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Midlife - A Journey

Updated: 2018-03-06T22:24:27.111+11:00


...comes great responsibility


Something very special happened yesterday, I became a grandfather for the first time.  I didn't really expect the depth of emotion that came with knowing that the baton passes again and that new life carries on the unbroken chain that reached back to that man who stood on the shores of Lake Tanganyika 60,000 years ago.   He whose descendants spread around the world with the sons of his sons passing on that YDNA right down to young Parker Alexander Joyce yesterday.

I was unprepared for the overwhelming feeling of love as I held my Grandson for the first time and realised that for me another entirely new chapter in life is beginning.  

Welcome young man.  You don't know it yet but you have many people who love you and will look after you.  Your journey through life will be full of ups and downs but we'll do our best to make sure the ups are great and the downs don't last too long.   I don't pretend to be wise but my knowledge is yours to ask for.    I look forward to reading to you, to telling bad jokes, to the laughter and the tears.  I will be there for your first basketball game and football match, should you choose to play, I'll give whatever support a grandfather can in whatever way I can.

I joked yesterday with your Dad about your name and the connection to Peter Parker who was burdened with the wisdom from his uncle that "with great power comes great responsibility" but I realise now that it is my great responsibility to love and support you.    Not alone, but with all of those other people who will share your life and watch as you grow.

I hope I am around one day when you too become a father just like I was for your Dad.

The Luckiest Country


Plenty to be grateful for on Australia Day. Let's celebrate our diversity, remember that we have a responsibility to protect the weak, look after our aged and infirm; we have the right to work hard and to accumulate wealth not just for the sake of it but because it is one symbol of success. But we should remember that wealth is not just reflected in money or possessions, it comes with the respect of family, friends and colleagues, with the knowledge that we live in a place where we don't need to go hungry, or sleep rough, where despite the odd harshness there is always a sunny day ahead, despite flood, the rains end, and after the fires the bush comes back. I am proudly descended from Irish Catholic convicts, from northern Irish Orangemen, from English blacksmiths and Scottish farmers, from Welsh Normans and before them Vikings. In this country one branch of my ancestors has been here for more than 40,000 years, and 10,000 years before that my father's fathers line was in Tanzania. My connections with this country and with people around the world are growing daily and I thank whatever God there is that I had the good fortune to be born in this land at this time. Thank you friends and family for your connection. Thank you to those who are absent and away from home - you know who and where you are - and know that I'm thinking of you. Let us all never forget that we are the luckiest people born in the luckiest country and hope that however we choose to celebrate that we can do it in peace for many more years to come.Keep safe, stay true, be loved.Happy Australia DayLoz[...]

Blink of an eye 2


A long time ago now I wrote a post called "In the Blink of an Eye" where I spoke about how quickly life is seeming to pass.  A couple of weeks ago my oldest son had his engagement party and I made the following speech and make no apologies for some bad Dad Jokes.Thankyou to everyone for attending Meg and Luke’s engagement and I want to say that this is the first formal welcome of Meg into Luke’s extended family and Lyn and Glen and Raelene and I welcome her and look forward to getting to know someone we hope will one day be the mother of our grandchildren over the years to come.I googled engagement speeches and found that there are a few etiquettes about what format such a speech should take.  I thought about Dad jokes and thought I’d start with the story about that American actress who got stabbed overnight, Reese ummmm, Reese help me out here.  Witherspoon.  No with a knife [and there were groans].Then I thought that I’d tell a couple of brief stories about Luke and some of my memories of the way he grew up.   I remember very well not long after Luke was born when the nurses asked me if I’d like to give him his first bath, so I carefully wrapped one arm around his shoulders and grabbed his legs with the other hand and as I lifted him he bent in the middle and his feet kicked him in the head.  Even then he looked at me and gave me that WTF expression.It’s fair to say that Luke’s driving ability is a bit scary.  I gave him his first lesson at Narooma in our Starwagon van and he planted his foot on the accelerator and took his hand off the break and we headed, wheels spinning towards a ditch.  I had to pull the hand break on quickly to save us.In 2001 I was in the States at a conference and Lyn let Luke drive to the airport to pick me up.  I got a running commentary from Erin all the way home – that was where Luke side swiped a car, that was where he mounted a gutter, that was where he nearly hit Evan xxxxxx.  Poor Evan waved to Luke as he was turning the corner and leaving the wheel on full lock he took one hand off to wave back and started heading straight towards him.   I never saw Evan again.  I don’t know if he kept running after his near brush with death or whether everytime he saw us coming down the street he dove behind a bush or letter box or wheelie bin to make sure Luke never waved at him again.     Then there is the story about the car accident Luke had recently where he ran up someones bum, and anyone who has driven with Luke would know that is not out of the question.  Both cars pulled over and Luke was surprised when he looked up and coming towards him he saw that the driver of the other car was a little person, a dwarf for those who are politically incorrect.  And he was fuming, smoke was coming out of his ears and he said to Luke “Ï’m not Happy” and he said “Which one are you then”.Those of you who are Facebook friends will know that Luke is quite opinionated and doesn’t have a high degree of toleration for people he thinks are wrong and I blame that on his Prep Teacher.  One night after I got home from work and asked him what he had done at school he told me that they were learning “P”words and the teacher was asking each of the kids to give a word that started with P – there was the usual Pop, Puppy and Pear but when it got to Luke’s turn he said Pteradactyl and the teacher told him he was wrong.   He was really indignant because at that age he new about the life habits of every dinosaur that had ever lived and that’s probably why he knew this dinosaur of a father would attempt to tell some Dad jokes during a speech.Those of you who know me know that I am the family historian and if I look back at the women in the lives of Joyce men they will tell you that we are sometimes hard to live with, untidy, lazy sometimes, hoarders and opinionated.  They need plenty of patience and tolerance to live[...]

