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A plague of enyots

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Warning;  Contains one naughty word necessary to tell the story.
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Mrs GOF’s father was caught between two worlds. Born in a remote village in New Guinea he was deprived of a formal education so he chose to relocate his young family by overland trek to Pindiu, a Government outpost where all his children could attend an English curriculum school.

He had extraordinary linguistic abilities. Speaking five languages fluently he also had a working knowledge of two more. After moving to Pindiu he started adding a few English words to his vocabulary. Most came from overhearing his kids chattering after school, or listening to the more colourful language being used by the Australian Patrol Officers for whom he worked as a labourer and translator.

He did not understand the dictionary meaning of these words and sometimes his pronunciation went awry. For example ‘idiot’ always came out as ‘enyot‘. I suspect the older siblings might have been complicit in ensuring the mispronunciations continued because they still tell funny stories about it today long after their dad has passed away.
“You enyots” was his reprimand for minor childhood transgressions, but more serious breaches elicited a bellowed “You fukkin enyots“. In his mind, these words meant simply “You naughty children”.
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For nigh on twenty years Mrs GOF and I have had a market stall selling plants at the annual Father’s Day street carnival at the Cairns Botanic Gardens. For most of this time the smooth operation of the event was a credit to Betty, a matronly volunteer who toddled around with a clipboard, pen and a welcoming smile. Life was good back then.

A few years ago the Cairns City Council took over management of the event and replaced Betty with an assortment of overpaid tertiary-educated bureaucrats who abolished common sense and progressively turned administrative stupidity into an art form.

This year, applications and communications could only be made online.
We will not be allowed to participate unless we take an entire day off from our farm work and drive four hours to Cairns to participate in a mandatory induction course to learn about the workplace health and safety implications of setting up a market tent.

It’s being conducted this morning.  Goodness gracious me we’re going to miss out.
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I refuse to enable any of these fukkin enyots to gain a foothold in my life.
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Because you let me go

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It is almost a quarter of a century since my Mum died at age 82. She gave her solitary boy life and love and freedom. The first two were unconditional, but she never let me forget that freedom comes with responsibilities and consequences.
Here are a few words for her on Mothers Day just to let her know she’s not forgotten.

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BECAUSE YOU LET ME GO

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It’s Mum’s Day number sixty six,
Again I think of you.
The heroine of my childhood
Who taught me what to do.
Of course I don’t remember
My first step long ago,
I hear you held my hand one stride
But then you let me go.

There were cuts and scrapes and bruises.
Misadventures on the farm.
I crashed my bike into a tree
And almost broke my arm.
When gored by Jersey horns I said
A bad word, yes, I know.
You patched me up and told me not
To swear……… then let me go.

You watched my years of awkwardness
From youth to adulthood.
Not judging all the foolishness
Like other mothers would.
And now I’m old and thinking back
Of gifts you did bestow.
The greatest was to love, and care,
…..but then to let me go.

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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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Unto GOF a grandchild is born.

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

In more ways than one.

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Background;

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

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

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

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

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

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The story;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This old cynic has been deeply moved by the experience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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