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A Christmas letter

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Friends of The Bucket will be aware that the online provision of factual and educational masterpieces such as this one is merely a hobby of mine. A humble little gift to humanity. My real job is being a partner with the innovative social engineering firm Smirnoff, Fulcrum and Gof.  The three of us share such close working and personal relationships that sometimes it feels almost as though we are just a single organism.  Being baby-boomers we are still a little old-fashioned and send out Christmas letters to our nearest and dearest.  Today I am sharing with you the one I received this week from my friend and partner Jasper J. Fulcrum Esq.
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Hello dear friends,

Holy Rudolph!  Time doth fly doth’nt it!  Once again it’s time for me to reflect upon, and share with all our friends, the gobsmackingly magnificent achievements of my family and pets during the last 12 months.

Well not too much about pets this year.
Donatus our Doberman blotted his copybook in October.  He ate the neighbour’s Pomeranian which had just won the Best Dog in Show award at the Brisbane Exhibition.  No-one would have discovered who the culprit was except that the next-door family members were enjoying a Sunday barbecue lunch on their front lawn after church when Donatus arrived on the scene and regurgitated a furball containing the victim’s pink hair ribbon, Council registration tag, a microchip and a rather nasty looking large tapeworm.  Stupid dog.

Sarky  (Sarcophagus our eldest boy now prefers this truncated version of his name) seems to have become a professional globetrotter of some sort. Something like a storm chaser I believe. He follows cyclones, typhoons, floods and other natural disasters all around the world in rented pantec trucks, then sends back shipping containers full of all sorts of furniture, jewellery and electrical goods which he has rescued from the tempests.  He calls himself a ‘recycler of potentially shop-soiled merchandise’.  That must be a good thing for the planet.  I think he might live in Switzerland because after we sell everything for him that’s where we have to send the money.

Candy still provides ancillary services for Australian and American naval personnel when they arrive in Sydney for R and R.  She is doing very well with one office in Kings Cross and a new one closer to the wharves to provide rapid response services to those with more urgent and pressing requirements.  It is wonderful to know our daughter is giving some little thing back to the servicemen who do so much for our country.  We are very proud of her.

Wollemi, who was born in the year when this rare Australian pine tree was discovered by botanists, turned out to be as thick as two pine planks which probably serves us right for giving him that name in the first place.  He’s become addicted to takeaway food and the demon drink, and judging by his present body shape maybe we should have baptised him Baobab instead.   Well this is the last year I’ll be mentioning him in my Christmas letter because the ungrateful sod went and took out a Restraining Order on me after I went to his place in March and syphoned 500 gallons of his home-brewed stout down into the sewers. For his own good mind you.  There’s only so much you can do for children when they run off the tracks like this.

Eronius, our lastborn who arrive a decade later than the other children, is now 22 and runs a millinery and embroidery business with his very good friend Nigel.  We can’t wait for one of our kids to produce a grandchild.  I think Eronius is a dark horse and might be the first although he keeps telling me that he hasn’t found the right girl yet.  He’s a shy boy so I think he might be reluctant to tell me all about his love life but it wouldn’t surprise me if I have some quite amazing news to share with you within the next couple of years.

Happy holidays, and may all your Herald Angels hark on cue and sing with sublime tunefulness this Christmas,

Love and best wishes from Jasper and all the Fulcrum Gang.
(Except Donatus who is too busy eyeing off the new Chihuahua next door through a knot-hole in the paling fence…….maybe I should nail Wollemi to the fence to block off the hole…..sheesh! ……bloody rotten fruit of my loins he turned to be.  )

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The Summer of my Discontent.

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Normally on Christmas Day Mrs GOF cheerfully decorates, cooks, drinks more red wine than is strictly required to reap any health benefits, and entertains the neighbours, whilst I play my usual role as a joyless yuletide yoke around her neck.

This year I was so deficient in wives upon which to inflict this misery, and so sick of living on Weetbix, that I carted my dismal countenance off down the mountain range to Cairns to see if I could at least find some personal happiness by casting a shadow of gloom over some unsuspecting strangers and foreign tourists who hitherto had been enjoying their day on the Esplanade.

Here are some highlights of my day;

Obstructing pedestrians on the boardwalk along Trinity Inlet.

Obstructing pedestrians on the boardwalk along Trinity Inlet.

