Wednesday, 4 October 2017

TONY QUINN’S “A CANBERRA BOY’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND

TONY QUINN’S “A  CANBERRA BOY’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND”

by Tony Quinn

PLUS 
INDEX OF DAVE WHEELER’S ESSAYS AND YARNS 

  If you are not familiar with this site I suggest that before you SCROLL DOWN to read TONY QUINN’S “A CANBERRA BOY’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND (The last essay posted always appears on this front page) you read the following:
   This site is non-fiction and has the objective of collecting mainly Canberra/Queanbeyan and districts-based yarns, be they historic, humorous or other, as well as yarns and essays regarding other places, as a Canberra boy of 1952 vintage, I visit or have visited. It also gives me a chance to rave about whatever I feel like.To read what I have collected so far just scroll down and click on the links to the anecdotes or essays you wish to read, or open them in the archives. You can also download free of charge or a need to obtain personal information a book I wrote entitled "Tales of a Canberra Boy" by clicking on the appropriate box directly above. This also applies to another book I wrote next to the latter box entitled “A Rationalist's Guide to Life".
   Many of the anecdotes on this site were not written by me.
  I sometimes change into smaller coloured italics like I am doing now when I clarify what I have been saying or tell another connected yarn within a yarn. I change back to normal type when I return to the original yarn.
INDEX OF FACTUAL YARNS AND ESSAYS WRITTEN SO FAR

1/ "A Wartime Crash or Crash-Landing on Mount Ainslie"
Click- http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2013_03_01_archive.html
2/ "The Establishment of the Turner PCYC"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/the-establishment-of-turner-pcyc.html
3/ "She Pushed Herself onto Me"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/she-pushed-herself-onto-me.html
4/ "Teenage Queen"
Click- http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/teenage-queen-this-true-story-was.html
5/ "A Fight to the death at the Queanbeyan Showground"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/afight-to-death-at-queanbeyan.html
6/ "Robyn From Narrabundah"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/robyn-from-narrabundah-by-wayne-riley.html
7/ "Paper Boys at a Canberra Newsagent in 1967"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/paperboys-at-ainslie-newsagency-in-1967.html
8/ "Canberra Bouncers, Canberra Coppers and an Incident at the Kingo on Xmas Eve of 2011"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/canberra-bouncers-canberra-coppers-and.html
9/ "Dickson High Kids Lost in the Mountains in 1975"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/dickson-high-kids-lost-in-mountains-in.html
10/ "Legalised Child abuse at schools in the Canberra District during the 20'th Century"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/legalised-child-abuse-at-schools-in.html
11/ "Crace-Canberra's Newest Slum or an Urban Paradise?"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2013_10_01_archive.html
12/ “A Bad Mistake on Mt Majura"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2013_11_01_archive.html
13/ “A Run up Tuggeranong Hill"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/a-run-up-tuggeranong-hill.html
14/ “A Canberra Boy on an Auckland Building Site"
Click- http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2014_03_01_archive.html
15/ Tony Quinn’s “A Canberra boy’s adventures in Thailand
Click- http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2017/10/tony-quinns-canberra-boys-adventures-in.html  
16/ “The Flower Man"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2014_05_01_archive.html
17/ "A Night With a Dangerous Canberra Cult"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2014_07_01_archive.html
18/ “Give Me Back My Butterfly Swords!"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2014_08_01_archive.html
19/ “A Canberra Boy in Lord Howe Island"
Click- http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2014_09_01_archive.html
20/ “The Search For The Cave on Black Mountain"
Click- http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2014_10_01_archive.html
21/ “The Murder of Poor Horace Aiken and little Albert Pettet"
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2014/12/the-murder-of-poor-horace-aiken-and.html
22/ “Coonamble Yarns"
Click- http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2015_04_01_archive.html
23/ “Has Shane Rattenbury Sold his Arse?"
Click- http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/has-shane-rattenbury-sold-his-arse.html
24/ “The Funeral of Alan "Scottie" Sutherland" and "Canberra's old rollers."
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2015/10/the-funeral-of-alan-scottie-sutherland.html
25/ “Did Joel Monaghan get a fair go?”
Click- http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2015/12/did-joel-monaghan-get-fair-go_17.html
26/ “A Canberra boy visits Jerangle."
Click-http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/a-canberra-boy-visits-jerangle_5.html
27/ A Canberra boy visits Bathurst, the birthplace of Lieutenant Peter Joseph Handcock, a Scapegoat of the Empire.
http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2016/04/
28/ Dave Wheeler’s youtube videos.
http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2016/12/index-of-dave-wheelers-essays-and-yarns.html
29/ Canberra boys visit Condobolin in 1965-Gold Fever
http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2016_10_01_archive.html
30/ A Canberra boy receives a hard blow to the head.
http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2017/03/a-canberra-boy-receives-hard-blow-to.html
31A Canberra boy reflects on his escapes.
http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2017/04/a-canberra-boy-reflects-on-his-escapes.html
32/A Canberra boy visits a block of ACT Government flats.
http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2017/05/a-canberra-boy-visits-block-of-act.html
33/ Two Canberra boys visit the Philippines
http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2017/06/two-canberra-boys-visit-philippines.html
34/ A Canberra boy gets arrested.
http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2017/07/a-canberra-boy-gets-arrested.html
35/ Lights out at the Canberra Rex.
http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2017/08/lights-out-at-canberra-rex.html
37/ A Canberra boy visits a non-existent Casino in Queanbeyan in 1975.
https://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2017/09/a-canberra-boy-visits-non-existent_6.html
38/ A Canberra boy forwards a 1939 postcard to Mosman and its connection to the Acton Guest House 
https://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/2017/10/a-canberra-boy-forwards-1939-postcard.html 


TONY QUINN’S “A CANBERRA BOY’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND”
The first story is:
“AN EMAIL FROM THAILAND” or "CROOK IN THE GUTS".
by Tony Quinn
  The following story was largely copied from an email I sent to Dave Wheeler from Thailand on the 26/1/14.
  Gooday you mongrel,
   We left Bangkok on Sunday and went south to a place on the coast called Cha Am. We stayed in a hotel which was very quiet and had a big pool. I could also run along the beach. I hired a Honda CRV and on Tuesday we drove further south to a place I can't recall the name of to visit a mate of the Mrs named Nataya.
  I met Nataya a couple of times before and she thinks I'm really nice (good judge of character). She gave me a shirt last time we met. When she saw me this time she ran over and hugged me. She's very wealthy and owns a lot of properties. Her husband's been active politically.
    She was a beauty queen in the 70's and the last time I saw her she looked okay for her age but this time she looked hideous. She obviously had plastic surgery on her face but something went horribly wrong. Her nostrils were pointing straight out like a pig's snout. It's a pity, because she's a nice woman but now advertises herself as being mutton doing a bad job of trying to dress itself as lamb. Why can't people just grow old gracefully? It's good to keep fit as you age but we can't do much about keeping our looks.
   She took us to a restaurant for lunch and was so happy to see us she ordered beer after beer. As I'm a very polite person and didn't want to offend her I drank several glasses. The food was fried fish, crab, prawns, oysters, pork, noodles, etc. I was turned off when I was eating because every time I looked at her I could see a pair of nostrils staring back at me.
   She told me I looked like a movie star but could not think of his name. I suggested it may be Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, George Clooney or James Bond. She said I was very handsome. I said "If you had a few more beers I would look even more handsome."
   After lunch she wanted to show us some of her land holdings and insisted on driving the hire car. I was shitting myself as she was driving all over the road. I took over at an appropriate spot.
    I wasn't feeling too good at that stage so we commenced the drive back to her place. I started to feel really sick. I had severe stomach pains and my bowels were moving. I pulled over to the side of the road, staggered around to the other side of the car, dropped my pants, and in a half squat position while leaning against the vehicle let fly. The shit flew out of me like a geyser and must have looked a great sight. The Mrs said she was lucky not to be standing behind me as it went about 2 metres. I wonder if Nataya still thought I looked like a movie star.
   I remained in that position for about 15 minutes with multiple shits coming out. Unlike Australia the main roads in Thailand have houses and shops along them. It must have impressed the locals. To make matters worse the wife started yelling at me that I was getting shit all over my white RM Williams jeans (I wore them especially to impress Nataya). I was in no mood to listen to her claptrap so I summoned the last remaining bit of energy I had, to respond with "Get *******!
    After shitting I was too weak to wipe my arse so the Mrs washed it with a bottle of drinking water. While still in the half squat position leaning forward and with much difficulty I started to pull up my now not so white RM Williams jeans trying hard not to expose my genitals in the process. This would have provided even more amusement for the locals. I crawled back into the driver's seat and continued on my way despite feeling sick, as I had no faith in the driving ability of either Nataya or the Mrs. The nagging started once again. This time the Mrs was complaining that I had spray-painted shit over the front passenger car door.


  I only got about 10kms when I started to feel even sicker, so I pulled over to the side of the road again and had 3 vomits out of the car door.I felt a bit better and drove on, but by the time we had dropped off Nataya I began to feel sick again and we only just made it back to our hotel, where I had several more shits and many more vomits. I thought I was going to die. I could not even drink a mouthful of water but I later on managed a bit of green tea.
  I felt a bit better in the morning so I did some exercises and went for a swim. I forced myself to eat some food and I didn't shit all day, although I had a severe headache and a hot forehead. I also felt my blood pressure was through the roof.
  That night I forced myself to go for a 20 minute run along the beach and didn't feel any worse. I’m still not 100% and I'm looking forward to eating some decent food when I return to the Berra.
Regards,
Tony 26/1/14
“ANOTHER EMAIL FROM THAILAND" or “A DEAD MONK LIVES ON”
By Tony Quinn
  I sent the following email to Dave Wheeler on the 10/2/14.
Gooday you mongrel,
   A mate of the Mrs rang yesterday morning to ask if we would like to go with her and her husband to visit a temple a couple of hours drive north of Bangkok on the road to Lopburi. I jumped at the chance as it had been several days since I had been to a temple (sarcasm).
   They picked us up a few hours later and off we went. The temple is a large establishment and is a rehabilitation centre for drug addicts. Western drug addicts also reside at the temple. Evidently the hardest addicts to cure are the glue and petrol sniffers.
   We spent quite a lot of time at the main temple as it contained some Buddha images and relics. There were a lot of coloured lights around a structure in front of the images. On closer inspection the structure was a large glass tank filled with water containing the body of a head monk who died 3 years ago.The head of the head monk, with its hair supposedly still growing, was pressed against the side of the tank. A live monk in the hall came over to tell us the details of the preservation of the body. Next to the tank was a bottle containing water with a yellow substance floating on top. The substance was fat from the dead monk's body! I was surprised that the body could be preserved only by using water.
   The live monk told us how every so often he would drain the tank of water,remove the body and clean it up. He switched on his computer and showed us the various images of the body. He would remove the dead skin and dead finger and toe nails which he said would grow back. He obviously enjoyed his work as he had a big smile on his face. He also said there were another 5 bodies out the back in a similar state. It was like a house of horrors!
  We left the hall and went to a different part of the complex where the abbot was. We sat with him discussing various topics (I could not understand a word as it was in Thai). The husband went and sat at a table and started eating a bowl of soup. He waved me over to join him. I hadn't eaten since I had a breakfast of oats and bananas so I was quite hungry. He was hoeing into the soup so I thought it would be okay. It was a grey, slimy gruel and floating in it was what appeared to be fish balls and raw chunks of liver. The fish balls ended up being bird's eggs. I ate about a third of the bowl. The stomach would not take any more.
  We went back over and sat near the abbot and he gave me a ring with a precious stone attached plus a stone by itself. These he said would bring me good luck and good fortune. He then offered me a glass of water to drink. It was very cloudy-looking so I declined, saying I had a weak stomach. He said the water had healing powers and would cleanse my body of illness and injury. I still declined as the thought of my recent food poisoning was still in my mind. He assured me the water was okay and proceeded to dip his finger into it and dab the water droplets onto his tongue. Against my better judgement I lifted the glass and gulped the contents down. Maybe the water would cure my training injuries. The water tasted foul and I grimaced.
  The abbot then told me where the water came from. You wouldn't believe this, but the water came from the tank containing the dead body! I was shocked! No wonder the water looked cloudy and tasted so foul! I didn't know what to say. I wondered how long it would take for the symptoms of cholera to appear.
   The abbot then produced a bottle containing a dark brown liquid. The drug addicts drink it and it makes them vomit uncontrollably. It's part of the cure. I was tempted to take a swig.
  Shortly afterwards we headed home. We stopped off for dinner at a restaurant but I wasn't in the mood for eating.
   I have attached a photo of the abbot. The brown drink is to his right.
MY LIFE OR MY HONOUR
by Tony Quinn 

