Legends from our own lunchtimes

Monday, December 22, 2008

Why We Had Girls

There have been many times during our family lives where people have asked if I ever felt that I'd missed out by not having a boy to round off our brood.

That's really a question that never needed any thought, of course we didn't, although I suppose on reflection we may well have missed out on skateboard ramps and bicycle jumps and flying foxes, and for a while I wondered if that mattered.

Then I came across this sequence of photographs in my Mother's collection, taken in my brother's backyard.

I think we're really grateful for our girls!

( I do believe that Scott eventually recovered!)


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas is coming

Indeed it is, so we had a bit of a get together last weekend to catch up with those that won't be around for one reason or another in a week or two.

If I were to describe the feelings I have about our own family's Christmas excesses I could rightly be accused of being a grouch, or perhaps a Grinch or at best ungrateful. I am really none of those things, and without trying to justify our behaviour I am pleased that I find myself questioning our celebration each year, trying to find a balance in my mind between all that we have, and all that most of the world do not.

You could of course help ease my concerns by downloading a Care Australia Catalogue, and choosing a gift for someone who is a lot more in need of it than I!

For the record, Sebastian does love his Wiggles socks, and the Car, or is it a Fire Engine, or maybe a Space Ship..... perhaps it's a Dump Truck, that Uncle Matt gave him.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I missed posting Thursday, even though I had a great idea and thought of something to say and remembered the picture above, which I took somewhere in the Blue Mountains a couple of years ago.

Then, after finding the picture, I forgot entirely what I was going to write about.

I have absolutely no idea what the story was about, but I hope you enjoy the picture anyway, I'm sure it had some witty connection or other!

Monday, December 08, 2008


We lived in a small, narrow street.

In Brisbane terms it was barely narrow enough to be a lane, and even more unusually houses were built almost to the street frontage itself.

Our house had begun to look almost respectable we thought, if not fashionably trendy, with its high timber fence we'd built from a packing case stolen scrounged from the glass factory at the end of the street, and pavers similarly appropriated from the gasworks at South Brisbane.

After a hectic bout of incessant renovation, we motored off into the sunset for a tiny and well deserved dose of R&R, expecting that on our return, all our good works would hit us in the face and we'd bask in a fresh glow of self satisfaction.

After a week or two under blue skies and lying on golden sands, our neighbourhood did seem a little duller than we remembered it, and we did think it unusual, as we turned into our street, to note that the sign that had once read "Cambridge Street", now quite clearly, in jagged black letters declared that we were heading into "Darkest Africa".

Should we, in that light of that, have been surprised to find a Giraffe peering over our fence?

Thursday, December 04, 2008


The first time we ever came across the concept of Awards of Encouragement happened when we were living in Tweed Heads, opposite a family with three terribly young children. "Terribly" being the operative word, or so it seemed to us, as their mother in an effort to make herself understood would often resort to raising her voice to such a level that we could have heard what she was saying from the next suburb, let alone merely across a suburban street, even if her children couldn't.

This happened with such regularity and with such enthusiasm that we were sure that at some point a vein would pop somewhere deep in her brain, and she'd fall down dead.

For the mother of our household, in charge of one new born child, it was a particularly distressing time, she swore that she would never raise her voice like that no matter what the circumstance. Time of course was to prove her wrong and on that first occasion she lost her cool with our own three year old, raising her voice to the extent the children across the road snapped firmly to attention, it must be said that she did suffer a terrible flashback as the veil of guilt descended.

Apart from the slight issue with the mother's volume control, they were a lovely family and we spent a goodly amount of time in their company, so it was only natural that when the eldest received his first certificate of achievement he was duly paraded before us.

"Luke had a really good try at folk dancing".

The world isn't a fair place. In my youth, no matter how really good "the try I had at folk dancing" was, I always ended up being rapped around the legs with a long rule for being out of step. On reflection I suppose there would have been no kudos for me nor satisfaction for my teacher had she sent me home with a certificate that read "Master Midge was only flogged three times today".

I think all of these encouragement awards should be made to comply with one of those regulations about honesty in labelling.

The young ladies in the picture above are in the costume of their Morris Dancing troupe. For those who may not be aware, that particular type of dancing involves jumping up and down on the spot rather a lot, and for lack of a better description, this pair were far from the most robust of their group. When they were all assembled on stage, the troupe had a combined mass something akin to that of Tasmania, and once the jumping up and down commenced, the audience were compelled to flee from the inevitable disaster.

