You should be dancin’ – a 1972 Ashes story by Les Everett

ABCCricket72Dance lessons weren’t too bad. I wasn’t much good but others were worse. The girls from Prendiville College would come over to CBC after school for an hour or so under the eye of a lady who knew all the steps.

We knew the girls, shared some classes with them – Economics and English – I was even able to talk to some of them. “G’day,” I’d say. Most had nice soft hands and some wore perfume.

We were preparing for some kind of extra social event. Not the Annual Social where the girls and boys from Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s Catholic schools mixed, socially. This was probably about getting us ready for the real world. And, as has become evident to the real world in recent times, a Christian Brothers schooling was something else.

So all was going well. I was ok at the Pride of Erin and the square dance was fine if I concentrated. I would wear my black flairs that went well with my good shoes with a bit of a heel and just a glint of purpley/red in the right light – white shirt and black tie.

And then came the announcement. The last day, sixth day, of the last Test in the Ashes series from The Oval in England was to be telecast live to Australia… to Boulder. England had already retained the Ashes and were leading the series 2-1. However the lowly rated Australians had done pretty well and a drawn series would be a very good result. It was the series of Bob Massie’s 16-wicket debut, sustained brilliance from Dennis Lillee, fine batting from the Chappells, Keith Stackpole and Ross Edwards and cameos from David Colley and John Inverarity. Up until this last day of the series we’d made do with the wonderful ABC Radio coverage and nightly 30-minute highlights packages on ABC TV. No complaints about any of that, but a live telecast, that was unique.

The live telecast was to be on the same night as the dance. The compulsory social event.

“I’m not going to the dance,” I told my mum, “The cricket’s live on TV. I’ve gotta watch it.”

I went to the lounge room and turned on the television. There’s something about the light in cricket on the TV from England – even in black and white. I had dinner in front of the TV. Dad came home from a couple of post-work beers at the Grand Hotel in Boulder, ate a heated-up meal, sat down to watch the cricket and fell asleep.

There were a couple of anxious moments but Paul Sheahan and Rod Marsh both got 40-odd not out and steered Australia to victory. Paul Sheahan making runs! It truly was a unique event.

I went to bed. I’d gotten away with it.

Next day was school. I took my place in the front row of desks in the tiny room filled to capacity by 16 boys. Soon I was aware of the looming black-clad figure of the headmaster Brother Murphy. Right in front of my desk. I didn’t look up.

“Where were you last night?”

“I had a bit of a headache Brother.”

“Do you have a note?”

“No Brother.”

“Well go and get one.”

Everett Brothers Butchers was a short walk from CBC Kalgoorlie. I was in trouble but loved the freedom of being out on the street in school time. I walked slowly.

“How was the dance?” one of the butchers laughed, “Marshy batted well didn’t he?”

I found Dad and told him I needed a note. He went to the tiny little office space that was usually the domain of Uncle Jack. Dad wasn’t big on the books and writing and stuff. He fished out an Everett Brothers Butchers receipt book, found a pen, wrote a few words, folded the note and placed it in one of those envelopes with a window on the front.

On the slow walk back to school I took the note from the envelope.

Les couldn’t go to the dance last night because he wasn’t too good.

Back at school I handed the envelope to Br Murphy. He read the note.

“Piffle!” he said.

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