Who is on your GF list?

Miss Harris welcomed me into the class and told me to take the only vacant seat, next to a girl.
Miss Harris welcomed me into the class and told me to take the only vacant seat, next to a girl.

WHO’S on your GF list?

Don’t play coy, we all have one.

Even those who don’t know what it is have one, they just call it something else. If you still don’t know what it is, we’ll have to let you work it out for yourself.

My list began even before I knew such a thing existed.

I wouldn’t have known what it meant anyway.

I was reminded of it at the 150th anniversary of the Goondiwindi Primary School last year.

My first day there, beginning of second term, 1969. Miss Harris welcomed me into the class and told me to take the only vacant seat, next to a girl – God why a girl – with short blond hair.

She was one of the first people I told when my father died 10 years later as she sat with others in our “United Senior Front” at the Goondiwindi High School. She was no longer on the GF list and had been removed many years before.

That morning, as she did every morning, Miss Harris conducted a spelling test.

Test completed I did as we had done in my Inglewood classroom. We pulled out our brown-paper wrapped book which had our list glued to the back and began to correct my efforts. We must have been a trust-worthy bunch in Inglewood.

Well, like a young Nazi blue-blood her arm shot up, a doodlebug zeroing in on the heart of Big Ben and my tender, brittle oh so easily hurt young ego.

“Miss, Miss, he’s…CHEATING.”

“Cheating” was almost a breathless whisper followed by a deathly silence and the turning of 25 or so heads.

If I’d read it I would have thought Goondiwindi was the Village of the Damned.

Mortified. It doesn’t really cover it. I still break out in a cold shiver even thinking about it.

I turned and looked at her and thought, nothing. My mind was numb. Today, I know that is brain code, for add her to the GF list.

 Told her that story at the anniversary.

“God you hold a grudge,” she said.

Well that’s what GF lists are for.

My mother was on it.

For her habit of getting out the mower at 10 o’clock on a Sunday morning to mow the lawn.

Not quite true. Her intent was not to mow the lawn, but to get me out of bed. It took a while.

I lay in that warm bed condemning her to an eternity of damnation, trying to ignore that voice which said, “Get up you lazy bastard and mow the lawn. You know she’s been asking for three weeks.”

So up I would eventually get. She was still on the GF list though.

My father was on the list.

He once kicked my 10 year-old butt as I walked out of the front gate at the Goondiwindi Tennis Association courts.

I played tennis with an old mate from Inglewood, David Parr.

We had run away as six year-olds to the river after we’d broken a limb off a neighbour’s tree.

We had intended to head to the hills, but the river was closer. Of course neither of us could swim a stroke.

We were found at the Ross brothers after, we ventured out. I guess we were bored and hungry. I was there the day, as we played backyard cricket, he stood on a empty can of kippers in tomato sauce. You remember those cans with a key which you twisted off the top leaving an edge sharper than a razor?

Parry stood on it, yelled like a Banshee, and me, being the good mate I was, I ran. I think blood was spurting. I didn’t stay to look. Maybe it was leftover tomato sauce, but I was pretty sure it was blood

I returned, quite bravely I thought, later that day to his grandma’s place, Mrs Kelly. 

His foot was bandaged in white, a giant moonboot of a thing in which I imagined black stitches and bright-red blood dripped.

I wondered how long before it showed?

He was in bed being fed biscuits and lemonade.

I was, fleetingly, jealous. Until ‘Kelly’ offered me biscuits and lemonade and I decided I really had come out with the better deal.

Which all makes my actions on a sunny but windy August day on a Goondiwindi tennis court all the more unforgivable.

To this day I hate disloyalty. And friends and family above all deserve that from all of us. Don’t they?

Parry got none of that this day.

I was a child, in tennis terms, of the early 70s. My all-time hero is, somewhat ironically, Ken Rosewall, a champion on and off the court. A gentleman. I was anything but.

Champions on and off the court, Lew Hoad (left) and  Ken Rosewall.

Champions on and off the court, Lew Hoad (left) and Ken Rosewall.

I am sure someone is going to go, “Aha, McEnroe”.

While I admit I was a McEnroe fan it was Jimmy Connors, the enfant terrible prior to McEnroe who “inspired” me to be an “ar…..”.

I knew I was doing the wrong thing. It didn’t stop me.

I groaned. I rolled my eyes. I sighed with exasperation every time Parry missed a shot. Admittedly the memory has dimmed over the years. 

We lost – It was a lesson in working as a “team”.

I felt like shite – a lesson in humility and the right and wrong way to treat people.

And my bum hurt for a week.

I had just made the gate out of the Goondiwindi Tennis Association Courts.

Now dad was one of those blokes who wished he’d played cricket for Australia, beaten Lew Hoad, passed a footy to Johnny Raper, and won the buckjumping at the Boggabilla Rodeo.

We’d kicked a footy in the backyard and he passed on his ability to me.

We were useless.

But on that sunny windy day in Goondiwindi he produced a kick to my clacker any football immortal would be proud of.

Now that is a lesson that has stayed with me.

Dad didn’t say much.

But he had his way of showing embarrassment and disappointment.

I deserved it.

Lesson learnt.

He was still on the GF list, if just for a moment.

Some of my best friends have made it. My kids and my wife have most certainly made it.

And I am sure I have made theirs.

GRR Martin and the Game of Thrones’ writers made it when they killed off Jon “You know nothing” Snow.

But George was already there after killing Ned Stark in his first book. 

I am still waiting for him to return which has me worried Jon won’t roll back the rock from the cave to be resurrected next season.

The makers of The Block, The Bachelor, the Biggest Loser, and anyone who makes excuses for Justin Bieber, Kanye West, or the Kardashians, are on the list.

George Clooney is on the list.

And Brad Pitt. 

I am not saying the GF list is fair and that jealousy doesn’t play a part.

Sean Connery should be on the list but I have a man-crush.

Sean Connery

Sean Connery

Journalist and feminist, Clementine Ford is on it because she makes me feel like a misogynist pig everytime I read her column. There is also that small matter: She makes me think. Love Sean, have trouble with Clementine? 

I am sure Freud or amateur psychologists everywhere (Anyone on Facebook) would find something in that.

What all that has made me realise is that the GF list, is on the whole, is a changing thing.

Which gives me hope that we’re all not really as bad as we sometimes think.

I’ve also realised it’s ok to have a GF list, as long as we realise, we don’t always get it right.

I’ve also realised it’s ok to have a GF list, as long as we realise, we don’t always get it right.

So to those who have placed me in their own list, all I can say, is, give me a second chance. 

None of us are perfect and we make mistakes. In turn I promise to review my own list That said, there are those who I doubt I will ever remove. I’ve tried..

I imagined myself, as Scout who was told by her father Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird to imagine yourself in their shoes. I have tried, and they were still found wanting. They are on there, in bold type over which is stamped “Never to be removed”.

Facebook trolls make it.

Self-riotous know-it-all prats make it.

Any American who supports the gun lobby, and tells us the mass shooting of students and children is the reason why there should be more guns on their streets and playgrounds, not less.

Men who believe it is ok to hit their girlfriends, wives, sons and daughters make it.

Drug-dealers make it.

Blokes who king-hit other blokes at the pub make it

And that bloke who cut me off at the roundabout this morning, he definitely makes it.