Saturday, December 10, 2011
That year, 1969, we had an excursion at the end of the year to the gold mining town of Maldon and I was the somewhat embarrassed wearer of the only pair of long pants I owned - brown checked woollen trousers. At least I was warm but when everyone else is wearing jeans it was a bit hard to take.
And as we got older the jeans were pulled down a little further exposing both the few pubic hairs we had at the front and the bum crack at the back - unless Mum was around of course.
Mid to late 70's the fashion changes again. The legs got wider and Juz Jeans and Staggers were the brand of choice. I bought a pair of Staggers that were so tight I could barely move. The sales girl told me they would stretch but after a couple of wears I gave them to my sister Karen because my voice kept getting higher.
Another thing I remember about the jeans of Burwood High days were that for a while there is was really cool to wear them as low down as possible, showing a few pubic hairs if you had them or exposing the bum crack if you didn't. Of course we had graduated from y fronts to jockettes in those days which were pretty brief and not big enough to show above the waist of the jeans anyway.
Jeans are still my trouser of choice these days and over the years I've gone through the plain navy denim, light blue denim, brown denim and white denim. The there were the acid wash and stone washed versions in black or navy mostly with legs that varied from stove pipe to wide flares. But through all that the 501's have remained the favourite.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Now onto things that are about me. I had a lump come up on the palm of my left hand a few weeks back. The doctor thought it was a ganglion cyst but sent me off for an ultrasound which pointed to it being a possible tumor. I saw a surgeon had it removed and it turned out to be a ganglion cyst which I am happy about.
My lady had a bad back, saw a doctor who told her that she should go home take some panadol and he would refer her to a counselor because she was depressed. She got a second opinion and that doctor sent her off for an MRI and on getting the results told her to get straight to hospital because she needed an emergency operation to remover the pressure on the nerves in her spinal cord or risk becoming a paraplegic. She was admitted that day, operated on the next and sent home the day after that. Now more than three weeks into an initial 6 week convalescence she is pain free if still unable to move totally freely and improving every day.
Which brings me to my next point and the fact that we have both started a Light and Easy diet. Which I'm finding Light and Difficult having cut my food intake by half. Still I have dropped from 92 kgs, last time I gave blood a month ago to 87.9 kg at the end of the first week of the diet and 84.6 kg when I weighed myself this morning at the end of the second week. That bit of a pot belly that men of a certain age get has already shrunk significantly and I can stand in a certain place now and see my naughty bits. That has to be good I think. The thought of a leg of lamb or a whole roast chicken is still pretty good though.
My first Sunday breakfast on the diet and I had one egg and even that had a sad face. And then I remember how many people in this world do actually go to bed genuinely hungry every day and I realise once again how lucky I really am.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
And here's a few memories
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
The Championships were cancelled that year and there was a major hue and cry from many people about what a tragedy it was. I wrote an article for the VBL website that week and said in part that there were thousands of people who would go to bed that night never seeing their mother, father, son, daughter, husband and wife again. I told people to get a grip and understand what true tragedy was and it wasn't about the cancellation of basketball games.
In the past couple of days we've seen another airline, Qantas shut down for a few days and the ranting and raving of people stranded around the world and unable to get home. There was a photo of a bloke in the Sunday Herald Sun who refused to give his name but who was displaying such anger and hatred in his expression that it looked as if he could have gotten hold of Qantas CEO Alan Joyce that he would have ripped his throat out.
And at the same time that the Qantas Board made the decision to ground the airline on Saturday there were a company of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan who were being slaughtered by an Afghan soldier they had mentored. Three brave young Australians and an Afghan interpreter were killed and seven other Australians injured. This act had it's genesis on that same day more than ten years ago and it sickens me that I sit here now having to write the same thing that I did back then.
I don't give a stuff about an airline going bust or being grounded. It's an inconvenience for all those people delayed. The sun will come up tomorrow and other planes will fly. But again we have young wives who won't see their husbands, children without fathers, Mums and Dads who will wake to nightmare again tomorrow and the day after and the day after that.
