Monthly Archives: January 2011

Melodic Memories

A chance hearing of an old song bought back some very happy memories from my early teenage years; of nights spent in the embrace of older, more experienced women.  Now, before you spray your toast all over the table, let me explain; I am referring to old time dancing. 

None of the old girls could move like this... mind you, neither could I 🙂

Many moons ago, I used to tag along with a mate and his family to the various dance halls around the district, and being a young teen, I’d put on a bit of a show of complaining about having to go, but secretly I quite looked forward to those evenings, and rarely missed a night on the boards. 

 Apparently Confucius once said: “Never hand a sword to a man who cannot dance.”  Had he seen me in action, he wouldn’t have passed me a butter knife.   

I quickly grasped the basics, but it took some time to completely co-ordinate my feet with my partners’, and any other dancers within a twelve metre radius.   

Positioning myself behind the good male dancers, I tried following in their steps, which instantly left me half a step behind everyone else.  Eventually I was rescued by the older, and more experienced, women dancers.  Those sweet smelling saints soon steered me right, although I suspect they were motivated by a keen desire to prevent me causing a multiple fatality on the dance floor. 

As I was a mere four foot two inches tall, and about the same weight as a burnt stick, they found it fairly easy to shove me into the correct position while hissing, “Left foot forward, right foot back!  Step back, spin… not you!  Me!”  And by sheer persistence, encouragement, and the odd hit from a cattle prod, I soon learned to dance. 

We Foxtrotted, Boston Two Stepped, and Pride of Erin-ed.  And one night at the old Trocadero hall in Yarroon Street, The George Ambrose Trio got us Gypsy Tapping so hard that dust fell from the ceiling.  It was probably asbestos but we didn’t care. 

The ladies never mentioned the height difference, and from somewhere beneath the overhang, my head enveloped by clattering jewellery, my face threatened to crack from smiling too much. 

Great memories indeed.  I spent the rest of the day with a dreamy grin on my dial, humming as the ghosts of the past swayed by.  And the name of the song I overheard?

Sentimental Journey, of course.

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Aussie Pride

At this time of year I like to reflect on all the things I like about Oz, and I reckon old Dottie MacKellar summed it up best:

  “I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains,

  Of ragged mountain ranges, Of drought and flooding rains,

  I love her far horizons, I love her jewel sea,

  Her beauty and her terror – The wide brown land for me.”

Australia is one of those countries that’s always going to be tough to love.  Gobsmackingly beautiful, full of surprises, and yet she’ll happily kill you the second you take her for granted.  Most of us fellas have survived girlfriends like that.

 But lately, during the horror story of the recent floods, I’ve been left with a lump in my throat at how proud my fellow Aussies have made me.  Neighbours helping neighbours, strangers helping strangers, everyone seems keen to pitch in.  Struth, even the bloke who once ran the country was lugging someone else’s bags through waist deep muck, and even managed to get a journo to help him!  This marked the first time I’ve ever seen a politician and a member of the press actually working together for the public good… for nothing!  Wonders will never cease. 

And while some local shopkeepers are still asking their customers if they want their bread stomped or unstomped, most of us are lining up to volunteer to help our fellow Aussies.  In fact, so keen are we to help, that the phones at the Volunteer Help Line have been jammed for nearly a week now. 

I should know, because I’ve been selflessly trying to get through in order to sign up Long Suffering Wife.  Well, she could do with the break, and scraping mud out of roof spaces will make a pleasant change from catering to my finicky demands.  As long as she’s not gone too long, I won’t mind at all. 

The floods have given all of us of a timely reminder; whether you’re a descendant of the original inhabitants, part of the mongrel stock of convicts, gaolers, soldiers and free settlers, or newly arrived by boat, plane or skateboard, we’re all in this together, and being an Australian means pulling together in a crisis.  And we have, and I’m sure we will again… hopefully not too soon though. 

Sincerely folks, this is a wonderful country; even when she’s trying to kill us. 

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Storms in Store

While much of our great State received a terrible mudbath, here in Gladstone we carried on pretty much as normal, ie: working, shopping, fishing, and hacking our lawns back into submission, because we were fortunate to have dodged a very big, and very wet, bullet.

Last week my father and I spent a relaxing day in ‘Collapso’ our faithful tinny, and not only did we miss all the fish, but we obviously missed some vital news as well, as on the way home from the boat ramp we were surprised to see jam-packed shops, and long lines at service stations.  This is the price we pay for going fishing without a radio, mobile phone, or carrier pigeon.

YES, we have no bananas, or other fruit, vegies, canned food, milk, bread, chips, yoghurt, toilet paper...

Apparently word had spread that Gladstone’s food and petrol supplies were running out.  There isn’t enough room in this column to report on what I’ve seen and heard, but I now know what happens when someone accidentally wanders between a frantic housewife and the last loaf of bread.

The next day I took The Littlest Princess into the grocery war zone, partly because I wanted her to see the empty shelves, as her generation has never known anything but surplus in our supermarkets, but chiefly because she is extremely good at climbing racks to reach any goodies left by shorter shoppers.

