Where Have All the Matthew’s Gone?!

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Port Macquarie NSW

I see a list of most popular baby names in Australia for 2017 has been published and it may be of passing interest to some to know that Oliver and Charlotte are the two most fancied for boys and girls respectively.

There does seem to be a throwback to earlier times with William, James and Thomas featuring prominently for the lads and Amelia, Olivia and Grace popping into the top ten in the pink.

Henry at 13 and Harry at 28, Charles at 77, George at 38 and Edward at 48 also make the list showing the continuing royal influence in Australian cultural life. Fletcher and Christian also appear at 91 and 89 respectively although I can’t be sure if many parents are familiar with the main protagonist in the saga of the Mutiny on the Bounty.

Peter’s, John’s and Andrew’s seem to have gone by the bye replaced by much more exotic sounding monikers such as Arlo (52), Beau (70) and Chase (73). Muhammed graces the list at number 80, seemingly the only non-anglo name present. I’m glad I was born in 1970!

Notable for the girls are Ruby (17), Milla (34) and Aaliyah (88) with some old favorites such as Victoria (86) and Florence (97) just managing to scrape in.

But where have all the Matthew’s gone? What’s wrong with us? Matthew’s once ruled the world! Yes, my own name once dominated these lists finishing first or second for many a year and although I prefer the shortened version and have never really had a particular fondness for the name it was nice to be on top of the heap.

One used to run into Matthew’s everywhere and I suppose one still can if mixing in a certain demographic but just hold your horses. Matthew appears to have finished 69th. Respectable I guess but it seems the halcyon days of the Matty’s are gone. Welcome to the future and say G’Day to Ethan (7), Leo (18) and Hudson (23). Tip your hat to Levi (27), Oscar (26) and Carter (75). Please hold the door for Evie (11), Ivy (20) and Ellie (42) and make way for Maddison (26),  Addison (62) and Savannah (41).

I suppose it could be worse. Matthew could have gone the way Clarence or Horace, names which are never used anymore. We are still in there fighting. This is a call to arms to all Matthews. Let’s make something of ourselves. Let’s push those barriers and aim for the top ten once more and put ourselves back where we belong. Our challenge, our mission for 2018.

Bring back the Matt!

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Being the Grinch and Strange Christmas Notations.

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Thunderbolt Rock, Uralla NSW

Oh boy! The last week at work before Christmas and I would rather be dragged along a gravel road by a team of pack horses than attend these last few days at the “happiness factory”. Everything intensifies this close to Christmas. The work keeps coming like water off a rocky outcrop, personalities intensify and conflict is never far from the surface. Irritants that one usually lets fly through to the keeper become a bugbear, like a prickle in your undershirt and alas, being Wednesday, it’s a case of being so near yet so far. Still three days to go!

Things may improve today-a little. Average folk realize their mail has little chance of reaching it’s destination if posted so late and most have gotten in early. We will probably still have the authorities patrolling-that is those who are in charge who like to hang around and direct traffic when all others concerned would rather they just stay in their offices. They really are a nuisance on the floor. Especially when their practical experience is nought.

So, three days to the break and I can only hope it is smooth sailing. I have been partnered for the Christmas period with a rather unpleasant fellow who I normally wouldn’t volunteer to work with in a pink fit. He is however better than nothing despite wanting to do things his own way and dispatch the mail earlier than we should-among other annoyances-and I will survive the experience.

I could ramble forever about the inadequacies of the staff and management and the inefficiencies which dog our performance but I made a promise to myself a couple of years ago to refrain from such criticism so will leave my complaints there before I get myself into bother. Suffice to say many of us are not happy campers and look out from our cloistered workplace at the outside world like bugs trapped in a beer bottle, hoping and praying that one day we will climb that slippery surface and slither through the shining hole that leads to the light.

Anyway, I do not want to be the “Grinch That Stole Christmas” and drag everyone down and destroy the happiest day of the year for others. I wish you all the best.

I have however made a few positives steps in my life. I applied to University and will be starting a course in March next year. It’s a bridging course which will enable me to further my studies in the years which follow plus a course in Archaeology which should be interesting-if I can keep my motivation from waning.

So, all in all, 2018 is looking like a new start or at least the first step on a new path. Work should also be downsizing next year and I am hoping (praying) that I receive a redundancy package. Nothing like a complete break to get you motivated to find work elsewhere!

I will leave you with happy cheer from me. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all and may it be safe and you be well.  And remember, like I described my current predicament earlier, this time of year can be frustrating. Family can grate and friends can be annoying. But it is Christmas time. Time to relax and enjoy and be thankful for what we have. Take care, be safe and have fun.

