Bill

Photo: Ghostbusters

The Bill Ryan I knew was a dairy farmer. His dairy was on a hill. The paddocks his cows fed upon were all on lower ground than where he milked them. As king of all he surveyed you could expect him to be the ruler of his mob. (He was married to Helen (Ella) and he was Jennie’s uncle.)

It is not unkind to record he did not rule over this land. Instead he was one with it. He accepted the challenges it gave him. A major challenge was the way the ground he bought to farm shrank under his ownership.

Logically it makes no sense. How did his land shrink? The reality was the perversity of the weather. Throughout the 1950s it rained. Rainy months were followed by more rain. In that rain Bill trained his dog to fetch the cows feeding on the abundant grass growing on the productive grassy banks of his property. It was no mistake when he called his land Lovely Banks. The ground was Lovely.

By the time I got to know Bill he had reared his family on that land. The rain that fell in the wet years filled the lake. Lake Corangamite flowed over the flat area at western foot of his land. By the time of my first visit, the lake surface was punctuated by fence posts that once defined the border of his property.

Bill may may have felt aggrieved by the loss of land yet he retained a stoic attitude to the hand he was dealt and he farmed the remaining ground as best he could. His farming, like many agriculturalists of the time, followed a simple routine dictated by the seasons. The busy fertile spring determined the size of the summer harvest. The dry days of autumn were punctuated by the returning wet days of winter.

Twice a day, Bill tended his herd of cows in a life lived without fuss. He made one concession to a macho image. He always had a hand rolled cigarette hanging from his lower lip. As he talked the smoke flipped up a down in fascinating rhythm to his utterances. That fag was a fixture. At some stage of the day the exposed end had been burnt – however all these years later – I don’t think he ever smoked that thing because I never saw it alight.

I remember Bill at this time in my life because he was a born philosopher, and I turn to philosophy to wrest reason where none exists. Like the rest of the family he was a Catholic from birth and a man disinclined to sin in any way the church enumerated, yet I have to say philosophy determined his attitude to life. I have written he was stoic. (The Ancient Greek Stoics accepted the hand they were dealt with – with resilience. They were confident and calm.) Bill never said things that were better left unsaid because kindness was also a feature of stoical lives. Of course his training in the field of philosophy was never formal – it came from the simple way he lived.

Another natural philosophy Bill lived sprang from a saying he frequently voiced. He had a habit of saying, “The faster I go, the behind-er I get.” I could have learned sooner in life many things if I had thought more on this saying. To live life purposely you don’t have to be ambitious. You don’t have to please everyone. You don’t have to do too much. I have found when you study “isms” , and look at the work of philosophers, none gives an infallible road map of how to live your life. Just find something you must do and do it as well as you can.

Better to be like Bill – keep busy but not so busy as to lose a way to make your life meaningful. And ponder on my experience. It seems true enough. When you wondered aimlessly about the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris, and stood beside the grave of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, was it serendipity alone it took to remind you of existentialism?

The Girl With The Golden Hair

The girl with the golden hair

Rode horses in her youth

They carried Joy and she

In equine bliss

Round the rocky rises

Until

Struck by the arrow of Eros,

She abandoned stirrups

For home keeping

The girl with the golden hair

Meticulously lives to rules

Even the most trivial ones

Sworn in the springtime of life

The paean of love

Melded

Rock and sand

Every which way to

Ramble as one beachhead around the globe

The girl with the golden hair

Matriarch of the family

Treasures moments of service

To others near and far

Puzzles over oblique words

Or pictures

To marvel in nature

Methodically organised as

Botanical wonders and tendered anew

The girl with the golden hair

PDQ senescent

Weaves knits crochets

Us together as one

The sewing mistress

Of unity

Is well capable of

Measuring the blessed

Ingredients of the evening light.

My Box Brownie could do that.

