These pages about Jack McNamara are split up as follows :
Page 1 : Ancestors & Siblings and A Family Affair
Page 2 : Letters to the Editor including The Water Trough
Page 3 : Essays from Power Points
Page 4 : Essays - the "A Bloke Retires" Series
The essays on this page are an assortment ranging over a number of topics and are ones where we obtain a glimpse of Jack's life philosophy and some of his feelings about things around him
THE SYDNEY I WANT
WINNING ENTRY IN A CONTEST ---- 1972 Waratah Festival
The best, and surest yardstick one can use, in the evaluation of a city, or for that matter a town, is the aesthetic impact made when first visited. By virtue of Sydney's world renown, and even world envied harbour, Sydney is destined to ever immediately capture the imagination of the visitor, or tourist, and draw their everlasting praise. We are indeed fortunate in possessing our natural harbour adorned with one of the world's greatest bridges, to which easy access is made by our circular rail system. These assets, which Sydney possesses, provide an excellent basis for any City planner with imagination and who would go ahead in beautifying our city. The one thing that mars and detracts from these assets of natural and made beauty, is, in my opinion, the lack of follow-up or civic-mindedness so obvious to the visitor to our city. I am here referring to the many buildings, intersperced and surrounding our City which sorely needs maintenance and the old fashioned coat of paint.
I would like in "The Sydney I Want" to see the City Council embark upon a propoganda campaign which the goal would be to reach the people who own or occupy such buildings whether Government or privately owned (sic). Great plans are already approved in new building projects which will transform and modernise our City, and when these plans come to fruition we will be able to boast of a City in every aspect as second to none. I fear though, that without the element of civic pride, there will still be blind spots here and there, to detract from an overall magnificence. The most inviting, and captivating places I have visited in my travels have always been the places where residents and business interests, have taken an overall pride in their city, town and even street. If our City Council would endeavour to bring this matter to the People concerned I feel sure that the overall picture would further enhance the beauty of our city by the blending of yesteryear's architecture with that of today. We would then have one complementing the other, instead of one detracting from the other.
I sincerely hope that other contributers in this contest will write in this vein in order to arouse interest in something which is practical, desirable and inexpensive, because, the cost would be spread over many people.
I am a retired person now living in Wollongong, after having lived in Sydney for over Forty Years.
THE SYDNEY I REMEMBER
You'll have to forgive me for turning my thoughts to yesteryear, because I am nearing those famous three score and ten years.
My thoughts are at present dwelling on the simple good old pre-TV days when men proudly flickered their uncomplicated barrell type cigarette lighters (Often made from the spent shell of a 303 bullet) around the euchre table.
Euchre tournaments, with modern and mixed old-time dancing, plus the picture theatre made up most of our night life activity.
Piano, violin and drums were in great demand for dances.
The violin (the greatest imitator of the Human voice) went out of fashion with the fancy waist coat and buttoned up boots.
My thoughts fly back to the pioneer women of yesteryear who graciously, if ungramatically, yapped away over the fence as she hung out her Monday's washing. Gone forever are the nostalgic days when the loving Wife would eagerly await the return of her husband from his monotonous job to bombard him with the day's gossip as he did his best to gulp his dinner down.
Today's technically overtrained Husband, with his TV quiz minded Wife, will never be able to appreciate the great pleasure this brought into the home.
The introduction of TV sounded the death knell to all this wonderful social gossip. The young Wife of today, rushes through her Monday's washing in order to watch the numerous quiz shows, and guessing games that go on all day long.
Backyard gossipers were with us for years and years before the introduction of TV. In fact, gossiping was a firmly entrenched way of life with all fair dinkum aussies. Yes, it was a tradition. It was a tradition which took years to build up and was unceremoniously filched from us overnight by TV.
My mind too, goes back to Buddy McMahon's horse drawn four wheeled lorries which did most of Sydney's carrying. Gone is the unpleasant smell of horse dung to be replaced by the toxic fumes from the car exhaust.
Where is the broadbroomed sparrow starver that swept George and Pitt street clean each day? One never sees a sparrow in Sydney now.
Where too, are the shining and wonderful decorated brewery horses that gingle gangled their way from pub to pub.
Gone are the puffing steam trains from City Central which used to always give me the impression that they were suffering from Emphysema.
No more will we see a Miss B. Miles in white shorts boarding and alighting from trams. Last but not least what happened to Chidley?
Bea Miles was an eccentric Sydney character who was renowned, among other things, for not paying her tram and taxi fares.
William Chidley used to speak in the domain each weekend on the dangers posed to men by erections and on this basis used to wear a type of outfit which authorities regarded as obscene.
Here's some interesting reading. This site gives a summary of both these people (plus other eccentrics).
TODAY'S "IN THING" - THE HEART ATTACK
"MY 2 AM ATTACK"
Of all the clock chimes, the least heard must be 2 am.
