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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Lae – Horn Island – Brisbane 1978

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P2-WKD at Pindiu ….with my apologies for having scanned transparency as a mirror image.

In 1978 our nineteen year old Cessna 182 had to be ferried from PNG to Brisbane for it’s mandatory major overhaul, a procedure which required 2 weeks of dismantling, primping and pampering in Mr Curley’s Archerfield airport workshop.

Even before I got hold of her and treated her like a farm truck, P2-WKD had won no beauty pageants.  In 1978 the  exterior  looked like a mongrel dog who’d been in one too many junkyard scraps.

One sniff inside the cabin was enough to remind you of what cargo this aircraft had carried in recent times;  jute bags full of cabbages and coconuts jammed in from floor to ceiling, pigs, chooks, cows (alive and dead), fish (alive and dead), kerosene, engineering parts for waterwheels and micro-hydro electricity installations, one deceased person, and a live tribal warrior with an axe half-buried in his skull.

The flight time to Brisbane was 16 hours with 8 refuelling stops along the way as a precaution against strong headwinds, and an overnight break in Cairns.  It was a memorable trip for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, my friend and co-pilot Robert was at the time undergoing training for his Instrument Flight Rating, so despite my frequent protestations involving selections from GOF’s Dictionary of Bad Language, he still insisted on diverting to and through the middle of every little bit of cloud he could find along the way just to get some extra practise and hours to enter into his pilot’s logbook.

Not being a born aviator, my idea of safe flying (i.e. keeping the wings level and the wheels permanently pointing towards the ground, a position in which they tend to be most useful) involved two primary instruments.
My left eye and my right eye.

Robert wanted to put his faith in the ancient little cluster of steam gauges in front of him, and the Lear direction-finding radio, a relic from World War 2 which I knew could be as reliable as a blind alcoholic butcher performing cut-price circumcisions.

Rob must have known what he was doing, for we arrived safely and he eventually ended up flying jets around the world, whilst I discovered my true destiny and contentment back on terra firma growing tropical vegetables and decorative garden plants.

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The most memorable part of this journey was the Customs and Immigration procedure at Horn Island which is Australia’s most northerly entry point for light aircraft.

All International air travelers arriving at major airports in Australia during the 1960’s and 70’s will undoubtedly remember that before disembarking they had to wait in their seats until they, and the cabin, had been thoroughly fumigated by a uniformed man discharging numerous aerosol cans of insecticide.

Prior to departing PNG, Robert and I had been advised by other more experienced pilots;
When you arrive at Horn Island, whatever you do, DON’T OPEN THE WINDOW of the plane before the Customs/Quarantine Officer gives you permission to do so.
Flight Service in Weipa will have advised him of your estimated arrival time at Horn Island, so he’ll be waiting for you.”

Right. No opening windows. We understand Australia is serious about not allowing malaria-carrying mosquitoes past it’s borders.

Arrival at Horn Island. Midday, Day 1

At around 10 degrees south of the equator, Horn Island is seriously hot and humid at the end of summer. We taxied to the parking bay, stopped the engine and waited.

And waited.

There was only one other aircraft, a Britten Norman Trislander, parked on the other side of the airfield.

No movement anywhere.

No sign of life in the ‘Terminal/Customs Office” which was about the same size as Beyonce’s walk-in wardrobe.

We waited,……… and we broiled and felt nauseous from the sickly rotting sauerkrauty smell coming from beneath the seats.

We were just discussing how long it might take to run out of oxygen when a nondescript gentleman arrived at the airport in an old car and a cloud of dust.  He wandered nonchalently out towards us. He was wearing daggy shorts, thongs (the footwear variety) and a tee-shirt which thankfully supported a “Customs and Immigration” badge.

He tapped on the window and said “What the hell are you two silly buggers doing inside there with the windows shut…..y’know it’s bloody hot out here today.”

We presented passports, signed a few pieces of paper, refuelled, then headed off into the southerly gale towards Iron Range.

To this day I do not know if we had been ‘set up’ by pilot pranksters, or if there was indeed a pile of skeletons with single bullet holes in their heads buried in a nearby mass grave…….the only remains of pilots who had dared to open their windows prematurely.

