Monthly Archives: April 2012

Council Election Time In Gladstone!

Citizens of Gladstone!  It’s council election time!  ‘Big Deal,’ you say; well, that’s the response I’ve been getting here at home.

Now, some of you may be wondering, ‘What do councillors actually do?’  So I contacted a few of them and received a variety of answers.  One even bribed me with beer to remain anonymous, so I said, “No worries Clyde, I’ll call you Mr. X., and make it a schooner please.”

Anyway, here’s what our newly elected Councillors’ can look forward to:

You’ll start each morning with ‘The Councillors Prayer’, “Please God, let someone call me today with good news.”  Turning on your mobile phone you’ll see fourteen new messages; none of them contain good news.

Reading the Letters to the Editor during breakfast, you’ll wonder why these geniuses, with all the answers to Gladstone’s problems, didn’t stand for election.

As a councillor, you’ll be given a council department to oversee, eg: Parks, Roads, Airport etc.  Being lumbered with the sewerage portfolio could mean you’ve really upset the Mayor.

Congratulations!  You’ve also automatically become a member of every club, community and special interest group in the region.  Each week you’ll drive round an area roughly the size of Tasmania, attending meetings, AGM’s, working bees, judging things, cutting ribbons, making speeches and eating sandwiches.  And you’d better like sandwiches, because everywhere you go, someone is going to cram fistfuls of them down your throat.

You will also gather the views of your constituents, ie: people who ring at all hours of the day and night, or bail you up in the street, shops, pub, beach or your driveway, and abuse you for things you have no control over.  Armed with this ‘feedback’, you’ll meet with the Mayor, and various council folk, to discuss possible solutions, and make plans for our regions’ future.  At these meetings you will be served sandwiches.

Late at night you’ll return home, brush the egg and lettuce crumbs from your jacket, turn off your phone and hit the sack wondering why God made you want to serve your community.

Folks, we should take an interest in those crazy enough to do this job, because as shareholders in the multi-million dollar enterprise known as ‘The Gladstone Region’, we’re going to be paying their wages for the next four years; fortunately the sandwiches are free!

*Edited bits

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My Special ANZAC Day March

On ANZAC Day a very private ceremony takes place in my backyard.  First, I eat an ANZAC biscuit, wash it down with a cup of tea, then march around the yard behind my vintage Victa lawnmower.  But this years’ parade will be slightly sadder, because old Victa, like so many ANZAC’s, is no longer with us.

This little ritual began years ago when I decided to mow the lawn while my neighbours were out watching the ANZAC Day parade.  I was hoping to hack down my turf without all the old blokes in the street criticising my efforts, but right on cue, my vindictive Victa refused to start, and after I’d finished shouting some very strong adjectives at it, I heard old John laughing.

John was the oldest war veteran in our street, so I was surprised to see him at home on ANZAC Day.  Wandering over, I helped myself to some of his bikkies and asked why he wasn’t marching.  He poured me a cup of tea, then pointed to three medals sitting in a neat row on his little garden table.  Medals he’d earned for acts of bravery he’d spent the rest of his life trying to forget.

He explained that each medal represented a mate who never made it home from the jungles of New Guinea, and every ANZAC Day, he’d sit in his garden, drink a cup of tea, then gently touch each medal and call out his mates’ names.  It was the most moving ceremony I’d ever seen.

Afterwards we got old Victa going, and John took it for a lap around my weed infested lawn.   “There you go!” he shouted through the fog of thick, blue exhaust smoke, “I did my ANZAC Day march!”  Then he toddled back to his garden table where his mates were waiting for him.

Every ANZAC Day since, Victa and I have marched around the yard in remembrance of John, and the many who didn’t make it home.  And now my old mower has joined John in that Great Garden in the Sky, New Victa has been conscripted into service.

And after surviving a couple of rounds in the jungles of my backyard, it looks like New Victa has decided to revive another ANZAC Day tradition; the vicious sod is refusing to start.

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Gladstone Harbour Festival 2012 – Party in Gladstone!

As another yacht crosses the finish line, Doug from the SES fires the timekeepers gun. See you at the club sailors!

As the Harbour Festival dial is cranked up to ‘Party Time!’ I’d like to remind everyone that this week is not all about some chocolate dispensing rabbit invading our homes in the dead of night, but a time when we Gladstonians’ gather together to celebrate a sacred and ritual filled occasion; the annual Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race!

For one glorious week, anyone who has trundled a pedal boat across a small pond can pretend to be a Grotty Yachty. And as a fog of rum fumes fills the Yacht Club, the petty bickering between sail and power boat owners is magically forgotten. We tinnie captains nobly overlook the times some malicious yachty, with the tacking skills of an echidna, forced us onto a sandbar. While sailboat skippers kindly forgive the occasions we roared past them laughing like hyenas, creating a wash that upset their cheese platters. Because this week is a time of peace at berth, and goodwill amongst all seamen; yes, even charter boat operators.

Meanwhile, over at the Marina parklands, entertainers and musicians delight huge crowds each night as old friends and new faces, laugh and sing-along together like army buddies at a re-union. Where even people like me, who dance like we are fighting an invisible gorilla, are cheerfully tolerated.

And in sideshow alley, thrill seekers huddle together on the extreme rides, united in horror as the results of too many fatty foods and sugar filled drinks, combined with eye popping G-forces, produces quite a colourful, and slightly smelly, display. Like the fireworks that fill our skies with a spectacular array of light and sound. “Aaaw!” we gush, faces upturned to the glittering lights. And as highflying rockets explode in the stratosphere, terrified dogs all over town snap their leads and run together in panicking packs through our streets.

Finally, on Easter Sunday, we congregate one more time for a traditional, and time-honoured, Gladstone ceremony; welcoming the last of the competing yachts across the finish line. Because this week isn’t about winning, it’s about taking part in a fun filled celebration with all the various groups that make up our harbour loving community; then stuffing our faces with chocolate!

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