At least I think I am; last week I actually picked up a book to read, with the exception of that small book I bought the other week after reading a blog about it, it’s only 68 pages short and is titled “84, Charing Cross Road”; (note the comma after the number, this is something that I still do, it was how we were taught at school back before and during WWII I wouldn’t have a clue what they do over in England these days) which is a charming little book of the letters between a young American authoress in New York and a bookstore situated at, you guessed it 84, Charing Cross Road, London, W.C.2. from 1949 ’til 1969.
So as you can see my picking up a book to actually bury my head in for a couple of days was a turn up for the books. Naturally I took up a book with which I am very familiar, one that I always relax with and enjoy, I’ve read it so many times I’ve lost count. I sometimes wonder when reading it, if I actually am reading it or just turning the pages and seeing the written words in my minds eye. Or something!
Tomorrow I’m off to see the dietician, Michelle, at the R.P.A. ( I was about to add the H. but my son Nathan Sebastian had the temerity to tell me that I was the only person in Australia to refer to this hospital as the RPAH and I needed to fall into line. Why I don’t know, I have in this instance but whether it will continue is in the lap of the gods and not having heard from Zeus & Co in a while it’s unlikely!) Now I’m fully expecting to be scolded by Michelle for not sticking rigidly to the diet and schedule, however she will undoubtably be pleased that my weight loss stopped and I’m now slowly gaining weight. And I’ll bet a penny to a pound that Nurse Susan will be there so everything will be fine; I hope.
Probably the weather has a lot to do with the way I’m feeling, gone the horrors of a miserable winter this year; we had the worst winter I can ever recall here in New South Wales, and it been so long since I lived in Victoria that I’ve forgotten how cold miserable and lousy winter can actually be. For the past few days the sun has been shining brilliantly and it hasn’t been warm it’s been HOT! Yes indeed, hot up in the 30°’s I do believe it got to 35° a couple of times, and this is early spring, looks like we’re in for a long hot summer.
Hmmm, come to think of it, that might not be so enjoyable for me now, always used to enjoy a nice ice cold beer on a real hot day, but I’ve lost the taste; I tried a beer last Friday whilst cooking dinner and quite enjoyed it but I opened one yesterday and I finished up pouring it down the gurgler! Sacrilegious I know but what was I to do? I just couldn’t drink it. And if anybody is wondering about me having a little tipple don’t worry God in the person of Doctor Sandroussi gave me the okay to have an occasional beer and recommended stout.
Going by the number of draft blogs/posts I’ve got it’s time I either finished what I started, got rid of the lot and start all over again. I’m sure something will happen quite quickly now, the suns shining, my bloods warming and all seems right with the world, and who will be the first clown to note the similarity between snakes, me, blood warming, etc etc etc.
Believe it or not I started this blog on the 29th/30th August and today is? The 24th September; now the trouble is I can’t recall what I was going to write back then, what I do know is that I wasn’t very happy and was at a low point. I’d had this damned pipe/tube with a plug in it, hanging from my adbomen for more than ten weeks and it was due to be removed on the 3rd September but an emergency came up and Doctor Sandroussi had to reschedule my appointment to Tuesday 8th, I suppose I was lucky in one sense, that he could fit me in to his schedule that day, as the next available was at the end of the month.
I was going stark stare raving mad with this tube, as was Kerry who had the unpleasant job everyday of unplugging the spout and pumping the water through, there were times when there was a backsurge and all manner of vile stuff came out and she’d have to start again pumping fresh purified water through; after which she’d plug the spout up to prevent any leakage. Charming. How she did it for more than 70 days is beyond me, made of pretty solid stuff the old … ……; and now she had an addtional 5 days of this exercise.
Tuesday eventually came and my son Nathan Sebastian did the honours and drove me to Camperdown and Dr. Sandroussi’s new rooms. I wasn’t sure what the procedure would entail. I had no idea of how long this tube/pipe was or how it would be removed, all the pipes, and there were many, that were attached to various parts of my innards whilst I was in hospital had just slipped out quite easily before I’d even realized that they were removing them but this last one was attached to me by a wire suture or two so I expected the worse and that I’d go through all sorts of pain and agony and I was determined to bear all this with great dignity and courage.
As all who know me well will attest, my philosophy in life (well one of them) has always been ” It’s better to be a live coward than a dead hero”. How else do you think I’ve survived so long?
The time came and I was greeted by the good doctor and taken to his office; along with a companion who is going to have a seperate special blog regarding this and other events; and after a bit of a chat on the merits of cooking with olive oil v butter and then whisky (Scotch) v whiskey (Bourbon), the doctor asked me how I was feeling and I said fine but hungry and not enjoying what little food I had, he assured me that this would ease. He then got up donned some rubber gloves and he asked to see my abdomen, I’m still sitting comfortably in the chair and my companion spoke and whilst I was speaking to her the stitch was cut the tube removed and I hadn’t felt a thing and didn’t know until I looked around at the doc and he’s standing there with this slimy looking tube dangling between his thumb and forefinger. I must admit it was a bit of an anti-climax. No chance to be stoic. :(
In fact it’s six weeks ago today (Wednesday the 5th August) that I had the total gastrectomy and in the interim I’ve made one post, that was a must do for me; and nothing else.
