Five Ton Up and Counting

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Do you hear the fanfare? The trumpets? The marching bands blaring and singers warbling in celebration? Nah. Neither do I.  Which is unfortunate as this is the 500th blog post on Strange Notations from a Laborious Life!! Yes, we have reached a milestone. My mind laid bare on the computer screen over the last seven years and 500 entries. It seems a bit of a let down to write something as bland as I am going to write today. I had been watching the post count creep up from about 493 and had in mind to excite and thrill with daring tales or useful reflection but alas, we are just stuck peering through the window of this laborious life and finding little of interest.

I had hoped to run a competition, hold a giveaway of t-shirts, hats and such but I never got around to creating anything to celebrate number 500. And it all costs money. I’m unemployed you know. So, you will have to be happy in wondering what the hell I have picture of a fellow in a mask is doing at the top of the page-but we will get back to that later.

I started the blog in 2007. I had written a journal for a few years beforehand. It was a tome much more personal and dark than anything I’ve put down in Strange Notations. My life laid bare in many ways. Things I would never say to anyone, truths revealed, revelations made that may shock anyone who may one day thumb through it’s pages (yes, it was hand written!). I didn’t care so much about things written of my workmates. They would never see it but there were other things, real opinions that some who chanced upon them in many years may be upset about-and I wouldn’t be here to explain the context in which it was written. So I threw it out. And regretted it ever since!

Many of my old work colleagues had suggested that I write a book about our workplace. I don’t fancy myself an author despite the somewhat prodigious output I have produced here but a book about the many and varied personalities I have worked with at Post and their frail temperaments and awful character would have been quite a read. My journal would have come in handy for research. I could have moulded a great novel out of it alone! Names would have to changed to protect the innocent. And also to prevent me being sued. Too bad, so sad. It’s not to be.

So, I decided to start a blog instead. Nothing as tempestuous as my old journal. Nothing incriminating of myself or others although I have sailed close to the wind in criticising my employer at times. I pulled back from that sort of thing a few years ago to protect my livelihood but my output has been varied. I try to stay away from politics although the odd post has veered into that territory. Family is generally out of bounds and have left it to describe my own adventures, as mundane as they are, and occasionally make comment on the world, now or as it has been in the past.

My blog has never risen to any great heights. I’m surprised it’s still alive. Most blogs die of inattention but I always come back to it. I find it therapeutic. A soothing balm for the mind in this ever crazy world. The funny thing is over the last few weeks I have had more hits than ever before! I don’t know who is reading it-rarely does anyone comment but I hope someone is getting something out of it. Whoever you are, I hope you are enjoying it.

So, why do I have a picture of a masked man at the top of the page? Well, he obviously is painting as have I been this morning. Yes, painting window sills, the excitement never stops in this particular laborious life. We are getting new blinds and I have to paint the window sills before they go in. Everything was tracking fine until I hurt my back on Saturday which curtailed my efficiency for a few days. But I am back firing now. Perhaps not on all cylinders but working well again nonetheless. And in case you think I am malingering, writing a blog post instead of working, I will have you know I have finished in the kitchen and I am having a short break before starting again. Can’t think of a better way to spend a few free minutes than celebrating this great milestone for my blog.

There is nothing more to do now than return to my chores. I have drank coffee, rested and now it’s back to the breach. I will be back again soon for post 501 and then, onwards and upwards towards 1000. Hope to see you there.

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The Secret Art of the Potato Masher

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Well, one month today since I began my work interregnum and I can announce some progress. I have learnt to make decent mashed potato! I’ve always been a bit of a crock with mashed potato. I’ve usually only been associated with it when Linda has needed an extra pair of hands and I’ve come in on the tail end of creating the concoction- at a point where even I can’t stuff it up! So, I’ve tried my hand a few times since I have been off work and quite frankly the early tests were rather ordinary. But I persisted. One of the greatest things about the world we live in is of course the internet and it is a source of wonder to me that you can find out just about anything on the net-even how to make perfect mashed potato!

