Miss Redhead – My burning desire…

Red heads

The Australian Outback, an ancient land where the red-parched soil is touched by an endless blue sky and where confetti flutters on the breeze.

 

Hang-on, since when was confetti part of our outback landscape…?

On a recent foray into the outback we thought we were travelling behind a bus full of Japanese newly-weds…

You know, the ones you see down at the Historic Rocks precinct in Sydney on a Saturday morning.

Lots of smiling faces, nodding as only the Japanese can in their most polite way, married in large groups on the steps of Mrs Macquarie’s Chair overlooking the magnificent Sydney Harbour, and more confetti than you could poke-a-stick at.

Strewth, and just to be clear, lest I be accused of casting a racial slur…

I love the Japanese people.

What would lunchtime be without sashimi – Nikon camera’s weren’t the only thing they shared with the world.  And hey, I’m not suggesting there were busloads of them in the outback throwing confetti everywhere either.

I was speaking metaphorically…(okay?)

But crikey – somebody must have been.

There was so much of it you could be forgiven for thinking that it must have come from a mass wedding.

Now I get it, it isn’t the most popular dinner party topic, but thanks to the hilarious 2006 movie “Kenny” we have at least got a little more comfortable discussing the issue around the camp fire these days.

And let’s not beat around the bush here, we are talking about “Poo Tickets”

Crikey, I thought everyone has watched that movie?

Toilet paper, you dill…!

Oh, stop cringing and shuffling in your seat…

And spare us the protest, Kenny dispelled many of those urban myths about…

Mine doesn’t smell and I always clean the bowel…

As a kid I used to visit my grandmother’s home in a small country town and she had an outhouse down the backyard. Anyone from the bush will know what an outhouse is and without doubt they’ve been the butt of many jokes for time eternity.

In Nan’s outhouse there was always a small box of matches sitting behind the door and she insisted one be lit each and every time you arose from the throne!

I thought this was normal and I don’t recall anyone ever complaining about the need to do it, it was just part of the routine…

Although, Uncle Bluey did complain about it once, but that was when my cousin accidently set alight to his prized Playboy Mag he had tucked down the back of the seat that us kids never knew about.

And mum’s still the word on that one..!

So why a box of matches?

Well nothing beats a freshly lit match to kill all other lingering smells …

Come-on,  you’re not still cringing, surely?

Needless to say, caution should always be exercised when playing with matches and there was the time Bluey sent the outhouse door over the back fence after a brekkie of Heinz baked beans…(thank God for flushing toilet’s these days, hey)

I’m not sure what was funniest, Bluey sitting there in his navy singlet with his Y-Fronts around his ankles, or the dunny door in the neighbour’s mango tree.

He had that “eyes rolled-up, embarrassed” look that dogs get when your eyes meet as they do their business.

Dog owners will know what I mean…

But, here is the thing, we’ve always carried a little box of redheads when we are Out and About.

In one bold strike you fill the air with the smell of a freshly burning match after a squat, removing the need to protest yours doesn’t smell, and importantly, you can use it to burn your poo tickets…

So, for those of you that head bush please take “Miss Redhead” with you.  

She may not ignite your passion, but in the least, she will put a flame to your “poo tickets” and spare our wonderful country the indignity of the unwanted and unsightly “confetti” that has increasingly become part of the landscape…

Baz – The Landy

Ps: Seriously, this is a major problem these days!

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Adversity – A stepping stone to success (Hey, what colour is this..?)

Seemingly, whenever I tell someone I am colour-blind they feel compelled to put me to the test.

“No… really, is that what you see?”

“Can’t be, you sure?”

And every so often I get that old chestnut…

“Are you like a dog and just see black and white?”

Mind you, I’m pretty relaxed about it these days…

Perhaps my dress sense gives me away, after all, there was that matter of the yellow pants I bought all those years ago.

Sensibly, these days I outsource my clothing purchases to Janet-Planet who has a good eye for fashion, mind you she has a naughty sense of humour as well, so I usually get TomO to do a second pass on any clothes she buys me, just in case she’s in a playful mood.