Roll on 2018.

A Long Road to Hoe

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DC-3 West Wyalong NSW May 2017

There is an old maxim which most would have heard which says “be careful what you wish for-you may just get it.” This applies to me today as I was offered a place in an online pathways course at the University of New England, a pre-cursor to studying for a degree in ancient history.

How did it come to this? How did a lowly mail sorter, disinclined to any sort of higher education end up, potentially, as a university student in a prestigious institution like the University of New England which has produced such dazzling alumni as Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce? (I did mention Barnaby and “dazzling” in the same sentence with my tongue firmly in my cheek.)

Well, I made the mistake several months ago of suggesting to my lovely better half Linda that I may like to study ancient history as a university degree and, knowing my predilection for vacillation over the smallest matters and noting my famous inability to make a decision and get on with it she decided to get the ball rolling herself and enrolled me at UNE. Of course I have no previous education to back myself in for a place in university so i have to do a pathways course to gain entry which I believe counts towards a degree in any case. To quote Gregory Peck in Guns of Navarone, “we’re in it now, up to our necks!”

Realistically, this is one of the biggest decisions in my life and something I have to dig deep within myself to complete. I really don’t want to spend the rest of my working days where I am and the only way out is higher education. A long road to hoe from here.

We’ll see how it goes.

Here We Are, Here We Go!

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Canberra from Telstra Tower.

Well, I’m back! I haven’t been disposed to write for some time now and checking my blog it seems June 28 was my last entry. It did seem for a while like I would never make hay here again but I have never abandoned Strange Notations from a Laborious Life, merely put it on hiatus until further notice.

Much has happened since June 28 2017. My beloved football team, the Richmond Tigers, against all odds won the AFL Premiership. I have spent the last five weeks away from my normal job driving mail vans around southern NSW picking up loads from Young, Yass, Wallendbeen, Harden, Binalong and Yass which has been different and a bit of a release from the day to day drudgery of mail sorting. My father turned 80(!). My niece moved to Paris. And this laborious life I lead never rose to any great heights but I am thankful to still be walking around on two feet fit and healthy.

Today I return to my normal duties having handed over the reins of my trusty van to my young protege. It’s been nice to do something different for sure and it has refreshed me in many ways and prepared me for the drudgery of my normal work day position, presumably sorting small parcels.

So, where to from here? Christmas is only three weeks away and the expectant crush of product hasn’t yet started to devour us at work-but it’s coming. It should be a nice easy slide into Christmas for me. I am, believe it or not happy to be returning to the mundane today after my stint driving the van.

I’m looking forward to the new year. So much expectation, so much to see, so much to experience. I’m excited to be here.

So look out! I’m back in business trying to find some reverie in my life and jot down a few strange notations whenever the inclination takes me. Onward and upward and bring on 2018!

 

Losing My Pen and Other Strange Stories

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Fiji 2012

 

I am losing things. For the first time in my life I am losing things. A few weeks ago I lost a texta I used at work. It almost certainly fell out of my pocket while I was leaning over and I didn’t notice but it perturbed me nonetheless. I never lose things. And, I had to steal another one off a machine we work on. Can’t do without my texta. But I never lose things.

Yesterday I lost my pen. It was in my shirt pocket and disappeared as assuredly as it would if it was sailing through the Bermuda Triangle. (Not that pens can actually sail through or disappear in the Bermuda Triangle, but you get my drift I’m sure.) I have no idea where it went or how. I thought I may have actually forgotten to take it to work but it wasn’t here when I got home and I haven’t been able to find it today. I never lose things.

Then there was my box of cotton buds. In the bottom right hand draw of the bathroom vanity. It’s gone. It’s been there for months (actually years!) and suddenly it’s gone. How will I get my ears clean now? (Yes, I know you shouldn’t stick things in your ears but I am very gentle I assure you. My hearing is still okay, I think.) It’s very disconcerting. I never lose things.

Of course the fact that there are other people living in the house may have contributed to the sudden absence of my box of cotton buds but Linda assures me she hasn’t seen it, touched it or otherwise been in contact with it. Hmmm. It may be that all of her stuff which is packed tightly into the vanity draws is obscuring my view of it but I don’t think so. I never lose things.

Walking to my car last night after knocking off work I found myself wandering around the car park in circles. For a brief moment I thought I had lost my car. I never lose things! Of course I hadn’t lost my car. I had just parked in a different place than usual and eventually I found it. I never lose things but see how paranoid I am becoming?!