Photo EBay

Talk of

Artificial Intelligence

Prompted me to read


The programmer

Obviously pressed a button

That spat out art


The work emerged

By … mathematical formula

Was named Le Comte de Belamy


Auctioneer Criristies

Listed it among the works of fifty famous artists

Proclaiming the work as new


Based as it was

On 1,500 scanned portraits

Of actual works by paint masters


Nicolas Laugero-Lasserre

Purchaser proclaimed it

“grotesque and amazing at the same time.”


Estimated to sell

As it cost time to produce

At ten thousand


It sold

With one in the room and one on the phone

In twenty eighteen


It’s Obvious

Pierre Fautrel, Gauthier Vernier, and Hugo Caselles-Dupré.

And GAN are names to watch


After all

They trousered

Four hundred and thirty-two thousand


Just think

If my little Box Brownie had taken colour prints

Before A.I. ………………My art could have made me rich.

AI was used to replicate poetry at last year’s poetry day (21 March 2019.) The photo below is one of five poems generated by artificial Intelligence to be read that day. Here is Various Weathers.

Co Plaith.com

Cash is King


I have a friend who has a dollar note, sitting in a frame on his wall.

When asked. “

Why do you keep this note?”

His answer is, “It was part of my first ever pay packet.”


My experience with money has been different. For a start the first money I saw as coming from my job, as opposed to payment I received in exchange for my time helping out as I grew up, was given to me – or so it seemed. My first payment wasn’t even cash. It was a paper cheque with my name on it. As payment it was practically useless because I couldn’t buy anything with it until I had paid it into a bank account.

I was handed my cheque on a Thursday morning. The nearest bank was about 2 kilometres from the college I attended. The bank would be closed by the time I finished lectures if I did not rush off to the bank at lunchtime. So, at lunch time I scarpered off to the bank. And so did my class mates. (All accept John who always had a £10 note (our largest note at that time). John got so used to flashing his £10 note – only to be told – “It’s too big for me to cash luv. Have you got anything smaller?” He made money out of having too much. When going to a dance – it might have cost 2/3d to gain entry – he would say, “ I have only got £10 can you pay for me?”)

I chose the Commonwealth bank in Moorabool St Geelong as my bank because it was the nearest bank I knew of in this new city. (To start an account today you have to provide a list of items that certify you are who you are.) I had none of those hassles. I had the cheque. I knew my name – possibly I had my driver’s licence. Within a few minutes all my money was in the bank. But I needed some of that money to buy the things I needed for the next 14 days. How much?

I had no idea. (My accommodation and my food was paid. It formed part of the allowance I was paid, but it was never shown as a separate amount. My cheque was for approximately £11. 4. 6p ((I am only certain of the £s I was paid a fortnight after expenses.))

How much. I didn’t need much. I didn’t drink. I had no transport costs to pay. I didn’t have to pay for utilities. Perhaps I could go to the cinema, treat myself to a coffee, buy other treats.

“ I will need £2.”

So I withdrew £2 in cash. (Within a year or so the banks insisted the cheque clear – at least 3 working days – before I got access to the money the government paid me to learn.)

I left the bank with a bank passport in my name. It showed how much I deposited and another entry showed how much I had withdrawn. The final column showed how much money I had in the bank. Any money I had, apart from the cash in hand was always in the bank. Once I had spent my £2 if I wanted more I could only get more going back to the bank between 9 am and 3pm on a Monday to Friday (excluding holidays). What a pain that became.

I have always hated carrying cash around. Yet if anything was needed the only way to buy it was to have cash at hand. If I wanted to go home (I didn’t) I needed cash to buy a train ticket. I attended church. To give to the service of the church I needed cash. Fortunately I was well, but if I needed a visit to the doctor, or dentist I had to have cash with me. The money in the bank didn’t count because unless you planned beforehand how much you might need you couldn’t get access to it after banking hours.

So I soon discovered the benefit of having a personal cheque account of my own. This meant people would trust your signature scratched on a piece of paper was worth what you said it was.