But even that has its limitations as without doubt TomO has inherited his mother’s sense of mischief…

Throughout my school years I always wanted to join the air-force and fly fast jets.

Yes, I know, everyone did, but I really wanted to!

It wasn’t until I underwent the air-force medical that the discovery was made, which went to explaining quite a lot. I only wish they had given me the medical first, rather than have me sit through hours of entrance exams only to stamp that brand new file…

“Colour-blind, FAIL….”

..Talk about being gutted, but I eventually moved on and ended up in the employ of the Bank of New South Wales, licking stamps to put on envelopes…

A Bank

 

And speaking of my banking colleagues.

I did manage to give them a good laugh when I came home with an old Holden Station Wagon.

Not that there was anything wrong with having an old Holden…

But a pink one?

It was unique…

I was living in a small country town in Northern Australia and I’d had my eye on that car for a long time and couldn’t believe my luck that it hadn’t been sold before I saved enough money to buy it.

I swear that car was yellow, such is the vagaries of a colour-blind!

But hey, I wore that car like a badge and there was no missing it at the Mareeba Drive-In on a Saturday night…

CrayonsAnd for heaven’s sake we won’t even talk about coloured crayons, other than to say the sight of a colouring-in book and crayons is still stressful to this day…

But my colour deficiency did motivate me to thumb my nose at the air-force, give them the

bird, so to speak, not that they shouldn’t have rules about colour deficiency, that sounds perfectly reasonable to me, but I wasn’t going to let it beat me either.

“After all, adversity is just a stepping stone to success, right…? It only gets the better of you if you let it and there was no way this would hold me back, ever…”

I’ve enjoyed a successful career with the bank, 42-years worth…

Ah, no, I’m not still licking stamps, but thanks for checking!

And I went on to fly my own plane.

It wasn’t quite a fast-jet, but hey nothing wrong with pretending sometimes. And when I tired of sitting in the pilot’s seat, I swapped the plane for a parachute and jumped out of them – until I broke my bum in a mid-air incident (but that is a story for another time).

But strewth,  I’ll tell you a funny thing, odd as it may seem I didn’t like the colour of the plane I owned, so I repainted it…go figure!

Baz - The Landy
Baz – The Landy

 

A letter to Santa (Strewth!)

Clutch-Bag

Who remembers writing a letter to Santa and posting it to the Big Fella at the North Pole?

 I certainly do and the list was always long…

 Mind you, the wrapping paper or bag the present came in often got more attention than the present itself…

These past few days TomO and I have been getting hints from Janet-Planet about what she would like for Christmas.

Teasing her we said it was completely out of our control and that she should address a letter to Santa, care of the North Pole, ensuring it gave an account of her behaviour throughout the year, a prerequisite for any letter to Santa.

Of course, all along assuring her we would take care of posting it… 😉

Not surprisingly, for behaviour she simply put “exemplary”.

Who are TomO and I to argue the toss on that one; no guessing where most of the mischief in our household has its genesis.

And yes, it is true, Janet-Planet is always on her best behaviour, well mostly, as you would expect from the girl-next-door!

Anyway, we headed to the shopping centre, um, the post-box I mean, with the letter in hand and as we drove TomO went through the list.

It was fairly straightforward really and we’d be out of the shopping centre and back home in record breaking time…

Chanel No 5, tick.

Happy Birthday!

Phew, this shopping for presents is easy right?

There is a very good reason for sticking to a tried and proved formula of buying Chanel No 5 for every possible occasion; Christmas, birthdays, I love you gifts…

Apart from being a lovely gift, it does take a lot of the guesswork out of shopping for a present!

Mind you, the wonderful lady at the Chanel Boutique did throw a curved-ball when she asked if I wanted the “Classic” No 5, or the “Light” version of the eloquently beautiful fragrance…

Crikey, what had I been buying for the past 30-years?

I took a punt on the Classic, after all, Janet-Planet is truly a classic in every sense of the word.

You can’t get it wrong, right?

