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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Say it with ……..

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Flowers?

No, I don’t think so.  I tried that last year when she came home after five weeks in Minnesota.

“GOF,  you have only presented me with flowers on three occasions in the past. According to my calculations, that roughly equates to one bunch per decade.  Coming from you, the gift of flowers lacks a certain element of authenticity.
Are you sure that your more thoughtful blog friends, especially the ladies, didn’t sow that nice romantic floral seed into the normally arid regions between your ears while I was away?”

OK. I do appreciate your excellent advice last time, but I got sprung.

Not this time.

She knows that I am a practical man. An unromantic improvisor. Good at creating masterpieces from either new materials or scrap.
I needed to do something with my own signature on it to show her that I missed her while she was away.

Not some wimpy twenty-buck bunch of flowers bought on the spur of the moment.  I engineered something that took the entire month to bring to fruition.
A spectacular monument to her indispensibility in my life.

Just like the pyramids in Egypt….the individual building blocks are mundane and unimpressive, but the completed project is sure to fill the beholder with utter amazement. (I’m even giving you a sneak preview below.)

I did it.  She is going to be gobsmacked tomorrow.

In fact, I think she might even become slightly emotional.

If it backfires, I can always blame it on my blog friends.

Again.

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Disclaimer;  This was a totally fabricated work of fiction.
It was also a very poor attempt at humour which, in hindsight, might only appeal to male chauvinist piglets, a category of person which fortunately does not visit The Bucket.
All in all, I really don’t know why I wrote it.
I’m directionless.
That is about to change.

Tomorrow.

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Man’s best friend???

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Nett benefits

I’ve recently had need to ponder
As far as my mind will permit,
Do the pets in my house, I wonder,
Provide an overall nett benefit?

Nelson the dog I did’st shampoo
To dispose of his fleas and the nits.
Coiffured with his movie-star hairdo
Expecting some nett benefits.

He rewarded me furious and fast.
Drove me totally out of my wits.
Putrid stench left me  aghast
And oblivious of nett benefits.

The bandicoot died four days ago
From the shovel with which it was hit.
Then exhumed by Nelson today
He’s got bugger-all nett benefit.

Another bath, good while it lasted.
Then dog finds a pile of cow shit,
“Nelson, you  ******   ******* bastard”.
“You’re ******** useless, no nett benefit.

The cat meanwhile contemptuously
Thinks, “GOF’s a complete disgrace
Criticising his pets deprecatingly
We moggies have nett benefit.

I’ll just lie in my basket all day
Deliberating up to my limit.
And wondering if humans today
Provide the world with any nett benefit.

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"The Cat"

Answers to the missing word competition.

******          =  damned
*******  (1)  =  useless
*******  (2)    =  very

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* * * * * * * * * *

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The Chief Coroner investigating Mr Bandicoot’s death found that the deceased had breached a bandicoot-proof fence by burrowing underneath it into Mr GOF’s vegetable garden, and accordingly handed down a verdict of “Death by Misadventure.”
Very wise coroner.

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AND……………………………….

The following is a photograph which I took last week of a rare event.
It shows my backyard on a cloudless day when I could actually see the mountain.  Even during the 180 days each year when I can see no part of it at all, somehow the world seems a safer and more serene place just by knowing that it’s there.


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Breaking the law. Legally.

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For most of this life I have paddled my little canoe inconspicuously around the lagoon of mediocrity, rarely being tempted to add any sort of outrigger to it and explore the more unpredictable ocean which lies beyond the protective reef surrounding my atoll.

It always seemed safer this way.  By not attracting attention to myself I avoided school bullying and young men’s feuds, and accidentally along the way also discovered the meaning of tranquillity.

It was a surprise, as much to myself as anybody else, when early in 1976 I decided to get a pilots licence.  Surprising in more ways than one, because I was then, and remain today, terrified at the prospect of climbing higher than the fifth rung on a stepladder.

My decision was made within a week with as much emotion as a carpenter might use when deciding to buy an old truck in which to cart around his tools of trade.

I needed to learn to fly, then find a secondhand aeroplane in order to do my job to the best of my ability. Simple as that.  No more walking unproductively for 10 hours up and down and around Papua New Guinea to reach a destination that could be accessed in just 10 minutes by plane.

Twelve weeks later with a grand total of 64 hours flight training, I held in my sweaty palm for the first time “PNG Private Pilot Licence Aeroplanes Unrestricted” Number 283.

The next thing I grabbed hold of after pawning-off almost everything that I owned, was something that ultimately proved to be one of the loves of my life.  Dear old P2-WKD was a battered maroon and white 1959 Cessna 182A equipped with an antiquated World War 2 Lear ADF radio and clunky mechanical flap lever.

Flight training theory courses teach private pilots a lot of stuff about aeroplanes, weather, navigation, and how not to kill yourself.
What they did not teach me much about was the lesser-known rules and regulations which apply to aviation.

