Back when I was in sole charge of a large manufacturing plant south of Brisbane I enjoyed relative autonomy. The site was large, 40 acres, with a large plant building at the rear of the site, and up front near the main road an office amenity built into a converted house. 

When the new Group Manager for Queensland moved into the office, there wasn’t much change. I didn’t report to him, they were our site tenants really; we were pleased to accommodate them.   

“I’m Eric and I want to see you up here in my office.” 

Of course I thought I’d love to meet him, having not done so. 

“I want to know why the gardener up here is wasting water hosing down the front entrance of this office with a half in hose. And besides that, there’s lantana growing up through the soffit of the outside veranda.  

“Mmhh” I thought serious matters for a General Manager and a State Operations Manager to discuss. 

I’d heard that Eric was a cost cutter and had already cut the morning and afternoon teas budget for the front office dramatically. Of particular concern to staff was the elimination of chocolate biscuits, plain and no name brands now predominated. 

“Ok, I’ll be right up,” I said. 

As I wandered through the leafy glade to the left of the main entrance roadway I waved to the waiting truck drivers. Sure enough Eric had come out of the office and was berating the gardener Frankie.  Frankie looked perplexed. His English wasn’t that good, good enough though to have served faithfully for thirty years.  He’d retired from working in the plant several years before and his pride and joy in his retirement for the past few years was maintaining the grounds. They looked like a garden. 

“Me I use the tree hose huh” I overheard him saying. “But it not sqwerta  da leafs right away propa,” I caught the twinkle in Frankie’s eye as I mounted the two steps to the entrance. 

Eric stood there, legs spread arms akimbo. The stance of a General Manager, of intellectual greatness and short man stature syndrome.  

” Well what you gotta say about all this waste of water”, he railed at me, not allowing a word in between the drenching flow. 

“I’m appalled you’d allow this much waste of precious costly drinking water on a garden, let alone to clean pathways!” 

I too was appalled; hadn’t Frank been told to use the ½” hose and not the ¾” tree hose to do the pathways. He’d get more pressure for blasting and his squirt would be more impressive. I’m sure this was what he was trying to convey to Eric in his broken English. 

None of this made much sense to Frank really, not I when I thought about it.  

“Well what are you going to do about it?” Eric snarled, in a lowered tone which managed to convey both threat and superiority. 

I wondered. A modern-day dilemma. Sustainability was a few years away as a societal concern but being in the presence of the runner up to University of Queensland Prize Winner helped quiet my fears. I’d heard Eric expound in different fora how Ken, the State Accountant had been the Prize Winner in their graduation year, but that Eric was the General Manager and therefore Ken’s boss. 

“Mmhh”, I thought, so every dog has its day was the learning I’d gleaned from Eric’s gloating over Ken. 

“Perhaps use a 3/8″ and not ¾” hose”, I muttered. 

“That won’t save any water worth saving! Look at the pressure its pouring out at, and you’re an engineer, aren’t you?” 

I thought about that. Perhaps I was and was this the right time to tell him that the reason for such a high pressure was because we were pumping garden water for the site from the adjacent creek. 

“It’s water from Stable Swamp Creek, over there. My guess it’ll be back there within a day or two.” 

I could hear Frank chuckle as I turned and walked away. 

The freshness of the air was just that little clearer from the dew spray on the path. 