   It was late September 2012 when we flew from Bangkok to the city of Trat in far eastern Thailand close to the Cambodian border. From there we boarded a ferry for the one hour trip to Koh Chang Island. Koh Chang is the second largest island in Thailand. Over 70% of the island is covered in tropical rainforest with topography ranging from high mountain peaks to white sandy beaches.
  After arriving on Koh Chang Island, we took a taxi to a resort located at the southern end of White Sand Beach. The main road from the pier runs along a contour line quite a way up the side of a mountain range. The track leading to the resort is made of bitumen but is very steep, winding and covered in overhanging rainforest. On the way down to the resort I thought to myself what great fun it would be to run back up the hill to the main road. 
   The resort was virtually deserted as it was the low season due to the daily monsoonal rains. After checking in, I put on my running gear including my 5 toed Vibram runners and away I went up the hill.
   The legs were really working, the heart and lungs were pumping and the sweat poured off me due to the heat and humidity. I was really enjoying myself until about half way up the hill when I rounded a bend and noticed some monkeys on the track ahead.   Could be trouble I thought and with good reason.
   I have had problems with animals in Canberra and elsewhere, particularly when I am out running. Goshawks and magpies have attacked me on several occasions in the berra, as has a spur winged plover. I was also threatened by a large kangaroo when I was doing survey work west of Bourke. Had the roo sat on its tail and disemboweled me with the sharp claws that are attached to its powerful rear legs it would have ruined my day and made it very difficult for me to focus on the calculations I was required to do for the job.
  Being bitten on the leg by a large dog outside a public toilet in Iran was also not a very pleasant experience.
   As I reached the monkeys, I called out politely to them, asking them to get out of my way. Next thing I heard was a loud screech behind me. I looked around to see a large male monkey rushing out of the jungle straight at me.
    It was screeching and hissing, mouth wide open with large yellow fangs hanging out. I thought it was going to jump on me and rip me to pieces. I came very close at that point to losing control of my bowels. 
   The second thought that came to my mind was the story I read about the poor woman in the USA who had her face ripped off by a monkey and recently had a face transplant. “That's going to happen to me,” I thought as I started running backwards up the hill at 100mph whilst at the same time yelling expletives at it as it chased me. I may not be Asian but I don’t like the idea of losing face. 
   The monkey was very solidly built much like a dwarf on steroids. It had dark brown hair sticking straight out on either side of its head. All the years of martial arts training came to nought as my mind went blank as far as a self defence strategy went. Running away was the only instinctive thing I was capable of. After I had run backwards for some distance away from the group of monkeys the male monkey stopped chasing me. I was still wary so continued running backwards up the hill for several more minutes.
  Eventually I reached the top of the hill. I hadn't had enough exercise so I walked about 100 metres down the hill and did some sprints back to the top of the hill. On the fifth one I pulled a calf muscle. I couldn't help myself so I did another sprint which made the calf even worse. 
  I then wondered how I was going to get back down the hill to the resort. I could walk along the main road for miles and make my way to the main beach then come back to the resort along the beach front but that would take hours particularly with my torn calf muscle. I looked around and found a large branch to use as a weapon against the monkey then started limping down the hill. 
   A few minutes later a young Thai bloke on a motorbike stopped and asked if I wanted a lift. He was very friendly and smiling. Looked like he was wearing lipstick and makeup. What a choice – I could accept the lift and maybe end up with a sore arse and a dose of AIDS, because for all I knew there may have been a gang of lady boys waiting for me. Or I could walk down and possibly get my face ripped off. It was a difficult decision but I went with the faceless option and declined the lift. I am proud of the fact that my arse is still a virgin.
   I continued walking down the hill and started waving the branch around as I approached the monkeys. I couldn't see the one that attacked me - thought he may be up a tree waiting to drop on me so I waved the branch above my head. I managed to get through and past the monkeys without incident. Decided to stick to running on the beach from then onwards.
Tony Quinn
ANOTHER DOSE OF FOOD POISONING
By Tony Quinn
   This anecdote and the following two were written in September 2017 and concerns my most recent trip to Thailand.
   On virtually every trip to Thailand I experience some form of food poisoning. Some are quite bad as detailed in my previous yarn when I ate off seafood.
   I recently experienced a similar bad dose after eating lunch at a restaurant in a shopping complex around 1hrs walk from the house.
   During the walk home I started to feel very ill. I was getting very bad stomach pains, felt sick and dizzy. I kept having to go off the sidewalk onto the road to avoid all the obstacles such as food venders, motorbikes etc. The vehicles on the road were belching out fumes which made me feel worse. I tried to get home quickly before I fainted but my wife was walking like a snail. 
   When I reached the entrance to the housing complex I had to start running before I shat my pants. I just made it, ran up the stairs, ripped off my clothes and jumped onto the toilet. Out it flowed - I wanted to vomit also - could not hold back and it went all over the floor - it was coming out both ends at the same time. I then broke out in a cold sweat - it was dripping off me. I felt I was going to pass out so slid onto the floor - lying in my vomit and faeces. I thought I was going to die. 
   I managed to summon up the last remaining bit of energy I had and reached up and turned on the cold tap of the shower. I lay there for some time before crawling out of the bathroom and making my way to the top of the stairs before yelling to my wife to bring me some water. She brings me a bottle - I had trouble lifting it to my lips - she did not realise I was sick - good one. I crawled into the bedroom and dragged myself onto the bed - both feet then cramped up - I was in agony. 
   Eventually after several pots of green tea I started to feel a bit better. In fact I felt so good that I thought about going for a run. My sensible self took over and pointed out that the most likely reason I was feeling so good was the kick from the caffeine in the tea. I would have already been dehydrated so running in the heat would have made things worse and I may have passed out.
   The following morning my wife suggested we go for a massage at a nearby massage establishment- I said okay. She asked what areas of my body were painful so she would tell the girl to concentrate on those areas. I said my groin area was very painful. Anyway she rang and made a booking. We arrived, the girl behind the counter was very attractive. The two girls arrived - one was young and very pretty, the other was old and fat - looked exactly like a sumo wrestler right down to the hairstyle - guess which one I got. She was washing my feet in a basin and asked me which one I thought was the best looking - being the gentleman that I am, I said both of you are beautiful. 
   I had a massage just after I arrived in Thailand and the girl looked like a bowling ball so I thought I am not going to tolerate this again. I said I wasn't going to be massaged by the fat one - I wanted the young one. I'm not sure if the fat one understood English but I didn't care. I then had a very pleasant 2 hour massage. She said I had a very nice nose and may get plastic surgery to get one like me. They don’t like flat noses in Thailand.
THE KING AND THE PRINCESS
by Tony Quinn
   We were invited along with some others to travel from Bangkok to a place called Wiang Haeng in far northern Thailand on the Burmese border to participate in a ceremony to honour the former Thai King Naresuan.
  King Naresuan ruled Thailand from 1590 until his death in 1605 from an illness most likely either smallpox or septic shock at the age of 50.
   January 23 is a national holiday and celebrated as the anniversary of the elephant battle in which King Naresuan and the Burmese Crown Prince Mingyi Swa fought in single combat sitting atop their elephants.
   This occurred during the battle of Nong Sarai when the largest Burmese invasion force ever assembled marched into Thailand. The fight ended when King Naresuan virtually cut Mingyi Swa in half with his ngaw - a long pike with a curved blade at the end. The now leaderless Burmese army immediately turned and headed home.
  The story starts when we arrived early one morning at the Bangkok house of the woman who had organised and paid for the event. Two minibuses arrived to pick us and others up. Three university professors were in our minibus including the woman and a two man film crew. The whole event was to be filmed and shown on Thai TV. A 35 minute youtube video was produced. The link is at the end of the story. I play a starring role as one of the kings soldiers. The woman who organised it is quite small and is highly visible throughout the video.
  We travelled to the northern city of Chiang Mai which is about 9hrs drive. We stayed overnight in a hotel then assembled next morning at the house she owns in Chiang Mai. A very large house on a big block. The video starts at her house. I can be seen sitting at a table in her house eating breakfast earlier on in the video.
  From there we travelled in convoy with army escort to a place called Wiang Haeng in far northern Thailand right on the Burmese border. The top army and police officers as well as govt officials were there. You have to keep a close eye out for me but I stand out as I am one of the tallest people there. I am dressed in red. Near the end of the video I am in normal clothes shown kneeling with my hands together praying. I knew my days as an altar boy would come in handy. I was the only farang so received plenty of attention.
  As you can see, a bronze bust of King Naresuan was transported from Chiang Mai to Wiang Haeng in the back of a ute. The countryside is quite mountainous with the elevation over 2000 metres above sea level. Also very cold and foggy at night.
We stayed two nights in the area before returning to Chiang Mai.
 The following day we attended huge celebrations at a temple 40kms east of Chiang Mai that went on for several days. A Cambodian princess was a special guest. That evening we attended a formal dinner for the princess at a functions centre (photo attached). Lots of music, dancing, speeches and presentations.
   The next day was full on visiting yet another temple on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, large gardens and hot springs. We arrived back at the functions centre where we dined the previous night with the Cambodian princess. The time was around 5pm.
  We were the first there but not long afterwards other people started arriving. Once again the princess was to be the guest of honour. Several times we lined up outside the front door to greet the princess but she did not show. The tables were set with food. I was starving.
  Around 7.30pm panic set in and we all went rushing back to the temple for the start of some ceremony. I was sitting there getting grumpy as apart from some nuts, fruit and milk I had not eaten since breakfast. I was taken to the temple kitchen and given some leftover pork and rice. Afterwards I adjourned back to the temple and took my seat in the VIP area.
   About 8.30pm there was more panic. The princess had arrived at the temple but without having any dinner. The wife in her cool and calm manner called me from my seat. She was with the princess, her personal assistant and an older bloke. We were rushed into a mini bus to be taken to the functions centre for dinner. The inside of the mini bus resembled a disco dance floor with flashing lights, mirrors etc. The driver turned off the lights just after we left but the princess liked them so they went back on.
  We arrived first at the function centre and proceeded to sit at a table away from the VIP one. After getting out of the minibus I noticed the princess and her personal assistant walk towards the toilets. I was most surprised as I was always under the impression that royalty did not have bowel or bladder movements. She was not long so must only have had a No.1. When the princess sat down at the VIP table she waved me over and told me to sit opposite her and next to her personal assistant. She obviously took a liking to me. Although her English was not perfect we had a very good conversation. She asked if I would like to come with her to the hot springs after dinner. Obviously I could not refuse a royal request and accepted her invitation. I suggested we could have a swim together but she said she could not swim due to a back injury caused by a car accident. Also she invited me to visit her in Cambodia.
   By this time the functions centre had filled up with the princess receiving many requests for photos. I had a few taken with her as well. There was a commotion at the front of the building as several police cars had arrived with lights flashing. Evidently the princess had neglected to tell her bodyguards that she was going with us in the mini bus. They thought she may have been kidnapped.
  A Pakistani man of around 40 years of age was also sitting at the royal table, a couple of seats down and on the opposite side of the table. He had a very miserable face on him (far more miserable than my usual face) and would not eat any food. A woman standing behind him kept nagging him to eat but he wouldn't. Eventually she went and got him an omelette and gave it to him to eat. He refused. Shortly afterwards I asked him if the woman was his mother. He looked at me with what appeared to be an even more miserable face and said nothing. I later found out that the woman was his wife and part of the Cambodian royal family.
  An older man was sitting next to the princess. His English was not the best but I managed to have a conversation with him. During the conversation he told me that he was Korean. I asked him whether he was from the north or south which didn't go down too well. I then said that I didn't think he was Cambodian as he had very slanty eyes. To make matters worse I placed my fingers at the corners of my own eyes and pulled them into slits just in case he didn't understand me. He didn't talk to me much after that. I doubt if I will get an invite to sit at their table again.
  When the dinner finished we went back to the bungalow rather than the hot springs as it was getting late.
I WAS POSSESSED BY A DEMON
by Tony Quinn
   This story is about a very painful experience I had when staying in the Burirum area of Thailand.
  It started out as a small drive with the 2 children of the wife’s niece to visit a nearby temple. I was really looking forward to it as it had been almost a day since I had last visited one.
   The temple was quite new and very well built. The whole temple including the inside walls, ceilings and pillars appeared to be finished in highly polished timber but was actually painted concrete. Michelangelo would have been proud of it. It was so realistic that the police had come to arrest the abbot as they thought it was made from illegal teak.
   We had a good look around then sat down to have a yarn with the abbot. He reckoned I had a very bad demon inside of me. This diagnosis was based on what the wife had told him about me. No wonder. However, he was a very smart man as he went on to say that she had far worse problems than me. He then explained where these demons often come from. They come from eating at Thai, Lao, Cambodian and especially Vietnamese restaurants. The worst restaurants of the lot are Sri Lankan and Indian. He said he never eats at restaurants because of this. I told him that I rarely eat out so it wouldn't apply to me. But no, I got the demon from eating at the Thai restaurant in Manuka that we go to each Christmas. Now I know what has caused all my training injuries and for being miserable at times. For those readers who have had cancer or other medical conditions and eat at Asian restaurants you now know what has caused these problems.
   He said that prior to opening these types of restaurants, hot candle wax is dripped around the restaurants. This is done not only to honour the ancestors but to bring good luck and lots of customers. The down side is that all the bad luck and demons go out with the customers. All these years I have avoided eating at restaurants as I am scared of getting food poisoning, flu and other viruses but I had no idea that the real threats were demons and other evil spirits.
  However all was not lost as he could rid me of my demons and restore my good health by giving me some acupuncture Thai Buddhist style. The needle to be used was a long wooden stake similar looking to a very large pencil. He is holding it in his hands in the picture below. Also smiling in anticipation of what he was about to do. The pointy end is pushed very hard into various pressure points all over the body. I was a bit wary after the bad experience I had in Lopburi when I drank the water taken from a tank holding the body of a dead monk. That was supposed to cure all my training injuries but didn't.
   He started on my back. After this was completed, I had to lie face down and face up on the floor while the implement was driven into various parts of my body. I broke out into a sweat. It was agony when pushed into my feet. I have a very high tolerance to pain but this would have to be the worst ever. Even worse than the fillings I received at the dentist as a kid. High rep squats to failure are a pleasure compared to this. He also pushed it into my skull on both sides just above the ears. The left side was very sore the next day.   
    The 2 children were laughing their heads off while this was going on. The girl took 2 short videos of me but were taken after most of the painful stuff had happened.
   During the painful demon releasing process the wife was continually telling me to relax. What a stupid thing to say. When it came to her turn it was a completely different story. Yelling and screaming much to my delight. I said comforting words to her like "suck eggs" and so on. I also laughed a lot.
   The abbot said that some people pass out while getting treatment and have to be taken to hospital. That is due to all the problems they have inside their bodies. Nothing to do with the agonising pain of course. He said one farang he did it to jumped up straight away and was so angry the abbot thought he was going to punch him out. He then ran off. Later he and his wife returned to thank him as their relationship had improved due to the treatment.
   After it was all over, everyone commented how good my face looked. No longer miserable and stressed looking. Probably due to it being lathered in sweat and red. The demon had now left me. The abbot suggested I return the next day for a second session but unfortunately I was busy doing other things. He also asked if we would like to go to Cambodia with him but that will have to wait until my next visit as he cannot leave the temple for awhile.
   The following day the wife said how relaxed I was and that I was back to being the old Tony she once knew. She also reiterated how good my face was looking. A week later she reckoned my face was looking like that of a baby. That worried me - if I started to regress in age too much, by the time I returned to Australia I could be in a pram wearing nappies and sucking on a bottle. To be perfectly honest I must admit to being so glad to have endured that torture.
  Two days later we took the children's parents to the temple as the father had problems and wanted the treatment. I felt very sorry for him as he is only a small bloke and was writhing in pain. His children were not laughing this time. The abbot asked if I wanted another go but I declined. Later he said he only wanted to check me out. He did some prodding in my hands then stuck the stake into my ankles. I just stared at him and showed no emotion. I was ready for it. No way was I going to show any pain. He then said I was cured.
   The boy who was laughing is 14 and loves sports - soccer, running etc. He also plays 3 musical instruments. They day before we went to a nearby lake for a run. We decided to do two rounds. I set off at a fast pace but he kept up. I glanced at him a couple of times but he was not even breathing heavy. He also checked out his mobile phone a few times. 
   About 200 metres from the finish I told him to sprint. I left him well behind. That night having dinner he mentioned he was the second best in the district for the 800 metres. I asked him why he didn't try to beat me. He said he didn't want to walk home. On the way driving to the lake I told him if he beat me he would be walking home. They don’t understand the Aussie humour.
  The following two youtube clips show my demon/s being “exorcised” by the abbott. 


