Friday, 31 January 2014

Life: I am amazed how simple thoughts can lead to amazing things!

One of the things that I really dig as I age is the way plans can come together from simple thoughts. In fact sometimes the planning is the best part! I mean.. as a small child, whoever looked at a bird and said.. I wish I could fly. But what about the child who looked at a bird in the sky and asked: How can I fly like a bird? What steps do I need to take to have a flying machine?

Well.. Leonardo Da Vinci springs to mind to start with.

What about architects.. tell them what sort of house you want.. lots of glass.. indoor / outdoor dining  etc. And then they take that nebulous idea of yours and turn it into a plan that builders can follow and hey presto.

There is your dream home!

This is our new home.. once the owner surrenders to our price! It will happen!

I also really admire automotive and aviation engineers. As a young man I repaired a lot of cars when I was an auto electrician .. and I always marvelled at their design. The first time I saw the original Monaro.. I couldn't believe it. How can sheet metal look this good. And when you think about it.. everything that made a Monaro.. I mean everything.. came out of the ground!

Iron ore, sand for the glass windows, vinyl seats from the petroleum industry etc. A shame we cannot plant a Monaro tree!

At 14 I couldn't believe this car was real!

And the what about our own more mundane lives?

Fiddling and designing something in the shed. Either to build myself or have my old mate Don make for me! And usually something for the bike.. such is my hobby!

Don making a tool tube mount for UFO-16. And he's 83 in this shot!

Plan a holiday, a dinner party or whatever. Project planning is something I just love. In 2012 we moved Debra's shop to Clayfield. And we needed to move it with the least amount of loss of retail trade. After all.. cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. So we planned the entire thing.. a calendar full of notes and we made the move on a Friday (after 2 months of fit out) and were open at 09:00 AM on the Monday.

And it all went smoothly.. although we were all stuffed by Sunday night before opening. Did I forget anything (channelling Kevin Rudd here… asking my own questions) well no I didn't! But the thing we didn't allow for, was the handful of customers who verbally abused Debra for having the hide to move her shop an extra 10 minutes drive from their homes! I guess you can't please everybody!

On a more personal level.. we love planning holidays. We open the diary about 8 months into the future.. rule out a week or two and write the destination in it! And with only one exception.. it has worked. This time.. August will see us in Europe. (It's in the diary so it must be true) Debra wants to visit Amoena and Anita (who make the prostheses she supplies to her patients) so we thought why not have a holiday at the same time.

And for me.. well back here in Oz, I want to visit the Snowy Mountains on my bike! Never been there.. plan was for May 2014 but it might well be may 2015 as we save for Europe in 2014!

And I always find that having the picture of what I desire on the fridge is a good way to go. (And no.. it's not a picture of a New York Cheese Cake!) So think of something and make it happen!

My fridge picture.. I will get to the Snowy Mountains!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Politics: Why do the left not understand this...

The Honourable Dr Gary Johns, former cabinet minister in the Keating Government has written an excellent article in this mornings Australian. I have had the opportunity to meet with Gary a few times for coffee and he is just so refreshing to talk to. He has an a amazing way of seeing the issues that confront Australia (on all levels) and coming up with solutions for them.
He addresses the issue of the effects of unlimited immigration to Australia…

SAVING one refugee is humane: saving one million refugees is almost certainly not. Large numbers of refugees, or migrants not carefully chosen, can change the nature of the host country, to its detriment. If Australia were to consist of a mix of Iraqs, Irans, Afghanistans, Syrias, Somalias, it would no longer be Australia.
Refugee advocates can never summon the courage to answer the question of how many is too many. Instead, they hide behind the particular instance, always ignoring the big picture. Governments, on behalf of all Australians, cannot ignore the big picture. The morality of the few is not the same as the morality of the many.
An overly legalistic and generous refugee regime, detached from its consequences, makes Australia vulnerable to large numbers of refugees. The effect, if indeed not the object of refugee advocacy, is to disarm Australia. The law for one creates the problem for many. This is the nub of the issue, and politicians, not lawyers, have a responsibility to solve it."

Dr Johns raises a valid point or two in my opinion. And for the life of me I cannot understand the left's view that we should take more immigrants from the Middle East. Unlike the post war wholesale immigration from Europe, these people (by and large) don't want to became Australians. They want to bring their part of the world (and its troubles with them) to our shores… their "new" country. Look at the riots outside courthouses in Sydney when one of their number is on trial. They are quite open that they do not recognise our laws.. only Sharia Law.

