HENRY LAWSON – AUSTRALIAN POET ON AUSTRALIA AND ITS BUSH FIRES.

The current Australian Bush Fire Season has apparently started earlier than usual.

The severity of the wide ranging bush fires across the nation this season has drawn international attention  because of their ferocity and the extensive destruction of bush land and pastures, thousands of homes, thousands of farm buildings, motor vehicles and equipment together with the shocking loss of human life and the death of millions of native animals and birds.

Bush fires, drought, flood and temperature fluctuations( both up and down the centigrade scale) are common place in this wonderful country, ‘Down Under’.

Without entering into the ‘Globing Warning’, debate, our weather patterns have been written about and been the subject of verbal debate for centuries.

One only has to read Dorothea Mackellar’s epic poem, ‘My Country’,  written in 1904 to learn about ‘A Sunburnt Country’ with it’s droughts and flooding rains.

However, the poem that most sticks in my mind is Henry Lawson’s 1911 poem, ‘ A Bush Fire.’

Henry Archibald Hertzberg Lawson, 17/6/1867 – 2/9/22 was one of Australia’s best loved and admired writers and poets. His work centres on the Colonial Period and his novels and poems depict Australian life duringthat time.

Here is Lawson’s poem to which I refer:

unknown

I found this poem to be quite moving and its few lines so well describe the way  our bush fires spread so rapidly and with such destructive force.

I encourage you to read more of Henry Lawson’s works and I’m sure you will also enjoy those of Dorothea Mackellar.

Hoo roo for now,

Perc

MASSIVE BUSH FIRES SAVAGE PARTS OF NEW SOUTH WALES.

The Australian landmass has always been well known for its droughts, floods and bushfires.

The country has been enduring extreme drought conditions for over a year now and water restrictions at various levels have been implemented in many areas.

Although Casa Creakingbones is connected to the town water supply, many years ago SWMBO and I had contractors sink a bore and we also installed three 20,000 litre rainwater tanks. These mesures have ensured that at least we can  retain some green grass around the house and if circumstances require it, our rain water tanks can be utilised for drinking water and household use.

Fortunately, our town is generally not endangered by bush or grass fires.

However, for the past few weeks many areas of Australia have been ravaged by ferocious bush fires including areas less than 100 klms from here.

The South Coast of New South Wales is a summer/Christmas/New Year holliday destination for thousands of people and its beaches and natural beauty are second to none.

However horrendous bush fires are now burning across hundreds of kilometers of the South Coast with mass evacuations and power, communications , fuel and food either unavailable or in short supply. Over 50,000 homes along the South Coast are now without power.

Since last Monday the 30th December 2019, seven people have perished in the fires, people are missing,  small towns have been totally destroyed and hundreds of houses and out buildings have been razed to the ground by the fires.

The Bush Fire Brigade volunteers and professional firefighters are doing a magnificant job protecing property and saving lives. They are being assisted by the armed forces who have been committed by ther Prime Minister, Scott Morison.

Total fire bans have been declared in many areas of the State, including our local government area. This means that even the outside use of BBQ’s is totally prohibited.

The main impact on us is air quality. For a few weeks now, like the Sydney metropolitan area, many  town on what is known as The South West Slopes have have been enveloped in smoke haze generated by the bush fires.

As we are residents of the South West Slopes, air quality has become a major problem, particularly for sufferers of asthma of whom I am one. Venturing outside for any length of time is risky, particularly if physical activity is involved.

Here are a few images taken around Casa Creakingbones in the last week or so:DSC_1083

SUNRISE ON 31/12/19

DSC_1105 2
SUNSET 1/1/2020
20191222_0387 copy
LOOKING NORTH FROM CASA CREAKINGBONES 7.20AM ON 22/12/2019
20191222_0381 copy
LOOKING SOUTH WEST FROM CASA CREAKING BONES 7.25AM 22/12/2019

 

DSC_0609
LOOKING NORTH ACROSS THE ROAD FROM CASA CREAKING BONES, 11.10AM ON 20/12/2019.
DSC_0608
LOOKING TOWARDS OUR TOWN’S CBD, 11.15AM, 20/12/2019.

The weather forecast for next Saturday, 4th January, 2020 is for temperatures in excdess of 40 degress celsius or 104 degrees farenheight if you haven’t gone metric.

Either way, it’s going to be bloody hot.

However, please spare a thought for the people across NSW and the rest of Australia who have lost everything in these dreadful fires.