Sunday, 1 October 2017

A CANBERRA BOY FORWARDS A 1939 POSTCARD TO MOSMAN, AND ITS CONNECTION TO THE ACTON GUEST HOUSE

A CANBERRA BOY FORWARDS A 1939 POSTCARD TO MOSMAN, AND ITS CONNECTION TO THE ACTON GUEST HOUSE
By Dave Wheeler

   I began writing this yarn on the 16/9/17 and I have rewritten it because after first publishing it I learnt more about its subject, Miss Jean Bowmaker. For that reason I began to have some empathy for her descendants who may not share my tongue-in-cheek sense of humour in the way I had previously examined their ancestor’s life, which all began from some postcards I picked up many years ago. 
    It’s not that I’m a person who lacks empathy; its just that when I first wrote this post I did not think I would receive further information on Jean as I did not think her life could be traced with such relative ease. And although the net is an amazing thing, when I refer to how the information was gathered with relative ease, it was relatively easy for me as I received most of the information as a result of the efforts of Anne Cameron, an administrator of the Facebook group, “Old Canberra’s Northside Group,” who knew exactly where to look on the net.  Thank you Anne.
     To begin the story, it was in late 1969 while still at school, my old mate, Mick Catanzariti, and I placed an ad in the Canberra Times and went into business removing people’s rubbish. I would have just turned 17.
   We used a ute and a trailer, and the money we made from the venture was excellent, as there was not a lot of competition. Life was much easier before the Coalition and Labor adopted the idealogical disease known as neoliberal economics, a failed ideology that would have made Menzies and Chifley roll in their graves. In that era people could afford to pay others to remove their rubbish, and there were no dump fees. When I tried removing rubbish 8 years later I got very little work and soon gave it up.
     If we found anything within the rubbish we were removing that was of interest or value we would, without any problems, decide between us who would keep what. One day while removing rubbish from a garage we found within a box of papers three old postcards. Even as teenagers we could see they were of historical value, although neither the cards nor their stamps were worth much monetarily at the time and they're still not worth much. Mick must have kept something else of value from the load because I ended up with the postcards.
    One of the postcards was sent from England in 1917. The sender, on leave or in preparation for his all-expenses-paid WW1 holiday to the Western Front, must have been the husband of the receiver. I can’t remember all of what he said, but I do remember him stating that he'd just done a course on the Lewis machine gun. I gave that postcard away to a collector many years ago. 
   Although my life does not revolve around historic postcards I  don't like to see those sorts of items thrown out, and it gladdens my heart when I see them in the hands of someone who takes a serious interest in such things.
    Another of the postcards I gave to my younger sister, Louise Lyon, several years ago. I could not recall its details when I began writing this post other than it having been addressed to someone living in Canberra. 
    I’m at a stage in my life where I prefer to have fewer possessions, and like me my sister does not have a passionate interest in historic postcards and is also decluttering, so I’m not sure she really wanted my gift. I would have also given her the remaining postcard, but I couldn’t find it at the time. 
     I did however, find the remaining postcard a few weeks ago and I had a good look over it, which is why I am writing this post. It was sent from Newcastle, NSW, on the 1st of September 1939, and addressed to Miss Jean Bowmaker of 13 The Crescent, Mosman, Sydney. The postcard was written by a bloke named Don
   I presumed that Jean, in 1939, was probably a teenager or a young woman living with her mum and dad. I was also however, aware of the possibility that she may have been an older self-sufficient spinster living in her own house. It should be remembered that Australia had a glut of young sheilas after WW1 due to our having around 60,000 of our young men in their prime killed in action during that war. That was a huge number for a country that had a population of only 4.75 million prior to 1914. And there were probably another 100,000 plus young blokes who returned from that war who either died within a few years of returning and/or could not be considered husband material due to them suffering irreparable physical and/or psychological injuries.  
    I have taken a google screenshot of the Mosman house where Jean lived, below. It would be worth a fortune today in that area. As the house appears quite old I presume it’s the same house she was living in, in 1939. I hope it's heritage listed.
According to Google maps the white house above is number 13 The Crescent, Mosman, Sydney. It was the intended destination of the 1939 postcard that was addressed to Miss Jean Bowmaker and sent to her by Don.  

  The photo above shows the front of the postcard that was sent from Newcastle on the 1/9/1939 to Miss Jean Bowmaker at her Mosman home, by Don.

