10 May 1948 - 14 September 1998

Three and a Half Years Later

Subject: Unfinished annual (2001) letter from Rob, son, and Zoë

Dear All,

I'm sitting on a grassy bank at St Ignatius College, Riverview. Son is about to bat in the Sydney Grammar School under-13Cs XI cricket team. He has a new bat -- an early birthday present -- and has high hopes. The team won their first match (a walkover) but since then have lost two matches. Let's hope this isn't three in a row.

It's 2nd March, 2002, a glorious, cloudless, warm day, the second of autumn here, and son has been in First Form (Year 7) at his new school, Sydney Grammar, for five weeks, and Zoë in Year 6 at her new school for four. Son has taken to his new school like the proverbial duck. It's a selective private ("public") school situated in old stone buildings just across Hyde Park from the CBD. Son can take a bus and then walk from the Sydney Town Hall to school in about eight minutes, across the park. Son knew two boys at the new school (it's all boys), while Zoë knew only one at her new school, which happened after I asked the school, Ascham, last year to let me know of any families with girls about to start in Year 6 (as Zoë has done). Whereas son was in Year 6 last year, and was a Prefect, and went through all the rites of passage of the graduating class, and all of his friends have begun new schools this year, Zoë left her friends in Year 6 at the old school. She's kept in touch with them while beginning to make friends at the new school ("The girls seem friendly"), helped by her singing in the choir in a performance of "The Mikado" in late May which entails weekend rehearsals as well as afternoon ones, but there's no doubt that it's tougher for her. Zoë's school is a train ride beyond son's, so they can catch the same bus to the CBD (the Queen Victoria Building), where Zoë can catch the Eastern suburbs railway, three stops to Edgecliff.

Son has been asked by Mr Reisner, his form master, to be the class attendance monitor, and by all accounts is performing his task very responsibly. He is in the choir too, as well as the cricket team. Both son and Zoë are learning the clarinet at their schools, as well as continuing with piano locally. Son decided against debating this year, given his other commitments. Zoë continues with Scouts, where she sees her friends from the old school, and Tae Kwan Do (for the present) where she received her yellow tip before Christmas.

Grammar has nine First Form classes, three of which are streamed. Son is not in the top three, but is happy enough in one of the other six. Yesterday (March 10th) at a morning tea for parents of boys in his class, I found that a boy in his class has a sister in Year 6 at Ascham. Carol (see below) and I are already planning to get together with the family. At Ascham there are four classes of 22 girls.

Zoë is beginning to reveal her high intelligence formally. At the moment, old friends of mine from Stanford days are visiting Sydney. J Q Johnson, Jennifer Freyd his wife, and their three children, Theo (15), Phillip (14), and Sasha (8). This is a problem Zoë soon solved, given her by Jennifer, who's a

Here is a later description of Carol (April 2003):
Carol was divorced 11 years ago. She has three children; the youngest, Julian, is 26. Catherine, her middle child, got married outside Melbourne last January. Danielle (her eldest) and Julian live in Sydney, with Nathan and Linda, respectively; Catherine and Paul live in Melbourne. Originally a schoolteacher, she worked for many years with AFS, the school-exchange people, raising maoney for scholarships. We met two years ago when she joined the AGSM as its director of corporate relations, a position she has recently left, with the turmoil and financial trough that accompanied the forced departure of our spendthrift dean. She is a singer (we both sang in a concert of the Brahms Requiem that the choir master at son's school organised last September in the Sydney Town Hall). She has exquisite taste. She is a gardener; she is a renovator; she enjoys cooking (and I enjoy eating); she likes the bush and plays tennis. Son gets on well with her. Zoë is very pleased to have Carol, a strong woman, around. As am I.

Please feel free to email me, Robert.

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Last Updated 2 April 2003