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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Seven huts for seven nights

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PNG bush hut

The Patrol Officers, or Kiaps (derived from the German ‘kapitan‘) who were responsible for the grass-roots administration of Australia’s colonial presence in Papua New Guinea during the 20th century were outstanding young men.

They were trained at the Australian School of Pacific Administration in Sydney in preparation for careers which required physical stamina and total commitment in a country which would initially provide them with unparalleled culture shock.

As an Agricultural Officer, I worked alongside some of these men in remote locations and envied their vast range of administrative and practical skills, most of the latter acquired whilst working on the job.

A young Kiap in his mid-twenties was commonly the road and airstrip surveyor, civil engineer, bridge builder, social worker, policeman, postman, banker, magistrate, jailer, builder, plumber, electrician, radio communication technician, post-mortem assistant, ambulance driver, paramedic, and marriage counsellor.

These men devoted the best years of their lives exploring formidable unexplored territory, dodging hostile arrows, then establishing and maintaining law and order in a tribally fractured country which they brought, along with Christian missionaries, from the stone age into the twentieth century.

No-one realised how important their presence was until after PNG’s premature Independence in 1975 when the Kiaps were, without much appreciation in a political decision, told to go home.

Following their departure, anarchy, violence and lawlessness flourished in PNG, and has continued to do so ever since.

Even though they were adequately compensated financially for this severance of employment, many Kiaps had great difficulty settling back into Australian society after so many years of living with Papua New Guinea culture.

One Kiap returned to Australia and bought a very large acreage of bushland upon which he built some rudimentary thatched huts in various widely spaced locations.

He would regularly pack up his camping gear and leave the main house to hike to one of these distant shelters in an effort to replicate his patrolling days in New Guinea.

His neighbours probably questioned his sanity.

I never did, because I understand precisely how he felt.

The only thing missing from his new life would have been the company of all the rural Melanesian villagers, 95% of whom never wanted him to leave their country in the first place.

.

P.S.  Many of these Patrol Officers, now in their senior years,
reminisce on the forum at www.exkiap.net

Within their ranks are gifted writers and published authors.
They all have interesting stories to tell about the particularly
proud chapter they wrote in Australia’s history.

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One quick strike against political correctness

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Rasta monkey

Vale: Honda-san 1995-2010

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You came into our lives H-san,
When times were dark and gray.
You gave us hope, and shone a light
So we could find our way.

A big strong boy, it seemed you had
The power of horses, nine.
We saw you slowly growing sick.
Then withering on the vine.

We’ll always treasure the memory, of
Your inexhaustible voice.
The sound of life in a place so quiet, the
Rainforest of our choice.

On nights of blowing wind and rain,
We kept you dry and fed.
But now you’ve gone and left our world.
Deceased, and dodo dead.

Today I stand and wonder will
My life now start anew.
The cash is gone, and just to buy
Another bastard, just like you.

.

.

Donations to GOF’s Honda-san Foundation
may be pledged by calling 1800-GOF-SKINT

Honda-san Snr 1995-2010

Honda-san Jnr 2010-

Things that made me smile #1

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This gorgeous chick

And finally, Flamingo Dancer and her sister teaching GOF how to strut his stuff.

Whatever happened to all the little shops?

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Sometime during the latter half of the last century Australia decided that everything in the United States of America was worthy of adoration and worship and accordingly needed to be promptly replicated here without modification.
(with the possible exception of Richard Nixon)

Not their fault.  Our choice.

My regional town of Cairns in the 1970’s was typical of many country towns.  Population less than 100,000 with a central business precinct encompassing half a dozen prime-location city blocks.

Apart from the two competing supermarkets and some Australian owned department stores, the majority of commercial premises were as individual and unique as the people who owned and operated them.

Five “arcades”, pedestrian thoroughfares linking city streets, were each lined with up to 50 tiny shops crammed full of everything from fresh home cooked food to antiquarian books, and genuine handmade artifacts from all around the world.

Aromas and fragrances would remind you of other destinations;
nasi goreng from Indonesia, or incense candles, cardamom and cinnamon from the sub-continent.
The sound of pan flutes being played by busking musicians wearing colourful traditional clothing brought a little piece of the Andes to Cairns, in stark contrast to the didgeridoo being “didyontheoinked” at the other end of the arcade.

This vibrant city heart died soon after suburban Shopping Malls were opened  1, 4, 7 and 18 kilometres away.

The arcades today are spooky vacant places full of “For Rent” signs.

The heart of my town has been ripped out.

