Tuesday, December 13, 2005

hello Aunty Jack - we knew you'd be back!


I had hoped, due to a birthday and Xmas being so close, that The Delightful Mother(tm) would buy me the new Aunty Jack DVD which has just been released by the ABC.

today was the day! it is sitting here beside me looking all new and exciting. the whole first series, digitally remastered, fresh and crisp...

I was only 4 when Aunty Jack (the Queen of Wollongong) first appeared on the ABC in 1972. the first series is a bit of a haze, the second series far clearer, save of course for the fact that so much of it would go straight over a child's head. but I thought it was hilarious. who wouldn't find a bloke in a crushed-velvet dress with a moe and golden boxing glove hilarious? and I had a big soft spot for darling Rory O'Donahue, who played Thin Arthur.

Kid Eager (the first creation of Gary MacDonald) isn't in the first series, from the looks of it. I confess I don't remember... I do remember Kid Eager from the album ("Erky perky, it's got baggy pants and a propellor!"), and of course the first incarnation of Norman Gunston with his report, "What's on in Wollongong". I confess, I always thought Flange Desire (the chickie in the superhero suit above) had more of an afro, but maybe that's just the haze of time playing tricks.

another two characters, Neil and Errol, were sad, reflective poet-cum-minstrels who would sing about things like not stepping on ants on the pavement, which I always thought was sweetly melancholy. then there was Colonel Passionfruit, making his men waltz through the minefield to not get blown up, and John Derum's (who was also Narrator Neville) unco soldier character whose two left feet made sure he just couldn't do it... oh! and Kev Kavanagh, the most Kultured butcher ever. does anyone remember when he did a series of ads for the Art Gallery of NSW? I think it was the early 80's... fantastic. I have a Kev Kavanagh Kulture badge somewhere. eh-eh.

lots of my memories of Aunty Jack centred around the album and the single. the album, "Aunty Jack Sings Wollongong" was the first album I owned. the single, which I also own, was the very first picture disc in the world... luckily they're in great condition considering how much they were played! the album had the ultimate ode, "Wollongong The Brave", sung by Norman Gunston -

Lift up your hand
to an Illawarra land...
of Dapto, Port Kem-bu-lah
and me!!!

and "I've Been Everywhere" (everywhere being... Wollongong. and Dapto!) sung by Ern, Ernie, and Ernest Farrelly, aka The Farrelly Brothers. another highlight was the Tarzan Super-Ape Rock Opera. according to the opera, Tarzan's son's name is Bombo, and every time I drive past Bombo Beach near Kiama, I have to sing as much of the Rock Opera as I can remember (which is quite a bit, in all the different voices). the album had some racy lines (mostly about tits, oh my!) but like the series, rude bits (and they weren't very rude, really) went straight over my head. oh to be so naive again...

as with most nice memories, it's not just the actual character or series you remember, it's the time. Gough Whitlam was in power, which certainly meant a lot to my parents, if not for me, although I do remember the "It's Time" ad campaign. I remember the sunny, buoyant optimism of those years (which I guess was also part of being a child) - and the incredible outrage of The Dismissal just a few years later. my mum wore the grooviest kaftans, and she took me to see the first opera produced at the Sydney Opera House in 1973, which was The Magic Flute. my dad looked confusingly like Bob Hawke on the telly, with his magnificent silver hair and black-rimmed glasses. they went to Balls with their friends on the weekend, getting dressed up in suits and long dresses. I was given a second-hand Dragster, shiny purple, with flowers on the seat, streamers on the handbars, and a raffia basket (with more flowers). it's currently in the garage waiting to be restored.

anyway, enough of this nostalgia trip, or I'll get (even more) horribly soppy :) go here for the official Aunty Jack site, or here for quite a good bio of Graeme Bond.

enjoy this post or I'll rip yer bloody arms off!

(and she will, too)

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