Get some perspective people. Understand what really matters. RIP guys may you never be forgotten.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
My name is xxxx your Online Specialist, I am pleased to assist you today with your recent email enquiry in regards to clearance fo bank cheque.
First of all I would like to sincerely apologise for the delay in my response as our team are currently receiving a high number of online enquiries.
Laurence, it is a Business Rule for cheques to get cleared in 3 business days and not calendar days.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Hard to believe that it was a year ago today that I last saw you. A lot has happened in that time. I left my job, went to another company that ended up in liquidation and found a new job as a contractor but am likely to be put onto a long term contract in the next few weeks.
The new house has been built and Raels and I have been here now for 6 weeks. Funny but it is home already unlike the last couple of places I've lived. Maybe that's because we've built this from scratch. I wish I could have shown you what it's like.
I imagine you riding off on that horse you told us about in the last few days. I don't know where that came from because I don't ever remember you talking much about wanting to ride horses despite loving to bet on them. Maybe that was the little girl speaking.
Karen, Deb and I celebrated Christmas together last year like we always used to, but I think that may well have been the last time we'll do that. You were the glue that held that together and I'm guessing that we'll probably not find the time to do it too often in the future given the kids have grown and will be splitting time between the new families they'll make over the next few years. Karen is off to Queensland this year to spend Christmas with Jacob and Jenna, Luke may be back In Adelaide and your other grandkids are also starting to spread their wings. Spending time with old Aunties and Uncles doesn't seem as important as when they were little. But don't worry about that, it's just part of growing older.
Funny but I was really conscious of you and Dad being gone last Christmas, my first as an orphan, and my first Easter and Mother's Day this year followed by my first birthday. Weird being a 54 year old orphan. Sometimes I get a bit taken aback looking at the old bloke in the mirror because it's not how I see myself.
I know what you meant now when you said that there wasn't a day go by when you didn't think of Nana and Grandad because it's the same with me. I miss you both very much and wish I'd told you that more often.
You gave me a great start to life Mum and I will be forever grateful for that. Sure there were moments, but we had a great upbringing. I always knew you were proud of me even if I didn't know why.
Thanks Mum. I love you very much and miss you terribly
Love Laurie XXX
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
We are very lucky to be in a position to build this house and I still shake my head everytime I go down there. I have only lived in four places in my life that I can remember - I don't count the first 18 months. I spent all my early life in Box Hill South until I was 24 and then when I got married and moved to Tecoma. I lived there in the family home for a further 24 years and then after splitting with my then wife moved less than 1 kilometer away until Raels and I bought the current house in Ferntree Gully.
Now the move will be to Cranbourne North, way out of my comfort zone but into our dream home, everything single thing about it chosen by us. Raels says that in her mind she is already living there. Me? I wonder when it will actually turn from being the new house into home.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
LO: But politics is also about leaders being able to win support and to persuade voters. What is the difference between your position now and that of Kevin Rudd when you tapped him on the shoulder, except that the Government is now less popular than it was then and the leader is now less popular than the then leader was? What’s the difference?
JG: Laurie I'm not going to go back in time and talk about those events. I have talked about them...
LO: But you haven’t you see, you have always refused to talk them.
JG: Well I explained why the Labor team made the leadership decision that they did last year. And what they had...
LO: And what is the difference now?
JG: What they have now is me as Prime Minister, pursuing with determination, a plan, that the Labor team believes in. We never thought it was going to be easy. We knew it was going to be tough. We knew we would have to go out and campaign and persuade and get people the facts. And we are determined to do that.
LO: But you see, what they had a year ago was a leader who had been told by you in February he shouldn't go to a double dissolution on pricing carbon, and he had been told by you in April that he should shelve that plan. And now you are out there saying, "I’ve always believed in pricing carbon."