As for the newspapers, I just couldn’t be bothered, The Sydney Morning Herald once a must read, I haven’t read once, they really couldn’t care less at SMH they’re still taking the money out each month for my subsciption. My subscription to the New York Times expired (not auto renewed) and I notice when glancing at my email inbox mail from them telling me it’s expired and will I please renew. I suppose that’s what they’re asking I haven’t really bothered to read or open most of the mail just hit the delete/trash button and sent the stuff on it’s way.
I haven’t read a book since the 24th June, I did take one book into hospital to read, I read but 7 or 8 pages whilst in there but I haven’t picked it up since, still I console myself with knowing how it finishes as I’d read it many times before, hopefully I’ll get back into reading again soon.
There have been some days when I’ve switched my computer on first thing in the morning as was my normal practice, and then forgotten about it for the rest of the day. There have been a couple of times when I couldn’t be bothered turning it on at all; a first in it must be going on 25 years or more. I forget when I bought my first computer, a Commodore with a 5½” floppy disk drive, and never a day passed that I didn’t have the thing humming away.
Three weeks later…..:roll:
Yes indeed, it was three weeks ago today that I started on this post and wrote the few paragraphs above. I’m not going to pretend that it’s been because I’ve been to busy it’s not; I couldn’t be bothered.
Nothing much has happened in those 21 days altough I did something I never thought possible. I cancelled my Sydney Morning Herald subscription, for those that know me personally when you pick yourselves up from the floor after falling in disbelief let me assure you that it’s true. Why, you may well ask, did I take such a drastic step? Simple; I’ve stopped reading the newspapers, in fact I’ve pretty well stopped reading anything.
So what have I been doing? I’ve been sitting around watching the idiot box and I’m now a fully certifiable idiot. And the stuff I’ve been a’watching? I think it’s known as infotainment/lifestyle, fancy words to cover the vacuous stuff that is paraded before me under the pseudonym of adult entertainment. To make matters worse, I’m enjoying this stuff. I told you I was now certifiable! I admit on occassions switching to the “History” channels but most of the stuff they’re throwing at me I already know about and after yelling abuse at the presenters letting them know in no uncertain terms that half the time they don’t know what they’re talkng about I switch off. Who’s going bonkers now?
I’m assuming that this phase will eventually pass and I shall return to my old loveable obnoxious self in the fullness of time but in the interim I’ll post this load of codswallop so I suggest you keep the salt shaker handy.
Sometime ago, actually a long time ago, back in 1965 or it may have been 1966 I was wandering along William Street in Melbourne just up from Collins Street, (I stand to be corrected on this; that’s of course if my sister recalls that day) with a female workmate who’s name long escapes me when I was addressed by a young woman with a boyfriend. “Hello Brian” said she, or words to that effect, and being ever courtious I returned the greeting, with an apology that her face though familiar I was unable to place her and couldn’t remember her name.
I was then told “I’m your sister Carole!”
For the past forty years I’d venture it’s safe to say that one of the biggest peeves Kerry has had with me is my inability to remember people, names and faces and to connect them up correctly. I know I’ve had this failing and being a conceited sort of bloke have never bothered to correct or even acknowledge it openly.
On the afternoon of Thursday 25th June I was wheeled from the ICU, somewhere in the bowels of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital through a myriad of corridors passageways lifts/elevators over what felt like cattle grids to wind up in what is known as W9W2 at the RPAH. My home from home for the next 18 days and a world of wondrous people. The staff of Ward 9 West 2.
I have no intention of going into the good bad and ugly of my time there; another time perhaps I shall bore you exceedingly with gory details but not for now. This post is a thank you from me and my acknowledgement of amazing people.
But the strangest thing of all happened, I could remember everybody’s name, everybody’s face, a new smiling face would appear and tell me their name and the face and smile and name would stick in my memory doped up as I possibly was and many sounding similar. There were some I saw but once and others for my entire stay. I shall endeavour to acknowledge them all.
One of the first was Sarah when first we met I was told that Sarah did a mean Taylor Swift I asked who is Taylor Swift, I still don’t know I just hope that this Taylor Swift can do a mean Sarah, now that would be something! There was Emelo, and I’d get tongue tied trying to say it, so I called her Emilio which she said was fine and I wouldn’t be the only one to call her that, I think she gets called Melly. And dear little Penelope who didn’t like her name because people called her Penny Lope, so I told her the story of Odysseus and Penelope the Faithful wife which seemed to please her and her chums call her Penny.
