This is another recollection of what I consider to have been a significant period in my life, when I was Age 17 – 19 Part 2.
Bouncing off walls….
I was developing well in my role as an apprentice , but I found that I was actually very good within the management side of running the service department office. Due to the management style (see Leadership Part 1 blog re organisational management styles), there was a lot of staff turnover at the company I was doing my apprenticeship at. I was now just over half way through my apprenticeship, and I was now the second longest serving member of the service department. I found I was spending as much time in the office helping run the service department, rather than being out of the tools learning about the trade. This was not a conscious choice – more of something that seemed to naturally happen. Telephones were riding, and as we were under staffed, I would just pick up the phone to take a message. Then one thing led to another. I would take an order. I would be asked to follow up, and then the people assisting me at the other end of the phone at one of three (3) manufacturers of Renault Australia, Peugeot Australia or Citroen Australia would call back and ask for me. Soon I was getting to know them, and given that I was also well trained by all three manufacturers in specialist training, I noticed I had developed reputation for both knowledge and reliability.
Assisting on the phones, then gravitated to dealing with customers. Customers would call to make service appointments for their cars, and then when they arrived on the day, they would want to speak to me about what we have previously spoken about. Then once the customers returned to collect their cars, they again would look for me.
It seemed they found it easy to talk to me, and perhaps someone who listened to their issues, and then followed through to make sure their issues were addressed; or if those issues couldn’t be addressed, then at least the issue and possible solutions were outlined to them with an approximate cost and time frame of what it would take to get the issue resolved to their satisfaction.
I admit to liking this aspect of the job. It was a role that as time progressed with the ongoing staff turnover, I was soon the longest serving member of staff in the service department, with the largest amount of local and historical operational knowledge. The department was over time developed with more competent staff employed. However, I seemed to have my dual role cemented into the culture, allowing me to develop both my organisational system skills, as well as keep progressing my technical skills.
Motorcycle racing logisitics
Whilst my motocross career was on hold, I became more active within my motorcycle club. By chance, this motorcycle club hosted the largest production motorcycle race of the day – the Castrol 6 Hour Motorcycle race – at Amaroo Park Raceway. As the club was a not for profit association, the Castrol 6 Hour Motorcycle race was run on the back of volunteers – volunteers made up of the motorcycle club members, family and friends.
As this race was a production race, all of the motorcycle participating needed to be scrutinised to ensure that they complied with the specifications of the bikes that were available of the showroom floor to the general public. This meant that all of the motorcycles needed to pulled down priorate the race, inspected, and then reassembled by the owners, under the watchful eye of the scrutineers, and then sealed, to ensure that no changes had been made to the specifications at any point.
For the first few years I was involved, I was a scrutineer observer: watching from a close distance to ensure the racing teams wre not tampering with the scrutiny seals. However, given I was an apprentice mechanic, I was gradually brought into the main scrutinising team. Before long I was applying my developed sense of systems and processes to the team, to eradicate the gaps I observed in the scrutineering process where unscrupulous racing teams could take an opportunity to make prohibited changes. I recognised that the systems and processes I were advising and implementing was a skill I had innately, that was being developed within my dual role at the service department.
(Castrol 6 Hour Motorcycle Race 1979)
I recall thinking to myself.. “mmm… I can see things that others don’t seem to be able to see……”
As introduced in my last blog (Memory – Age 17 – 19 Part 2), I would pack up my bike trailer and followed the state motocross championship circuit of a weekend. I would leave first thing Saturday morning, and drive out into the country – often a six (6) to seven (7) hour drive – often times more, sometimes less – to get to any of the country-based tracks ready for the Saturday practice sessions. I would have the front passenger seat set up with a tape player, plugged into the cigarette lighter. My music collection was expanding very quickly, across a wide range of musical styles. I would have my many cassette tape cases filled with mixed tapes, in a chosen order – all lined up. I just played one tape after another continuously until I arrived at my destination. On the way home, I would just continue to progress through the playing order. I realise now this music – these albums became the soundtrack of my life at that time. I listened to the music, to the lyrics, to the rhythms, to the melodies, to the instrumentation,to the arrangement, to the production, The artists, music and productions educated me in the many varied music styles and production aesthetics that each artist or album represented. They accompanied me on my trips – they kept me company. These artists and albums created a listening backdrop to the many visual scenes I was taking in, as I drove through the NSW, ACT and Victorian countryside and towns. I calculated that I did about fifty (50) such trips over a two year period, averaging about six (6) hours driving each way. I must have listened in the car alone to about nine hundred (900) albums worth of music. Some of the artists and albums that accompanied me on these trips (in addition to the artists and albums that I have already mentioned in previous blogs) were: Muddy Waters; BB King; Sonny Boy Williamson, T-Bone Walker; Howling’ Wolfe; Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde and Bob Dylan at Budokan; Woodstock; George Harrison’s All Things Must Past and The Concert For Bangladesh; The Band’s The Last Waltz; Neil Young’s Neil Young, Harvest, Tonights The Night and Comes A Time; Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, Them Again, His Band and the Street Choir, Moondance, Tupelo Honey, St Dominic’s Preview, Veedon Fleece and Wavelength ; Eric Clapton’s John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, EC Was Here, Slowhand, 461 Ocean Boulevard; Rory Gallagher’s Live In Europe and Taste; Led Zeppelin’s IV; Tim Buckley’s Goodbye and Hello and Greetings from LA; Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway; Bruce Springsteen’s Greetings From Asbury Park, The Wild The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, and Born To Run; Alan Parson’s I Robot and Pyramid; Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous; Richard Clapton’s Goodbye Tiger; Cold Chisel’s Cold Chisel, to name but a few.