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that there are more recipes on the internet for mashed potato than there are stars in the Milky Way-literally! And it intrigues me that there are many different ways you can flavour a bit of boiled, skinned potato and get it just right. There was a recipe at the top of my search results which included mayonnaise-I had only ever tried with milk so I took a chance and followed the directives. This of course where most of the problems in my life start. I have terrible trouble reading instructions! I’ve always been a  good reader and there is nothing yet wrong with my eyesight despite the years which are starting to creep up on me. It’s just a …..concentration problem. My mind wanders, I skip a line or two and…..disaster generally strikes. Anyway, there wasn’t many ways I could stuff this up. I managed to get most of the instructions down pat including a few little pointers which guided me through and solved some the problems I had been having previously and viola! Edible and tasty mashed potato cooked in my own kitchen.

It’s a little pathetic I know. There are probably a few people reading this thinking that I am a hopeless case getting excited about such a basic skill but I love mashed potato and being someone who has never really been too capable in anything I’ve tried I am a little chuffed. I’ve managed to follow the recipe a few time now and haven’t wrecked it yet.

Being off work has devolved more cooking on me. Sure, I can boil an egg, cook a steak, heat up a can of baked beans in the microwave. I probably wouldn’t starve if there was no one else around but I’m convinced my dietary intake would suffer. So, Linda and I have decided to join Hello Fresh, a company which delivers everything you need to cook a flavoursome meal which is a bit above the basic and of course, it has fallen to my lot to become Masterchef Matt. We had our first box delivered last week and I’ve cooked Leek and fetta chicken breast, Lebanese beef koftas ans seared beef and rosemary sauce. Nothing spectacular in the delivery but it all ate pretty well. And I’ve been enjoying cooking it. Our next box is due tomorrow and I’m looking forward to sharpening some newfound skills…as long as I can read the instructions properly!

So, life is rolling on and my Australia Post years are disappearing down the road behind me and I’m enjoying life. Here’s to new skills and moving forward. You are never too old to learn new things. I wonder what else is in store……

Goodnight.

Arriving at the Interregnum

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Onwards and Upwards.

I’ve been asked several times since announcing I was resigning from my job, if I was retiring and have been asked several times in the last two weeks if I am enjoying retirement. So, once again, I say, I’m not retiring!! Boy, I wish I could but that would put an unbearable strain on Linda, one which she doesn’t deserve. No, I’ve reached what we may call an interregnum; a period of time between finishing being employed and starting somewhere anew. And I must say I haven’t looked back!

I haven’t missed my old chums at all. Well, that’s not exactly true. I have missed certain people and if you read this I hope you know who you are but the motion of going to work and performing duties required has not been missed. Man, what a hole! As my former work life retreats in the rear view mirror of my life I can say with some certainty already that it is the best decision I could have made. Yes, I’m a fraction perturbed about what lies ahead but I have said before and say again-I will survive.

Getting use to this new stage of my life was an interesting feeling. I, like many of you I’m sure, spent Monday to Friday watching the clock, planning out my day, making sure I was where I was supposed to be when the clock struck a certain note. A couple of hours in the morning recovering from the previous night’s work, a certain amount of productivity produced at home from around 10.30am. Prepare for lunch at 11.45am. Shower at 1pm and away to work at 1.30pm. Of course it didn’t stop there. At work I lived from break to break. Barcode sorter from 2.00pm. Perhaps a drive on the forklift at 3.30pm. First break at 4.00pm then back to the grind fifteen minutes later and a fairly comfortable ride until our dinner break at 5.55pm. Of course 35 minutes is barely enough because at 6.30pm we arrive at the main game-our peak period for the day. Two hours of back breaking sorting of mail lead to last smoko at 8.30pm, a break I rarely took. I would work through and dispatch the product I had moved heaven and earth to process and then break from about 9.00pm. I had gotten into a bad habit over the last 18 months or so of not returning to the work floor. I would sit and watch television until home time at 9.45pm-and hey, I wasn’t the only one!