Cash was needed to go to a dance, or pay for a meal, but visits to the doctor, or dentist – when you were unsure how much they charged could be paid by cheque. Providing you had sufficient credit in your bank account. Sometimes you would read about a person who had deceived another by passing a worthless cheque to them. You would read stories like that in the newspaper yet it possibly happened only once to me – if it happened at all.

The truth is no one but a crook would pass a worthless cheque because no one used credit to buy things. They used their own money, or they borrowed money from their bank – knowing they would have to pay it back £ by £ each month as the agreement stated. Or they did as most people did and they went without until they could buy what they wanted for cash.

In 1966 Australia adopted a whole new currency. In time we got used to handling our new cash. In 1969 the banks introduced instant credit. Anyone could go to their bank and the bank would give them a Bankcard with up to $500 of credit. We didn’t because we were accustomed to paying by cash,or cheque, for the things we wanted.

The banks were on to a good thing. They continued to profit from Bankcard until Visa Card and MasterCard took over their business. Interest rates on credit cards rise, even in these days of near zero interest charges. Pay day lending, and other forms of instant credit, are available almost everywhere. People are addicted to credit.


The Covid 19 crises has now almost killed cash. Many stores now require people to use plastic cards to pay for their purchases. People with cash complain their money is legal tender and must be accepted as fair exchange, but in fact the stores have the upper hand. It turns out – so long as they display their terms of trade – they need only accept electronic forms of payment. The purchaser cannot insist they accept cash. Go figure.


That chap with the first $1 he saved now finds we have moved from paper$1 . As if nothing will ever change. It does. Cash is no longer king.

Morpheus


Fifty-eight years ago I bought Mortheus. (It would be a neater tale if this was the sixtieth year but I have no control when these stories emerge from my subconscious mind). The original Morpheus was the son of the mythical Greek God Hypnos – the god of dreams. Like the drug morphine – driving him induced a dreamy slowness. Hence the name I gave him was obviously relevant as he was a sleepy Ford.

It was fifty-eight years ago, in 1962, when I walked into Ansett Motors in Hamilton and asked if I could take a test drive in the old banger they had on their second hand car yard advertised for sale at £80. The 1950 Ford Prefect was painted in a slow green colour – lighter than the colour used in the attachment. This colour meant it was camouflaged wherever it went. This green machine was the fast back model. (Most Australian motorists preferred the model with the short boot.)

The car was higher that it was wide. It was blessed with a tiny motor to drive its rear wheels from a three speed manual great box. (As only my brother-in-law Bill Woods could say, “it couldn’t pull the skin off a custard.” In fact it was more like a green box with wheels than a sleek motor. Yet he was mine. (He was the first car I owned outright. And according to the registration papers, he came with, I was the third owner.)

Ford boasted the post war Prefect had a top speed of 60 mph. I preferred to dive it at 35 mph (just under 60 kph – oh on the odd occasion I might have forced it to race along at 80 kph. ) I never drove it any faster than this even, in top gear, I was fearful it would break. The good news for me was, I rarely had to slow to the 30 mph speed limit in built-up-areas when driving.

Like many cars its age it was mechanically basic. For instance when driving at night one had to go to the back of the car, and pull on the taillight switch – to turn the single tail light on. When it came time to park the car, it meant one had to take the return trip, and push in the button to switch off the light. All too frequently I left the taillight blazing and when I returned the battery was too flat to turn the starter motor. Fortunately the car came with a crank handle one turned by hand. (The motor compression was so poor it was not too hard to crank it a couple of times to get it going. It only became a nuisance if I left the light on the whole weekend and I drained the battery.)

The car also had very poor headlights. This meant it was hard to see the edge of road on low beam. Reflectors and blinkers had not made their way to cars of this age. Some cars had a car radio but Morpheus was not into that sort of thing. No heater. No seat belts. No electric windows. No GPS. Nothing but a very basic set of wheels.

Common to all driving back then, one used hand signals to indicate a change in direction, or to stop. To do this you wound down the driver’s window and popped your arm into the traffic in all weather and signalled your intention. (The car had little arms fitted to each front door column so it was possible to indicate a directional change without doing this – but they were illegal to use here in Australia. They were of no use when you planned to stop and therefore you still had to indicate whenever you stopped so I suppose the reason these little wings were illegal made sense.)

