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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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The last blacktracker

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(My use of the word ‘blacktracker’ instead of ‘Aboriginal Police Tracker’ may be politically incorrect in 2014, but it is part of our vernacular and as I am using it with respectful intent I don’t give a rat’s arse.)

 

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Australia cannot claim much moral high ground over America or South Africa when it comes to the past treatment of people of colour.

Until the 1960’s Australian aborigines had no voting rites, the National census classified them as ‘fauna’ and many were forced to live in shanty settlements on the outskirts of our towns.

This is the reality of the country in which I was raised, yet ‘white Australia’ still grabbed every opportunity to bask in the glory of those aboriginals who excelled despite their ethnic subjugation.

On one hand we lauded the exceptional achievements of Albert Namatjira (artist),  Kath Walker (poet),  Doug Nicholls (Pastor and Governor,) and Lionel Rose (boxer), whilst with the other we abducted aboriginal children from their parents.

Blacktrackers have always been an under-appreciated part of our history.

For more than 100 years they have been employed in remote locations to work alongside European police officers, using their unique tracking skills and knowledge of ‘country’ to locate fugitives and lost travelers. In places far away from ambulances and Forensic Crash Units they were also called upon to assist with first response services and investigation of motor vehicle accidents.

Barry Post, age 72, (pictured above) retired last week at Coen, a remote township on Cape York Peninsula.   He was Australia’s last blacktracker, an occupation made redundant by satellite imagery, GPS and mobile phones.

Blacktrackers served Australia with distinction (and inferior employment conditions) and they should never be forgotten.

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The rise and fall of Saveloy Selassie

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Tutorial #1 for 2014.  Copyright; The Bucket History Academy

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Saveloy Selassie was born in the Abyssian (now Ethiopian) village of Dabora  in 740 B.C., the only child of peasant farmers Bradworz and Awina.  We know very little about his childhood except that he had very large flat feet (a genetic inheritance, possibly from his maternal grandfather) and recurrent inflammations of the septum.

An itinerant tutor arrived at Dabora in 722 B.C. and recognised a studious intelligence in Saveloy so he taught him how to write in the Semitic boustrophedon style. (First line from right to left, and the next line left to right…etc ) but it soon became apparent that the young man was more interested in physical activities.

The Semites had only recently brought news to Dabora that the Greeks were conducting the Olympian Games at the Sanctuary of Zeus in the Peloponesus, so in 720 B.C. Saveloy set his heart on competing in the Dolichos, a race run over a distance of 15120 feet.

He started training immediately.  Wearing the brand new pair of over-sized sandals woven by his mother from papyrus reeds he ran all the way down to the headwaters of the Blue Nile and began to wade across it.  To his utter astonishment he found that he was able to walk across the surface of the water.   Science had not yet come to understand the principles of buoyancy afforded by air trapped within the cellular structure of papyrus, but it must have felt exquisitely uplifting so Saveloy continued his way across the river.

A group of women who were washing loincloths on the opposite bank  could hardly believe their eyes as they watched him striding athletically toward them barely creating a ripple. The village elders had always spoken of a man with supernatural powers who would one day come back to their village and lead the people to Elysium, their legendary paradise.  The women gathered around Saveloy with awe and anointed him with oil of cloves before decorating him with garlands made out of orchid and lablab flowers. Then they escorted him back to their hamlet of Drodo.

After hearing the women’s story, everyone in the village milled around Saveloy, some reverently bowing down before him and others dancing and chanting incantations and festooning him with gilded silk scarves and shiny trinkets.

The elders had been right.  This was the Promised Man and He had returned to them, the chosen people of Drodo.

Word of His arrival soon reached all the neighbouring villages. Men, women and children came and sat cross-legged before him, awestruck by his presence and the timbre of his sonorous voice.  Teenage girls swooned. The infirm and insane gathered in the hope of being healed. The elders then promised Saveloy ‘three fatted virgins and a sacred jade tiara encrusted with diamonds’  if he would just show them one more time how he was able to walk on water.

And so it came to pass that Saveloy, accompanied by hundreds of adoring followers, walked with saintly gait back down to the Blue Nile, stepped off the bank and sank in twenty feet of water.  He was never seen again.

