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Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Woomera rocket range

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Thank you to everyone who has read or contributed to The Bucket during the last 5  years, especially Snowy who encouraged me from the very beginning and introduced me to the following exquisite video about happiness , thankfulness and appreciating this wonderful world in which we live.    Take care of yourself, others, and the planet.

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It must be that I am an unrecognised and untapped keg of astute political potential. An unhatched egg of statesmanship, just waiting to be sat upon for 28 days by some warm maternal stateswoman before I hatch into a consummate fully-fledged featherer of my own nest.

Sir Robert Menzies was Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister.  His bushy eyebrows reigned imperiously and paternally over my generation of baby boomers during the 1950’s and beyond.
Menzies and I have something very important in common.

We both issued identical public statements.

“I did but see her passing by, and yet I’ll love her till I die.”

Menzies grovelled this to the Mother Country in 1954 after Queen Elizabeth’s first royal visit to Australia.

Queen

Some time later, coincidentally and auspiciously, I came out with the same phrase in appreciation of the following, although etymological nit-pickers could perhaps technically argue that I arrived at the word ‘love’ after a slightly less rigorous thought process than Menzies.

So now we’ve established conclusively that Sir Robert and Sir (potentially) GOF are really just two peas in the same leadership pod.
Except that he is dead and to the best of my knowledge I’m not.

Therefore I am a Prime Ministerial time bomb just waiting to be detonated.

Be that as it may. Let’s now return to Menzies and the Woomera story.

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Sir Robert loved the Queen so much that he allowed her English subjects to come and test their nuclear weapons and fire their rockets in our Australian backyard instead of their own.
This was necessary because the only piece of vacant land in all of Great Britain, M.C.C. Lords, was occasionally being used for games of cricket, and radioactive explosions were deemed to be potentially detrimental to both the hallowed turf and spectator attendance.

map4

This establishment in South Australia was originally named the Woomera Test Facilty but was eventually given a name change. Something to do with an embarrassing anagram, so it became the Woomera Test Range, but I think it should remain WTF forever.

1. WTF was the Government of the day thinking by ever allowing nuclear testing at Maralinga in this pristine albeit remote environment.

2. WTF were they thinking by gathering unprotected men together on top of a sandhill to watch the atomic blasts for the purpose of shooting publicity films. “Just to be safe boys, backs facing the blast, but then immediately turn around to watch the pretty mushroom cloud.”

3. WTF was the unconscionable disregard for the traditional aboriginal landowners, many of whom suffered the consequences of downwind nuclear fallout.

When the nuclear nonsense ended, Woomera was used to test-fire missiles. Skylarks, Black Knights and Europas. Like naughty little boys playing with gunpowder rockets in the backyard, debris came crashing back to earth causing annoyance to the neighbours……in this case, a handful of broad-acre pastoralists.

In response, the Government supplied each farmer with a ‘bomb shelter’ in which to safely hide, along with advance notification of missile test-firing schedules.

Woomera rocket shelter

In the words of one pastoralist;

“These ******* shelters provided an excellent ******* cellar in which to store food, wine and machinery spare parts, as well as being a perfect viewing platform.  We would grab a beer and sit on top of the ******* shelter and watch all the ******* rockets whizzing overhead.”

The laconic Aussie outback spirit was alive and well back then.

It still is.

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P.S.  Woomera is now a tourist attraction. The National Missile Park.

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Melanesian tok pisin: Lesson #1

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The Bucket’s Special Minority Languages Unit, in consultation with some of the world’s  pre-eminent linguistic scholars, is proud to inflict upon you  launch this special illustrated guide to the use of Melanesian tok pisin, the lingua franca of Papua new Guinea.

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243

Ol pato bilas gut tru na behainim wanpela man igat bilakpela hat.

Several ducks dressed in their finery are following a man with a black hat.

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messing with myhead

Dispela sampting emi bagarapim stret tingting bilong me.

This is really messing with my head.

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as-nating meri

Yangpela as-nating meri holim wonem sampting tru long han bilong em na lukluk igo long solawara?

What imaginary objects is the naked young lady pretending to hold while she’s looking out to sea?

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Cycling Pigeons

Planti pisin sindaon na pekpek nabaut antap long ol wiliwil.

Lots of pigeons are sitting and crapping on the bicycles.

