Category Archives: Columns

New Humorous Column In The Gladstone Observer

Today a new column appeared in The Observer, Thirsty Cow.  It was quite well written, and funny.  This is fortunate for the Cow, because the column was sitting under the sub-heading, ‘Humour’.

My column was bounced today for a local lady who needed some editorial space to write about the upcoming Harbour Festival (seriously, if you can get a room here, it’s the best time to be in Gladstone!).  And tomorrow I have a meeting with the Ed to discuss the future of my column…

Anyway, I checked out Thirsty Cow’s creds’, and couldn’t come up with a web page, or a name, but I did discover that this versatile bovine’s column has been syndicated in The Sunshine Coast Daily, The Examiner and, (I’m assuming here), all the other APN papers up the coast of Qld… and possibly beyond. 

As someone with a bit of a passing interest in funny columns, I’ll be keen to see what the rest of the columns are like are like… from what I can work out online they are: Family Taming, Venus and Mars,  Alternative Universe, and Culture Sparrow. 

Perhaps if I’m real nice, maybe, just maybe, they’ll let me play too!

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Fish ‘n Kids

Some years ago, Big Mate and I were enjoying a few social drinks and recalling the various fish we’d caught over the years.  As the port flowed, the fish got bigger, the lines lighter, and the struggles to land them more heroic.  Unfortunately, the two little girls listening on believed every word. 

Early next morning I surfaced feeling crook as a dog, possibly due to something dodgy I’d eaten the night before.  The last thing I wanted to hear was my children begging me to take them fishing.  Resolving that I shouldn’t have to suffer alone I called Big Mate, but he wasn’t answering, and Long Suffering Wife had decided it was her turn for a sleep in.  Good for them.

Popping a couple of headache tablets, I collected the fishing gear and headed off to Pat’s Bait and Tackle.  I bought the bait, while Pat gave the girls some good fishing advice, then quietly slipped me a hot tip on the best place to take them so they wouldn’t get too bored.  To this day I don’t know if he actually felt sorry for me, or if he was trying to hook a couple more young customers.

Anyway, we pulled up near a small wharf, whose location will remain a closely guarded secret, and within seconds long streams of fishing line were tangled all the way from the car to the jetty.

I needed the many arms of Vishnu in order to keep up with the continuous re-baiting and de-tangling process, but then the tide, and our luck turned; The Littlest Princess caught a decent sized whiting, and while I was grappling with it, the Middle Princesses’ rod bent over like it had snagged a passing submarine.

She stubbornly hung on, and my mouth fell open as a large parrot fish surfaced.  Grunting from the effort, the little tacker hauled it in, and, when the fish hit the wharf, I pounced and wrestled it into the esky.  Clapping them both on the back, I uttered every fisherman’s favourite words, “They’re keepers!”

Parrot fish dinners have been a bit thin on the ground since, but years from now, I’m sure that two tipsy ladies will be telling their children about the time they each landed their first big fish in Auckland Creek while their hung-over father slept in the car.

Well, fishermen will stretch the truth a little…

Farewell Pat.

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End Game

Watching recent financial trends is making me a little worried.  So worried in fact, that I’ve been considering converting all my shares into solid gold.  I wonder how much gold my one dollar and thirty five cents will buy these days?

Actually, I don’t have anywhere near that much money invested, because, as anyone who knows me will confirm, I’m no financial whiz.  But what I do know is, that where there is money, greed follows closely behind, and greedy people will do anything for more money; a lesson I learned from playing Monopoly as a lad. 

Monopoly was a great revealer of financial character.  The fun generally started with the punch-up over who got to be the race car.  Needless to say, the person who was satisfied with being the little Iron token was immediately treated like a doormat by all the other combatants.

Then there was the kid who always had to be the banker.  He was usually hopeless at sports, but harboured a secret desire to be popular, or failing that; ALL POWERFUL.  In short, the sort of person who grew up to be a ruthless dictator, a power crazed referee, or worse, a parking inspector.

