Sea Song

Sea Song

There’s water in the scuppers and the sea is cutting rough
The bilge pumps are not working and if that’s not bad enough
There’s salt water in the rum lads, there will be no getting drunk
We’ll all drown stone cold sober when the fucking ship has sunk

The skipper’s drinking brandy, for he has a private store
He says he’ll go down with his ship and what can he do more?
He ordered the abandon ship, we cut the lifeboats free
Not one of them would stay afloat. They sank into the sea

The life jackets are useless. They are soggy wet kapok
We tossed them in the ocean and they went down like a rock
The first mate said to swim for it, we’ve minutes to get clear
Before the old girl founders, and drags us down with her

The bosun said there was no point for where then would we go?
Unless there is an island near and that, he did not know
So even if we swam and swam, and then we swam some more
The bloody sharks would take us all before we reached a shore

I’ll take me chances here said he, and go down quick and clean
Just then a huge wave swamped us. The biggest we had seen
The old ship groaned and foundered, then settled on a reef
The water’s really shallow here, to everyone’s relief.

© 2020 ARF

Fun at the Pool

Every lane of the pool was fully booked today for each time slot. Which meant that for the first time while I’ve been there after reopening staff had to sound the musical bing-bong over the PA to nudge everyone to leave in time for the next 10 people to come in.

One woman had arrived about 20 minutes after the hour and despite being late, spent another 15 minutes walking round the pool talking to anyone who’d listen. She berated me for lying about how warm the water was before she had even got in. Apparently she is “very observant”. With barely ten minutes to go she finally took the plunge (literally) and started swimming. When the chimes sounded, she stayed in and would not get out. Staff spoke to her, explaining her time was up and a new batch of people were awaiting their turn. Protests followed. Eventually she left. Still complaining. Some People.

I watched as I drank my cappuccino. I buy one after every swim because I’m trying to stop the pool going bankrupt. I’m pretty sure that without those extra $18 a week the pool would have to close again and all my good friends working there would be on the dole. Today I received my ninth stamp on my loyalty card. So the next is free. I hope that free cappuccino is not the final straw.

I was swapping anecdotes with the staff as I drank my coffee when we saw a beautiful young Eastern Brown, sleek and healthy, obviously well fed, slithering across the concrete towards the children’s pool.

As you will all know by now, I get excited and protective when I see a serpent. I was delighted to find the two staff members on duty, Sue-Ellyn and Jacob, were of similar mind. Jacob and I herded the young fellow into a corner. We caught him or her in a box and I carried him or her out to the bush on the far side of the parking lot.

I was surprised to see a snake out and about at this time of year. I thought they would all be hibernating. But a quick search on Google produced some interesting information. No hibernation round here.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo, but here is a picture of one, just as pretty, from the Internet.

This morning I had decided today would be a walking stick and ambulatory support mechanism-free day. I walk more like a zombie than a person these days, I need to strengthen my leg muscles and not rely on support all the time. I also exercised my calf and thigh muscles in the pool with my fins.

Then I had a bit of a workout with a snake so on all counts today was a Good Day.

Orpheus in the Undergrowth

There is a bird in the bushes behind my home – I think it may be a currawong- whose cheerful call sounds incredibly similar to the “cancan” riff from Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld.

Chirp, chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp, chirp
Chirp,chirp,chirp, chirp,chirp,.
chirp chirpchirp
Chirp chirp,chirp chirp chirp
Chirp chirp
Chirp chirp.

It is the early bird that causes the earworm, because I find myself mentally playing that tune as I go about my routine. The rhythm infiltrates almost all of my tasks. I clean my teeth, and realise I am doing it in time to the beat. The same happens when I wash the dishes, shave, or sweep the concrete.

Brush, brush,brush,brush,brush,brush, brush
Brush,brush,brush, brush,brush,.
brush brushbrush
Brush brush,brush brush brush
Brush brush
Brush brush.

