closes and they’re not who you thought they were.

By the way, there’s a very strong part of me which longs to return to Graffiti Tunnel and paint it again. Update it all. I’d like to paint something which really gets the students thinking about what they’re doing. Where they’re going and finding more connection and a more optimistic outlook. I have a few ideas but I fully intend to express them in paint before I confess. Intentions don’t count. This will be my Nike moment…Just do it!

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.

Best wishes,

Rowena

The Long & Winding Road…Thursday Doors..

Welcome Back to Thursday Doors.

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door….
The Beatles
279 Abercrombie St

279 Abercrombie Street in 2018.

This week’s door is personal. Indeed, back in 1988 as a 18 year old university student, this was my front door. Home for this once grungy terrace is 279 Abercrombie Street, Chippendale. Talk about location! Location! Location! This place was a hop, step and a jump away from Redfern Station and just around the corner from Sydney University my former stomping ground. Back in our day, it was parked right on top of the pedestrian crossing used by hordes of university students walking to and from uni. This was fantastic because we could sit out on our front balcony and spot our friends walking past and call out. It used to confuse the hell out of them, and we’ll see them looking around baffled by where the voice was coming from. However, this crossing was rather treacherous, and was removed, replaced with traffic lights further down the road. Party poopers!

Rowena 1989 bedroom

Typical student. Couldn’t even be bothered making my bed for this photo. If you look in the top right corner, there’s a print called “Understanding”, which still resonates with me 30 years later. I spent years trying to find that person whose mind overlapped my own, but it’s an impossible quest. Each and every one of us is unique.

Of course, it goes without saying that our student digs were far from glamorous and had a sort of rustic charm. We had a semi-outside toilet. There was also no running hot water. That meant we had to boil the kettle to do the washing up and the shower had a gas heating contraption to heat the water up. You had to be a bit careful because you could burn your bottom on it, which at least happened once. Our backyard from memory was an industrial wasteland of rugged concrete. At one stage there, I was selling chocolate cakes to the Reasonably Good Cafe across the road, which was also the scene of my very first public poetry reading  with the Sydney University writer’s group, Inkpot (what a cute name!) This was before you needed an industrial kitchen, and let’s just say we’re lucky no one died.

party kitchen 1989

Party in the kitchen. Check out the oven. How did we used that?

Needless to say, our place was the scene of numerous parties, get togethers and pretty much had an open door policy. The party I remember most was called: “An Interstellar Overdrive Spider Gathering”. Not surprisingly, the word went out that it was an acid party. I’d never touched the stuff and barely even needed a drink to get into party mode. However, at least 80 people packed out the terrace and most of them were in varying degrees of other-consciouness. One such friend thought my lime green beanbag was attacking people and I have a photo of him carting the offending beanbag upstairs to lock it up. That dear friend used to rate his day by how many bottles of Guinness he’s had after Manning Bar opened at 12.00pm. However, to be fair he’d been in a nasty head-on car accident and was only trying to find his feet. We all were. I don’t think many of us knew who we were. What I do recall, was at the end of first year, we were just praying for 51% in our exams. It was too late to hope for brilliance. We just wanted to pass right under the radar into second year.

After all, there was far too much to do on campus than attend lectures, tutorials or even study. I won’t mention the birds and bees. Mostly, that was all hype or heartbreak or an unbroken chain on unreciprocated love. By the way, there were no mobile phones back then. So getting someone’s number and calling them up was a feat in itself and you could simply text when your vocal cords were paralyzed with nerves. I distinctly remember writing down phone conversations before I called up. I also remember trying to get through the St Paul’s College switchboard. It was worse than trying to get through to the Sydney radio station. Another aspect of the phone back then, was that if you were still living at home, your entire family knew there was “a boy on the phone.” The modern generation have it way too easy.

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Abercrombie Street, 2018.

