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(The following paragraph alignment anomalies can be blamed on WordPress and not me.  Nothing is ever my fault)

I have a problem. Well that’s not strictly correct if truth be known.
Actually I have many problems, but the most pressing one for the purpose of this story is my older cousin.  She is like a termite gnawing away at the foundations of my tower of integrity. Cousin Elisabeth takes every opportunity to remind my daughter that “Your Dad is a silly old sausage and a very peculiar man”.
Now Liz, the dear old character assassin, has only known me since Mother-of-GOF pushed and grunted and popped me out into my awaiting groovy nineteen forty-eight swaddling clothes, so what the hell would she know.

Perhaps one peculiarity to which she refers is my propensity to find amusement in the sight or sound of some words in English or the other languages which I have unsuccessfully attempted to learn during my lifetime.

It all started when I was around seven or eight years of age.
I would cack myself laughing in the back seat of the family Humber Hawk every time we passed the Mobilgas service station at Ravenswood midway between Castlemaine and Bendigo in Victoria.



Well I have to admit it’s not even vaguely funny half a century later.

As we all understand, The Bucket is a serious journal catering to a select group of highly intelligent adults.  Occasionally I choose to provide a paragraph of spurious special information just so the younger readers can copy and paste it into their school assignments.
The word mobilgas derives from the ancient Greek mobi (on the run) and gaseon, (flatulence).  Marathon runners encouraged their own mobilgas production through dietary means and then harnessed it to their advantage. By releasing tiny ‘pfffts’ on every other stride, mobilgas provided a propulsive boost to these athletes when they were running up the mountains of Peloponnisos.

Australia no longer has Mobilgas signs.  I miss them.

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Two words from the Kotte language in Papua New Guinea which always caused me to have short-lived spasms of mirth were;

rauckenzepeneng  and  kikefung,


Karpapuk  is Melanesian Tok Pisin for ‘fart’.

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The latest addition to my Cackle Dictionary is ‘fangpusen’,
the brand name of the voltage regulator which came with my new solar panel.

🙂  🙂  🙂  Fangpusen.  Fangpusen.  Fangpusen.  🙂  🙂  🙂

The word deserves to be widely promulgated and I have taken the liberty of suggesting some possible meanings;

fangpusen;  a snake ready to strike.

fangpusen;  a childs tooth pushing it’s way through the gum.

fangpusen;  a serious infection of the mouth characterised by copious amounts of oozing pungent yellow pus.

fangpusen;  feline front teeth.

Fangpusen;  The German Association of Vampires.

fangpusen;  a kind of sexual misadventure.

Please join my crusade to promote this wonderful word.

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Other electronic equipment brand names around my house are not quite so inspirational.   Some things are best forgotten.


The television set

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Foo was here

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Puberty is a confusing time of life which I’d  prefer to forget.
It was a total waste of ten good years.

Adolescent boys growing up in the Victorian goldmining town of Bendigo fifty years ago were blessed with the empowering gift of freedom to explore the countryside around them, but compared to the youth of today many of us were mere babes in the woods when it came to understanding more worldly matters.

Every weekday I pedaled five miles to the brand new White Hills Technical School on the outskirts of town.  At lunch time we were allowed to swarm unsupervised across the Midland Highway to the one hundred acres of abandoned gold diggings where we would climb mullock (tailings) heaps and explore underground tunnels and shafts which had remained unused for half a century or more.

No kids died, or disappeared, or required medical repair.
To the best of my knowledge.

At thirteen I was also impressed by one of my classmates who, when we went into the central part of town, exhibited some special talents, including the ability to identify women in the crowd who were in either the second and third trimester of pregnancy.
The very first time he pointed some of them out to me I wondered what awful thing might have caused these poor women to swell up like that.

“Well I think it happens like this”  commenced Bodgie Carmichael, Form 2A’s fourteen year-old fount of grown-up knowledge, before giving me the dubious benefit of his vast inexperience whilst tamping down his brilliantined Elvis hair and admiring his own reflection in a plate-glass window.
“Wayne, my big brother, said he almost did it once, so maybe we should ask him. There is a difference too between fat and pregnant y’know Goffy and sometimes even I can’t  tell which is which”.

Presiding over all this childhood naivety was Foo the King of Graffiti.  He was everywhere.

He peered over fences or looked up at me from footpaths and roadways and gawked at me from the walls of factories and even the hospital perimeter wall.  He rattled past me trying to disguise himself amongst advertising placards on trams, and he even sped past me one day as a barely distinguishable blur on the side of a red wooden carriage of the Melbourne to Bendigo express train.