But now that’s all behind me and the stresses of world have melted away like the winter snow and I can say, even after this short amount of time that life is better. It did feel for a few days like someone was about to tap me on the shoulder and order me back to work but that feeling has passed. I am truly down the path of this new era in my life-and wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve been pottering around the yard, making slow progress but progress nonetheless. I have a lot of work I can do which will keep me busy for weeks to come. I’ve been riding my bike everyday, albeit in very short bursts which is a luxury which I haven’t been able to enjoy for a couple of years.

So, life is good. I hope to be able to embark on some future adventures which will keep you all enthralled much better than this puff piece has but I wanted to check in and keep up to date. My last post, announcing my future plans was my most well read production ever! Hoping to keep a few residual people tuned in to my blog as a result.

The path only moves forward, the dark clouds have evaporated and sunshine beckons. Keep moving and have a great day.

Farewell to Arms

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Motley AP crew at a union protest.

And so, the long road comes to an end. Or an intersection. Cul de sac? Dead end? After 31 years with Australia Post, today is my last day. It’s been a decision long in the making although I really only decided to make the jump 5 or 6 months ago. Some have said I am crazy but most at work have been supportive. I think it is the right decision.

I started work at the Canberra mail centre in August 1987. August 7 to be exact and it was quite a culture shock for a kid, hopeless at school and feeling he was better off in the workforce, to find himself in the hodgepodge of buildings on Canberra Avenue which disguised itself very well as Canberra’s mail exchange. I started my first training week at 6am (ouch!) and it snowed! It is one memory which burned itself, perhaps not surprisingly, into my brain which I have never forgotten.

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Receiving my 30 years service award from Leonard Bernado.

I can remember, after 8 weeks in a training school, my first week as a mail officer in operational conditions, sorting a letter for Limeburners Creek and not having any idea where it went. I took a guess and later found out it was wrong. I have often wondered over the years if that person cursed Australia Post when their letter arrived a week late! Luckily, my sorting improved from there!

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With Dave Paton and Duc Dao.

I had just turned 17 when I started with Post so I have grown up in the place, lived, loved, learnt about life, made mistakes and come out a better person on the flip side. It’s been a privilege to work with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and cultures over the years and, in varying degrees, getting to know them. The place has changed a lot. From hand sorting to mechanisation and halfway back again but today is not the day to complain or quibble about the service or the way it is run. This is just to say thanks and good luck to all who remain.

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The late Peter Fleeting, Neal Smith and myself.

The mail centre moved from it’s original location opposite the railway station about three months after I started and has been positioned on the corner of Nyrang Street and Canberra Avenue ever since. 31 years. It’s a long time. The postal service, despite reports to the contrary still plays a major role in the life of every Australian. You only have to read the feedback columns in online newspapers when things go wrong with the post to see it. The faces and the names change but Post will go on without me. And, I will survive without it.

So, to a new beginning, daunting but exciting. I don’t know where the road will lead but I am looking forward to shining a light along the path ahead.  Cheers to all my colleagues out there today sorting, delivering, or serving customers. Australia couldn’t do without you!

Thanks.

 

Old Dogs and the Charge of the Gundagai Light Horse

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My mother and I in Gundagai on Sunday.

It is Wednesday and we have managed to take a bite-sized chunk out of the working week so far-but we are not halfway yet! I seem to live for Fridays. I spend my time watching the clock, counting every second until the working week reaches it’s inexorable climax at 9.51pm on Friday night. I count the days off one by one. Monday, gone, Tuesday, bye, Wednesday, well….we ain’t there yet! Another day at the “Happiness Factory” awaits. What fun.