365 2AM's, with 730 dongs constitute one year.
The very few People in our community who sorely appreciate these un-newsworthy facts are our GP's and Policemen.
Immediately outside my bedroom door stands a very large German made Grandfather clock, but rarely have I heard its melodious chimes, that is, at 2 am.
One of the rare occasions on which I did hear it chime 2 am, was during my recent heart attack, but on this occasion the melodious boom took on a dull thud effect. Was it mocking me as I tried to draw breath into my lungs?
What will I do? Will I ring the doctor?" the wife said to me as I gasped, and as she seemed to me for some strange or other, to be jumping up and down in the same place.
"Yeh, yeh, yeh", I said, perhaps sounding like one of the Liverpool Beatles, but certainly not feeling like one of them.
"Wished he'd hurry up", I heard the Wife say, immediatley she put the phone down.
I felt like a snapper that had just been fished from the sea and thrown onto a rock to gasp its last as I gasped my way from one arm chair to the other.
I tried lying on my belly on the floor, but that got me nowhere.
I was worried, and seriously wondered just how long one could carry on under such dreadful circumstances, but strangely enough, even under these circumstances, I still found time to become annoyed, because I was unable to overcome the thing of my own volition.
How helpless of ourselves we can become, I thought, and how dependent we must all become sooner or later upon the help of others. Where now is the independent, and self made man. The more I gasped for air the more important the GP loomed. The rights or wrongs of the most common fee never entered my mind. The whole theme was -- "My kingdom for a GP".
The click of the front door, and the entry of the Doctor came as a great relief, which incidently came at a time when my gasps were becoming less frequent, and when I was beginning to gain some relief in breathing.
The Doctor wasted little time in injecting a fluid etc. etc., ordering me to bed and arranging admittance to hospital a few hours later.
The Wife and myself apologized for getting the doctor out at such an hour but the doctor said that when the case warrants it, we don't mind, or something to that effect.
2 AM had cast its spell of silence over the ever busy roads immediatlely at the (?) of my house and now it was so quiet that I could hear the doctor start his car for home, to resume, if possible, the much need and interrupted sleep which I had so successfully robbed him of.
Since fate, or call it what you will, has decreed that 2am, be so inconveniently placed in time and position, it is no wonder that Man (excluding GP's) has been unable to remember, and relate many happy events commencing on this hour.
Whoever heard of a man commencing his annual holidays at 2 am?
Suffering Women have from time immemorial delivered their crying and near hysterical children into the world during this dark hour, but whoever heard of a child being baptised, exorcised, and made clean and spiritually happy upon this hour. This is the hour when the thief relieves us of our household possessions.
If a mongrel dog is going to deliver his blood curdling whine, it will be at 2am. Dingoes in their packs can be heard during this hour. The fox too can be heard as he scurries through the bush. Curlews make their wierd noise. The owl never ceases to hoot this hour. The only places open for its unhappy victims at 2 am are jails and hospitals, and the only living creature that will inspire us, and remind us that all is not lost and that the sun will shine again is the rooster who proudly throws out his chest to crow his defiance of 2 am.
KNOCKING OFF SMOKING
"I dont'suppose you would knock off smoking", Dr Walton said as he treated me for a heart condition in Wollongong Hospital.
"I won't Dr", I said, feeling a bit stupid in saying so.
Anyman knows that a heart condition and smoking are not the best of bed mates, but if we add bronchitis to this we know that one should not smoke.
Apart from the health hazard in smoking my pipe whilst in hospital, proved a source of annoyance to the Nurses (sic).
At the very best of times I hold the reputation of being an untidy smoker, and now I am perfectly sure that this is correct, after being told so by about a dozen nurses. All Nurses have an uncanny eye for anything out of place, and for any minute specks of dirt that may blow onto the bed.
They know the condition of a blanket the moment a fly has alighted and then flown. Can you imagine then how I managed with pipe, tobacco and matches?
If they saw me smoking immediately they walked into the ward, they'd rush over to my bed, lift the blankets on each side and start brushing like mad.
When I wasn't smoking I had the pipe on the locker beside the bed, but it only remained there until the first nurse arrived, and then it suddenly disappeared into the draw. If you add Pipe, Tobacco, matches to all the other things you find necessary to put in your locker, it adds up to a thing or two.
The trouble with Hospital lockers is that it is nearly impossible for a patient to open the draw with one hand, and at the same time balance on his elbow in the middle of the bed with his other arm.
The normal way to open a drawer is to stand in front of the thing and then just pull. Why can't they have the drawer facing you in hospital so as you can just pull and close instead of side on where you have to slide up and down the bed every time you open and shut the drawer. Not only did I experience difficulty in opening and shutting the draw because of this side on business, but the locker and bed would tend to move away from each other because they each had wheels on them. A Nurse happened to glimpse into my drawer which was opened a little. "Goodness, gracious, just look at your locker", she raved. "You've got tobacco, dead matches and toothpaste all mixed up together", she said.