A few years back I went through a period of leaving things in cafes. I would be out shopping, stop off for a coffee with my newly bought wares, then leave them behind. It’s lucky that on each occasion the items were recovered because I never lose things.

I was driving to Wagga Wagga one day a few years back and stopping in Gundagai for refreshment I took my sunglasses off and lay them on the cafe table. They were expensive. My mother had bought them for me. I was halfway to Wagga Wagga from Gundagai before I realised the reason the glare off the sunbaked farmland was killing my eyes. I had left my sunglasses behind. I didn’t go back for them. I never lose things.

I trained myself out of that habit. The habit of leaving things behind. But losing things is another matter altogether. It just doesn’t happen to me and it’s a worry. I never lose things.

There is no history of dementia in our family but I have wondered if I will be the first to start a trend.  But then a friend once told me losing your car in the car park is not a sign of Alzheimer’s Disease. Forgetting you have a car is! Perhaps I am just going through a bad patch where I don’t seem to be able to hang onto my property?

I can only hope this trend will soon dissipate and I will return to normal…safe, reliable… my property always intact and where it should be because…I never lose things!

Have a nice day.

Strange Notations and Ruminations

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Milford Track, 2009. Looking out from under a long felled tree trunk I look as though I am wondering where to go or what to do next. Of course it is very much a posed photo and I knew exactly where I was, or, I hoped the guides from Ultimate Hikes Adventures  knew where we were! I found this photo today on Facebook, in the “On This Day” section that has suddenly popped up on my Timeline. It’s a metaphor for my life today as I look out from the safety of my cozy world towards the future and wonder what it will bring.

If you read my last post you may recall me mentioning I had applied for another job. Unfortunately I didn’t get it; not that I was judged on lack of perceived qualification or ability. I didn’t fill out the application form properly!! Doh! Rookie error! I was momentarily crushed and all the hope I had of swanning into the Production Manager’s office at work, swagger in my step, hoping to gaily and disingenuously  sing my regrets at having to leave the employ of his fine company, putrefied into the sprawling morass of unfulfilled promise which I seem to have been flailing in for much of my life.

No matter. The other mob didn’t deserve me! The thought of another twenty of so years in my current job did momentarily fill me with dread and a sense of foreboding. I felt suffocated and trapped, like a flailing man being dragged out to sea by a rip in the ocean, all hope abandoned, a life of tedium and the company of knaves all I could look forward to at work. However, I am nothing if not resilient nowadays and I have bounced back, ready to face the world once more on this dank and dark Monday.

I should have started perusing the job adds for something else I could do but given the disappointment of my previous failed attempt to find different work I felt something more creative to be appropriate. So I did an Australian Writers Centre course on “How to Get More Blog Readers”! It was a two hour online course with plenty of info, some of which I probably needed a teacher to explain properly but here I am today, reinvigorated, trying to get my Blog out there and recognised.

I will look at the employment pages again soon. There will be something of note to come up which will tickle my fancy I’m sure. I can at least relax now on my impending holidays without worrying about whether I would be required for a job interview or even if I was expected to start work elsewhere. Perhaps it’s time to write a book, a memoir of sorts. “The Secret Lives of Postal Workers” is what it would be called. Boy, do I have some fodder for that tome! Something to think about.

So, life goes on in with the same gentle cadence as always for me. Slow and steady, laborious yet sometimes fruitful. I hope you enjoyed this strange little notation.

Until next time, keep on smiling.

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The Thursday Curse

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Melbourne City from Treasury Gardens

Monday, Monday! They sing songs about it but for mine Thursday is the day for a mournful tune. Yes, Thursday! Thursdays really get to me. We are so close to the weekend that we can almost touch it, but……we still have to do it all over again tomorrow! What a tease Thursday is.

The one positive thing about Thursday for me is that things start to run down a little at work. Everyone seems to have gotten their important mail off on Monday or Tuesday hoping to get their article to it’s recipient by the end of the week. By Thursday it seems that mailing is an afterthought. “Ah…I’ll pop it in the post. It will get there by sometime next week” most will be thinking by today. Conversely, if you are waiting for a letter today you can only hope it was posted on Monday.  Ah Thursday. What a day.

I’m actually counting down the days. I have next week and the week after to endure before I am off on five weeks of leave. If you hear a roar rumbling over Canberra at about 9.46pm on April 21 don’t be fearful-it’s not the sound of rolling thunder or the end of the world coming upon us, only me exiting the sliding doors at work with a shout as I hop, skip and jump my way  into the sweet lazy days of my holidays. Best thing is that I also have Easter between then and now. Ten working days to go. Can’t wait to cross another number off my calendar when I get home tonight.