I’m sitting here drinking coffee instead of perusing my uni work and getting started on assignments that are due in a space of time that is shrinking every second. Again, life is spent watching the clock. Waiting for the deadline. Pressure mounting. I do feel better this morning than I did yesterday. It’s hay fever season and I felt decidedly off-colour when I got out of bed on Tuesday but I feel much better today-and it’s a surprise. I did go to bed a half hour or so earlier than I usually do. I get home from work and usually waste an hour or so surfing the net and occasionally watch television in bed when I finally drag myself away from the computer screen. There are usually shows on around 11.30pm that obviously don’t appeal to those who are watching in prime time but obviously ring a bell with me. They are usually true crime shows, stuff like that. Linda rolls over and nods off immediately. She can sleep anywhere, anytime. I envy her.

The Tour of Spain cycling race is on live and I have been watching a bit of it but eschewed it last night in favour of sleep. Good move. Linda was up early and I was looking forward to be able to roll over and chop a few more Z’s when I was informed that our elderly dog who sleeps in our laundry had defecated on our kitchen floor. Not only that, she has the runs and I was appointed official cleaner by my housemates, none of whom were very keen to confront and solve the problem. So, apparently outvoted, I rolled out of bed with my muscles groaning from yesterday effort’s at work and, stuffing a hanky in my nostrils, ventured out to survey the scene. It was bad, but it could have been worse. The poor old dog also vomited when she went outside so she obviously isn’t well but we have to think about what we do with her sleeping arrangements from here on in. It’s not getting as cold at night this week-hasn’t dropped below zero at least. Perhaps rugged up in her coat she could be quite happy in her kennel down in the garage. Perhaps. Getting old is a curse. Anyway, everyone else has gone to work, the dog is asleep on the back deck, the kitchen floor is clean and the smell of disinfectant is choking my nostrils as I write. Done.

I did manage to get away to Gundagai on the weekend. A bit of a day trip with Linda and my parents on Fathers Day to Gundagai Remembers-a day out with the 7th Light Horse, Gundagai Troop. The 7th Light Horse are re-enactors who had set up a Great War style military camp complete with freshly dug trenches and a myriad of military equipment which would have been recognisable to any old Digger who had taken his six bob a day to soldier for the King from 1914 to 1918. It was a bit of fun, particularly as the Light Horse staged a bit of a skirmish with some fellows portraying Turkish and German soldiers (it’s hard to find good men who want to play the enemy!). There was to be a major battle re-enactment in the trenches later in the afternoon and as enjoyable as that may have been we were well and truly on our way home by then.

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A re-enactor in the kit of the 8th Light Horse, a regiment my grandfather actually served in between 1916 and 1919.

Gundagai and the surrounding hills were nice and green, defying the drought so it seems. There must have been a little more rain through the area than in other parts of the country and you wouldn’t know that farmers were doing it tough by the look of the luscious landscape.

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Gundagai was green-defying the drought.

So, for today, there is nothing more to look forward to than another day of graft at work. Running machines, sorting mail, unloading trucks on the forklift. Another short chapter of this strange and laborious life. New horizons await for me though and the countdown is on. Have a great day.

Where I’ve Been, Where I Am, Where I’m Going.

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I’ve reached the halfway point of the university trimester and I’m back to haunt you all with a poignant blog post. Well, not so poignant but I felt it was time to check in with some brief remarks about where I’ve been, where I am and where I am going.

Uni hasn’t been going so well. I’ve been keeping my head above water with one unit but sinking rapidly in another. The old flaws of character that conspired to defeat any academic excellence when I was at school seem to still exist. I’ve obviously struggled this trimester and it’s more to do with focus, concentration, and enthusiasm. I’ve learnt quite a lot but really need to get myself organised over the next couple of weeks or face the ignominy of failure. On the surface, my life doesn’t appear too stressful or contain anything that might constrain me when it comes to study. But, I am a slow learner and when you get older there are considerations in regards to family time and work that really conspire against you and restrict your time. Plus, the energy levels of old simply aren’t there anymore. I just want to slump on the couch when I get home and even when I wake up in the mornings it’s hard to get physically warm. Whatever will be will be and it doesn’t worry me too much. I will march on and see where I shake out at the end of this trimester. Life will move on regardless.

