Monthly Archives: June 2009

Last Mondays Column – Crabbing With Nev

(Hi Regular Readers, it’s been a bit quiet this week at owing to the fact that I’ve been away on a trip to NSW, will be back home soon and blogging my little heart out…)

The thing about having a mate like ‘No Worries’ Neville is that my social life is:

a) never boring, b) full of humorous and interesting incidents, and c) slowly killing me. 

Nev is one of those people who tends not to worry about most things.  To him, Planet Earth is just one big playroom full of exciting and interesting stuff to see and do.  Nev works and plays hard; sometimes a little too hard. 

For example, crabbing for me is a gentle putter up a small inlet to drop in a couple of pots, followed by a few hours of casual fishing, and popping back to pick up the pots before going home.  If we manage to catch a crab and some fish, then that is a bonus.  This style of hunting does not appeal to Nev, as it flies in the face of his ‘boots and all’ ethos. 

Nevs’ trips are all about killing bin loads of crabs, and much preparation goes into each expedition.  The boat is meticulously prepared, the crew carefully chosen (usually me and his dog), the area to be crabbed is given the once over the day before, then the bait is selected depending on the tides, the time of year, the current moon cycle and solar index, water acidity and wind direction.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, is left to chance.

My role on these missions is holding the boat on the ramp while Nev parks the car, packing the stinking lumps of bait into their little pouches, and trying to keep the dog out of the mud and the bait bin.  On the water, Nev usually drives the boat, selects the best spots to place the pots, and fends off his wet, muddy coated, bait breathed dog, while I drop and pick up the pots.  I’m now also in charge of keeping any stray mudcrabs away from Nevs’ feet until we get back to the ramp. 

This last job came about from an incident which occurred when a mudcrab, dropped out of a pot I was shaking over the esky, landed on the deck and scuttled under the false floor of the boat before we could catch it.  We spent nearly twenty minutes trying to coax it out, before Nev said, “No worries, we’ll get it at the boat ramp.”  We picked up the rest of the pots, and turned for home at Nevs’ usual pace.  Flat out. 

Halfway back to the ramp my eyes were drawn to movement under Nevs’ seat.  The muddie burst from the shadows, dashing between Nevs’ bare feet towards the pile of empty pots.  Nev and I leaped on it, scrabbling about in the mess of nets, ropes and floats to catch the little blighter.  Nev cried out it triumph, “Gotcha!” just as a thought occurred to me; “Nev!” I yelled over the roar of the outboard, “Who’s driving the boat?!” 

We turned to see a wall of mangroves rushing towards us.  Nev shrieked, and tossing the mudcrab onto my lap, lunged for the steering controls.  The boat turned so hard that the crab fell to the floor before it could attach itself to any of my appendages, and while I scrabbled to stay upright, several large mangrove branches thudded into my arm and the back of my head as we swept past the trees to the safety of the middle of the creek. 

Afterwards, in stunned silence, we did a quick tally of the damage.  To Nevs’ relief, his boat was unscathed owing to the fact that my arm, shoulder and head had borne the brunt of the impact with the trees.  Meanwhile, the crab had clambered back under the seat, and was sniggering at us.   

Back at the boat ramp we loaded the boat onto the trailer then started ripping up the floor to find the little stowaway.  It took ages, and when we finally managed to winkle it out of its’ hiding spot Nev held it aloft and groaned as he discovered that it was a female.  As he walked it to the waters’ edge he loudly gave it one of his famous lectures.  I don’t think she was listening, but it seemed to improve Nevs’ mood because he was smiling as he returned to his now disheveled boat, “No worries mate!” he beamed, giving my severely bruised shoulder a couple of hearty slaps, “Live and learn eh?” 

 I certainly have.  We haven’t crabbed together since.

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Last Mondays Column – Career Choices

In my real job I work in a local refinery, I won’t go into details, but the next time you’re enjoying a beer, spare a thought for the many folk working round the clock in your town to make that handy little can. 

It’s a far cry from my original career choice, when as a young school leaver I wanted to be a Parks and Wildlife Officer.  I pictured a life of cruising through the bush in a 4WD, flying helicopters, and chatting with the local wildlife, just like on Skippy.  Well, one thing followed another, and I never quite got round to pursuing that particular vocation.  For which I am now very grateful.        