My leave will be a little different this year. I will be a little anxious. I have applied for another job and won’t know if I am being considered for it until after April 25. Nerve wracking. Well, not really nerve wracking but the situation is making me a little uneasy. It’s a bold new world for me should I get the job. A friend of mine nailed it on the head when she said applying for another job is at least a start, a proactive step towards improving my lot and I think she is right. I may not get the job, I may not even be short-listed but by doing up a resume and writing an application I feel I have crashed through a barrier. Working so long in the same position can make you feel institutionalised and sap your confidence. I feel it’s time to move on and broaden my horizons and work with amazing people. We should all strive to improve ourselves. Wish me luck.

Anyway, it’s a golden autumn day here in Canberra. Other parts of the country are suffering due to natural events but, apart from having to work, I can’t find a fault in this warm and lovely city today. Hope you all have a great day and don’t let the Thursday curse wear you down. The weekend is almost here. We just have to do it all again tomorrow!

Life as I Know It: The Adventure Continues!

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Apollo Bay, October 2016

It’s been a while (again!) and I can make no excuses for the lack of productivity on my blog. Yes, I’ve been busy but the words, thoughts and feelings just haven’t been coming. It’s seems to be an accumulating situation which has been manifesting itself for a couple of years now. The degrading of my imaginative output is reaching crisis point. Is it possible I am past my best before I even got there?!!

As I said, I’ve been busy. Work (as usual!) has been hard and taking it out of me. The bathroom at our investment property is in dire need of repair and we have been scraping together our finances to ensure it’s done. My computer blew up, our phone line gave out and our wi-fi has been choppy. All in all more of a frustrating time than anything causing us great hardship. Most of these things have been restored although a few minor adjustments still need to be made to ensure my life maintains it’s usual comfortable status.

My cycling has suffered. Just a couple of rides over the last few weeks and I really need to make the effort to get out even if it is just every second day.

The perfect job came up for me at the Australian War Memorial which I intended to apply for. Just a gallery assistant, no great shakes and something I may even have been considered for. But of course the more I thought about it the more I second guessed myself for a variety of reasons. I looked at my resume and couldn’t get it up to scratch and eventually time passed and so did the deadline for applications. Sigh!! I really need help with this part of my life. I’m not sure if it’s laziness, timidity or the institutionalization of my life due to working the same job for thirty years or a combination of all three but I dillied and dallied and made excuses for myself as to why I wouldn’t be cut out for the position until it was too late. And breathed a sigh of relief when time ran out. Pathetic.

Anyway, there is still plenty to look forward to in life. I have holidays coming up in two months and I am deep in thought as to where I might go. Originally Linda and I planned to go to New Zealand for a couple of weeks. We have been there on a number of occasions, Linda having connections there and thought we may go again. You can never get tired of New Zealand. Plenty to see and do and in many ways it is a softer version of Australia (and for any Kiwis reading I mean that as a compliment!). More progressive than us on some issues and possibly better governed at this point in history. Perhaps being a much smaller nation they have to make do with less and have to be smarter and think outside the box in order to progress and prosper? I’m sure there would be many in the Land of the Long White Cloud who think they can do better but it seems to me they are travelling okay.

Anyway, our looming outlay of cash for the bathroom at our investment property has put the kybosh on that so I am thinking in miniature now. A drive out to the Grampians in central Victoria may be on the cards. A bit of dribble through the countryside stopping where we like terminating our western advance at Halls Gap in the heart of the Range. That’s what I’m thinking but will keep you posted. No doubt if I go I will fill these pages with pictures and stories from the trip.

Until then there is some life to live and I’m hoping some fun to be had. A trip to Melbourne in a month with our best friends to see the British singing star Adele in concert should break up the monotony brought on by work and life in general. I’m looking forward to it. Who couldn’t or wouldn’t look forward to spending time in the great southern capital?

So that’s it for now. My life as it continues. It’s a bit of parry and thrust as I’m sure it is for most but we keep plugging along. I hope all is going well for you wherever you are. Take care.

Live Life and Love It

 

Got up this morning feeling a little battered and bruised after a hard night at work. Flicked the computer on to catch up with the world and immediately read two stories about fellows who had succumbed to heart attacks aged 45 and 47! Gawd. Good morning Starshine. The earth says hello!

I manage to thread the needle between these two men being 46 years old so it was a bit of a sobering way to shake myself awake for the day. The funny thing is, and I’m sure anyone who is around the same age will agree, you find yourself in middle age before you know it, not really being sure how you got here. One day you are young and carefree, fit and able, next you are dodging heart attacks and bowel problems! Hhmm. Time sure does fly.

