Thursday, December 29, 2011

Nativity 2011 Style

This is a very cool "modern" take on the Nativity Story.

For some reason the YouTube clip is not posting but if you click the link you should get there.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sydney Road Trip

We had a fantastic weekend in Sydney. Here are some pictures which should work on a web album slideshow if you click the link, then click "Slideshow" in the top left corner.

Sydney Road Trip Pictures

We stopped at Gary and Christine's on Friday night to get a bit of a start and borrowed Nathan for the weekend. Neither he or Sport Boy had been to Sydney before. They had a great time together.

Upon arrival at the caravan park in Sydney I discovered that I'd left the tent poles behind!! That lead to some improvisation to erect the tent. No problems on the first night but not so good when a massive storm hit Sydney the next day! We came home to a flattened but thankfully not flooded tent. More improvisation followed and the kids survived the night. I slept in the car!

The exhibition, "OutPost" a huge collection of street art displayed on Cockatoo Island was brilliant. We all loved it and were very glad we made the long trip to see it.

We crossed the Harbour Bridge, walked around the Rocks, went to Bondi, saw The Gap (at night) and took a drive to Cronulla in a packed visit to Australia's biggest city.

Sydney Road Trip

We had a fantastic weekend in Sydney. Here are some pictures which should work on a web album slideshow if you click the link.

Sydney Road Trip Pictures

We stopped at Gary and Christine's on Friday night to get a bit of a start and borrowed Nathan for the weekend. Neither he or Sport Boy had been to Sydney before. They had a great time together.

Upon arrival at the caravan park in Sydney I discovered that I'd left the tent poles behind!! That lead to some improvisation to erect the tent. No problems on the first night but not so good when a massive storm hit Sydney the next day! We came home to a flattened but thankfully not flooded tent. More improvisation followed and the kids survived the night. I slept in the car!

The exhibition, "OutPost" a huge collection of street art displayed on Cockatoo Island was brilliant. We all loved it and were very glad we made the long trip to see it.

We crossed the Harbour Bridge, walked around the Rocks, went to Bondi, saw The Gap (at night) and took a drive to Cronulla in a packed visit to Australia's biggest city.

Enroute, up and back, we had brief stops at Violet Town, Wodonga, Gundagai andBenalla where we had a brief rendezvous with Mum/Nan and sister Vicki.

The car ran smoothly throughout and I was glad I'd had the brakes and oil leak fixed before we left.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Road Trip to Sydney

Tomorrow night Favourite Daughter, Sport Boy and I are heading off to Sydney for a three day weekend, the main purpose being to go and see a Street Art exhibition on Cockatoo Island, which is somewhere in Sydney Harbour apparently.
Pics and reports to follow, at some stage!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Few Catch Up iPics

 At the footy one night at the MCG I passed a young bloke who looked familiar. He turned out to be an ex-Carine kid now living in Melbourne with his partner.
 Another ex-Carine kid was there that night: Mark Nicoski who plays for the Eagles. I coached Mark as a junior in the school team.
 At another footy game, this girl found a creative use for these inflatable hand giveaways.
 On the flight back from Queensland when I went to visit Pop I spotted a fellow Spurs fan. Admittedly he was hard to miss!
 I finally made it to an auction at Leskis a few months back where they were selling the first ever Brownlow medal, won by Geelong champion, E. G. Cargi Greeves in 1931. I thought about putting in an early bid just so I could say I'd bid on the original Brownlow but the starting price was $175,000 and there were only two bids! It sold for $200,000 to an anonymous buyer who has since given it back to Geelong FC to go on permanent display at Kardinia Park.
 This is the bloke who made the first bid but didn't go any higher. He did buy the other medal on sale though, won by Stan Judkins from Richmond, for a more modest price of $45,000. I talked to him afterwards and learned that he now has two Brownlows, having previously bought Len Thompson's medal.
An interesting attendee at the auction was iconic actor William McInnes. This picture was taken by his wife Sarah whom, I was very sad to learn, subsequently died of cancer just a couple of weeks ago.

 My mate Broady was in Melbourne recently for a TEAR conference and I went up to meet him. We took a trip out to see the old VFL/AFL Park at Waverley then had dinner at a little Chinese restaurant in the suburbs. To our surprise, there were autographed dinner plates on the wall from previous diners, Venus and Serena Williams and several other pro tennis players!

