Posts Tagged ‘RSL’

Is the battery permanently flat?

November 10, 2017

IMG_0836

One of life’s more perplexing events took place last Wednesday. The day started positive. The toast was just perfect with no burnt edges but warm enough for the butter to melt within, allowing the cheese to nestle itself in all its hollows and grooves.

The previous couple of weeks, things were far from comfortable. I caught a nasty flu. If a good diet prevents getting colds or nasty flu, I am almost prepared to believe the contrary, eating fresh fruit and different vegetables daily might well be the reason for getting sick. I am just kidding, the reason probably is found in doctors’ waiting rooms often being warrens for the viruses. Helvi had a cataract removed and I had to renew my thyroid prescription. The multiple visits to waiting rooms was asking for trouble. I just knew it. Helvi just now is recovering as well.

Each Wednesday morning is one of my my  weekly bowling appointment. Perhaps the flu virus was caught there. You just don’t know through whose hands those bowls have travelled. Each Sunday evening is the other bowling event. Again, with both being played indoors at Returned Soldier’s Clubs. The flu viruses must be having a ball spreading havoc.

Last Wednesday I played well and on leaving the club was given a nice compliment by another player. I like compliments and somewhat jauntily jumped in the car ready to drive home and have lunch. But, as I turned the key, the engine remained eerily silent. It did not kick over. Modern cars have complicated electrical systems. I thought that perhaps I wasn’t following correct procedure. This car has a computer screen and usually gives written commands.  Nothing appeared on the screen.

I phoned up my National Road and Motor Association and within half an hour was helped out by a mechanic who told me that the battery was not only flat but finished and proceeded with giving me a print-out of the faulty battery’s output. He advised me to go to the nearest dealer and get a new battery. I did this and as the car is under warranty got a new battery for free. I got home at least two hours after my bowling event had finished and was ravenous for sustenance. I almost relented and succumbed to a Big Macdonald’s, but resisted heroically. Heaven only knows what germs thrive in those fast food establishments with snotty kids slobbering all over the joint.

Aren’t we fortunate though to replace the occasional battery? It is different in our Government. We seem to be in a permanent state of flat battery. Nothing gets done. The ennui of nothingness is paralysing Australia. The only thing happening is a permanent lurching from one crisis to another.  The refugees on Manus and the problem of their permanent detention seems unsolvable and intractable by this inert Government in finding a solution. And all those Parliamentarians popping up with dual Nationality? Each evening we watch the news to see who is next to having another nationality. Isn’t it a hoot?

Australia has a flat battery and that is not good.

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He was as fit as a fiddle.

July 27, 2017
IMG_0659flowering garden

Just glorious.

‘As fit as a fiddle’ is often said by those who are missing the passing of a good friend. With the joining of indoor bowling, it seems likely that the dropping off by friends will not be all that rare. Of course, with just having played twice, this claim of ‘friends’ is still a bit premature. Still, in between, and even during bowling, I struck up conversations. The game started at 10 am at the Moss-Vale Returned Soldiers League and as I had to join the club first, I arrived at 9.45.

The club was still closed. There are still strict rules to opening clubs. I think it might be that alcohol can’t be sold before 10 am. Cafés can open up and so can supermarkets or petrol stations but not clubs. So, I stayed in my car listening to the radio till exactly 10am after which I was allowed in.

The joining of clubs now involves getting a plastic card with your face photographed and printed on this card. This is the id used each time you enter the club. Non-members can still enter clubs as well, provided they show an id with some corroborating evidence such as a driver’s license or passport, health card or pensioner card. This procedure is rigidly adhered to which I never quite understood. It is on that same rather quaint level at Aldi, selling alcoholic drinks at an approved designated cash register but not at a similar looking register in the next isle, apparently not approved. At least with buying a bottle of wine at Aldi’s you don’t need to show an id.

The age of those that engage in indoor bowling in my group is roughly between sixty and perhaps the nineties.  This is in reference to my opening line of; he/she ‘was as fit as a fiddle.’. This could well be said at times, as the file of relatives and grieving friends passes the black hearse at the United Anglican Church here in Bowral.  We could be saying goodbye to Bert or Muriel who died unexpectedly at 86 years of age. A  life-long member of the Indoor Bowling Club.

“He was one of the best, and bowled like a champion.”  “He even anticipated the slight canter of the floor when bowling”. “It will be the last we shall see of his kind ever again bowling at the Bowling floor at Mittagong RSL.”  And with that, a few tears would be hastened on its way.

The Indoor Bowling is my sort of sport. Both sexes are playing together and even though the winning teams are displayed on a board, not many seem to look at that. It is somewhat of an afterthought. When people feel isolated,  sociologists reckon that loneliness is the worst amongst the elderly. The Indoor Bowling sport seems to tick most requirements to solve this aching isolation. Some of the people I played with might well have lost partners. It is inescapable that that will happens. Good luck to those that go at the same time, but it is unlikely.

The Indoor Bowling sport gives excellent opportunity to find friendship, engage in physical activity with social intercourse perhaps the glue that binds people together with being the most important part. I can recommend anyone to join indoor bowling. Of course, eventually someone too in the future, might well say those very same words about any of us; “he was as fit as a fiddle, a bloody good sport.”

The Author is going indoor bowling.