There was Shahn and Emma, Lucy and Freya, ‘Lilah and Lyn, gloriouly freckled LeeAnn who I forgave for referring to her mum as ‘Mom’ , Alexis and Anna, Laura and Lyn, Kate and Rosie who came to me in the middle of the night. Cheryl, Michelle and Brittany.
Then there are the young men of 9W2 fine young men and nurses all, How can I forget Steve I called him ‘The Bosun’ he seemed to be there in command of the wheel when the seas got rough, and Callum who shaved my face and made me presentable and stood over me while I took my 20 or so pills and tablets and would brook no nonsense. Anthony and Brendan, and Chan and Lachlan who came and were gone.
Too, the student nurses from ACU, Joanne and Bjorn; poor Joanne was petrified when first she saw me with my 7 or 8 tubes and pipes and whatnot hanging out she ran past me as if I was Boo Radley.
Riding shotgun and wielding his great stockwhip over all this was NUM. He is anything but numb. NUM the Nurse Unit Manager Mark.
Of course there are many more involved in the operation of 9W2, but for this post I just wanted to say thank you to the nursing staff for all the kindness and help during my days and nights with you I hope that I have remembered you all as you so rightly deserve to be remembered my apologies to any I may have missed.
Oh Dear :roll: I forgot Mary!
No I haven’t really, who can ever forget Mary, the first night she took over my care she called me a young whippersnapper; and she wasn’t joking. She accidentally let it slip the year she started working as a nurse, so she was entitled to call me what she did. Two pennyworth of ha’pennies tall she read without glasses and could flip me over without nonsense, she is held in awe by all except we patients; we hold her in fear; no, not really she is an amazing, wonderful lady.
It seems fair enough to say that my life has been split into halfs, 0-40 and 41-80, the first half was all about me and the second all about family, it’s also pretty certain that had I have not come to Sydney in 1974 there would have been no second half; and I’d probably have been dead long ago and who’s fault is it that I’m not? The best friend I ever had and the only person I ever really loved, not that anyone would know it, my wife Kerry who got a mention just a short while back.
Strangely I can never ever recall having told her so, somehow it seems superfluous and not necessary. Seems to me that people who keep telling each other how much they love each other are actually trying to convince themselves that they do or still do. Does that sound supercilious? I don’t really care.
I’d never come across anybody quite like her before or since; she is utterly and completely selfless, which seems to confirm the age old scientific dogma, like poles repel, unlike poles attract. I was nudging 40 when first we met and she was a tiny thing in her middle twenties, and from my first conversation with her I knew that she was what I needed, obviously I was right for once because we’re still together after just on 40 years (reminds me of the old Cockney song ‘Dear Ol Dutch’ , that includes the line “there ain’t a lady livin in the land that I’d swap for me dear ol’ dutch! and starts with the line “We’ve bin togever now fer forte years and it don’t seem a day too much”).
Kerry is the second child of five, she has an elder sister and 3 younger brothers and it was the closeness of Kerry and her siblings and her longtime War Widowed mother that got me, Her father finished the war as a TPI Serviceman (for the non-Australian followers thats. ‘Totally and Permanently Incapacitated’) and died in tragic circumstances still relatively young in 1967, leaving her mother Desma Alice a widow on a TPI War Widows pension.
This in itself forged a bond between the siblings and their mother that is unbreakable.
But it goes even further than this, the same love and respect shared by this family spread to the extended family, and when I say extended believe me it is. Desma, Kerry’s mum, was the second of five sisters born to a Mr.& Mrs Christopher Love and as you would expect they became known as the ‘Love Sisters’ and these five sisters were very close. Kerry’s mother having died in November of 2014 at age 93 left the youngest as the last survivor going on for her 90th,
So once Kerry had accepted the inevitable, namely me, I was gradually introduced to aunts and uncles, cousins, first second and third, they seemed endless and all were close, I’d never experienced anything like it, never a nasty word spoken just delight in each others company.
And how was I introduced? Kerry would usually introduce me to everybody as “my Brian” and quite truthfully I am ^^’ and as such I was readily accepted as one of the family.
We came together quite easily once Kerry had accepted her fate and the commitment was made on both sides. Naturally as I was, as far as I was aware, still married having heard nothing to the contrary in the preceding 12 years so divorce proceedings were put in place. Not knowing any Sydney solicitors (lawyers for the Yanks amongst us, although at times I think solicitors is more apt but I’m not going into the whys of that here) I opted for some bloke in Dee Why.
I’d become quite the Northern Beaches type by now, and naturally he dragged it out as much as he could once ascertaining that I hadn’t been divorced and was therefore still married with a slight increase of more than double his original quoted fee.
As you can imagine Kerry coming from rather a large family immediate and extended was of the Catholic faith, but she was not what you might call strict however she did request that all children born from our upcoming union be baptised/christened in the Catholic faith and be educated in Catholic schools. Though an atheist I readily agreed, I had toyed with the idea of becoming a mick myself many years earlier so it didn’t particularly worry me.
