Friday, November 25, 2011

The Doust Files - 22/11/2011

Don’t you just love it when the tourist boats slip into Princess Royal Harbour, tie up and let their human cargo lose on our well prepared town awash with eager volunteers?

We know who they are, in their brightly coloured shirts, smiles at the ready, full of information about here, there and everywhere.

The town fills, all the shops scream “come to me”, bands play in the park, buses distribute folk all over town and the coffee shops fume with over-heating machinery.

It is, after all, only for a day and so we make a huge effort to ensure they leave saying things like: “What a town. The people are so friendly and there is so much going on. It must be exhausting to live there.”

But we know the truth, don’t we, because when they all leave, we sit back, exhausted, knowing full well that there is nothing else to do until the next boat comes in.

Oh yes, there was once a life here for those of us not prepared to cram into a tight spot in the night club, or brave the bar at a pub. Not that long ago we had a top notch hotel with a bar facing Ellen Cove and luxury rooms fit for our visiting friends, those with more money than sense.

Those were the days. And recently we had a great little venue down there, tucked into one corner of the Cove, where local musicians could play their hearts out while the rest of us tossed our bodies around like we never left the teen years.

You don’t need me to tell you - you know it’s going to get worse.

Eventually we’ll lose the pubs because alcohol will be banned from the centre of the city and deemed “not family friendly”. The next to go will be the shopping centres, which only encourage problem-shoppers, the churches because they only pray on the vulnerable, and the library because it houses books and look at the trouble they have caused over the centuries.

We’ll kick and scream and cry out and some idiot will hang socks but when it is all broken down we’ll realise that it’s probably all about something quite simple, like insurance.

The thing is, no-one can guarantee anyone’s safety, anywhere, anymore and the only way to stay alive is to not really live, but to hold out in your house, lock the doors, bolt the windows and if someone knocks, call the police.

The police, of course, will not come, unless your insurance policy covers public officials visiting your property.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 8/11/11

The recent kerfuffle over the people banned from the city during CHOGM reminded me of the time I was on the WA Police Special Branch list of suspects.

Let me be honest, it all began because I was out of work, not long out of university and struggling to make prospective employers recognise my great skills and accept my promise that I would be the next Laurie Oaks.

But I’m not a chap to sit around even with loads of time on my hand so I planted a massive and much admired vegetable garden. I think it was the first, the last, and the only community vegetable patch in the district.

In between plantings I read a book by a man called Henry Root. Henry filled in his time by writing letters to pompous people, pricking their balloons and enclosing money so they felt obliged to reply. I got right onto it.

Among the many I wrote to were Alan Bond, the PM of NZ Sir Robert “Piggy” Muldoon, the PM of the UK Margaret Thatcher and Queensland’s very own, Joe Bejelke-Petersen.

They all replied and no doubt a number of them reported me, but the one that forced the Special Branch to take action was the note I penned to the French Consul congratulating that nation on the development of the Exocet missile. This was during the Falklands War when Baroness Thatcher was at her virulent best.

Within the week a delegation from the Special Branch knocked on our suburban door to find my pregnant wife who welcomed them in with a cheery “Yes, he is my husband. Would you like a cup of tea?”

That knocked them off their feet for a second or two but they still insisted on meeting me in a carpark in the centre of the city and when I did I explained to them that my letters were satiric, meaning “a criticism of a folly and the holding up of said folly to scorn”.

Their collective brow curled over but fell back in place after I told them the joke about the Frenchman, the Irishman and the Lithuanian. And I added that I was a working comedian and compiling a book of letters to sell at comedy shows.

Years later when it was announced that the Special Branch would be disbanded I wrote in to demand I be retained on a list of social threats because without it my life would lack meaning and I would lose major bragging rights. Unfortunately I forgot to include money and I never heard from them again.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 25/10/11

This can be a very anxious time of the year for both parties - the parents of the young and those who fear the fear of the parents.

The parents, of course, as the experts constantly remind us, are only protecting their young from perceived threats and there is nothing to do but walk with an umbrella, wave a stick, or perhaps wear an empty ice cream container on your head.

I don’t do any of these things and yet I have never been swooped by the bird Noongars call coolbardi in my entire life. Why not? What is it about me? Does my head look like an upside down ice cream container? 

What’s more, I am not alone and whenever we meet we share stories and marvel at the inability of others to recognise the intelligence of the creature or see the simplicity of the solution – don’t be a threat, be a friend.
But don’t try now, not if you live in the territory of a mob that have a habit of swooping at anything that moves , wears red, reminds you of someone they once knew, or walks beside a dog that chases anything that moves, flies, or barracks for Collingwood.

Now is the spring of their discontent and the smartest thing you can do is stay away from the nesting places.
When we arrived to occupy our Albany home the local mob were in a terrible rage and we kept well clear of them even though it resulted in some inconvenience. They were in a rage because some in the area were intimidating them with sticks, stones and threatening body language.

We waited until peace reigned once again over the earth and then we began our conversation, whistling as they flew by, installing a bird bath, making sure they saw us spread the sunflower seeds on the lawn and looking at them direct, without fear, as though they were the friendly landlord come to collect rent.

Right now I can hear their early morning calls, their carols to the new day and their cries warning others in the mob that something is not quite right in their territory. I love those sounds and I love their night song, that one that no-one quite knows the meaning off but my magpie loving son and I are pretty sure one of our possibilities is more than likely.

Local Menang elder Carol Peterson will tell you the coolbardi  is the messenger bird and if you’d only take the time to listen, it could change your life.