Old folk at lunch

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Dutchmen and electricians

I seem to have had Nederlanders among my social contacts almost all of my life. Right now one of Anne's sons is married to a Dutch girl and Von's husband is of recent Dutch descent.

When I was just 16 and freshly out of High School (Junior) I got a job as a clerk in the Queensland Department of Public Works, Cairns depot. John Dudgeon from my class also got a job there.  And a fellow clerk was Eddie Gobel, a Dutchman.  He was pleased when he heard that both of us newbies liked classical music.  Europeans are often into high culture whereas Australians rarely are.  So he invited us both to his place for an afternoon of music. And one thing I remember is that he got out recordings of Caruso on his collection of old 12 inch 78 rpm records.  I had never heard of Caruso at that point so I was glad to hear him singing all the old operatic potboilers.  Eddie was quite a bit older than me so is probably no longer with us.

The next Dutchman I remember is John G., a fellow Mensa member.  John was quite good looking and charming so it was a great frustration to the ladies that he was queer. I got on perfectly well with him and we co-operated in keeping Sydney Mensa going.

Then there was Will V., A Nederlander and a computer guru. He was particularly knowledgeable about Atari ST games computers. If I had trouble with any of mine he would always be able to fix it. One of his oddities was that it was difficult to get a serious word out of him. He found everything amusing. He clearly had a high IQ and such people do usually find a lot that is amusing in the word about them. The world is largely tailored to suit the average person and high IQ people tend to find a lot of that foolish.

Then there was Tom B., an electrician.  I was doing a lot of house renovations in Brisbane at the time and Tom was a cheerful chap who was very co-operative with me in getting wiring done.  I remember one time when I had just bought a century-old timber house and I sent Tom up the manhole to connect something. He was a tall skinny guy so negotiated manholes well. He came down shortly thereafter with a handful of my wiring in his hand and told me that it all needed re-doing.  I could have been a bit cross about that but I was in fact amused.  He was just being Dutch and insisting on doing everything properly.  So I just said:  "Well, you'd better get on with it then, Tom". As it was an old house there wasn't much wiring to replace anyhow.

And there was an interesting episode much later.  Tom had by that time got the shakes and had to retire. But I had a small emergency.  The kitchen light downstairs had failed, including the light fitting. So I rang Tom to see if I could get him over straight away.  As a retired man he would have the time and the job was a simple one.  He just asked me what he should bring and I said "just a batten holder", which he probably had on his truck anyway.  He arrived within about an hour of my calling and did the job with no trouble.  How often can you get an electrician that quickly?

So Tom could not do most of the jobs I needed at that time so I got another electrician called Ken T. He was very good, including not charging a callout fee. An unusual thing about him is that he was a Jewish convert. There are probably a lot of Jewish electricians in Israel but no others in Australia that I know of. But he eventually had a heart attack and had to retire too.

But my luck has held and I have recently found a very good electrician called Ralph. He recently took on a very tricky job for me and stuck to his quote even when it was more difficult than it seemed and he ran over time. I will definitely be calling him again.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

An anniversary!

Peter, an old friend from my army days, invited me to his 50th wedding anniversary -- a rare occasion these days, I think.

It was a very geriatric occasion with people complaining about their knees and struggling to stand up so I was at home.  Peter himself was however quite sprightly.  He does exercising and comes from long lived stock.  There were also some of the younger generation there, including some nice looking blonde ladies -- the best looking of whom was Peter's daughter.  And there was the next generation there too -- a few lively little kids whom I enjoyed seeing -- including one or two of Peter's grandchildren.

I spent quite a lot of time talking to Peter -- about building, about our children, about his collection of old radios etc.  As often happens when I meet with people I knew many years ago, Peter told me about one of my past capers from the '60s that I had myself completely forgotten --  my giving an IQ test to some women at a party if I got it correctly.  So my interest in IQ tests goes back a long way. They say that if you can remember the '60s you were not there -- so that may be a partial explanation for my memory lapses.

The party was held in Peter's nice old 1950's house, the era of which I could tell as soon as I walked into it.  Each decade seems to have its own style in houses and the 1950's style was very comfortable, like its era.  Those of us who can remember it can get rather nostalgic about the '50s.  Can you believe 2% unemployment?  The current style in houses is post-modernist, which I rather loathe.

Peter must have bought his dining chairs at the same time as his house as they too were 1950s -- like a couple I have, with the curved back.  But Peter obviously bought quality as they were still in very impressive condition. They were wooden chairs but noticeably lighter than previous ones, partly because of their 5-ply back.

There was quite a lot of food coming around all the time but there was one lot of food set out for the kids, including that classic Australian party food --  little cheerio sausages to be dipped in tomato sauce.  It seemed however to be the adults who got into it.  I was one

I arrived at around 2pm and left about 4.30 pm.