 One of the subtly decorated houses in Ocean Grove post-the Grand Final.
 Sport Boy on a "home-school excursion" with me. We went to the Immigration Museum in Flinders St, and then onto IKEA to buy picture frames. I entered some of my work in a recent art show in Ocean Grove. Sadly none of it sold.
 Attentive readers will know that I love personalised number plates. This one really took my fancy, especially with Pop in tow, taken in Dianella while we were in Perth for Bruce and Paula's wedding.
 I dropped something off for Cam while on my way to the airport but he wasn't home. Instead Louise and the girls were happy to receive it and say a quick g'day. Cam is at present visiting Phil & julie in Kabul. I wish I was there with him. One of my goals is to go to Afghanistan and visit Phil and his family.
 While walking down High St Northcote last week I spotted an older lady with what looked like her own anti-mugging device!
I went up to Northcote for the release of the 2011 Footy Almanac, edited by John Harms, pictured here with his baby daughter, and Paul Daffey. I am an avid fan of The Footy Almanac but my interest was personal this year: One of my pieces was published in this year's edition, a match report for the round 11 game between the Cats and the Bulldogs. My first piece of published writing! Woohoo!  Get your copy at a good bookstore or via the FA website. I met several other footy writers at the event which in turn stoked the fires under my modest writing ambitions. The other bonus is that John is a well-known Geelong fan!!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Trip to WA Part One

I had a fantastic trip to Western Australia a couple of weeks ago.
Except for a bit of a stuff-up over arrival times/car-hire with Pop everything else went well. The short story is he managed to get where he was going without my navigational skill. For the long story check out his post on Holtieshouse.As well as the recounting of his train travel tales on the trip back to Brisbane here.

At least I managed to arrive in plenty of time for the main event, Bruce & Paula's wedding, unlike his favourite daughter but more of that shortly.

As previewed last post, the trip to Perth lead to sleep deprivation and a three hour time zone shift so I was pretty wrecked when I got to Perth. The Heir picked me up from the airport and took me to his home, slum. Think student share house, add a slice of Young Ones decor and remove all thought of normal hygiene.
I carefully picked my way through the debris and saying a prayer lay down to get some desperately needed sleep in what passes for Spike's bed, a mattress on the floor, despite there being a serviceable looking bed against the far wall as far as I could tell.
"Refreshed" I got up a couple of hours later and took the train to West Leederville to have lunch with Spike. He showed me around his work place, a large child care centre that costs $200 a day!!! He loves working there and the owner told me they love him so it's all good. It was great to see him. He's been having a few struggles over the last few months and has decided along with The Heir to move over to Victoria at the end of the year. He realises he misses us more than he expected, and of course we miss both of them so the prospect of them joining us in Vic. thrills us.

I spent the rest of the day looking around Fremantle and hunting for football books in op shops. You'll be delighted to hear that I found a copy of "Origin of the Speccies" by Nathan Jarvis which Cam has been recommending to me for a long time. He was right, it's a great book.

Returning to the slum I was greeted by an odd noise, the bleating of a sheep which the Heir informed me was destined for the BBQ at a school camp he was helping to run on the weekend. Spike tells me his big brother has become quite a "Bushman", which explained the red-dust encrusted ute he picked me up in.
Apparently the original plan involved teaching teenage boys the life-skill of killing and butchering a sheep. Was I the only one who wondered about the wisdom of arming troubled teenage boys with sharp knives? It seems not, as the revised plan, suggested by other staff, saw The Heir do the dirty work and deliver the carcass ready for the barbie. Meanwhile, on a Thursday night, in suburban Perth, an unhappy sheep presented other dilemmas. I only surmise it was unhappy because of the constant bleating, though perhaps it had a premonition of the fate that awaited it, I don't know, never-the-less I figured the neighbours would be less than impressed.

Leaving the boys to their sheep problem I took the train to Maylands to meet Hugh. From there we headed up to Broadie's place for dinner with The Breakfast Club. Just as well I sent Broadie a text half an hour before we got there otherwise not only would he have forgotten we were coming but would have had a mate round for a beer!! He was apologetic in the way only Broady can be, that is, making his complete stuff-up out to be someone else's (read my) fault. Further to his woeful ineptitude in hosting the first Breakfast Club meeting in a year, he had already had dinner! Hugh and I got takeaway from the local Thai restaurant and Broadie watched us eat. Then, in a further breaking of Breakfast Club "Rules & Traditions" Tammy came home, and joined in our discussion! Despite these set-backs we had a great time and talked long into the night before I took pity on Hugh, who tends to crash around 10pm, and we headed home to his place in Inglewood for the night.

