The Boss Man does it again. Why you must follow him in the big races this Spring.

September 29, 2012

Bossy got me out of strife again. I’ve lost count of how many times that is now.

It was at Caulfield. On one for Peter Snowden, as the shadows were lengthening, and my pocket was emptying.

He’d ridden a Group One winner a few hours earlier. And no-one was the least bit surprised.

There are some footballers who love finals time. It brings out the best in them. Glen Boss comes alive in the Spring.

We all have our favourite racing memories. Mostly, it’s about the horses.

I have a heap of them. Black and white vision of Gunsynd saluting in the 1972 Doncaster. Kiwi and the Pumper storming home in the 1983 Melbourne Cup. Super Impose doing the impossible in the 1991 Epsom. Black Caviar raising the roof at Doomben.

Stirring efforts from wonderful animals. But tucked away in my treasure trove, is a memory of an amazing performance from a jockey.

The day Bossy drove Makybe Diva down that long Flemington straight to win her third consecutive Melbourne Cup, was special for so many reasons.

The obvious, of course. The mighty mare setting a record that will never be conquered.

But it was the effort of the jockey that stays in my mind. Surely we’ve never expected so much from a single ride. Pressure most will never come close to experiencing.

Lee Freedman called it the perfect performance. Said it should be dusted off in years to come, and shown to every young hoop.

Boss left nothing to chance. Zero trouble. No hard luck stories, on the biggest of stages.

He’d done it many times before. None of that mattered on this day. Perfection was all that could be accepted.

He delivered. She won. A nation cheered. They deliberately took their time coming back to scale, this pair of champions. The cheering got louder.

The mare nodded her magnificent head to the frenzied crowd. And Bossy did a jig. Right there in the saddle. He waved his skinny arms, and smiled the smile of a man who had given his all.

How easy it would have been to take the foot off the pedal after that remarkable day. So many others would have. Not G. Boss.

He’s incredibly driven, this proud Queenslander. You only need to watch him before a race to see that. And the bigger the event, the steelier the resolve.

Don’t call him a veteran. That’s what we label old fellas. Experienced is a far better term.

The leading trainers will battle for his attentions over the coming weeks. Take note when he jumps on one. There are more big winners ahead.

One of them might just be Southern Speed in the Caulfield Cup. Bossy’s taken the ride, as the South Australian looks to win the race two years running. I hadn’t given her much hope. Now I do.

None of that will worry the jockey. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care too much what others think. He’s ready to create more memories for a new generation of racegoers. And get me out of strife yet again.

My video stars. The beauty of memories, when big girls weren’t so big.

September 4, 2012

Our home videos are carefully stored. In a box, somewhere. With labels that make little sense.

Golden memories, of less complicated times. Before young ladies knew how to text.

All gorgeous in their own way. Some funny, others emotional. Especially when my Mum bobs up, trying to avoid the camera.

Photos, too. Lots of albums. For too long, I didn’t appreciate the importance of recording the journey we’re all on. Now, every image reminds me of something magical.

I thought about those memories over the weekend. On the day Dads get to reflect about the things most important to them.

The girls were playing with some old photos. When they were younger, and I was lighter. The sort of snaps families take most weekends.

They ended up on one of those websites that I don’t understand. Where photos are shared, and friends make comment. I tried to have a look last night, but it wouldn’t let me in. Too old, probably.

There’s a video of the girls, taken a decade ago. It doesn’t go long, and my camerawork is anything but fancy.

I find myself thinking about those few minutes more and more. Such an insight into how the girls would develop. Enough to brighten the saddest hour.

It was at a park, across the road from where we were living. The Teenager was all of four. Daughter Two had only just started to walk.

It was chilly, and both were rugged up. Cute clothes made by their Mum. The Teenager in a groovy jacket. Her sister in warm tights, straining over her nappy.

As was her way at the time, The Teenager was in charge. From the swing, to the slippery dip, to the climbing castle. With a frenzied commentary to match. The chat was non-stop. I can hear that little voice in my head right now, and it makes my heart sing.

Her sister, still mastering this walking caper, followed her every step. If The Teenager went on something, she’d have a go too. A desire to get it right, way back then.

The afternoon was pain-free, until Daughter Two changed the script. Instead of following, she decided to lead the way. While The Teenager was busy getting tangled in the rope ladder, her younger sibling decided she would have another crack at their park favourite.

The camera joined in, as she toddled towards the smaller seat of the swing set.

I helped her up, and there she sat, proud as punch, despite doing very little swinging.

That lack of movement would be changed soon enough. Courtesy of her sister, charging into the shot from right of screen.