So, while he was buying properties with feverish intensity, I’d be skidding my race car token around the board, making the appropriate accompanying noises, and quickly going broke.

The banker would do practically anything to keep the game going in order to maintain his control.  Even when the rest of us had no properties, or any hope of paying our rents, he’d create IOU’s on worthless bits of paper, or hand out free money in order to keep us from giving up in disgust and wandering off to play cricket.  If he was really desperate, he’d even let me crash my race car through his neatly stacked hotels.

And lately, watching Governments around the world borrowing ludicrous amounts of money, which they can’t possibly afford to pay back, I’ve got that familiar sinking feeling that the end of the global Monopoly game is nigh.  Sooner or later, a lot of countries are going to realise that their situation is utterly hopeless, then throw their hands in the air and go off and play cricket.

With that in mind, I’ll think I’ll invest my $1.35 with a dodgy cricket team, because ‘Bucks for Ducks’ appears to be the only solid gold investment left these days.

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Oz Politics Dead in the Water

Recently a whale carcass washed up on Facing Island and, having never seen a whale up close, I thought I’d go and have a look, and maybe prod it a little with a stick.  Because lurking inside all men is a little kid with a ghoulish desire to poke dead things with a stick.

Then it dawned on me that I’d have to be crazy to go anywhere near the bloated, ponging thing, as every shark in the district was probably making a beeline to it for a free feed.  So I wheeled ‘Collapso’, my faithful tinny, back into the shed, put away my poking stick, then toddled off to vote.

Later, when I saw our Federal leaders’ dull, glazed eyes staring back at me from the posters on the school fence, I regretted not bringing my poking stick to the polling station.  Making my choice, I wondered who would win the political version of ‘Australia’s Got No Talent’.

We watched a DVD on election night, and before retiring to bed, checked the voting outcome.  Now while we weren’t surprised to see the results were so close that a winner couldn’t be called, I nearly had a heart attack when one commentator suggested that we may have to go back to the polls.

Two weeks later, and the Bloodnut and the Wingnut are still frantically kissing the bottoms of the ex-Peanuts, hoping to get the numbers to lead.  And while both the big parties appear to want more rich foreigners to invest in new mines and factories, and stop poor foreigners from boating into our waters, they also have to bargain with the Gumnuts, who seem to want to shut down our existing mines and factories, and stop us from boating about in our waters. 

Meanwhile the State Labor party held an emergency caucus meeting to discuss the leadership and future direction of the party.  Recent polls confirm that Anna ‘Sell Off’ Bligh is on the nose and some very big, and hungry, sharks are circling.

So as the political tide ebbs and flows, I’m sure that more bloated carcasses will soon be drifting onto our shores.  And some of them may be like KRudd’s political remains, which washed up looking heavily pre-poked, smelling very fishy and leaving most of us keen to avoid the stench of politics altogether.

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Botanic to Bridge Fun Run – Gladstone Observer Column 30.08.10

Last Sunday I joined several fellow Gladstonians for the inaugural Botanic to Bridge run.  4500 of them!  Go Gladstone!

Training was hindered by things totally beyond my control: bad weather, sleep ins, dicky knee, an election, potato chip eating contests, planetary alignment, etc.  So I devised a new exercise plan based on re-runs of the Karate Kid.  Polishing the car, (wax on, wax off), and painting inside our house, (roller up, roller down).  That Mr. Miyagi was an idiot!  Does anything from the movies actually work?

Udderly crazy... no bull 🙂

Ready or not, I and my running partner, a young fella who for some reason was dressed as a cow (complete with udders), joined 1200 other enthusiasts at the gardens for the 8 klm event.

As the seconds ticked down to the start time, I relaxed by snickering at the poor wretches lined up cross legged outside the demountable dunnies, who were clearly torn between wanting to join us, and an extremely heartfelt desire not to wet their pants during the run.

