Part 1 - – Introduction
Let me introduce myself, since I'm going to share a lot about my life with you. My name is Will; Will Morris. Actually, it's William Turney Morris; but the only people who use my full name – William – are my grandparents, or my mother, who will sometime use the full 'William Turney' if I have done something wrong, and have been caught out. I was named after one of my ancestors, who emigrated from England back in the 1820s, allegedly sent to the colonies by his well-off family to avoid a scandal. But this story isn't about my ancestry; rather, it's to do with me discovering love.
I was born at the end of 1957 in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, and my parents moved to a new house they had built at Mona Vale, part of Sydney's Northern Beaches, on Australia Day, 1961. A few years later my brother was born, and my sister several years after that.
In the 1960s and 1970s Mona Vale was a small suburb on the northern outskirts of Sydney; some 18 miles from the city centre. It was in the process of changing from a sleepy semi-rural village to part of the residential belt around the city. There were still market gardens and glasshouses around the area; in fact there were two sets of them in our street. Down the road at the end of the street was a small dairy farm. The shopping centre still had a "village" feel to it, there was only one supermarket for many years, and the only public transport was the government bus service into Manly and the City.
During the 1960s, things really started to change. The first of the "12 pack" apartment blocks were built between Barrenjoey Road and the beach What had been undeveloped land on the west side of town was subdivided and several hundred brick veneer homes built. New classrooms were built at the primary school, a large community hall and library went in at one end of the town park, and a new shopping centre was built. A High School was built on reclaimed mangroves. Some of the older residents started to complain that Mona Vale was losing its old appeal; it would become "just another suburb in the big city".
Despite all that, it was a great place to grow up. The beach was right there, Mona Vale beach was just one of many in a continuous line stretching from Manly to Palm Beach, eleven or twelve stretches of golden sand, between large rocky headlands. Every summer we would walk or ride our bikes to the beach, spending most of the day in the water or on the sand getting tanned (and a future life dealing with skin cancer). I never got into surfboard riding, although many of my friends did. I would just bodysurf, or take my goggles and fins and dive around the rocks at the headlands.
We also had Pittwater; a large bay stretching up to join the main part of Broken Bay. It was a great place for sailing, again, something I hadn't gotten involved with; but again, many of my friends sailed their small dinghies on the water. The high school I attended built its own racing yacht, and was one of the first schools to offer sailing as an official school sport. The area has produced many world class sailors over the years, several of them I knew growing up.
The other big thing about the area was the fact it was very safe and crime was low. Rarely were there any violent crimes, and the local newspaper was way over the top when it had a headline screaming "Two Hundred Hard Drug Users at Pittwater High School", barely a week before I commenced there. While that freaked my parents out, in all the time I was at that school I never encountered anyone who used any hard drugs. Sure, there were a few pot heads, but I was never offered anything more troubling that a conventional cigarette. I tried them a few times, but could never see the attraction with smoking.
Being a safe area meant as kids we weren't coddled and over-protected by our parents. We had no problems walking or riding our bikes anywhere; after school or on weekends I would go to friend's places, if I was going to be there late I could call and ask permission to stay for dinner, and make my own way home later. My parents knew all of my friends' parents, the down side being that if we got into any sort of trouble, it got back to their notice rather quickly. Consequently, we quickly learned that it didn't pay to abuse the trust our parents placed in us; if you acted responsibly, then you were treated accordingly.
So, what was my childhood like? I was a fairly good student; I enjoyed school, consistently got good results. I played a few sports, backyard cricket in the summer, and soccer in the winter, swam when it was warm, and rode my bike everywhere. I never excelled at any particular sport, but enjoyed playing most games. When I was 8, my parents bought me an old piano, which we kept in the garage. I took lessons, and found music was something I had a real talent for. I did the conventional sequence of exams at the Conservatorium of Music, but also found I could play by ear, picking up songs just by hearing them. Several of my friends at the church youth group and I would often had impromptu jam sessions, playing whatever style of music took our fancy that day.
I didn't have any serious girlfriends; well, not counting Debbie Curtis, who lived two doors down until I was six; we would play 'doctors and nurses' in her back yard, watching each other pee behind the shed in her yard. There was also Monica Pecar, when one afternoon in 6th grade as we were walking home from school, she pulled two threads from the hem of her uniform skirt and tied one around each of our wrists.
"Break the one around my wrist with your little finger, and I'll break the one around yours," she said. "That means we will be lovers forever."
Had I been more confident or self-assured, I would have sealed that with a kiss – that's probably why our relationship didn't last more than a few days. A real pity, as Monica was one of the first girls in our year to actually develop breasts.
Those aside, I had almost reached my 15th birthday without any significant romantic relationships. Well, that isn't counting almost nightly encounters with "Mrs Palm" (and her five daughters). I had a cousin – two years older than me – who when I was twelve, introduced me to the art of masturbation, and I was almost instantly addicted.
Looking back, I had a pretty good childhood; a stable, loving family, a bunch of good friends, very little to worry about. My circle of friends remained fairly constant all through school, at the transition from primary school to high school, some of my friends went to other high schools, but I befriended other people who had gone to another primary school. I was probably no different from any other kid; there are those really close friends that you've had for ages, then some other good friends that you hang out with most of the time, and finally a larger number of acquaintances, those whom you say "g'day" to, that you might talk to every so often, sit next to in class or at lunchtime, wave to if you saw them down the street.
When I started High School, two particular kids started in my class; their family had just moved down from the country as their father worked for one of the major banks, and had just been made manager of a local branch. David and his, Cathy; they were only a few days younger than me; my birthday being two days before Christmas day, theirs two days after. All three of us griped about how we would always get a single, combined Christmas and birthday presents; but at least we always had school holidays around our birthdays. We hung out together; David, Cathy and some other kids, but the three of us became pretty close friends. Cathy didn't really fit in with the other girls, she wasn't either one of the horsy types, or a wanna-be surfer chick, or join any of the other cliques. It wasn't that she wasn't liked or didn't fit in, I think she just though most of them were pretty shallow.
Life had progressed fairly steadily, but big changes were in store for me. In 1973 I was in what was called "fourth form" – several years later renamed "year ten", and at the end of that school year every high school student across the state did a series of standard exams in each subject called the "school certificate". Quite a few kids would finish high school at that stage; if they were going into a trade or apprenticeship, or business school. The only people that continued onto the final two years of senior high school were those intending to study further at University, or teacher's college, or go into something like nursing where the final "higher school certificate" qualification was mandatory.
After the exams were over, in early November, the headmaster called all of us together for a final assembly. He congratulated us on getting this far, and for those who were leaving the school and not returning to the senior years, he wished them every success in the future.
"Now, I can't officially tell the rest of you this," he said. "But, we aren't going to be starting classes for fifth form until next February, and there's little point in having formal classes for you for the remainder of the year. I've heard from a good source that the water is very pleasant down at the beach today, the surf is good, waves are about four to five feet. Enjoy your summer, and I'll see you all back next year, ready to study hard."
.... There is more of this story ...