On Friday I finally hooked up with Pop and relieved him of the driving duties. We did a few pre-wedding messages, cruised a few op shops, had messy Subway for lunch then arrived at Bruce and Paula's in the quaintly named "Hellfire Way", urban planners with a sense of humour perhaps!
Leaving Pop to learn exercises to help his Bells Palsy from the bride's mother I took the hire car and drove over to Letchy's for the 2nd biggest event on the program, the CFFL Winners Dinner! I'll spare you the detailed descriptions of the night, suffice to say that this year I and my FF team The Cat's Whiskers won the premiership so it was especially sweet for me.

While we are a bunch of blokes who love footy, the reality is we are a bunch of close mates and the footy gives us a vehicle/excuse to get together/stay in touch/talk/stir/joke and muck around. The fact we've been running the competition for 10 years means we now have a shared history and many many great stories which get trotted out, and added to, each year. It will be lost in translation but the funniest moment of the night came when Letchy declared that "It wouldn't have been a problem if Wazza hadn't violated my bus" prompting me to spray a mouthful of Coke all over the ground!
As I said, you had to be there, but for those of you who were and also read the blog, I'm sure you'll agree and smile at the memory!
Despite 6 years in Busselton and the last 12 months in Victoria, my closest friends are still largely in Perth. Further to all of this footy camaraderie, the reality is that for me, this bunch of blokes represent some of my closest mates and being with them again for a night was like a tonic.

Saturday dawned and the plan was that as custodian of the hire car and driver most familiar with Perth, I would pick up my sister Vicki from the airport at 10.40 and we would have plenty of time to get back to Bruce's, change into our wedding clothes, and get to the park where the ceremony was to be held at 2.30.
Perhaps you've spotted the flaw in these plans? No-one told the airline company how important it was that they deliver this particular passenger on time! An oil leak lead to everyone disembarking and a 2 1/2 hour delay before they finally took off.
Once she landed we made a bee-line for the wedding, eschewing any stops for unimportant things like changing clothes and just as well because we arrived as the bride was getting out of the wedding car!
Only once the ceremony had started was I jolted back to reality when the celebrant said my name and called me up to do the reading!!! I had completely forgotten about this particular responsibility! Not quite looking the part in my shorts and Geelong shirt, I tried to cover my embarrassment by saying "I was told it was casual dress!". Thankfully no-one cared what the bit part player looked like, they were there for the main attractions, Bruce and Paula, and it was a terrific service in a lovely setting.

Vicki and I used the gap between service and reception to get changed  and then repaired to Alan and Lynn's for short sojourn, during which Big Brother and I greatly enjoyed watching some of the Grand Final and recounting stories and anecdotes about the Cat's premiership.
The reception, at Gordo's on The Vines was equally good and I had the privilege and pleasure of making a speech in honour of the happy couple and proposing a toast to absent friends.
Bruce thanked me afterwards and said he concurred with everything I had said which was a nice affirmation to conclude the day's celebrations.

To be Continued

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Spike

By the time you read this I will be in WA. The penalty for buying the cheapest available flight is inconvenience.
The timeline is:
Now: Midnight
3am:  Get up
4am:  Catch bus to airport
5am: Check in
7.10am: Take off Melbourne
8.15am: Arrive Perth (Local time)
1.30pm: Have lunch with Spike. Today is his 20th birthday so it's good timing.
Hopefully there'll be some time for a nap somewhere along the way! (I don't sleep well on planes).

The main reason for the trip of course is to be there to celebrate my little brother's wedding on Saturday.
Bruce & Paula

Monday, October 17, 2011

Quick Updates

Australia lost the Rugby World Cup semi-final to New Zealand this evening which means one thing: Come on the All-Blacks in the final v France.

We are one week into an "experiment": home-schooling Sport Boy this term. So far so good. I took him to the Immigration Museum in Melbourne on Friday for his first excursion. Unprompted by me he wrote three pages of notes on the experience. Mrs Holt Press is doing most of the "teaching" and is enjoying and managing  it well.

I have two more days of work before having 6 days off so I can go to Perth for Bruce & Paula's wedding next weekend. As well as the family gathering and celebration there'll be time to squeeze in Breakfast Club, the CFFL Winner's Dinner and a trip to Busselton for a house inspection. It will be good to see The heir and Spike too, both of whom are planning to move to Victoria with us at the end of the year.

