Family Background and the Air Force Years
My back ground is a bit United Nations-esque. My Father was an Irishman who met and married my Mother whilst on a tour of duty in Malta with the British Royal Air Force. They had to fight beaurocracy to get married but fortunately for me, they succeeded.
I was born in Malta and at 3 months old we returned to Britain where we lived for the next ten years with a year’s interlude in Ireland whilst my Father did a tour of duty on Christmas Island as part of Britain’s Nuclear Program.
We then spent three years living in Cyprus. Great years from my memories although shortly after we arrived a civil war broke out between the Greek and Turkish population of the island and that seemed to put my parents off a bit.
My siblings were all born in different places with a brother and sister born in different parts of England and my youngest brother born in Cyprus. You’d think with that much variety in my childhood years I’d be swimming in photographic memorabilia, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately not so.
My parents weren’t the snap happy type and the photos I do have are few and largely of very ordinary quality. I think longingly of the missed opportunities to capture those memories on film.
We returned from Cyprus when I was fourteen, and we were based in Lincolnshire, England. I attended my sixth and final school and completed my High School education there.
My parents had long held plans to emigrate to Australia, and they decided that as soon as my Father’s current contracted term with the Air Force was completed they had better make their move in case my sister or I, who were in our teens, started a long term serious relationship with someone and there was a danger of the family splitting up.
Next Stop, Australia
So at seventeen I stepped out onto the tarmac of Tullamarine Airport, Melbourne for the first time and took my first look at Australia. I have to say that I was disappointed. I was expecting dirt roads and kangaroos all over the place so the bitumened roads and brick buildings were a severe shock.
We quickly settled in to life in Australia, I married and eventually had my beautiful daughter Seona. We did actually take a few photos when Seona was born. I must confess, I had followed in my parents footsteps as far as the lack of interest in cameras and taking photos went. But Seona’s birth sparked an interest to capture some pictorial record of her early days. Sadly this photographic burst didn’t last very long. By comparison with the amount of photos that I take today they were still a rarity. It would take almost a year to complete a single film of 24 pictures!
When Seona’s father and I went our separate ways my life changed again as I was now a single Mum needing to provide for my daughter. I worked full time and started studying for my Bachelor of Business degree at night for the next six years; through Seona’s primary school years. Thank God for my wonderful Mother. She held everything together and was a second Mother to Seona.
Harry Chapin’s Cat’s in the Cradle was the most influential song for me at this time. I used it to remind myself of what my priorities were when pressures from work and study were gobbling up my time. I didn’t want to be like the guy in that song. As a result Seona and I have always had a fantastic relationship, even through the ‘turbulent teens’ and it’s the most valuable treasure I own.
Part 2 of the story to follow.