During a visit to a National Park, a Ranger parked his truck near our campsite and wandered over.  “Hullo,” I said cheerfully, and was greeted with a nod and a grunt.  Handing him the camping fees I tried again, “Nice day isn’t mate?”

“Not really,” he replied abruptly.    

It dawned on me that there was something wrong here.  We were in a beautiful park, on a great day, and this bloke looked about as happy as a child being dragged to the doctors for a shot.  I got a little annoyed, “Geez mate, you’re doing it tough aren’t you?” I said irritably, “Anytime you want to swap jobs just give me a call!” 

He looked up crossly, “Come with me,” he snapped, and led me toward the toilet blocks.  Now, having been bought up to follow instructions from folk in uniform I tagged along, but not without some anxiety.  I mean, there are limits to my obedience…

At the toilets, the Ranger pushed open the door and the rancid smell hit me like a well aimed half brick.  The scene that lay before us was appalling.  “Looks like we’ve had another Poo Picasso in today,” he said through gritted teeth. 

My astonished eyes took in the filth which had been smeared all over the floor, walls, doors, ceiling, and hand basins.  I stared mutely at the stomach turning scene, while he nipped back to his truck, returning moments later with some cleaning equipment.  “You know,” he said, slipping on a pair of thick rubber gloves, “it’s one thing to get away from civilization, but it’s quite another to be civilized when you do.”  I nodded in agreement, unable and unwilling to open my mouth. 

He started scraping the mess off the ceiling, “When I signed up,” he grunted, “I thought I’d be spending my days scuba diving, driving fast boats, and visiting tropical islands.”  Thrusting the mop back into the bucket he turned and poked me in the chest with a wet and filthy finger, “And do you know what I am mate?” his voice rising with anger, “I’m a bloody toilet cleaner!  That’s what my job boils down to; cleaning dunnies for filthy idiots who don’t know the meaning of the word ‘consideration’!  And I’ve got another two toilets to clean after this one,” he shrieked, “and you can take it from me pal, they’ll all be like this, or worse!  Then tomorrow, I get to do it all over again!”  

I shot through, leaving him standing alone, purple-faced in the doorway.  Later, I made my way to a secluded section of bush, clutching a small shovel and a roll of toilet paper, and squatting in natures’ relatively clean and fresh smelling restroom, I felt extremely relieved for a couple of reasons, one of them was for the simple fact that I hadn’t headed down the glittering career path of Parks Dunny Cleaner. 

A week later I was back at the refinery going about my routine duties with a smile on my face, grateful to be covered in the comparatively clean grime, muck and dust of my workplace.  It had dawned on me that the reason why the grass on the other side of the fence may look so green and lush, is because it is probably being watered by a very putrid bog just below the surface.

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Shipping Auditors Report

Name of Ship:  The “Greg Bray”

Ship Type: Standard cargo vessel.  Slightly wider mid-section, caused by overstocking on too much unused fuel.   

Engine:  Solid and reliable, reasonably well maintained, but has been run hard at times.  Runs well on good fuel, but will perform adequately on ‘rubbish’ for very limited amount of time, after which the engine will need purging and cleansing to remove harmful deposits and sludges.

Overall Ship Condition:  Some fair wear and tear, and minor damage from previous journeys where storms were encountered.  Some damage caused by neglect, or unexpected complications encountered during slightly rough passages.    

Multi Purpose Cargo Ship


 Skipper – Captain Brain is well seasoned, knowledgeable, insightful and has proven to be an excellent all rounder, and a reliable pilot for the ship, avoiding many close calls with destructive reefs and rocks.  His career has been slightly clouded by several groundings on the sandbars of negativity, the mudbanks of apathy, and the shoals of self doubt, and while he is careful to steer clear of these hazards, tends to fall prey to them when tired, overworked, or stressed.  Fortunately he has an experienced crew on hand to assist him, and on a number of occasions has been ably aided by passing vessels, many of which have since joined his fleet.   

First Mate Needs – Low maintenance, and easily satisfied; a pleasure to work with.