Favourite Daughter has an interview on Tuesday at the School of Photography where she is hoping to study next year.We'll see what develops!

I have been busy framing some of my pictures tonight so I can enter them in an art exhibition in Ocean Grove in a couple of weeks time.

I applied for a job this week. I am happy enough at the Bus company but an interesting position was advertised so I thought I'd check it out. I won't give any details at the moment other than it probably better suits my skills and experience. I'll let you know if I get the job.

I have stopped wearing my Geelong jumper and have gone three days without watching the Grand Final replay!

Tottenham are currently 1-1 with Newcastle United, come on Spurs.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Men From Sleepy Hollow

This was posted on The Footy Almanac website and is in my humple opinion, Brilliant!

by Rhys Howells
There is nothing so euphoric when you barrack for Geelong
And the team from Sleepy Hollow is on fire
They have joined the champs eternal – they can surely do no wrong
When they’ve roasted magpies on the funeral pyre.
And all the mighty players wearing hoops of blue and white
Were gathered at the cauldron MCG

They are brave and cool and skilful as they ready for the fight
The best of all the crowd will surely see.
There was Lingy there, the mayoral one with mane of flaming red
He plucked the Swan and hung him out to dry
A broken shnozz was just a scratch, he’d run ‘til he was dead
And kick the goal that made old Eddie cry.

And up the front the Hawkins lad was there to lend a hand
His mighty frame crashed through the gath’rin’ packs
It seemed the opposition were completely undermanned
And he exposed their ever-widening canyon cracks.

But one was there, with pigeon toes and knees that seemed to knock
His injury would surely keep him out
Though none could doubt his courage it was clear he was a crock
The poor old Cats would have to do without.
But the anaesthetic needle and the heart that beats within
Gave Stevie J the chance to strut his stuff
And he roamed across the green sward with his weird endearing grin
And he sliced and diced them ‘til they’d had enough.

And Kelly lived to bash them – he was racing on the wing
With Chappy there to link on the inside
They cut the Pies asunder with the toughness they would bring
They were the masters of the trade they plied.
The atmosphere electric, there were goals kicked to and fro
A quick riposte and now we’re back in front
The Cats threw in their bodies where the mad would only go
A deft handpass and scything quick drop punt.

They kicked them from the boundary, they soccered off the deck
They conjured sparks from embers surely dead
The juggernaut was faltering – there were portents of a wreck
And come three quarter time we are ahead.

We are at the mountain’s summit where the test’s now half an hour
Do we have the will, the courage to survive?
Do we have the inner fire that will concentrate our power
To push ahead our final fateful drive.

And Jim Bartel was at the head, his swarthy features set
He exemplified the things we all must do
He knew the final quarter had to be the best one yet
The honour roll for all in white and blue.
He marked it like a demon, his hands were strong and sure
His tackles left a wicked stinging pain
He led the final stanza with a madman at his core
He used his guile but most he used his brain

That you see’s the difference, between your boys and us
The product of a hundred years or more
When it comes down to the pressure, we do not fluff and fuss
We bear on down and kick the winning score.

And down by old Corio, where the Stadium is dark
A pennant new is destined for our boys
The ghosts of former players, live, in our Kardinia Park
And listen to the roiling surging noise.
“Go you mighty Catters – Go Ablett old and young,
There’s Polly there and Billy Goggin too,
Kick it Billy Brownless” – your praises are all sung
By lifelong fans with blood that’s white and blue

With memories of barren years, of desperate finals lost
Of freezing days, Antarctic winds and more
But now those days are over, at last we’ve paid the cost
Our trophy cabinet’s now no longer poor.
The legend of this mighty team with three flags out of five
Is envied by the footy world all round
We are a humble team of mates who’ve grasped the chance to thrive
And glory in that final siren sound.

RLM Incorporated
2 October 2011
(as always, apologies to Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson, 1864 – 1941)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

We Are Geelong The Greatest Team of All

The Cats are Premiers again!!

It has been a fantastic day, spent with my son Sport Boy and my mate Scott Darlow, watching our beloved footy team bring home the ultimate prize.

Go Cats

Saturday, October 01, 2011

AFL Grand Final 2011 The Cats v the Magpies

Just leaving home and heading for the MCG.

Go Cats

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We Got Tickets to the Grand Final!!