I was in Brisbane for ten days for a wedding which didn’t do my studies any good. I went with good intentions to knuckle down and work but of course it didn’t end well in that regard. Who wants to do that sort of thing when you are on holidays and being a family wedding, Linda’s daughter getting hitched, it was hard to concentrate. Brisbane is a great town for anyone who hasn’t been there. It’s a little more relaxed and easy going than the big cities down south and, although it’s a metropolis, easier to get around or so it seems. We stayed at an airbnb property at Red Hill, a nice part of town close to the city, near Lang Park, the home of Queensland Rugby League for those with a sporting bent. Big house, flash, great views, but still too cold to swim in the pool despite the temperature hovering in the mid-twenties most of the time we were there. I think I could live in the inner city areas of most big Australian cities. Of course it would be expensive so is realistically beyond me but it would be a great lifestyle. Walk to work, no hassles driving through horrid peak hour traffic to get to the outer suburbs. Lovely. Of course it won’t be happening anytime soon! Haha.

I’m back at work of course and struggling. Today is the first morning I have really felt tired and I’m not looking forward to the day as I am required to drive a forklift all day, a job which I am rapidly beginning to dread. It’s all just piling on the misery and I have decided to pull the plug before the end of the year. Yes, I will be resigning my job after thirty one years and figured I better get a move on and get out of there before I turn fifty lest I be stuck there permanently. It’s just a matter of timing. I will see which way the wind is blowing at the end of September in regards to changes to our working conditions and may jump then. I can’t hold out much longer. So, anyone out there looking to employ a casual worker, short on skills, a little long on life then drop me a line.

So that’s where I am for the moment. I have uni work to do (which is overdue!) so I better get to it. Not sure when I will be back to blog again but I have not gone away. Strange Notations will survive. So will I.

I Came I Saw I…..?

 

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Hello again from an unsettled Canberra. We are due for rain today and it is unseasonably mild-something we are getting use to across the world with temperatures across Australia and the globe rising to record levels each year. There is still a body of people who seem to reject the scientific warning in regard to global warming but from a layman’s perspective there is certainly something screwy going on with the weather. I’m not one to get into arguments with conspiracy theorists or those with entrenched and extreme views but pumping huge amounts of gasses into the atmosphere every second of every day can hardly be doing the planet much good. But, hey, maybe it’s just some natural fluctuation but why take that for granted? I just hope we are not careening towards a situation where our planet is eventually uninhabitable. Things will probably remain relatively passive in my lifetime but who knows what is to come in the future? Anyway, that’s an argument for another place and another time among people far more intelligent and robust in opinion and interest than I.

So, with this sudden slide into the argument about climate change, why has a photo of a marble bust of the great Roman Consul, general and conqueror of Gaul (and Rome!!!) Julius Caesar, appeared at the top of the page? Well, I’m glad you asked. This may be my last blog post for a while as I am entering my second trimester of university, halfway I am to completing my Pathways course and I have taken a unit focusing on historians and their interpretation of history. So, why not lead in with a bust of Caesar, still a famous dude 2000 years after running foul of his enemies in the Roman senate house. It has only just occurred to me as I write that we are in fact in the month of July which Caesar of course named after himself. Only the most powerful of men have bent history to their will like him. Could Donald Trump rename a month after himself and have the name change survive 2000 years? As much as I’m sure it would appeal to his vanity it’s not going to happen is it? Besides, it would be embarrassing to be born in the month of Trump! And I think, despite his unpopularity in some quarters, President Trump is likely to survive a visit to the US Senate!

