Category Archives: memories

For my Aunty Lesley

My darling Auntie Lesley passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer, I have no words to describe how sad I am feeling right now, and my heart goes out to my cousins who will be feeling so lost, a feeling I know only too well, as I felt, and still feel the same way about losing my own Mum over 10 years ago.

While death is an inevitable part of life, it doesn’t mean that we get used to it, or accept it graciously or willingly, we fight and we cling on to life until we can’t do it anymore.

Aunty Lesley was inextricably bound up in my childhood, she was I suspect my Mums favourite sister, evinced by the fact that she gave me the same middle name as Lesley’s, something I didn’t even realise until yesterday, now I know where it came from.

My Mum moved to NSW after the death of her first husband in a boating accident, looking I guess for a fresh start. A little bit later on for personal and family reason that I am not going to get into here, Lesley was sent over to NSW to stay with my Mum; by this time my Mum had met the man that was going to be my Dad. It was here that Lesley met Jimmy, who was my Dad’s best friend in Sydney, the usual things happened, Mum married Dad, Lesley married Jimmy.

After the birth of my eldest sister Mum and Dad moved back to Tasmania, I don’t know if Jimmy and Lesley moved back here at the same time, or before or soon after, but I do know that Mum and Lesley spent lots of time together, there are heaps of family photos of Aunty Lesley with my sister and me.

My sister and my cousin Larry are about the same age, and my cousin Colleen and I are also about the same age, which means we grew up together and we spent a great deal of that time down at my Nan’s.

It is one of the more enduring memories of my childhood, the pretend game that Larry, Christine, Colleen and me used to play, most of it is lost in the haze of 40+ years ago, but I do know that it involved a fairy, and perhaps a princess, and that my cousin Larry was some sort of magical animal, but we used to play in Nan’s front porch, or down the back by Grandad’s carport, or if we were feeling daring, in the back porch, where were definitely NOT allowed to play.

Underneath the back stairs, the cellar on very odd occasions and the wild untamed side bit of Nan’s garden where the fuchsia bushes used to grow, it was always shady up there and full of spiders and bugs, but we loved it, even if Nan didn’t because we used to pop the unopened fuchsia bulbs.

I do have other Aunts that I love just as much, and other cousins as well, but we didn’t see that much of Peter or Charlie as they lived up on the west coast and Peter went to boarding school, and my other cousins were several years younger than me, so playing with them was more like being told to babysit than actual playing, plus Grant was a teeny little bit of a bully and Shane was a little brat a lot of the time.

Aunty Lesley used to live in a unit that backed onto the rivulet in Glenorchy, even now I remember that those units weren’t the nicest of places, rats used to live in the rivulet, and it smelt, but that didn’t stop us from playing out there.

Then she moved to a house in Chigwell that backed onto bush and it was awesome, many times we played in the bush, went walking up the track that I think at some point in time had been a loggers track and it was the best place for kids.

Mum and Lesley always remained close and one of the hardest things about this is that Mum and Lesley were the two sisters who looked the most alike, even after Mum had died, it was still like there was some part of her around because of Aunty Lesley.

My heart still did flip flops every time she rang me, because she sounded so much like Mum, and sometimes it was hard not to cry because I missed my Mum so much.

When I spent that interminable nine months in hospital Aunty Lesley dropped into see me several times, along with Bernie her partner and now husband of many years, even when I was in isolation, a cheery face and an “I love you” helped immensely.

About six weeks before I finally left hospital she came round with some bad news, her cancer had returned, and even though it wasn’t the best prognosis she was going to fight it, she told me off for crying, and that I should think positive, that she loved me.

I saw her again for the last time about two weeks before I got out, I was coming out of physio and she and Bernie were on their way to an appointment at the Oncology dept, she could barely speak above a whisper and she looked tired and thin and sad, we looked at each other, I told her that I loved her and was always thinking of her, she said that she loved me too.

Nothing was said about seeing each other soon, I think we both knew that it wasn’t going to happen, I didn’t see her again, and yesterday she left us, my heart is breaking all over again, but I’m damned sure that my Mum, my Nan and Lesley are having the best chin wag and catch up session right now.

