Being the Grinch and Strange Christmas Notations.

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

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!

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!


Strange Notations and Ruminations


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.



2017-Here We Are-Here We Go!

Photo at the Wheel of Brisbane

Greetings and salutations! 2017 is here in all it’s glory and we all should have shouldered slowly but surely into the year by now. Unfortunately and depressingly some things never change.

I’m back at work and although my mood has improved since that very first day  whence I had to return I’ve found it’s very much the same old thing, it’s just a different calendar on the wall. But, I am not going to spend 2017 whinging and whining about work. There is too much to look forward to and I have always concluded that the eight hours of monotony  we suffer every day is only a requirement for us which enables a better life to be had when we are not engaged in employment.

Some may have noticed too that my Blog has a new look. I figured it was due for a change and as  my posts have been infrequent lately I needed some inspiration and a fresh start. I was also thinking of changing the name of my Blog. “Strange Notations from a Laborious Life” has always seemed a bit silly and jarring and I am open to any reasonable suggestion for a new title. Put your thinking caps on!

I’ve also been drawing a blank when it comes to actually writing a post. This has been happening for a while but all creativity has dried up and I am hoping to get into some useful work this year, write a few short stories and perhaps get a freelance article or two published. I need to read more, be socially active, get those creative juices flowing! Again, I’m open to suggestions for topics for the Blog.

I spent Christmas/New Year in Queensland, the first time I have been in the land of the Banana-Bender for over twenty years. It was a pleasant time staying with Linda’s daughter and her fiance although it was hot! Everyone loves their air conditioning unit in Queensland and the humidity is such that you seem to be in a constant lather of sweat the whole time. My photo of the day was taken at the Wheel of Brisbane and although it is actually a green screen behind us with a view of the Brisbane River creatively inserted into shot, the wheel is on the river near the area they call Southbank  I hope Megan and Tristan don’t mind appearing in this post.

The Brisbane River from the Wheel of Brisbane.

I also spent a couple of days in Wangaratta, the town of my birth, attending a family reunion. My mother, her two sisters and two brothers are getting on in years so they try to get together in early January every year. It is only the third time this has happened but it has quickly become a tradition. I had missed the first two reunions so I wanted to make every effort to get there this time and it was a pleasant experience. Leaving Wangaratta at two years of age I never got to spend much time with maternal cousins so I don’t know them all that well. I guess now is as good a time as any to strengthen family ties.

So-what lies ahead in 2017? For me it’s more travel. Linda and I are going to Melbourne in March to see a concert then we are hoping to get to New Zealand in May. Not the greatest time of year to be heading to the Land of the Long White Cloud but a bit of cool weather never phased me. I haven’t made much of it yet, just a thought or two coalescing in my mind but I hope to get over to Western Australia later in the year as I have never been there. That, and improving my employment status and writing more are my goals for the year. How about you? Drop me a line in comments and let me know what you would like to achieve in 2017.

It promises to be quite a year. A new President of the United States, Britain trying to extricate itself against it’s better judgement from the European Union and the continuing threat of Terrorism  will all play a major role and be the dominant features of the year no doubt. There is plenty to write about. Plenty of fun to be had. I’m up for it. You should be too.

Have a great day.

Work, Road Trips and Cycling



It’s been a while between drinks but life has been busy with work and leisure and the notion of writing down some “strange notations” really hasn’t gripped me as much as I hoped it would.

I remembered the other day a quote I once read about blogging which stated most blogs end up dying and realised mine was probably on the verge of doing so. It didn’t suddenly make me want to charge out and start writing things down but the urge has taken me today so here I am-nothing profound or thought provoking-merely a check in with a hope that something more interesting will be coming down the pipeline soon in “Strange Notations from a Laborious Life”!