What I wasn’t told though was that it would be me that would be doing all the church going, Kerry marrying outside her faith and marrying a divorced bloke wouldn’t be accepted by the church any longer.
One day in May, Kerry and I and her two youngest brothers David and Ian as our witnesses went across to Circular Quay and to the ‘Registry Office’ and were quietly wed.
Heres just a few pictures, at random, taken over the years
Around 40 hours from now I’ll be toddling along to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital for my meeting with Profeesor Sandroussi and his team who plan to open me up and put me back together again. If all goes well 48 hours from now they’ll be wheeling me into the ICU for a couple of days.
As can be imagined I’ll have much to do tomorrow and I doubt there’ll be time to plod along on my computer therefore I think this is a good time to thank all my fellow bloggers, followers and friends for the good wishes and words of encouragement that they have extended me.
Hopefully I shall be back in a few weeks if all goes well.
Thank you all once again.
Cheers Brian aka lordbeariofbow, (inter alia).:roll:
This time next Wednesday the 24th June the total gastrectomy operation should hopefully be over; it will take approximately 4½ – 5 hours after which I shall be shuffled off to the ICU or Wollongong University.
Last Monday I had to attend the ‘Royal Prince Alfred’s Pre-admission Unit’ for a final briefing on what will happen next Wednesday and beyond. This briefing was not brief, it lasted for more than 5½ hours, Kerry and I arrived there at 13.15 and departed at 17.50. The Pre-ad Unit was packed to the rafters when we arrived but I was the penultimate patient to leave.
In total I was interviewed, examined, X-rayed had two lots of blood taken and received my instructions from seven or it may have been eight different people. I can’t complain and I must say that the amazing staff at the RPAH are nothing if not thorough.
The biggest briefing I received was from Professor Sandroussi’s senior RN Susan M. who’s full designation is ‘Upper Gastrointestinal Care Coordinator’ and will be in charge of me during my stay, except for the 1 or 2 days when I shall be in the ICU.
During her briefing Nurse Susan went through the whole gory lot of what was to happen during and after, at times like this I’m glad I’m very hard of hearing, as I don’t particular enjoy listening to such stuff. That’s why I have Kerry along to handle that side of the business she has the stomach for such stuff I don’t have the stomach for it now and I certainly wont have one after. She explained how I’d have one tube shoved up though my nose down into where my stomach used to be and the pseudo (my word not hers) stomach will now be; this is to feed me fluids for 10 -14 days.
She explained that I’d probably have unimaginable pain for sometime and that there will be another tube with a button on it which I can press if the pain gets too unbearable which will release a small dose of morphine which will act quickly to numb it, this will last for a few days but gradually of course the pain will lessen, which is far better as far as I’m concerned than the alternative where the pain gets worse and I’d finish up dying a grisly death.
Also I’m going to have another tube hanging from somewhere else so that should I have any problems in the first 2 or 3 months they can whisk me off to hospital and use it for something or other I didn’t catch what and frankly I don’t care I’m just happy leaving it up to them.They know what they are doing and I have absolute confidence in them.
The anæsthetist also spent some time with me after I’d had a 15-20 minute session with his nurse. Another type of nurse,forget what she was designated as, decided to take my blood pressure, I guessed it to be 137 over whatever, they’re happy with 140 over w.e and I was way out, 129 over w.e. which seemed to please her, she thought it was going to be way up for some reason.
Anyway plenty of extra blood has been ordered just in case I need it during the op and all systems are now go except I have to check with them again Friday and confirm that I’m going ahead and not chickening out and again on Tuesday afternoon when they will give me my instructions regarding fasting, I was going to say last supper but I didn’t want anybody to think I’d seen the dark, and what time to present at the hospital.
All in all it’s getting quite exciting and I’ve been reliably informed that my dear friend Ira has got a direct line to you know who, so all will be well.
This was originally posted in October 2013 and somehow it disappeared so here is a reprise
Yesterday evening I happened to be watching TV, a program named Command Centre and the War office told me that there was a movie on later that might interest me: U571.
Now normally movies about naval events of WWII are of interest to me so I decided to have a look in. It took me all of ten minutes to realize that this movie was a load of rubbish. Or worse.
As per usual it is American propaganda about how they won the war without any help thereby saving the free world from, in this case Nazi tyranny!
To say this movie is a pack of lies is being overly generous; obviously produced to remind and make the citizens of the good ol’ US of A feel good about themselves and proud of their armed services hero’s; for are not all servicemen & women considered as such once donning the uniform.
From what I could see and gathered from my ten minutes of viewing, the US Navy were going to send one of their submarines to capture the Nazi’s ‘Enigma’ machine. This movie is set in 1942, 6 months after Pearl Harbor was attacked.