Love you Aunty Lesley and thank you for being part of my life.

 


The Sheep, the sheep, won’t someone think of the sheep!!

Someone asked me what was the most embarrassing thing that has happened to me, for that I would have to go back, way back to when I was sixteen, in 1980 and in my last year of High School. One of the perks of being in Grade 10 was that in the last term, all the 16 yo grade 10’ers got to do Driver Training, driver training was split up into two sections, the first section was theory, where you learnt about the road rules and stuff like that, in order to get into the second
section, you had to pass the first section with at least 75%, being the smart arse that I was I managed a score of 100%.

So I was looking forward to driver training, which that year was being held at Baskerville Raceway, since none of us had learners permits and were not allowed to drive on public roads. We arrived at Baskerville and the road safety guys
explained how it was going to be done, in alphabetical order, which meant that of course I was waaaay down the list, last in fact, we’d each get 10 minutes pre drive instruction in the car, you know, pointing out the pedals and gears and
stuff, then we would be allowed to drive once around the circuit slowly, and then if our instructor thought we could be trusted, another turn around the circuit, at a semi decent speed.

So I waited for what seemed like hours for my turn, watching everyone else have their turn and have what seemed like a great time, then finally they got to me, so I got into the car, the instructor pointed out the go faster pedal, the stop
pedal, and how exactly to change gears, and the importance of looking in the rear vision mirror, all the important stuff like that.

Under the watchful eye of the instructor I crept around for my first circuit of Baskerville, at the stately speed of 20km an hour, I only crunched the gears a couple of time, and I thought I did really well, so did the instructor because
he said that I could have another circuit, because by this time I was the last person in the car to have ago, the rest of the students were standing around waiting for me to finish.

For some strange reason, the instructor asked three of the boys if they wanted to come in the car for my last lap, so I started around the track again, with Robert, Alan and Robert in the back seat, all giving me helpful and not so
helpful hints, since they’d all be brought up on farms, they’d been driving since they were old enough to sit on a pillow to bring them up to look over the steering wheel, I was from suburbia, and the only times I’d been in a car was as
a passenger.

The track was set up so that we were on the inside track, with a barrier of hay bales, witches hats and some portable fencing separating us from the middle of track which had the race club storage shed, and a few other bits and pieces on
it, so I was about half way around the track, going somewhat above 40km , the instructor told me that I could go faster, so I accelerated to about 55, which felt like I was speeding around the track, the boys started woohooing and
calling me the Alan Jones of BHS, then all of a sudden there was this horrible scream from the back seat.

I jumped and my foot accidentally pressed on the accelerator, and the car shot forward off the track, through the witches hats, through the hay bales and headed straight for the shed, however one thing I hadn’t noticed before, was that in the middle of the track someone was grazing a herd a sheep, the sheep scattered before the car running in all directions, I managed to take  my foot off the accelerator, and the car came to a gentle stop over the rough ground of the middle, the car was surrounded by madly baaaing sheep, covered in wisps of hay, and had a witches hat perched rakishly on the windscreen.

We all got out of the car, slightly shaken and surveyed the damage, luckily there was only a very small dent in the car and a great smear of blood, caused by a sheep, who was now deceased. It turned out that a bloody great huntsman had crawled out from the back door and that’s what made Robert scream. Robert, Alan and Robert decided to walk back to where the rest of the kids were, the instructor backed the car back onto the track, avoiding the sad sheep corpse and
I got back in the car and finished my lap.

Unfortunately by the time I got back, the three boys had already made it back and the story had spread, and it grew in the telling, funnily enough, there was very little mention of the fact of WHY we’d gone off the track, the spider
wasn’t mentioned at all, and they made it seem as if I’d just swerved off the track because I couldn’t steer properly.

By the time we got back to school, my trail of damage not only included the car, which was a write off, I’d also demolished the shed, destroyed multiple hay bales, and witches hats, but also I’d massacred a whole herd of innocent sheep, according to the story, I ploughed through the herd tossing sheep into the air as I went, their pitiful baas as I run them over, willy nilly.

