John Harrison

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I look back favourably on my high school days. Before NSBH I'd done a year at the English School in Cairo. ('56 was not a good year to be in Egypt). We were evacuated out on the US 6th Fleet who came into the scene to evacuate US citizens whom Nasser unwisely threatened, although the US didn't support Britain and France in their ventures and Russia and US circled each other in the Middle East. As I stupidly didn't do Latin in Egypt, I ended up in the rogues's gallery of 2E for some weeks in 1957. I wisely capitulated and went back to first year to pick up with you dumb bums and do languages. There wasn't a lot to do in Egypt in life that revolved around club life with other Europeans and being a bit of a masochist I swam..and swam ..and swam. When I was at North Sydney I found I was a good swimmer and enjoyed competitive swimming, even though beating Dave Barnett was not really competition then! Life in the fast (swimming) lane , however was somewhat daunting as you went on with Rose and Konrads and others around. I found water polo was there as the swimmers' rugby and got into that at school and elsewhere.

Cadets and being a prefect taught me that "there was nothing like democracy, as long as you could control it!"I went on to Medicine after losing the toss with Law at Sydney and got through the 1st three years by hard work and little play. I then decided there was more to life (sport) and took a year out to do a B.Sc.(Med.) while majoring in water polo. I played State for 12 years, Australian Uni's twice and too many intervarsities. For further character building, after touring with an Australian water polo and swimming side in 1967 overseas, I was selected in the ill-fated Australian Water Polo side picked with the swimming team for the 1968 Olympics and played in the preliminary tournament at the Mexico Olympics, only for the team to be banned by the IOC 2 days before the Games commenced in a dispute between FINA and the AOF over who ran the Games and sports at the Games. Part of the fall-out from our sacrifice was the rise and rise of world championships in most other sports after that episode. I'd taken a year off Med. to give it my all and was devastated, especially as the Dean wouldn't let me sit my finals a month early to save taking a year off because he was "fed up with you sportsmen…".**##!!??" I came back and finished Med. in 1969 with 2nd class Honours. I wasn't good enough to make the 1972 side to Munich and went to England to pursue a surgical career.

I had two great years in London as a single but impoverished man and came home to be enlisted for 3 more years in the Orthopaedic training scheme in Sydney. My first posting as a consultant was to Parramatta which as an old Cremorne boy I had to look up in a Gregory's..My first day as a consultant was 18th January, 1977 and the Granville train smash! I got on at Westmead 1978 and married Debbie, a cute radiographer I had met and we moved to live and restore a Victorian Rectory, Church and Church Hall on an acre and a half at Seven Hills. "Her house in my suburb" as she calls it on one of the hills of Seven Hills. I was committed for life near to where I would work for the rest of my life but…..When Medicare came in, along with most of my peers, I was working for nothing as an Honorary in the Public Hospital system in the only mode of service I wanted. Suddenly my services were offered to all Australians at no cost without so much as a word to me. I went out the door along with 70 of my colleagues in orthopaedics on 26th May 1984 in what started the Doctors' Dispute.

I was at the meeting with Neville Wran on 22nd June 1984 after which he went off to the State Labor Conference and brought in his imaginative 7 year ban on any Doctor who resigned from the Public Hospital which took most of the remaining meek doctors who were off the bridge when 70 Horatio's were defending it out of the system as well. If they are not the same, then there are still great similarities between politics and warfare. Neville must have read Nasser's book on warfare tactics! After a 6 year holiday I came back after negotiating a New Honorary contract for our RSL or returning Surgeons' League. Gough inspired me into Medical politics in 1975 and I've been there since. The actions I was involved in certainly slowed up Labor's plans for the medical profession but gave Government a rapid learning curve which was violently used on the hapless pilots in 1989. I have three kids none of whom will do medicine. I remain married to the same child bride Debbie and our youngest is 16 putting my retiring age at 69! With the increasing trend to specialisation in orthopaedics abounding, although still in active clinical practice, I have trended into a fair bit of Medico-legal consulting as a prop to subsidise my nefarious medico-political activities which, alas, remain as pro-bono work for my fellow men**??##!!!

I still play water polo once a week without training in an uneven fight against inflation. I dream of some better health care options for an aging Australian population but neither of these two parties have a real clue how to help you and I in our dotage! I wouldn't swap my life's adventures for quids!