The last time I saw the bloke who won the race was two seconds after the start when he vanished over the horizon.  He was probably crossing the finish line while we were still shuffling up ‘Heartbreak Hill #1’.

The ‘cow’ boy and I puttered onward, waving to the kids, and hearing nearly every cow joke in creation.  At the Duck Ponds, the sight and sound of 3000+ people cheering us on gave me a much needed boost which kept me bounding all the way round the corner to the Bowls Club, where out of sight of the encouraging throng, I returned to my Frankenstein-like lurching run.

The ‘cow’ boy galloped off, leaving me to hobble on alone, and crawling up Goondoon Street, I was extremely disappointed to note that neither the Queens, or Grand Hotel, were dispensing ‘refreshments’ to weary runners.

Re-united with the ‘cow’ boy at the finish line, we had a bit of a decko through the Healthy Living Expo, and, unable to find a beer tent, we ended up cheering on the runners of the 3 klm event.

Anyway, a huge ‘Well Done’ to all the wonderful folk who worked so hard behind the scenes to bring this event off, and I’ve already decided on next years pre-run training plan; painting the outside of our house, (up the ladder, down the ladder).  You’ve been warned!

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Mondays’ Column – Childs’ Play 23.8.10

“Your father doesn’t play games of chance, he complains he’s unlucky,” explained Long Suffering Wife to the Littlest Princess the other night.  This is true.  I haven’t played cards since the great Gin Rummy annihilation of ’93, and that’s all I have to say about that. 

Anyway, once The Littlest Princess showed me that her new game was all about skill I joined in.  The premise was simple, line up four round coloured discs, while trying to stop your opponent from doing the same; a little like Noughts and Crosses on steroids.  Things didn’t go well from the start.  After eight games, I was eight games down.

Sitting up, I cracked my knuckles and thought, ‘Right, time to take the Little Bat to town.’  I punched those chips into their slots like a man on a mission, and a few minutes later I lined up four of them and said loftily, “Well darling, how do you like them apples?”  She shook her head, “I don’t like those apples very much at all Dad.” 

Pointing at the notepad I said, “Alrighty, put a mark on my side of the score card, and brace yourself for another beating.”  She smiled and pointed at the board, “Actually Dad, I won the game three moves ago but you didn’t notice.”  I gawped at the board and saw that this was indeed true, “Why didn’t you say anything!” I blurted.

“You were having so much fun I let you keep going.  So how do ‘them’ apples taste Dad?”        

Now, the details of what happened next are a little blurry, but I vaguely recall standing up to congratulate her, when all of a sudden my foot came into contact with the board at high speed.  As pieces of the game rained down around us, Long Suffering Wife entered the room and gave me ‘a look’.  I helped the Littlest Princess to her feet, removed a playing chip from her left nostril and patted her on the back, “Well done luv!” I said, then limped off to the beer fridge.

I’ve since promised her that once we find all the pieces, we’ll definitely play again.  But at this point my half hearted searches have only turned up some old Yahtzee dice, Bingo buttons, and many, many screwed up playing cards.  The missing coloured chips remain hidden, and I’m hoping my luck holds out for a bit longer!

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Mondays’ Column – Karting Kraze 16.8.10

Things you don’t see kids doing anymore #453:  Building, then racing go-karts down Gladstone’s hills.  This is proof that today’s children are much, much smarter than I ever was.

The Build:  First I’d scrounge all the necessary stuff, usually an old pram, a length of 4×4 hardwood, some rope, and an old chair, then start building something resembling a vehicle.  At this point, the first of many injuries would occur as I sawed, nailed, pop riveted and welded all the bits together using Dad’s tools.

Now my kart may have handled like a stalled aircraft carrier, and if you sat on it too heavily it would disintegrate, but gee it looked good with the flames painted down the sides, and a pirate flag sticky-taped to a long pole.