I realise now that whilst I had put my guitar down and focussed on motorcycles for about six (6) years, I certainly hadn’t stopped my listening – my critical listening: my studying of music and sound across multiple levels.
33rpm Album collection
Once I had ceased playing with bikes at night in the garage, I returned to playing albums on my record player. My best friend and I shared a love of music and records. We had different tastes and influences which allowed us both to be introduced to a broader eclectic range of artists and musical styles than would have been possible by ourselves. With my new found additional disposable income from a third years’ apprenticeship wage (relative to a first and second year wage), and not racing bikes (saving on parts, fuel and travel), I submersed my self into the one thing I could do as part of my every day home-work life.
Before long we had three (3) – four (4) l hundred albums each.
The natural gravitation from our passion in music was to then seek out music being performed in our local area. Again, our different tastes and influences allowed us to be introduced to a broader eclectic range of artists and musical styles than would have been possible had we just been going out by ourselves. The range of live performances ranges from art-college bands, to emerging local artists, to successful performers of the day – local and international.
One of our local bands that we made sure we would go as many times during the week when they were performing were Cold Chisel. A great live band that guaranteed you would get a physical work out by the end of the evening.
(Cold Chisel 1980)
Of course, with the live music scene came late nights, alcohol and lack of healthy balance of food. Over time, this would take its toll.
Family and Friends
With more time on my hands, I did spend some time visiting my parent’s families in both Sydney and Melbourne. The family member who I felt particularly close to – the person whom I would make an effort to visit – was my father’s father, my grandfather – Pa. He didn’t live far away. However, he was light years away from my current lifestyle.
He was someone who had a way about him – an aura around him of calmness and faith. My grandfather was a devout Baptist, but more so – a really fine human being. Compassionate, kind, with well thought through values and intentions in his dealings with everyone in the community. His goodness was infectious. He was very measured. When he spoke, he wove philosophical stories for his grandchildren into the conversations. He lost no opportunity to teach.
As I grew up, I recall I gravitated to him for some semblance of nourishment and order from our tumultuous household. We would see my father’s family most Sundays for an extended family lunch. Usually a hot roast lamb which was considered at the time to be a regal lunch to share amongst family or friends. I would sit next to him, and look up in awe whenever he was looking away. He would catch my stares, and look down at me, and just smile reassuringly. I swear he had a light hue around his head and shoulders, complementing his smile that reassured everyone around him, that they were well-loved.
I have never spoken of this, but in engaging in this deep reflective practice task, I can now see how I was attracted to – in need of – his balance and energy. In my life, this was the nourishment that I needed.
In one of my live gig binge periods – perhaps a period when I was in need of his nourishment more than other periods in my life – I overlooked a dinner promise that I had to visit my grandfather. The following week he passed away. My parents were overseas. I had to represent my dad at his father’s funeral. I recall it was one of the hardest periods I had at that time to live through. It seemed that things were constantly being taken away from me. This, I could not resolve.
Things I could see, just got blurrier…..
Doors seemed to be closing……
The world seemed darker, colder, less friendly…..
I couldn’t find my way. Everything seemed to be disappearing. Everything seemed to be constantly being taken away from me….. The people and things that I loved… the memories… I just could not resolve this….
I was trying hard to make my own way. I then learned of another friend who had lost his life…
Then another….. Then someone I had met – someone who promised me so much, didn’t come through for me… In fact, I found her talking , and acting behind my back…. turned out she was an utter bitch!!
I suppose it all just got too much….. I felt beyond helpless as a child again. I felt betrayed… I felt lost… Everything was happening outside of my control. Everything was disappearing. Everything was being taken away….. The people and things that I loved… the memories… I just could not resolve this…. the rainy days were turning back into torrential stormy days ……. I felt as a child again. I felt betrayed… I felt lost… I had no control, no control. Everything was disappearing. Everything was being taken away….. The people and things that I loved… the memories… I just could not resolve this…. the rainy days were turning back into torrential stormy days …….
Page, David L (2016a) “Bouncing off walls….” ©David L Page 2016.
“Bouncing off walls….” ©David L Page 2016. This audio event represents a developed sense of my recollection of this significant event.
Night of the Round Table – perspective of an artist’s subject
As a person trying to understand my self, in order to better function in life, I have indulged and engaged in much reflection throughout my life. Irrespective of my age, I have spent time reflecting on what I have experienced, what I had achieved, what I hadn’t achieved, and the possible reasons for this. I recall at specific times in my life, reflecting on why perhaps I was who I was, and even recall from a very young age, what it was god had intended for me to achieve in my life time. I pondered this in a creative writing session, whilst gazing down at autumn leaves in various stages of death. In this process – for the first time I believe – I started to both understand and accept, what it is to have life. What is it is to live, and what it is to have that life taken away.