EXCERPT FROM APRIL: OUR VERY OWN SPY
This was a period when it was very fashionable for various
nations to have spy dramas. The Americans and Russians were already old hands at this, and recently the Canadians had been
allowed their own. To the British, Kilby and Burgess and Mc Clean were household
To Australians, we as a nation thought we were too far out
of the Big League to have our own spies. In any case, so we thought, what was there in Oz that someone would want to spy on? We had just established the cloaks and daggers team at ASIO to protect the nation,
and surely that would be enough. Sadly, it seemed, we were destined only to
read about the thrills of espionage in spy novels and the overseas news.
Then, out of the blue, our Prime Minister Menzies stepped
in. He came out with a solemn announcement that a diplomat, called Vladimir
Petrov, had defected from the Russian Embassy, and was seeking asylum in Oz. As part of the deal he would bring papers that
would expose the details of his activities, and the names of other spies. We
also found out later that Petrov would be paid for his information, and given a new identity when he had done his bit.
Oh joy. What bliss. We had our own spy. Our reaction was typically Australian. There was no worry at all about what damage
the rascals were perpetrating, no thoughts about what vital secrets could be divulged. It was rather exciting and maybe hilarious
that such a promising episode was happening here. Right here. Not in Whitehall, nor the Kremlin, nor in Washington nor the
Pentagon, where spies preferred to work. Rather, in the dark and seamy corridors
of Canberra, in the burgled offices in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, in the local RSL club where you would expect spies
in trench-coats to rendezvous and flit in and out.
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JAN: READY FOR THE QUEEN
WOOL AND WHEAT
FEB: THE QUEEN STEPS ASHORE
CHILDREN IN HOSPITALS
MAR: PUBS OPEN AFTER SIX?
THE QUEEN STILL TOURING
APR: H-BOMBS AND THEIR FALL-OUT
OUR VERY OWN SPY
MAY: GET RID OF THE MEANS TEST
THE HEAVY ROAD TOLL
JUNE: DAME ALICE CHISHOLM
LIFE SENTENCE FOR BOYS
JUL: THE PETROV AFFAIR
AUG: THEATRES OPEN ON SUNDAYS?
SAFETY DOORS FOR TRAINS
SEPT: SUNDAY COMICS
JOHNNY RAY IN PERSON
OCT: DRINK AND BE DAMNED
DIRTY DANCING IN CHURCH HALLS
NOV: THE UBIQUITOUS DR EVATT
THE SHIRLEY BEIGER CASE
THE END OF THE YEAR
YOU WILL NOT BE EXAMINED ON ANY OF THIS
ABOUT THIS SERIES … But after that, I realized that
I really knew very little about these parents of mine They had been born about the start
of the Twentieth Century, and they died in 1970 and 1980. For their last 50 years, I was old enough to speak with a bit of sense. I could have talked to them a lot about their lives. I could have
found out about the times they lived in. But I did not. I know
almost nothing about them really. Their
courtship? Working in the pits?
The Lock-out in the Depression? Losing
their second child? Being dusted
as a miner? The shootings at Rothbury?
My uncles killed in the War? Love
on the dole? There were hundreds, thousands of questions that I would now like to ask them. But, alas, I can’t.
It’s too late.
Thus, prompted by my guilt, I resolved to write these books. They describe happenings that
affected people, real people. The whole series is, to coin a modern phrase, designed to push the reader’s buttons, to make you remember and wonder at things forgotten. The books might just let nostalgia see the light of day, so that oldies
and youngies will talk about the past and re-discover a heritage otherwise forgotten.
Hopefully, they will spark discussions
between generations, and foster the asking and answering of questions
that should not remain unanswered.