Wrong…!

Working our way down the list to the final item we were convinced there was some sort of mistake. Surely, this can’t be right?

A “clutch-bag”…

I’m sure we both had that perplexed “boy” look on our faces.

You know, the one that all mums are familiar with…

“Where are my undies I can’t find any” look…

The only “clutch” we know of is in the big truck we use for touring the Australian Outback in and we’ve spent plenty of money on it to make sure that things like “clutches” don’t fail.

The Landy, Outback Australia

But, Janet-Planet is an exceptional person and we thought that maybe she knows something we don’t, after all she has been driving it a lot lately given I’ve “stolen” her car to drive to work in…

And seemingly, she only wanted the “bag” that the new clutch would come in. Each to their own, I guess, but I understood where she was coming from based on my own childhood memories of wrapping paper and presents…

Anyway, I am rabbiting on far too much and risk keeping you from your own Christmas festivities.

So cutting a long story short, here we were, two young men, well one young’un, and another young at heart, standing in the midst of a busy shopping mall, perplexed beyond belief.

Just when all appears lost and we are about to head off to the local motor vehicle spare parts shop a wonderful friend, whom we’ll just call Lisa, recognises the anxiety on our faces and offers to help.

I suspect her credit card had been working harder than a one-arm wallpaper hanger judging by the size of the shopping bags she was carrying. So why not send in mine as a substitute while hers took a rest on the bench?

Anyway, Lisa pointed us in the right direction – an upmarket boutique, assuring us they sell “exquisite clutch-bags”.

Crikey, talk about being confused!

But hey, we’d been thrown a life buoy and we were holding on for grim life despite a flashing thought, perhaps similar to one has when drowning, of what an “upmarket boutique” might do to a credit card…

We headed to that boutique feeling as nervous as a frog in a food blender, after all we still had to choose a clutch-bag, and at that point we were wondering how we let Lisa get away so quickly.

Crikey, I would have bought her one as well if she had come along to help us choose. But perhaps she just needed to go and find a quiet corner of the mall where she could have a good laugh…

Mind you, aren’t we counting our lucky stars that she came across us at that critical time!

Can you imagine, a new clutch for the truck under the Christmas tree, and Janet-Planet receiving the cast off bag it came in for a Christmas present…

I’m sure she would have loved it, that is the person she is, but we boys are hopeful she will like this clutch-bag even more so!

Merry Christmas sweetie…from your boys!

 

Photos: Baz – The Landy

 

A Snog or a Durrie

How good is hearing one of your favourite songs played on the radio?

Even better when it is a long time favourite unearthed to tickle the airwaves once more.

Music has the ability to move your emotions. It can motivate you, take you places, make you laugh, or even cry, perhaps rejoin you with distant memories…

Or just make you sick!

Uh?

Recently TomO and I were driving along the freeway and one such song came on the radio…

Most People I Know (Think That I’m Crazy)” by Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, a great Aussie rock-band.

I was growing up in Townsville, North Queensland and heading into puberty faster than warp speed just as this song was released.

Strewth, remember those free and easy days?

You could head off on your bike with your mates in the morning with strict instructions to be back for dinner.

In reality we were usually back by lunchtime. Food was required on a regular basis with all that testosterone sloshing around!

But testosterone and girls is for another time…

Anyway, TomO says…

“So Dad, you like this song, hey?

“It’s fitting ‘cause Mum and me think you are just a little bit crazy, that’s for sure.”

I reminded him that he was a chip off the old-block and he might just be a little crazy as well…

“Sure, it is one of my all time favourites” I said, “it takes me back to a time when I was around your age, maybe a touch older.”

“Were you going through puberty”, he asked?

“Yeah, sure mate, I love that song, but it makes me feel sick” Avoiding the puberty question…

“How could it make you feel sick if you like it?”

“See Dad, you are crazy.”

“How could you love a song and say that it makes you sick at the same time.”

“It doesn’t make sense.”

I had aroused an interest that would have him hunting down an answer like a pit bull terrier nipping at your heels.

