The Foursomes

I’ve always liked the idea of playing in a foursomes. A nice day; pleasant companion; alternate hits…sounded interesting.

So I asked Al Martin, who has played a few rounds with me, if he’d play with me in the Foursomes Championship. But he turned white and muttered something about having to be in Alaska that weekend.

Disappointed but not to be put off, I noticed that Ann had placed her name on the Mixed Foursomes booking sheet in anticipation of having a decent player put their name next to hers. So I did.

Perhaps during the round things may have been less grim if I had taken her advice that I should play safely out of the trees back onto the fairway.
“Bugger that.” I would say expansively. “Trees are 90 percent air, I’m going for it.”

She was always nice about it. “That was very well hit.” She would say. “It’s a shame it struck that huge tree that you may not have noticed was directly in front of you.”

However there was always the backstop that she would put us safely out on the fairway with the next shot. It’s strange that women seem to be better at weighing-up risks?

Of course the situation didn’t improve when she would put me 3 feet from the pin and then go and prepare herself to hit off the next….only to have to go all the way back to the cart to get her putter when I missed the putt. As I had not demonstrated any other particular strongpoints in my game, she might have been forgiven for thinking that perhaps putting was.

Ah yes , 27 holes of a Mixed Foursomes can be a long way, when you suspect that the person sitting beside you in the cart is wishing that they were back home doing something more pleasant …. like cleaning out the fridge.

Oh by the way Ann, if you’re reading this, I think your internet must be down as I haven’t received a response to my email suggesting that we play in a fourball.


Email to Senator Christine Milne from A young Mum Greenie


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Hi Christine,

Well here we are again at our Noosa weekender. It’s been a while since we chatted so I thought I’d bring you up to date.

The new Prado 4WD was great on the drive up from Toorak.    prado It’s large enough for John and me and the two kids, and I like being high up over the traffic. John thinks the 13 litres per 100 kilometres petrol usage is about average too. Isn’t it terrible Christine, that a lot of people are driving old cars that pollute the environment.

I decided to get a Prado because I didn’t want to look too ostentatious at the school gate. Anyway I have the Merc convertable that Daddy gave me for my 32nd birthday, because he had heard that Catherine his Noosa Optometrist had turned 32 and apparently the poor thing was not handling it all that well.

I’ve been wondering why more people don’t buy a weekender like ours Christinewender1wender2so they can get away from the city for a while. It would mean less traffic and everything in the city, which would be really good for the environment wouldn’t it? Do you think we should make this a policy of ours Christine?

Things have been going very well for us. John is paid in US dollars and  has managed to make himself Non-Resident for tax purposes, so he doesn’t have to pay any Australian tax! Aren’t accountants wonderful the way they can do things. And John told me that the mult-national company he works for doesn’t pay any tax either. Something to do with transferring losses to an Australian holding or something, although I don’t pretend to understand such things. However, Daddy says I am very good with figures. He can tell from the way I handle my allowance from the family Trust.  Also John’s negative gearing on the investment property has worked out brilliantly, as John will have all these tax credits when he finally becomes Resident again. Which is just as well given the prices of private schools these days! I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t manage their finances in the way we do; people are so silly.

We decided to take the Prado on a camping trip to Noosa’s North Shore. It was such fun! Mind you there was a really long wait in the line of 4WD’s having to cross on the ferry to get to the North Shore.nthshr5 And there were so few places to camp with all of the vehicles and people.nthshr3 nthshr6However we managed to squeeze in along the dunes and had two lovely nights under the stars in a pristine environment Christine. You’d think more people would get away from the city to enjoy the outdoors. The only downside was the difficulty in finding an untrammelled place back of the beach in the dunes to go to the toilet. One would invariably find when digging, a disgusting mess left by someone else! We think that what we’ll do next time is buy one of those portable toilets from Big Wpt and leave it behind in the dunes like everyone else is doing. Apparently there must be some form of collection and disposal service.

