Who is your hero? Hopefully not the nude girl on the building site.

November 12, 2013

Everywhere I go, I see a nude Miley Cyrus.

Not that I’m searching for such images. She seems to pop out of every screen I get near.

Music programs day and night. Morning chat shows. I looked up while doing the Cup form, in a reputable pub last Monday, and there she was. All skin and pout.

For those older folk who are trying to place the surname, and wondering what the hell I’m banging on about, let me assist. Cyrus, as in Billy Ray. King of the Mullet. A one hit wonder like no other.

His daughter is Miley. And I feel like she’s one of my own.

Regular readers will know I woke up with her on a Saturday morning. Or, more specifically, her show.

A few years back, Hannah Montana was a character every young girl celebrated. She was fun, and sassy, and goofy. Sang like an angel, and wise-cracked with the best of them.

Tears were shed in the family, when it all came to an end. It was assumed that she would become a wholesome, good looking young star of stage and screen.

Instead, she’s now twerking (they tell me that’s a rude dance) with older pop stars, and doing video clips hanging off giant wrecking balls in the buff.

It makes no sense. Is there no market for young, talented folk, without Johnny Young being involved?

I wondered what my girls would make of it all. In this multi-media age, sometimes it’s hard to work out who their heroes are. I had nightmares that The Teenager would start hanging around construction sites.

My fears were unfounded. They were both left scratching their heads. Love the song, hate the clip.

They would have watched her, whatever move she made. Because they liked her. She didn’t need to go feral, to keep their attention.

As a young bloke, I had no such dramas. My hero was Dad. No-one came close.

He worked hard, and had little. Whatever cash was in his pocket, was ours. The simple things made him happy. Good friends. Big laughs. The occasional cool drink.

He treated people better than anyone I ever saw. Made them feel important, whoever they may be.

On his building sites, he was patient, and good-humoured, even with the narkiest of clients.

If it hurt him that he couldn’t take us to nice places, he never showed it. Beers and chips with mates under the orange tree more than made up for it.

These days, I hear stories that parents have lost that gloss with their youngsters. I don’t buy it.

I know plenty of successful people who still talk to Mum and Dad every night. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

In our workplace, the running joke is that us old blokes have found a new hero. And he’s not family.

Ben Roberts-Smith keeps walking into the newsroom. Blocking out the sunlight as he does.

Forget the girls swooning. They reckon us blokes keep falling over ourselves to shake his giant hand. Too true. What a guy.

When it comes to heroes and role models, I think we’re still going ok. They don’t need to be nude starlets, or highly paid footy stars. Mum and Dad and Ben will do just fine. As long as there’s no twerking. And they stay away from those wrecking balls.


Shedding a tear at the school concert. When daughters still dance into Dad’s heart.

October 29, 2013

This was going to be about something else. Until the girls started dancing.

Why was this performance so special? Remember, I’ve been watching them jump and twirl since they came up to my knee.

I’ve sat through concerts where fathers should have been receiving the medals.

We’ve done shopping centre recitals. Strutting their stuff in front of the fruit shop, as bananas are weighed.

They’ve always been good. Natural dancers. Both practice hard, at rehearsals and at home.

This particular show was for school, on a Sunday afternoon. I went alone, and managed to snare a seat close to the stage.

Their first dance was a lively number. They nailed it. The kids around them were great too. Such a confident, talented bunch.

But it was the second dance, a more sedate affair, that blew me away. I have no idea why. I’d seen them perform it before. In the same flowing red dresses.

For some reason, this was different. They LOOKED different. Older, both of them. With perfect hair and make up.

It was like I was watching in slow motion. I saw things, in those precious few minutes, that I hadn’t seen in months.

Teenager Too was glowing. I had to look twice, to make sure this tall, graceful young woman, was the daughter who used to fall asleep at the dinner table.

She stood out, among girls much older. Every move was perfect. But it was beauty shining from within, that lit up the stage. Her smile, lit up my heart.

The Teenager is now a leader in the group. The others follow her. When did she get so .. mature?

