It has been a frustrating week or two, our satellite dish as you may know died an untimely death. I could say it has gone to that graveyard in the sky where worn out dishes go but it hasn’t. It sits on the roof pointing to the heavens, mocking me with its sturdiness. In the great age of communications it is mute, silent, awaiting the technician who cannot get here. Why? Because Mother Nature in her bounty has lavished us with rain – again, yes flooding rain. Do we need the rain? No, am I cursing its presence as it rushes down our road to the front gate, no? Why? Because we have times when it doesn’t rain for months, the grass dies, our dams dry up. The kangaroos knock on the front door in the heat of the day, begging for a cold can of drink, maybe not that bad though you get my drift. I feel if one curses the rain it sulks and stays away, you can see the dark clouds hanging on the horizon and they sit there aloof, taunting us. Which brings me back to the dish, a bit like the space shuttle really, a part costing a few dollars failed and brought it down. The technician, Dwayne rang this morning he lives up on the range in Toowoomba. It would be clouded in there, cool and wet, he says,
“G’day, raining down there?”
“Yeah mate, yeah bit wet, the creeks are up, paddocks are running like billyo,”
“So, is the roof wet?”
“Yeah mate, every ten minutes it’s pouring down,”
“Can’t work on a wet roof mate, I’m off on holidays, see ya in a fortnight,”
“Thanks mate, see ya then.”
That’s Australia for you, laid back, relaxed. What could I say you can’t change the weather; I don’t like getting on the roof when it’s dry. So I can’t blame a bloke for not wanting to be up there in the rain. Besides I don’t want him slipping off and breaking his neck, we’ve had new concrete laid around the back of the house. So I’m back to operating via my mobile phone. Technology is marvellous, when it works. Who would have dreamt that you could attach a phone to a computer, using it as a modem? I remember getting excited about having a solar-powered calculator. I even had a solar-powered watch when I worked at the jail in the late seventies, probably not a great invention for night shift workers, coal miners or sub-mariners. Being the clown I’d often stand out in the midday sun and hold my wrist up, give it a little charge you know. Back to the rain and one other class of creatures who hate it, ants. We aren’t connected to the electricity grid, our whole house runs off solar power, (there’s a pattern here). When the voltage drops to a certain level in the batteries, especially in wet weather they have to be charged up by the generator. Waiting until the rain eased so I could go and start the generator I went out onto the veranda and picked up the large orange umbrella from where I’d left it, point down in one of my work boots. Being focused, i.e. not watching what I was doing, I raised the umbrella above my head and opened it.
Ants can move a whole nest of eggs overnight, how do I know? Because they were living in my boot and using the umbrella as some sort of mezzanine floor, probably for well off ants that didn’t have to carry eggs. Where did they end up? Yes on my head, the little blighters boiled out of the boot and swarmed over my feet. Go on laugh, I am, kind of. There are still a couple in my shirt I think, which brings me to the point of this preamble: To all my followers and blogs that I follow, it is difficult to load your pages via the phone. Why? Because we have terrible reception where we live, we have to go into the nearest big town to get four bars on the phone. You ought to hear the girly squeals when I’m able to get 4G (for those overseas that’s a bloody good reception). I can download mail and bring my page up, get on FB but find it difficult to operate because of time outs. So, I’m going to put the blog addresses up of the people I follow and you can check each other out. You may even know each other. I haven’t forgotten you all; I can answer your remarks through my blog page. Imagine what it would be like if the internet were taken down? It doesn’t bear thinking about, though there are governments that hate it, even in the free world. I love it; it has brought the world to my door and lovely people who I never would have met.
TRANSITION. For those who came in late, (if you are a Phantom comic fan you would recognise that opening line) some background is needed here. I haven’t placed the series in a, as it happened time frame, that’s too easy. I’m drawing you in to my last job before retirement was forced onto me. We’ll peel back the years and look at when I left the police in 1987. I felt like my life had ended, so much of who I was, me, my deep inner self had been dedicated to being a copper. Leaving was like having my heart ripped out, naturally I did nothing about it from a psychological standpoint. ‘I can do it, I don’t need any help.’ You know how it goes. I did however suffer from severe seizures, not epileptic, what the neurologist called pseudo seizures. He left it that, no further treatment, no advice, nothing. They came on mainly at night or when I lay down through the day to try and relax, the body would stiffen and I would thrash around like a landed salmon. It twisted my bowel, tore muscles, strained tendons. The Doc gave me injections of Valium, they helped a little but who wants to be addicted to it. The only good part, I had a six-pack like you wouldn’t believe from the contortions. The sad part, I was conscious the whole time. They settled down to once or twice a day and I found a new interest, horses.
