WRITING 4 PLEASURE
Writing For Pleasure
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THE TRIALS OF AN ALCOHOLIC NOMAD
When the wind is blowing a gale
And you think the van’s gonna fly away!
What do you do?
Just add alcohol.
When the precipitation is fierce
And you can’t go anywhere,
What do you do?
Just add alcohol
When the fire is burning cold
And snags just won’t cook,
What do you do?
Just add alcohol
Now the fire is flaring up
And the snags look very burnt,
What do you do?
Just add alcohol.
When your partner is snoring
And you just can’t get to sleep,
What do you do?
Just add alcohol.
I’ve woken up this morning, my eyes they cannot see,
And I’ve got a blinding headache,
That’s what happens when you
Just add alcohol.
Meredith Arnold. 2018
We had spent the early part of the day enjoying the glorious sunshine, a cooling sea breeze, and seeing the sights on offer at Mandurah, mingling amongst tanned and sun burned tourists, happy families, and holiday makers strolling along the quays and marinas at the western end of the estuary.
Colourful signs and banners were spread here and there along the jetties, all promoting the many activities available in this area of spectacular waterways. With so many attractions and adventures to choose from we decided the best option was a lengthy dolphin cruise offering a seafood lunch, good coffee, guaranteed dolphin sighting, and whale watching during the spring and early summer season.
One solitary shiny dolphin lazily making it's way along the shoreline heading towards the open sea was our only sighting for the day, but our skipper expertly positioned the boat for cameras and phones to capture the precious moment.
Lunch was delivered on board when we moored at a busy marina crowded with noisy restaurants, so it was very relaxing to set off again to enjoy a leisurely meal cruising under expansive bridges overhead, and making our way along networks of canals where luxurious multi storeyed homes, all with wide frontages, manicured gardens, and luxury boats moored at private jetties contrasted dramatically with country living as we know it.
Perfume point, a low sandy outcrop where the odour of colonies of seabirds hangs heavily in the air, and wafts inland at times of strong breezes was our turning point to begin a slow sunny trip back to where we boarded.
Needing to make the best use of our remaining time we headed to the visitor centre nearby to check out more local colour.
"You'll want to see the thrombolites of course, they are at Lake Clifton on your way home" the busy volunteer behind the counter had replied with an indifferent wave of her hand directing us toward rows of stands stretching the full length of the room. This strange and interesting information was intriguing. What on earth were thrombolites? We located the glossy folded brochure.
Living Fossils. The most primitive life form on earth, dating back 3500 million years, predating plants, dinosaurs, and man. Living rock, to be found in only a handful of places on the planet, and located south of Mandurah at Lake Clifton where the 6 kilometre x 120 metre reef is the largest in the southern hemisphere. The unexpected details had surprised and astounded us as we read them, and the photographs showed a mass of rounded lumps that were not easy to discern. We left Mandurah and drove south prepared to be amazed.
Dense coastal scrub edged the highway where a road sign indicated we should turn to the right toward the lake. Tall Tuart trees poked through the under growth of peppermint eucalypts. Their creamy summer gum blossom looked like newly shorn fuzzy fleece scattered across each canopy. We found parking at the end of the bush track where helpful instructions on the first of several signposts warned us of the dangers of leaving valuables in unlocked cars, and that Australian snakes can be venomous.
We read a detailed fascinating explanation on the formation of thrombolites, rock like structures a result of the activity of single celled bacteria, micro organisms called microbialites, among the first creatures on earth to produce oxygen, thereby making all subsequent life possible, then we continued on to the strongly built boardwalk stretching ahead over boggy ground. A swamp, and limestone bedrock are usual where this rare and ancient process occurs.
A wide jetty led us over the sandy shoreline of the long shallow lake, land locked, but still 30 percent salt water and home to huge black bream, tolerant of both salt and fresh water, with some living 20 to 30 years thanks to the prohibition of fishing in 1996, and also, the location of the unique living fossils we had travelled to see.