She works so hard, to be so good. Every spare hour, she’s trying to get better. I watched her glide across the floor, and saw the passion in her eyes. Ridiculously long limbs, making complex moves look easy. Every teenage boy in the room was watching too.

I thought back, to when this gorgeous young woman could hardly get out of bed. Not that many years back. A stomach problem that had us visiting every specialist in town.

She couldn’t eat. Constantly felt sick. Reflux you would normally see at the end of the bar.

The little girl who would listen to stories in bed until I fell asleep, could hardly keep her eyes open. She had no energy. And she was scared.

I feared the worst. That’s what Dads do. So one night, running out of options, I prayed.

It was a shout out to anyone who was listening up there, to swap the pain. Whatever this bad thing was, I wanted it. Or anything else, to square the ledger. That’s what Dads do.

To this day, I don’t know what that sickness was. One doctor said he thought it could pass, with time. And so it did. With or without my help. Slowly, her old spark returned.

So here she was, with the sister she squabbles with on the hour, but loves like no other, dancing like there was no tomorrow.

Near the end of the performance, they linked up, and for a split second, they were as one on the stage.

It was then, sitting alone in the dark, that I shed a quiet tear. So very proud, and so incredibly lucky.

I wish every one of you had been able to come and share those few minutes with me. Even my old racing mates, who last waltzed to the Glenn Miller Band.

That one dance, made me as happy as a father could be. Sometimes, you can’t beat the simple things.


Getting ready for a special birthday. Accepting that my little girl isn’t little any more.

September 10, 2013

When she arrived in this world, it was with a quiet cry. Nothing like the ear-splitting scream her big sister let out a few years earlier.

It was like she didn’t want a fuss. No need to be the centre of attention.

In the early years, she was happy to go with the flow. She would follow her sister around the house. And the yard. They were inseparable.

It didn’t take long for her own personality to come through. There was a determination about everything she did. She would get frustrated easily. Still does.

Her kindergarten teacher told us what a delight she was to teach. But there would be tears, if she didn’t get things just right.

As she got older, we were able to see so many beautiful traits develop. She adores family. She can fight like a warrior with her sister. But no siblings are closer.

No-one loves cousins more. She would get excited whenever there would be a visit. Still does.

She drove us nuts to get a pet. Make that pets. Dog. Cat. Guinea pigs. She has such a caring heart.

When she laughs, you have to laugh with her. She runs out of breath. Will fall down from a fit of the giggles.

She’s ticklish too. One touch and she goes into a frenzy. Dads get great amusement from such things.

She loves nothing more than getting everyone together to watch a movie. Expect to cop a blast if you try to leave the room. Unless you’re making her more popcorn.

She sings constantly. I wish the world could hear her like I do. The voice of an angel. But for our ears only. She won’t perform. I still hope that will change.

Rarely does a minute go by when she’s not doing some sort of dance move. In the kitchen. In the lift. Around the pool. Like her sister, she has a gift when it comes to grooving.

Of late, there have been difficult days. Changes at home. Tough times at school. But she is loved, so very much, by all those in her life.

There are many photos of her that I cherish. One is at about age 3, at work on a tiny ironing board. So incredibly cute. But with that determination on show.

Another is with her sister, a few years later. They are poking their tongues out at the camera, with big smiles. It hangs at my door, so I can giggle at the cheekiness of it all each morning.

Perhaps my favourite, is one of her asleep as a toddler. She is on my chest, and I’m sleeping too. She is safe and secure, with my arm around her. Never wanting to let her go.

It’s what Dads do. We want to protect our daughters forever. Even if they’re not asleep on our chests anymore.

Tomorrow, this gorgeous girl, is little no more. My daughter becomes a teenager.

She makes me proud, every day. She’s taught me so much. About love, and caring. And family.

I count my blessings, to have two daughters, who are so beautiful in every way. What a lucky man.

As of tomorrow, Daughter Two becomes Teenager Too. Happy birthday Hannah.


