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Remembering Kathy

Kathy is someone I will never forget, it has been a long time since she was tragically taken, but memories of our time together are still strong. There are a couple of funny memories I would like to share, I hope they bring a smile to your face as they do to mine.

Although Kathy and I had our ups and downs like all friends, somehow things always worked out. We were workmates first and then friends, and while we had a lot in common, at the same time we were very different. Kathy had a failed marriage, and I had a failed marriage, and I think that was the common bond.

I remember one day I went to the toilet and the zipper on my pants broke, Kathy knew I had to go home by train so she offered to stitch my pants together, so she did, with me in them. In between pleading with her to be careful where she put that needle, and threatening her should she slip, we laughed. I suppose you had to be there but the office got a good laugh at my expense.

My funniest memory, well you need some background first. In those days I often worked back, and I was often the last one in the building. One night when I was alone the hand dryer in the men’s toilet went off, I crapped myself and rang my son, I told him to stay on the line while I checked it out, and if I was not back in five minutes he was to call the police, needless to say I went back. Silly me , I made the mistake of laughing about it in the office the next day, little did I know that one day that hand dryer, and Kathy, would come back to haunt me.

A few months later I was working back again, although this time I was supervising the office staff, Kathy amongst them, as they were keying a recent stocktake. Anyway I was in my office and the girls were down the passage way in the open office, glass petitions all the way, although only half way up.

After a while that damned hand dryer went off again, and again I crapped myself as I knew that no-one other than me was in that end of the building, and none of the girls had come anywhere near my office. I decided to casually meander down to be with the girls and keep to myself what had happened, I did not want to look like a woos.

As I got to the open office I noticed that Kathy was not at her desk and the other girls could not contain themselves, they were roaring with laughter. Kathy had crawled on her hands and knees the entire length of the building and snuck past my open door to set off the hand dryer.

Not to be outdone I hid under Kathy’s desk and a few minutes later she came down the passage way wetting herself with laughter and asked the girls where I was, at which time I jumped out from under her desk and got my own back. A silly memory, but  a happy one. RIP Kathy.

Skin Deep

You know the old saying that beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes right to the bone, well I don’t think they were talking about looks here, they were referring to our souls, our attitudes, the way we treat others. You know that other old saying do unto others, I believe in that.

I will never understand why we cannot accept ourselves with all our flaws, particularly the physical. I know that being overweight is not a good thing, so yes we should probably all be conscious of our weight, just as long as it does not become a obsession and lead too far the other way, being too much under weight is just as serious.

What I do not understand is people’s obsession with cosmetic surgery, in particular the female obsession. I ducked for cover as I wrote that one. Nose jobs, boob jobs, butt jobs, the list goes on. I am all for plastic surgery for medical reasons, but not for reasons of pure vanity, of not being happy with how you look, and don’t blame the men in your life, if they cannot love you as you are they are not worth the effort. I ducked again then.

I think we have all had a giggle at those that take things too far, it’s sad really, sad that they feel they need to go to such extraordinary lengths to be beautiful, when really they look ridiculous. If I was younger and single I don’t think I would be attracted to someone who had obviously had plastic surgery, I would prefer to know what someone really looks like. I want to know what my children will look like to, I don’t like surprises.

Spray tanning is another obsession that I just don’t get, I am so tired, despite the giggles it brings, of seeing orange oompa loompas everywhere I go. Yes I know that oompa looopas are blue, but writing it made me laugh. I like looking at a nicely tanned body as much as anyone else, but I prefer it to look natural, although not to that dark, leathery state that also makes me laugh.

OK, that’s me done. Fire back, I can take it.


Strange Pets

Like most children I had quite normal pets when I was growing up, we had a number of cats and goldfish at different times, one dog, and of course there was my racing pigeons, not really pets but that will do for the sake of the exercise.

In turn my own children had their own pets, again a number of cats and goldfish, a couple of dogs, an axolotl, and hermit crabs. I wouldn’t say they were deprived of pets would you?

Well apparently the axolotl and the hermit crabs did not satisfy their urges for the unusual. Son number 4 has the goldfish, dog and cat, but not Son number 3, no he has a saltwater crocodile, not a particularly big one at the moment but the potential is there. I hear on the grapevine that he wants to add to his menagerie, I shudder to think.

