Chapter 6

Stories from Friends

Are they driven, crazy or just eccentric and how would I know anyway?

The first one is from when I visited an old school friend who has purchased an old Presbyterian church. In my school days, I was Presbyterian and he was Methodist. The churches have since united but church numbers are still declining but there still isn’t much fun for the congregation, but maybe this old church is going to be different.

A Family Story of Coincidence

My parents purchased the family home early in 1963. We then got to meet our new neighbours, Percy and Blanch. There was really only one neighbour because at the time, the block of land on the other side was more or less empty. When my parents, actually my mother, got taking, she discovered that Percy worked for the City Council. My mother remembered him as being the person she replaced when he volunteered for the army during the war and she had started working for the Council She had known him by name and now she could meet him in real life. They continued talking and it turned out that Blanch had worked for the Courier Mail and had known and worked for my father’s father. An old page of the paper was discovered and on one page of it, was a picture of my grandfather and on the other side was a picture of Blanch.

Many years later, Blanch dies and Percy is left on his own. One morning Percy didn’t make it over the road for the appointed lift into town and the next morning, the driver of car looked through the bedroom window and found him dead in bed.

They were childless and without any other surviving relatives and so my parents became the benefactors of their will. My mother was a help to Blanch in her declining years and a comfort to Percy when he lived alone. I wish now that I had been a bit more responsive as a youth and living next door. I did though do a few small jobs such as mow the lawn. I was told this by my mother at the time. I noted it and kept on with my life. My mother has now died and my father because of his closed nature keeps this fact an absolute secret and shows no gratitude at all.

Zen, Amish or Presbyterian

Churches in rural areas have been closing down due to a fall in attendance and the churches have had to be sold and used for other purposes.

An old school friend of mine has purchased a now defunct old country church, hall and manse. I went and visited arriving late Saturday and he was to return late Sunday.

On wakening on Sunday morning, I get up and walked directly from the back of the manse and into the back door of the church. This old church was built over 130 years ago and is now showing its age. Inside it is completely empty except for an old harmonium. At this end of the church, the floor is slightly raised and then there another small step up to the pulpit. Behind are two imitation gothic doors.

As a child to young adult, I used to attend this denomination church and to see it empty and abandoned is a little unnerving. I then opened the front doors. I then sat down at the harmonium and started to play a few hymns, “Oh for a Thousand Tongues”, “Immortal Invisible” and so forth. You never know who might just turn up off the street. The wooden resonance of the harmonium and the empty wooden resonance of the church early on a clear and still Sunday morning was to me certainly a lonely and abstract zen like spirituality. I played for a while but no one entered.

I then walked onto the street and over the bridge and the very next building was the Methodists just about to start a service with an old lady rushing for the appointed time. Just two doors up again, I can hear another church service and their incantations. Over the road, is yet another church but there is no action here as they now only have one service a month. Walking back, I can hear hymns being played with the Methodists. No, I’m not needed here as an emergency organist as I may have fantasized.

I return across the bridge and into the lonely church. This time I stand at the pulpit. I notice that here the red carpet is totally worn away down to the floor boards. I think of all those dower and joyless sermons of obedience to God’s will; no wonder, the church is empty!

Please don’t despair, renewal and revitalisation has come. The 1% of essential truth has come through. This complex is now being transformed into a centre for arts and creativity and yes again a source or inspiration. Maybe this time, a bit more joyfully.

Murderous Neighbours

When I met the lady I was to marry, I also met a friend of hers, Peter. Two years later he purchased a house in Brisbane in the adjoining suburb and living over the road from him in house number 16 was a wild and independent family. After a few months they moved away from number 16 to become my neighbours here on my farm. This is where I meet them. On several occasions I was invited to visit them but I preferred to keep my distance. Even so, when they moved out a few months later, they still came and visited me to say farewell. From here they moved to Fraser Island where they and their numerous children lived the life of nomads camping on the beach and making a good living catching worms for the recreational fishing business.

The street number of from their house which is now underneath my house.

About this time, I moved to Brisbane for a few months work to make some money. I stayed with Peter in the spare room underneath his house. Just previous to this, the council had stupidly and ignorantly condemned this house and demolished this old and now empty house. The wood was just left behind in a big pile to root away. The owner was an old man who at best had lost all interest in everything. I saw him and agreed to buy this wood for $25 and to take it away to my farm here. On my return, I used some of this wood to build the small hut at the back of my farm for the occasional back to nature visitor to use.

While on Fraser Island, the family meet by coincidence a friend of mine who is having a short holiday. She is impressed by their raw nature and so spends some time with them and their nomadic lifestyle. Upon returning home, she invites them to visit her and her partner at Kin Kin, the district adjoining me here. One day, I just happened to visit my friends while they were visiting as well. I admit it created quite an impression their sump oil painted Landcruiser with the dogs as guards tied up beside it. I then went inside and recognized them and renewed my acquaintance with them. The partner of my friend, a sensitive and cultured man was frankly shocked by these people. He later confided with me that he found them “Neanderthals” and it became another sensitive difference of opinion between the two of them.

The worming business was very successful especially with all the kids working and also helped by the kids not worry about schooling and in no time at all, enough is saved and they purchase a small farm between here and Kin Kin . A change in lifestyle is now needed. The nomads have to settle down to something approaching responsibility and normality. What a strain it must have been we can only now surmise. After only a few weeks of this lifestyle, it appears that he and his wife go crazy and start to murder the children. Rumours abound as to what precipitated these actions but the truth may never be known. He is arrested almost immediately and she runs off into the bush. It takes a few days to find her and I even participate in the search. He hangs himself in the watch house at Gympie before even going before the magistrate. She then goes before the courts on her own but is classified as having a character weakness of being totally overtaken by another personality, her husband. She then is not responsible for her actions and is basically let off. She then has to go to a psychiatric hospital where Peter, a social worker and former neighbour of hers looks after her interests.

At the time of the murders, Peter, yes another Peter, the father and husband, was actually writing a book except that he couldn’t read or write but was dictating it to his wife. It was to be called of all things, “How to be Successful”. I wonder what ever happened to his half competed manuscript and what would it have contained?

Many years later, I’m building a verandah extension onto my house and am using some of the wood from my stockpile. I happen to use a piece of wood with the number 16 as a house number on it. Peter confirms with me that this must have come from the demolished house in Brisbane. This time, I decide to use the piece of wood the other way up so the number, which can still just be read, is now the number 91. You just never know.