  The photo above shows Don’s message to Miss Jean Bowmaker within the postcard he sent. 
   If you could not read clearly what Don said to Miss Bowmaker in the postcard it was as follows:
Dear Jean,
   Uncle Charlie and I are staying at the George Hotel, Newcastle.
I am sending you a few glimpses of Newcastle. Hope you like them.
With love from,
Don
     I was aware that if the house was owned by Jean’s mum and dad she may have left her home to get married or find work sometime after 1939, but in the hope that a relo still lived in the house I returned the postcard to Mosman on the 18/9/17, addressed to Miss Jean Bowmaker or the current owner of 13, The Crescent, Mosman. 
    I have heard nothing back from the Mosman address despite my putting my name and address on the back of the envelope as well as within my accompanying letter. I also included my email address. So it now seems the house is no longer in the family and its current owner/s is/are in possession of Jean’s postcard.
   After deciding that Jean's house is probably no longer in the family I began to wonder if the other postcard I had given my sister was in any way connected to Miss Jean Bowmaker. 
    I had not been conscious of the name of the addressee of the latter postcard when I gave it to my sister, but the name Bowmaker triggered a memory from the recesses of my mind which reminded me that the name of the Canberra addressee of the said postcard was also connected in some way to occupations associated with the English archery industry hundreds of years ago. 
     I said to myself, “Is the postcard I gave my sister addressed to a person named Archer, Fletcher, Arrowsmith, Alabaster, Bowyer, Butt, Stringer or Bowman? “Wait a minute!” I then said to myself, “Could it have been addressed to a person named Bowmaker who lived in the Berra? Maybe a Miss Jean Bowmaker?” And, I continued to ask myself, “Had Miss Jean Bowmaker moved to the Berra some time after 1939?”
     There was only one way to find out, so I rang my sister, who was unsure of where she had placed the said postcard, because, as I have said, her life does not revolve around historic postcards, particularly those she may have reluctantly accepted from her brother.
    She eventually rang back, having found it, and lo and behold, the addressee on the postcard, which was sent from Wangaratta, was Miss Jean Bowmaker, and it stated that Jean’s address was the “Acton Guest House,” Canberra. 
   The message within the card was probably written by a bloke named Alex, but it could have been Alec, as the writing is not very clear. There is no date on the postcard, so I attempted to date it by way of its stamp, which is one showing Henry Lawson. I don’t know a lot about stamps, but my googling led me to believe that the stamp on the postcard that was sent to Jean while she was living in the Berra was printed in 1949, so it would have been posted sometime in that year or not long after. 
     Okay, I thought, it seems Jean had moved from Mosman to the Berra. And as she was living in the Acton Guest House in the 1940’s and was still a Bowmaker, I suspected she had found work in the Berra, probably in a public service department, and was single at the time. 
  Above is the outside of the postcard addressed to Miss Jean Bowmaker while she was living in the Berra at the Acton Guest house, probably in 1949 if my dating of the stamp is correct.
   Above is the content of the postcard that was sent to Miss Jean Bowman while she was living in the Berra at the Acton Guest House, probably in or around 1949. 
   If you were unable to read the message within the postcard that was sent to Jean in Canberra it is as follows:
Dear Jean,
  This doesn’t seem to have much space, but it has a lot of pretty photos! I arrived safely and have been eating, sleeping, shooting at the rabbits, and have even been chopping wood, but not too much. I have had 6 beers since arrival, which isn’t too bad for me. The weather has been almost perfect except for some rain yesterday.
   I’m leaving here Sunday morning and am bringing my mother and father up for a couple of days so will still be a good boy for a while.
   I’ll see you when I get back.
Love from,
Alex
  UPDATE 4/10/17
  With much thanks for the enormous amount of assistance I received from Anne Cameron, the previously mentioned administrator of the Facebook group, “Old Canberra’s Northside Group,” it has been established by way of the “Warringah electoral roll, that Jean’s parents’ address in 1936 was 13, The Crescent, Mosman, as would have been Jean’s, and that their names were Theophilus and Auburn Bowmaker.
    The following Trove newspaper link will show that Auburn, Jean’s mum, received a consolation prize of 2/6 for her pumpkin batter recipe in 1944.
http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/47217086?searchTerm=jean%20bowmaker&searchLimits=
   It has also been established that Jean was a stenographer when she began living in Canberra in 1947, see the link below showing she passed an exam.
http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/232792371?searchTerm=jean%20bowmaker&searchLimits=
   It has also been established that the year was 1949 when Jean lived at the Acton Guest House, which means my estimation of the age of the stamp on the postcard was correct. See Jean’s name on the link below which gives a list of the borders in the Acton Guest House in 1949. It also states that she was a stenographer.
http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/140670/20160605-0002/www.hotkey.net.au/_jwilliams4/x49_11.htm
   By way of another link I was to find that Jean’s dad, Theo Bowmaker, worked at the Sydney mint prior to serving admirably in WW1. While involved in the terrible battle of Polygon Wood in France he received a serious wound to the back of his leg and was then returned to Australia and his job at the Sydney mint.  
    Theo, like many others who served during WW1, told a fib about his age in order to be accepted. He said he was 33 when he enlisted but was in fact 39. 
   Given that Theo was a WW1 veteran I deduced that Jean must have been young when she was living with her parents in Mosman at the time the 1939 postcard was sent to her. 
   And it seemed that the postcard I gave to a collector from a soldier on leave in 1917 was in all probability written by Theo Bowmaker and sent to his wife, as the Sydney Mint roll of honour indicates that Theo had been trained in the use of the Lewis machine gun, and I can distinctly remember the writer of the postcard stating that he had done a course on the Lewis machine gun. 
   See the first link below which takes you to the Sydney Mint roll of honour. You will have to scroll down a couple of pages before you come to the details about Theo. 
   Thanks to Graeme Rossiter for supplying me the link that follows the first link, which will take you to Theo’s war service record.
https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/ww1/sydney-mint-honour-roll   
https://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=28808
 UPDATE 5/10/17
   I received another message this morning from Anne Cameron, who gave me two important links. And I am very grateful for her efforts. 
    One link was to the NSW BDM register which indicates that Jean was married in 1958. The other was to a 1995 newspaper article and photo which features a lady who was probably Jean Bowmaker, although she was of course using her married name.
    And when combined with some previous information that Anne sent me I am now led to believe Jean is no longer with us, having departed this world in 2005. I also believe her husband left us several years later. 
      It has also however, been established that Jean and her husband had children. 
     I have not published Jean’s married name nor have I said where she lived most of her life or where she died, just in case her children would prefer she was not publicly identified.
      Now that I know Jean had a relatively long life I will say that I hope it was a happy one.
A CANBERRA BOY VISITS A NON-EXISTENT CASINO IN QUEANBEYAN IN 1975
by Nick McConchie 
  In 1975, Sydney detectives went to Queanbeyan to investigate the existence of an illegal casino allegedly operating from the Monaro Social Club at 62A Monaro Street. The investigating officers found no evidence that such a Casino existed and the investigation was discontinued.(Source: Canberra Times 21 March 1975) If the truth was known, the detectives looking for action probably quickly became bored with Queanbeyan and wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. Perhaps they should have disguised themselves as normal citizens and bet a few bucks at the casino or visited one of the many pubs for a beer and a fight.
   The non-existent casino at 62A Monaro Crescent Queanbeyan may have been in the building on the viewer’s left, up some stairs from inside the alley, above a restaurant, as shown above.

   I’m not sure if the casino had a green door, but if you play the above embedded youtube song, entitled “Green Door” while reading this anecdote you can get an idea of the atmosphere at the time. 
   In any event, despite the meticulous attention afforded the Monaro Social Club by local law enforcement, the casino continued to operate for some time. It was during that period I worked as a public servant in a department in Woden. I always looked forward to pay nights as my workmates and I would often visit the non-existent casino in Queanbeyan. We would generally catch a taxi there as Uber was not yet operating. We thought this to be sensible given that alcohol at the casino was unlimited and free to those who were gambling. Food in the form of toasted sandwiches was also gratis. There never seemed to be an issue with excessive consumption of alcohol, (my mate, Dave Clark, from my work, was asked by a croupier at the black jack table whether he was sleeping or playing), although obnoxious drunks were quickly dealt with by the bouncers, the majority of whom played rugby league for a local club. Entry to the casino was readily gained by ringing the bell and being eyed by the doorman (usually a well-known rugby league player) through a peephole. As none of us looked like coppers we were always let in. From memory, the games on offer were roulette and blackjack, though there may have been others. The roulette table was a full size casino standard one, and the croupiers (dealers) were well-versed in their trade and highly professional. I do not know from where they hailed, though at least one of the girls was a full time Canberra public servant. The casino was generally well patronised and the clientele included some fairly big spenders. We generally enjoyed our nights there and there was much borrowing and lending of money between members of our group. There were occasions when entire pay packets were lost and other times phenomenal winnings. One time however, we all lost and had to hitchhike back to Canberra. I use the word hitchhike in its finest sense because on that occasion no one was willing to stop for a rowdy group of drunks at 3am. Resorting to shank’s pony, we finally arrived at the house of my mate, Ken Montgomery, who lived in Curtin, at around 5 or 6am. I am not sure if anyone slept, but we were all at work by 8am, still drunk, un-showered and presumably reeking of alcohol. Not sure how we survived the day. As mentioned at the outset, this was a time when the Canberra Times and local TV media were keen to expose the casino, and there had been several articles written about the casino and the police denial of its existence. My mate, Fitz, who has featured in several stories on this site, was working at the time as a cameraman at Channel 7. He asked me if I would be willing to be interviewed on camera about the casino, for the evening news. Not being one to shy away from the opportunity for glory, I readily agreed. At the allotted time, I arrived at Channel 7 and met the interviewer. Unfortunately his name escapes me. He was however, a very pleasant fellow. He informed me that due to the contentious issue to be discussed and the possibility of reprisals I would be filmed in side profile and in silhouette. At the interview I was asked a series of questions about my experiences at the casino. I took the position that the casino was all good and should be legalised. However, with some clever editing, when the article was shown on the news that night it appeared that I was anti the casino. This however, is neither here nor there.  I was somewhat assured that by being shown in silhouette my identity could not be established by viewers. WRONG! At that time I was living with my parents. So, that evening we were sitting around the TV as a family watching the news when the interview came on. Naturally, I had not told my parents that I had been interviewed as I did not want to worry them. I also did not think that they needed to know that I frequented such places. The interview was prefaced with words along the lines of “Canberra resident exposes illegal casino in Queanbeyan,” then I appeared in side profile, in the shadows. I had not even started speaking when my mother, God bless her, said “That’s you”! There was no denying, it was clearly me, easily recognisable. 
  I forget most of what else was said, though I am quite sure that both my parents were less than impressed. I do however, recall my mother expressing concern that I might become a target. The next day at work a number of people asked me if that was me on television the previous night, so clearly all the silhouettes and side-profiling in the world were of little use that day. I was never worried about any potential repercussions, though for a time I kept an eye out for pink Chevrolets with running boards! Nothing eventuated, and I enjoyed many more visits to the casino until it was eventually closed. 