An important online security warning. Why bumbling dads need to be protected too.

August 20, 2013

There are those out there willing to take advantage of the innocent. Tech-savvy types, ready to make fun of the unaware. They’re called daughters.

Yes, these delightful young ladies, with perfect manners and sweet smiles, have a secret agenda to humiliate poor old Dad. I hear some of you muttering that’s not a particularly difficult task. You’re not helping.

Like most of their age, The Teenager and Daughter Two are immersed in the world of social media. But not the ones you and I know.

Forget Facebook and Twitter. They barely rate a mention. It’s all about Snapchat and Instagram. And a few others I can’t fathom.

For those who remember black and white television, let me explain. As best I can. Instagram is all about photos, with smart comments. Snapchat is the delivery of photos and videos with smart comments, that disappear after ten seconds. Are you still awake out there?

I don’t understand the attraction. But then again, I still take Daily Doubles. For teenagers, Snapchat is the perfect way to communicate. Minimal effort required. Just a few words. Let the technology do all the work. And then it’s gone.

Armed with their new i-phones, my daughters are ready to capture anything, at any given moment. A squadron of friends is doing the same thing, waiting to swap whatever comes their way. The more ridiculous the better. And when it comes to ridiculous, Dads are hard to beat.

When we’re in the car, music is played at a decent level. The perfect place to trap an unsuspecting driver. And it’s taken me weeks to realise.

Their cunning system is as follows. One will take the front seat, and find a song that they know I like. As I launch into a version that may or may not be pitch perfect, they begin recording. Secretly, with the phone casually pointed in my direction.

Sometimes, I may be doing daggy dance moves while driving. They find this amusing. Apparently, so do their friends.

It came to a head on the weekend. My sneaky offspring slipped a favourite Christmas carol into play. I’m battling city traffic and red lights, and suddenly Mariah Carey springs into action. ‘All I Want for Christmas is You.’ What was a man to do?

I launched into it with great gusto. The judges are still deliberating on whether I hit the high notes. All in all, I was happy with my performance.

That was, until the giggling began. They couldn’t help themselves. Nor could hundreds of others. Thousands maybe. I was being shared around the globe. Well, South Brisbane anyway.

There’s every chance I have my own YouTube channel, and don’t even know. Someone could be getting rich from my unique sound.

Where are the i-phone police when you need them? Dads have rights too. I’m sure I read that somewhere.

Let this be a warning to all fathers. You are now a target. Do something remotely silly, and you will be a star. Sons and daughters will see to that.

I’ll be toning down my car singing in future. And my crazy arm waving. You can’t trust anyone. Especially family. And Mariah Carey.


The art of singing to babies. How much damage could a Kenny Rogers song do?

April 2, 2013

The thing with babies is that they’re so small.

You forget, when you haven’t held one for a while. A decade qualifies.

The girls and I paid a visit to a great mate’s bub last weekend. A 5 week old bundle of cuteness.

They were impressed with how easily he went into my arms. It’s something a Dad never forgets.

All these years on, and the little bloke slipped straight into position. Cradled into my forearm. Tiny head safely tucked away.

He looked up at me, with blue eyes that looked years older. What was he thinking?

I suggested to the assembled gathering it may have been something about the large, rough melon above him. I noted there was no serious disagreement.

At 5 weeks, there’s not a great deal to think about. Sleep, milk and poop pretty much does it.

The girls were amused to hear his mum describe an emerging wind habit. My mate tells me he is approaching Olympic class for flatulence. The bub, not him.

It’s always fun to see new parents in action. Absolute love and devotion. There is no concern about a lack of sleep at present, because it’s still fun. We’ll check back in 4 years. My money will be on a different answer.

It took me back to when the girls were tiny fart machines. I could have said that differently, but this one line will be enough to embarrass them for days.

Daughter Two was a sound sleeper as a baby. Still is. It was rare that we needed to attend to her during the night.

The Teenager was a different proposition. She would wake, constantly. There were tummy issues, and she found it difficult to sleep for more than a few hours.