So-what have I been doing? The usual-working although I was lucky enough to have a few days away down on the Great Ocean Road in October which was enjoyable. Not a place I have been to before but I am certainly glad I went. The Twelve Apostles is of course the drawcard of the Shipwreck Coast but I found Loch Ard Gorge and the story behind it to be much more profound and the Bay of Martyrs and Bay of Boats to be just as spectacular as the The Twelve Apostles and possibly more so.

London Bridge was also a very interesting place and all of these remarkable formations are within a very short drive of one another with the attractive hamlet of Port Campbell a nice stopping point for accommodation.

Linda at London Bridge (In my jacket!!)

From Port Campbell we meandered home through Colac and some of the greenest farmland I have ever seen in Australia. It’s a different country when it rains. I hadn’t been to Colac since I was boy and my father and I followed the Melbourne to Warrnambool bike race and as we turned on to the main highway just out of town heading east I remarked to Linda that Mockridge and Taylor, two legends of Australian cycling had swapped turns along this road during their famous pursuit of the leaders in the 1957 edition of the classic handicap race as it was formatted then. She sort of sighed and gave me her “that’s nice dear” look and we were soon in Colac eating Red Rooster chicken burgers for lunch.

Home through Bendigo and Albury with a stop in Cobram where my grandparent’s old house is derelict and falling down-a sad testament to the irresistible passing of time and our inability to stop it or at least hold it back.

Home again to work and to the election of a new President of the United States (!!!!) and back to the grindstone at work and we find ourselves less than a month out from Christmas.

I have been doing some riding on my bike as the picture at the top of the page shows. I made a vow several years ago that I would never again wear tight fitting lycra shirts as the idea of fat middle aged men  riding around in them is never appealing but on the day in question it was freezing so I dug out from the depths of the cupboard a long sleeve jersey and broke my vow. It hasn’t been worn since though!

I have entered the Cadel Evans’ People’s Ride which coincides with the Road Race he lends his name to at the end of January-thus my return to cycling and the quest to be fit enough to ride 111km at a reasonable clip. I have been riding for two weeks and have begun to wonder what possessed me to enter as I am so far out of shape it’s not funny. I have improved over the last couple of days from “Grovelling” to “Really Struggling” but it’s a slow process. With Christmas interfering I am doubting my ability to be fit enough to ride such a distance at the end of January but I guess I can always pull the pin. Time will tell.

So, that’s it for the moment-just a small snapshot into what I have been doing for the last couple of months. I hope to back online with something more entertaining to tell you before Christmas. Until then, take care.



Melbourne, Work and a Worthwhile Life

P1080145 Photo of the day is the old Exhibition Building in Melbourne, just outside the CBD. The photo was taken this last weekend during my latest trip to Melbourne which Linda and I undertook with friends, ostensibly to watch some AFL football. There use to be a velodrome out the front of this building before the Second World War. It was used before the North Essendon board track was built. It is of course most famous for being the building which held the first sitting of Australia’s Federal Parliament in 1901, an event made famous by Tom Roberts’ painting. Very historic indeed.

Of course it’s back to reality now. Back to work. I’m tired. I’m aching. I have a long term problem with my foot which can only be from standing up on concrete floors all day. I’ve woken up with a stiff and sore middle finger on my right hand. Not sure what that is from (it’s not from flipping the bird!) but it’s a little swollen from my knuckle to the joint of the finger. My back is sore which is nothing unusual and I really would just like to stay home rather than go through the motions one more time today. Alas, it’s not to be and I will struggle on though my heart won’t be in it.

I have often wondered about people who claim to love their job. Do they really mean it? Is there really such a person who jumps out of bed every morning, chomping at the bit, keen to race the rat, willing to give their soul for the greater good and the benefit of someone else? Surely they would rather stay at home and watch the telly, surf the net, do anything rather than face 8 more hours of emasculation at the hands of a Nazi love child?

Of course there are plenty of ambitious folk who get satisfaction from what they do and that is what is missing in my work life I guess. Just going through the motions every day hardly makes you feel worthwhile. Achieving something, or I suppose believing you are doing so is just the tonic for making work bearable. A modicum of satisfaction relieves the monotony I guess.