JG: Laurie, you are making a lot of assumptions and I’m not going to share those assumptions with you. I've always believed...
LO: But don't you think you need to answer those questions if people are going to have any faith in you.
This was important for the nation, she was doing what is best for us, no one will be worse off except the big carbon polluters etc, waffle, bull shit. I also remember during the last election when after the first few weeks of campaigning she told us that we would now see the real Julia. Well the real Julia lied when she said there would be no carbon tax so my question is why should we believe anything she says now.
Another thing I am getting very sick of is that because there are people skeptical of the whole man made climate change argument we get told that none of them know what they are talking about, that they are denying climate change exists. Well let me say this. Climate changes. I actually wrote my honours thesis on climate change in the Victorian Alps. I know that 60,000 years ago we were in an Ice Age with gradual warming until a peak around 8,000 years ago when sea levels were actually higher than they are now. And since that time we've had times when the Earth was warmer than now when grapes were grown in Newfoundland in the 11th century, and a Little Ice Age said to have last from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
And we know that climate is also affected greatly by the fluctuations in the Suns outputs, in fact there have been arguments for decades over what causes the periodic Ice Ages but one thing is sure, those massive fluctuations in climate have been occurring independently of anything man has done.
Yeah, I know, some of you will argue, isn't it better that we do something, and I'd say if you guarantee that the rest of the world is gonna be doing the same thing as us then you might be right, but we are a small country of 22 million people and there are cities in India and China that produce as much greenhouse gas in a month as we do in a year and I don't see them rushing to introduce a carbon tax.
The Prime Minister will have us believe that China is cleaning up it's act when in fact it is building bigger coal fired power stations and burning coal they buy from us. So how is it that China buying or coal and burning it is great for the economy and ensures that we will have a strong coal mining industry in the future. And we're supposed to believe that it is better for the world for China to burn our coal than to burn it ourselves. What is the logic to that argument Prime Minister?
I heard our Climate Change Minster interviewed on 3AW a few days ago and she was asked who the Top 10 polluters in the country were. Her answer - "I'm sorry I don't know and I don't have that information with me."
Huh???? You don't know that and yet you can tell me the tax will only raise the price of a packet of Tim Tams by something less than a cent a packet? Doesn't make sense to me. And if you look a t bit more closely at what we do know then you'll see that the government doesn't actually know how many companies will be liable for the tax. See this article from the Annabel Crabb of the ABC. The government knows how much the tax cuts will cost in terms of lower collection of income tax, but they have very little idea about how much carbon tax is going to be collected. And if they don't know that, how is the modelling on the supposed $8/week increase for the average household supposed to hold up. This economic modelling sounds to me pretty much like the global warming modelling. All over the place.
And how is it that all this Treasury modelling and the wonderful tax cuts that 9 out of 10 families will get, are still valid when the day before the tax was announced we were told that the top 1000 polluters would be taxed and the very next day the announcement said it was the top 500. Given it took months of rigorous research and modelling by Treasury to come up with the package in the first instance how was it changed in 24 hours? And was it the real Julia who changed it or one of the other two we saw before the election?
I've heard a lot of Labour supporters try to say that this is the same as John Howard introducing the GST. But the difference is he had the guts to take the issue to an election. This is more like our State Labour Government telling the people of the eastern suburbs that there wouldn't be tolls on Eastlink, prior to the election, and then a week after he was re-elected stating that things had changed.
So that's my rant for the week. And what I've learnt this week is that politicians lie. I was previously very naive wasn't I.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Sunday, July 3, 2011
It started as a pretty ordinary train trip home. I was sitting back engrossed in my book "Written in Time" and listening in the background to Sports Today on 3AW (gotta love Tunein Radio as an iPhone Ap).
We got to Box Hill and a couple of disheveled looking young ladies, and I lose the term lightly, got on and wandered up the carriage past me. It wasn't long until the voices were raised loud enough to not only interfere with my radio listening but distracting of my reading as well.