My days at 279 Abercrombie Street ended abruptly after the house had been extensively burgled. They clean swept my room, even stealing my school formal dresses and seemingly everything but my undies. I’d been paying off this really groovy hand-made ceramic t-set which I’d bought from this incredible, never-to-be forgotten shop in Glebe called Aho Doddo. Even the guy who owned the place was a treasure. He drove one of those big old citroens where the exhaust pipe rises and falls. This wasn’t Paris. It Sydney’s inner-west. Sadly, it had closed its doors before I even graduated.

This burglary was our second strike. One night I was woken up by the rattle of chains on the front balcony which opened into my bedroom. Much to my horror there was a burglar staring me right in the face. No doubt, we’ve all watched at least an episode of the Brady Bunch where Carol anxiously taps Mike on the shoulder: “Did you hear that?” Truth be told, I wasn’t quite on my pat malone and had a friend staying over. Friend. I swear moving into that terrace cursed my personal life. My memory, I was eternally single, although perhaps I complain too much. It was 30 years ago. Anyway, the burglar must’ve had a delicate constitution and disappeared back over the balcony and that began a lengthy vigil of keeping my ears open through the night in case of further trouble.

 

By the way, since we’re talking about doors, I should mention that we were often listening to The Doors back then as well as David Bowie. So I’ll sign off today with their haunting anthem: The End

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

Sydney University…Retracing My Footprints.

It’s time to pop the champagne and launch the fireworks. Yesterday, I finally made it back to Sydney University, my former stomping ground. I can’t remember when I was last there. However, it’s been at least 15 years. Indeed, I’ve never gone back with Geoff or the kids and shown them what really is a part of myself. I don’t know why, but it’s a glaring omission. After all, as an Arts student 1988-1991, Sydney Uni was my home and raison d’etre. I was active in student life and lived just off campus  for at least some of that time. Moreover, being such a sentimental sod who revels in returning to the road once traveled, it really makes no sense.

So, what changed?

Well, yesterday I attended Carer’s Day Out at the Redfern Community Centre and uni was only a short hop, step and a jump away. Moreover, on the way, I could even check out my first home away from home, a terrace house on Abercrombie Street.

So, now I’d like to invite you along on a photographic tour of Sydney Uni starting out at Redfern Station and finishing up at the footbridge crossing Parramatta Road.

Sydney Uni Map

Leaving Redfern Station, we turn left into Lawson Street and are immediately swept along in a steady stream of pedestrian traffic. It feels so good to be back here and soak up the ambiance again. A good friend of mine used to live in one of these terraces so it’s not a stranger. Yet, there is an unfamiliarity as well. My camera’s hanging round my neck and I’m on the prowl, hunting for prey. I spot a mural and break with the flow to photograph it and became an island in the stream.

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Next, I turn left onto Abercrombie Street. Before we reach my old terrace, we’re walking through a row of shops. Rewinding to 1988, I gave my first poetry reading at the Reasonably Good Cafe, which was somewhere along here. Of course, the original is etched permanently in my memory. However, we’re talking 30 years ago and there’s no brass plaque marking where it was for posterity’s sake. There are still a few cafes and my best guess is that it was a cafe now called Tripod. Unfortunately, it was closed yesterday so I couldn’t take a closer look.

Now, I’m crossing Abercrombie Street to take a closer look at the terrace house which used to be home. It used to be on the pedestrian crossing and we could sit up on the balcony and watch the crowds milling past and call out to our friends. In terms of being a part of things and really experiencing student life, this place had location! Location! Location! Location aside, our student hovel didn’t have a lot of creature comforts. There was the semi-outside loo, not having a running hot water and needing to heat a gas thingy to have a shower, and the backyard was an industrial wasteland. This was character building stuff and besides, slumming it gave you added cred.

