Category Archives: Gladstone Observer Columns

Wanted – Newspaper Columnist… Now!

He's obviously overqualified for the job!

He’s obviously overqualified for the job!

Folks, it’s not easy coming up with three hundred words for this column every Wednesday, so I’m not doing it anymore. Starting next week, I’ll try inserting three hundred words into each Saturdays’ paper and see if that’s any easier.

Basically, there are changes afoot at the Mighty Observer (so don’t sell your shares just yet!), and one of them is moving this column into the Saturday paper. Sadly, what hasn’t changed was the roomful of people laughing their heads off when I demanded a pay rise.

On the bright side, there is now room for a local scribbler to whip up some witty, interesting, or wise words for Wednesdays’ paper. And that’s where you come in; well, one of you anyway.

If you’ve ever had a burning desire to write a weekly newspaper column on pretty much whatever topic that falls out of your brain, then we need to hear from you now, ie: ‘NOW!’ as in ‘Yesterday’.

Of course, you should have some pretty good wordy skill type thingies, but don’t panic too much, as Tuesday’s columnist, Rob Kidd, has set a very low bar for grammar, sentence structure, spelling, syntax and vocabulary use.

And, like Rob Kidd, it’ll help to have a fairly thick skin, as there’s a good chance you’ll upset certain people from time to time. It’s surprisingly easier to do than you think, just ask Rob; once he’s finished throwing stuff at my house.

So, if you think you’ve got enough lead in your pencil to write a weekly column, then unroll a script of papyrus, scratch out a few examples, and email them to:

If you make the grade, you’ll soon be living the Rock Star life of the weekly Columnist, just like the girl in Sex in the City; totally unbelievable.

Catch you next Saturday!

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United We Stand!


I don't want my daughters playing for this team either... they're not wearing shin pads!

I don’t want my daughters playing for this team either… they’re not wearing shin pads!

“CLINTON?!  No child of mine is playing soccer for Clinton!  Not while I’m head of this house!”

But being a benevolent dictator, I put it to a vote.  What followed was a frenzy of ballot box stuffing, vote rigging, and shady backroom deals that made a Labor pre-selection battle look as soft as a Playboy Bunnies pillow fight.

That was ten years ago, but I clearly remember the moment my ‘Anti-Clinton Bill’ was defeated thanks to our PUP, Dumb Dog, having the casting vote.  One month later, the Middle Princess ran on for her first game of soccer dressed in the hated green, while I stood on the sideline wearing a disguise and silently cursing the democratic process.

To this proud United man, Clinton is the Manly of the local soccer league.  I recalled the many low blows, elbows to the face, knees to the groin, stomped on toes and smacks to the back of the head; and that was just the stuff their supporters did to us as we ran onto the field.  Things got much, much worse when the game started.

But during our time at Clinton, I was stunned to discover that most Greens’ players, coaches and fans weren’t all late tackling, penalty milking, ref bullying, bloodsucking, cheating thugs who would happily run down their own mothers in the car park if it meant they would win a game.

They were genuinely quite nice folk.  Still, I wasn’t exactly devastated when the girls decided to switch to Meteors.

So this weekend, when the Littlest Princess plays against Clinton in the Grand Final, I personally won’t be howling for Green blood; well, not until the second half at least.

And before next years’ season I’ll organise a coup to reclaim my position as head of the house, so Team Bray will finally be United.

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The Going Rates

Fortunately we were able to move our palace to a cheaper area.

Fortunately we were able to move our palace to a cheaper area.

I’ve often wondered why many folk don’t choose to retire in Gladstone, then I opened our latest rates notice and found out why.

Clutching my chest, I staggered inside to break open the last remaining kids’ piggy bank.

Afterwards, I opened a beer then sat on my back deck watching the coal trains chug past and the planes roar overhead, and pondered, ‘What does it cost per day to live in this neck of the woods?’

Whipping out my trusty calculator I did the sums; last year, it cost us just under ten dollars a day to reside here in Gladstone.  ‘Well, that’s not bad value really,’ I reflected as another low flying jet blasted by.

As the Flying Kangaroo disappeared over the horizon trailing my TV aerial, I did some more calculations.