I'm sure that a workplace health and safety enquiry ensued, and I'm guessing the builders of the stage were duly, and I would contend wrongfully censured for it's failure. The real culprit surely was the primary school teacher who sent home all those certificates that read "Joyce had a really good try at folk dancing", rather than a discreet note inviting Joyce to be the light and sound monitor.

A day or two ago, Aaron erroneously presumed that awards "for trying" were invented for the benefit of the Lewis family. I can assure him that really isn't the case. Our own gene pool alone mounts a deserving argument for their being. When his brother's wife, who knows a little about genetics, reflects on all of this, she may well not take any reassurance at all after calculating the probability of producing any superlatively physically co-ordinated progeny.

Unsurprisingly it was the eldest of the lights of our lives who arrived home wearing one of those badges for the first time. It was succinct, and straight to the point.

"Abbie was trying today".

We knew that.

That's what started her mother shouting in the first place.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Feeding the Fish

It's coming up to that time of year when our closest relatives used to go away on holidays.

Uncle Moss and Auntie Dawn would take their tent and most of their worldly belongings and set up camp at Tallebudgera, and for all too few weeks I'd be allowed to join them, spending every waking hour exploring the Burleigh bushland, fishing, swimming and generally staying as far away from anything that remotely resembled authority as I could.

Part of the routine for campers was the late afternoon fishing session at the mouth of the creek. People would line up shoulder to shoulder right at the bar, where the river meets the surf, for a chance at catching whatever it was that fed at dusk on an outgoing tide at the edge of the surf!

I can't remember anyone ever catching anything in that location, but it was a great way for everyone to see the last of day off.

"Feeding the fish" we used to call it, which is exactly what we call it when youngsters visit our place and spend a goodly portion of their time amusing themselves by hanging over our goldfish pond. Our pond, for those who haven't visited the home of the Biting Midge, is neither large nor small, in fact it's exactly in between.

It's deep enough to scare the daylights out of a small child if they fall in (which they regularly do), and cause terrible stress among their parents, particularly as we tend to keep a type of goldfish that comes from somewhere in the Amazon and is rather partial to young white flesh. It is shallow enough though so that they if they were clever (which they never are) they at least have a sporting chance, and could probably escape an entry without getting their shirt wet, although to date none ever has.

Of course for us getting wet was almost compulsory no matter what the activity on those camping days, and so it was almost unusual one balmy summer evening all those years ago, that as I had my fishing line dangling in the mouth of Tallebudgera Creek, along with forty or fifty others of all generations, I was standing on dry sand.

I should not proceed further without explaining that the mouth of the creek is rather rapidly flowing on an outgoing tide, and just before the bit where we all "fed the fish" there was a deep and slow moving swimming hole, which tried to empy itself each ebb.

On this particular evening a middle aged swimmer had strayed too far close to the current at its perimeter, and soon found himself tumbling and gagging, breathing foam and sand, and being swept in the direction generally described as "out to sea".

He did what most people in that situation would do.

He went into a blind and very noisy panic.

I can hear his screams of terror as I type, burned as they are in the very core of my brain, and intermingled as they were, with horrifying gurgles and splutters as he went down for the second time, knowing full well that once more and he was doomed.

The fishermen stood in silence to a man. Watching bemused as the poor fellow was swept struggling and spluttering, eyes wide with fear, past each and every one of them in turn. Heads turned to follow, mouths agape, altogetherly reminiscent of a giant laughing clowns sideshow attraction.

As the ocean loomed closer the screams became even more desperate, if that was possible.

My father, who was next but last in the line of fishermen, decided that he couldn't let the poor fellow disappear.

"Stand up" he called, from the comfort of the sand.

The drowning man screamed louder, thrashing more violently. So violently that he appeared to have grown several more limbs among the foam.

"STAND UP YOU MUG!" he shouted with a tone which was unmistakably assertive to say the least.

The thrashing stopped.

The man fell silent. He struggled to his feet in water that was barely shin deep.

He stood without moving.


In 1960, society at large was perhaps a little less caring, a little less sensitive maybe, than it is today. I watched, covered in the same blanket of silence in which he had found himself, or maybe I sniggered just a bit with the others, as he waded ashore, trying to make himself invisible.

My life had changed.

I had seen the eyes of someone who wished he had drowned.
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