Foo was omnipresent.

Whatever happened to Foo?  I never see him any more.

Even Mr Google doesn’t know what happened to Foo.

It seems that Mr Foo was probably born shortly before or during World War II, but his parentage remains uncertain.
Perhaps his name derived from the British and Australian military acronyms for Forward Observation Officer, or FUBAR  
(F***** Up Beyond All Repair).

American cartoonist Bill Holman also discovered ‘Foo’ inscribed on the base of a Chinese figurine and then used the word in his pre-war cartoons. The United States however widely adopted the name ‘Kilroy’ for it’s very own little bald-headed graffiti man. (Possibly named after a Massachusetts Shipyard Inspector J.J. Kilroy)

The original Foo graphic is thought to have been inspired by the following electrical circuitry diagram.

A British naval magazine in 1946 noted that  “Mr Foo is a mysterious second world war product gifted with bitter omniscience and sarcasm.”

I remember him more fondly as the only other witness on a Bendigo tram in 1962 who saw three schoolboys discover a packet of condoms hidden underneath the slatted wooden seat.  The boys proceeded to inflate them one by one to maximum lung pressure before setting them loose out the window onto View Street where they erratically jetted, flubbered and kerfoofed amongst cars and bicycles just like single-minded little spermatazoons in search of the perfect egg.

Mr Foo and I were both appalled at the juvenile delinquency which we had just witnessed.

Has anyone seen Mr Foo or Mr Kilroy recently?  

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All about mirrors, sex and deception.

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Now folks, don’t y’all jus’ git the feelin’ the stage is set for a mahtee dose of disappointment?
(With apologies to The Dukes of Hazzard)


I think my daughter should be OK up there while I’m discussing intimate matters with you down here. I left her a few things to play with to keep her occupied until we get back.

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Sometime during my early stages of pimply-faced and troubled pubescence a science teacher confided;  “GOF, never trust a mirror. If the image you see is already back-to-front then you never know what other misinformation it is feeding you.”

Armed with this knowledge I am now able to safely assume that the wrinkled old fart who looks back at me from the other side of the bathroom mirror most probably looks very much like Viggo Mortensen to everybody else in the world. It’s a burden which I stoically carry around with me every day as I search for the hordes of adoring and heartbroken female admirers who must be out there somewhere looking for me.

My parents never told me anything about this ‘mirror-trickery’ business as part of their presentation of the ‘facts of life’.
The ‘birds and the bees’ needed to be discussed first.

I concluded from their dire warnings that sex was a very ugly business which needed to be avoided at all costs.

After reading through the graphically illustrated educational book which my Dad presented to me on my fourteenth birthday it was completely obvious that the cost of having sex exceeded any possible benefit by a huge margin.

First there was a horrendous probability that all my seeds would fall upon fertile ground after which the world would be over-run with a plague of baby GOFs.

Then there were at least seven hundred and eighty two infectious diseases which were lurking in every nook, cranny, bus seat and public toilet around Australia just waiting for my embryonic wedding tackle to come within sniffing distance so they could perforate, ulcerate and lacerate it until it was ultimately overtaken by the superior powers of putrefaction.

The deterrents continued to flow thick and fast during my subsequent teenage years.  After receiving an espionage report from the Methodist Deaconess, my Father sat me down and issued the following proclamation;

“GOF if I ever catch you in the act of sneaking through the side fence under the pretence of studying scriptural passages with your equally inquisitive Sunday School classmate Susan there will be dire consequences.  The facts and diagrams in the booklet which I gave to you DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT require any real-life verification and corroboration.”

“Furthermore, the Theatre Royal and it’s Saturday afternoon movie matinees have been, and will remain, out of bounds.  The Deaconess informs me that it is not only Donald Duck together with Huey, Dewey and Louie who can be found in that venue enthusiastically exploring foreign topography in search of hidden jewels and exotic treasure.”

My fledgling eagle of worldly discovery was shot down by the pistol of paternal principle before it even had the chance to flap it’s wings.

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Life is full of such disappointment.  There is also an abundance of illusion, deception and jiggery-pokery, some of which can be found in unexpected places. For example, the movie  “The Sound of Music”.


In 1966 Leisl gave me false hope and sent my testosterone factory into 24/7 production when she erotically crooned to me;
“I am sixteen going on seventeen”.

