Aug 13

50starmontage2Today I turn 50. 13th August 1963 was when it all started.

I’ve said before that birthday celebrations seem a bit odd to me.  Counting how many times we’ve been around the sun.  Still, it marks a point in time and 50 is one of those ‘important numbers’.  I have embraced it and gone all out to celebrate and mark the occasion with a dinner with my nearest and dearest and taken it to social media too.

I have spent my life thinking and communicating via a whole range of methods.  Today is a good a time as any to tell the story of how a little blonde boy from way out west came to be writing a blog and engaging with the world from the safety of a computer and a keyboard.  Of course, I do mix it with real people from time to time.  I’m one of the lucky people, I have a job that I love and it’s grown and changed around me.

My first attempt to communicate was clearly my voice from the moment I first uttered ‘mum’. Then in 1972 I began Storer’s Paper, a little newspaper that I wrote and circulated around the house. It was full of stories that you’d expect from a 10 year old.  I’ve attached a Storer’s Paper from my 13th birthday.  It’s really quite a hoot.  I went so far as to ’employ’ my brother and sisters to write stories for me.  I also took great delight in firing them so I could write headlines about it.  I charged my mother 1¢ per edition and then I bumped the price up to 2¢ and then 5¢ so I could write headlines about it!

The paper for my little newspaper was supplied by my older brother Larry who worked in a print shop.  I loved printing.  I loved to visit his work.  He would show me how he put together print jobs.  It was fascinating.

archerIn 1977 from my paper round money I purchased a little intercom from Tandy and used it to play radio stations, I would drag the intercom to the record player and sitting there with the talk button pressed in while I played my father’s country music records to the receiver at the other end of 5 meters of cable.

It was about that time that I started earning money from my paper round and other jobs. With that money I started to buy microphones, record and tape players and then switches and speakers.  I wired the house with speakers and SP7 Radio Intercom began blasting music on a daily basis. I’d come home from school and from 4.00 to 6.00 p.m. every day I’d play radio stations.  It’s fair to say that school for me wasn’t a great experience.  Home life was fraught at times and escaping into my bedroom, putting on my headphones and playing the latest single was a great way for a young teenager to escape.

I taped just about every program I ever did, I would also tape shows off the radio and sometimes the TV.  The Muppet Show was one of my favourites.  As a youngster who was constantly bullied for being gay this enabled me to hide behind the microphone and pretend to be a big time media star that people loved to listen to.

Have a listen to a short sample of “The Greggie Show”  from 1st August 1982.

SP7 Radio Intercom gave way to ASP Radio and then 3SP and I had a number of ‘regional stations’ 3DR, dining room, 3LR, lounge room and 3SR, spare room.  It was simply wonderful fun and as I moved into employment I was able to buy a lot more equipment and refine my presentation.  I would have gone into radio, however I was never really pushed in that direction and I was a somewhat timid guy and very unsure of myself.  I was also shit frightened about having to go on a 6 week training course in the city.  I just couldn’t imagine doing that!

My home radio station stayed with me well into my twenties and as I formed close relationships with my friends and they moved away I would record letter tapes to send them.

3SCBWhen I moved to Melbourne in 1995 I replaced my home-grown studio with a real radio studio and spent many years at a community radio station Southern FM.  I started out reading the news during the drive program on Mondays and when the regular presenter failed to show up I applied for the slot and got it.  It gave me a chance to really play radio stations.  I revelled in it.  A normally shy person I was able to get behind a microphone and take charge.  I found myself interviewing all sorts of people from all walks of life.  This was the sort of radio I wanted to do.  I did Monday Drive for a few years and then with Helen Cook we did Tuesday Drive, it was a hoot!  Towards the end of our time at Southern FM, Helen and I had returned to full-time work and it got hard to organise interviews, we’d spend our time playing music and chatting more off air than on.  At the same time I was also doing a computer show  called “Cyber Café” with Andrew Le Clerq.  That was heaps of fun.  I did all the serious bits of work of button pushing and announcing while Andrew did the talking about topics, but mostly we just made fun of each other and meandered our way around various computer topics.  At least I think that’s what was going on.

Bozo Criminal of the Week on Cyber Cafe with “FW & GP” from April 2002  

I never really let the newspaper side of things go either. Storer’s Paper faded quickly once my siblings lost interest and I began doing the radio thing.  However, I was involved in Scouts and that gave me a chance to use my ‘newspaper’ skills.  With a small Olivetti typewriter and some carbon paper I would produce newsletters for the 3rd Hamilton Scout Group.  When that folded and I moved to 2nd Hamilton I took on the weekly newsletter job as part of by leadership role as a Cub Leader.  I loved creating documents using Letraset and a photocopier.  As I moved through the Scout movement I was always involved in producing newsletters, posters and other communications.

The Internet started to happen at about this time.  I had a computer of sorts since about 1982 and as I earned more money I upgraded.  When the internet really came along I was there, buying a modem and hooking in.  I loved it.  As it developed I taught myself how to design web pages.  I regularly engaged in the social media of the day, Internet Relay Chat, here I made some good solid friends, I found real people behind the nicknames.  We would chat for hours online and then meet in person.  I’ve found several boyfriends and many long-term friends on the internet.  Have a read of this (language warning!)

