Who am I? (2020 edition)

By John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.)

A smile not as good as the famous smile of Antonia Staats but of that ilk. In my late 50s. Not so good now

Quick summary:

I am a tall, jocular former university teacher aged 77 at the time of writing in 2020 who still has a fair bit of hair. I am Australian born of working class origins and British ancestry. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology. I also made significant money in real estate so retired when I was 39. I live in a big house but I am not flash in any way. My style is Bohemian. Up until this year, I took no medicines or drugs and am generally in good health except for recurrent skin cancer. My BP is 140/80. My main interests are blogging, classical music, history, current affairs and languages. I have been married four times to four fine women with whom I am still on amicable terms. I have one son born in 1987. I am totally non-sporting

A photo from my 70th birthday. I get spottier as time goes by.


I was born in 1943 (i.e. during the Second World War) at the Innisfail hospital by the Johnstone river in far North Queensland, Australia. Innisfail is mainly famous for very high rainfall, sugar-cane and bananas. I was baptized into the Innisfail congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Australia on 30.1.44. We lived in Innisfail until the family moved to Stratford in Cairns when I was 13

My father was for a time a cane-cutter but mostly a timber contractor during my stay in Innisfail. In American parlance he was a "lumberjack". He had tried to enlist in the Army during the Second World War but was rejected as unfit on medical grounds because he had a slight limp. The limp was a legacy of his falling off a hotel verandah in Townsville when he was a toddler. He fell off when he thought he was being chased by a koala! Apparently his hip was the main part damaged and he spent a year or so of his childhood in irons to get it right again.

My mother was born Margaret (but was always called "Peg", in the Irish way). My mother had been employed as a domestic servant prior to marriage but never worked again during marriage. She just did not want to. She would rather read books and have afternoon naps. I think I must have got my own love of afternoon naps off her.

She was a great talker, however: always ready with her tongue. She was one of those women of whom it is sometimes said that "She would talk under wet cement". She even used to talk back to the TV in her latter years. I have always been much more a listener than a talker so that could well be because I was brought up to be such. I grew up thinking that women talked and men listened.

A more detailed self-description:

PHYSICAL: For most of my life I was about 178cm tall (just over 5'10") but in old age I have shrunk to 173 (5'8"). My weight is a bit above average for my height (perhaps average for my age!) and I have very fair skin, very blue eyes and grey (formerly dark brown) hair. I have no handicaps or serious health problems and even have a full covering (just) of hair. I am no Clark Gable in looks but have usually been described as "presentable", I am clean shaven these days but wore a short beard for most of my life.

ATTITUDES: I am more a listener than a talker but am often quietly jocular when I do talk. I see the funny side of a lot of things. I can get on well socially with most people but am not a big partygoer. I am a complete atheist now but was once religious so get on well with most religious people as well as with unbelievers. I find many political issues interesting, lean towards the Right (i.e. I find the idea that governments can do anything well to be contrary to all experience) but am more a political skeptic than anything. I suppose I have mostly old-fashioned values but I am also at ease with most modern ways. I try to follow Christian values even though I am an atheist! My chief passion is for rationality.

INTERESTS: I used to have a lot of the recreational interests that most people have -- i.e. reading, swimming, going for walks and drives, having picnics and occasionally watching TV (mostly non-commercial in my case) but I do all those things seldom now. I just enjoy a quiet life these days. I do however still eat out (mostly at ethnic restaurants) rather a lot. I have never been a big movie-goer and I absolutely refuse to go to violent movies. Perhaps because of my interest in history, the few movies I have seen seem usually to be set in the past. Other less common interests that I have are listening to classical music (Bach is my favourite composer) and going very occasionally to theatre, classical concerts, talks etc. I am also a great fan of Viennese operettas, which I watch at home off DVDs. I have no pets at the moment but was once a registered dog-breeder. I am NOT interested in any form of sport or in dancing. I neither do any sport nor watch it on TV.

I do a lot of reading and things that I like to read and occasionally talk about include philosophy, politics, medicine, psychology, sociology, theology, history, economics, business, poetry, computers, current affairs and science generally. For fun I have in the past read science-fiction and whodunits. I also like languages. I matriculated in both German and Italian but I also have dabbled in French, Latin and Classical Greek. To most people I seem very inactive but that is only partly true. What I do now is mainly in the life of the mind. I enjoy looking at the big questions.

I have travelled quite a lot -- with 3 trips each to India, Britain and the U.S.A. plus other trips to South Africa, The Philippines, Hong Kong, China, Mexico, Thailand, Singapore, Fiji and Canada. I particularly like London. I spent a year there in 1977. I have no plans to travel again, however, as I saw in my youth all that I wanted to see. In some of my earlier years I went overseas twice in one year. So I am one of those pesky "been there; done that" people. When I was in London, I did once go down to Glyndebourne, for those who know what that is all about.

HISTORY: I am Queensland-born of English, Scottish and Irish ancestry and have in fact two convict ancestors! I inherited strong Scottish traditions so on special occasions sometimes wear full Highland dress (kilt etc.)! I came to Brisbane from my home in Cairns when I was 19, spent 5 years here and then went to Sydney for 15 years. I have now been back in Brisbane for over 20 years.

EDUCATION: I am just about as educated as it is possible to be. I hold the university degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. Unfortunately, this does tend to freak some people out a bit but it doesn't really mean much in everyday life. The Doctorate of Philosophy is the degree that scientists normally get and that is what I am basically. I am a social scientist. So I understand more about people than some do but there is also an awful lot about them that I don't understand. I give some of the history of my education below.

WORK: I taught in the School of Sociology at the University of NSW in Sydney from 1971 to 1983. I was very good at my job by most criteria but by 1983 (when I was 39 and a Senior Lecturer), I had made a lot of money out of various real estate investments (doing up properties etc.) so no longer had to work for my living. I therefore retired to Queensland at that time. For the last 20 years and more I have mostly lived on my private income. I do however like to keep a low profile and am not very materialistic. I do however enjoy tracking my stockmarket investments. I seem to be very good at picking growth stocks so enjoy seeing myself getting richer all the time. It is basically just a game to me, however. I mostly just let the money sit there and laugh as I watch it grow. So I am one of the rare academics who is good in business too.

MARITAL: I have had two long-term relationships (of 7 and 10 years) which resulted in marriages. The second lady of those is below.

Jenny and I in 1985

She left me in the early '90s -- so I am well past my upset over that. (I have felt on top of the world for most of the subsequent time, in fact). I was helped to readjust by the fact that while the marriage failed, good will between us continued.

I have one son born in 1987 who did well at university and who now has a good job in IT. He has his own home now -- a nicely renovated '50s house. I saw him regularly during his childhood and still see a lot of him. I have always liked children and tend to get on well with them. I even got on well with my three stepchildren when I had them. And I still think marriage is great for those who are lucky enough to fall in love!

This file is a greatly abridged version of the original. The full file is now available as follows:




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AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. I update those frequently.

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