Like "young ladies" seem to do more often these days there was a lot of effin c's and various other colourful phrases. I picked up that the older looking slag was 28 and one of the others who also boarded the train but from a different door was 18. The older one was yelling and screaming something about the younger one muttering about her under her breath. When a few other people started to vacate that end of the carriage and move down past where I was sitting I turned around to see what was going on and saw the younger one seated with the older one standing above her blocking her in and leaning down screaming in her face. They were both clearly, drunk, drug affected or both and as I watched it was suddenly on and a full blown cat fight started, the screaming and swearing continued and the hair pulling and scratching had started.
I had enough. I took the earphones out and tucked them into my pocket, I asked the young girl opposite me to look after my pack and I went and grabbed the 28 year old from behind and pulled them apart. Whilst I restrained her the other girl was ushered into another carriage by two other companions.
The two now separated physically I let the older one go and told her to sit down and shut up.
"You're not a fucking copper," she yelled in my face.
I turned walked away and sat back down.
"Do you know who I am?," she screamed at the top of her voice. "I'm a member of the P...gill family!" Spit flying from her mouth the stud on her tongue almost sticking up her nostril as she spat the vitriol at me.
"You're face is burned into my brain. You better watch your back! You're gonna end up fuckin dead!"
And for those who don't know. That statement about her family history alone says it all really and shows precisely why that "young lady" actually doesn't really have much of a future. There will be many more fights ahead for her, angry, bitter, full of a false pride in a family that has no respect at all in my world. I wish her luck but reckon she's more likely to end up in a gutter somewhere.
Incidentally, not one other person intervened. They were all happy to sit there and ignore what was happening whilst a young girl, who may or may not have caused it in the first place, got the crap beaten out of her. WTF is that all about.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Mum used to tell me about how her uncles used to visit the Vic Market and bring home vegetables and fruit that were beginning to turn. We didn't need to do that but old habits die hard and we'd often meet at Nana and Grandad's in Brunswick and head off up the highway looking for suitable paddocks we could wander through looking for mushrooms or finding dams where we could through a piece of meat tied to a string and pull out yabbies.
Both Grandad and Uncle Phil kept ferrets so some of those trips involved finding rabbit warrens, putting nets over the outlets and waiting for the ferrets to chase the rabbits out of the holes. I still love to eat roast rabbit and usually after we got home and the rabbits were scunned I'd be given a rabbits foot for luck and I have to say it was much luckier for me than it was for the rabbit. I'd carry it around in my pocket for a few days until I suspect it got a bit woofy and Mum made me throw it out. My sisters would get a rabbits tail.
There were times when we'd spend school holidays away camping. I remember one time Uncle Phil took me with him, my cousin Phillip and a couple of others to the Barmah State Forest near Koondrook for a week. And that was real camping, fishing every day, a bush dunny consisting of a 9 gallon drum with a canvas screen pulled around three trees to give an illusion of privacy.
Those Christmases spent camping on the Murray River at Corowa, long hot days and early morning treks down to the riverbank before dawn are great memories for me. Later as I had kids of my own and tried to re-create those times I found that my sons never really got into fishing and I think that was because I wasn't all that good at it. When I took them out as kids and never caught anything they just got bored with it until there was actually no point asking if they wanted to go because I knew the answer would be no. Diffierent times, different places.
Monday, June 20, 2011
It got me thinking about some of the sayings that Dad used to have and what the origins of some of them were in an Australia that is now long gone.
When he thought that something was particularly unlikely to happen he would say "If that happens I'll walk backwards down Bourke Street whistling Annie Laurie."
For those who don't know Melbourne, Bourke Street is one of the main thoroughfares in the Central Business District, and before we had a plethora of suburban shopping malls the Bourke Street strip was the shopping mecca of Melbourne.
Now I knew what Dad meant when he said it but I have never known who Annie Laurie was and now thanks to the wonder of the internet I can find out.
