Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Alex Buzo's funeral, death of David Wright, meeting old friends

Monday afternoon (21 August) I went to Alex Buzo's funeral. Aarne Neeme delivered the eulogy, while Sandy Gore and Elaine Hudson (among others) also participated. Bob Ellis was there (I did not realise how close he was to Alex) along with a lot of others whose faces I recognised but whose names escape me for the moment.

It was a simple ceremony well managed by all four (Merelyn and daughters) Buzo girls. I could not go onto the after event because I had to take my youngest Clare to English tutoring, but did get to have a brief coffee with The Armidale School (TAS) contingent. An unexpected pleasure was the presence of Peter Brownie, one of the inspirational TAS teachers I mentioned in my post on the history summit. I hadn’t seen Peter for forty years.

Much reminiscencing.

Peter said that when he first came to TAS the salary was low, but the head (Gordon Fisher) told him that his sons would be able to attend the school for free. Several daughters later, Peter appeared in a review wearing a tap, explaining that despite all his efforts he still had no-one to put it on!

I did the Leaving Certificate twice because my father considered that 16 was too young to go to University. Having got a first class honours in geography the first time, Peter thinking that I would be bored persuaded me to pick up economics and do economics honours. I managed to get another first under his guidance. I did not know until now that when Peter first began teaching economics he knew nothing about the subject and in fact relied on Dad who was Professor of Economics at New England for subject knowledge to keep him just in front of his students.

Paul Barrett was another there that I had not seen for several years. Paul's dad along with Lew Border were two TAS boys in the first student intake to the newly established New England University College. Paul Snr later went on to become Professor of Psychology at the University. Paul was a year in front and, like me, was one of those rare fish, a day boy in what was then almost exclusively a boarding school. This was sometimes a strange experience, but that's another story.

Philip Kitley, now a professor at Wollongong, was also there. The Kitleys lived near the Brownies in another school house. Philip's dad was school chaplain who also taught, another of those who had the misfortune to try to teach me latin.

Philip and brother David were in the same class and good friends. Simon Templar, the Saint also known by his alias Sebastian Toombs, was then all the rage. Philp and David went down to the local branch of the Bank of NSW and managed to open an account each, one in the name of Simon Templar, the other Sebastian Toombs. They were recognised, and along with my father were summonsed to the bank manager's office for an official lecture on the evils of their ways. Philip recalls that Dad then took them to a local cafe and bought each a milkshake!

I left the group to take Clare to tuturing with considerable regret.

On a less positive note, David Wright has just died. I have posted a brief story about David on the New England, Australia blog.


Anonymous said...


Can you help me locate an article by Alex Buzo published many years ago in the Australian Airlines in-flight magazine.
I think it was titled "Armidale Athens of the North"

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jim Belshaw said...

My apologies, anon, for not responding to your question soonerN ext time I see Alex's wife, I will ask her.