Many years ago, I did a weekend course - one of those personal development courses, this one was about getting into a relaxed alpha state and useing creative visualisation to learn about oneself or about other things, or to help bring about useful future outcomes. By that I mean getting into the alpha state (rested meditative state) and visualising in the mind's-eye the outcome desired. This technique is pure 'magical-thinking' to a psychiatrist, but it seems to work for me often enough. I can get car-park spots when I need them to this day.
I learned a lot from this course and it was that weekend I had my great Cosmic Conscisouness experience, but that's not for now.
On this particular day, my friend J and I were heading to a meeting for the course and we were a little late - late enough that a bad ran of traffic would get us there after the arranged time, but a good run of traffic would see us there on time.
So we set off together on our motorbikes, side-by-side in that unspoken road-dancing camadarie of bikers together.
As we approached the first set of lights, I did my thing - I imagined in my mind's eye the light being green for us, and so it was. I said nothing to J about it.
The second set I did the same, and once more, it was green. 'Wonderful' I thought to myself, perhaps J is helping?
The third set of lights were perfect green for us too and I guessed that Jeff and I were both doing the very same thing, although not a word was ever spoken about this. Two of us using our mental magic in unison to get green lights when we needed them.
And so it was that on a long ride from Scarborough to Welshpool, a long ride right across the city, at least half an hour, through maybe twenty lights, that literally every single one was green for us. Not a single pause for a light slowed us down. And sure enough we arrived perfectly on time.
That's real magic :-)
Recently I was out in my Mum's Aussie garden, being with nature - feeling and smelling and seeing the plants, enjoying a informal drifting nature meditation, as lately I've been trying to open up more to the various worlds of nature...
And so it was that a little friend joined me - a little tree spider crawled around my tee-shirt and arms. I did my best to grok his spiderness, made myself into a spider friendly tree, sent him spider love, and so we made friends easily enough.
Now the sun was just setting over the ocean, it was a lovely moment, so I did a little meditation about energy up the spine and focussing at the crown, like the sap rising up the trunk of my tree. I invited my friend to climb up my back to the crown of my head where I created a sort-of 'spiritual spider-friendly parking zone'.
Sure enough he crawled up my back, right up the back of my neck, running his legs thru the hairs on the back of my neck - quite an interesting feeling. He walked to the top of my head, and stopped right at the tip of my head, in my spider-friendly parking spot, for a little while as we shared a little happy moment together while the sun set into the ocean. Man and beast. Spider en-crowning my Stick of Brahma.
Next thing Mum comes running out with a shoe in her hand - "Aargh! look out ! a spider is on you! I'll get it!" Don't get me wrong, my Mum is kind and caring, and she was doing exactly the right normal thing.
But somehow my life is not always about the 'normal thing'. Perhaps spider-crawl spinal-meditations are not everyone's cup of tea.
My maternal grandfather, Stavely Erskine Johns (usually called 'Johno',) died when I was about two years old. I'm told he held me and sang to me as baby, and although I don't remember him personally, I do have a special childhood memory which connected me to him, a memory from when I was maybe three or four years old, a memory which I never understood until nearly fifty years later - a memory of mysterious brass objects - slightly tapered brass cylinders, open at one end, heavily closed at t'other.
Grand-pa served in both world wars - he retired a Major, and I still have his Major's crowns carefully stored to this day. And the mysterious brass objects in question were empty shell casings - of various sizes, arranged neatly in a row on grand-ma's mantel-piece - from big ones inches in diameter, down through some an inch or so, to the smallest .303 shells. Not that I had the faintest idea what these mysterious brass objects were, nor understood the secret symbols and codes imprinted on their base.
Grand-ma lived in Melbourne, and we lived in Perth. I can only vaguely remember her from our occasional visits before she died when I was about four. But what I do remember with great clarity and reverence were those mysterious brass cylinders.
I don't know how or why, but somehow these mysterious brass mementos were important to me, and I was allowed to hold them, not to bang and throw and play with as toys - no no - just the opposite. I would hold these casings lovingly in my arms and clean them and polish them with Brasso till they gleamed like gold.
I had never understood their importance - they were just a strange childhood memory. But now, nearly fifty years later, as I follow that growing urge to connect to my ancestors, I finally understand - I was holding them like a baby in my arms, and caring for them just as he had done for me.