Shudder is exactly what I do when I now visit Son number 1, he has a guinea pig, two dogs, a cat, a tortoise, and a budgerigar, nothing unusual there you might say, but then there are the four rats, and why does he have four rats, why to breed and feed his two pythons, why else? Why else, to scare the crap out of his father that is why else.

Thank you Son number 3, you only have a dog and he is on holiday with us.

Mariners Restaurant

A couple of weeks ago Brian and I went to Mariners Restaurant at the Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia with good friends Jo and Kate. All four of us were looking forward to a great night out and good food as we had heard good things about this restaurant. What a disappointment it turned out to be, it took forever for our entrées to arrive and there was hardly anyone else in the restaurant, we could only assume they had a function going on somewhere.

For entrée I ordered Oysters Grilled, Japanese Style with Soy, Mirin, Pickled Ginger and Caviar, I absolutely love oysters and I love Japanese food, so I thought I was onto a winner. The oysters were pathetically small but I could look past that except that they had no taste. The pickled ginger was shriveled and looked like it had been under a griller, first strike. I complained to the maitre’d and he gave me a free drink, and although I appreciated the gesture I would rather have enjoyed my oysters.

Main course and I ordered Twice Cooked Pork Belly with Scrumpy Cider Jelly, Cauliflower Florets, Basil Crisps and Cherry Vinegar Glaze, pork is my favourite meat and I couldn’t wait to tuck in. The cauliflower was roar and the pork belly was stone cold so I complained yet again, and again the maitre’d made his apologies. Brian had Sous vide Atlantic Salmon Cutlet with Cauliflower Puree, Grilled Asparagus & Butter Glaze, and he also sent that back.

Take two and this time my pork belly was hot, fresh from the microwave, but alas no cauliflower or jelly. That was it for me and when the maitre’d asked if we were ready for dessert I politely explained that he was not getting the opportunity of a third strike and we asked for the bill.

I have to say that the maitre’d handled it all very well, he was only young and it was not his fault. We were not charged for my meals and will not be going back.


Recognising the Australian Aborigines

Before I get into this let me start by saying that I am not in any way racist, nor do I judge anyone by their religion, gender, age, sexuality, political persuasion, or personal beliefs of any kind. I believe there is good and bad in all races and religions.

There has been a lot of advertising on Australian television in recent months about recognising the Australian Aborigines in the Australian constitution, I must be naive as to me this was a given, I thought they already were. I believe that if you were born in Australia, or you have become an Australian citizen, that you are then entitled to any and all privileges or otherwise of being an Australian, no less, and certainly no more. What I do not believe in is apologising for things that have happened historically, things that I was not, or my generation was not, involved in.

Another thing that I object to most strongly, and I witnessed this first hand some years ago, I will not pay anyone for the privilege of being at one with nature, the way we should all be entitled. As an example some years ago Brian and I drove to Perth and on the way we thought we would do some whale watching, as we drove towards the observation site we found that we had to pay a fee to the local aboriginal people, in fact there was a manned shed of sorts blocking our way, we turned around and drove off.

I am not mocking Aboriginal culture or their heritage in any way here, but I do not believe that any culture should profit in this way. I am happy to pay anyone for their services, for the goods they make, for the things they have grown, , I would gladly pay to see a cultural event, but I will not pay for the sake of paying. The Aboriginal people of Australia should look to the Maori people of New Zealand, they are  a shining example of a people who are proud of their heritage, and the positive way in which they celebrate their culture and share it with others is inspirational.

Help! Get me out of here!

There have been two occasions in my life when I have been stuck in an awkward place through no fault of my own. The first time was quite funny, the second time not so much, although as I look back I see the funny side now, and perhaps it was an omen of things to come.

In the late seventies I worked as a sales assistant in a hardware store, we sold everything from nuts and bolts, to doors, to tiles, to outdoor settings, everything in fact that one would expect to find in a hardware store. It was one particular sale of an outdoor setting that brought me unstuck.

