How many people remember your first name? The sad trend where none of us really know anyone.

April 3, 2012

There is no excuse not to wash your own car. None. How hard can it be?

Grab a bucket, some water, soapy stuff and a sponge. Apply all liberally. Bask in the glory of a job well done.

That’s what I would do, if I could muster the energy. Instead of forking over precious folding stuff to someone else.

Yes, I know. It’s incredibly lazy. Such a waste of money. I get it.

In my defence, the place I visit does a fine job. Quick too. And no annoying smudges.

It must be said, I don’t go there often. It’s quite a job to cut through the layers of dust and grime when I do.

But on these rare visits, the friendly bloke who seems to be in charge always remembers my name. Every time.

He even gives me a title. Mr David. He’s Indian, and as well as being a tip-top washer, he never forgets.

That’s in contrast to his client. Because I don’t know his.

He would deal with maybe thirty car owners a day. My money is on him calling every one of us by our first name. With a Mr or Mrs thrown in for good measure.

I have one person involved in a function that makes my car look nice. No-one else to confuse the issue. He even wears a badge. For the life of me, I can’t recall his handle.

There was a time when everyone knew your first name, and you theirs. The butcher, and the barber. Certainly the publican. In my case, the local copper.

Do you know your butcher’s name today? And Coles doesn’t count. Do you know anyone’s name at your favourite watering hole? I doubt it.

Write me a list of the names of all your neighbours. Next door, across the road, and over the back.

Forty years ago, Mum would have known all of them. And their kids. And their pets. Your parents would have too.

My list is almost bare. Only the neighbours to my right. I don’t know the others, and they don’t know me. We get by with the odd nod and a wave.

Life is busier. We all work long hours. People have so much on their plate. All the usual excuses.

Somewhere along the line, we lost contact. It didn’t seem so bad, because everyone else was doing it too.

In our streets, and in business. At some stage, we all slipped into accepting anonymity.

Well, enough of that. It’s time for changes. Everyone needs to fill their list. Put some names to faces. Even if it’s across the back fence.

I’m going to find some mud to drive through, so I can return to the car wash. I’ll find out his name soon enough. I might even put a Mr in front of it.

Which carol should I sing next? Hic! The problem with getting Merry before Christmas.

December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve has changed so much.

These days, it’s all about the kids. Buzzing with excitement at home. Refusing to go to sleep.

Not so long ago, it was party time. We’d be buzzing. Until someone sent us home, before we fell asleep.

It seems most of the people I’ve known during my life have had a need to socialise the night before Christmas.

Footballers. Punters. Police officers. Media folk. All with a need to find a cool drink on December 24.

Over time, this has caused problems. There are those who see Christmas Eve as a quiet time, for reflection and cooking. Like Mum. And The Treasurer.

They both got in on the act, during a balmy night in Bundaberg many years ago.

Mum, bless her, had come to visit. It was quite a trip, for a woman of advancing years, who had rarely been on a plane. She was determined to see my new home town for herself.

My mother would never have admitted it, but I think she may have also been checking up on her new daughter-in-law’s housekeeping skills. The newly appointed Treasurer seemed to be very aware of this.

I was under instruction to be home on time. There was much to do, and my help was needed.

The trouble was, I had made friends within the local constabulary. Important for a journo in a strange place. And they had decided I was worthy of Christmas Eve drinks.

From memory, they kicked off early afternoon. A never-ending stream of icy cold beers. And the local product. Such generosity.

They nodded with sincerity when I explained the predicament waiting for me at home. And thrust another drink in my direction. Of course, they had no fear of the two women watching the kitchen clock. Easy to be tough, when you’re carrying a gun.

I was unarmed when I finally made it home. Unsteady feet shuffled me into the eye of the festive storm.

In desperation, I decided that music was my only hope. Christmas music. I broke into tune, encouraging the girls to follow my lead.

One thing I’ve picked up along the way, is that it’s difficult to stay angry at a drunken buffoon in the holiday season. Especially if he refuses to stop singing. So it was, that they both joined in.

A rare victory, thanks to ‘Jingle Bells’.

Fast forward to a different house, in a different time. Young children, so happy. But this year, Dad wasn’t singing.

I had been given the task of assembling a trampoline, in the dead of a Brisbane night. Many of you are now laughing.

It was impossible. I tried. I really did. But the bloody netting wouldn’t stretch over the metal bits. There had obviously been a mistake in the Chinese trampoline factory.

My neighbour at the time, a polite man enjoying his retirement years, decided he should offer a helping hand. Possibly to stop the stream of foul language coming from our yard.

He brought with him tools I had never seen. Items that did the job, quickly and professionally. It was a Christmas miracle, eventually adorned with a green bow.

There have been similar scenes most years since. Bungled assembly jobs. Help from a variety of quarters. With cool drinks taken at home instead.

It will be no different this year. Except with Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday, a man can have an afternoon punt as well. Yes, I’m already rehearsing ‘Silent Night’.