“You’re Not Touching the Kingswood”!

Remember Kingswood Country, the Australian sitcom that screened from 1980 to 1984 on Channel 7?

The show featured real Aussie humour and although it was seen by many as racist and sexist, it was in fact meant to mock those attitudes held by many Australians at the time.

Ingswood Country won the Most Popular Comedy Award in 1981 and 1982 at the Logies.

Kingswood Country won the Most Popular Comedy Award in 1981 and 1982 at the Logies.

“Ted” Bullpitt was played by Ross Higgins, a white Australian, conservative, bigoted, Kingswood loving factory worker and World War 2 veteran, who recalls his difficult childhood in ever more exaggerated ways and endlessly declares his love for his car, the Holden Kingswood..

Some of Ted sayings included; “The Kingswood! You’re not taking the Kingswood!”, “Bloody woman!” “Pickle me grandmother!” and “Don’t ‘dad’ me, I’m your father!” Ted also loved his greyhounds, his garden statue of Neville the Aboriginal, his chair in front of the telly and hated the ‘bloody nuns’.

The show mainly centred on the conflict between the conservative sexist & racist Ted & his progressive children with his poor long suffering wife Thelma stuck in the middle. His daughter’s husband, Bruno (played by Lex Marinos), was the son of Italian immigrants and Ted objected to him completely; referring to him as ‘that bloody wog’.

Thelma was played by Judi Farr and she was cast as the traditional housewife trapped by Ted’s conservative family views, but she often got her own back on Ted including often using old Myer receipts she had hidden in a drawer, used to fool Ted into thinking she paid less for a new item, than she really had.

Others in the cast included Peter Fisher as Craig, Ted’s son, and daughter Greta was actress Laurel McGowan.

I don’t think the Kingswood was ever seen on the show but was referred to on many occasions and usually several times in any one episode.

“You’re not taking the Kingswood, I’ve just ducoed the tyres” or “I’ve just glad-wrapped the aerial!” or “I’ve just Mr Sheened the number-plate!”

Photo from You Tube. Ross Higgins as Ted and Judi Farr as his poor long suffering wife Thelma.

Photo from You Tube. Ross Higgins as Ted and Judi Farr as his poor long suffering wife Thelma.

Other times the humour was based on the more traditional comedy situations of poorly thought-out schemes of Ted’s (usually get-rich-quick); class differences between the suburban Bullpitts and Ted’s brother Bob, the Datsun dealer, and his upwardly-mobile wife Merle.

It was at around the time that Australian culture was undergoing a major change with multiculturalism, the women’s movement was forging ahead the political landscape was shifting and Ted was finding it difficult to adjust to the changes that were happening all around him.

The show won the Most Popular Comedy Award in 1981 and 1982 at the Logies. Some of the guest stars in the series included Graham Kennedy, Noeline Brown, Bruce Spence, Robert Hughes and Cornelia Frances.

There have been 4 sets of DVDs released, each of 13 episodes, featuring the ‘Best Of’ the series plus there are a number of the episodes also up on You Tube.

Some of Ted’s other sayings include;

(when asked how his day went) “Bloody shambles, of course!”

“Bloody Wogs!”

“Bloody woman!”

“Blow ’em all up!” (anybody who was annoying him at the time).

“Watch it mate!”

“No wonder the country’s in a mess”

And of course, “Bloody Nuns”.

Ross Higgins who played Ted Bullpit died of unspecified causes on 7 October 2016, aged 85. He had been ill for some time and had been hospitalised for several weeks

Your First Job. Does It Still Exist?

Is the first job you ever had still in existence today?

Telegram boys, lift operators, milkmen, comptometrists, typists, tea ladies, linotype operators, petrol pump attendants, tram conductors, manual switchboard operators and the lavatory man have all disappeared as jobs since the 50s.