Other than that small inconvenience, it was lovely Christine, although we did wonder why there were those small brown streams that smelt atrociously, running from the dunes down to the sea.  Oh, and we think little Johnathon has picked up something, he is really sick.

We had another exciting outing when we hired kayaks to go out on Lake Weyba. It’s lovely there Christine. The brown muddy banks and birds in a pristine environment.lw2 Someone told us later that the banks of the lake used to be pure white sand twenty years ago, but I don’t believe that.lw4 Mind you when we paddled over to the back of Noosa Springs resort and Golf Course we wondered at the stream running out into the lake. It was almost black. But we assumed it was only fertiliser and stuff from the golf course and surely that wouldn’t harm the lake?nsp1

We went to the Noosa Farmers Market yesterday.fm1 There should be more of these in Australia Christine.  The valiant local farmers striving to grow wonderful produce for the good of our health. All locally grown too!  And they recycle packing cases too Christine; I saw a number that said ‘Brisbane Fruit and Vegetable Market’. Isn’t that so in line with our policies Christine!bm And yes, the fruit and vegetables are twice the price of Coles’, but owing to their pristine quality they are worth every penny don’t you think?

The other nice thing is that a lot of the stalls have their goods already placed in brown paper bags for our convenience, and they are marked with the weight, like ‘250g’ or ‘500g’, so there is no delay in shopping. Mind you out of curiosity when I got home I weighed our 500g purchase to find that it was only 300g. They must have been in a hurry to set up their stall.

Well that’s about it for the moment Christine, I am really looking forward to the election in which you are bound to double our numbers.

Yours in Environmental care






Inverell goods


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The sub-culture of the Inverell Goods Shed was very interesting.

The Goods Shedgoodshed was staffed by about a dozen staunch ARU members of varying degrees of health and fitness. However they were totally united when the occasion arose…such as when a shipment of grog would arrive at Inverell from Tooths Brewery.tooths

Somehow they would be forewarned …not only of the arrival date, but also of the number of the LLVLLV that would contain the liquid refreshments.

They would advise the local shunter who upon arrival of the LLV would somehow arrange to drop it down at full speed on the Goods Shed siding to crash whole-heartedly against a series of other trucks waiting outside the Goods Shed.

This would happen at like 12 midnight. Whereupon there would appear out of the darkness 12 good men and true who would be carrying large quantities of beer bottle necks and caps.bottle  The doors of the LLV would be flung open to reveal the catastrophe inside…then the gallant Unionists would retrieve unbroken bottles of beer and replace each one with a broken bottle-neck and cap.

Next day the First Clerk would be informed of the devastation and he would dutifully come to the scene and count the broken bottles…whereupon the local pub would be able to claim for the damage and all would be in order with the world.

Systems work well don’t they?


Ten pounds Ten shillings…a week’s work


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I’ve never been a thief.

That’s if you don’t count me and Barry McGowan sneaking into the Fettler Foreman’s tentfetent and taking a pouch of tobacco when ! was thirteen. Unforunately when we lit up it made us sick and we couldn’t understand what the fuss about tobacco was all about.

Except I have been a thief.

I was going to the bus after a day at Glen Innes High School and noticed a purse lying in the gutter. My first thought of course was to hand it in, but I was late for the bus, and I didn’t know where to hand it in, so I thought I’d keep it to hand in at school next day.

So I secreted the purse and got on the bus, and after all the kids had got off except me and my brother I sauntered up the back of the bus and discreetly opened the purse.

I found that there were two 10 shilling notes in it.tenshillings

and then I looked closer, and the other note turned out to be 10 pounds!10pds

Ten Pounds! I’d never seen ten pounds! A fortune…and I realised later that it was someone’s whole week’s pay. That has plagued me ever since. Later I just knew that she (whilst there was no name in the purse, blokes didn’t carry purses, so she was a she) got home on Friday night …waited with trepidation until the 6 o’clock swill finished then had to face him when he came home and demanded her week’s takings…oh…the nightmare! It’s awful!).