LIGHTS OUT AT THE CANBERRA REX
 By Nick McConchie 

INTRODUCTION by Dave Wheeler
   While growing up in the Berra I met many coppers who I could only describe as really good blokes, particularly those I interacted with at the Turner Police Boys’ Club, which later became the Turner PCYC. And I remain grateful to the coppers who, during my teenage years, let my mates and me off with a warning for a particular incident we were involved in that could have put us in Shit Street. And I also of course remain grateful to the coppers who lock up paedophiles, non-independent politicians and other low-life when they have been careless and not covered their tracks properly.
    Having said what I have said, within every barrel of apples you will always get some bad ones, and some of the Canberra coppers of the sixties and early seventies were truly rotten. I cannot speak for other eras. 
   In this post my old mate, Nick McConchie, describes an event that occurred in or around 1971 in which some rotten coppers got what certain patrons of the Canberra Rex thought they deserved.
Read on and take in what Nick has to say about another time and another world.
Dave Wheeler
  The Canberra Rex was a favoured drinking hole for many of Canberra’s youth back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. There were 3 main bars, the “Hitching Rail,” which was an all male domain until several women “hitched” themselves to the rail and demanded service, the “Jet Club,” which, from memory, was favoured by those that thought of themselves as trendy, and the “Mariners Tavern,” which was seen as an escape from the rowdiness and dangers that lurked in the Scottish Bar. 
  This story relates to events that occurred in the Scottish Bar one night during one of the aforementioned years. 
  Various groups of youths frequented the Scottish Bar. There were the Northside boys from the inner north suburbs such as Dickson, Downer, Hackett, Watson, and of course Ainslie, Turner, O’Connor and Lyneham. There were interlopers from Narrabundah, who most likely had been banned from the Travellana, which would have been a feat in itself. 
  There were the Canberra bikies, originally known as “Asylum Choir,” who eventually became a formal chapter of the “Hells Angels.” And of course there were many other groups of friends and drinkers.
  The Scottish bar was staffed by several “good blokes” and one or two bartenders and glass picker-uppers I regarded as obnoxious. I will not mention any of these by name. Alfie, you know who you are!
  The above photo, which was taken from “Tales of a Canberra Boy,” shows the land where the part of the Canberra Rex of which I write once stood. The photo was taken not long after the bar's destruction. All that remains is the rock wall, and that would probably be gone by now. If any readers have any photos of the bars I have mentioned, inside or out, please send them to Dave Wheeler so they can be added to this story. 
   On Friday and Saturday nights the Scottish bar was usually crowded with drinkers and designated drivers. Actually there were no designated drivers, such a thing being a fairly recent phenomenon. In those days very few people paid any attention to the amount of alcohol they consumed before driving. Being over the limit was not an issue, or certainly not a consideration for most. 
While people were convicted of “drink driving” offences, there were no RBT’s and one would normally have to be all over the road before drawing the attention of the police. And even then one would have to fall out of the car before being deemed too drunk to drive. 
  The photos below show some characters who were regulars at the Canberra Rex in the era of which I write. The photos were also used in the last anecdote I wrote for this blog due to there being a shortage of other suitable photos.
  The first photo from left to write shows Spud Murphy, the late Geoff “Fitz” Fitzgerald, Mick Gladwish and Nick McConchie (me).
  The lower photo shows the late Brent Bolas, Nick McConchie (me), Spud Murphy, Keith Dickerson and Max Duncan.

   Nowadays of course, we live in a nanny state where just a couple of drinks could put you over the limit. Interestingly, years ago when the limit was .08 you would be considered sober with a reading of .07, but the same reading today would land you before the courts.
   Back to the Scottish Bar. Closing time in those days was 10pm. At around 9:50pm a staff member would flash the lights and call out “last drinks”. Fair enough, this was required by law and was quite acceptable. What was not acceptable however, was this: 
   At 10pm at least 2 uniformed police would always arrive and harass drinkers, telling them to finish their drinks and leave. If people had not finished and left the premises by about 10 past 10 they would draw the ire of the police officers, and some were known to be charged with “failing to quit licensed premises,” or at the least charged with the back-up offence of “Indecent language.” 
Indecent language was often used as an excuse to lock people up regardless of whether they swore or not.
  There were often confrontations between the police and patrons, including one day when a respected policeman and a lad hailing from Narrabundah way decided to settle their differences in a pugilistic fashion. They arranged to fight each other in the grounds of the Rex at a prearranged time. The fight ensued and from my somewhat hazy memory the outcome was reasonably even.
  I ran into this lad (now in his mid 60's, as am I ) several months ago at a local club, and we had a yarn about the old days. He told me that shortly after this fight he was arrested by said policeman for a trivial offence. He was brutally bashed in the cells by a number of police and charged with assaulting police and other offences. It resulted in him doing time at Goulburn Gaol. 
  Back to the Scottish Bar. One night 2 policemen were performing their usual patrol at around 10 pm. At several minutes past 10 the lights went out and it remained pitch black for what seemed like several minutes, though it was probably only 30 seconds or so. 
  To this day I do not know who was responsible, but in the ensuing seconds there were the clear sounds of punches being thrown and connecting, people falling over bar stools and an amount of shouting and cursing. This went on for a few seconds, and a short time later the lights came back on. 
   At the point the lights came on most patrons were innocently sitting at the tables or on the bar stools, and there were two heavily disheveled police officers nursing their heads and running around like blue-arsed flies
   Needless to say, it was not long before the bar was swarming with police. To the best of my knowledge the perpetrators of that violence were never identified.
   Over the years there have been several versions of this story, including that there were no punches, just beer thrown over the coppers. It is surprising the number of people who say they were there that night, some of whom may have been, others who may not have been. I know that I was there.
  The Scottish Bar remained a favourite haunt until the new Lakeside Hotel was opened at some point in the 70’s. At that point the Rex patrons migrated en masse to take up their positions in the Settler’s Bar and the other bar whose name I do not recall.
POSTSCRIPT
  I can recall being at the Canberra Rex on the night of which Nick writes, although I was not in the Scottish Bar at the time the coppers were assaulted and as such heard and saw nothing. But, turning the lights out on the coppers happened on more than one occasion, hence the confusion, although I believe the only time it involved the coppers being assaulted with the fists of patrons was on the night Nick was present. 
On at least one other occasion when the lights were turned out the coppers were drenched in beer as a result of the patrons who had planned the event/s throwing it over them. 
Dave Wheeler