I was married once and my ex wife didn’t share my passion of treeplanting to restore the environment and the zen like austerity that was required. She was a bohemian arts school graduate who came from the north shore of Sydney. While living with me she saw herself as being a frustrated artist but in moving away she has in my opinion returned to the style of a girl from the north shore of Sydney.

This is my story of Married Life and the futile struggle to make me give up my treeplanting ways and accept sort of normal values.

Married Life

On meeting the one who was to become my wife: “Anyone who meets me is really privileged as my father is a successful millionaire businessman from the north shore of Sydney.” [e.g. the 36 foot yacht.]

On leaving school: “I was going to go to a Swiss finishing school but fortunately I was able to talk my father out of it.”

On being an artist: “Bob I’m an artist and the only thing from stopping me from being one is you being such an ignorant bum.”

On the artistic works of Beethoven: “Just a storm in a teacup.”

On the previous boyfriend: “He was just a convenience to me.”

While living with me: “Let’s move the house to the top of the hill.”

On friends: “Why am I so fantastically wonderful and all my friends so utterly boring?”Probably not actually said but sure implied.

Upon using my sharp axe to sharpen a stake by chopping it into the ground. “R, please don’t chop my sharp axe into the ground” R, “No one tells me what to do!”

Walking around a building site with bare feet. “You must be very careful not to step on any upturned nails in the wood.” “What, do you think I’m stupid”. A moment later, “Oh f..king hell!!”

On coming to a divorce settlement: “I could have taken you for all you’ve got.”

On her second marriage: “I was never married a second time”. [This though is just conjecture on my part but I suspect that she has completely forgotten that she was briefly married a second time.]

On giving up subsequent boyfriends: “I’ve given up on boyfriends for good as I now own a chain saw and get more fun from that.”

On sex: “I have no sexual feelings having transcended that puerile state years ago and with you I have extra no sexual feelings.”

And “We don’t have sex like ordinary people, maybe X and Y have sex but we don’t. It is just too boring and we couldn’t be bothered. Maybe we might have sex occasionally but only when we feel like it.”

Me, “Speak for yourself”.

On mathematics: “What has maths ever done for me? Nothing!”

On maths and science teachers: “All maths and science teachers are weirdos and social misfits” I was soon to become a maths and science teacher.

On going to the doctors with a migraine: The doctor, “She thinks that she is going to die but I don’t think so.” This piece of information she told me. She went to the doctors with this complaint. When he briefly left the room, she has a quick look at her card and that is what he had written.

On putting something back together again but wrongly: “Bob, don’t discuss this with me, I KNOW.”

On discussing a sensitive issue: “When in doubt, always be confident.”

On coming to a compromise: “It’s all or nothing.”

On the harangue as a means of discussion: “You love it.”

On water pollution control: “The building inspector eventually let me put the septic outlet into the creek.”

On principles: “Everyone has price, [to buy out their principles], you just have to find it.”

On me and my rustic lifestyle: “A fool’s paradise.”

She’d sware [like swagger] off to teacher’s training school with a head full of how wonderful she was and how boring and ordinary everyone and everything else was. One day she told me as she climbed up the seats and steps and took a seat of the high sided lecture hall, a fellow student kneeled down in front of her, picked up her foot and kissed it. She told me she thought it was “oh so boring and pathetic”. The theme of the story isn’t without underlying basis of truth to it though. She’d go off to school wearing one red sock and one green sock but that is what is expected of a first year art teacher.

She liked the company of homosexual men and even lived with them. This is something I haven’t really understood. I suspect it is for really several quite complex reasons. She’d like to hear of their sexual exploits and then sort of be a mother to them and maybe to tell them they were naughty boys and then to maybe even encourage them at the same time. She’d like to dress up and camp it up with them liking to show off her charms and a knowledge of their world but all in a totally safe and platonic situation.

On visiting me years later: “This house is the biggest pig sty I have ever laid eyes upon. How anyone lives in a brothel [sic!] like this, I just don’t know.”

A few moments later: “I suppose that I shouldn’t speak to like this anymore.”

Me: “I just couldn’t care less.”

There must have been something in the marriage though. It was in actual fact surreal. An unusual juxtapositioning of extremes as it did have its energy, weirdness, and a belief and existence in non reality. The day after R was remarried [just briefly though], I severed [cut off], the side of my ring finger with my machete in an instant! I then bandage my finger with my hankie, not actually looking to see what has happened, and complete my work. If I remember correctly, it was even the next day and while next door, that I had the hard headedness to actually remove the hankie and have a look at what had happened and saw that it wasn’t just a cut but a compete severing. As if I didn’t know it already, this was a symbolic reinforcing of the severing between the two of us, an actual excising. Although we are still sort of friendly and talk occasionally, there is a philosophical gulf between the two of us. I’m abstract and rustic while she is definitely very modern and consumer oriented. I can now see what she must have been suppressing while living here.

There were four phases in her life.

1. The girl from the north shore of Sydney. The one I never really met.

2. The frustrated artist, the one I initially met and lived with for a while. This morphs into:

3. The rustic girl who “builds” her own rustic house. The one who says to me, “If you put one more electric motor in this house, I’m leaving”, and “If you drill a hole in that piece of wood, [just a 2 inch X 1 inch], that will be a sacrilege”.

4. She leaves me, sells her rustic house and purchases a house in the suburbs and returns effectively to phase 1.

Another example of what I naturally interpret as being the weird energy of the bond between the two of us occurred one day when I visited my parents in Brisbane in the family home. We now have been divorced for many years. They had lived there for over 30 years and I had done so for some of that time at a busy intersection. In all of that time, there had only been a couple of minor accidents and none while I was there. I arrived and after greeting my parents, I immediately telephoned Robyn to arrange a meeting with Emily. It is only to be a brief conversation but while I’m talking to her, I hear the crash of an accident out the front. I immediately go and have a look and see a man lying in the middle of the road and being attended to by two ladies and the traffic starting to bank up. I come back inside, tell Robyn what has happened and hang up. I then immediately telephone 000. This is the only time in my life that I’ve called the emergency number and I’m always perplexed as to how it happened at that moment.

I’ve since learnt that there were two nurses in the car behind him who were able to attend to him immediately. It was reported in the local newspaper that when he was being operated on, he suffered a stroke, an extra complication I suspect to his injuries. He was riding a motor scooter and hit a car. I don’t think that his injuries were life threatening. Is it macabre to say that while lying in the middle of the road, his blood ran from there and into the gutter. Yes a sober reminder to always be careful and cautious in dangerous situations, maybe emotional ones as well as injuries can occur here as well.

