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Location: New South Wales, Australia

Born in Yorkshire, raised in Australia. I love Poetry, Guitar (especially Spanish classical & Delta Blues), Tudor, Jacobean and Stuart England, Archaeology & good Ale. I edit The Flea & The Chimaera (with Peter Bloxsom), and Shit Creek Review

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tales of The George: Clive and Germaine

How unreliable is this memoir? But it makes an amusing tale......
Slightly older than I and already equipped with a degree from Melbourne, Germaine Greer had descended on Sydney University in the early 1960s while I was still a second year. Tall, striking and already famous for her brilliantly foul tongue, she had pursued graduate studies, libertarian polemics, and, for a brief period, me. At the risk of sounding even more conceited than usual, it is important that I record this fact, for a reason which will shortly emerge. At the time I was having published, in the literary pages of the Sydney University student newspaper honi soit, a lot of articles, poems and short stories conveying omniscience, poise and worldly wisdom. Publication was not difficult to arrange, because I edited those pages. Correctly intuiting at a glance that I was grass-green in all matters and emerald-green in the matter of sex, Germaine, at her table in the Royal George Hotel, took bets with the Downtown Push that she could seduce me within twenty-four hours. Next day the news reached me before she did. When she appeared, striding like a Homeric goddess, at the door of the cafeteria in Manning House, I cravenly escaped through the side entrance and hid behind the large adjacent gum tree. The rumour that I hid up the tree was false but slow to die. .......

Clive James, May Week Was in June, mutatis mutandi.

The Days of The Royal George

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A song of the Young Push, The Royal George Hotel, corner of King and Sussex Streets, Sydney, 1964


You'd walk in the bar and enter the realm
of the bright and the heightened soul,
where the wild boys drank and the wild girls too,
and the decks would tip and roll,
as we voyaged in schooners and glass canoes
down rivers of words to the sea,
set our course by the stars to fabled shores
where the myths that we made could be:

in the days of juice and certainty
such legends we did forge -
in the roaring days, the invincible nights,
in the days of The Royal George.


The Young Push ruled the Royal George,
where wharfies and Nazis brawled,
where Libertarians chased nymphettes;
where Larry, and English Paul,
Dimitri, Daphnette, Kate, and Chris,
and Newcastle John, and all,
would drink and sing the days away,
and the nights, till the final call -

in the nights of yippee beans and truth,
such legends we did forge -
in the roaring days, the invincible nights,
in the days of The Royal George.


The folksingers in the backroom,
sing, banjo and guitar,
and romances stir and blaze in the lounge,
and the Beatles blare loud in the bar,
and the Lads at the side-entrance steps -
tourists gape from passing cars
at their flying hair and Edwardian gear
as they hoist up their ale-filled jars;

all the singing and fighting and loving,
such legends we did forge -
in the roaring days, the invincible nights,
in the days of The Royal George.


Oh, Rick O'Hara, and Zita and Jeff,
Terry Stanton, Swiss Walter and me,
played cricket in Hyde Park, free as lords,
which the populace gathered to see:
and I clean-bowled Paul, who threw down his bat,
for he thought that it could not be done!
Then back to The George, to weave our tale
of an epic lost and won,

in the hero-days, when we strode like gods,
such legends we did forge -
in the roaring days, the invincible nights,
in the days of The Royal George.


We turned our speech into poetry,
the universe into our own;
and many a pair of flirting eyes
met mine, and, challenging, shone;
and many a smile made promises
as the evening's glow wore on,
as the beers were poured, and the parties planned,
as the hours passed, and were gone:
till the barman called out, "Time, gents, please!"
and we drifted off, one by one,

away from the songs, and the hero-tales,
and the romances we once forged -
in the roaring days, the invincible nights,
in the days of The Royal George.


The pub in my mind is empty now,
all the wild boys and wild girls - gone;
and I say their names over like a spell,
whose faces and voices I knew so well,
whose friendship is some old story I tell,
whose handshakes and kisses I once could touch,
who smile to me now, just beyond my reach -

for we've finished our drinks, walked out to the night,
no heroic myths left to forge -
and the roaring days have faded and gone,
the days of The Royal George.

Beatnik Cricketers

The Old Push here, here, here, here, here and here.

Known Antecedents of The Days of The Royal George:

Henry Lawson

Bob Dylan

and again

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

and, of course, Mary Hopkins

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Update: I went back to The Royal George recently, but you never can go back. The old bare floor-boards pub with Rugby League or Cricket Reschs and Tooths Lager signs has been gutted and renovated, gentrified, carpeted, up-marketed: a safe haven for corporate refugees, not the roaring, rioting, racketing reality-theatre of the wild men and women of yore. Sic gloria transit mundi. Où sont les neiges d'antan?

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