For those unfamiliar with the Enigma’ machine it was a brilliant coding machine used by the German Navy to transmit messages to and from their vessels especially the U-Boats (Unterseeboot = Undersea boat).
The British for all their brilliance in decoding at Bletchley Park were unable to crack the Germans code The only hope was for them to capture an Enigma’. from the Germans.
This they did quite successfully in 1941, the 9th May 1941 to be exact (which just happens to be one year before the Yanks decided that they’d go and get their own) when a Royal Navy Corvette the HMS Aubretia located the U-110 with ASDIC the forerunner to Sonar; the ‘Aubretia’ in company with HMS Broadway attacked with their depth charges and severely damaged U-110 so much so that the boat surfaced and the boats crew were given the order to abandon ship. Which technically speaking is incorrect as a submarine is not a ship but a boat, that’s not being pedantic that’s being accurate!
However, the sub didn’t sink as expected, the Captain of the sub tried swimming back to his command so that he could scuttle her but never made it. He was either shot by the British or drowned.
Anyway a boarding party from HMS Bulldog that had come to join in the fun was sent aboard and to their delight managed to get not only the “Enigma” machine but also the German code books.
HMS BULLDOG & U110
From then on once the machine and books were at Bletchley Park ; England was able to decode all radio transmissions from the German Naval HQ (who had no idea that the English had captured all these goodies) and whilst the Germans went merrily on their way sending messages to their subs, the RN knew every step they were taking.
In January of 1942 a month after the US was forced into the war the British advised President Roosevelt that they had this machine.
So now we have some idiotic Yanks in Hollywood deciding that they’d change the true course of history. Why do they do this? Surely they know that many, if not most American have no idea what goes on outside of the United States; many would be hard pressed to know what goes on outside their own state I imagine. Is it just to build up self esteem? To make them look good in their own eyes? You really have to wonder what makes these Hollywood types tick!
Needless to say I didn’t watch anymore of the movie once the penny dropped; why insult my intelligence?
But just for the information of any of my American chums who may read this diatribe; there was a ‘U-571′ and she was sunk by the crew of anRAAF (the Royal Australian Air Force) Sunderland of 461 Squadron on the 28th January 1944 two days after we celebrated Australia Day. What a nice birthday present. :)
(The photograph is of HMS Bulldog and the abandoned U-Boat U 110 taken on the 9th May 1941 courtesy Wikipedia)
Today I start the countdown for my appointment with the surgeon tomorrow forthnight Wednesday the 24th June.
Tonight I take some of my pills for what may well be the last time; also I shall be having my last beer, or two, for what may be the last time. I have to give up some pills and lay off the booze between tomorrow morning and the operation. Easy giving up the pills.
Everybody seems relaxed, confident and comfortable, obviously certain that I will pull through without any problems, (except I’ll be missing a stomach) as preperations seem to be underway for the celebration of our daughter Emma’s birthday in which I’m included.
Now for some reason Emma’s birthday is always remembered and celebrated with familial dedication, I think perhaps our Emma enjoys them more then anybody else. Her best celebration was of course her 30th. A special time and a special birthday had to be celebrated in a special place and naturally that was New York. Emma and her husband Luke are enraptured with that wonderful town where the Bronx is up and the Batterys down so all the immediate family had to be there. We also took in parts of Hawai’i, California, Las Vegas on the way over.
The birthday lunch was held at the restaurant which featured quite often in some TV series called “Sex and the City” as per Emma’s wishes,
we also took in a ball game (we’re all Baseball fans) at the old Yankee Stadium, they beat the Red Sox and an Independance Day concert at the Lincoln Centre ( I suppose they spell it Center), then off to Boston and then home via Hawai’i once again, where I got arrested by Hawai’i 50. So all in all a very big birthday celebration. This years will be quite subdued.
Now I seem to be causing some problem with the celebration as I might well still be hospitalized. I’ve been reliably advised by Professor Sandroussi that I shall be in hospital for between 10 and 14 days after the operation and then will need 12 weeks or more convalescing. The ops on the 24th June and the birthdays on the 6th July, so I’m supposed to be good to go 12 days after I have my stomach chopped out. I think they’re forgetting that I’m toting around an 80 year old carcass, and it is quite possibly on the cards that is what I will be; a carcass on the 6th July! :twisted:
I must admit that I’ve been getting abnormally tired these past few weeks and whether I pull through or succumb to the surgery is anybody’s guess, I’ll just be glad to get it over with one way or the other.
Only thing that really worries me is my dog. Coco, I know he’ll miss me.
There are those who prefer to know what’s going on via my posts than by email, even though I Bcc the stuff I send out; kind of keeps it personal, so here’s a cut and paste of an email I sent this morning to my sister who had requested an update:
I spent a couple of hours yesterday with doctors and hospital staff making final arrangements to have my gastrectomy, don’t know what sounds worse, that or having my stomach chopped out, or as my chum/buddy ej is wont to say ” gutted” but it’s all happening on the morning of 24th June.
