September 2016

There’s a funny thing about travelling in one’s own country — one tends to think that there is less to write about than when travelling overseas, but perhaps the opposite is true. Ruminating philosophically, perhaps after a glass of the Swan Valley’s finest, perhaps one can speculate that journeying amongst strangers is extroversion, and journeying among one’s countrymen/women is introversion. What utter bullshit … what am I drinking?

The fact is that Western Australia should be another country. The French should have taken it while they had the chance. At least one would have had a level of consistency in the Westralian character. The French would have linked the love of wine and fine food with a Gallic approach to mineral exploitation. We would seen Perth renamed Nouveau Bordeaux and garlanded with nuclear reactors. Kerry Stokes would speak bogan Francais rather than that peculiar rasping noise redolent of a chainsaw under pressure. Alan Bond would not have been allowed to migrate. The America’s Cup would have been won by a yacht designed by a government department with sails developed under contract by a fashion house. The indigenous peoples would have been oppressed by native protectors in kepis. And so on.

But I digress. No, really.

This is just a great place. Yes, tourists always see the face the locals want you to see, but we could easily say we could live here, and that is before we got into the Tim Winton thing (we got off the plane and started to notice that literary credibility in the West seems to focus on TIm – no one remembers Randolph Stow and the older generation). Everyone has got over trying to leave Australia in 1933 and decided that they should be nice to us. We haven’t been asked for a GST refund at any stage and, unlike that other lost state of Australia — New Zealand — they don’t know they play Rugby and don’t boast about making passion pop (Marlborough Sav Blanc). 

Note to New Zealand: bring back Richie and all will be forgiven if you reduce the price of Otago pinot and export Speights in casks.

So, to return to my theme: love Freo, walked all over it.

Rottnest Island — aka Rotto — pretty amazing, sore bums from riding bikes designed for teenagers, strange quokkas that I’m convinced smoke weed —when not confusing Chinese tourists.

Swan River wineries – closest region to a major capital city, apparently; in the capital city most isolated in the world… that could cause a huge issue with drinking alone. Still, you could do worse than a case or two at Olive Grove wines. As for the micro-breweries, far too many and far too good. Well, with a history of conservative governments that seem to operate like a branch office of BHP-Billiton, there should be something to cheer one up.

Just love it, and so different from preconceptions – a bit like the weather, which has been confuddling the Bureau of Meteorology and the locals. It should be in the high twenties and it’s nowhere near. Rain, storms,wind and 15º. Wednesday in Margaret River – another nod to Tim. Still… “the river, the river”.

I would like to take a few minutes, before we share in this Eucharistic celebration of John͛s life, to share some memories with you, more than the more public achievements listed in the booklet. You will all have recollections of John, as colleague, doctor, friend of many years, recent acquaintance. We hope these few words will deepen those memories and call to mind his wit, his wisdom, his laughter, his compassion and his commitment to a better world.  

I have photos of young John Bounds in his school uniform in England’s west,  many of them featuring rugby and athletics gear. Mum met this young scholar and sporting star in their senior years at adjoining grammar schools, but there was more to him than football boots and the scholarship to study medicine in London. Deeply rooted in his family and his countyr’s history, Dad would recall incidents from the war – the sound of Spitfires and Hurricanes and their Merlin engines would instantly take him back to those difficult days; he was an Air Training Cadet, flying as a passenger in Lancasters and Ansons and gaining a gliding license. He dabbled in many past-times and I found out recently that he was even a train-spotter on that most English of lines, the Great Western. He bicycled to the sea, to meet Mum in Budleigh Salterton, exploring the country that we came to associate with Ronnie Delderfield’s Valley in A Horseman Riding By, a family favourite for that reason.

Growing up, we discovered his medical school notebooks, meticulously annotated and illustrated, his microscope and stained slides. I’ve always been in awe of the drive and intelligence that took him far from Exeter, to London and King’s College Hospital. Leonard and Alice Bounds – his parents – were by no means well-off, so Dad had just his small scholarship and a vision of a professional future, not even enough for textbooks. Medicine meant long nights in the Library and extra hours of study. Those of you from the Brighton will have known him as a still-competent card player, despite his failing health, and he was very good at whist and bridge, but the family legend is that Dad used his small change to play poker so, if the cards fell kindly, he could afford the odd pint and a date with Mum.

John and Jenny make a very handsome couple in pictures from a Coronation Ball in 1952, and in their wedding photos they are the promising professional couple. They still looked wonderful even at their Sixtieth Wedding Anniversary only a few months ago. John and Jenny’s partnership in life has been enduring, but I think it needed all their love and strength to leave their families in a still-grey England and emigrate to Australia in 1963 with two tiny children. Apparently we are here today because New Zealand House and South Africa House were closed on the day Dad went up to London from Wales to enquire. Some functionary at a fortunately-open Australia House saw a chance to recruit a doctor to address the country’s medical short-comings; and with a twinkle in his eye sent us from Bargoed, South Wales, to Moree, New South Wales. It seems now like crazy adventure few would attempt today.

Beneficiaries themselves of excellent educations, Mum and Dad invested everything in their children; but I have no idea how Dad did this while starting from almost nothing, to build a practice, a home and two-hectare garden, a life in Penrith that saw deep involvement in building community and cultural institutions, and still living a full and rich life. And yet he was a wonderful father to all of us. He encouraged us with steadfast patience. He constantly opened doors to me in talking about history and literature; for each of his children, the expression of an interest in an activity would see him encourage us and find opportunities to participate. We were taken to opera, ballet – Carolyn and I got to see Nureyev and Fontaine and were probably the youngest in the audience – Shakespeare, cinemas (well, mostly Penrith drive-in, but always something worth seeing). We grew up in a house full of books.

Growing up, I thought that Dad could do anything. As a doctor, he seemed to be the wisest and most respected man in town, although he famously misdiagnosed my appendicitis, something I don’t think Graham Dinning let him forget! He replaced all the fences using a hand post-hole digger. He made his own concrete blocks to build a windbreak for the rosebeds. He had a go at making his own wine, although perhaps we should pass over that attempt. He could sing, he seemed to know all about opera and drama; he was an amateur photographer; every now and then he would sit at the piano and play Fur Elise. Mum would start community organisations and Dad would be the treasurer that made them financially viable. He was a skilled and admired member of his profession. He held to a generous, intelligent Christianity and would always add the phrase, ‘ever mindful of the needs of others”, at Grace. He loved company, and good food, music, wine, scotch, golf, his children, grandchildren and mum.

Mum is the great poetry lover in our family, but Dad’s Oxford Book of English Verse (the ‘Q’ edition, of course, as Rumpole would say) was bookmarked at Keats’ ‘The Devon Maid’, perhaps celebrating his association with the Westcountry and his own Devon maid. He had two great literary loves, however: Shakespeare and Marvell. Perhaps to complete the legend of his life, his response to a nurse’s request to write something on his last Wednesday was “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”! I told him something more poetic might have been appropriate and, sick as he was, he immediately quoted the opening of Marvel’s ‘Coy Mistress’. For a life so rich and so full, lived which such generosity and compassion, it is hard that time must now pass him by; but Marvell’s words challenge us to use every day as well as John Bounds used his. 

Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.