he belonged to an organisation he calls 'the PFA'. This was the Presbyterian Fellowship Association. No doubt all Presbyterian churches had similar groups but his seems to have been particularly large and active. It was also known as the local marriage bureau. Yes, a lot of them did marry each other and almost all the marriages lasted. My parents met, in a roundabout sort of way, because of the PFA. My father has had lifelong friends because of that group. Many of them have now died. There was another death in the paper yesterday. He grows quiet for a while when this happens. Who can blame him?
Friendships for my father have often been almost life-long affairs. He lived in just one place as a child and teenager. He only left home when he was sent to a remote outback settlement for his first year of teaching.
My father was posted all over the state. If you worked for the Education Department you went wherever you were sent - and whenever you were sent. Every couple of years he would be transferred on - and up. He had a good career. My mother had a good career too as she tended to be promoted whenever he was.
It was very different for his children. I have no friends from early childhood or even from my teenage years. The same is true for my brother. My sisters have casual friendships from those days as they finally spent their last secondary school years in one place.
I wonder about the next generation and the one after that. It seems that many more people move now and they do so more often. Their children move with them. Marriages, if they occur, are less likely to last. Families do not spend as much time together. Both parents work. Television too often takes the place of conversation at the evening meal. Sport is now competitive, organised and under the control of an adult. It is not kicking a footy up and down the street or breaking the occasional window with a cricket ball.
This is why it was good to find the children in the next street outside yesterday. It was the last day of the winter break from school. Two were riding bicycles up and down in between the three kicking a football. The two youngest were up a tree. They looked down at me as I passed and one said, "It's good up here."