Professor Sandroussi who is going to chop me open says that everything is fine with my heart and he will go ahead; so he went over the whole procedure again then sent me along to see Prof. Kilian the heart specialist for his final approval.
Prof. Kilian gave me a quick check my BP was 135 over something or other which seemed to please him no end and before we left told me that I was fine and to come back and see him in 12 months time for another check up, he was serious and he made the appointment with his secretary and sure enough I have an appointment for 12 months hence.
The doctors and staff in fact everybody at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital are so damned efficient and confident that they are quite frightening, how can I not be anything but relaxed and not bothered by the whole business. Actually I’m quite looking forward to the op. better than the alternative.
On the 15th I have to spend 3 or 4 hours going through some tests just to make sure that on the 24th there will be no hiccups.
Prof Sandroussi says I will be in hospital for between 10 and 14 days, and for 2 months thereafter I’m going to have some sort of tube or something poking out of where my stomach used to be so that if I start to have trouble feeding then they can start feeding me through this tube thingy, all sounds gruesome. He tells me I’m going to lose up to 20% of my weight which is pretty good I shall be a lithe 65-66 kg, I shall have to get a new wardrobe.
I’m waiting for Kerry to suggest a week or two in Hawai’i to finish recuperating, it’s going to be winter here and I think I might need the sunshine and warmth of Waikiki,
In the penultimate paragraph of my previous post I mentioned what actually amounted to an ultimatum. I’d been unable to resist the temptation in giving Kerry a big hug with a big kiss to go with it after hearing “The Sorry Tale Of A Poor Bus Driver”, even now some 40 years on it I feel a great deal of merriment whenever I stop and remember that morning, but an ultimatum I was surely given.
If I wanted to get familiar I’d better get rid of the beard!
This did put me in rather a dilemma; I’d sported the beard for some 7 or 8 years and I really liked it; it kind of hid my moonface and I still believe suited me, so what to do. I mulled it over for some hours, literally. Kerry and I had arranged to meet when she finished work and go for a couple of drinks at our new watering hole, we were to meet down at the Quay near Cadmans Cottage behind the Museum of Contemporary Art. So sometime during the afternoon I bit the bullet; sort of, taking my trusty blade I committed what to me then was the ultimate sacrifice, sort of!
At the appointed time I was at the rendezvous point, I watched for her coming and once I espied her I turned my back and made like I didn’t know she was coming, at the right moment I turned smiling broadly so to speak and Kerry uttered those three magical words, “get it off!”. I’d shaved the beard but left the moustache. I thought it was hilarious but for some reason or other she didn’t agree. I must admit I did look rather stupid with this great handlebar type moustache, it went well with my beard but looked ridiculous I knew that and knew it would have to go, I just had to make a last stand, like General Custer who sported something similar.
It was quite obvious that Kerry was a bit wary or perhaps ambivalent toward me, these were the good ol’ days before mobile/cell phones and she was reluctant to give me her home phone number or even her address. so deperate times call for desperate measures. I’d been upfront and honest with her from the beginning, letting her know that I’d been married and that the marriage had busted up more than 10-12 years previous and I had not seen or had anything to do with my wife in all that time.
Also I had no idea whether or not I’d been divorced so I suppose she had every reason to be cautious, so I resorted to devious means to get the info. Kerry’s aunt, Jean, happened to be the Company Secretary of the company that Kerry worked for, and not only was Jean very close to Kerry she was also very close to Margaret, Joe Hutchins, the publicans wife. They were both dedicated “left footers” and regularly prayed together along with a group of sisters who I seem to recall were some sort of distant relatives, anyway as I’d said in my previous post I got on well with Margaret, so one evening after I’d said bye bye to Kerry and seen her on her way I joined Margaret in her private living room at the Orient where she liked to play her grand piano and I’d be her only audience, Joe’d be down in his cellar messing about with his chemicals producing god knows what and I asked Margaret to get Kerry’s address from her good friend Jean. At first she was horrified she seemed to believe that as I’d been married before I couldn’t set my sights on somebody else, especially the niece of her good friend and a catholic to boot.
However, I managed to assure her my intentions were strictly honourable and that I’d like to send Kerry some flowers for showing me some kindness or something along those lines, the flower part is true though. But I also knew that if I had her address I could quite easily find her telephone number through the ‘phone directory, and I knew that Margaret was too trusting to doubt my sincerity, silly woman. :twisted:
Shortly after I stopped writing this ‘Blog’ I received a text message from my wife who having read my previous post; actually the one before last if you consider the last one a serious ‘Blog’, and I’ve been mulling over it ever since. You’ll notice by the date on it that I received this text message a few days ago. I have tried to work out the message as a vocal message. trying to ascertain was it sent with an implied warning? was it in anger? It really doesn’t sound like a gentle request usually gentle request have a smiley, so I think I can rule that out. It doesn’t quite have ‘write at your peril’ attached to it so I have decided not to write anymore about Kerry, well not directly at least. Naturally if I happen to write anything concerning me over the last 40 years she must get a mention here and there as she has been there with me the whole time and it is therefore completely unavoidable.