Threatened to seriously thump some younguns at BoxinFun

Threatened to seriously thump some younguns at BoxinFun

Hijacked a buggy and terrorised a group of senior citizens at the Marina.

Hijacked a buggy and terrorised a group of senior citizens at the Marina.

Canceled swimming intentions after being mobbed by young women as soon as they saw me in my Speedos.

Canceled swimming intentions after being mobbed by young women as soon as they saw me in my Speedos.

Being escorted from the helipad after offering to fly the next group of tourists out to the reef.

Being escorted from the helipad after offering to fly the next group of tourists out to the reef.

Inhaled some refreshing Eau de Greasetrap wafting over the mudflats on the south-easterly breeze.

Inhaled some refreshing Eau de Greasetrap wafting over the mudflats on the south-easterly breeze.

Police confiscated my slingshot at Cairns Library.

Police confiscated my slingshot at Cairns Library.

Found great amusement at people who had left cars parked beneath the fruit bat colony.

Found great amusement at people who had left cars parked beneath the fruit bat colony.

ROFL (Rolling on the footpath laughing) at some tourist's windscreen. (Very happy GOF) :-)

ROFL (Rolling on the footpath laughing) at some tourist’s windscreen. (Very happy GOF) 🙂

Extreme disappointment when told that tours of Honey were unavailable on Christmas Day.

Extreme disappointment when told that tours of Honey were unavailable on Christmas Day.

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Well no.  I refuse to be drawn into the rapidly filling sewers of political correctness.  It’s HAPPY CHRISTMAS, and if the Christians of this world choose to light a celebratory fire of hope and renewal in December each year then I’ll happily sit on the sidelines and absorb some of it’s warm glow.

If all the religions of the world would similarly respect and share the theological virtues and sacred observances of the others then there would be fewer days remaining in the year for them to both literally and figuratively bomb the crap out of each other in the name of God.

I will just take this annual opportunity to look around me and be thankful for all that is good in my world. Summer warmth and early sunrises over the mountain. Thunder storms. Wild birds feeding on my verandah at dawn. Mrs GOF’s temporary gift to me this Christmas of silence and solitude. A house of my own, and a very large puppy dog to play with.

And your company.

I wish you a Happy Christmas, and may good health and contentment be your traveling companions in 2013.

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You too might  see some relatives and friends in the following  Christmas offering from the Dropkick Murphys;  “If you think your family’s crazy, then you should see mine.”

Reverend GOF’s Christmas Newsletter

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Dear Friends,

Hello again to you all at this special time of the year.
Golly gosh doesn’t time fly.

It has been a difficult year for Our Lady of the Divine Eructation Church.  In February one of our parishioners broke into the vestry and stole a silver chalice and two collection plates which contained three hundred and seven dollars, four plastic buttons, one cigarette butt and a nut and washer from the transverse shaft of a 1966 Volkswagon gearbox.

I should not have been surprised when the offender, Walter Sphincter, was arrested shortly afterwards while he was trying to hammer the washer into a parking meter using the metal leg which he had just broken off a nearby restaurant’s alfresco dining table.
When I baptised Walter 24 years ago I said to the Verger  “Verger, mark my words, with parents like those, that little bastard is never going to amount to much.”

Last Christmas the church conducted a special fundraising campaign to help save the starving children in Ethiopia following an address to the congregation by Pastor Sikam Bastar who said that he worked with the children.  Unfortunately it transpired that he was not a religious man at all, but a warlord whose only contact with the children was to supervise them smashing up rocks with their bare hands in his quarry.

We did feel much better though when he assured us by telephone that he had spent our entire donation of $7620.15c  (plus one New Zealand twenty cent coin) on improving the lives of prostitutes in Addis Ababa.

Gospel according to Mark; Chapter 9 Verse 43;
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off .

Thank you all for your best wishes and get well cards since this event. The wound has healed nicely after several months of intravenous antibiotics.  Perhaps I should have been a little more gentle on myself and at the very least used a sharp hacksaw blade.  After all it wasn’t entirely my fault.  The Matron of Honour seated next to me at the wedding reception did, after a few drinks, grab my hand and direct it to where she wanted it.

I have resolved that in future I will be less selfish, perform fewer limb amputations on myself, and continue to enthusiastically give my one remaining helping hand to those in desperate need.

Sunday School classes have been temporarily suspended since that unfortunate day when the Italian exchange teacher Miss Profligatus showed the senior youth group part of a DVD titled  “Virgin Mary Does Jerusalem”, believing it to be a religious education film.