I didn’t know what to do. I’d toyed with the idea of keeping 10 shillings…but 10 pounds! What would you do? I wanted ten shillings, it was 3 month’s pocket money. So I did what anyone would do…I selected a spot on Bolivia Hillbolivia hill near where I rode mustering sheep on the weekendmustering, and threw the purse and its 10 pounds out of the bus window; and hid the 10 shillings in my sock.

The next day at school I made a heap of my mates and myself sick with condensed milk I had bought at the tuckshop,condmilk (condensed milk being all the rage at the time, for those with obscene supplies of pocket money)…and found that friendships tend to evaporate away from largesse now exhausted.

Never mind, come the weekend I would suddenly develop a whole new batch of friends with my new-found Bolivia Hill wealth, after I recovered it.

So I rode up Bolivia Hill, to the spot I’d carefully marked in my mind…and searched…and searched to no avail. Then I realised that some thieving mongrel must have noticed the purse lying on the side of the road and half-hitched it in a scream of smoking brakes and excitement.

I can only hope he had the moral fortitude to hand in that purse.  Somehow I console myself with that hope.

When I told this tale to my Father some years later he groaned and complained that I should have reported it to him. He! Of the long line of drunkard gambler ne’er-do-well gold-miners. Would he have handed it in? Ha I laugh! The 10 pounds was much safer with my benefactor on Bolivia Hill.

Learning arithmetic


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After a few months at Station Master Sydney’s Office, I got worried by the Greeks and other refo Porters all threatening me with a knifeknife if I didn’t hit the bundy clock for them when they left two hours early to go to the pub. bundy

Also I missed my girlfriend at Glen Innes. So I asked to be transferred “closer to home”.  This was a a small misuse of the truth because Dad had left Bolivia and was God Knows where, probably chatting up some barmaid. Anyway, there was some poetic justice because my girlfriend dumped me sadly.

So the Railways transferred me to the Inverell Goods Shed as a Junior Clerk.

This was a serious mistake, because my job there involved extensive arithmetic. I had to enter the Pounds Shillings and Pence amount of all the waybills in a giant journal (using nib and inkwell). Then I had to add up each page of the journal and carry forward the balance until after about the 20th page, the month would come to an end and the dreaded Balance would be commenced. Miind you, there was no such thing as an adding machine.jnlAnd pounds shillings and pence are a mongrel to add up.tenshillings

The Balance was occasioned because my boss the First Clerk (whom I hated to the core of my being) would have entered the waybills in ledgers of which the top page would be sent to a Company to be paid.  The Balance meant that the total of the dozens of ledger pages had to equal the total of the Journal. It never did.

So we would have to hunt for the offending errors…and the First Clerk always knew they would be mine. And they always were. And he would swear and carry on like a bloody drongo, and I would develop a little more hatred for him.

At the end of this two years of blooding with arithmetic the great thing for me was that my young mind learned to recognise numbers and they would stick, and to this day I can add up faster in my head than with an adding machine.

(“Oh I see…you’re a Deaf Adder!”)

Its not What you Know… it’s Who you know.


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Mum had shot through finally, and Dad was sick of doing my washing and stuff, so when I was fifteen he said I couldn’t go on and do the Leaving – I had to go to work.  He said I should go get a job on the Railways but not as a porter where he started, because porters progressed to shunters and he had seen too many of his shunting mates get squashed between the buffers when they didn’t duck under when they should have.buffers

Mind you, they were all drunk most of the time, and accidents will happen.

So I made my way to Sydney where I found the Railway recruitment office at Wynyard.  Talked to Mr Brown and told him I wanted to be a Junior Clerk. He told me I had to do two tests, one English and the other arithmetic.

So he put me in a room and said I had two hours. Well The English was easy, but the arithmetic was a cow:

Question 1: Multiply 3628956268594 by 567981213956.