Extra Help

My daughter lived with me on my tree growing farm when she was a child. She even has helped me plant a few trees and has watched them grow. She would even occasionally come with me when I would cut down a few of the older trees. She said that she found this extremely boring and so would bring a book with her to read while I did my work. The only thing that she said that she had the slightest interest in was the moment that the tree crashed down to the ground.

She eventually leaves home and studies journalism at university. Upon graduating, she leaves home to travel and work in England. She gets a job in of all things, advertising but I suppose that it isn’t too bad since of the contracts the company gets is to educate people on the need for recycling. Another job they get is to advertise of all things, the breathing of fresh air as opposed to the smog of London. On the day of the photographic shoot, the model doesn’t show up and so they decide to photograph my daughter as the model breathing fresh air. For a week or so, she must have had one of the most recognizable faces in England with a half page colour photo in all the leading newspapers and on billboards. Is that strange that someone from rural Australia is used to encourage the English to breathe fresh air?

She is now back in Australia and engaged to of all people, an arborist [a tree doctor] and works still in advertising on the 36th floor of a city high rise building. Whenever they visit me, I take them for a walk and show them one of my favourite trees, whether it’s the tallest and straightest or the shortest and thickest but always something that I think is special. Whenever I visit them in the suburbs, I’m also taken for a walk and am shown a poisoned tree stump as a statement of pride as a job well done, that is no house damaged. This I also understand but I’m also aware of the juxtaposition. I’ve even suggested an advertising strategy for them. Why not paint on all tree stumps, the company name, “Sydney Tree Care”, the contact phone number and the statement, “the ultimate solution, to your tree problems”?

On my farm, I still sit and wait for the trees to grow bigger and dream of my eventual sawmill but at least I know where I can get some extra help from to cut some of the trees!

The Untold Story of my Debarking Bar

Me and my grandfather at the opening of an automatic telephone exchange in Brisbane.

It was probably my grandfather who gave me my love of trees and yet I know little of his life. Strange to relate, but within days of completing this draft, my sister gave me a copy of only a few page diary that my grandfather started to keep when he travelled back to England to visit my grandmother’s relatives after a gap of 33 years. I didn’t even know of its existence until just very recently. In it he writes the words, “the value and beauty of trees” which is then repeated. Words which to me now seem prophetic. I can remember their departure and being in their cabin which is just mentioned. At the time, I was only 2 years and 11 months old which must make it my earliest verifiable memory.

I’ve had the chance to speak to three old soldiers from the Great War. Perhaps the one who told me the most was my grandfather in law. He twice drove up from Sydney to visit us when I was married and on the last occasion to see our newly born baby daughter. He said that he hadn’t taken the war seriously until he was marching up to the front for the first time and passed a cemetery with all its white crosses. He then realised it was a serious business. He said that he was very lucky to have survived. Once in a trench and sheltering under a sheet of galvanized iron, a shell landed beside him but didn’t explode because of all the mud. If it had gone off, it would have been the end of him. He was a gunner and in 1917 while involved in the terrible battle of Passchendaele, one of his mates was injured out in no man’s land. He goes out to rescue him and carries him back to a casualty station. While there they observe blood running down his leg. Upon inspection, it is revealed that he has been shot in the lower leg. The bullet passing between his calf muscle and the bone. He then goes off injured. To quote his exact words, “the atmosphere was so thick, I just didn’t feel a thing.” The next day, all his gun crew is blown up.

He told me that he was involved in an incident that became a controversy. Late in the war, he is in the trenches when the Red Baron flies over his section of the line in his red Focker triplane in hot pursuit of another plane with yet another British plane behind. He grabs a Lewis machine gun and fires at him as he races over head. The Red Baron then crashes or lands [it is disputed] 100 yards away. Apparently a book was written entitled something like, “Who Shot Down the Red Baron?”. Ron Brooks, my grandfather in law said that the author interviewed him about the incident and that he is mentioned in the text. I haven’t looked it up to see what it says. Recently I saw a BBC documentary on the TV about this incident and the controversy surrounding it that contained some re enactments. In this they interviewed several Australian soldiers who were holding a Lewis gun and they gave their account of the event in a comic broad Australian accent. I imagined that one of them was playing the part of Ron Brooks, gunner.

As a young child, my parents took my daughter to Sydney for a visit. While there, I wanted her to meet her great grandfather but I was told that it wouldn’t be possible. He had become too old and decrepit. On the first night of her being in Sydney, he died. It turned out not to be possible after all.

I met on a few occasions, Jack Burrows an old friend of the family. As it turned out, he enlisted about the same time as my grandfather, they sailed together on the same ship arriving in Egypt as reinforcements for the Gallipoli campaign and camped at Helipolis at the foot of the pyramids. Both went on to France in 1916 for the Battle of the Somme, my grandfather at Poziers and Jack at Frommers. These are both very severe battles with many Australian losses where both were promoted to officers in the infantry. For my grandfather, officers training school was at Oxford University which must have been quite a change from the family blacksmith shop in Rosewood which was where my grandfather commenced his working life. Both married English girls from London and both returned to Australia in the same ship which is where they met. They arrived just a few days before 1920. Both worked for the PMG and lived in adjoining suburbs in Brisbane. Jack lived a healthy life until he was over 100 years old and most of that time in the same house. He didn’t speak much of his experiences but he did say that in 1918 during the great German offensive, they were marched in to hold the line. The British army was in a chaotic retreat. My mother told me that this was where he won the Military Cross but this as it turns out was just a myth. Yes, the Australian soldiers held the line. He said that at the end of the war that he was, “totally wrecked” [meaning mentally and physically]. He said that on the morning of the Armistice, their line was being shelled right up to the last minute and people were still being killed.

When my grandmother was dying in hospital, there was a wreck of a lady in the bed beside her. She had completely lost her mind and was totally incoherent. I was told that her husband had died on the morning of the 11th November 1918. What a horror it must have been to hear of the signing of the Armistice and then to learn a few days later that your husband was one of the very last to have lost his life on that very morning.

