Category Archives: Here In Gladstone

The Mousetrap – How I Got Caught

Here in Gladstone, I’ve been doing some stuff… thinking mostly, about How and Why stuff happens to me?  Like everything else that’s awry with my life, generally it’s all my fault. 

Tomorrow night at 8pm, I will walk onstage and take part in the first ever showing of The Mousetrap here in Gladstone.  With a bit of luck, I won’t freeze, faint, or worse, forget all my lines and stare mutely at the laughing crowd. 

I’ve been reduced to practicing my lines in the solitude of the bush, because my family don’t want to listen to me prattling on anymore, and then there were some very embarrassing moments on the footpaths involving passers-by who were startled by some of my outbursts while I was out and about walking the dogs. 

In the build up to tomorrow night’s performance, I’ve been experiencing moments of fear, exhilaration, excitement, and terror.  Why?  Why do I do this to myself?!

The build up started started about a year ago, beginning with me taking The Littlest Princess (TLP) to see a play at the Gladstone Entertainment Centre, a ripper comedy by the Wild Goose Theatre Company: Unoriginal Sin.  I wanted to expose her to the ‘art’ side, before she got much older and refused to be seen with her ‘Daddy’ in public.

Anyway, it was a great show, and during the interval, TLP and I wandered about the foyer meeting and greeting our friends.  One of them asked TLP if she was enjoying the show, “Very much!” she replied.

“Well, how would you like to be in a play?” asked our friend.

TLP shook her head.  Now, this was the exact moment when I opened my mouth and started the ball rolling on the chain of events that would lead to my public debut as an amateur actor… (very amateur).

“Look, it’s Peter Pan,” I said, “you’ll love it!”

“No Daddy, I don’t want to.”

“Well, that’s ok, if you don’t want to do it that’s fine, but sometimes it’s good to get out of your comfort zone, try something different, or new.”

Shaking of a little head.

“Anyway, they only want you to be a mermaid, you don’t even have any lines, all you have to do is sit on the stage, look pretty, and waggle your tail.”

“Oh, I could do that!” came the eager reply.  

So off to rehearsals we went.  Long Suffering Wife wasn’t thrilled, “Great!  Just what I need, more time in the car, carting kids off to something else!” 

Anyway, a star was born.  In addition to being a mermaid, TLP also got to be a dancing fairy! 

Because I signed her up, it became my job to run her to and from rehearsals.  During which I went for long walks (only because I couldn’t find a coffee shop, or snack bar, open anywhere in Gladstone’s CBD after 3pm!)

Then one fateful afternoon, I was chatting with my new mate, Dave Winter, when Beryl Wood (the Director) introduced herself.  “You’re perfect!” she cried, pointing to me.

“Of course I am,” came my modest reply.  But having developed a certain amount of cynicism in my 40+ years on planet Earth, I immediately added, “Perfect for what?”

“Have you ever heard of The Mousetrap?” Beryl asked.

“I sure have!  I can’t wait to see it, I’ve wanted to see it for years!”

“Well, how would you like to be in it?  Have you ever acted?” she asked.

“No.  But I am a card carrying member of Over Actors’ Anonymous!” I replied.  And at this point I did my little ‘Over Actors Anonymous’ routine that I used to entertain my mates with at school.  Beryls face lit up and she clapped her hands, “Oh, you must join us!”

I told her I’d think about it.

What followed was two weeks of phone calls, and pressure from TLP, “Dad, you should get out of your comfort zone and do something different…”  Even my boss said, “Go for it!” Short story;  I cracked.  “Look,” I said to Beryl over the phone, “Is it a big role?  Are there many lines?”

“No darling, it’s a small role, and you’re perfect for it!” 

Some of the gang in action... pictured here are 'experienced' actors - Ros, Lorna, Russ and Dave.

I hesitated, then jumped in with both feet uttering those fateful words, “Yeah, ok, how bad could it be?”

Well, after reading the play and highlighting my characters’ lines, I spent the rest of the night lying in bed gibbering to myself.

My characters is described as a wild eyed, shabby haired, neurotic young man.  He isn’t gay, just childishly flamboyant.  In the darkness, I waved a languid hand in the air, ‘Of course,’ I thought, ‘I’m ‘perfect’ for the role…’

And after months of practice, I’ll be introducing him to the people of my town tomorrow night.  Fortunately, I’ll be surrounded by some very talented people, who have been a great help in bringing me out of the acting closet.   I hope they can fight… because I’ve got to navigate a semi dark car park after the show that may contain certain homophobic elements.