Thank you grand-pa Johno.
It was 1972 when I was 11, just old enough to start understanding the real world, but still too young to understand society in any meaningful way. The Adventures of Barry Mackenzie was on at the drive-in in Dowerin. It was the start of the Gough Whitlam era. Cigarette packets began to include health warnings.
We lived in a tiny country town called Minivale on the railway line in the wheat belt of Western Australia. The population was under 100, it was so small there wasn't even a pub, just one single shop.
There came a day when I over-heard my parents talking with a visitor about some dangerous book. A red book. Apparently The Red Book of Chairman Mao, (who at that time was leading the Chinese in a cultural revolution that was sweeping away the old, and causing great destruction in China.) They spoke of this book in hushed tones, furtively looking around to see if someone was listening - someone like me that is. Apparently it was full of dangerous knowledge, it was evil and subversive, and it must be carefully restricted - especially kept out of the hands of children in whom it might corrupt and even inspire communism. Reds under the beds was the fear of the time !
Well, I had never heard of this book, and would have never been interested until I overheard that talk about keeping it away from children - but obviously I kept an eye out for it - not that an 11 year old had much resources in a tiny town with no library, and it was long before the internet.
But sure enough - one day I found myself alone in a room with that book for an hour or two. So naturally I immediately read it from cover to cover. Wow - what an eye-opener it was - I was astonished.
Of course - it wasn't Chairman Mao's book at all. It was actually The Little Red Schoolbook written in 1969 by S. Hansen and J. Jensen. It was a highly controversial book, which was even banned in some countries. It was targetted at school children, and was designed to inform openly about subjects such as drugs, sex, advertising, and authority. It was shockingly open and direct in a way that I had never seen before, and not often since. I learned a great deal about the world from that book - but to this day I have no idea who made the confusion about which Red Book it was.
The full book can be read here :
I stood upon the rock, the big red rock at Australia's center, Uluru - usually called "Ayer's Rock" by most of us white-fellas. The sun beat down from almost overhead, I could see for miles - the tourist's cars and buses like toy cars below me, the lumpy Olgas in the distance, endless plains of red stretching in all directions. It was hot and still, with very few flies, and just an ocassional bird-call.
I was on a mission. A spiritual mission for The Brotherhood of Angels and of Humanity - a small group dedicated to helping the spirit beings of the mountains. My mission was to plant a talisman, a specially prepared sealed brass tube which contained fragments of various crystals - diamond, emerald, rubies, sapphire etc. all blessed by the elder of our group - our leading Bishop.
My goal was to find a place for the talisman deep inside the rock, where it could radiate for millenia, helping the Angel of the Rock to spread it's energies to the land and the people.
But I felt not at all spiritual, I felt no connection with the rock or its spirit, I could see no place to plant our talisman, and the gaggle of noisy tourists made the atmosphere the very opposite of quiet and spiritual. I looked for a place to plant my talisman, but all I could find was a little hole full of rubbish, not exactly the right type of place.
I felt silly and insignificant, I felt small and powerless - I was a gnat on the rump of an elephant, I was a grain of sand on a vast beach, I was a mote in God's eye, I was 30 year old child on a rock that was millenia old. I was as nothing compared to this vast rock. I realised I would have to dig deep to make the connection I sought. It was approaching Noon. (Generally I am sensitive enough to feel morning change to afternoon.) Fortune smiled on me, and just then, all the tourists left, and I was alone on the rock, minutes before Noon.
So I lay down flat on the rock, head to the east, undid my shirt, lowered my trousers just a little, so my spine was pressed against the rock, and the sun beat down on all my chakras, my centers of energy. I drew in earth energy, I basked in Sun energy - and I called for assistance as Noon occurred, waiting for a sign.
It came in the the form of a lovely butterfly - I followed him some distance, and it lead me to crack in the rock, a sloping gap where a huge flake of rock was peeling away. The lower end of the crack narrowed and lead down deep in the rock. I knew this was the place.
So I held the talisman in my hand and reached as far and as deep into the crack as I could, and then flicked it down into the crack. I heard it 'tinkle tinkle' as it tumbed down deeper into this crack, ending up deep inside Uluru, where it would be undisturbed for millenia. My mission had succeeded, the butterfly had lead me truly. The talisman is there decades later, helping humans and angels to spread the light.