That font of all knowledge Wikipedia states -
Annie Laurie is an old Scottish song based on poem by William Douglas (1672?-1748) of Dumfries and Galloway. The words were modified and the tune was added by Alicia Scott in 1834/5. The song is also known as Maxwelton Braes.
According to the story Douglas had a fling with Anna Laurie but her father disapproved possibly because he had a problem with Douglas's Jacobite views.
So for those like me who have never heard the song here it is.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
A few weeks back the last of my pets from the old life was run over by a car and killed. Connie, our Brittany spaniel was named after Constance daughter of the Duke of Brittany. She was about 15 years old and had been ailing since Gambit, her brother, died a few months back. But she was let out in the yard with the front gate open and wandered onto the road. She was the most beautiful natured dog and whilst I haven't lived with her for a few years now it still hurts to think she had to go in that way. RIP Connie.
I'm halfway through my tenure at work but the boss has asked if I'm interested in sticking around. I've said yes but will make up my mind when I find out what the offer is. I have a bottomline that will need to be met so that the new mortgage is covered.
Speaking of the mortgage, the CBA is stuffing us around again. It looks like they underpaid the first of the builders payments by about $2.5k which means we now have to find the extra. The problem is because of the way the loans were set up I have no visibility of any payments we made or fees we were charged pre March this year. I've asked for a full reconciliation and four days later still haven't heard a result yet. We'll definitely look at moving banks once the settlements are done.
We lay byed some limited edition prints for the home theatre today. An indulgence, certainly, but maybe an investment too. The prints are those below by an artist called Alex Ross.
Erin has left school and started work. Not something I agree with but no point in forcing her to stay on and waste the rest of the year either. She has the next couple of years planned out - save for a car, save for an overseas trip, work overseas for a couple of years and then come back and decide what she wants to do. I'm in fact less upset with that decision than I am with the fact that her mother did not communicate any of it to me. I found out a week after the fact. Still, can't be too critical can we, if I am my kids tend to get all angry with me.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
I wrote in the post Of Chow Food and Other Things about our regular Friday night feeds of Fish and Chips but there was a fairly standard menu served in hour house when I was growing up. One night would be chops, sausages, mashed potatoes and peas, another sausages eggs and chips, yet another spaghetti bolognese, and of course the Sunday lunch time roast when we weren't out visiting relatives or having barbecues.
Karen and I had to either set and clear the table each night or dry the dishes. For some reason we used to fight over the former, mainly because it meant we could sit down earlier in front of the TV and watch the Flintstones or Gilligans Island.
Most nights, Dad wasn't home. Most nights he wouldn't get home before we went to bed but would come in some time later, under the weather and smelling of the front bar and any of several pubs he frequented over those years. But this is a post about the food we ate, not the bad times, I'll leave that for another time.
Sunday nights we usually had something light, usually toasted sandwiches in front of the telly. A night without having to set the table was bliss. I know there are families who share meals around the table and Raels and I try to do that now. Maybe it was the fact that eating at the table reminded me too much that Dad was absent that it wasn't a tradition I had with my own kids as they were growing up, but is something I enjoy now when they do come around for meals with us. But I digress again.
Mum was a good cook, but not an adventurous one and that may have been because we had fairly spartan tastes and any time she did stray from the meat and three veg, like the time she tried to serve us sheep brains and I came very close to vomiting, or when she regularly tried to serve up Brussels sprouts. To this day I don't like them.
But the roast potatoes, ahhhhhh, I still haven't tasted better, even after all these years. And Dad's barbecues were as good as anyone could ever cook, charcoaled chops and snags, and best of all, flat round chips fried in dripping over a wood BBQ in the back yard.
Another memory from the kitchen table is of my sister Deb, sitting in her high chair breaking up bread crusts and stirring them into a bowl of ice cream. She still makes her cakes the same way even today. Just kidding.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
"I'm just going with the flow Dad," she told me. And so I told her to give me his phone number so I could call him and ask what his intentions were. She declined of course, but I think she actually believed I would have done it.