I’d be so keen to test drive my creation that I rush off to the nearest hill, leaving Dad’s tools lying on the lawn, and the lids off his paint tins.

The Hills:  Gladstone has some astonishingly steep hills, so I regularly experienced the sort of G-forces encountered by astronauts.  Once, on a run down the cliff face that is Berrigan Court, I swear I crashed through the sound barrier; just before ploughing through several letter boxes, a fence, three garden beds and a surprised Alsatian.

My pit crew watched on unimpressed as I disappear down the slope again...

The Spills:  My kart wasn’t very reliable, and important bits often fell off at crucial times.  Veering out of control, I’d scream a short, but heartfelt, prayer, “Oh God No!” then apply the brakes by slamming Dads’ new thongs into the bitumen, instantly burning two large holes in them, and leaving a trail of smoking rubber, skin and kart parts for half a mile downhill.

Trips to hospital were common.  Frequently it would be to visit other karting victims; my passengers, or mates who had borrowed my kart.  But we learned many valuable lessons, eg: Never, ever, ‘occy strap’ your seat to the frame, and an ice cream bucket tied to your head with brown string is completely useless as a safety device. 

No wonder I don’t let my children do this stuff.  As a result, my thongs don’t have big holes in them, my shed isn’t full of opened paint tins, and our house, dogs and neighbours, are safe from flying spanners and sockets when I mow the lawn.  Still, I reckon kids are missing out on something nowadays; mostly gravel rash and broken bones I suppose.

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Mondays’ Column – HMAS Gladstone 9.8.10

She’s getting on in years and starting to show signs of aging.  There’s some wear and tear, a few marks and blemishes, her beam’s a little broad, and her get up and go has got up and left, but she can still turn heads and certainly stands out in a crowd.  No, I’m not talking about Long Suffering Wife here, not if I wish to see another sunrise; I am instead referring to another prominent lady in town, HMAS Gladstone.

Gladstone was one of fifteen Fremantle Class Patrol Boats built in the early 80’s as part of our nations’ shore defence.  Two of them became TV stars; HMAS Bathurst which featured in the ABC drama, ‘Patrol Boat’, and HMAS Townsville in the Channel 9 series ‘Sea Patrol’.  I preferred Patrol Boat, but Sea Patrol has Lisa McCune in it, who, like ‘Gladdy’, has nice lines and is heavily armed.

Of the fifteen boats, only two remain, Townsville and Gladstone.  We hit the jackpot when ‘Gladdy’ was handed over to us, and now she is waiting patiently in the marina as preparations are made to plunk her into a permanent display spot near Auckland Inlet.  She’ll be the showpiece of the soon to be relocated Maritime Museum, and from her new vantage point she’ll look out over the harbour, her 60 mm Bofors gun covering the channel as a warning to all about just how seriously we take crab pot theft around here.

A number of Maritime Museum volunteers are having a bit of an affair with ‘Gladdy’.  She is never far from their thoughts, and they are always keen to clamber aboard her.  If you are interested in joining them, to assist with placing ‘Gladdy’ into her new home and restoring her to her former glory, then pop down to the museum and say ‘Ahoy’.  Mention my name for a free coffee… and possibly a biscuit.

I gallantly raised my hand for the position of Media Liaison Officer, but was mowed down in the resulting stampede for the job upon announcing that I was going canvass Lisa McCune to come to the grand unveiling.  When I eventually got up, I was given a more important role.

So, if and when Lisa turns up, while they’re showing her around ‘Gladdy’, I’ll be somewhere below, scraping the barnacles off her bottom.  Lucky me!


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Mondays’ Column – Laugh it Up! 2.8.10

Go ahead... laugh til it hurts 🙂

When was the last time you had a real lung busting, heart stopping, convulsion inducing laugh?  One of those laughs where you started wondering if you were ever going to breathe properly again?  Recently I started tickling my family at unexpected times, adding yet another horror to the ever growing list of things my nearest and dearest have to endure while sharing a living space with me.