We returned home unscathed, and like many others, we’ll have fun getting creative with the stuff in the back of our pantries.  And while it certainly wouldn’t hurt me to go without for a little while, I’m hoping to re-supply before we have to open the tins of asparagus.

But it’s a very small price to pay when compared to what countless thousands are going through at the moment.  And at this time, I’d like help our own local flood victims; the people who worked in Gladstone’s shops, corner stores and service stations last week, who were stormed by mobs, survived squalls in aisles, and got flooded with torrents of abuse.

I’m thinking of making ‘Collapso’ available for them.  I’ve filled her fuel tank, and somewhere under the rear seat is the Vegemite sandwich I dropped last week when I got the only bite of the day.  She’s hopeless at finding fish, but absolutely brilliant for helping people relax, and that’s something I’m sure our shattered shop workers could really do with at the moment. 

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‘Flesh’ Flood Reporting in Qld

For those of you who didn’t know, the long drought has finally ended; my TV news watching drought that is.  I’d stopped watching the news some time ago because of the loud swearing that was apparently coming from my mouth whenever I spied a politician.

But recently, I’ve been sneaking peeks from behind the couch in order to watch the flood devastation, and during my long absence it appears that someone has removed all the old, knowledgeable weather reporters off the air, and replaced them with pretty young lasses from ‘Dial-a-Bimbo’.

As the Army, Police and SES mobilised to help the flood victims, the big TV networks immediately choppered in battalions of female reporters, who are completely useless at filling sand bags, building levies or distributing much needed food and medicine.  Instead they have arrived with camera teams and hair stylists, in order to keep us abreast of the flood situation.  I think some of them have taken the ‘abreast’ instruction far too literally.

Nightly I’ve watched these winsome weather women stand knee-deep in flood waters, with ultra tight jeans rolled up to their knees, and strategically unbuttoned blouses, capturing forever on film some very memorable images indeed.

I suppose if given the choice between watching an old, overweight male with a meteorological degree, supplying me relevant weather information from a studio, or gazing at a pretty young lady who is unaware of what season it is, but looks fantastic in a low cut life jacket, then I know which one I’ll be tuning into… as soon as Long Suffering Wife leaves the room.

Surely our national broadcasters could have used some of our more ‘talented’ local reporters to capture the stories and images for the world to see?  At least it would give them something useful to do while they’re waiting for their homes, cars, furniture and pets to re-surface.

And like the rain, this trend of Flashing Flood Reporting seems set to continue.  But my mental alarm bell is ringing, because politicians with a keen eye for the latest media trends may start getting ideas.  So if I see Anna and Julia unbuttoning their blouses, while Tony strides towards murky flood waters wearing his budgie smugglers, then I’ll be giving the news the flick again and donating our tele to the flood victims.

Because honestly, there’s only so much a man can ‘bare’.

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Queensland Floods Funding Disaster

This was one of those rare columns, which practically wrote itself after chatting with my outraged workmates about the stingy financial response to the flood disaster from our State and Federal Govt’s.   A letter to The Gladstone Observer summed up the strength of feeling:5 million for fireworks, 1 million for flood relief.  Let them eat cake” which would be nice, except we can’t even get bread at the moment! 

The recent floods have revealed more than they have covered.  For starters, I didn’t realise how terrible our Governments’ finances were!  It was only when I heard that Anna and Julia could only afford to donate a couple of million between them did I get an idea.  Call me ungrateful, but I feel we’ve been short-changed.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to appeal (aka: beg) to a higher power to help our flood victims:

Dear Mrs. Oprah,

I hope you enjoyed your recent visit.  Fortunately, the rain stopped briefly during your holiday, but it hasn’t stopped since you left and we are in a bit of trouble.

Mrs. Oprah, we are a generous and giving people.  Our Government regularly raises taxes, fees, tolls, rego’s, rates and fines, while decreasing spending on essential services and infrastructure, and we barely complain.  Instead we merely sigh, then break open our children’s piggy banks and pay up.

Earlier this year we shelled out 35 million dollars to help Pakistan’s flood victims.  Then before Christmas we dug deep again and handed 45 million dollars to a very surprised, but delighted, Indonesian President to help him combat Global Warming.  As he has over 700,000 heavily armed soldiers at his disposal, I can only imagine the hiding he’s going to give Global Warming when he attacks it.  Perhaps Pakistan will lend him some of their nuclear weapons?

Meanwhile at home, our Premier has hocked our coal trains and forests, yet her purse is still bare!  It must be, because I’m sure she would have given much more to help her own folk.

It pains me to ask Mrs. Oprah, but could you possibly return half of the two million dollars we gave to help fund your holiday?  Because one million dollars will just be enough rebuild a single kilometre of our shattered highway, and if we’re extremely lucky it will be on a stretch of road outside of Brisbane.

Should you decide to deliver the money in person then feel free to pop by Bray Manor; phone first and I’ll tie up the dogs.  I’ll even break open the packet of Tim Tams I’ve stashed at the back of my beer fridge.  You can eat the lot, because like our Government, I’m happy to let my family miss out while giving abundantly to strangers who may not even like me.

Like I said, we’re a giving and generous people… apparently.


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