This is not acceptable!


When I was a small boy growing up in Brisbane in the 60s, we had Greeks at West End, Poms at Inala and Italians at New Farm. But now two generations later they have spread all over the state. And a lot of their children have married outside of their own race. I have a sister in law who is the daughter of a Greek immigrant. I went to school with kids of Italian, American, Scottish, Welsh, German and Greek immigrant parents. They have now married.. and married the kids of English or other immigrants or just plain old third generation Australians.

So why cannot the left see that importing immigrants Cart Blanche from countries such as the middle east where the church is the state and there is no separation of powers (and no other religion or belief is tolerated) is asking for trouble in years to come? These people come here to escape the hostilities of home.. but then want to bring it all with them. They will not assimilate and will as Dr Johns says, change Australia forever!

So much for a brand new life!

The other issue is Islamic Misogyny. The way the fundamental Islamics treat their females; wives, sisters and daughters is totally unacceptable in the west. Yet nobody ever seems to raise an objection to that. Why not? Australian women (mostly) would not tolerate being told how to dress by their husbands, to be a non recognisable human form dressed in a black sack! Why don't the women of the left speak up? Look for these couples in your local shopping centre. He will be dressed in smart western designer label clothes.. and she will be a BMO. (Black Moving Object) Why is it that their women cannot dress in smart (modest) western wear? Now I have never read the Koran, but is it a tome of misogyny towards their own women and hate towards all other religions?

Perhaps is it summed up by that great line from The Life Of Brian… 

"God give me the strength to butcher the infidels" ?

Whatever it is.. we don't need it here.

Full stop!

Australia is a great nation that has always worked on the principle of a fair go to all. Come to us from your troubled home land, leave the past behind and join with us.. get in for your chop, work hard and make a new prosperous and above all free and peaceful life for yourself.

In other words.. FIFO!

Fit In or Flick Off!

Is this the future for Australian women when at the beach?

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Youth: The Australia Day Floods 1974

So 40 years ago, my best mate Ken was helping his lovely lady Carol shift from Brisbane to a rented house in Kilcoy. She was about to start teaching at Kilcoy State High School. 

There was a cyclone coming down the coast....   so what? How could this go wrong?

Let me count the ways.. and tell you the tale.

It was just before Australia Day 1974 and Ken and I piled a lot of Carol’s belongings into the back of his ancient Series 2 LWB Land Rover. The previous owner had fitted a giant alternator to this machine. So large in fact that you really couldn’t move it to tighten the fan belt. We drive on through the night to Kilcoy in light rain. 

The furniture is unloaded and we are about to return home. It is a week night and I have work tomorrow. 

And.. the Land Rover has a flat battery! 

It was about 1:00 AM when I sleepily climbed out of Carol’s Isuzu Bellet at Clayfield. Ken had borrowed the car to get us both home. Little did I know what the next day would hold for us all....

The Land Rover had originally come with a generator. At work I found one that would fit and did a quick and dirty rebuild on it; but alas... no regulator. A quick phone call to good mate Peter at Kedron Car Electrics and I had a regulator that would work electrically, but not mount on the car. No problems.. we’ll put it on the front seat and run the wiring through the firewall!

That night as heavy rain started to fall we headed to Kilcoy. Ken was driving his Torana GTR and I was following in my SWB Land Rover. 

(Well what did you expect.. a Land Rover leading a GTR on a merry chase?)

We worked until around 10 PM installing the new generator and regulator and then, amazingly it all worked. Ken tried to tow the Land Rover off the grass to get it to roll start.. But his Torana was not up to the job.

Lucky I had the Landy!

Long story short.. we have both vehicles mobile and headed out of town. (Ken left his lovely GTR behind for the time being)

The rain is belting down, the wipers are not up to the job and the Cibie Super Oscar driving lights are no use in seeing where we are going. When we come to the flats of Mary Smokes Creek.. the water is over the road & too deep even for our vehicles.

Quickly we hatch a plan to return to the house in Kilcoy and leave again at day break to get me to work on time at Woolloongabba!

Men make plans; and God laughs! 

How true this is!

Up at 05:00 and fire up the Land Rovers.. Ken’s takes a bit of cranking but finally we see that magic puff of blue smoke as she fires! Head down to the main road and... bloody hell; the creek here is flooded. We are indeed now on Kilcoy Island for the duration.