Wilkie or won't he


Image by Matt Golding- WA Today
And he did...sort of.   Andrew Wilkie withdrew his support for the Gillard Labor government because they failed to honour a written commitment given to him as they were scrambling to form government, that they would support mandatory precommitment in poker machine venues.  Setting aside whether that would have worked or not what really happened here?

Julia Gillard reneged on an agreement she had given him supposedly because it didn't have the required Parliamentary support.   She gave the commitment at a time when she needed his support to form government When Peter Slipper jumped ship from the Liberal Party to become Speaker in the House of Representatives therefore giving her an extra vote she no longer needed Wilkie's support.  She couldn't continue to push ahead with what he was asking because members of her own party in New South Wales and Queensland who are in marginal seats were under a lot of pressure from their local clubs not to support the legislation.  A bad look if a Prime Minister gets rolled by her own party on the floor of the House, so easier to break a promise.

And let's face it she doesn't have a problem breaking promises...."Kevin Rudd has my full support"..."there will be no carbon tax under any government I lead".   Political expediency is everything for our Julia.

And what about Andrew Wilkie.   Some will say a man of conviction, a man who stands by his principles.   This is a bloke who stood up to the Federal government over whether or not Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or not.    I would argue that point with him because I spent a fair bit of time with a lot of Melbourne Kurdish people a number of years ago who had first hand knowledge of entire villages wiped out by chemical weapons that Saddam used on them.  So I''ve always been a bit skeptical about Andrew Wilkie's assessment of Iraqi capabilities at the time the second Gulf War began.

In this case though, Wilkie has decided that he can no longer support a government who broke a commitment they gave him.   He had no trouble supporting that same government when it broke a pre-election commitment given to the Australian people about the fact that a carbon tax wouldn't be introduced.  And that is the problem with moral high horses, you run the risk of being called a hypocrit if you don't consistently apply the same standards to all promises instead of just the ones that you want them to keep.  You cannot vote to support legislation that breaks one promise and then yell and scream about the same people breaking another one.

The sooner the next election comes the better.  Irrespective of who has the power let's hope that we don't have to put up with wacky independents with pet causes that hamstring proper decisive and honest governance.

I am judgemental


I try not to be but sometimes it happens.   For example I drive past a new build in Chantenay Parade every day and like most new builds there is a bin out on the nature strip so that the builder can get rid of the rubbish.  Now some muppet or collection of muppets has been dumping their unwanted furniture around the bin.  There are beds and mattresses, chairs, a table, an old treadmill and a couple of ancient TVs as well as boxes of general household garbage.   These idiots are showing absolutely no respect for people who are going to be their new neighbours.

Woolen Trousers, Levis and Bum Cracks


Must admit that my favourite jeans are Levi 101's.  Pulling on a pair with button up fly is like meeting an old friend.  Of course these days the waist has gotten somewhat bigger than that of my first pair circa 1974.It was a long time before Mum agreed to let me wear denim.  She'd send me to the snow in shorts in winter and off to school in grey woollen sorts all year round but there wasn't a pair of long legged trousers to be seen anywhere in my single wardrobe at Box Hill South.  Until Form 1 that is.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.Mum eventually realised that maybe denim wasn't so bad after all and I got a pair of Stirling jeans - the ones with the checkered flag logo and a really cool pocket on the side of the leg where you could fit a comb.  Not that I needed one because they were the years when Dad would take me up to the barbers on the corner of Middleborough and Eley Roads for a college cut.   These days it would be called a number one.After the Stirling jeans came my first really expensive pair - Amco Heavyweights with a suede patch on the back.  Not quite Levis but I was getting there.  Of course as I got older and graduated to Lee Jeans which were bought at a mens wear store in Flinders street in the City next to Lindrums Pool Hall.  If you read this Andrew help me out here. 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.[...]