I started my first job at 15 working for the PMG delivering telegrams in the late 50’s. Telegrams were phased out (I’m not sure when exactly) replaced by fax machines, emails and texting. I was given two brand new uniforms and a Post Office bike, PMG 262 (I remember it still)! Every day rain, hail or shine I’d be out delivering telegrams, chased by dogs and dodging traffic. Today I have to explain to anybody under 40 just exactly what a telegram was.

Lift operators had the job of opening and closing lift or elevator doors by hand and pushing the right buttons, or levers for the required floors. Some wore formal uniforms and gloves, and in department stores they would call out the merchandise as the elevator reached the floor.

Photo from ARW FB contributor. Female elevator operators ready to go to work

Photo from ARW FB contributor. Female elevator operators ready to go to work

Elevator operators existed in public, private, commercial and retail buildings right up until around the 1970s, when newer buildings were created with more effective lifts that only required the push of a button.

I’ve written before on this blog about home deliveries and the ‘milky’ and the bread man have long since disappeared from suburban streets. The milk bottles and often the money for the order was left outside on the doorstep at night for the milk man to fill. Home deliveries of bread had completely stopped by the late 70s and milk delivery ceased not long after that when people went to the supermarket instead.

There was a time when a lady with a trolley toured the office and brought a cup of tea and a biscuit, a friendly face, a bit of banter and a little bit of gossip. Her job was to make sure office workers weren’t without a cuppa and a biscuit during the day. We had tea ladies until the early 90s at 5DN.

And there was a time, not that long ago, when girls in their teens would get their first office job in the typing pool. Girls were taught at school to do shorthand and typing and how to file. Before computers were widely used, typing was a valuable skill in the workforce. Bigger companies had typing pools and these girls were expected to be quick and accurate.

Another popular job for girls and young ladies was as a comptometrist., adding up figures, processing invoices and acting as a corporate version of a cash register.

Young women would have been given this kind of clerical work in computing sums and processing invoices right up until computers came along and made the job redundant beginning in the 80s.

Connecting telephone users to the correct number by removing and then plugging in telephone lines on large switchboards was the job of the manual switchboard operator. This was back

Photo from Google Images. Manual switchboard operators at work in 1952

Photo from Google Images. Manual switchboard operators at work in 1952

in the day when to make a call, you rang a switchboard operator, who would ask for “number please”? They then connected the call on your behalf and if it was from a public telephone they would interrupt the call after 3 minutes to ask, “are you extending”?

Switchboard operators mainly started to disappear in the late 50s and 60s as self-dial telephones came onto the market.

So, what was your first job….Most importantly, does it still exist?

P.S. Thank you visiting my website and spending some of your valuable time reading my blog. Please take a little time to perhaps read some of my other posts and explore the site, it’s a new venture and there’s much to be done but that will take time.

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From the Radiogram to the Walkman.

Vinyl records, radiograms, transistors and cassette recorders … what fun we had before computers!

Vinyl record sales in Australia have increased by almost 100 per cent this year. It seems a younger generation has rediscovered the world of “fantastic black plastic” in the digital age.

Photo courtesy of Dale Sanders. An original radiogramme with automatic record changer

Photo courtesy of Dale Sanders. An original radiogram with automatic record changer

I asked one of  my (much) younger colleagues why he was into playing vinyl records. “It offers a richer sound than downloadable digital songs,” he explained.

“And they’re beautifully packaged – it’s something you can hold in your hands and admire.”

Could vinyl records really make a comeback?

Records are entirely different creatures from digital downloads. They take up a lot of space, play on bulky equipment, scratch fairly easily and hiss.

I sat down with my young friend and reminisced with him about an era when it was a possible two-week wait for a new record to arrive at your local music shop, then it was only playable on a piece of furniture called a radiogram.

How easy do kids have it these days, with all the very latest songs available for immediate download within hours of being released or words to any song ever recorded now available instantly on Google.

Gone are the days when you would hear a song on the radio, head off to the local record shop to buy it, only to discover it was a brand new recording and not available in Australia yet, order it, wait weeks for it to arrive and when it finally landed, take it home and play it over and over and over again on the radiogram or record player.