Go Cats


Sport Boy, Darlow and I are going to the game. Yeah!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

We're in the BIG ONE, again


2011 Toyota AFL Finals Series - this is greatness


Collingwood V                   Geelong Cats


At 9 o'clock tomorrow morning I'll find out whether we got tickets in the ballot.
If we didn't I'll be working out how I can buy standing room tickets when they go on sale at noon.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Night Thriller

So Collingwood get up to win by 3 points and book their spot in the Grand Final.
Hawthorn were pretty unlucky after leading at every change.

Tomorrow it's our turn, Geelong v West Coast, the old enemies, the Cats and the Eagles in the 2nd preliminary final at the MCG.

I can't wait.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Visitor from the West

Mum has arrived for a quick visit, following a trip to Shepparton to see Shannon and Neil and all the grandkids.
In a sign of her mellowing or grace, she wished me/Geelong good luck for the footy on Saturday. I asked if she wanted to come to the game but as she has recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is probably not wise for her to do so. Mum gets stressed watching footy replays when she already knows the result, let alone a preliminary final live at the MCG! I reassured her that it would all be over by quarter time anyway!

Monday, September 19, 2011

WARNING: Post Contains Blood & Violence

WARNING: This post contains disturbing images and content.

I had a very unpleasant occurrence during my shift yesterday afternoon.
I was driving bus 103 I think, doing a #51 in-bound and had just pulled up at Moorabool St at about 3.45pm
There was a commotion next to the bus and I looked around to see a young man and young woman arguing loudly.
This suddenly erupted into a fight with fists flying and a great deal of swearing and abuse. There were at least a dozen passengers waiting in the interchange including old people, children and teenagers.
The fight was escalating and I immediately got out of the bus and approached the combatants.
Afraid that serious physical harm was about to happen I stepped between them and said "Cut it out, calm down, that's enough".(or words to that effect)
Being a big bloke  I felt confident that they would separate and cease if I got between them and called for some sort of calm.
To my suprise and alarm, the young man, approx 19-20 I guessed, immediately turned his anger upon me and yelled "Who the #%$* are you &@#! ?
In the next instant he punched me right in the face. Hard.
He continued to yell and swear at me and in light of this I backed away.
He turned his attention back to the girl and they headed south up Moorabool St, continuing the conflict. He proceeded to hit her again and then to knock her down on the roadway at Little Malop St.
Meanwhile I had a blood nose which bled profusely from both nostrils and in fact continued to bleed for the next hour or so. I also sustained two fat lips and cuts to my upper and lower lips.
A couple of people approached me and asked if I was OK. A girl from the bakery brought me out some serviettes to help stem the bleeding.
I asked one of the kids standing there if there had been any security guards around and he said "No, they hadn't been there at all today".
This whole incident took about a minute.
 I was shaken and in pain and trying to stop the bleeding.I was concerned that the bloke was going to cause further harm but by then I was running late and had passengers waiting on my bus so I continued with my run, doing a 55 out.
I used my phone to call 000 and asked for the police to attend the scene. I don't know if they came to Moorabool St or not.
I gave them descriptions and details on the phone and indicated that I wanted to press charges for assault.
On my return to the city half an hour later I did not see any police at the interchange or in the mall, however, the young man and woman were both part of a group of young people in the mall. He looked at my bus and seemed to recognise me and to yell what sounded like abuse or threats in my direction.
I was concerned that he was going to cross the street and continue his threatening behaviour toward me but thankfully that did not occur.
I managed to take several pictures of him with my digital camera and one of these in particular gives a clear image of him.
There being no-one in despatch on a Sunday I did not report the incident to anyone else and did not want to broadcast the details on the radio and have other drivers become involved.
My mouth and nose are quite sore still, my nose is possibly broken. Fortunately today was a day off so I had some time to recuperate and the swelling to go down before I go back to work.
I don't know if the bus's security camera  captured any of the incident as it happened outside the bus.
I know that people will say I should have stayed out of it and not gotten involved but I believe a reasonable person would have acted along similar lines. I could not stand by and watch a girl be beaten up by a violent thug. I acted instinctively and according to my morals and beliefs. I was shocked at the immediacy and ferocity of his response. I suspect that he was under the influence of some sort of substance as his behaviour was particularly aggressive and unpredictable.
Needless to say it was not the relaxing and pleasant Sunday afternoon I'd been hoping for.

