The Dog Walk – Feeling Better

Nowadays it’s de rigueur to offer a warning, for those of infirmed sensibilities. Friends, this is that warning.

A light summer eve breeze tumbles off of the wavelets in the estuary. Samson has been itching to go for his evening perambulation. From four pm he’s been agitated.  Having snoozed the day on his dining room plush cushion it’s time to walk. Dogs, if anything, are creatures of habit.

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At seventeen years old, he’s an old dog. Rescued from a refuge at ten, he’s living out his days in luxury. He’s had vet visits galore. Overall he’s in excellent condition, though showing his age with a little arthritis in his right foreleg.  He needs his daily exercise, and in his dog mind he knows it.

Along the beach front, scrambling through the rocks he finds the remains of a cormorant carcass, I’ve tried to keep him away from for several weeks. He’s already had the head, and now the desiccated remains are irresistible. Grinning, with his prize in mouth he bounds away. I don’t really chase him, what’s the point of chiding him, he’s a dog and I don’t want the carcass. He’s happy and loved.

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Together we climb the overgrown grassy slope to the concrete footpath, ahead we see a lone pedestrian. Samson trots along five yards behind me, with his lopping gait. Head bobbing up and down, tail wagging, he looks kinda comical to me. Approaching  is a slim middle aged woman, decked out in de rigueur training gear matched with swanky off grey joggers. Tres chic. I glance without comment. She passes at socially appropriate distance, avoiding the each other’s gaze. Then she approaches Samson. I momentarily glance around, then she says something which I don’t quite catch. Politely I retrace my steps to better hear her words, against the steady breeze.

“He’s in pain,” I hear her repeat as I approach.

“Can’t you see he’s in pain.”

“Oh really,” I retort, “Do you think he’d be ambling along tail wagging if he didn’t want to go walking?”

“I’m an animal lover,” she says by way of explanation, though I couldn’t be less interested in what she claims she is.

“Well, he’s on arthritis medication daily, seventeen years old, a rescued dog and his vet says to keep him active” I offer. My voice is stifled. I hear her accusation, feel the need to justify my apparent neglect of animal welfare.

“Yes, but I’m an animal lover,” she bleats again.

I lean in, into the sacred personal space to hiss,

“And it’s none of your fucking business.”

Getting the dismissive turn away just right, whilst managing to sneer the ‘fucking business’ more or less over the shoulder, is quite an art.

I resume the walk with,

“C’mon Samson, off we go,”

He dips his head, to trot off, not having got the lady pat he expected.

I wonder how I might have better managed the turn and comments as I move away.

Then it comes to me. A slightly longer dismissal sentence is needed, practised so its never delivered in anger.

Maybe a little deeper penetration of the personal space.

The breeze clears my brain and then it comes to me.

Lean in, lock eyes, pause,

“And, sweetheart, it’s none of your fucking business.”

Feels so much better.


The Geezer in the Library

Well its not me.

It could well be though.

Sat in the corner, in a comfortable vinyl lounge chair, well disinfected for a covid safe environment the video streams the intrigues of the Victorian IBAC enquiry into the alleged corruption at Casey Council. Michael Tovey QC, counsel assisting rather than a Queen’s Counsel, might better be  described the Quintessential Cook, his onion peeling is exquisite.

The reflected glare of the witness’s computor screens  in his glasses is a muted blueish tinged hue, when mixed with his increasingly reddening complexion merges purple at his glasses frames. 

The questioning goes round and round, in a diminishing spiral.

“I don’t recall,” inevitably becomes the mantra as the core of the question is revealed.

“I’ve no idea,” another mea culpa.

The commissioner occasionally refers back to counsel assisting to temper his frustration.

None of this was expected when created to see the disinfecting light of day. The lies are tangled and the commissioner seeks to relieve the witness of his embarrassment with a ten minute comfort break.

Rising, from vinyl seclusion, I stretch my legs and wander across the room.

I glance across as I pass an old codger at a public computor screen

Gawd I’m flabbergasted and can’t get back to the IBAC.

He’s got a full screen of male dick pics up on the screen!

