Sydney Summer

For the last few days I’ve been needing an “excuse” to try out my new camera. For the first couple of days the sky has been a little grey. But even then, as the weather improved, and with good intentions, I was waylaid on another by colleagues to have a drink at a funky inner city bar. But today I was determined, and so sharing with you a couple of photographs taken at what’s probably one of the most photographed spots in the world: Bennelong Point.

A beautiful day for a walk around the harbour, and pretty happy with the new camera: Nikon AW1.


Imagine, if you would, half a dozen people aged from 25 to 70 all seated around a couple of tables at an inner-city bar in Sydney. On the tables in front of us were a couple of packs of dominoes. Without hesitation, under the influence of a couple of happy hour priced beers, the packets were opened and the dominoes were being distributed. Very suddenly, however, we all realised it was so long since any of us had played the game none of us could really remember the rules. We stumbled along as best we could and played by our own rules.

In the group of people I work most closely with, we don’t often go out for drinks after work. The “drinking culture” of the media seems to have “softened”, as people have partnered off, gained children and so on. In the midst of that change, it was really lovely to catch up with some colleagues, including some I haven’t really seen that much of lately, and to play, somewhat badly, a game of dominoes as we chatted.

James Patrick Terence O’Brien

At this stage, I don’t know for sure if I’m related to James Patrick Terence O’Brien of Lismore, NSW but his story fascinates me, nonetheless. It’s a story I discovered quite accidentally, searching for family history connections using the Trove newspaper database.

The many newspaper reports clearly indicate James had a really, really serious long-term problem with alcohol, which resulted in many convictions over many years.

Although my interest started with his convictions in Lismore, the evidence suggests he may have also spent some time in Brisbane around the mid 1920s. I think it’s worth noting the Queensland newspaper records have him listed as “Patrick James Terence O’Brien” instead of “James Patrick Terence O’Brien”. Although it’s quite possible these were two different men, the pattern of behaviour (the arrests for alcohol-related crimes, violence, and vagrancy, and the references to numerous previous convictions) as well as the age references, suggest the two men were probably one and the same. Even if they’re not related, it’s a remarkable co-incidence that two men with similar names could have lead such similar lives.

From what I can see he was probably born in the mid 1890s, though his age does go up and down a little according to the newspaper reports. According to one newspaper report, his earliest conviction for drunkeness could have been as early as 1912. It’s worth noting, however, there’s also a report in the Goulburn Herald of July 22, 1907 which mentions “James Terence O’Brien” pleading guilty to a charge of drunkeness and indecency.

The newspaper reports demonstrate many things, including the obvious inability of the justice system at the time to deal with long-term repeat offenders, to deal with alcoholism, and about how the system and newspapers report the lives of Indigenous people. Although he seems to have experienced a very sad life over many years, there are some moments of humour in the newspaper reports below, particularly when he was younger, and when he appeared in court.

The last newspaper references I can find to him were in December 1943.

Pleading guilty at Lismore Court yesterday to having on December 2 in Woodlark Street behaved in an offensive manner, James Patrick Terence O’Brien (53) was fined £2 or in default, sentenced to four days’ imprisonment with hard labour. Const. Bresnaiian stated that about 3.30 p.m. on December 2 he saw O’Brien in Woodlark Street. O’Brien was on the footpath, jostling people, waving his arms about, taking perambulators away from women, and pushing the infants away from their mothers. He cautioned him. but later received complaints from two business houses and two hotels regarding his con duct. Defendant was most offensive. Asked if he had any explanation to give, O’Brien replied that he had nothing to say. The police stated there was a long list of previous convictions.

Even if we’re not related, and these hours of research turn out to be fruitless in terms of my own genealogical research, the newspaper reports below make for fascinating reading, and I hope they’re helpful to others.

Newspaper References

On June 12, 1925, The Richmond River Express and Casino Kyogle Advertiser reported..