For weeks after, wherever I went people would baa at me and think it was hilarious, no one believed what had actually happened, not when the three boys kept on embellishing the story.


One Man’s treasure is another Mum’s trash.

When I was a kid my father used to go to auctions and buy all sorts of crap, Mum would never know what he was going to come home with; boxes of old assorted kitchen gadgets, cutlery, old books it was usually all junk.

But he did have his moments. One time he came home with a box of old cups and saucers, and for once they were absolutely gorgeous, I fell in love with every single one; for they were delicate and tiny and so so fragile, I had my favourite cup and saucer, and I would use it on special occasions.

Another sterling purchase that my father made was an old old adding machine, it was amazing, there was something arcane about it, how it worked, because it wasn’t just like adding 2+2 together, you had to press a series of levers, there was a method, and I learnt how to do it, it was big and heavy and so full of wonder, I loved it.

The other purchase that I remember very vividly was a set and blow wave hair styler, now this wasn’t any normal hairdryer, it came in a pink suitcase with curlers, and a bright pink hair cap that you put over your head after you’d finished styling it. The cap had a hole where the nozzle from the tube fitted in, and the other end plugged into the case, you plugged it in and turned it on, and it was like having your own salon hair dryer at home. This one also had a nail polish dryer, a vent you could slide open and dry your nails over.

I loved this machine, I would help my mum style and set her hair, and then get the dryer out and carefully slip the cap over her head, and turn it on, and she would sit there for thirty to forty minutes, reading a book, smoking many cigarettes and drinking at least three cups of coffee. We would talk, and after she had finished I would be allowed to put the cap on and turn it on low, for some reason I just loved the feel of the warm air on my ears, and the noise it made.

A few other things come to mind, an old heavy duty mincing machine that screwed onto the table, an 1872 copy of Lambs Tales of Shakespeare, with the most amazing illustrations, which I still have, an original copy of Hoyles book of games, which my Sister and I played many many games out of.

Most of what he brought home was utter crap, and Mum used to dread the Saturdays when the auctions were on, like the time he came home with an old locked suitcase. He paid fifty cents for it, on the off chance that there was something valuable in it.

There was something in it alright, the mummified body of a long departed feline. Mum made dad burn the suitcase; he was all for keeping it and using it-the suitcase that is, not the cat, and Mum said over her dead body.

I think the final straw was when dad went one day and came home with a fairly decrepit Morris Minor that he was ‘going to do up’ and that it was ‘such a bargain at only $20’. Yes, there was a reason it was only $20, it didn’t go, was held together with rust and hope and sheer bloody mindedness.

It sat in the carport for months and months until dad managed to con a friend into buying it off him for parts.

And wardrobes, yes, yes of course, that’s where our wardrobes came from. My big old white one which was huge and perfect for hiding in, and had drawers and a mirror and a secret compartment where i hid my diary and important stuff. I remember when dad and Mr Waldie brought them home tied one on top of the other on the roof of the car.

Mum nearly had conniptions, they were so big they almost didn’t fit through the front door and dad was all for ripping the door off the hinges. Then there was the sliding doors, Mum did have conniptions then, dad came home with a set of double sliding doors and had this brilliant idea of knocking a hole in the wall between the lounge-room and the kitchen and installing them.

Mum said over her dead body, but then we went away on our annual trip up to stay with my Aunt and when we came back dad had already knocked the hole in the wall and put up the supporting beams.

I think if Mum could have killed him then she would have, he finished the beams and hung the sliding doors, and they lasted for no more than two or three months and then he ripped them down again, said they were a nuisance.

So then he ripped out the normal kitchen door and replaced that with one of the sliding doors, he did this while Mum was down at Nanny’s one Sunday, Mum was ropeable.

Then he decided, also one day when Mum was down at Nanny’s that we didn’t need the door from the lounge-room into the kitchen, so he took that down and built a very dodgy bookcase into the top half and blocked off the rest.

Mum didn’t dare go out for a months after that, just in case he decided to renovate the kitchen or something.


