Moreish

January 28, 2017 at 11:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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cook-and-more

Swipe right?

One of my least satisfying copywriting clients was my father.

He craved female beauty, company and utility.

Especially after my mother’s death.

In his mid-70s, he asked me to write a personal ad for the local rag.

I wasn’t keen, as I knew that the brief, product, market and customer would be difficult – if not impossible.

Then again, as he’d refused to read any of my fiction, I was curious to see what it would look like.

He wanted a woman who was much slimmer, younger, better dressed and more attractive than he.

She had to be sufficiently educated to appreciate and applaud (but neither exceed nor challenge) his gargantuan knowledge and wit.

She also needed a specific sense of humour.

His.

To convey this mandatory criterion, he insisted the ad include the line:

‘Must love Cook and Moore.’

By this he meant the comedy duo of which he was a fan.

I tried to explain that such a rigorous standard could severely curtail replies, but he was adamant.

And so the ad ran.

On my next visit, I asked how he’d fared.

He said that only one female – ‘of limited intellect and heavy Eastern European extraction’ – had phoned with a riposte:

‘I am cook.

What is “more”?’


This blog runs on (instant) coffee.

Any sum appertaining thereto would be much appreciated and long recalled.


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Uncle frightener

December 17, 2016 at 10:56 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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An uncle, to whom I was relatively close, drank himself to death.

Many years before this, we met at the Esplanade Hotel in Melbourne’s beachside suburb of
St Kilda.

We were celebrating the fact that he was 44 and I was 22.

I asked him why he drank so much, so often.

(This was three decades ago, so my memory may be flawed.)

He said that he’d been living with a beautiful and gentle girlfriend in New Zealand.

One day, they had a huge fight and he flew into a violent rage.

The girlfriend fled the second-storey dwelling and my uncle, still furious, spent considerable time throwing all her belongings through the window, to the ground.

These included a record player, which smashed to smithereens.

The girlfriend returned that evening, to find everything she owned strewn across the street.

Unable to climb the stairs to endure whatever further drama awaited, she disappeared into the night.

My uncle knowingly let her go.

That night, she was gang-raped by six men.

My memory fails here, but I’m pretty sure she committed suicide thereafter.

Who wouldn’t?

My uncle, not surprisingly, blamed himself.

He began his long road to ruin because he could neither forget that night, nor forgive himself.

The grog merely went some small way to dulling the pain in his head that never ceased.

As reasons for being an alcoholic went, I thought this one was pretty cogent.

This kind young woman used to collect and send me stamps for my childhood album.

I still have them.

After my uncle’s death, I helped pour his ashes into the sea, under the pier we’d looked at as he told his dreadful tale.

At the wake, his family and friends sat several tables from the plum bay window at which he and I had ‘celebrated’ in 1987.

It was his favourite.

Dog gone

September 18, 2016 at 9:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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slide-001-young-paul-with-basil-dog-by-alder-tree

In harm’s way.

 

In remembering my dead father, one incident continues to trouble me daily.

I hope that writing it down will free me from it.

Note that I use the lower-case ‘dad’ to try to take the sting out.

Basil was our first (and last) dog.

dad described Basil as a ‘Heinz’ (i.e. a mongrel comprising 57 varieties).

I seem to recall Basil was a stray who simply hung around long enough to be admitted to our yard.

I have few memories of Basil other than this:

dad was proud of his garden and lawn.

He didn’t want holes in either.

Basil, being a dog, had other ideas.

But no idea of Dutch discipline.

When Basil dug his third hole, dad became suddenly apoplectic.

He strode to the tool shed and returned with a three-foot (90 cm) length of two-inch (52 mm) orange plastic pipe.

It was so thick, it barely bent.

dad then grabbed Basil by the ears, hoisted him aloft and beat the shit out of him.

I sat aghast near the Alder tree (pictured in the slide).

Basil’s screams still resound, half a century on.

The scene, dark against the summer sun, burnt into my brain.

I felt terror, then.

As did Basil.

I believe he left us soon after.

Hopefully of his own volition.

And under his own steam.

Henceforth, dad had only to look at me to strike fear and avert wrongdoing.

Mum summed up his behaviour several times over the decades as,

‘He gets wild sometimes … ‘

Being passive aggressive myself, I know about bottling things till they explode.

But I used to vent on ‘inanimates’.

Or myself.

And I’ve sought a lot of help.

Sometimes, I find myself praying to no-one in particular

that mum’s blood flows stronger

and I am not

my father’s

son.

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire and Imagine Day.

 

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My father’s war

April 25, 2015 at 8:38 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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Not my dad. See Chris' comment below.

Not my dad. See Chris’ comment below.

In 1939, my dad was a kid in The Netherlands, just a few clicks west of the German border.

World War II had a profound effect on his  life – and mine.

Unlike many combatants, dad related his war stories often.

Probably better out than in.

At the start, dad chatted to Axis soldiers invading.

At the end, his house hosted Allied soldiers liberating.

One of them accidentally fired his rifle through an upstairs bed containing three of my young (lucky) uncles.

In between, dad saw a Lancaster bomber flying low – ablaze from nose to tail.

A Messerschmidt fighter out of fuel – gliding, gliding, gliding – only to crash in a local quarry.

During an air raid, a German solider snatched dad to the safety of a slit trench.

A shrapnel fragment sliced the head off a neighbour’s prize rooster.

Ravenous from rationing, dad once approached a group of soldiers boiling something in a cauldron.

On their invitation, he peered in … to see a cow’s head leering up at him.

Such stories, and more.

At war’s end, dad’s country was shattered; his prospects very poor.

He wanted to escape to Canada, but Australia was offered instead.

He arrived, built a new life, and helped give me mine.

Boat people.

Our house was full of books about Hitler and the war.

Dad seemed obsessed with the subject, and it rubbed off on me.

I once asked why he read and watched so many things about such a dreadful time.

He said he was still trying to understand how and why it all happened.

Now I’ve read every book and watched every film and documentary too.

And I don’t get it either.

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