The Lobster Award (I am flushed with pride and glowing like a cooked crustacean).

I was nominated (and I received!) an award in my 5th or 6th year of school during my time at Balgowlah Heights Public. The award was for ‘attendance’ I think. Yesterday I received another, no less prestigious, nomination. It came from Lizardin, with whom I have conducted several poetry duels in recent times. So …. thank you, Lizardin.

This one cannot be for attendance, as my level of attendance since those heady days of primary school has been very poor and I hardly ever turn up on time to anything, anymore. Apparently it is for ‘being nice’ – at least according to a rough translation from the original German. And so I accept it with great pride and fabricated humility.

But, as Lizardin herself points out, such awards come with enormous responsibilities attached. I am not good with responsibilities.

The first responsibility is to thank the person who nominated you. And I do. I think Lizardin is the most wonderful person in the entire universe and I am already altering my final will and testimony (just in the nick of time, perhaps!) to reflect this newly acquired respect and adoration.

The second responsibility is to nominate 7 other bloggers for the same award. This is where I disqualify myself and I expect to be stripped of my shiny new medal and humiliated in front of my peers at the presentation ceremony (when is the ceremony, by the way? Is there a dress code?) as a result. But the fact is that, as a responsibility phobic individual myself, I can hardly pass responsibility on to others. Besides that …. I don’t want to share. It’s my award. Go and get your own.

There is a series of questions to answer from Lizardin. I’ll do my best to answer them but I won’t be posing any of my own (see: responsibility, above).

Here are her questions:-

1. What have you forgotten?

Eh? What? How would I know? Is there someone else I am supposed to have thanked? Suddenly I feel like I’ve forgotten everything. What sort of question is this, anyway?

2. If you were guaranteed the answer to one question, what would it be?

Not this one.

3. What’s it like being you right now?

Not great. I wouldn’t recommend it.

4. What makes you nostalgic?

I do get a bit soppy and pathetic when I think too much about my kids. They are middle-aged now, so perhaps it’s time we all grew up.

5. What’s the most beautiful word in the world?

I don’t know, but I don’t think it would be an English word, somehow. English is a bit too introspective to be beautiful. Probably something in French, Italian or Spanish. But I don’t speak those languages.

6. What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?

People are so gracious. They always act as though every gift is the greatest thing ever. So who can tell?

7. Best gift you ever received?

I was given a Scalextric set for my 10th birthday (Scalextric is a electric model racing car set, for the information of the uninitiated – though I doubt that there could be too many such people) and I adored it for years. My mother gave it to someone else when I was about 18 and had left home. I was devastated. I bought myself another one only recently.

8. How many times a day do you look in the mirror?

The mirrors around here are pathological liars. So I never look at them. This does lead to some awkward social slip ups, from time to time, of course. I am frequently seen in public with food and red wine stains in my beard and my fly undone.

9. Whom do you secretly admire?

There was a girl that I used to sneak glimpses at every day when my bus stopped at her school on my way home. That was about 50 years ago and I still think about her. She looked back only once and, I am sure, has never thought of me since. You have to admire that sort of determined resistance.

10. What makes you feel safe?

Solitude.

11. Whom are you envious of? Why?

I have no way of really knowing but I’m pretty sure that some other guy ended up marrying that schoolgirl from the bus stop.

Christmas in Queensland

A little while ago Cyranny was expressing a degree of surprise to discover that Australians enjoyed hot Christmases and asked for further information on the subject here

I was recalling only this morning, to someone else, a story my father told me of a Christmas long ago and I thought, then, that I might share it whilst it was still in my mind. The story is true but the names (I’m not sure why) have been changed. Forgive the lack of editing, please.

My father flew as a decorated bomber pilot during the Second World War. At the age of 19 or 20 he commanded four-engined aeroplanes on raids over Germany where he dropped explosive devices on people he had never met before. Those people, quite understandably, did everything in their power to kill him. What must have this felt like? I don’t know. According to Dad it didn’t much feel like anything. Not something he could describe, anyway.

I mention the war only because it presented something of an abrupt professional turning point for my father who had, until that point in history, been carving out a career in journalism and who had, like the son who would follow him, held vague aspirations to represent his country in Rugby Union.

The war changed all that. In the late 1940’s my father found himself at the crest of a wave that was to become the Australian aviation industry, although it was little more than a ripple at that point, of course. He flew DC3’s around New South Wales and Queensland and would continue to fly them all over the world for much of his life. He accumulated fifteen thousand hours of flight time in DC3s alone (he flew a lot of other stuff as well, including 747s), and so it could be that he was the most experienced DC3 pilot in history. I don’t know.