Gaol Appreciated.
‘That’s the style,’ said Patrick James Terrence O’Brien (27, laborer) when he was sentenced to six months imprison with hard labour by Mr H.L. Archdall in the Brisbane Police Court, after he had pleaded guilty to a charge of vagrancy. O’Brien, Sub-inspector Coman said, was stopping people in the street, asking them for money, and had been persisting in that conduct for some time. ‘When he was arrested, sevenpence, the proceeds of his ‘practice,’ was found in his possession. O’Brien, on another occasion, when given 12 hours’ imprisonment by Mr. Archdall, asked the latter to ‘make it seven days instead.’ He had this request granted, Mr. Archdall telling him not to object in the future when he received a larger sentence. Patrick James Terence is an, old offender, having 41 previous convictions to his credit.

On February 10, 1925, The Courier Mail reported..

Looking dishevelled and entirely uncared for, Patrick James Terence O’Brien, ‘a voung man of 28, appeared before Mr. J. F Berge, P.M,, in the .Police Court, charged with being an idle and disorderly person. Police evidence was given that O’Brien frequented the streets of South Brisbane, and urged passers-by for money. He had never been known to work. Defendant: That’s quite correct. I haven’t done a tap since Boxing Day, and have been drinking excessively. My head is a bit muddled. Mr. Berge: How have yon been living? – Defendant: Partly on my mates, and partly by my wits. Mr. Borge: You are sentenced to a month’s imprisonment. Defendant: My head should have cleared by then.

On December 14, 1925, The Courier reported..

James Patrick Terence O’Brien (30 labourer) was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment with hard labour by Mr W E Ferguson P M, in the Police Court on Saturday, when he pleaded guilty to having on December 9, stolen a lady’s handbag containing £45 in money, keys, a bankbook and other articles. the property of Gertrude Speedy. Detective Senior Sergeant Lipp said that the bag was stolen fiom the hallstand of the complainants George steet residential. When a complaint was made to the CI Brinch the defendant was suspected, as he had been been loitering in George street about the time of the theft. When attested he confessed to having stolen the bag but said he had given it to a woman in Albert street and had been robbed of the money. Some of the lesser articles in the bag had been found having been thrown in the street. The defendant had 37 convictions, most of them for drunkeness.

On July 16, 1926, The Courier reported..

Yesterday, in the Police Court, Patrick James Terence O’Brien trod the boards of the dock for the 71st time.
Mr. Harris: Patrick James Terence O’Brien, you are charged with having been in possession of a lady’s parasol, reasonably suspected of having been stolen or unlawfully obtained.
O’Brien (rubbing his head): I was pretty drunk, you see. That ought to be perfectly evident. I don’t know where the devil I got it. It was no use to me. I did not want a parasol. It was not raining, or anything like that.
Mr. Harris: Not guilty. I shall hear the evidence.
Constable Lauphnane (from the witness box: At 7.30 o’clock last night I was in Elizabeth-street, when I saw the defendant walking along towards Albert street. He was carrying a lady’s black parasol. This is the one (holding up a lone-handled parasol). I said to him: “Where did you get that umbrella?” He replied: “It is my little daughter Joan’s. She is at the convent.”
O’Brien (loudly): I told him a deliberate lie T was drunk. )
Contable Loughnane: He/had had a few drinks, but he was sober.
O’Brien (shouting! : Listen to that! That’s conflicting evidence. He has no common sense. He must have known I was drunk. Besides, be can’t tell the difference between a woman’s parasol and a child’s. That’s a child’s umbrella, and I know whose it is.
Mr. Harris: Do you wish to give evidence.
O’Brien- I’m not in a fit state to, but I’ll try. (Newsprint unclear). I’m no thief. (Striding to witness-box.)
Mr Harris: What is s your name?
O’Brien: Well I was christened Patrick James Terence O’Brien. I need to be sailor. My usual address is Boggo road.
Mr Harris: Tell us about last night. Do you remember?
O’Brien: I don’t remember much. As far a« I can remember, though, I was over at an hotel in Stanley-street. and a man got me pretty well tanked. T don’t know whether he won at the races or what, but I know I got drunk. The parasol is his daughter’s. I don’t know how I got hold of it, but if you’ll give me a sporting chnnce I’ll return it. I lied to the constable. I have no daughter I’m not married and never will be. I can’t look after myself yet.
Mr, Harris: Have yon anything further to sav?
O’Brien: What’s the use? I’m only making a nuisance of of myself.
Mr. Harris: I shall have to convict you of this charge. Have you any property?
O’Brien: Only what I stand up in.
Mr. Harris: Yoy are fined £1, or 24 days improsnnment.
O’Brien: Give me time to pay!
Mr Harris: No time!
O’Brien: Why not?
At this stage the unhappy ending was reached, for O’Brien was marched out of court by the orderly, who had a firm grip of the back of his coat.

