Day 81: 17 June 2017
Monday, 16 July 2018 17:17

Today, I was pulled over by a policeman as we drove south out of Margate on our way home to Paradise (Kettering). He was positioned in an excellent spot next to Merediths roadside produce store. It’s still a ‘60’ zone, but shortly afterwards changes to 80. You come to it after a short downward slope, and it’s easy pickings. It should be 80 all along. The kind policeman told me I was doing 81 in a 60 stretch, but he kindly let me off with a warning. He told me I’ll get a confirmation email, which later on I do. My clever daughter-in-law came top of her class at the Victorian academy. The reward she got was to choose her first police station. Most top place-getters select the station with the least amount of crime. The graduate who comes bottom, so Jessie explained, gets sent to Boganville. Guess where Jessie – the dux of her class – chose to go? Yep. Boganville. Not being experienced in police matters, I asked Jessie what her work entailed. She replied, ‘I’m the hose person’. ‘Please explain,’ I replied. ‘We often get called to a domestic situation, and by the time we arrive the arguing and often the brawling has moved out onto the front lawn. While my colleague tries to pacify the combatants, I look around for the nearest garden hose, and by the time I bring the hose to where the action is, my colleague often will have had to have used capsicum spray on the main offender, who he is writhing on the grass, rubbing his eyes, and screaming. Whereupon I use the hose to wash the spray off his face.’ When Jessie progressed to being a detective, I asked what her new work involved. ‘Now, I sit outside cafes, drinking coffee.’ ‘How come?’ I asked. ‘Burglars always return to the scene of their crime, to see what’s going on. We have a rough description of the offender, so we just sit there. When he comes by, we arrest him.’ 

Day 79: 15 July 2017
Monday, 16 July 2018 17:11

Sir Michael Parkinson is my all-time favourite TV interviewer, largely I think because of his relaxed style of interviewing people. In his 2008 autobiography, ‘Parky’ admits to having been lazy at work, which stemmed from his print journalism days, when he says he’d rather have been playing cricket (which he did with Dickie Bird, Freddie Truman, Geoff Boycott). Parkinson interviewed them all. Among his many repeat favourites he lists Mohammad Ali (until he lost his faculties), Billy Connolly, Robert Mitchum, Bing Crosby and Kenneth Williams. Kenneth Williams was one of those rare human beings who made you laugh just to hear his voice. And he knew it! He appeared in no fewer than twenty-five Carry On films, the funniest line (I think) he ever delivered being when he played the head chef in Carry On Cruising. He confronted the ship’s captain (Sid James) on the upper deck, saying, ‘I’ve been up the sharp end, I’ve been down the blunt end, and I can’t find the kitchen anywhere!’ I was shocked to read in Parky’s book that Williams died in 1988, aged just sixty-two. A distant relative of mine, David McNicoll, was a truly wonderful journalist – including as a war correspondent – for Sir Frank Packer and his Consolidated Press empire. David remained in his ‘faithful retainer’ role well into Kerry Packer’s reign. He titled his memoir Luck’s a Fortune. I think luck also applied to Michael Parkinson. Both journalists worked in an era when just being in the right place at the right time made everything possible. In April 2013, Sir Michael Parkinson announced he had prostate cancer. That’s so sad.

Day 80: 16 June 2017
Monday, 16 July 2018 17:15

Church is done, and while I enjoyed a hot cup of tea with my new friends after the service, it's so cold here that I've repaired straight to the Mermaid Café to get warm and have a latte. Can you believe it? A yacht just went by on its way out onto the Channel. I mean, really, what kind of obsessed sailor would venture out to sea in this temperature? Meanwhile, the car ferry to Bruny Island is loading, which means the Cafe has emptied. I don't wish to be mean, but gosh it's nice when the tourists leave on the ferry. Some of these badly brought up itinerants are loud and uncouth, they don't take their used cups and dishes up to the counter to assist busy staff, and they leave the doors to the balcony open. And the least said about their revolting, unruly children, the better. However, I do enjoy people-watching, and the one thing I do like about the tourists is their excitement. It’s infectious. Upon arriving, the thrill seekers pile out of their hire cars or mini-buses like spoiled children on a scavenger hunt. They pig out on coffee plus if time allows a cooked breakfast, and they giggle a lot. Especially the Chinese. It's their big holiday moment – with a few hours and lots of serious dollars about to be spent on Bruny Island. But, first, they loiter around the Café precinct, waiting for the next ferry, giggling, taking photos of anything and everything. Hang on, three tourists with loud cameras around their necks are standing uncomfortably close to our yacht. Excuse me while I go and shoo them away. Tourism here in Tasmania is huge, with most tourists visiting three places: Cradle Mountain in the state’s north-west, Cascade Brewery (Australia's oldest) here in Hobart, and Bruny Island. If only I could fathom a way to impose (i.e. collect) a two dollar levy on each visitor to Bruny. I could trade in 32-year-old Solarus on Mike's luxury cruiser next to us.

Day 78: 14 July 2017
Saturday, 14 July 2018 13:48

Jon and Sue Stagg run the Atlas Expresso cafe on the corner of Macquarie and Elizabeth Streets here in Hobart. They are known for good coffee, free babyccinos, and holding the Guinness World Record for serving the most cappuccinos in one hour from one coffee machine (353). Jon is also renown for the messages he posts on a chalkboard out the front of the shop, like... ‘My mother-in-law is coming to stay for Christmas; eight weeks of domestic bliss. Purely by coincidence, I’m extending trading hours. I was thinking 24 hours 7 days for eight weeks.’ Or this: ‘Welcome to the Australian Airports Association’s annual meeting. And a big thank you if you guys are responsible for cancelling direct flights from Adelaide to Hobart; my mother-in-law now visits only once a year.’ 'Today’s soup is Minestrony. Yes, I do know how to spell minestrone but it makes some people so happy when they get to correct a typo – I just wanted to spread some love.’ ‘Today’s soup is Curried Red Lentil. I know it sounds like something you find in a 20 litre pot on the stove in a uni share house the day before dole day, but it’s actually quite yummy.’ ‘The Council has started a new outreach program to help the disaffected, you know, red-heads, anxious pyromaniacs, alcoholics and pessimists. The program is called Bringing Gingers, Cringers, Singe-ers, Bingers and Whingers In From The Fringes.’ ‘It’s Oktoberfest at Atlas. We can’t sell beer but we can sell you a sober-up coffee instead. Just remember that beer doesn’t make you fat, it makes you lean… lean against walls and tables.’ ‘I don’t normally give career advice. I feel it’s up to each of us to search for the thing that gets us out of bed each day. However, to the guy who tried to nick my bike – if you can’t get away from a middle aged man wearing an apron, professional theft might not be your thing. ‘Every day a charming girl spits on her fingers and smears my chalk sign. No biggy. But I’ve gotta know if she reads my signs. So today I dipped my stick of chalk in cat excrement.’


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