ABC Grandstand

Those who know me well know that A./ I love football and B./ I like to ring talkback radio and talk about it.
Gerard Whately is my favourite commentator and during the "Sunday Inquisition" on ABC Grandstand he was taking calls about the dramatic sacking of Mark Harvey and appointment of Ross Lyon at Fremantle.
I rang in but when my turn came to speak the line went dead. Rats! I rang back and was lucky enough to get through a second time, and was in fact the last caller they took before the end of the program.
Later in the afternoon there was a fantastic documentary on the "death" of Fitzroy and their merger with the Brisbane Bears in 1996. I sms'd a few mates to see if they were listening to it, one of whom was Birchy.
I was very pleased to receive this email from him later that night when I got home from work, and with his permission I reprint it here.

Got your text but only later that night, but in reply to your question yes i was listening.
I was in my shed doing some welding, a Saturday afternoon in my shed with footy/grandstand on the radio (my idea of heaven), when i hear Gerard Whately say let’s take some calls. I hear he has “Marcus in Geelong”, and I think surely this has to be the one and only, the unofficial Mayor of the seaside town, the voice of the buses from the Bellarine peninsula, and I wait expectedly for his wisdom, his insight, his vast knowledge of all things football, but then silence.
Then Gerard tries again, “Marcus in Geelong”- silence, then a 3rd time “Marcus in Geelong”- nothing but the sounds of silence. Gerard informs me that we having some problems with the line and he moves on to the next caller. NO! My hopes dashed, but anticipation stolen from me like a child robbed of his lollipop, and I return to the work in the shed disappointed and feeling somewhat let down.
But wait! Minutes later I hear Gerard say we have “Marcus in Geelong” and I’m put out of my pain as I hear that familiar voice and become elated to hear him refer to mates from the West. I yell out to the timber and metal in my shed, that’s me he he's talking about, and my beloved yet frustrating Dockers he refers to. And I continue on with my welding, my Sat afternoon just got all that much better thanks to the magic of radio, and country wide broadcasts, because I was briefly united once again with a mate.  

Thanks for the call Holty!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Footy, Friends and Art

I've been on a massive high all day as a result of Geelong's fantastic win over Hawthorn in the first round of the finals last night. Sport Boy and I went to the game with a mate from Perth, Warren. Great seats, great company, great game and a great result. The Cats were brilliant and now proceed straight to the preliminary final with a week off. Our most likely opponents will be the old foe, the West Coast  Eagles. I can't wait.

 There was also a small gathering of CFFL coaches celebrating the Cat's Whiskers premiership win last week over Letchy's Redbacks. L-R Cat's Whiskers, Reigning Poms, Bayswater Breeze.

 Tracey and Mrs HP holding her birthday present.

This afternoon Mrs Holt Press and I went up to Melbourne for the joint birthday celebration of her best friend from school, Tracey and her husband Neil. He is an artist and she works in artist development and promotion so there house is like a little gallery.
I loved it. Neil's artwork is fantastic and they have an eclectic collection of other paintings, sculptures, furniture and glassware as well. Despite not having lived in Victoria for 25 years, Tracey and Mrs HP are very close and are enjoying being able to see more of one another, along with Tracey's sister Belinda.

This portrait by Neil earned a placed in the final 30 for the Archibald Prize, Australia's best known portrait competition.
Most impressive of all is that Neil is entirely self taught!

Friday, September 09, 2011

On the Buses

I was driving the #55 the other night when a guy went to get on the bus.
"Sorry mate, you can't bring the beer on the bus"
He turned and placed the open bottle on the seat of the bus shelter then boarded the bus.
On the way into town I noticed him talking quite animatedly but couldn't work out who to.
I thought perhaps he was on the phone via an ear piece.
He was waving his arms around and carrying on a conversation with someone but the only passenger near him clearly wasn't involved.
He got off in town and the other passenger got off a couple of stops later. As she alighted I asked her if the guy had been talking to her or on the phone?
"No, I think he might have been schizophrenic or something cause he was talking to himself or to God or someone but it wasn't me"
An hour later as I came back through town I picked him up on the return trip.
This time he was quiet, and carrying a pizza.
When we got to his bus stop he got off the bus, walked straight over and picked up his beer and headed off into the night!

I pulled up at Deakin where I was due to have a 20 minute lay-over before the return journey to the city.
An anxious looking teacher in charge of a large group of school kids approached me and asked if I had a phone as their bus hadn't arrived to pick them up.
I asked where they were supposed to be going.
"To the ______ college junior campus"
You mean the one just over the bridge?
How about I just take you?
"Could you? That would be great!"
The kids were ushered on board and all thanked me with a definite sense of relief in their voices.
As we neared the destination the grateful teacher called upon the kids to thank me again with three rousing cheers! Needless to say, the first time I've had three cheers for driving a bus!