Question 2: A train leaves Werris Creek at 3:40pm loaded with 389 tons, while another train leaves Glen Innes at 2:19 am loaded with 456tons. Train One drops two S trucks at Uralla. Train two picks up 2 LLV’s at Glencoe. How old is the train one driver at Glencoe? Or something totally incomprehensible.

Eighteen more questions like this.

I was never very good at arithmetic. I think John Lane didn’t teach me any of the basic rules when I was one of the eleven kids at Bolivia Public School.

So I took my completed papers back to Mr Brown who gave me 20 out of 20 for English, but unfortunately only 2 out 20 for the arithmetic. After some discussion he agreed that I could have another go at the arithmetic…and that I should go and buy an exercise book and study the back of it where there were in those days a lot of arithmetic examples.exercise book

So I did, and came back a week later, took the test again, and got 3 right out of 20.Test

“Look son, you better be a porter”, Mr Brown said. “You can’t be a Junior Clerk having such poor arithmetic.”

“I can’t be a Porter Mr.Brown” I moaned. “My Dad told me I had to be a Clerk because Portering is too dangerous.”

“Well, you can’t be a Clerk…wait who is your Dad?”

“He’s ASM at Bolivia.”

“Is he Eddie Barrass?”


“Was he a shunter at Enfield years ago?”


“Well blow me down, I know Eddie!” he exclaimed. “Here let me show you where you went wrong…see here you didn’t carry the 2…and here………”

I finished up with 11 right out of 20 and was told to start as a Junior Clerk at the Station Master Sydney’s Office on No 1 Platform Central, next Monday. A wise decision by Mr Brown because he knew I would do no arithmetic there, I just ran around delivering stuff and wrote labels for Reserved Carriages.  I was good at that because I got 20 out of 20 for English.trainFirst class




Letter to Wesfarmers about Coles


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Mr Richard Goyder,
The Managing Director
Wesfarmers Limited
40 The Esplanade
Perth 6000
Western Australia
30th November 2014
Dear Richard,
I am writing to complain about the behaviour of some of the customers of your Coles store in Noosa Junction, Noosa Heads. There is a certain element amongst them that does not have any regard for other people’s property. They will park their cars in an untidy manner and finding insufficient space to get out, crash their doors into whoever’s car is beside them with absolutely no regard for the damage so occurring.