My grandfather probably had the most difficult war of all if that can be imagined. His battalion had the second highest number of casualties of the Australians. Something like three thousand or was it five thousand in a full strength of a thousand. Sometimes their numbers fell to as low as 300 but they still had to fill the line as if they were of full strength. He died when I was quite young and I didn’t really get to speak to him about it. I did ask him a few childish questions and he did answer them but I was told very firmly by my mother that “the war must never be discussed”. I did pick up a few things along the way though. When my grandfather had a headache, I was told that was because he still had some shrapnel stuck in his head. I’m sure that this couldn’t be true but it all added to the unspoken family myth. I have a copy of his medical history. He was injured at Bapaume, a few days after returning to the front as an officer. A bullet graze to the face and an injury to his elbow. My grandmother was psychologically unstable and the families’ main role was to keep this under control as much as possible. She did have an older brother who also served. I was told that he was injured twice. On one occasion, while lying on a stretcher and waiting to be loaded on to a ship to be returned to England, his father comes across him while working on the docks. In the next war, I was told that their family’s London home was bombed by what I was told was a “direct hit” and totally destroyed in the blitz of 1940.

Never to mention the war was almost normal at the time but I have picked up a few bits of information along the way. A book was written about my grandfather’s battalion by one of the officers. It is full of platitudes and jingoism but there is mentioned one act of kindness that my grandfather was responsible for. It involved sending up to the front line some dry socks that the soldiers appreciated in those difficult and muddy circumstances.

I still own a few remnants from the war. His three volumes paybook, book two still covered in the now dried mud from Passchendaele and a few photos and some postcards. Some of these have been donated to the war memorial. One of the post cards was of interest to them because it was written in French since apparently he made an effort to learn the language while there.

When my grandfather left school at 12 years, he worked at his grandfather’s blacksmith shop at Rosewood. When he enlisted, he put down his trades as blacksmithing and engineering. By 1915 he was a qualified engineer with the PMG. On returning to Brisbane just a few days short of 1920, they live at Wellington Point near his parents’ farm. He becomes a vegetarian and travels daily by train to the city for work. He then buys a house closer to the city at Greenslopes because I’m told “he can’t stand the smell of the abattoir the train goes past”. He also joins the Theosophical Society and makes a serious study of the worlds beyond. Years later, both grand parents have now died and I’m looking at a very few things under the house at Greenslopes. One of the things that was there was a rather rare tool called a debarking bar. [A tool for removing bark from logs]. You can see by looking at it that it has been hand made in a blacksmith’s forge. I plant and grow trees on my farm for timber here in Cedar Pocket and this tool is most useful for me. Whenever I use it, I can’t help but wonder about the coincidence as to how and why it was made and how it got to be underneath their suburban house for me to find and use, years later. It was probably my grandfather who gave me a love of trees and often took me for walks. I also wonder about all those other untold stories and incidents, many of which though were probably even beyond the finding of words to describe.

In the United States, there is incredibly a historic group that re enacts the exploits of the AIF 12th Battalion.

In the early 1980’s as I was driving home early one Sunday morning at about 6am I happened to drive past the old museum and outside was this old captured German tank from WW1. At this time, you could jump the fence around it and climb in through the open side door and I took this last opportunity to do so. Inside was the still lingering atmosphere from 1918 and the shell damage to the tank. I wondered how many soldiers lost their lives here. Years later, I discovered that it was my Uncle Jim who was a Sergeant in this battalion, the 26th, that had captured this tank and he must have known something about its capture but again, the nothing remains in the family history. He was a carpenter and I still use some of his carpentry tools.

Farm Life. These are a few of my thoughts and experiences of farm life here. Farm life here as I’ve said earlier, isn’t like a more normal farm.

Some Pieces of Wood

A Story from the other grandfather.

In my family, both of my grandparents had quite good jobs and as a consequence, both owned good homes. One grandparents’ home was given to one of my sisters as an early inheritance in an act of trust. This was instigated by me because of time and circumstances. Unfortunately when the time came many years later to divide up the family inheritance, this sister reneged on the deal, kept her share of the house and got her share of everything else, that is also as well as what she hadn’t already embezzled. I could do nothing as it was a deal made on trust.

The other family home, when my grandfather died was passed onto his wife, my grandmother. A few years later, the ownership was given to my father’s only sibling because he was living with his mother. Time passes on, this property was sold and another was purchased but he never marries nor has anyone close to him. After a full working life and retirement, he eventually dies and we then discover that this house or its worth has actually totally disappeared. In a normal caring family, it might be expected that this grandparents family home would be returned to the grandchildren through the uncle and I suspect that this was stipulated by his mother as there was no one else inline for it, but as I mentioned, there was nothing

Very many years ago now, a little work was done on this house and because of great frugality in my family, and this trait continues on with me, a few pieces of wood were kept by my father and then were passed on to me. This wood from a value point of view would be totally worthless but my business is the growing of trees for timber and sawing a few of them up so I have a knowledge and appreciation of wood. With this perspective and looking at the wood, they are a little special. Although very small, they are of high quality
The question I have is, instead of receiving a share of this quite attractive old house as I might have expected, the house is still standing and in reasonable condition, I have these pieces of wood. They represent or are a substitute for the valuable inheritance that I missed out on and yes, for a second time! For me, in a moral or metaphysical way, they must have portent as that is all I receive inlieu of a share of the house! I as a sort of hobby do a little writing and have already written elsewhere that my other grandfather instigated in me a love of trees. Could this grandfather, without his knowing of course, through these pieces of wood which now have portent, have completed the theme of my life. I purchased my farm to be a treeplanter and trees were planted in their thousands, and to a lesser extent are still being planted. Now the trees are big enough and I own a small sawmill and cut some of them down for sawing up into beautiful timber. Trees and timber are my life. Could this wood, over all these years have drawn me on to this purpose. Redeeming the landscape and through abundance, producing beautiful wood is a deeply satisfying life.

The Family Jinx

As written on the 15th March 2008

I only became aware of the family jinx as a consequence of a good friend of mine telling me that he had only just discovered that instead of being born on the 12th August, something that he had believed for over 30 years, but that he was actually born on the 13th August. He now had his birth certificate to prove it. His mother had successfully covered up the fact until he now. This happened many years ago but it set my mind thinking because there appears to be an excess of twelves in my family!

If one is born on the 13th and there is a superstition about this number, it would be possible to cover it up with varying amounts of ease and security. The most likely date that it would be changed to would be the 12th as the twelve is a good and pleasing number but the 14th is also there as an option as well.