On July 28, 1926, The Courier Mail reported…

Patrick James Terence O’Brien was arrested for drunkenness in Ipswich-road, Stephens, on Monday night. He was locked up in the Stephens Police Station. After a few “hours in the cell he became lively. He showed his displeasure at his surroundings by kicking a cell bucket and bashing it against the wall of the cell. “I’ll plead guilty to anything,” he said, when he appeared before Mr. W. Harris. P.M.. in the Police Court yester- day. He was fined £1, to include payment of 10/ for the damage done to the bucket, or 48 hours imprisonment. For having been drunk he was fined an additional 5 shillings or six hours imprisonment.

On August 3, 1926, The Brisbane Courier reported…

Not Proud of His Beard.
Monday morning in the Police Court is “drunks’ ” morning. During the week-end the watchhouse usually receives many in- mates who secure unasked-for lodging us a result of their Saturday-and sometimes Sunday-drinking. On Monday morning, when they are brought into the dock, the most noticeable feature of the “drunks” is that they have not been on recent friendly terms with razors. Collectively they would mean a good morning’s work for a barber. One of yesterday morning’s quota of hirsute occupants of the dock was Patrick James Terence O’Brien, who has 75 convictions, and has been a frequent occupant of a cell of late. “Do you want to go to gaol. O’Brien?” asked Mr. li, L. Archdall, C.P.M., before whom he appeared on a charge of drunkenness. “No, I want to go out and get a shave,” answered Patrick, rubbing his bristly beard. “Off’you go, then,” ordered the C.P.M., and O’Brien strode from the court still stroking his whiskers.

On April 9, 1927, The Queensland Times reported…

PLEA ‘WHAT FAILED… Patrick James Terence O’Brien, charged with being drunk and with having used obscene language, entered a plea of ‘Not Guilty” in the Police Court yesterday morning before Mr. A. P. W.. Tregear, P.M. Constable Laradine stated that he saw O’Brien at 8.15 p.m., on August 8. attempting to gain entrance to the North Australian Hotel through a door in Nicholas-street. He staggered away when he saw the con stable, and was arrested and taken to the watchhouse. Acting-Sergeant flitzglbbon gave evidence of defendant arriving at the watchhouse in a state of drunkenness, and. later, of his hav ing used obscene language while In the cells, within the hearing of people passing in the street adjoining the building. O’Brien stated that he had been a patient in the Ipswich General Hospital. and that his treatment in cluded doses of brandy every four hours. He left the institution on the afternoon of August 6. arid between 4 pm. and the time of his arrest he bad about five brandies. He was placed in a cell with another man who was very drunk. and, although he had been searched. made the man more drunk by giving him rum. which he had In a coffee bottle: It waas this man. he suggested, who had used the obscene language. For being drunk lie was fined 10/. In default 48 hours’ imprisonment. and for using obscene language he was fined £3, in default seven fays’. In reply to a warning from the Bench that if he wdre again convicted for similar offences e would be more harshly dealt with. O’Brien said. “Well. I got that for practically nothing, anyhow.”

On June 27, 1934, The Northern Star reported..

