erin –

Nobody ever tried to figure out Erin, ever.

He used to walk the Bondi Promenade from one end to the other every day and we would wait for him like jackals down by the wild south, and as he passed by we would savage him without mercy, everytime.

Erin was just a little slope shouldered guy with a pre-occupied air and who wore doublethick glasses and who had a kind of limp and whose purposeful gait and thoughtful demeanor were the antitheses to the order of things. He always had something on his mind, and we wanted it to be us. The young totalitariniasts of thought.

He was a Woody Allen kind of man.

Down there where the carpark rose above the walkway (by the skate rink now) we would look down on this peaceful little man who often times wore the beard of our spittle down the back of his shirt, and we would croon soft and intimate abuse as he raged back at us for our illegitimate insults; the founding Bondi Fascista.

And always the one of him, and always the ten of us.

He was just a little man, and how he dared fight back.

Erin would rage at our intrusion upon his freedom, this abuse of his right to walk in peace, this cowardly victimization of a man otherwise at peace, this daily terrorisation of his life, that he, without fail, had the courage to confront day after day, in the hope that one day we would go far away or be killed in a road accident, or die of alcoholism or choke in our own drug induced vomit, or be beaten to death by the Vice Squad, or at least be removed from his path by whatever dangers our arrogance exposed us.

And here, by God, spoke his prophesy of the end of more than a few of us old boys.

How their voices would be faint today, muffled by the earth.

How he shivered with indignation as he looked up at our grinning apelike faces, how he learnedly and indignantly exposed our intellectual shortcomings before he stomped away in a Holy Order of Anger and Righteous Might.

This angry little man. This righteous fellow.

Years later I learnt that he was the son of one of the two women who used to run a small delicatessen across the road from the old gym in Bondi Road, the one where we held the inaugural meeting of the South Bondi Boardriders Club. Our Alma Mater.

My wife would shop there from time to time when she needed a little European touch to a special meal, and once she mentioned over dinner that both the women who worked the counters had numbers tattooed on their arms.

Faded though in 1962, and half hidden by their long sleeved working blouses.

I went to the shop a week or two later, purely to see the faces of women who had survived the death camps, and impurely to purge myself of the sins of abusing their son Erin.


They were too busy, and all I could do was buy some fresh Parmesan and a bag of  olives.

So this will have to do.


6 thoughts on “erin –

  1. Remember Dave, collecting bottles on the beach back in the 60’s/70’s ? When I was in town a few years ago I saw him in Campbell Pde. striding up the hill in that familiar gait, without the hession bag of course( no refunds on bottles these days). What struck me was his good looks. He resembled a bearded Charlton Heston, a young one, not Moses. Though the look in his eye was a little vacant. Saw him again a couple of years back not looking so good, sadly. Hope he’s OK. He may have copped a little flak in his day but unlike Erin he had his blinkers on, focused on his mission. While everyone was lounging on the beach he was out there working which I think we ended up respecting.

    • I too remember David King, I think he lived in Oakley Rd Nth Bondi back then.
      He was very focused on his job…..collecting empty drink bottles on the beach and carrying them back in huge potato sacs up to the Prom to cash them in.
      I used to think how this kid had been dealt some bad cards at birth but he sure knows how to make money.
      I don’t remember David copping the same amount of abuse as Erin did .
      Actually Erin came up in conversation I had only a few days ago with an old mate I grew up with in Bondi . Yes Erin was picked on mercilessly but all we can remember him ever saying in defense was ” let me pass, let me pass”.
      Yep kids can be cruel.

  2. Pete, you have triggered by memory of Erin, long forgotten but your article has bought him back to me vividly. Those coke bottle glasses and his walk. I guess he would have been an easy mark to make fun of. That said, cruel as it seems now, as dumb kids it wouldn’t have. Every bondi local knew him too. Well written mate.

  3. Pete, great read, took me back to our time as kids. You have a way with words. How we were all culturally equipped with sprays of ridicule towards those who we thought we could get away with it. Morally bankrupt and baking in our politically incorrect world waiting for our next victim to come along. We all seemed prepared for each others indignant remarks though we still tried to shoot each other down in flames; a good example of our interpretation of our national pride, larrikinism. Thanks mate

  4. I bumped into Bob McTavish the other day in Federal. Bob was on his mission but we recognised each other and after an agreeable chat he left with a copy of Bloodlines. Three days later he sent me an email that told of Russel Hugh’s version of the Erin days.
    Same message, we treated that man abominably.
    ‘Let me pass.’

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