Second Mate Wants – Has caused trouble in the past, has a niggly, whiny voice, and can often be at odds with Needs, and must be reminded of just how well off he is to prevent bouts of envy.  Has calmed down, and is at ease with the rest of the crew.  

Chief Engineer Motivation – has some talent, and is at times extremely eager, but relies on praise, and a steady stream of positive input to keep the ship running on all cylinders.  Performed poorly in the past, but has pulled himself up by his bootstraps and is a joy to have on board.  Highly recommend the Chief clarifies his focus, as he can take on too many goals at once, which has caused some despondency in the past, resulting in him ‘dropping his bundle’.  Otherwise, is a solid performer and a keen self starter.   

Able Seaman Desires – hopes one day to go from being a mere cargo vessel worker to putting in some time on a pleasure cruiser, visiting exotic and exciting ports.  Needs to organise his future plans or will find himself stuck in a rut. 

Able Seaman Skills – has some talent, and is keen to be put to use, but is easily diverted by trifling distractions, and has, on some memorable occasions, been hijacked by Pirates wanting to use his particular abilities for their own selfish ends.  Advise for continuous development and motivation of this crew member, because if you don’t use him, you’ll lose him.  Some extra discipline won’t go astray either.   

Able Seaman Experience – has proven very useful to have on board, and seems to improve with each passing year.  Though, in the past has caused bouts of panic when regaling the rest of the crew with old tales of bitter events and closely avoided destruction.  Has been instrumental in almost ruining several journeys’ before they even started.  Was recently retrained, and now bears the motto over his bunk, “Worry about it when it happens!” 

Able Seaman Emotions – a generally happy-go-lucky sort of chap, but requires time alone on a regular basis to avoid being worn down, and feeling used up.  Is learning to think before acting or talking, and has taken some extremely positive steps to decrease severity of mood swings.  No sign of ‘Victim Mentality’ (aka: ‘Burning Martyr Syndrome’) evident during this inspection, a marked improvement. 

Able Seaman Cookie – has been retrained and is now providing the crew with a much improved diet, having modified food preparation and cooking methods to the delight of the entire ship.  Some poor foods were found in the galley, and his alcohol usage, while severely reduced, has caused problems in the past.  Captain advised to keep a close eye on this crew member.    

Rough Crossing

Suggested Improvements:    The vessel is currently dragging a number of large anchors, which are affecting the ships handling, performance, and fuel usage.  The following anchors are placing undue stress on the hull and the engine, and need to be removed, or reduced in size immediately:  Harmful Self Talk, Idle Distractions, Poor Choices, Slothfulness, Indecision, Anger and Fear.        

It is to be noted that several anchors which had been holding the ship back have been removed and have markedly improved the ship’s operation, in particular Old Grudges, Jumping to Conclusions, Poor Listening, Overthinking and Interrupting.  It is hoped that with further work on the remaining anchors that the ship will perform to it’s specified abilities in the very near future. 

Note:  The following anchors have been safely stored on board – Family and Friends. 

Conclusion:  The ship, if well maintained, should have many years of service left in it.  At this point it is being used for carrying some heavy loads on odd shifts, as well as making some small runs and pleasure journeys.  It is capable of longer more hazardous journeys, which should be undertaken before it gets much older, while it is still flexible enough to withstand heavy seas and strong winds. 

Changes to the superstructure, notably the removal of some excessive weight, and strengthening of the framework, have increased the life of service of the ship.  Improvements to the engine have improved the running, endurance and range of the vessel.  Toxic emissions have also been significantly reduced.  We advise the continued use of the correct fuels, and regular ‘runs’ to keep the vessel in ship shape condition in order to be ready for when it is finally given orders to complete it’s first long awaited journey. 

It also is recommended that the Captain and Crew continue to be given regular leave and leisure time to prevent stress, irritation, and aggravation.

 Altogether, the “Greg Bray” is a fairly happy ship.          


 Messr’s Lock, Stock and Barrel.


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LMC – The Neighborhood Watch

The Neighborhood Watch

 You can pick your job, your home, and your nose, but you can’t pick your family or your neighbours. 