Walking further along Abercrombie Street, I’m turning right and within a few metres, we’re now at the front or back of campus depending on your perspective. First up, we come across the engineering faculty and before long we reach the Carslaw Building (has always sounded too much like coleslaw or cold sore for my liking) which is the big union service building on this side of campus and where the science students and engineers etc used to hang out. I catch the lift up and walk over the footbridge over City Road and stop to take a photo looking towards my beloved Newtown, which will have to wait for another day.

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Noticeboard Pastiche.

That’s when I spotted a row of noticeboards. Naturally, I was interested in checking out the posters and issues which are important on campus now. However, I was also intrigued by the noticeboard itself. You see, the surface was made up of layer upon layer of paper fragments and a gazillion staples. This mashed composition wasn’t glamorous or informative in anyway. Yet, it intrigued me…this detritus of a million ideas. What were they about and who put them there? So many hands and minds who perhaps like myself have all drifted away.  I was once one of those people stapling up posters in a past life. A campaigner and a believer, this is our legacy.

I keep walking.

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The Main Quad, Sydney University.

What with all this peering through the lens, I can’t quite pinpoint the exact moment or draw an “X marks the spot” where I spotted the iconic Main Quadrangle (or “quad”) peering out above the trees. However, I was dazzled. Blown away. Not only by its architectural splendor, but also by the familiarity. It was like seeing a long lost friend after a break of thirty years. OMG! If it wasn’t a building or so big, I would’ve wrapped my arms around it for a hug.It meant so much to see it again.

As the university’s architectural crown, the Main Quad was always special. Yet, when you see it everyday, it becomes part of the scenery and taken for granted. Now, as much as I love it, it also looks like an alien spaceship which has crash landed in Sydney and would appear rather out of place if other similar buildings hadn’t been built around it. Designed by Edmund Blacket in the Victorian Gothic Revival style, it was based on the buildings at Oxford and Cambridge and is England transplanted to the Antipodes. Apparently, this style was already out of date when it was built and its always been anachronism.

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Fisher Library. 

However, before I head up to the Main Quad, I stop off outside Fisher Library. To be perfectly honest, not all of my memories of that place are good. That place was the scene of many rushed essays, voluminous photocopying and note taking and on a lighter note, there were also a few sightings of the male of the species. Indeed, out the front of Fisher Library used to be a popular meeting spot and I remember arranging to meet friends as well as a few “prospects” there.

By the way, Fisher Library is nowhere near as glamorous as virtually every other building on campus and looks more like an old demountable classroom that got too big for its boots. Right next to Fisher, there’s a soaring tower known as “Fisher Stack”. I can’t remember quite what was up there but it was considered dangerous for women to venture in there and rapes were more than urban myth. Or, at least that’s what I thought. I still haven’t forgotten that sense of all pervading terror when I had to find a book in there. It was so incredibly creepy and unlike the rest of campus where there’s always someone, Fisher Stack was deserted.

Finally, I was on my way to the Main Quad. This was the first time I’ve really focused on its architectural details. It’s also the first time I’ve actually photographed it as well zooming in on the omnipresent clock face and soaking up all the stone work around it with my eyes. In addition to the architecture, the Main Quad was also famous for its large jacaranda tree which always flowered during exam time and was a poignant reminder of stress and trouble. Tragically, the Jacaranda tree died a few years ago. Two trees were planted in its place. However, the Jacaranda is very spindly and can’t hope to catch up for a very long time to come. On a more positive note, I still remember being out in the Main Quad after my graduation. It was such a momentous occasion and by that stage, I’d had enough of study and felt long overdue for the real world.

Next stop, is Manning House. This was the union building where the Arts students hung out. Back in my day, there were three levels. Only level one was open in the mornings and I remember hanging out there for many hours and then heading upstairs to Manning Bar. I wasn’t much of a drinker, but the bar attracted a more bohemian set.  Level three was where the snooty private school types hung out wearing their Country Road clothing…the yuppies. As a former private school type myself, I did venture up there at times, but it wasn’t entirely my scene.