It was 1974 when I went to live at Swanleigh - a residential college in Midland where country children lived to attend high school in the city. In those days there were no mobile phones, and no personal computers. But it was the year of the original Pong game and calculators were just starting to replace slide-rules. The era of black and white TV was just ending, as Countdown with Molly Meldrum was just starting. Musicians of the day included The Beach Boys, David Bowie, Queen, and Supertramp. The Sting, The Exorcist, and American Graffiti were playing at the movies. Gough Whitlam was briefly Prime Minister. Darwin was devastated by cyclone Tracy.
I stayed there for five years while attending Lockridge Senior Highschool, a newly built school with no entrenched animosities. The times, like the school and pupils, were new and optimistic and open-minded. Swanleigh however, somehow retained an atmosphere of the old era, of British tradition, where children were to be 'seen and not heard' as they would say. It's several buildings snaked along a road on the Swan river, ending at the main complex which included the central boy's houses, and the office block which had a lovely old ivy-covered stone entrance-way, and the little church of St Mary's nearby. It was a significant place and time in my life. I still visit there on night-time astral journeys to this day.
The Director then was recently arrived Richard Stowell, previously a Manx Scoutmaster. He had a small stature and little hair, but a big ego and a big puffed out chest. We variously viewed him with fear or respect, or ridiculed him in secret as "Poon". His voice could have the power of Hitler, his look could dominate a room of 300 people. But he clearly cared for we children, even if we rarely saw his softer side. On one occasion I had to ask him for a reference for an attempt to enter Duntroon, but silly me had left it till literally the last day. He tore strips off me - "oh yes, I'll tell them you're a stupid scatterbrain who can't tell the date or remember anything important etc." Oh dear. But later that day I had a magnificent full-page reference with glowing praise signed with a triple-barrelled name and a fancy signature "Richard LaMothe Stowell".
As a child I remember the years on the "Other Side" as a time of control, even oppression, with every person and every minute accounted for in every way. Now as an adult I look back and I see that very tight control was effective and strong leadership, under which certain sins did not flourish. As far as I know Swanleigh was never stained like some other religious institutions who failed morally in the care of their children. Good job.
But for the first year I had a more free life. The 1st year boys (now called 8th year) lived separately in Cornwall House which was across Jane Brook (hence the "Other Side") from the main Swanleigh site. At the year they turned 13 boys were considered immature and they were molly-coddled away from the others. Cornwall house was run by a Mr and Mrs Brown - no-one ever used their first names. They were a conservative older couple whose children had grown up, and now they served by caring for the young boys. Mrs Brown was a lovely old duck - plump and warm, with a bung knee that made her walk with a pronounced waddle. Mr Brown was a big-bellied avuncular diamond in the rough. He smoked a pipe and had a crooked brown grin that only over-rode his stern look on special occasions.
Mrs Brown especially treated us with love and care - every day as we left for school she would tell us jokes - but the joke book, like her, was from a galaxy far far away (e.g. "she got a new dress for the party, but her heart wasn't in it" - which meant absolutely nothing to 13 year old boys.) Australia was changing in the early 70s, and I could see that the Browns and the Stowells of this world were from a prior era - an era that was ending. Like the old miner I heard in far outback Laverton in the year man walked on the moon. He recited "Old Man River" to a party of drunken adults who yet quietened to listen. I sat in the corner, a little boy entranced, while this bearded and gravel-voiced cobber of the outback proclaimed a classic poem. I realised this was a vestige of the old era, and that I'd never experience such a thing again. Of course I haven't.
Mr Brown was liked and respected for his firm and friendly guiding hand - but also feared - because this was back in the age of corporal punishment. It was considered acceptable to beat children with a stick, called "the cane", on the hands or legs or buttocks. I was caned several times, and frankly don't feel I suffered badly, but society grows - and now children are being brought up by people who were not beaten as children - wonderful. Nonetheless this was a happy time, weekends exploring the creek, new friends, sports and excursions and books and hobbies and girls and purple flaired trousers.
