I met Simon Murray when my family moved to Tasmania in 1987. From year 7 to year 12, Simon and I did many things together. We played “down ball” with everyone else at lunchtime. We played the trombone in the school concert band, stage band and brass ensemble, and sang in the choir. Not long after I purchased a school bag at the Westbury supermarket, Simon also purchased a bag. Given the range of choice offered by the supermarket, we had identical bags. We also had very similar white jackets. So when we both caught the bus home from high school one winter day, with matching school uniform, white jackets, red school bags and identical trombone cases, we must have looked quite silly.
However, we weren’t the same in all respects. Simon had an admirable quality of learning from my mistakes while I, on the other hand, provided a stream of examples for Simon to learn from.
To illustrate my point, I will tell you about my watch, the first one I ever bought. I got it in Texas after saving up $20 for what seemed like an eternity. It was pretty nifty. I liked it so much that I sleepwalked into Mum and Dad’s room one night and started explaining all its wonderful features to Mum.
Years later at Prospect High school, waiting for the bus with Simon, our discussion happened to move to the topic of watches, as discussions often do. “My watch is shock resistant,” I earnestly told Simon. That was true – it did resist a bit of banging around. However, in my excitement I got a bit over-enthusiastic to demonstrate its true capabilities.
As a result, I did what engineers call “destructive testing” – that is, testing the physical limits of a device by reaching those limits. I took my watch off my wrist, and belted it against the bus-stop pole. I peered at it, and it was still intact. Simon was impressed, no doubt. I belted it a bit more and looked at it again. Its face was suddenly a mess of glass shards.
My anguish over breaking my watch was exceeded only by my feeling of stupidity. Simon was decently sympathetic, but quietly observant. I think the event must have actually given him much amusement even if he wasn’t permitted to show it at the time, and that’s okay because it now gives us both some amusement.
I had the watch repaired, at approximately its original price. However, years later Simon showed me a watch of his. Being impressed with it and having a weakness, as I do, for purchasing watches, I got an identical one. Once again we matched.