Border security today is much tighter in an effort to combat the smuggling of people, weapons and drugs between PNG and Australia.

We have sadly lost much of our innocence and relaxed attitude towards life during the last 34 years.

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(Other stories about flying in Papua New Guinea may be found by clicking the  ‘aviation’  tag  near the bottom of the sidebar on this page.)

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Hubert the hawk, then ‘Waltzing Matilda’.

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King parrots

Rainbow lorikeets

Finches

When I look out the window into the garden and see all the wild birds feeding, it occurs to me that all the humans who spend most of their daily lives worrying about the performance of the FTSE and Dow Jones Indices are missing out on something vastly more important in life.

When Hubert the hawk, circling at 500 feet, looks down into my garden and sees all the wild birds feeding, it occurs to him that here is a banquet, a smorgasbord, fit for a bird of his dominance and distinction, and whilst dive-bombing at 100 kilometres per hour towards them he thinks to himself  “Hubert baby, this is going to be my lukky day.”

Yesterday, unfortunately for Hubert, he made two slight errors of judgment.  (Plus one of spelling.)

Firstly,the birds saw him coming and took evasive action.

Secondly, Hubert, (having failed miserably in his physics exams at the Avian Academy)  in pulling out of his dive failed to understand that the reflection of clear sky in a glass window was fraught with impediments to high-velocity flight.

Something had to give way.

It was not the window.

Hubert was not a well hawk for at least an hour, but after Dr GOF pulled Hubert’s head back out from way down somewhere near his  gizzard, then gave him two panadeines, a healing blessing, a pat on the head and a sip of altar wine from his apostolic goblet, Hubert wobbled his way back up into a nearby tree to contemplate what might have caused things to go so pear-shaped on what was going to be his ‘lukky day’.

Semi-comatose Hubert

healed Hubert giving thanks

(all photographs by Mrs GOF)

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Plus there’s more;

Today I am handing out gifts.

One gift to Gominoklahoma  and another one just for you.

GOM has now been a blog friend of mine for almost 4 years. There is no finer Drabble (story told in precisely 100 words) composer or witty commenter in my blog world. It is time for me to reward him with a special cultural gift of song from Australia, and one for you too in recognition of the time you waste  spend keeping me company in The Bucket.

Waltzing Matilda’ is Australia’s unofficial National Anthem.

‘Banjo Patterson’ (1864-1941), the principal folk poet of Australia  composed the lyrics in 1895 at Dagworth Station near Winton in Queensland’s outback.
Patterson’s image appears on our $10 polymer bank note.

The first of the following gifts is for GOM who has suffered with great dignity and tolerance through so many of my references to this ‘singer’ over the years.

The second is for you.  (Please share it with GOM too because he deserves better than what I just gave him.)  Noel Watson has been called a  “Genuine Aussie bloke with a voice that’ll pin your ears back.”
Plucked from obscurity, he rendered this extraordinary live performance  sung from his heart at the Aussie Rules Football Grand Final in 1988, and it still gives me goosebumps 24 years later.

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The Bucket’s History of Ballet

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Modesty prevents me from blowing too much rhetorical wind up my own tutu, but please allow me to establish my credentials to author this concise history of ballet.

What might a six-foot-plus streak of misery bereft of significant musculature who has lived his entire life in the Australian and New Guinea bush have to offer the world of cultural refinement?

I’m very glad you asked that question.

Just as a manta ray, incompetent and clumsy on dry land, becomes a graceful performer in his natural underwater environment, so also do I metamorphose into a thing of extraordinary beauty and grace when I step into my Primasoft leotards and Grishko pointe shoes.

I was biologically blessed for the world of ballet with the twin gifts of twinkle toes and extraordinarily productive light fingers.

Few who saw it will ever forget my final leaping grand jeté as premier danseur  in Etudes at the Sydney Opera House in 1981.

Because of an incompetently designed stage, it terminated with me plummeting down into the orchestra pit, firstly impaling myself on the piccolo being played by a bald-headed dwarf, closely followed by the conductor’s baton.  Fortunately I finally came to rest on the floor quite comfortably (despite a fractured tibia and punctured lung) cushioned between the First Violinist’s rather ample and sumptuous stockinged thighs.