Mr and Mrs Brown usually took Monday and Tuesday off, when they retired to their own home and other staff cared for us. But one Monday it was different and we saw another side to Mr Brown. This day they had decided to stay to themselves at Cornwall inside their rooms, and Mr Brown had left a message on a blackboard for us, warning us they were in their bedroom, and asking us to be quiet. But - the sign was literally written in strine. Strine is the strine word for 'Australian'. It means a broad aussie slang transliterated by sound (e.g. "Jareedna piper wairtsed abat the bushfires?" is "Did you read in the paper where it said about the bushfires.") So 30 schoolboys bubbled off the bus after school and tried to read the sign - a noisy gaggle repeating it and interpreting it, and then loudly and repeatedly telling each other to "be quiet!" I saw and decoded it in five seconds, and went quietly inside to get dressed, with the others following along in noisy clumps.
A minute or 2 later, as we are all getting dressed into normal clothes, Mr Brown suddenly came storming into the room in his gown, with eyes a-flash, the cane in his hand, and shouting furiously at us like "you selfish little bastards, can't you read a simple sign, I'll show you some consideration for your elders". It was a long thin room, with boys on either side, and he rampaged down the centre as he shouted, wildly swinging the cane, hitting any boy's legs and buttocks in reach, left and right, whack, whack, whack-whack. He turned at the end, and started his second pass back up the room towards me - whack whack whack ! But his steam had vented and he wound down to a halt in the centre of the room - a room full of boys hugging the walls, tears in their eyes, trying desperately not to show their pain. All except me. He had not seen me, standing quietly in the hidden corner behind the door, a small, gentle, polite and studious sort of boy. I stood wide-eyed in my underpants, facing a huge angry man with a stick in his hand and rage in his eyes.
He glared at me with an angry "I didn't get you, did I?" and I squeaked "no sir". But his blood was cooling, he just gave a parting snort, and stormed out again. Phew. A karmic reward which made up for many an injustice. They never spent Monday and Tuesday there again. The incident was never discussed.
A few years passed, we sometimes saw the Browns and chatted, and over time they were even more liked and respected by all. And then one day there came an announcement at tea, with all 300 of us gathered in the dining hall - Mr and Mrs Brown were to retire. And the most amazing thing then happened. As the realisation that the Browns were leaving us struck home, it brought their goodness to mind, their years of good work, and how they would be missed. These feelings were not mine alone - we started to clap and cheer and whistle and stomp. This outpouring grew and grew, and we stood up for a standing ovation, with cries of "good on ya" filling the room. The cheers and clapping and praise of hundreds swelled to a crescendo, the air sparkled with gold. It was the most wonderful spontaneous and genuine outpouring of love I have ever experienced. I have no idea if Mr Stowell planned or expected anything such, or even what he was doing - for the only moment in 5 years, Mr Stowell at the High Table was not the focus.
In the midst of this tsunami of feelings for the Browns I twisted and turned to find them amongst the cheering throng - I caught a glimpse of Mrs Brown, still seated because of her knee. Her face was a-glow with pure joy, her eyes were sparkling, and tears streamed down her face. Her aura was shining with a well-deserved glowing crown for a good life full of care and giving for others. Thank you.
I looked too for Mr Brown but could not see him. It was some time before I realised why - he was not there ! This sea of emotion was too much for someone of such stiff upper-lip, and he had had to step out of the door. While hundreds of children noisily poured out their hearts to this beloved 'uncle' - he stood outside, in the dark, all alone. I imagine his face contorted with unfamiliar tears, overwhelmed with a confusion of happiness and embarrassment, his ears ringing with that cacophony of respect – but with his pride preventing him from being present for that climactic reward for his years of good work. Men didn't cry.
We love you Mr and Mrs Brown.
Around the turn of the millenium I did some tech support work in Adelaide on a cruise ship docked there for some maintenance. I met a young lady on that job - I didn't know her well, or for that long either, but I liked her, and here's an experience I'd like to share. I feel a certain connection to the Divine Feminine, and I'm also a single man in whose breast hope still springs eternal. So this story is partly about me, partly about average aussies, and partly about a young Aussie woman - and also partly about something rather special.