So for the next 2 days we just remained in Kilcoy.. much to the amazement and shock of the locals. They were “shocked and horrified” to discover that 1 woman and two men were under the same roof. It really became an issue; so much so that Ken and I had to sleep at the local High School to appease the locals.

We were pointed at by the locals at the bakery as they whispered about these two long haired louts and “their” girl friend.

Talk about narrow minded bigots!

Well the rain finally stops and we head for home. We get as far as Mary Smokes Creek and the water is still over the road. Ken heads in first in his Landy but the fan picks up water and throws it all over the ignition leads and he stops!

I drive back into Kilcoy and “steal” a giant cardboard box that used to hold 24 packets of Corn Flakes from the back of the local Super Market. We unfold this and Carol sits on the bonnet of my car holding it in place over the grill as a water shield. Into the swollen waters I drive. My feet are wet as water is now flowing into the cab of the car.

As I come up to the rear of Ken’s car, I stop.

And somebody runs into the back of me!

Cannot believe it.

A drunk in a Morris 1100 was following in my wake. Of course once I stop his car fills with water. We open the bonnet and look at this BMC 1100 motor totally under water. His main concern is his bottle of Bundaberg Rum which has floated out of his car and is now headed the long way round  to the Pacific Ocean. Perhaps it is still out there!

It must have been quite a sight to see. A Land Rover towing another Land Rover which in turn was towing a Morris 1100 for over 500 metres or so up onto dry land. 

We left the Morris owner to his own devices and spent nearly an hour on Ken’s car before it would start. It ran on 3 cylinders nearly all the way back to Brisbane before it dried out enough to run on 4. At another creek crossing I slowed to check the depth.. Ken had forgotten to dry his brakes and I got a big shock to see him charging up the inside of me at high speed as he couldn’t stop. A close call but it all ended well.

Back here in Brisbane our family home was high and dry but our workshop at Buranda was flooded. We couldn’t work so we made rafts and took turns paddling around the flooded streets.

In May that year, Ken and Carol married and she was transferred to Brisbane. 

When I look back at those events of 40 years ago I think about 2 things:

The way people pulled together to help each other; total strangers just turned up with brooms and shovels and helped out those whose lives had been ruined by this flood. And I was proud as a 20 year old to be in their number. (I sat in an aluminium dinghy at Yeronga as a guy in our boat used a broom to lift the power lines up as we passed under them on our way to rescue a dog from a roof)

And the other thing is.. how narrow minded and bigoted  the people of Kilcoy were at the time when we three, the Teacher, the Doctor and me, the Auto Electrician were held captive in their town by mother nature for 48 hours. 

They didn’t mind taking our cash in the shops.. but they still had their snide comments.

I certainly hope things have changed now.

Me and the Landy at Colleges Crossing.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Life: Had a bad trip man!

A bad trip, not like this at all!

So yesterday I had a couple of jobs to shoot. One at Ascot and the other at Toowong. Headed out around 9:45 for the first job… but a couple of hours before that I was using some Insect Surface Spray outside my house!

Big Mistake.

The wind changed and I ended up inhaling a stack of it… apparently. I mean I could smell it.. but a lot must have gone into the lungs.. and my blood stream.

Still, I felt fine and headed off. Job one done and dusted then off to Toowong for job two.

Finished that shoot and headed home. Now this is where it gets weird…..

Move over Mr James Hendrix.. this was one really wild trip!

Either I had a normal drive home and then had this out of brain experience where I relived the drive back while all this weird stuff was happening in my head. I was just out there with all these weird visions and thoughts.

Or.. this all actually happened while I was driving back  home.

Weirdest trip this child of God has ever been on I can tell you!

And I have absolutely no idea which version of this is accurate. Did it happen through the drive or after I arrived home?

Open to conjecture!

Talk about some sort of out of brain experience.

About an hour after I arrived home I was starting to think normally (well sort of) and had myself convinced I must have Alzheimer's Disease and was losing my mind. Now these thoughts really  freaked me out! I could see myself in an institution… not a happy thought. Rang Debra at work and told her I was sure I had some sort of problem with my brain as I couldn't think properly.

My friend Gregor rang me about this time and I had some sort of ramble to him about what was happening.. but I cannot remember it all that clearly now. Then I rang mate Terry and had a chat to him. He cheerfully told me about a mate of his who had Alzheimer's at 61! Great news Terry! Needed to hear that.