It’s probably pretty uncool in this day and age when political correctness abounds across the media and runs rampant on the internet to admire a dictator like Caesar. A man who broke the rules of his own country and launched an unprovoked invasion against an enemy with whom Rome had no quarrel simply for personal gain and to save his own political skin. But hey, it’s just history and it’s history that has repeated itself time and time again since Caesar won the great battle of Alesia, destroying a nascent Gallic culture and taking the first step to becoming dictator of Rome. Wild Gauls aren’t protesting outside the coliseum demanding reparations for damage done by Roman Legions. It’s all too long ago to worry about. But it’s still great history and important to know in discovering how we ended up where we are.

So, my uni courses start again next week and alongside my history unit is the second string of my pathways unit which, hopefully will see me qualify for an undergraduate degree next year. After a bit of a struggle with procrastination and confidence in the first trimester, I was looking forward, albeit with some apprehension, to starting again. But now my units are open I am feeling a little overwhelmed and, dare I say say it, scared of what lies ahead. I guess I am testing myself. My resolve. My ability to get it done. The history unit in particular looks daunting and I wonder if I will handle the concepts they are trying to teach. All this while working full-time! I came, I saw and, hopefully, I will conquer.

 

Rainy Days and Thursdays

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Photo by Ric Rodrigues on Pexels.com

Well that made you look didn’t it?!! An attractive lady in a black bra is guaranteed to swivel a few heads. Yes, I’m being a bit cheeky. I was trying to find a free photo with a relationship to rain to capture the atmosphere of the day in Canberra today and this one came up in the search. Well, I got the rain part right, eh?

Yes, it’s raining in Canberra. Strong, soaking, solid rain. At last. It’s the first time in some months that I can remember waking up to the sound of substantial precipitation cascading off the roof and it’s always a nice thing to hear. We have had some days over the last few months that have produced a few showers for a while, enough to give the ground a bit of sustenance but nothing like this morning. That being said the cloud is now breaking up and sunlight has touched the windows and we may be clear for the rest of the day. The weather radar shows some more rain heading our way from Sydney but it is questionable if it will reach us.

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down. Well, not me but it’s what Karen Carpenter, that illustrious American pop-star with the gorgeous voice sang many years ago but it’s not the way I feel. I sort of like rainy days. Maybe it’s because we don’t get many nowadays. I can remember racing pushbikes as a kid and going away every weekend and some years it rained everywhere we rode. I can remember one year riding seventeen races and I think it rained in twelve. I can’t remember a winter like that for many years now.

A noticeable sight in Canberra lately is the number of dead kangaroos on the sides of the motorways. On my drive to work up the Monaro Highway, a trip of probably 20 minutes, there are at least six dead hoppers at the moment and driving home the last few nights I have noticed roos feasting on the grass of the median strip as I turn into Tuggeranong. It shows how dry it has been when they are coming into town and getting on the roads. It’s dry in them there hills. But, they are dangerous. No sense. Wander into the traffic without a second glance. And they make a mess of a car too. I’ve often wondered if those that are killed on the roads are missed by their mob. Do they ask each other, “Where’s Bob, haven’t seen him lately? Last saw him heading for the highway……..Oh my God, Bob!” Hmm, I doubt it!

I’ve enrolled in two more units at university. I have to do a second foundations unit, part of the bridging course to get me into an undergraduate program, and a history unit, “What is History”, the first step to becoming a historian. I’m a glutton for punishment it seems. Hopefully I’ll execute my studies with a bit more panache and a little less procrastination this trimester.

As I write it’s clouding over again. Maybe we will get some more rain. Rainy days and Mondays don’t get me down but Thursdays sure do. So close yet so far to the weekend. I can smell it but I can’t touch it. Two more days of boredom to survive before the carefree days of Saturday and Sunday arrive. Hope you all can too.

