Fishing part 1. I have never been a fisherman, *I love eating them with hot chips* and when one takes the bait and puts up a fight well, isn’t Laurie a happy little fellow. Over time I’ve snagged more of my tender body parts than an acupuncturist and caused more heroic line tangles than I would care to count. The idea of fishing is at heart, a good one. Peace, tranquillity, the feel of being one with nature and the fiendish pleasure of murdering bait worms on a needle sharp hook. Let’s face it they’re going to get us in the end so why not make their lives miserable now? The 2nd Cavalry Regiment had a fishing club consisting of a hardy group of Troopers out for Gropers, sorry I couldn’t resist that one. The hardest part about it all was the trip to Wollongong, south of Sydney. Luckily two members had cars so we put extra money in the hat for fuel and left at 0300 hours.
Do you know why there is an 0 in army time? It stands for o my gawd it’s early. Even the fish weren’t up, note to self: check Wikipedia to see if fish sleep. The club president had organised a fishing trawler for us and it came with everything, all we had to take was the beer. There were huge handlines with cord as thick as washing lines and weights the size of apples. The sun rose reluctantly on a grey, sullen ocean and it did nothing to lighten our mood or the fact that the waves were worthy of a surf carnival. It didn’t bother the trawler Skipper, he had our money. A quick group discussion and we decided what the hell, we had come this far let’s get out and frighten what fish were around. We could still drink beer.
Some club members were from the bush and hadn’t been to sea and watching the waves lifting that trawler up and down made them gulp, a little. I had sailed out to Australia eight years earlier and had been through the Bay of Biscay and the Great Australian Bight, this was a ripple in a bathtub. Living in La Perouse (we’ll get back there a little later) as a ten-year old I went out as often as I could in the whaling boats that local fishermen used. Not to fish, only to get a trip across Botany Bay. We pushed off after struggling with the eskies of beer and ice and sailed out to about three miles off shore. You couldn’t walk without hanging onto the rails, cold sea water sprayed all over you, and when you stared into the bait bucket it looked like a Sushi train wreck. Other than half a dozen blokes spewing over the side the trip was going well.
The wind picked up and whitecaps frothed off the waves that were breaking over the bow, the call went out, “Reel ‘em in boys, we’re going home.” I stood at the stern and began winding in my line. It felt as if the sinker was bouncing off the seabed, then Wham! Naw, it couldn’t be a fish, not me I don’t catch them. The club president saw my struggle and came back to help, I pulled the line in and he wound it up, and there it blew. A huge Sunfish, its silver scales flashed as the pale yellow sun hit it. The trawler picked up speed and the fish bounced off the surface. We hauled it aboard and I nearly burst a blood vessel with excitement. I won’t go into how it had scales the size of dinner plates but it was the biggest one I’ve ever caught. I still had a smile on my face when we arrived back at camp. I took it to the cook house and those that turned up for dinner that night had a rare treat.
2nd Cavalry Regiment emblem.
Something similar to what the hardy seafaring souls of the Regiment went fishing in.
Fishing part 2. Never ever NEVER go fishing when you don’t have clean clothes to change into. Feeling nostalgic I decided on the spur of the moment to take the bus from Kings Cross out to La Perouse for the day. A warm Saturday indeed and I had a hankering to go back to where I had lived for nearly two years. La Perouse is on the northern side of Botany Bay and was discovered by the French explorer who gave his name to the area. Captain Cook also sailed into the bay and landed on the other side at what is now Kurnell and claimed it in the name of the Crown. I digress, we lived on Elaroo Avenue which faced the Bay. A quick walk down to the beach where you could swim to your heart’s content, and then have a look at the remains of the old whaling jetties. Around the point you could go over to Bare Island, once a fortification to repel the Russian threat in the late 1800’s, then in the 60’s it became an old men’s home.
Small boys scoured the island delving into the depths of the fort, annoying old men and generally trying not to fall to their deaths on the rocks below. For those who could the rocks were great places to fish from, for others the bridge connecting it to the mainland sufficed. For some unknown reason I lashed out a couple of dollars and bought a basic fishing kit and some prawns for bait, stood on the bridge and spent an hour or so happily, wait for it – catching a few small fish. Oh the joy. I threw them back and gave my gear over to a small boy fishing with his father.
I had rented a room in the YMCA in the city and brought a change of socks and undies, toiletries and a shirt. My reason for being in town was to see James Bond in, ‘On Her majesty’s Secret Service’ at the movies. Back at my room I showered, changed, spruced up a little and headed off to the picture theatre. Now I can’t be certain but I think this was the Princess Theatre, one swish place. You know the type, marble stairs and balcony’s, three levels, those little box seats around the walls, real posh. I went to my seat on the bottom floor about twelve rows back from the screen. The chairs were plush and comfortable. I settled down and became engrossed in the movie.
