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Interview


a stupid question, Jesus! Oh, I love that when people ask the stupid bloody question. I was in the air force for nearly six years and nearly every day you think you’re going to be killed.


Really? Yes, of course, Christ. You’ve got an enemy out there with bloody great guns trying to shoot you down and when we went from Australia over to Canada to complete our wings training we had a Pacific Ocean full of bloody Japanese sub- marines waiting to shoot you down.


The closest our generation gets to war is going out and doing paint ball. Oh shit, I wouldn’t be doing that. God. I did what was called a tour of ops in 1944 and during that period I did 75 flights over enemy territory and I got shot at every trip and you think “How the hell did they miss me?” And I was bloody lucky they did miss me. Not long ago I said that at a talk I had to give and after the talk a big German migrant bloke came up to me and he said “I


would just like to say, I’m one of the people who missed you”.


Now mate, we hear you’re the patron of the Coogee Arts Festival... Yes, I think it’s a great idea.


How did you and Barry Watterson (festival director) meet and how did you become the patron? He rang me and asked me.


Was it that simple? Yeah, I’m patriot of the Royal Flying Doctors Service. They said, “How did you get that?” I say, “They rang me and asked me”. That’s how it all happens. “How did you get to Hollywood?” “They rang me and asked me”.


What’s your involvement going to be in the festival? Are you going to come up to Coogee? I have no bloody idea because I’ll have been just out of hospital after heart sur- gery so as long as they can prop me up and I don’t fall over I’ll be very pleased. They can probably stick me in a wheelchair or something.


Are you going to come up though if you’re ok? Oh, yeah, well I’ve got to see the heart surgeon tomorrow and he’ll tell me when my surgery is. It’s a replacement of the aortic valve and they tell me that it’s a bit like going to the dentist these days - it’s easy. But I’ll be bloody glad if I wake up after the surgery, I’ll believe anything.


The Arts Festival starts right at the end of January... Right, well I might miss it because if the bloody heart surgery goes wrong I’ll be dead.


Surely you’ll be ok... won’t you? Yeah, well, I don’t know. I mean I’m pretty sure it will be alright because a lot of people have had it including the Prime Minister, young Kevin Rudd, he’s had it. And Arnold Schwarzenegger’s got two heart valves replaced.


And what are your plans for the future Bud? Stay alive. I’m bloody 84. No, I’m 85. Christ, I turned 85 last week!


56 • the Beast


www.thebeast.com.au


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