Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n Roll

Swinging London in the 1960s
Swinging London in the 1960s

During the late 1960’s like so many young Australians I was drawn to live in London’s Earls Court (known to all then as ‘Kangaroo Valley’). However, although I was fascinated by the whole ‘sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll’ revolution of which London was at the centre I never fully embraced it. Perhaps as a Pharmacist, I had medicated too many drug addicts at Boots Piccadilly pharmacy.

Recently, to see what I’d missed out on, I read Richard Goldstein’s book ‘Another Little Piece of My Heart’. Here are some of the quotes I found most interesting:

  • It was the great temptation of the sixties, the ghost of Rousseau that haunted every Freudian of my age. What lay beneath the layers of repression?…I was sick of living in a world whereto social order was all too obvious. That’s why the hippies were so appealing to people like me. They represented liberation from reality.
  • That was the whole problem with the counterculture. There was no will to form institutions that could transmit values, only a feeling that everything worth learning could be comprehended in an instant or immediately felt.
  • No one makes great art out of contentment with the world…
  • But in 1967 the hip thing for a chat show was to have a professor as a guest. ..They had to have an outsize sense of their importance, a blind confidence in their ideas, and a conviction that they could single-handedly alter the course of history. Most important…they had to be entertaining.
  • By getting us used to what, formerly, we could not bear to see or hear, art changes morals.
  • Perhaps this is always what it’s like to live in revolutionary times, the sense that everything is coursing toward a destiny that seems irrational and immanent (inherent).
  • I often found myself thinking about how other radicals had coped with the failure of their revolutions. How did the young visionaries of 1848 deal with the suppression of their noble dreams? What did partisans in the Paris commune think when their defeated comrades were executed by the thousands? How did Communists who deeply believed in the triumph of the proletariat live with the tyranny of Stalin? Some of them recanted in bestselling books, others clung to the long view of human history while settling down to raise ungrateful children.

I think our young people of today live in equally revolutionary times, and wonder how our radicals will cope when they fail.

Beethoven’s Creed

Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven

It always amazes me how a chance encounter can so much influence our lives. For example, the great 19th century German composer, Ludwig van Beethoven found the following text in the French egyptologist, Jean-Francois Champollion’s “The Paintings of Egypt,” where it is set down as an inscription on a temple to the goddess Neith:

“I am that which is. I am all that was, that is, and that shall be. No mortal man has ever lifted the veil of me. He is solely of himself, and to this Only One all things owe their existence.”

Beethoven had his copy framed and kept it constantly before him on his writing desk. The relic was a great treasure in his eyes.

The Dream That Came True

Farm mural and display at the Redland Museum
Farm mural and display at the Redland Museum

“The world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going.”

This week, I was reminded of the well-known quote by the British philosophical writer, James Allen, as I listened to Gordon Davidson speaking about our local Redland Museum and its origins. Like so many other institutions in our lives, the Museum was the dream of one man. In this case it was Norm Dean, a local estate agent and Rotarian, who sought to preserve the Redlands history as it changed from a farming to a housing community. A museum is the memory of its community.

Of course, the dream of one man needs a whole team of supporters to bring it to reality, and in this case, Rotary and the Redland City Council’s support have been outstanding.

Other individuals who spring to mind and who have had massive influence on our way of life have included Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill etc etc (I am sure you can think of at least half a dozen of your own choice). But these individuals were able to enlist the support of many by using more than just their dreams. I think it’s called charisma.

The Case for a Peel Island Jetty

As a keen follower of Peel Island’s history for over 35 years, I was very interested in the Wynnum Herald article of 28 October 2015, which called for Government funding to construct a jetty on Peel Island once more. Ever since its western jetty had been condemned and finally demolished in the late 1990s, the cry has been going out for its replacement.

The former western jetty at Peel Island 1990
The former western jetty at Peel Island 1990

From 1989, while the jetty was still usable, tour operators brought many groups who showed intense interest the island’s history. Such groups included the Redland Shire Council’s History Week celebrations, the Leprosy Mission, the Lady Brisbane, bird watching groups, Queensland Naturalists Club, the Brisbane History Group, and the Coochiemudlo Island History Group. Most came to see the former leprosarium, which closed in 1959, but were also struck by Peel’s natural, and largely unspoilt, beauty.  So there is also a strong case for eco-tourism.

But as well as European history, Peel, or Teerk Roo Ra to its Indigenous people, has a rich Aboriginal history and culture. So I am gratified to see that Cameron Costello, Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation chief executive has joined in the chorus of people asking for Government investment to upgrade the island’s infrastructure, notably its jetty. Teerk Roo Ra could be a showplace for Aboriginal culture of National importance.

A precedent as a place of learning has already been set when ‘Churchie’ (Anglican Church Grammar School) leased some of the former Lazaret buildings for their camps from 1968 until it relinquished its lease in 1993.  With a new jetty, other groups could be involved – not just from schools, but also art, church, environmental, and social groups as well.

Jetty technology has developed markedly since the days of the old wooden goliath pictured above. Also the viaduct to the jetty is still intact, so a jetty could be built at reasonable cost. I wholeheartedly support a feasible study being carried out.

Peter Ludlow

Professional Historians Australia