 Police statistics reveal that the majority of calls they receive these days are from irritated folk who have had enough of their neighbours’ noise.  The din of stereo’s, grinders, barking dogs, revving cars, kids on motorbikes, out of control parties, and, you may not believe this, the clatter and clang of wind chimes, is starting to tip many people over the edge. 

Unfortunately, things can get worse once the police leave.  I learned this in Brisbane when our peaceful existence was shattered by the arrival of our new neighbour in his roaring V8, complete with blaring music.  It was so loud that I couldn’t hear the TV over the din.  Being a practical sort of person, I strolled across the road, and made some elaborate hand signals in his direction, then  watched in mounting horror as he unfolded himself from the drivers’ seat.

“What’s your problem?!” he snarled.

I gaped up at him, taking in the tattoos, scars, and bulging muscles, “Oh, just welcoming you to the neighborhood,” I squeaked before skittering back to the safety of my house.  That was the start of the month from hell. 

Day and night he played his terrible music at full volume, either in his car, or on the stereo in his unit.  When he grew bored with this, he would tune his car up by revving it loudly late into the night.  The police were called constantly by nearly every house within a four kilometer radius of his flat, but he had ESP, and every time a squad car appeared in the street, deafening silence would descend, and the boys in blue could do little more than give him a warning before departing.  Within seconds of the police car disappearing over the hill, the music and revving would start again, but accompanied now by the prolonged beeping of his air horns.  We were dealing with a regular sociopath here. 

Several covert neighbourhood meetings were held to discuss our options.  A lot of our elderly neighbors wanted me to take him to task.  I dismissed this option immediately, as I’ve spent a lifetime keeping my teeth in my head, and wasn’t keen on having them sprayed all over the street.     

Then one Saturday morning while he was at work, a removalist truck arrived and two cheerful young men in overalls started moving gear from his flat.  The entire street turned out to watch, and one of the old ladies up the road even doled out tea and biccies to the delight of the toiling men.  It was lunchtime when we waved farewell to the truck, and opened a few beers to celebrate the welcome return of peace and quiet.       

He turned up later that night, no doubt to check that everything had been done to his satisfaction, but moments later the street echoed to his cries of “Help!  I’ve been robbed!  I’ve been robbed!”  

I sat in stunned silence for a moment, then did what the rest of my neighbours did; turned off the lights and sat in the darkness biting my nails. 

A short silence was followed by the sound of my front door being hammered off its’ hinges by a very unhappy man.  “You in there!” he roared, “You must have seen something?!  You’re always watching my place!”   

For some reason I started laughing, which didn’t help matters.  “I’m calling the police mate,” he yelled, “we’ll see who’s laughing when they’re finished with you!” 

He called them.  They had a look round his empty unit, then interviewed all of his neighbours.  Apparently, not one of us had seen anything out of the ordinary that day… 

He left that night, never to return.  At least he didn’t have to worry about sorting and packing his possessions.  It was a lesson to all of us: be a little thoughtful toward your neighbours, as they might prevent your stuff being removed by a couple of cheerful men in overalls while you’re at work.  And if you’re real considerate, they might not even bother calling the ‘special removalists’ in the first place!

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Some Time Alone – sort of…

Mrs Gb is away and the ‘real me’ has hit the deck… I need help!

Yesterday, after sweeping the ‘dust bunnies’ out from under the bed (my fault because I use this area as an unofficial library), walking then washing the dogs, and clearing out a cupboard where I store all my ‘work stuff’, I sat down with my latest batch of library books (the happiest part of the week is the moment I dig into my library bag and select a book… the possibilities, the chance to learn something new, to be entertained), opened a packet of Sakata bikkies and a small tub of Tzatziki dip (I’m hooked on this stuff!  I wonder if there is a Tzatziki Dip Anonymous group in town?) and spent a blissful hour or so reading and relaxing.

Mrs Gb always laughs when she rings up from afar.  One time I spent my ‘alone’ week washing down the walls of the house and re-arranging the linen press.  It’s like Mr. Clean Freak is let off his leash during these times  😀 

This time I was determined not to tackle any domestic duties, just read, write and relax.  But… well, my sister-in-law’s car needs polishing, the shed could do with a spring clean, and I think I’ve worked out how to transfer all our family videos to DVD… as I said, I need help.

