By Donald Denoon
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I learned to dislike him, too. Not only was he the only one of our class who looked like a private-school boy, he had brains. He could — and probably should — have stayed at school and gone to uni. His father, however, wanted him to sign on as an apprentice aircraft mechanic, and the rest is history — the history of Australian industrial relations. His sister Shirl was two years younger and quite pretty, again in a neat and tidy, sanitised way. Father yearned for me to be friends with Garth. When that looked unlikely he wanted me to take an interest in Shirl, so of course I refused to talk to her.
After Honours in economics I took a course in public administration. Then, after a stint as a bookkeeper at Noble’s, a providential scholarship flew me to a mind-expanding, life-changing MBA in Chicago. Even more than St Barnabas’, this was my Damascus Road. St Barnabas’ gave me style; Chicago gave me substance and direction. Like medical school, the MBA program was a vocation, demanding passion and conviction. That’s what I gave it. I went by myself and was immersed in the society of fellow students as well as the classes.
Once I’d pissed off Garth (to his relief, as he made very clear), I settled for two fellows from the State Treasury. We had bought each other an occasional drink, but we didn’t know each other well. Anyway, they looked the part, they promised to stay sober and they were willing to wear tails — they’d gone to private schools. You can see the social situation, can’t you? I was manifestly more comfortable with ‘hers’ than with ‘his’. The Jolliffes paid for the wedding of course, but also for the honeymoon and the deposit on our flat.
Afterlife: A Divine Comedy by Donald Denoon