Unfortunately Miss Myfanwe Seacombe never fully recovered from what happened that night, and despite 31 years of being institutionalised and medicated she still has sporadic bouts of looking skywards and grimacing is if expecting some sort of heavenly horror to descend upon her.

Anyway, enough of my achievements. I understand that you are here with a higher intellectual purpose.

The History of Ballet

This style of theatrical entertainment originated in Italy 500 years ago at roughly the same time that Christopher was Columbusing around on the high seas looking for America. It combined for the first time the elements of dance, music, pantomime, poetry and drama.

The word ‘ballet’ was not coined until 100 years later in France from the Italian ballo ….a dance.

King Louis XIV

King Louis XIV of France (1638 – 1715) was a bit of a hoofer like me, especially when he wasn’t busy organising all of his wars against the Spanish and Dutch. He loved nothing more than to spend time prancing around his court and kicking up his heels in the brand spanking new Palace of Versailles.
This activity often occurred to the dismay and physical distress of the many royal cats who used to lounge around the corridors taking full advantage of all the plush scatter rugs and underfloor heating ducts.  

Louis would glide around the corners, a picture of ballet line and form purity, then use the cats as takeoff-point markers to improve the technical virtuosity of his flying leaps, or suddenly cleave one unsuspecting pussy to his chest as a pretend partner to rehearse segments of Romeo and Juliet, a ballet in which quite frankly the cats had very little interest.

Royal cat showing disinterest in ballet

The King created the Royal Academy of Dance in 1661 which in turn became the Paris Opera Ballet School where, in 1681, Mademoiselle Lafontaine was elevated to the position of prima ballerina.

(Which one of you cynics once said that you don’t learn anything useful from my History Tutorials.)

So there you have it.

Ballet rapidly gained popularity in Russia, then all over Europe wherever the Diaghilev Company toured and spread it’s influence.

Even eventually to Australia, where it is well placed on the scale of popular entertainment after football, cricket, darts, quoits and cane toad racing.  

We all love the Sydney Opera House which hosts many of our most magnificent ballet performances………..

…….except for Miss Myfanwe Seacombe who really remains quite ambivalent about it.

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Tutorials covering the entire curriculum may be accessed at
The Bucket History Academy.

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My truck needs change of oil

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(Some lamentable little lines from GOF’s profane pen)

Now I’m getting older,
An expert I’ve become
In the management of time
And getting plenty done.

Gotta change the oil today,
Lest engine shits itself.
But where’s the friggin’ oil
Disappeared from off the shelf?

At least the ladder’s here, so
I’ll clean roof spout instead
If I don’t fall off the bastard
And end up stone cold dead.

Well bugger me it’s full
Of leaves and other shit.
Wonder where it came from.
Drink tea,…. and think a bit.

Has to be that bloody tree
Grown right up past the roof.
First I’d better chop it down.
I need no further proof.

So where’s the effen chainsaw?
Put somewhere I’ve forgotten.
To fell that mongrel tree.
Memory’s gone, ratshit and rotten.

Well now I see the bastard
Under junk and in the gloom.
The shed needs cleaning up
To give myself some room.

First we’ll start the powerplant
To light up all this shite.
If I begin working now
I’ll be finished by midnight.

But power engine stopped last night
“Low oil” the cutoff warned.
“Well I’ll be stuffed” I muttered
Why was I ever borned.”

So lubricant I’ll fetch
To sate the thirsty bitch.
Then clean the shed, fix the saw,
Chop tree without a hitch.

I wonder where the oil went?
‘Twas here the other day.
The ladder’s gone as well
What fool took that away?

Day is done. Getting dark.
I’m weary. Endless toil.
Must not forget tomorrow
My truck needs change of oil.

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The throne was almost mine

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All the pomp, circumstance and kerfuffle in London this week opened up a deep festering wound in my psyche.

It could have been me standing there in the front row of Saint Paul’s Cathedral alongside Her Majesty.