A CANBERRA BOY GETS ARRESTED
by Dave Wheeler
  This anecdote is mainly about my old mate, Brownie, the late Owen Brown. It is to a lesser extent about a bloke who was employed by the ACT Police Force in 1971, who, in my opinion, brought his organisation into disrepute. It is also about the Apartheid system which once operated in South Africa. It is also about rugby. It is also about injustice. 
  In regard to Brownie, I could write a book about him. When I get together with my mates he is often the main topic of conversation, as we have a myriad of humorous stories regarding his sense of humour, his propensity for practical jokes and his adventures. Brownie was a highly ethical bloke, even though he had his own code of ethics which some may not have understood, and he was a dependable and loyal mate.
  During the year of which I mainly write, 1971, and the years that preceded and followed that year, Brownie and I got up to much that brings a smile to my face. I also had two insane years living with him in Evatt in the mid 70’s, and he features often in the book I wrote entitled, “Tales of a Canberra Boy.” 
  What I am writing about revolves around the 1971 Springboks tour, and what happened to Brownie when the Springboks played the ACT at Manuka Oval on the 21/7/1971.
  To the left of the photo above is my old mate, Trout, aka Ric Fitch, who is in the black teeshirt. It was taken at the Dickson Pub (which has since been demolished like many other unique and/or historical buildings in the Berra) circa 1973, at his buck’s party. He had just sculled a yard glass. The subject of this story, Brownie, is to the far right of the photo, in the light blue teeshirt, laughing and clapping. 
  After consulting with Trout I will add that the reason everyone was clapping and laughing was because Trout had vomited back into his yard glass during his first effort at trying to scull its content. And because he had a persistent nature he sculled it again, along with pieces of whatever tucker he’d been eating that had been regurgitated. He somehow managed to keep it down. 
   Just after the photo was taken a lady in her late fifties, who had been sitting at the table next to us, yelled at several of us in an angry, broad, high-pitched Australian accent. Her words were, “I know you young people like to enjoy yourselves, but that was disgusting!” She then left. I suppose she was right.
  The story begins at the very end of my 1969 school year, when I attended Dickson High and was in what is now called Year 11. I had turned 17 in September of that year and had bought myself a 1959 Ford Consul ute. 
  During a lunchtime several of us went to Brownie’s house, which was in Antill Street, Watson. Brownie’s parents were at work, so we carried-on in the unrestrained way lads of that age and our type carry-on. Life was one big joke and we were full of youthful exuberance and optimism.
  I can recall the contents of the sorts of conversations we would have as 17 year olds when we met as a group. It was mainly about creating laughter, which was usually achieved by recounting humorous and often anti-social events, taking the piss out of each other and telling each other about our very limited, and in some cases non-existent, sexual exploits. Had our conversations been recorded they would be regarded as loud, raucous and degenerate. They would have horrified our mums. 
  When, on the occasion of which I write, it was time to go back to school, I, with Brownie in the passenger’s seat, reversed my ute out of Brownie’s parent’s driveway. But, because of my inexperience I didn’t look properly, and I reversed into the tail end of a car that was driving past. As luck would have it the bloke driving the car was an off-duty copper, in uniform, driving his own car to or from work. 
  Brownie began laughing hysterically after he realised I had run into a cop, but the copper did not see any humour in what had occurred. After he got out of his car he told me I'd spoiled his driving record of 13 years without an accident. I could hear Brownie, and our mate, Ouncie, (John Outhwaite) laughing in the background after he muttered those words.
  There was virtually no damage done to my old ute, although I'd put a large dent in the rear side of the copper’s car, and his car appeared to be near-new. 
 The ACT Police had an accident squad at that time. They were called and were not too far away. When they arrived the copper I had pranged into of course knew them well, and they addressed each other by their first names.
  The accident squad coppers asked Brownie how fast he thought the off-duty cop’s car was travelling, and when he told them it was above the speed limit they said to him,”You’re a liar!” They then booked me for negligent driving, and because my tailpipe had come off I was also booked for having an insufficient silencer. They did not issue on-the-spot fines at that stage, so I went to court, pleaded guilty, paid the fines and forgot about the incident.
  Little did I know that that was not the last I would see of the copper I pranged into. Nor did I know that he would, from the way I believe things went, change sides and become a criminal while still working as a copper. Although having said that, I would be surprised if he had not committed criminal acts while working as a copper before I pranged into him. 
  As I am not identifying the said copper I will refer to him for the rest of this anecdote as “Quoll,” because I thought he looked like one, although I would say he had far less courage than a quoll. They are fearless and ferocious little marsupials if cornered. 
  I will now fast-forward to 1971, when the South African rugby team conducted its controversial tour of Australia and played the ACT at Manuka Oval. At that time Australia was divided, as was much of the rugby world, when it came to whether we should play rugby and other sports against South Africa, considering South Africa was run by a brutal racist regime and non-whites were excluded from selection when it came to representative sporting teams.
  Some, at the time, argued that sport and politics should not be mixed, and that if we engaged in sporting activity with South Africa we could convince them of the error of their ways, and that not engaging with them would have no effect on whether or not they retained Apartheid. 
  Others argued that by playing sport with them, having diplomatic relations with them, and trading with them, we were in-effect telling them we either condoned what they were doing or that we didn’t particularly care.
  Although I agreed that Apartheid was an evil regime that should not have existed, I could see glaring inconsistencies when it came to the suggestion that we should sever diplomatic relations with that country as well as impose on it trade and sporting bans. I say that because although the regime was immoral and brutal, it was not necessarily as bad as other totalitarian regimes and pseudo-democracies of that era that also shat on their poor and powerless, irrespective of their race. Yet we continued to trade with those other countries, play sport with them and retain diplomatic relations?
  Many of the countries of which I refer had no laws that prohibited child labour, and some turned a blind eye to child prostitution and sexual slavery. Some of them still do. And when it came to racist regimes, the Indonesians truly qualified for such a title. They treated the West Papuans appallingly and they continue to do so. And they are right on our doorstep!
   So, why was the protest movement focussing just on South Africa? Was it a matter of fashion? Whatever the reason, I found the inconsistency totally irrational. 
   I was of the belief at that time that we should be semi-isolationist and sever ties with most of the rest of the world and I have retained that belief.
  Others who agreed with me, to the extent that they could also see the inconsistencies, argued that even if we were being irrational by focussing just on South Africa, if Apartheid was abolished in that country by the West ostracising the place, it would still be a real positive. It would be a positive even if worse regimes in other countries continued unabated because some good would have come out of our efforts.
  History has shown that those who thought in the latter way were right, because it was mainly sporting bans, trade bans and the severing of diplomatic ties by most of the West that led to the abolition of Apartheid in South Africa. 
  Getting back to the subject, although I can’t speak for Brownie, when it came to my going to Manuka Oval to watch the Springboks play the ACT, I gave it some thought (but not enough) and decided to go so I could enjoy the game, the action on the sidelines and the company of my mates. 
  I thought at the time I could morally justify watching the Springboks play the ACT because I was aware of the inconsistencies I have just outlined. But, with the wisdom of hindsight and having given the matter further thought, I now believe I should not have paid money to see the Springboks play unless I was willing to protest and attempt to disrupt the game for the reasons I have already outlined, and that I did not do.
  So, here was Brownie and I at the game. We could see where the protesters were, so we went down amongst them and stood right next to the 7 foot high fence separating the crowd from the game. 
  Behind the fence there were around 600 coppers strung right around the ring of the oval at arms length from each other. There were also coppers inside the fence in front of the protesters, making sure they did not attempt to jump the fence to disrupt the game. There were smoke bombs being let off and rotten smells coming from several spots. Most of the time the protesters chanted, “Racists go home!”
  We were having a great time, as we were enjoying watching the rugby, and the sideshow between the protesters and the coppers at the same time. We witnessed several people being arrested and carried through a narrow gate while we were watching, although I could not see what they did to warrant being arrested. 
  While this was happening, I noticed, on our side of the fence, Quoll, the same copper who I had backed my car into in 1969, standing there, facing the protesters. We thought this a great joke, so we edged-up closer to him. I looked at him, gave him a little smile, and said,”Do you remember me mate?”
  I was baiting him to a small degree, but he had a lot more power than me at the time given that the place was swarming with hundreds of his colleagues, so there is no way I could have been seen to have been attempting to intimidate him in any way.
   The police were not armed at the time, although I am sure some in the senior ranks who were there would have had access to arms if needed. 
  His response to my question was, “Should I? And if you call me mate again I’ll arrest you!”
  Brownie began laughing at his reply, so he said to Brownie, “Do you think it’s funny?” 
  Brownie, when replying, got out the words, “Under the circumstances,” and at that Quoll had him arrested. Several coppers grabbed Brownie, lifted him up and carried him through the narrow gate and into a paddy wagon. 
  When I reflect on Quoll he was obviously shitting himself, and as such obviously in the wrong job. Why was he so stressed-out while in the presence of so many other coppers? What possible harm could we have done to him? Other than that, the protesters were mainly uni students and hippie types who were essentially harmless. It may have been a different story had they been a crowd of neo-nazis or members of the traditional left, such as wharfies or the BLF. 
  Quoll would not have lasted 5 minutes if he was employed privately as a bouncer in a nightclub given that bouncers have zero authority and are unarmed. Actually, I doubt he could have handled being a private security guard at a shopping mall for the same reason. I wonder how he went while working as a copper when he was by himself and had to confront violent people. I'm guessing he always carried with him a spare pair of reg grundies and daks, as he would have lost control of his bowels on such occasions.
  When I asked him if he remembered me he could have replied to my question with a few well chosen words instead of threatening to arrest me for calling him “mate,”given that he had no legal authority to do so. He could have also engaged me in conversation or simply ignored me. It’s not as if I was a threat to him in any way. And it’s not as if he was a young and inexperienced copper who had just been recruited. He must have been in his thirties.
  The following link will take you to footage of the said game in 1971, which includes arrests. I'm sorry I cannot embed it. The blurb before it states that 49 people were arrested at the game (Brownie would have been one of the 49) and that observers complained of rough police treatment and of the arrests being arbitrary and unreasonable. That was an understatement!
  The two links that follow the first link are descriptions and photos of the event from the Canberra Times.
  I took the photo above immediately after Brownie was arrested, which shows the coppers taking him away. It’s blurred because I was jostled by the crowd while trying to take the photo, and unfortunately Brownie is not visible within the photo. All that can be seen are the coppers who were carrying towards the small gate in the fence at the time. 
  Brownie told me that after he was arrested and placed into the paddy wagon with a bunch of protesters the copper who was driving made their ride as uncomfortable as possible by deliberately and intermittently slamming on the brakes.
  The irony of it all was that Brownie was a rugby fanatic and had gone there to watch the game. He must have stuck out amongst the uni student protesters like a Jap on Anzac day! The poor bugger was arrested with a bunch of protesters and was guilty of nothing more than being the mate of a smart-arse, who also did nothing that warranted arrest. 
    Unlike me, Brownie as an adult continued to play rugby, and in the last years of his life he became the president of Canberra’s Easts rugby union club. The above photo is of Brownie’s Easts rugby team in 1976, several years after the event that led to his arrest. Brownie is in the front row 3rd from the left. Thanks to Trout for the photo.
   I went to the Civic Police station to see if I could get Brownie out without involving his parents, and I was told by the coppers at the reception to “Fuck off!”
  I’m not sure exactly what happened with Brownie after he was taken to the station, but I do remember being told that his mum, who I always liked, (partly because she was never backwards in coming forward, particularly in matters concerning her kids), after learning about what had led to her son’s arrest, confronted Quoll and reminded him of the fact that I had run into him outside their driveway.
  Apparently he did not handle it well, as he must have realised it would not look good for him if the matter went to court. Other than that, I had taken down the name and contact details of a bloke who had witnessed what had happened, and he was willing to testify on Brownie’s behalf. 
  Brownie was eventually charged with having used indecent language. From memory they alleged that he had said, “All coppers are cunts,” or words to that effect that contained the words coppers and cunts.
  When a copper fabricates a charge he has committed a criminal offence, and as such has gone to the other side and joined the crim’s he is paid to control. When that occurs he has no right to moralise or pretend he is a pillar of the community. And because I was there when Brownie was arrested, and I clearly remember what Brownie said, (or did not say), I believe Quoll was a criminal. 
  A criminal is defined as a person who commits a crime. The definition, as such, includes people who commit crimes but are not charged or convicted for such crimes.
   Later on all charges against all protesters were dropped because of a legal technicality, although not before Brownie and I had seen a solicitor and made contact with the other witness, (who I got to know and still see occasionally). 
  My guess is that the real reason the charges were dropped was not one of a legal nature. I believe it highly likely that the whole thing was politically embarrassing for the government and that once the tour was over they thought it best to say as little as possible about it in the hope that it would all be forgotten. I also believe that a large number of coppers would have been exposed for charging people for offences they did not commit. 
   Quoll was very lucky the charges against Brownie were dropped. Had they not been dropped Quoll would probably have been exposed as a bullshit artist and a criminal when the matter was heard in court. And that would have been the best outcome he could have hoped for.
   If Brownie had been charged and convicted for having used the indecent language he did not use Quoll would not have known what hit him. A wronged Brownie was unstoppable. He would have ensured Quoll regretted the day he was born, and whatever Brownie decided to do to seek vengeance I would have been morally obliged to assist, considering I was the smart-arse who brought the whole thing on.
  I hope Quoll, for his sake, saw the error of his ways, quit the police force and got a job as a clerk, where the greatest risk would be having a filing cabinet fall on him, as he was clearly not suited for the job.
   Now, although I have really given it to Quoll in this anecdote by publicly ridiculing the man, if he is still alive he will not suffer from what I have written nor will his reputation be tarnished, as I have not identified him. And I doubt anyone reading this yarn, other than the other witness to Brownie’s arrest, will know who he was or is. Had I retained a grudge against the man I could have identified him without risking being sued, because I can back up what I have written. 
    I do not carry a grudge against Quoll and I sincerely hope he has had a good life, because although he behaved very badly by fabricating a charge against my mate, 46 years have elapsed since the event took place. And as I have said in many anecdotes and essays I have written, I have no right to cast stones against anyone because of their bad behaviour given that we all do things we regret, and I have done many, many things in my youth I regret. 
    Other than that, I don’t believe we possess contra-causal free will. And if you don’t understand what I mean by that last statement you may want to read the essays on the following links. They say nothing new, but they’re hard-hitting and very well-written, and you may find them liberating.

