SPIRITS OF THE PAST
PNG CLASS DIVISION

BLAZES & BLAZERS

In the 1950s, the first teachers to be recruited for PNG service trained at Bathurst Teachers’ College. The first Cadet Education Officer intake arrived at ASOPA in 1958, which was also the year of the inaugural Patrol Officer versus CEO rugby match, establishing a fiery and hard-fought tradition that was to continue for many years.

Asopa_crest I am indebted to Ian Robertson, now living in Brisbane and who was a member of the Class of 1958, for this information. Ian tells me that the CEO's – proud of their institution and their calling - fashioned a navy blue blazer with an eye-catching bird of paradise crest on the pocket (above). “Quite a number of CEO's had them,” says Ian. “We believed them to be ‘chick magnets’ but the PO's were less than complimentary.”

“To my knowledge the only kiap with one was Tom Steen,” says Ian. “When I visited Tom in Yorkshire in 2005 he still had the entire blazer. I have only the cut off pocket as my blazer shrank something terrible over the years.”

Ian also provided a pertinent clipping from the original, and perhaps the only, ‘ASOPA Toktok’ magazine in which a kiap versified his displeasure with these blazers:

TO BLAZES WITH BLAZERS

“The ones that would wear a blazer
Have yet to feel the touch of razor
Upon their skin so delicate and fair
To be without blazer, they cannot bear.

“Yet when they go to the Territory,
They will not feel so young and free
To wear their blazers as of yore
And weather the scorn of the old B4

“Perhaps they won’t be put out
When greeted with a cheer and shout
Of ‘Up old school – rah – rah – rah,
Let’s send them back to A-SOPA!”

This poem and others of similar ilk which I will return to in future musings, were published under the headline, ‘The cult of the angry young men comes to ASOPA’. John Osborne (1929-94) would be doing barrel rolls in his grave.

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