MT: Today we have a guest I’ve been hoping to bring to ABC Classic FM listeners for some time.
He’s somewhat a recluse these days but we’ve conspired to drag him out. Reginald Sipco emigrated to Australia at the age of nine as part of a flotilla of peace keeping protesters from Irian Jaya just when the Muslims started killing everyone. Raised by an undiscovered tribe of hill tribesmen who had somehow found the recorded works of Wagner and Beethoven plus, fortuitously, a CD player and a power source, he is part tribal, part privilege. Reginald, Reg, may I call you that?, welcome to the show.
RS: Yes you may, Margaret. And thanks to you too.
MT: Your autobiography states:
“When I was nine the Jesuits came. Full bearded and full throttle. They raced into town demanding we repent. No sooner had I repented when I found myself face down on a leather sofa in the sacristy screaming out in pain as I was thrust with the sword of repentance.”
What was that like?
RS: I think that speaks for itself.
MT: Well, yes. But, did you think, at the time, that this was somehow deserved – you go on to mention the cargo cult – that, you were here suffering, in situ, non-metaphorically, what your adopted parents had suffered?
RS: My…my parents (God bless them), were not around. Aaron Septugon, my adopted father, was never arse raped. I don’t understand the comparison.
MT: Later, at the age of 15 you were flogged mercilessly with a tyre iron and strangled with a stray piece of skipping rope found on your adopted parents’ driveway, reminiscent of Albert Facey’s flogging in “A Fortunate Life”. Did this change your life? You write about it in “Reginald the III: barely alive, pretty much comatose.”
RS: I remember at the time we were at a drive-in, they were pretty rare those days, what with the fact there were no cars and all, and…
MT: But, sorry to interrupt, the former Prime Minister Julia Gillard once was verbally assaulted at a cappuccino intervention on behalf of your parents and the blood for coffee beans they’d suffered. Did this make an impact? I mean, did you feel guilt for your birth and imposing on the plantation?
RS: I always did what I was told, and as far as I remember, the only blood on the coffee beans was min…
MT: Right. Fascinating. Today you’ve chosen Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in d minor as your opening. Tell us why.
RS: Well, I remember my dad, Aaron, coming at me with an oyster shell as all my uncles held me down with my legs splayed. Dad said something like, “Today, you become a man.” I think I passed out at that point. Later…
MT: Your father sounds like he had the wisdom of the elders. Here it is, Toccata & Fugue in d minor, performed at the Sydney Town Hall. Excuse the White privilege on display won’t you Reginald?
RS: What? That has…
MT: You mention in volume XVII of your second series: “Why Must we be homosexual?” that you, as happenstance would have it, lived with bonobo monkeys for 12 months as a participant in a UN mandated peacekeeping patrol experiment. What did you make of Mr. Mandela’s peace after apartheid?
RS: Ummm. That was a very strange time. I mean, the bonobos were…are you asking me about Mandela?
RS: Uh ha, okay, I don’t remember much about that. I was in a zoological experiment and it took all my effort just to keep the dominant male away. I was in pretty bad shape at the time, anal fissures, a gonorrhea breakout, random beatings, and once I left the Jesuits there was the bonobos which were even worse.
I remember this huge hairy ape…
MT: Was this when the rainbow nation speech occurred?
RS: I don’t…
MT: Ha ha ha, yes, if only they allowed contraception. What was that saying again? Man does things or something?
RS: I don’t know.
MT: In 1979 you had a complete breakdown and became an accountant after years of productive work prostituting yourself at the euphemistically named “Vasso Valley”. Tell me about that.
RS: It wasn’t a euphemisism. That was reality.
MT: Yes. Accountancy is brutal.
RS: Not as brutal as being street rough to a parliamentarian.
MT: There were many changes that year following on from Lionel Murphy’s reforms to the Marriage Act and sundry other social changes. You’ve been through great social change, Reg. How has your experience reconciled with your hopes?
RS: My only hope was to stop being mutilated or arse raped so change has been good.
MT: Titter. Many people object to change yet, reform is change, life is change. You’ve dealt with change innumerable times yet here you are, speaking to me on ABC Classic FM. How do you account for it?
RS: Police intervention, mostly.
MT: What do you have next for us, Reginald?
RS: This one’s a break from the usual. A visiting American sailor I encountered on an island off shore Christmas Island played it to me in morse code. The memory of it is indelible.