Our eldest daughter Philistinia gave birth to twins on the 29th of January and the 1st of February. One black and one white.  Praise be to God for this miracle.  We also ask you to pray for the paediatric nurse down at the clinic who has been passing around some very hurtful and defamatory stories about our daughter.

Prayers are also requested for Philistinia’s husband Festus.
Soon after the birth of the twins he received a spiritual enlightenment from the Lord and immediately went off to work in the fleshpots of Asia saving souls and preaching His word.

We are so proud of the work Festus is doing, but Thailand must have very primitive communication facilities.  We haven’t heard from him for almost 10 months now.

We wish you a not too merry Christmas after all the trouble you got into last year, and hope to see you regularly in our church during 2013.

In contrast to your record of attandance this year.

Love and blessings,

Reverend GOF and family.

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The GOF Family Christmas letter 2011

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Dear Friends,

Oh my goodness how time does fly.  One whole year.
It feels like only yesterday when it was Christmas, that blessed and holy time of the year when we share gifts with family, and keep in touch with distant friends.  A time to send Christmas cards and letters detailing our achievements during the year.

I do so look forward to Christmas time.

My Christmas mailing list has been substantially reduced this year.
Many of my friends must have moved house last year and forgotten to furnish me with new mailing addresses.
Almost half of my 2010 Christmas cards were returned to my post office box endorsed with; “Not known at this address. Return to sender!”
I do hope they contact me sometime this year because I’d like to be able to send them some more of my original cards from the Goft Shop Yuletide Nude-Santa”  series next Christmas.

This year has been very exciting for the GOF Family.  As you might know I went to Italy last January after I received a Federal Arts Council fellowship grant to study set design and costume embroidery at the Neapolitan Opera and Ballet Company.
I spent a wonderful eleven months there working under the tutorship of the knowledgeable and rather handsome young Alessandro.
He taught me so many new things that I never knew about, but I must admit we did occasionally get up to quite a lot of mischief,
like the day we spent trying-on all the Swan Lake costumes and pirouetting around the dimly-lit sets backstage.

I only returned from Italy two weeks ago and it was an amazing surprise to find that Mrs GOF had given birth to a beautiful baby boy which she had named Peregrine, just a fortnight before I arrived back home.  Mrs GOF always likes to give me surprises.
A beautiful little infant with bright red hair and blue eyes, and Mrs GOF tells me that we are really lucky to have him. She says that medical procedures have improved enormously since we had our last child 19 years ago. She assured me that back in the 1990’s, any baby that was 8 weeks overdue would most certainly have died in the womb.
Sometimes we really do need to take time out and give thanks.

Our elder daughter Petchonkina has just turned 24. She acquired her Mother’s trait of playing funny games too.  Every time I ring her up she puts on a funny accent and tells me Petchonkina doesn’t live there any more….. before hanging up.
I know that she DOES still live there because last week there was a photograph of her on the front page of the newspaper.  I am proud that she apparently acquired my green thumb, and I think she might have won some sort of award, because in the picture she seems to be standing outside her house flanked by a couple of judges while all her lush green potted plants were being loaded into a big truck…..probably for display at her local horticultural show.
Lots of other men were also moving out several of her really big crocheting and knitting lights, I assume in order that her prize-winning plants could be properly lit at the display.

Felicity, our 19 year-old pride and joy seems to have her life well and truly back on an even keel.  She was always misunderstood at school.  You will remember that when she was 13 she was harassed in a most terrible way and accused of burning down the school when really she had just been doing some science homework at night under the classroom with a bunsen burner and a flask of kerosene.

It seems that Felicity met some really nice boys during the twelve months she subsequently spent in juvenile detention.
She has now provided us with four grandchildren, one fathered by each of them.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly the little kiddies grow up these days.
Harley will be five and going off to start kindergarten next year but Felicity will be leaving the younger ones, Grunt, Kawasaki and Reefer with us to look after because she is so busy with her night-shift job somewhere down on the High Street.

That’s all of our news for this year folks.

We wish you a Happy Christmas.

Love and best wishes,

Mr and Mrs GOF.

D. V. Crankshaft Esq.; Whereabouts unknown

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Some moments in one’s life which are devoid of any redeeming worthiness can often have blame shifted somewhere else.

To intervention of the Devil.  Or planetary misalignment.

