The Day I Met Dick

 

Rupert “Dick” Hamer  Premier of Victoria 1972 – 1981  (Wikipedia)

 

Way, way back in 1974, I met the then-Premier of Victoria, Dick Hamer, in rather unusual circumstances. How and why it happened is worth relating.

 

It was a Friday, the busiest shopping day of the week in the Melbourne CBD. Stores had only recently begun trading until 9 pm, and the Joseph Saba fashion boutique in Flinders Lane that I managed was hugely popular.

 

But this particular day was different. Some months beforehand, I had been conned by a pair of professional thieves posing as an upper-class mother and daughter. They had left a trail of worthless cheques across town, but now they had been caught, and their trial was to begin that morning in the Russell St. Magistrates Court.

 

The police assured me that I would be one of the first witnesses, so after a brisk 20-minute walk to the court, I was ready when proceedings began at 10.00 am. Under my arm was a folder of documents, including bank statements and a copy of the worthless cheque.

 

And so I waited. And waited, as proceedings dragged on and the defence lawyer seemed to question every procedure. By 2.00 pm I was getting anxious, knowing that our regular stream of Friday customers would have already begun, and I had not called in extra staff.

 

At long last, well after 3.00 pm, my name was called. As quickly as I could, I swore an oath on the Bible, identified the culprits, gave my evidence, then scooped up my things and hurried down the stairs out onto Russell St.

 

There, at the traffic lights, a heavy hand clamped onto my shoulder, and a large copper said with the straightest of faces, “Excuse me, sir – could we have our Bible back?”

 

He headed back inside, and I bolted down Russell St. and turned right up Little Collins. At the corner of Swanston St., I was still travelling fast as I wheeled left around the bluestone wall of the Melbourne Town Hall.

 

CRASH!….I stumbled and fell, as the unfortunate person I had hit with a pretty good shirt-front landed flat on his back. Dazed, all I realised at first was that he was well-dressed in a suit and tie, and seemed familiar. Only when I was hauled to my feet by his two similarly-dressed accomplices did it dawn on me that I had mown down the Premier of Victoria, Rupert “Dick” Hamer.

 

Happily, neither of us were more than bruised. “Call me Dick,” he said, as he brushed off his suit, and my apologies.

 

 

 

 

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About

Conscription into the army ended Warren's dreams of becoming either a league footballer or a professional musician, but military service did at least teach him how to handle firearms, and to work behind a bar.

Comments

  1. Great story, Warren! Adds a realistic touch to the say, ‘I bumped into (whoever) the other day…’ Hamer’s response was very cool!

  2. Kevin Densley says

    #1 (to #2): “Say hello Dick!”
    #2 “Hello Dick!”

    Enjoyed this piece, Warren!

  3. Peter Fuller says

    Warren,
    That’s a wonderful story. I particularly liked the fact that the complainant (in Court) about theft purloined the Court’s Bible. I can’t believe that you thought you’d get away with it.
    Your encounter certainly rings true as Dick Hamer was a fine Premier and a thoroughly decent and unpretentious man. There was a wonderful photo of him published during his years in the top job, when he was on holiday, perhaps on the Gippsland Lakes. Dick was reclining on his fishing boat and the photographer caught the soles of his shoes revealing a substantial hole in one of them.

  4. Great story Warren.

    It’s a small word. My true story involves another Victorian Premier, John Cain, although it was before John Cain became Premier of Victoria.

    My father, who was exactly the same age as John Cain, met John Cain at a social Tennis gathering at a mutual friend’s private tennis court and my father played tennis with John Cain and they got along well with each other.

    I was at John Cain Arena last Friday, for most of the day and evening, when Kyrgios played Thiem. They have also done a great job with the new outdoor seating areas outside John Cain Arena, in front of the new Practice Village Entrance.

  5. Great story Warren

  6. Warren Tapner says

    Thanks Ian, Kevin, Peter, Anonymous and livehd7 for your kind comments.
    Peter – I wasn’t trying to lift the Court Bible. I was super anxious to get back to work, so when the judge dismissed me, I just grabbed everything in the witness box and headed for the door.
    I didn’t know I had the Bible until the constable chased me down!

  7. Thanks Ian, Kevin, Peter, Anonymous

  8. Peter Fuller says

    I understood Warren, I was just taking the gifted opportunity for a cheap shot (wholly unmerited).

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