At Woodburn Police Court yesterday, before Messrs. H. L. Friddle and O. A, Schulstad, J’s.P., James Patrick O’Brien, a stranger to the town, and who was said to have 30 previous convictions, pleaded not guilty to assaulting Constable Herron, at Woodburn, last Saturday. Constable Herron said that about 6 p.m. last Saturday he saw O’Brien in the bar of a hotel. He was drunk land creating a disturbance. He Was ejected from the bar by the licensee, and on reaching the street was shouting out and waving a bottle in his hand. Constable Herron arrested O’Brien, and on conveying him to the lock-up he (O’Brien) suddenly tripped the constable when in front of the police station, at the same time saying, “You are only a mug.” O’Brien aimed several blows at the constable with his fist, and also seized two of his. fingers on the right hand and twisted them. Sergeant Druitt then arrived on the scene and assisted to lock up O’Brien.
To Sergeant Druitt: As the result of the assault, he was compelled to visit a doctor, and had to go to the Campbell Hospital, Coraki. on Sunday morning: and have his hand X-rayed, and was now off duty as the result of the injuries received in the assault. The accused was not very drunk being being arrested, but was in an aggres sive fighting mood.
Mr. Priddle (to accused) : This is not the first occasion on which you have been charged with assaulting the police. You were sentenced to a month for a similar offence in Grafton in 1930.
O’Brien, who declined to give evidence, was convicted, and findd £15 or 30 days’ hard labour.
On a charge of being drunk and disorderly, O’Brien was fined £1 or two days. On a charge of insulting ‘ words, he was fined a further £1 or two days.

On December 4, 1934, The Northern Star reported..

James Patrick O’Brien (39) pleaded guilty to drunkenness in Molesworth-street at 5 p.m. on Saturday and was fined £1, or, in default, two days’ hard labour.

On December 12, 1934, The Northern Star reported..

Two Vagrants Fined
Arrested in the company of aborigines whom he had been supplying with wine and food for three or four days, James Patrick O’Brien was convicted of vagrancy by Mr. H. Hawkins, P.M., at the Lismore Police Court, and sentenced to a month’s hard labour. O’Brien, who is 39 years of age, was arrested at North Lismore, and Constable Hunt gave evidence that during the past two months he had been arrested several times for being drunk. About three months ago O’Brien had lost his food relief ticket owing to his dissolute habits. When under the influence of liquor he had a somewhat violent nature. Sergeant Ferrier prosecuted.

On December 6, 1935, The Northern Star reported..

Three Charges
BYRON BAY, Thursday.
James Patrick Terence O’Brien was charged before Messrs. S. Austen and W. Davidson, J’s.P., in Byron Bay court with. drunkenness, indecent language and assault. He pleaded I guilty to all charges and on the first was fined 10s or in default one day’s I imprisonment; on the second £2 10s | or five days, and on the third £12 or I 24 days. Constable Long stated defendant was creating a noise in the | street and he used the indecent language and assaulted him when he was arrested.

On March 6, 1936, The Northern Star reported

Drunkenness Charge
Patrick James Terence O’Brien (46), pleaded guilty to a charge of drunken ness in the Lismore Police Court be fore Mr. E. H. Kelly, J.P., yesterday. O’Brien, who was released on bond to be of good behaviour for six months on Monday, was fined £1, or, in default, imprisonment for two days.

On April 10, 1936, The Northern Star reported..

Man Imprisoned
Released from gaol only that morning, after serving a sentence for vagrancy. Patrick James Terence O’Brien (46), got into trouble again on Wednesday night and, at Lismore Police Court yesterday, was ordered to be imprisoned in Grafton gaol for another three months, in addition to paying fines imposed on two other charges. When O’Brien appeared before Messrs. L. M. Gordon and E. H. Kelly, J’s.P., to answer .. charges of using indecent language in Molesworth-street, behaving in an offensive manner, and unlawfully assaulting Const. P. Ritchie while in the execution of his duty, it was stated by the police that at 8 p.m. on Wednesday O’Brien was at a pie cart at the intersection of Woodlark and Moles worth streets and was trying to drive two men, who were attempting to have a meal, away from the stall. The proprietor complained to Sergt. McFherson and Const. Ritchie,
When O’Brien was arrested, the police stated, he immediately became violent and had to be handcuffed. On the way to the police -station he kicked Const. Ritchie in the groin and made several attempts to kick Sergt. McPherson. He used bad language several times.
It was stated that O’Brien had a long list of previous convictions and had only been released from Grafton gaol that morning. Arriving in Lismore, he immediately made a round of the hotels and demanded liquor and money from patrons. When these were refused he became violent and threatening.
O’Brien, who was described by the police as a dangerous man, was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, with hard labour, for assaulting the police constable, and fined £2, or, in default, imprisonment for four days, on each of the other two charges.