It happens that both of my parents were also born on the 12th as well. My mother had two siblings and one was born on the 14th and their mother, my maternal grandmother was also born on the 12th. I have two sisters, one was born on the 12th August as well and the other on the 15th May. This is an unusual date in itself because if it is written as 15/5/51, it is a palindrome number and if it is written as 15/5/1951, it is an all odd number date and this won’t occur again for another 1103 years from now. I’ve mentioned my two sisters, my parents, my mother’s parents and their three children including my mother. A total of 9 people of which 4 are born on the 12th and one on the 14th. My contention is that all this couldn’t be true? There must have been some fudging of the figures somewhere. Some attempt to shirk the jinx of the number 13. This I think would have been particularly easy for my father and his mother in law as I think that they would have been home births. My mother’s father was born on the 26th, a double 13. My mother also had a brother, my uncle, who was a pilot during the war. He was unfortunately killed on the night of the 14th/15th August, his younger sister’s 17th birthday. There were hundreds of thousands of bombing missions during the war particularly over Europe. One can imagine my surprise when I walk down the main street of the local town and look in a book shop and see a photo of this actual mission. This was a small and actually pointless mission bombing the docks of Marseilles. Only one plane was lost and that was my uncle who crashed his plane on landing killing all the crew instantly. This mission was in preparation for the allied landings in the south of France. It was thought that the Germans would have resisted the landings but they withdrew and blew up the rest of the docks the next day. This was my uncle’s 26th mission. The docks of Marseilles were the actual place his father, my grandfather actually set foot on Europe 28 [twice 14] years earlier bound for 3 years of hell in the trenches. He served with the 12th Battalion, the Australian battalion that had the second highest number of causalities. Initially he was assigned to the 26th Battalion together with his brother Jim but was transfered to the 12th. Jim, a carpenter also survives the war but dies early of a ruptured appedix because he self diagnoses a pain in the gut with castor oil. His battalion captured the German tank now with the museum that I once early one Sunday morning climbed inside and there just maybe I could still feel in the darkness a touch of the long past war and all its pain and suffering.

I also had a third blood relative who served in the RAF. He was a rear gunner who lost his life when flying with the squadron leader as pilot, their Lancaster bomber didn’t return from bombing the aircraft factory at Dassau very late in the war. He was 39. The plane is still missing.

My concern is further raised because my other grandfather dies on the actual day of my youngest sister’s birth, the 12th August so I suppose that his date is correct. She grows up, marries on the 12th July, the birthday of my maternal grandmother, the same date that my other grandmother will die on a couple of years later. She is then divorced on the 12th followed by a vitriolic and litigious financial divorce settlement. My maternal grandmother goes on and dies on her daughter’s, my mother’s birthday, the 12th October.

I eventually purchase a farm. In fact because of legal reasons, I have to arrange the purchase of this one larger farm which is actually the amalgamation of two smaller farms. They are the only farms at the end of the road. They are the numbers 1 and 2 which look like a number 12 to me when drawn on a map. Of the two farms, I own the number 2. Just recently, the local government has changed the numbering system on the road and I have been allocated the number 100. I’m told that this is a good number and should add 10% to the farm’s valuation in the unlikely event that I sell it.

I eventually marry. I’m a 20th August and she is a 2nd August which seem strangely close to me. We have a daughter who is born on the 28th. She grows up, leaves home and has just recently purchased a house. What number is she drawn to, yes, the number 12. I visited it for the first time a few weeks ago and I had a look at the numbers in the street. She lives in a duplex house, the numbers 12 and 14. The house I suppose is really the number 12 + 14 and then divide by 2 to make 13 but this fact is sort of obscure. The street numbers are unusual. The street numbers seem to start on her side of the road with the number 8 and continue up to about 18. On the other side of the road, there are the numbers 7, 9, 11, and no number 13. It just isn’t there!

I’ve told this story to just two ladies. One just happens to reside at the number 301, which seems like a sort of reversed 13 to me and yes she is undeniably fighting her demons. The other resides at 1030, another variation of 13. She though has not attempted to shirk the 13 jinx when the council allocated her this number. She is most definitely “complex” and although being a sensitive idealist, she has fallen so utterly short of her goals one has to wonder why? What other influences have made her so comprehensively ineffectual! At the moment she is going through a fractious divorce settlement. When I told her this story, she told me that her now ex husband is an early in the morning 14th baby and his mother, a difficult woman I’m told, was a 26th baby. And what is the family jinx? Well there are many issues but they are to do with in effect, psychological disfunctionality. A key issue of it at the moment and one that I feel deeply is the now undeniable fact that my father is a miser. I’ll state clearly what this is, that is one who loves money for its own sake more than anything else. My father was a senile 90 a few days ago. Was it the 12th as is the common opinion or was it really the 13th as I wonder?

Let me state clearly, I, when or more correctly if I eventually get the opportunity, I resolve to break his jinx. Good will and life affirmation shall be my means! Om.

January, 2009.

Fred dies on the 27th December, 2008.

What number is this?


27 is 2+7=9

12 is 1+2=3

2008 is 2+0+0+8=10:

10 is 1+0=1

The number becomes,

9+3+1= 13!

Received from my sister on the 3rd February, 2009.

I got a card from Ron, one of Dad’s crew members. Fred was a navigator during the war flying out over the great expenses of the Atlantic Ocean for up to 24 hours at a time. It was quite a navigational feat to do all this flying and then to successfully find their way back to base without being too lost by only using dead reasoning. Fred though would have been in his element sitting at his little desk and doing all those calculations all day long. He definitely preferred numbers to people and the crew would have appreciated his sobriety and successfully guiding them back to base all those times.

“It was 4.10.43 that Fred and I flew with Les Shield skipper of the crew. As navigator Fred plotted our way back to base on 31 occasions over 343.05 hrs of operational flying over the expanse of the “Atlantic Ocean”, and the “Bay of Biscay”. I’ll never forget him.


P.S. Our first operational trip was Les’ 13th trip, our first as a crew the date Friday 13th 1943 ie the 13th lunar month.

My mother’s father made quite a detailed study of astrology and even cast quite a few charts. I doubt that he would have done it knowing that the dates of two of his children were wrong so I suspect that all the dates that he dealt with were correct. My father’s mother though was quite a card player and was well aware of the concept of lucky and unlucky numbers but I don’t think that she ever displayed any interest in astrology.

Extras for the story that I will include sometime. A sort of extra postscript.
Old Chatsworth Rd home phone number 971214, a shirking around the 13.
Where we lived when I was a child was given the number 1313 after we left.
The church where M and F got married. can’t remember but it is a 13 based number. I will have to look it up again.
A birth in the family on April Fools Day.  Someone whose life has been limited by ill gotten money.
A lady recently visited me who was very pregnant and I told her that my daughter recently gave birth to her daughter. The birth occurred on the 12th, which was a bit of a relief as the following day was a Friday the 13th .A day which does not really have a good omen. She said to me that the daughter standing beside her was a 14th baby. Interestingly though, too many in my family have been born on the 12th and I’m sure that at least one of them was born on the 13th and the fact was covered over by calling it the 12th, something that would have been quite easy to do years ago. I even know someone who this happened to. This means that the possible jinx of the 13th has been superficially covered over making it potentially more treacherous. My daughter gave birth in January, so her daughter was a 12/1 a sort of 13.