I did have trouble with the narrow body of the tall car in the first couple of weeks I owned it. I was driving on a corrugated gravel road in some forested area and the car was hard to control so I gently slowed. The car was still bucking about on the rough road when I came to a sharp bend. The car started around the bend and then it fell over. I was on a road I didn’t know in a forest and the car was on its side. I climbed out, unhurt, and lifted it back on its four wheels.

The car seemed undamaged except for a dent on the rear top corner of the body that I latter attacked with a hammer to attempt to straighten it out. I didn’t, but I lived with the damage while ever I kept the car. After the weekend I took it back to Ansett Motors . They diagnosed the front end had worn bearings and the front wheels acted independently on the rough road. (Today it would not have passed the safety check required in a road worthy test. Therefore no fault of theirs was accepted and I paid for the refurbishment of the bearings.) After that experience the car drove well on gravel, however I was aware the car was top heavy and too narrow to ever turn too sharply.

As if driving a car until it flipped on its side was bad – I found the windscreen wipers on this car it’s worst feature. Rain was a constant companion on the western district roads that first winter. Unless I was cruising along on a straight stretch of road the windscreen wipers could not keep up with the rain. (All cars had to wait some time before they had multi speed wipers). In the Ford Prefect they were one speed -except and until – the vacuum pump that drove them ran out of vacuum as it did when accelerating. So if you had to change up the gear range and accelerate the vacuum driven wipers slowed, or they stopped until vacuum built up in the exhaust system again.

Fortunately I was smart enough to get a girlfriend. Jennie was her name. With her help I never had wiper trouble. If they began to slow down she reached under the dashboard and grabbed hold of the wiper linkage and moved her hand back and forth under the dashboard and maintained the rhythm. In time I thought she needed some recognition and I found the right thing.

Next time Roy Lewis, a salesman of millinery products visited her family – as he often did. (His sideline was to on-sell the cigarette allowance the company gave him as part payment, to family members at a discount to the retail price. He sold so much I doubt they were all part of his salary package) Among the feathery treasures Roy carried he had a case of imitation birds. (Difficult to describe a fake cotton wool bird as a bird – sufficient to say they were lifelike.)

I got one for Jen and fixed it to the dashboard just in front of where she would sit. I called it Evol much to the dislike of Aunt Gertrude, but Jennie and I shared the meaning hidden in the name Evol as an innocent joke.

The thrift of my Scottish blood determined my choice of Morpheus because I couldn’t afford anything better and it was cheap to run. The car, at its peak, would drive thirty-five miles to a gallon of fuel. I drove her a long way in the months I had her without the trouble previously mentioned.

I think we were better organised in those days. If we wanted fuel we had to buy it before 5pm Monday to Friday, or on Saturday mornings. All other times if you ran out of fuel it was your bad luck. The only exception I can think of when maverick businessman Ian Sykes started his own petroleum company. XL petroleum. ( in my haste to complete this article I cannot find a easy reference to his company) XL had an after hours automatic bowser on Highway 1, just west of Colac. Here you could buy petrol in 2 shilling amounts. One gallon of fuel was around 3 shillings in 1964.

Morpheus was my other companion for the next eight months or so until I upgraded to a 1956 Hillman Minx.

Did you dream?

Ch4f.org

My partly remembered conversation started this way.

“What are you doing?”

“I am clapping . Nick has won the property auction.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I am . You. Me ? I was asleep.”

“What do you mean I woke you up, you were clapping weren’t you?”

“Yes. I was. But I was asleep.”

“That’s stupid you were clapping.”

“I was dreaming and you have woken me.”

“I am sorry. I though you must have nave been awake. No one claps in their sleep.”

“I do.”

Did you dream?