Yesterday was Frursday, or is it Thriday? The completion of four days at paid work starting on Monday ending on Frursday. It’s a day in search of a name. Like George’s FESTIVUS in Seinfeld New traditions and descriptions are needed to capture the happiness such days can bring, without having to subscribe to the basic religious underlay. Heightened or lowered false expectations should be celebrated at these festivals. Like Festivus, it should be for everyone. A joyous Frursday to everyone!
Frursday, is a day when the traditional Thursday payday can morph into Friday weekend thinking. But unlike Festivus, an annual celebration of indeterminate date, Frursday is fixed, always celebrated twixt Wednesday and Saturday each week. Some wags even suggest that it’s a 48 hour day, but like the gay marriage debate, I think that’s a bridge too far.
On Frursday there’s a similar traditional wind down for the coming three days of reflection. But why call it a weekend! Monday, Tuesday Wednesday Frursday aren’t a week. They’re really a fourday, a quartet of days. Let’s call them quardays, so that a quarend can follow the quardays.
In Aussie slang Friday is affectionately known as POETS day, Piss Off Early Tommorow’s Saturday, a day of pre -noon noon meetings to allow the easing into the weekend to proceed graciously and unhindered. This gliding off into the weekend is made easier in some places with team wrap ups and coffee filled discussions of weekend plans. Having just proposed the new quardays and quarend, we’ll leave it to others to work out some slang to describe Frursday in relation to the quarend. Early suggestions would be that the word should be ironic, and convey a sense of the easing into a different way of being. POETS day connotes release from the week/work days, a day of disjuncture from the rest of the week. Frusday however is a softer easing. Work through the quardays is more measured and purposeful such that there is no sense of relief that the weekend is coming and the batteries can be recharged. There’s no need, the batteries aren’t drained!
So on with the naming!
Go on give it a go.
You know you wanna!

Philip Island Lady – Tasmania

Walking to the bin I felt the holiday through the stones in my soles. Gingerly I approached the high level dump bin. The task of taking out the rubbish looses urgency, here on holidays. I folded the crumpled, six pack outer over and over. Sauntering slowly, makes me feel on holidays. It’s the undulating unevenness of the ground, the retained warmth of the dirt, the clouds of dust raised as I walk, I could be anywhere.
I choose to be here.
On the slatted wooden decks of the cabins and other tin caravans, the noise of holidays resounds. Sounds which at home would cause annoyance, a sense of interruption are here the sound of families being families. Walls seemingly thinner than paper, tents flapping and billowing in the onshore breeze, all say holiday.
Without my rubber thongs I can feel my sole/soul. I step lightly from foot to foot, its mincingly indirect. The bins become a meeting place.
‘G’day, where ya from?’
It’s an age old question and here everyone is from somewhere else.
‘Well Geelong actually’
‘Shit! that’s a long way to come round’ she squints at me. ‘Did you come by the fairy?’
I think it’s the fairy cause that’s what it sounds like, the first vowel drawn through a sieve.
‘No came round the bay, it’s longer but the ferry costs an arm and a leg, especially when they charge for the passengers too. They don’t miss ya, do they?’
‘Yeah, right,’ she says, ‘We’re from up in the big smoke, Preston, d’ya know it? We come here every year’
And with that she lifted her stretching straining plastic bags over the edge and let them drop into the bin.
A large swarm of flies rose angrily in uninvited disturbance and waited for the air to settle a little before diving back into the darkness of bin’s interior.
‘Yes, matter of fact I lived there from when I was first born. It’s changed a lot I guess by now’
“There’s not much there now of the house in which I first lived. I knew little of it then and recall less now. It’s a place built from the words of my Mum.”
“What d’ya mean”, she cocked her head at an angle before I went on.
“Well it’s preserved in a few grainy photos, of me in a toddler’s woollen bathing suit, and my skin remembers that. The feel of the soft prickling, perhaps even its wetness though I can’t recall its colour”
“What did you think it was?” she asked.
“Well maybe green and it had a duck sewn into its bib front I think, but maybe the duck flew into my mind from the somewhere else?”
I stood there, the dappled sun playing tricks with the light, the sun rising over the cabins promised a hot and lazy beach day.
“So where was it you lived then?’ she went on
“High Street just down from the corner of Bell St, 286 I seem to recall, but then we moved to Clifton Hill.” I replied, my mind wandering to the days of my childhood.
“I’ve been back there several times and the house has gone, demolished I think”
“Oh” she replied, “Yes they widened Bell Street so many times it’s almost a freeway. Me Mum says it was a real community back then” her voice trailing off as her recently deceased Mum came to mind.
“ So did your Mum live around there then?’ I enquired. It seemed ok to continue I thought.
“ Well not far from there, the folk always lived up that way and when the men came back from the war they took up again where they could get a place mostly with friends or relo’s’
I wondered about those times, the hope of the fifties and new beginnings, the baby boom era.
“My Dad worked making radio’s for the army in South Melbourne” I said with some pride. Though I only knew of it by what I’d been told by Dad, he gold plated soldered joints to beat the corrosive jungle heat in filed radio making.
We looked at each other for a brief moment. Something about sharing time and places draws a bond between people. Our separate experiences, our story, come from within. Like cassettes conveniently packaged to be trotted out when appropriate, or worse when not appropriate.
She shifted on her thongs, the sand swishing slightly as she prodded it round.
“So you …. um ..Chinese?” she unsteadily stuttered.
I looked back. The tautness in her wrinkled throat showed the strain she felt at asking that which she couldn’t suppress.
“Yeah born here too” I said “We moved from Preston to live in my grandma’s house at Clifton Hill”
“Oh, ok,’ I replied. In fact for me it was more than ok. Carefree days compared with my current state of life.
‘What was it like there then?’ she asked. Preston being slightly more middle class back then than the deeply working class Clifton Hill.
“Today it’d be called multicultural but we ching chongs along with the wogs and refo’s. Wasn’t the yuppied up place it is now. It was very working class.”
She looked at the kids playing at the tap at the end of the shower block. Ready for the day they had already been up for hours. Now mucking up with camp water they were enjoying the time before the sun dried up their first morning burst of energy.
“Well, best get back and see to brekky, I guess” she said,
‘Nice meeting you” she said as she turned to leave.
“Yes you too” I said, “Maybe we’ll bump into each other again, I’m sure the kids will”
“Yeah, it’s a great place to make new friends, see you later”
I threw my garbage into the bin too; the flies were annoyed again and rose as one into the sunlight in a swirling pack
And she turned towards her tent, walking into the slight breeze rustling her skirt.
The flies though resettled, on the new garbage.



