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Monthly Archives: November 2010

GOF’s Twelve Days of Christmas

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Santa arrived at a shopping centre in tropical Cairns on a stinking hot day in the first week of November.      Serves him right.
Premature Santas are abominations.

The Bucket wishes to share a smidgin of it’s meagre reserves of Seasonal Joy, so I hope you are in good voice today to sing along with me.

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On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
dunny brush in a plastic holder.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Two floor-cleaning kneepads.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Three sociability ultimatums.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Four earsfull of admonition.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Five hours of unsolicited dream interpretations.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Six inaccurately flung boots.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Seven reminders of things I did wrong in 1984.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Eight flatulence suppressing medications.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Nine subtly disguised gift hints.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Ten dish-washing scour pads with bonus rubber gloves.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Eleven bottles of halitosis mouthwash.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Twelve $#%@&%* swearing jars,
and,
Eleven bottles of halitosis mouthwash,
Ten dish-washing scour pads,
Nine subtly disguised gift hints,
Eight flatulence suppressing medications,
Seven reminders of things I did wrong in 1984,
Six inaccurately flung boots,
Five hours of unsolicited dream interpretations,
Four earsfull of admonition,
Three sociability ultimatums,
Two floorcleaning kneepads,

And ……AND…..as if that wasn’t already enough for one bloody Christmas, I suddenly heard the grunt of a semi-trailer’s airbrakes as it came to a halt outside my backdoor and unloaded some sort of giant fruit tree, with a dopey, smug looking temperate-zone bird sitting in an upper branch.

I think I’m going to need all those swearing jars.

.

GOF’s postal address is now;

Patient # 26354,
Christmas Carol overdose clinic,
MONGOLIA.

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..

The Bucket will be going into extended hibernation.

Thank you to each and every one of my friends, old or new, wherever you are in the world, for your company and inspiration, and for putting up with me during 2010.

This year I am especially grateful to all the members of my Vox neighbourhood who thought our little circle of friendship was worth maintaining and moving lock, stock and barrel to WordPress.

Mrs GOF and I wish each and every one of you a happy, safe and peaceful Christmas.

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Straight from the camel’s mouth

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Mr. Habib

It is hard to imagine what the world would be like without
The Bucket doing it’s job as a tenacious watchdog and counterbalance for biased and questionable scientific research.

study commissioned by the Nature Conservancy and Pew Environmental group  found that if all feral animals, including camels, were culled from Australia’s sparsely populated interior, an additional 1.3 billion tonnes of carbon could be stored in the natural revegetation by the year 2050.

“When feral animals belch, they release methane, a particularly noxious greenhouse gas, and every single camel releases the equivalent of around one tonne of CO2 each year.”

The Bucket recently received the following correspondence from a Mr. Habib Afghan-Camel, from Alice Springs.
.

“Dear Mr Bucket,

I have been humouring humans for nigh on ten years now, humping rich tourists along the dry and sandy Todd River bed in exchange for food and shelter from my servant wrangler.

As spokescamel for the Dromedary Action Group (DAG) I wish to challenge the Nature Conservancy report which is highly discriminatory against my species on the following two grounds.
.

1. The fecundity and population density of camels is regulated by the environmental provisions of Mother Nature.

This inviolable rule of natural balance has, to date, not been accepted by you humans who consider yourselves to have immunity, despite all the warning signs that ignoring it will ultimately have catastrophic consequences.

You continue to procreate like rabbits after a rutting competition.

Of greatest concern to the DAG is Australia’s persistence in paying out a $5185  Bonking Encouragement Allowance, payable by the Government nine months after the event, upon presentation of suitable evidence that the bonk did actually take place.

We view the camel eradication program as being nothing more than “species cleansing”, to create extra space for the additional 20 million humans (and their automobiles) to occupy by the year 2050.
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2. The quoted figures of camel-gas emissions are both erroneous and fanciful.  The Report refers to emissions from “every single camel”.