Hoo roo for now.

 

 

 

 

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK.

My ‘A LUCKY FIND’ blog the other day sent me rumaging through my files to see if there were any other bits and pieces that recorded some of the events in which I became involved during my thirty four years as a member of the New South Wales Police Force.

What I found sent me on a journey back in time from my start as a Probationary Constable in May 1961 until my retirement in May 1995 at the rank of Chief Superintendent.

I was proud to wear these epalettes identifiying my rank.

20191206_0325-2 copy

Wearing this insignia was a far cry from the simple number and NSW Police Force badge I wore on duty in 1961.

Way back then, a workmate took this photograpoh of me when we were performing duty on a public beach on the shores of Sydney harbour. It was every uniform policeman’s wish that a strong gust of wind would blow our summer helmet under a bus. That didn’t happen to this helmet until my wish was granted in Wagga Wagga in about 1964.2019-12-06-0001 copy.jpg     As was the process way back then, not long after I’d successfully completed my 12 months as a Probationary Constable I was transferred, without notice, ‘In the Interests of the Service’, from Sydney  to rural Wagga Wagga in the Riverina district of New South Wales. As I was a single man I was graciouslly given a week to pack, find accommodation there and complete my move.

I during my five years on General Duties in uniform in Wagga Wagga and it’s surrounding police stations I learned a lot about policing and that experience served me well when I was transferred back to the City of Sydney in late 1967.

Then, in March 1968 I was transferred to  a plain clothes investigation section at the Criminal Investigation Branch(C.I.B).

Then on Sunday, April 21st, 1968 the fun really started.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph newspaper on 22nd April, 1968 ran the following story:

2019-12-06-0001-1

The Telegraph’s coverage was followed up by this article in Everybody’s Magazine  on the 1st May, 2068

2019-12-06-0004   I was attacked from behind by a man who attempted to tear my eyes out but I was able to arrest my attacker and one other man. By that time a very large angry mob had gathered and they were eventually dispersed by uniform police who arrived on the scene in large numbers.

THE MOB 1968 copy 2

MORE ME 1968 copy 2

Me.1968 copy 2  Fortunately my injuries were not serious and after I’d charged the two offenders I was photographed for evidentiary purposes and taken to the Sydney Eye Hospital where my injured eyes and facial injuries were treated and I was discharged.

After a week or so of ‘Hurt on Duty’ leave when my wounds had closed and I could see without too much difficulty, the Police Medical Officer cleared me as ‘Fit for Duty’ and I returned to work to continue with my normal investigative duties with no continuing anxiety or distress.

At a later date my assailant returned to court, pleaded guilty and  was dealt with appropriately. I was extremely happy with the Court’s decision.

Hoo roo for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A LUCKY FIND.

A few days ago a friend and I were having a yarn about a book called, ‘Bradstow, a study of Status, Class and Power in a small Australian Town’, authored by a G.R.A Wild.

The book is about Bowral, a small town in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. It’s been long out of print but used copies occasionally pop up on the net. If you feel inclined look it up on Google. It’s worth the effort.

Anyway I told my mate I’d lend her my copy. Unfortunately the volume is nowhere to be found in my book collection.

    Now, during my search for the book I came across something totally unrelated and it was indeed, A LUCKY FIND.

   My find had absolutely nothing to do with the first three paragraphs above.

Now, back  in the Dream Time.

Before I retired I was the leader of what was known as ‘The Policy Unit’. The Unit’s task was to analyse arising issues and develop appropriate responses for implementation.

On this occasion the Policy Unit was developing responses to a long list of recommendations arising from a Commmission of Inquiry into the organisation conducted by an eminent Judge.

From time to time the Unit’s responses to the Commission’s recommendations were not well received by the areas of the organisation concerned and the same applied to the personnel impacted by the responses.

Often, the grievences were made directly to the Minister of the Crown responsible to the Government of the day for the Department and this was one of those occasions.

As a consequence I was a regularly summoned to the Minister’s Office to advise on implementation progress and what steps were being taken by the Department to ensure that these specific recommendations of the Commision of Inquiriy would be implemented in full.

My frequent Ministerial visits drew the media’s attention and were often reported in newspapers and occasionally on TV news bulletins and interviews.

One positive outcome of the media’s attention was being sent for specific media presentation training that I received from a firm of consultants.

Now, back to my LUCKY FIND.

Tucked away in the index of my book collection I came across a cartoon that related to my time in the Policy Unit.