I frequently volunteered to bring peace back into the household. My answer was to sing to her.

I would bundle her into my arms, and head downstairs. Gentle rocking and soothing tunes.

I would start with a bit of Eagles. Those smooth sounds were often enough to get her back to slumberland. ‘Take It Easy.’ ‘New Kid In Town.’ Then ‘Hotel California.’

Hushed tones, of course. Just enough to relax both of us. Doing laps of the rumpus room.

From there, I’d move into a little Creedence. ‘Proud Mary’ or ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain?’ Joe Cocker would play a role with ‘You Are So Beautiful.’ The most fitting of songs for her.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone could be having a whinge after exposure to such a collection. But if the mini version of The Teenager was still grumbling, I’d bring out the big guns.

Kenny Rogers has been putting people to sleep for years. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

He starred in all our late night singalongs. Meaning he was perfect to get a baby snoozing again.

First up would by ‘Coward Of The County’. Then, one of the all time greats. ‘Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town.’

You painted up your lips and rolled and curled your tinted hair. Ruby are you contemplating going out somewhere? The shadow on the wall tells me the sun is going down. Oh Ruby, don’t take your love to town.”

She would be drowsy by now. You probably are too. Perfect timing for the highlight of my midnight whispering performance. ‘The Gambler’.  And by the end of the great man’s anthem, she would be asleep.

You might laugh at such antics, but Dads are nothing if not inventive. You won’t find my methods in any reputable baby book. That might be why they worked.

My mate has cool modern technology to fix such problems, so he probably won’t need my song sheet. That’s ok.

The Teenager still won’t go to sleep. But now it’s because of friends and phones, not farts and food. Not even the great Kenny has an answer to that.


Christmas shopping, Dad-style. Making a daughter blush earns extra credits.

December 11, 2012

It was like Daughter Two had found a priceless artifact, right there in the surf shop.

She held it aloft, as one would present a rare Egyptian print.

It was a one-piece thingy, with the print of a tiger on it. Something like an extended singlet. Part costume, part underwear. Sister and friend both cooed approval. Even I could see it was pretty fancy.

She told me how she HAD to have it. Explained how she’d wear her new black skirt over the top. And right there, on the busy shop floor, father saw an opportunity.

“Why don’t you wear it without anything else, just like that?” I made sure my question was loud enough for the surrounding tweens and teens to hear. There was a gasp from the major players.

She looked at me as if I had just cursed the family name. There were no words. Just a wide-eyed stare. Followed by uncontrollable giggles. Sister too. They fell in a heap. With the one-piece thingy still held high.

It’s one of the joys of fatherhood. Being able to make a 12-year-old red-faced with utter embarrassment. Only a Dad knows the feeling.

It was all part of our weekend Christmas shopping expedition. Bags were piling high. And I have to admit, we were having loads of fun.

It had taken several hours to find a parking spot. We ended up on the roof in a nearby suburb. Or so it seemed. I’m sure some of our fellow shoppers are still doing laps.

For once, we had given ourselves plenty of time. This allowed us to stroll from shop to shop. The girls had been given a budget, and to my great surprise, they were sticking to it.

I have been shopping with these young women many times before. But on this particular day, I noticed something I hadn’t been aware of.

They are expert shoppers. I mean, they are REALLY good. I watched them in action, and was struck by how they go about spending my money.

The Teenager knows exactly what she wants. She will go straight to the dress that suits her best, from the dozens on offer.

She is cool and calm, flicking through those racks. At fourteen, she has found her style, and sticks with it. For a shopping novice like me, it was impressive stuff.

Daughter Two takes an almost forensic approach. She’ll look, and touch, and match. And look some more. When she likes something, she smiles.

Each time she made a purchase, she’d thank me, and give me a hug. Another joy of fatherhood.

We celebrated our good work by munching on as much fast-food as we could carry. That’s how Dads roll in big shopping centres. We aren’t capable of packing lunch, and the kids know it.