On July 15, 1936, The Northern Star reported..

Man Again Before Court
Fined a nominal amount by Mr. H. Hawkins, P.M., on Monday, upon giving an undertakings that he had work to go to and would leave town immediately, James Patrick Terence O’Brien (46) was arrested in Molesworth-street at 9.30 the same night and had two charges preferred against him. Before the Chamber Magistrate (Mr. E. H. Kelly) at Lismore Police Court yesterday O’Brien pleaded guilty to using indecent language in the police station and was fined £5, the alternative being 10 days’ Imprisonment. Sergt. Hill, who informed the court that O’Brien had not taken advantage of the chance given him by the PM, said that he had only recently been released from Grafton gaol.
The second charge was that, being ah habitual drunkard and thrice convicted for drunkenness in the preceding 12 months, he behaved in a riotous manner in Molesworth-street. On the application of the police, a remand was granted until next Mon day, bail being fixed at £20, with a surety of a like amount.

On October 2, 1936, The Northern Star reported..

Drunkenness Charge
The novel excuse that, after being allowed several hours in which to leave Lismore, he had set out for Kyogle, where he had a job, but had taken the wrong road and had arrived at Nimbin, where there is an hotel, was advanced by James Patrick Terence O’Brien (42), when he pleaded guilty to a charge of drunkenness at Lismore Police Court yesterday. Const. Griffen, of Nimbin, said that O’Brien had been arrested at 4.30 p.m. on Thursday. He was very drunk and complaints had been re ceived concerning him. Sergt. Hill told the Chamber Magistrate (Mr. E. H. Kelly) that O’Brien was before the court on the previous day on a similar charge and had stated he had work to go; to at Kyogle. He was given until 3 p.m. to leave the town and when the case was called at that hour he was not present. The charge had, accordingly, been withdrawn. Mr. Kelly imposed a fine of 10s, the alternative being a day’s imprisonment, after O’Brien had stat ed that he had kept his word and had left Lismore immediately. He said it was his bad luck to take the wrong road to Kyogle

On April 19, 1937, The Northern Star reported..

At the Casino Police Court yesterday Patrick James Terence O’Brien (40), a stranger to the town, was fined £1 for drunkenness, £2 for offensive behaviour and £3 for using indecent language. Const. Lee said that O’Brien was on the local railway station platform and wanted to fight an official. He had been a passenger on a train, but the guard complained that he would not behave. O’Brien said that he was going to Murwillumbah to work. The police stated that he had numerous convictions elsewhere for similar offences.

On September 28, 1937, The Northern Star reported..

Resisted Arrest
James Patrick Terence O’Brien (40) was fined £1 for behaving in an offensive manner and £2 for resisting arrest when he appeared before Mr. H. Hawkins, P.M., at Lismore Police Court. Const. Askew said that O’Brien grabbed hold of a man’s coat in Keen street on Friday night and refused to release it. When arrested he resisted violently and had to be handcuffed.

On October 1, 1937, The Northern Star reported..

James Patrick Terrence O’Brien was charged at Lismore Police Court yesterday morning, before Mr. E. H. Kelly, JP., with having been found drunk in Currie-street, North Lismore, the previous night. He was remanded until 13 o’clock on his undertaking to quit the town. At that hour, O’Brien was absent and he was discharged.

On October 5, 1937, The Northern Star reported..

Vagrancy Charge
James Patrick Terence O’Brien (41), who pleaded guilty to a charge of vagrancy at Lismore Police Court yester day, was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment by Mr. H. Hawkins, P.M. Const. Love said that on Sunday morning O’Brien, who had numerous convictions, including several in the past few days, was stopping people in North Lismore and asking for money. Witness had known him for over 12 months and knew that he had per formed no work in that period.