Don't for heavens sake get me wrong. I have nothing but praise for all the nurses, and everything else connected with the hospital.
After my arrival home from hospital I began to think about the habit of smoking as I smoker's cough my way through the day.
I recalled what the doctors had to say about it, and what the nurses had to say about the habit of smoking. Not could I knock it off but would I knock it off, I said to myself. Taking what I considered to be a sensible and objective view of the whole matter, I began to weigh the pros and cons each way.
Firstly, I considered that the wheeze upon my chest, and the shortness in breath must surely be agravated by smoking. I felt that smoking was negating the effect that the medical treatment was supposed to bring about.
I had made up my mind to give up smoking, but it was a sad decision to make. All men in retirement have to give away the old way of life to adopt a new one, and this is not always a happier one. All sensible men appreciate this before they retire, but I felt certain that I could take something of the old way of life with me to enjoy in retirement. This was my pipe and it would help me to see out what years were left to me. It is a long while to smoke from the age of 13 years to 67 years and then set it all aside - that is, pipe, matches plus five ounces of tobacco per week. I made my decision on the money.
Tomorrow is my birthday --- Rarely do you hear a Man of my age speak of his birthday. Some old chaps that do not look their age brag about it fishing for compliments. The only reason I mention my birthday is that I'm getting a few dollars on that day. Women are great birthday enthusiasts. They organise their young childrens' birthdays and provide plenty of Red, White and Blue drinks, plus a ton of sticky stuff. Anticipation of the party is the thing.
The Kids squabble and spill things everywhere and the Mother finishes up with a migraine ..... No one enjoys the party. Just wasted money.
Birthdays for older Children are meaningful as the child is old and cunning enough to indoctrinate his mother as to what he desires.
Everyone for miles around, including the kid, knows what the present is going to be but this does not stop everyone from getting a hell of a surprise when the thing is opened .... It becomes difficult to know who is having who on.
The years throughout teenhood are far too long and the years between Forty and Sixty too short .... The teenage girl in panic ages herself with the aid of lipstick and dress and does her best to imitate her mother by being possessive and angry for no reason at all, whilst the boy takes to smoking cigarettes and to calling his Father "The old Man". Some of these old men are thirty-five.
If the girl is not married by the time she reaches 22 she begins to put her age back .... with all this fooling around they soon reach forty years of age and this is the thing they hate at present .... I know and so does anyone else with any sense know, what I will get for my birthday tomorrow.
My present will be a new ache somewhere or other.
I know that everyone gets pains or aches and that most of us are a bit sick one way or another but old blokes like me are much sicker.
You don't look your age, they tell me .. I do not bother to reply because I know that I am my age. You'll know it too when you reach sixty-seven.
Yes, you can laugh as I used to do but just you wait and see.
People should not tell a person that he does not look his age, as the thing is likely to become an obsession with him.
If the poor thing happens to be a lonely and sick Pensioner (Pensioners are sick people with no money for drink) and happens to wander into a pub, you can bet that he is after a drink.
If the poor chap has been told too many times that he does not look his age he will shuffle up to you and say "Guess how old I am".
I don't like doing it but I add ten years more to the guess and they dejectedly walk away.
CHARITY ... AND ... LEMONS
Wollongong is the ideal place for growing lemons. Everyone's got them. I've got two trees at the back of my house loaded with them and dozens rotting on the ground. Why doesn't the scout movement or some charitable organisers gather these unwanted and wasted lemons, instead of cumbersome bottles to promote their particular cause? They'd gather thousands of the things.
Lemons are a very old and popular citrus and despite the fact that supply will always exceed demand, they maintain a high price in the shops.
Being a newcomer to the Gong (Wollongong) , I wondered how I might get rid of my surplus lemons. Despite the fact that I have been a salesman for years, I could not bring myself to the stage of hawking the things around and giving them to People.
Since no one is conditioned to receiving something for nothing I was unable to imagine myself walking up to someone and saying "Do you want some lemons for nothing?" I was not going door knocking, as I had done over the years and saying when the door opened "Would you like some free lemons, Lady?" The lady I knew would stare at me in astonishment and would be inclined to slam the door in my face. If, on the other hand, I was to ask two cents per dozen for them, and she didn't want them, she'd smile and say "Not today, thankyou." She may not want the things on any other day either, but that's beside the point. I decided that this method of getting rid of the lemons was out.
I was getting annoyed with myself now and my wife said, "What do you want to worry about getting rid of the things for?" I then delved into a little introspection and found that I was always against waste of any kind. I attributed this kink in my makeup to something I'd learned as a kid, "Waste not, want not."