TWO CANBERRA BOYS VISIT THE PHILIPPINES
by Nick McConchie

INTRODUCTION by Dave Wheeler
  This anecdote was written by my old mate, Nick McConchie. It tells of his narrow escape while visiting the Philippines in the early 90’s, with our mutual mate, the late Geoff “Fitz” Fitzgerald. I attended Dickson High with both Nick and Fitz. 
  When Australians travel to Asia they are warned of the draconian punishments most Asian countries have for persons found in possession of drugs or engaging in other behaviour that is dealt with far less harshly in Australia. Although most Australians realise the consequences of disobeying foreign laws, many, in their naivety, do not realise that they are taking a small risk by just visiting such countries without breaking their laws, as many tourists over the years have been set-up and have suffered many years in prison, and worse, for committing no crime at all. Most of Asia is rife with corruption, brought about by poverty and desperation, and to expect to be dealt with by honest police and to receive a fair trial in most Third World countries is like expecting the arrival of the tooth fairy. It is far easier for a middle class Australian to be moral than it is for people who battle every day just to get a feed. I spent a small amount of time in Thailand during my youth and had no problems, as has been the case with most tourists who have travelled to Asia, but you are far more likely to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in a Third World country than you are in Australia, as Nick will tell you. Why we have extradition treaties with countries that are so bent and why the Australian government does not openly criticise their legal systems for the corrupt farces they are, probably comes down to money, as in not wanting to disrupt trade. While there are live cattle to be exported (and tortured) and other commodities to be bought and sold, expect things to continue as they are. 
  In this introductory rant I have expressed my personal views, which are not necessarily the views of Nick McConchie.
Dave Wheeler
   The behaviour of the relatively new Philippines President Duterte, in allowing or indeed encouraging law enforcement officials to shoot first when drugs are involved, reminded me of the dangers of that country. In particular, I recalled an incident when I was in Manila during the early 1990’s.
   I had travelled to The Philippines with my then wife and my 2 year old son. The purpose of the visit was to introduce my son to his grandmother and for my wife to catch up with her family. In order to alleviate potential boredom, I invited my friend Fitz to come along. Fitz features in other posts on this site.
  One afternoon in Manila, Fitz and I left the family in our hotel and ventured out for a few drinks. We went to several bars and sunk a few cold ones. As the afternoon turned into night, we continued to bar hop and eventually found ourselves in a quieter street, a little way from the bustling tourist area. Our reason for leaving the relative safety of the tourist strip has been muddied through the effluxion of time. None of that actually matters. What matters was that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Somewhere in Manila.
    We were walking along the street, minding our own business, talking bullshit to each other while looking for somewhere we could quench our rapidly growing thirsts. A police vehicle stopped and two heavily armed policemen alighted and approached us. We were told that we were making too much noise and needed to accompany them. Not being in the business of arguing with armed Filipino police, we complied and climbed into their “ute”. Not much was said, and we assumed we were being taken to a police station – no such luck! After a short time, the driver turned into what appeared to be an empty car park. It was walled on three sides with an entrance on the fourth side. We were told to get out of the vehicle. As we did so, one of the policemen walked a short distance and stood there with his back to us. The other pointed his pistol at us. He said words to the effect, “My Sergeant needs money, how much you have”? 
  The photo above, taken in 1974, shows from left to right, Spud Murphy, the late Geoff ‘Fitz” Fitzgerald, Mick Gladwish and Nick McConchie, the author of this post. All of the above are ex Dickson High boys. The photo was also used in the essay, “ A Canberra boy reflects on his escapes,” because we do not have many photos of Fitz in his younger years.
   At this point Fitz and I were a little concerned for our safety, though that fear was somewhat diminished by the alcohol that we had consumed. I cannot recall how much we offered in the first instance but it probably equated to $10.00 or so. We gave the money to the policeman who while still holding his gun, walked over to the sergeant. They mumbled a few words then the underling returned. “Not enough,” he said. We gave a little more. He again walked over to the sergeant and again returned saying “Not enough”. About the 3rd or 4th time we emptied our front pockets to show that that was all we had – about $60 between us. This time the Sergeant came back and said “OK”. 
  The underling, while waving his gun, then said, “You can escape now.” I did not know what Fitz was thinking at this point, as I had my own thoughts to contend with. My thoughts over the next 2 seconds ranged from – "If we run, then surely they will shoot us – justified as escaping prisoners. If we walk fast, we will be easier targets. If we don’t do anything, will they lock us up?” 
   We ran, zigzagging in some lame attempt to dodge any bullets that came our way. Normally, Fitz would have been a faster runner than me, but not that day.
  As we ran from the compound and turned into the street, I was relieved that there were no gunshots. In today’s Duterte environment, we could easily have been shot as suspected drug felons. I digress however. 
  We jumped onto the back of a Jeepney, (a public transport jeep with colourful if not kitsch decorations). We were not obviously being followed, much to our mutual relief. Coincidentally, the Jeepney was headed through one of the bar areas of Manila, so now, in much need of a drink, we alighted and headed into one of the many bars that lined the strip.
  Earlier in this piece, I mentioned that we had emptied our front pockets - fortunately we had more in other pockets. So, here we are, sitting in the bar, enjoying a beer or two, talking about our experience and how we were “gunna” bash the coppers and should have bashed the coppers and so on, when at the entrance to the bar, appeared one of the policemen that we should have bashed.
  He looked straight over at us but did nothing. He left a minute or two later. After several more beers and perhaps some whiskey, we deemed it safe and returned to our hotel.
  The next morning there was a knock on my hotel room door. I answered to a hotel employee, who held up a piece of paper and said “is this your licence? “ Indeed it was. He explained that he was hotel security and he knew what happened, and with his help we could sue the police for a large amount of money. I took my licence, which had obviously been given to him by one of the policemen, though I had no recollection of giving it to him in the first place, and politely declined his offer.
  Over the course of the next few hours, every hotel employee (I exaggerate), but a number of them, asked how long we were staying, when are we leaving? What airline and what time? Paranoia began to set in. At this point, what could we do? So Fitz and I crossed the road to an open air bar and had a few beers, while trying to decipher what it all meant (the meaning of life at that instant). We were there for a very short period of time, when a truck pulled up, and half a dozen policemen dismounted and came into the bar. They simply stood around, giving us perhaps furtive glances, whilst talking amongst themselves. They left quite soon after their arrival. Paranoia?, I do not know, but we were becoming quite uncomfortable with the situation.
  We were booked on a flight out the following night. Hotel staff were offering to arrange transport. What time you want? Where you go? And so it went on. We had visions of perhaps being robbed on the way to the airport or worse. It just seemed very peculiar to us. I was of course concerned for my wife and child, so around lunchtime that day, without checking out, we walked out and caught a cab to the airport. We arrived at the airport safely albeit some 12 hours before our flight. How did we alleviate the boredom? 
   The photo above shows the author of this post with a group of his mates in Kings Cross in 1970. They are from left to right, the late Brent Bolas, Nick McConchie, Spud Murphy, Keith Dickerson and Max Duncan. Max played an incredibly good blues harmonica and often accompanied Spud, who was on the voice and also played the blues harp.
– At the airport bar of course!

