Fourth anniversary -- and no easier!
Sunday, 01 February 2015 07:54

They say that time is a great healer, but losing a child is timeless; not a day goes by without experiencing that same awful, twisted, wrenched gut feeling, the same emptineness today as was there yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that; the same as it was at that awful, awful moment at 3.30pm on 31.1.2011, when our world was crushed. Could I have done more? Should I have done more? Why didn't I do more? What more could I have done?  For the millionth time I'm reminded of that awful, haunting image of my boy lying there, DEAD, life gone from his face. I'd kissed his cold forehead. This afternoon my daughter Mel and I drove to Lake Eildon, one of Jamie's most favourite places. Mel took her small urn containing what she has left of Jamie's ashes. I couldn't bring myself to ask to see inside that little urn. Instead, we talked about fun times with Jamie (to try in vain to quell the gut wrenching). We reminisced about days spent jumping off the roof of the houseboat into the water (the kids, not me), skiing, lunch and dinner parties held on the top deck on those hot, lazy summer days, playing cards at the dining table in winter before venturing outside in the eerie still mist to loosen the ropes tied to trees on the bank. And the storms; we talked a lot about the storms, and Mel's fear of the ropes breaking, the houseboat crashing sideways onto the bank, a pontoon pierced, and it sinking with us all asleep inside! But it's easier on the troubled mind to think of happier times, like when the kids each took a friend to stay, and how I told Jamie's school friend Michael that first-up on each visit to the lake we needed to motor over to the 'poo barge' to empty the tank, and how a guest always needed to volunteer to suck on the poo hose to get it started. The poor kid nearly fainted. Jamie loved Eildon and the houseboat. Me? I loved to see the kids happy, Jamie happy, his mind momentarily off his ever-increasing physical limitations. God bless Jamie in heaven. Yes, this evening on our drive home we also talked about heaven, and how I pray that, one day, each of us will be greeted there by Jamie. I can't wait.

JACKAROO screenplay final draft
Sunday, 18 January 2015 17:23

While recovering from the inner ear infection, I alternated between bed and computer to go over the JACKAROO screenplay one more time. The film has 257 scenes, 102 pages of screenplay, 83 character outlines, 24 contrived closing credit out-takes (split screen), and is 120 pages all up. I was once told that producers won't look at screenplays longer than 120 pages, so at least on that score I seem to qualify. Just dreaming of the premiere showing, and the fun night that will be, spurs me on never to give in. Maybe 2015 is the year.

Tough to write
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 14:46

'Tough to write' (aka Rupert Murdoch tweet 28.1.15), but Tony Abbott just isn't PM quality; never has been. He makes John Howard look moderate. I ask, can you name one thing Abbott has done that's met broad electoral and commentator approval? Killing the carbon tax will be seen by our grandchildren as head-in-the-sand. Returning the boats was condemned by the UN. Cutting overseas aid was utopian meanness. Aborted changes to Medicare ('We're broke, so we need $7 per GP visit for a $20b medical future fund'!!! Um, hello!!!), youth unemployment benefits and university tuition fees represent ultra-right wing plans of unarguable unfairness, yet NOTHING has been done to stop multi-nationals avoiding fair taxation. Paid maternity leave (more middle class votes) was plain bad policy. We're less than four months away from the next budget--and yet the last one isn't resolved. Abbott won't change; he can't change; it's in his DNA to favour the ultra-rich (for future board appointments?). Watch what's next: WorkChoices is about to be refloated, and Cambodia is to be paid $20,000,000 per refugee ($40,000,000 for two of them). One daren't hold one's breath for the next announcement. Abbott just doesn't get it! Let's hope his next Captain's Call is to hang up his bat, or rather pass it swiftly to Turnbull.

Letter from Jenny
Thursday, 15 January 2015 13:13

Speaking of boarding house letters to and from home, in my latest memoir (presently being assessed by my publisher) on my time as a boarding housemaster, I've included the legendary letter sent by Year Eleven girl, Jenny, to her parents. The story goes like this: Jenny, so her housemistress says, has always been an excellent student. Her parents, John and Margaret, run a substantial sheep enterprise near Jerilderie in the Riverina district of New South Wales. It is John and Margaret’s custom, on their way into town, to stop at their mailbox at the entrance to their farm, to collect the mail. One morning, with the car idling beside the mailbox, Margaret reaches for the mail. She begins to fossick through the envelopes. And there among them is a letter bearing Jenny’s school’s crest. ‘Look,’ Margaret beams excitedly, ‘a letter from Jenny’. A smile comes across John’s face. Both parents love their daughter to death, and love to receive her letters. Margaret reads the letter aloud. ‘Dear Mum and Dad, it’s time I fessed-up and told you I’m pregnant. The baby is due in December. Stephen promises he will get off drugs and look for a job when the baby is born. At the moment, he’s fighting Centrelink because he’s been on Remand for break-and-entering, and they won’t give him the dole. He and his mate Terry held up a bank. Stephen was carrying a gun at the time. Please don’t worry. I’m leaving school on Friday, and Steve and I are moving into crisis accommodation in North Fitzroy. Stephen’s mother is also in prison. His dad was gunned down during a drug raid. Love, Jenny.’ John and Margaret sit stunned; speechless. This can’t be their Jenny. Their Jenny is a good girl, always doing good things; always on time with her school work, always getting top marks. She doesn’t even have a boyfriend. She’s never shown any interest in boys. Eventually, John looks across at his wife. ‘Is there any good news in the mail? He asks. Margaret resumes fingering through the envelopes. There’s another school envelope. ‘Oh, look,’ she says, ‘here’s another letter from Jenny’. She quickly tears open the envelope. ‘Dear mum and dad. Disregard the first letter. It’s just that I’m struggling with Maths, and I wanted you to get it in perspective.’


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