The jist is that I don’t feel any different to how I did twenty years ago. I do feel I’m more mature. I occasionally say and do stupid things nowadays but it’s but a sliver of the time when compared to my loose mouth of decades ago. Physically, there are a few more aches and pains and perhaps I am just starting to feel the wear and tear on my body a little-I’m certainly not as lithe and agile as days gone by but I ain’t a cripple yet!

Illness and incapacity can strike at any time without warning I know and my doctor, the last time I dared to go, marveled at the fact that I don’t attend the practice very often. That must be a good thing though, right?

A few years back I took a trip to Europe with Linda. I’m a mild history buff and although I had been to Britain and Turkey before I had never been to western Europe. I was getting older of course and the thought had occurred to me that I didn’t want to die without having seen the fields of France and Germany. You never know what the future holds. So, we went in the spring of 2013 and had a great 6 week trip. Of course, two years later Linda is seriously ill with cancer and life was put on hold for a year and for some time in 2015 we were gripped with some uncertainty as to where the road in front of us would lead.Linda is now well thankfully but since then several extended family members have passed away due to cancer and my little world is getting shaken up just a little.

I’ll be 47 in three months. Well on the road to a half century. I can’t believe I’m here. Life is good and I have been very lucky in so many ways and pray it holds for a good 40 or so years yet.

In October 2013 I stood in a military cemetery in a farmer’s field in northern France and gazed upon the headstone belonging to a great uncle I never met. He was 20 years old and died of wounds at a place no-one outside a certain radius has ever heard of. Grevillers, France. I guess there is some nobility in dying for your country but that sort of thing is roundly mocked now particularly by those who lean to the left and lying in a lonely grave in France so young is certainly a waste of what would probably have been a good and fruitful life. But I think I owe it to him and the rest of my family and Linda to live strong and long and we owe it to ourselves to enjoy life to it’s fullest.

I have to go to work today and put in eight long, boring hours but it’s only a means to an end in order to keep living and enjoying my comfortable existence. Don’t take work so seriously. Do what you have to do and embrace the other sixteen hours of the day when you can do something worthwhile.

Embrace life and those you love. Life as you know it could be over in the blink of an eye.

Have fun and take care.

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Grave of L/Cpl JF Robinson. DOW 23 April 1917. Grevillers France

A Strange Notation on a Hot Summer Day

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Bay of Martyrs, Victoria, Australia

Boy it’s hot! I love a stretch of good weather as much as the next man but endless days of being lathered in perspiration and sleepless nights takes it’s toll on those with the most formidable constitutions. I can’t remember a spell of hot weather in Canberra where it has been over 30 degrees celsius for weeks on end in my lifetime. Yes, it can get hot here but our summer heatwaves generally only continue for a couple of days before the weather retreats and gives us a spell in the far more comfortable mid-20 degree range. Global warming? Makes you think.

It doesn’t look like ending soon. The rest of the week will be mired in temperatures from 31 degrees to 39. Lovely. Oh, for a couple of days of soaking rain!

I should be out on my bike yet once again the bane of work has degraded my body and it in turn has betrayed me.  I’ve had an elbow problem for some time and my heavy workload last night seems to have aggravated it. I think I need to try the old Rocky Balboa tactic of fighting southpaw for a while to give my poorly arm a rest. I’m almost 47 and I’m wondering if I can hack the pace of this job for another 20 years.

So, for today I’m leaving regular exercise behind and using the morning for rest and recovery-and blogging! It’s much preferable to be on the internet plugging away than watching the news or reading the papers and observing the divided and angry world we live in. From President Trump’s shenanigans in the United States to protests about the inclusivity of Australia Day here at home it seems that no-one can agree on anything and respect for another opinion differing from or own is a theory discarded when Noah was a boy! Unity? There is no such thing in today’s world.

So, perhaps I am better off retiring to my couch and curling up into a ball to watch television rather than ponder the great issues of our time on my blog. Fan on full blast of course!

I will decorate my blog post today with a picture I took on the Great Ocean Road last October. It is of the Bay of Martyrs near Port Campbell, right down on the rugged southern coast of Australia. The great thing about this part of the coast is that not many people visiting the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge bother to venture any further down the road and consequently miss such magnificent scenery as this even though it is but a few kilometres further on. We had it all to ourselves courtesy of the Port Campbell Tourist Office volunteer who offered his shrewd advice as to where to go and what to see. Thank you sir!

Take care all and stay cool.