On a Lighter Note: Bittersweet birthday memories revisited

Greg Bray
Greg Bray Brenda Strong

THIS weekend the Littlest Princess turns 16. It's an awkward age, because you're old enough to know what's going on, but not quite old enough to enjoy adult activities like work, insurance, voting, hangovers and fixing toilets.

Remembering my own 16th, back in distant days of 1982, I recall conflicting senses of hope and impending doom, a yearning to get my licence and freedom, but wanting to sleep in 'til midday.

I was struggling through Year 11 and didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up (still don't). There was no internet, mobile phones, or a cure for my pimples so my hopes for a date with Joan Jett or Elle McPherson were slim at best.

Power strikes meant blackouts were a regular occurrence, Tom Baker was replaced as Dr Who and Matilda, the giant winking kangaroo, wowed us at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games.

Outside of Oz, Russia was enjoying a taste of Viet Nam in Afghanistan, the Brits were touring the Falkland Islands and the Middle East was a disaster area (no change there).

Malcolm Fraser was on the button when he told us "Life wasn't meant to be easy", while President Ronnie Rayguns' geriatric finger was hovering eagerly over The Button.

To take my mind off impending nuclear Armageddon, Nostradamus' gloomy prophecies and my zits, I'd go to the pictures. Rocky 3, The Man from Snowy River, Conan and Poltergeist were the movies I ended up seeing, after failing several times to sneak in to watch Porky's.

On the bright side, Paul Hogan was on telly and Kylie Minogue wasn't, so I suppose things were about as bad, and as good, then as they are now.

And, on that cheerful note, Happy Birthday Sweet 16, I hope you look back fondly on this magical year.

Greg Bray blogs at

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