The remaining lyrics of that song as I interpreted them at the time went something like this;

“You GOF are seventeen going on eighteen, and if you don’t immediately come and take me in your arms of steel and make mad passionate love to me right here in this moonlit garden pavilion then I am doomed to remain an unloved spinster for the rest of my miserable life.”

Nobody cared about my disillusionment or offered me counselling when I eventually discovered the actress playing Leisl was actually 21 years of age and NOT sixteen.
No self-respecting Aussie teenage boy in the 1960’s would be seen dead kissing older women.

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I’m still appalled to this very day.  Thank goodness the internet is totally free of all this trickery and deception.

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WOOHOOO! My 400th story. One small mind. So much bullshit.

A girl remembers;

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She remembers a little village where she was born in Papua New Guinea with thatched-roof huts perched high on a mountaintop six thousand feet up in the mist, yet so close to the ocean that on a clear morning she could look down and see the small boats which sailed upon it, and the Siassi islands and New Britain in the distance.

She remembers her mother scrambling for hours down that mountain and over the grassed limestone terraces below it with a heavy bag of the family’s parchment coffee to sell at the nearest trade store on the coast. Her mother would then return with a special treat for the little girl.  A fresh fish to eat for dinner.

There was the homely cosiness of the cooking fire on the hearth in the middle of the night when the cold wind always started to blow across the Saruwaged Range.

Then suddenly the little girl’s life changed.

In 1962 she found herself perched high up on her father’s shoulders as the whole family trekked barefoot carrying their few material possessions half way across the rugged Huon Peninsula in the pursuit of a dream. Two older brothers slithered their way ahead along the track, sometimes balancing precariously on slippery log bridges over mountain streams and sloshing through ankle-deep mud on the narrow bush trails.  The group stopped often to remove tenacious leeches from their legs.

The mother was last in the line of weary travelers with an infant boy encapsulated in a string bag (bilum) suspended from a groove worn in her head from many years of subsistence load carrying.

The little group descended to the crystal-clear headwaters of the Tewae River, then walked five hours over the range to bathe in the limestone-tinged milky-blue Masaweng before camping overnight at Gunabosin village not far from the river bank.
The following morning they commenced another full day’s trek to their final destination in the Mongi Valley.

Mum and Dad traveled with three boys and one little girl.

They were also accompanied by a dream.

The dream of an English-language education for their children.

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Fast forward to 2011 ;

Son #1 is now retired after a long career teaching vocational skills to children in PNG.

Son #2 is an academic who lectured at the University of Papua Niugini before accepting a teaching offer in America where he has remained for the past 20 years.

Son #3 is a lawyer and magistrate in Papua New Guinea.

The little girl became a citizen of the world, an accidental and unofficial ambassador for her mother country, and a communicator who fluently speaks five languages.
She also became my life partner and best friend.
More importantly she excelled at the most important occupation on earth; Motherhood.

She has never forgotten the courageous relocation that her parents made in 1962 which enabled her and her siblings to have a better life in this world.

Her Mum and Dad would be proud to know that their little girl, forty-nine years later, made an emotional and physically challenging pilgrimage back to the Huon Peninsula to retrace those life-changing footsteps.



Village house

Zigzag track down to Tewae River.

Siassi islands taken from Zunzumao village on mainland.

Headwaters Masaweng River

Gunabosin village

Dedua mountains

From the album of life

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Snapshots of inspirational people in chronological order.

Posted with gratitude.

Mum and Dad circa 1946

1. Mum and Dad; For life itself, and for showing me their sound moral and ethical raft upon which to float through life.  It was not their fault that I kept falling off it.

Walt Disney

2. Walt Disney; For inspiring a life-long interest in geography and nature, and a fascination with foreign cultures and customs.

Enid Blyton

3.  Enid Blyton; The Famous Five series of books encouraged my childhood love of reading.  Her books transported me from the dry, harsh, Central Victorian goldfields to magical places in the countryside with mountains, fog, mist, springs and babbling brooks.
The man then went on to live his boyhood imagination.

Patty Duke

4. Patty Duke; My first teenage unrequited love. She fired the starter’s gun to begin my marathon race to discover the mystery and wonders of the opposite wotsit. Has anyone seen the finishing line?

The Beatles

5.  The Beatles; Who energised, motivated and redirected an entire generation, and remembering especially the quiet and talented George Harrison (centre at back) who always remained grounded in reality.
Oh yes, and they showed me a radical new hairstyle that I retained for 30 years until all my hair started falling out.

Peter Cook (L) with Dudley Moore

6.  Peter Cook; Gifted British comic genius. I will continue to laugh at his short sketch “One leg too few” (here) until the day I die.

