I first met Vic Potticary in 1973 and 44 years later regard him to be one of the single biggest influences of my life.
But what an annoying bastard he could be! When we were working the Hansard shift setting Parliamentary Debates, he would prattle away extolling the virtues of Socialism, Karl Marx, Frederick Engels and Bakunin (an Anarchist).
The only problem was that Vic was a brilliant Intertype Operator and I was bloody hopeless! Therefore any interruption to my train of thought slowed me down to a crawl.
It put me behind and with the menacing John Buckby lurking around, frankly bothered me immensely. So it was “Fuck Off”, Vic, let me get on with my work. I can’t believe I just said that.
Vic was born in the early 1930’s in Port Pirie. His Dad worked for the South Australian Railways.
In his teens he escaped to Adelaide and took up a Comp. apprenticeship with the only Communist printing company in Adelaide.
He met and married Audrey and they had a son Malcolm. It was then Vic did a very strange thing, he travelled to Angaston in the Barossa to work at the Angaston Leader.
The Leader was a conservative, “hatched, matched and dispatched” country newspaper run by the Robinson family. The old man Robby was a strange fellow who took a bit of a shine to our Vic.
So much so, that when the local copper came to investigate Vic as a “possible foreign spy” that the old man Robby put in a good word for Victor.
But, not before “bucketing” Vic for his non-attendence at church on Sundays.
Back to Adelaide and a whole heap of Printers and then to the Old Guv in 1973 (twice).
Vic has been a passionate advocate for the Rights of Workers and on May Day 2011 was awarded the Golden Spanner by the May Day Collective for his services to the Trade Union Movement.
I was privileged to make that presentation to my friend and comrade!
The Printing Trade is notorious for doing “foreign orders.”
What are foreign orders? You might know them as foreignees or buckies (buckshee) or even freebies.
Some people do them for payment in money, goods or grog. And others do them because they are too stupid to ask for anything (me).
Yes, it’s illegal, wrong or just plain criminal.
But often big bosses come down on the shop floor and put the heat on the poor old comps, printers and binders to “do us a favour mate!”
That’s where the late Roger Francis (Old Guv Comps) and his Black Book came in.
Roger kept very accurate records of every foreign order he was asked to do over many years. He included proofs and a sample of the finished job.
His little book made very interesting reading, because it seemed the higher you were in the organisation the more foreignees you got done.
And the reason he did all this was to guarantee his Job Security!
You work it out.
Image: Dave with “Tex” McMillan, Victorian Cricket Club.
Dave Barber is honoured and proud that he was “The Last Shitboy” in the Guv. Comp Room.
Knowing the calibre of the long list of Eminent Shitboys that preceded me over 100 years made me very proud to be made the very last shitboy back in 1977.
Every day I used to wake up and rush to work because I knew that the day would be entertaining and full of Fun. They were the best years of my working life!
David Barber was a likeable red headed larrikin. He could mix in with just about everyone, young or old.
Unfortunately, at home he had a lot of trouble with his parents over the colourful language he used to describe his sisters.
His best work as an Idiot was done on The Guv Cricket Club Trips to Melbourne.
Like, when he made money by getting total strangers to pay to view “The Beached Sperm Whale” sleeping in Rod Parham’s bed. Oh! He finally apologised to Rod after 30 years.
Once John Freebairn and I took him to Luna Park pissed out of his brain. After 5 Circuits of the Big Dipper there was Dave behind the Kiosk spewing his guts up. Still not giving up there was more beer, more loops and a lot more chundering behind the Kiosk.
He reached the Peak of Idiocy at the Unley Oval Cricket Match when he won the Geoff Morey Trophy for his pitiful portrayal of the Son of Arthur Dunga (Colin Rawlings).
On one of our all day Saturday Pub Crawls in the city of Adelaide he was barred from drinking in the Criterion Hotel. “We don’t serve drunks black or white,” the barmaid said. “But, what about redheads?” David slurred.
About an hour later there we were in Gawler Place trading blows with each other. Still I can’t remember why, but we all kissed and made up!
On the Bus heading home down the Main South Road, David suggested that we all get off at the Victoria Hotel for one last drink. “Yes!” we all chorused in agreement.
Dave pressed the Stop button outside the Victoria Pub and jumped off the Bus.
Being the arseholes we were, we all sat motionless until the Bus moved off with us on board.
Looking out the back we all waved and laughed at the sad, lonely, red headed figure disappearing under a shower of rain.
David went on to become a very good marathon runner and had a successful career as a SANFL boundary umpire.
He was probably the Nicest and Most Popular Red Head to work at the Printing Office.
Over the past 25 years, Tobias Frere-Jones has created some of the world’s most widely used typefaces.
He has taught at the Yale University School of Art since 1996, gives lectures around the world, and has work in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Here at the Eye, Frere-Jones is sharing a post from his new blog about what happened when two of his favorite things—typography and New York City’s history—led him to a surprising discovery about a forgotten part of his hometown.
Linotype typesetting machine. 19th-century artwork showing a compositor operating a newly invented typesetting machine called the Linotype.
The name arose because it allowed the production of an entire line of type (line o’ type) in one action. This greatly speeded up printing production.
Invented in the 1880s by the German-born American inventor Ottmar Mergenthaler (1854-1899), it was first used in 1884 in the offices of the New York Tribune, and became an industry standard until the development of offset lithography.
Artwork from the 4th volume (second period of 1889) of the French popular science weekly ‘La Science Illustree’.