This is what my wife Jonica sometimes calls me. In a way it’s true. After my family’s time in the lap of luxury in Vienna we fell severely from grace in the 1950s when living back in England. Our family income back then was minuscule, and when my father died in 1962, virtually nonexistent. There was no widow’s pension for my mother – as an unmarried woman she wasn’t a widow. She had a tiny sickness benefit and that was it. I did newspaper rounds, collected bottles to claim the deposits, and we just went without. In the great British phrase that covered so many families during and after the war, we “made do”.
It’s a habit that stays with you. Here, in Sydney in 2018, I own no car, have no mobile phone, and have never owned a camera, golf clubs or similar kit; I live in a house called Termite Towers that is 3.6m wide and I haven’t bought clothes in over a decade. As the ABC gets ever more austere, as they take away our offices and make us work in call centres, I react like Brer Rabbit “born and