Jennifer and I first got together while studying at The Australian National University (ANU).
We were in the same year at Telopea Park High School in Canberra in the 1960s, but Jennifer was only there for one year. We were certainly aware of each other, but I don't think we'd ever spoken. It was because we'd been to the same high school that we recognised each other at ANU during O-Week. When you're in such a new environment, there is comfort and connection in a familiar face.
We had both decided to go to the O-Week Computer Ball. As an icebreaker, the students were invited to fill out a questionnaire on punch cards and the computer gave you a number that matched you to someone with similar interests. Neither of us followed the system. Jennifer didn't put on her number because she wanted to find out who she was matched with first, to see whether he looked OK. Meanwhile, I was wandering around trying to work out how I was supposed to match up with somebody. I recognised Jennifer - who had by now decided that her match didn't look very interesting - and I sat down to talk with her instead.
That was in February, 1969. For the next few years we went out together, but in 1971 Jennifer moved to Sydney to do a Diploma in Education and I wanted to go travelling. So, with life pulling us in both different directions, we split up. When I came back from my travels, I was in a car accident and Jennifer came to visit me. She must have felt really sorry for me because I had lots of cuts on my face, although she denies that is the case. After our time apart, we reconnected and got married that same year.
Since then, aside from a brief stint as teachers, Jennifer and I have always worked together in small businesses. We bought a newsagency and ran that for 10 years and we owned a furniture retail business for 20 years. We have now been married for 49 years, we have three children and six grandchildren, and are happily retired in Yarralumla.
Throughout the years, we have stayed connected to ANU. We go to a lot of the University's events and are both long-time members of the ANU Film Group
, which I have served on the committee of for about 12 years now.
That is one of the great things about ANU. The University puts on a lot of good events that are accessible to almost anybody, and this really helps when you're looking to connect with like-minded people. It was an ANU event - the O-Week Computer Ball of '69 - that saw Jennifer and I connect, after all.