It is a condition of mine I do not fight. In my own words, I am a slow sleeper. My blonde haired partner is not. Within moments of her head hitting the pillow she is deeply asleep. I listen for her deep breathing to start and then I toss and turn . In the wee small hours I realise I have been asleep and rise from my bed and wander about the house.

If it is raining I will look out the windows and marvel at the rain. On another evening in broad moonlight I will wonder outside and be mesmerised by the simplicity of the sphere that is forever changing through its quarters. Having checked my surroundings I will hop back into bed and drift in and out of consciousness until the sleeping hours are almost exhausted and then I will sleep deeply, slowly, and innocently.

I welcome the final hour to sleep like a baby, and I dream. My dreams are times, according to Carl Jung – are the time the anima an the animus work their magic in the human spirit. These are times when the male unconsciously accepts the benefits of the feminine side of his nature. The opposite condition, according to Jung, manifests itself in the female.

Lately my unremembered dreams cause me to often wake in a sweat of anxiety caused by my reaction to a partly remembered event from years before. Just last week on waking like this I had to get out of bed and deliberately remind myself the events I thought I was reliving never happened at all, and even if it did, it was so long ago as to be irrelevant today. (Oddly fo those of you interested in analysing my behaviour, they were moments of anxiety for children I once had in my care in my classroom care. The reality is it was nearly half a century ago.)

How you sleep is important to your development. We need to dream because it motivates our development. I wish you good dreams. In doing so I am not alone with Jung. Here is what a few others say about dreams.

Dreams are necessary to life.

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/anais_nin_129793

Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country. – Anais Nin

A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.

Oscar Wilde

But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

William Butler Yeats

Sonnet To Spring Creek

Author supplied

Like a silken white sheet on a king sized bed

The swell at three metres broke and those up to stuff

Rode boards sixty metres in the roaring surf

Just over the sand dune all lay still – instead

A father assessed if his rod carrying children

Were to eat fish he had better head to the chippery

So still was the air in the estuary it was watery

We stood on a jetty and snapped the formation

.

To remind ourselves winter has these days sanguine

Where all is unchallenged – unlike the links

On the opposite banks where golfers strike

Balls in their wish to defeat Covid 19

Hope is interesting at best me thinks

Ones aim is to defeat the dark ISO feelings like

Passion Fruit

Image courtesy Author


Passion Fruit

We are in mid autumn and the passion fruit is flowering as if it was spring time.

As far as I am concerned this it great, but I am prepared to be disappointed as the days get colder as the fruit might not fully ripen. We have two grafted Nellie Kelly variety plants growing over our rainwater tank on a rustic trellis I have constructed.

In spring we has a fabulous display of flowers. Traditionally our spring days are just below twenty degrees and summer average is perhaps twenty three. In the summer just past the passion vine had lots of fruit as summer approached. As this was the second season I was excited at how prolific the crop looked and then we had a day of 40 degrees and the fruit cooked on the vine.

When the temperature was nearing its peak I thought of cooling it down but changed my mind when I thought it might actually make it worse for the plant. It was even hotter on the second day and third day. A heatwave of days in a row of excessively hot days is unusual in early summer. Last year it ensured the crop was lost.

In January we had another couple of very hot days and this plant drank all the water I could give it just to stay alive. The old fruit turned black as it is supposed to when it is ripe. For a day or so it looked lush but when I cut a sample fruit it was hollow inside. Since then I have watched each week as the fruit on the vine shrank into smaller and smaller crumpled black dots among the green leaves. The fruit that grew after those hot days was sparse but now we have a new unseasonal feast growing on the plant.

Nellie Kellie is reminding me not to give up on her. In a week or so I will give her a pre-winter feed of pelletised fertiliser as a reward for perseverance over the dreadful summer and the late flowering she is exciting me with now.

The other fruit that struggled at the beginning of summer was the raspberry. Our spring was chillier than usual. The bees struggled to find a time in the day when they felt comfortable leaving their hive. Consequently many of the plants relying on bees were left un-pollinated. The raspberry was one such plant so we had no early fruit.