And when all’s said and done, I’m glad I did it.  I’m sure everything will be fine on the night.  And with a bit of luck, this experience will have taught me how to say ‘NO’ in future.

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My Latest Project

I’ve been mucking about with another little side project, one which highlights some of the creative folk living here in Gladstone region. 

You can check it out here:  http://creativefolkgladstone.wordpress.com/

I’ll be updating it weekly, so pop in regularly.

Enjoy!

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The Gladstone Country Music Mob

I make a lot of fun at other peoples’ expense (as well as my own), but this group deserves all the support they can get.  Never have I been involved with such a supportive, encouraging, and dedicated group of people.  People who are putting the ‘try‘ into Gladstone’s country music scene, and every week they motivate someone new to ‘try‘ getting up and having a go in front of the mic, usually with amazing results. 

They’ve won me over, and I’m not all that big a fan of country music 🙂

Of late I’ve been spending my Tuesday nights down at the QRI Hall in Off Street, where a large group of fun loving, and talented, people gather to play country music.  These poor sods have become the latest social group that I’ve foisted myself on.

He sings! He plays guitar! He tells bad jokes...

Having been encouraged to get up and sing, I’ve noticed that a strange phenomenon occurs on stage; at home in the shower, my voice can only be described as ‘Godlike’, but on stage it seems to lose its’ tone, pitch and quality.  Apparently the stage is where the rubber meets the road; which would explain all the skid marks on the floor around the microphone stand.

Fortunately, an extremely competent backing band covers any little mistakes I make, even when I play my guitar like a drunken chimpanzee banging a drum.  And the audience is usually very stirred by my performances; because I’ve never heard a crowd clap so hard when I finish singing and wander off stage.

It’s a far cry from my earlier musical career.  For a short time I was in a rock band, but frankly, they were pretty hopeless.  Among other things, they couldn’t keep proper time.  I’d finish playing a song, only to discover that the rest of them were a long way behind me, so I had to stand about like a dill while they caught up.  Instead of picking up their act, they blamed my timing.  Unbelievable! 

The final straw came after I played them a classic heartbreaker I’d spent weeks composing.  As the last note rang out, and tears flowed down my cheeks, one of them said, “Now that you’ve finished tuning up, how about playing us that song you’ve written?”

Also I’m pretty sure that I’m the only guitarist in town who didn’t play in Country Sound, a local band that has been around longer, and had more people go through it than Madonna.  Anyone who could play a guitar, banjo, or a piece of string tied to a broom got to join, yet, for some reason, I was never asked.

 Which is why I’ve been enjoying the enthusiastic support from the Country Music mob, and they’ve even asked me to compete in the Gladstone Country Music Festival next February.  Apparently, if I go on first it will relax the nerves of my fellow competitors… although I’m not sure how?

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Gladstone Regional Council – On the Money, and Saving Money

The birth of the new Super Councils around our State was touted as a way of improving efficiency, better service delivery and decreasing unnecessary spending – which, as many would have had us believe, was going to save the ratepayer money… Ha. Ha. Ha.

Charges went up for pretty much everything, and fees were introduced for things which were once free, with the promise of more fees and price hikes in the future to pay for all the almagamations.  Great. 

BUT, some changes were made to our streets which I must admit has made our town look much nicer.  For example, last December, the GRC pulled out all the old, withered, stressed trees from the traffic islands near our home, and started to upgrade them.  7 months later, they finished the job (photo’s to be published at a later date!)

This is an example of some of their work uptown.  Not too shabby:

Then there is the other side of the coin.  Nearby, is a cutting where large rocks have been falling off the embankments, and rolling onto the footpaths.  There are a large number of pedestrians who use this pathway, including a slightly overweight bloke and his wife’s two dogs, who are in danger of getting struck by one of these boulders. 

The Gladstone Observer did an article on the dangers, with photographs, and our council leapt into action.  This was the result.

Pedestrians are still in danger of being struck by rocks, but now the council is legally not responsible because they have put up ‘a sign’.  I can easily imagine someone at council HQ wiping their brow and announcing, “Close thing that, we could have been sued!”

