Old folk at lunch

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

WPR revisited

I think it must have been in 1969 that I rented a terrace house in Wentworth Pk. Rd., Glebe, in Sydney. It had 3 bedrooms so I asked among friends to find people who might move in and share the cost with me.

I was referred to two young men with a love of cars, Henningham and Croucher by surname. We almost immediately adopted the practice of addressing and referring to one-another by surname only -- indicating that the friendship we formed was a jocular one.

We greatly enjoyed our times at "WPR", in part because we shared attitudes that were at least not incompatible, including a liking for the music of Leos Janacek and "The wonderful world of Barry McKenzie" by Barry Humphries -- a comic book, no less.

In fact, when I was first introduced to Henningham and Croucher, they gave me the McKenzie book to look at as a sort of test of cultural compatibility. They regarded it then (and I think still do) as the apogee of Australian humour. After I had been chuckling over it for ten minutes or more somebody said wonderingly: "He's still on the first page". So my credentials were firmly established.

One interest we did NOT share was an interest in sporty cars so my purchase of a humble Mazda 1300 was greatly derided. When a car-lovers' "Bible" (called "Wheels", I think) came out and named the Mazda 1300 as "car of the year", there was therefore great embarrassment. That issue was hidden from me and no mention was made of it until many years later.

We were there only for a year or so but we had lots of fun ribbing one-another and laughing at many things generally so we have kept in contact ever since.

And with the arrival of the internet we were able to create a "virtual" WPR, with frequent emails exchanged: almost entirely of a jocular or even nonsensical nature. We even have a sort of strange language that we use only between one-another.

We have rarely met again in the flesh, however. But today we did. Croucher is on sick leave from his university lecturing job in China so took the opportunity to visit friends and relatives in Brisbane.

We met for lunch at the Cafe San Marco at Southbank, a pleasant but rather expensive place to eat. And for about 3 hours we sat and traded a mixture of serious and jocular conversation. The conversation was very discursive so I doubt that any of us could remember much of it except that we enjoyed it just as we did in times past. We did talk a lot about philosophy and I was able to enlighten Henningham on why we have 7 days in the week but other details are already lost to me.

It was just as it was in the days of the original WPR. We amused one-another just as we have always done for 40 years on and off.


I am reminded that other topics discussed were Henry VIII, the extent to which complex philosophical theories can be reduced to a sentence or two and the relationship between the underground and the state-sponsored forms of the Catholic church in China -- so we can be serious too.

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