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funny-collie-04

upper class dog

Tupela blari longlong dog. Wanpela lesbaka putim shoe na hat na malalo olsem masta, na narapela bilas na sindaon long tebol redi long kaikai olsem Prince Charles.

Two stupid bloody dogs. One dressed up relaxing like an expatriate, and another sitting at the table dining like Prince Charles.

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Horror

Pikinini lukim bol bilong lapun man na poreit nogut tru.

The kid sees the old man’s privates and is horrified at the sight.

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Under interrogation

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I don’t normally get involved in blogging quizzes, but Elise  who operates a very professional and entertaining blog has fed me to the lions  nominated me to answer the following questions.

As I enjoy reading the replies of other respondents, I am happy to comply on this occasion.

What are eleven facts that we may not know about you?

Long-time readers probably know almost everything. They’ve read more indiscriminate trivia here than they ever deserved.

1.  When using sporting equipment or work tools that require just one hand I am right-handed, but left-handed when they require both hands.

2.  I’ve only been admitted to hospital once in my adult life.  For seven days.  An ingrown big toenail. Yep. One whole week.
Various tropical bacteria, fungi and worms were calling my foot ‘home’. Perhaps I should have sought earlier medical intervention.

3. At age 49, after stupidly spending the day lifting objects that would have challenged Tarzan, I collapsed in the main street of Port Douglas with breathlessness and severe chest pains.  Just before I lost consciousness I told Mrs GOF to ‘call 911′.
Fortunately she didn’t listen to me and dialled the correct emergency number for Australia….. triple zero.
Bloody Americans nearly killed me.

After some oxygen and a couple of hours of being poked and prodded by medics I staged a miracle recovery and wandered off into the night a little sore but happy to be alive.  

4.  I am the 1974 Finschhafen Golf Club (PNG) champion.
There were only two of us playing the ‘airstrip course’, and Patrick was handicapped to a greater extent than I in terms of blood alcohol level. I still have the trophy. A $2 South Pacific Lager mug.

5.  I was so terrified of 10 y.o. Fay Conn throwing rocks at me as I pedaled past her house every day on my bike in 1958, that I always rode the long way home after school to avoid her. An extra 3 miles.  Someone told me years later that her behaviour was a sign that she had the hots for me.  My understanding of women has not improved during the 55 years since.

6.  I didn’t taste beer until I was 19. I can still take it or leave it.

7.  When I was 17 my nickname was ‘Twiggy’ because the only discernible difference between her physique and mine was that I had slightly larger tits.  If it wasn’t for that sexist chiffon ceiling which existed during the 1960’s I could have been a supermodel.
Shit happens.

8.  Once upon a time I smoked a pipe to look ‘cool’. I never inhaled the smoke because it seemed an unnatural and stupid thing to do, and I’ve never regretted making that choice.

9.  Thirty years ago I tried working for someone else…..in a milk factory coldroom. I sacked myself after just 2 days to save management the trouble,  and I’ve been self-employed ever since. This present employer is not perfect, but he is for the most part, tolerant of my many peculiarities.

10.  In primary school I was the last kid in my class to gain a Herald Learn To Swim Certificate. (30 feet across the shallow end of the Castlemaine Municipal pool). This only occurred after my arms grew long enough to touch the bottom as I went.  
Swimming remains for me “staying alive in water”.

11.  I have extraordinarily long toes. All the better with which to grip the planet and avoid being flung off into space. I passed this genetic gift onto my kids who are eternally grateful, because not one of them has vanished through the troposphere, even though the planet is moving through space at 45,000 mph.

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Now Elyse wants to know even more.  Blame her.  

Q. Were you closer to your Mum or Dad?
A. Mum. Dad was always unwell or in hospital.

Q. First moment in history that you remember.
A.  Baby Jesus being born. No, sorry…Cuban missile crisis.

Q. What is your favourite pet ever.
A.  I have a policy of not becoming too emotionally attached to pets or people ‘cos eventually they get sick and die and that makes me sad.  My policy could be flawed, ‘cos sometimes it doesn’t work.

Nelson.

Q. Funniest event in your life.
A. Disembarking a tractor when the long hand-throttle lever went up my trouser-leg leaving me dangling off to the side, suspended in mid air like a puppet with a stick up it’s arse, while the tractor was screaming it’s guts out.  Well Mrs GOF thought it was funny.
I failed to find amusement.