We continue to watch with amused interest…

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Rockwiz Road Tour Comes to Gladstone!

Several months ago my wife announced, “I bought you some tickets to see your girlfriend.”  I was a little confused and replied, “Yeah?  Who’s that?” 

“Julia Zemiro is coming to town, so I got two tickets for the Rockwiz show.”

Yippee!  The countdown had begun.  I’m glad she got the tickets when she did, because the show sold out not long afterwards. 

I had two tickets.  The trouble was, my dear wife didn’t want to go, neither did the eldest girls, but the Littlest Princess was keen as mustard.  She and I have spent many a Saturday night lying on the bed reading books, laughing at Iron Chef, then watching Rockwiz.  This is how I spend my weekends now 🙂 

So, I rang the theatre, and they assured me that it would be ok to take a 9 (nearly 10!) year old to the show.  So I asked her, “YES!” was her immediate and super keen reply. 

So last night we rocked up, hoping like hell that Julia was indeed going to star on the night.  Well, I gotta admit, Brian Nankervis had us from the moment he walked on stage.  With the help of some local ‘volunteers’ he had the crowd laughing and hooting from the get go.  For many of us it was an insight into how much fun the taped show must be each week.  Then, the call for contestants was announced.  Under selected seats were taped yellow cards.  We checked, no card.  I was at once relieved and disappointed! 

Soon 20 odd folk were lined up on stage, introduced themselves, and then the fun started.  Brian conducted a quick quizz, from which the contestants were whittled down to the final four.  Among the winners was a deadset ‘freak’ of Rock knowledge.  We went for interval, during which The Littlest Princess said, “Dad, can we pick a team and bet a dollar on who wins?”  I said, “Yep, I’ll take the Right hand side, because the Rock Freak will be on that side.” 

Imagine how I felt when we returned to the show to discover the Rock Freak was seated on the left!  My sorrow was short lived as the band arrived, ripped out some killer intro’s, and had us all pumped up, then Julia hit the stage, and the place went wild.  A packed house of 800 odd people roared, stamped and clapped.  It’s obvious that I’ve got some competition for her favours…

The rest of the show was pretty much as you see it on tele, with a few additions.  The guest stars, Henry Wagon and Vikka Bull were brilliant.  One thing that made me feel particularly proud to be a local was when Vikka took her seat the two men on her team stood up and helped her into her chair, something not seen before in the shows’ history.  We might not be the prettiest or smartest blokes in the country, but geez we’ve got manners! 

Anyway, as an added bonus, Dugald whipped a mic out and Julia announced Paul Kilby from the Church, who came out and sang “Under the Milky Way”.  Brilliant! 

The show went on, and was everything I’d hoped for.  And the Littlest Princess had an absolute blast.  The band were pumping, the singing fantastic, and the humour kept smiles on our faces long after the last note had sounded.

Afterwards we lined up for the autograph session, and I’m looking nervously at my watch;  it’s 11pm, and The Littlest Princess has school tomorrow, and I have to be at work in 5 hours for my first day shift.  Then Julia and Brian spot bub waiting in line and Brian says, “Hey don’t you have school tomorrow?”  TLP nods, and Julia says, “Just come round here, push your way to the front.”  My smile threatened to lift my head off my shoulders!  

Well, TLP got all the autographs from the band, including one from the very talented James Black (my personal guitar hero), and I even got a shot of her and Julia…  fabbo!

My parting question to Julia was, “So, if she ever makes it onto Rockwiz when she’s older, can she make this her first concert?”  Julia laughed and turning to her, said, “9 years from now, you come to Melbourne, get on the show and tell me that your first concert was Rockwiz.”  

The thing is the Littlest Princess doesn’t want to wait 9 years… and neither do I 🙂

Seriously, go see it!  I’m still buzzing…  and so is TLP.

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Gladstone LNG – The Latest Rumour

Over the past couple of months Gladstone has featured in the news for a few things, mutant cane toads being one of the biggies which is really worrying me!  But mostly it’s been the breaking news about the big changes headed our way with the coming of the gas plants. 

Now, I’m still waiting for the outcome of the Environmental Impact statement before I place any money on the table, but money is the key driver behind a lot of rumours that are getting around at the moment.  Dollars on an almost unbelievable scale. 