Please allow me to cry on your shoulder and/or bury my distraught miserable little balding head in your bosom.  I desperately need to talk to you, my compassionate friend, about the deeply-rooted sense of entitlement deprivation which I am feeling today.
Completely and totally rooted.

My tale of woe goes like this;

1. I was born at the same time as Prince Charles in 1948.

2. Mrs GOF and I were married at the same time as Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1980.

3. Our respective first royal issues, Princess Inga and Prince William were born at the same time in 1982.

I did everything I could. I ticked all the boxes which were within my purview to tick. The jigsaw of fate fitted together perfectly except for just one critical piece………my Father.

“Dad, wherever you are up there, if you had just…… ahem……this delicate matter is a little difficult for me to talk to you about…….but if you’d just been in a, ahem, a different geographic location, in early 1948 things might have turned out a whole lot differently for me.”

.

*sigh*   .      .    *siiiiiiiiiiigh*

.

Prince GOF.

.

King GOF I, first monarch of The House of Bucket.

.

.

I wonder if the good people of the United Kingdom realise just how fortunate they are today.

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From a Dad to his Daughter

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In charge of the pump 1984

My dear Globet,

Today you celebrate 30 years of life.

Well that’s the theory.

However, judging from the phone call we received from Sergeant Plodbottol at the Frankston Police Watchhouse late last Saturday night I am led to believe that you may well have jumped the gun.

As you are aware, a lot of your present behaviour is the result of what I meticulously taught you over the years.

Today seems like a good time to apologise for all of that.

I would also like to say that I am sorry for those numerous occasions when I publicly embarrassed you right here in The Bucket, as well as all those other moments of mortification which I might have inadvertently caused you to suffer in Cairns, Ballarat, Bendigo, Butcher’s Creek, Mareeba, Atherton, Castlemaine, Newell Beach, Dandenong, Sunbury, Undara, Ravenshoe and Hervey Bay.

The symptoms of inept fathering were revealed early in your life.
I should have taken more notice.  At one year of age, while Mum and I were smoothing out the wet mortar between the concrete wall blocks of the house we were building, you, unbeknownst to us, were toodling around behind another wall gouging it all out again onto the ground with a sharp stick.

A little later in life, when you were being overtaken by the unfortunate forces of pubescence (entirely your fault after refusing to swallow any more of the hormone suppressants we were feeding you at the time) you virtually held a Cairns radio station to ransom until it gave you a backstage pass to hang out with that concert singer for whom you had some sort of peculiar adolescent raging hots  musical admiration.

One of the things I never had the heart to explain to you before now was Age Bracket Creep.
When you were 1 year old you were 3% of my age at the time.
Today you are 47% of my age.
At this frightening rate of depreciation, you will actually close the gap and be older than me in the year 2047. (Sadly you can’t argue with mathematical truths like these which emanate from your father. I am sorry to be the bearer of this bad news on your birthday.)

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Fortunately your Mum provided you with all the essential moral and ethical vocabulary necessary for you to write your own unique and exemplary book of values and life principles.
You now set examples of behaviour which I would do well to follow, and it makes me extraordinarily proud that you have chosen to become a supporter and mentor for others less fortunate.

I admire your physical courage.
Climbing to the summit of Queensland’s highest mountain Mt. Bartle Frere at the age of 10, being the first member of your group of graduating Year 12’s to leap off the bungee tower (with the rope attached), and your recent participation in the Tough Mudder are just three examples.

Most of all it gives me great joy to watch you embracing a life of independence and exploring the destiny pathways which were but
an elusive dream for most women of my generation.

Some children are given the love and respect of their parents only as an automatic and sometimes undeserved birthright.

You have earned ours by your conduct, the considerate and respectful way you treat other people, and your intelligent concern for the future of mankind and the planet.  It has been an absolute privilege being part of your life for thirty years.

I know you would expect no less, so I’m still keeping one eye on you just to make sure you don’t relapse into your old mortar-gouging mode.

Happy birthday my dear Inga.

The following little song “Dad, do you remember” by Kasey Chambers and Poppa Bill is for you, as well as all the Dads and Daughters in this world who share a special bond.

Go safely. Tread lightly upon the Earth.

With love today and always,

Dad

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Going to school 1991

Just for old times sake 2012

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