Q. First insult you delivered and why the recipient deserved it.
A. “Shutup, bugger, bum”  in Grade 1 to the world in general, because they were the first naughty words I learned and the universe deserved to be a witness to my evolving command of language.

Q. What is your first memory.
A. At age four I had an imaginary friend who lived in a real abandoned miner’s cottage beside the road near Daylesford.
His name was Ik.   

Q. What do you dislike most about blogging.
A. ‘Friend collectors’ who feign interest but never actually read anything I write.  Apart from that, blogging is a wonderful privilege of living in the 21st century, and it’s all free. Thank you WordPress.

Q. Do your family and friends read this blog.
A. The Bucket is available to my immediate family and just a few trusted friends, but for the most part they get bored with all the crap that I write and sensibly find more productive ways to spend their time.

Q. How would you be using your time right now if you were not answering my stupid questions.
A. I’d be having my essential and restorative midday nanna nap. Elyse, you are a health hazard.

Q. What is your dream job.
A. I have been doing it for the last 30 years.
 
But then again, is it too late for me to try my hand at being a professional bra-fitter at Myers?

Q. What do you expect to be reincarnated as in the next life.
A. Sorry, I can find no evidence of any ‘next life’. This present one is all that I expect, and dammit, it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable and wonderful ride.

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Any of my blog friends up for the challenge of answering the same questions?

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Pain in the Arse Award for 2013

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Pain in the arse
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls;
Welcome to the Universal WordPress Amphitheatre where it is my great displeasure tonight to announce the winner of The Bucket’s prestigious annual Pain In The Arse Award.

This year we are breaking new ground by giving recognition not just to a single exasperating plonker, but to an unknown number of parasitic paper-shuffling nincompoops who exhibited exceptional stupidity and ignorance, combined with a monumental lack of decency and common sense.

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Millaa Millaa is a little town in my neighbourhood with a population of 250.  It’s the sort of town which immediately brings to mind the John Denver song lyric “I spent a week there one day.”

Millaa doesn’t have much going for it these days. It’s economic boom times are long gone. The timber industry and cheese factory are both just memories residing in the minds of old-timers, and the few remaining dairy farmers are now being financially emasculated by the absurd downward-pricing policies of Australia’s supermarket duopoly.

It is a picturesque town when the weather is fine, but often it is a bleak, windswept and rain-drenched place which most travelers are more than happy to bypass in order to find somewhere more climatically hospitable.

Last year, the good folk of Millaa Millaa approached their local Council asking for a toilet to be built at the cemetery.  All that rain tends to make some old farts like me  revered community elders want to regularly dash off for a pee, even midway through funeral services, or during the interment of deceased friends.

The Council edifice eggheads  architects estimated the cost of a toilet block to be $83,000 and accordingly advised that they couldn’t afford to spend that amount of money.
Undeterred, the resourceful members of the Millaa Millaa Chamber of Commerce immediately dug deep into their own pockets, as well as the sacred cemetery soil, and built their own custom designed toilet for the princely sum of just $1300.

Millaa Millaa coffin toilet

The unique Millaa Millaa coffin-shaped toilet soon generated publicity and notoriety, and became a much-welcomed tourism drawcard for the town …….until large piles of bureaucratic and sanctimonious shit started hitting the fan of irreverent Aussie ingenuity.

In one of the most treacherous acts of administrative bastardry I have witnessed in my entire life, the Council ordered
“the immediate removal of this unauthorised structure.”

On January 25, 2013, the toilet was lifted onto the back of a truck and given a funeral service of its own through the centre of town.
Eulogies were delivered mourning the passing of common sense.

Millaa's little dunny.  Murdered by a humorless purgative pack of pathetic pen-pushers.

Millaa’s little dunny. Murdered by a humorless purgative pack of pathetic pen-pushers.

The faceless little dictators who made this decision richly deserve our 2013 Pain In The Arse Award in recognition of their managerial incompetence and the disrespectful and insensitive way that they treated the good people of Millaa Millaa, the very same people they are overpaid to serve.

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(Last year’s  Pain in the Arse Award winner here)

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Counselling Doctor Fill

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Disclaimer;  Dr Fill and Dr GOF are products of my imagination. Any similarity to persons either living or dead is entirely coincidental.  

Advisory;  Contains explicit psychological procedures and occasional sarcasm.