Seven books (series) I will never read again.

I LOVE reading, love is perhaps not even a strong enough word to describe the pleasure that I get from reading, there was a time, when I could devour 15-20 books a week. My local library relaxed the borrowing limit for me from 10 books at time to however many I could find. I’d read the books I’d got out and then go on to read the books that my Mum had checked out as well.

So of course that meant that I came into contact with all sorts of genres, my Mum loved crime novels, so I read Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Ellery Queen, Ed McBain,  and hundreds of brilliant crime writers. Then I moved onto autobiographies, David Niven’s witty and brilliant The Moon’s a Balloon” was the first one I read, followed by Errol Flynn’s “My Wicked Wicked Ways”.

I read all of Gerald Durrell’s amazing books about his family and the zoos and catching animals for them, and then on to the wonderful “My Friend” books by Jane Duncan and also the ones under her pen name of Janet Sandison, the lovely “Jean In…” books.

I read just about everything I could get my hands on, and then, then I found Fantasy and SF books and knew that I had found my home. These books were the ones for me.

I devoured all the books I could get my hands on, I read authors from A-Z and back again, some books I read over and over again, some books I hold in the highest esteem, along with the Authors, and then there were the books that I read once and that was more than enough.

Of course what books each of us likes is a very subjective thing, I know of quite a few people who think that Tolkien is rubbish (heresy, pure and simple) and more than a few who think that Stephanie Myers and the Twilight series are the epitome of excellent writing (poor deluded fools).

So my list of books that I read once and will never EVER read again might possibly contain some of your most loved books of all time, by your favourite author in the world, you are welcome to your opinion, as I am mine.

Books I WILL never read again!

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Stephen Donaldson. These books were all the rage when I was in college, everyone was reading them, I read them all and for the first time was filled with an overwhelming urge to STRANGLE the lead character. He DIDN’T STOP WHINGING for the whole six books, I wanted Lord Foul to win, to crush, kill maim and destroy TC. QUICKLY.

The Wheel of Time: Robert Jordan. Yes I know the man is dead and I know there are millions of people who were pissed that he died before he finished. Amongst the logorrhoea that bloats the corpse of the WoT series there is a brilliant story, it just needed a damn good editor to cut out all those pages and pages of NOTHING happening.

The Sword of Shannara: Terry Brooks. Little people going on a search for a magic item, with a cranky old Wizard along for the ride. HELLO, blatant rip off LOTR. I read the first four Shannara books, never again. I am told that the later books actually have an original story line, but I am permanently scarred by reading the first ones.

Pandora by Holly Hollander: Gene Wolfe. Gene Wolfe is usually an acquired taste like Brian Aldiss, but I do like some of his stuff, however this book is forever ruined for me. The first 120 odd pages are brilliant, it’s a great storyline, and then on page 121 Wolfe must have realised he only had half a page left in which to finish the story and he wrapped up the entire book in ONE paragraph, a deus ex machina of the like I had never seen before or since.

The Chronicles of the Age of Darkness: Hugh Cook. A 10 novel extravaganza that was supposed to be upwards of 60 books, trust me 10 was about 7 too many, predictable, plodding and pointless, like WoT a good kernel of an idea, ruined by excess verbiage.

Mirror of Her Dreams: Stephen Donaldson. You think I would have learnt my lesson with TCTC, but no, I gave him a second chance, and this book has the distinction of being the ONLY book I have ever thrown at a wall.

The Xanth Books: Piers Anthony.  Every ones favourite purveyor of smutty double entendre book titles, I was actually shocked to read that Anthony was STILL writing these tacky tacky books. I have all the books up til The Colour of Her Panties and then it really hit me just how bad the quality had become and I stopped buying them. Anthony has written some very good books, I love his Incarnations of Immortality books, which had a very interesting underlying idea.

So what are some books that you have read and will never read again, for whatever reason?


Space Invaders

This post has absolutely NOTHING to do with grammar, spelling, English, pronunciation or anything remotely connected to any of those subjects..

