SEK Hulme interview 17 November 2006
You went initially to schools in Prahran and East Malvern, and this was during the war, but after that you attended Wesley College.
No, thatís not quite right. I went to school initially in East Malvern. Lloyd Street Central School it used to be called. I started there when I was five years old in 1934 and I was there until I went to Wesley in 1941. Itís a pity that Whoís Who, for instance, doesnít put early state schools in their things about people. It was a magnificent state school, Lloyd Street, and I am to this day grateful for the instruction I got in the English language and in grammar and things of that sort, which was the glory of the state schools in those days. In 1941, I went to Wesley. Wesley is in Prahran - thatís where the Prahran comes from - and we were in Prahran for - I went there in 1941, 1941 and a bit of 1942 and then, as a result of Pearl Harbour, the army took Wesley and my prep school career continued still at Wesley, but Wesley Prep was now in Mayfield Avenue, Malvern in what had been a girlsí school called St Margaretís, which had shifted out to Berwick. Then (in) 1943, I was at the Naval College and then in 1944 back at Wesley, which at that time had just gone back to Prahran.
You were later to co-author a book on Wesley College?
With Geoffrey Blainey, the historian, and James Morrissey. What were your fondest recollections of your time at Wesley College?
Fondest? Look, it sounds trite, but I mean I was very, very happy at school, so I have a lot of fond memories, fond memories of some of the extremely good teaching we got, of the friends. It included Geoffrey Blainey and Jim Morrissey. Jim was later, of course, the Senior Crown Prosecutor here. We were brought into (writing) the book because Geoffrey was asked to do it and he said he didnít have time to do it on his own. He wasnít charging them anything and he was making his living from writing, but he would do it if Jim and I would take on a third of it each, things weíd spoken about over the years. So the three of us took a third of the book each and wrote that. I really have no unhappy memories in relation to school. It was a good school and a couple of remarkably good teachers, who we still remember and talk about.
In what way were they remarkable?
The history master, who was a fat little Welshman called Gwillim. Arthur Eric Gwillim had the most remarkable memory and a most remarkable range of interests. If he wanted to recite Ginger Mick or something like that, he didnít care whether he was teaching history or teaching Latin or anything else, he was reciting out of Ginger Mick. He taught us to be interested in almost everything. He loved his subjects and made us interested in them. The other memorable one was a man who was well known outside as a literary critic, A. A. Phillips. He had a very healthy knack of cutting us down to size. Phillips had a remarkable, clear, logical mind and the exposure to him stopped one talking a good deal of nonsense that one might otherwise have spoken. The headmaster taught us Latin. There were only five of us doing Latin in matric. He died half way through the year. That was Neil McNeil, again so much the master of what he was teaching and so interested. He always gave us credit for not having made silly mistakes. I hadnít done some Intermediate Latin and thatís where you learn the grammar and I often used to get the grammar wrong and it never dawned on him that it was just sheer ignorance. He was saying, ďLook, boy, try and avoid that Silver Age construction.Ē I didnít know what the Silver Age was, let alone that it was different from the classical Golden Age of Roman literature, but I made it my business to find out. He had less effect on us, I suppose, because we only had him for six months. Gwillim taught us each year for four years. Phillips I had for four years. I look back on my general schooling with great gratitude. I think I was very lucky in all the school(s).
Conducted for the Bar Oral History project by Juliette Brodsky in Owen Dixon Chambers West and filmed by Rocco Fasano