January 1985 – Paisley Pirates/The Go-Betweens/Le Scoops

In January 1985, according to my meticulous records, I was being paid about $275 per week as the Cellarmaster of the United Service Club on Wickham Tce in the City. I was living at 16 Baynes St, Highgate Hill and sharing with John Caskey. The house was tiny; a worker’s cottage that would not have had a kitchen originally. The walls didn’t reach the ceilings and the bathroom was miniscule, but it had character and a fireplace. I didn’t have a car, but I had a bike. I was going out with Pip, to whom I am currently married (which avoids some potential for awkwardness).

My 1985 diary begins after some very useful pages devoted to “Computer Terminology” – explanations of extremely technical things like COBOL and FORTRAN that every man needed to understand. It seems that I knew how to live even back then – New Year’s Day breakfast with Pip at the Pancake Manor. I can still taste that ‘short stack and a swiss shake’ now – well I could if I wanted to ’cause that sure is about the only part of Brisbane that hasn’t changed a bit in over 27 years. It also seems that I knew how to forget stuff then as well – after coming over all suave and hiring a Mitsubishi Colt (I know – cool as!) to visit Buffy Lavery at the Gold Coast – and after driving to the coast – I left the address behind. No problem today of course – just phone her – I’d have my mobile; she’d have hers; Tugun Apartment here we come! I left togs and towell behind as well apparently, which meant buying new ones at Surfers.

The Colt was duly returned the following day and it seems I was appalled that the THRIFTY rent-a-car man manged to squeeze 90¢ worth of petrol into the tank and had the hide to charge me for it. $45.90 to hire a Colt for 24 hours.

The first week of the year cruised along – work and quite a lot of meetings about The Paisley Pirates of Penzance, a show being produced by a bunch of people involved in La Boite Theatre and based on the Gilbert & Sullivan blockbuster that was slaying Brisbane audiences in the brand new Performing Arts Complex at South Brisbane. That humdinger had John English and Simon Gallagher to enthrall the long socks off Brisbane’s theatre go-ers. There was a dinner at ‘Huntingdon’ in Bowen Hills, a rambling house that had long been rented by folk associated with the theatre, with 18 people including Pip and her two Brisbane-based sisters and Gerry Connolly, who was lined up to play Joh Bjelke-Petersen as the very muddle of model major mineral in Pirates. Week one ended as Brisbane Fridays tend to – at a club in the Valley. Pip and I saw Deckchairs Overboard and Dance Theatre at the Tube Club (in Wickham St, about opposite the end of the China Town Mall). I find it odd – I was never a heavy drinker or drug-taker, but I have absolutely no memory of ever going to the Tube Club – I seemed to have enjoyed it though.

Week two and it says that Pirates is hotting up – I had meetings with Graeme Johnstone about wardrobe. Meetings at Anne Jones’ house in Westbourne St, Highgate Hill about having meetings with the cast. Missed a meeting with John Caskey to see Star Trek III and missed a BBQ at Soudan St, Bardon due to a storm. Storms were featuring heavily… as was some kind of angst about phone calls from JJJ and the possibility of moving to Sydney. Had arranged to, but didn’t go to Mondo Rock at Rock Arena (Mansfield Tavern).

As well as Pirates meetings, there were La Bamba meetings – La Bamba being a late night caberet venue at La Boite Theatre, operated by a group of like-minded folk on the fringe of the theatre, which was really quite successful and operated on Friday nights from 10:30pm. These were days when you drink and smoke inside the theatre and we provided copious and cheap port and beer and what we called ‘champagne’ back then but now would call, actually… I don’t know what we’d call it now, but it wouldn’t be a nice name.

My diary also speaks of buying Bonds Polo Shirts and haircuts at Randall and Thomas at Indooroopilly; there are strange reminders of the time before ATMs with notes to “get money for the weekend” and “collect cheque book”; many games of Trivial Pursuit; lunches with Pip at venues like Sportsgirl and Capri Cafe; lunches with Buffy Lavery, Dave Pyle and Sean Mee; dinner with Ron Layne at Famishes in New Farm (now that was the place to get roast dinners of elephantine proportions) ; radio shifts at 4ZZZ; quiche at Le Scoops in Elizabeth St; late night coffees with Maria Cleary; production work in the 4ZZZ studios, and; meetings – lots of meetings about various theatre productions.


Visits to the laundromat seemed important to me in 1985 as did paying money to Myers accounts. I had modest wins in both the Casket and the Lotto and January 18, 1985 saw huge hailstorms smash through Brisbane’s CBD. This was the storm that still has the burghers of Brisbane rushing out to put blankets on their Commodores every time the BOM says, “Hail”. 

January 18 was also when Pip and I went to Easts Leagues Club at Coorparoo to see The Go-Betweens, Skel-e-tones and My Three Sons. Diary says The G-Bs were incredibly boring and I think I remember that gig – notable for boring-ness. Not that I’d ever admit to thinking The Go-Betweens were boring now – no, not me.

January seemed to descend into a miasma of Paul Newman Spaghetti Sauces, Myer Sales, shopping at Indooroopilly (where I wrote of my horror at spending $45 on groceries!) and it appears I was to move house – started looking for a place to share with Anne Jones. Interestingly, this was the time before Australia Day was actually held on the 26th and was moved to the nearest Monday for a long weekend. The 26th of January suited me better for Pepe’s Mexican at Milton, which even then I described as bland.

I finished January 1985 at Le Scoops in Elizabeth St after seeing Hand to Mouth play at the Arcadia Hotel (also in Elizabeth St, I believe) and screen-printing posters with Damien Ledwich at UQ Activities.

It’s a weird haze I’m looking at this diary through. I recognise the writing and the names and many of the places, but the bits I don’t remember are completely gone. February wasn’t quite so long ago, maybe it will be clearer…


One Comment

  1. Famishes cafe at Newfarm, also sister cafe called “somewhere to eat”, both cafes gone now, but does anyone know where? I want their chocolate rum cake recipe and their creamy meatballs recipe. So sad these places don’t exist anymore. Does anyone know the owners?



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