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Stan’s Stuff

Tales from a distant land

Terror! I booked the tickets for our Brisbane trip. I wrote down the 28 February as the departure date. My wife said we were scheduled to leave on 27 February. I checked. My notes said 28 February. But how could ‘she’ be wrong? Unthinkable!
 |  Stan Stewart  | 

So I kept this nagging doubt to myself. On the 28th, as she approached the airport check-in machine and inserted her passport, self-doubt overcame me. This is the moment our marriage will end. The machine will tell her our flight left yesterday. It didn’t. I was right. I said not a word. Silently euphoria. Life goes on!

Departure distress!

The cues in the Auckland Airport departure area were interminable – beyond belief. Crowds filled the hall as far as the eye could see. Grumpy people moved at a snail’s pace. I think we shuffled-snaked for nearly two hours. Finally on the last leg – salvation. I noticed another line on the extreme outside where people were quickly moving through. I asked, “What is that line?”

“They are people who need special assistance and old people” said my wife. “I’m 86. Do I qualify?” No answer. We were rescued. We made it through. Never did a sit-down seem so heavenly.

The rest of the journey was a piece of cake. The flight was smooth, the movies ok, entrance into Australia was automated and fast. “Hullo Brisbane”.

Hard core Kiwis skip the next paragraph

Through parties and gatherings,  we met a number of young people. As is my custom, I talked with them.

After some initial suspicion – “Is this old guy going to preach at me?” – or, “Does he want to borrow money?” We talked amicably. I asked how they found life in Brisbane. They all said they liked it.

In comparison to life back home (in NZ), they found life in Brisbane to be more relaxed, more easier going. A 21-year-old, an islander male who had grown up in New Zealand put it like this. “At home young guys are usually staunch – tough. You don’t have to be like that here”.

Old and young

On a number of occasions we have been in clubs, football clubs, Returned Soldiers clubs, and bowling clubs. These are massive facilities, with large restaurants and acres of poker machines. The income from pokies make these facilities possible. And who is playing the poker machines? Old people and very old people are predominate. Seemingly, poker machines are especially attractive to women and they made up the majority of players in clubs I observed.

Retired men and older men – some I guess in their 90’s, are also players. A few players interact with others but most do not. I guess they all live in hope of hitting a jackpot.

Young people and their problems are daily in the news. Through family I had first-hand information as to life trends of teens and young adults. Knife crime, stabbing and slashing seem to be frequent occurrences.

My young friends are aware of incidents of knife carrying in school – a thing that was unheard of in years gone by. Drugs are available to teens in school – all kinds of drugs, from party drugs to the most hard-core drugs.

In some respects, nothing is new. In my day so long ago, our risqué school talk was about smoking and drinking beer in the school toilet. It’s the same phenomena, but now the forbidden substances are more sinister and destructive.

The Unthinkable is being whispered!

Australia’s prosperity is amazing and at the top of all this prosperity is Queensland. Why? ‘Coal’ and other elements found in the soil and under the soil, copper, lead, cobalt, graphite, silver, gold and rare earths to name a few.

But make no mistake about it, the biggy, the source of Queensland riches, is coal. Global warming – what’s that? But now, there’s talk, (whispers) of phasing out coal fired power stations and coal production itself. This is esoteric talk. I doubt the average Queenslander ever thinks about it. But the breeze of change is blowing stronger every year.

Personal Bonanza

Many readers will know why for the first ten months of our ownership of The Informer I was in Brisbane while Pauline managed the paper on her own. The reason for this was our son’s unexpected total-body paralysis. I lived in Brisbane where I cared for him (daily hospital sitting beside him) and his family (their driver).

A few months ago, wheelchair dependent, he was discharged from hospital after one year in hospital. There has never been a diagnosis as to the cause of his paralysis. (What is not discussed is that the symptoms of not being able to breathe properly and tingling in extremities which preempted the paralysis, came just a few hours after his covid vaccine. He had never been sick, no pre-existing conditions, and he was an athlete.)

When discharged (wheelchair bound), there was no treatment apart from physiotherapy and exercise in a heated pool. His doctors now believe that the exotic, expensive treatments they prescribed in hospital had no effect. (One operation has caused permanent damage). However, he is now walking short distances ever so slowly and tentatively, with a specifically measured granny walker (four wheels with basket and seat).

He is disciplined and determined. He is working with other less traditional health practices and resources to help his body restore itself. He believes more improvement will come. Hooray!