Nice jacket, Dylan, I said to my
first-year-university-student grandson as he picked me up in the
first week of summer at Canberra Airport where the outside
temperature was a sizzling 12.5 degrees. How much was it?
Dylan: I got it for five bucks at the Salvos.
Me: Well done.
Dylan: Mum is so jealous she is going there to see what she can
And then I recalled my own impoverished university days 47 years
ago and needing a dinner suit to go to an up-coming ball.
As the son of an Anglican clergyman, I could not contemplate
even hiring one, let alone buying. So I went to the Salvos and
bought a dinner suit for 50 cents (about $5 in todays money).
Better than that, it was excellently tailored and in a
middle-of-the-ground style, so as the lapels of new fashionable
dinner suits got narrower and then double-breasted and then wider,
mine never looked much out of place, so I kept wearing it for more
than 30 years. What a bargain!
The charities do a splendid job recycling clothes. A lot are
sent overseas, particularly to Third World countries which do not
have their own textile industries, such a Papua New Guinea.
I recalled being in Mount Hagen in the New Guinea Highlands once
and overhearing an Australian say to a local who was wearing, from
memory, the T-shirt of a Sydney bowls club, Good on you, mate, Im a
member there. Its a good club, isnt it?
He clearly did not realise that the T-shirt had been imported by
a charity second-hand and that the local had never been to
Australia, let alone his bowls club.
That was 2003, Later I went to the very remote Kosomary River, a
tributary of Sepik River, where I asked if I could have a paddle on
a dugout canoe. Only if you give us your T-shirt if you fall out, I
(It was a Canberra Times Fun Run T-shirt, as it happens)
Now, a dugout with a wooden paddle is a very different
proposition from my light-weight plastic kayak and carbon-fibre
paddle in Australia. But never mind. Ill never know how I got the
thing out into the current and safely back to shore. But I got some
loud cheers from the locals, so and I gave the canoe owner the
Canberra Times T-shirt anyway.
I hope no visiting Australian finds him and says something like,
The Canberra Times event is a good fun run, isnt it? What was your
While I was recalling this, it suddenly dawned on me, about
eight weeks too late. And I should have...