Less than 33 days


(image) Not sure who you are but if you thought it might have been a good idea to tell my daughters about my 33 Days post, it wasn't.   Apparently I shouldn't be guilt tripping them because they are very busy and I now live too far away for them to be able to find the time to visit once a month.  So I stopped trying to ring them once a week to see how they are and I have no intention of guilt tripping them any more.   So I appreciate that you may have thought you were doing the right thing by me but to be honest, please don't do it again.  It's not worth my grief and as I was told this isn't about me anyway.   They'll get around to contacting me sooner or later.  Maybe.

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.

It was 30 years ago today....


..that I entered the Police Academy in Glen Waverley and commenced a journey that was to last 16 years.  This Friday night I am attending a reunion of Squads 22 and 23 of 1981 and of the 50 who walked in that day, fourteen are left in the job.  Of those 9 are attending the reunion together with myself and one other.  I'm looking forward to it.And here's a few memories[...]



In 2001 I was the Executive Officer of the Victorian Basketball League and at the end of each season our Champion and Runner-up in both men and women came together with the winners of other Leagues to compete in the Australian Basketball Championships to determine who was the best team in the country.  It was September and on the Tuesday prior to the weekend of the Championships the date was one that would go down as one of the most infamous in history, September 11.   That same week Ansett Airlines here in Australia collapsed and that meant that the teams could not get to Bendigo in regional Victoria to compete.

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.

Thirty Three Days


One of the most commonly visited pages on this blog is one I called “The Loneliness of theLong Distance Father” which was at a time shortly after my separation where my kids didn’t really want to have a lot to do with me.  As with many things, time alone can cure some of the angst and distress that comes to most kids when their parents break up.   But whilst the pain eases for the kids perhaps so too does the desire to keep contact with both parents, or maybe it’s just the classic cats in the cradle stuff, the natural pulling away as you get older and become more independent.We built a big house because at the time we entered into the contract we had four of the six kids we have between us that needed a place to live.   Over the months of waiting for the title to settle and the house to be built their needs changed and so we have a four bedroom house occupied by the two of us and the two furkids and in an area now far away from where the kids mostly reside.And that’s OK, the place is there if some time in the future they need it, but there are times when I miss knowing what is happening in their lives.   It seems that unless I make a call then we don’t talk and I am left to watching facebook for updates.Last week I asked my two daughters if they would like to set aside one Sunday evening per month, visit us for dinner and watch a movie.  I was actually hoping that maybe we would just sit around the dinner table and chat and just find out who they were loving or feuding with, what books they were reading or movies they had seen, any one of hundreds of mundane day to day things that they do.  One daughter said she heard me but it would have to wait awhile because she’s working a lot of overtime and very busy but I did find out on Facebook that she enjoyed her day at the Races and her roast dinner at her mothers in the past few days.   Daughter number two has been silent and that usually means I am in the bad books with her.It got me thinking that if they spent 3 hours one day a month with me that would be a total of 1 and a half days a year.  If I live as long as my father (and I hope it is longer than that) then I have 22 years left and that would mean that for the rest of my life I would spend a maximum of 33 days with my kids, half of which I would probably be sleeping.So if the remainder of my life was equivalent to an hour on a clock for every month that passes without seeing them the clock advances another two minutes and we all know that as you get older time speeds up and the 33 days will rapidly become 30 and then 20 and 5, until those last few precious minutes come in a huge rush.And knowing all that makes me regret the times I didn’t call my own Mum and Dad other than on the special occasions.   So maybe what goes around…[...]

My Money Ralph


Last week we settled on the old house and Raelene deposited a Commonwealth Bank Bank Cheque into our Commonwealth Bank account.  That was Tuesday.  On Friday I sent an email asking why a Bank Cheque which is supposed to be as good as cash from what I remember, still hadn't cleared.    Today I get this back from the Bank - "Dear Laurence,

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.
What I can suggest for further clarifications, you can contact us on 13 2221, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or visit any of the nearest branches.
It has been a pleasure assisting you Laurence, I hope this information has assisted with your enquiry today and I wish you all the best for the rest of your week.
Sincerely, xxxx"
So I of course had to reply  "I understand that but that was not the question. Your own website states - "Cheque deposits attract a number of clearance days as the cheque itself is a paper based payment instrument. This requires the physical cheque to be forwarded to the drawing institution to determine the payment decision after inspecting the cheque for authorised signatures". However, in this case you were the drawing institution. Why does it take 3 days to forward a cheque to yourself to gain approval?" CBA if you monitor this sort of thing maybe you can reply.

