March 1985 – Van Morrison / Radiothon / Northside / IMA / La Bamba

March 1985 and still with La Bamba – no idea what the show was about, but it was called BINGE – Brisbane Fringe Artists Benefit. Hairdressers perhaps? I didn’t go and was still searching for house to rent. 


My birthday is on the 3rd of March which may explain the extraordinarily out of character entry describing a dinner with Pip at Roseville the night before – a very flash restaurant in New Farm run by Ann Garms, a Brisbane food ‘name’.

The cuisine du jour included oysters wrapped in smoked salmon and béarnaise sauce and topped with caviar; lobster; mushrooms kilpatrick (?) and duck. I actually remember that night, largely due to the ageing violinist who strolled around the room like the players you see in movie restaurants. I didn’t remember that it cost $111.60 – geez, I could splash the cash! We followed that up with a birthday brekky at the Park Royal hotel with my Mum; lunch with my grandparents and dinner with my Dad. 

March 5th 1985 saw me, Pip and John Caskey find our way to third row seats at Festival Hall for Van Morrison – one of those shows where Van doesn’t talk and barely looks at the audience – but again, I remember this one as being utterly fantastic.


My life was still pretty much filled with work, house searching (although that seemed to have zeroed in on New Farm as destination of choice) and lunching my way around the City. I reported buying a pair of shoes, described as, “thick soled, suede slip-ons” which I do not recall and will deny ever owning in a court of law.

La Bamba pushed on with Bryan Nason etc performing Shakespeare – no surprises there – but reported low audience numbers of around 30, which I have ascribed to lack of publicity and rain.


Not so with the IMA’s Brisbane Hot show in Edward St, which featured Paul Andrew, John Boundy, Maria Cleary, Chrissy Feld, Joe Furlonger, Ranna Hale, O’flate group, Scott Redford, Ross Thomson and John Waller – which was well attended and well oiled by all reports.

More 4ZZZ shifts and Beverley Hills Cop on first release at the Forum Cinema on the corner of Albert and Elizabeth Sts with John Caskey. 


The radiothon began with a Joint Effort in the refectory at Uni of Queensland featuring, I’m Talking, My Three Sons and Dance Theatre. A special note in my diary recalls that, “Malcolm Enright made a nuisance of himself by jumping on people and falling down all the time” – I smile as I type that. 

On Saturday, John Caskey and I adopted our secret personas, which I suspect it’s safe to reveal now – 27 years later. Big Jake McGeever (me) and Peter Pendlebury-Smythe (John Caskey) went live to air with a commentary of the Radio Throwing Competition. Old mate diary also tells me that I bid for and won both a Stephen Cummings – Gymnasium hand-towel (which I can happily report is still in use, but only just) and a statue which was gifted to Wendy Bradford. Radiothons traditionally go for entire weekends and John Caskey, Larry Ponting and I did the Sunday breakfast and unleashed Biffo and Binky on the unsuspecting world. Biffo and Binky have had long lives – but sadly only with Larry, John and I – how we amused ourselves. I also did the final shift with Tony Biggs and a cast of thousands. The Radiothon in 1985 raised $41000.

Radiothon hi-jinkery gave way to more (and I can’t believe it’s still going) house-hunting. Jones likes this – Ron doesn’t – I like this one – Jones doesn’t. Still no house in sight. La Boite opened …Jimmy Dean on the 20th and I didn’t go to the opening (unusual) instead having take-aways from Enzo’s at New Farm. Dinner the next night back to Lucky’s in the Valley; this time with my Dad and three tons of garlic.

La Bamba went with a show called La Femme La Bamba, but pleasingly I note that the ad welcomed a mixed audience.


La Boîte was preparing, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean but the real excitement was in Pip and John Caskey’s lounge room – they had hired a video player!!! (the three exclamation marks were in my diary along with an expression of sheer disbelief that an entire series of Whoops! Apocalypse. could be fitted onto one tape). There was also the matter of a 4ZZZ radiothon.

 La Boîte had an AGM which elected Laura McKew to council and I supped with Pip at Angie’s Trattoria in Highgate Hill – leaving a less than enthusiastic review in my diary – no UrbanSpoon apps and camera phones then.

I had the last week of March off and perhaps that was all that was needed to clarify the housing situation – Anne Jones, Ron Layne and I finally agreed on nice little place at the Teneriffe end of Merthyr Rd, near the James St corner. These were the days of moving one’s self with the assistance of able-bodied friends and hire trucks. My able-bodied assistants seemed to be Damien Ledwich and John Caskey and between us we moved all Anne’s things and all my things to the new place – Ron must have moved like the wind. We sustained ourselves with pizza from Merlo’s Takeaway and then scrubbed up for a Gala performance at La Boîte.

Now residents of New Farm and in receipt of a full bond refund from my Baynes St abode – naturally Coles was the venue to head for – just a social then as it is now. Our first visit and we bumped into Maria Cleary, Jo Forsyth and Bob Sorich. I also note, and I still understand why, that I happened upon an episode of Skippy that featured John Laws as the villain.

I finished March 1985 as a resident of New Farm (I was a northsider now – there could never be a return) and with a dinner at Giardinetto in the Valley. Preparations were also underway for another La Bamba/La Boîte spectacular – Off the Top.



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