This young woman was attractive and slim and blond - she looked somewhat like Lisa McCune, and in my mind's eye she has the grace of Gigi Edgly in Last Train to Freo, the loveliness of AnnaSophia Robb in Bridge to Terabithea, and the spunk of Rapunzel in Tangled.
I thought she had a special something, a je ne sais quoi, a smooth and warm quality, a simple and comfortable niceness. To be with her was like having on your favourite comfy shirt that made you feel calm but manly. Her female friends would probably laugh at my fantasy image, but it seems that somehow I saw her best side. I'd like to think her friends had some of these qualities too, without realising it.
She didn't act like she was special or superior at all - just the opposite. She was in many ways a normal young Aussie woman, mostly friendly and nice, positive and often funny. Not perfect, not necessarily good at everything, not always successful. But she had what they call the 'girl-next-door' quality in spades. Remembering her is like those 24 years spent Living Next Door to Alice.
Perhaps her je ne sais quoi lay in what she didn't have. She didn't have arrogance, she didn't have barriers and heavy defences, she didn't slash at any man who might come too close, she didn't play games and faces. I obviously never had a chance with her of course, largely due to the age difference, (and perhaps a little, um, quality differential.) But that of course gave me the pleasing freedom to be openly warm to her - I'm old enough now to realise the magic lies mostly in the giving.
Not once did she choose to push me back, make it clear she wasn't interested - because it didn't have to be said, because we understood, and she wouldn't want to cut me for no reason. That is until the sad day I heard the ship was leaving, and in a strange whirlwind of panic I asked her out. She let me down gently "oh, that's very sweet of you - but no, I'm sorry". A lovely humane capacity for empathy and communication in a slightly awkward moment.
No doubt she would be embarrassed to hear herself described this way, thinking of herself as just a normal girl with her own issues and weaknesses and dramas, mixing it up with her hopes and dreams and assets. Nor would I want to pretend I was close to her or anything - I'm just a friendly old codger she worked with once - and I really like to write about nice experiences (and yes, the bra is coming soon - patience, grasshopper.)
But first - I too, have a dream. I have a dream that indeed this really is a normal young woman. The modern normal young Aussie woman.
Australia has come a long way in recent decades - in the way we have treated our children. A century or so ago - most children were chattel, slaves, treated like animals. Whilst there was much improvement by the 50s or so, a lot of children still suffered hell from an early age (and not just those in those terrible institutions.) Not to mention the smoking and the drinking of that era and earlier. Most children were beaten as normal procedure. Getting through childhood without major damage to the psyche was still a hundred-to-one shot.
But eventually - things changed with the 60s or so, and into the 70s and on. There was a sea change in our society in so many ways - sexual freedom, human freedom, more information, more open-ness, more acceptance of different things and people, and a better understanding of people, of emotions, and of children's needs.
So we stopped beating children, we learned how to damage them less, we moved on from Dr Spock, we had many parents who really tried to learn how to care and bring up good persons - which seems like an obvious norm now. And now we are starting to see children who were brought up by people who were not beaten and damaged as children - the second generation of decent up-bringing - with the third one coming along. I believe modern Australia is paradise, Australia is the New World - many of those tired and poor huddled masses dream of coming to Australia now. There are few places better than here for living and growing. This is where many quality souls are choosing to incarnate now, because this is where quality up-bringings can be found to birth into.
Perhaps that's the quality I saw - the normal Aussie girl, a decent normal soul who grew up what a fairly decent, normal, nice person should be. Not un-flawed, not perfect, but not critically damaged. Not that she's alone either - indeed I see many wonderful young people coming in now. I see children with amazing abilities, I see people who can see deep realities, and many who want to help others and just be a good person. This is truly the Golden Age, my friends. (OK, OK, the bra!)
So, one day I wander into my friend's office on board ship, and she had on a lovely blue silk dress. Not in-appropriate for the office, not too revealing or provocative, no-no. But figure-hugging and attractive? Oh my Lordy, yes-yes-yes!
As I walked in with my friendly greeting, she responded with a happy 'hello', and she leant back in her chair, arms behind her head, big warm smile, eyes twinkling, hair gently swinging, open and pleasing. Now I don't think it was anything more than genuine friendliness - she was just being nice to a cheerful and non-threatening guy. Perhaps she just felt good about herself that day and just chose to glow, to radiate.
