by Blake Dawson* <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From the Preface to Chapter 1:
If you like to read this kind of story but are concerned about possible legal implications, work to change the law! If you don’t, why are you here?
*Blake Dawson is the person the otherwise anonymous author would be if “trading places” became magically possible.
I haven’t ever known a kid who has thought of even one of their parents as a person. Mum and/or dad were just factors to be contended with and adjusted to in the kid’s single minded pursuit of his own objectives—even to sensitive new age kids who really took pains with their peer relationships. Over the years, I have come to see my mother as a more and more interesting person, although back in the winter of ’89 I certainly did not notice all the aspects of her actions which I have come to appreciate since.
Mum has always thanked me for getting her life back on track. It wasn’t really me, but the fact of finding herself pregnant and having enough courage to say that as much as she may have felt free to fuck up her own life she felt she had no right to fuck up mine. There have undoubtedly been many others in the same position who felt the same way, but, with whatever earlier involvement she had had with alcohol and drugs put behind her, Mum rediscovered that she was actually smart enough to do something about it. With a little help from some generous social policies she was able to get a university degree and a job in computers before I was old enough to start school. She has always treated me as her partner rather than her son, in part because she really never experienced a working family relationship. While we don’t see much of them, I have two sets of grandparents just like most other kids, just that mine are her two parents and their current partners. More than anything, she has taught me that it is more than ok to be my own person, to think, to chase dreams and to take reasonable risks. By personal example Mum has shown me how to avoid entering the spirals to self-destruction, as she has consciously turned her back on the visible symptoms of the fast life, becoming a dedicated home maker and even turning our radio dials from JJJ to 2BL.
For a kid already infatuated with cricket, the Ashes triumph of Alan Border’s team in the winter of ’89 was enough to hard wire a permanent love affair with the great game into my brain. Leaving my clock radio on all night during the tests opened my mind to the magic of the word pictures painted by ABC and BBC commentators and to the amazing array of statistics they had on tap to provide context for another major innings by Taylor or Waugh. I started to study the daily scorecards provided in the Herald, and it soon got to the point that the 2BL commentary would keep me so wide awake that I got up and got out a pen and paper and started to write down the scores ball by ball in a highly unorthodox fashion of my own invention.
The local sports store wasn’t very busy at that time of year and the ageing proprietor didn’t seem to mind me looking through the cricket gear left over from the previous summer and stacked in a corner, as long as I didn’t have anybody else with me to muck around with. He probably thought, rightly, that if I was so interested in cricket things that I might one day become a good customer. One wintery Friday, I finally got right to the back of his pile of cricket stuff and discovered a largish spiral bound notebook that was designed for scoring cricket matches. I found a price tag then bolted from the store so fast that the old man must have thought I’d nicked something. For the first time in my life I told my mother that I had to have $11.50 to buy something that I really wanted and wouldn’t tell her what it was—just that she would have to wait to see it. The wonderful thing about Mum was that she accepted what I said at face value, but found she didn’t have the right money, so gave me a $20 note and asked me not to be too long as she wanted us to eat early.
By the time I got back to Harris’s, the old man had just about finished tidying up the stack of cricket stuff, so I still don’t know if he was pleased to see me bolt back in. Panting, I explained that I had gone to get the money to buy the scorebook which he had again hidden away behind the rest of the cricket gear. As he reached in over the top to pull it out, he claimed that he really didn’t want to take my money because it was an out of date edition—a claim I still do not understand to this day. I insisted that it was exactly what I wanted, and he countered that I should be out practising in the nets rather than in a scorebook at my age if I was so keen on cricket. In the finish he gave me the book and insisted I also take a brand new hard cricket ball, then gave me $10 change and would not discuss it further.
Mum heard my story out as she was serving dinner without expressing the slightest surprise, then showed me a “safe place” where she put the $10 change so that I could find it if I ever needed something important again. She even hinted that scoring a couple of test matches could be just as valuable as my usual arithmetic homework but cautioned that I really should make sure I got a reasonable amount of sleep. Seeing we had nothing special to get up for in the morning, she invited me to watch it with her on the telly until lunch so I could start my scoring career using the coffee table. During the second commercial break I told her how much better the radio commentary was and she enthusiastically agreed that we should turn off the sound from the TV and listen instead to 2BL. To a cricket-mad Sydney youngster, the series only got more exciting as the Aussies continued to belt the Poms and I had little choice but to become rather more proficient at managing tiredness.