I wrote some computer programs and plenty of scripts to make my computer zing.  Web pages, chat programs and newsgroups where a natural extension of Storer’s Paper.  It was the Internet that soothed the transition of the straight man to the gay man.  I found plenty of people out there in the world who were on the same journey as me.  We connected.  That’s what the Internet still does today.  It helps us to connect and communicate.  If it doesn’t you’re doing it wrong.

So here we are, today.  You’ll find me on Facebook and Twitter.  You can read my blogs and you’ll even find a few YouTube videos of me.

I run my own servers at home, I love to play with them, tweak them and write code!  I’m not the world’s best geek but I have plenty of fun.  Using my self-taught skills I have helped my workplace adopt these new technologies, I designed our first website, I was there as 1999 rolled into 2000 and made sure we were compliant.  I was there when we networked and introduced email to everyone.  I have seen the gradual evolution of communication and I’ve helped establish it in my own little way.

Communicating is fantastic, I’ve learned much over many years and it’s been a constant theme that has run through my life.

And now I’ve communicated with you by telling you my little story to mark 50 years of me.

I don’t want much by way of material goods.  If you feel like you want to take me out for a coffee or have a drink with me, or if you want to send a card, stop now!  Help a charity instead, I know a good one.  Get this app Shout for Good and support Family Life.  They (that is we) are all about communicating with those that are struggling.  Every little bit helps.

Thanks for being on the journey with me and taking the time to read the 50th anniversary edition of Storer’s Paper.

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Dec 29

Retros – Dave.

David Powell

Card distributed at the Funeral

I hadn’t spoken to Dave for a little while. The last time was July 2009 when Alan called and put Dave on the line, we chatted briefly, traded a couple of insults and that was that.

Alan rang to tell me Dave had died.

I got to Tamworth for the funeral. Alan was there and met me at the airport. He was resplendent in his monkey suite. It was good to see Alan.

We were early, it wasn’t clear whether there would be 10 people or 100, but as 11.00 a.m. Rolled around the crowd started to build until we had about 150 people packing the little chapel, as we gathered in the little brick building we listened to a medley of music from some of the productions that Dave had been involved in over the years.

Dave’s immediate family sat at the front of the chapel, I’m not sure who they were, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces. Dave didn’t really talk much about them over the years.

The service started with the celebrant who made her speech from the Funeral Directors Guide on how to say shallow meaningless things. There were plenty of nods about the place as she gave us line after line of ‘comforting’ words.

Stephen Carter from the Tamworth Musical Society then led the eulogy and related to us a brief story of Dave’s life and his involvement with the society spanning many years. Steve also read a short bit from Alan. Dave had been helping Alan’s Dad out for many years, visiting him and taking him for drives.

Alan Whitham and Gregory Storer

Alan and Gregory at Dave's funeral

Then we heard from the lead performer from the TMS production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat.

He began:

I closed my eyes, drew back the curtain
To see for certain what I thought I knew
Far far away, someone was weeping
But the world was sleeping
Any dream will do

His voice was clear and resonated about the building, the piano accompanying him wonderfully well. As he started the second verse from around the chapel groups of the TMS began to support him with the harmony and the effect was simply stunning. As he sang his line they responded and for a few brief minutes we were transported into the musical.

Next we had someone from the local Diabetes Society and he told us about Dave’s involvement with them, it sounded like a significant contribution.

Finally a song from the Boy From Oz, Dave’s last production. The vocalist struggle to keep the raw emotion to one side, however despite the over whelming nature of the day he carried it through to the end and did a marvellous job. Finally breaking down after the last note.

The part missing from this was what Dave meant to us, to me. The part about him being a big poof, a tart and a slut. No mention made of his sexuality or the ‘other’ group of friends he surrounded himself with. There were a number of gay people present, just about everyone from the TMS for starters. This is my story about Dave, and perhaps under different circumstances I might have got up and said this about him.

When I first stumbled into GAG in 1996, Dave was there, RETROS. He was quiet at first, but always there, always ready to say hello and engage in a little banter. As time rolled by and we got to know each other better we started to slag off at each other, having a good time trading insults and generally being gay. Neither of us knew about each others life outside the chat room and over those first few years we discovered more and more. He was at home, downstairs, his father upstairs. He was hiding behind the computer screen. Like a naughty school boy. We formed a strong friendship and during one of our daily catch ups it came to light that he would be in Western Victoria the same weekend I would be there. Both of us seeing family. So we arranged to meet. Strangely enough I chose the initial meeting place to be the public toilets outside the local footy oval, as we both knew where that was, from there we had a coffee and breakfast at a café and started chatting. One of his brothers had a farm just out of Hamilton and he had been visiting there, driving all the way from Tamworth for a few days.

Over the years I caught up with Dave several times, a visit to Tamworth, his visits to Melbourne and he even drove up to the Gold Coast while I was holidaying there to see us.

Dave was funny. He was quick witted, a slut with his language, able to trade sexual jibes at the drop of the hat or the drop of the soap. He was always prepared to have private conversations and at times was willing to listen to my worries and give a few encouraging words. In our irregular face to face meetings Dave was always ready with a gag or a practical joke, he had a wicked smile and always a twinkle in his eye. His eyes also roamed a fair bit, because after all he was gay.

It wasn’t until his death that I realised just how much Dave had been there in my life for a good solid 10 years, we would at least say hello to each other most days.

I regret letting it slide the last few years. Life gets in the way and friendships suffer as a result.

Dave, you are such a slut.

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