Did they measure output from ALL members of the DAG?
No, of course they didn’t.
It is poor science and statistical ineptitude to make general conclusions after studying only small samples of individuals.

Please let me provide an example of wide natural variations within your own human population.

Last Monday, regular tourist Mr Dilbert Gross-Beergut, a businessman from Sydney spent half an hour perched on my back after consuming a breakfast of baked beans washed down with a litre of coca-cola.

I estimate that during that time he belched two cubic metres of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and twice that amount of pungent and probably highly flammable gas from a lower orifice which caused my skin to blister and scald quite badly.

A square foot of hairs on my hump subsequently fell out of their follicles on Tuesday, and my wife, Harbette, who was following closely behind now has acute ventricular flatulitis.

Why not cull Mr. Gross-Beergut also, on the evidence of HIS excessive emissions, if you are so concerned with the welfare of the planet?

In contrast, my passenger on Wednesday, a total stanger by the name of Mr GOF, was a genteel man of distinguished good grace, who has never been known to habitually pollute the environment in either of these unsavoury or unsustainable ways.

I herewith rest my case.

In the vast black universe of increasingly myopic human research, the Dromedary Action Group continues to rely upon The Bucket to provide a single twinkle of realistic sanity.

Yours Faithfully,

Mr. Habib Afghan-Camel

Aussie characters; #2 The maverick pollie

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Oh….seems like I took the liberty of throwing in a couple of minor incidentals that will probably prove to be mildly irritating.

I rarely choose to write about politics because I have a cynical and  obtuse view of our “Party System” which to my mind strangles the ultimate potential of Democracy.
I am of course able to adopt this luxurious point of view precisely because Australia does permit this democratic freedom.

Parliament is no longer a venue for free and equal expression by all our elected representatives. More commonly it simply rubber stamps policies concocted by unelected power brokers, and gags contributions and debate by those members not in the ruling tribe.

As there are few major policy differences between the two contending Parties in Australia these days I have a personal voting policy of trying to kick out whichever ruling Party is in office following the completion of two terms.

I figure that after that amount of time, the majority of politicians who are in power in Canberra will probably have their comfy slippers on, sipping perk-cocktails after a solid session dining out at the Parliamentary Restaurant of Taxpayer Plenty.

Far away in mind and body from the voters who put them there.

I reason that they all need at least 3 years back in the political wilderness so they can become re-acquainted with the real world.

The exception to my policy is this man who represents my huge electorate of Kennedy. An area of half a million square kilometres, or two and a half times the size of the State of Victoria.

Mind you, if he ever tries to rest on his laurels I’ll turf vote him out on his arse too.

Katter is a one of rare breed……an Independent who had the political courage and conviction to separate himself from a non-performing Party which was paying only lip service to his rural people.

He is often scathingly referred to by Australia’s urban-obsessed media as  “the maverick politician”.

My first introduction to his unique politicianship occurred when I was parked outside Inga’s Primary School twenty years ago .
A large friendly hand materialised through the open window of my truck, followed by an Akubra bushman’s hat and a genuinely smiling face which introduced and inquired;

“Katter……just checking how your life is going, and if there’s anything I might be able to do to help you.”

He was not in a pre-poll electioneering mode at the time.
This is just the way he operates to take the pulse of his electorate.

Katter occasionally puts out bait to attract the attention of the popular press which gobbles it all up, and then takes delight in implying that he is a dumb country yokel…… often conveniently overlooking the position of his tongue in cheek.

He once provided a media feeding frenzy by suggesting that a Rio style statue of Jesus Christ should be constructed on top of the mountain behind GOF’s Place to attract religious tourism.

Despite obscene amounts of cash being thrown up against him at election time by the major political parties we, his constituents, continue to re-elect him, because in an era when politicians promise the world during campaigning, then become hammered into puppet-like silent submission by the Party machinery after election, he stands tall.

