One of many: The house where I lived with father in Gwalia (a living ghost-town) has been given historical protection, and is open to the public. Photo: SUPPLIED

From the desk of Roland Rocchiccioli – 19 January

January 19, 2020 BY

I have, after years of moving from one house to another, done the big shift for the last time. From here I shall go directly to the crematorium.

 

I COME from a long line of gypsies. My late mother, Beria, said, “I’d like a quid for every time I’ve packed the house and moved-on.” She and her first husband (there were three) once lived in a tent for about six months while they were building a house in Wiluna, Western Australia. The tent was big enough for a double bed and some furniture. She loved it! Over the years, moving between the various towns on the goldfields of Western Australia, Beria lived in about twenty different houses in ten different locations. From the time I was born until I left school at the age of 18, I lived in 24 different houses; sometime with people whom I hardly knew. I lived with my mother – on-and-off – up until about the age of nine, when the tension between me and her third husband, Steve, (an appalling Jugoslav who died in the Claremont Mental Hospital), became such that it was deemed safer for me if I lived with my father. My brother’s wife said, “You can see the hate in Steve’s eyes when he looks at Ronnie. Given the chance, I reckon he’d do him a mischief.” After my sister married I lived with her for the final year of primary school. The five years of boarding school were the most stable period in my teenage life.

The theatre is a nomadic career path, and I’m from that generation when touring was an accepted part of the job. They paid you $40 a week living-away-from home allowance, and away you went to play in all the capital cities. Consequently, I have moved constantly, sometimes without a permanent base. At the time it seemed perfectly normal. When the show ended one went back to Sydney or Melbourne and found a flat. Often times, I stayed with the late actor Peter Collingwood and his wife, Marjorie, in East Balmain, in a harbour-side house with the most spectacular view of the bridge. You could almost reach-out and touch it.

My move to Ballarat was simple. A posse of men descended on the house and packed and unpacked everything. This time it was a different kettle of fish. I had to do it myself, and my God, what a Herculean task. As it happens, I moved across the road but the distance didn’t make the chore any easier. Hare Removals carted the big stuff. Without Phillip and Leigh Taylor, Wayne, and my next-door neighbour, SES employee, Brad Jew (whom I’ve dubbed Captain Marvel), I never would’ve survived the experience. I moved on the 24 December and spent Christmas Day unpacking and wheeling barrow loads of possessions across the road. It has gone on for days!

I have sent four skip loads to the tip. I had accumulated 16 frying pans of various shapes and sizes; 20 doona covers; 40 top and bottom sheets; three electric fry pans – I don’t use any of them; enough crockery for a state banquet; two juice extractors; several dozen glasses, including beer glasses. I don’t even drink beer, and besides, who use glasses to drink beer? The list goes on: I had about 20 winter coats, 12 pairs of sheet size bath towels, and 20 smaller towels and bath mats; about 30 tea towels; and the piece de résistance: three traditional Breton fisherman’s shirts (white with a navy blue, a green, or burgundy stripe), and which I struggled to throw-out. I argued with myself, spiritedly. I heard myself saying to myself, “For God’s sake, Roland, they don’t even fit you. You bought them in London in 1990. It’s time!”

I’ve lived all over the world, but I am never moving again, ever. I wouldn’t survive it! I have become a minimalist.

Roland can be heard Monday morning – 10.30 – on radio 3BA and contacted via [email protected].