A few weeks ago my workmates were muttering things like, “The gas mob are going to stuff our harbour,” or, “Poor old bloody dugongs are dead meat!”  and, “There goes another good fishing spot.” 

And while the LNG mob has been buying up large advertising features in papers around the country, we’re yet to see any ‘big’ changes here on the ground in Gladstone.  This is a cycle we’re very familiar with though.  Teams of people in suits arrive with a gaggle of high ranking politicians, photos are taken, announcements made, and we wait for ages for something to happen.  In the past 10 years we’ve heard a lot of announcements, watched some earthworks start, then, bang, nothing.  The GFC, or a merger, or some other impediment has killed off the project before it gets the chance to get off the ground. 

But this week, a rumour swept through our workplace that the LNG bosses are keen to poach local workers from the many Rio Tinto plants in town, and are prepared to pay, what amounts to a ludicrous amount of money, for the privelege.  Last night I was told that one figure being bounced around was $160 000 p.a.  Which equates to roughly $1900 a week! 

The same workers who were worrying about the impact of the LNG plant on our harbour had a complete reversal in thinking and decided that for $1900 a week, and the chance to work in a cleaner, safer, and more worker friendly environment, they would happily clamber over any number of dead dugongs to get to the gas plant gates each day. 

Amazing.

Meanwhile out West things are looking ‘challenging’.  I read here 

http://larvatusprodeo.net/2010/05/03/coal-seam-gas-prospects-economic-bonanza-or-future-industrial-wasteland/

that Drew Hutton of the Qld Greens, is mobilising the ‘Green Army’, and making it his life’s mission to pull this project up.  I wonder what Drews’ price is?  Perhaps they’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse, to work from the inside of the industry instead of attacking it from the outside?  Maybe Drew will crack the $2000 per week barrier?  Maybe Drew is a man of principle who will not bow down to corporate pressure?  Maybe Drew is right now standing in front of a very large and fast moving dozer?  Who knows. 

Me?  Well, I’ll wait and see what happens, but if this project gets up, and half the rumours are true, then it will certainly change things in this town, and the area around it, forever. 

And let’s not even mention the rumours about the proposed steelworks, and the shale oil plant…

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Gladstone Country Music Club

In February this year, a local group of enthusiastic country music lovers’ held their second annual Festival at the Entertainment Centre.  Of course, I was working the entire weekend…

But I did keep a cutting from the paper, which I immediately lost.  Then during a clean up of Littlest Princesses room, the cutting fell out of a colouring-in book, and I immediately tracked down the bloke in the photo, Rob Hopkins.

I called him last week, initially to ask a few questions about music publishing, recording etc., and he told me that they have a meeting each week at the Railway Workers Hall up town, where enthusiastic people gather to sing and play songs with the backing of a live band. 

My curiosity was piqued, so after work last night I poked my head in for a look.  The Littlest Princess tagged along, because she has learned that daddy is having adventures without her! 

Well, entry to the hall was $3, and for this you got a feed, a ticket in several prize draws, and the chance to listen to a stack of locals ‘having a crack’ at singing their favourite country songs.  Making our way through the crowd seated at tables around the hall, we found some friends I hadn’t seen in years, then tuned in to the band and the many volunteers getting up and singing / playing. 

An untouched photo of me 4 years ago taking a break from torturing my neighbours. By the second song they had not only given our dog back, but had planted a 'For Sale' sign in their yard.

Some of the singers were a bit off key, and there were a few false starts, but the enthusiasm of the players, and the overwhelming support of the crowd really impressed me.  Like all these events, there are the excellent, the good, and the ‘different’, but overall, the mood was one of relaxed fun and total encouragement.  People dancing, clapping, and singing along.  Young and old alike.  Even the Littlest Princess got me up and dancing… and no one threw furniture at us!  How nice are these people?! 

I didn’t play or sing, last night, until I got home, then I sang up a storm, hammering away at my guitar until an annoyed teenager told me ‘quieten down’ as it was a school night. 
Kids today…

I’m hooked.  The Littlest Princess was hooked.  She is making plans for us to make our debut.  Soon… apparently. 

Well, they’ve seen me dance, so it couldn’t possibly get any worse than that 🙂

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