Photo from Google Images.With the introduction of the transistor, suddenly music became portable.

Photo from Google Images.With the introduction of the transistor, suddenly music was portable.

Before the arrival of the transistor in the mid-to-late 1950s, a radio was called a wireless and would sit on the kitchen cabinet or sideboard and was operated with electricity.

With the introduction of the transistor, suddenly music became portable. With just a couple of AA batteries, you could take all the songs from the latest hit parade with you wherever you went.

Very few cars at that time had a car radio fitted. Unlike today, where new cars have a radio as standard, the best you could do back then was to buy and retrofit a “Ferris” car radio, so most of us just made do with the trannie sitting on the dashboard.

Radiograms too were originally big pieces of furniture. They were generally made up of a turntable, a radio and a storage area for all the vinyl discs. Radiograms were most popular in the post war era of the mid 1950s and suddenly mushroomed in sales when singles and the ‘long playing’ record replaced 78s. One of the big features was the ‘auto-changer’. Such technology!

Cassette decks originally started out as a professional machine for dictation and for use by journalists, but by 1970 with improvements in technology it became possible to reproduce a high quality sound with what had previously been used for speech only. Cassette decks began to replace tape recorders and in 1979 when the Sony Corporation introduced the ‘Walkman’, recorded music became truly portable for the first time.

Photo from Google Images. When the Sony Corporation introduced the ‘Walkman’, recorded music became truly portable for the first time.

Photo from Google Images. When the Sony Corporation introduced the ‘Walkman’, selected recorded music became truly portable for the first time.

So from the mid-fifties to the early eighties we witnessed a technical revolution in how we played and listened to our music. From 78s we progressed to singles (45s) and LPs (33s). From the wireless we moved on to transistor radios, from radiograms to portable record players and from the bulky old tape recorders to the cassette deck and the Walkman.

In less than 30 years the technology through which we listened to our music had changed dramatically and I would have thought, irreversibly. And yet today some young music devotees are choosing the old vinyl records over the latest technology of digital downloads.

Childhood Memories of The Neighbourhood.

When fences were lower, fruit and veg was currency and kids just roamed free

How different to today was your neighbourhood and the neighbours as you were growing up?

I was a child in the 50s and neighbourhoods were mainly made up of working class families. Some fathers worked in offices or ran a small local business, while others toiled with their hands in factories, as tradesmen or labourers.

Most mothers stayed at home to look after the children, to cook and clean the house and do the washing and ironing.

Photo from the Advertiser. There were always lots of other kids to play with. This picture from 1956 shows some boys sharing rides in a Cyclops pedal car

There were always lots of other kids to play with. This picture from 1956 shows some boys sharing rides in a Cyclops pedal car

Whenever I think back to those years I’m somehow reminded of summer time and those hot nights – no airconditioning or even electric fans – and all the neighbours and their children would sit out on front verandas or front lawns until very late, hoping to catch any cool late-night breeze.

Mums and dads would chat over the front fence, the wireless would be brought out on an extension cord to hear the latest episode of the serials, and mattresses would be dragged out for sleeping.

The streets of our neighbourhood were filled with children. These were the Baby Boomer years, pre-birth control, and families of four and five children were the norm. We were surrounded by many other young families, all around the same ages, so best friends were always in plentiful supply. The streets and backyards were our territory and our parents never seemed to care where we were or who we were with.

We’d spend hours away from home exploring, riding bikes, playing games, making dams in gutters on rainy days and – at times – getting into fights with the kids from the next street over.

Photo from Dale Phillips. Whenever there was a birthday celebrated in the street, there would be a party for all the kids.

Whenever there was a birthday celebrated in the street, there would be a party for all the kids. Photo from Dale Phillips.

Whenever there was a birthday celebrated in the street, there would be a party for all the kids, with raspberry cordial to drink, little cakes in patty pans, chocolate crackles and fairy bread with hundreds and thousands. The decorations were all handmade with crepe paper and there’d be a paper trumpet to blow.