In February we had the first regular rainfall for months and the plants have responded beautifully. Throughout March we have had regular picking from our small clump of raspberries. What a treat is is to pick from our garden. When a fruit is picked fresh from the plant the taste is extraordinarily special. The quantity is relatively unimportant as our fruiterer sells excellent produce to top up what we need.

In the days before supermarkets we had specialist shops that sold: fruit, meat, bread, fish and groceries. Each shopkeeper was a specialist in his field. If one wanted apples, mangoes and grapes likely as not you were unable to buy them on the same day. What these specialists did was stock only what was in season. For instance, the summer fruit started with fruit with pips like plumbs and cherries. When they were finished we bought apricots and nectarines. Peaches, pears and apples came into the shops in the following months.

Long before these shops proliferated people grew their own fruit and vegetables in kitchen gardens. At least they did where I grew up. Each of the big estates like Renny Hill had excellent kitchen gardens. It had had a well cultivated garden of about one acre. But by the time I got to haunt the property it had become over- grown. The fruit trees almost made a continuous canopy over the area that once grew patches of potatoes, leeks, lettuce, or whatever.

The orchard included fruit trees once considered exotic. Persimmons, medlars, crab apples and cumquats grew among the vegetables. My favourite was the fig tree. At the time I first knew the garden it must have been sixty or seventy years old. It had wide spreading limbs like the chestnut, and the walnut, but twice a year without fail it produced the most succulent fruit. The tree had so much fruit there was enough on it for the family, their friends, and the possums.

I so loved the sweet fruit I remember picking it straight from the tree as we played under it. As a result I have often planted one in the gardens we have created. My latest little back yard has not got much space but I am training a fig to grow along the fence. Currently the young tree has about half a dozen figs. I know I have too few at present to share them with my neighbours and I have no intention at all to share them with the possums, so I am protecting them, and checking on them every day.

120 Hours At The Wheel

Co. ABC TV 1970

Driving For Beginners

120 Hours at the wheel

“Drive my car”. When the Beatles sang this song I had been driving for years despite the fact that like most families at the time we didn’t own a car. Driving was something I learned to do without any formal training. My test was to drive up a gentle rise and park the car on a flat section of the road. After answering about ten road questions and paying a small fee I walked out with my licence to kill.

In recent years I got involved with a state based program that matches learner drivers with mentors. The car is supplied by a local car dealer and the fuel is paid for from group resources. Learner drivers cannot take the wheel until they have passed a rigorous road rules test. Then they must learn to drive in the company of a licensed driver.

Most learners get their initial logged driver training from professionals. After that they will drive the family car under the supervision of a family member, or friend. The program I was involved with was to help kids coming from homes like mine where there is no car, or like Ellen who is a twin and her mum could not supervise both children in time for them to qualify as drivers at the same time.

These learner drivers had to commit to work with their mentors until they had accumulated one hundred and twenty hours of supervised driving. I got a buzz when my trainees got their licence but as time went on I found each new trainee more difficult than the last. They would cancel appointments without notice. They eventually tested my observational skills as I was dependent on their ability to follow instructions because I had no control over the vehicle, unlike the professional instructor has. In the end I decided I was no longer capable to continue.

Before I resigned from the program I injured my leg, however the real reason is my driver nearly had an accident on a roundabout whilst I was in the car supervising.. The driver did not see a car they had to give way to on this roundabout with its two lanes of traffic.

I gave the instructions to drive forward when the road was clear but by the time the learner moved conditions had changed. I estimated it would have been more dangerous to instruct a stop than to continue, so we continued upsetting the another driver no end. The learner had no understanding of what had happened but I was spooked. So I retired unhurt.

When our own children were learning to drive, traffic on the roads was lighter. More importantly my reflexes were better and my instructions were repeated over and over. By the time we got to our second driver what was said has passed into family folklore. Blinking, blinking, blinking, turning, turning, turning, and most importantly, stopping, stopping, STOP! These instructions I repeated at every intersection, ad nausea.