And now I find that having written ‘brush’ that many times, it looks wrong. And. I’ve forgotten what I was going to write next.

So. To other matters. On my way back from Woolworths this afternoon, I saw one of my lady friends was working at the pool. I called in to say hi and ask how soon the pool would be open again. Next Saturday! Yay!

But it will be restricted, and swimmers must book ahead. The announcement goes out to all members by email tonight. Guess who is the first to book in for 07:00 Saturday morning.

Time to get wet again. Despite Winter’s chill.

Mo Cheapaire

I made myself a sandwich for lunch today.

I buttered two thick slices of soft bread and layered between them some lettuce, tomato and beetroot with a dash of pepper and a spoon of mayonnaise.

Just as I was about to bite into it I heard a voice say “Go raib maith agat”.

“What?” I said.

The voice continued “Déarfaidh mé arís é. Go raib maith agat”.

I was sure the voice was coming from the sandwich. I pulled it apart, and examined it carefully.

“Go mbeidh an ghrian ag taitneamh i gcónaí ort”. I heard the sandwich say.

I separated all the lettuce leaves and slices of tomato and checked them. I lifted the beetroot and checked the butter.

Then I realised. It was Gaelic bread.

The Rare Queensland Quacking Frog

I was sitting quietly, reading, when from somewhere nearby I heard what seemed to be a duck quacking in synchronised time with the frogs in the trees outside. At least, it sounded very like a duck. The call was so constant I figured it had to really be a frog. Besides, there are no ducks here. I was excited. This might be another new species for me.

It was very close by. I could tell. I grabbed a torch and a camera, just in case I spotted it, and went outside. Everywhere I searched, the sound seemed to come from somewhere else. But it never stopped. The little bugger wouldn’t shut up.

No matter where I looked the call always seemed to be coming from the other side of the caravan. Then I realised it was actually inside the caravan. This was exciting. I hurried back in to search for it.

Then I realised it was a duck. Coming from my iPad. I had set the alarm to remind me to take my evening antibiotic. The alarm sound was “duck”. I had forgotten.

My mind, once as sharp as a really, really sharp thingy, is definitely slowing down.

Stir Crazy

Monday, the first Monday of the month, should have been another meeting of HELP, the healthy eating and living program, my Really, Really Fat Persons Support Group. I missed the first two of the year, because they coincided both times with melanoma excisions.

This months would have also coincided, coincidentally , but I specifically ensured the excision appointment would be on a Tuesday, so I could attend. Since my exercising has dropped off as my mobility decreased, and especially since I could not swim, my weight has remained static since my birthday. I’m managing the kilojoules going in well enough, but just not burning them as much. I thought I needed some incentive.

So it was disappointing when Lockdown caused all such meetings to be postponed indefinitely. I stayed home again, drank a couple of cans of XXXX Gold, read, and napped. I’m glad I’m inAustralia, where off-licences are considered essential services.

I was wide awake again at midnight. By two in the morning I needed to move, so I took my walker and went for a promenade around the park. I tottered around for about thirty minutes, not counting the time I rested on the walker seat and looked at the moon setting slowly behind intermittent clouds. The night was filled with noises; rustles, croaks, chirps, squawks and grunts. I saw flitting shapes in the moonlight. There were bats, large and small, and at least one night-flying bird. There was movement in the bush, both on the ground and in the canopy.

At three I took a hot shower, and returned to bed, awakening refreshed before my alarm. A coffee and a good breakfast of sausage, egg and fried tomato with toast. I’m ready once again to battle the melanoma monster. I’m glad even of being sliced up with a scalpel if it gets me out of the camp. I had to ensure I ate a good breakfast first or I might just go crazy-buying in Woodford Woolworths. Never shop hungry. Especially if you are going stir-crazy.

Dear Diary

I am not Samuel Pepys. My blog is nowhere near as interesting as his was. I am not John Aubrey. I have dropped a few names, and could drop a few more, but I’ve never really got into it as he did.