Picture if you will the village hoon who finds himself doing 150 kph airborne cartwheels seatbelted inside a piece of worthless scrap metal which, just five seconds previously, was $40,000 worth of modified V8 street car with painted flames on the side and twin chrome exhausts.

When he wakes up in hospital a week later he will easily be able to convincing himself that the ‘condition of the road’ was the sole cause of his current predicament.

The cause of my predicament is an antiquity named Donald Von Crankshaft.  He comes from a noble lineage of aristocratic Crankshafts, all of whom have regal bearing, except for Donald.

He is extremely old.  Ancient.  Donald retired from a lifetime of grease-monkeying sometime last century, a career which was apparently thrust upon him initially by Boadicea who commanded him as a teenager to reinflate by mouth her flat chariot tyre in lieu of 20 lashes.

D.V. Crankshaft now grows orchids in retirement and sells them next door to my monthly Shopping Centre market stall which normally looks like this;

In December, I arrived as usual to set up GOF’s Bromeliads of Distinction at 7 am, and instead of the usual vacant space I was confronted by this impertinence;

Now D.V. Crankshaft had arrived earlier in the morning, probably after having been awoken by his reliable alarm clock of incontinence at 3 am.

‘Santa will be in attendance from 10 am’ he said with a wry smile on a face permanently disfigured after all the times he’d hit himself in the head with shifting-spanner handles when rusted-on exhaust pipe nuts had unexpectedly sheared off during wrenching.

‘He left his outfit in that bag hidden behind the Christmas tree GOF.  Why don’t you try on the Santa suit for size?  The Centre doesn’t open to the public until 9 am.  No-one will see you’

Well, any previous reservations I may have had about Yuletide cheer melted into SantaClausal obscurity as my seated HOHOHO-ing and bell ringing caused D.V. Crankshaft to be overtaken by repeated attacks of geriatric joy.

Until suddenly I was struck down by an unanticipated physical affliction.

There was a lump on my knee.

About 15 kilograms of it, smelling vaguely of soap, chewing gum and Coco Pops in equal proportions, and with an expectant grin separating warring factions of facial freckles, the northernmost regiment of which appeared to be sneaking in reinforcements from beneath thick ginger thatch.

A ‘Bless you my child’ escaped uncharacteristically from my lips,
before realising that such liturgical pronouncements normally require a completely different sort of fancy dress.

D.V. Crankshaft will be going straight to HELL.

No sooner had I disposed of Little Blood Nut by telling him that Santa was going to bring him an iPhone complete with a Visa debit card pre-loaded with $1000 to pay all the bills, than Crankshaft attempted to line up another somewhat reluctant and terrified early-arrival child by firstly convincing her mother to go sit on Santa’s knee to prove  ‘He’s a nice Santa and everything will be all right’.

Wrong on both counts, Crankshaft.

Unexpected things happened.

“Mother” was a woman of substance.  A lot of substance.
Especially when it came to something that Professor Julius Sumner Miller used to call ‘mass’.

No sooner had she planted her vast avoirdupois in my bony lap than we both plummeted towards the carpet clinging to each other for dear life amid all the splintered chair fragments, tinsel and glitter.

From beneath the collapsed Christmas tree I was able to aim and hurl the nearest suitable projectile at Crankshaft to wipe the smirk off his face.   Unfortunately, at this precise moment the team of security guards arrived for duty.  Crankshaft, probably realising that it was all his fault, absconded as fast as his bandy little old legs would shuffle.

I desperately need to locate Donald Von Crankshaft to have him subpoenaed as a witness for my legal defense.

He was last seen running in a southerly direction carrying a tray of expensive purple and yellow flowering Dendrobiums.  Protruding from between his shoulder blades was a shard of Santa-chair leg.

If you see anyone answering this description please freecall me;


GOF’s Twelve Days of Christmas

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Santa arrived at a shopping centre in tropical Cairns on a stinking hot day in the first week of November.      Serves him right.
Premature Santas are abominations.

The Bucket wishes to share a smidgin of it’s meagre reserves of Seasonal Joy, so I hope you are in good voice today to sing along with me.