Was it John Lennon who said “life is what happens while you are planning other things”? It is very true. It just takes a long time for those “other things” to roll around. Anyway, I’m still alive, in relatively good health and the future is promising. Now, if I can only find a way to become one of those people who loves their job.

Hope you all are enjoying your work today. Take care.

Linda and I in AC/DC Lane, off Flinders Lane, Melbourne City.

Work, Writing and Reality

I’ve been perusing the employment pages today and it is always sobering to realize I have no sale-able skill in anything! Even the smallest of administration jobs need a prospective employee to understand office applications on a computer. There was a cleaning job going at Defence headquarters at Bungendore. Night cleaner. Hhmm. I’ll keep looking for a while thanks.

Then again, I can run a Barcode Sorter, A Culler Facer Canceller machine, a letter sequencing machine, can sort mail by hand and drive a forklift. That’s a skill set the average punter can’t deliver! Unfortunately, in the real world, apart from driving a forklift, none of these skills can help me find another job.

Speaking of forklift driving, I was required to do my first spell on the machine at work yesterday. I can’t say I was nervous. Just a little wary of myself. It would be easy to drop something and the ground outside is very uneven and I had to make sure I didn’t run into any bollards or concrete posts. I was slow but I managed it without a problem. I just have to remember the little things. Turn headlights on. Check where I am going. Don’t go too fast in a turn with a load. Don’t drive with the forks raised. Don’t drop anything!! God, wouldn’t there be a hullabaloo if I did? Anyway, all went without incident and it was good to actually get some time on the machine. Experience is invaluable.

I could skill up a bit more I suppose. Do some courses, online or in person. But I am too lazy. I lose interest. My mind wanders. I may be stuck where I am for the duration. What a horrible thought.

I did a course in Freelance writing a couple of years ago. It is probably something I could try to do for a living. But again, interviewing people and dealing with editors, setting prices etc, is not something I would be pro-active in. Then there is research-another sore point for me.

I suppose I could try and do some writing that may sell. There is a myriad of jobs for writers out there although I am not sure if I am a fit writing for companies or copywriting. I could try short story writing. I don’t think novels are my thing. Maybe photo-journalism? I suppose I would have to buy a camera?

I’m open to any suggestions for writing topics. Drop me a line if you would like me to research and write something on this blog. Totally free of charge of course. I also have a Facebook page for my blog and you can drop me a line there too. Just search for @matthewsumnersblog on Facebook.

So, on a cold, blustery and windy Canberra day I will bid you farewell. Hope to hear from you soon.

Matt and the Giant Cookie


It’s been a while since my last post-11 days in fact and I was feeling a little stir-crazy at not having updated my blog so , although I have nothing much to say as is my way lately, I am checking in and putting a few useless words down to simply sharpen me up and let anyone who stumbles upon my ramblings know that I am still alive and well and “Strange Notations from a Laborious Life” is still a going concern.

So, what better way is there to relax on a very soggy Friday morning than post a picture of myself in Mansfield Victoria a couple of months ago posing alongside a giant cookie! Mansfield Sweets certainly looks like the place to be for megalithic confectionery.

It’s been unseasonably hot in Canberra as it has been elsewhere in Australia. Summer has gone out with a a bang and early autumn isn’t giving us any respite. Today’s rain is a welcome and unexpected distraction.

Work is groaning on. I dread getting out of bed in the mornings knowing I have to drag myself in there for eight hours later in the day. It’s not so bad once I am there and working but it’s a sad place for a lot of reasons which I won’t divulge on this forum. The drudgery of it is driving me nuts. But that is the least of it’s problems.