We bought a small acreage farm, with the original farmhouse on it dating back to the late 1800’s, there were stables and some yards. What enchanted me was the huge Moreton Bay fig tree in the front yard, a haven on a hot day for us and a roost for about every flying creature in the neighbourhood. Back to the horses, my ex-wife had a Connemara pony and I had time on my hands, so I bought a horse and another, then we bought a stallion, naturally. I cannot complain, it gave me purpose, exercise and a reason to get out of bed. I can bore you with tales of horsemanship (snigger) breeding, breaking in although there are some funny stories in there, another day perhaps. After twelve months I felt better and wanted to get back to work and this is where serendipity came to the fore. A friend I had worked with in jail bumped into me in town, after the usual chit-chat he told me about a defence security job on offer. He had walked past the sign out front of the employment bureau minutes before. Long story cut short I got the job, a simple task – stand at a gate; check ID’s open the gate. I was definitely over qualified for it. At that time an investigation into police corruption was in progress, the officer doing the interviews asked,
“Did you leave the police because of the corruption investigation?”
“No but I was worried if they decided to investigate free hamburgers.”
Luckily he had a sense of humour. The job lasted for ten years and in that time I found out I had a new talent, hmm, we’ll leave that for another blog. Ten long years and our gallant group of men were made redundant, an international security/catering provider took over. Of course there were promises of everyone will keep their job, and then the offers of retraining came in. We had to reapply for our jobs and I think I lost mine before the interview. She stood 6 ft 2 inches tall without high heels, a figure that would not look out-of-place in Playboy magazine, lustrous, thick, honey blonde long hair and a face you could only call – classically beautiful. My interview had been booked for 1pm, I turned up five minutes early and waited in my car. She walked up the path from the officer’s mess. No not walked, she glided sinuously, her body barely contained by the red sheath mini dress straining to accommodate her charms. Stopping by the passenger window she leant in, brushed her hair off her face and said in a Russian accent,
“My name is Olga, please walk this way.”
In my defence I have to say that I am a victim of British comedy, Benny Hill being one of my favourites, Carry On movies, Are You Being Served, shows of that ilk. Scrambling out of my car I hurried around and followed. Her bottom reminded me of two possums trying to fight their way out of a pillow case, I replied,
“If I could walk that way I’d be arrested.”
Needless to say I didn’t get to keep my old job. I took on a security officer’s course and when the final payday came in November 98, I started three new jobs. All part-time, shop security, hospital security (a couple of good stories there) and back working in jail, sorry, Corrections. Somebody must have thought jail too hard a term and changed it. Guess how I managed to get that one? I bumped into the same old friend in town one day and he told me they were hiring new officers where he worked. Oh bliss, a real job. He took me in for a look around, something of a meet and greet. This was no ordinary jail, oops correction centre. It came into being after disastrous floods in western Queensland in 1990. Prisoners of all descriptions were taken from Boggo Road jail out to the area and put to work helping with the recovery process. The organisation received good press and after the work had been done a new department was born. Situated a hundred metres from my old jail it looked like an oil-riggers’ camp: demountable portable cabins with two inmates to a room, (not cells anymore Laurie) a series of about fifteen single rooms, an old WW2 barrack room hut which could hold thirty inmates, several buildings for the office workers, management, an office for us and our accommodation. You heard it right, the officers lived in the compound to. The roster ran basically the same as the western camps, a week on a week off. In the week on you were on call 24 hours a day. The week off was great.
They gave me a day’s work to see how I handled the environment on a Monday morning when three camps, consisting of about fifty inmates were being bussed out. Naturally this involved searching them and their belongings. Old bloodhound here sniffed out a lump of compressed marijuana that would have kept its owner happy for a fortnight. The bosses were impressed. I started the week before Christmas 1998, under the proviso that I had taken over from an officer who had retired. After I’d worked two rotations they told me thanks for coming, he’s decided not to retire. Hang on, what’s the go? I had fallen into the modern-day way of running government jobs. Back to being Mall Cop and hospital guard for a month, then a call,
“Err, we would like it very much if you could be our night officer. It’s 10pm-6am and your pay will be the same.”
I thought about it for a Nano second,
“You’re on, when do I start.”
Now I knew how they operated I felt comfortable, no loyalty here just give me the money and wasn’t it good money. I would come into work, do a headcount with the shift supervisor, they would chuff off to bed and I would have the camp and usually a 180 inmates to myself. If I had an emergency I would wake up whoever was on call. Bliss – I had a purpose again, a real job where I could make a difference – continued next week.
Here are three of my friends whose blogs I’d like you to drop in on. If I put more links up WordPress treats it as spam. Cheers, Laurie.