I decided to give the things away in some Public place and settled for the Pub. The Pub I realised, is a place where no one takes much notice of what goes on and that barmaids are insensitive to the stupid antics of Men. Barmaids, I realised, were understanding, diplomatic, fully liberated and the equal of any man.
I went down, pulled two dozen lemons and put them in a paper bag and then took them to the Pub in Crown Street. "Would you like some lemons?" I said to the barmaid. "How much?" she asked. "Nothing", I replied. She stared in silence for awhile and then said, "You must want something for them". "Look" I said rather pathetically, "I've got dozens of them rolling on the ground."
"Me and my husband live in a flat and I'd be pleased to have them", she said. As I stood there on my beer diet, I noticed that this barmaid shot occasional glances at me as she pulled beer. I wasn't sure as to whether they were glances of gratitude or suspicion.
I was relieved when she came across and said, "My husband will be in later and I'll introduce you to him." The husband arrived at 5pm and made a hell of a fuss of the lemons. "It's nothing", I said trying to brush the matter asise and make light of it. "Just a good scout deed for the day", I said. By this time, the rest of the barmaids got to know about the lemons and started glaring at me.
A particular thought entered my mind. "Is charity as sour as lemons?"
No wonder people don't give things away that they don't want, I thought.
I was learning my lesson the hard way. I felt guilty as I walked out of the pub.
Should anyone in the future want lemons, they can write to the Express newspaper and they will forward your address (Hand notation : Box number) on to me.
PLAY ... THE ... GAME
I have just read an old newspaper account of the Vietnam war in which the writer states and I quote "The battle area below the militiarised zone between North and South Vietnam is like a board in which one opponent is playing chess and another draughts. They are both using different rules and both claiming victory in the same battle. The communist relies upon the psychological impact while the other side measures the number of enemy killed over and above their own". Unquote.
If the Vietnam war wasn't mentioned in this account, I could swear that the writer was discussing my own marriage.
The wife and I have been playing draughts and chess simultaneously for years and like the Vietnam war, getting nowhere fast.
Like the communist, I have tried psychological impact and have applied all kinds of tactics but all the seeds fall on barren ground.
It would not matter what I tried now because I am in the dog box.
Am I crooked on Women? Don't mention them to me.
My association with Women started from an early age when I used to go out with them. My mother and sisters were women and so was my first and second wife.
Now I've had them. Women, like Men, never make the same mistake twice, they keep making them.
What a mug I was to think that I got one in a million when I married.
I knew at the time that she had no wings but I still thought that she was an angel. When the Minister said, "Do you take this Woman for better or worse, I went red in the face and nearly said to him, "cut out the worse part mate."
If I had to go through the same ceremony today, I'd say leave the better out mate ... The divorce courts are crowded today with these "Better Women".
Everyone knows that you have to live with a Woman in order to know her and the day you start living with them is the day they start putting it over you. Since this is true, why should a judge who has to put up with the same thing in his marriage have the final say in making divorce decisions.
He'd only have to ask the husband to get the straight out dope.
How could the judge know anything since he has not lived with the woman and if he has, he is not fit on moral grounds to be a judge.
Being in the Dog house turns your mind against everyone's marriage and you see them all just chugging along in low gear, to say nothing of the thousands that are all going for sure on the rocks. It's getting that way, from the dog house man's point of view, that he thinks they should be locked away at sunset.
Thank heavens my wife is a good, moral woman but one of my mates has one that's not. These are the chaps that I feel sorry for.
The men that go with this kind of woman are just as bad, as it takes two to tango.
You'd think that men with their intellectual superiority would wake up to themselves wouldn't you? This monkey business goes on even in Wollongong.
Look at all the shame this brings on the poor little children.
It is alright blaming Adam and Eve for this kind of thing.
In their day they had nothing else to do and nowhere to go.
There was no poker machines, dogs, trots or clubs to go to.
They had no books to read, so how the hell would they know right from wrong.
There is no excuse for anyone in mucking up today.
Poor old Adam and Eve were banished for just being disobedient and falling in love with each other because there was no one else around.
Today, we break every law in the book and get away with it.
HOW .. TO .. WIN .. AND ... MAKE ... FRIENDS
Old Jack, as a new resident in Wollongong, thought that the drinking habits were different from other places in which he had lived.
As time moved along he found that Wollongong was no different to other places.
Old Jack had lived in quite a few Cities, suburbs and Towns and after a few trips to the various Clubs and Pubs had noticed that the same type of Men in collar and tie and in overalls, arrived at precisely the same time to have their hurried dinner time drinks and then scurry off back to work.
The same few dinner time drinkers in every place he had lived, would hurry to the same seat, unfold their sandwiches and wash them down with a few schooners, whilst their counterpart, the office worker, elected to stand at the bar instead of sitting down to drink his beer.
