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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Unto GOF a grandchild is born.

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There are occasions when even the most obstinate deeply-rooted cynic can be moved.

In more ways than one.

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Background;

1. The Bucket is littered with my thankfulness for having been born in a developed, functional and democratic country.

2. From personal involvement at the time, and much retrospective evaluation since, I believe that Australia’s benevolent colonial administration of Papua New Guinea was exemplary.
It literally brought stone-age people into the modern jet age within just a few decades.

One legacy of this focussed development effort was the provision of world-class hospitals in all major provincial towns.

Papua New Guinea became an Independent Nation in 1975.
It was a vibrant functional country with the potential to become the jewel amongst South Pacific nations.

The ineptitude and corruption of politicians and administrative leaders since Independence has resulted in PNG being reduced to a dysfunctional lawless State in 2012.

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The story;

Two weeks ago my daughter-in-law gave birth to little GOG (grandson of GOF) in PNG’s capital city, Port Moresby.

The public health system had failed to identify that the cause of her agonizing enduring pain was the 4 kg unborn child which was 4-weeks-post-term.  In desperation my son took her to a private doctor, who, just 45 minutes later performed an emergency caesarian to deliver GOG.

The distressed infant, having ingested amniotic fluid, was unable to breathe unassisted and had to be sent back to the crowded public hospital premature-baby ward for ‘care’.

During the following 5 days the hospital  ‘ran out’ of oxygen on several occasions leaving GOG blue and at potential risk of brain damage and death.

Fortunately my son’s employer, a large influential company, had health insurance for it’s management staff, and a medivac Lear Jet was dispatched on a 6-hour return flight from Brisbane to Port Moresby, complete with a doctor and 2 nurses.

Little GOG is now being pampered at one of Australia’s best children’s hospitals. He is in an isolation intensive-care room hooked up to all manner of machines and monitors and attended 24 hours each day by a nurse. Every minute of every day there is a nurse watching over him. In effect his own private nurse.

I have just returned from spending 3 days with the little bugger at his bedside along with his Mum and Dad.

This old cynic has been deeply moved by the experience.

I watched as GOG’s oxygen dependency gradually reduced from 80% machine-supplied to 27% at which point the intrusive and painful tubes were removed (along with morphine dosage) and within an hour he changed from purple to normal baby-colour.

One day later, he gurgled and smiled and began to chat about how lucky he was to be alive.  He should also be proud that at the age of 6 days he had his own passport, complete with photograph showing all of the tubes stuck down his nose and throat.

GOG is still not out of the woods and will require weeks of hospitalisation and further tests for brain functionality.

I am gobsmacked by the capabilities, efficiency and competence of Australia’s health-care system.

Never in my life have I witnessed the sort of selfless commitment, compassion and devotion shown by the nurses who patiently work 12-hour shifts just to ensure one little human’s chance at life is not extinguished.

I am in awe of my daughter-in-law who, just days after a major operation, waddled across the tarmac to get onto a commercial flight to join her baby in Brisbane, and never once complained (at least not to me) about her own pain and discomfort.
One day she might even forgive me for being a link in the GOF-family genetic chain which caused GOG to be born ‘hairy with gangly legs and long toes.”

I also have a son who will obviously be a much better Dad to his children than I ever was.

It is a time for counting blessings, and this week I have many.

But it is also appropriate for me to spare some thought for all the parents in PNG and around the world who will never have access to Lear Jets and medical care for their sick babies.

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P.S.  If the medical information and terminology above does not make any sense, it may well be because I haven’t the slightest clue what I am talking about.

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This may take awhile

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The Monsoon Trough is going through an active phase to the near North, leaving GOF’s place directly beneath the Intertropical Convergence Zone.

For those not meteorologically inclined, it is bloody wet and cloudy in these mountains at the moment.

No sun = no solar power = no computer = no blogging.  😦

Fame and glory: Better late than never.

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There are times in a man’s life when he really should take a long hard look at himself and truthfully admit that, when compared to others, he is occupying six cubic feet of space which might otherwise be put to better use.

Let’s face it, I have completely failed to honour my genetic inheritance or justify the existence of my protoplasmic mass with any semblance of outstanding achievement.

Tom Lehrer was the twentieth century’s pre-eminent satirical lyricist.
When he was 37 years of age in 1965 he also broached the subject of his own comparative inadequacy with the following comment to his audience;

“It is a sobering thought, for example, that when Mozart was my age he’d been dead for two years.”

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The following  is a condensed list of my failures to date;

1.  Failed to achieve any of my childhood ambitions. Fireman. Ship’s captain. Radio announcer. Train driver.

2.  Failed to consummate what at one time seemed to me to be a ‘sure thing’ with Ms fancypants MacPherson.

3.  Failed to win any pie-eating, ballroom dancing, arm wrestling or Mister Congeniality competitions.

4.  Failed to sire octuplets. (to the best of my knowledge)

5.  Failed to change the world in any way. I’ve never precipitated a war, fomented social unrest, marched for world peace or even burnt a bra in anger. (except for just one time, and that didn’t change the world….it just made Mrs GOF very angry.)

6.  Most distressing of all is that Australia ignored my prodigious talents for 30 years when selecting it’s International cricket team.  Furthermore, even after I’d spent so much money on a (since reversed) sex-change operation I was still not even considered for
our women’s beach volleyball training squad prior to the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

So shove it Australia. I’m taking my sporting prowess overseas.

