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Adelaide 1981

This was my end of year round up of music in Adelaide, published as part of Roadrunner's 1981 All State Rock Round Up. I moved…

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Australian Rock: The Early Sixties

As the sixties dawned the prospects for Australian rock seemed bright. Johnny O'Keefe, the undisputed leader of the rock pack, was hurriedly preparing for his…

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No Fixed Address: young, black and proud

At the time of this Roadrunner cover story from August 1980, I thought No Fixed Address was the most important new band in the country.…

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Articles and posts

A selection of published and previously unpublished works

John James Hackett: more than a passing acquaintance

It was early 1975. I remember warm summer nights and nude swimming in the backyard pool of the house on Nottage Terrace. There were a few Adelaide locals but mainly twenty-somethings evacuated from Darwin after Cyclone Tracy struck on Christmas Day. A mix of English, Americans and Australians, more than a few fresh from India and the Asian hippie trail. They had been part of a little Darwin scene that

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A hundred years ago: great John Maclean comes home to the Clyde—part 1

On the morning of Thursday 28 November 1918, the Imperial War Cabinet met at 10 Downing Street in London.  Outside the weather was wet and windy and the temperature struggled to reach seven degrees Centigrade. It was the American holiday of Thanksgiving; but Americans were definitely not alone in feeling thankful. The armistices signed by the Allies on 30 October (with Turkey), 3 November (Austria-Hungary) and 11 November (Germany) had

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A hundred years ago: great John Maclean comes home to the Clyde—part 2

Two days before the Imperial War Cabinet meeting of 28 November, George Barnes drafted a memo suggesting the Cabinet (imagined above in a painting by Scottish artist Sir James Guthrie) authorise John Maclean’s release, ‘along with any others who might be in like plight for similar offences.’ ‘The continued agitation about John Maclean constitutes a serious danger for the government,’ Barnes wrote. ‘Mass meetings have been held in many places,

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A hundred years ago: great John Maclean comes home to the Clyde—part 3

John Maclean was released from Peterhead Prison on Monday 2 December. That evening he addressed a meeting of supporters at the Meatmarket Street Hall in Aberdeen. The following day, accompanied by his wife Agnes, he travelled by train to Glasgow. Despite Maclean’s desire to ‘get right home’, word had quickly spread of his release and a large crowd had gathered at the station, many of whom had taken the afternoon

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A Kangaroo Cousin Looks At The Saltire

In June 2017 Di and I left Sydney and spent two weeks in Amsterdam and then ten days touring around the Scottish Highlands. As much for myself as anything else, I decided to set out my impressions and thoughts of Scotland in this period of great uncertainty about the future of the place I was born. In the canal house flat where Di and I spent most of our time

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Still The Boss

As I stood in the foyer waiting for Calum a fragment of a lyric came into my mind—‘… thinking that maybe we’re not that young any more …’ There was a lot of grey hair, some walking sticks, and some big bellies—but, to be fair, some youngsters too. All in all a pretty representative cross section of Sydney. The tickets had been a last minute Christmas present for Calum. The

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In Search of John Maclean—part 1

Scotland has had few men whose names Matter—or should matter—to intelligent people, But of these MacLean, next to Burns, was the greatest. —Hugh MacDiarmid, ‘Krassivy, Krassivy’ (1943) I’m standing at the grave of John Maclean with my newfound cousin Roddy. We’re in the New Eastwood cemetery on the southern outskirts of Glasgow. It’s a clear, dry afternoon in August and the sunlight filters through the trees and dapples the green

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In Search of John Maclean—part 2

John Maclean’s Glasgow A couple of weeks before I was due to head off to Glasgow in search of the ghost of John Maclean, I stumbled across a couple of articles online, both of which resonated strongly with me. The first was a feature about the Glasgow-based writer Ian R. Mitchell, ‘Following in the footsteps of Maclean and Maxwell’ by Russell Leadbetter, published in the Glasgow Herald magazine on 11

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1966 and all that

It started in the shires of the English midlands and finished in the arid saltbush of Whyalla, South Australia. It was the year my life changed. In September 1966 I turned 13. Two days after my birthday my family—my father, mother, sister and brother—got on a train in Kettering, Northamptonshire. It took us to London, very much still the Swinging City, where we changed trains for Southampton. There, berthed at

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