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Dr GOF;   Come inside my consulting room Dr Fill. What brought you here to seek my professional services today?

Dr Fill;   A taxi.

Dr GOF;   This ain’t my first rodeo, son.  I suggest you answer my questions sensibly if you don’t want this exercise to be a complete waste of time.

Dr Fill;   Sorry Dr GOF. My problem is that I had built up a nice low-key counseling service in America, but suddenly I became so bashful and unsure of myself that I could no longer form definite opinions or communicate with my clients.  That is why I am here today to obtain guidance from the finest practitioner in our field.  
Am I now just a pathetic old worn-out failure GOF?

Dr GOF;   ‘Doctor’ GOF please Fill.  Failure is no accident.  What you need here is a hero. You need to step up to the plate and be a hero for yourself.

Dr Fill;   Then why did you make me sit way up here in this oversized chair so my feet can’t hardly touch the floor no more?
A man cain’t feel like a hero when his legs are a-danglin’ around in the breeze like a couple of  broken powerlines in a hurricane.

Dr GOF;   Hero can wait.  Right now you need to be positioned in that chair as a physical reminder of your powerlessness and intellectual inferiority, and to make certain that you feel suitably humble and subordinate while you are here basking in the aura of my overwhelmingly popular and authoritative presence.

Dr Fill;   (With legs still dangling)  OK, so tell me, why am I feeling so incompetent, unappreciated, unloved and alone in this world Dr GOF?

Dr GOF;   You’re only lonely if you’re not there for yourself Fill. You need to talk to yourself, encourage yourself, lift yourself up and play with yourself on a regular basis. Be there for yourself when you need a best friend.

Dr Fill;   But people have said behind my back that I am a pontificating old sermonizer, and that hurts my self esteem and makes me feel really horrible inside. These days I am just so sensitive to the opinions of others.

Dr GOF;   Opinions are like asses…..everybody’s got one.

Dr Fill;   Except for Elle MacPherson…..wow…I saw her once on Oprah and I can tell you that her legs went on and on, way past where her…..oh sorry Dr GOF, I know you’re not interested in distractions of the fleshly kind.  Tell me, what do you see in my future?

Dr GOF;   The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. I’ll bet you never thought of that one eh?

Dr Fill;   Actually I was aware of that. I once saw some long tall Texan dude repetitiously sprouting that phrase when he was talking down to TV audiences….that Oprah Show sure is educational in many ways.

Dr GOF;   Awareness without action is worthless, Dr Fill. You’ve gotta DO something man.

Dr Fill;   So what should I do to fix my troubled soul?

Dr GOF;   Ahh…soul!  Yes.  You have to require more of yourself, and you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.

Dr Fill;   So what should I acknowledge?

Dr GOF;   Lets take baby steps.  There’s obviously a lot to fix here.

For starters you might just simply acknowledge that you are an opinionated preacher-man who thinks he has the preordained right to force his own bourgeois moral values upon all people regardless of their own culture and socio-economic circumstances.
See. No biggie.
All we have to do is clobber that little bit of self-deception outta your noggin’ first, then we’ll move onto Step Two.

Dr Fill;   Well dangnammit, I’d never quite thought about it in precisely those terms before. You’re only a gnats-gonad distance away from being a master philosopher Dr GOF.  I shore do ‘preciate your wisdom.  Someone like you should be on television.

Dr GOF;   My little sunbeams of erudition will only be available to a select few like yourself Dr Fill…….. in exchange for the sweet shuffling sound of large-denomination banknotes being dealt upon my palm.

Invoice

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Is anyone still here?

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GOF’s Olde English nursery rhymes

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This is for my new friend, 6 year-old Tristan Bjelke-Whitlam who attends the Toorak Special School for the socially disadvantaged.  
Tristan recently wrote the following letter to me.

Tristan letter

Dear Tristan,

Thank you for your letter.  I wrote these little nursery rhymes especially for you. See if you can guess the missing words. (I have written the answer below each one just in case you put a wrong word in the space provided.)  Oh and don’t worry too much about what your Mum says. She just has trouble repressing her primal urges whenever she sees a picture of me here in The Bucket.

Best wishes from Uncle GOF.

jumping cow

Hey Diddle Diddle

Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle.
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed
Till exploding cow bowels
Came down like a _ _ _ _-filled balloon.