It therefore came as a complete surprise when, after a couple of months of flying, I was hauled before a Flight Service Officer
( guys who sat somewhere in the control tower buildings at PNG’s main airports and maintained mandatory radio contact with all pilots)
and reminded that I was NOT permitted to fly seven days each week for an indefinite period of time.
I was directed by this God of aviation to forthwith have at least one day mother-earth-bound during each seven.

Or else.

Soon after this I had the second in what was to become a very long series of run-ins with Regulations and Authority.

Airstrips in New Guinea were rated according to the surface of the landing area.
Category “Alpha” being the best, then “Bravo“, “Charlie” and finally “Delta” which applied to firm but short grass or dirt ‘strips.
By knowing this information in advance, pilots could safely determine which landing fields were suitable for their type of aircraft.

Occasionally after very heavy rain a few bush ‘strips were downgraded to a mysterious new “Category Echo” which basically meant  “land at your own risk on this pig paddock”.

Ogeranang under construction ( pic from Paul Oates collection)

Ogeranang, at 5000 feet elevation and just 8 minutes away from my home base at Pindiu was frequently downgraded to this quagmire status Echo.  Most days of the week I flew into Ogeranang and was familiar with it’s shortcomings.  Fortunately there were always people on hand willing to lift the plane out of bog holes back onto firmer ground whenever my optimism overwhelmed better judgment.

P2-WKD at Ogeranang

I really didn’t need any bureaucratic intervention.
It arrived anyway via Flight Service radio as I was in the circuit area and about to land at Ogeranang early one morning;

“GOF, is your aircraft certified for landing at Category Echo fields?”

Que?   Whaat?     *thinks briefly*   What the freaking hell is a Cat. E Certification ……….before I pushed the transmit button and replied with absolute conviction;

“Affirmative”

Then landed as planned.

The letter arrived by mail shortly afterwards advising me of my repeated infringements of Air Safety Regulations along with instructions on how to make P2-WKD Category E compliant by reducing it’s gross weight and fitting special larger balloon tyres suitable for mud landings.

OR………..OR….. and this was the magnificent moment when I first discovered there was a legal way to break the law.

DISPENSATIONS!!!!

There was a special “Request for Dispensation” Form attached to the warning letter which, upon completion and approval, would enable me to continue flouting the law ad infinitum.

WOOHOO!!!

Dispensations!

I eventually discovered that they were available for all sorts of aviation misdemeanors…..missing or faulty cockpit gauges and radios. I could even occasionally fly longer hours with a Dispensation, and I dreamed of one day applying for one to take Elle MacPherson up to 5280 feet and…….

Dammit, I’m sure I once had a perfectly good reason for wanting to do that, but now my ageing memory just can’t recall what it might have been.

I still dream of Dispensations today.

I’d like one permitting me to drive right through that bastard of a red traffic light in the small town of Gordonvale at 4 am when there’s obviously not another vehicle for 10 miles in any direction.

Come to think of it, I could find uses for a whole fistfull of
“Request for Dispensation” Forms.

Handicapped in America

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Handicapped in America

 ………..  by ………………

William Wordsworth GOF

 

 

It took me literally ages
Driving from New York to L.A.
Ten thousand infinitesimal stages
With hazards along the way.

Spent time in a Pueblo cop car
After drinking in Colorado.
Molested by Mormons in Utah
And freezing in Columbus Ohio.

Arms are numb and eyes so bleary.
Both shoulders locked and seized
From carrying the bag I feel so weary
And my feet have fungal disease.

Next year I’ll do it differently,
‘Cos this was such a failure.
My mind is now made up you see
To leave irons and putters in Australia.

Apology List

1. To readers who know nothing about golf and for whom the last sixty seconds were a complete waste of life.

2. To readers who DO understand golf and who probably didn’t fare much better.

3. To Mormons. I just made that bit up.

4. To poets.

5. To the cab driver on the Pasadena Freeway after I had closed down all inbound lanes whilst teeing-up.
No, I am not “one shrimp short of a barbecue” and I am sorry for what I did to your windscreen in response.

Mrs GOF’s dream start

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Half-time score;

GOF                  1
Mrs GOF       11,335

(It may just end up being the full-time score if she ever gets to read this story.)

Australia's moral lighthouse-keeper

Moral crusaders are constantly hollering from their pulpits of pontification that each of us lesser mortals living in intimate partnerships should be pulling our socks up because the failure/divorce rate is approaching fifty percent.

I think it’s an absolute miracle that any union survives for more than a few years because the vast range of variation and difference within human psyches and expectations makes the possibility of finding long-term compatibility and happiness with another person fairly remote.

