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Memoir #2: 11 Church Street

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The people responsible for house numbers confused me at our second house. I am certain it was 11 Church Street, Parramatta. But apparently it had earlier been number 7. How these house numbering officials imagined that there could be six building sites between Boundary Road and our house tests credulity. I am sure that I could pace along to the corner in fewer than 50 steps. Where were these six buildings?
On the corner was the grocery where Mum did most of her shopping. It was a convenience store simply because it was convenient. I remember it being tiny, and since I was myself quite tiny then, it must have been Lilliputian. The counters were high of course, and Mrs Kerfoops who owned the shop, lived upstairs. If there was a Mr Kerfoops, I don’t recall noticing him. And there were certainly no little Kerfoopsettes because they would have played in our back yard like every other child on the strip.
So Mrs Kerfoops lived over her shop at Number 1 Church Street, I suppose.
Next door to th…

Memoir: Early Homes

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We lived at number 5. Or was it 3? There’s the trouble about writing a memoir. The memoir machine isn’t reliable. Memories get made and remade. Every remembrance of a memory writes itself over the old one. So was it number 5 Herbert Street or number 3?
   I went back in 2013 to have a look. The suburb was Merrylands. It used to be 15 miles west of Sydney, but they changed the measurement and the old money got fixed as a memory. Change can be useful like that.
   Woodville Road seemed wider and lots busier than 1953. I came upon Herbert Street too quickly, missing the chance to see if Glenys Davidson’s house was still there. She isn’t there, except in memory as my first teenage crush. I think I was her boyfriend for about a month before she dumped me. With reason. Ask me about it later.
   For now, I was looking for the old house. The one we lived in until I was about six. Memory tells me it is two house blocks from the corner. But that memory is based on how far we had to walk to …

On the Collapse of Civilisation

Among the many waves in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, is a trenchant and rather abstruse contribution from Guy Rundle of crikey.com.au (you may be able to read the entire piece here, if the link takes you beyond the paywall).

Allow me to quote a small part:

"The Right is falling apart as a political formation so fast you’d need stop-action photography to catch the process. ...TheHebdomassacre brought all these contradictions [of the Right] to the fore.Hebdo’s nihilism is actually culturally corrosive, as conservatives charge such obscene desacrilising with being. Conservatives know that a viable culture is a closed system to a degree, and unless it has pinion points -- usually religious -- which are not themselves, by matter of custom, subject to a general back-and-forth, then it is quickly in trouble. This week, sundry idiots have been suggesting that "free speech is part of our cultural tradition". "What nonsense. "Until the 1960s, hundreds of books…