Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rockhampton Show. Winter of my first doll.

In the foot stamping cold of a winters night, we blew on our hands in desperation. The gloss of the Rockhampton Show’s was beginning to fade as we waited for our father to take us home. Mum was furious, her eyes narrowing with each question answered through gritted teeth.
No, I don’t know where your father is.

No I don’t know where the car keys are.

I have no idea when we will go home.

No, I still don’t know where your father is, but he’d better hurry up!

Various whines came from my brothers and sisters. We needed to go to the toilet. We were hungry. We were bored, and tired. Mum sat in silence, barely able to speak. I believe she was crying softly. And then we heard him, muffled at first through the hard black interior of the old Dodge car, then louder as he stumbled towards us.

Darlings! Sweetheart! Look what I won!

His leering face loomed at the windows, fogging the glass. He grinned and winked lopsidedly at me. Resisting all instinct to throw my arms around him, I pulled back into the car seat and the darkness.

Mum’s voice exploded over the city like fireworks. Where have you been? How DARE you keep us all waiting, John!

She seethed and bucked like a scorpion riding a bronco. A wild animal of a woman, keep waiting with five restless, cold children. Our tummies rumbled in sympathy.

Dad held up something in the darkness to me. Something pink and glittery. My eyes adjusted slowly to this new scene. A shepard’s crook, more glitter and sparkles, hot pink tulle. It was a Cupie doll, and the most stunning object of beauty I could ever imagine. Dad grinned sheepishly to us all, and we shyly twinkled our frozen fingers back at him.

Having settled into the new life of a priest in Rockhampton, the lure of the XXXX Show bar became too much for our dad. Encouraged by the jovial slaps of his new parishioners, he happily drank to his new flock, and basked in the fuzzy glow of new friendships. On his way out, a showman, sensing an easy target, took dad’s hand and placed three fat grubby baseballs in to it.

Here Father, have a go, every child wins a prize! Dads white dog collar stiffened with ambition mixed with pride and he closed one eye and took his best shot. To everyone’s surprise, it was a convincing win, and he had the choice of any prize on the top shelf. He swaggered momentarily, and then pointed with an unsteady finger, to the pretty doll with the gold hair and a stiff circle of skirt.

Now, as dad held himself up on the car door, from under his jacket he also produced bags of fairy floss and small stuffed toys. The Showman had felt sorry for his priestly charge, and had endowed him with small prizes, which dad gave to my brothers and sisters. Mum drove home in silence, as we children explored the beauty and mysterious wonder of the Rocky Show.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

So dad, yeah, another year without you. Somehow we muddle along.

Btw are you sitting on my steps in Paddo? The cat keeps looking and staring and in my mind I can see you, dressed in your blue flannel checked shirt, red and green beanie askew, grinning at me.

Is heaven that good dad? So what do you think about everything? Let me pick your brains and chew over the fat, as we used to do in days gone by. Did you see what I've done with your book? Yeah, I know, but it's getting there. Yep, quality paper, lots of photos, as you wanted. It's your book. I'm still working on mine.

No, I don't laugh as much, you're right, fancy you noticing that. Yes, I'm eating well, and of course I miss you topping up our wine glasses. How you loved to fuss over us. Thanks mate. We adored you too.

Yes, I'm doing what you asked me to. No I'm not crying much. I don't miss you most days, as you are always beside me. Even the cat notices.

Take care mannie, I'll see you again.

Want to help me blow your candle out? Ready? Hold hands, eyes closed, talking to God.

Now blow....

Miss you Beetle. xx

Always the Youngest.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Condoms galore!

Extract from My Mate and Me - The life and times of John Warby and Family

Meanwhile, Laurie and I were cleaning out below, when we discovered half a dozen large cartons, stacked away under the stern counter.

On close inspection, we found that each sealed carton contained one gross of smaller cartons. Each of these contained one gross of small envelopes, each containing a condom.   Laurie and I looked at each other and burst out laughing.  

Here, were roughly 125,000 condoms, obviously purchased from the War Disposals sale in New Guinea and left on board, when the owners had sold the lugger.    To our trusting eyes, they seemed in good order, but neither of us was authoritative on the subject!  Why not sell them? Or even give them away?   We sent a carton per taxi to an Army mate in Sydney, who was now in business as a chemist, and far more expert on the subject than ourselves.  Would our windfall turn out to be a goldmine?


But the word was 'no'.  Despite appearances, they were too old and untrustworthy.   No doubt, that was why they had been abandoned.  We decided to dump them that night on the outgoing tide. I still recall what a slow job it was, hauling up each carton in the dark, opening them and heaving the small cartons over the side to be dispersed by the tide.

Next morning, the shore was littered with hundreds of cartons that had been blown ashore by the wind, and not floated out to sea, as we'd hoped.  But we were glad to see that it was not long before they, too, disappeared.  Perhaps the next tide was higher and had carried them away, we thought.

Eighteen months later we found out where some, at least, had gone, when we put Panton up on Hockings Boatslip at T.I., for some underwater attention.   An irate shipwright confronted us.  Wasn't the Panton in Careening Cove last year?   She sure was, we said.   Did we own it, then?  Rather modestly, we agreed she was ours at the time.   Did we chuck overboard thousands of French letters then?   Laughingly, we agreed, yes, we had done that.  

“You bastards!” he shouted, revealing that he and his wife now had a strapping son, resulting from him picking up some cartons!

 He and his mates had collected the lot.   I wonder how many other new Australians we were responsible for!   As it is said, “God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform”!

 Murphy had nothing to do with it!