Legends from our own lunchtimes

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

The old stomping grounds.
Thursday Island

More than sixty years have passed between the making of these photos.  Not much has changed, my box Brownie has become more sophisticated, although the camera I am holding was a prop.  We couldn't recreate the original shot exactly because apart from the absence of everyone else in the original photo; #safetyrules, which didn't exist at the time my younger self spent exploring what at the time we thought were the endless tunnels in the fort, but which over the years seem to have shrunk considerably in both extent and scariness.

Perhaps some of the terror they conveyed back then was to do with what would happen if our parents discovered we had been there.  Since my father worked in the weather station on the site, and we lived just a few hundred metres down the hill, the odds of discovery were not slim, but just occasionally the temptation proved to be too great.

I saw my first graffiti down there, a wondrous work of non-art, the coolest word I'd ever seen scrawled in charcoal in a dark tunnel littered with broken beer bottles.  It was quite possibly a political statement, the depths of which I have still not quite unravelled to this day, or it may be simply that the author was as enamoured with the word as I.   

It said simply "SPUTNIK"

I asked my father what it meant, and had enough time to become fascinated by man's faltering journeys into space before it dawned on us both that perhaps I'd just made an admission of my trespassing on forbidden ground.    

I have forgotten the details of the admonition that followed, but it is suffice to say that until this day I had not again ventured down those steps, nor, despite my admiration for some that do, have I ever drawn on a wall.


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