Wuhan Anzac Day 2020

We all been prepped. Anzac Day won’t be like usual this year, the year of Wuhan Virus. Its gonna be kinda DIY*. At best your own candle out the front of your joint perhaps tuned to the tranny** to hear the Last Post sound for a minute’s silence.

The catafalque*** honour guards twirl their guns around in circular motion stopping for a second at every ninety-degree angle adding somehow to the pageantry while risking blowing off their feet.

Wreaths are laid, amongst them all, Albanese looks dignified,  solitary and sorta lonely. Maybe lonely for all of us.

And then in keeping with the non-religious secular mood of the moment, we have Scotty’s Blurb It’s his moment to draw the nation together, as the Governor-General has just done.

It starts well enough. However, the ceremony’s non-religious cant is shattered as he utters,

.”……..on Ngunnawal land, in our nation’s capital  …..”

Secular religion seeps into the soil.

References to three serving folk sound like the endorsements for a product topped only by the reference to his pa. Its Advertising 101 from tutor S Morrison ex Advertising.

I cringe.

This is Anzac Day, Wuhan Virus Style




Scotty’s chat

* DIY – Do It Yourself

**Tranny – transistor radio

***Catafalque – What the heck is that?


A Very Different Calibre

At UBF things moved quickly after I’d been appointed as operations manager. The front office was a shabby affair. Still sporting a thermal paper printing fax, one of my first innovations was a laser printer version from K -Mart! There’d been so many complaints about back orders from 3 months earlier virtually disappearing from the thermal paper they’d been received on.

The operations manager’s office was piled high with the records and bric a brac of an earlier time. Accounts, stocktaking records, fabric samples, dust and the musty odour of an office inhabited for thirty or forty years.

I moved down to the production office way at the back of the plant where the incessant rhythmic pounding of the twelve-tonne stamping machine punched its 1200 reverse barbed needles through the two-foot thick bed of sisal fibre down into the holes of the base platten bed, reducing it to a height of less than one inch!

Myself and the recently appointed plant manager Pierre, were new. He recently from South Africa with scant awareness of Australian industrial relations. The despatch clerk Tony sat opposite from Kerrie’s desk. I’d taken over his desk while he was on leave after being demoted from plant manager to supervisor.

The joint was filthy.

I wondered where to start. The despatch clerk and Pierre seemed to have the right calibre to turn the place around. I took on the unions, the TFCUA [Textile Footwear and Clothing Union of Australia their enterprise bargain. Just before arriving mismanagement of their log resulted in a previously non-union shop transforming into 90% union coverage. Speaking directly to the crew I could see they were the right calibre to improve their take-home pay faster than a union imposed enterprise bargain. Most of them had been in the industry for twenty plus years. The other labourers on the floor were the right calibre too.

I wondered about Kerrie though. He was on leave when I arrived. He’d been there 30 something years, and I was told ran the place as his fiefdom. Doling out overtime to favourites, installing his wife as foreman of the sewing shop.

I squashed my laptop into the detritus on his large wooden desk. It was an oak Palladia work desk, God knows where from. On either side, a draw over a deeper larger file draw. Across the centre a two-foot-wide miscellaneous double-handled draw. I cleared a space on the scribbled over blotting-pad. It’d been years since ink had been blotted there, but pencil and biro words, figures and unknown sketches abounded. I emptied the contents of the left and right top draws onto the cleared blotter. Just about a whole stationery cupboard full of pens, paper clips, markers, matchboxes, lolly papers, rubber bands, buttons, betting slips, receipts, screwdrivers, pins, pencils, erasers, dirt, pliers, wrenches, pipe fittings and chocolate, covered the space. I kept what I needed and binned the rest. Blotter cleared.

However, for the few files I needed, the top draws wouldn’t be sufficient space.

I reached down to my left to pull out the larger draw. It was stubborn.

I pulled harder, eventually using both hands to jiggle it free. It wasn’t full. Inside was a plastic shopping bag, it’s top folded into its centre. I reached in to lift then lay it on the blotter.

“Fuck, what the hell is this!” I exclaimed as the contents spilled out all over the blotter. Tony couldn’t contain himself as I sorted and arranged the contents before me. Small to large, long and short, live to dud. Pierre looked on. He knew what I’d found. Live ammunition from which Kerrie extracted the gunpowder to make shotgun rounds. There was every size from .22 mm to 25 mm! Live!

See the source image

I realised the calibre of the man I was dealing with.

When he returned later in the month, I sacked him.


At UBF I learnt  about Graphology

Six months or so before that class, I considered my prospects as a redundant chemical engineer from CSR Gyprock. A near thirty-year career had ended ingloriously, compliments of the corporations failed Chinese Adventure. Folk who’d gone overseas  were repatriated to Australia when the fiasco failed and returnees were parachuted into the roles of others who had stayed home maintaining local operations. T’was a salutary experience, to be replaced by folk you’d previously supervised, and have your role dissected into thirds.

A brief consultancy in plasterboard in Indonesia had followed. This used my expertise and valued the skills honed over years. When this assignment was complete similar opportunities were scarce, contacts in the industry dried up and desperation set in. With four kids, one at university and three in a private secondary school, the financial pressure was palpable.

Typically with thirty or so applications per week on the new platform SEEK.com  I remained hopeful. However, positive responses were 10 % of applications made and less than 2% resulted in an interview.

I recall traipsing all over Brisbane, following up this lead or that, slowly sensing a disconnect from the paid workforce. It was a nervous scary time.

Responding to a strange ad from a Sydney consultancy seemed little different from the others. I flew down to Sydney for the interview near the Rocks in an Art Deco Office block at  242 George St.

