Charles Herbert Christian-Bailey was born on November 17th, 1931, the third child of Dorothy (nee Christian) and George Bailey. Mick was born down "Lockett's". This was a small Maternity home run by a midwife Mrs Collison in Cascade Road, opposite Henny’s Lake.
Shortly after he was born, Mrs Collison carried him out to show his older brother Bernie, who was only about two years old at the time. She asked Bernie what the baby’s name should be, and made several suggestions to him. Bernie said no to them all, and finally when she suggested “Micky”, Bernie said “Yes, Micky” – and so the name stuck as his nickname from birth, even though he was given the family names of Charles Herbert at his baptism.
Mick and his brother Bernie and sister Norma were all born in close proximity, and the third brother Len arrived a few years later. The family lived and grew up in “Cosy Corner” on Middlegate Road, which is the house Mick has lived in now for the last 40 or more years.
In 1942, Mick’s parents went to Sydney, so his father could enlist in the Army. Mick stayed with Aunt Em for a while, but eventually joined his parents in Sydney, where he finished his schooling at Darlinghurst Public School. The family lived in Woollahra, and Micky and his sister and brothers used to enjoy going to Bondi for a swim, or hiring horses from stables in Randwick to ride through Centennial Park. The horse riding helped them feel less homesick for Norfolk Island.
After leaving school, he worked for a grocery chain S.R. Buttles for a number of years.
Then, looking to broaden his experience he went to New Guinea to work first for an oil company, and later for a Copra and Cocoa Plantation at Buka in Bougainville.
Mick returned to Sydney and lived in Lane Cove with his parents. He worked with his father George on Maintenance at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Paddington, before returning home to Norfolk Island in the early sixties.
Back on Norfolk Island, Mick worked at various jobs, including farming and fencing contracting, and also working the ship. He earned a reputation for being a strong, fit and hard worker, and his fellow workers always found him good company because of his wonderful sense of humour and friendly banter.
Also Micky is no stranger to this place. Later he became Sexton of this Cemetery which was a position he held until his retirement just over ten years ago.
Mick took enormous pride in his job and set a very high standards for keeping the Cemetery and the surrounding areas in immaculate condition.
In 1964 Valerie Fuller came to Norfolk for a holiday and met Mick, They courted by long distance for 4 years before Valerie moved to Norfolk permanently in 1968 to be with Mick. Val got a job as a nursing sister at the hospital. Mick and Val were married at St Barnabas in 1974, and together they had two daughters, Olivia and Virginia.
Mick and Val's Wedding in April 1974. Both brother Bernie and Mother Dorothy can be seen laughing happily in the background. George (Poppa) is nursing our daughter Miriam
Mick, Norma, Bernie and Len with their parents George and Dorothy at their 60th Wedding Anniversary
Mickey took great delight in his family and would do anything for them. We know he will be sadly missed by the girls and his four grandchildren – Alex, Hannah, Michael and Simone. Unfortunately, it has not been possible for Olivia to come from the United States at this time, but she was able to see her father while he was in hospital in Sydney, which was a joy to them both.
One thing that Mickey will undoubtedly be remembered for is his amazing ability in the garden growing vegetables. Val told me that earlier in their married life, she used to love to grow flowers. But too often she would wake early in the morning to hear the tractor going outside the bedroom window, and when she got up, she would find yet another flower bed had been rotary hoed up for carrots or cabbage. “Well, you can’t eat flowers!” Mick would say. So Val gave up on the flowers, knowing every available patch of dirt would most likely be given over to veges!
Only yesterday I was able to dig some carrots planted within a few feet of Mick and Val's house where flower gardens would normally be. Mick had planted these before he got ill.
Mick’s vegetables were generally huge, otherwise he thought "car-do"(not good enough). Any sweet tatie (kumera)he dug smaller than massive would often end up in various people's pig pens. He became an expert at growing vegetables in great quantities, and, in true Norfolk style, he was extremely generous. In his retirement, he spent lots of time in giving away vast quantities of vegetables not only to family and friends, but to many old folk and young families on the island.
He was also willing and keen to pass on tips about growing things to younger folk. So if Mick ever gave you advice about the best time to plant corn, or what to feed your cabbages or capsicums, make sure you put it into practice, write it down, and pass on the knowledge to others. If you don’t, there is a whole wealth of skill and knowledge that this true Islander acquired through years of experience which may be lost.
There is no doubt that Micky had an enormous sense of fun. Most of us will long remember wonderful stories about Mick’s sense of humour. He loved to joke and wind people up, especially visitors he got chatting to on the wharf or here at the Cemetery.
I remember him telling me recently of the occasion he went to the doctor, and Doctor Fletcher told him his blood pressure was so dangerously high that he ought to be dead……….
“Waal,… I’m sorry to disappoint you!” Mick said in his usual humour.
Also about 37 years ago on the occasion of my mother and fathers wedding in Sydney, Mick sent a telegram from Norfolk with the cryptic message of. “Hang - on – tight – Nan's - Goodness”. Later on when a confused Mary asked what it meant, she learnt that this is what Bernie’s (and Micks) grandmother Settie used to sing out to young Bernie from across the paddock when he was a small boy as he was trying to control a frisky horse. ……Hang on tight, Nan’s Goodness.
I have been told that in Micks younger years, he spent a lot of time mimicking his old uncle Gillie Bailey ……. so much so, they say, that he eventually became just like him!!!
For those who may not have been on Norfolk for very long, Norfolk Islanders have a way of remembering the funny, unique or “Mard”(mad, crazy) sayings and actions of it’s people…..It’s called - “Dar thing fe dems”.
Micky, you will go down in history as one of Norfolk’s real characters.
You could always hear his friendly laughter from a great distance. Also I can clearly see his trademark stance, shuffle and slap of the knee when he roared with laughter.
In many ways he was a very private person, but he still enhanced and endeared the lives of many people in this community through his friendliness and great generosity.
The last 6 months have been very difficult for Mick, and he has experienced a great deal of pain and adversity. But right up to the last, his sparkle and cheerfulness did not desert him. He was really glad to come home to his beloved Norfolk, and have the opportunity to enjoy a few meals of trumpeter, and see the old familiar faces.
Micky embodied the spirit of the true old Norfolk Islander, the qualities of which are words which we sing in the Pitcairn Anthem.
Micky will be greatly missed, not only by his family but by this community.