That very day, the sweating CEO of QANTAS, Alan Joyce, announced a loss of 2.4 billion dollars which he described it as ‘confronting’.  Confronting isn’t among the words I’d have used, but this is a family paper and the editor already has me on the Naughty List.

Anyway, to put that into perspective, a loss of 2.4 billion dollars meant QANTAS had haemorrhaged well over 6 million dollars per day, or nearly $28000 per hour!  This made me feel a little bit better about losing three dollars in coins behind the couch cushions last week, and extremely grateful that ‘Irish Al’ isn’t our Mayor.

As another coal train enveloped me in a mossie killing diesel cloud, I smiled and thought, ‘10 bucks a day?  Well, I’d cheerfully pay double that to avoid residing in some of the rat holes we’ve lived in, visited, or sped through with our windows up and doors locked.’

So if that’s the price, then I’ll continue to pay it… until I retire.

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Love and Marriage

Having blown our budget on flowers, we had to make cuts elsewhere.

Having blown our budget on flowers, we had to make cuts elsewhere.

“How long have we been married?” I recently asked Long Suffering Wife; her response is unprintable, but the gist of it was, ‘A very long time indeed!’  This was followed by quite a lot of sobbing.

I actually knew that it’s been twenty four years since we got hitched, but was hoping to steer the conversation around to how we could celebrate the occasion, instead of continuing the ‘discussion’ about my ever increasing list of faults.

Not that Long Suffering Wife is perfect, far from it!  For starters, she’s not exactly a social animal.  Recently she announced out of the blue, “I’m really over parties.  Honestly, I’d rather spend my evenings at home in my pyjamas watching TV.”

Our dinner guests chose that moment to call it an early night.

And she has a fixation with covering every flat surface in our house with doilies, knick-knacks and photos of, well, everyone else but me.

Then there are the smells!  Why she is still complaining about them I do not know?  I mean, it’s not as if I haven’t kept up a steady supply, surely she should have grown used to them by now?  The dogs have!

But on the plus side, she still has all her own teeth, the patience of a saint and many more years work left in her.  So I’ll hang onto her for a while longer and see how things pan out; well, it’s the least I can do.

For those of you wanting to know our secret, all I can say is, I honestly don’t know.  Although keeping my opinions to myself, and the beer fridge fully stocked, has played a big part.

And to all those knockers who thought our marriage wouldn’t last this long, I have only one thing to say; I’m sorry I believed you.

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On Yer Bike!

Somone else who has trouble getting into a cars' tight spaces

‘I think I see your problem…’

If Joe Hockey thought being forced to say ‘Sorry’ to an irate motoring public was stressful, he should have seen my reaction to the news that our old car had broken down.

As the tow truck sped off, Long Suffering Wife guided my stumbling footsteps back into the house, as I babbled the words, “Faithful, reliable, dependable,” over and over.

Breaking from her grip, I rushed back to the footpath, “Wait!  Come back! I’ve just filled the tank!”  But it was too late.

Fortunately we own two cars.  And like most modern families, we spend a lot of time driving them under our yo-yo-ing garage door as we attempt to get everyone to their various sporting, hobby, school, and work appointments.

Now, the odds of getting Long Suffering Wife to ride a pushbike are about the same as my (and Joe’s) chances of becoming PM, so the next day as she drove to work, I dragged my trusty pushbike, Pubtruck, out of the shed and pedalled off to see our mechanic.

Eventually I wobbled into his workshop, red of face and busted of lung.  Through the ringing in my ears I heard the words, “Old car… had its’ day…  best for all.”  I held up a hand and croaked, “Fix it.  For the love of God… Fix It!”

The mechanic agreed to have another look, while I pedalled homeward.  Fortunately I didn’t have far to go, but Gladstone’s many hills had me working harder than Quasimodo’s chiropractor.

We survived by juggling the use of our remaining car and Pubtruck.  It wasn’t too bad, but I was delighted when our old car was finally fixed, and slung Pubtruck back into the shed.

Ironically, the repairs cost about as much as a new pushbike, or a years’ increase in fuel tax, but unlike Joe, I’m not complaining.