I’m pretty sure we’re all done now. A boot full of gifts will do the job. With a few weeks to spare.

Someone should write a book on the secrets of a male shopping day. What a help it would be for all those ladies still to venture out. Tips for everything, except embarrassing daughters. That’s the role of a Dad.


A holiday fishing tale. The girls get their first catch, and put Dad in a tangle.

January 17, 2012

Mum’s favourite fishing spot was a big, flat rock.

It looked out across the still waters, just an easy stroll from our rented home.

There were lots of rocks to fish from. All shapes and sizes. But Mum liked the big, flat one.

We would wander down there most Sunday nights. Usually after dinner. Each with a hand line. Dad carried the bucket, and the net. And one large bottle of beer.

It was always calming. If there had been anger at home, it left when the bait hit the water.

The old man spent more time sitting than fishing. He seemed to enjoy the quiet.

But Mum was there to fill that bucket. And she usually did. I can remember her catching the biggest flathead I’d ever seen. On her little hand line. A crowd gathered, and she was proud as punch.

Her ability to snare all manner of marine life wasn’t passed down to her son. I liked fishing. I just wasn’t very good at it.

My great claim to fame on the water’s edge was the gift to tangle any fishing line within reach. It was uncanny. I could have all our gear in knots before Dad had taken the top off his bottled brew.

I had this firmly in mind, when the girls decided they wanted to go fishing these holidays.

It seemed safe enough. As long as I kept away from their equipment.

Cheap rods were purchased, and armed with nothing more than a bucket, some bait, and my thongs, we ventured to a ‘secret’ spot on the river.

Daughter Two had caught a fish before. A few years ago. It was a poisonous, spike-covered thing that caused panic on the boardwalk. But a fish nonetheless.

The Teenager was yet to open her account. This was to be her year. She had a steely determination, when lines were cast.

The cause wasn’t helped when her second throw landed in a nearby tree. Local birds were suitably warned.

On cue, her sister pulled in the first fish of the evening. A tiny bream. It took an eternity for me to remove the hook, as it wriggled under my safety thong.

We had cause to reconsider our location a little later. A combination of mozzies the size of army choppers, and a nearby gathering of the local hillbilly clan. Classic banjo wasn’t far away.

The next night, we shifted spots. It was a masterstroke. For Daughter Two. She caught another one. The Teenager caught a small branch, a plastic bag and part of a newspaper.

There was worse to come. Her hook became trapped under a submerged object. She urged me to put my cool drink down, leave my camp chair and provide urgent assistance.

I did as requested, but not before issuing a lecture on the need for her to get tougher in such a battleground. Surely she could sort out a little snag.

This line of reasoning seemed sound, until I took over. The stupid hook had obviously caught the hatch of a slow-moving submarine.

I gave the line one final yank, and to my surprise, it came free. As did the boulder that had been holding it hostage.

It left its watery home, and sped missile-like towards the shore. Directly into my left shin. The scream I unleashed scared away fish in surrounding suburbs.

The following few nights were less eventful. Except for the god-awful tangle I managed to inflict on Daughter Two’s line, while foolishly trying to replace a sinker. Some things never change.

The Teenager kept trying, and eventually landed her first fish later in the week. Although it was under the guidance of the brother-in-law, who is an expert in such matters. I’m pretty sure he managed to avoid serious shin injuries.

We don’t have a big, flat rock. And as yet, no-one has caught a fish large enough to keep. But we’ve found our favourite spot. Mum would be proud.


Give us a wave. How life only gets better after a holiday surf.

January 10, 2012

Dad loved being out the back. He’d been in the surf all his life. I never saw him swim anywhere but the ocean.

He’d get through the white water with ease. The old man had that wiry, Australian build of the day. So many war veterans seemed to look that way. Not big, but slim and powerful.

My father had a deep tan, from long hours on building sites. His costume of choice was popular at the time. Not Speedos or board shorts. Somewhere in between. I still see old blokes wearing them. And I still cringe.

He’d catch wave after wave, surging to the shore, with his baldy head protruding from the wash. And me watching in the shallows.