Movies had an interval in those days and I didn’t notice the movement around me, nor the faint aroma that wafted about. As the advert for the kiosk languished on the screen and the curtains closed the lights slowly came on. An area of four seats in front, behind and on both sides was empty, no one, nothing. Those on the outer edges stared at me as if I had crawled out of a sewer. After taking a couple of deep breaths I realised why. At first I thought a whale had farted nearby – no it was yours truly. At some stage during my epic fishing adventure I had rubbed my prawn covered hands onto the front of my jeans. Of course sitting in a warm theatre surrounded by hundreds of people the delicate aroma of dead prawn and fish gut seeped amongst the masses. I can still see the horrified look on one woman’s face, a member of the social set she stood gawping at me in her white fur stole, tight shimmery dress and fake jewels, she tried very hard to keep herself together. Believe me I stunk, and like a skunk I slunk out, never to see the end of the movie, at least not at the Princess Theatre.
Ball Lightning. For those who have been following this blog you would be aware of my run ins with lightning. Prior to this event I had been hit twice, the thought crossed my mind that I could be some half-brother to Thor and he was trying to get my attention, not to be. I had to settle for good old lightning conductor. A quiet Saturday afternoon in camp, the unloved, poverty-stricken and just darn ugly stayed in the hut and watched cricket on television. No home comforts here, the screen was tiny so five of us huddled around the owner’s bed on chairs and prepared to be entertained.
Our hut was situated on the edge of the unit, then a road, on the other side of that a park of about eight acres then the canteen. Huge eucalyptus trees were scattered through this swathe of grass and I mean huge, they would have been hundreds of years old. Back in the hut we sat around enthralled when BOOM! A huge explosion, then the air inside the hut crackled and hummed. Above each bed was a small window a foot down from the ceiling, looking up a yellow/white ball of something filled it then popped through and hovered above us. Ursula Andress, undressed could have walked into the hut and she wouldn’t have rated a second look – wellllll – maybe but that big ball had our attention.
It would have been three times the size of a basketball, a dark electric blue in the centre becoming white at the edges. This sucker hovered there for a few seconds, moved slowly over us and shot out of the open door. We fell over each other in our haste to get out and see where it went, whoomph, straight into the tree tops. There it ricocheted from tree to tree, blasting branches on each one. There were leaves, sticks and bark showering around and at a guess I would say that a few koalas may never have suffered from constipation ever again.
A strange experience indeed, the feeling of something intelligent came from it not to be confused with the life forms in the hut. I felt that it was looking at me. We never spoke about it again, so I don’t know if the others felt the same way. A strange, wonderful, frightening experience… Now back to Ursula Andress.
The things young men can be conned into. If by chance any advertising executives are reading this, you may well know the effects of pretty young women on young men. These delightful creatures are used to sell everything from toothpaste to time share resorts. Not a chance of me buying one but back in the day I know that my head could be turned by a comely smile and veiled suggestions. Hang about, I haven’t changed. When you are young, horny and gullible young women only have to suggest something and you trip over your tongue to comply. I’ll call him Jacko, we were out for the weekend and having a coffee near Hyde Park. Two stunners in hot pants and T-shirts approached us and asked if we’d be interested in joining them on a walkathon for charity. Let me say now the charity wasn’t a con, if we paid ex amount of money they would join us on the walk. Nodding like young stags, tongues hanging we forked over our money, five dollars I think. Come on it was for charity.
We weren’t dressed for walking, tight jeans, polo shirts and leather shoes aren’t made for it, they’re the dress of choice for young studs on the prowl. The walk commenced late afternoon somewhere near the park and followed a circuitous route that took us around The Rocks area and along the waterfront. This was no hundred or so people doing a good deed, there were thousands of them and bless their firm young buttocks the girls were there to meet us. Talk about gob smacked. Jacko and I walked together and chatted with them and fell back a little to have a perve then came up close again. This nearness to them, the heady scent of perfume, their giggles and jokes, taut breasts and bottoms had a natural effect on us.
I don’t know the technical term for it, the common term is Blue Balls. The combination of walking, tight pants, ours and theirs, the natural urge to mate all conspired to add to our discomfort. An inordinate amount of blood goes to the area, along with a huge supply of spermatozoa. It hit me first about two miles from the finish, Jacko bless him laughed and pointed out the reason for my discomfort to the girls. Bastard, their natural reaction was a chorus of “Eww,” before they hurried off to the safety of another group. Jacko walked another half a mile before he too fell victim. Testicles throbbing fit to burst we hobbled and winced, pranced and alternately groaned and cried to the finish.
Karma came out on top and Jacko had a testicle slip back up a ways, one of the first aiders gave him an ice pack and some sage advice, “Find the nearest loo and whack off.” I have to add here that he went his own way after that, I don’t know if he took the advice. Although on Monday morning he couldn’t march anywhere. I consoled myself with a couple of scotches, huge amounts of deep breathing and well * some things are personal.*
Next week: Victoria Barracks Guard Duties.