The women wailed and wept as they returned to the village.  They gathered up the moist clay from where they had so recently washed and kissed Saveloy’s feet and they moulded an ornate altar from the very earth where he had been sitting.  The men built a shrine around it and blessed it with sprinklings of holy water distilled from hippopotamus urine.

Then on top of the altar they reverently and respectfully mounted the sandals which Saveloy had forgotten to put back on.

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The pursuit of Marilyn

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Memories of Dookie Agricultural College 1965-67

Times have changed.  Australia no longer values agricultural education and many of it’s colleges and research stations have been closed.  I retain fond memories of my alma mater and there remains a strong bond between my classmates to this day.
We share something very special.  Australians call it mateship.

The residential college on 6000 acres of land was located 20 miles from the nearest town of Shepparton.  As 16 – 22 year-olds most students possessed drivers licences and a few even owned cars.  (Indeed the college provided driving lessons and licence testing as part of the curriculum.)

However, possession of any of the following items on campus could result in immediate expulsion.

1. A car
2. Alcohol
3. A girl, having been, or in the throes of being, or even in the vague hope of being, biblically known.

You might think that 200 young men confined in such circumstances would revolt against the system, but the 1960’s in rural Australia were much simpler times.  There were no recreational drugs.  I was not even aware that such things existed.  The only electronic devices were a communal black and white television in the dormitory common room, and our own transistor radios.
There was just one telephone for student’s incoming calls and a couple of public payphones.

Hitchhiking was our primary means of travel, to Shepparton or Benalla on weekends, or longer trips home during holidays.

Dookie College blazer…after 47 years the blazer is in far better condition than the model. Made by “Ashmans of Bendigo, The home of better suits. This garment is the work of skilled hand-craftsman”

The distinctive Dookie College blazer was recognised by motorists throughout Northern Victoria, and although it was a long walk to get to the Midland Highway, once there we were guaranteed rides to almost anywhere in the State.

There were six agricultural colleges in Australia’s eastern States
(Roseworthy, Longerenong, Dookie, Wagga, Hawkesbury and Gatton) separated by a distance of 1500 miles, and an intense rivalry existed between them in two fields of human endeavour;

A.  Inter-collegiate sports held annually.
B. The pursuit of Marilyn.

I have no idea how these Marilyn shenanigans commenced, but by 1965 they were well established.

When I arrived at Dookie there was a framed print of the famous Marilyn Monroe 1953 Playboy Magazine photograph hanging in the dormitory common room.  Junior students were instructed to guard the picture against theft because it had become traditional for other colleges to mount expeditions at unexpected times to steal the picture as a mark of collegiate superiority.

The picture vanished from Dookie soon afterwards and students at Wagga Agricultural College in New South Wales advised that they now had possession.  The only rule was that the picture had to be hung in the publicly accessible common room of each college, so a car (illegal expulsion-threatening) load of Dookie boys then drove many hours through the night, stole the picture back, and were rewarded with hero status upon their return.  We all once again basked under the warm glow of Marilyn’s magnificence until some other little bastards came and stole it once more.

During my three years at Dookie, Marilyn traveled thousands of miles around Australia in the grasp of some of the finest specimens of young Aussie manhood imaginable.

These were times of simple pleasures, many of which will come to light and be magnified tenfold at our 50th anniversary reunion in 2015.

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Dookie College staff 1965

Dookie College float being prepared for Melbourne’s Moomba Parade circa 1966.
ERUDIMUR DUM COLIMUS

Dookie cricketing legends….or NOT, as the case may be.

Siwea airstrip, Papua New Guinea

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This story is to jog the memory of all the old PNG pilots who will never forget Siwea.

It is also for all the arriving passengers who, during the final landing approach (when most of the airfield disappeared from view because of a steep uphill landing threshhold) were terrified and thought they were going to die.
Departing passengers too, whilst falling over the edge and dropping down into the Tewae gorge to gain flying speed with the Cessna stall-warning horn blaring, were also tricked into thinking that the future looked rather bleak.

To my knowledge the only person who ever did die in an aviation-related accident at Siwea was a pedestrian who was struck by the propeller of a landing aircraft.