Even though his tireless battles on behalf of Australia’s ailing rural sector might be old-fashioned, and ultimately futile and unsuccessful, we should celebrate a political system that has a place for larger-than-life Independent characters like Bob Katter.

I would like to think that “democracy” might have originally been conceived to operate with a Parliament comprised entirely of Independent  “Bob Katters”.

It probably then took somewhere around five minutes before the first opportunistic power hungry politician dreamed up the concept of a “Gang of Like-mindedness” to disrupt that noble objective.

Today, the reward of Government is bestowed upon those individuals who, to greater or lesser degrees, have traded principle for popularity.

.

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Ed;   GOF rapidly decamped from the scene of this misdemeanor
and went into hiding somewhere down in the scrub.

You’ll probably find him disguised as a sitting duck
on a rock beside his pond of non-political tranquillity.
Go get ‘im.

.

GOF HUNTING SEASON ENDS AT MIDNIGHT ON FRIDAY.

Aussie characters; #1 The swagman

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Two stories this week about Australians who dare to be different.

1. Campbell the Swaggie

Sometimes it is the unanticipated moments in life that prove to be the most memorable.

Let me set the scene.

Campbell the Swaggie is one of only two remaining swagmen that I know of in Australia.  (Thanks Snowy)
For the purpose of this story I am conveniently ignoring the minor detail that Campbell was born in New Zealand.

(During the great depression of the 1930’s, men were forced to walk country roads carrying a swag….a few possessions wrapped in canvas bedding……in search of employment.)

Campbell is a uniquely talented busker and actor in his one-man travelling show which specialises in Australian traditional bush poetry and storytelling.
For 25 years he has been wandering around Australia following the “show” and “festival” circuits, and each October he arrives at the local market where Mrs GOF and I sell our plants.

His “stage” is a vacant area of lawn just in front of our stall.
He plonks the swag on the ground to support his fire-blackened billycan which serves as a donation tin.

When Campbell is in full theatrical mode, his performances are quite capable of scaring the pants off people who have never seen him before.

In the middle of one such dramatic shouting and writhing production, after all the grown-ups had hurriedly retreated to hide behind trees or distant stall banners convinced that Campbell should be committed to some sort of Institution for the Dysfunctional, a little boy, maybe 3 years of age, confidently made the lonely trek across the lawn, peered inside the billycan, then removed a dollar coin for himself.

The very young mother then rushed over, apologised to Campbell and replaced the coin, with added interest, then set about explaining to her son how money needed to be earned.
(Note to self;  never be tempted to collectively criticise our new generation of young parents)

The little fellow remained enchanted by Campbells fearsome appearance, so the old-timer knelt down, and eye to eye, man to man, quietly imparted the following information directly to the wide-eyed three-year-old;    (Overheard only by his Mum and big-ears GOF.)

“Young man, when we get older we all have to work to earn money.
Like me. This is what I do for a living.

Some people however choose instead to make up some imaginary illness or disability, then they tell their story at the nearest hospital, after which the Government gives them lots of money for doing nothing for the rest of their lives.”

Campbell the Swaggie is a living Antipodean treasure.

The smoke house

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Simplicity provides for me great peace of mind.

This makes me wonder why I continue to fill my life up with unnecessary electronic and mechanical clutter.

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Okawiong was a leader of his people who lived in the remote and rugged foothills of Papua New Guinea’s Saruwaget Mountain Range.

His brother was once my workmate, and during the 1970’s Okawiong’s family became my family.

In 1998, after receiving news that, at 74, he was not expected to live much longer, I made a return visit to P.N.G. and “my family” after an absence of 19 years.

This involved a tough 8 hour walk carrying a rucksack after a single engined Cessna had dropped me off at the little grass ‘strip at Pindiu.

It proved to be an emotional and life-changing week for me.
I returned to Australia with an incredible peace of mind that comes from finally having said all those important things that need to be said to people you care about….. before it is too late.