Half a lifetime ago, well in my case it is, I arrived in Sydney, why I really didn’t know or care I was the ‘Peripatetic Pom Personified’; after being transferred from Shay Gap in W.A. to Nhulumby on the Gove Peninsular, Northern Territory by Poone Bros. tossing the job in, in pure disgust and moving over to Darwin, I got a bit bored and decided to start travelling again. I took a flight from Darwin to Mt Isa, took one look at the place and booked a sleeping berth ( apparently Queensland Rail have discontinued the sleeper service as from 2014 , the carriages were too old; probably the same ones they had when I made the trip) on the “Inlander to Townsville. I’d had enough of mining towns at this stage.
Forty years ago Queensland was still in the 19th century under the guidance of one Johannes “Joh” Bjelke-Petersen who was possibly one of Australia’s most dubious, I was going to say corrupt politicians which didn’t stop him awarding himself a KCMG (as Bernard put it in “Yes Minister” ‘Kindly Call Me God’ a political knighthood dished out in Great Britain to senior Public Servants) and becoming Sir Joh. so the 977 km overnight trip wasn’t the greatest experience. Passengers were allowed 2 cans of beer, purchased on board with their meal. Hard liquor and wine was not available. Anyway when the train pulled into Chartres Towers I slipped into the bar had a shot and bought a half bottle of whisky to keep me going through the night, which I managed to sneak on board.
The trip took quite a bit longer than normal as it was towards the end of the “Wet” season and the line had been washed out and temporary repairs whatever had been effected to keep the trains rolling but at much reduced speed. I didn’t care I had my sleeper and my sneaky bottle to keep me warm. :D
I didn’t stay long I decided to head south by bus, I prefer trains to buses but with buses it was easier to hop off if any place took my fancy; but none of them did and before I knew it I’d lobbed into Sydney, and I’ve been here ever since. At the time I only had the intention of meeting up with my brother probably finishing up with a fight, and moving on with Perth WA sort of calling me home.
What happened you may well ask, well I was having a very relaxed irresponsible time in ‘The Rocks’ area of Sydney that time started to get a way from me, I was moving here and there amongst all the pubs in ‘The Rocks’ thirteen of them at the time, working in a few of them without any responsibility, in truth I was having a great old-time. Self indulgent to the ‘nth degree!
I can’t recall exactly when it happened, I know where. It was when I was back working for Joe Hutchins at his Orient Hotel, I’d had a couple of stints with Joe, we’d finish up having a blue and I’d go work in one of the other pubs; for a while. I was living at the Orient, and got on well with Joe’s wife Margaret so I suppose that’s why he didn’t tell me to move out of his place.
Back then I was a right-wing Nutter, believed in private enterprise, and capitalism, Joe on the other hand was a left-wing Nutter. Being an arrogant sort of bloke I knew I was right and he was wrong and we’d argue and fight and I’d leave and go work for someone else then come on back; it took a few more years for me to realize that Joe was right all along, pity is he died before I could tell him. But being a good solid Catholic I’m sure he’s sitting on a cloud somewhere smirking.
Good solid Catholic? Joe was an industrial chemist by trade/profession and he knew exactly what went into the beer he served at the Orient, so each week he’d make a full kilderkin of his own brew and slip it into a bank, nobody knew the difference. Cost him just a few dollars to make it. There was no tax and he made a nice old cop on 36 gallons of home brew every two weeks. As I said he was a good Catholic. :D
It was while I was working that I noticed this little tiny blonde girl/woman, she’d come in very rarely with I suppose a couple of people she worked with, sometimes with a “Bull’ ; a detective from over in Philip Street; cops always stick out like a sore thumb in a pub! She wasn’t much of a drinker she’d sit on a half Scotch ice and water, she was there for the chat, she obviously liked talking with men, well I suppose she did as I never saw her with any females.
Sometime in ’75 it must have been the building where she worked, which happened to be attached to the Orient had some problems with the lavatories/toilets/bathrooms ( which covers everybody) so the arrangement was made for the staff to come use the facilities in the pub, whilst theirs were being renovated. I might point out here that all these buildings are pretty old most going back to the 19th century.
At this time besides working Joe’s bar I was also working in the hotels kitchen with his chef, a fair dinkum chef, George, he was Greek/Australian but mostly Greek and he was a great cook and that’s why I went to work under him. He’d been a chef at the Summit Restaurant at Australia Square but had left in disgust when a change of management insisted that he re-use food that had been left over on the plates of earlier diners. I learned a lot from George.