Office workers don"t eat, unless it is that they have a snack before they reach the Pub. Old Jack had never ever spoken to any of these chaps he knew so well, as they hustled past him to have their drinks, nor had he ever spoken to them. (sic)
He knew all their faces as they knew his but none so much as nodded recognition. The only place where you will get a nod of recognition, is well away from the pub, then each will look at each other and wonder where they have met before. The puzzle is solved the next day at the pub.
Old Jack had met one such chap while holidaying in Queensland where both propped, stared and then spoke to each other.
Each learned that they each had something in common, inasmuch as they came from the Gong. Old Jack and he now drink at the same pub and are great friends. The moral of this story is to drink frequently at the same pub, then pack up and go somewhere so as to get to know them. Women, who are fond of a drink and move to a new place experience less difficulty in making new friends as they are always able to find a few old shaky toddlers and a few of their kind to play euchre. Women get by very well with the pretence that they may as well have a few to keep up with the excitement of the game.
A .. DISCUSSION .. AT ... THE ... WORKS ... DEPOT
For goodness sake Boys, for the sake of smooth discussion, let's forget this so called generation gap. "The generation gap existed no less in my day but we never made a constant song about the thing", Old Jack commenced.
"You young chaps think that because you've had a better education than we older People, that we are to that degree, your inferiors."
"That's not the way I would put it Pop", the boys answered. "You must admit, Pop, that the boy of today compared with his counterpart of your day is better educated."
"If you mean by that, that he excells in some specific field wherein he is qualified to earn a livlihood, I agree with you. The only other thing he imagines that he can do is drive a motor car with safety at 80 m.p.hour. Statistics prove the mess he is making of this, especially on holiday weekends", Old Jack reminded them.
"I can tell you", Old Jack went on, "The boys of my day did all that was required of them. Unlike today, they were not required to study by day and night to become specialists and to be dubbed clever. The clever chaps of my day were the fellows who could turn their hand to anything. Jack of all trades, they called them."
They could skin a Rabbit, milk a Cow, kill a Sheep or build a fowl house. You fellows wouldn't know which end to start on to do these things."
"That was alright in your day", the Boys chimed. "That's all in the past and human naure's changed a lot since then."
"I know it's all in the past", Pop agreed "but what I'm trying to get through is, that if the present day emphasis on learning was put upon us in my day, we would have taken up the challenge no less."
"In my day, Boys, all that we were required to learn was what was called the Three R.R.R.'s. No boy ever went to 'Tech' to put the finishing touches to his trade.
"You admit then that the Boys of today are better educated than the Boys of your day."
"That's right", Old Jack admitted. "What if they are better educated? You're only pitching your brains against technological advancement in order to survive, where we only had to pitch our brains against simpler and less complex things to achieve the same end."
"You're saying, Pop, that the potential is always there and will match the particular era."
"Something like that, call it I.Q. or anything you like", Old Jack answered. "One of you Boys made the remark awhile ago, that Human nature has changed since my Boyhood days."
"Yes, we did say that Pop."
"Human nature doesn't basically change Boys. It would be truer to say that modern labour saving devices have softened People , to rob them of virility and that degree of spartan-like character which is necessary to overcome the ordinary everday problems of living. They try to get through today per medium of pills."
Old Jack was just warming up and continued, "Children today are driven and no longer hop, run and skip to school. In my day they hopped, ran and skipped to and from school and when they arrived home with skinned knees and muddy boots, they were given a great slab of bread and jam."
"I suppose there was no such thing as smog and pollution in your day?" the boys asked.
"No Boys, it was all soil erosion in my day. Men despoiled large areas of land in their greed to produce for profit. (Indeciperable Hand Notation above) "Here again Boys, smog and pollution of the air, land and waterways, has been brought about by the same greedy men who will, if not stopped, continue to put profit before the human environment. As I said awhile ago Boys, Human nature has not and never will basically change."
There's the starting whistle and here's the foreman with his theme song "Righto boys, off your backsides."
NOTHING ... TO .... WEAR
"I can't go to the wedding on Saturday", the Wife complained.
"Why can't you go to the wedding", I enquired.
"How can I GO", she emphasised, with that same forlorn look she always puts on when she wants a new dress.
"GOT nothing to wear", she repeated.
I had just been released from the dog box and didn't want to blow my top and serve another term there, but it's barbs like this that drives a man there.
As politely as possible I reminded the wife that she already had about twenty-five dresses in the wardrobe. "I've worn them all before and they are old now", she came back dejected like.
I was beginning to be a little rattled and told her that I wasn't a millionaire and that her dresses were so numerous that my few things were squeezed out.
In order to hang my clothes, I had to purchase a new wardrobe and I'm still looking for space to hang my things. If anyone should complain about nothing to wear, it should be me. It's not that I can't afford to buy clothes but I can't find a peg in the house to hang the things on. I was supposed to buy my wife a parrot for her birthday but I wasn't prepared to listen to two voices calling out "Nothing to wear."
