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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

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Brian Raven at The George

The drinkers were shouting happily at each other, the music was blaring, the beer and the fine talk was flowing and splashing and spilling, in the crowded Public Bar of The Royal George, one busy night in 1964. I was standing with some cronies near the door that connected the Public Bar to a passage leading to the back room, the side exit steps, and through to the Lounge.

Across the other side of the Public Bar, near the doors, a whole group of perhaps twenty blokes suddenly, as one, leapt on each other and started punching, swinging, grappling, head-locking, throttling, kneeing, gouging and generally brawling. It was such an abrupt transition: from cheery alcohol-fuelled chatting to intense fist-swinging, wrestling, stool-throwing, crashing, out-the-doors-and-into-the-street instantaneous full-on donnybrooking, as if a switch had been thrown or a signal given that all had reponded to on the instant.

The bouncers and barmen began to re-establish the rule of law as the fight tumbled onto Sussex Street. We onlookers toddled across, beers in hands, and peered out at the finale. I remember a chap called Brian Raven astride a wharfie, Brian with his hands around the wharfie's throat and attempting to throttle him. I think the wharfie was called Les - he regularly wore a baseball-type cap.

Here memory fails: I think that the main players were bundled into a Black Maria (there always seemed to be one nearby The George), but I couldn't swear to that. The image of Instant bar Brawl has stayed with me ever since.

Brian Raven. My recollection is that he was reputed to be some kind of Nazi leader or storm-trooper or some such. This I never verified, and quite frankly I wouldn't have a clue about the truth: but it was certainly the image held by many at the time. But I came across a reference to his alleged right-wing tendencies via Google on this Indymedia site, in a discussion on Brian's interest in the Ivan Milat Belanglo serial killer case. The main interest of the discussion for me is as a survey or catalogue of some of the identities that frequented The George:

Brian Raven and 'The Push'
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 2006/07/03 - 5:11pm.

Oh, what a wild crowd they made, when will their glory fade? ... You wanted a good drinking session? then find Bob Cumming, Nestor Grivas, Bunny Britton, Ron Opie, Ian Parker, Rod Streeter, John Pentony, Peter Roblin ... Or with the folk singers like Ayrton, Earls, Brian Mooney, Terry Driscoll ... For a board game, The Horse, Molnar, Maze, Ivo, John Meggitt, Lyn Speedy ... the long line of people come up from Melbourne, Lee Tonkin, Patty Dixon, Heli, Jan Miller, Marilyn Little, Ken Cobb, John Fogarty ... Medical observers and/or advisers, Ross Byrne, Rocky, Ram, gambling John, young John ... The early Argentine Ant Squad with Ashleigh Sellars, Roger Cox, Appleton, Smilde ... The later exploits of Flash Ash and Neil Shard ... the Shadforth Army of Retreat with Michael Baldwin, Chairman Gunter, Parker, Morag, Peter the Peddler, Diana Kemp ... The military man of a different colour, the Good Soldier Pattenden ... That fine anglican Churchman, Archbishop Gough, whom Libertarians would have been pleased to invent if he had not existed, who denounced Sydney academics for advocating Communism and free love, and amusingly in the resulting hubbub not only Anderson, but someone as unlikely as the University politician W.M. O'Neil, got some of the blame. Later the Archbishop sooled the police on to capture Baldwin for blasphemy, owing to his story "God in the Marijuana Patch", but the police, feeling sure that the name "Michael Baldwin" would be a pseudonym, did not look too hard in The Push pub ... the expert performer who well knew how to liven up a Push cricket match, John Cardensana ... The Bulgarian Anarchists come to Sydney, including notably Jack the Anarchist ... The eye-catching trio of Witch Girls, Kay Hancox, Lyn Gain, and Robyn Robb ... The poets like Hooton, Appleton, Lex Banning, Chester, Geoffrey Lehman, Peter Newton... the writers and literary people like Geoff Mill, Sylvia Lawson, Frank Moorhouse, Edna Wilson, Ken- Quinnell, Michael Thornhill, Michael Wilding ... The right wing drinkers in The Push, Brian Raven, Graham Royce and Cyrus ... The posters produced by the Midnight Activists criticising the police hunt for the prison escapees, Simmonds and Newcombe, and the delight of The Push when the police psychiatrist, Dr McGeorge came out with the verdict: whoever the people are who produced this poster, they are certifiably insane ... The other posters brought out at election times, such as the ones depicting a well dressed pig and bearing the caption, "Whoever you vote for, a politician always gets in; vote informal"...

A Right-Wing Drinker?
Submitted by Anonym√łus on Mon, 2006/07/03 - 9:05pm.

No, Brian was no 'right-wing' drinker. He was maybe right of the left but certainly no fascist! Still, his involvement with the Sydney Push is interesting history. The Push was a predominantly left-wing subculture from the 1940s to the early 1970s. They were considered a very shocking bunch of people in their time! They rejected conventional morality and authoritarianism. The pub was their central meeting place.


Blogger Roderick Heath said...

I met with Raven on a couple of occasions - the second being after he did the long stretch for Manslaughter - face-to-face, he wasn't a bad guy but he did have connections with the neo-nazis of the early 60s, a somewhat comic opera group given to wearing brownshirts and swastika armbands, stirring trouble in the Domain and summed up neatly by the title of the Harcourt book 'Everyone Wants To Be Fuehrer'. Is Raven dead, does anyone know?

16 September 2012 at 5:12 pm  
Blogger Jack Aranda said...

Brian Raven no fascist? He certainly at least pretended to be one - talked about Mein Kampf and I remember him in the pub one night brandishing, with great delight, an article from the fishing section of the paper headed "Now's the Time to Hunt the Jewie". But like all pushites he was more interested in talk and drink than action, so I don't know how deep the fascism went. It helped him to stand out from the crowd and that may have been all he wanted.

John Pyke
Drinking member of the fringe of the Push (thought much of what the Andersonians said was baloney), ca 1964-74

14 October 2012 at 4:59 pm  

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