Sidney Poitier

7. Sidney Poitier; The former dishwasher and janitor who succeeded in life despite all the overwhelming obstacles that were placed in his path. Poitier’s character in the 1967 film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” forced me to seriously consider racism and segregation, for the first time in my life, from the recipient’s point of view.
Now in his Autumn years, Poitier exudes with Mandela-esque gentility the qualities of dignity, wisdom, forgiveness and compassion.
If the good Fairy of Fate could arrange for me to spend a day with just one celebrity in this world, I would select Poitier.

John Denver

8.  John Denver; For his music, and contagious enthusiasm for life, the environment and the universe.

Sadly only four people from this list of twelve are still alive.

I hope all twelve found peace and contentment in their lives,
for their contributions enabled me early in life to find my own.

Some random lines from this musical meditation.

The days they pass so quickly now
Nights are seldom long
And time around me whispers when it’s cold
The changes somehow frighten me
Still I have to smile
It turns me on to think of growing old
For though my life’s been good to me
There’s still so much to do.

And talk of poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long it’s been since yesterday
And what about tomorrow
And what about our dreams
And all the memories we share.

(John Denver 1943-1997)

So, disregarding lust as a driver, which celebrity would you most like to spend a day with?

Einstein’s close shave

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Philosophers continue to sift through the barren wasteland of human experience looking for the key to happiness.

They won’t find it, because I’ve got it.

GOF’s Secret to Happiness is;

Finding someone or something else to blame for every single failure in one’s life.

A cousin on my Mother’s side had such extraordinary scientific and mathematical ability that he was selected to oversee Australia’s rocket launching programs at Woomera in the 1960’s.

It is of course an accepted genetic fact that I too must have inherited the same mathematical gift.

Mine however, according to school report cards, mysteriously disappeared somewhere between 1960 and 1963 after which time I rarely troubled the examiners ability to add up to a percentile number higher than 20.

So, what circumstances changed during this period to which I might allocate blame?

Pubescent GOF suddenly discovered that his previously all-boy’s world was equally populated by cute little humans who were all soft and cuddly, and which obviously required much more observation, examination and exploration.

Excessive devotion to this project apparently caused my arithmetical intelligence to suddenly plummet to the level of two thick planks.

Given the esteem with which The Bucket is held in scientific circles I obviously can’t go around rumour mongering that “girls cause boys to be mathematically dumb”, so let me search through my very private alphabetical list of possible excuses for something else which might satisfy empirical science.
(no looking at my private list please)

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A,B,C,D... they’re all used up……

Elle MacPherson,… obsession forced upon me.

Fireworks (unlit) stuck up both nostrils in 1958. Surgical removal

Glue…. sniffing and/or misapplication to body parts.  Minor surgery.

Hairspray mistakenly ingested after thinking it was olive oil cooking spray while Mrs GOF was away farnarkling in America.

Inbreeding ….because the big flood killed everyone on Earth except Noah and his Missus.

Jesus Juice aerosol lubricant erroneously used as underarm deodorant for all of 1992.

Kerosene fumes from that day when they arrested me for arson.

Leptospirosis infection; must ask the doctor how I got that.

Mohair….MOHAIR…..WOOHOO  that’s it.

Mohair……inhalation of mohair fibres.

Every cute 14 year-old chick in 1962 wore a mohair sweater.
No exceptions.  Joan Shepherd, my piano duet partner wore one
(I have photographic evidence) and all the girls at the YMCA learn-to-ballroom-dance classes wore them fluffily disguising hidden treasures and forbidden pleasures which were totally beyond my understanding, and sadly, despite much hopeful dreaming, grasp.

Goats and Joan Shepherd are totally responsible for denying me my rightful career in nuclear physics.

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Something about manners

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It was plainly obvious to those who had their eyeballs assaulted by GOF’s photographic portrait a few months ago, that he spectacularly fails to pass the Sartorial Elegance Test.

My dear departed parents would probably be disappointed that I so rapidly went down the sociability and fashion tubes after leaving the umbrella of the family home at age fifteen.

They had inherited from their immigrant grandparents some remnants of the British class system, and, although they themselves were working/middle class, I suspect that they harboured aspirations for elevation to a position one or two rungs higher on the social ladder.

Theirs was a world which placed some importance upon owning a couple of pieces of Waterford Crystal, and an ornate gold-trimmed crockery dinner set which was sentenced to life as a useless exhibit locked away in the “crystal cabinet”.