And the bra? Well, I don't really know much about bras - but there are obviously different types and qualities etc. - your basic everyday bra, your quality bra, and the special expensive French bra when you really want to knock-him-dead on Friday night. And then - there is this bra.
This is the bra that Vulcan magically crafted for his lover Venus on Mt Etna.
The bra that Boticelli snatched away from her just before he snapped her picture on the Half Shell.
The bra that Helen wore which inspired a thousand ships to go get that pair back again.
That Cleopatra wore as she popped out of the rolled-up carpet in Julius Caesar's tent that day.
Not that the bra itself was obvious or crass or even revealed. In fact the bra was completely and utterly invisible - I didn't see the bra at all - nor any VPL either. Princess Di herself would have been impressed.
What I did see was this complete lovely young woman, dressed simply yet truly beautifully, arms open, big smile, pouring out warmth, a heavenly figure, and perfect breasts akimbo - in that million dollar bra.
Now, I've had some unusual experiences - I've travelled the planes, I've battled demons, I've stood in the Lightning Flash, and I've heard Mother Mary. And on this day a special little something happened too. For a tiny flashing instant - the Glory of Venus herself shone down on me. I swooned - I swear to God.
My head filled with a rushing sound, my heart raced, my vision blurred, my knees started to buckle. I was overcome - not with desire or arousal - but with the pure bliss of the Divine Feminine - as the gates of heaven opened just a crack and the shining light of the Goddess burst briefly through.
But the moment did not last long, and as I recovered I was still quite wobbly. It seemed rather uncool to actually faint, so I surreptitiously leaned against the door as if the ship had rolled in a little swell, looked away and bit my lip, until that bittersweet moment of being fully back in the Earthly.
Thank you my Lady - there's a story for my glory book.
Years ago I worked on computer systems for casinos, our company was in Perth, and we supported casinos here and in Adelaide and elsewhere. As opening day for Adelaide approached, I was more interested in being with my girlfriend in Perth than hanging around for the opening day. So 2 days before Adelaide casino opened, I caught a flight back to Perth - "she'll be right" I thought - what could possibly go wrong with a complex computer system involving hundreds of networked parts in the 80s? Even if I had made a software change to the system 30 minutes before I left!
On my return to Perth my girlfriend met me at the airport - fully dressed up in a beautiful pink dress slit to the thigh, magnificent beehive hairdo with pink feather, shiny leather boots, and even elbow length pink gloves to match. Wow.
We spent the day in various debaucheries and dissoluteness and were at one of my friends place when oddly, a phone call came through - for me. For me? Here? Turns out I had left a bug in the code and they desperately needed me back to fix it, with only 1 day to spare, and my boss had spent the day ringing all over Perth trying to track me down. They had managed to get me a midnight flight to Adelaide connecting through Melbourne which would get there a few hours before opening time.
Naturally, I spent the rest of the day in various excesses - which, as I recall, involved a whole bottle of baby oil and two ruined sheets and a ruined matress. But somehow time seemed to slip away, and later, checking my watch, I found it was 11:30pm! Oh my God! it was 30 minutes to the airport and the flight left in 30 minutes! I have never moved so fast in my life! My heart was thumping 120BPM as I threw everything into my suitcase, ran to the car and drove at break-neck speed, not even stopping for red lights. Fate was with me and I drove into the airport at 11:58 pm.
I ran full pelt into the departure lounge - it was completely empty. Except for one staff member behind the counter - he looked up as I ran pell-mell towards him, and he realised instantly who I was - the missing passenger. As I ran towards the counter, he furiously started writing and stamping on a bit of paper - my boarding pass. When I reached him, I threw my suitcase onto the conveyor and he shoved the pass into my hand and said "gate6 - Go!". I sprinted off towards gate 6, and behind me I heard him call out "your luggage won't make it though."
I ran through gate 6, out onto the tarmac, and saw the boarding ramp vehicle was literally just pulling away from the airplane. I bounded up the ramp 3 steps at a time, and the thumping of my footsteps clued the driver to stop - I arrived at the top to find a gap of 3-4 feet between the ramp and the plane. I swear to God - I jumped full sprint across the gap into the plane, colliding into a very surprised looking stewardess. I had made it!
