Slum child.

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - Front Page -

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

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