When and where I was born

When and where I was born.

I was born on 27th December 1960. Two days after Christmas. It always seemed an auspicious date for me. it wasn’t St David’s Day, but it is St John the Evangelist’s day and it was a nice and special day for this particular David.  Although it was so close to Christmas, my parents always made a point of giving me two presents – one on Christmas Day and one for my birthday. My aunt continued that tradition until she died. The reason, I am told, is because my mother’s birthday was in January and she always received one present for both Christmas and birthday and felt it unfair that other children who had their birthdays throughout the year, received presents for both.

The girl who gave birth to me was 17 years old. In those days you didn’t keep your child, such was the stigma and embarrassment, so when she was 4 months pregnant she moved to Melbourne from the country, officially on “work experience” and spent the rest of her pregnancy in what was then the Presbyterian Sisterhood at 223 McKean Street, Fitzroy. The Sisterhood cared for mothers and babies when it started in Warrnambool and moved to Melbourne in 1909, maintaining continuous service until the 1970s. I believe the premises at McKean Street later became the Schizophrenic Association.

I was born in the Royal Womens’ Hospital in Carlton. I’m told I was an “instrumental birth”, meaning, they used forceps for my delivery. My mother told me that I had flat spots on the sides of my head because of the forceps. I didn’t look weird or feel any different and it certainly didn’t have any bearing on my development – I just have these flat spots. In fact, it probably made me feel special. After I was born, I was taken to the Copelin Street Family Centre in South Yarra which was owned by the Methodist Church at the time. My parents, Frank & Betty Cundy, who had already applied to adopt children, were rung by the church and told that a baby boy was available for adoption. They came to Melbourne and took me home to Glenthompson, in Western Victoria, where I lived for the next 20 years. When mum got me home, a local lady said, “Well, Betty Cundy, I knew you were getting fat, but I didn’t realise you were pregnant!” Mum was extremely proud of me. She said I had my paternal grandmother’s brown eyes. Relatives came to “ooh” and “aah” at me. A year and a half later, they adopted a girl, Sue Diane.