Getting Back

Late in 1959 an old aunt gave me a little diary for the coming year. The first date in it was the 28th December and I proudly and neatly made my first entry, “Christmas Present from Aunty Daisy”. The problem was that my reading and writing at 10 years was truly appalling. It was unbelievably bad and I couldn’t even spell the word aunty. Just that moment my father walked past so I asked him, “How do you spell aunty? Is it Unty? [As I had just incorrectly written]”. It is even just recently I have recalled what he said. Without stopping or looking or having the slightest interest, he snapped back at me in an irritable and even angry way, “U!Au!”, and kept on walking. I didn’t know much about spelling and was confused and naturally didn’t want to ask again so I thought to  inserted an a between the u and the n to give the strange spelling for aunt as uanty. I knew it looked strange and probably wrong but what would I know or care as I decided from then on never to show the diary to anyone and to keep it all private.

“Okay”, I thought to myself, “if that is how you feel, I’ll never ask again,” and so for the rest of the diary, all my spelling was, let me say “freestyle” and against convention.Even to this day, I have never shown anyone this diary. I am just too embarrassed by the truly terrible writing and spelling and other too painful things to even recall. The diary is a little interesting in so far that it never mentions my feelings, [they sure didn’t count] or school lessons but only I did this and I did that and a bit of cricket.

Well, in the long run, yes, I got back on him because exactly 49 years later to the day, is the day he died and I had the good fortune to realized this little story 11 years later [that was yesterday]. He died in dubious circumstances and do you know there were no regrets from anyone. He was truly a tragic and mean spirited person.

[After writing the story, I thought that I’d better actually check the dates and it turns out that I’m out by one day. Oh well, it doesn’t matter.]

A Dream about Rings

Last night I had an unusual dream about rings. There was this bowl of rings that was owned by a lady who had a shop or stall where the young in heart would come and go. The idea was that people could discard their unwanted rings into the bowl and if a ring was needed, one could be taken out for free. The intention was that none of the rings were particularly valuable so there was an easy give and take. There was a sign with an arrow pointing into the bowl which said, “None but the broken hearted” and “Love them and leave them”, to encourage a donation; on the other side was an arrow pointing out with the sign saying “True love”. The idea of the bowl was infact, so that the owner of the shop could make some money for occasionally she would look through the bowl and because she had an eye for what was valuable and what was just cosmetic she would take out the valuable ones and sell them for herself. This was because those who were broken hearted didn’t care what they discarded, they just wanted to be free of the now broken bond so threw out impetuously. Those in love chose, [is it an  aesthetic appeal?] and not for the value which they wouldn’t have known anyway. The difference in the two effects gave this lady a little extra cash.

I have, in fact written a little about rings and this caused me to think a little more deeply on the subject. It turned out that my father purchased an engagement ring for my mother that for some unspoken reason was always a point of irritation or dissatisfaction. Me and my parents are all Australians and my father served in the airforce during the war in England as many did. Somehow, before returning to Australia, he agreed to marry my mother communicating by slow letters, [just one direction was 6 weeks] who was of course is still in Australia. He purchased this, probably quite valuable ring with three quite large diamonds in it from my mother’s uncle who owned something like an antique/second hand shop in London. He returned to Australia, presented the ring, and in due course, got married and then I was made. This all seems quite good except if one thinks about it, the war was either still on or had just come to an end and since the uncle was a second hand dealer, it is very likely that the ring came from someone who was killed in the bombing. Times I’m sure were tough and money had to be made by the living. I could imagine that it was very likely, the ring was removed from someone who was killed, and sold to a dealer like my uncle. Perhaps he told my father something but he would have been oblivious to the sensitivities and would have just been interested in good value. The story of the ring may have gotten to my mother through his sister, my mother’s mother. My mother eventually died and one of my sisters’ claimed that our mother promised the ring to her, I acquiesced and let her have it. The other sister then outdoes the other sister and claimed our now grandparents house is hers and also free from any inheritance obligations. The first sister then through the assistance of clairvoyants believed in love without integrity and my response is not to deal with either of them.  Without integrity you have nothing and greed ran rampant for a third of us anyway. Can objects be jinxed? Could the tragedy of the ring becoming available for selling to the second hand dealer somehow have been conveniently unacknowledged by both my father just wanting a  bargain and my mother’s naive wish for something new and  unencumbered? A tragic death may have occurred but the living need to be looked after. Objects have a life of their own and pass from one hand to another but the past needs to be at least acknowledged and consequently put to rest to allow a fresh start.  Me, a “Bob”, I believe I was named after this old great uncle Bob, who I never met but who spent a night in the KinKin pub in 1926 during an attempt to live in Australia before returning to London. [KinKin is the closest pub to where I’ve lived for many years].

The Obligation within an Inheritance

Does inherited money carry with it an obligation and if I think I can see it, am I obliged to act accordingly. So far, I have received very little compared to what I should have received as I have so far been diddled out of most of it but we shall see what may eventually come. If I have received nothing, well there is no obligation and I can say and think what I like!

On Christmas Day 2009, I went to my parent’s house at the beach to spend the day with my sisters and their children and my daughter. Sue brought with her several old family photos of Harry Munro and his wife on their wedding day in 1921. I couldn’t help but tell anyone who was interested about how they have had an influence on our family. Harry had quite a good job being the president of the COD fruit & vegetables markets and apparently had saved up some money. I was told that he had initially intended to bequeath his wealth to the Presbyterian Church but since he died before his wife, it was left to her. A few years before they died, they sold their house in Ekibin and purchased a flat in Greenslopes to be near my parent’s home. After Harry’s death in 1971, my mother took care of Maggie and they become close. When she died on the 12th[sic] December 1974, she did not follow her husband’s wish to give the money to the church but decided to give it to “the [our] family [for everyone’s benefit]”. My father then gets his hands on the money, probably with the unspoken justification that he manages the money and that he also was her cousin so that it becomes the starting point for his secret miser’s hoard. Let me be clear though, it came our way because of the ample good will of my mother. On Christmas Day, I wanted to make clear the gratitude that we should be aware of, the life they lived, and the work that he did all those years ago because at last after all these years, we hopefully can see that we will eventually be receiving something that my father in his miserliness had prevented us from doing so.