If I’m Allowed To. [Boredom in A Public Service]

Image result for video conferencing group

The room is full of vidioettes, those who await a six digit connection to several remote sites by videoconference. There’s a buzz in the room while the remote is sourced, mute is on. Space for wall flowers at the room’s periphery is tight, for those seeking the outer limits of obscurity. Table hugging job grade climbers seek prime locations at the laminated board table edge. These are prime spots in the “look at me” status stakes. Those surer of their status hover mid distance tween table and wall, knowing  their interruptions can always be sustained by a table hugger unmuting the mic for them before they speak.

I  nearly slumber. The previous meeting minutes are skimmed, while I shuffle an untidy sheaf of papers which I know don’t contain the minutes. It appears though I’m better prepared than those who’ve chosen to go to the meeting  paperless and tablet less. Impressions count. Then the call is made,

“Who’s gonna move the minutes?”

Most of the wall flowers have their tongues firmly stapled to the rooves of their mouths, but a Hobart  table edger slips a digit up and says,

“I’ll move ’em!”

“So  who’s gonna second them” comes the disembodied voice from Launceston again. Nothing happens, nothing. The video at North West judders, there’s pixilation from Burnie, slightly less than MCH and I look around. It’s quiet in Hobart.

“So who’s going to move them?” is asked again. After a pregnant pause a soft voice from the Launceston theatre  is acknowledged as a seconder.

It goes on like this meandering through the action list items for which apparently no-one in any of the rooms is accountable. There are waffly self aggrandising minor updates on where the heck they’re going.  At least the meeting form is being followed!

And onto a dissertation on “The Transition,” from the Launceston Revealer. Its long, torturous and rambley, covering old and new ground at the same depth, consistently shallow.  It dawns on me that what she’s talking about convolutedly reverts us nearly right back to where we were just over two years ago. That the change was “nothing much to worry about” while ” we continued with business as usual” allowed us to watch as the change sowed the seeds of its own destruction. Ultimately the new brooms were closeted.

The same description is being used by the Launceston Revealer to describe this new change.  I find myself wondering why senior people who had the means, leverage or gall, decamped to regions unknown only to re appear as the designers/reviewers of “The Transition”.

From the pit of my tummy something stirs. The lyrics sound the same, the melody vaguely familiar. Though there seems circularity and vague symmetry, some folk in fact did worry and were affected. Though in the first iteration the union got involved causing the process to drag and drag the fact that the implementers were naïve to Taswegian practices and mores, conspired to make the whole experience mind numbingly extended. The tricky mass meetings trying to ‘sell’ the idea were a massive waste of time for such a patently self evident need for change. An amalgamation of disparate sites into a cohesive whole wasn’t exactly rocket science. But then again this is health, nudge nudge, wink, wink, and it must be important hey.

So after a further meandering through the peaks of professional status and troughs of divisions at the 42nd Tasmanian parallel, a Hobartian dares query the Launceston Revealer.

” Will this Transition be subject to a change proposal for union consultation!”

After some more waffling, the Launceston Revealer’s response attempts to bat the issue right out into the long grass.

” Is there anyone down there, some senior manager who can take this query off line and explain this to Hobartian enquirer,” she hopes.

Its a little tense, then tenser, Hobart eyes formerly raised are now floor gazing, as its apparent there are no senior managers present. There’s plenty of wannabe acting managers and the otherwise disengaged, two  of whom are already thumbing it on mobiles.

Eventually we hear,

” I’ll take it up with the enquirer,” a Hobartian says. Who it is, isn’t clear.

Sorted, phew, the Launceston Revealer goes on,

“Ok, then I’ll continue about the Transition for the rest of you,” she says, adding ,” if I’m allowed to.”

The muted tone of the slipper sinking in.

Do others hear it? Doubt it. Those who matter to me do.

I jot it down.

Editor’s note: Originally published in DidIreallyhearthat, a blog by theHobartChinaman

Y2K Bug ?

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Down the road on the cliff top, swept by the up wind from the Tasman Sea, a retired university professor lived with his wife.

The seventies house was fashionably unkempt, an assortment of Australian drought tolerant bushes and shrubs surrounding. I think it was two stories, but from so far away in time, that’s a little unclear. The bushes all leaned back into the house, surrendering to the stiff breezes and occasional gales which buffeted the home.