The Siwea ‘strip was constructed circa 1970 by villagers using shovels to dig back into the mountain. It was 1500 feet in length at almost 6000 feet altitude which severely limited the performance of most light aircraft. The ‘runway’ surface was nominally grass but often just mud, and the airstrip provided an outlet for smallholder-grown arabica coffee, strawberries, onions and other fruit and vegetables.

Siwea was, in 2011, no longer an operational airfield.

(Photographs taken by Mrs GOF, 2011)

Siwea airstrip, view from the landing threshhold.

Siwea airstrip, view during landing roll.

Siwea airstrip showing total length in takeoff direction.

Siwea airstrip showing direction of takeoff and the typical weather conditions which made in unusable after 10 am on most days.

An evening with François Boucher.

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(With apologies to Peter Cook and Dudley Moore)

Marquise de Pompadour painted by Francois Boucher

The scene is Paris, the city of romance on a Spring evening in 1764 with the fragrance of roses wafting on the breeze and the laughter of lovers echoing down the alleyways. As a reporter for the now defunct Antipodes Argus, I was dining out at a sidewalk cafe with the sixty-one year-old Premier Peintre du Roi, François Boucher, enjoying conversation, cuisses de grenovilles and a superb vintage white wine.

Boucher reminisced that as a young man he had been an apprentice embroiderer and then a talented engraver before his artistic skills came to the attention of King Louis XV who awarded him the prestigious Grand Prix de Rome  to study at the Palazzo Mancini in Italy.

(The more perceptive senior students at The Bucket History Academy will at this point be tempted to make an immediate connection, albeit a rather tenuous and to date unsubstantiated link, to other artful driving forces in history such as Ayrton Senna, Niki Lauda, Stirling Moss and Sir Jack Brabham.)

François eventually returned home to his beloved France, initially designing tapestries at the Beauvais factory before earning public acclaim for his rococo style pastoral and mythological paintings which were unusually amorous and sensual.

In 1755 he was appointed head of the Royal Gobelins Factory.
(Established around 1450 by Jehan Gobelin, the Factory is an exclusive tapestry production house which was purchased by
King Louie XIV in 1662.)

Rumour had it that beneath the Factory there was a network of tunnels and caves where disenchanted genetics professors and unemployed battery-hen farmers had joined forces to breed elves, faeries and gnomes for general distribution, and leprechauns specifically for export to Ireland.

Boucher’s revealing paintings of the Marquise de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV, ensured that both artist and subject have a permanent place in history.

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Later that evening François and I walked the cobbled streets back to his studio apartment where the following conversation took place;

GOF;   “Hey, François, do you think you could make me as famous as Madame de Pompadour by doing a painting of me?”

François;  “Miracles can happen GOF. Would you like to show me the raw material with which I would have to work.”

GOF;   [Drops all his gear in a pile on the floor and then reclines seductively on the model’s couch.]  “Get an eyeful of this lot, François”

François;  “Oh mon Dieu!  Disastre total!  What I see before me does not fill me with great hope. Let’s see if I have this right;”

“Mr GOF, you are auditioning for a role normally reserved for a beautiful voluptuous young woman.  You, a long streak of misery with a hairy face, prominent ribs, kneecaps and other assorted protruberances are asking me, the Premier Peintre of France, to convert this mess into an acceptable piece of erotic art?”

GOF;  “Well yes, if it’s not too much trouble. Is there anything else you can see that’s wrong with me?”

François;   “Where shall I begin. Let’s start at the bottom. I’m sorry, my English is not being very good. Bottom is terrible like conjoined shrivelled prunes covered in rampant fungus disease.
What I meant was …..let’s start with your feet.”

“Your toes, feet and ankles Mr GOF are quite exquisite. I have no problem at all with those. They are finely sculptured and aesthetically pleasing. It’s just that all the other things attached to them as far as the eye can see are quite extraordinarily scrawny and unsuitable for the purpose of artistic rendition.”

“Your primary deficiency Mr GOF lies with the top 95% of your body.”

GOF;   “Well couldn’t you sort of enhance my appearance with creative ‘Photoshopping’ strokes of your brush as you are painting, with the aim of immortalising me and making me irresistibly attractive to hordes of female art lovers?

François;   “What’s Photoshopping?”