A community of humble rounded scone like structures lay just beneath or breached the surface of the moving water as far as the eye could see along the shallows. Limestone coloured porous rocks resembling swirled discoloured meringues lay baking in the sun above the waterline. The wind had become strong in this open area, agitating the surface of the lake into choppy currents and whipping up white frothing foam which blew back and forth then snagged in drifts against the rough thrombolites.
A couple with a wire coated, keen eyed, red setter laughed to each other and teased the dog in German, as he lurched forward to catch the flying foam, then propped in stiff legged confusion as it changed direction and blew wildly and unpredictably, including directly at him in attack.
We joined the strangely quiet groups of people gathered here and there along the railings on the jetty and stared down at the puzzling circles of stone below, simple evidence of a time when life dawned on earth. A span of time so great it presents a difficult challenge to neatly file the knowledge of it into a comfortable niche of understanding.
We travel to far away places at great expense to visit the ruins and wonders of the ancient world. We marvel as new discoveries of the evolution of man stretch back even further in time than previously known, and yet all of our prehistory pales into insignificance against these thousands of millions of years.
Yes we were glad to have seen the thrombolites at Lake Clifton, a place where time passes daily and yet stands still.
A FAIRY TALE
Once upon a time in a far-away land called Worlo there was a large boys school. This school had a magical playground that extended for many hectares out the back. It was so large that it included a forest and a trickling stream where boys could roam at will and invent their own games. They built forts, shot arrows and fashioned sticks into toy guns. Groups of like-minded boys gradually dominated their home patches, forming gangs that took sole control and excluding boys that did not belong to their group. One of the toughest gangs was controlled by a bully boy named Potter. He had gained control by threatening to rat on any boy that challenged him and backed this up by going to the head master with false accusations of drug trading. When staff investigated his claims he rewarded his mates with free sweets if they supported his side of events and he thus brought about the expulsion of any one who challenged him. This group called themselves ‘The Rascals’.
The school staff were vaguely aware that these games had gotten out of hand, but thought that it would work itself out. The headmaster, Uriah Norton, sought to dampen disputes by encouraging the collection and swapping of football cards. The best collections were made by the traders that were game enough to cross into the Rascals territory for swaps. Norton saw that trade helped to reduce the inter-gang suspicion and lunch time disputes and was pleased. But Potter had a chip on his shoulder from a past biff on the nose from an older boy and dreamed of controlling the whole playground for himself. Without warning he arranged for his gang to start throwing pebbles at any boy who came near and thus expanded his territory. The other boys were annoyed, but, thought that peace was more important than fighting, so let it happen. Potter smiled to himself and puffed out his chest at his success. ‘Too easy’ he thought. ‘I can make myself King of the whole playground’.
Next week Potter, who had a violent personality, had the Rascals stockpile rocks and slingshot them up and over onto the other boys. Some were hit on the head and retreated to the sick room. But others were stung into action and formed an alliance at the West end of the playground. They stood their ground despite their lack of stones. Potter was surprised by such resistance, but couldn’t back down now. His pride was at stake. His next move was to invite several other tough boys, namely Xerxes and Kill-un, to join his side, who being of like mind with Potter, readily did so. Thus, the Worlo playground formed into two sides: the Wests and, for the want of a better name, the Easts.
The Wests belatedly got organized and cut off the supply of football cards to the Rascals. This infuriated Potter and his buddies even more. But they still had control of their part of the playground. This allowed Potter to fire his nuclear weapon. One day, to everyone’s surprise, the whole sprinkler system came on at once, soaking every boy to the skin, regardless of whether they were Wests or Easts. All retreated to their class rooms in shock. To make matters worse, when the boys came back next week, the whole playground had turned brown. The sprinklers had been spiked with Roundup, that Potter had stolen from the garden shed. Then their skin began to itch. The water had also been spiked with bleach, stolen from the cleaner’ s store. Potter had forgotten that the sprinklers were one integrated system, so his side also suffered severely.
Potter was expelled from Worlo, but the school never recovered its former glory. The boys that were left erected a sign at the entrance to the playground that read: ‘No, it wasn’t us: it actually was you, Potter’. And the children lived unhappily ever after.
