Day 6: 3 May 2017
Thursday, 03 May 2018 06:46

Now that we’re into May, the weather here in Paradise is beginning to turn; it’s starting to get cold. And I’m feeling it. I keep asking myself, is it really cold, or is it just me? Am I just getting old? All around me, men and boys walk about in short-sleeved shirts. As I write this, a fishing trawler is tying up on the other side of our marina, and the sole female crew member exits the cabin wearing a short-sleeved shirt. Plus, she has a cigarette dangling from her mouth, but about which I shan’t comment. It’s her short-sleeved shirt which makes me shiver. Damn her! The foul weather reminds me of my school days, my boarding school life (in Victoria), to be specific. We boys about to go into year ten would be living at the school’s remote campus, Timbertop, in the Victorian alps. To prepare me, Mum decided that as a family we would check out the campus during the preceding September school holidays, to make my transition less dramatic. So it was that Mum, my sister Penny and I drove to Jamieson, a small town close to the school, for a week’s stay. We would schedule a day trip to inspect my new surrounds. Trouble was, the moment we arrived at the Jamieson Motel, it began to rain. And rain, and rain. The gravel roads and even the motel entrance turned to complete mush, and we were left motel-bound for the seven days. Penny and I took to variously playing pool, and staring out the window at the bucketing rain. We never did get to visit the school, and thereafter whenever as a family we suffered a collective setback, we would declare it a case of putting it down to experience. Our other family ritual, as mundane as it might sound, began after we forgot to pack the iron for our annual summer holidays at the seaside. Forever after, whenever we went on holidays, one of us would call out, ‘Have we remembered the iron?’ Families do have quaint secrets.

Day 4: 1 May 2017
Tuesday, 01 May 2018 04:41

Currently, there is a major brouhaha here in Tasmania over poker machines; people want them removed from clubs and pubs. I’ve long held that the worst thing a gambler can do is to get an early win, as it makes it look all too easy. I was eighteen, spending a year working in England, when on my first weekend, a work colleague took me to his golf club for a drink. In the corner was a lonely poker machine, the first I’d seen. My friend encouraged me to have a shot. I inserted a pound, and quickly lost all but twenty pence. However, with my one last tug of the lever, out poured twelve quid. Later, when lotto first started in Victoria, I bought a ticket, and won eleven dollars. Again, it was far too easy. More recently, on a walk in Melbourne City, a sudden urge prompted me to put my fingers in the change drawer of a greedy parking metre. Like I was homeless. But I felt coins, and promptly pulled out nine dollars and seventy cents in loose change. Ever since, I’ve found it hard not to put my fingers into parking metres!

* * *

While on gambling, I once organised a lunch at Melbourne Business School, when I worked there. I asked the past student seated on my right, a man in his mid-forties, what he did for a living. ‘I’m a professional gambler,’ he replied. ‘Really?’ I said. I was intrigued. We chatted on, and then I said, ‘I have a question: do you ever buy a lotto ticket?’ Without hesitation, he answered, ‘Yes, I do’. Amazed, I continued. ‘Why on earth would you, when you, more than most, know the appalling odds against winning?’ ‘Because I’m buying two weeks of hope!’

* * *

I’m convinced that poker machines have a hidden camera and, using facial recognition, they record a gambler’s identity, her normal betting amount, how long she usually plays, her average loss per session, and how often a minor payout is needed to keep her seated at a machine, so that she gambles over and above her self-imposed limit. Or am I paranoid? 

Day 5: 2 May 2017
Wednesday, 02 May 2018 08:27

Just before we left Melbourne to come and live on Solarus, I had a minor health scare. I’d been sitting on the sofa – for how long I’m not sure – when Arjay emerged from the bedroom. He sensed something was wrong. ‘Are you okay? You look like you’re not here,’ he said. ‘No,’ I replied. ‘I don’t know what day it is. And I don’t know what’s wrong with me.’ I tried to reason things. I realised that I knew who Arjay was; I also knew that we needed to get going, because we were due to meet a friend for lunch, in Geelong. But I was frozen on the sofa, stuck in a time warp, my eyes fixed on the carpet. ‘Have you eaten breakfast?’ Arjay asked, but then he asks me that question every morning. I looked up at him. ‘I had a bowl of cereal,’ I replied. Forty minutes later, we were driving along Flinders Street towards the West Gate Bridge, when suddenly I pulled over. ‘I can’t do this,’ I said. ‘I don’t know which lane I’m in.’ We sat there, me feeling totally disoriented, confused. Then, momentarily, my brain began to work, such that when safe to do so, I did a U-turn and we drove back towards home. I decided that I needed to drive to our doctor in Fitzroy and, somehow, we made it, taking it one street at a time. The idea of seeing our GP comforted me hugely. Fortunately, he was on duty, and promptly instructed me to go to the Epworth (hospital), in Richmond. How would we get there? he asked. ‘I can drive,’ I replied. ‘It’s over there,’ I added, pointing vaguely with my right hand over my left shoulder. At the Epworth, the doctor who examined me said I was suffering from global temporary amnesia. He told me it would pass in a few hours. Then, everything will return to normal,’ he said. But then he added, ‘But don’t try to drive to Geelong today’. I handed over the $250 the doctor required for dispensing his wisdom, and we drove home. Geelong got cancelled, and by 3.00pm, I knew who I was again.

Day 3: 30 April 2017
Monday, 30 April 2018 07:08

Being the fifth Sunday of the month, the local Anglican and Uniting Church flocks, which normally worship at their respective churches at Woodbridge (the next hamlet along from Kettering), are meeting at the local Kettering Community Church. For the life of me I cannot fathom why they bother to keep this facility open for just four fifth-Sundays each year, other than perhaps to justify an occasional government grant, for maintenance. This time, it’s the turn of the Uniting Church to lead the service, which I find too unstructured for my high-Anglican upbringing, even though the nineteen-strong congregation sings chirpily and appears friendly enough. It’s good that they don’t god-bother me prior to or after the service. Over morning tea and in reply to a question as to where we're living, I say we are ensconced aboard a yacht, and how, as a precaution against dropping my car key in the drink – even though I keep a small buoyancy floater on my keyring – I always put my keys deep into a pocket before venturing onto our marina deck. A local woman frowns, and then tells me how, on a recent sail, her yachtie husband beckoned their 14-year-old grandson to throw him his set of keys, which included a ‘smart’ key to a high-end European car. Neither the throw nor the catch were much good, and the replacement car key cost $460. Ouch! Church finances interest me, and I’m looking forward to the annual meeting of the Cygnet-Woodbridge Anglican parish, to see if the place where I’ve chosen to worship, is financial. I know someone high up in the national headquarters of the Anglican Church in Australia; he told me that of the Church’s twenty-three dioceses – Tasmania being one diocese – seventeen are insolvent. But, I need not worry, because when the annual meeting finally comes round and I read the financial statements, I will discover that the parish benefits from considerable income from numerous rental properties it owns. Plus, the lovely priest doesn’t take a stipend, which is gracious of her, and makes the books look even better.

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