One would particularly never park next to a tradesman’s rough looking vehicle, tradeycar
or one of those large four-wheel drives all grubby and uncared-for, or for that matter any vehicle which looked suspect, such as one with dents and grot all over it, because you’d know if you did that you’d get home to find another ding in your car where a non-caring idiot had shown total lack of regard for your valuable property.
Mind you, the problem resides primarily in the mean spaces you have provided in your car park. They are so small that it takes most of us elderly at least three goes to get our vehicles into them. My friend Tony solves the problem by parking his much-loved old Mercedes squarely on the line between two parking spaces thus denying entry to anyone beside him. But imagine if we all did that; the few parking spaces our Noosa Council has deigned to leave us around the place would soon be in desperate straits wouldn’t they? But that’s a matter I shall be taking up in separate correspondence.
Suffice to say that the damage to our vehicle was such that we were forced to trade it in on a new BMW 740i. Thereafter, having given the matter a good deal of thought and investigation, I found that I could park the Beemer reasonably safely by driving around the back of Coles and parking in the Staff parking area which always has plenty of spare spacesstaffpkg … a clear reflection of your Coles policy of providing insufficient staff to meet the needs of your customers who are forced to wait with loaded trolleys for ages as some incompetent young checkout woman chats to customers in a clearly failed policy of “attempted friendliness”.
Alternatively, I decide instead to brave the Self-Service disaster that you have installed in Coles these days.selfchkout Here I find that the machine yells instructions at me, and confusing things happen when I try to master the damned machine. Apparently one can’t remove a loaded bag when the lights are red because if I do the machine will have a fit and demand to talk to a member of staff, who are always too busy dealing with someone else’s misadventure, and when they do get to me, I get this scathing look and a hoity toity “You MUST wait for the lights to go green before removing a loaded bag!”.
Not only that, but I am required to remember the name of the vegetable that I picked up during my miserable foray through your godforsaken store, else when I place the bag on the machine’s input-tray-thing I am unable to name what vegetable it is, so I am stuck there, or I make a wild guess and press “lettuce’ and the machine has a fit and demands to see the staff member who will give me a scathing look and tell me it should be ‘Mongolian Taproot’ or something.
Also the grey plastic bags on the out-tray never come out properly ready to be filled, so I have to spend like ages trying to get the next one to open.20141212_160230 Have you ever tried to open one of your plastic bags Richard? It’s impossible to do so with dry aged hands. I have seen people lick their forefinger and thumb in their effort to achieve this test of dexterity that you impale us with, but who in their right mind is going to do that! I imagine such people lying in intensive care groaning their way to a ghastly death from the effects of such an action.
Another thing that is very troubling about your self-service monstrosity of an idea, is the temptation it leads people into. How many unfortunates have succumbed to the rashness of hastily chucking an expensive cheese block worth say $9.40 into a bag of vegetables removed from the out-tray and placed in their trolley. The staff member is always too busy dealing with some stressful issue at one of your other Disembarkation Points of Indifference and Frustration, hence the thief would arrive home with only their conscience to deal with. Besides it is hardly the fault of the conscience-wracked citizen because of the temptation you have placed in their way Richard; on your shoulders rests the dead hand of responsibility. The Bible says “Lead me not into Temptation…for thou shalt be unable to avoid the ultimate trial of righteousness…”, or some such heavily-loaded drivel like that.
Anyway, I have found relative safety for the Beemer, but I am worried that some disgruntled staff member may come and run the pointed end of their pen-knife the full length of my vehicle leaving a nasty scratch,bmw and hand or let down my tyres from spite as a warning to not park in their spaces. Can you imagine what such a scratch would look like on my new vehicle’s lovely black paint Richard? I know I should probably not have gone for the black but it is such a fashionable colour. And I do recognise that because I am a little doddery on the road other cars may not see me quickly enough in the black car to duck out of the way, owing to black being the colour of the tarmac and the night and stuff, but why should I compromise my aesthetics for the sake of a little road sense?
Also the blasted bats that come over at night make a shocking mess when they spatter their liquid droppings all over the place,bat and I have to leave the Beemer out in the driveway at night because the garage is full of our possessions gathered over many years, mementos, bits of boat gear, grandchildren’s toys and stuff. Have you ever tried to clean bat-droppings off your car or your driveway or your garage door Richard?batshit I tell you it is a hard-won victory to eventually complete the task in readiness for the next night’s visitation. Seriously, I would rather be back in the Blitz where the Huns would at least do a proper job and leave nothing that required all next day to clean.
All in all, I do wish you would do something about your half-mad staff members rushing around with their pen-knives damaging everything in sight; as such a scratch would mean that I have to find sufficient money to meet the insurance excess, because the damned RACQ Insurance Company always demands to know the ‘Other Driver’s Licence Number’ which of course I would not have, there being no other driver per se, and consequently they would regard me as “At Fault” and thus required to pay the $600 excess demanded by their cleverly-worded Insurance policy. It may also mean that I would lose my ‘No 1 Rating For Life’ which offers a considerable saving on my annual premium. All of this because you have no coherent policy of controlling the unsocial deviances of your rampant staff.
Lest you sense that I am being somewhat tedious about cost-of-living pressures, I would remind you Richard that we elderly are “Asset rich and Income poor”, which leads me to another issue I would like to raise with you Richard. Your company would have a lot to do with Westpac Bank because you are both in the Top 50 of the ASX. I know, you will try to claim that you have nothing to do with the Westpac Bank, but truth be known you are all as thick as thieves, and hand in glove as it were, so it would be nice if you could do something about the wretchedly low interest rates we are presently getting. How can anyone be expected to survive on a miserable like 3.5% interest?