I’m a sucker for routines, work time, rest time, food time, writing time, reading time… why?  I think it is because if I don’t plan my day then I end up wasting time.  Either by working through all my meal breaks before collapsing at dusk, or alternatively, ignoring jobs that need doing, and while I’m trying to relax they’re clamouring for attention in the back of my mind, which means I’m not totally at peace. 

So I have routines.  I make ‘to do lists’ and tick stuff off.  The trouble with being a home owner is that you will never be free of things to do.  There is always ‘something’ needing painting, repairing, cleaning, adjusting, free-ing up, or tightening down.  This is a fact.

You could, if you so wished, spend nearly every waking minute fiddling with stuff round your house, and so pass the rest of your life trying to keep on top of it.  Don’t waste your time folks.  The Nirvana of the clean freak is to finally sit down to relax knowing that everything is in order, has been weeded, painted, cleaned, polished, sanded, treated, and buffed to perfection.  It’s not going to happen.  This is the nature of things. 

When you go to the beach are you sitting there thinking, “This place could do with a good re-organising, move that sand bar, weed those dunes, etc.”  Of course not (but if you are, Get Help!)  You’re there to relax, have fun, enjoy natural surroundings without the worry and stress of responsibility to make changes. 

Why do we do it at home?  I suppose it’s because we don’t ‘own’ the beach, which would explain why many folk leave their rubbish lying around.   But after a while, everything, becomes a chore doesn’t it?  When you get to the stage where you are having to write, “Spend time with family” in your notebook, then you really need to stop and have a good hard look at your life. 

I’m not kidding.  I’ve actually seen that entry in someone’s journal (well, a couple of years ago I had several similar entries in my Outlook Calendar), it’s not a good sign that all is well with your life. 

If you must write a ‘to do’ list put in some of, or all, of the following:

Be bored.  Honestly, sit and stare at a wall for at least twenty minutes.  Try it, it’s nice.  If anyone tells you we in the West can’t meditate, then point them to the nearest wall and come back in twenty or so minutes and see the change that has come over them!  Alternatively, you could arrange to spend an entire day just lounging around on your bed, read some magazines, watch a little tele, snooze, it’s up to you.  Enjoy doing nothing! 

Read a good book before having a nap.

Play with the children, don’t wear a watch, and let them choose where, what, and how long you will play. 

Do something different today!  Don’t go for all out extravaganza, take a walk through a park you’ve never been in before, find a track and follow it to see where it goes.  Dig out some old photos and try and remember the names of all the people in them… 

and finally,

Take your notebook, and your ‘to do’ list and put it away today.  One day won’t kill you.

Ok, better get moving, the Littlest Princess wants to play golf today, then we’re going to spend a few hours watching the grass grow on the front lawn.

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The Gladstone Boatie

“Have ya got a tinnie?” the old bloke asked me at a BBQ recently.

I hesitated as I reached for another snag, “Yeah, why?”

“Use it much?”

“A little bit,” I said defensively.

He laughed, “Yeah, you’re just like every bloke in this town.  Got a boat, use it twice a year, then sell the bloody thing.  A year later your back looking for another one!” 

4.1 metre Quintrex 'Dory' - just keep swimming :)

4.1 metre Quintrex 'Dory' - just keep swimming 🙂

I laughed with him, and spent a merry hour or so yakking with him.  He had owned his tinnie for nearly 30 years, and used it religiously… twice a year.  But he got me thinking.

I can remember why I bought the thing.  Visions of fishing trips over coral reefs, picnics on empty beaches, chasing barra on the dams and creeks near the range, had convinced me to part with the necessary bucks before wheeling the boat home. 

It got used a couple of times, then one sunny morning, as we were racing down the Boyne River, the motor made an ominous clunk, clank noise then stopped.  I knew enough about engines to know that there was something terminally wrong with it. 

Anyway, we were out there, and a mate came along, towed us to a fishing spot, then later in the day towed us back to the ramp.  He turned out to be a bit of a dab hand at fiddling with motors and later that evening we took the motor apart, just to confirm his suspicions.  Yep, I was a victim of two things:

1.  A hornet had built a nest in the cooling water pipe outlet on the old Johnson 25 outboard.

2.  Johnson outboards of a certain age came with plastic reed valves, which had a tendency to melt and fall into the piston chamber. 

