Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 26/10/2010

Now we are well and truly settled in Albany, a number of things have become clear – we should have done it years ago, the weather is even better than we knew it was, and we never want to shift again.

We know a number of families moving house right and we have counselled them to take great care, because moving house not only brings out the worst in people, it can be dangerous to personal health and wellbeing.

It’s not a good start, for example, when the truck arrives to collect your stuff for the big move and the driver admits he hates shifting.  My wife, our driver said, has made us shift five times and every time we shift we almost kill each other and that’s not the worst of it because she’s a Docker’s supporter and I’m with the Eagles.

Here’s the full tale.

Before the move I was in the bush and had to drive like hell to get back in time to load the truck. When I got home I discovered I was not as well advanced with my personal packing as I thought and so stayed up well past midnight packing books I was sure I would never read again, files I couldn’t remember the contents of and computer equipment that became obsolete just after Kevin Rudd started shaving.

Anyway, up first thing in the morning for the truck, no time for breakfast and hard at it long enough to realise that not everything would fit it the available carriers: the truck, the back of my station wagon, my mate’s half truck plus two-ton trailer and my wife’s sedan.

But, as is the way, when you have to leave you have to leave and so we left.

On the way I decided to take the long route through Bridgetown and pick up a spare gas heater from my brother the beef breeder. My sister-in-law, forever sensible and well meaning, suggested I stay overnight and rest. No way, I insisted, must be there with the sparrow to help unload the truck. I am a man and must push on for fear of letting down the truck-men.

I didn’t make it, because 45ks out of Manjimup, on the Muir Highway, a kangaroo, after a shocking week on the stock market, decided it could go on no longer and threw itself in front of my car. Not only did it take its own life, it took the life of my car.

There we were, kangaroo, car and me, stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing to show for it but a busted radiator, busted bonnet, busted body and busted ego.

Luckily a car soon arrived on the scene but as he slowed he looked and what he saw was clearly a demented man in filthy clothes, with dishevelled hair and wild eyes. He planted his foot and left me standing.

I thought, hang on, this is my country, people know me, so when the next car slowed I yelled out: Hey, Jon Doust here. I’ve hit a roo. The occupant, a decent and local man responded: Dousty, what the hell have you done now?

And that’s how I arrived in Albany, looking like a rat flying out of some kind of hell.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 12/10/2010

 We’re not big on anniversaries in this house. We never remember the wedding. Good reason too. It was a stinking Perth day, the groom was somewhat bruised from the previous night, the witnesses turned up late and the marriage celebrant was drunk.

But this one, we know it well. We love it. It’s our second year in the Great Southern.

 It was not easy making the big move south.  First we had to sell our house in the city and then we had to buy another house by the sea.

As usual, we didn’t do it the right way around. First we bought the house by the sea and then we tried to sell our house in the city.

I know what you are thinking: “Clever, innovative, imaginative”. Not really, because we chose to buy just before the market began to scream, kick and fight its way into a dive and we chose to sell as its plummet gathered momentum.

We are not, you see, the classic Baby Boomers.  No, indeed, we sold our city house to a Y-Generation couple who didn’t have enough money to complete the transaction and they still don’t.

What’s more, we were not cashed up after years of real estate manoeuvres, or share market profits and I had not decided to retire from my advertising agency after selling it to a multi-national.

In short, we were a couple of late-starters who met on a communal farm in Israel during the hippy boom of the early-middle 1970s. Oh, don’t get me started on those stories.

Indeed, we belong to that group of Boomers who will have to keep working until the man in the suit comes to measure us for the box.

That’s ok with me because I’m one of those blokes who has difficulty sitting still and if there’s nothing to do I’ll find something and do it, or re-do something already done, or undo something so I can do it again. Or even write a column for a local newspaper about it all.

Oh yes, there are benefits.  The beach is only three steps and one jump away and on a good day I can be there for three hours, walking one length, picking up human debris as I go, body surfing, then running back to the steaming hot showers like an old man who loves to run but his body wishes he wouldn’t.

Fishing is something I promised myself I’d get back to one but I haven’t yet. I’ve had offers, plenty, but they never confirm. What is it? Have they heard? Have they spoken to members of my immediate family who remember well my lack of patience and inability to sit still for ten hours on a dead flat ocean, only to come alive when the wind picks up and the ocean tosses us about like sardines doubled up in a tin for one layer only?
All this is because I grew up in a family that only fished or played tennis and when I hit eighteen I changed them for activities more in keeping with a young man who thinks he’s in the prime of his life.

I was wrong, the prime was up ahead. I’m in it now, I’m excited, I’m two years old.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 28/9/2010

Over my long and illustrious-less career I have come to terms with the fact that I am not much good at many things, ok at a few and hopeless at a vast number.
Often people ask me: How does a bloke like you make a living?
And I reply: None of your bloody business.
Then, after I pick myself up off the floor, I answer truthfully: Essentially I make a living out of writing, speaking and acting.
All right, I know the next question? Acting? Do you know Russell Crowe? Or Hugh Jackman? What about Cate Blanchett?
No, but I have worked with people who have worked with people who have worked with them.
And I have worked with Jack Thompson. All right, not with him, but I once said “gidday” to him and ate breakfast on the same table during the shooting of one of the worst Australian movies ever made, Under the Lighthouse Dancing.
It all started in South Africa in the early 1970s when I was plucked out of obscurity by a German TV crew to star in a soft drink commercial.
I was chosen, of course, because of my serious good looks and my shock of Aryan blond hair.
I starred as a champion cyclist who rode his bike into a throng of seriously blond German models who threw themselves at me with soft drink in their hands, kissed my entire face and, once the shoot was over, dumped me like a sack of onions.
Then I was called on for an Afrikaans language movie, which entailed sitting next to the two stars at a rugby match and screaming “Achten tachta yoghurt asteblift”, or something that sounded a lot like that.
All this convinced me I had a big future in the movies and back home I scored major bit-parts in a number of Aussie films. Here is a short list: Justice, Thunderstruck and Needle. (It’s short because, well, it’s short.)
But, and this was my real Big Break, I have starred in many TV commercials. Oh, yes, everything from selling shoes, to lotto, healthy living, garage doors, and air-conditioning.
For the most part, people get that you are acting, but every so often someone misses the point.
I once took a phone call from a woman who was convinced I was a non-existent man called Doctor Coolbreeze.
I explained, with increasing agitation, that I was not a doctor, not an air-conditioning mechanic and, no, I was not coming to her house to fix her air-conditioning.
She was mortified. She would have been horrified if I had attempted the job, because no doubt I would have taken her house out with the entire ducted system.
So, in case you were wondering, given I’m on your screen sometime soon, no, I do not break into houses, I am not a cleaner of display homes, and I certainly don’t live in one with a much younger male friend.
And, finally, no, I am not a postman, I cannot fly a plane and I don’t work in a bookshop.