(MUCK)

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Little Miss Muffet
(Australian spelling version)

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey.
Then down came a spider,
Who sat down beside her,
And saw her fat _ _ _ _ on display.

(ARMS)

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Mary Mary Quite Contrary

Mary, Mary, quite contrary.
How does your garden grow?
“On the corpses of curious people I kill.”
“So who the _ _ _ _ wants to know?”

(HECK)

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Explanatory Note for my overseas friends;
As a partial explanation for Tristan’s confused state of mind and evidence of my own beyond-repair one, Joh Bjelke-Petersen was a vindictive Christian right-wing dictator who once ruled Queensland, and Gough Whitlam from the opposite side of politics, who, despite his own shortcomings, was the last truly statesman-like Prime Minister of Australia.
Toorak is a suburb in Melbourne where the well-heeled live in mansionly magnificence.

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Snakes alive……..and some not.

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Brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) rear fanged, mildly venomous

Brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) rear fanged, mildly venomous

Each one of us enters the world with a special gift to bestow upon the remainder of humanity.

Franz Liszt enriched the world with his music. Nigella Lawson was endowed with multiple gifts, one of which involves the preparation of food, and Homer Simpson iced the cake of responsible parenthood with lashings of paternal wisdom.

Now let me tell you about my gift.

I just happen to instinctively know, even with my eyes closed, that a snake has weaseled itself out of the jungle and into my living room, mistakenly believing it to be GOF’s Refuge for Homeless Serpents.

Just one example of my extraordinary sensory ability;

Last Monday night Mrs GOF and I were watching the big bash cricket (the game….not the insect) on TV when my gift suddenly kicked in.

It’s hard to explain to mere mortals exactly how my instinctive faculty works.  It probably has something to do with my rare ability to detect the subtle sounds of cups, plates and framed photographs being dislodged from display cabinets and crashing onto the floor, or hearing Mrs GOF’s “Eeeeeek! Snake!, Snake!, GOF get rid of it!” echoing in the vacant recesses of my cranium, or smelling the carpet-burns on the soles of her feet as she accelerates like a bipedal drag racer into the bedroom before slamming the door shut.

Anyhow, suffice to say I detected a snake in the room last Monday.

It’s my perceptive gift.

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I did not always have this finely honed gift of snake detection.
It was a late-onset gift, deferred for thirty years, perhaps as a consequence of the botched forceps delivery which saw me skidding headfirst across the linoleum floor of the birthing suite like a bar of soap in a bathtub, until I came to a shuddering and whimpering halt against the varnished redgum skirting board of the nurses station.

Or perhaps not.

Anyway, forty years ago, giftless, on a balmy moonlit night at Pindiu in Papua New Guinea I strolled the 100 yards from my house to the office, stepped inside, and thought very little about whatever it was that slithered across my bare foot.

Returning to the light in my house I was astonished to find two distinct puncture wounds on my ankle with blood oozing out of them. They looked just like the photographs you see in medical books under the heading; “Snakebite”.

Being all-knowing, (as is the wont of the young) I immediately thought “This is not good.”

I’m living alone. No medical facilities. No communication with the outside world. No chance of evacuation by plane until first light the following day. Having established that I didn’t want to die alone, I motor-biked across the airstrip and up the hill to stay with the only other expatriate who lived there.

He refused to suck the venom out of the wounds on the grounds that my foot was unhygienic and smelled vaguely of manure.  Having been the recipient of basic first aid training he guaranteed that application of a tourniquet for 12 hours would result in the onset of rampant gangrene followed by the amputation of both my legs and some other important bits as well.

We concluded that I’d probably only have another hour to live, and that it would be best spent drinking beer, an activity in which he’d obviously been engaged for quite some time.

That I am still here today indicates one of two possibilities.

1. It was a non-poisonous snake, or
2. Beer is a powerful anti-venom.

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Footnote;  I could have been saved from this shitload of anxiety had I known then that bites from venomous snakes normally don’t bleed as profusely as those from non-venomous snakes.
 
In the interests of responsible journalism I should point out that in 2013 compression bandaging and limb immobilisation are the preferred primary treatments for snake bite.

Sucking, limb-strangling with string, and riding around in blind panics on motor bikes are no longer acceptable practises.

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Brown tree snake 2I have no idea why WordPress published this picture sideways.  Please tilt your neck 90 degrees to the left.