Greg Quinn: Time to Me or ‘He’ Is Calling You But You’re Probably Not Listening

Ainslea's Secret found in Beyond Q bookstore, 2011
Ainslea’s Secret found in Beyond Q bookstore, 2011

Time to Me by Greg Quinn

He* is calling you, but you’re probably not listening…

* Yes, that’s a reference to the Christian version of a deity – one of countless tens of thousands, but this is not a story about religion per se. Promise.

A colleague and I were mucking around and bantering on Facebook today, and the subject of our old alma mater came up. We share a similar sense of humour, and the mention of ‘bona fides’ led to ‘Fortes in Fide’ (from our old school motto: Strong in Faith).

In the course of our online conversation, my colleague mentioned the school anthem, which I confused with the popular hit of a hymn, ‘Eagle’s Wings’.

And it prompted a bitter-sweet memory.

I spent the first 18+ years of my life in the Canberra suburb of Downer. My mum referred to where we lived as ‘Upper Downer’, which was beautifully ironic, as I’m fairly sure that our property was at the exact lowest point in the rather large suburb. Mum always said she was going to start up a movement called, “Downer Is A Beautiful Suburb”.

Our family started its time in Canberra at #20 Wheelbarrow Street, Downer. Elder sister M. was born in 1965 in Camperdown Hospital just as mum and dad were relocating from Harris Park, Sydney to Canberra, allegedly for one year for dad to move from the NSW TAFE system to the then new Commonwealth Teaching Service.

In 1970, when I was three years old and just about to start pre-school, we moved a whole seven doors down the road to #34 Wheelbarrow Street. We may have all carried some of our goods and chattels, and I have a dodgy memory of dad loading up his old box trailer with stuff and getting some neighbourhood friends to help push it the 130 metres (I’m reliably informed by Google Maps).

The next year, in November 1971, my little brother Greg burst forth into the world to complete the fivesome of we Quinn siblings. Yes. Five Quinns. NO, STOP. We have heard all the jokes about five quins, I mean, Quinns.

Greg was a Daramalan College, Dickson Class of 1989 graduate. He then returned to the school to be a teacher’s aide in computing. Greg was also heavily involved with the legendary annual Daramalan school musical/play productions. Any time I hear the strains of any part of the seminal recording of Evita with Julie Covington urging Peronistas to not cry for her, Argentina, I’m back in Downer, with Greg doing lighting, mentoring performers, and even sewing some costumes.

Greg died of brain cancer at 4am, Saturday 22 August 1998 in Clare Holland House hospice which was situated in the grounds of the then Royal Canberra Hospital. It’s now been supplanted by the admin building for the National Museum of Australia, after a Commonwealth/ACT land swap moved the hospice east along the shores of Lake Burley Griffin to 5 Menindee Drive Barton.  Continue reading