A CANBERRA BOY REFLECTS ON HIS ESCAPES
By Dave Wheeler
   Another title I was considering for this essay was, “The other man’s grass is always greener.” I will explain why in full eventually. It focuses primarily around how I missed out on having a relationship with a beautiful young Canberra girl I knew many years ago, and how sometimes such negatives, and I had more to come, can turn into positives. As usual I have brought philosophy into it.
   Before going there I will, as I often do, begin from an entirely different angle. I will let the reader know that like most people I can get extreme pleasure from music. It can have a very strong effect on one’s emotions in many ways, and it can also send a message. It takes me into another world. 
   I’ve done my best to develop an appreciation for many genres of music, and in doing so it probably means I receive more overall pleasure from music than I otherwise would. I love folk, and traditional rock and roll; and as I write I’m experiencing euphoria listening to the blues being played and sung by BB King and Paul Carrack. They’re doing an amazing version of “Bring it on home to me,” although if it has a message it's lost on me. You may want to click on the song so you can play it as you read.
  I even love the music of the Pacific, in all its forms, having spent time there in my youth. Last night I attended a party where a group of Tongan churchgoers were singing hymns, and even though I’m a non-believer the singing was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. 
   I also love some of the older Australian folk songs that were composed before Australians wrote Americanised songs and sang them in American accents. “Moreton Bay” and “The Woolloomooloo Lair” are examples of Australian songs that were written from the heart in a way that truly depicted the emotions of the composers, even though the latter song is humorous.
   And Chad Morgan? I love him! I like his melodies, and I love his brutally honest and unrestrained lyrics, which are totally devoid of any form of political correctness. His lyrics are pure Chad, a down-to-earth and irreverent Queensland, Anglo Celtic/Aboriginal country boy of his time just being himself. Many Australian musicians sing and compose as if they were other people living in another country. Not our Chad. 
   Although I have listened frequently to most of Chad’s stuff, a couple of nights ago I listened on youtube to a song he wrote that I had not heard entitled, “The night I went below.” It was about how he dreamt he visited Hell, and how he overpowered the Devil and escaped from him at a speed that would have broken Herb Elliot’s mile. 
   Unfortunately, in his dream, he was caught by a sort who had also been sent below. He described her as having overgrown horns and told of how she wanted to marry him so they could produce little devils of their own. That really was Chad’s idea of Hell! When he awoke he was relieved when he realised he had been dreaming, which made him determined not to die. I have embedded the song below
  I have to accept that I also love much in the way of American music, such as the previously shown blues of BB King. Part of me wishes I didn’t, as I'm not a fan of American culture, but the fact is I do love much of their music, so having accepted that fact I simply enjoy it when I can.
   One American song that gave me inspiration as a young man was entitled, “ Pamela Brown.” It was written and sung by Tom T Hall. He wrote of how, as a lad, he had dropped his balls over a girl named Pamela Brown, and how Pamela preferred another lad over him because the other lad drove a ute. 
  I may be entirely wrong, but I’m guessing the song is autobiographical, and if so the rejection must have broken Tom’s heart. The song suggests he didn’t get over Pamela for some time, so rather than find another girl and marry early he roamed around experiencing life as an unattached young man. 
   As he aged and thought about what may have happened had he not suffered unrequited love at the hands of Pamela, he became grateful to her for rejecting him. He realised that had she not rejected him he would not have experienced the freedom and joy one can experience when one is single and devoid of responsibility. He would have instead lived a mundane suburban life. I have embedded Tom doing his song below.
    What made me think about the messages of Chad and Tom, and what then motivated me to write this essay, occurred a day ago after a mate sent me a link to a Canberra Times photo and description from 1972. It shows and identifies a stunningly beautiful 17 year old girl who I had taken out a few months before the photo was taken. To use a modern expression, I was punching above my weight. 
    She is obviously no longer a girl and is entitled to privacy, which is why I'm not identifying her. For that reason I will just refer to her as “the girl,” as she was a girl when I knew her. She would be turning 63 this year and is probably a wife, mum and grandmother. Hopefully life has been good to her. 
    As I do not wish to identify the girl, I’m not going to give the link to the Trove archived Canberra Times page that shows her photo. A very large number of attractive young women had their photographs in the Canberra Times during 1972, and for that reason I don’t mind mentioning that she was just one of them. Other than that, her identity should not matter. The purpose of this essay is philosophical, as in its objective is to argue that apparent misfortunes should always be put into perspective. The implications of what occurred could apply to anyone in similar situations.
   In describing her as stunningly beautiful, that is of course only my opinion, as beauty and ugliness are not absolute, whether we are referring to inner or outer beauty. They are nothing more than subjective perceptions.
   I met her at Mick Catanzariti’s small and informal gathering to celebrate his 21st birthday. It would have been in September of 1971. Mick didn’t know her. She came along with her female friend and a couple Mick and I knew.
   I had a really enjoyable time at Mick’s gathering when I was with her, and I dropped her and her friend home that evening. My mate, Colin Bishop, who had come with me, had by that time linked-up with the girl’s friend. 
  I took her out the next night, and I got so much pleasure from her company it seemed too good to be true. 
   The photo above, taken in or around 1998, shows my old mate, the late Geoff “Fitz” Fitzgerald. When taking “the girl who made the Canberra Times” out in 1971 I first took her to the now demolished Scottish Bar at the Canberra Rex, where I ran into Fitz. Because they had threatened to ban him from the place he told us he was going to have a quiet night, but within a few minutes he was having a scrap with a barman, some of whom were not renown for being great blokes. I had to restrain the said barman because the other barmen were restraining Fitz and giving his opponent an unfair advantage. The girl was drinking Ouzo and lemonade when I was with her. I can’t recall what I was drinking. At that time I had not developed the dislike I now have for alcohol as I had not seen or experienced the damage it does. 
   As I was dropping her home she seemed keen to see me again, so we arranged to meet at a set time at the Canberra Rex, in the Jet Club.
   But, she stood me up! 
   She may have sensed I was not a normal lad of my age, and my other shortcomings may have also become apparent to her during our night out. For that reason she may have thought it best to ensure the contact ceased. 
   And if my shortcomings were not consciously obvious to her, it may have just been a matter of chemistry. I say that because on a number of occasions in my youth after I was initially attracted to certain girls, and took them out once or twice, I lost interest, and it was unrelated to the girl’s looks, personality or prospects. It came down to the inner workings of my brain and mind, which were beyond my understanding or control. The beautiful young lady I had taken out may have had a similar experience with me. 
   She may have also become conscious of the laws of supply and demand, and realised that if she had a relationship with me she would have been underselling herself. With her looks she would have known she was in high demand and could attract someone who was better looking than me and a proven provider earning good money. All I possessed was a few dollars and a dark blue 1958 Holden FE panel van with a white roof. 
   Then again, maybe I’m being over-analytical. When I think about it, judging from my conversations with her, it’s more than likely she had far more depth and did not think like I have suggested she may have thought in the previous paragraph.
    Whatever the reason, had she had an initial attraction to me it had obviously vanished. And when it’s gone it’s gone! Only fools cannot accept reality, and I have often seen fools persist in such situations, even though those around them could plainly see that the attraction was one-sided.
  The marriage game is based on barter. Looks and chemistry obviously play a large part in the equation for most people, as do personality and temperament, but in the case of blokes they usually also need to prove they are either good providers or have the potential to become good providers. Most women want someone who will hang around and provide for any kids they may bring into the world, which is fair enough. 
   Obviously there are exceptions, as we can easily observe men and women who have badly undersold themselves in the marriage game, but they are a minority, and they often do not know they've got a dud until the marriage has begun. 
    Above is the FE Holden panel van I owned in 1971 during the period of which I write. Beside it is my old mate, Jan Aamodt, who introduced me to “the girl.”The panel van had windows on its sides despite it being a panel van. The photo was taken in White Cliffs, NSW. When we moved on from White Cliffs the car continually boiled, and at one stage we had to piss in the radiator because of a lack of water. After the engine seized I sold it for $15 in Boggabilla.
   Yes, she could have contacted me and told me she had changed her mind and didn’t want to continue to see me, instead of having me turn up, all excited, waiting for her, only to be let down badly when she failed to meet me as we had arranged. But, who am I to cast stones? She was only a teenager, and the thought of telling me she didn't want to start anything would have been very daunting for her. And when it comes to acts of immorality, her standing me up fades into insignificance relative to some of the immoral acts I carried out in my youth.
   People’s basic personalities don’t change much throughout their lives, but because their frontal lobes develop and they experience more of life, in other respects they usually become entirely different people after they have entered adulthood. If we are to speak metaphorically, we could say our former selves die. I would not like to be judged today by the way I was as a teenager, or the things I did during that period. Yet some people I know still hold grudges against certain people they went to school with over 50 years ago, and in doing so they are crediting those school kids with having been developed adults, when in fact they were just kids with kid’s brains, even if they were old enough to drive cars. 
   Regardless of what occurred, if I choose to think about the girl I have very fond memories of her. I remember her as a lovely girl to talk to, and that aspect of her held a greater attraction for me than her physical beauty. She was also very pleasant to me on the few occasions I ran into her after she stood me up. I last saw her sometime in 1972 and I have no idea what happened to her after that. 
   I actually can’t recall, prior to my receiving the link to her photo in the Canberra Times, when I last gave her any deliberate conscious thought. But despite that, having been reminded of her, when I do think about the time I spent with her I can recall in detail almost every moment, as is the case with many other events in my youth that were of an intense nature.
     If someone is coming off an extreme high of any sort, be it the sort of extreme high a musician feels while on stage or the sorts of extreme highs I experienced in my youth when I was in the company of certain young women, it is imperative they accept the reality of their relatively mundane here and now once the source of their euphoria has gone. 
    This can best be done by doing everything they can to ensure their focus remains in their here and now. And to maximise one’s chances of remaining in the here and now it is best to focus on one’s breath and muscles and to not feed unasked for thought with conscious thought whenever one becomes conscious that one is thinking. 
  It is deliberate conscious thought of any sort that is unrelated to one’s here and now that often leads to unasked for negative thought unconnected to one’s here and now, which can lead to depression. When one is thinking thoughts not connected to one’s here and now one is in danger of losing control of one’s thoughts.
   Mindfulness has become a fad in the last few years, although a positive fad. Why this ancient practice was forgotten for so many years by mainstream Western societies is beyond me. I wish I had been taught the concept from a very young age rather that stumble across it in my youth in the way I did. 
    I didn’t truly fall in love at the time I had contact with her because it was for such a brief period of time, although I would definitely have done so had I have continued to see her. I did however, experience some withdrawals from the intense high she had given me. But, again, because the contact was brief, and because I had accepted the reality of what had occurred, and because she was not my first “Pamela Brown,” I was able to deliberately not give her much conscious thought after the rejection. 
   Although I was never a sheila-magnet, I went on to experience plenty of very short term relationships prior to my marriage at the age of 29, with only 2 or 3 lasting more than a month, and none lasting more than 5 months. For the overwhelming majority of the period prior to my marriage I enjoyed being unattached and devoid of responsibility.
   Remaining unattached for that period was made easier because other than my not being a normal person I showed no signs of having the potential to become a good provider. And for our species, when a lad does not have the ability to show potential marriage partners he is, or has the potential to become, a good provider, it’s the equivalent of a peacock not having a tail to display to peahens. I didn’t actually become a good provider until after I married. My wife, to her credit, took a big risk. I don’t think I would have married me. 
   Anyway, I can relate to the words of Chad and Tom, even though both of them married, as did I. When I reflect on my life prior to my marriage, and the years I had of roaming around enjoying myself as an unattached young man devoid of responsibility, I’m very grateful to the beautiful young girl who was photographed by the Canberra Times in 1972 for giving me the slip. I would have only just turned 19 when I took her out, and although I would have adapted at that age to a serious relationship by getting a career of some sort, saving my money, buying a house, remaining faithful, etc, etc, I was far too young to have my wings clipped. 
   I know two couples, now in their late sixties, who became couples when they were 14 years old. Although their marriages could be considered successful, it seems to me they must be conscious of the fact that they did not experience a full youth, to the extent that they must realise that the life of an unattached young person incorporates many experiences couples cannot experience. 
   I escaped several relationships prior to my marriage because of incompatibility, and several more, as occurred with the beautiful young girl who made the Canberra Times, stopped before they started because I was, fortunately, rejected. 
    My advice to young unattached people is for them to realise that although marriage does suit some, there is always a price to pay. Something like a third of marriages end in divorce or separation, and that figure only accounts for actual marriages; it does not include serious defacto relationships. And I know many married couples who live very separate lives, even though they remain married and live under the same roof in a house that remains under both names. Those sorts of couples have no interest in remarrying, and simply can’t be bothered selling everything and going through the trauma of divorce and financial separation. The Bureau of Statistics has statistics that erroneously suggest that such couples have had successful marriages, when obviously they have not. 
   As a guess I would say that truly successful marriages and defacto relationships are something like 1 in 4.
   I reiterate, marriage is not the answer to life, and there is no such thing as a free lunch. After first meeting someone who pushes all the right buttons the initial hit of intense bliss one receives through brain chemistry of the type I enjoyed when I was with the beautiful young lady who made the Canberra Times in 1972, does not last. The bonding usually takes on a different form over time, but as it does the intense thrill diminishes. It’s all nature’s trick; a way of bringing people together for the purpose of gene replication, irrespective of whether the coupling increases or decreases one’s quality of life. 
   Marriage often includes conflict, boredom and drudgery. And it can also include having troublesome kids, or worse. Imagine the suffering of parents who have kids who are serious drug addicts, or criminals, or who have severe mental health problems or disabilities. Some parents have to attend their kid’s funerals.
    If you ask parents if they are glad they had their kids, almost all will say they are. In answering the question however, they are imagining life without their kids, which is the same as them imagining life if their kids suddenly died, which is not the question being asked. I say that because to say the bleeding obvious, if their kids did not exist they would feel no sense of loss. 
    Because it is impossible for a parent to imagine life without their kids without them imagining feeling like they would feel if their kids died, it is impossible for them to answer that question in a way that takes into account the true nature of the question.
  I have however, asked couples whose children had reached adulthood, and were off their hands, if they would have more kids if they were able to drink from the fountain of youth and be given back their 23 year old bodies. After them thinking about it I found very few wanted to repeat the experience of raising kids, which says something about what they must have experienced during the process of raising the kids they had.
  When I experience an experience which, from an overall perspective, I would describe as positive, to the extent that the positives outweigh the negatives, I wish to repeat the experience. If I did not want to repeat the experience I could deduce that it was, from an overall perspective, a negative experience. Therefore, it would seem that those who said they would not bring more kids into the world if they were given back their 23 year old bodies found that from an overall perspective raising their kids was a negative experience. If it was a positive experience they would want to repeat the process. 
   The fact that they love the kids they raised is irrelevant, because had they never had them they would be experiencing different pleasures and different pains, and to labour the point, their absence would not represent a void in their life had the kids never existed. How can you miss what you have never had?
   Some of the latter parents however, said there would be no point in them having more kids if they drank from the fountain of youth because they already have their kids, albeit grown-up kids. Such an answer however, is tantamount to them saying that the purpose of them having kids was not for the enjoyment they received during the process of raising them; it was primarily for the fulfilment they received once their kids had left home and had become self-sufficient. I doubt that that was their objective when they decided to bring kids into the world initially.
 “Mum, Dad and the kids” is, relatively speaking, a very new phenomenon in the history of our species. Until relatively recent times our ancestors lived tribal existences in which members had an interdependent relationship in order for them to survive and reproduce. This forced them to make every effort to resolve their differences. 
   Husbands and wives had very few joint decisions to make, as most decisions were tribal. And as child-minding was also a shared task couples were relieved of a lot of the stresses that modern couples suffer.
   Tribal people also had very limited privacy, and when tribal couples fought with each other the fact that they had an audience would have usually limited the intensity of their disputes. And if things got out-of-hand others could intervene. Unfortunately we no longer live tribal existences and divorce or separation are the easy options. 
   If you are young, single and unattached, heed the advice of Chad, Tom and me, and enjoy your freedom and lack of responsibility while you can. Those who dislike being single usually do so because they think they are missing out on something by not being married. That is where “The other man’s grass is always greener” comes into it. 
    Instead of yearning for married life, why not just make the most of your situation by enjoying your free time and savouring life’s simple pleasures? As I have said, there is a price for everything.
  PS Although I believe my grandad made a mistake by volunteering to fight in WW1, because unlike WW2 it was a war that should not have involved Australia, his experiences and how he handled them were an inspiration to me from a young age.
  Whenever, from my late teens onwards, I suffered a pain or hardship, I would compare it to how my grandad must have suffered on Gallipoli and the battlefields of France. Other than him receiving a fractured skull and shrapnel wounds, he saw many of his mates blown to pieces before his eyes and innumerable other horrors that could not be adequately described. 
  By being conscious of what he went through it meant that whenever I felt the pain of tragedies such as a hard day at work, a hard sporting event, very cold or very hot weather, having my car break down or having had someone bend its’ aerial, snapping a shoe lace, or being given the slip by a girl, I asked myself if my suffering could be compared to that of my grandad during WW1. It was of course a rhetorical question.
   Yet my grandad went through it all, and after he returned to Australia he simply put his head down and worked for the rest of his life. He also enjoyed tending his bee hives and fruit trees in his spare time. I never heard him complain about what he had suffered. His attitude was very Buddhist, without the religion attached, to the extent that he had accepted the reality of what had occurred and then turned his attention towards living in the present and making the most of it.
    Part of the reason many people cannot handle being sacked from a relationship or experiencing unrequited love is because they have a romantic and almost supernatural view of what it’s all about. In reality it can all be reduced to brain chemistry, and for that reason when leaving a relationship one will suffer in the same way one suffers when coming off a drug of addiction. But, if one can accept the pain, eventually the brain chemistry rights itself, unless of course one chooses to become idle and/or consciously dwells on the breakup or the rejection. And unless one looks like the elephant man one can usually find another person who will produce in oneself the same sort of brain chemistry one produced prior to the breakup or rejection, if that is one’s wish. 
    But, should a person who is destined to live a life without a spouse accept that reality, that person should make the most of the situation and remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch, as in, there are pluses and minuses to being single or married. “The other man’s grass is always greener.” 

   The late Russ Hinze, shown above, became an angel as a result of him becoming a really good bloke just before he died. He often visits me, and he reminds me he never had any problems getting onto sheilas when he was living in QLD as a mortal. And he never suffered unrequited love.

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