Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 14/9/2010

In my line of work I have to drive a lot.

Moving to Albany was a perfect lifestyle choice, but not sensible for the making of a living to support that lifestyle. Travel is essential if you do what I do and as soon as I discover what it is, I will let you know.

These days, given I have history with kangaroos, I drive with a good deal more care and nowhere as fast.

When I say fast, I mean, of course, well within the speed limit of the section of road I am on at the time of asking. Or as near as I can get.

On the long drive there are many things to see and many experiences to be had.  Some of the roadside signs, particular those mentioning the current targets of local police, have themselves been targeted.

In the old days, about a minute ago, the usual way to target such signs was to use them as target practice on your way to a fox hunt, but graffiti artists have made their way out bush and some of the signs, although politically incorrect, have caused a smile, sometimes joined by a chuckle.

One sign I spotted last year suggested local police were targeting “mullets”, while another warned that the police were targeting overweight people of the female gender, although not in those words.
We even have our own version not far out of Albany that clearly warns us we are in “Mafia Country”.

But the places causing the greatest mirth and pain, for this writer, are the motels. In particular, the internal designs.

Whoever designed the internals of country motels has never had to stay in one, sit in one, dry himself in one, go to the toilet in one, or lie in one, or then get out of bed in one.

And I say him because, please excuse any hint of sexism, I cannot imagine that a women designed such pokey, ridiculous places. They would surely have considered people, whereas the man who designed the places I occasionally stay in was only thinking of a bottom line and noting at all about the line of a bottom.

On countless occasions I have opened a door only to find myself trapped between two doors; sat on a toilet and had to get up to reach the paper dispenser; banged my shoulders, elbows and knees while drying myself following a shower that only directed water against a solid wall; tiptoed around a shattered glass shower wall; and made a cup of tea with the kettle sitting on the bed.

I was in one a month ago up in a wheatbelt town which shall remain nameless and no sooner had I entered that I felt like a kangaroos trapped in headlights on a wet and misty night in the middle of a road in the middle of nowhere.
I had no idea which way to turn and finished up trapped between a shower curtain, a toaster and a bed rail. I’m lucky to be alive.

Friday, September 03, 2010

The Doust Files, Albany Advertiser 31/8/2010

Have you got your Rate Notice from the City of Albany?
Have you burnt your Rate Notice? Did you want to burn your Rate Notice? Did you want to stuff your rate notice up … a drain pipe?
I am tempted to ask if there was, perhaps, something else you might prefer to burn, but that may well hasten my arrest under the criminal code for incitement to riot, or cause havoc, or, at the very least, disrespect to legally elected representatives in a due and democratic process.
Which leads to me suggest what asses we are, you and me, the lot of us, including Len, my retired Bruce Rock farmer mate and Phoebe, my young and funky lawyer friend who yells at me from across the street.
What are we doing? Why don’t we stand up and make ourselves available? We would never have got ourselves into this mess. Would we?
I’ll tell you why, because it’s a thankless task, local government, any government. I’ve got mates in a couple of houses of parliament and every time I see them I say: “Get out! Now! While you still have a smidgeon of sanity and you still have at least one friend.”
Anyone going in should go in with a set term in mind, say six years. Then they should bugger off, go home, back to the farm, to the law office, open a gelato shop and give some other poor sod a go.
Nothing worse than watching tired old pollies hang on for dear life because that’s all they know, all they’ve ever done since the old days when they had a real job and they still think they have it, but they’ve forgotten what it is.
Well, there are a couple of things worse, like accidentally ironing your tongue, or being run over by a rotary hoe, or being forced to eat rhubarb with potato.
Watching the current Federal campaign has reminded me what is wrong with the grass roots: there’s no vision. Both leaders argue over the same policies, each one offering fifty bucks more than the other, hoping we will go: “Hey, wow, fifty bucks, that’s great. I can buy a new pillow.”
And that’s what’s wrong with local government, no vision, no grand plan, just knee-jerk responses to jerking knees.
As Pete, my Noongar mate often reminds me, Albany was the first wadjela (white fella) town on this vast west coast: “Surely we could make something of that by embracing the two cultures, make the town a symbol of transition. For a start, what about using Noongar and English in all signage and all visitors to the region to be welcomed by the mayor and an elder.”
Then there’s the brilliant idea I’m sure many of you have heard about to return Albany to its original name, Frederickstown, once a year, for one month and fill the place with activities and historical re-enactments.
Pete reckons Lockyer’s mob were late-comers and he’d like to go back to Kinjarling, the original name for the region, meaning place of rain.
These are big visions. They may not be your visions, but why not give them a try. If they don’t work, we could mix and match and try others. A town that continually re-invents itself would be exciting to visit.
Too many people over the last couple of weeks have come up to me and said: “What are you going to do about it, Jon, the rate hike?”
First of all I commiserate and then I say: “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do, I’m going to write a column. That should make the buggers quake.”
There, I’ve done it. When they bring the rates down next year, you’ll know who to thank.