Aunty Glady was intrepid in a way.
She managed to convey an appearance of total control while those around her were ragged, to say the least. But I didn’t mind, she provided me with my devon and lettuce sandwiches on fresh crusty bread, which I would take for my 6pm lunch at SM Sydney’s office, and it sustained me until I caught the bus home to Narrabeen at 11.30pm.
I never understood a lot in those days. Glady and Harold had given me a room of my own, and their support, and allowed me to invade their lives – a fact that until recently I had not understood…but who does at 15.
However, I have since thought a lot about it.
Harold was a musician. A double-bass player. A very good bass player. He played at all the best gigs in Sydney : The Basement; The Hilton…with Tommy Dorsey. He knew them all. Because he told me that his job was to “Make them sound good”. And he did. I would listen in the audience and he would make them sound good.
Unfortunately, Harry had one small character flaw. NO! Not a character flaw…a tendency which others may have avoided and Pah! So what! Life is meant to be lived!
Harry, um… couldn’t resist poker machines.
“That’s not a lot,” you might say. But sadly, I must inform you that it was a lot.
Regretfully, Harry’s profession involved playing in Clubs. RSL Clubs….Football Clubs…Community Clubs…Catholic Clubs…. all of whom depended for their existence on the profits from poker machines.
And poker machines depend for their existence on Harrys. Not just Harry , but people like Harry who are unable to pass a poker machine without believing that their life and future might depend on the pull of the next handle.
However in my conversations over the washing-up with Harry, I realised that he was a thinker. He told me about the brilliant PLAN he developed in New Guinea where he was stationed with the RAAF during the war.
The plan was developed around the fact that the Yanks were leaving New Guinea at the end of the war, and they didn’t want to take their equipment with them. So they bulldozed huge ditches into which they drove anything with wheels, threw in a grenade or two to blow up the equipment, then buried the lot. (I am unclear as to why they threw in the grenades…perhaps it was simply because they wanted to get rid of the grenades too?).
Harry and his mates would hide nearby until the Yanks’ knock-off time, knowing that the Yanks probably wouldn’t bother chucking the grenades in before they rushed off to the boozer, whereupon Harry and his mates would drag the undamaged vehicles out and hide them in the jungle to await delivery to Australia not long after…at a huge profit.
Unfortunately, an Aussie Captain got wind of the scheme and decided he wanted a piece of the action…or more correctly, all of the action… so he had Harry and his mates charged under some obscure Air Force regulation and they were sent back to Australia in disgrace.
The Captain made a fortune in provision of ‘Army Surplus’ and lived like a king in New Guinea for years afterwards.
Harry was always full of grand schemes…none of which quite worked out. Like the wire-mat making business he bought after seeing it advertised in the paper. The business depended primarily on two things : a wire-mat making machine, and a system of sales of the wire-mats.
Unfortunately, whilst the machine worked brilliantly, the system of sales had Harry signing a contract to sell all the wire mats he made to the man who sold him the business. He was not permitted to sell the mats independently (as he found out when he tried to do so, and had the fine-print in the contract pointed out to him). So sadly, the man dudded Harry by limiting his purchases of wire mats and Harry had to write the business off to experience.
Then Harry heard the advertising for Green Gold.
Green Gold was an organisation that offered shares in pine forests to sucke…erm…people. Everyone who bought a share was given a certificate indicating that they owned an acre of land containg pine trees, which would be sold when mature and the proceeds returned as a dividend to the shareholders.
Harry and Glady were convinced that they had bought an acre of land on the Gold Coast where they would retire after it was cleared of pine trees and their dividend came good.
They were so trusting of people. Being basically good people themselves they thought everyone was to be trusted. I tried to clarify their situation because I was working at the time in the Land Titles Branch of the Registrar General. But I couldn’t find any support for their ownership of “an acre of land on the Gold Coast”.
Not to be put-off by my unreliable attempts to straighten things out that didn’t need to be straightened out, they remained trusting of the outcome they believed in, until Green Gold was exposed as a rort in all the newspapers, and their dream of retirement on the Gold Coast was shattered.
(to be continued)