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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.

Oops!

Last night I went to see one of my sons, he has not lived where he is very long and this was only my second visit, and the first by myself at night without Brian driving. Can you see a pattern developing?

Anyway off I went to where I thought he lived, and after driving around for a while I called Brian to see if he could remember how to get there only to find that he was having a senior’s moment as well.

You know the saying “there is more than one way to skin a dead cat”, my apologies to all the feline lovers, I had my phone so I thought I would use the Maps App and see where it took me. I could not get the damn thing to display anything other than my home address. What to do next? I did not want to call my son and own up to the fact I did not know where he lived so I called my oldest son Kane. After a couple of calls Kane talked me through how to get there, and before I knew it I was parking out the front of the correct block of units, what a relief.

Now you would think that nothing else could possibly go wrong at this point, well think again. I remembered that my son’s unit was the second one in and as I walked towards the unit the roller door opened and out reversed a car, bugger I thought, he is on his way out so I rushed over only to see his former partner in the driver’s seat, I flicked my head in the direction of the unit as if to say “Is he inside”, and she kind of nodded so I walked through the garage to the door.

Next thing I hear a woman’s voice saying excuse me but who are you and what are you doing in my garage…..Oops! Wrong garage, it was not my son’s ex partner, and I was feeling kind of stupid.

After apologising profusely to this poor girl for frightening her, and being quietly thankful that no male companion was around to punch me in the nose, I reoriented myself and walked off to the correct unit. I won’t make the same mistake again.

Happy 50th Debbie

Last night I took a short stroll down memory lane, and what pleasant memories they were. Brian and I were invited to a celebration marking the 50th birthday of Debbie, a friend once removed you might say. Before I go on, a brief history, a history that my dear friends from the Blue Gums group are sure to remember.

Back in the mid seventies I first met some of the best friends anyone could wish for, I attended Modbury High School and in 1973 I believe Banksia Park High School took in its first students, however as the buildings were not quite ready for the start of the school year the teachers and students took up temporary residence at Modbury. This is when I first met Mandy, Anita and Christine. Over the years our group grew to include a couple of Julies, Tracy, Louise, Fiona, Johanna, Margaret, and others. On the male side there was Tom, Philip, Bryan, Chris, and of course me. There were others that have come and gone but essentially this was the core group, I hope I have not forgotten anyone.

In the innocence of our mid teens we were inseparable, and most nights before we started to drive we were to be found walking the streets of the north-eastern suburbs, not getting up to any mischief, just being young. Often we would end up at one or other of the girl’s homes and we would sit and chat, listen to music, and of course it was the seventies so we all smoked, not that our parents knew we smoked…..much!

Into this mix came the Thompson family, Julie and her four brothers and sisters, and her very, very patient parents. It was to Julie’s bedroom that we congregated most nights  with the bedroom window open and smoke billowing outside from our cigarettes, who did we think we were trying to kid, occasionally Julie’s younger siblings would open the bedroom door only to be met by a haze of cigarette smoke.

Fast forward forty something years and last night I was back in the Thompson home celebrating the 50th birthday of Julie’s younger sister Debbie, what a lovely night. Mrs Thompson and her second son Paul are sadly no longer with use, but Mr Thompson is as sprightly as ever. I remember that we all showed Mr and Mrs Thompson the utmost respect, and we were in awe of Mr Thompson as he could sometimes come over as a bit gruff.

In those days Mr Thompson worked at a local petrol station, this was in the days when they put the petrol in for you, checked your oil, and cleaned your windscreen. I remember feeling quite chuffed because on those occasions when I frequented that particular petrol station Mr Thompson had to serve me, it always brought a wry smile to my face.

It is a shame that more of us could not have been at the party last night. I was touched by the greeting I received not only from Mr Thompson, but also Debbie, Darren and Andrew, it was a lovely night. Happy 50th Debbie, you are no longer a friend once removed, you are my friend.

 

Same-Sex Marriage

Same sex marriage, what an emotive issue this is. It would seem that the majority of Australians are all for same sex marriage, let’s see what our politicians think this week when a private member’s bill is introduced.

I am all for same-sex marriage, not that it will make any difference to my relationship. Brian and I will never “tie the knot”, what’s the point, it will make no difference to our relationship at all. Brian and I have been on the same Medicare card for years, we are recognised as a couple by the ATO, and virtually everything we own  is in joint names. We have wills that state we are next of kin, when one goes the other gets everything, we are as “married” as any other de facto couple. Maybe if we were younger.

It is future generations that I am happy for, it should not matter who you love, it should only matter that you love someone and they love you, and you are willing to devote the rest of your lives to each other.

While I am about it I detest labels, I do not like the way that the word “gay” is used, once it simply meant jovial or happy, good-spirited, but now it has entirely different connotations . Why do we insist on labels, why do we have to change the meaning of the simplest of words, is it not enough that you just love someone.

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Port Elliot

Brian and I are not long home from a relaxing weekend away in Port Elliot, with three very dear friends. We drove down on Friday evening and had a lovely dinner at the Hotel Elliot, made all the more pleasant by the fact that they miscalculated our drink bill, in our favour. Par for the course I am afraid, I am sure we made similar mistakes we had our own café and pub.

Saturday morning we drove to the outdoor market in Victor Harbor, Saturday night we had takeaway from Mr India which was quite nice, and then this morning a hearty breakfast at Cockles.

We stayed in a house owned by a former workmate from my days at Wattyl, Brian and I had the master bedroom and en suite. Unfortunately the bed was bloody hard so I am very much looking forward to our own bed tonight.

One of the three ladies we were with is very much a “glass half empty” type of person so the weekend was not without its challenges, but overall good food, good company, and a lovely weekend away.

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