On May 30, 1939, The Courier Mail reported

Went To Stow Away, But Stole £3 on Ship
A few hours after his release from gaol last Friday morning, Patrick James Terence O’Brien, 47, engineer, went on board the Ormiston intending to stow away, instead, he went into a cabin and stole £3, the property of Beatrice Alice Akers. Detective Sergeant J. E. Donovan made this statement in the Police Court yesterday, when O’Brien pleaded guilty to the theft and also to having been found drunk. On the first charge, Mr. P. M. Hishon, C.P.M., sentenced O’Brien to three months’ imprisonment, and on the second he was convicted and discharged.

On September 8, 1939, The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser reported..

Abos Have Party
As the result of an aboriginal ‘party’ in McKittrick Park, South Grafton, on Sunday, four colored people and two white men appeared before the P.M., at the Grafton Courthouse next morning on charges of drunkenness, says the ‘Examiner.’ . According to Sergeant L. W. Free body, of South Grafton, the ‘ party” which was mainly on methylated spirits; became so. hectic that the ‘hostess,’ Lizzie Boney, had. to be taken to the lock-up in a wheel barrow. Witness stated that Lizzie was unable to walk and methylated spirits could be smelt on her 30 yards away. Lizzie Boney, who pleaded guilty, was fined £1 or three days’ light labor. Edith Davison also faced a similar charge. Sergeant Freebody stated that, although the defendant was drunk, she was not as helpless as Lizzie Boney. Defendant, in this case, was fined 5/ or the rising of the Court. Mick Dougall and Alfred Donnelly, two colored men, who pleaded guilty to charges of drunkenness, were given the rising of the court, but their white companion, Alfred Jarrett, who appeared on the same charge, was fined &2 or. four days’ imprisonment. He stated that he very seldom got into trouble.
The Police Magistrate: It is bad enough for the aborigines to be drinking, without you being associated with them as well. The last ‘guest’ from the aboriginal party to face the Bench was James Terence O’Brien, who received four months’ imprisonment on a charge of vagrancy. Sergeant Freebody stated that the defendant was with the aborigines and under the influence of methylated spirits. He had also been, the subject of many complaints, and went round the town cadging and bluffing. He had no money and was not working any- | Previous convictions, dating as far back as 1912, were read by Sergeant I Druitt.

On March 8, 1940, The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser reported..

On the Booze. — Sergt. Taylor and his assistant ran in three intoxicated gentry on Monday — James Patrick Terence O’Brien, who had looked upon the beer when it was amber, and Herbert Hulbert and Cecil C. Smidt, who had swallowed so much metho that if anybody had struck a match near them they would have exploded. Mr. J. G. Mitchell, J.P., awarded O’Brien 5/- or the rising, and the other two £1 or two days, the extra penalty in the latter cases doubtless being due to the fact that the wanderers had collected relief and then spent the money on methylated spirits instead of on food.

On June 24, 1940, The Northern Star reported..

Celebrating Enlistment
Four men, who said they had enlisted and were celebrating, were charged in the Lismore Police Court on Saturday morning for offences against good order on Friday. Two of them were also charged with using indecent language. Harold Becker (33) pleaded guilty and was fined £1 for having been drunk and £4 for using indecent language. He was al lowed time to pay on finding security. James Patrick Terence O’Brien (45), whom the police stated was appearing for the third time that week, pleaded guilty to being drunk and’ disorderly. He was fined £2 and allowed time to pay on finding a security.

On July 6, 1940, The Northern Star reported..

Pleading not guilty to three charges in the Lismore Police Court yesterday, James Patrick Terence O’Brien (45) was remanded by Mr. E. H. Kelly, J.P., until Monday next. The charges against O’Brien alleged that on Thursday morning he resisted Constable F. Ritchie in the execution of his duty, that he was drunk in Keen-street, and that he used indecent language at the Lismore police station. Bail was fixed at £10, with a surety of £10, or two of £5 each.

On July 12, 1940, The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser reported..