Here it is. I had to touch up the Policy Unit printing as it wasn’t clear in the original.POLICY UNIT

The Bulletin was always a top publication and one I always enjoyed reading. It was founded way back in 1880 and continued in circulation until it’s last issue in January 2008.

By the way, the Policy Unit recommendations I referred to above were fully implemented.

Hoo roo for now.

TIME GOES BY SO SWIFTLY.

Its hard to believe that it was on the 6th September, 2018 when I last posted here on WordPress.

Things certainly haven’t stood still here at Cassa Creakingbones during that time.

Age has suddenly crept up on SWMBO and myself with the inevitable increase in health issues, both major and minor for the two of us. As a result I’m now SWMBO’s official carer and many adjustments have been made by both of us to accommodate the changes that have taken place.

One casualty of the changed circumstances was quitting my volunteer role as Photography Tutor for a class of nearly twenty mature students at the local University of the 3rd Age (U3A), an organisation for advanced learning.  The local U3A offers over sixty courses including Astronomy, German, French, Spanish, Yoga and Thi Chi for example.

A further casualty was my motorcycling. During the past four years I’ve only  travelled a mere five hundred and fifty kms on my beloved Harleys.

However, a couple of great motorcycling mates and two of my health advisors whose advice I value, have, over the past twelve months or so, gently lectured me on the need to ‘get out more’ when the opportunity presents itself.  Putting it bluntly, that meant, ‘RIDE YOUR BLOODY HARLEY.’

Once a week SWMBO has a supervised day away from home in what is known as Respite.

Knowing she is in safe hands and well cared for, the day gives me the opportunity to undertake activities that are not possible at other times.

Have I taken the opportunity to ride?

No.  Why?

Firstly the winds have been too strong to make a ride totaly unenjoyable. Secondly, SWMBO has had a minor surgical procedure with post operation attention that requires regular home treatment.  As her carer, that’s my responsibility.

Thirdly, and probably the most significant reason is that my two wheel riding confidence has severely diminished and I’m delaying my return to the road until my confidence is restored.

To assist in the process I’ve purchased a new pair of kevlar lined riding jeans and another pair of Harley sun glasses. I’m feeling more confident already and I’m preparing to venture out as soon as SWMBO can return to her Tuesday respite regime, weather permitting of course.

Here it is, my 2019 Harley Davidson FLHCS, minus the removeable touring windscreen. In common parlance, Harley owners refer to this softail as a Heritage Classic. It’s been a popular Harley for many, many years and with  its new and more powerful engine sitting on a brand new softail frame it’s sure to retain its popularity.

20191130_0302 copyHARLEY FLHCS 19 copy 2HARLEY FLHCS_0301 copy 2

Hoo roo for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEMORIES, OR LACK THEREOF, ARE MADE OF THIS.

As I was growing up, books and reading formed an important part of my life. In fact, I was surrounded by books. My father was a bibliophile, my mother was not far from becoming one and I must confess that now, I too almost fit that description.

From my father I inherited a love of the classics,  Roman and ancient Greek history, biographies, poetry and, dare I say it, Shakespeare .

From my mother I inherited a love of novels, particulalry where mystery and crime were the theme with a good plot and,  poetry.

Even with the advent of ebooks, ipads and the like, the printed volume remains my reading choice, particularly when travelling or relaxing.

Poetry has always been a source of great pleasure for me, particularly the works of the great Australian bush poets of whom I intend to make the subject of a future post.

British poets, and to some extent those hailing from the United States have also fascinated and enthralled me and that brings me to todays heading.

A few nights ago I was watching a program from the BBC about a couple who were roaming  through Shropshire looking to purchse a property to turn into a bed and breakfast.

As the show progressed and more of the delightful Shropshire countryside was revealed, I remembered how much I enjoyed A.E.Houseman’s poetry, particularly,’ A Shropshire Lad.’

I knew that somewhere in my collection I had a copy of his ‘Collected Poems’ that contained the poem, ‘A Shropshire Lad,’ and I set about to locate it.

Lo and behold, find it I did, a 1961 edition of ‘The Penguin Poets’,  priced at five shillings and sixpence, tucked away on the top shelf of one of my book cases.

IMG_0202 copy

Now 1961 was an important year for me at it was my 21st birthday year and making the purchase of ‘A Shropshire Lad’ way back then must have had some significnce for me but if that was so, I can’t recall what that may have been.