The night after I told my youngest daughter in my most earnest voice that it was time that she and I had a discussion about the Birds and the Bees, whereupon she got up and said that she'd be reading a book in her bedroom. Again I was kidding but sometimes they don't seem to get it.
A couple of weeks ago I told them that if William Shatner married Fifi Box, she'd be Fifi Shatner-Box. That one they got, both of them posting it on Facebook. Last night daughter number two asked me if I'd seen the movie Thirteen and I said "No, but I've seen the sequel Fourteen." I thought it was hilarious, she just raised her eyebrows.
Will they ever get me?
Sunday, May 15, 2011
We had the house valued pre-Christmas by the bank and had dropped the reserve price by $20k below that valuation in the hope that once we got to that stage in the auction and went on the market that the competition would drive it up towards the valuation.
The opening bid was $40k below the reserve and that was a bid by the auctioneer on our behalf. He then raised it by $10k and we got one bid only at $1k above that. Eventually we settled for a figure $2k below the reserve but well under what we were hoping for. It became very much a decision around whether the bird in the hand was worth more than any potential offer we might have gotten outside the auction. No contest really given the cooling in the market, the fact that we are facing an interest rate rise in the next three weeks and the absolute confusion over what this Federal Government is going to do with that monster lurking in the background, the Carbon Tax.
At least now we can move on and enjoy the new place.
Speaking of which the front is now rendered and the kitchen and bath room cabinets almost finished. Our site supervisor, despite earlier telling us it would be ready by the end of June, is now saying 75 to 90 days. I suspect he is just being ultra conservative because it seems to be moving pretty well at the moment with the painters due to start tomorrow.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
"M" is for the million things she gave me,
"O" means that she's only growing old,
"T" is for the tears she shed to save me,
"H" is for her heart of purest gold;
"E" is for her eyes, with love-light shining,
"R" means right or wrong she'll always be,
Put them all together, they spell "MOTHER,"
A word that means the world to me.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Dad had a brother and several cousins who served and a sister who became a war bride when she married a US Serviceman. In my grandparents home a photo of my Uncle Keith in uniform took pride of place in the entrance hall and on another wall a velvet belt hung encrusted with brass unit badges my grandfather brought back from his time in the middle east and France during World War 1.
I later learnt that another of Dad's cousins, Uncle Wal, had escaped from the Malayan Peninsula as the Japanese invaded. It was the subject of a book by Colin Frisch Heroes Denied. The Malayan Harrier Conspiracy "the amazing true story of 15 Australian soldiers who refused to surrender when the Japanese steamrolled down the Malayan Peninsula early in 1942. They fought their way back to Australia over several months to be met with disdain and disbelief. Unbelievably, they were treated like deserters and given the title 'Malayan Harriers'."
On Mum's side, my Grandmother had 13 immediate members of her family who served. There was Uncle Perc who got captured in Singapore and was a POW in Changi and later on the Burma Railway, Uncle Laurie who was part of the 2/22nd Battalion who was killed on the day the Japanese invaded Rabaul and of course my Grandfather Bill Smith who with the 26th Brigade Headquarters, 9th Division, was a Rat of Tobruk, and if memory serves my correctly this is the 70th anniversary of the commencement of the siege.
On 25th April 2007 I posted the transcript of my Grandfather Bill Joyce's War Diary. Today I'll post letters my other Grandfather Bill Smith's letters to his cousin Dot.
Of course his time as a soldier wasn't the only thing that defined his life and like most men of his generation he didn't talk much of his time away. I do recall a story he told about when he finally did get told that he would be returning from the Middle East and how he went into a tent to tell the cook the good news only to find that he had committed suicide. In reading these letters again I wonder if this was the same bloke who had moaned and groaned and joked about the food with Grandad.