Decided to sleep it all off and hit the hay for a few hours until around 4:00 PM.

Woke up feeling a lot better.

Today.. just have a huge hangover style headache!

But.. it's getting better.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Youth & Motorbikes: The Stradbroke Island enduro.

What with Stradbroke Island being in the news of late, my mind wandered back 40 years to the Stradbroke Island Enduro. My good friend Ken brand was a trail bike nut.. and a GP as well. He found that there was to be an Enduro on Stradbroke Island and conned Don (now my dentist) and I into joining in on this apparent madness.

It was to be held on a Sunday and a special barge run was put on to accommodate a gazillion trail bikes for the event early in the morning. So I had to be at Ken's house at Coorparoo very early Sunday morning to trailer our bikes to Cleveland to catch the ferry.

How hard could this be?

Well.. there was this lovely lady I knew who lived in the old nunnery at Woodford with a couple of her fellow teachers. And could she cook a magic meal. Ann was the object of my desires at age 21 and she had asked me to Woodford for dinner the night before the enduro.

After a delightful meal and lots of music on the stereo it was getting late. Really late!

"Ann, I have to go now as I need to be up early in the morning".. says I. A quick kiss and into the Celica I jump for the high speed trip home. In those days you had to drive through Petrie as the highway was not completed. Down past the weigh bridges I zoomed.. at 140Km/h; Toyota's "official" max cruise speed for the car. In through Petrie away over the limit until I arrived at Clayfield….

Sunday morning as the ferry pulls into Stradbroke Island, I can hardly keep my eyes open. We all cheer as the local cop (who comes to escort all of the bikes to the start point) is set upon by two stray cattle dogs. They grab his heels.. he curses and carries on.. eventually the dogs run off.

Briefing starts: we are handed sheets of paper in quarto size (remember that measurement?) that are all blown to the winds 15 minters later with our directions on them. But it is simple.. follow the bikes in front and try to pass them; the corners are marked.

How can this go wrong?

Well a few minutes later we are all kicking our bikes to life… the clouds of 2 stoke smoke fill the fresh seaside air while the din of a 100 two stroke engines revving must have woken the dead in the local cemetery. Ken, Don and I are way back in the pack. But that's OK.. when the ones in front get tired they will make mistakes and fall off. We'll just ride past!

(That strategy is now called The Bradbury Effect!)

The flag drops and away we go.

Now because not all of the bikes are registered we ride alongside the road through all of this soft mineral sand.. and it is hard to ride in. Bikes and riders are falling everywhere in the first 15 minutes.. but we manage to ride around the carnage and keep going. Although I am on a smaller biker I am ringing its  neck and getting closer to the front line. Just need to keep this up for another 5 hours. The adrenalin is pumping in me and I am now wide awake after the late night and long drive of the previous evening!

How hard could this be I thought?

Well.. just as I thought my first Moto Enduro might be the start of something big…. the Yamaha's exhaust goes silent and I come to a stop rather quickly.

When the publican opened the pub that morning, he found the three of us waiting for him. We all arrived on our bikes.. except mine was on the end of a tow rope behind Ken's! We spent a lot of time there and caught an earlier barge back home that afternoon.

A lot of good memories that Sunday!

I was seriously deluded that if i could stay on board the bike.. I could win against bigger machines. Of course the thing I didn't allow for stopped me in my tracks.


A holed piston!

Yep that'll stop you winning a motorbike race every time!

Me on the gold Yamaha at a more leisurely pace C1975 @ Lacey's Ck

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Youth: My favourite years; 1969 in review!

Happy New Year to both of my regular readers.... numbers may increase in 2014.. one never knows!

In a previous blog I mentioned favourite years. You see as a sentimental person I often look back at what has been and revisit the memory of that particular time and event.

Apparently (so I am told) I have an excellent memory.. to me it is simple to remember things.. I "daisy chain" events together so that as I remember one.. the others flood in.

So today I would like to revisit one of my most favourite years.. 1969.

Where do I start..

With 15 summers under my belt, I am a student at Power Coaching College at Stanley Tce at East Brisbane. My classmates include Selwyn Hasthorpe (still see him today.. QLD Manager for Mistsubishi), Tony Harrington, Greg Gibson, Allan White, Ignatius Kalatzis, Louise Sweeney, Bruce Tinney, Pam ?, Susan ? amongst others and the wonderful Julie Vanek whom I thought was a magic bird!

Wow was I hooked on her!

So this is school.. but why such a good year?

