There are four wonderful things in the life of Bearbrass Treasurer Mike Brophy: bridge, golf, his 1780 grandfather clock and his wife Ingrid, our fellow-member. The clock is a long-case version by William Pike of Totnes, Devon, and is 7ft tall. Mike’s had it for 40 years and two overhauls. He bought it from a Mt Waverley antique shop. It had belonged to an English medico who had probably passed away. It still has its original hand-painted dial and pine case, and the chain was hand-made by Pike’s apprentice out of some wire.
Mike has to re-wind it a lot, i.e. lift up the 20lb lead weight, and it takes 30 hours to run down. “Sadly I just run it occasionally because the chiming clangs are so loud they’d wake the dead. In Pike’s day servants needed to hear the chimes out in the house yards,” he says.
In bridge, he’s still ranked as a bridge “novice” but plays seriously two mornings weekly. “You can learn bridge in five hours but you need five years to become a reasonable player. I have a book, ‘25 Conventions Every Bridge Player Must Know’ but I’ve mastered only half a dozen. You have to get in tune with your partner, know how to interpret whatever he/she’s playing. You can get really wrung out after a three-hour game.”
The world’s best professional player, by the way, used to be the handsome film star Omar Sharif.
Mike grew up in Essendon and left St Bernard’s with Leaving certificate. His first job in 1962 was clerking with Colonial Mutual in the Collins and Elizabeth St tower, then the tallest in Melbourne. He “didn’t last long there” (he refuses to elaborate) and joined Flexible Drives, run then at Ascot Vale by ex-Collingwood ruckman Jock McHale Jr. It produced instrument panels for Holdens and Falcons in what was then the great era of car tariff protection.
“With my expert knowledge a mate and I on holiday in Tasmania hired a Hertz car and pulled over and disconnected the odometer cable, as we were charged on mileage. We’d only got another mile when smoke began pouring out from under the car and we regretted our crime. Luckily it was just a bit of oil leaking from our handiwork and dripping onto the hot muffler.”
He liked computers and joined Hilton Hosiery in Brunswick which was computerising its accounts. The big computer had less than one kilobyte of memory. That compares with 1  terabyte or one thousand million bytes in some $750 laptops today. “But we did all sort of clever things with that computer,” he says.
Next, he won hands down an aptitude test against 10 other lads for a computer job with Burroughs and at 24, was into IT analysis and programming. This got him a four week study trip on production control to Detroit headquarters in 1970. Detroit then was the centre of the car universe, now a big urban slum. “The Ford factory was enormous, with steel being poured at one end and cars out the other. They put so much chemicals into the Rouge River alongside that the water would spontaneously catch fire in summer.” (Picture left: The old Ford factory in Detroit).
Back in Australia he began improving his education part-time, and with a B.Ec. (Monash) joined a Deloitte predecessor firm and stayed with chartered firms the next 34 years in IT and management consulting. “None of the auditors would talk to me because I wasn’t a chartered accountant, so I spent two years passing the tough charter course. It proved of zero practical value but at least I could fit in with the firm’s aristocrats.”
Things were formal in those days. With Irish Young and Outhwaite, he got an invite to their Christmas party on the 7th floor RACV roof garden in Queen Street. It was stinking hot. One day before the next Christmas party, a partner took him aside “to discuss his protocol-breaking behaviour last year”. Mike was perplexed: what behaviour? The partner: “I know it was hot but you took off your jacket before our chairman had said that gentlemen could remove their jackets.” They’d kept tabs on him a whole year about that.
Another old-fashioned business he consulted to was Bryant & May match factory where executives would be lined up at Christmas and the chairman gave them cash bonuses in an envelope – probably just making up their pay to commercial rates.
Mike retired in 2003 but with offers too good to refuse, he was working two days and golfing two days each week. He gave up in 2010 when it looked like Ingrid needed brain surgery and quite a lot of recovery, but, thankfully, she dodged that bullet.
Ingrid and Mike love Europe and have a flat in Prague as base. He’s enjoyed tracing his family history from Crathie, Scotland which adjoins the Queen’s Balmoral Castle. His family traces back to the Crusaders. But his Irish documents went up in smoke when the English shelled the Dublin Post Office in the 1916 Easter Uprising. 
At 75, he’s just been presented with his first great grandchild Cleo, via granddaughter Rachel and daughter Lisa. He also has two sons and four other grandkids.