I was conceived, in a rather hurried fashion, in the back seat of a car.
No, I don’t know the make of the car. A large car, I hope.
It was parked on a hill opposite what is now a Ralph Voss Supermarket in an inner Launceston suburb. He was from the Mainland: a singer, piano man in a Glenn Miller type big Band, in town for a month. She was the starry-eyed small-town girl in the front row. Nowadays I think we’d call her a groupie.
Now I can’t point the finger of scorn at that. Some of my dimly remembered sexual liaisons have been of a ‘creative’ nature in terms of location. And I may, perhaps, have encountered the kindness of strangers on my way….
I was already in trouble.
Certainly the unmarried 19 year old carrying the embryo Nidge in her womb was. It was 1948 and she was up the duff. Not a good place to be.
When, in due course, my presence became obvious and confession, recrimination and shame followed in relentless succession, she was packed off on the bus, alone, and five months pregnant, down South – to Hobart. Anywhere. Away.
Patsy, ‘cos she has a name, was sent to the ‘Good Shepherd Home of Mercy’ in Lenah Valley where, in the company of other disgraced or mentally unfirm young ladies, she waited out the term of her confinement in exile, tended to by nuns.
I was born in a chemical blur, a technique used in these days to ease the stress for all concerned. These poor, comatose young ladies barely knew they had given birth.
After a brief time I was removed from my mother and sent to The Clarendon Children’s Home, in Kingston. Patsy was discharged from the bad girl’s home and put back on the bus to Launceston as if nothing had ever happened. Her disgrace was never mentioned again.
My father, to this day, remains blissfully unaware of my existence.
All this, and I was barely three weeks old.
My first six months of life were spent in an orphanage until, in March 1950 Joan and Rex arrived in my life. I was adopted, a plump red-headed bastard bundle, and delivered to my new home, 417A Elizabeth St, North Hobart.
Photographs taken on the day show me attempting to launch myself into space with a howl of terror, pushing myself away from foreign arms, unfamiliar faces and these two beaming strangers. But, I learnt to succumb to their kindness and, as consciousness emerged, take it as my due.
So, I was a Triffitt. Up until then I had been called Baby Kevin and had a number.
I suppose Nigel was an improvement.
EXCERPT FROM A SPEECH
So it’s a little bit odd that, out of all the kazillion Triffitts in the Southern Hemisphere the biographer turns out to be a Triffitt who isn’t. Maybe I got lucky – they’re a difficult family to like.
Nigel Triffitt is acknowledged as a leader in the field of visual theatre in Australia and internationally with shows that have successfully toured to over 30 countries, displaying a unique renegade talent. As a designer, devisor and director of his own shows, Nigel has an impressive track record over a career spanning 30 years. Arguably Nigel’s most successful project is Tap Dogs, which he co-created, designed and directed. Tap Dogs has become one of Australia’s greatest exports, having toured to over 250 cities worldwide. It’s still running, sixteen years later. Nigel’s talent has led him on to other art territories, from grand opera to rock ’n’ roll, from film to huge outdoor spectacles, circus, puppetry and dance, all of which have combined to create his unique fusion of artforms. His productions have been seen at all the major arts festivals in the world. Commercial work included the phenomenally successful revival of Hair and The New Rocky Horror Show, which toured Australia for eight years, and Gumboots, made in South Africa.. Nigel created, directed and designed the finale of the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, screened to an international television audience of an estimated 3.5 billion viewers. Click the pic to see.
Knowing that it was all downhill after that, he retired.
Now he travels.