Well a new teacher, Mrs Ewart found a way to get into my brain and make it learn things. An amazing experience. Not only did I learn things, my thirst for learning was triggered too! I would spend nights at my desk listening to Mike Ahern on 4BC coming out of the speaker of my transistor radio while I studied the finer points of grade 10 biology. I loved it My brain was like a sponge sucking things up!

Mike Ahern on 4BC and biology study. 1969

And the music... wow, talk about the soundtrack of your life. From "Such a lovely way" by the Groop to Manfred Mann's "Mighty Quinn" to finishing the year on a musical high with "Abbey Road"!

And what else do young blokes love?

Cars and motorbikes!

The amazing Monaro GTS and Falcon GT.... then the Prince Skyline GT; not forgetting the Mazda Cosmo sport that was at the motor show. I remember going to the Brisbane Motor Show at the exhibition grounds with Allan White. (He was older and could drive.. bonus!) We stood at the UK Motors stand and argued the toss.. what was faster, a Mini Cooper S or a British Racing Green MGB. To settle the argument we asked the guy on the stand...

His answer?

"I dunno mate.. I'm just a shit kicker minding the stand!"

At 15 I had never heard that expression before... and we still didn't know the answer!

Then there were motorbikes. Allan brought a friend's Suzuki Hustler 250 twin to school one day. Julie asked me if I could ride a motorbike ... of course I can. So silly Allan took the bike to a park near Churchie and let me loose riding this thing around the block at 16! No licence, no helmet and some poor bloke not knowing what was happening to his two stroke twin rocket that he was probably working hard to pay off on HP!

The Gods were smiling and no harm came to anybody.... I felt good!

No I felt great!

Man this is living!

A couple of days later we were in Bennet Honda's show room in the valley looking at Honda 450 DOHC bikes. The salesman told me they had a 750cc four cylinder coming. I simply couldn't believe it! 750CC AND 4 cylinders.. what next?

A man on the moon!

Yes indeed!

But just before Armstrong set foot on the moon, I turned 16. And my favourite bird Julie shared a birthday with me too! She was 1 year younger. Ignatius drew a giant birthday cake on the black board with 31 candles (our combined ages) and wrote "Happy Birthday Mark & Julie" on it.

What a day.

Winter rolled on.. the Dick McCann Show on Channel 10 was a favourite topic of conversation at school.

As lunch approached one day in July, Mr Lind our principle came into our class. "It seems Neil Armstrong is going to walk on the moon this afternoon and as we don't have a TV set here, you are all free to go home and watch it".

And watch it we did... I still think man landing on the moon in my lifetime is the highlight of my non personal life.. if that makes sense?

Back at school Mrs Ewart our science teacher asks us to write what life will be like in 2000 here in Brisbane. I calculate that I will be 47 years old.. and over the years that date and age stay fixed in my head. I never really thought about my life post 47 in 2000.

I never thought about being 50 let alone 60... scary stuff!

But I digress...

Before we know it winter is over.. we are mesmorised by "The Real Thing" and "Where do you go to my lovely" on the transistor radio. Johnny Young writes "Here comes the star" for Ross D Wylie and has Molly Meldrum produce it. Magic song and instant hit!

We skip off on free periods to play pinball in a small cafe/milk bar in Stanley St.

Pinball Wizard is another radio hit.. Ignatius is our pinball wizard .. man he could play well!

Some Fridays Mrs Ewart does a class swap so we can finish at lunchtime and go to the movies. Lots of movies to see... "The Party" with Peter Sellars, "Funny Girl"... I saw Grand Central Station in that movie and it blew me away. Just had to see it. Finally made it there with Deb in 2010!

Grade 10 exams are on us.

We sit for the exams at the Kangaroo Point Tech College (now gone) and the day after the last exam, we all meet up again at the school for our end of year party.

I take along my battery powered record player and a bag of 7 inch singles, the girls bring French Onion Dip and Jatz.. and we celebrate, sing and dance in the class room and dream of the future.. and say our good byes.

That was hard.. we were a small group and all felt connected.

So where are they now?

Well I ran into Ignatius a few times.. last time c1998. I took Julie out a couple of times in 1970.. but she was cool and I was a nerd in today's language…. so that fizzled. Selwyn and I talk a few times through the year... but as for the rest?

Well scattered to the four winds I guess.

Would love to meet up with them again as they were all an important part of one of my favourite years... and I loved them all.