The peacetime crew of a DC3 comprised of 3 people. A Captain and a first officer (let’s call them Dave and Geoff), who were always male, and a flight hostess, who was always female.

Aviation stops for no one. Pilots and their crew often find themselves working over Christmas. And so it was that one hot Christmas Eve my father and his crew stayed overnight in an outback Queensland hotel during a week long trip away. To mark the occasion they met for dinner in the bar and enjoyed a few cold drinks. The flight hostess, according to my father’s report, was a remarkably attractive young lady (let’s call her Deborah), but also a sensible one, who excused herself well before midnight to go to bed. My father and the first officer continued drinking a while longer and struck up a conversation with the publican.

Life on the land in Australia after the war was not easy. When times are hard for farmers the next in line to suffer are the publicans, many of whom (allegedly) looked towards insurance companies for a solution. In outback Queensland there was something of an epidemic of ‘electrical faults’ and ‘lightning strikes’ resulting in hotels being burnt to the ground.

On this particular Christmas Eve my father enquired as to how things were going for this particular publican.

“Well, mate,” was the reply, “let me put it this way. If things don’t turn around soon I won’t be here next Christmas.”

“Oh, yeah?” my father responded in jest and grinned at his first officer, “then if you push a couple of beers our way tonight we’ll see what we can do about burning the place down.”

The publican said nothing. He poured two beers. And two pilots didn’t pay for any further drinks that night.

***

Eventually, having had perhaps more beer than is medically recommended, those two pilots stumbled off to bed. It must have been very early on Christmas Day that my father was woken from one dream and ushered into another one. Deborah was standing above him dressed in almost nothing and whispering in his ear. As she was stroking his shoulder he could feel not only her sweet warm breath on his forehead but also the soft touch of her breast as it brushed against his skin.

She seemed to be suggesting, none too subtly, sexual congress, and for a few beautiful moments my father imagined that all of his Christmases had come at once. He was a little shocked, however, to hear that she may also have been suggesting a threesome.

And as he continued to wake from his slumbers my father gradually began to realise that he may have slightly misinterpreted the message. Deborah, it seemed, was not gently arousing him and speaking softly of love. She was, in fact, shaking him violently and yelling at him.

“Dave, you fucking drunk, wake up!” she was screaming, “The fucking pub is on fire! I’ve already woken Geoff. We’ve got to get out of here!”

***

And so it was that in the early hours of one Christmas Day during the late 1940s, in sweltering Queensland heat, my father found himself gathered with others in front of an old wooden pub as it burnt to the ground. At one point, it is reported, the publican appeared amongst the assembled crowd in the same clothes that he had worn the previous evening when serving free beers. Upon noticing that everyone else was wearing bedtime attire (or less) he disappeared, only to materialise shortly afterwards dressed in pyjamas.

***

I don’t know what really happened that night. My father was a little unclear about it himself. Perhaps there was a lightning strike or a wiring failure. That’s what I choose to believe, anyway.

Hopefully the insurance company believed it too.

From The Onion … sorry, but I could not resist.

ATLANTA—Saying it would violate his deeply held religious beliefs, area pornographer Chet Kirkendall, a 57-year-old Christian who frequently films explicit amateur videos for his clients, confirmed Friday he had denied service to a gay male couple that wished to hire him to direct their sex tape. “I’ve been in this business 25 years, and I strongly believe rim jobs, facials, and other hardcore sex acts should only take place between one man and one woman, or one man and two women, or in some cases five men taking turns with one woman—but never two men,” said Kirkendall, who told reporters that after a career directing hundreds of gang bangs, scenes of “barely legal” teenagers, and a variety of stepmother-themed material, he wasn’t about to violate his traditional Christian values by filming man-on-man action. “I take my work very seriously and am always proud to capture on video the sacred union of a man thrusting deep inside a woman and then cumming on her tits, or sometimes her face. God condones such sucking and fucking, but in His eyes, filming homosexual men bringing each other to orgasm through anal sex or vigorous fisting would be an abomination. It’s right there in the Book of Leviticus.” Asked whether he also would have denied service to a lesbian couple, Kirkendall refused to give a definitive answer, saying it might be permissible to accept such a job “as long as it was two hot chicks.”