Chris has just
sent me this comprehensive account of his life's activities. It is great to
be back in touch. He and I used to hang out a bit together, after we left school
but we lost touch 35 years ago!
More photos to follow, I hope.
Why anyone would want to know how I've been wasting my life is beyond me, but
if you think it is of interest then I guess I can handle the publicity!
As most people will remember, I was expelled from Bedales by the then current
headmaster, Slack. This was an inevitable end to a series of confrontations
with him concerning various issues, from Uniforms (which he wanted to
re-introduce) to South African jam (which he continued to buy, despite
the terrible situation in SA.) My parents were, of course, devastated by this,
understanding nothing about the changing values of the Sixties.
I left England in 1968 to hitch hike round the world. Got a lift from my father
on his way to work onto the North Circular Rd one sunny morning, and went from
there. After endless adventures through Europe, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Turkey,
Iran, Afganistan, Pakistan, and India, I ended up teaching English in Bangkok
with Ruth MacIver (David MacIver's sister). I then travelled through
Indonesia the hard way, finally ending up in East Timor (Still Portugese at
the time) and getting a plane to Darwin (North Australia). I met my wife in
Perth (Western Australia), and we had two beautiful kids in the early 70's.
We travelled round Australia in a Landrover and caravan for almost 4 years before
we shifted over the Tasman Sea to New Zealand. We spent about 4 years in NZ,
but the family missed the tropical climate of northern Australia, so we returned
in 1985. Sadly, my marriage blew apart in 1986 and the ensuing divorce was the
worst time of my entire life. My daughter stayed with me, but my son chose to
stay with his mother. The family has been almost totally dysfunctional ever
I have lived alone since the divorce, right up to last year, when I met a very
special lady. We are living together now, complete with her 7 year old son.
It is great to have someone in my life again. My kids are great. My son,
Kit, has been living in UK for the last 8 or 9 years. He loves it, and has
recently become engaged. They plan to stay in UK, which is a shame, but I can
hardly complain as I did exactly the same to my parents. Kit is a journalist,
but currently runs his own computer programming business.
My daughter, Johanna, is very special to me. She did Applied Science,
majoring in genetics, at Uni' and has been doing research work at the University
of Queensland for most of the time since. However, she is just completing a
year in Japan teaching English. She has loved it, but is now eager to return
to Aussie and start her PhD. God knows where she got her brains from.
Certainly not her father!
I have done a vast number of jobs over the last 40 years. Some that I regret
(!) but mostly they were opportunities to try something different, which is
my main character weakness. I can't resist anything new, as long as it is a
challenge I'll give it a go. I have sold just about everything, from
cars to encyclopedias...even swimming pools. I worked for Kentucky Fried Chicken
for quite a while and made a lot of money. I have done concreting, fencing,
driving taxis, picking fruit and vegetables, shepherding, butcher in an abbatoire,
forestry worker and janitor. I have run my own company on several occasions.
Cleaning services, Snack bar, farmer, and courier. I am a partially qualified
accountant, and was state administrator for a division of P&O for a
couple of years. For the last few years I have been managing vegetable packing
sheds for large farming companies. Currently, I manage the largest Sweet Corn
packing shed in Australia. I have almost 100 people working for me, 7 days a
week, for about 8 months a year. The rest of the year is holidays.
We live in Bowen, which is a little seaside town on the east coast of
Australia, up near the top. It is called the Climate Capital of Australia
because we have the best climate of any town. It is objective of course, but
in reality it is great. We are currently getting into winter, (June) but today
it will be 29 degrees celcius, with a light breeze and just a few puffy clouds.
I'm wearing just shorts this morning. Not even a T-shirt. The summers can be
fairly hot, but not excessively so, as we almost always get a cool breeze off
the ocean. The Great Barrier Reef is not far away, and we have some of the best
fishing and diving in Australia. Everyone has a boat in the backyard, and we
eat seafood whenever possible. Of course, because it is a farming community,
we have some of the best fruit and vegetables almost all year round. The main
crops are Tomatoes, Capsicum (Sweet Peppers), Sweet Corn, French Beans, Zucchini,
Egg Plant, Rock Melon, Water Melon, Pumpkin, and the best mangoes in Australia.
So you can see that we are spoilt. The only down side is that the nearest decent
sized town is 150 miles away, so when you break your leg you need a helicopter
to get you to hospital, as I discovered a couple of weeks ago after a fairly
major accident at work. I still ride motorbikes all the time I'm afraid. I have
two. One for the road, and one for the 'dirt'. I have included a couple of photos
to give you some idea.
Well, that seems to just about cover my life so far. I have been extremely lucky
in just about everything I have done. Things just seem to have turned out right
despite my best efforts to stuff it all up. I have stayed in touch with David
MacIver all through the years, although we have had a couple of quiet periods
where either one of us was busy doing something and the letters didn't get written.
(Email is the best invention since sliced bread.) David has the best family,
the best home, and has worked incredibly hard to make it all possible. He is
the absolute opposite of me, but we are still incredibly close after all these
years. His parents, Lotta and Peter were my de-facto parents during my adolescence,
and steered me through some really troubled times, with their endless patience
and understanding. Sadly, Peter passed away almost 10 years ago, but Lotta still
lives by herself in one end of 'The Mill', and grows the best veges and fruit
you have ever seen. Some of you will remember visiting the MacIvers, living
in a barn on the top of Stoner Hill. Always a welcome and a quick nip on the
heel from the white German Shepherd, Roonie. I met Virginia Chesney once,
at David's insistence. It was great to see her, after being practically joined
at the hip for almost two years at Bedales. I still hear from Waddy (David
Wadsworth) in Hong Kong occasionally. Apparently, he is still involved in the
clothing trade, like his father. How many of you remember that monster Humber
Super Snipe his father used to drive? And Waddy's horse?
I really must go. I hope that this isn't too much information. I'll try and
organise some photos, but there are very few of me, as I'm the keen photographer,
so I take most of the photos. All the old ones of Bedales are still in the UK
with my father, but I'll see if I can get him to send me some copies.
All the best Chris
the Barclay Competition!
This is a detail from one of Chris' Biker photos. The line-up was anonymous
but this looks like him to me. Click here
to see more...and see if you can spot the real Chris Barclay!