Scratching my own funny bone for shits and giggles. Lampooning books, music and being a single woman over 40. Recording observations with an almost Seinfeldian obsession for the minutiae of life. Things can get sweary around here. You understand.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Hawthorne Ferry terminal situated on the Brisbane River.  
If A is for ADAGE then B is for BASTARD. Today I saw a simple neighbourhood scene that thawed a small part of my black and shrivelled heart. A fit looking elderly gent was walking with a little boy dressed in a super hero costume of some description. The little one was swooshing around in his shiny red cape and stopping every few metres to inspect something microscopic of great importance. The pair had only advanced a few metres by the time I drove past them again. I presumed they were grandfather and grandson by the blissful expression on the man’s face. That look made me yearn for the grandfather I never had; at least the one I wished I’d had. I did have two grandfathers, as is per the normal maximum allowance, but neither of them played any part in my life and their passing has never grieved me much. Sometimes though, I find myself thinking of them bitterly, especially now that my own father and I are estranged. Bastards.

I grew up close to the river in Hawthorne (pictured) in the 70s and 80s. Back then the elderly were the largest demographic group and many of them owned large blocks with plenty of room for pools, vegetable gardens and incinerators. My father’s father Walter or ‘Wally’ as he came to be known to us, had such a block and when my father, the youngest in the family decided to marry, Wally subdivided his property and gave half to his son. Wally and Dad were both builders by trade and together they designed and constructed the family home. Apparently they fought like cats and dogs until finally one day, Wally painted the kitchen the wrong colour. When it was pointed out to him, he stomped out of the house like a petulant child and froze out the family from that day forward...or so the story goes. Either way, I grew up in fear of this mysterious ‘Wally', a sinewy creature usually found on his hands and knees poking about in the garden out back: he was my grandfather, a neighbour with a yen for snapdragons and a virtual stranger.

I have two memories of him. The first one is a snapshot of his gardening boots under the toilet door as he sat on the seat of his veranda loo and the other is of him handing me a buttered Arnotts shredded wheatmeal and saying ‘piss off kid’. I’ve always wondered exactly what happened to inspire this total black out. How can a person possibly live next door to their grandchildren and pretend they’re not alive? I’ll guess I’ll never know because my old man is currently giving me the same treatment. Split Enz were wrong people.

Wally was notoriously tight-fisted. The only thing I ever received from him was a portion of his estate when he died in the late 80s; just enough to buy my first car, the mighty Datsun 180B Triple S Coupe with the five-speed Celica gear box in sunburnt orange. When the timing chain broke six months later, I kicked a tyre and cursed his name. Bastard!


yankeedog said...

Why do I suspect that your father, when he was growing up, was 'unable to do anything right' in the eyes of your grandfather, and also got smacked around some? Growing up around that, how would he have learned anything else but the cuff for raising his own? It explains much. Doesn't excuse it but does explain it.

I doubt 'you' did anything to cause the blackout. Just the way your grandpa was.

If you don't mind, was he a drinker? My grandfather was. When he went on a bender, he was prone to come home mean as a snake and beat up my grandmother. Mean old bastidge died before I was born. Don't miss him.

'Tis good to read of you and Mini-Spy hanging together some. Break the cycle.

Natalia the Russian Spy said...

No he didn't drink Yankee. Cranky German farming stock from the Darling Downs.

Steve said...

I have so many thoughts on the subject, as much into family and genealogy as I am, but one has fought its way to the surface....

Your grandfather had a veranda loo? Is this common in Australia? The giant man-eating spiders and dropbears don't go in there and wait for their prey?

Barnesm said...

Families are such mixed blessings

Natalia the Russian Spy said...

STEVE: Yeah it was a weird set-up...there was a privacy screen on this veranda but you could still see under the cubicle door. Plenty of room for spiders...and dropbears...and even the odd red-belly black snake. I'd imagine a quick reccy of the area would be in order each visit :-D

BARNESM: Yup. Just like a mixed bag of lollies with too much liquorice.

Dr Yobbo said...

My first car was also a mighty 180B. Sadly, less fully optioned up than yours... or at least optioned up in the wrong way. 3sp auto, powder blue with cream vinyl rooflining, metal sunshade, plastic wind deflectors, struggled to get out of its own way. Ideal first car for a revhead because there was nothing lairy you could actually do with it.

Natalia the Russian Spy said...

YOB: Except get the damned thing airborn as you fly over the top of 5th avenue in Balmoral in it...YEAH! Forgot to mention my cream vinyl roof, quite deliberately :-D

Steve said...

I'm glad I didn't grow up in an era (or, ahem, location) where I would have to inspect the area around the toilet for deadly creatures before using it.

Natalia the Russian Spy said...

STEVE: You'd be surprised at how well you'd adapt. Poppy always had on steel-capped work boots coated in cement residue. Effective weapons those things. I found a frog in my kindy loo once but that was COOOOOL!

Steve said...

Well, on the upside, Australia doesn't have badgers. That would make Oz VERY freaking scary.

Wait, Oz doesn't have badgers, does it? Cause if so, I'm never visiting.

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