But it warms my heart to hear them laugh until they start squealing, “Stop!  Stop!  I can’t breathe!”  Mind you, when old Auntie May said that, she really wasn’t kidding; and the ambulance officers weren’t very impressed with me either.

I like a laugh, and enjoy making others laugh.  Historically there has always been someone who has tried to bring a little joy into the world.  Eons ago, while other cavemen were out scrounging for food, and trying to avoid becoming dinosaur toe-jam, I’ll bet that deep in his cave somewhere was a Neanderthal comic, sitting alone in the darkness practicing his routine: “Knock Knock!”  Who there?  “Zatta.”  Zatta who?  “Zatta mammoth tusk in loin cloth or you glad to see me!”  He was obviously one very deluded caveman; doors hadn’t even been invented.

Much later, as the sodden Celts gathered on Britains’ rainy shores, glumly watching boatloads of heavily armed Romans arriving for a lengthy holiday; I reckon some stand-up druid would have blurted out, “Well, there goes the neighbourhood!” Which would have given everyone a few laughs before they were slaughtered.

Or possibly some Aztec wit could have said to the High Priest at the sacrificial ceremony, “Aww, c’mon mate, have a heart!  Boom!  Boom!”

And maybe Ned Kelly’s last words weren’t, “Such is life.”  Perhaps he was halfway through the classic joke, “Take my wife,” and, before he could slip out the time honoured punch line: “Please!” the lever was suddenly pulled.  We’ll never know now.

Laughter is actually quite good for you.  Laugh, and the world laughs with you, and laughter shared is a delight, which is the reason I write these columns.  Recently, I spent several hours hammering out what I thought was a pretty funny piece, and I asked a mate for his opinion, chiefly, did it make him laugh.

 “Laugh?!” he replied after much thought, “Yeah…, I almost did.”

 So I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe.

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Mondays’ Column – Tour de Tannum 26.7.10

Seized by a sudden desire for adventure, I decided to pedal ‘Pubtruck’, my faithful pushbike, to Tannum Sands.  I told Long Suffering Wife, who immediately phoned the Merry Widow Life Insurance Agency and increased my policy.

I set off for the beach, hoping to enjoy a feed of fish and chips (and possibly an ice block), before pedalling home again.  Twenty terrifying minutes later, I was whimpering as cars and 4WD’s flew past with millimetres to spare, even though I was riding on the dirt verge.  Several unintentional, and alarming, forays were made into the long grass as trucks hurtled by.

The road widened slightly on the downhill run to the 11 Mile Creek, and just as I was finally picking up some speed, my rear tyre went flat.  Pulling up before the bridge, I flipped Pubtruck over and discovered that a piece of wire had pierced the tyre wall, and punctured the tube in four places.  Opening my repair kit I was underwhelmed to see three small patches.  Marvellous.

I managed to stretch them over the holes, and breathed a sigh of relief when the tyre stayed inflated.  I was soon back on the road, and could just about taste those fish and chips when the tyre went flat again.  This time it was a rusty screw.  I was up the 11 Mile Creek without a patch.

Spying a road gang in the distance I waddled onwards, and as I neared them, some wag yelled out, “Didja lose a bet mate?!”  When they grew tired of making fun of me, one of them kindly loaned me his phone, and Long Suffering Wife came winging to my rescue.

Keen to try again, I asked Long Suffering Wife to follow me in the car, like they do on the Tour de France, but she refused outright.  I thought this was a bit inconsiderate of her!  Honestly, how hard could it be holding back fifteen kilometres of infuriated motorists, while I happily pedalled down the road, indifferent to the pandemonium behind me?

So, the Tannum road remains unconquered by Pubtruck and I, as the call of the wild has been temporarily put on hold.  But it’s still on my list of things to do, because not only is it good for me to get out of my comfort zone occasionally, it’s also given me a deeper appreciation for the term, ‘Death by Misadventure’.

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