As a reminder of our P.N.G. life, and of the hundreds of nights I spent huddled around cooking fires being fed, educated and entertained by villagers, Mrs GOF and I built this modest attachment to our house.

Partly built with recycled materials it is our preferred place of comfort for much of the wet season when we have no electricity to watch television, and no inclination to venture out into the blowing rain to do any work.

It is always warm and cosy and filled with the aroma of taro or sweet potato baking in the coals, and a kettle and Mrs GOF culinary creation bubbling away on the griddle.

Auxilliary electronic entertainment is unnecessary.

Our own company, the daily musical comedy of birdfeeding viewed through the “window walls”, reading books, or just vacantly staring into dancing flames knowing that this is the way mankind has lived for centuries, fills my soul with contentment.

We also use our smoke house to filter out “acquaintances” from “good friends”.

Our friends embrace the occasional lungful of delinquent wood-smoke and tolerate their clothes being perfumed with Eau de Firefighter.

The others sneer at the “doghouse” and our apparent life of “squalor”.

If I won a million dollars tomorrow in a lottery, the smoke house would remain the same.

No, I lie.

I would buy two new matresses to replace those with erupting stuffing and protruding springs that are now 55 years old, and I would install a whirlygig smoke extractor in the roof to take some load off the under-eaves vents.

Now…..where did I put that Application Form.

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There is an old newspaper editor’s maxim which goes something like this;

“News” is whatever makes your Grandma say “Good gracious”.

Well here’s a little bit of news for Gran;

There is a man currently employed by the Sydney Adventist Hospital as;  “Director of Penile Rehabilitation”

Now I am sure that the incumbent does an exemplary job trying his best to get men back to peak performance and glowing good health following prostate surgery, but to really do justice to the somewhat vague job title I feel that he should have an “Assistant Director”  to expand the services on offer.

According to my dictionary;

rehabilitation           ……….to help readapt to society,
……….to restore the good reputation

Australia needs me to help my overworked compatriot, because our country is awash with penises requiring restoration of reputation.

(As time is running out for my fifteen minutes of fame, I desperately need this job. It may be my final opportunity.  It’s either this, or I’ll have to ride a penny farthing bicycle whilst stark naked across Sydney Harbour Bridge during peak hour traffic.  I need to do something soon, so that Mrs GOF and Globet can at least point to a single moment of my glory after I’m gone.)

Almost daily our newspapers print sordid stories of sportsmen and celebrities losing their penile good reputation.

This however is only the tip of the disreputable penis iceberg.

It is an International problem. There seems to be an awful lot of it going on all over the place.

As Assistant Director, I will urge our Government and the World Health Organisation to increase their vigilance of this plague of penile deliquency which is sweeping around the globe like an uncontrollable Mexican wave.

My first task will be to have the condition officially recognised by the World Health Organisation.

Errant Penile Syndrome.    E.P.S.

Exhaustive independent research conducted by the Chief Medical Reporter at The Bucket indicates that a whopping 98.5% of Australian adult males have suffered from either E.P.S or  W.E.P.S (Wishful Errant Penile Syndrome) on at least one occasion.

The main thrust of my work during the first 12 months in office will be to ensure that those men currently suffering from W.E.P.S are adequately counselled, medicated, or inflicted with sufficient early-intervention corporal punishment to ensure that they don’t go on to develop the more serious form of the disease.

Get weaving Ceba-Geigy, we’re talking big bucks up for grabs here for medication.
You’ve done this sort of thing before…..don’t go all shy on me now.

Unfortunately for a small percentage of chronic E.P.S. sufferers, effective treatment will require radical surgery.

I’m looking forward to my new job.

I might even get to meet Tiger Woods.

The Sunscreen Song

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This is my second favourite piece of popular philosophy.
(Desiderata is #1).

I have edited out small portions of the lyrics in the interests of brevity.
The unexpurgated version is here.

Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen, by Mary Schmich:

Wear sunscreen.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

But trust me on the sunscreen.