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Idealist Idea of the Week!

Sometimes there are minor setbacks...

Sometimes there are minor setbacks…

My name is Greg, and I’m an Idealist.  I’m currently seeking professional help for this dreadful condition. 

We idealists are constantly thinking of ways to make everyone’s life much easier; particularly our own. 

Over the years I’ve been called ‘Creative’, ‘Resourceful’, ‘Imaginative’ and once, after initiating a potentially groundbreaking scheme that contained one tiny, yet vitally important flaw, I was labelled, ‘Dumb as an ant.’ 

Fortunately nobody was hurt… too much. 

Anyway, after scraping the egg from my face, I swore off announcing any future brain-puffs until I’d thoroughly analysed them first.  But last weekend I came up with a cracking idea that must be implemented immediately! 

Idea #55841 – Speed Kills.  So give motorists cash incentives to drive on, or under, the speed limit! 

Now, there are probably some cynics (ie: Realists) out there demanding details, so here goes – 

If you’ve driven for, say, three years without getting a speeding fine, then ‘Congratulations!’ you’re exactly the sort of driver I want to encourage. 

You haven’t tied up the valuable time of our wonderful Emergency Services folk, placed yourself or anyone else into much needed hospital beds, or damaged expensive telephone poles. 

For this, a grateful Government could thank you by slashing your annual registration fee with a hefty rebate, or as I like to call it, a ‘Regobate’. 

And as long as you maintain your spotless driving record, the greater your yearly Regobate will be!  How’s that for an incentive not to speed? 

Who’s dumber than an ant now?! 

Ok, I haven’t fully pondered all the possible repercussions, but I’m fairly certain that ‘Regobate’ is practically bullet proof. 

And speaking of practicality and bullets, I also have another plan guaranteed to stop drink drivers dead in their tracks. 

It might not be ideal, but it sure is effective.

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Go ahead... try again :)

Go ahead… try again 🙂

In order to function in this modern world, I have to remember fourteen PIN numbers and passcodes.  Fourteen!   No wonder I’m flat out remembering the names of our children; whoever they are?

And since last Friday, my signature was no longer considered secure, so I was given another PIN to remember, which brings the total to fifteen.  Oh, goodie.

Apparently credit card fraud has risen to three hundred million a year so the banks have decided to act; because if anyone is going to rip off Australia’s banking customers then it ought to be them.

Like the charming folk from one particular bank who recently frittered away a hundred million dollars from the accounts of their loyal clients.  Which bank?  Well, I’ll let you figure that out, but they eventually issued something like an apology, although I’m still not sure if they were sorry for the scam, or sorry they got caught?

In spite of PIN’s and eight digit passwords (which we’re supposed to change monthly), it seems that no one will guarantee my online, or banking, safety.  Ironically, the only person being regularly locked out of my accounts is me.

This was why I liked signing my name instead of punching in a PIN.  At the checkout, I’d simply scrawl something resembling the signature on the back of my credit card, while the long lines of impatient shoppers loudly questioned my IQ.

So this week I wrote down all my PIN’s and passcodes, then hid the list in… um, a secret place.  A hiding place so cunning that it took Long Suffering Wife nearly ten minutes to find it.

This was slightly longer than it took her to learn how to copy my signature, so we’re definitely headed in the right direction security-wise.

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Lucky Collision

"I'm alright so far!"

“I’m alright so far!”

I’ve had an awful lot of luck in my life, and occasionally some of it has been good.

I’m not real big on miracles though, but last weekend I witnessed several in as many minutes and have been rethinking my stance on them.

Miracle #1:  I got both green lights on Philip Street!  Honestly!

Miracle #2:  Slipped straight through the Kin Kora roundabout!

A small voice in my head muttered, “Oh, you’ll pay for this.”  But frankly I didn’t care.  The sun was shining, a good song was playing on the radio, and we… BAM!

Mr. Motocross roared into the six inch gap between us and the car travelling alongside.

Miracle #3:  He made it!  Although I’m not sure how?

“Dad he’s on the wrong side of the road!” yelled The Littlest Princess.  As cars scattered, Long Suffering Wife mumbled, “Stupid thickhead!”, or something like that.