Anyway, I skipped straight to reread the various sections that comprise the whole poem and I was horrified to find that page 38 was dog eared.

I’d learned from a very early age that a book lover would never, never, stoop to dog earing a page. That’s what bookmarks are for.

Here’s the offending page, image courtesy of my iPhone taken just a few moments ago.

IMG_0208
PAGER 38 – A.E. HOUSEMAN, ‘A SHROPSHIRE LAD,’ PENGUIN 1961 EDITION.

The discovery of the unwanted dog ear gave me cause to wonder if any other pages had been so damaged and how it had occurred.

As a result I returned to the very first page of the book and made another discovery.

Here it is, courtesy of the iPhone taken just  few moments ago:IMG_0203

Now to save you searching for a copy of ‘A Shropshire Lad,’ I took the liberty of photographing, again with my iPhone, pages 38 and 43 and here they are in sequence:

IMG_0210
PAGE 38
IMG_0209
PAGE 43

Once again I was presented with something I would never do nor encourage others to do and that is make notations on a book’s pages or underline.

Now I often lend books to friends and in recent years I’ve kept a basic list of the names of individuals to whom I’ve loaned a book or books.

But way back when?  In those days I always relied on my memory.

Here we are in 2018, fifty seven years after I purchased the book.

Who is ‘Carole?’ I haven’t the slightest idea. I can only surmise that ‘Carole’ was a close friend to whom I had loaned the book. Perhaps the two stanzas on page 43 are indicators of this. The second last line on page 38 indicates that I may have been twenty two at the time of the loan.

I guess when one is young and green, Houseman’s lines,

‘ And now the fancy passes by,

And nothing will remain,’

are true indeed.

Perhaps being unable to remember can be a good thing.

One interesting memory that has come back to me after this little exercise is Palonius’s advice to his son Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

‘Never a borrower nor a lender be for loan oft loses both itself and friend and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.’

Hoo roo for now.

 

HOW TIME JUST FLYS BY……OR……OUT WITH THE OLD(ALMOST) AND IN WITH THE NEW.

It seems a long time ago but in reality it was only on 20th July 2017 that I took delivery of a new 2017 Harley Davidson FLSS motor cycle.

Here it is in all its glory:2017 FLSS _DSC6453 copy

FLSS 2017 _DSC6446 copy 2

2017FLSS_DSC6454 copy 3

2017 FLSS_DSC6447 copy 2

The bike had to be run in, 1,600 klms in all, before the engine’s full potential could be unleashed. As deliverd, this model Harley had been factory fitted with a Screaming Eagle performance motor and a few other bits and pieces to transform it into a genuine weapon.

Over the following two weeks I rode about 350 klms, adhering strictly to the running in procedure and enjoyed every minute, with a some exceptions.

Firstly, this Harley was fitted with an hydraulic clutch. After 25 years riding Harleys with cable operated clutches I felt that it would take forever for me to master this new Harley technology.

Secondly,  there was my problem with the ergonomics. The standard seat, although comfortable enough seemed to place my knees in a position that was slightly uncomfortable and my feet felt wrongly positioned on the foot plates.

Thirdly, after I replaced the original seat with an aftermarket one I found the riding position was first class, but, it was like sitting on a pile of broken house bricks. Problem far from solved.

Whilst all of the seating arrangements were being sorted out I decided to add a quick release Harley windscreen to the bike. This is where the forth problem arose.

To match the bikes colour I needed a windscreen with the connecting mechanism in black chrome. When it finally arrived, normal chrome had been supplied, minus the attachment kit.

Back to the supplying dealer, change over no problem. The new screen and all the correct attachments arrived post haste. Problem solved? Unfortunately, no, which led to problem five.

I’d ordered an 18″ screen. Only 21″ was available.  On this occasion the problem was solved by a local motor cycle expert modifyer who swiftly reduced the screen from 21″ to 18″ as perfectly as one delivered direct from Harley Davidson.

Now you might think that all of these little issues were over and done with but the seat problem still exixsted.

Finally to solve problem number three I ordered an Harley Davidson Sundowner two up seat.

It fitted the bike like a glove, looked perfect but there was only one problem, let’s call it number five.

The new seat put me too far forward towards the fuel tank, so, back to my friendly motor cycle modifyer where the seat was slightly modified and hey presto, all problems solved.

I took it for a run and after about 60  klms I found the new bike was perfect.  It not only looked great, it’s performance, even though not fully run in was subperb. And best of all, it seemed to be very comfortable to ride.