After leaving Manning, I headed for The Graffiti Tunnel which connects Manning to the Holme Building. This tunnel is the only place on campus where you’re allowed to use spray paint. It’s pure grunge and almost feels like a living, breathing organism. Back when I was running for election to edit the uni newspaper, Honi Soit, a friend and I painted the tunnel. Our team was the Antonyms and the ant was our mascot.  Indeed, one of our team members built a six foot ant which we mounted on top of a car, which we drove around campus. We also made up all these posters featuring ant words and had our own t-shirts. However, chalking was probably the main form of advertising. Our rivals, Newshounds, had very,  very bright fluoro orange paint which you could’ve spotted from the moon. Consequently, our pink chalk, became more intense and so did the rivalry. All that rivalry climaxed in the Graffiti Tunnel. We’d started painting brown paint and black ants at the Holme end, converting it into an ant tunnel. Meanwhile, the Newshounds had started out at the other end at at around 5.00am we crossed paths. I can’t remember what was said. However, let’s just say it was heated. By the way, you’ve probably already guessed that Newshounds won. Word had got out that much of our team were Christians and members of  EU (Evangelical Union). The other half was quite bohemian, but we were sunk. I’d been friends with many of the Newshounds prior to that campaign and sadly our friendships never recovered.

Naturally, I was looking forward to returning to Graffiti Tunnel and seeing what the students of 2018 are saying. What’s their take on life, the universe and everything? To be perfectly honest, I still don’t know. There was certainly a lot of colour. However, what I did notice was that there are quite a few doors in the tunnel, which I hadn’t noticed before. While I can’t speak for what’s behind all of them, but at least a couple led into lecture or tutorial rooms.

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Inside the Holme Building

Next stop, was across the road to the Holme Building. This was where most of the mature age students hung out back in my day, although I went there sometimes as well. Not sure why. However, I also remember having my Year 11 school formal in the Holme Building and it was also where the Arts Ball was held each year. That was a ripper. So much fun. Seizing the opportunity, I had to sneak into the dining area which was set up for a function, and photograph the scene of such exuberance. Why did I have to grow up? Why did I have to become responsible?

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Perhaps, that’s one of the greatest mysteries of life.

Meanwhile, I feel like I’ve chopped the university into such little bits and pieces here and I don’t know whether you can truly appreciate it as a whole. This effort feels incredibly inadequate, but for those of you who haven’t been here and are unlikely to ever make it to Sydney, it hopefully conveys something of an impression.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Moonlight Sonata…Friday Fictioneers.

Mr Suave was wrapped around Claudia like a snake.

“Beam me up, Scotty,” she coaxed through the moonlight.

That jerk had caught her hook, line and sinker.

Barnie wasn’t happy.

“All brawn. No brains. Bet HE couldn’t fix her hard drive!”

Known on campus as “The Guru”, Claudia had brought in her computer. While Barnie couldn’t talk to women, he could hack into their hard drives. They were an open book. Every day, Barnie thanked God for selfies, although he knew the risks.

That’s how he met Claudia. Knew her inside out.

Now, she was going to know him.


This has been another contribution for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. This week’s photo prompt is © Dale Rogerson. You can access the linky Here

xx Rowena

University Antics!

As the years pass by and a spirit of creative rebellion fades away and the realities of work, mortgage, kids and life take over, it’s easy to feel that person was someone else. Perhaps you, like me, felt you belonged in Dead Poet’s Society going  out in the woods reciting Whitman, or indeed your own poetry, by candle or torch light or perhaps you really did fit into one of those Hollywood coming of age films…a cheerleader, the jock..or indeed the jerk.

Dead Poet's Society.

Dead Poet’s Society.

Yes, indeed there was also “The Revenge of the Nerds”. That was released while I was still at school.

