It was the 40’s, I was the first born, my father was a Lieutenant in the Australian Army, my mother a young girl 4 years his junior, who grew up in Maitland. My father was from a middle class family in Glen Iris. Already geographical distance and difficulty. I was 10 months old when he first saw his first born child. I found out years later he never lifted me up into his arms upon our meeting. This may be myth but accords with what was a cold relationship with him for most of my life. Not unusual for the homosexual son and his ex service man father in the 1940’s.
As we both aged we often talked politics. He had voted Liberal but in his latter years became staunchly Labor due to the policies of Paul Keating. We found some commonality. On a day when South Australia votes and in my home city of Melbourne there is the Batman Vote. I miss being able to discuss the ramifications of such a day.
Those times when we engaged in a fragile form of intimacy are those which remain with me some thirteen years after his death. We made peace with one another before he became ill. My mother had predeceased him some sixteen years. Their relationship was complex. They did their best in raising my brother and I.
I often heard my father sing. One of these times sticks in my head. Bob was on a ladder painting the side of the house in Murrumbeena on a lazy Saturday afternoon. He was singing ‘Blue Moon’ then there was an almighty crash and a loud “Jesus Christ!” He had fallen from the ladder.
Robert Lloyd Blakeley 1919 – 2005