It was, very cosy.

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Back then in 1999, the world was a buzz, well not too buzzy with a rising crescendo of newspaper stories telling of the approaching doom of the Y2K bug.

Most folk though paid little heed. The year two thousand for many signified the opportunity for the piss up of piss ups. The newspaper stringers felt lucky to have at least a year of headlines full of increasing alarm and government unpreparedness for a threat poorly understood.

However, in more learned circles, there was a potential technical threat.

December 1st, 1999 came and was going.

The professor and wife began stocking the house with supplies. Canned foods and ingredients. Basic flour, sugar, tea etc. No need to continue with the list. You can fill in the menu of your choice. Batteries, petrol, shovels and all manner of survival tools. Pick your poison here too.

They filled the third bedroom, then the second bedroom. All laid out and catalogued library like. A life in academia was not wasted. Then the lounge and half of the dining room became clogged with the overflow of goods as mid month passed. The place took on the aroma of a combination of a Bunnings warehouse and an Indian spice shop. It was intoxicating.

All this went on, unknown to the surrounding neighbours. Extra shopping was added to the usual weekly supplies. Gardening and other implements purchase merely hinting at a summer full of horticultural hope.

On the so called millennial day afternoon, they  called out to a next door neighbour, who lived two doors up . She was on the roadway unpacking her car.

“How you doing? Completed your preps?”

“Preps?” she thought quickly wondering what the prep they were speaking of.

The prof continued helpfully, ” your preparations for Y2K.”

He might have well spoken in Swahili.

” Y2K?” she queried, ” Is that a rate notice from the council?”

“No, no,” he replied, ” Haven’t you been following the news? Y2K, its everywhere.”

The prof had helpfully sauntered up the slight rise in the roadway to make conversation easier, and to save his croaky voice from shouting.

“I saw something on the Channel 7, or was it 9 about something or other. Seemed hyped up to me,” she answered truthfully.

“Well hope your pantry’s full, ‘cos tomorrow’s gonna be a bran nue day,” he offered.

“Is there anything I can do then?” she implored.

“Make sure you fill your bath with clean water, which you can drink over the next few days, and eat up all your fresh food in the fridge as quick as you can in the next few days, after the power goes off come midnight,” he said.

“We’ve filled our bath already. We can perhaps share some of our goods too. Depends how long recovery takes, if ever.

“We’ve been prepping for the past two or three months, so we’re well prepared,” added jauntily.

The thought of cold baked beans and dry biscuits was unappealing to her. Then again any port in a storm.

She knew she’d have to scrub the bath out first, before refilling with drinking water to avoid an after taste of Pears soap and bubble bath liquid.

“Ok, thanks, thanks heaps,” was all she could offer, as she heaved her plastic bags out of the car boot and trudged inside the house.

She made a cuppa and settled down into the bumpy settee.

“If the world’s going to end, may as well be comfy,” she mused.

She turned on the tele and watched Wellington NZ celebrations. She caught the warm up to the celebrations down in Sydney using the Harbour Bridge as a prop. In the distance, local fireworks in Newcastle sounded like random gunshots in the night sky, the glow of only the highest rockets lighting the horizon.

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As the cascade of sparkling pearl firework fizzled out from the Harbour Bridge deck, she began to wonder.

“How come the tv’s still working, how come we’ve seen Wellington?” and it went on around the

world. Singapore, New Delhi, Cape Town, Nairobi, too many EU capitals to name and then the Americas, even Hawaii.”

It was nearly midday before she thought to take out the rubbish. She trudged up the driveway to the kerb side bin. The azure blue sky was studded with light fluffy clouds scudding westward.

She looked down the street and saw the prof’s wife, also filling her bin.

“Hi,”  she semi-shouted.

The profs wife managed a wan smile, sheepishly responding,

“Hi,” before scurrying back inside.

It was clear nothing had happened at midnight. In fact nothing had happened at many midnights.

The prof and wife donated their canned goods to the Salvo’s, excess tools to charity and pride to the shredder.

Eighteen years later, a podcast, at the time not imagined, was produced reflecting on Y2K.

It can be found at :

It’s well worth listening to!