As you can imagine we had all varieties of outdoor settings assembled and on display, but they were actually sold in kit form, what we would refer to today as flat packs. Thee flat packs were stored at the very top of our storage racks in the warehouse, and could only be accessed via a forklift, and as I had sold the setting it was my job to be lifted up on the forklift to manouvre the outdoor setting onto the forklift, no such thing as pallets in those days.

Back in the seventies forklifts were powered by gas bottles, and you guessed it, just as I got to the top and was about to be moved towards the racking the forklift ran out of gas, and there I sat whilst someone went to the supplier and bought another one. That’s right, there was no spare on site. Whatever would OH&S say about that today.

The second occasion happened to be on my wedding day, as the groom I had little to do other than get myself ready so I was despatched to pick up the flowers. On the drive back I decided that my car needed a wash, after all I was the bridegroom and couldn’t turn up in a dirty car. The year was 1980 and car washes were not quite as modern as they are today.

Anyway I pulled up, put my money in the slot and entered the car wash. As I in my car contemplating my upcoming nuptials it suddenly dawned on me that I had been sitting there rather a long time, but I had no choice but to sit out. I sat there, and I sat there, and then I realised the car wash had stalled and I was stuck, water splashing, brushes twirling.

I started to honk my horn but the car wash was some distance from the petrol station shop and the attendant could not hear me. Someone walked by so I honked some more and waved my arms around but to no avail, they didn’t even notice. Eventually a passerby did notice, they went into the attendant and a few minutes later, in my very, very clean car, I was on my way to deliver the flowers, and we all know how that ended.

Living in the 70s

Our formative years, the years when we go from being a child to a teenager to a young adult, for me those years coincided exactly with the 70s, the disco era, what wonderful memories. The Old Lion, the Melbourne Street Underground, Suzi Quatro, dare I say it Garry Glitter, Sweet, Abba, KC and the Sunshine Band, the memories come flooding back.

Anyway back to November 1970 when  I turned 12, I attended Hope Valley Primary School and I was in Grade 7 as we called it then. Mr Hoff was my teacher and my overriding passion was pigeon racing. I did not have a lot of friends, just Chris really, in fact this is when I really started to get bullied, I did not like sport and I was not very good at it, it was the start of a tumultuous decade in my life.

In 1971 I started First Year high school at Modbury High School, I didn’t do too bad academically, I wasn’t top of the class as I had been in primary school but I was up there, I held my own. I still was not interested in sport, and I was definitely one of the weaker students, I was no good at craft either, things like woodwork, metal work and plastics, and again I was bullied. I got my first girlfriend in First Year, Angelica, I thought she was it and a bit, but like all teenage romances it fizzled quite quickly.

Second Year came in 1972 and I started to make some friends, mainly with what would today be referred to as nerds, but at least they were friends, I started to fit in somewhere. This is when I first met Tom and Phillip, not that I am saying they were necessarily nerds. My grades started to slip though and from then on they declined steadily as I tried to fit in with the cool kids, I did not want to be a nerd, I desperately wanted to be one of the cool kids.

Third Year in 1973 was a turning point for me, I was making real friends, lifelong friends that I am proud to say I still see today. The students from the new Banksia Park High School moved to Modbury High as their new school was not quite ready, something that I am eternally grateful for. Mandy, Anita, Christine, you all know who you are, and over time the group  grew as we welcomed, two Julies, Louise, Fiona, Margaret, and others.

Moving on to 1974 and I just scraped through my exams, but I did have a new friend in Sylvia, but in 1975 when I was doing my Matriculation Year all interest in study was gone, I wagged school constantly, and failed my exams dismally. I had just tuned 17.

In December 1975 I got my first job selling encyclopedias door to door, and then moved on to circuit breakers. You don’t have to be Einstein to work out how that went, I had neither the confidence, the personality, or the drive to succeed here, but before long I had my first full-time job as a sales assistant for Lloyds Australia, and then three years later I was managing a small independent hardware store before becoming unemployed early in 1980.

Back tracking to 1979 when my life changed forever, I met my ex-wife, became a father, and then got married, in that order. The racing pigeons were gone by now but my friends from Banksia Park, Chris from primary school, and Sylvia, Phillip and Tom from Modbury High, were very much a big part of my life. Four wonderful children later, well we all know how that ended, enter Brian, but I still have those wonderful friends.


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