Day 82: 18 June 2017
Thursday, 19 July 2018 08:41

Day four of the tril. Today is over before it starts. We stand, His Honour enters, we bow, we sit. Without further ado, defence counsel points out that one of the defendants is absent, the same guy who was taken to hospital by ambulance last week due to ongoing heart issues. His barrister hands to His Honour a letter from the defendant’s GP. He reads the letter to the court. The defendant has had more heart issues, plus he’s had a fall and hurt his head, and the GP has ordered cat scans. What’s more, the patient is suffering heavy stress from the court proceedings. The barrister goes on to say that his client has instructed him to tell the judge that it is unfair for him to continue hearing the case, while he’s sick. His Honour appears unhappy with this, and uses the word contempt. Prosecuting counsel goes a step further, and argues that the court must not be held to ransom by any of the three accused. Another letter from another GP at the same practice is tabled, and read to the court. This letter advises that the results of the cat scan will be available later today or first thing tomorrow. The court remains silent while His Honour ponders. Finally, he says he’s deciding whether to adjourn proceedings and, if so, for how long. Regardless, it would seem that today is shot. His Honour calls in the jury, and brings them up to speed on the state of play. He apologies that today is all-over-red-rover (my words). He wants them back in the jury waiting room at ten o’clock tomorrow, even though he will reconvene the court at 9.30pm, to hear the results of the cat scan. He dismisses the jury for the day. There is one more matter. A witness failed to appear last week, a warrant for her arrest was issued, and yesterday she was apprehended. She’s led into the court flanked by two burly guards. His Honour gives her two options. Either she can remain locked up for nine days, or she can be released on the proviso she promises to front on Thursday week. She chooses the latter, and then hurries out of the courtroom. Today is consigned to history.

Day 80: 16 June 2017
Monday, 16 July 2018 17:15

Church is done, and while I enjoyed a hot cup of tea with my new friends after the service, it's so cold here that I've repaired straight to the Mermaid Café to get warm and have a latte. Can you believe it? A yacht just went by on its way out onto the Channel. I mean, really, what kind of obsessed sailor would venture out to sea in this temperature? Meanwhile, the car ferry to Bruny Island is loading, which means the Cafe has emptied. I don't wish to be mean, but gosh it's nice when the tourists leave on the ferry. Some of these badly brought up itinerants are loud and uncouth, they don't take their used cups and dishes up to the counter to assist busy staff, and they leave the doors to the balcony open. And the least said about their revolting, unruly children, the better. However, I do enjoy people-watching, and the one thing I do like about the tourists is their excitement. It’s infectious. Upon arriving, the thrill seekers pile out of their hire cars or mini-buses like spoiled children on a scavenger hunt. They pig out on coffee plus if time allows a cooked breakfast, and they giggle a lot. Especially the Chinese. It's their big holiday moment – with a few hours and lots of serious dollars about to be spent on Bruny Island. But, first, they loiter around the Café precinct, waiting for the next ferry, giggling, taking photos of anything and everything. Hang on, three tourists with loud cameras around their necks are standing uncomfortably close to our yacht. Excuse me while I go and shoo them away. Tourism here in Tasmania is huge, with most tourists visiting three places: Cradle Mountain in the state’s north-west, Cascade Brewery (Australia's oldest) here in Hobart, and Bruny Island. If only I could fathom a way to impose (i.e. collect) a two dollar levy on each visitor to Bruny. I could trade in 32-year-old Solarus on Mike's luxury cruiser next to us.

Day 81: 17 June 2017
Monday, 16 July 2018 17:17

Today, I was pulled over by a policeman as we drove south out of Margate on our way home to Paradise (Kettering). He was positioned in an excellent spot next to Merediths roadside produce store. It’s still a ‘60’ zone, but shortly afterwards changes to 80. You come to it after a short downward slope, and it’s easy pickings. It should be 80 all along. The kind policeman told me I was doing 81 in a 60 stretch, but he kindly let me off with a warning. He told me I’ll get a confirmation email, which later on I do. My clever daughter-in-law came top of her class at the Victorian academy. The reward she got was to choose her first police station. Most top place-getters select the station with the least amount of crime. The graduate who comes bottom, so Jessie explained, gets sent to Boganville. Guess where Jessie – the dux of her class – chose to go? Yep. Boganville. Not being experienced in police matters, I asked Jessie what her work entailed. She replied, ‘I’m the hose person’. ‘Please explain,’ I replied. ‘We often get called to a domestic situation, and by the time we arrive the arguing and often the brawling has moved out onto the front lawn. While my colleague tries to pacify the combatants, I look around for the nearest garden hose, and by the time I bring the hose to where the action is, my colleague often will have had to have used capsicum spray on the main offender, who he is writhing on the grass, rubbing his eyes, and screaming. Whereupon I use the hose to wash the spray off his face.’ When Jessie progressed to being a detective, I asked what her new work involved. ‘Now, I sit outside cafes, drinking coffee.’ ‘How come?’ I asked. ‘Burglars always return to the scene of their crime, to see what’s going on. We have a rough description of the offender, so we just sit there. When he comes by, we arrest him.’ 

Day 79: 15 July 2017
Monday, 16 July 2018 17:11

Sir Michael Parkinson is my all-time favourite TV interviewer, largely I think because of his relaxed style of interviewing people. In his 2008 autobiography, ‘Parky’ admits to having been lazy at work, which stemmed from his print journalism days, when he says he’d rather have been playing cricket (which he did with Dickie Bird, Freddie Truman, Geoff Boycott). Parkinson interviewed them all. Among his many repeat favourites he lists Mohammad Ali (until he lost his faculties), Billy Connolly, Robert Mitchum, Bing Crosby and Kenneth Williams. Kenneth Williams was one of those rare human beings who made you laugh just to hear his voice. And he knew it! He appeared in no fewer than twenty-five Carry On films, the funniest line (I think) he ever delivered being when he played the head chef in Carry On Cruising. He confronted the ship’s captain (Sid James) on the upper deck, saying, ‘I’ve been up the sharp end, I’ve been down the blunt end, and I can’t find the kitchen anywhere!’ I was shocked to read in Parky’s book that Williams died in 1988, aged just sixty-two. A distant relative of mine, David McNicoll, was a truly wonderful journalist – including as a war correspondent – for Sir Frank Packer and his Consolidated Press empire. David remained in his ‘faithful retainer’ role well into Kerry Packer’s reign. He titled his memoir Luck’s a Fortune. I think luck also applied to Michael Parkinson. Both journalists worked in an era when just being in the right place at the right time made everything possible. In April 2013, Sir Michael Parkinson announced he had prostate cancer. That’s so sad.


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