There are days, when I wonder if my blog will survive somewhere to be electronically excavated at some far distant future time and be considered as a vivid picture of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries. The Pepys or Aubrey of my generation.

Then I realise, no. It won’t. Even if I print it all out, it will be tossed out by my executor.

In any case, millions of people are blogging. So many are they, there aren’t enough readers to go round. Certainly not enough who like my posts. That is hardly surprising. All the adventure is gone from my life. This lock down has accentuated just how different my life has become.

These days I cannot leave home except for the purpose of obtaining food and supplies (but not toilet paper, ‘cos there isn’t any) or for medical reasons. This is because of the COVID19 pandemic. Whereas before it was because I’m a lazy bugger.

I wonder if taking the boat out is essential for exercise, or perhaps for gathering food.

But seriously, I miss my swimming. As soon as these cuts heal I shall swim in the sea, as long as the pool is not open. As walking becomes more of a strain, I’m exercising less and must watch my diet even more than ever.

These are the thoughts that flit through my mind as I lay on my bunk, listening to my Celtic playlist on Spotify, bored with Netflix.

I’m due for another slice on my shoulder next Tuesday. It will be bigger than the last one, and I can’t believe how big that was. I can’t see it, but I can feel it. It is wider than my hand with my fingers splayed. I did catch a glimpse of it in the mirror when I had a shower. It’s pretty awesome. I’m half hoping to get another on my chest so I can tell people I was run through with a cutlass.

Another ten days to heal and I should be able to swim and go fishing. And catch some of those mangrove crabs. It’s a solitary pursuit and won’t infringe any social distancing laws.

My morning coffee omens have not been good lately. I see a dragon devouring everything I hold dear in one cup, and in another, an asteroid spiralling in to destroy the world . Consistent coffee. Literal and metaphorical Armageddon. In the midst of a pandemic.

It’s rather fortunate that we Capricorn’s don’t really believe in that sort of thing, though this optimism is counteracted by the guilt that makes us ex-Catholics secretly believe we deserve every bad thing that happens to us.

Optimistic bald person expecting disaster.


Tiny dinosaur head preserved in amber

Wonder of the Week
The head of Oculudentavis khaungraae

It’s exactly what those wacky scientists in Jurassic Park really wish they’d had…

Paleontologists working in Myanmar have found what appears to be a new species of dinosaur named Oculudentavis khaungraae. Among seven specimens bound in fossilized amber was a complete skull, including soft tissue. It is about 100 million years old.

Oculudentavis was about the size of one of today’s bee hummingbirds, the smallest bird. Its mouth was full of sharp teeth, and it is probably an ancestor of today’s birds.

Its small size is believed to be due in part to island dwarfism, by which diminutive individuals are selected by the isolated conditions and limited resources.

Read more.

Contributed by Brian Dunning.


A spot of wind last night. Gretel’s skirts brushing Queensland as she heads down past Noumea. It got pretty rough. Several times in the small hours I thought I was going to be awaking not in Kansas. I’m really grateful to Dave for his help with bracing the awning while he was here. Though the caravan rocked, she rocked steady. Nothing buckled or gave way. Usually I’d have folded everything away at the start of a tropical cyclone, but I’m not actually physically up to it at the moment. I just had to trust she’d ride it out, which she did.

Half my windows, my door, and all my vents were open so it was almost as breezy inside as it was out. I was snug and unworried under the duvet. The wind was strong enough to periodically blow open the magnetic closures of the insect screen curtains in the doorway. It sounded and felt as if someone was coming into the caravan as it rocked at the same time.

I’ve always liked sleeping with a breeze across my face, in fact it helps me sleep. It feels like camping out. Even so, I did not get that much sleep last night. I must have slept at some stage, but it felt as if I lay awake all night. I can’t spend the day catching up, because I have to drive to Woodford soon for two more excisions on my shoulder. Mehdi should have the results of the last lot by now.