Besides, think it through, if we got more interest we would have more money to spend in your stores, get it? It’s not rocket science.
Another important matter I would like dealt with is that of the rotten chicken. At Thanksgiving this year my wife and I decided to not partake of our usual one meal a day of boiled rice and baked beans – although from time to time we do treat ourselves to some of that lovely “Meal for a Princess” which is often mistakenly stocked amongst the cat food – and we thought we would follow the turkey tradition popular at Thanksgiving. However, after weighing up the relative costs of purchasing a cooked turkey at the exorbitant prices you charge in your store Richard, we compromised by buying some of your Coles Minced Chicken.chicken mince Imagine our horror and disgust when we opened the plastic wrapping on the minced “chicken” to find an horrendous smell emerging from it! Naturally we hurriedly re-wrapped the loathsome bundle in two of your grey plastic bags and the next day I took it to your refunds counter. The lady was not rude but she was clearly reluctant to be denied the $6.75 I had paid for this ghastly concoction, and was stoney-faced in handing over the money after unwrapping the mess and reeling back from the fetid blast.
Now it is clearly your policy to have no compensation mechanism for such an event, and there is no recognition of the time and expense involved in my going to and from your store in my futile efforts to enjoy a memorable Thanksgiving Dinner, however I would like you to give this some thought and perhaps find a means of assuaging my dissatisfaction about a very undesirable experience.
This is not the first time that I have found your Coles store goods to be less than pristine. I am reminded of some prawns I purchased years ago in better times, that were clearly on the point of being off.prawns On that occasion the then Store Manager Graham somebody bent over backwards to apologise when I explained that I had purchased the prawns specifically as a treat for guests the previous night, and I was mortified by the realisation that I was offering a treat likely to bring them down with howling dysentery for a week.
Graham understood perfectly and offered me two cooked chickens as compensation,chickenCooked which I accepted although God knows why, as bits of one dry and stringy cooked chicken are enough to choke you when they stick in your throat, let alone two.
Well Richard that is all that I wish to raise with you at this stage, I look forward to your response in a timely fashion.
Yours Sincerely
Ernest (known as Jim) J Barrass

Letter to My Optometrist


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Dear Catherine,
I am writing in order to make it clear that our dalliance is over.ItsTimeCath 2
As I walked out of your presence into the sunlight yesterday, it was blindingly obvious to me, yes blindingly, that there was nothing left. As I staggered and whimpered my way to my car, barely seeing where I was going, I was forced to ask myself how I had come to this.
I know you experienced something as you looked deep into my eyes,Eye because I heard you murmur huskily: “beautiful”. It was apparent that you had been moved.
I admit that I had become entranced by your little mannerisms and funny tricks, such as asking “which is better …the first one or the second one?”oneOrtwo knowing full well that they were both the same…and the amusing way in which you would put up a chart that no one could possibly see, eyechartand ask me to read the bottom line.
However, what won me over most of all was the elegant way in which you surreptitiously wiped a spot from your cheek after I cackled at one of my jokes, and then realising that I might have sprayed you a bit,spitting 2. I apologised asking “did that get you?” to hear you say in a dignified manner “No”. Ah yes, for Gympie rabble, you hold yourself very well Catherine.
You shouldn’t worry about being 32. I could sense your unhappiness when I asked your age, guessing 35, because your eyes widened a little and your lips quivered slightly as you stammered “No, I’m ……32”. I know, it has taken you two years to realise that you are now over the hill.EyeChart No longer young. On the slippery slope to 40. It’s not a nice feeling.

When I was 32 I had a conversation with my Senior Programmer of the time, Ron, in which I discussed my dismal future outlook, and I was surprised to hear him admit that 32 was the worst year of his life. He also told me that his mates at that age had felt the same. But they consoled themselves by all getting drunk together at barbecues at each other’s houses a lot,Mates BBQ and tried to ignore the jibes of their younger wives;Young wives because everyone got married a lot younger in those days Catherine. There was a lot of pressure put on young people to ‘raise a family’.