I can remember when he taught me how to body surf. One of the best times of my young life. Even better than when he taught me how to whistle.

Work out where the waves are breaking. Don’t waste energy getting there. Pick the one you want. Swim hard. Once you’re on, keep one arm straight. Look up, and don’t crash into large women or kids.

I’ve loved the surf ever since. Thanks to him. If you’ve never caught a wave all the way into shore, you haven’t lived.

It all came back this week. We’re at the beach, spending every available second in the wide blue Pacific.

The girls decided they wanted to learn how to ride a surfboard. Not from me, interestingly enough. Instead, it was decided lessons would be better from Johnny the surf school man, who could take large sums of cash from us.

Between us, this was probably a wise choice. I surfed as a teenager, like all my mates. Even had a trailer for my board. A few of us would take the day off school, if a decent southerly was blowing. But I was no champion.

None of us could afford wet suits, so when the water got icy, we wore footy jumpers, somehow thinking the thick wet cotton would keep us warm. It didn’t. But we provided plenty of laughs for anyone watching.

Anyway, our wads of money this week meant the girls were fully equipped when they entered the surf. Not a Titans jumper in sight.

And guess what? They were naturals. Both up on their feet after their second lesson. One more and they’ll be teaching me.

The lessons did more than allow them to stand up on a surfboard. More importantly, they now feel comfortable in the ocean. Not scared by waves anymore.

I’ve noticed it already. They want to come out the back with me. No fear of the boomers crashing in front of them.

Dad and Johnny were very different characters. Although they shared the same hairline. And both are responsible for something wonderful.

They passed on a love of the surf. That will stay forever. The girls have been smiling like I was, on that weekend all those years ago. Best money we’ll spend this holiday.


Mums and Dads who give the perfect Christmas gift. And you can’t buy it. Not even online.

December 13, 2011

I’ve been trying to remember my first Christmas.

How far can you go back? If you happen to be ancient like me, it’s tough.

I can picture where we were living. Our first place. Britannia Street. The house that Dad built for us.

Where was the tree? I think it was in the corner of the lounge room. To the right, as you walked in the front door.

Try as I might, the rest is pretty much a blank. No memory of my first present. Or the decorations. And no photos.

What I can remember, is how Mum and Dad approached it all. It was their special time.

Somehow, they made sure I never missed out. Year after year.

To this day, I’m not entirely sure how they did it. Things were tough for us. In those early days, I had no idea.

When Dad’s business went bust, the family struggled big time. We lost that house. They were shattered.

But every year, come Christmas morning, there would still be a scooter. Or a Malvern Star. Or a cricket bat. I was never disappointed.

So how did they manage? It took me years to find the answer to that. Doing what parents had done years before. And still do today. They missed out themselves.

Thinking back, I can’t remember one decent present that they gave each other during those grim years. Not one.

If you’d been with us back then, you would never have known. Look under our tree, and you’d see plenty of gifts. Their trick was to wrap things they’d already given to each other. Complete with mock surprise. Fooled me every time.

Christmas Day would start with ham and tomato on toast for breakfast. I still have it to this day.

I’d end up outside while Mum was cooking lunch. Dad would help me test-ride the scooter, or the Malvern Star. Or we’d oil the new bat. And it was always just us.

For some reason, Dad never invited his side of the family over. Another unspoken rule. I knew little about them. There may have been a phone call or two. Nothing more.

Our holiday fun always came from Mum’s side. She adored her sisters, and their kids. There would be Boxing Day gatherings whenever the tribe could be gathered in the one spot. Still happens to this day. Sadly, without Mum.

My parents had a love of Christmas, that was different to what I see around me now. They embraced the gift of giving, totally. Their joy came from others being happy. Especially me.

The things they treasured were the bits and pieces I made for them at school. Badly. Wonky ashtrays. Out-of-shape clay figures. Let’s not even mention the woodwork class letter box, that may have been missing an opening for the letters.

