Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Heir Has Arrived

Our eldest child, The Heir, has moved from Perth to Victoria. He arrived early Monday morning and was picked up at the airport by Favourite Daughter. She is pretty happy to have her big brother on the scene, so much so that for the second night in a row they have gone to melbourne to see live bands. Last night it was Death Cab for Cutie, tonight, Matt Corby.

That just leaves Spike remaining in WA. He will be joining us on the 17th of March, but only for three months instead of the permanent move we were anticipating. The reason? He has fallen in love and doesn't want to move away from his girlfriend. Fair enough. We'll just have to make the most of the three months we have him for.

There is a veritable gathering of the clan back to our ancestral home happening at the moment.

Further to my Mum relocating to the little town of Tatong in northern Victoria following the sale of her house in Bridgetown, my sister Vicki has also begun her relocation. Having left Wudinna in South Australia, her home for the last 30 years, Vicki is looking for a house to buy in Victoria. Most likely somewhere in the Geelong area which suits me just fine! We looked at a few houses with her over the weekend. She hasn't found the right one yet but she's getting closer.

Now if we could only dislodge our renegade father from his northern abode and lure him south again ...

I'm a dreamer, I live in hope.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Black Caviar Makes History, Again

If you didn't know, I'm a sports nut. There's not many sports I don't like and a good sports story or event is sure to attract me. Thus it was that I found myself at Caulfield Racecourse this afternoon to watch the world's best racehorse, Black Caviar, win its 18th race, from 18 starts. (Not just my opinion. Black Caviar was rated the world's best by the international committee who decide these things!! Probably not as voted by her peers though.) The world record is 19 wins in a row I believe, held by Zenyatta, in the USA and the way the Aussie champ won today, racing over 1400m for the first time, I think that record is about to be equalled, passed and left trailing in the dust. BC won with effortless ease. There were over 20,000 people there to watch it, courtesy of the Victorian Racing Club who made it free admission for the day. I'm not a real racing fan. Like most Aussies I really only get interested  when the Melbourne Cup comes around each November, but this horse is something special and I was glad I was there to see it creating history this afternoon.
That's her in the mounting yard before the race by the way, wearing number 8. I had a pretty good view of the finish line but had to follow the race on the big screens because of the huge crowd.

A little late but here's a pic of Chris and I at the Australian Open Tennis at Hisense Arena. We had a great day.

The trip to Tatong was a great success. Here's Mum and Lorna just before we left for home. Lorna wasn't too well on the second day and was still a little off-colour when the photo was taken. Considering she's 84  she did very well and Mum was very pleased to see her and Allan. They have been friends for nearly 50 years I think.

On the way home we took a detour to Shepparton to visit Auntie Merle who despite a recent lengthy stay in hospital was quite bright and cheery while we were there. Her warning to Lorna to watch the step came a split second too late and Lorna was lucky to stumble rather than tumble her way into the loungeroom.
 We spent a day in Benalla and looked at a few houses with Vicki who is working out where she wants to live. Benalla appeals because it's close to Mum and Shannon but she's also considering Geelong, which is close to us, and the Cats!

We didn't stay very long, partly so we didn't tire Auntie Merle out, partly because she had an appointment to go to, and partly because we were also catching up with my younger sister Shannon and her three boys, Eli, Isaac and Samuel. The girls stayed on the farm with Neil. It was good to see her, especially given that a few days earlier she was involved in a serious crash. She pulled out of the farm gate into the path of an on-coming truck ! It hit her from behind and rolled Shannon's car. Amazingly she suffered no serious injuries, mostly a bump to the head which resulted in bruising of the brain. We are very grateful for her survival and that none of the kids were in the car with her.

Sadly Eli is a Hawthorn fan but despite this I invited him to come down to Melbourne and I would take him to the footy when the Hawks play the Cats. He's never been to a live game so hopefully we can get it organized.

Thursday, February 09, 2012


I've got two days off so I've borrowed a trailer from Chris next door and come up to Mum's place at Tatong.
You know Tatong!
Minute speck on the map 29 km east of Benalla, up a steep winding dirt road!
Northern Victoria, 2 hours from Melbourne on the Hume Hwy.
Yeah, that Tatong.

You know I like to maximise the use of my time so as well as visiting Mum in her new home I'm also picking up The Heir and Spike's stuff that was shipped over here with Mum's stuff when she moved from WA. Rumour has it the boys will be here in Feb and March respectively though healthy scepticism is entirely forgivable...they were originally coming for Christmas, then for new year, then for late Januuary, then mid- February, etc, etc!
If and when they arrive they'll need their gear, thus the trailer.

As a surprise I arranged to bring Allan and Lorna, lifelong friends of Mum and Dad up with me. They were delighted for the invitation and were waiting at the door when I arrived after finishing work last night.

As a surprise to me, Vicki rang a few days ago and said she'd like to come too and could I pick her up from the airport on the way through. Of course I was rapt at that news and adjusted my plans accordingly. Vicki flew in at 7.35 and we collected her from Tullamarine abot 9.00, having used copious wads of paper towelling to cushion the tow ball and trailer hitch from rattling when we drove above 90kmh.