The rebuild

The rebuild

This is what had happened to my outboard.  To say I was pissed off would be a small understatement, but after a couple of beers I settled down enough to ask, “Well, now what?” 

My mate laughed, “We fix the bloody thing!”

So we did.  It was a relatively simple and inexpensive exercise, and while we were at it we made some modifications.  A larger carby which took the HP from 25 to 35, and metal reed valves.  The mate gave everything else the once over, changed the gear oil in the bottom of the leg, and pronounced fit for duty.   

The next day I took it for a gentle run down Auckland Creek, and when the motor was warmed up, I hit the throttle.  I was stunned at how much pick up the old girl had now.  The nose popped up for a moment, then sat flat as revs picked up, my boat was going harder than a cut cat, and I spent a joyous hour or so mucking around on the water, carving up the corners, tearing down the straights.  Yippee!   

We did a few more troublefree fishing trips in it, then the boat sat neglected for a while undercover when we moved houses.  The new place is on a steep hill, and I had nowhere to park it.  It took a while to get the backyard levelled, and a shed built, then driveways concreted.  I had the engine serviced then bought the boat home and put it into the shed. 

This was such a pain in the arse to do that I have rarely used the boat since.  Thus the old saying, ‘If something is slightly hard to do, then it won’t be done,’  from the Book of Gb Chapter 6.  

So, now I have a well maintained, ready to go boat sitting in my shed, like a long neglected pet.  I’ve toyed with selling it over the last year or so, but can’t bring myself to do it.  For some reason I get attached to stuff.  Maybe, I’ll take her for a couple more trips before I do.  Maybe not.

Back on the water... at speed!

Back on the water... at speed!

I’ll probably end up like the old bloke at the BBQ.  Use it twice a year and let it sit…., actually, I feel like going fishing now!

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LMC – This Sporting Life

 This Sporting Life

 It was another classic comment from our middle child as she strolled from her room to the refrigerator, “Oh yeah Dad, I told my teacher you’d referee our soccer game tomorrow.”

“Yep no worries,” I mumbled as I feverishly struggled with the latest Observer Sudoko puzzle.  Seconds later my brain crashed into reverse and I called out, “Hey!  What did you just say?” 

She re-appeared in the lounge room, with a milk moustache and a fist full of Tim Tams, “I said, that I told my teacher you’d referee at soccer tomorrow.”

“Why would you tell her that?  I’ve never reffed a game of soccer in my life!”

My wife looked up from her magazine, “Well, you played it long enough.”

“True,” I agreed, thinking back on my far from stellar career as a goal keeper, “But playing’s one thing, reffings’ another.”  I turned to my daughter, “And I’m sure we’ve had this conversation before about you volunteering me for things, and not letting me know until the last minute!”  She shrugged her shoulders. 

“Well,” I asked, “how long have you known about this?”

She thought for a moment, “Coupla weeks probably, I forgot.”

“You forgot!  Well, I’m not doing it, so tell your teacher that tomorrow!”

“But dad I said you’d go, and you’re the only parent who can make it who has actually played the game.”

“You’re kidding me?”

“No, that’s why my teacher asked me if we knew anyone who actually knew how to play and sort of knew the rules and stuff.”

“Did she also ask about the poor quality of your grammar, or are we waiting for a parent who knows how to teach English to appear as well?”

She shrugged as she hoovered up another Tim Tam.

I thought about it, how bad could it be?  “Yeah, all right I’ll do it, but this is the last time you’ll get me like this,” I said sternly, “What time is the game?”

She grinned at me, “Oh it’s not one game it’s five games, and it’s out at the Calliope school at nine o’clock.”

I goggled at her over my paper then turned to my wife wearing my exasperated father look; she shook her head and returned to her magazine.  I spent the next couple of hours on the internet cramming up on the rules of the game; at least I had just enough time for that. 

So, the next morning, armed with a little plastic whistle that my youngest daughter had thoughtfully dug out from under her bed, I made my way to the grounds where I was handed a bright, shiny metal whistle which didn’t taste like a week old lollipop covered in dust.