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On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
dunny brush in a plastic holder.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Two floor-cleaning kneepads.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Three sociability ultimatums.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Four earsfull of admonition.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Five hours of unsolicited dream interpretations.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Six inaccurately flung boots.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Seven reminders of things I did wrong in 1984.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Eight flatulence suppressing medications.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Nine subtly disguised gift hints.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Ten dish-washing scour pads with bonus rubber gloves.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Eleven bottles of halitosis mouthwash.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;
Twelve $#%@&%* swearing jars,
Eleven bottles of halitosis mouthwash,
Ten dish-washing scour pads,
Nine subtly disguised gift hints,
Eight flatulence suppressing medications,
Seven reminders of things I did wrong in 1984,
Six inaccurately flung boots,
Five hours of unsolicited dream interpretations,
Four earsfull of admonition,
Three sociability ultimatums,
Two floorcleaning kneepads,

And ……AND… if that wasn’t already enough for one bloody Christmas, I suddenly heard the grunt of a semi-trailer’s airbrakes as it came to a halt outside my backdoor and unloaded some sort of giant fruit tree, with a dopey, smug looking temperate-zone bird sitting in an upper branch.

I think I’m going to need all those swearing jars.


GOF’s postal address is now;

Patient # 26354,
Christmas Carol overdose clinic,

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The Bucket will be going into extended hibernation.

Thank you to each and every one of my friends, old or new, wherever you are in the world, for your company and inspiration, and for putting up with me during 2010.

This year I am especially grateful to all the members of my Vox neighbourhood who thought our little circle of friendship was worth maintaining and moving lock, stock and barrel to WordPress.

Mrs GOF and I wish each and every one of you a happy, safe and peaceful Christmas.

Santa didn’t get to my place

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because he got upset by this little bit of misfortune in my driveway, swore at me and the reindeer, then moved on to the neighbours place.

While everyone is still busy digesting Christmas puddings, this is an abridged repeat story from last year.  Father Tom was rightfully a hero to the people he worked with.  I thought it appropriate to give him another airing before a new story about him next week.

                                   The World's Highest Toilet

This is a tale of how even the finest of human beings sometimes have difficulty ascending to the throne of leadership, and stumble under pressure at the last hurdle.

Missionaries, such as my old friend, Father Tom, together with Australian Government patrol officers did much to improve health outcomes in many remote areas of Papua New Guinea during the 1960's.

Some projects were more successful than others.

People in lowland areas of PNG suffer from endemic malaria, and in Fr. Toms district, infant mortality to age 5 was 50%, due to malaria, dietary protein deficiency, and gastro-intestinal infections. 
A nation-wide program was begun to introduce pit toilets, and Fr. Tom selected a nearby village for his first demonstration.

He explained the concept to the village Luluai (L) and Tultul (T) (generic titles for village chiefs), and left design diagrams with them.

PNG village society has survived for countless centuries without new fangled devices such as toilets, so L & T enthusiastically promised to build the structure just to humor the funny white man, knowing that none of his clan would ever easily adopt the concept of crapping in the same place more than once.

The small village consisted of 20 or so bush material huts built around a brushed-earth village square.

L & T selected a central location in the square and instructed the village men to dig the prescribed pit 6 feet deep with the shovels left by Fr. Tom.

After 2 feet they hit bedrock.

L & T went into conference and deliberated over this unforseen impediment to progress, and proposed a logical solution.  If you can't dig a pit toilet DOWN, then you obviously have to build one UP.

And so it was that a magnificent hollow-centred pyramid six feet high was constructed from softer earth scraped from the near vicinity.
The central core was reinforced with bush logs to prevent inward collapse.  An appropriate seat was carved from bush timber and mounted on the top.  A modesty wall woven from plaited bamboo strips was erected around the summit and the project declared complete. 
No roof was considered necessary because no-one was likely to use it….apart from, apparently, the visiting missionaries and patrol officers who kept coming up with all these peculiar ideas.

According to custom, new projects require ritual and ceremony before use, so Fr. Tom was summonsed to not only provide a spiritual blessing of the facility, but also to contribute a more practical "blessing" as a demonstration of how this modern convenience should be used.  

So, surrounded by the entire village community, Fr Tom completed the religious formalities, cut the ribbon, then followed the steps to the top and mounted the pedestal.
The surrounding privacy walls, whilst perfectly satisfactory for people of PNG short stature, unfortunately only reached up to neck height on the sitting Fr. Tom.

Somewhere during the process of focussing on the sea of inquisitive eyes below him, he rapidly and understandably became distracted from the immediate task at hand.

His failure to perform under pressure was a major setback to hygiene improvement in Papua New Guinea.

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