Most of them regretted it; not the getting drunk at the barbecues, but getting married so young, because such young marriages rarely survive the terrors of reaching 32. I’m not saying you are terrified by any means, as I am confident that you will get over it in due course. It’s not just you Catherine, other people get old and wrinkly.Baboon
I thought it would be nice to let you know that I have referred to Fowlers Modern English Usage and you are in fact correct to say that the word “absolutely” should only be used in the context of it being descriptive of a noun… and whilst I doubted your example of “Absolutely yes” it turns out that because “Yes” is a noun then you were absolutely correct.yesyes absolutely I’m not sure why I have raised this matter here, but it has been troubling me, and as you know at 2am such issues take on enormous importance.
I should not end this note without pointing out that I did detect a tiny element of sadistic pleasure in your applying that blast of air to my eyes that made me jump and say “Oooh!”. But I think I understand why you did it, and I forgive you.airblast
Oh, and I must point out that I thought Amanda handled the situation very well when I sat down at the receptionreception after saying hello, but without introducing myself, because I reasoned that as I was the only person there at exactly 10am she would realise that I was in fact me. I could see her looking at her appointment record because she wished to address me in a friendly manner, and then she said “Ernest?” to which I replied “Jim”.

This took her aback for a moment as she looked down to see if she had made a mistake, and then said in a relieved and somewhat self-satisfied manner, “known as ‘Jim’”. I said nothing to that in a smug sort of way, recognising that I had finally scored a small win in my life-long battle for recognition of my true self.
You see my parents named me Ernest James because they were sucking up to my baptism2mother’s father, my grandfather, old Ern Smith. baptism They expected, I think, to be showered with largesse or something owing to their enormous sacrifice. But they weren’t.
Old Ern didn’t like my father. He didn’t drink you see, even though he was probably shell-shocked from the Great War and you’d expect anyone to drink after that wouldn’t you? But Ern didn’t, and he lived on his Soldier-settlement 10 acres at Penrith, which the family fought over when he finally carked it, and his first wife died very young (I think just to get away from the miserable old coot, but no one has admitted to that), and he couldn’t maintain any sort of relationship during the rest of his life, probably owing to his shell-shock and abstinence, and church-going.
On the other hand my father came from a long-line of drunkard gambler ne’er-do-well gold miners. gamblers gold gold2 goldminers(I sense, Catherine, that you are now starting to realise what may have repelled you when you looked into my eyes).

But he was sharp as a tack and could see potentially great benefit in calling me ERNEST James. I think Dad believed that old Ern had money buried somewhere on his block. Who wouldn’t have money if they were abstinent and in property? But, regretfully, it all came to nothing, and in the end Dad got his own back in a way by insisting that I be called “Jim” instead of “Ern” (Thank the Lord!) But as you now know, I have been saddled with Ernest my whole life and find it terribly difficult to shed it.

I did try once when at fifteen working on the NSW Railways as a Junior Clerk in the Goods Shed at Inverell,goodshed I filled in a form writing my name as ‘James Ernest Barrass’. Much to my horror I received an official letter from Werris Creek Headquarters :letter
It has come to my attention that you are not using your correct name. Your Birth certificate clearly states that your name is Ernest James Barrass not James Ernest Barrass. Please refrain from this practice and use the correct nomenclature in future.
Signed Horace J Brown
Traffic superintendent
Per (indecipherable)

Now I didn’t know what ‘nomenclature’ meant, but it scared the pants off me and owing to the implied “OR ELSE” in the missive I never tried it again after that.

Hence my disgraceful treatment of Amanda. You might explain it all to her if you have the time?
I think that’s about covered it, so it being now 3am, I shall retire once more.
Yours Sincerely,
Ernest ‘Known-as-Jim’ James Barrass