On arriving home after totting up a total of 120 klms I found it extremely difficult to dismount. My neck, lower back, left arm and wrist seemed frozen in place.

Finally I made it inside. I wasn’t cold, even though it was mid July and the outside temperature was hovering around the 8 degree centigrade level.

When I could move unaided, I got the bike back  into its shed and secured it to the floor.

Shortly thereafter,  another series of events, totally unrelated to motorcycling  took place at Cassa Creakingbones, effectively stifling my general activities, including motorcycling.

The months dragged by, my beautiful, yes that’s the correct description, Harley FLSS sat in the shed, chained to the floor and attached to the battery minder. Every time I approached, I imagined the bike begging to be taken out of the shed, ridden, shown off and returned with the oil heated, the tyres warm and the odometer proudly recording more and more kilometres.

Unfortunately the situation at Cassa Creakingbones hadn’t changed and tearing off into the countryside was still out of the question.

The final days of 2017 came and went, PC-99 still sat, unused and alone in the shed.

Then, late in March 2018 I got a call from an old motorcycling mate who told me that he’d been into my favourite Harley Dealership to kick a few tyres and whilst in there, the Dealer Principal told him that there, amongst the new 2018 Harley Davidsons was the perfect motorcycle for me.

I’ve been dealing with that one dealership for over twenty five years and I obviously value their advice and the way they look after me as a customer. Interestingly, on reflection I can recall their advice that although the customer is always right, I was barking up the wrong tree with the FLSS. How right they were.

Anyway, I had a long yarn with a local professional I respect and she advised me that I should place Cassa Creakingbones unfortunate issues on the back burner for at least one day a week, circumstances permitting, for my own good and get out and about, solo.

The very next day SWMBO and I headed down to Sydney and straight to my favourite Hartley Dealer.

There, in gleaming vivid black was the Harley my mate and the Dealer Principal had described as perfect for me.

In true Harley rider style, I threw the leg over the seat, grabbed the bars and stood the bike up. Turning to SWMBO I asked if I passed the, ‘How do I look,’ test.

Her answer was in the positive. Very positive in fact. I immediately felt relieved.

If you don’t look good on the Harley then it’s not the bike for you.

I only looked good on the FLSS because there was no chrome, just all black. Hardly the shop window test.

To cut a long story short, grasping the appropriate Harley Brochure we returned home and I studied everything I could about the 2018 Harley Davidsons and read many, many rider reviews. I was cautiously convinced that my mate and the dealer were correct and began to plot and plan for a future acquisition.

Then to my surprise I read a wonderful piece here on WordPress extolling the virtues of the new Harley Davidson engines and monoshock suspensions on the Softails, not to mention the significant weight savings thanks to the new frame.

Next day I set the wheels in motion and on Friday 13th April, 2018 my brand spanking new vivid black 2018 Harley Davidson Dulxe (FLDE) was delivered my door.

I experienced no feeling of loss when the FLSS was loaded into the back of the dealer’s van and driven away towards Sydney. All I could think of was hopping on the FLDE, tearing down to the motor registry and retreiving my PC-99 registration plates that I’ve had on my Harleys for yonks.

So here is the new pride and joy, resting on a piece of artificial grass outside it’s personal garage:

DSC_0386 copy blog

DSC_0384 copy 10

DSC_0383 copy blog

DSC_0385 copy3

 

I’ve clocked up 257 klms now and although I’m adhereing to the running in rules everything I’ve read about the performance of the new Softails is absolutely correct.

On this Deluxe model, the steering is crisp and exact, in fact the bike is far more twitchable than any of the Harleys I’ve previously owned.  The front and rear suspensions are absoluterly the ants pants, cornering is enhanced, the brakes leave nothing to be desired and, to my great satisfaction, the clutch has reverted to the cable actuation method. Good on you Harley Davidson engineers.

The standard seat is comfy and places my knees in a comfortable spot with my feet positioned correctly and comfortabley near the foot controls.

In standard form there is a toe only gear selector lever. I’ve always used the heel and toe Harley system and fortunately provision is made for conversion to the old way. Of course I’ve had that carried out. Perfecto.

A quick release windscreen is on the way together with a few other little goodies to increase the shop window impact.

Am I a happy little chappie( usually the term is happy little vegemite) and I reckon this new Harley will fulfill every one of my motorcycle expectations.

Hoo roo for now