The only thing I have to look forward to for the rest of the year is the looming federal election. Sad I know. It’s almost unbelievable how fast time flies. Three years ago as I was about to get on a plane to Europe, Tony Abbott, a man I considered unelectable was hoisted on the shoulders of his conservative peers and admitted to the highest political office in the land. I didn’t think Australians could be so stupid. My thoughts on Abbott were well explained in my blog post from June 1 2013 entitled “Tony Abbott’s Pet Hamster”. The title and tone of the piece was obviously tongue in cheek but my message was serious. I thought he would be a mere watermark on the history of Australian politics and I think my analysis was right. Unfortunately Mr Abbott is still sticking his finger in the pie despite his deposition in favour of Malcolm Turnbull-much to the latter’s dismay no doubt.

And so an election is on the horizon and there is talk of a double-dissolution in July-the odds of which seem to firming despite the Prime Minister’s denials of such plans just a couple of weeks ago. As a rule I lean to the left with my political views although I can wander across the white line on an occasional matter but I have always had a little bit of time for the current incumbent of the Prime Ministership, Malcolm Turnbull.  He is obviously a brilliant man- go read his resume and you will be left in no doubt of that but, as his tenure takes on some length and shape he does seem to be a little sticky-fingered when handling government. He is a far cry from Abbott. Much more competent-a much better fit in the job but there is something not quite working at the moment and the public is noticing. He should be returned to office whenever the election is but his government will lose some skin methinks. Perhaps being elected in his own right will give him more authority in his own party. He was always more progressive and far sighted than his colleagues in the Liberal Party. I think that is what is weighing him down now.

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating weighed in on Turnbull some time ago and delivered a devastating critique on what Turnbull may be like leading an Australian government. I won’t quote him verbatim but he compared Turnbull to a Penny-Bunger that older folk may remember from cracker nights gone by. Big, beautiful. Sure to set off a bang which could be heard around the neighbourhood. Instead, Mr Keating believed,all you would get from Turnbull  is a bit of a “pfft” and be roundly disappointed as a result. Could it be that Keating’s analysis is on the money?

Anyway, that’s enough talk of politics. It is a bad subject among friends and something I usually steer clear of here. I don’t think I have said anything that may offend. Apologies if I have. Everyone has their own opinion which is worthwhile.

Now the rain is coming in torrents and cascading off  the leaking roof of my pergola. It’s time to go and check that the dog isn’t drowning. Hope you all have a great weekend.

Leaping in the Leap Year

Ah, February 29, that one day of the year which only comes every four years! We have Julius Caesar and his Julian calendar to thank for it. Who says history has no part to play in modern matters?! It all has to do with how many hours are in the day. A fraction more than 24 apparently and the adjustment is made every four years by adding a day to February. A simplistic explanation but you get the picture don’t you?  Just as well the second month of the year is short a few days compared to the rest! Where else could we put that extra day?!

By tradition it is said that ladies may ask their beaus to marry them on this day (although why they can’t ask any other day is beyond me!) so there may well be a few fellows with devoted girlfriends ducking and weaving and hoping the big awkward question is not asked of them today.

I myself am using this unique spot on the calendar to start a new quest. I have been trawling through employment sites this morning looking for a new job. There are a few options that someone with little training and qualification like me can aspire to and I am getting my resume polished and ready to go. Quite frankly I am ready to do just about anything at the moment. Any sort of change of scenery can only enhance my professional life and well-being in general.

If I had a magic wand and could make myself into anything at all I would probably be a professional writer, producing work that regularly makes money but I think I am drawing the bowstrings a little too far to realistically be able to ever accomplish that. There are plenty of people with various writing degrees who are out of work or engaged in other careers due to the dearth of work available to them. One can dream though.

I think I would also like to be an event promoter or manager. I probably don’t have the personal skills for that and certainly not the practical skill or ability but hey, it’s my fantasy and I can do what I want when I am day dreaming!

Seriously though, I would just like to do something different where the atmosphere is good, the people are generous and the work tolerable. A far cry from where I am at where I am at the moment.

So, on this 29th day of February, 2016, I will continue my endeavors to find satisfaction rather than frustration in my worklife. I am quietly confident that something will come up. It is just a matter of perseverance.

Have a nice day.