The song had finished and I vowed to find a quiet moment up in The Shed later in the day when I could crank it up on my iPod.

Humming along to myself I got to thinking this would be a good time to share a story from my younger days…

A good opportunity to reinforce the evils of smoking.

As I drove, he listened…

I’d heard some mates talking about how they had tried smoking, but I was shying away from these discussions as I was too scared to give it a go.

I wanted to, but didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my mates. I mean what if I threw up, or coughed, or whatever? I’d be the laughing stock of class 6E and maybe even risk being dropped from the footy team.

It was about mid-semester when that fateful day arrived, I just didn’t recognise it when I got out of bed that morning and headed to school, after all it was the same as any other day, at least I thought it was.

On the way home I passed Leong’s corner shop.

You’ll know the place, full of lollies, ice-creams, chips, stuff I didn’t usually have any money to spend on, but still I passed by most days.

I was hanging around outside on my bike, not sure what I was actually waiting for as I was still another year or so away from taking an  active interest in the girls that hung out there.

Anyway, I see this bloke pull up in a flash car. Well I thought it was flash anyway, a new Holden Kingswood sedan, and as he gets out he tossed a half-finished cigarette onto the ground.

The next couple of moments were a blur really, certainly impulsive!

And isn’t that the story of my life.

I swooped on that smouldering cigarette, durrie, as the older boys called them, with all the zest of two seagulls fighting over a lone chip, discarded uncaringly on a beach side promenade.

Quickly extinguishing it, I hid it in my pocket and was back on my bike.

Maybe that is where my athletic prowess started, if I can call it that, as I peddled faster and harder than I had ever done before and probably ever since.

I swore the whole world witnessed this event and the police would be on to me before I got home, sirens blaring, handcuffed and dragged before my parents.

Oh my gawd, the risk I was taking of being caught with this solitary piece of contraband.

Luck was seemingly on my side though, I got home unchallenged by the law.

But there was still Mum to navigate past as I headed for the kitchen cupboard that stored the matches.

Would she miss a box?

The mind was racing, but I needn’t have worried.

I should have been in the military as the task was completed with precision. I had the matches and the durrie, there was an air of subterfuge about the whole thing; a tinge of excitement…

I was now feeling like a fugitive running from the law as I headed down to the old sawmill a couple of kilometres from home.

In hindsight, I’m not sure why I didn’t do it the time old-fashioned way and light the bloody thing up behind the shed.

Anyway, I scaled an old sawdust pile and slid down the other side, careful to remain well out of sight.

Fumbling, I took that used durrie, yep the one covered in someone else’s spit and saliva, probably contaminated with all kinds of germs and put it in my mouth.

For crying out loud, this thing had been between the lips of someone I didn’t even know.

But it was far too late to contemplate now as the flame of the match was licking at my fingers like an out-of-control bush fire…

This was supposed to be a pleasant experience, or so they say.

I tried to be sophisticated about it…

Sophisticated?

Hell, who was I kidding?

Here I was covered in sawdust and sucking on a discarded fag…

Despite numerous advances from our next door neighbour, I still wasn’t willing to let her tongue loose in my mouth, mixing all those salvia juices together for fear of catching girl germs.

But here I was with someone’s used fag, durrie, whatever you want to call the damned thing, jammed between my lips…

Okay, so let’s just put it out there, it was gross!

But give me a break, I couldn’t even afford a packet of lollies from Leong’s store, let alone a packet of durries…

I coughed my way through that cigarette.

As I lay back in the sawdust dragging on that cigarette I got to thinking that snogging Debbie Kelly couldn’t possibly be this bad, and now I had ticked this off the “to do list” maybe I could take up her offer…

Just for a comparison!

I wasn’t feeling one way or the other on this smoking thing.

I was indifferent at best!

And about half-way home it hits me, my head started spinning and I felt the whole world was about to end.

I felt sick…

Man, I mean really sick.

To this day I’m sure Mum was wondering how I came to be covered in sawdust.

But she didn’t ask.