This would not do. Baby sisters did not set the agenda. Especially when the camera was involved.

Daughter Two had no idea the push was coming. There was no time to brace. Down she went, exchanging her comfy seat for a mouthful of bark and dust.

This was all done to the sound of The Teenager explaining to the cameraman what his next shot should be, as she took her rightful place on the swing. “Video camera me Daddy! Video camera me!”

It remains one of my favourite items on tape. My oldest daughter, refusing to allow the spotlight to be shifted. And Daughter Two’s cry. Not from pain or injury. A squeal of defiance. With the added note, that she wouldn’t always be a pushover.

I stopped the camera and brushed her off. The urgings of The Teenager continued. I fought back giggles, and explained that there would be no more video camera-ing, while family members were getting knocked down.

They made their peace, and moved on to the next activity. From memory, Daughter Two was sent down the slide head first by her loving sister not long after. To laughter, thankfully.

A tiny snippet of life, that says so much about us. A few wonderful, fun minutes. Things a Dad never forgets.

Confidence, laughter, determination, resilience and love of family. All on show, right there in that park. And the sweet, innocent voice of a four-year old, that I don’t get to hear anymore.

I bet you have similar memories tucked away, in boxes somewhere. Cherish them like I do now. Take more photos and videos. You never know when you might need cheering up.

The old home town doesn’t look the same. Losing memories in the name of progress.

January 24, 2012

I don’t remember any of these houses. Not one. I’m driving down the first street I lived in. My home town. Where I rode my first bike.

Nothing is familiar. The picture in my mind of Britannia Street is so different. The homes were bigger. More impressive. These images don’t match.

I returned to have a look last week. The house that Dad built so long ago, when the street was bare, is tiny. Almost box-like. My mind had it as big as a castle.

I’ve been back before over the years, and never noticed. Or didn’t want to. Now I do.

I tried to peer over a fence, without getting arrested. Dad’s old garage was mostly intact. But the rest of the yard was unrecognisable.

It shouldn’t be a surprise. We’re going back more than four decades. What was I expecting?

It sent me on a mission, to see what else had changed. And what remains, in the place of my childhood.

A few streets away, I found a lovely brick home. Right where our old fibro rental house use to sit. Where we moved to when Dad’s business collapsed.

That wonderful backyard is gone. No more cricket games. The orange tree, so handy for shade while having a cool drink, is no more.

Somehow, the old laneway behind all those modern homes, has survived the area’s revamp. The short stretch where the Old Man taught me how to steer his beloved Holden. I drove down it again. Slowly.

Across the road, sits the primary school I went to. Now surrounded by a giant, imposing, dark green fence. Keeping the vandals out, and the students in. We never needed a giant fence.

My journey took me a little further up the road. The short stroll I made to catch the bus to high school. It’s all different.

There was a milk bar I used to stop at each afternoon. A strange old man and his wife ran it. There would be extras in the lolly bag. It’s now a real estate agency.

Around the corner, I would spend time in the local bike shop. Nothing like the  smell of new rubber.

The bloke would show me his latest skateboard. Spin the wheels. I’d imagine how cool it would be to own one. But it was too expensive.

The bikes and skateboards are now but a memory. Replaced by a Homewares shop. Whatever that is.

Keep going down that road, take a right, and you’ll find the oval that I did laps of. The place where Dad took charge of the Under 7 soccer side. Even though he’d never seen the world game played.

What made that field stand out from everywhere else, was it’s old, creaking grandstand. About ten rows of solid wood. We’d sit there when it rained. Or when it was too hot. Or when there was a schoolboy secret to be told.

It’s gone now. There’s no-where to sit. The adjacent van park has swallowed it up. Room for one more holiday cabin.

Next stop was my old high school. Which I discovered is no longer a high school.

It’s been re-branded as a Secondary Campus. Whatever that is. But some things don’t change.

I snuck down a driveway, and found two blocks, that are exactly the same as the day I walked out, more than thirty years ago.

They haven’t been touched. Not so much as a lick of paint. The adjacent toilet block, where we fought off being flushed on a daily basis, is exactly the same.

It seemed to be the only place of my childhood that hadn’t disappeared. Even though it was the one that needed change the most. So much for progress.

I wanted to check out one final location. A place that gave us lots of fun, for very little outlay.

Plenty of Sundays were spent on the magic waterways of my home town, riding around in small, wooden hire boats. If we were lucky, we’d get one with a half cabin.