So I settled into my seat, very relieved indeed, until I recalled that my luggage had the EPROM programmer in it - the device needed to change the bug in my code inside the EPROM computer chips in the Keno terminals. Oh dear.
I arrived in Melbourne just before a threatening storm, but made it onto my flight to Adelaide - the last flight before Melbourne airport was closed. Fate smiled on me again. Finally, I arrived in Adelaide early morning, no luggage, no EPROM programmer.
So I rang around a few tech stores enquiring about an EPROM programmer, and actually found a place which was prepared to loan me one to see if it 'suited our needs'. With 2 hours to spare, I had the programmer in my hands, and the code on my screen, with the obvious bug staring me in the face. I fixed the bug, programmed all the EPROMS and then walked around the madhosue of a casino about to open in one hour and replaced all the EPROMS in all the Keno terminals. (We then sent the EPROM programmer back - "sorry, it wasn't quite what we wanted".)
One hour later, the casino opened and the very first Keno game began (a game which involves drawing a selection of numbered balls from a big spinning cage - not unlike Lotto.) As all the casino big-wigs stood and watched, the announcer started to call out the numbers as they popped out of the machine one by one : "number 15", "number 6", "number 28" ... etc. Suddenly the announcer stopped in confusion, and then said with some embarassment "Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, we have a slight problem, we'll be stopping this game". For one panicky moment I thought I had really ballsed something up, even though ball-drawing was nothing to do with my area.
It turned out that the ball mechanism had a small place where a ball could get stuck inside the machine without being noticed, and a ball number 6 had become caught there from the previous practice run. The announcer was about to call out a SECOND "number 6", but realised he had already just called a number 6 and so had to stop that very first game. Phew - this one was not my fault after all. Lucky he spotted it, otherwise any bets with number 6 would have won twice the odds till they sorted it out.
Perth is generally a peaceful place, essentially no terrorism or serious violence - apart from a few examples like an rogue M113 APC once driven through the city, or a crazy with a rifle in an office block one time.
But there was one occasion when a series of bombs went off in Scarborough, and they never even caught the culprit. The date was 29th August 1985, and it was quite bad day for me.
Firstly I had a car accident - I was driving south at about 50km/h along a minor road in North Perth, when suddenly Bang! I experienced an almighty crash of noise and pain. After a moment I recovered with a painful head and right knee to find myself stationary and facing north! With another damaged car nearby. The driver had gone straight through a stop sign and collided with my right hand side, causing my car to swing around a full 180 degrees and come to a halt. She was not much hurt herself, but distraught and worried - worried, that is, for what her boyfriend would say about her ruining his car! She didn't give a damn about me or my car though, and my un-insured clunker was a write-off.
Anyway - later that night I went to bed nursing a headache and a sore knee - in my flat right opposite the construction site for the new Observation City hotel that Alan Bond was building in Scarborough.
Then about 1:20am in the morning there was an almighty explosion! I've heard explosions before - this was not a truck crash, not a sudden weather event, but a high-pressure explosion nearby. Instantly awake I lay silently in bed thinking "WT? was that!". There was complete and utter, and very pregnant, silence - I could sense the entire neighbourhood was awake and listening and wondering what was happening.
Some unknown few seconds later, another huge explosion shook the building, and I heard my lounge-room window shatter and spray shards of glass all over the room. I was already feeling pretty sore and abused, so I decided this was bad day worth ignoring - and I just put my pillow over my head and went back to a fitful sleep.
It turned out that someone was unhappy with the new high-rise development right on the beach at Scarborough and had attempted to bring down the construction crane with 3 bombs placed against it's legs. Luckily it failed, and the crane remained standing, although the area was evacuated while it was checked out. To this day, no-one knows who did it.
Next morning I got up early to see my main room covered in glass fragments, and a gaping broken window. Just then, there was a knock on the door. I was surprised, not expecting anyone, and I opened my door to see a glazier standing there! He immediately saw the glass and said "Ah - can I fix all that for you sir?". "Um, sure", I replied. So he came in, swept up all the glass, quickly and expertly fixed my window, then left with a cheery "bye now."
I had no idea who sent him - but now I assume it was Bondy and his lawyers being pro-active. Perhaps I should have said "Ow, my head hurts from the explosion" :-)
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