12 September, 2014, Trinity College, University of Melbourne
Men and Women of Trinity: A Toast.
January 1976. Hot. Damned hot. Google reminded me recently of how hot that summer really was. I’d endured, as had we all in those days, the wait from the end of school to Christmas and then to early January when HSC results were dispatched. By mail. I was at Anglesea, as usual, and had to endure one extra day of pain and torture as my results were redirected from Camberwell whilst the landline rang hot with other people’s news. Relief. I got enough marks to get into law at Melbourne Uni no thanks to the parents who thought doing biology would keep my options open despite the fact science was never my strong suit, as the marks proved. The Web of Life textbook and I never understood each other very well. A toast to me for getting this far.
Mail came from PLC inviting me to join the old collegians association. I remember Dad writing a cheque for the princely sum of $17.00 for life membership. At the same time he asked me if’ I’d like to go to Trinity College – after all uni was going to be the best years of my life. This was a little out of the blue because he’d refused to let me go to Geelong Grammar when it went coed – he hadn’t enjoyed it one bit and his few memories of his years there included weeding the oval with John Landy when the gardeners had all gone off to war and being in class with Rupert Murdoch, apparently a declared communist. As an aside he said he had been a non resident here when doing medicine but I declined his offer. I didn’t tell him the prospect was too scary for a shy girl from PLC, an outpost in suburbia.
For first term I schlepped to uni on tram and train but soon enough met a whole lot of Trinity people doing law and moved in in second term as there were vacancies aplenty. The rest is history. A toast to Dad for a good idea, albeit with delayed execution.
For 5 years I enjoyed what we have all enjoyed and shared:
- new friends, late nights,
- a spot of drinking here and there,
- no smoking,
- college balls and uni balls, college sport,
- sharing a study in Cowan or Jeopardy which proved a shortlived bad idea for most people;
- moving up the room hierarchy to a Behan suite with fireplace, via Cowan and Upper Clarke, the pinnacle,
- sharing showers and loos,
- running late to lectures albeit they were 5 minutes from bed,
- gossiping with a little bit of bitching but we didn’t know much about bullying,
- Juttodie with wet sacks and heavy bricks on the Bulpadok as it is properly called,
- Elliott Fours on Albert Park Lake,
- early morning swims in the Beaurepaire,
- the redoubtable Artie, Arthur Hills, and his sidekick the gardener Frank Henagan long before Frank became iconic,
- academic gowns over shorts and tshirts,
- the greasy chef Don Grilli and the chicken supreme springing from his condemned kitchen,
- High Church fish and chips on Friday nights and huge steaks and endless chips on Saturday nights;
- students on bursaries;
- queuing for the phone booth, now but a relic of days of yore,
- taking the washing home,
- squeezing a spot in the car park,
- the KKK and the silly, seemingly never washed, green uniform that always magically fitted everyone who wore it,
- the luxury of a neighbour to chop my wood and haul it up the stairs ( you young people might not know there was a woodheap with wood and an axe where the Woodheap Building is),
- the Behan suite bedroom where the bed never had to be made ,
- Moscow Olympics jaffle nights watching the derring do of our team on a tiny black and white telly in 1980;
- intercollege and intervarsity sport and the major party event that was the Intercollegiate Sports Council dinner;
- TCAC elections - for me being general rep for a couple of years and the first woman,
- the wine society; the drama society; the art society;
- the annual galah night after the annual play;
- house parties in neighbouring suburbs where you could gleefully leave your mates to clean up the day after,
- the car rallies via circuitous routes to country destinations and the clown who crashed into the college gates on the way out;
- the inaugural intercollegiate women’s footy match: Peter Hudson I was not;
- winning the rowing in my first year in the crew;
- advocaat and lemonade to sweet excess at Naughts when I was still 17,
- too many masalas and cokes at too many balls;
- mini spring rolls at the Royal Oak; the stygian gloom at The Clyde; late night trips to Twins and the Canary for a dimmy or a souvlaki; fabulous pasta at Café Paradiso and Café Sport, long gone,
- formal dinners in hall and the awarding of pewters,
- spooning in the victorious sports teams with the cox from the winning crew aloft the Mervyn Bournes Higgins shield now sadly banished to the Billiard Room – in the words of the Coodabeens Bring it Back to its rightful spot in this room!;
- gathering for college photos arms crossed and knees together,
- services in the Horsfall chapel incense swinging, the choir singing;
- 21st birthday parties; weddings; some very sad suicides;
- being made, forced and dragooned to go rowing and loving it;
- walking to the Exhibition Building for exams wishing that it wasn’t daylight saving because if it wasn’t the exam would still be an hour off;
- having exams on Cup Day;
- the Trike Race from Portsea;
- the quiet quiet of College during the holidays;
- crowding into the coal cellar up close and oh so personal with the Warden at bosom height too many wines on board after a big dinner;
- Senior Student elections – he or she who delivers the most cups of tea wins – I delivered one too few;
- 5 female Senior Students in 40 years – well done girls but perhaps there coulda shoulda have been more of you by now;
- the 30 year anniversary of women in college lunch that takes the cake for the worst college event ever – and those of you who were there will never forget it!;
- jogging around Princes Park; having a hit of tennis; playing bowls;
- holding the best ever college ball, and the first ever at Melb Town Hall, charging a massive $20 per head (up from the usual $6) with Skyhooks setting a trend the other colleges followed;
- being at the Ormond ball when the St Kilda town hall was trashed;
- tutes with people who are now Supreme Court judges;
- being lifelong friends with people who have shone and led and been brilliant in their spheres never knowing what lay ahead for them or for any of us; being part of a community, a fraternity like no other;
- having no sense at all in 1976 or since that women were not part of the 100 year history of the place so easy were the relationships amongst us all then as now.
A toast to the pioneering women of 1974 and since who have graced this place, to the men of Trinity who decided to be modern and admit them. Among them Robin Sharwood warden at the time and here tonight: a toast to you and your vision; to his successors Evan Burge, Don Markwell and Andrew McGowan for their roles in continuing to pave the way and ensure college is a great place to be (could be a number plate slogan!) for Women and Men of the College alike; to the small dramas, the big dramas, the small dreams, the big dreams and all things in between.
A toast to all of this and to all that you’ve been thinking about as your minds cast back to the time when you were here.
A toast to the College and to the many women and men who will follow in our footsteps and revel in their experiences had and relationships forged. And a toast to us because we’re here a testament to the very wonderful ties and memories and friendships that bind through one simple decision: to come to Trinity. To Us.