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state library of queensland

"There’s nothing I don’t like about SLQ" - John's story

By Administrator | 8 May 2017

We’re continuing our series of blog posts featuring stories from some of our regular visitors to State Library of Queensland.

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John at SLQ. Image by SLQ staff.

John at SLQ. Image by SLQ staff.

My name is John, I was born in England in 1940, I migrated to Australia in 1960 and lived here ever since. Never got back to England to live. Who would? I got to tell you: England in the 50s’ was a pretty grim place, after the war, all dark and dingy after the Victorian era, food was expensive.

I came as ten pound pom, got off the boat in Perth, Freemantle, the 13th of March 1960, I think the day was. When I saw the price of meat I couldn’t believe it. Like half a lamb for 20 dollars: ridiculously cheap! I remember in the supermarkets the ice-creams falling over the shelves, tins of food for ten cents a tin. And then there were no slums in Perth, beautiful weather, surfing beaches, just wonderful.

I settled in Perth for a few years working as a butcher, in Midland Junction. It was quite a few miles out of town in those days, and it was all about meatworks. I got a job in the production line “breaking down the meat” as they say. In England meat was so expensive that you took your time carving all the pieces of meat, an absolute work of art! And so I was in the production line for about ten minutes, carefully leaving no meat around the parts, and a fellow came rushing and he said: “God no! These poms in the bloody production line!!” He grabbed a knife and cut the meat in 15 minutes, leaving meat stuck to the bones here and there. “Don’t worry about that” he said, “this is the way we do it!” And it took me a couple of days to speed up my tackle on meat and to realise that the meat was so cheap you could afford to leave pieces here and there. It was more important to get it done!

Then I drifted over to Adelaide. I drove a Holden ute through the Nullarbor Plain on thousands of miles of unsealed road! Then went to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns. And then eventually I settle in Brisbane in 1963, sharing a house with flatmates in Hamilton, believe it or not.

When I retired I sold my house in Mount Gravatt and moved to South Brisbane. I always had a yen for the arts, fortunately (I must admit I give credit to the school I went to in England), and so I visited the old Library, on the other side of the river, to read the books and enjoy those sort of things which I didn’t have time to do when I was working. And somebody there showed me what to do with a computer and email.

I don’t have a computer at home. I just don’t want to sit every day doing computer work at home. I much rather be out, cycling my bike in the sunshine, or whatever it is, and getting out to do the computer work down here. But I’m not a fanatic. I tend to come down 3 or 4 times a week, cause I’m not doing business work, is purely social. I check my email address, I get stuff from friends I met on cruises and trips overseas, or from the body corporate I’m part of, and from the UTA where I used to teach French and now history. Obviously one of the best ways is to use Google to bring up the subjects I’m going to talk about and prepare them. And I also say “hello” to few people I got to know here. Or, as my wife would say: “Probably you annoy them John!”.

There’s nothing I don’t like about SLQ. I like to occasionally pick a book and sit in the sun in the Redbox. I enjoy the air-conditioning in summer and the heating in the winter. The facilities are excellent, and if you have a question you can approach staff and they kindly help you out.

The fact that I can enjoy these things (that as I can access information and pictures about the school I went to in England, for example, things that it’s almost impossible to get in a book, and the fact that I don’t need to own a computer), all these things made a big difference to me.

As told to Fed Pani, Visitor Experience


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