Being fully aware that my springchickenhood may well expire sometime during the next decade, I was left with the challenge of finding a suitable sport upon which to unleash my superabundant talents.
The answer came through divine intervention.
A heavenly angel descended to my garden shed (into which you will recall I had been compulsorily quarantined by Mrs GOF last month when I was sick) and whispered the following message from God;

“GOF, your destiny is a narrow, cold and wet hole in the ground.”

Before I had time to further discuss the ramifications of this spiritual sporting guidance, the angel suddenly went *poof* and transmogrified into a ghostly and ghastly apparition (which coincidentally bore an uncanny resemblance to Tammy Faye Bakker) before vanishing through the shed window into the darkness of night.

Praise the Lord for absence of ambiguity.  

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I’m now in training for;

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The International Bog Snorkelling Championships.

Mr Gerden Green, a linguist from Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales, came up with the idea of bog snorkelling one evening in 1976 when he was high on a combination of booze and methane trying to forget the travails of his academic day. His post-doctoral thesis, “An examination of where all the missing Welsh vowels disappeared to” was not progressing as planned and was giving him the shts and splttng hedachs.

World record-holder for two laps of the 55 metre-long bog trench is Joanne Pitchforth with a time of 1 minute 35.18 seconds, so I phoned her in the U.K. hoping she would help me with some training hints;

“Pith off GOTH ith juth finisht trainink ant I caent tork to you corth my flikinth teeths are full oft grath and mut and uther thit laek amoebaths, parathetiumths and wormths”.

Well I’ll teach that Ms Gutter-Gob Pitchfork a lesson or two in August at Waen Rydd bog in Wales.
She may well have superior buoyancy but I’ve been working on a way to harness diet and technology to my advantage.
Sauerkraut and baked beans for breakfast linked somewhat circuitously to a hot-air catalytic thruster concealed in my jocks.

I have a feeling in my gut that the Bog Snorkelling World Record will soon be mine.

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Autographs may be requested on this forum in September after I triumphantly return to Australia laden down with trophies and medallions and tanned all over from the relentless glare of the International media spotlight.

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The Gillies Highway

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It takes me two hours to drive to the nearest ‘big smoke’, Cairns.

Civilised society doesn’t need GOF to be any closer and vice versa.

Midway through the journey there is a section of road known locally as the ‘Gillies Range’ with a steep gradient descending almost 3000 feet from the Atherton Tableland to the hot, humid coastal plain near Cairns. Even though I must have completed this journey at least three thousand times the drive never feels repetitious, and the spectacular landscape and constantly changing weather conditions are awe inspiring and a welcome twice-weekly reminder of just how stunningly beautiful Far North Queensland is for most of the time.

Now, please excuse me for a moment while I deviate and have a chat to my statistically inclined reader.
Everyone else………please feel free to skip the following italicised section.

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3000 return trips down the Gillies!!!   (I initially thought I must have made an error on my abacus and added a few too many zeroes.)
This represents more than half a million kilometres, a $60,000  expenditure on fuel, 20 sets of tyres worth $12,000 over the period of 30 years, and 12,000 hours of my life (one year and four months) spent sitting on my arse driving a truck to Cairns and back, listening (?) to Mrs GOF’s wall of words in my left lughole.
At a conservative 100 words per minute that equates to one million two hundred thousand words.  All in all it’s no wonder that;

A.  I was once the most well-informed man on the planet, until in 1985 I was struck down by some dreadful driver’s auditory malfunction which blocked out spoken words and replaced them with random thoughts and beautiful music such as Cavatina and The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.
B.  I have no money left in the bank.
C.  All the bastard mirrors of the world reflect so poorly upon my visage these days, because I’m totally knackered and worn out from driving the Gillies Range.

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OK, I’m feeling better now that I’ve purged that bit of my misery.

The 19 kilometre Gillies Range section reputedly has 263 bends as it winds it’s way down the Lamb Range. I’ve not counted them. Please don’t ask me to do it in the interests of historical accuracy….if you have a carful of kids you are welcome to come and tally them all yourself.
Just imagine all the ‘counting fun’ you can have during the descent.
Bends.  Vomit stops.  “Are we at the bottom yets“.
Comprehensive and reliable geographical data is seldom collected without overcoming elements of distraction and difficulty.

The original single-lane track down (or indeed UP) the mountain was completed in 1926. Gatekeepers were stationed 24/7 at the bottom and top gates with a telephone link between the two.  Vehicle number plates were recorded and traffic was permitted to pass either up or down according to a daily timetable.

This system operated until 1957 when the Range was widened to two lanes.

The following pictures do not capture the sweet seasonal aromas wafting up the valley from the Gordonvale sugar-cane mill, or the ferocity of cyclonic winds which regularly buffet this escarpment which is exposed to the South-East trade winds blowing off the Coral Sea.

Nor do they reveal an ancient myth and legend surrounding the Gillies Range;

Young and vibrant hunks of manhood, once they have driven the range 3000 times have been known to suddenly metamorphose into wizened, twitter and bisted old men.

Looking east from Heales Outlook

View East to Mulgrave Valley and Walsh's Pyramid in the distance.

Gillies Highway frog. Good graffiti.

Gillies Range road

Little Mulgrave River

Walsh's Pyramid, Gordonvale.