Paddy Dawson  
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Ten years ago I became a father, the one and only time. Earlier this year I completed a town planning degree and am now trying to kick start a career, also the one and only time.

Prior to this ‘responsibility’ played little role in my life, with self indulgence dominant. I was free to incessantly pursue, regularly desperately, the experiences of romance (preferably of the heart, mind and genitals trifecta), the surf, good drinking company, the bush and some political causes.

Vocationally my eight years at Sydney uni were a dud. In that regard I should never have been there. But it was a very secure atmosphere for political activism. Mostly I’m at ease with the issues and activities I was associated with but I regret my inability to stand aside from the cold war and take an independent position – it in no way followed from the evil that I saw in US foreign policy that the ‘other side’ thereby had merit. Uni in the sixties also offered enormous hedonistic opportunity.

In the seventies I moved around a bit, a couple of years overseas (nothing adventurous, just the tour of white western capitalism in Europe and the USA), several seasons in the Australian tropics returning to Sydney to avoid the summer humidity. The times spent in the north were highlights. Working on the Cairns waterfront, the prawning industry on the Gulf of Carpentaria, surveying the iron ore deposits of the Kimberleys and mixing cocktails for the very rich (while living in a tent down the road). There was romance and passion and heartbreak, adventure through the Gulf country and the Centre, lots of yahooing.

In 1979 I scored a job as a ‘youth worker’ in Bondi Junction which lasted until 1985. It was a pretty anarchic set-up and I had plenty of opportunity to have the daily body surf at Bronte or Tamarama and to holiday out of Sydney. In 1984 I was able to return to return to the north for six months lone venturing into some very remote parts.

In ’85 I found myself jobless, homeless and unloved when romance came to the rescue. Kaylene left her trade union job and it was back to the north for three months. On the drive back south we bought a place deep in the dope growing hills behind Mullumbimby. After 5 years, and now as parents, we moved to the beach. Everyone gets a cyclone or two in their lives – ie an ill wind that causes a lot of damage. The aftermath was extended and unkind. The triumph was the survival of Kaylene’s and my friendship, if not the romance – she lives upstairs, I live down (not a problem) and our Joe has the whole show (only child of aging parents – spoilt?). In the end it was time to reinvent oneself and get out of the economic mire. A town planning degree, studied for 1999-2000, has now led me to a 3 month gig with Byron Shire Council. I’m half of the compliance department – a plod at last.

About school I remain unrepentantly critical. But, unlike other invitations, a guernsy to the reunion is not earned by anything one has done for the last forty years – that’s a relief, so expect neither boasts or apologies.