OE News & E Bulletins
Richard Smart - ECS 1954-1960
I recently trawled the archives on the Ewell Castle website and was delighted to find back copies of "The Ewellian". My first report in it was Autumn 1954, from Form 111 Remove, and last a view on leaving school, Summer 1960. Now, sixty-five years from the first, and almost sixty since the last one, what a radically changed world it is. And the school is completely unrecognizable: academically excellent, co-educational, multi-cultural, with a performing arts academy and music centre.
I wrote on arrival in 1954: "Form 111 Remove was a completely new form. None of us had ever met before, or done French or Latin, and were looking forward to it. But not after the first few lessons. We found they involved a lot of hard work!" And on leaving in 1960: "As a boy stands at the gate of the place where he has lived and learnt for so many years, mingled feelings cross his mind. A new life is about to begin. Whatever it holds, he must be ready to face it with courage and resolve."
My "new life" found me here, in Sydney, due, in no small measure, to the influence of two Australians, "Bill" Edeson and Peter Hunter. They were a year or so ahead of me and had a healthy disdain for authority, which appealed to me. My first years in book publishing were with a Fleet Street-based, Australian-owned company and we published several Australian authors. My grandfather worked for the Bank of Australasia and often voiced his wish to visit Sydney. And growing up I admired the style of Australian Test cricketers - Miller, Lindwall and Harvey. (I never imagined I'd one day meet and publish books with "The Don" Bradman.)
And so there was a certain inevitability about my coming to Sydney, one of the world's best cities - spectacularly beautiful year-round, multi-cultural, with over 200 languages spoken (sadly, of the 250 Indigenous languages spoken when colonization began in 1788, only 13 remain), and with thriving publishing, film, theatre, art and music cultures. Not to mention several football, soccer, rugby and cricket codes, with women's competitions now leading the way. To end this Sydney Soliloquy: it's early autumn, 25 degrees and the sky's a typically brilliant blue. Then again, in other states there have been vicious bushfires, 100-year-event floods and years-long droughts. It is indeed "A sunburnt country...a land of droughts and flooded rains". Dorothea Mackellar.