Our thanks to Andrew Ferguson for his 2014 piece recounting the story of Edward Larkin, who among ot...
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"...sometimes the magic works... sometimes, it doesn't."
It was a red tricycle.
Not sure where... some department store in Sydney. My parents were trying to ask me if I wanted it for Christmas. There was a blue tricycle next to it, my older brother had already laid claimed to that. I got the red one. I didn't care that I has no choice, there was something magical about the red tricycle.
That was my earliest memory. I was three-years-old.
I was told the red tricycle came from Santa Claus, despite picking it out myself. Not once did I question my parents on this apparent contradiction. Nevertheless, this was a huge moment in my life - probably wiping away all the bad memories of being tortured by doctors, needles, falling over, food experimentation... and of course the trauma of the actual birth itself.
Some people claim to remember their own birth. Being extracted from the warmth of their mother's womb, held upside-down in a cold and unforgiving environment, sometimes whacked, probed, and then the horror of being cut at the umbilical cord - for many this extended to at least one other appendage.
People remember that? They can keep it. I prefer the red tricycle.
Subsequent memories included a ridiculously long drive in a Ford Zepher that broke down on numerous occasions. I understand now that it was called an Easter holiday. I also vaguely recall embarrassing myself in public, tormented by the usual toddler ailments and generally keeping my hard-working parents on their toes.
But this apparent year of tedium was saved in the winter of 1963 when my father took me to watch the football.
"Nothing in this world is more surprising than the attack without mercy!"
Coming from a family of keen Newtown supporters, my dad decided to take his two oldest sons to Henson Park to see the Bluebags take on St George. It was supposed to be an initiation of sorts. The menfolk and sons ensuring the Newtown dynasty would continue. I recall a big crowd and really tall people. But the records show there were less than 4,000 short people in attendance.
The crowning moment came when my father placed me on his shoulders. In that instant I saw a Red V flash down the sideline and score in the corner. St George winger Johnny King was faster than me, even on my tricycle. I remember it like it was yesterday... well at least I think I do.
The team wearing red-and-white were ruthless that day, scoring lots of tries while the players wearing blue simply looked miserable. It was like a primal bloodlust had been unearthed in me, and I liked it.
I became a St George supporter. My older brother with the blue trike became a Newtown supporter.
That was the end of my red tricycle stage.
"He is little in body, but his heart is big. His name shall be "Little Big Man.""
I don't know what happened to the red tricycle. No doubt long since rusted away in the belly of a garbage tip. No, I didn't call it 'rosebud'. I have only just now dubbed it 'Little Big Trike' for you, the reader; and out of some sort of twisted sense of respect for my first big toy.
Truth be known, I had all but forgotten about it. Outside forces and enforced maturity may invade the mind and pervade the cerebral landscape - perhaps the final solution is to kill off the grass roots of innocence. Nevertheless, memories recently came flooding back and I found myself joining the dots.
There have been studies about this sort of stuff. The influence of early experiences, no matter how insignificant or accurate, can have a profound effect as we grow. These memories help us make decisions and determine subsequent actions.
Is the team we support governed these apparent series of coincidences? Perhaps the three P's are at play: of Parochialism, Parents and Peer Group Pressure.
I only know that there was an almost seamless transition between my red tricycle stage, and the more enduring St George state of mind.
So perhaps, subconsciously, I put it to the test. There must have been a reason why I bought my infant son a red play pen in 1993. Perhaps I overdid it with the red-and-white fluffy toys.
Earlier this year, my now teenage son went to the football with me, wearing a Gold Coast Titans cap.
Perhaps he has the other 'P' - Personal Choice.
Ref: Quotes from 'Little Big Man' starring Dustin Hoffman (1970) Pic from Sydney Theatre Company, Shinichi