Now very rarely this young blonde would come in for lunch, and I’d be eyeing her off, actually I was somewhat bewitched, which greatly amused George, and he’d always let me know when she was coming into the pub to use the aforementioned facilities, “hey hey here come da girlfriend” and he’d find it amusing for some reason, the women in 75 were wearing these shoes that made a helluva lot of noise and he’d recognize the sound of hers.
I’d said the occasional g’day to her but I don’t think she took much notice of me, at that time I sported what I considered a great beard. Not a full beard, very similar to one sported by Edward S Curtis and I was extremely proud of mine, and kept it neat at all times, much good it was to do me. :(
It took a while but eventually she came round and started chatting and then it developed into the casual drink now and then, always a half Scotch ice and water, (might just have well been drinking tap water) and we became quite friendly, so much so in fact that we’d meet away from the Orient and the prying eyes, everybody knew everybody and took a keen interest in everybody elses business, the word nosey comes to mind. We would walk on down to the Metropolitan on the corner of Bridge and George Streets, and take up the corner window on the first floor, (second floor to the Yanks who class the ground floor as the first floor) and we could enjoy a good chat.
On reflection I know that this is the period in my life when I’d gone the 360º and was turning 180º to Port.
George naturally enough left the Orient and went on to bigger better things, he was wasted there, and Joe asked me if I wanted to take over the kitchen and I thought why not, I’d learned a lot working with George and naturally being full of myself I said no worries. So I became the new cook for the pub, And the beauty of it? We only served lunch. :P
We were obviously now enjoying each others company but we were not exactly dating or romatically linked so much so that when she arrived early for work she changed her normal practice slightly. The norm was to buy a coffee and an iced finger bun from Mary’s sandwich shop which was next to Phillips Foot which was her breakfast after more than an hours bus ride down from Dee Why/Narraweena (up on the Northern Beaches which at the time I knew precious little about) which she would eat once in the office. Instead she would drop by and I’d let her in through the backdoor of the pub and she would join me in my kitchen eat her bun drink her coffee chat and generally check on what I was preparing for the lunchtime mob.
It’s fair to say that by this time I was completely bewitched not somewhat, although I wasn’t getting much encouragement.
Most mornings after alighting from her bus at the Wynyard Bus Terminal she’d slip through the Menzies Arcade and hop on a West Circular Quay bus down to the Argyle/George Street corner which saved a good ten/fifteen minutes walk and one morning she was a bit late and when she did arrive there was steam streaming from the top of her head and fire blazing in the eyes and I though uh oh what have I done but it wasn’t me or my doing it was the bus drivers..
Back in the 70’s the bus service along George Street Sydney down to The Rocks was generally referred to as the ‘Banana Service’ the buses always came along in bunches there’d be 3,4 or 5 at a time all pretty well empty all coming down to The Rocks, some to East some to West Circular Quay, and this morning she happened to be the only passenger on the West Circular Quay bus.
The driver decided that he’d give the West a miss that morning and go straight around to the East which was the main terminus and finish his shift.
His problem was he hadn’t reckoned on the little blonde woman sitting without a doubt in the very middle of the very rear seat, possible having a quiet final puff on a cigarette. He announced “End of the road’ everybody out or whatever it is they do and say; but this little blonde woman just sat there. “End of the line lady’ says the bus driver.
“This is a West Circular Quay bus, I paid my fare to West Circular Quay and I will get off when I get there” or words to that effect. “Come on lady says he it’s just a nice walk across the Quay” (which it normally is) “and I’m finishing my shift”; “I paid to go to West Circular Quay and that’s where I want to go”; this apparently went on for a few minutes the bus driver trying to cajole her into taking a nice stroll and she steadfastly refusing insisting on being driven to her correct destination.
What was left for the, I suppose by now dishevelled, bus driver to do? He climbed back into his seat turned the bus around and drove the young lady the 2 or 3 hundred metres across to West Circular Quay and deposited her at her desired stop, I have no doubt she thanked him gracefully.
So back to the blazing eyes and steam pouring from the top of her head as she related the full story; what could I do? I laughed myself silly and grabbed her gave her a big hug and planted a big kiss full on her mouth, and believe it or not we’d wandered into my pantry when this occurred. What else could I do, it was delicious, ridiculous, hilarious and it was at that moment that I knew I’d met the right woman for me.
She admonished me and told me that if I ever wanted to try that trick again I’d better get rid of the beard, she couldn’t stand beards. After the poor bus driver who was I to argue!
The little tiny blonde? Her name was Kerry Clark, it got changed a bit later to Kerry Smith.
With the US election for a new president underway and a few billion dollars wasted and poured down the drain before said election on the 1st or will it be the 8th November 2016, I have an idea that there is some ancient reason for it to be held on the 8th next time around, farmers getting crops in and having trouble travelling to the polling sites in time or some such reason, anyway I thought I’d give this little rant an airing now just in case I wont be around to see a woman try to take “The White House”.