University of Sydney 1870s

University of Sydney 1870s

When you first enter the University of Sydney through the iron gate into the Main Quadrangle, you can’t but be impressed by the years of conservative tradition and the incredible minds who have walked these hallowed corridors. As Australia’s first university, there is and always has been a lot of prestige, pride and a real sense of academic achievement, which is encapsulated in my graduation photo with the tradition black gown with ermine trim.

The historic sandstone building in the Main Quadrangle featuring the iconic Jacaranda tree which was planted in 1927 by EG Waterhouse. The tree is an unfortunate harbinger of bad news. As it's branches start to bud, exam time is looming.

The historic sandstone building in the Main Quadrangle featuring the iconic Jacaranda tree which was planted in 1927 by EG Waterhouse. The tree is an unfortunate harbinger of bad news. As it’s branches start to bud, exam time is looming.

However, when it comes to getting that all-important university education, what you learn outside the books is just as important that those set texts which will ultimately earn you that all-important piece of paper and the job of your dreams…a career.

As far as my education at Sydney University was concerned, it was all focused on “Manning”. Manning was a three-story student haven. The bottom floor was for the early birds and where you could get a morning coffee and veg out while skipping lectures. The second floor had the cafeteria and the all important “Manning Bar” scene of much philosophical musing, pursuit of the flesh and the annual band comp. The third floor of Manning was where the private school people hung out and in retrospect was rather elitist. While I might have qualified for the prestigious selection criteria, I felt much more at home among the bar flies, although all I used to drink was a single West Coast Cooler, which, by the way was rated as one of the daggiest drinks along with Passion Pop.Brentonb

The crew I mingled with at the bar, were often living out of home in one of the rundown terrace hovels around campus and unlike the folk upstairs who were flaunting their designer labels, there was something greater at stake at Manning Bar…street cred. UNfortunately, I had no street cred whatsoever and not even a pair of Doc Martin’s to pretend. My “colleagues” would indulge in bottles of McWilliams Royal Reserve Port, which had doubled in age by the time you’d walked home. It was raw stuff which, again damaging to my street cred, I used to drink with coke or lemonade.

Orientation Week Stalls.

Of course, the big event each year on Campus was Orientation Week where, in addition to taking care of all the business of enrollment, the clubs and societies held stalls out on the front lawn. These clubs and socs promised everything but a debauched feast straight out of the Middle Ages. I belong and even ran the university’s writer’s group Inkpot and was involved in poetry performances and jam sessions of sorts. Another hit was S.U.C.R.O.S.E (Sydney Uni Chocolate Revellers Opposed to Sensible Eating). I remember one event held in winter and we were all wearing coats with very deep and multiple pockets and in addition to shoveling all I could eat into my gob, I also loaded up my coat for a midnight snack.Of course, there was also the Sydney Python Appreciation Movement (SPAM). I wasn’t so into Monty Python myself but I loved all the spectacle and theatre…and the way out costumes. There was the Grim Reaper and also Erik the Viking. I think we ended up singing the SPAM song on MTV although I couldn’t be sure. University days are filled with myths and legends.

Image result for monty python spam song

Monty Python’s Spam Sketch: www.youtube.com/watch?v=anwy2MPT5RE

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to find out that I ran for editorship of the university newspaper, Honi Soit. Our team was called The Antonyms and we did a whole lot of promotional posters using ant words such as “brilliant”. Like all political campaigns, the competition was fierce. Our main promotional strategy, aside from posters around campus, was writing slogans in chalk around campus.Our opponents, the Newshounds, got hold of some super-bright fluorescent chalk, which I’m sure, could have been seen from space. We also made a huge blank ant (pictured), which we drove around. A friend of mine who got behind our campaign, had an idea to turn the tunnel between Manning and the Holme Buildings into an ant tunnel so there we were about 4.00 AM in the bitter freezing cold turning the tunnel poo brown and painting black ants throughout. It wasn’t even surprise when we ran into the Newshounds who’d set up at the other end of the tunnel. The battle was on. Unfortunately, our more nature-inspired ant tunnel was no match for their bright paint. Needless to say, the Newshounds won the election and I think our team had fallen apart before the election was even done. But it was great fun!

