Pentridge Wasteland isn’t account of actual events, but it is built from a personal experience.
When I was 8 years old I struck up a friendship with a boy who lived a few doors down from me. We started playing everyday after school and soon more kids who lived in our street joined in and we formed our own little gang. Across the road lived a man, Alex (not his real name), who was in his mid 30’s. He’d often have friends drinking and hanging out on his porch while we played in the street. Alex was really friendly and would walk his dog around the neighborhood so everyone knew him. All the boys in our gang really looked up to him and would try endlessly to impress him.
Our gang of friends continued playing in the street and tearing up the neighborhood until we were all in our early teens.
When I was 15 I feel in love with one of my girl friends and we started seeing each other. We were the only same-sex couple at our school and we were lucky to have a group of incredibly fierce friends who protected us from any bullying. Alex was bi-sexual and being someone I’d known since childhood he was the first adult I wanted to tell.
One afternoon I went over to his house, he gave me a beer and we sat in his backyard with his housemate and I told him the story of how my girlfriend and I got together. I wanted my girlfriend to meet Alex so I took her round to his place one evening when she was staying over at my house. We all got into Alex’s car and went to the bottle shop to buy alcohol. Later, back at his house we got drunk and Alex came onto me. I said no, and we left. I was 16 at the time.
Three years later I heard from my parents that Alex had raped a minor and was going to jail for 2 years. The circumstances were similar, high school students who were known to him getting drunk late at night in his home.
Fast forward to the summer 2017. I’m writing music in my garden under the lemon tree. Daily the radio brings revelations from The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. Thoughts race through my head and I realised for the first time that I had never told anybody what had happened that night. I starting thinking all the time about the person Alex raped. Thinking about what it would be like to be in their shoes, to suffer what they suffered, to testify in court. This is how the song Pentridge Wasteland started its life.
I’ve been performing the song at gigs since late 2017. Each time I feel the audiences unease as the story unfolds. The last chord rings out, people clap, but the unease still saturates the air. I hear their minds ticking.
Are we supposed to clap?
Is this her story?
Was she raped?
What this song has given me is an avenue to understand and acknowledge what happened to me. To understand my friends and I were groomed and for the first time I feel I truly understand just how vulnerable we are as children.
Since my album was finished I found out that Alex went to jail a second time, again for the rape of a child in his home. I’m told since he was released from prison he sold his house and moved on from the neighbourhood.
Wherever he is, I fear so deeply for the children who live nearby.
I am powerless to do anything.
The only thing I can do is share this story and hope.
I believe everyone has stories that need to be heard.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this one, I hope it inspires you to share some stories of your own.
For the purposes of sharing, I’ve simplified this story substantially.
More than happy to talk to anyone about it anytime, or any similar experiences you may have had.