The only student ever to be banned for life from Queensland Agricultural College at Lawes in the Lockyer Valley continues to pen chapters from his soon-to-be-release memoir, Don Brown’s School Daze.
Here’s another randomly selected chapter of the five years he spent at Gatton College.
Chapter 16: Returning to the scene of the crime
Who would have thought that way back in 1970, I was Gerald Francis Ridsale to Nev Briton’s Father George Pell (pictured above)?
Let me explain.
After serving a full term’s residential suspension for doing something very, very naughty on Riddell Dormitory that year, guess where Nev, now with the title of college director, told me in a damn stern lettering where I could once again reside?
You got it. Right back in the very same room in the very same residential hall in which I had supposedly done something very, very naughty to another student – or maybe even students! I hope they’d washed the sheets!
So can you appreciate the comparison with Risdale and Pell?
Some 12 years later, at least Georgie Pell, then just Father George, made decisions with other church elders to relocate Risdale, now the Catholic Church’s most reviled and active paedophile priest (I hope that’s not a tautology!) to a new parish where he could find new young and impressionable freckles to punch or to give some choirboy’s tonsils a pre-service spiritual cleansing squirt to help him hit the high notes.
That’s right. The comparison isn’t exactly right because Nev didn’t even send me to a different parish – or residential hall – to continue doing whatever it was I was supposed to have done!
I was allowed straight back amongst my victims, albeit with a warning that he was going to keep a very close eye on me so I’d better behave myself.
Do you know that to this day, I’m not even sure whether the harmless piece of horseplay I’ve described earlier in this memoir was the reason for my suspension for a term? No-one took off their trousers in that particular incident. At lease I’m pretty sure they didn’t.
While I have the letter inviting me back to the scene of the crime, I’m still looking for Nev’s official letter that booted me off campus. As I’ve pointed out already, I really don’t want this memoir made too reliable by excessive research.
But at some time after my exclusion from college boarding life, someone used the word bastardisation for what I supposedly did on Riddell that year. It might even have been me.
As a lapsed Methodist goody-two-shoes most of my life, I do confess the idea that I might have bastardised my fellow college mates up there in the Lockyer Valley made me sound all rather notorious; a young man to be taken very seriously indeed.
In fact, I might have mentioned that word to a Courier-Mail reporter at the beginning on 1970 when he rang me up in Toowoomba after the college had gone on strike at the beginning of 1970 in protest over Nev’s decision that my naughtiness on Riddell deserved a second round of punishment and had excluded me from the college for a year. And a year later, permanently.
Stupidly adopting – or not vehemently opposing – this charge of bastardisation has caused me quite some reflective sorrow in later life.
My dear mother who has long departed this world had – how can I put this nicely- not the greatest opinion of me. What can I say? I think it saved time on her part.
If I were capable of doing the naughtiest or the stupidest or dumbest of things, mother would never have been surprised that I in fact often did do the naughtiest or the stupidest or dumbest of things.
Which finally got me to wondering in later life if mother really did think I was a Risdale at college? Did she give the word “bastardisation” its most sinister interpretation?
Did she go through her final decades ashamed to even be seen by her friend Marg Baxendell up the street or even family due to this constant vision she had of me up to my nuts in the guts of some tertiary colleague at Gatton College?
Or, heaven forbid, bareback riding some hapless, almost hairless, certificate student and shouting “giddy-up” all the while while spurring him on with some horse-riding equipment borrowed from Phillip Bate?
Is that the reason I’ve been reluctant to do much research into this tome? Have I forgotten the exact circumstances of why I was banished from college?
Have sordid events been deliberately blanked out by a sick and deviant mind? Could hypnotherapy uncover deliberately repressed events from all those decades ago?
Are there in fact, somewhere out there, rectal sphincters of men who are now in their late 60s or early 70s that still clinch automatically at the very thought or mention of my name – or by reading this memoir?
Mummy, I remain fairly confident I never did any such thing at Gatton but, bugger it, if I did, it would be nice to think that not all of those involuntary sphincteral shudders were from a sense of deep shame brutally disclosed.
Would it be too naughty of me to hope maybe that just a few were as a result or fond, indeed, even fun times being finally recalled?