Allan Wilson (June 2022: Topic: No, it’s not me, it is actually you)
LYNNE HUME (March…From the point of view of paper)
Originally when I first came into Tom`s office I looked after his appointments. He was such a gentle soul and these were happy days. I suppose it was because I worked closely with him every day that I fell hook, line and sinker for him. We had a very open relationship and I was just happy to hang on to his every word.
After a couple of months, working with him, he decided I should go home with him every night. I was ecstatic with this arrangement. This meant I could be with him twenty-four hours a day. When you really love someone, that makes you very happy. But we all know there are consequences if one is too happy don`t we.
When Tom and I were together in his bed he told me everything. I was his best friend; his confidante. Sometimes his stories were just mundane things. Other times they were intimate ones. I knew every detail about the boy`s nights out, the money he lost on the horse racing and the winnings at the Casino. He told me about the one night stands. . I knew they meant nothing as he always came home to me and told me about them. I don`t think I`m the jealous type so I enjoyed his intimate descriptions of what he got up to.
Then, every morning, he would gather me up with such care and we would drive in to his office as if nothing had happened the previous night.
From the beginning I never liked Alison Low. I realised trouble was brewing when he first sighed, “Oh Di. You should have seen Alison Low last night. She was the life of the party and soooo beautiful. She was wearing an emerald necklace and earrings and even the fingernail colour matched the jewellery. Just the colour of her beautiful green eyes. All the blokes were around her like bees to the honeypot but it was to me she secretly handed her phone number.”
He was as smug as the cat licking up stolen cream.
Damn beautiful, green eyed Alison with the matching jewellery and fingernails! How could plain old me compete with that? My eyes were turning green but it was the ugly green eyed monster within.
He said he was going to phone Alison Low from the office first thing. Just like every other morning he showered and had his breakfast, but he flew out the door without me; his mind full of other things. A couple of minutes later I heard his key in the lock and he came through the front door.
“Oops. Couldn`t forget to take my best friend with me,” he smiled.
So now I had just become a best friend. To be fair he never promised anything else but I had thought those long conversations in his bed at night time may have counted for something.
Over the next few months he talked incessantly about Alison Low. He had too much respect for her to want to get her into the cot straight off like he had with the one night stands. He sent her flowers, took her to expensive restaurants and live shows. He met Mr and Mrs Low and they seemed to like him. Why wouldn`t they? I had every dress she ever wore described to me in detail. He asked if I could imagine how soft her hair was, how delicious she smelt, how wonderful he felt when they were kissing. Every night we`d go to bed there would be another story to lower my confidence.
Eventually I heard about the night I did not want to know about. They drove down to the beach where he dropped to one knee and proposed marriage. I wanted to cry buckets of tears. Of course she agreed. That`s just what any damn Alison Low would do isn`t it. I know I would have.
The marriage plans were made and they were to return to his home, after the honeymoon, until they could afford a bigger place. I now pondered my situation. Where did this leave me? I didn`t have to wait long to find out.
Tom picked me up, gave me a little kiss and looked at me apologetically.
“Goodbye my love. You`ve been my best friend all year. Always there when I needed you but I`m sorry old girl, I don`t want Alison to discover you.” And with that he put me to bed in the attic and locked the door.
I slept in that attic for a long time. Seemed like a hundred years but I`m sure it wasn`t. One day the attic door was unlocked and two young boys crept into the room.
“Mum said we could have anything we find that`s useful. You look in that box and I`ll search this one Joey”
“Fancy someone selling their house and leaving their boxes in the attic Jack. Grown-ups are silly.”
“Yes I would always take everything I owned if we shifted again.”
“Hey Jack. Someone`s left an old diary here. This is ideal.”
“Just the thing Joey”
Jack put the diary under his arm and the two excited little boys raced out the front door and down to the creek.
Sitting on the bank they excitedly tore out my pages, making me into little paper boats and setting me afloat on the stream to be tossed and turned by the breeze … sailing into oblivion.
I cursed Alison Low; her green eyes, her emeralds and most of all her diamond ring.