There were no big family shopping trips to spend money we didn’t have. No fancy lights. The day just seemed to arrive, with everything done and dusted. Mum at work yet again.

Things are so different now. Not better or worse. Just different.

No-one will go without in our house this year. No presents coming out for the second time. There will be several trips to the biggest shopping centre we can find. That groaning sound you hear is our embattled credit cards.

I’m proud to say I’ve taken at least one thing from my parents. My favourite gifts, will be whatever the girls make for me. Home-made cards. The bits of paper promising to help me around the house. Even though I know they’re more likely to write their own Chinese opera than wash my car.

Life can get too complicated sometimes. In most things we do, simple is good. Mum and Dad knew that. For one day of the year, we were the richest family in the street. That’s something I’ll never forget.


Mum’s place used to be in the kitchen. Daughters, are you listening?

November 15, 2011

Mum did all the housework when I was a kid.

Cooking. Cleaning. Washing. Ironing. I can’t remember Dad doing any of it. And I was no help either. Just a boy.

We’re talking late sixties and early seventies. Things were different back then.

Dad looked after outside stuff. And fixed things. He worked hard in the building game. It was like Mum didn’t expect him to do anything when he arrived home.

He’d have a beer, and pour the missus a shandy. They’d talk about the day. Usually while Mum was making dinner. Steak. Or chops. If we were lucky, maybe a mixed grill.

Later, Dad and I would take our plates back to the sink. That was about it.

She would wash up, while we relaxed at the table. No offers of help from us. And she never complained. Not once.

In those early days, I’m pretty sure our washing machine was one of those old wringers. Nothing like today. It must have been bloody tough going.

Dryer? Forget it. They didn’t exist. Anyway, that’s what the clothes line was for. I’m not sure the old man even knew where the laundry was.

Before I was old enough to go to school, I remember my dear mother dusting, and mopping floors, and making beds. Every day. There would be music on as she zipped around the house. Which was always clean and tidy.

Things changed a few years after that. Dad’s business went bust. Just like that. I remember our trip home from the bank. The manager, who he’d known for years, refused to help. It was the first time I’d heard Dad swear.

They made us sell our clean house. We moved into a rental place. Much older, but closer to the beach. I’ve told you about it before. The one with the outside dunny and the orange tree out the back.

With money tight, Mum went back to work. Dad was still building, but for others. It hurt him deeply.

It meant their household routine changed. Mum didn’t have time to do all those chores on her own. So Dad had to help. He’d do more around the kitchen. I’d dry up. Sometimes.

He got crook soon after that. And died a few months later. He may have even blamed the washing up.

After that, it seemed Mum went back to doing everything. I have no idea how she did it. She was keeping us afloat financially. And still doing the dusting.

When I moved out of home, I lived with mates, who also had no idea about the finer points of housework. So for the most part, over many years, we’d simply ignore any domestic work.

Can you believe, Mum would actually come over, armed with brooms and buckets, and clean that house too? She couldn’t drive a car, so she’d arrive, unannounced, in a taxi.

On one such trip, the driver warned her not to go inside. Thinking she was a hired cleaner, he thought she should be aware of the horror stories he’d heard about our House of Sin. Even she laughed about that one.

Marriage changes a man. The Treasurer might dispute this, loudly, but I believe I picked up my game. Jobs were shared. Still are. Most of the time. Such is the agreement.

I should stress, I’m still no good at any of it. The blokes out there hear me. We try, but we miss spots. And mopping just doesn’t come naturally.

That’s the beauty of having kids. Of late, they’ve become our domestic helpers. Washing dishes. Drying up. Clearing the bench. And they hate it with a passion.

We cheerfully ignore their excuses. And because they need pocket-money, for important items like Girlfriend magazine and after-school slushies, they have no choice.

They’ll be so much better prepared than I was, if they ever happen to leave home. And even better, their husbands will know no better than to pitch in.

If things had been different, I’m sure Dad would have to. The bloke managed to go to war for his country, and build houses. He would have coped. As long as it didn’t involve anything in the laundry.