All my sisters-in-law have nothing to wear but somehow they too have dresses galore. In the midst of this "nothing to wear" problem, one of my overdressed women's lib-minded Sisters-in law walked in.
I felt certain now that I would certainly be relegated to the dog box again. As is the custom, the wife sat her down and prepared a cup of tea. I knew how the conversation would develop as I too sat down.
"Nice dress you're wearing", the wife said as she pinched it to feel what type of material it was. "Just an old thing", the sister said. I suppose she's had it a week I thought to myself.
"Not as old as the things I wear", the wife moaned, as she gave me a sharp look. Still moaning she went on "I've got to go to a wedding on Saturday and I've got nothing to wear."
I could feel myself becoming more and more rattled.
"I reckon my Sisters-in-law and my wife are the best dressed women in Wollongong", I blurted out.
They both looked at each other, rolled their eyes and said nothing.
When my sister-in-law started on her twin subjects of women's lib and "nothing to wear", I knew that I was about to do my block.
Why shouldn't I do my block, I reasoned and I said, "You never hear of a poor woman who can afford anything better than a print dress complaining about nothing to wear and worrying about women's lib do you?'
Since they only looked at each other, I thought I'd continue.
"Why don't you take a leaf out of their book and come down to Earth", I screeched.
"I've never listened to such nonsense", the wife said, whilst her sister gave her a look of approval.
"Nonsense, my foot", I barked.
I thought that I may as well be killed for a sheep as a lamb, so continued.
"Women who wear print dresses are more equal with men who wear plain clothes than the exponents of women's lib who are all overdressed and stand in the minority apart", I told them.
We were all red in the face when the sister-in-law looked at her watch and said "It's time I went."
When she went the wife went into the bedroom and I went out to weed the garden.
CHILDREN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE HOME
I was having my breakfast and was about to drink a cup of tea when the Wife suddenly informed me that Jack and Thelma and the Children were coming for tea on Friday night.
This sudden shock caused the tea to go down the wrong way and had me coughing and spluttering all over the place. The wife tried to help me by slapping me on the back. My face, I knew, was the colour of a tomato and I could feel my blood pressure shooting up to a dangerous degree. Full ten minutes elapsed before I gained my self composure and began to breathe normally again.
"Are they staying the week end", I managed to croak out in a voice that sounded like someone else's. The Wife must have sensed that I had a belly full of the Kids the last time they stayed the week end, when she replied in a challenge-like manner "Don't you want the dear little things to stay the week end?"
"I didn't say I didn't", I said in a manner which even didn't sound fair dinkum even to myself. (sic) To ease the shock a little, the wife said that they would not be bringing their toys with them this time.
I'll never forget the last visit. They took complete possession of the place and as they pushed their small cars all over the carpet, they did a very good job of imitating cars as they nearly blew their lips off.
When, on that occasion, we had consumed all the beer, we forgot to gather up all the small cars and put them away before going to bed.
When drinking large quantities of beer just prior to going to bed, one often has to get out of bed to go for a walk. This was the case on the night in question.
I did not wish to awaken the wife, so slid out of bed and felt my way along the wall to the same place where I'd been before under similiar circumstances.
As I groped my way along the wall something peculiar happened.
"Quick", I yelled. "I've been bitten by a snake."
The wife got a terrible shock as she bounced out of bed to put on the light and run to me. "What's wrong", she asked bewildered like. "My foot", I yelled. When we looked at my foot it was all blood.
"You've stood on one of those toy cars", she said as she lifted my foot and pulled it out. "A nasty cut too and it would have to be upside down", she said as she ran her fingers over the razor sharp undercarriage.
I didn't get to where I was going but instead was sat upon a chair. Everyone in the house now was out of bed and tearing up stuff to bandage my foot. When my foot was bandaged my wife gave everyone an aspro and a cup of tea. The kids wanted to get out of bed and into the act, so used the age old excuse of wanting to go to the toilet.
All this happened at 4 am in the morning and my son-in-law and myself had to meet at 6 am to go fishing.
"Count me out", I said to the son-in-law as I pointed to my bloody foot.
The son-in-law went back to bed and got up with his hangover at 6 am and went out fishing whilst I stayed in bed for eight hours listening to the kids playing aeroplane as they noisefully flew from one lounge chair to the other.
The wife was bandaging my foot when the son-in-law arrived to pick up the children.
"Catch any", I asked. "Not a one", he replied.
Since a system of priorities operates in my house, the wife had to discontinue bandaging my foot and see the kids off. This only took a half hour.
The wife looked very sad as she came back to finish my foot.
"You miss them when they're gone, don't you", she sighed
"I don't care what anyone says, they make a big difference in the home", the wife said as though she was tryin to emphasise something.