Like Sand Through My Fingers

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I was checking the dates on my blog entries the other day and was amazed to find that “Strange Notations from a Laborious Life” has now existed for seven years! Yes, seven years of blogging and this is the 492nd post that I have written. Man, time flies. It really is scary. I was looking at photos from the trip Linda and I did down the Great Ocean Road a while back and was stunned to see that it is two years ago already. Time is slipping through my fingers like a wealth of fine sand.

There is a work funeral today. A former supervisor who I knew from the start of my employment nearly 31 years ago is being cremated. It’s one of those awkward things. I had a lot to do with him over the years, I mean I was only 17 years old when I started and he was one of my first direct line supervisors, but he was a fellow I never warmed to. I don’t like to denigrate someone who has passed and suffered quite a bit through illness along the way and I suppose I respected him to a point but had a number of personal differences with him in regards to his own behaviour towards the staff and his own devotion to the corporation. At times he wasn’t a particularly admirable person. That being said I know he has a family that loved him dearly and it will be a very trying and emotional day for them. I wish them the best and send my thoughts and prayers. I would feel a hypocrite going to a funeral of someone who I have said harsh words of.

Many who I work with who knew this fellow are going to the funeral and I got a few odd looks when I said I wouldn’t be attending. There are others in the same boat as me. People who didn’t like him who felt they couldn’t go and, unfortunately some harsh words have been uttered and perhaps  some hard truths have been aired.

My current supervisor visited this fellow, who retired a few years ago now, in hospital a few weeks back and was shocked at his appearance. He had been, for want of a better description, a real “man’s man” but was almost unrecognisable in his hospital bed, stricken by cancer, bloated by pain killing drugs, waiting for the inevitable end. He hadn’t wanted visitors from his past seeing him. Perhaps the visage of himself as he was near the end was not what he wanted former colleagues to see. Maybe he was just too tired to care about being nice. My current supervisor  had been to an appointment at the hospital and decided to drop in and see our stricken former workmate anyway. He seemed happy for the visit despite his earlier protestations but muttered that “life is too short”. He was only 62.

I suppose the crux of my post today is that we should try to make the best of our lives and not get too worked up about things that don’t matter or devote ourselves to causes from which we will get no thanks and only frustration and a feeling of a wasted life. This fellow had given his all to the company. A real management man and, whilst undoubtedly very good had his job, had hurt people along the way and never thought twice about it in his misguided loyalty to the company. When the leadership regime eventually changed he was marginlised and after recovering from his first bout with cancer, retired in frustration, never having been given the accolades from the business which he should have enjoyed. A salutatory lesson.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m too harsh, too cynical, too bitter. A man who was loved by his family and died a harsh enough death is being buried and I’m writing a critical opinion of him. Maybe my own mortality looms large in my consciousness as I get older. Which gets me back to my opening paragraph. Seven years of writing my blog. Originally I started it with some hope of doing a bit of professional writing to supplement my income. Of course that hasn’t happened. I’m far too lazy to devote myself to that and perhaps lack the talent. But, I wanted to leave something of myself in this world and I enjoy writing this blog although it really doesn’t amount to much. About a dozen or so views of every post on average and no great following. But I don’t care. I enjoy doing it and I seem to have got a bit of a run on again in the last week.

So, 492 posts and counting. I deleted my old blogger site this morning. It was dormant, having not been used since I moved to WordPress three years ago but all of it’s posts are archived here for all to see if you feel inclined. It was wracked by spam and really of no use but it was sad to let it go. That’s the way of life I suppose.

I face another day of work and the same old same old but, in the shadow of the funeral of an old colleague I feel positive as I settle into this last half of my life. And “Strange Notations from a Laborious Life” will continue. I hope you are all looking forward positively too.

