GOD SAVE THE QUEEN by SEX PISTOLS. Story by Julian Savage.
Camberwell, Melbourne. 1977.
Growing up in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne in the 1970s two potential career paths appeared likely: a somnambulist or a Catholic priest. The former as the reassuring sounds of crackling fires in winter and the din of cicadas in summer behind meticulously pruned hedges lent itself to a dozy, sleep walking existence, the serenity of eternal normalcy.
A line a Dominican shared with this impressionable teenager, “I’ve never been so rich since I took the vow of poverty”, inspired the latter. Having witnessed first hand how those of the cloth were wined and dined by local families – beef wellington from Robert Carrier’s European classics followed by vintage cheeses washed down with litres of claret and tawny port – priesthood seemed like a doddle.
However, beneath the surface trouble bubbled away: infidelity, alcoholism, barbiturate abuse, domestic violence, financial ruin, repressed homosexuality, pederasty and teen suicide ideation.
The incursion that burst my bubble occurred in the summer of 1977. The previous year my parents had undertaken a pilgrimage as representatives of The Teams of Our Lady (TOOL); lay Catholic communities that proselytised conventional matrimony within a theological framework.
TOOL took them to Fatehpur Sikri in India and Lourdes at the base of the Pyrenees in France and my brother and I to my uncle and aunt’s piggery in Queensland. While they shared the social lubricant of prayer with an international cast of devotees, we couldn’t get the smell of porcine effluence out of our nostrils and ate bacon thrice a day: heaven indeed. One couple my parents met hailed from East London and it was a visitation to the dominions of their eldest son the following year that rocked my world.
My initial impression of meeting Pete: older than me by a few years, he had a lean and hungry look and the physique of a whippet. His hair was cropped to a quarter of an inch, opposing the excessive locks of my brother and I, and, most dramatically, he wore an oversized metal safety pin through his ear. Unbeknownst to me he was a punk. Punk had hardly featured on Countdown and our house “swung” to the sounds of Abba, Sergio Mendes and James Galw