GOF;   “Sorry François, I am occasionally prone to unexpected surges of clairvoyant genius.  So do you think there is any chance at all that you could whip up a really sexy painting of me when you have some spare time?”

François;  “There is  a little glimmer of hope for you Mr GOF.  If every woman on the planet suddenly died, along with all the better looking chimpanzees, orangutans and three-toed sloths, you could quite reasonably expect to receive a call from me to be my next nude model.”

“Au revoir  Mr GOF.”

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The Bucket History Academy…..proudly educating the world.

The Bucket’s History of Ice Skating

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G’day Bucketeers.  Today I have a very special treat for you.

Most of my previous History Tutorials  were the product of many hours poring over the Encyclopaedia Britannica or pawing my way through ancient manuscripts with white-gloved hands.

Occasionally however I took short cuts and copied information directly from all the documents which I stole from the National History Museum during the sixteen year period when I was having a torrid extracurricular love affair with the Curator’s widowed aunt.
She unceremoniously dumped me last year after developing a limp, a lisp and a drooping right eyelid, all of which she said were the result of stress caused by my tireless and persistent romantic ministrations.

For our subject today however, I am proudly able to draw upon a vast reserve of personal experience.

As an Australian living in the tropics I naturally have an extraordinary stash of ice-skating knowledge which has accrued from three main sources;

1.  Examining the behaviour of my de-icing spatula when, once or twice each year, I defrost the freezer compartment of my refrigerator.

2.  Studying Australia’s magnificent history of gold-medal skating performances at Winter Olympics.

A grand total of ONE.

In the men’s 1000 metre speed skating event at the 2002 Winter Olympics in South Korea, Steven Bradbury, after trailing for most of the race went on to win gold after every other competitor ended up in a spectacular pile-up on the final corner. Steven casually threaded his way through all the carnage to the finish line and in doing so covered himself and his country in the pompous pong of provincial superiority.

3.  Viewing countless hours of figure skating on television. (Primarily involving shapely young women dressed in short diaphanous yellow skirts…..research can indeed be a very onerous and tedious task.)

or diaphanous browny colored costumes

I also once fell in sympathy-love with Nancy Kerrigan (pictured above) back in 1994 after the very charming Tonya Harding conspired to have harm done to Nancy’s gorgeous, long, splendid, shapely, sensuous, sylphen, sexy……..my apologies…..I almost drifted off into old-man’s fantasies there.  Now where was I up to?

Oh yes.   Back to business.  You are here for the formal history of ice skating, so here it is;

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Ice skating enables a minority of people in the world to make the most of the appalling decision their ancestors made in migrating from hospitable African climes to the frozen extremities of the planet.

It is generally accepted that ice skating began on the frozen canals of The Netherlands more than 1000 years ago, when animal rib or shin bones were strapped to the feet.

When Dutch people travelled to North America in the 19th century, they brought with them their schaatsen along with clogs, windmills, and (presumably) courage, elm disease, auctions and ovens.

The first steel skate blade appeared in 1860 and speed skating was introduced as a winter Olympic sport for men at Chamonix, France, in 1924, and for women at the 1960 Olympiad in Squaw Valley, California after a protest march by the girls demanded equal ankle-sprain and tibia-fracture rights with the men.

Canada gave birth to the game of Ice Hockey shortly after a mob of unemployed English soldiers were observed swinging sticks at a little flat rock on the icy surface of Kingston Lake, Ontario in 1867 before the whole lot of them were immediately confined to barracks then hauled off by their superior officer to the nearest Sanitorium for psychological intervention followed by repatriation back to Britain.

Figure skating is an activity originally perfected and made popular by Norwegian world champion Sonja Henie. (1913-1969)

I, for one, would like to thank Sonja.

Figure skating is without doubt the most beautiful, graceful and elegant sport in my world.

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P.S.  I have just received an urgent communique from Father George O’Dowd who is The Bucket’s newly-appointed Consultant for matters of Morality, Pop-music, Childbirth and Contraception.
After viewing a draft of this Tutorial, he has invited me to spend some time in his confessional. Immediately.

This may take awhile folks.

So if you don’t mind I’ll just look at a couple more pictures to tide me over until I get out.

More of GOF’s comprehensive History Tutorials can be found HERE.