I miss you Mum


Dear Mum
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.

I think I told you that Dad visited me one night not long after I'd moved into the flat on Burwood Highway and I sometimes wonder if you'll ever do the same.  But then again maybe you know that I'm happy now and that you don't need to set me straight.

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

Happy Fathers Day


For all those Fathers out there may I wish you well today.  Not a day goes by when I don't miss my Dad and this year a week before the anniversary of Mum's passing it is a little more poignant.  Son number 2 and girlfriend and both daughters came over for a BBQ lunch and we spent the afternoon watching the Return of the King in the home theatre.

And the new house is now home - we've spent much of the past couple of weekends cleaning up the old one and have in fact now walked out the door up there for the last time.  Raels has posted some updated photos over at Destination 3977.

My contract at work finishes at the end of next month but it looks like I'll be offered a longer term one to stay on and finish off what I've started.   The works interesting, I'm still learning, and the people are good.  Doesn't need to be anything else really does there.

So just a short update this time - i've got a few other posts on the go but haven't managed to finish them yet.  I reckon things might slow down a bit over the next few weeks and I'll get a bit more time to write.



For those who read my ladies blog over at Destination 3977 you'll know that the handover of our house has been delayed by a week due to the fact that the wall our heater is supposed to be put it needs to be made bigger at the top to fit the flue in.   No big deal and after a trouble free build a very minor setback.

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.

I deny I'm a denier


So we're getting a carbon tax and our most unpopular Prime Minister at her school marmish best says it's for our own good.  I watched her being interviewed by Laurie Oakes this morning and after she claimed that yes she did say there would be no carbon tax prior to the last election he asked her what had changed.  And we got spin. 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 [...]

Rock of Ages


A week ago Raels and I took our four daughters to see Rock of Ages.  It was our second time and their first and I have to say if you get the chance, do yourself a favour and go and have a good time.    The music is great, the cast fantastic and obviously enjoying themselves and I haven't laughed so hard for a long time.  It was actually better second time around because I knew what was coming.

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Do you know who I am?????


She screamed it at me on Thursday night but only after I'd absolutely had enough.

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.

I hate to say I told you so but...


I told you so...Man Colds are worse than girl colds :)  Queenslander researchers have found that the immune system in men is weaker than that in women but the differences disappear after menopause.  They reckon it's natures way of looking after women of child bearing years to ensure the survival of the species.

That got me thinking about the origin of the word menopause.   I thought it meant women put men on pause because of a loss of interest in sex.  But not true.  It actually comes from the Greek "men" meaning month and "pausis" meaning cessation - therefore cessation of the monthly visitor.   Now I've gotta say that given a man cold probably only comes once a year thats gotta be better than the alternative.

Rabbitting, Fishing, Yabbying and Mushrooming


Not all food was found in supermarkets when I was growing up in fact a few times a year we'd have family expeditions somewhere up the Hume Highway on hunts for food and I'm guessing this was a family legacy born out of the necessities of the Depression.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.[...]

Who was Annie Laurie?


Language changes and I've noticed a trend recently where the word "worry" which I have always pronounced with a "u" as in Surrey, now seems to come out of the mouths of a lot of people with the sound of lorry.  I'm not sure how or when this happened but the first time I heard it was from an old neighbour of mine who whlst he was born here had parents from Austria.  I find it all a bit wurrisum.  :)

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.

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The days go by


Newhome is almost ready - plumbing is done, tiling is finished, garage doors are hung, the floor coverings go down this week and our Post Construction Inspection is booked for 12 July.   We will probably be in by early August.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.[...]

Meat and Three Veg


(image) I'm writing this post on Sunday night with the smell of a beef casserole simmering on the stove in the background and remembering that as I was growing up the food we ate was very much a part of the daily and weekly ritual.

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.

Problem Management


I'm a little over three months into a nine month contract at my new place of work and I do feel like I'm starting to achieve a few things.  I've spent a lot of time in the past couple of weeks documenting and developing incident and problem management procedures, a task I could have avoided if I'd just googled "Problem Management" a little earlier and plagiarised the following process.   Much simpler and better than what I wrote.

Dad Humour


I wonder sometimes whether my kids will ever "get" my sense of humour.  A couple of weeks ago daughter number one told me she had sort of broken up with her new boy friend, at his request.  She then proceeded to tell me that for the next couple of nights after he'd done that he turned up to see her.

"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?

No Longer for Sale


Our house went to Auction last Thursday night and we were number 18 of 21 properties up for auction on the night.   Four of the five people who said they were interested in buying turned up and registered but as the properties went on the market and prices were below what was expected it became obvious to me that we may not get what we wanted.

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.