Mum was expecting me but had no idea about the three surprise guests and we staggered our entrance upon arrival, me first, Vicki a couple of minutes later and Allan and Lorna shortly after. It worked a treat and Mum was overjoyed to see everyone. One minor hitch was a surprise at our expense: Mum's friend Mona was still here. We all thought she was leaving yesterday to return to Bridgetown. The only issue being the extra squeeze on beds and sleeping arrangements but we managed to sort it out and everyone had a place to sleep.

It was quite a long drive after a 13 hour work day but Lorna kept us all entertained and alert, though even she started to flag as midnight approached.

Mum's place is lovely and situated on the side of a hill with beautiful views in every direction. We drove up the final steep road in the dark which was probably a good thing for Lorna's nerves.

We'll get a better look shortly when we take Mona into Benalla to catch her train to Melbourne.

Monday, February 06, 2012

On the Bus

It's 7.00 o'clock on a Tuesday night and I'm at work.

I pull up at a bus stop.
A young girl and guy are waiting it seems.
But as she goes to board the bus he stops her.
She looks confused and says "Let me get on the bus"
He refuses her request.
For a moment I think they're mucking around but the look on her face and the tone of his voice suggest otherwise.
She tries repeatedly to get on the bus and he stops her every time.
Holding her.
Blocking her.
Pushing her back against a fence.
Constraining her with desperate whiny pleas. "Stay here. Stay with me. Don't get on the bus. etc" and all the while physically preventing her getting on the bus.
She looks at me and apologizes and again says "Let me get on the bus, I want to go".

It's my last run of the day.
I've got one passenger on board.
I'm due at a driver changeover in 8 minutes.
But I'm not going anywhere.

I get out of my seat and say to the guy, "Mate, you need to let her go so she can get on the bus".

%#@$ off! is his predictable reply.

I repeat myself but I already know he's not listening and is not going to comply.

I think back a few months to a similar scenario in town where I instinctively intervened to stop a violent incident and copped a punch in the face for my efforts. As blood poured from my nose I had watched the boy proceed to hit, kick and drag his female companion up the street. I called the police and reported it the next day, providing pictures of my assailant but surprise surprise the police said there was nothing they could do without independent witnesses!

I look at the boy in this incident.
He's smaller than me. Weedy. No obvious weapons.
I consider my options.
I could drag him off her, I'm confident I am big enough and strong enough to overpower him but...
Then what?
Does he stand meekly by while his girlfriend and I get on the bus and I drive her away?
More likely he gets on the bus too and suddenly my problems are multiplied, or he kicks and bashes the bus and inflicts damage on it and us.
I keep a safe distance and tell him I'm going to call the police.

He says he doesn't care and I believe him.
I call 000.
Police please, to ____________ Rd & ____________ St
The operator asks the standard questions and tells me police have been notified.

The wait for reinforcements begins as the stand-off continues.
I could get on the bus and drive away trusting the police will turn up and sort it out but...
I'm sure this is a bad situation that has the potential to get much worse.

I wait.
I apologize to my passenger and he is understanding.

Over the next twenty minutes the girl tries in vain to convince her "boyfriend" to let her go and he continues to hold her "prisoner", all the while pushing, dragging and attempting to carry her around the corner and up the street.

My changeover long since missed I monitor the situation and look up and down the street hoping the cops will arrive soon. I've been there 45 minutes.
To compound the situation my radio breaks down. I can't let anyone know where I am or what's happening.

The next bus arrives. I get my passenger onto it and use its radio to contact my changeover driver. He has wisely decided to start his run some time earlier.

I continue to wait.
The girl continues to seek her freedom.
The boy continues to keep her captive.

I call 000 again and request more urgent attention. 
This time I speak to the police directly.
They ask the same questions, get the same details and give the same assurance: 
"We'll be there as soon as possible"

I'm not confident but I wait and look and hope, all the while keeping an eye on the situation.
I've decided that if it escalates I will physically interevene but so long as nothing changes for the worse I will wait for the police to come and deal with it.

Finally they arrive.
The boy lets her go and she walks away as the police get out of the car.
Two officers.
One speaks to each while I watch and listen.
The older officer talks to the girl and seems pretty competent.
The younger cop talks to the boy and takes a friendly "light-hearted" approach.
I'm not impressed but say nothing.
After a couple of minutes I talk to the older cop and describe the events of the last hour.
He then speaks to the boy and quickly makes a judgement.
"I don't like him, he's a smart arse".

I presume their strategy is "go softly, avoid an arrest, sort it out peacefully, get them on their, separate, ways."

Plan A is for the girl to get on my bus and depart but then the boy says he's gonna get on the bus too and the cops say they can't stop him so they  opt for plan B, they will take the girl in the squad car.

I return to the bus and as I drive away cop some predictable abuse from the boy, now standing on the footpath, on his own. He's not happy but he should be grateful, it could have been a lot worse!

The Giants Won the Superbowl!

I managed to maintain a media blackout, a 5.30 am start at work and an appointment after work in order to watch the Superbowl without knowing the result. And to make it sweeter, the New york Giants won!



 MVP and winning Quarterback, Eli Manning