Perhaps I am not alone in suspecting that some marriages only achieve longevity because one dominant partner has stifled the individuality, ambition and dreams of the other.
Maybe other relationships still exist only because each partner in equal proportion has allowed the two-storey house of hope to decay through lack of maintenance into a ramshackle hovel where neither occupant can even be bothered looking for a door to get out.

I’m sorry, I just went all philosophical and cynical there for a moment.
I’ll try and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
This story was to be about something different.

It was supposed to be about dreams.

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I am perfectly content with my belief that dreams are nothing more than the brain doing a little essential housework by filing-away, throwing-out, or trying to make sense of the vast quantities of crap we shove into it each day via our various orifices and portals.

I don’t expect them to have meaning or predictive potential.
Mostly I can’t even be bothered trying to remember them.
Certainly I don’t think anyone else really needs to know about the content of my dreams.  If one day I have a real humdinger then you will be the first to find out.

Mrs GOF is different.

Every morning for the past 32 years Mrs GOF has presented me with the latest episode of her Adventures in Slumberland.
In great detail.

Occasionally she attempts to convince me that she had had dreams which fortold the future, but always AFTER she had been overtaken by the event itself….never before.

Mostly I solemnly endure this quirk of her character whilst nodding profusely and inserting a tsk tsk” here and awow” there into the occasional pauses which inevitably must occur in order to draw breath during any half-hour monologue.

Ninety percent of what gets written in The Bucket was originally composed in my head during the Dream Stories morning interlude.

I am only able to get away with  provide this porthole into domesticity today without fear of physical or psychological retribution because Mrs GOF has gone swanning around Papua New Guinea for a month.  Out of range of the internet.

I’m safe.  It’s not like any other member of my family, or friends of Mrs GOF might read this blog and urgently send a message for her to procure an armful of fighting spears and the machete that chopped poor old Roger the Rooster’s head off so that she can deal with my disrespectful impertinence when she gets back.

It really is miraculous that some partnerships can endure for so long.
It is a miracle that Mrs GOF has tolerated my intolerance of her dawn dream summary for so long.

She has told me 11,335 dream stories during the past 32 years.

And I only ever had ONE dream that I thought was worthy of relating to her.

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So there you have it.   What more could you possibly need to know.

I do apologise for this woeful piece of storytelling.

It just sort of fizzled out with barely a whimper.

I think I know why.

It’s now been 16 days since I heard a dream story.

My world as I knew it is temporarily incomplete.

😦

Sophie* the sadist masseuse

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* Name changed to protect the guilty.

Sophie is probably a very nice lady.
I will never know because I don’t want to see her again.

Sophie is a fifty-three year old South Korean masseuse who is in such a remarkable state of preservation and short-skirtedness that she is still capable of instantly reigniting the cold embers of old men’s desires.
(So I’ve been told.)

I still don’t want to see her ever again.

Let me delicately describe for you Sophie’s domestic arrangements as revealed to Mrs GOF during an episode of massage “girl talk”.  This has absolutely no relevance to my story, but if you are looking for high quality objective journalism, scrounging around in The Bucket is probably not the best way in the world to find it.

Desirelighter Sophie apparently has a little old conjugal flame flickering away at home.   He very generously gave consent for Sophie to light a second much hotter fire under the same roof, so that she could satisfy her wish to keep every little nook and cranny permanently glowing with radiant warmth.

After briefly wondering whether she might also occasionally have the need for a sexagenarian bonfire in her house as well, I concluded that I really don’t want to ever see Sophie again ……..in any capacity.

Why?  Because Sophie has an abysmal command of English language which resulted in her pulverising my skeleton to such an extent that she came within an inch of remodeling it’s Homo sapiens vertical functionality into something pre-dating Homo erectus.

Laying face-down on a massage table with your head jammed down into a hole facing the floor does not provide optimum conditions for either concise or precise communication with another person, unless they happen to be supine on the floor looking back up at you.

This did not apply to Sophie.  She was still swinging from the rafters when we had this final conversation last year;

GOF:    I am really impressed by the way you keep your balance using the handrail on the ceiling whilst shoving the full force of your heels into my shoulder blades Sophie, but it is REALLY painful so could you please do it more softly.

(Editors comment; I apologise for interrupting GOF’s riveting little memoir mid-moan, but over a glass of plonk last night he revealed to me that at this point in his conversation with Sophie he almost gave birth to an impure thought.  In his words;  “I figured I could distract myself from all the agony by considering that if only I was facing upwards I might be receiving more, albeit different, value for my money.”   It is fortunate that GOF received a comprehensive Methodist Sunday Schooling, for after humping this piece of intellectual wickedness around in his head for the remainder of the massage he was then able to expunge it completely from his mind. Just as well for him.
The Bucket certainly will not tolerate adventures into depravity by any member of it’s staff, either in thought or deed.)

Sophie:   Shong fuchu ehasta whahjo neehar what you say Mr GOF Softer not enough Harder! Harder ! Ah?