There was always lots of gossip to be traded. My mother and Mrs Neagle from next door would spend hours talking over the back fence about all sorts of things.

Gossip was not the only thing traded over the back fence. Excess fruit and vegies, all grown in backyard gardens, were shared, as were jams and relishes. Mr Jacobs, a few doors down, used to catch and smoke fish which would be traded for some of our hens’ eggs. Mr Scott was an electrician and would repair electrical appliances after work, and could be paid with fruit and vegetables. Very few families had the convenience of a car and those in the neighbourhood who did would be called on in times of emergency to offer transport.

It’s strange that there is now a day set aside to remind people how to be good neighbours (Neighbour’s Day), when it seemed such a normal part of life in the 1950s and ’60s.

While I’m sure there are still great neighbours today, back fences seem to be higher and electric roller doors have created a cocooned existence, where a neighbour is no longer seen, let alone spoken to – how different from our experience growing up with neighbours who were in our lives and almost part of our family.

P.S. Thank you visiting my website and spending some of your valuable time reading my blog. Please take a little time to perhaps read some of my other posts and explore the site, it’s a new venture and there’s much to be done but that will take time.

Also, if you’ve ever thought about making a little bit of extra money to help pay the bills, help with the mortgage or fund a holiday for the family, check out our sponsor’s free book and software offer about how to make your first $100 online….its completely free!

Why Is It So?

“How do you do, ladies and gentlemen, and boys and girls. I am Julius Sumner Miller, and physics is my business”.

Remember the TV show “Why Is It So?” which was broadcast from 1963 to about the mid 80’s? It became an instant hit known for its “cool experiments, interesting science, and the professor’s fantastic hair”. The tremendous on-air popularity of the programme was due to the absolute enthusiasm not normally associated with serious science. Shows would be liberally sprinkled with phrases such as “He who is not stirred by the beauty of it is already dead”, and he also liked to trick the audience. A common ploy would be to hold up an empty glass and ask guests to confirm it was empty….then chide them for not noticing it was full of air.

Why Is It So? known for its “cool experiments, like the egg in the bottle, interesting science, and the professor’s fantastic hair”

There are many stories about the show. For example, Professor Miller’s first television appearance in Australia was on The Bob Sanders Show in 1963. In an improvised physics demonstration, he went to great lengths to explain that he would drive a drinking straw through a raw potato. Obviously a paper straw normally does not have sufficient strength, but if one pinches the end, the trapped air acts as a piston, easily piercing the potato. For the first time in his career though he could not get it to work, and he loudly exclaimed “Australian straws ain’t worth a damn!”. The next morning, when the professor arrived at his Sydney University laboratory he found one million drinking straws on the floor with a telegram reading “You might find one of these fitting your requirements”. He later stated “I sat amongst the straws, with straws stuck in my hair and ears. But clearly I had made a mistake. I should have said: ‘Australian potatoes ain’t worth a damn’, and I’d have cornered the potato market!”

Photo from ABC TV. Professor Miller was asked to host his own science based TV show on the ABC

Shortly after, he was offered the job presenting a regular science programme for ABC TV. When asked how much money he wanted to do the show, he replied that, he never asked, he listened to an offer then “multiplied it by a factor between two and ten”.

Due to budget constraints the offer was withdrawn, but an agreement was eventually reached for Miller to host his own science based TV series which was filmed at the University of Sydney where he taught.

The show became so popular that in 1966 questions from his programme with an answer to the previous day’s question, were published as “Millergrams” for ‘The Australian’ newspaper and were eventually published in 3 books. He also became known as the face for Cadbury’s Chocolate in the 80’s, describing how each block of chocolate “embraces substantial nourishment and enjoyment,” and contained “a glass and a half of full-cream dairy milk.”

Professor Julius Sumner Miller became seriously ill in early 1987 and returned to the United States where he was diagnosed with leukemia. He died just six weeks later on April 14, 1987 and had willed his body to the University of Southern California’s School of Dentistry. There were no services held, at his own request.