Perhaps she thought I was stealing a kiss from Debbie Kelly down at the old sawmill?

Having a good old snog as our tongues danced in a sea of saliva.

If only it had been the case maybe I would have a cheeky smile on my face each time I heard Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs belt out that song.

TomO listened on intently.

I did notice a bit of a wry smile coming out the corner of his mouth.

Perhaps he was weighing up what he would have done, a snog or the cigarette…

You see as I lay back on my bed, my head spinning faster than an out of control merry-go-round, Billy and the Boys were belting out that classic on the radio…

And I felt so sick, so very sick…

But I still love that song!

Baz – The Landy…

The Australian Outback (Big Sky Country)

The Australian Outback - Big Sky Country

This is big sky country…and how good is it!

Janet, TomO and I will be heading out in “The Landy” in about a week’s time to visit Mutawinji National Park, which has a lot of aboriginal history, rock engravings and paintings.

And I look forward to sharing some more of the Australian Outback with you…

In fact, this will be the last trip “The Landy” will make for a while as the new vehicle, “The Landy – Mark 2” arrives later this week and will be customised for Outback Travel over the next couple of months.

Photo: Baz – The Landy

This is Incredible (Super-Hero’s, right?)

The Incredibles - You be the Judge!
The Incredibles – You be the Judge!

Now don’t you good folk go worrying that this Mr Incredible thingy that a wonderful person, Christina, wrote about me is going to my head.  You know, Bob Parr, family man, super-hero  from the ‘burbs.

Crikey, this is incredible, you’ve forgotten haven’t you.  My moment in the spot light and its slipped from your memory already…and it hasn’t even been 24 hours.

Your teachers were incredibly perceptive when they said , very bright, but needs to pay more attention to detail…

You can bring yourself back up to speed on it here.

Anyway, where was I, yes, don’t worry, there’s no chance of it going to my head, I’m far too incredibly modest to allow anything like that to happen.

And whilst I’ve got your attention for a moment or two, you’d have to admit that I am incredibly handsome. I just thought I’d put that out there, glad I got that out in the open for you, not that I’ve ever thought that myself mind you, never, no way, well not this week at least, not until this story appeared anyway.

In fact, so incredibly handsome that I can spend at least 10 minutes in front of the mirror admiring grooming myself each day.

Don’t just take my word for it, ask an incredibly impartial person, like Fay, my mother.

And someone did recently suggest that I looked like Harrison Ford.

Incredible…

True, you’re right, it was my brother-in-law mumbling something about Indiana Jones and we’re both doomed when the girls find all these empty beer bottles in the morning…

Of course, I am incredibly strong, what do you think I’m doing up in The Shed at silly o’clock each day with my cape and face mask…

The Shed - Or Super Hero hideout?
The Shed – Or Super Hero hideout?

Isn’t that what super-hero’s do?

And my boss, god bless his soul, did say that he’s glad I’m an incredibly talented mountaineer he’d believe anything I told him, to which he added that it is a blessing in disguise because I’m incredibly hopeless at trading currencies, but as he still needs someone around to send for coffee each day I should consider myself incredibly lucky!

That’s what I like about him, he’s incredibly generous when it comes to accolades about me…

And while I’m mucking around with this newfound fame word it would be entirely wrong not to mention that I have an incredible family, Janet and TomO.

Strewth, didn’t I luck out there, hey?

Yes, I heard you, incredible you said, didn’t you!

TomO, truly an incredible miracle for both of us, in fact so much so it often brings a tear to our eye…

TomO - An Incredible in full flight
TomO – An Incredible in full flight

And, let me tell you, he’s an incredible trampolinist, an urban tramp!

Oh yes, he’s an incredible son, incredibly likeable, okay, yes, he is incredibly cute and the Cheltenham girls are already checking him out on the train on the way to school each day, but who is this story about anyway…so let’s move on!

And speaking of Janet, she is incredibly beautiful with an incredible tolerance, spirit and adventurous personality.