Here I am posing in front of the Ant-Mobile running for editorship of Honi Soit in 1991.

Here I am posing in front of the Ant-Mobile running for editorship of Honi Soit in 1991.

University also provided me with my first opportunity to get published. I had a letter to the editor published, which protested the introduction of fees. However, I really made a bit of a name for myself as a bit of a roving Germaine Greer writing about sexuality and in particular double-standards on campus. The first article was called: “Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t: Attitudes towards Female Sexuality” and the sequel was about the Sensitive New Age Man (SNAG). I also had a poem about a guy who had an affair with his computer published. I’ll have to post that once this A-Z Blogging Challenge is over. I’m in survival mode at the moment. Tomorrow being ANZAC here commemorating 100 years since the landing at Gallipoli, I’m needing to get onto that as well as wake up at 4.00am as the kids are marching in the Dawn Service with Scouts. Geoff’s Great Uncle served in Gallipoli and I’m desperately trying to put details together while writing this and baking ANZAC Biscuits, which are bound to burn with all this multi-tasking!

Just like what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, the rest of what happened at university stays at university.

This has been U for University Antics for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

Anyone game to cough up any of their university or college antics? Don’t be shy!

xx Rowena

Time Traveling Through A Vintage 80s Magazine…

Everyone has a secret. Well, mine isn’t exactly a secret. I just haven’t got around to sharing  my passion for history and almost anything retro. This hasn’t been a conscious omission. I’ve simply been writing about other stuff. Besides, it’s a bit like stating the obvious.

You see, when you visit our place, there’s a Morris Minor parked out the front. There are rows of antique bone china tea cups which have broken out of the display cabinet and have started to wander. Old, black & white family photos peer through ornately carved, antique wooden frames and my computer is perched on top of an old oak desk with a gorgeous wood grain finish.

Being the eternal good Samaritan, I’m forever salvaging the past from our local charity or “op” shops as we call them. Indeed, you could say that I’m quite the “archaeologist” or even that I’m “kind to the homeless”. While I do have dogged persistence, most of my “finds” are beyond coincidence and were clearly: “serendipity” or “meant to be”. I had to take them home!!

Anyway, while my greatest archaeological weaknesses is vintage tea cups closely followed by illustrated books and cookbooks, another love of mine is collecting old magazines, which is quite odd in a way because I rarely buy contemporary magazines at all. My most cherished magazines are copies of the Australian Women’s Weekly dating back to the 1950s, which I picked up from an antique shop in the Queensland country town of Marburg, where my mother spent some years as a child. I love really getting into how people lived in “the olden days”.

Australia Day Wishes 1988.

Australia Day Wishes 1988.

Recently, I came across a new find for my collection. It was  an Australian Women’s Weekly dating back to January 1988. That’s now 24 years ago. While it is not as old as my other editions, it was the “Bicentennial Souvenir: Special Collector’s Edition”, which celebrated Australia’s “200th Birthday”. The Bicentenary was a very special time in Australia’s history when we really thought about our identity as a nation and there were all sorts of special events as well as much sorrow.

Personally, 1988 was also a very special year. You see, I’d left school at the end of 1987 and you could say life began in March 1988, when I walked through the gates of Sydney University and discovered a social whirl like none other. Aside from having my heart broken by my high school sweetheart, 1988 was a jolly good year!

While the magazine has much to say about the bicentenary, I’ll get to that after further research. I’m sure you can appreciate that any national celebration of that magnitude was “complex”. Meanwhile, I just want to bask in the light of the glorious 80s and soak up the social, fashion and technological changes and let the good times roll back.

Charles & Di: the greatest modern tragedy.

Charles & Di: a great modern tragedy.

