Flashback Friday | Clive James reflects on childhood during Kogarah centenary celebrations in 1985

Clive James recalled riding his bike to Cronulla and meeting his first girlfriend at Carss Park baths when he returned to Australia for Kogarah Council's centenary celebrations in 1985.

The writer, broadcaster and critic, who died on November 24, 2019, in England, was a special guest at a reception at the Kogarah Historical Society Museum, Carss Cottage, at Carss Park.

The Leader report on July 23, 1985, said it was "a low key visit, with the guests restricted to Kogarah aldermen and community workers".

"Mr James expanded on his childhood memoirs and told of riding his bike to Cronulla by way of the then Taren Point punt - an epic journey in the early post-war days," the report said.

He said Carss Park held particular memories - "It was here, in the tidal pool, that I met my first girlfriend".

James, who was dubbed the Kid from Kogarah after the publication of his book Unreliable Memoirs, admitted that, while he was born in a private hospital opposite Kogarah fire station, the house in Margaret Street, in which he spent his childhood and where his mother still lived, was actually in Rockdale municipality.

"Although, technically my childhood home was in Rockdale municipality, the suburb was Kogarah," he said.

"For this reason I am proud to have been asked to be associated with the centenary celebrations."

In 2014, the Leader reported on a State Library art exhibition on Clive James and his childhood area.

The report said Kogarah artist Steve Lopes wanted Sydney to know there was great beauty and creativity in suburbia, and it was Clive James who showed him that.

Lopes, 43, who grew up in the same suburb, read James as a student at Marist College Kogarah.

The report said Lopes relished the passages he would find squirrelled away in the pages that referenced and described his own suburb and its surrounds: the park at the end of Margaret Street, where Lopes would play sport; Kogarah station (deliciously described in a sarcastic passage as "the height of Sydney's architectural achievement, beating even the Harbour Bridge"), and Ramsgate Baths where James would "dive bomb near the edge of the pool to drench the girls, do mildly difficult acrobatic tricks, smoke and comb my hair".

"He added a kind of magic to these places," Lopez said.