Pete Hinchley: About

The first 20 odd years...

It all began in Wagga Wagga, Australia, where I became the third born child of Ian and Faith Hinchley. I popped into the world on a pleasant afternoon in March 1976. My family had always lived in nearby Narrandera (home of the largest playable guitar in the southern hemisphere), but due to complications, I was born in Wagga Wagga. I entered the world as the younger brother of Roslyn (born 1963) and John (born 1965).

Beyond a hazy recollection of the crib, my first memories begin from age four at the local preschool. I can only recall a few events, such as cutting my hand on the big yellow tractor, and vague impressions, like painting, and the dislike of milk.

I attended Narrandera East Infants School from kindergarten to Year 2. Lasting memories include the unsettled faces of friends as I cut oranges in quarters, rubbed them in dirt, and ate them; the chicken dance; lying about being able to tie my laces so I could get my name written in the big red shoe on the blackboard; and feeling derided by my Year 1 teacher for not knowing my home street address and phone number. I noticed girls for the first time when I saw Kristy Painter at recess with red cheeks. I loved to pick scabs on my knees during Friday assemblies, and I especially liked multiplication. I would sometimes drive to school in my own imaginary car, and I was probably unkind to the girl who ate glue.

Next was primary school (years 3 to 6). It was located on the other side of town, which required that I cross the main street by myself. I remember on the first day sitting next to a boy who had bad handwriting. I felt sorry for him. He went on to play in my basketball side, Hinchley's Warriors, and progressed from there to small town crime and the nickname of "bogger" (due to his foul smelling calling cards). My major achievements included skipping the 50 metre freestyle race at the swimming carnival by hiding in the toilets (a practice I continued with pride through to Year 12); being elected as school captain; and my epic novel, Hamburgers in Space, complete with illustrations of a motorbike with beetroot wheels, which went on to win first prize in the Narrandera Show creative writing category (even if it was the only entrant).

I had my first romantic encounter in primary school. The relationship was devoid of speech, and based entirely on the practice of a sporty young girl named Natalie sending me gifts of food; ice blocks and packets of chips would be delivered daily via her network of giggly school friends for reasons still unexplained. We almost kissed once on an evening train ride during a school excursion, but the pressure was too much, and we held hands instead.

It was during the primary school years that my sporting career hit an all time peak. I found myself winning Best Batsman in the local cricket competition, Best and Fairest in the local Australian Rules competition, and I was the star forward of the town basketball squad. But in Year 6 my aspiring sporting career was cruelly cut short when I was forced to take early retirement after stepping on a drinking glass that sliced my foot to the bone. I mastered crutches like they were an Olympic sport, which proved fortunate, as I was unable to walk unaided for almost four months. Sadly, the surgeon neglected to reconnect the severed tendons, and until this day the toes in my left foot have lost their ability to wiggle. After the foot incident I felt destined to a life of indoor lethargy, until dad picked me up, kicking and screaming, and dropped me off at the local golf club. It was there, on the first hole, after a rather nasty shank, that I learned to swear.

After many years fearing that I would fall victim to the high school initiation of having my head flushed in a toilet, I took my place amongst the other 70 brave souls in Year 7 at Narrandera High. Looking back on it, through the eyes of a nostalgic adult, these troubled years of teenage development were some of the best of my life.

It was in Year 10 that I had my first real girlfriend. Her name was Claire, and she dumped me after I gave her a wrist watch bought with pocket money saved over 55 weeks (I received $1 a week for good behaviour). It was also in Year 10 that I broke the school 400 metre walking record. I was Dux of Year 10, 11 and 12, and developed a passion for physics and calculus. I maintained a notebook of helpful formulas, which I carried for easy reference in the top pocket of a full length grey trench coat that I wore at every opportunity. In my own mind at least, I was tall, dark, handsome, and supremely intelligent, a kind of youthful Richard Greico, but to others I was a "weirdo" and "geek". I grew an impressive pair of side burns, wore my hair long and greasy, and developed a penchant for writing poetry and playing chess. I took to studying body language, and during big lunch, would explain the mysteries of human interaction to crowds of bemused onlookers. I dated a girl through Year 11 and 12, who I later discovered was my cousin, but fortunately no harm was done.

During my senior years I developed the most infamous document to grace the corridors of Narrandera High. It was the Mega Desirable List. At its peak it contained the names of 54 girls, each uniquely numbered for quick and covert identification. Conversations like "7 and 3 are meeting up with 9 and 10 and going to 23's for a party tonight" were common. Only the chosen few were privy to the numbering system, which despite widespread misconception, was not a ranking. I was once offered $50 for a copy of the list, which was a considerable sum for a boy still receiving a weekly allowance of $1, but I turned it down on principle.

The university years arrived and passed without a ripple. I can't claim to have taken drugs, had sex, or joined a cult, although I did develop a liking for goths, and discovered rock music. I vividly remember the first time I heard From The Edge of The Deep Green Sea by The Cure, and in the whirlwind weeks that followed, I acquired the majority of their back catalogue using money saved by only eating fried rice. The first year of my studies was spent living on campus, and the next three living in a share house with a man who occasionaly wore Glad Wrap, and with a rotating collection of strangers that he would periodically bring home from the local bus stop. The rest is a blur of late nights in the computer labs writing code, drinking creaming soda, and watching JenniCam. The entire period was devoid of debauchery or scandal, and is probably best referred to as the "Stagnation Years".

After university, I shamelessly decided to take a year off and redo all of my assignments. Fortunately, I quickly recognised the lunacy of this endeavour and decided to get a job instead. The process started well when the interview consisted of a single question: "When would you be able to start?" The first few years of employment were spent working on national systems integration projects that provided an opportunity to travel throughout Australia.

Excited by the prospect of further discovery, one day I boarded a plane, flew to London, and rented a house in Dollis Hill. I spent six months working for Vogue Magazine, and six more travelling through Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, either in the back of a truck or in the back of a rented car. In total I traversed 28 countries and 4 continents, which was significant for someone who previously hadn't journeyed past Hobart. Highlights included sitting in Nefertari's tomb, being chased by a hyena in the Serengeti, and floating in the Dead Sea on my birthday.

I returned to Canberra, resumed work with my old employer, found a flat in a nice suburb, and spent my evenings at the ANU Film Group eating hot chips. After 6 months I became restless and bought a house, and ever since life has been a tale of domesticated living. I started eating in, developed an obsession with lawn manicure, and planned for early retirement. On a night of unexpected revelry - when I was almost crushed to oblivion in the front row of a Grinspoon concert - I felt compelled to show my frustrated friends that to meet a girl you had to do more than leer at them from across the room. My demonstration of "watch this", which included a bet of $10 that I could pull a girl before the current song ended, turned into a kiss with the most beautiful person I have ever met. She's now my wife.

We married, enjoyed a three week honey moon in New Zealand, where we climbed glaciers, sat in hot springs, swam with dolphins, and drank more peppermint tea than recommended. Further holidays to Japan, United States, and Europe followed, and somewhere in between we acquired a substitute child, a small miniature schnauzer. The rest is a living history.