"You haven't lived with them"

Friday 28 November 2014

I was in medical practice as a diagnostic radiologist in Wollongong, NSW for many years, from 1957 to 1972 as one of the early partners in what became a large practice and from 1972 to 1992 as a retired partner one or two days a week.

I was a member of the Wollongong Club as were a large number of my medical collegues and I would often go to the club after work to socialise and to discuss the diagnostic outcomes on patients of referring doctors. One of these, with whom I was very friendly, was originally a medical graduate form Ulster.

We were in the club one night in the 1960's and the conversation turned to increasing inter-ethnic violence in Northern Ireland. My friend voiced extreme anti-Catholic sentiments. I was incredulous and voiced my incredulity. An argument developed. Finally he turned away with "you don't understand. You don't know them like I do. You haven't lived with them."


Valmae and I lived in an apartment in Potts Point, Sydney for many years form 1968 to 1983. We became very friendly with other couples in the building, one of whom were retired publicans. They were originally from a township in the far west of New South Wales but had managed hotels in Sydney for many years and were retired when we knew them. They were a decent open couple; among other things we shared a fondness for wine. When they retired from their hotel they took with them I dont know how many cases of Grange Hermitage. This was in the early 1970's when Grange Hermitage was for drinking, not collecting, and we had many a bottle over the years at many a barbeque. We agreed on many things despite our religious backgrounds. We were Jewish they were Catholic.

We did not agree on pur attituted to Aborigines. they were contemptuous of Aborigines and expressed open antipathy. if we tried to remonstrate the reply was "you dont understand. You dont know them like we do. You havent lived with them."


I doubt that in either of the above cases they "knew them" in any sense of mutual understanding or acceptance. They existed in proximity in a manner guaranteed to bring out hte worst on both sides. they kept their distance: with the stronger community making sure that the weaker knew its place.

Until an explosion occurs.

Updated:  16 April 2018/Responsible Officer:  Freilich Project/Page Contact:  Herbert & Valmae Freilich Project