Posts Tagged ‘Graven A’

One cannot live off disillusionment alone.

May 11, 2015
etching by G O

etching by G O

With a magic car on three wheels, a dog on three legs,   many normal rats on all fours, but against that a factory owner with a creaking wooden leg, it was time for our family to bring some normalcy about. With dad’s discovery of the Southern night’s sky and with his beloved study of the Milky Way restored, things were on the upper trajectory once again. I was working earning money and so was my brother Frank. Even dad now donned a blue Yakka overall and put shoulders under the task of pitching in towards a better future. The premise of ‘ we do it for the children’ had to be fulfilled. No good regretting and mulling over what was. Past is past and Holland is cold and probably raining as well.

In those days jobs were everywhere and I managed to learn a lot on all sorts of heavy engineering machinery. The lathe, heavy presses and milling machines seemed to be everywhere I went and piece work was introduced as an incentive for workers to earn more than just a wage. Of course the shields that were there to protect workers from getting limbs cut off were often disabled to save time in cutting or pressing and milling the next bit of bolt or drilled bracket. I noticed  hands with missing fingers. With piece work and overtime I just about doubled my weekly earnings and my metal box was singing its praise with all those savings tucked inside. I wasn’t too stingy though and allowed myself a packet of ten Graven A’s cigarettes and the occasional Fanta orange drink with pie. A glorious celebratory gesture towards the golden paved Australia.

Mother decided that we needed to get away to our own accommodation as quickly as possible. Our Dutch friends gave us the opportunity to achieve this by asking very little in rent or perhaps none at all. I can’t remember. I do remember that the place they lived in was not theirs but belonged to the timber yard  owner. A bit of confusion but ‘owning’ own house was a concept we had no real understanding of anyway. That was yet to come! Apart from overtime earnings, all our income was pooled and given to Mum to try and move away to a better place away from being surrounded by piles of timber with dust and mud. One of the daughters taught me the basics of photo developing which we did in the back lean-to which was also the bathroom with the hot gas geyser above it. There was nothing like the hot weekly bath to luxuriate in at the end of a 6o hour work week languidly thinking of Anna Magnani of ‘The Rose Tattoo’, that I had seen during those cultural lean times. As I was taking this hot bath I noticed the friends’ Liebeth  walking by outside looking at me inside and in the bath. It might have been a case of being curious about the nude male. There might also have been a healthy awakening of her hormones. She was about twelve or thirteen. In any case, she had a quick look but from the angle of her eyes she observed more than just my face.

During the six months or so that we lived with the Dutch friends a rather pleasant memory  involving the bathroom looking inside with Lies installed itself that I have not forgotten. On Sundays it was the norm still then to dress up in Sunday best. My pants would be pressed and its crease would be preserved as much as possible at least during the morning. I would hitch up the crease when crossing legs and so did my dad and other brothers wearing long pants, at least till coffee and cakes had been consumed. With the ironed pants came a nice blue shirt and tie fastened by a clasp to be perfectly centred at all times. On top of that a sports jacket but kept off during the Sunday cake eating.

When cake eating was finished, Lies and I wondered off to the next allotment behind the house that was somewhat secluded from views with stacks of baths (my mother’s dream) and some bushes. I have forgotten on the why and how but suddenly Lies grabbed my tie clasp and ran away with it. I gave chase and caught her quickly. She laughed but I remained serious. It was my tie clasp. I tried to take it back but she would not give in and kept it firmly in her grip while tucking both hands between her legs. I wrestled but was too religious or too shy  to act deliberately inappropriately by grabbing her between her legs and hands to retrieve my tie clasp. I instead went to safer grounds and put one of my hands upwards on her tiny breasts knowing full well that the clasp would not be found there. It was a moment of daring and my second exploration of the female softness. Keen readers would remember a previous attempt less than a year before when still in Holland.

The farm in Holland

The farm in Holland

There was a shout from the house. One of the sisters  who taught me the photo developing thought it had gone far enough. She was hanging from the top window and called us back home. And that was that.  I never got my tie-clasp back. They were lean times in exploring the sexual awakenings of my youth. My mother always taught me to make the best of things. ‘Gerard’ she often said; ‘you have to row with oars that you were given.’

So true.

Graven A and “Dating”

October 1, 2012


The cleaning at Roger’s Chains factory lasted just a few weeks, by which time I had earned some money which I gave towards the family for saving better accommodation.  I kept some which I put in a tin. My regular weekly spending was for a small packet of Graven A filter cigarettes, and the occasional orange drink called Fanta.  An apple pie, just once a week was a special treat

My next job, without even losing one day was at another engineering factory, just a few streets behind the old job. It was run and owned by a man with just one leg. I seemed to be destined to meet creatures with missing limbs! Why was that so? Was life so fraught with accidents or danger here in Australia, that, people, dogs and cars would so casually go without important parts? The owner’s other leg was made of something artificial, perhaps wood, that used to creak when he slowly walked around the factory floor.  Did the leg’s hinges need lubricating?

His house was just in front of the factory. I sometimes used to see the wife.  She was very prim and proper and polite; contend to mind the petunias in the front garden, and keeping well away from the factory. The factory owner always had a cigarette hanging from his mouth which made the (bad)word fucking even more sinister sounding. The F seemed to go on forever, hissing with spittle as a lubricant. He did obey the rule though of never saying that in front of his wife.

The job of cleaning the factory floor was sometimes relieved by learning to work on machinery, a capstan lathe and milling machines, making nuts or bolts, putting threads on them, in fact, a bit of skill creeping into my daily routine. In the meantime I had saved for an old bicycle and saved bus money by travelling to and from work by bike.

The job was not what I intended to do when still back in Holland. I had some vague idea of studying to become an aircraft engineer. Sweeping a factory and buying lunches for factory workers was not all that inspiring, nor was the blatant homosexual capers that used to be played out very edifying. The non-stop pretend buggering was endemic, and the tolerance towards it staggering. Here was a really curious bit of factory culture. Most of the adult workers were married, had families or if not married, spoke about their girlfriends. Yet, it was almost as if all that homosexual pretend buggering was proof of being hetero sexual. To not partake in it, as I refused to do, was considered to be sissy. The social gatherings at that time showed similar traits. To be with women at a party was seen as having ‘poofter’ inclinations. You would not want to be seen with the opposite sex as this was being ‘soft’ and not masculine. Perhaps it had again something to do with the acute shortage of women during those penal times some decades before, and many just had to do with what was available and that was each other, and of the same sex. Old habits die hard. Another habit was to stick fingers up an unexpected worker’s bum through overalls or apron.  It was called ‘dating’.

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