Before the age of duck-face selfies, there was the age of “moody photos”.
So says Belmont North’s Eunice Hobson-English, who is pictured here striking a bit of a moody pose in the 1960s in England
The yellow van belonged to a band in her area called Roy Dwain and The Roamers.
“Roy Dwain was our Cliff Richard. He really was good and could sing like Cliff or Elvis,” she said.
“The Roamers did a TV appearance and had their moment of fame. That was shortly before the Beatles came on the scene and it was never the same after that,” she said.
The Roamers were happy to keep their day jobs while getting together to rehearse and play in their spare time.
“This is why they have remained friends all these years,” she said, adding they were in their 70s now.
Eunice recalled that the band “did a summer season at Derbyshire Miners’ Holiday Camp at Skegness”.
“My friend Marilyn and I were thrilled to be going for a week with her parents. We spent every evening in the dance hall, dancing to ‘our band’. We must have been fifteen then,” she said.
Eunice got in touch with Topics after our musings about walking to school.
“So many memories can be triggered by just a few sentences in the newspaper,” Eunice said.
“At age six, I used to walk home by myself from school in Bellshill in Scotland. Other parents kept an eye on us. Sometimes my dad picked me up on his bike and carried me home on the crossbar. Not many people in town had or needed cars then.”
Her family later moved to Ayr on Scotland’s west coast.
“My sister and I would catch the bus three miles to the village of Alloway,” she said.
“We pupils were all sent out to play at break-time no matter what the weather. When it was raining we would gather in the open shelter, which had benches going around the inside.
“We had different games for each season. We played marbles and had skipping ropes. We swapped scraps, which were printed pictures cut into shapes.
“In autumn we did battle with conkers, which were chestnuts on knotted strings. It got very competitive. Our games taught us teamwork and negotiating skills, as well as helping us keep warm in a freezing winter playground.”
She caught the bus home in front of the thatched cottage of Scottish national poet Robert Burns.
“The bus stop was later moved further along when the cottage became a tourist mecca. The bus stop got in the way of all these new photographers with their mass-produced Kodak cameras – an equivalent trend to the first iPhone,” she said.
When her family moved to England, her teacher made her “stand up in class and try to change my Scottish accent”.
“Today that would be an abuse of human rights,” she said, showing she’s lost none of her Scottish DNA.
By the time she was in high school, her main interest was music. Which brings us back to Roy Dwain and The Roamers.
“If it counts as education, I still remember the words of most sixties’ songs,” she said.
Walking to School
On the subject of our theme of trudging through the snow to get to school, we’ve just come across the National Child Health Poll.
The poll found that seven out of 10 Australian schoolchildren almost never walk or ride to school.
It also found that, to ease anxiety, one in five parents use tracking devices to monitor kids when they’re travelling alone. They worry about traffic hazards, bullying and stranger danger.
A press release that landed in the Topics inbox was titled: “Robert Brown's demise welcomed by assisted dying advocates”.
It was, quite ironically, issued by an organisation called Dying With Dignity.
It related to Robert Brown, of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party, being dropped from the top of his party's upper house election ticket.
Novocastrians know Brown over his deal with the NSW government in 2015, which led to removal of the heavy rail line. Hunter Valley folks probably know Brown because they’re partial to a bit of shooting, fishing and farming. Anyhow, Brown’s political career now looks certain to end at the March state election.
Some might consider this unfortunate, given he chairs an upper house inquiry into the proposed Port of Newcastle container terminal. Topics has been told it was Brown's casting vote that led to the inquiry.
The Shooters’ support for removing the heavy rail was conditional on the government preparing a business case for expanding Newcastle’s light rail, which Brown says is “two years overdue”.
But let’s get back to the ironic press release. Dying With Dignity applauded Brown's demise because he and fellow Shooters representative Robert Borsak voted against a NSW euthanasia bill that failed to pass by one vote in 2017.
Some might say that celebrating an enemy's demise – or dancing on their grave – isn’t very ... err, dignified. On the other hand, the headline did grab our attention.