suitcase badges from Roslyn Hall Children's Home, Murray Dwyer Boys Orphanage, Protestant Homes Booklet from Burwood Boys' Home – 'Valuable Household Hints' ceramic elephant with broken trunk canvas shoes badges from Morialta Homes baby doll dressed in white wool

Rick Barker

The syrup before the sledgehammer

Those big fat pompous bastards come up, still must, big Jimmy Edwards moustache, oh they all had those moustaches in those days, all government, yeah, here’s a government man with a pinstriped, a pinstriped suit, ah -

“We’re here to tell you that we will be selecting some very special boys”

Once again, it was the old syrup … before they hit you with a sledgehammer,

“Very selected boys who we’ve been keeping our eye on, and who are all going on a lovely trip to a lovely place and are going to be eating lovely fruit all day, and playing with, with animals you’ve never seen before,”

And the greatest line of bullshit, that you ever… straight away, Master Barker name went into, “Hello, what are these pricks up to? They’re setting us up for something here.”

And Duncan Connolly who was always very timid, shaggy type, said (quotes spoken by Rick in Scottish accent)

“What’s he talking about?”

I said, “I don’t know, but it’ll be no frigging good for us.”

Because they all used to come to me and say, “whattya think, whattya think, whattya think?”

And course, I used to dissect everything down in me mind, and always came up with, “it’s not going to be any bloody good for us.” (laughs)

In the hole

Rick: In the hole. In the hole you went, mate.

Rob: The hole…

Rick: The hole. It was up near the, eh, E wing. They took the thing off it, you see it in the German prisoner of war movies or something, where they take the lid off, or a Japanese prisoner… and they lower them into a hole? That’s corrugated iron. You got to remember that next day, it’s 40 degrees, 35, 38 degrees, you’re looking at over 100 degree temperatures. Not a stitch of clothing on and every so often, a brother comes along, an dips a thing of, a liquid, warm water over your head, and puts the thing back again. That’s – that’s for laying a hand on a Brother. And I got that five times. I didn’t need to worry about putting any weight on, I used to sweat the bastard off (laughs). Yeah. Caught in the, in the vineyards. Caught in the olive groves in New Norcia … Detention in the hole.

I, I could do, a year’s, two years’ isolation in a cell on me head, cause I’ve been trained that way. I wouldn’t go mad, ‘cause my brain would be thinking of something to do all the time, even in the dark. I could, I could actually make, I could make pictures. When I used to go into confinement, I could make pictures, but in me mind. And I used to change the pictures, over, into different, hieroglyphics and I’d while away hours and hours doing that. …. I’d know, the tin’d go back, it was just on sundown, and they’d drag you out, two or three of them would give you a punching, an hit you with the hose, and then, er, sat in the dirt, with your gruel, an you get shot off to bed. But – you didn’t get to sleep on the bed mattress, you slept on the floor. Cause you were still in confinement and punishment. You didn’t miss out on any of the religious things, either. When the Angelus came, you got dragged out (laughs) and had to say the frigging Angelus. Ah, I used to say, it pissed me off! (laughs) I’d say, “ah, I was just making another picture,” and they couldn’t figure out what I was talking about.

I forgot everything that was going on around me. I’d completely forget my pain, I’d completely forget about the blowflies, I’d completely forget about, there might be a scorpion going over me leg; I used to just sit there. I’d basically go into a deep meditation. And I learnt to do that. And I still can do it today.

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