Cairns folk have chosen to practise their commercial worship in the four airconditioned temples full of artificiality and fakeness.

One of them has two supermarkets deceitfully masquerading as “competition” when in fact they are owned by the same parent Company.
They all house identical International franchise shops, assembly line “food” outlets, and mass produced goods, 90% of which come from China.

The only things I can smell in these places are disinfectants,
rancid fat and garlic used to cook the food which has been on greasy glistening display behind glass for 6 hours, and Gloria Jean’s coffee aroma, blended in barista-like precision with all the exhaust fumes being sucked in from the 3 levels of carparking.

It is like entering some sort of overcrowded human chook shed at feeding time. A deafening sound of people squarking as they trample each other half to death in the greedy scramble to get yet another Mcnugget into their beaks, or latch their claws onto some discounted feather grooming product, comb polish or spray can of cloaca depilatory foam.

Above all this, I can sometimes hear the obligatory distorted soundtrack of music which is being piped simultaneously into 100 shopping centres Australia wide, interrupted only by occasional announcements to owners of vehicles to “please return to your car because you left your lights on.”

Despite all this, I understand why we all use shopping centres.

Convenience, airconditioning and adjacent car parking, but I can’t help but think that in our haste to live the “easy life” we lost something important along the way.

Perhaps not forever?

As Australia turns increasingly to the East and accepts perhaps a little grudgingly the inevitable “Asianisation” of our population, maybe the old bazaars and arcades of Cairns will one day witness a resurgence which will return a pulse to the city centre.

There might even be room for both forms of commercial enterprise to co-exist.

When it happens, my spirit will look down upon it all and be mightily pleased.

A sluggish rush of blood

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Occasionally I manage to see eye to eye with doctors.
Mainly when one of THEM is gouging some foreign object out of one of MINE.

Doctor’s eyes appear like a pair of intergalactic flying saucers when viewed from my side of a surgical magnifying glass.
Through these portals you can see all the way into their generous, caring, modest, sensitive souls.

*pause*

Astute readers will notice that normally, when an opportunity like this presents, GOF’s little story would be embellished with a surplus of gratuitous and totally unnecessary sarcasm. …….well, I would like to proudly announce that I’ve just successfully completed a course at Sarcastics Anonymous this week.

Praise the Lord.  I am reformed.

*resume*

Five years ago I found a doctor who accepts my conditions of engagement, which severely limit the types of diagnostic tests he is permitted to carry out, and bans totally any digital examination in places where it has no right to be.

He is my emergency trauma repairer, and just one of several consultants in the field of my health management.

On those occasions when I had to visit him, I always requested a blood pressure check so I could feel as though I was getting a little more value for the money he expected in return.

It’s not like I felt bad about the amount he charges….I know that he desperately needed my little donation just to buy a litre or two of benzine to put into his derelict outdated 2009 model Mercedes horseless carriage so that he could go home later in the day with enough survival rations to feed his starving family and support their meagre subsistence lifestyle.

On the last appointment with Doctor Wonderful my blood pressure was 140/95 which he said was “OK……considering.
Perhaps he was “considering” the stress I was under, thinking about having to hand over the cash.

My own assessment was that both values were too high, so I decided to do some monitoring of my own with one of these nifty devices (below) before beginning a program of self-medication with aspirin like most of my neighbours, including our now famous spiritual leader Saint Martin of FOT.


So, elated with my new toy, whenever visitors arrived at GOF’s Place, the first thing I did was to slap a blood pressure meter cuff on ’em.

Good entertainment for me, but so many of them left with a dreadful fear that they might be struck down by massive coronary attacks before they had driven the 6 kilometres back up the mountain through the bush to the bitumen road where there is the medical safety net of mobile phone coverage.

The Bush Telegraph however still works well around these parts.
We don’t get many visitors anymore.

Smartarse behaviour inevitably attracts comeuppance.
Mine was in the form of consistent BP readings around 90/60.

I don’t really want to know why all the red stuff is apparently just sloshing around inside me willy-nilly without much direction from the conductor of my circulatory orchestra.

If I don’t feel broke, then I don’t need to fix me.

Does anyone want to buy a stupid sphygmomanometer?  Cheap.

Oh yes, and I might need to attend just one more S.A. meeting.

I came very close to having a relapse back there.

Impossible pictures

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I post these pictures thinking of Mike, and LOM,  two of the most gifted “artistic manipulators” of photographs I have known.

To my knowledge these pictures are not the work of either of them, but I appreciate excellence wherever I find it.