In 1978 Taito released a game called Space Invaders, this game indirectly led to me to spend far more time than was probably recommended at the Bowling Alley playing said game on the arcade machines, I do not even CARE to think of how much money I spent playing this game, I think my Mother would have been horrified to learn the reality.

In 1979 an Australian group called Player One released a song to cash in on the craze that was sweeping the country, it was called, Space Invaders, I LOVED this song with a passion, it was written by Brown and Dunlop and all I know is that apparantly Player One consisted of well known music producers and engineers of the time, they are a group shrouded in mystery, I am intrigued.

For your delectation, the lyrics for Space Invaders, the 12 inch version, which is the one I have on my iPod.

Space Invaders:

(c) Brown and Dunlop
(Long intro Music, various space invader sound effects)

Through dark sunken eyes
I see another pale sunrise
surrounded by soldiers
glued to the screens
hold back the invaders
their infernal machines.

We fight to survive
running to stay alive
our bodies aching and tired
there’s no where to hide
our covers’ been blown away

Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders ooooooooooh

They’re closing in on me
dark forces cold and unseen
Oh my hip pocket nerve is aching again
I must go back in and fight it out to the end

Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders ooooooooooh

(musical interlude, more space invader sound effects)

They’re closing in on me
dark forces cold and unseen
Oh my hip pocket nerve is aching again
I must go back in and fight it out the end.

We fight to survive
running to stay alive
our bodies aching and tired
there’s no where to hide
our covers’ been blown away

Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
We fight to survive
Space Invaders
running just to stay alive
Space Invaders
oooh oooh ooohh hooo
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
oooh hoo hoo hoo
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
oooh hoo hoo hooo
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders (fade)

Pure pure late 70’s classic pop/cheese..  Love it.


I ain’t got no… double negatives

Say hello to one of the most painful facets of popular culture expressed in conversation, the double negative, mostly it appears they are used for emphasis, or to be sarcastic, however that doesn’t stop it from grating on the ears and the eyes, MY eyes in particular.

A lot of languages feature double negatives as a standard, English does not, and the most popular one seems to be “ain’t”, which according to popular thought is either  a contraction of  “are not” or  “am not” or even  in some bizarre form “have not”.

“Ain’t” is NOT a word, not a real word, it’s just a nasty piece of slanguage/vernacular which has crept into long term usage, polluting the eyes and ears of the readers and listeners.

  • I ain’t no Doctor
  • He don’t know nothing about anything
  • He doesn’t know nothing about nobody

The proper constructions are to either use the negative adverb or a noun of negation.

  • I am not a Doctor
  • He doesn’t know anything about anything
  • He knows nothing about nobody.

I realise of course that I am fighting a lone, losing battle against the forces of “ain’t” it’s been popularised so much that people think it’s a real word, a real valid contraction.


I don’t think that means what you think it does.

To all intense and purposes.

Pedal to the medal.

I could care less.

These are somewhat of a pet peeve of mine, I don’t mind if you use cliches, but I do mind if you use them and get them wrong, and then insist that you aren’t wrong, and even when shown a definitive source will still insist that you are right and that the OED and all other sources are wrong.

I can understand how it is possible for someone to get these and many others wrong, after all most people do not sound out each and every syllable of a word in a sentence and when you speak quicky  ‘to all intents and purposes’ sounds very much like ‘to all intense and purposes’, however when you write it down it should be very obvious that intense in that sentence does not make sense or fit in with the rest of it.

The same with ‘pedal to the metal’ spoken quickly it can sound like ‘pedal to the medal’ however once you write it down the same thing applies, knowing that it means to ‘put your foot down’‘ or to just hurry up at full speed, then medal just does not fit or make sense.

And using ‘could care less’ instead of the obvious ‘couldn’t care less’ is just sheer laziness, just analysing the saying should show you why you are making a mistake, obviously if you could care less then you do care at least somewhat.

I could write whole pages on sayings that people mangle, most are just due to mishearing things, when you say them the glaring error isn’t quite so obvious, but when you write them down, and insist that you know better than the whole combined intellectual might of the OED, then I will call you on them.