James Patrick Terence O’Brien, 45, noted ‘scrap’ artist, added to his long list at Lismore, this week, when he was fined 1 pound for drunkenness, 2 pounds for assaulting a policeman (the victim
weighs 17 1/2 stone) and £2 for using vile language. O’Brien who admitted he had been through the charge room on innumerable occasions, said he had since enlisted. He should soon be able to indulge in all the ‘scrap’ he wants!

On October 7, 1942, The Northern Star reported..

At Lismore Court yesterday James Patrick Terence O’Brien (53) was charged with having, on October 5, maliciously damaged a glass door, the property of John Gordon Hicks, Civic Hotel, Lismore. Sgt. Beaton said he saw the glass panel in the saloon bar broken, and he called at another hotel and saw defendant with blood on his hand.i When spoken to, defendant said: “I made a swing at him. He was not there. The brown-out had me beaten.” O’Brien told the P.M. (Mr. A. J. Bryant) that he had not acted maliciously. He had made a swing and missed. Defendant was fined £2, with £1 for damage to the door.

On October 27, 1942, The Northern Star reported..

Two defendants well known in Lismore Court’s Monday morning line-up had another conviction added to long record sheets by Mr. A. J. Bryant, P.M.; yesterday. “We will soon have to get an other sheet for you,” said Mr. Bryant; when he convicted James Patrick Terence O’Brien, 53, labourer, and ordered a fine of 1pound or in default, imprisonment for two days, on a charge that he was drunk at the coursing ground on Saturday.

On November 5, 1942, The Northern Star reported..

It only took James Patrick Terence O’Brien two hours from the time he was released from Lismore lock-up after serving a sentence for drunkenness to be drunk again, according to evidence by Sgt. MacPherson at the Lismore Police Court “We don’t know what to do with him,” added Sgt. MacPherson. The Chamber Magistrate (Mr. H. L. Pel ham), however, had certain ideas in this direction and, in addition :to fining O’Brien £2 or, in default, imprisonment for four days, he ordered that O’Brien should enter into a recognisance inself and one surety of £20 each to be of good behaviour for 12 months. In default of the recognisance, O’Brien will serve a further term of imprisonment for 14, days. Const. Bresnahan stated O’Brien had been convicted four times in ten days.

(Note recognisance seems to mean parole)

On December 4, 1943, The Northern Star reported..

Pleading guilty at Lismore Court yesterday to having on December 2 in Woodlark Street behaved in an offensive manner, James Patrick Terence O’Brien (53) was fined £2 or in default, sentenced to four days’ imprisonment with hard labour. Const. Bresnaiian stated that about 3.30 p.m. on December 2 he saw O’Brien in Woodlark Street. O’Brien was on the footpath, jostling people, waving his arms about, taking perambulators away from women, and pushing the infants away from their mothers. He cautioned him. but later received complaints from two business houses and two hotels regarding his con duct. Defendant was most offen sive. Asked if he had any explanation to give, O’Brien replied that he had nothing to say. The police stated there was a long list of previous convictions.

On December 9, 1943, The Northern Star reported..

Drunkenness Charges
Pleading guilty to a charge of drunkenness, James Patrick Terence O’Brien (53) who had a long list of previous convictions, was fined £2 or, in default, four days’ hard labour, at Lismore
Police Court yesterday.

Spice I Am for Lunch

“This is the best Larb I’ve ever had in my life”, a colleague said straight-faced as we sat and enjoyed lunch at Spice I Am today.

It was one of the rare occasions (sadly) where we made it out of the office together for lunch, and we ended up at Spice I am because the other place we had planned to visit was actually closed. I’ve been to Spice I Am on quite a few occasions before this, and so recommended it as a “second choice” being just around the corner from where we planned.

I had a pork dish, and as you can see, another colleague had a rather delicious prawn dish. “The prawns are very fresh”, she told us.

Every other time I’ve been to Spice I Am we’ve always had to wait in a queue. But being lunchtime instead of dinner, the restaurant was reasonably empty. Popular still, but not bursting at the seams, and so we ended up with a nice table. The service was friendly, but the meals came out slightly delayed. We COULD have shared, but were more interest in having our own individual meals today. Overall, a good experience.