Slurpees are the bus driver's mortal enemy. When someone gets on with one I know with 95% certainty that not only will they not finish it or take it with them when they get off, but they will leave it on the floor and that the next time I drive round a corner it will tumble over, spilling its sickly sweet contents all over the floor. Said contents will then "slurp" their way down the aisle of the bus, leaving a human fly-trap of stickiness to ensnare unwitting passengers trying to get on or off the bus.
Last night a young family got on the bus, holding fast food bags and a slurpee. In the hands of a small child no less. Sure enough, just moments after taking off there was a familiar thud and looking around I saw the gooey pink mess splattered all over the floor.
I was pleasantly surprised by what followed though.
The Dad started scooping up as much of the icy debris as he could and then wiped up the rest with some sort of cloth furnished by his partner. It wasn't this bus-cleaning that impressed me so much as the cool calm and controlled way he talked to his son about what had happened. There was no yelling or scalding or vindictive reprimand. Instead he explained to his little boy what had caused the accident and what he needed to do next time to avoid it happening again.
"That's why you need to sit down straight away and hold on to your drink tightly" etc
Considering some of the things I hear parents say to their kids this was straight out of "Effective parenting 101".
I was intending to complement the Dad for the way he had handled the incident when they got off. I decided not to though when a couple of minutes later he called out "Hey Driver, slow the %#&* down, you nearly tipped the pram over!"
So much for setting a good example to his children!
(I was driving well within the speed limit at the time by the way.)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

WARNING! Nothing but Football Ahead to see here, move on Phil!

Friday Night Footy 360

Ever since the shock loss to Sydney ended the Cats four year unbeaten run at Kardinia Park last week all and sundry have been declaring “Geelong are wobbly”, “The Cats are vulnerable” and  “Hawthorn are now the biggest threat to Collingwood”. Funny how they seem to have forgotten that we’ve beaten Hawthorn twice this season and are the only team to have beaten the Magpies. Or that the Swans were playing with the extraordinary motivation around Jarrad McVeigh’s tragic loss. Oh well, low expectations = less pressure.

I seem to be the unofficial spokesman for the Cats at work; everyone directs their comments about Friday night’s big game to me. “Yes I’m going”, “No I’m not worried”, “Yes Collingwood are a good team”, “We’re in with a chance” etc etc. There are a sprinkling of other Geelong fans on the buses but I seem to be the only one who goes every week. I can’t understand why Cats fans wouldn’t go to the footy every week, especially when we win so often. After 30 years in WA I’m making up for lost time and loving it.

Expecting an 80,000+ crowd I wanted to get there early but the traffic put paid to that.
Favourite Daughter, Sport Boy and I headed up to Melbourne after work/school, with a detour to Footscray enroute to drop off a sign I’ve just sold on ebay. The detour earned me $40 and cost us an hour and a half in travelling time! As we crawled through the city I finally gave in to Sport Boy’s constant requests for food and drink. The kids got out at the corner of Elizabeth and Flinders streets to buy a Boost Juice while I continued my snail like progress in the car. They caught up to me by the time I reached  St Paul’s.

We parked and headed for the ground and were pleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t very full inside. We chose some good seats on the flank in the Great Southern Stand. Then the trouble started. Turns out our seats belonged to someone else. So did the next ones we sat in, and the ones after that!! Turns out in fact that our memberships didn’t get us a seat like they have for every other game this season and we were consigned to standing room on level one! Not impressed. I listen to SEN all day every day and I didn’t hear any mention about changed seating arrangements for this game! While all this was going on the game had started and Collingwood started kicking goals while Geelong decided to kick behinds!

Finally JPod crashed into a goal post but held the mark and kicked our first. Or so I thought! After finally finding a viewing spot I discovered that an interchange infringement had seen our only goal so far taken off us! Things were not looking good.