The Football Conundrum

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Anyone been watching the World Cup? I’m not a great fan of the game. In fact I’m not a fan at all. I’ve often seen soccer (er…sorry…football) on television and wondered at it’s appeal. Now don’t get me wrong, I respect the game and the position it holds as the pre-eminent sporting pursuit in the world but I’m afraid as a spectacle it leaves me cold. Hey, that’s just me. I prefer a bit more gravel in my sport. I’ve tried watching it….bunkered down in bed late at night watching replays of the English Premier League but I’m afraid five minutes of kick to kick and I’m reaching for the remote. Sorry guys. I’m just not into soccer (sorry, football).

It’s a pity as I really like the idea of the World Cup. A real World Cup. Last night Sweden played South Korea and a few nights ago Serbia played Costa Rica. And that’s just a few of the unusual match ups you see on this colossal sporting stage. Iceland, Panama…just a few more national football teams that you won’t regularly see on television anywhere much. It’s a global celebration. But…I haven’t seen any of it.

Respected cycling commentator Matthew Keenan made the claim on Twitter the other night that the Socceroos (the cringe inducing nickname for our national team) was the country’s most important sporting outfit. I initially bristled at the thought as many non-soccer fans probably did. More important than our cricket team?! Phooey! Surely not but to some extent, after I had thought about it I concluded that he was probably right. On the international stage at least. He was pointing towards the fact that the team is very multicultural, not something that I enjoy seeing raised. All these boys are Australians and pretty proud ones from the interviews I’ve seen with them. Who cares where their parents came from? I do agree though that the Australia versus France game was probably a bigger advertisement for Australia than anything else we can put together. Our name, culture, image, mixed with the collage of sporting prestige that accompanies such an event, showcased in a match against one of the best football teams in the world. You can’t buy that sort of publicity. And, despite a 2-1 loss the boys played well…so I was told! But do Australians really care?

I saw a poll on the channel nine website this morning asking how interested people were in watching the world cup. Of course a channel nine poll is hardly scientific and I wouldn’t be basing serious research into the popularity of the game here on anything it reveals but it was notable that 60 percent of respondents stated they have no interest in watching this glorious sporting extravaganza. And I can believe it.

It really hasn’t caught on this time. Yes there is some hype and Australian fans ensconced in Kazan, Russia, the Socceroos base for the tournament have apparently drunk the town dry much to the delight of the proprietors of the local public houses. But there is not much excitement in the streets. The Geelong versus Richmond AFL game last Sunday afternoon seemed to garner more hysteria and the build up is beginning for the next Rugby League State of Origin match and even the beleaguered and maligned  Australian cricket team is receiving it’s share of publicity as it stumbles through another series of defeats in a pointless One Day series in England. It must make soccer (football!) authorities in Australia bemused or frustrated or both. The game has never really caught on here.

One would think Australia would be a hotbed for association football. A nation founded as a British colony that eventually embraced and lionised  great British sports such as cricket, Rugby League and Rugby Union. Yet soccer really got left behind and that is puzzling. The game of Australian Rules football, our own native game eventually rose to be the king of the pack yet soccer, despite generations of immigration from countries that adore the game can barely make inroads on the national sporting scene despite some latent popularity.

Soccer fans in Australia often seem puzzled at this lack of traction and indeed it is remarkable. The “World Game” as they like to call it here bristles in it’s inconsequential status,  in perpetual bewilderment that the fire the game lights around the world seems to be smothered by retardant Downunder. I have no answers.

Australia has a middling population and a cut throat attitude to getting eyeballs on screen when it comes to sport. Perhaps soccer has missed the boat. Perhaps it’s adherents are happy watching midnight screenings of the Champions League and the game in this country can go to hell. Soccer is up against it in Australia. The local league has heavy competition from very good products and the cultural milleau seems set in regard to sport. Perhaps one day we will see the Socceroos do more than just make up the numbers at a world cup and actually contend. Perhaps then we will see football become more than just a passing interest to the 60 percent of Australians who can’t be bothered watching. Maybe I could watch more than five minutes of the game. Maybe.

Good luck to the Socceroos as they continue their odyssey in Russia.