It was intense. No company names, but a deep interest in me, from a perspective not usually broached in job interviews. It was a small company, little known, extremely tightly held with vast financial reach. I was intrigued but learned little and waited a few weeks.

The next interview at the consultancy was a couple of months later, with the owner, a clearly well-educated dude, with Eastern suburbs ease. The consultant had shared that this son of the original patriarch had not persisted with his father’s penchant for phrenology. No matter, I looked it up and figured if this was a job maybe I should get my head read. Phrenological Map

If somehow its got you all this dough, helped you pick the right folk, then who’s to say its wrong?

But without getting  my head examined I got the job.



Podcasts teach, sometimes.

When I managed UBF I hired folk. Factory labourers and managers. The labourers sourced from ads in the local free newspapers and word of mouth. But for managerial positions folk sent in a resume.

Mario the general manager in Sydney asked me to replace the sales manager. In fact the position used to belong to the previous plant manager he’d laid off on my very first day. A newspaper ad elicited many applications. The most suitable applicants were advised to Mario who asked me to have them handwrite half a page of their achievements, including numbers relating to sales targets achieved in other employment prior to any interview.

D’oh! I was awkwardised. Nevertheless, I complied, rang a few candidates duly receiving several handwritten responses. Mario asked that I forward them to him, and someone, Alicia if memory serves me correctly, would ring telling me who to chose. Having met the candidates personally I’d already formed an opinion as to who the most suitable candidate might be.

As weeks passed several of the candidates became tired of my increasingly banal excuses for delay and withdrew.

Down to just three contenders, I was pleased one winter evening to take Alicia’s call. She told me a heap of hoo-ha about slope, misshapen downstrokes and irregular line spacings amongst so much more that precluded several of the candidates. However, one candidate shone, Gary.  She liked his firm style and crossed t’s, with firm angularity. I said,

“But he’s withdrawn saying he was sick of all this phoeey.”

“No matter” she replied, ” Get him back. I’ll tell Mario to send me my cheque, I’ll be seeing him soon.”

Next morning I called Gazza, told him the news. I wasn’t sure if for him it was good or bad news.

“I can do it, but you’ll need to raise the pay and bonuses by forty per cent.”

“Fuck,” I thought but didn’t say.

Alicia and Mario loved Gazza’s panache, it was so written. His style mimicked Marios’ perfectly.

The previous evening over a swank dinner in Rose Bay, Alicia and Mario had gushed over the slant, page usage and “a’s and o’s” of this perfect candidate. He’d pay whatever to get this hero.

Gazza was duly installed. I called the remaining contenders and made lame excuses as to why we’d taken so long to not make a decision

Over the next week, I wasn’t so impressed.

He lasted a month.

Was it something in his long hanging  “g’s” they’d missed?








Hatcho Miso


Eight blocks away from Okazaki Castle are the Miso makers. Settled in their factories, they’ve been there some time, in fact since the 1500’s

Wearing a grey checked green shirt and dull rain jacket he stared at the three tonnes of river pebbles stacked atop the cedar vats of fermenting soybean mixed with salt and water. The rocks depress the mash over two and half years forming miso paste.

A guide pointed to the rocks making extravagant claims as to the length of the apprenticeship to attain rock piling mastery, ten years.

The lady in a red Kathmandu rain jacket seems a little unsure of the odour and how to get out of there.

It’s quite a walk back to Okazaki Castle, in fact, eight cho [ 110yards/cho ]…….. hat [eight] cho

These folk have turned a distance into a place.

Not unlike some Aussie place names, Seventeen Miles Rock, Three Mile Bridge, Seventeen Seventy Eight, Forth


Wuhan Depression

Can’t seem to get any words out at all.

Aimlessly wasting time scrolling thru’, CNN, abc, bcc, RN, the conversation, NYT, the Guardian and ABC latest,  then re scrolling RN, the Guardian [Australian edition], ABC latest, bbc, abc, NYT, CNN, the conversation I’m no better informed about anything.

Nothing sparks an interest, even trump’s most recent bleatings. Not reading his tweets, and vaguely wondering if the Fake News didn’t report his stream of stupidity, the oxygen denied would produce a better outcome than butting against it producing even more heat and publicity.

But like trump, this is about me.

Not a word that’s useable comes to mind.

I’ve got the Wuhan Depression

Start at 10 am … And They’re Racing

8 April 2020  was a big day in media racing.

The three contenders were in the barriers waiting to jump at 10 am.

George Pell got off to a great start

The 10 am unanimous decision of the High Court of Australia made it clear within 7 minutes he’d be freed.

Wuhan Virus with a nice training run in the morning had been forced to the rails with interminable pastoral drone shots of a rural prison in the paddocks at Barwon Geelong. Breathlessly tracking the comings and goings out of the prison gates sucked all the direction from Wuahn Virus’s run.

With nothing going from the sky eyes, the summary judgment was intoned in the background. Indignation abounded. Although this was a pronouncement about justice from the highest court in the land it might as well been a tweet from @highcourtofaustralia, for all the respect it received. All sorts of folk in various state of Skype undress pontificated and hardworking journalists wrung empathetic hands for the victims. Perhaps we should decide the law by the number of likes a judgment receives.

Then sneaking up on the inside Bernie Sanders withdrew, urging Jumpin’, Joe Biden, ahead. Though changing horse midstream is frowned upon, this placed Jumpin’ Joe equal second with Wuhan. A super long-range telephoto lens caught sight of the bespectacled Archbishop being escorted into a convent an hour or two later, kept the senior clergyman in front for the rest of the day. My guess is all he wanted was a nice cuppa and scones.

As the sun rose the next day,  Archbishop Pell was to be found in a Homebush seminary seeking a peaceful retirement.

Wuhan Virus regained the lead from Bernie’s suspended campaign which was euthanased and postmortemed.