Now it is Charlie’s turn to learn to drive. His father has told him he is a good driver forty hours into his training. As an attentive young fellow it is unlikely his father will have to repeat the family mantra blinking, blinking etc.

Fortunately today motor cars are more reliable, and fortunately for us all much safer. When Charlie is told to brake the disc brakes in the car he drives will not overheat and fail as they frequently did when they were simple drum brakes.

Cars are safer than they have ever been yet people still die on our roads. No matter how busy the roads are it shouldn’t be a condition of driving for some people to die on our roads.

Let me backtrack a little. Previously most cars were manual. It required coordination and skill to change gears manually before the introduction of the synchronisation of the gears. When that was sorted most cars had bench seats in the front. This meant designers were forced to put the gear stick on the steering wheel column. This arrangement required a certain dexterity for the driver to select any gear because to do so required lots of unnecessary linkages from the gearbox to the steering wheel. It required all moving parts to move as required.

While the driver was doing this the foot had to find the clutch without seeing where the foot was. At night the driver will have had to use the left foot to dip the headlights, very often, at the same time. Often these foot pedals were at different levels and crashes occurred. People were hurt and maimed, and some were killed.

By 1970 Victoria recorded 1061 deaths on the road in the year. The government and the press joined forces to introduce better road safety. The first move was to legislate the introduction of compulsory seat belts. This was the first place in the world to pass such a law.

Racing car drivers were very familiar with the improved safety the lap sash belts gave them at the wheel. One motoring writer and race driver assisted in promoting their use. In 1973 Peter Wherret started a TV program on cars called Torque. This program and Peter did much to improve road cars. A most popular car in 1976 was the HJ Holden Premier. He claimed the power of the car was impossible to stop given the car had calliper brakes only on the rear wheels. These “Kingswood” cars were removed from production in 1980 partly because of his program.

In the forty years since 1980 the death toll in Victoria has dropped significantly. In part it is due to legislation. The introduction of drink driving rules. Much better safety features in cars including: better tyres, better brakes, better seats, better vision, better everything including side protection and air curtains. The government has made better roads and road signage. Most importantly it has much better pre- driver training.

When I started to drive I had less than two hours of experience on the roadways before I drove solo. (I had hours of experience at slow speeds driving tractors and farm trucks but, on reflection I had no experience of traffic or handling a vehicle at speed before I drove on the roads.)

By the time Charlie has his licence he will have driven on city and country roads, on wet days and dry ones. He will have driven at night, in the morning traffic, and any other conditions that pop up. He knows drugs and alcohol are forbidden, and if he should be so silly as to drive and text the fines are horrendous.

In these days of autonomous vehicles we need smarter drivers unlike at any time before. Stay safe on the roads Charlie. Be a good driver and never think you are the best because even the best drivers can unexpectedly be injured by the worst. Too many people are killed each year on our roads – even today.

UNACCOUNTED

Author’s image

Alice was alone. With purpose she walked onto the pier. The young couple could see she knew where she was going as she passed by them. They ambled along unaware of how threateningly strange the light in the west was becoming, especially near the horizon. Their walk continued along the causeway.

They noticed the boats tied up to the docks as seagulls searched the decks for leftover scraps. The biggest boat was named “It’s Noon Somewhere”. A faded telephone number flapped on a board attached to the door of its cabin. It announced the craft was for sale. Beside the boat a lone fisherman huddled out of the quickening wind watching his line tighten and slacken on each breaking wave.

To the east the sea was alight in bright sunlight. Despite the sun a few droplets of light rain fell like jewels upon the couple’s faces. Oblivious to the weather, perhaps they quickened their pace imperceptibly as they ventured further out along the pier. When they reached its end droplets of rain awakened them to the weather coming in from the west. On the rocks below they saw Alice standing alone. The droplets turned to rain and the couple ran hand-in-hand down the pier toward the shore. Unaware of them Alice was anxiously grasping a light pole and scanning the sea for ……

New isolation

Deadly coronavirus

Social contact spurned


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