"They certainly make a difference in the home", I said as I looked at my bloody foot.
BELIEVE ... IN ... DUMMIES?
"We are going to Alma's new baby tomorrow", the Wife said.
Like most married Men, I usually get a day's notice as to where I am going. There are two things I dislike doing, one is going to weddings where women weep, the other is going to visit new Babies where women go on with a lot of nonsense.
All new Babies look more senile than new to me -- No hair, teeth or anything else. Thank heavens the ordeal is now over.
When we arrived at Alma's, we couldn't see the Baby for Women.
"Isn't she lovely", I could hear them saying.
"The living image of her Father", the tall Woman was saying, as she tickled the Baby under the toes in order to distort its face.
This remark aroused my curiosity, so I poked my head through the tightly knit crowd of Women to see if it could be like its Father.
It looked like nothing on Earth to me but I compromised and said that I thought it only looked a bit like its Father.
"Don't be stupid", the tall Woman said as she leered at me.
"Look at its long nose", she added. "Just like her Father's."
I was unable to see her long nose until I shifted my eyes and focussed them through the magnified section of my spectacles.
The long nose I saw resembled a pea stuck in the middle of a saucer.
I don't think that anyone likes being tickled under the toes, so no wonder the Baby contorted its face as the tall woman continued to tickle saying all the while -- Whichery, whichery, whichery.
No one knows what whichery, whichery means but the baby is supposed to know.
The mother then got into the act, by picking the baby up.
She threw it up into the air three or four times saying whoopsy, whoopsy, whoopsy as it landed each time in her arms.
The child grew tired of this monkey business and started to cry.
Everyone wanted to pacify it then. "Give her the dummy", one woman said.
The Mother was anti-dummy and maintained that the bad habit of mouthing a dummy would, later on in life, lead to the bad habit of mouthing a cigarette.
"Read it in the Express", she said.
A short woman of 60, with a squeaky uncultured voice said "All my boys were brought up on the dummy and none of them smoke."
The mother rebuked the woman by emphasising, "There'll be no dummy for my child and that's that."
A talkative know all woman said, "The trouble with dummies is that they gather germs if you drop them."
I could have told her that anything will gather germs if you drop it but how was I to break through the din and noise.
The whole thing was beginning to sound like a Chinese festival during the monsoonal season.
A sickly looking woman who had said nothing all afternoon could stand it no longer and burst out, "All my children had dummies and it didn't do them any harm - none of them smoke either and they are all whopping men in the Police force. This shut everyone up.
(Jack has rewritten some of this paragraph by hand but it is hard to decipher especially as he crossed some of it out as well as squeezing it between lines. The only additional information appears to be that she had three children and that she "proudly squawked" her comment.)
SEX ... THE ... SABOTEUR
Old Jack had never been late for work during the whole of his working life and was always the first person to arrive at the depot to change into overalls for the eight hour labouring task ahead.
It was his proud boast that he could produce a reference from his last place of employment which praised him for punctuality.
Punctuality to Old Jack was synonomous with eagerness to get on with the task ahead and in his honest and straight forward manner deemed work a "Dignified" thing. He was always at a loss to understand the psychology of the same few who, year in and year out, came late for work.
"Isn't it just as easy for you to get the earlier train which will get you to work on time, than to get the train five minutes later, which makes you later for work", he reminded Joe who had just then sneaked into the depot.
"You're not going to preach the psychology of coming to work late again, are you", Joe said as he tried to put his overalls on and at the same time wipe the sleep from his eyes.
"You only get to work early to engage in political discussion and things like that", Joe said peeviously.
"Yes, that's right", Jack replied and then added "If sex doesn't sabotage the discussion."
Old Jack, the non-clockwatcher, was well respected by both his Employer and workmates and had never grown tired of promoting conversation and debate on almost any current subject. "Broadens the mind", he would say.
Old Jack had oftened reminded his workmates that there had been a serious decline in ordinary workers' conversation over the years.
He attributed a number of factors to this serious decline in conversation, to which T.V. was not exempt. He did not however condemn T.V. altogether and attributed some truth to the Chinese proverb which stated that "one picture was worth a thousand words."
Many of his workmates did not agree with him when he would state that many T.V. screenings only presented problems to viewers and that these problems could best be elucidated by way of conversation.
"Elucidated. Where did you dig that word up from", they choroused.
"Why don't we do that about the beaut sex picture that was on last night", Skinny cried out. "That's the B..... end of it", Old Jack snorted. "What chance have you got."
I've timed this bit of a talk", Old Jack said and it went for exactly two minutes before sex took over." Away back in 1969, Old Jack had put a chalk mark on the wall to note a fact that a discussion had continued for the lengthy period of six minutes before sex took over and this had stood as a record ever since.
Old Jack was no prude and could see no sense in discussing sex problems all day long which, after all, were not problems at all.
