A funny thing happened on my way to the bank …

I first met Jim Dowling when I was 17 & we spontaneously linked arms to march out of King George Square into a mosh pit of Queensland cops. They were there to enforce the ban on Street marches, demonstrations and free speech! 


I was a weedy kid and was duly bashed by a humungous corrupt plain clothes detective John Frédéric Johnstone – from the corrupt Consorting Squad and then (par for the course) I was framed on “assaulting a police officer”. 

It was the early years of video and I had to go through reams of it to find witnesses to the incident. I tracked Jim down to get him to testify at my court case.

 I had the corrupt Magistrate William Joseph McKay and was duly fitted up, framed and convicted by the Pigs.

Flames of discontent
A few days later a friend rang McKay to ascertain his correct address went to his two-storied brick home in an outer suburb, Beenleigh, poured petrol on his lawn, lit it and read out loud Marx’s Grundisse (Fundamentals of Political Economy Criticism) in the shivering flames of discontent. He called on the magistrate to atone for his crimes against the working class! Having finished his epistle, my friend demanded that McKay re-imburse him for fines levied unjustly by said magistrate and vanished into the dark.

It was the 1970’s, things like that happened!

Anyways, I lost contact with Jim until Christmas 1981 bumping into him in the mail sorting rooms of Roma Street Post Office where we both had seasonal work. I gave him a copy of our Christian anarchist newsletter and later in 1982, he moved in the Catholic Worker House we had started for homeless aboriginal kids in West End Brisbane. And Jim had pretty much stayed put for decades – in a variety of locales pursuing the Catholic Worker vision + praxis ever since. 

Jim and I are very different and in some ways very similar – stubborn, dogged, Christian Brothers educated and trying our best to follow the praxis pioneered by Dorothy Day, Dan & Phil Berrigan. 

During the street marches of 1977-79 where Ciaron and Jim were placed in cells in Boggo Road Jail . Ciaron was jailed on the whim of corrupt police and magistrate William Joseph McKay.

We spent 2 years living together, decades resisting and getting arrested together. We spent time together in Boggo Road Jail where we tried (unsuccessfully) to help Gary Grey and others escape… as was our understanding of practising “the acts of mercy” at the time! Gary had much more success with escapoligy later – making it all the way to Darwin before recapture! 

If “hillbilly” wasn’t such a Protestant  term and Jim wasn’t such a devout Catholic you may want to hang it on him. But you would be mistaken – Jim is a deeply reflective man who has had the rough edges knocked off him by me and others he lived in community with, the poor he has hosted, the woman he married and the children he raised. 

What follows is a very funny tale by Jim about his inter action with a bank and 2 Bishops! 

To read the full article go to https://workersbushtelegraph.com.au/essays-2/barefoot-in-the-bank/

It takes place shortly after he and other Catholic Workers protested outside the military mass (complete with weapons in the Cathedral !) on ANZAC Day and a couple of years after he and other Catholic Workers removed a sword embedded in a cross at a Brisbane war memorial – on ANZAC DAY. 


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