A group of us would carry on a carton of cool drinks and a hot chook, and leave our problems on the shoreline. How we didn’t end up on a beach in Fiji is beyond me. But somehow, we always returned safe and sound.

The homes surrounding the boathouse have all changed. Those little holiday shacks have been replaced by expensive coastal cottages.

But tucked behind them, is my boat hire place. Exactly as I remembered it. And those original boats are still there. Right down to the colour, and the names. I almost danced a jig on the end of that little wharf.

Things change. People, too. I get that. Especially over such a time frame. The price of getting older.

We can’t stop progress. Even if it’s painful sometimes.

But while the buildings might be gone, they can’t demolish my memories. Even if I’ve built on them a little.

That’s the beauty of reminiscing. Things get bigger and better with time. Except when it comes to hire boats. They stay exactly the same. Bless them.

From first boyfriends to Black Caviar. School bus bullies to our lost dog. Looking back at a memorable first year.

January 3, 2012

It’s a new year. I’m assuming you’ve all returned to some level of sobriety. To celebrate, let’s take a journey back in time, to the old year.

This blog came to life last March. The result of a dislocated ankle, that had me laid up at home for weeks, on the brink of outright insanity.

Someone, somewhere, suggested I start writing about stuff. So I did, with a bung leg pointing skywards.

Over time, it developed into a twice-weekly affair. Life, laughs and the family on a Tuesday; racing and sport on a Saturday.

Quite a mix. Something for everyone. Or, two piles of crud to be totally ignored.

The kids have featured prominently. For the most part, they’re fine with that. They usually get a giggle from it all.

To share details of their dance concerts is great fun. Possibly sleep-inducing for some. But still great fun.

Tales of my first meeting with Daughter Two’s boyfriend tickled a few of you. Horrified the ladies. Mortified Daughter Two.

Lots identified with my feelings at watching my other little girl become The Teenager. Dads everywhere were nodding quietly.

I’ve found myself thinking more about the old days. My childhood. Mum and Dad. Trying to recall the people and events that shaped me.

From feedback you’ve given me, we like the reminiscing. Simple things. Like playing outside as a kid every afternoon. Mum’s cooking. And facing up to bullies on the old school bus.

Of late, we’ve shared details of our first jobs. Sacrifices our parents made at Christmas. Many of you had similar memories. And how those of our generation (definition – old farts), are paying the price for being kids who didn’t know what sunscreen was.

There have been stories through the year that have been shared on Facebook and Twitter. The marvels of social media. So great to be a part of it.

The tale of our lost dog Coco has gone far and wide in recent days. Sadly, she’s still missing. But the support and encouragement we’ve received has been nothing short of amazing. Thank you.

We talked State of Origin. Those outside of Queensland and New South Wales were probably scratching their heads. No problems there. It’s only for a few weeks.

Something that did strike a chord was when a bloke becomes eligible to officially support his adopted state. Ten years? Twenty years? Never? Everyone had an opinion.

The debate even slipped into the mainstream media, in the days after the blog ran. That was a first. Maybe a coincidence. Maybe not. We’ll have another crack at it this year. Go the Maroons.

Not all of you are interested in the Saturday racing pieces. That’s ok. Racing is a passion of mine. I’d write about it even if no-one was reading. Which is sometimes the case.

It was a joy to describe the jubilation at Doomben, when Black Caviar came to town. Tears and cheers at a packed racecourse. Something we haven’t experienced for years.

We were able to have a giggle at kooky Kim Kardashian being scratched from Melbourne Cup week. And my excitement at the tradition of going to Stradbroke Day with a much-loved childhood mate.

Sad times too. Young Corey Gilby’s tragic death at a country race meeting. And the pain that lingers, after losing the amazingly talented Stathi Katsidis, way too young.

Then there was the highly sought after Melbourne Cup guide. Great fun. Of course, my top selection was scratched on Cup morning. And I gave the winner no chance. Who else can boast that sort of strike rate?

You can find all these stories and more in the blog archive. That is, if you care. And you are so mind-numbingly bored that you actually want to read more. That also tells me that you probably need to see a doctor of some kind.

Don’t forget, you can subscribe, so you never miss a word. Twice a week, direct to your e-mail address. Fill out the box at the top of the Hold All Tickets page. It’s free. Or, sign up someone you don’t like. Now that would be funny.

So, to the year ahead. There’ll be more fun. A few laughs hopefully. A crook tip or two. And a look back every now and then, at how things used to be.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. It means a lot.

Who would have thought that getting busted up doing the gardening at my mother-in-law’s place, would lead to all this? Lucky for me, fact around here is almost always stranger than fiction.