He had long ago given away going to clubs where sex was the key to all so called entertainment, which was always accompanied by loud blasts which is called music. He felt sorry for the mass of people who flocked to these places to be thoroughly shocked 52 times each year by raucous voiced comedians.
"The trouble with you Jack is that you are getting old."
"I might be getting old", Old Jack concluded, "but I'm not as old as good wholesome conversation which died and was buried years ago.
Some very strange things are done in the name of Charity.
Many of our well known citizens have become socialites through works of charity and quite often we see them featured in the social pages clinking glasses of champagne with each other.
Husbands and wives always clink with someone else's Husband and Wife, whilst the up and coming younger ones clink with each other, who live at, or who have just returned from somewhere. (sic)
One never sees a husband and wife clinking together.
It costs a lot to promote these gatherings.
Still this is a good thing as it allows the people with plenty of money and who are lonely to get together and clink a glass or two.
Readers appreciate the good that these people are doing, as they are able to associate charitable work with the alleviation of misery among the poor who have no money at all.
No one seeks out a person with no money as a friend, so this places the poor in another category "Lonliness".
Look at all the Women writers who are lonely and because of this, conduct a newspaper column on lonliness.
The thirteen and fourteen year old love sick ones are always seeking their advice. One has to feel sorry for these thirteen and fourteen olds, who are not only dejected and lonely but damn near broken hearted.
People like myself, who retire from work and move to another city are lonely because they know no one and no one puts themselves out to know you.
What about the lonely hearts clubs who help lonely people to keep on being lonely. People who start a new job are not only lonely but frustrated in learning the job.
All widows and widowers are lonely people.
If widows and widowers re-marry they haven't time to be lonely, as their time is wholly taken up in fighting with each other's children.
All this helps to make everyone discontented and lonely.
If a newspaper gave me a lonely (lonely hearts?) column to write, I would advise all lonely people to wholeheartedly engage themselves in some project or other. Painting -- Pottery - music or anything else.
You could scribble as I am doing now. Scribbling kills lonliness.
The Japanese soldier who, at the end of war two, dug himself a hole in the ground and lived in it all on his pat for twenty-eight years, made a profession of lonliness. Every journalist in Asia wants to interview him now. (In the 1960's and 1970's, a number of cases were reported of Japanese soldiers who had been living by themselves since the end of World War II (1945) in the jungles on the islands north of Australia and Papua New Guinea. Some claimed they were not aware that the war was over)
It is not advisable to resort to violence in order to kill lonliness, as was the case with the young chap who, last year, let old Arthur Caldwell M.P. fall victim to a blast from a shot gun. They put this chap in jail and jail never ever did anything for lonliness. (Arthur Caldwell was shot in 1966 so this essay would have been written in 1967)
Eventual recognition by society for your effort is the greatest reward for any lonliness you may have to endure, so have a go at something even if you flunk.
MY ... NEW ... HOME
It's a hell of a shock to the system when you reach sixty-five years of age and then decide to pack up and go to a new place to live.
If you are thinking about it, take a fool's advice and don't do it.
I had one house in Sydney and the Wife had Her House down here.
For obvious reasons one cannot own two houses upon retirement.
You know how silly wives are about their grandchildren, so if it were possible to retire owning two houses, one would have to live in the one nearest the grandchildren. The one nearest the grandchildren is in Wollongong and that is why I am living here.
When I sold my house in Sydney to live down here, my mates said in order to cheer me up "You'll do alright down there Mack. You're gregarious enough to get on anywhere." I immediately thought about gregarious Cattle and how they knock hell out of a stranger.
I started off down here by going to a few clubs and I couldn't understand why people referred to this or that club as a good Club. They were all the same to me. Wherever I went, I sat like a shag on a rock.
I used to laugh at my wife in Sydney when she would say "What do you find to talk about at the club?"
As a stranger down here I began to see her point. I watched Men yapping, laughing and slapping each other on the back.
What the hell do they talk about, I wondered as I sat on my pat. Surely I thought, it can't be that funny. Why slap each other on the back and burst into laughter. Now what the hell could the two chaps not far from where I was sitting be talking about I wondered.
My curiosity got the better of me and when I stealthily moved across to where they were standing and cocked my ear, they ceased talking.
I still remember the black look they gave me. I didn't blame them.
I cobbered up with a chap in a pub. He looked alright from a distance but when I started a yarn with him he proved a pain in the neck.
He was one of the characters that overemphises. When he said anything, he'd say --- Follow me, get my point, what I mean is. I had no idea what he was talking about and I didn't want him to think that he was that silly that I couldn't understand him, so in order to get away from him I told him that I had to go and buy a loaf of bread. The following week I struck a bloke that was fight happy. I gave the pubs away after that and joined a bowling club and now expect to live happily ever after.
Updated : 11 Jul 2011