It was also an environment which insisted that children should speak English with The Queen’s rounded vowels, especially when accompanying parents to social events such as church functions and gala balls sponsored by the Freemasons.

My parents were good people who instilled in me a great many
social values considered important at that time, which included some under the general heading of “manners”.

Ever since then, with changing times, I have been spring-cleaning my house of values and manners.

I divided the contents into three sections.

1. Plain snobbery.

I can’t be bothered owning things which fall into the category of
“Look, I’ve got one of those but you haven’t,” or any other
possession at all which has no practical application.

The Queen’s elocution belongs in England. I am proud of my
“uncultured” Aussie accent.

I have consigned to racist and bigotry history my family’s 1950’s
notion that White Protestants were somehow superior to all other
races and religions (especially Roman Catholics).

2. Utilitarian manners.

These I retain somewhere towards the back of my noggin for
those rare occasions when I am expected to behave with
at least a small amount of decorum in public places.

I know how to operate cutlery in a restaurant without the
surrounding diners needing to snigger at the anthropological
throwback at the next table.
(a totally unsubstantiated conclusion which in hindsight might need
more comprehensive independent and unbiased research)

3. Indispensable manners.

Some nice old-fashioned things that I like preserving.

Respect for elders, which, even at my age I still accord to
those more senior, at least until they prove that they are not
deserving of my esteem, after which they become equal
candidates with everyone else to receive the wrath of GOF.

I still like the now old-fashioned concept of extending special courtesies to women.

Opening doors for them, offering to carry heavy objects,and not swearing
unnecessarily in front of them.

If future generations wish to throw all that into the sexual
inequality rubbish bin then they can just wait until I have left the
building before vacuuming it all up, and filling the atmosphere
with their profanities.

Most of the time, unless I am in a really bad mood, I make liberal
use of the words “please” and “thank you”.  I note with some
sadness that many of the younger generation, and some of my
own, seem to consider this courtesy irrelevant and unnecessary.

Desiderata suggests;

“As far as possible without surrender be on good terms
with all persons.”

To do so requires the application of some universal basic
manners and consideration for others.

GOF the Entomologist

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In January 1965, I was one of a hundred pimply-faced teenage boys who entered the portals of Dookie Agricultural College in rural Victoria, to be unceremoniously delivered, like lambs to the slaughter, into the hands of senior students for 2 weeks of bastardisation initiation and orientation.

This practise was to be outlawed a few years later when some
do-gooding spoilsports pointed out that teenagers were actually being killed during similar rituals elsewhere in Australia.
Death, as they so cogently suggested, was more often than not, a deterrent to satisfactory completion of a course of education.

One of the less radical methods employed to ensure that we got very little sleep for 14 nights in a row, was the allocation to each one of us, by our masters, of an unusual and bizarre research subject, about which we were required to write one thousand words.

A week later, one at a time, we stood in front of our assembled peers and a panel of terrorist judges up to midnight and beyond, to read our discoveries out loud.

Anyone detected smiling or otherwise enjoying an oration was immediately sent on a four-mile run to the bottom corner of the bush paddock to sing our newly-learned College Song to a big old gum tree which had probably witnessed this sort of juvenile shenanigans for at least the previous 40 years.

My special research subject was;

"The mating habits of flies on heat".

Now I don't know about you, but my knowledge of this subject at the time was infinitesimal.  You are now older than I was, so you probably  know a great deal more.

After writing 1000 words on my topic in the studious sarcasm-free style to which you have become accustomed here in The Bucket, my total knowledge about flies bonking was still somewhere around zero. 

Accordingly, I stood on the rostrum to deliver my poorly-researched discourse with some scholarly authority. 
Unfortunately at some stage during the performance a judgment was made that my face had betrayed the brain's serious intent.

Natural history does not record whether the Old Gum Tree, or the nocturnal creatures resident within it's boughs appreciated my 1 am solo baritone interpretation of the College Song, two verses of which were;    

"Godiva was a lady,
 Who through Coventry did ride,
 Upon a snow-white horse
 To show off her lily-white hide. 

 The only ones to notice,
 That she was upon a horse,
 Was one blind man, the MG boys,
 And the Dookie boys of course."

Well OK, I know this is not Chaucer, Wordsworth or Frost, but hey this was an Agricultural College, not some hallowed seat of learning for English Literature.

Credit where it is due.

At least wherever I travel in the world and come across naked women riding horses I am doubly well versed on appropriate etiquette and how to behave with propriety.

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