Now I’m not the worlds’ worst referee but I did make a lot of mistakes folks.  It soon became clear to everyone that I was making up the rules as I went along.  But in spite of this there was no need for touch judges, or a video ref scrutinising every move made.  The kids told me when the ball had gone out, whose throw in it was, or if the ball had actually gone into the goal not over it.  And everyone stopped to help on the few occasions there was an injury, which made me feel very proud of all the teams I reffed that day. 

And that’s true sportsmanship.  Play your best, play fair, and have fun as well, whether you win, lose or draw.  The kids were out to have a good time, and I relaxed enough to enjoy the day with them.  The only complaints came from one little malcontent, who I managed to silence by threatening to remove Tim Tam privileges at home.          

Will I do it again?  Of course I will, for the kids, for the fun, and because next time they might let me keep that nice, shiny whistle.

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Gladstone Maritime Museum – I’m In!

For those of you who haven’t been able to sleep since I applied for membership, just a quick note to let you know that my application was successful. 

Will keep you posted.



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The Dreaded Lurgi

This week I’ve been struck down by the dreaded ‘Lurgi’ and for the good of the company have been sent home to recuperate.  I just wish the people who have spent the last week sneezing and coughing all over me had been so considerate…


The Plot:  Lurgi, for those of you who don’t know, is the disease made up by Spike Milligan for the Goonshow on BBC radio.  In the episode ‘Lurgi Strikes Britain’…  the first, and chiefest, symptom of the disease was an uncontrollable urge to yell, “Eeeeeyuckabee!” almost continuously, rendering the victim helpless.  Anyone within earshot is immediately infected and the cries of “Eeeyuckabee” are heard almost everywhere.   

Goon Show Album Cover - Lurgi Strikes Britain

Goon Show Album Cover - Lurgi Strikes Britain

The Thot Plickens:  In the show, mass panic ensued, and the hero, Neddy Seagoon, led the charge to promote a cure given to him, and only him, by the cunning Gritpype Thin, and Dr. Moriarty.  When asked by Seagoon why he (Gritpype) didn’t rush to Parliament with news of the cure (and gain fame and fortune for himself), Gritpype responded with the totally plausible excuse (???) “I can’t… you see… I… I’m…, married.” 

Seagoons response, “Oh!  I’m… I’m so terribly sorry… I didn’t know.”  So it was up to Neddy Seagoon (single man of destiny) to alert Parliament to the good news of the only known cure for ‘the dreaded Lurgi’.   

The cure:  Well, it appeared that anyone who played in a Brass Band was immune to the disease.

The result:  The British Government ordered millions of pounds worth of brass band instruments from messr’s Boozey and Gawkes, who immediately air dropped thousands of crates of trumpets, tubas, saxaphones etc. to a grateful British public. 

The conclusion:  It turned out that Gritpype Thin, and his devious sidekick Moriarty, were actually the owners of a certain brass band instrument making company, Boozey & Gawkes, and had actually made up the disease (Lurgi) in order to sell millions of pounds worth of instruments.  Neddy, the public face of their scheme (aka ‘the Patsy’), ended up on the run after being charged with causing a mass panic. 

Of course, nothing like that would happen in this day and age would it?  It’s a good thing that we aren’t easily panicked like Chicken Little into believing that the sky is falling.    

I’d hate to think what life would be like if we were…

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LMC – The Biggest Loser is US

Hiya folks, I keep a spreadsheet to track my columns used in the paper each week, and this one was marked in red (to denote that it probably won’t be used now).  It was one of the first I wrote back in February, and I thought that it would have been timely for it to have been used back then… or maybe early March.  Because it didn’t get used, I was actually driven to try harder, and really knuckled down to improve my writing style, tighten the word count and lift my efforts to write at least one ‘good’ column each week, and one first draft, so I’ve always got something to work on when inspiration runs  a little low.

So, last Monday, I opened the paper, saw this column and thought, ‘Good God, they used it!  A month after the show had finished?!’ 

Some of this stuff was written on the Craig Harper forum, so for those of you familiar with my scribblings there it’s old news… so, for better or worse, here it is:

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