Janet - An Incredible in full flight over Picton, Australia
Janet – An Incredible in full flight over Picton, Australia

Mind you, as I write this she has this incredible look on her face that is saying Mr Bob Parr you’re going to come to an incredible and sticky ending if you don’t take the rubbish out before the garbage man comes this week…it’s a short story, incredibly, I forgot last week.

Strewth, that’s right she’s an Incredible as well, best I don’t push my luck, so I’ll get on with that little job right now.

But let me say this, if I ever get to the top of some of those incredibly high mountains I want to climb it will be an Incredible super-human feat, well for me, in any case!

Baz - Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz – Southern Alps, New Zealand

So to all, thanks for your continuing interest and ongoing support in the adventures that we get up to…and be sure to hang around for a while, I’ll be needing all the support I can muster to get me up those mountains…

And remember, there are no ordinary moments; no ordinary people; no ordinary lives!

Umm, Bob Parr, super-hero, hey…

Incredible!

Most People I Know Think that I’m Crazy (The evils of smoking)

There is nothing better than hearing one of your favourite songs played on the radio, even better when it is a long time favourite and one that you hadn’t heard in ages, unearthed to tickle the airwaves once more.

Music has the ability to move your emotions. It can motivate you, it can take you places, it can make you laugh, or even cry, it can sometimes rejoin you with distant memories…

The other day TomO and I were out driving and one such song came on the radio, Most People I Know (Think That I’m Crazy), by Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, a great Aussie rock-band.

Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs
Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs

Initially formed in the 1960s, the band parted ways, but reformed again in 1971. It was during this second coming that I was growing up in Townsville, North Queensland, heading into puberty at the rate of knots and just as this song was released.

Geez, those days were free and easy.  You could head off on your bike with your mates in the morning, but with strict instructions to be back for dinner.

In reality we were usually back by lunchtime.

Food was required on a regular basis with all that testosterone sloshing around!

But I’m digressing from the story, testosterone and girls is for another time, much later…

Anyway, TomO says…

“So Dad, you like this song, hey?

“It’s fitting ‘cause Mum and me think you are just a little bit crazy, that’s for sure.”

I reminded him that he was a chip off the old-block and he might just be a little crazy as well…

“Sure, it is one of my all time favourites” I said, “it takes me back to a time when I was around your age, maybe a touch older.”

“Were you going through puberty”, he asked?

Adding...

“Things are a happening down there, Dad.”

Geez, I wasn’t long out of Sesame Street at his age and I was still struggling with the alphabet…

But moving along…the song now in full swing, I said,

“Yeah, sure mate, I love that song, but it makes me feel sick!”

“How could it make you feel sick if you like it?”

A fair question I thought as I gave myself a mental smack around the chops…

“See, Dad you are crazy.”

“How could you love a song and say that it makes you sick at the same time.”

“It doesn’t make sense.”

Realising I had just aroused an interest that would have him hunting down an answer like a pit bull terrier nipping at your heels I now had to share a story that had been holed up inside that (little) brain of mine, never shared with anyone before that moment…

If I was Homer Simpson, I’d be slapping my forehead and saying, Doh!

The song had finished and I vowed to find a quiet moment up in The Shed later in the day when I could crank it back up on my iPod.

Yep, he was nipping away, so I thought this is a good opportunity to reinforce the evils of smoking.

I’m not sure I should be putting this in the adventure category, I’ll let you be the judge, but it was an adventure of sorts at the time.

I’d heard some mates talking about how they had tried smoking, but I was shying away from these discussions as I was too scared to give it a go and besides I wanted to avoid the peer pressure thing.

In reality, I did want to give it a go, but didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my mates, I mean what if I threw up, or coughed, or whatever, I’d be the laughing stock of class 6E and maybe even risk being dropped from the footy team.

It was about mid-semester when that fateful day arrived, I just didn’t recognise it when I got out of bed that morning and headed to school, after all it was the same as any other day, at least I thought it was.

On the way home I passed Leong’s corner shop. You’ll know the place, full of lollies, ice-creams, chips, stuff I didn’t usually have any money to spend on, but still I passed by most days.