Lost means Lost

Lost means lost. As in gone somewhere whose location is unknown. For example cell numbers are lost when the sim on which phone numbers are stored is lost or damaged.

However, I’ve recently been able to inoculate myself from the worst fears and anxiety of loss. I’ve reduced my having recently been self-diagnosed as CPP. CPP sufferers only store the numbers of those who they definitely want to call back. Folk who I may call back sometime later are not stored. If you don’t come up in my cell phone book, you don’t exist.

Ah CPP, sorry it’s an acronym and a diagnosis. This diagnosis is yet to be found in the literature. I am burdened with severe, in fact chronic and acute CPP, Cellular Phone Phobia. The anxiety of the phobia is with me relentlessly, relieved somewhat when I am out of earshot of my own phone. However, I suffer a variety and intensity of negative symptoms. These symptoms become florid when in the presence of uncouth cellular phone usage. The symptoms are outrageous, pompous and lecturing outbursts of indignity much like Tourette’s. However, in Tourette’s the ticing is involuntary, in CPP it is not. CPP sufferers know full well what they are saying, but in their own way seek to change the world. Several cures may have been attempted though not yet clinically proven through double blinded trials. Too few sufferers are so far identified making government or raising crowd funding for research difficult. There is a hidden population of uncelebrated and undiagnosed victims of CPP, who like paedophiles, vegans, priests, old folk, cat haters, sexuals (not to be confused with trans, gays, [ both male, bi and female ], bi, intersex, queer+), claimants to aboriginality and other marginalized groups have not ‘come out’………. yet. Perhaps I’m the first?

