Nick Cameron (CO59) ’50 Years in Australia’

The two tangible things that I remember and I gained from Truro School were firstly drama, and winning the senior acting prize two years in a row was probably the highlight. The acting standard was very high and good enough for me to get a few professional gigs in TV many years later. Secondly was literature and in particular C.F (Freddy) Wilkes who opened my eyes to writing fiction. He said to me one day in the second form after reading a boring but factual essay of mine.

“Use your imagination boy” 

“What, like make it up sir” I replied”

“Yes close your eyes and conjure up images from within” he said.

Well this to a schoolboy was akin to a licence to tell lies and get rewarded for it!

So more than sixty years later in retirement I am writing a novel based on the 1956 Hungarian uprising, a mixture of fact and fiction. So I did get some benefit from Truro School.

It’s funny thinking back to those days; in many ways we had great restrictions on our behaviour, on how we dressed and presented ourselves, and what it was appropriate to say. Conformity was the order of the day. Esse Quam Videri seems now to have been a bit of a joke and yet in other ways we had much greater freedoms. For example in 1954 Gerald Sturtridge (CO59) and I, both aged 13, cycled right around England by ourselves averaging around 100 miles a day without giving it a thought, just told our parents we were going! It’s a bit hard to get away with that today.

After failing my “A” levels mainly due to too many extra-curricular activities, l left Truro School in 1959 and completed a student apprenticeship with Hawker Siddeley Engineering ending up with a Dip Tech in mechanical engineering and subsequently joining its Australian organisation in 1966 as a Product Manager responsible for the sale of locomotives and passenger trains in Australia.

In the seventies in a quest for a career change I completed a BA majoring in political science and journalism and then an MSc with a thesis on photovoltaic energy (a bit ahead of the game I fear!)

This opened up a career in the consulting business and I spent time with a number of companies including Coopers and Lybrand (now PWC), Westinghouse, Marketshare and AC Nielsen.

In the nineties rail transport suddenly became part of the political agenda and anyone with experience in the rail business was suddenly in demand, and fed up with the billable hours syndrome, I joined Bombardier Transportation Australia as Marketing Director.

When London Underground went through a PPP process in 2000 I spent some time back in the UK helping the company over there win the contracts for new underground rolling stock and subsequently working on several similar projects in South America.

I left Bombardier Australia in 2004 and then went out on my own as a marketing consultant mainly in the rail business. Over the next 12 years I completed a variety of tasks all over the place. It was probably the most interesting time of my life, just taking on projects that appealed to me. If it wasn’t going to be challenging, socially progressive and fun then forget it.

My interest in things nautical started in a ten foot dingy with a 1.5 horsepower Seagull outboard motor pottering around creeks in the River Fal estuary in the early 50s. These were free and easy days, parents didn’t worry what you were up to or where you were and nobody had heard of lifejackets.

I particularly remember one day out nosing around on the water being told to clear off when they were filming Treasure Island in the creek near Tolvern. We were going to land on the beach and try to get parts as extras. A bloke with a megaphone shouted out “bugger off, this is supposed to be 1500, not bloody Tom Brown’s Schooldays” Tony Bosanko (CO59) actually managed to talk himself into a part, but he had a cleverer strategy than us; his grandmother ran the tea house on the Truro side of King Harry ferry and regularly fed and watered the film crew!

My first sailing experience was with Feock neighbour Tan Lumby (CO59) who was amazingly building a Firefly sailing dingy under his house! He had joined the recently formed Restronguet Sailing Club and invited me to crew with him. Nearly sixty years later I was able to return the favour and he and wife Margie came sailing with Lorraine and I in Queensland last year.

Ever reluctant to use the “retired” word (it almost seems to indicate giving up!) it came out accidentally when I got stopped in the street in Brisbane by a journalist from The Courier Mail doing a vox pop on gay marriage. I’d just finished an exciting job in Botswana and the topic caught me by surprise.

She said “That was an interesting comment, I’ll use that” so I had my photo taken and the next question was ” What  do you do for a living?” and as often I’ve found it difficult to explain in a couple of words what I actually do, so out popped “I’m retired”

The next day a couple of friends rang and said they’d seen the piece in the paper and that they didn’t know I’d retired. They didn’t care about my views on gay marriage! So I guess I’m retired.

Now I’m living with partner Lorraine on a few acres of land 17km out of Brisbane, I cycle three times a week with the Brisbane South Bank Bunch and race the boat on Wednesdays (For the tech minded its Dufour 455 GL), I have a daughter Fiona, son Duncan and stepdaughter Larissa, plus three grandkids and another due in six weeks!

Fiona is the COO of Screen Australia, Duncan is a lawyer running a mediation service in Sydney and Larissa is a Greens Party Senator in Canberra.

I just noticed that according to my GPS I am exactly 16,862 km from Truro School and the temperature outside is 37 degrees C at 4pm on Friday; which is a bit too hot even for us out here!