I was hanging around outside on my bike, not sure what I was actually waiting for as I was still a couple of years away from taking a more active interest in the girls that hung out there.

And no I wasn’t looking at boys either, just on the off chance you’re wondering!

I see this bloke pull up in a flash car, well I thought it was flash anyway, a new Holden Kingswood sedan.  As he gets out he toss’s a half-finished cigarette onto the ground.

The next couple of moments were a blur really, certainly impulsive, and isn’t that the story of my life.

I swooped on that smouldering cigarette, or durrie, as the older boys called them, with all the zest of two seagulls fighting over a lone chip, discarded uncaringly on a beach side promenade.

Quickly extinguishing it, I hid it in my pocket and was back on my bike.

Maybe that is where my athletic prowess, if I can call it that, started as I peddled faster and harder than I had ever done before, and probably ever since.

I swore the whole world witnessed this event and the police would be on to me before I got home, sirens blaring, handcuffed and dragged before my parents. Oh my gawd, the risk I was taking of being caught with this solitary piece of contraband.

Luck was seemingly on my side, I got home, there was still Mum to navigate past as I headed for the kitchen cupboard that stored the matches.

Would she miss a box?

The mind was racing, but I needn’t have worried. I should have been in the military, the task was completed with precision, I had the matches and the cigarette, there was an air of subterfuge about the whole thing, a tinge of excitement…

By now I was feeling like a fugitive running from the law as I headed down to the old sawmill a couple of kilometres from home. In hindsight, I’m not sure why I didn’t do it the time old-fashioned way and light the bloody thing up behind the shed.

Anyway, I scaled an old sawdust pile and slid down the other side, careful to remain well out of sight.

Fumbling, I took that used cigarette, yep the one covered in someone else’s spit and saliva, probably contaminated with all kinds of germs and put it in my mouth.

For crying out loud, this thing had been between the lips of someone I didn’t know.

But it was far too late to contemplate now as the flame of the match was licking at my fingers like an out-of-control bush fire…

This was supposed to be a pleasant experience, or so they say. I tried to be sophisticated about it…

Sophisticated,

Hell, who was I kidding? I was covered in sawdust, sucking on a discarded fag, strewth what was I thinking…

As things stood I still wasn’t willing to kiss Debbie Kelly, our next door neighbour, despite her numerous advances for fear of catching girl germs. But I had someone’s used fag, durrie, whatever you want to call the damned thing between my lips…

I grew up with the Kelly girls and their father was a dentist, so surely they wouldn’t have too many girl germs swilling around in their saliva.

Okay, so let’s just put it out there…

It was gross, yep, let me say it again, gross, but seemingly he was ‘clean’ as I’m still around to tell the yarn…

But strewth, give me a break, I might have been all of thirteen, thinking I was going on twenty-one or something. I couldn’t even afford a packet of lollies from Leong’s store, let alone a packet of durries.

I coughed my way through that cigarette.

At one stage I was thinking that snogging Debbie Kelly couldn’t possibly be this bad, but as they say, the rest is history.

I got on my bike and headed towards home, I wasn’t feeling one way or the other on this smoking thing, I was indifferent at best, and maybe now I had gotten this out the way I could take Debbie Kelly up on her offer of a snog, just for comparison.

Crikey, about half-way home it hit me, my head started spinning and I felt the whole world was about to end.

I felt sick, man, I mean really sick.

I made it home and headed for the shower, I’m sure Mum was wondering how I came to be covered in sawdust, but she didn’t ask. Perhaps she thought I was stealing a kiss from Debbie Kelly down at the old sawmill?

If only that had been the case, maybe I would have a cheeky smile on my face each time I heard Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs belt out that song.

TomO listened on intently.

I did notice a bit of a wry smile coming out the corner of his mouth, I thought perhaps he was weighing up what he would have done, a snog or the cigarette…

You see as I lay back on my bed, my head spinning faster than an out of control merry-go-round, Billy and the Boys were belting out that classic on the radio, and I felt so sick, so very sick…

But crikey… I still love that song!