With a touch of schadenfreude, I opened up my Women’s Weekly to find the usual suspects, Diana and Charles, who were guests of honour for the Bicentenary. The headline read: “What will Australia see this time…Diana: Royal Charmer or Spoilt Princess?” After finding this little gem, I would probably advise royal reporter Ingrid Seward to stick to journalism as she makes a lousy clairvoyant: “If the fairytale royal romance were going to crack apart, overheated in the furnace of public scrutiny, it would be now. But it hasn’t. And it won’t.”

This, of course, is one of the disadvantages of getting published. Your words really are set in stone and can indeed come back to haunt you.

Not unsurprisingly,fashion was hot.

Lady Sonia McMahon 1988

Style Icon Lady Sonia McMahon 1988

I came across an interesting feature called “Women of Style”, where they interviewed Australian style icons about their views on Australian fashion. Not unsurprisingly, Lady Sonia McMahon, wife of former Australian Prime Minister Sir Billy McMahon and mother of actor Julian McMahon, was interviewed.

Lady Mc Mahon had climbed to fashion royalty in 1971  when, as the wife of Australian Prime Minster Sir Billy McMahon,  she wore “that dress” to a reception held by US President Richard Nixon at the White House. The daring dress was split both sides to the armpits though held together by rhinestones about two centimetres apart from the waist up. While the dress appears quite revealing, it was actually lined with a pantyhose-type, flesh-coloured fabric.

Sonia McMahon in THAT dress at the White House.

Sonia McMahon in THAT dress at the White House.

Apparently, Lady McMahon was too impressed with how Australian women were dressing in the 80s. “She (Lady McMahon) used to think Australian women were among the best dressed in the world. But then came the jeans revolution and women relaxed- something Lady McMahon does not approve of. Smart clothes, she says, make a smart woman. Neatness and attention to detail, which some women are born with, but Lady McMahon says can be learnt, are paramount to style”. (I can’t help wondering what Lady McMahon would think of the current girl’s fashion…denim short shorts…)

Dame Edna Everage wearing a signature piece of Australiana

While Dame Edna Everage wearing a signature piece of Australiana

Meanwhile, not one to be outdone in the fashion stakes, Dame Edna Everage also featured in fashion pages in: What Dame Edna is Wearing Overseas. If you haven’t encountered Dame Edna before, she has a certain je ne sais quoi, which completely defies any kind of interpretation. As my daughter said when I introduced her to Dame Edna tonight: “What kind of person is she?”

Only Dame Edna could manage to incorporate the Auistralian flag and a 3D version of the Sydney Opera House into a frock.

Only Dame Edna could manage to incorporate the Auistralian flag and a 3D version of the Sydney Opera House into a frock.

In contrast to Lady McMahon’s classic elegance,  Dame Edna is wearing a garish canary yellow outfit with two koalas up a gum tree. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she’s also pictured wearing a blue dress with the Australian flag sequined on the bodice. But wait!!! It gets worse. I just noticed that the white starchy collar is actually the Sydney Opera House. Yikes!!! Hasn’t she ever heard that less is more? Oh my goodness!! I can feel some kind of severe anaphylactic reaction setting in. Oh! I mean… there’s the pink hair, purple hair and I’m not even going to discuss the glasses…Oh my goodness. There just aren’t enough superlatives to do Dame Edna any kind of justice whatsoever!!  She just has to be the most truly cringe-worthy, “national symbol” EVER!!!!!

The big question I have is this: Who allowed Dame Edna to leave the country dressed like that and why on earth did a magazine like the Australian Women’s Weekly publish the evidence?

Quite frankly, someone should have grabbed Dame Edna by the horns and told her in no uncertain terms: “Go to your room. You’re not leaving the house looking like that!!!” I know fashion was a bit out there in the 80’s but I’m flabbergasted.