GOF:   NO!  NO!  SOFTER!  SOFTER!

Sophie:   Ha! misho wa-chu da sifo chanda-ru. Now I got it. Pain right there. Little pain is good. Harder! Harder!  Kill little pain!  Now I stand on neck. Good yes?

GOF:  HOLY SHIT SOPHIE THAT HURTS!

Sophie:   Ah! Holy shit yes now we fix big pain in neck. Kill pain in neck!  Kill pain in back!  Kill pain in shoulder!  Everything good now. Shahbu wucha dongbe ande shanjong fifty dollar thank you Mr GOF.

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I took my Rolls Royce in for a 60-minute service and tune up, and what came out resembled a crash-tested Volkswagon.
I need another body mechanic urgently.
Preferably an ugly one clad in long trousers who doesn’t have handrails screwed into the ceiling.

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This story was written with empathy for Elaine, a subscriber to
The Bucket,  who was also recently damaged by her masseur.

Lower Watut patrol 1973

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With the benefit of hindsight it was inadvisable and doomed to failure from the very beginning.

Tsili Tsili, Morobe province PNG

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(As background for new readers, the often dangerous “coalface” ground work carried out in Australia’s colonial administration prior to New Guinea’s Independence in 1975 was done by young Patrol Officers (kiaps).
After initial “pacification” was established by the kiaps, Health Officers and Rural Development Officers (didimen) such as myself then entered the field in an attempt to improve living standards for village people.)

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Just as Papua New Guinea has more than 700 languages,
so also does it have a vast number of variations in social customs and practices.

Some villages and clans during Australia’s colonial presence welcomed outsiders and assistance from development agencies, whilst others shunned them either because of tribal pride or negative past experiences with foreigners.

My years prior to this Lower Watut debacle had  been spent working in other areas where the people had traditions of hospitality toward travelers.  I had become accustomed to conducting week-long foot patrols alone, trekking between villages carrying just a backpack without the need for a full-time guide or interpreter.

The people in these other communities had always looked after me with food and accommodation because they were eager to find ways to start making money or to learn about things which might improve their standard of living. (eg. polythene pipes to bring water into the heart of the village from a distant creek.)

Not so in the Lower Watut.

Accompanied only by an older native didiman assistant from another district, and the self-assuredness that attaches itself to men of my then 24 year-old vintage, on the 5th March 1973 I flew by chartered Cessna into the old wartime airstrip at TsiliTsili where the aircraft eventually clattered to a halt on the perforated-steel marsden matting surface.

At a meeting with villagers that night it became obvious that this patrol was not going to be a pleasant excursion.

The people had zero interest in whatever services my assistant and I were offering on behalf of the Government.
In response, I unwisely mirrored their contempt.

It was a potentially dangerous situation.

The aircraft had long ago departed back to Lae town airport and we had no means of communicating with “civilisation” to get it back again.

After several hours of negotiation and payment of money to them, the village leaders grudgingly agreed that a couple of the younger men would construct a raft to get the two of us out of their lives by sending us floating off down the snaking Watut River past Wuru and Wuruf to it’s confluence with the Markham from where we could access the “Highlands Highway” and hitchhike our way back to Lae.

Lower Watut River

The raft was built from banana plant stems lashed together with kunda bush rope.  The result being a raft which “floats” in a semi-submerged fashion, but more under the water than on top of it.

Floating down the river for two days was a memorably uncomfortable experience which included a moment of misadventure which brought me the closest I have ever been to prematurely meeting my maker.

The raft, perhaps by design, kept breaking apart, the mosquitos were ferocious during the overnight camp on the river bank, and the sunburn unbearable during the day.
Early on the second morning after floating rapidly around a bend in the river we were both knocked off the raft by a low overhanging tree.
I can remember being trapped underneath the raft with my already bruised head bumping up against it’s underside.
To this day I have no recollection of how I extricated myself and found my way to the muddy river bank to hear the welcome sound of my partner yelling out to me from further downstream.

Here is a more recent picture which I just purloined from the net, of much larger rafts on the Lower Watut River.

I don’t have any warm feelings for the people or landscape of the Lower Watut. I do however accept my responsibility and stupidity for initiating this doomed venture without adequate planning or regard for my own safety.

No doubt the Lower Watut people remain proud, noble and self-sufficient to this day, and will survive long into the future without intervention from people like me.
Accordingly, for this they have my respect.

Shortly after this experience I was posted to the Huon Peninsula where I happily spent my remaining six Papua New Guinea years working amongst some of the most likeable, hospitable and industrious people you could ever expect to find on this planet.

Thirty two years after returning to Australia a very large chunk of my heart remains there.

Perhaps one day part of my final remains will return to that place where I always felt at home and among friends.

Pindiu, Huon Peninsula