Monthly Archives: November 2012

Buy Local and Sleep at Night

Folks, I’m fairly enthusiastic when it comes to Buying Local, but I need to confess a dirty little secret that’s keeping me awake at night: I’ve been buying certain items online, and worst of all, from stores overseas.

In spite of this traitorous admission, I firmly believe that Buying Local is a great thing, because locally owned businesses provide many flow-on benefits to our community, eg:

Most of them are owned and run by locals, or people who are very keen to become locals.

They’re Gladstone’s number one employer.  There are more people working in our small businesses than all the big industries combined… well, there will be when the construction mobs shuffle off.

Local businesses re-invest their profits back into our community, they train our youth, and support our many charities, clubs, and sporting groups with such enthusiasm that there’s barely any need to resort to threats or blackmail!

Now, I’m not looking at this Buy Local campaign through cheap, imported, rose coloured glasses.  Like everyone else in Gladstone I’ve experienced some bad service at local businesses, actually scratch that, I’ve experienced some appalling service at local businesses.

In fact there’s one particular store so dreadful, that I often wonder how it manages to stay open; my theory is that it’s actually an undercover testing facility for the Fawlty Towers School of Customer Service.

But overall, most of them are pretty good, and they give our city a distinctive voice, a sense that you can’t get this product anywhere else, particularly when it comes to plonk, food, artworks, music, and certain column scribbling writers.

And I can honestly say that I’ve never strolled through the front door of a nationally owned chain store and had the manager greet me with, “G’day Bozo, what have you broken this time?”

Which, now that I think about it, may be a good thing?

So, buy local when you can folks for the health of our community, and if you must shop online, at least check out our local mobs first.  Which leads us back to my secret online purchases; I’ve been buying second hand books from England, and that’s what’s keeping me awake at night; reading them.

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So, You Want to Be A Columnist?

or beer!

One of the many questions I’m asked on a weekly basis, apart from, “Have you paid for that sir?” and “How much longer are you going to be in the toilet?” is, “How did you get a start as a weekly columnist?”

Well, it all happened one fateful afternoon a couple of years ago when I got caught digging through the bins at the back of The Observer.  I had been hoping to stumble upon an uneaten sandwich, when I was accosted by two journalists who had popped out for a ciggie.

They asked me what I was doing, and I replied, “Muckraking?”  They seemed to think it meant something else altogether, so they ushered me inside to meet the Editor, who immediately plopped me down at a desk and told me to write a polemic discourse on a contentious local topic.  I said I’d give it a crack; then asked for a dictionary so I could work out what the hell she had just said.

Dear reader, I did my best, but it soon became apparent that I was not about to become Gladstone’s answer to George Negus.  Nevertheless, I made a brave fist of things, and throwing myself on the floor, I pleaded for a job; any job!

Much later that night, after I’d finished cleaning the windows and mopping the floors, I emptied the office bins and happened to discover certain controversial receipts.  The next day I began my writing career; starting with a note to the manager which read:

‘All is known.’

And that folks, is how I became a weekly columnist!

So, if any of you want a crack at the column writing game, then send some samples of your work to me at: gregbray@iprimus.com.au, and I’ll have a chat with the Editor about giving you a guest shot at on a weekday slot (because the plum Saturday spot has been earmarked by a certain hack who is refusing to budge).

This wondrous opportunity is open to any resident, regardless of age, sex, political or spiritual leaning.  All you need is the ability to write a light hearted column, of slightly less than 400 words, on a regular basis.  Note:  knowing what ‘polemic’ means will earn you extra points.

Gladstone writers, get scribbling!  I’m waiting…

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Talkin’ Bout Y Generation

Having survived twelve years of school, Gladstone’s Senior High School students will graduate this week, and, if they survive Prom night, they’ll join us ‘oldies’ in the Wondrous World of Work!  Boy, aren’t they in for a surprise.

Anyway, Middle Princess was one of those lucky seniors, so Long Suffering Wife and I have fronted at a few award and graduation speech nights during the past couple of weeks.  Of course the free snacks heavily influenced my decision to attend.

And while the food’s been great, it has paled in comparison to how remarkable this latest group of school leavers are.  Their enthusiasm, optimism, energy and amazing talent has left me in no doubt that I’ll be taking orders from one of them in the very near future.

Yet for some reason, this group of young go-getters has been branded Generation Useless.  Useless?!  These kids, who can get free movies off the internet and text in their sleep, are useless apparently.  Well, where does that leave the rest of us?

It looks as if some of those old Generation Boomers and Builders have been busy with their labelling machines again; the ones with the big, easy to read lettering.  It was the B & B’s who labelled us Gen X’ers – the No Hopers.  They thought we were lazy, watched far too much TV, had the fashion sense of asylum inmates, and worst of all, they rubbished our music.

I’ll bet many of them are actually shocked we’ve lasted this long. But we showed them!  Or we will, once we get our anxieties sorted out.

Which is why I’m so impressed with this new generation of school leavers.  They don’t appear to care what we, or the previous generations, think of them.  They do their own thing, and so far they’re doing it quite well, a trend I’m sure is set to continue in spite of my generation offering them helpful suggestions.

So you’ll never hear me giving this capable group of young adults a hard time, chiefly because they’ll be the ones choosing my nursing home.  And I sincerely hope they do a much better job of that than us Gen X’ers are currently doing to the Boomers.

 

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The Week that Was…

It’s been a funny sort of week.

Last Sunday morning, the slow leak in my camp mattress gently lowered me into the large puddle of water that had seeped into my tent.  Ironically, the only things not wet and cold, were the beers in my esky.

Tossing my soaked gear into the boot, I headed home.  Near Childers a truck lobbed a rock at my head; fortunately it hit the windscreen first.  I ended up with a badly cracked screen, slightly damper underwear and a nervous tick in my right eye.

Sunday afternoon I stepped through my front door and was greeted with the news that Cyril Golding had died.  As I unpacked my sodden camping kit, I recalled the time a few years ago when I took my mate from Brisbane to the fish markets to buy prawns for Xmas lunch.  We stood near the end of a long line that snaked around the car park, and to my surprise, Cyril was standing behind us.

As he warmly shook our hands and wished us a Merry Christmas, my mate whispered, “Who’s this?”

“Mr. Gladstone,” I replied.

“Yeah?!  So why’s he waiting in line with us peasants?”

“Because Cyril’s a down to earth sort of bloke.”

This impressed my mate, and he and Cyril chatted all the way into the shop, through the shop, and back out into the car park, while I worried about the prawns going off in the hot sun.

After work on Monday I read the tributes to Cyril in the paper; he was a truly remarkable man.  Later, a slightly less remarkable man attempted to repair his tent and mattress; things did not go well, so they joined the newspaper in the recycling bin.

At eight p.m. Tuesday night, I removed my work clothes and work bag from the recycling bin, then put my screwed up ‘Lucky’ Lotto ticket in.

Late Wednesday morning my pick for the Melbourne Cup sauntered over the finishing line.

But on Thursday I won the car insurance sweepstakes when I learned my policy covered the cost of the new windscreen!

And on Friday the Middle Princess graduated from High School.  Her parents were delighted, proud, and slightly relieved.

Yep, it’s been a funny sort of week.  Hopefully next week will be much more boring…

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