Another interesting thing about the photo is the best man, Charlie Gear Hardie. He was the youngest in a family of eight older sisters and I have the photo to prove it. There were a couple of males but they died young. The eldest sister, Mary Ann married Charlie Gear and they went on to have only one child, a daughter, Maggie, the bride in this photo. After she was born, Mary Ann’s parents have another son which they name after her husband and he is called, Charlie Gear Hardie. He is Maggie’s uncle but is younger than her. Charlie marries a lady whose name is Mary and goes on to live in Greenslopes as well. Much later she goes blind and becomes bed ridden and he has to care for her. It was a disturbing experience seeing her when I was a child. They also were childless. Several years after she died and he was living there on his own, he was visited by one of his unmarried sisters, Isie. While there she misjudged sitting down on a chair, clips the seat and falls to the floor and breaks her spinal cord and is paralysed for the rest of her life. Next door goes on to become the Greenslopes abortion clinic which is still there.

Today is the 27th December, the first anniversary of Fred’s death and we are starting to think that we will eventually be receiving some inheritance. This has only happened because Maggie and Harry were childless. Sue told me on Christmas Day, something that I didn’t previously know and was surprised to hear, that Harry had “no father”, whatever that means. Our family was dysfunctional and could discuss nothing. On Christmas Day, I’m thinking about gratitude and putting together some sort of picture of their life. When Harry was dying in hospital, I also was told by my mother from Maggie, something very strange and even unrepeatable. He naturally was a good Presbyterian and was a member and benefactor of the church. He was very tall and upright with a very stiff and formal disposition. She was very friendly with a nervous and even hysterical laugh. I now believe putting it all together, that the reason for their childlessness was that they never had sex and that Maggie had even started to confess this. I have mentioned this to a couple of lady friends of mine who have an interest in such things and they told me that it was and even now is quite common. I’m now also wondering about the other childless couples in my family and what probably went on or didn’t go there as well. Harry died of bowel cancer on the 6th April, 1971. They probably tried but because of shyness, incompetence, ignorance, self denial, Christian guilt and sin, and absolutely no alcohol and a history of profligateness in some parts of the family, it was convenient and even devoted not to.

I know of two more examples. I was told exactly why by a close relative as to why they didn’t give birth to their first born until 16 months after the wedding. The other is too close to tell but I have made my point anyway.

I have stated gratitude, and I also believe in karma and a measure of fate. What portent does this money have for me and what is my responsibility? The farm that I own, which I love so much and even feel a sense of providence, the reason that it came on to the market for me to purchase, so I was told, was that their eldest son died from snake bite on a neighbour’s farm whose owner was Gear! Yes I take this very seriously! Any suggestions? I believe that I only narrowly missed out being a Presbyterian with all its self denial and I am just so glad that I’m not. My old silver teapot that I still use was owned by Charlie Gear.

Gertrude’s Confession

Yes it is Gertrude who lives at 1030 in the previous story and this is her confession. Gertrude is a dear friend who lives just nearby. She is one who passionately hates sin and her whole life is lived as a mater being drawn to great sinners and entering into this futile struggle. She claims that God has called her to build an Ashram and although she hates building with such a passion, she has driven herself and particularly others to her calling and now the Ashram is built. The challenge is now to stop this building drive and to actually turn it into a functioning Ashram. Yes, another person with a calling. The weird thing for me is that if you walk around all the buildings, there is only one date to be seen, carved clearly into a post, and that is strangely the 4th May, 1987. In a previous story, I told of Nell and the strange events around this date of her death. On this day, Nell was just a few months old and it appears that somehow Fate had given us nature mystics something strange to think about. Gertrude, is actually having trouble in changing her life’s direction from saint and mater and Ashram builder to head Abbess and this is her confession of her troubles [as I’ve conjectured].

Her confession:

“I was born into a ruined Germany at the end of the war, both parents were refugees from the lost far eastern part of the old Germany. Home was a cement block in a high rise building which the family felt safe and secure and were thankful for considering what could have been the case. Many an afternoon and evening I was locked in this house, either by myself or looking after my twin baby brothers while both my parents worked late while saving to improve our situation. Home was a solid bastion of security against the dangers and ruins of the outside world. When I was about 15, I was privileged to be able to assist my parents build a home for ourselves. Cement was the chosen medium because of its strength and security in a dangerous world. At last having our own home was a great improvement on the quality of our lives and best of all we even had a garden where we could actually grow things. Life now seemed good and I had even contributed.

Years later and I’m now a young lady travelling through south east Asia and on to the great empty land of promise, Australia. Here I already had an inspiring friend carving out a house and home in the great god forsaken and unpaved wilderness. The open spaces had drawn me here and now with residency status, we (my husband and I) purchased a large cleared and desolated old cow paddock. This barren landscape was to be turned into a paradise of light and learning if we only had the energy and inspiration to sacrifice ourselves for this greater goal. I felt called to build an Ashram to educate humans into a better way of living and appreciating nature. Pregnancy and a trip home to Germany and my partner has build in my absence a beautiful cement block home. Upon my return, this house has now transformed this wasteland into a comfortable and wonderful home. It has again greatly improved the quality of life of my little family. I am again so thankful.

When opportunity knocks, grasp it with both hands. Fate has now allowed me to buy truck load after truck load of reject grade cement blocks all for the price of just delivery. An offer too good to miss. A whole village is now created, although it is in actual fact, in pieces and just needs to be assembled.

My calling is to build, and god help me, I intend to do so to improve the world. All I have to do is to inspire others to assist. Problems occur in my relationship and so the first task is to build another home for my estranged husband. Once this is completed, money is now in short supply and so he returns to Germany for the security of reliable work.

If god loves me and my project, this pile of blocks is to be placed one on top of the other and the gaps then filled with cement. I fervently pray and I’m rewarded by the arrival of a visiting part time German builder. Work is illegal and the wages are cheap but with god’s assistance, all is possible. The petty rules of man as they appear in the form of council regulations, work permits, and building codes are all irrelevant to a higher calling. The first accommodation block is completed.