Miracle #4:  He missed every vehicle!  Again, no idea how?

A sharp left turn was followed by an impressive wheel-stand, then a dash for the suburbs.  He’d have made it too if the gutter, two large garden rocks and a fence hadn’t stopped him.

Miracle #5:  He wasn’t killed.  But he looked pretty crook, in a foot pointing backwards kind of way.

As the Police, Paramedics and groups of slack-jawed onlookers arrived, I speculated about the numerous unfortunate decisions and actions that had led to all of us being involved in this prang.

Fate?  Destiny?  Chance?  Look, I don’t really know, but it was a miracle things hadn’t been much, much worse.  Plus I’d stopped thinking about how queasy my stomach was feeling.

And there was hope for the future too.  Well, having cracked one run of green lights along Philip Street, perhaps I’d get another someday?

Or would that be pushing my luck?

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Income Taxing Times

Funny Tax(idermy) photo... and oddly enough, fairly close to how I look around tax time :)

Funny Tax(idermy) photo… and oddly enough, fairly close to how I look around tax time 🙂

It’s that time of year, when no matter how honest you are the temptation to cheat is almost irresistible.  That’s right, it’s Tax time!

Soon I’ll drag out our financial documents shoe box, blow the dust off the calculator, open a beer, think about my options and recall some advice given to me by an old mate who was a serious student of the Kerry Packer Method of Tax Minimisation, aka: avoidance.

He collected houses like a Monopoly™ champ, had his fingers in more pies than a clumsy baker, yet was wild at the Govt. for diddling him out of any miniscule benefits that pensioners and folk on the dole were getting; even the ones paying a fortune to live in his slums.

At the time I was earning the minimum wage, and showed him my tax return which would hopefully cover our car rego.  He laughed, then pointed to the new car and boat Paul Keating had just paid for.

He told me I was a sheep being sheared to the skin, and that I should begrudge every dollar the Government takes; especially any monies used to fund investigations into tax fraud.

I think I was paying more tax than him, Paul Keating and Kerry Packer combined.

Anyway, after I’ve finished reminiscing, we usually choof off to see our accountant.  She has special qualifications (chiefly, boundless patience), knows precisely what we’re entitled to, and exactly what will happen if I try claiming dubious expenses (like a certain Prime Minister who gets paid to ‘volunteer’).

Basically, this is the time of year when my financial integrity is sorely tested, but, for some strange reason, I’m still clinging to the belief that my taxes are being used to build a better society for all Australians.

Honestly, what is wrong with me?!

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Rolf Not ROFL

Rolf is no longer Walking About

Rolf is no longer Walking About

Give Away:  one well-read hardcover book, ‘Rolf’s Walkabout’ (1973).  Unwanted boyhood gift.  Will cheerfully deliver free to anyone with an industrial shredder or flame thrower.

The one thing worse than the death of a long adored hero is when they fall from grace; or in Rolf Harris’s case, plummets.

And since Jake the Peg wobbled off to ‘live with the Queen’ I’ve been going through my few remaining childhood heroes and wondering what their dark sides are in order to prepare myself for any future shocks.

Did the Cisco Kid beat up Pancho every night?

Was the Lone Ranger a drug mule?  This would explain why he wore a mask, and how he could work for free but still afford all those expensive silver bullets.

Perhaps the Phantom isn’t real?!  At this point my head nearly caved in, because there’s only so much sinister speculation a man can take.

Hero disappointment hits kids early, usually when they discover that their father isn’t the smartest, strongest, fastest, funniest, richest or most patient person in their street, let alone their town, and that their mother doesn’t make the worlds’ best stew (actually, my mother does, and if you happen to be cooking some this week Mum, call me).

This is when kids look to celebrities to fill the yawning hero-less hole in their lives.  Unfortunately those heroes are just like you, me and everybody else; basically, defective.

Over the years a depressing number of my heroes have been disgraced, and each time a little part of me has died; in particular, the bit that had wanted to fill their shoes.

Still, in the unlikely event I become something of a role model, I certainly won’t disappoint my followers; they’ll be counting on me to stuff up in a spectacular fashion, without even trying!

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