However, for CPP victims, recent trials have shown that the severe symptoms of distress from personal cell use are immediately relieved by cell hydrogenation, the cell’s immersion in H2O. Further trials on water temperature, turbidity, stagnancy, salinity, brackishness and opacity are planned. A fruitful way ahead may be indicated from the increasing body of anecdotal evidence accumulating from those who have dropped their cell in the can. The phone is fucked. This action is almost immediate Manufacturers are continuously attempting to slightly reduce the effect of immersion, but not to the extent that cell survival can always be guaranteed post immersion. The critical time length for immersion has not yet been firmly established but may be correlated to several factors such as contents of the can, squeamishness of dropper, depth of bowel, bowel cleanliness and whether or not deodoriser has been in use.

One thing is certain though; pulling the chain will mean lost is lost!


Did you say “electric frangipani”

It was warm in the shade of the frangipani. She lay there and wondered where it all might lead. There’d been the passion of the night before and then the afterglow. Ah! the afterglow, the union of souls enmeshed so sort after and rarely spoken of, as if by speaking of it the chimera lifts.
It had been a tempestuous time. There’d been the awkwardness of the meeting. The tension of values and ideals colliding, though none of that said.
She’d seen him from afar, he’d seen nothing.
It was for them to see the connection but that was a long way off.
In the daily grind of the office the chances of the meeting were in fact remote. The proposals she dealt with were at a much more advanced stage and though there were fewer of them the intensity of the research required was deep. He on the other hand led a freer existence. He could come and go. He did. The office was not a place that held him. It was in fact less than a base. His ideal took him to where he really cared, into the outdoors. He wondered sometimes how this had happened. He had always been a wage slave. Bound by the traditions of the office he worried that he too would become karoshi – overworked to death, the commuting each way, the silence of the journey, the vicarious pleasure of over reading another’s manga, in the stifling heat of the commutor train. He recalled how he’s pleasured himself there once amongst the pressed bodies, against the rump and ultimately the breasts of the foreigner squeezed face to face with him that autumn day.
She had in her country’s slang ‘thunder thighs’, but here in this worse than pig pen closeness she was as they say, a chicken for the plucking. Slowly he lowered his hand from the strap hanger. No need to hang on when the train, though at 130kph, was running as smooth as silk.
His brief case on the floor between his legs allowed his hands free access to wander. With the deftness of his ancestor’s samurai sword, he slipped his left hand towards its target. A light gripping of the underside of her left buttock weighted into his palm, ever so slightly heated.
She’d clearly been running and the unbearable softness caused him to squeeze, yielding to his touch like the first of season Kazaguichi peaches. He held it there, while he allowed her to realise it was him, his gaze averted to the ceiling at a point way, way beyond her gaze.
He knew and he knew she knew it was him.
He could see reflected in the fluoro above him through the electric haze, her disgusted yet understanding look, first at him and then at Mudslide. And so he told himself he could pursue his goal. With magical precision he let his right hand slide towards his left. Commutors to the left and right had no idea consciously what he was up to, but all subconsciously had done in their minds, what he was trying to do. Some were already working out their stratagems to have their way with the gaggle of Aussie girl students accompanying Mudslide and his teacher wife Mirasomething on their end of year Japanese trip.
Coloured as he was there was nothing distinguishable to the foreigners that he was not Japanese, though by speaking he would be given away. He was Chinese and in this culture where the cherry blossom held sway, he was a devotee of the frangipani.
As his hands moved lower he nonchalantly gripped her right buttock too.
She startled a little, but Mudslide for the moment was trying to see the train route on in a diagram on the curved plastic wall of the carriage. Another gasp and he was there, crafting her cheeks apart, and she loved it.
A glance over her right shoulder showed her captivators face in full glow.
He was slightly taller than the other carriagemen, and she could tell he was an expert.
As the train rocked on the curve coming into Siekandodo station he whispered to her.
Mudslide was preoccupied with his zits. She didn’t quite hear what he said, hands moulding yet separating her buttocks.
Again he murmured to her
‘…….twic frang…..’
and she wriggled a little more.
‘Electwic fwangaponii’
was that really what he said?
She confronted him directly.
‘Did you say electric frangipani, sir”
and she knew it was a mistake.
For he let fall her cupped buttocks and looked away, as if the train, their contact and worlds had simply slid apart.