Should I now start my venture? But no I decide I need another accommodation block to increase numbers to 50 to make things seem more worthwhile and wonderful. Here on my own again, my heart goes out to a resident German builder and we come to some arrangement between building and the returning of favours. Cement is a wonderful and warm medium. It is beautiful and strong and will last at least a thousand years. All buildings must be built to last. I particularly hate timber. It is a pathetic and cruel medium and I will never use it. I would rather line the walls of my buildings with the bones of dead humans than use timber. A tree is more beautiful than a human. To cut a tree for timber is a sacrilege against nature, the provider for all of us. A sawmill is worse than a death camp. I weep whenever I pass a sawmill and see the desecration of the most noble monarchs of this planet. The only reason I will use wood is if it is cheaper and easier and then I must submit to the higher calling.

Another German suitor is evicted because, although cultured and intelligent, ‘He is a lazy bugger because he won’t build in cement’.

With accommodation for 50 people, I am now forced to build an ablution block (toilet and showers). Money now comes from work in Gympie at the women’s refuge but this work is degrading and disenchanting. The only thing that keeps me here with all their sordid troubles is the pure thought of my Ashram and its help in a troubled world. The kitchen is started and in difficult times like this, it is my hatred of the building process that keeps me going. After much pain and suffering for all involved, it is completed.

Out of reverence for what has been achieved and to the greatness of god and his ways, my builder brother arrives and is soon put to work building a temple to all the gods and goddesses. Never has there been such a holy building built with such swearing and reluctance but with my soothing encouragement and assistance it is completed and consecrated. He departs immediately and I’m told for good.

I have the occasional visitor where visitors do some work in return for keep. In the description of my farm, I clearly say that I expect maximum work plus total commitment to my calling. I get volunteers but few have the commitment that I expect from them and they soon leave. I need people who can share my inspiration as it has been shown to me. The younger generation shows no appreciation for the sacrifices that have already been made and are usually of little assistance.

At last, it is completed and I step forward to be the guress (the rarely used female form of the word guru) of my beautiful Ashram but unfortunately by now I have no devotees and no inspiration and so I have to quickly step back again.

A trice bankrupted advertising executive arrives looking a venue to take his life in a different direction and into an even more exhaled position as a spiritual healer. A smooth way with words, a giant ego, and some dubious help from above I am given a lesson in opportunism. After a few months of cancer cures and an ignoble departure, I’m on my own again.

I’m on my own and restless. I can’t help myself can I? Beauty and creativity cannot occur in a state of mess and disorder. For miracles to work, all needs to be in order. All I need is a small shed to be neat and tidy. It is agreed. This is my confession, I admit I’m a sick person and I’ve now gone too far. It has been pointed out to me by all my dear friends and relatives. It is there in front of my very eyes. I cannot deny it. I can hear their words, I can see my actions, I know it is true, but in my heart I cannot accept it. This small one roomed shed out of cement blocks naturally, I decided to make into two rooms. It would be just a little bit extra and so why not? Well then a third room might as well be added as well. I just couldn’t help myself. I know I’m naughty, (cavalier even I’m told). This illegal building is now within sight of the busy road and inviting a visit from the dreaded building inspector. I try to hide it behind a few trees and with shade cloth. The building is even illegally placed being too close to the road and my neighbour’s boundary. It is also the size of a house and looks like one as well. Why have I done it? Why risk all 20 years of building for what? When it is pointed out to me, I viciously attack them as best I can with what I’m told is a technique of aggressive victimhood and my detractors are stunned into silenced.

Please help me, I’m a masochist. I hate building with such a passion that I even love to hate the process. The more I hate it the greater the sacrifice and the greater the good. The more pain the better it is. I must also be a sadomasochist because I also enjoy making others suffer while building. If people enjoy themselves while building, they are not working hard enough or with total commitment. I’ve even deducted wages because workers have enjoyed themselves. I can see it has gone too far. I need a cure.

Martyrdom and sacrifice have displaced inspiration. I need to fulfill the role of making this Ashram work and to stop this curse of building. Should I take up whipping myself, or whipping others. It must stop. I’m even running out of land to build upon. How am I to be cured? Please! Help! Help!”

The cure that I recommend is: TABOO PLEASURE??!! Not another place of self denial, pain and suffering for God but a temple for pleasure and learning!

Footnote: Gertrude has returned to Germany for recreation and therapy but secretly she has been helping her “husband” renovate his house. A return ticket to Australia is already booked but I suspect that a cure is still as far away as ever.

post script.
It all came to absolutely nothing in the end. G eventually got taken away with early onset dementia and put into a home. It turned out to be as expected nothing more than cant and hyperbole. Her place was eventually sold onto the open market. Her diaries were gathered up and brought here for safe keeping. She said that she had a vision but admitted that it must only have been an hallucination.


I’m one who is always on the lookout for new words to add to my vocabulary to explain the psychology of being a tree planter with the associated wait together with the inspiring transformation of the landscape. I came across the word “tirthas”, which literally means a crossing over, a place where it is easy to pass into other dimensions and where weird things can happen.

My neighbour visited recently with his daughter who is studying journalism and her fiance studying photography. They came to take some photos so I couldn’t help but mention this word. The father’s comment was, “I suppose that you mean here?”, to which I immediately replied, “Yes” . With that he immediately walked home. Matt then commences to photograph me in the old house with its heirlooms and my collection of bend pieces of wood. We then go outside and the cows pay us a visit. Britta then exclaims, “Look at that cow [steer], he has a stick sticking out of him!” Upon inspection, I see that he has a stick sticking out of his penis [sheath]. Horror and incredulity is my response having never seen or heard of anything like this before. I say that we must immediately put him in the yards and do something about his problem. This we do immediately. I then explain to Britta, who is quite a spirited young lady, that she has to pull on the rope of the head bail while I convince the steer that he has another option. After a few attempts, Britta, who looked quite a picture in her bright red dress, was able to hold the rope steady while I secured it shut. All the while, Matt is outside the yards photographing the unfolding drama. I then go to the end where the problem is and remove the stick. This stick was an incredible 23 inches long and only 6 inches was protruding. Undoubtedly a severe psychological drama for the young steer but one that doesn’t seem to have caused him any lasting harm. We then pat him on the head reassuring him of our best interest for him before letting him go to join the rest of the herd.

A few days later, I telephoned Matt and Britta saying that that was an unusual sequence of events and I’d be interested in the photos to add to my collection of weird things. Matt’s reply was, “Guess what, the camera wasn’t working and there are no viable photos!”. Ho hum! I suppose that that it just adds to the weirdness and unpredictability of life.

Let me mention the word again. It is tirthas. It comes from Hindi and is often associated with sacred places. I do have some more evidence but that will have to be for other stories. It is my secret word that I may utter at the jungle shrine if circumstances allow.