Then a miracle happened. Tom Hawkins flew high over the back of a pack in the goal square and pulled down a screamer. He confirmed the miracle by kicking the goal. Two late goals and we were back in the game despite our inaccuracy.
5 points down at quarter time.                                                                                                              

Then the second miracle occurred. Geelong played a quarter born in heaven, The angel Menzel lead the charge. The Cats were slick and superb in attack, fierce and fanatical in defence. Goal followed goal and by the end of the term the Cats had slammed on ten and set up a 50 point lead. Chappy, Bundy, Wojo, Varcoe, everyone was on fire, the run through the middle was electric, the tackling was ferocious, the pressure was relentless and the Pies had no answers, they were fumbling and crumbling and left in the Cat’s wake.
Considering the circumstances it was as good a quarter of football as I can remember and by the end of it I was exhilarated and breathless. This was the Collingwood machine we were dismantling, the flag favourites being belted from pillar to post. It was fantastic.

Going to the footy is a multi-media experience these days and I was swapping texts with excited Cats fans around the country.
Darlow, who loves Geelong but seldom gets to games because of touring commitments was enroute to a gig in Albury and loving the ABC call of the game.
We traded excited superlatives about various Cats players who were starring. Darlow is a glass half full man and has been spruiking a Geelong premiership since before the season started. He may be proved right.

The Heir warned me not to say anything because the game wasn’t live in WA and he didn’t want to know any scores. How hard was it to not text him in big bold capitals. “THE CATS ARE ON FIRE” at half time?

St Steve was in WA too but following it live on radio and sharing in my joy even though as the name suggests he’s a St Kilda fan. There’s something about the common hatred of Collingwood that unites us all at times like this.

Chris the self-confessed chardonnay sipper had taunted me earlier with a “Go Pies” text but we reached an amicable agreement that whether it was my Cats or her Eagles, anyone was a better choice for premier than Collingwood.

Broady had been in Melbourne during the week but stuffed up on booking a flight that would enable him to stay in town for the game and regretted not being there.

And Julie, the biggest Cat fan in Kojonup shared my joy.

I could have sent a message to Warren, a Perth based Magpie fan to rub it in a little but I try not to be too obnoxious in victory.

I was impressed with the brief text from another Magpie mate, Russell: “Oh dear!”
I replied “R U here?”
“Sadly, yes” came his melancholy reply.

Just as the Cats domination reached its crescendo the commentators and sceptics started making excuses for Collingwood. “They’ve got nothing to play for”, “They’ve put the (proverbial) cue in the rack”, “They’re not playing Collingwood football”, “They don’t care”, “It doesn’t matter” etc etc. OK, there may be some truth in some of that, but they were pretty interested in the first quarter when they kicked the first four goals and Pendlebury and Beams had 30 disposals between them. By late in the second quarter neither had added a touch to their tally and the Cats via Kelly and Bartel had completely shut them out of the contest.
In a week where another Kelly’s bones have been rediscovered, the under-rated Cat midfielder proved again that resurrection was possible in the post-Ablett era. Meanwhile, the “kittens” were running amok. By the end, Menzel had kicked a career high five goals, several as a result of strong contested marks, Mitch Duncan was having his best game of the season and little Bundy Christensen kicked three and left no doubt that in the battle for small forward spots, Stokes and Byrnes would be fighting for the scraps.

David Wojcinski is one of the oldest players at Geelong but still one of the fastest men in the AFL. At one stage in the second quarter blitz he burst through the centre and sold the perfect dummy to an on-coming Magpie before his handball at speed lead to another Geelong goal, it was audacious and breath-taking football. Varcoe was cutting swathes through the Pies in similar fashion.
By the time the mercy bell went at half time the Cats were 8 goals up with half the crowd celebrating and the other half scratching their heads in shock. Fleeting pictures of forlorn Joffa and  fuming Eddie on the big screen were the icing on the cake for Geelong fans.

If there was any thought of a Collingwood fightback in the second half it was snuffed out by a Tom Hawkins goal in the first minute of the third term. Geelong kicked four for the quarter, Collingwood two but in the last the blitz continued six to one in Geelong’s favour.

By the last quarter the kids and I had evaded a zealous green-coat and found some seats in the midst of the already departing Collingwood members near the scoreboard at the city end.

Each Geelong goal triggered another wave of evacuations and by half way through the last term the ground was only half full. There were still plenty of fans in blue and white left to sing the song at the end. Wojo kicked our 22nd goal after the siren and “We are Geelong, the greatest team of all” echoed around the stands of footy’s great cathedral.

Sure nothing had changed on the ladder, or in the finals line-up next week, but something had definitely changed in the psyche of both teams. Losing by a record margin a week out from the finals is not the way Collingwood hoped to enter the September battle, no matter how much spin they try and put on it.