Concord Plaster Mills – Space Invader

Ray Osborne plant manager, CSR Concord Plaster Mills stood outside his office in the passageway leading to the factory floor.

It was a long narrow passageway, under two persons wide.

Ray was berating me about some failure or the other, so necessary to my development as a management trainee.

He was in, what nowadays is known as, my personal space.

I was terribly conscious of the mole over his right eyebrow, all the more visible as his glasses had slipped down to the tip of his nose. I didn’t stare, too absorbed in the maroon cardigan, unbuttoned, which hung off his haunching shoulders.

We stood apart. Considering current social distancing rules we’d have been at severe risk  of transmitting more than his knowledge.

Then we heard footsteps coming up from the down stairs electrical engineering office.

As Ron, the plant’s electrical engineer, muttered acknowledgement, Ray and I backed into the passage walls to allow him to pass between us. Ron swished through, his grey work coat brushing us both. Our conversation was barely interrupted.

As Ron reached for the door to the factory, Ray bellowed after him,

“Hey Ron, you going far?”

Turning the handle, Ron quipped back,

“Not far in CSR!”

 The Bus Fills Quickly …


The bus fills quickly, city bound from its terminus at stop 33. By stop 24 its mostly standing room, no single seats, but single positions, double seats really, in which a sole occupant has territorially made sure that its singly occupied. I wonder what are the techniques of expanding ones self to enable puffing up to twice your volume, in fact to take two seats?

Tetraodontidae can. They are commonly known as puffer fish. Ugly critters which puff up to twice their volume when about to be eaten. They’re also armed with four sharp teeth to crush mollusks and crusteaceans shells they prey upon.

Our human puffers use a variety of techniques and are armed in a variety of ways.

Firstly we see the “I’m So Important That My iPod Music Can’t Be Disturbed” technique. Armed with the iPod, it’s popular amongst younger folk, accompanied by slight head rocking and the hum of several audible melody bars which leak past the ear pods. The listener’s faux attention to the traffic outside allows car crashes and pedestrian murders to occur unremarked. There is a pose adopted which barks of “I am into my music so what the f@*K”

“The Gosh I’m Busy and Overladen With My Work”, technique is passing. Its remnants are laptop bound office folk, low or highly statused, ostentasiously report compiling or spreadsheeting. Screen size is important, especially at the higher end, those baby asus computor kiddie toys just don’t cut it.

I’m sure there are more. We’ve seen it time and again. In the past newspaper reading was a technique from which a recovery could be assembled and the possible discourtesy of hogging two seats excused. By the way when did you last see a newspaper read on a bus?
So there you have it, sightings on the 630 bus from Tranmere to Glenorchy direct.
Ah the pleasure of public transport.

Rebecca “Heard”

Ever wondered what our political elite take us for? What better way to know than how they talk to us.

In Australia we see that Julia didn’t ” cut through:” and we had “stopped listening”. Her Brutus, aka Kevin, nows talks/reads  ‘to’ us like five year olds, but not ‘at’ us and over our heads in monologues. We are supposed to be refreshed by the change and wonder how long lasting is this?

So we turn to the Rebecca ads. She says she’s a social worker and that she’s

“……… heard that the new scheme …….”
She acually says

“……….I’ve heard…”

Ya gotta just love political ads.  So sincere.   

So somehow she’s a social worker appearing in an ad paid for by the govt, promoting their program who happens to have “heard something”

What an unutterable load of bullshit!

There’s not a clear statement of what the policy is, what it gives / takes, or any idea that she might have simply heard it wrong.
I guess that means anyone who has responsiblitiy can avoid, as the whole purpose is deniability. 

Isn’t it much better to pitch confusion, so time is spent “defending” rather than actually explaining anything?
I used to think as I got older, the sterotype is that you become crankier. It’s a common put down which needs revising. Wisdom becomes age and is not to be discounted.

So, when you hear something that is ……

“all the heat without the fire,”

” all the sizzle but no sausage”  or

” all fireworks without the gunpowder”  

its time to tell your friends that

“We didn’t vote Rebecca the social worker in to power”  and

“Enough of this bullshit!……. ‘Rebecca heard'”