Indeed, when it comes to managing Dame Edna stronger measures would have been required. The fact that she ended up overseas dressed like that and representing our country makes her fashion choices a matter of national security.  She was destroying our National Credibility Rating (NCR). What with those crazy outfits, the pink and purple hair and all her “hello possums” and parading around as Australian royalty, she was a national embarrassment.

I understand that customs usually stop undesirables from entering into a country but couldn’t they have done something to stop her from getting out??? Anything!!!

Of course, there are the fashion police. If ever there was a case demanding their expert attention, this was it. They should have locked her up and thrown away the key! absolutely!! Sentenced her to life imprisonment rather than let her flaunt her peculiar fashions overseas and in The Weekly.

Yet, as much as Dame Edna has that incredible cringe factor, for some strange reason, we still love her even though we want to hit her with the nearest fly swat!!!

Gee, I hope Dame Edna never gets hold of Lady McMahon’s “dress” from the Powerhouse Museum. Seeing the epitome of kitsch dressed as the epitome of style would be the outrage to end all outrages…especially as I doubt Dame Edna has ever shaved her legs!!

Moving on from fashion, I also found an interview with then 60 Minutes journalist Jana Wendt. Among other topics, she was responding to a magazine article which appeared two weeks after the birth of her son, Daniel. The article had implied that Jana was “afraid of motherhood” and was fearful that motherhood would make her less effective as a journalist. She had not been consulted for this article and explained: “I can’t believe that any responsible journalist, who supposedly values the qualities of motherhood, would come out and try to undermine a working woman’s life by saying that, just because she’s had a child, she’s somehow going to be different, or unprofessional, or, all of a sudden, softer in her interviewing technique. The prejudice that women often lay at the feet of men- well, I think some women should examine themselves for that prejudice because it’s clearly there.”…

“Your priorities do change when you have a child. Not your personal priorities but the fact that your lifestyle has to accommodate another person.You have somehow to work out how you’re going to make that person happy and contented so, yes, it did- or is- taking a lot of thought and I’ve no intention of stopping work at all. My work is very important to me and it makes me a complete person. I don’t think I’d be very successful at just sitting at home,” Jana said.

I personally have mixed views about Jana’s comments. I wholeheartedly support her desire to combine motherhood and career but her assertion that full time parents are just “sitting down” is poorly informed. They’d be lucky enough to sit down long enough to get through a cup of tea uninterrupted.

Another point of interest was a joint photography feature between the Australian Women’s Weekly and Fuji Film: How to Take Perfect Photos…Every Time!

Of course, this was written before digital photography when cameras used film and you couldn’t see how your photo had turned out until you’d had them processed. That’s right. There was a door on the back of your camera for putting in the film and not a screen. You also had to choose the right speed of film and you couldn’t switch easily between colour and black and white either. Photography was a lot more conscious than it is now. You really did need to try to set your shot up well and get it right before you took it, rather than checking as you go. This feature also suggested that if you were traveling and wanted to remember characteristic sound effects, you could take along a small cassette recorder. Now, that really starts to date the magazine.I’d imagine that if we could travel backwards in time and tell them we’re taking selfies on our mobile phones, they’d tell us: “You’re dreaming.”

I also came across this photo of a computer 1988 style:

Computers 1980s style...a terminal connected to a mainframe.

Computers 1980s style…a terminal connected to a mainframe.

However, as much as things have changed since January, 1988, some things have also stayed the same.

Thank goodness for Sao biscuits!!

Thank goodness some things never change!!

Thank goodness some things never change!!

I don’t know if I really miss the 80’s but wouldn’t it be great to be 18 again for just one day!!

Yes, I’d have a lot to say to my 18 year old self!! What about you?

xx Rowena

Sources:

The Australian Women’s Weekly, January, 1988.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/a-love-beyond-understanding/story-e6frg6z6-1111114526775

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/celebrity/sonia-mcmahon-elegance-loyalty-and-that-dress-20100403-rkcv.html