Concerned Citizen of Newtown

Earlier today I wrote a letter to my local member of the NSW Parliament, the Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, telling him…

Hi Alex
I just want to put on the record my concerns about the boundaries for the new seat of Newtown, which I discovered this week I’ll be voting in at the forthcoming election.

I was overseas for a number of months in 2013 during the consultation period, and so missed an opportunity to raise my concerns. Until I received the letter from the SEC I wasn’t even aware the changes had been proposed and gazetted.

The rationale for the boundaries for the new seat are confusing. I’m now part of a seat which contains suburbs I have absolutely no connection with such as Petersham and I’m now disconnected with suburbs like Moore Park, and Darlinghurst which are within walking distance, and which I think represent a more natural community of interest. Those who drew the boundaries seem to have used rather blunt tools to accommodate the need for a new seat to reflect the growing inner city population.

Anyway, it’s done, and I’m sad, because I’ll be losing you as a local member, and even though I’m sure we’ll end up with a fabulous new member (Greens, ALP likely), I suspect they’ll have a tough job trying to represent the views of quite different suburbs with few natural connections to each other.

A few hours later, I received this reply

Dear James

Alex has asked me to respond to your message about the boundary changes. Thanks for your comment about losing him as your MP – sadly there are lot of people in Alex’s network who soon won’t be his constituents.

Alex opposed the division of Surry Hills into two electorates and made submissions to the Boundaries Commission about their proposal.

Unfortunately inner city population growth continues to mean that the central city electorates will have to keep being made smaller.

We hope that there is a strong and progressive MP for the Newtown electorate after 28 March. Please make sure that your voice is heard in the process and you keep whoever it is accountable over the next four years.

Roy Bishop JP
Electorate Officer for Alex Greenwich MP

I should declare I quite like Alex. Followed on from Clover Moore. Independent. Openly gay. He sent me a hand-written Christmas card this year. Yaddah yaddah.

Irrespective of that, I’m somewhat dumbfounded I’ve ended up in this new electorate which Antony Green descibes as “very higgledy-piggledy” and which is notionally Green.


Concerned Citizen of Newtown

French Touch Crêperie

For the last couple of months, as I’ve wandered past the newly opened “French Touch Crêperie” on Crown Street, I’ve been thinking to myself “I really should pop in there any try them out”. But until today, circumstance has never allowed me to do that as I’ve ever either been going to work, or to the supermarket, or simply haven’t been hungry.

In some ways I think I’m still grieving for the loss of Wood & Stone, the terrific gourmet pizza restaurant that inhabited the space for about as long as I’ve lived in Sydney. One of my favourite things on the weekend was to go there, order a small pizza and a glass (or two) of wine, and read the newspaper. The main guy running it was such a friendly guy also, and so it was a very pleasant thing to do on the weekend. But then it closed suddenly and was replaced by “Bar Rialto” which I never really got into in the same way.

When that also closed, it seemed like the space might have remained empty for a while, until finally I saw some renovations underway a few months ago, and I had high hopes for something new. When it was revealed it was only selling crepes, I was a little disappointed to be honest. I’ve never been much of a connoisseur of the crepe.

But today, I decided I’d make amends and went there for a late breakfast. Although the crepe I chose wasn’t all that exciting to my tastes (I probably should have had sweet, rather than savoury) the range on offer was pretty impressive. I’ll definitely go back to try some others. The waiters were also very friendly, and the food arrived fast. But the coffee? OMG the coffee was EXCELLENT. Really excellent coffee.

Sydney Harbour

As we caught the ferry back from an afternoon at Manly’s 16ft Skiff Club, we headed straight to the front of the vessel. I NEVER get sick of catching the Manly Ferry, though I’d imagine if I had to do it every day, it might get tiresome.

But today there was another reason to find a spot at the front: we had an overseas visitor. Or rather, a former Sydney-sider who has been living in Ireland for about a decade. Coming back for him must seem both familiar (family and friends) and unfamiliar (so different from his day to day life in Dublin).

Many photographs were taken, but this is actually my favourite. As we made our way to the quay I looked back towards the Opera House, and all of a sudden I saw it: the perfect opportunity to snap two Sydney “icons”.