July 24, 2017
DSCN2895 - Copy

Our kitchen of ‘give and take’

While sitting in front of the computer dispensing words of comfort if not wisdom, can be very fulfilling, there needs to be interaction with people in the flesh as well. We are not all islands on one’s own although with age, one gets the sneaking impression it might not be all that bad. Just reading this morning that my car is fitted with faulty airbags. In America a man was found dead in his car with his face so badly lacerated, police thought he had been shot at close range. It was a faulty airbag!

Of all the things that death might come to visit me one day, to have had life finished by a faulty airbag is about as futile and ineffectual as it can get. One can just imagine the grandchildren going through the Oosterman’s heritage finding out Grandpa died by an exploding airbag. A cunning one could well add, ‘he always was.’

It was with the insightfulness of not having enough real-life people around that I felt something should be done to meet more people.  H. said on a few occasions ‘You are cranky lately, and not easy to live with’, followed by  ‘you used to make me laugh.’ This last one bit me. I knew it was serious.

Some time ago I joined the local Labor Party, but it was held in one of those musty Halls of Women’s Christian Fellowship. The moment one stepped in, the wafting of aged doilies and stale biscuits, forlorn plastic bouquets fading in forgotten corners, Christian dust to dust photos and so much more would greet one inconsolably.  On top of it all are my hearing impairments, making the whispered minutes of the last meeting inaudible. I went twice and with all the support of keeping the refugees locked up by Labor as well, I quit and joined the Greens. It still did not really result in more people contact. It was too sporadic.

Of course, the daily walk with Milo often brought bystanders to stop and ask if they could pat him. Only last week, a man stopped who was wearing very thick gloves. I noticed them and thought it a good opportunity to talk about gloves; where are they from, what are they made off, where did you buy them? I wrought the conversation out as long as possible and went home wiser about gloves. I even bought a pair.

It was in the afterthought of H’s remark of getting about more, that I took the decision to join something of a more physical nature. In my foolish youth, so many decades ago, I was always amused to walk past the East-Balmain outdoor bowling club. The ridiculously white uniformed Bowlers, all bending over to bowl, showing bulging bums and possible medical devices compensating amputations or irritating bowel syndromes.

The sport seemed to attract the retirees who on a Sunday could combine all this bending over sport with a couple of beers with ham and cheese wedged-sandwiches ( no crusts). Later on, those sandwiches as a result of Slavic incursions could well contain garlic and gherkins. I even remember stalking past seeing platters of olives doing the rounds.  I swore never ever to reach an impasse in my life that involved becoming a member of this white uniformed bending over bowling fraternity.

And yet, it has come about, dear readers. I joined the Mittagong RSL and this Wednesday join the Moss-Vale RSL ( Returned Soldiers League)indoor bowling club. I have reached the age of Bending Down (or over) to Bowl. I loved my first bowling day yesterday and even took to the cubed sandwiches. Ham and cheese. It was all a rather casual affair. Vaughan, a wiry haired gentleman, explained to me the basics of the game. It included that the balls that one bowls with are weight-biased. Anything biased takes my attention. I took to it like a duck to water. I love how the game includes the bending over and how this bias can be used to advantage in order to get to the aimed destination. It is surprisingly skilful AND both sexes play together. Banter is the norm. No uniforms or protocols. Being mainly elderly players, there is no fuss.  Nice people.

I have reached the age of Bowling.

 

 

The proof is in the reading (not in the pudding.)

January 22, 2016

photo

Not very knowledgeable about books and the journey to getting them published, it is never too late to learn about it. While the story or message in the book is what readers are generally interested in, clarity of the story/message must be foremost.  But… there is so much more than just clarity!

I never really knew about all the commas, inverted or otherwise, nor exclamation marks, quotation, or question marks.  I did know a full stop comes at the end of a sentence. I do try and show off prowess by using many marks inappropriately. I hope that by using them profusely I might confuse or fool some readers. I don’t think so.

Only yesterday I learnt that exclamation marks came into being hundreds of years ago. “The exclamation mark was first introduced into English printing in the 15th century to show emphasis, and was called the “sign of admiration or exclamation”.

Hyphens  have a life on their own and worthy of a separate article. In re-reading my forthcoming book ‘Almost There,’  punctuation and exclamation marks are scattered around like confetti at a drunken RSL club wedding or oaths during a Welsh rugby match.

I have been busy with getting rid of many of those marks but have to keep referring to a handy little book, : my grammar and I (or should that be ‘me’?).  !Note the three marks of, 1 inverted comma,  2 the question mark and 3 the closing bracket after just one word!

So, in summing up. It is not just having reasonable word order. The order also has to be maintained in  Stops, Commas, Question marks, Exclamation marks, Colons, Semicolons, Dashes, Hyphens, Quotation marks,  Apostrophes Possessive or otherwise.

Here a bit previously written and posted and now in ‘Almost There.’

“A good friend left a message on our answering service yesterday congratulating us on 50 years of marriage. How did this come about? It only seems like yesterday. We had totally forgotten. We have never stood still reflecting much on wedding anniversaries. We do of course remember each other’s birthdays. Christmases too come and go. The important thing is to get up each day and celebrate that marvelous event more than the one yearly or one in fifty years event.

Here is how!

“How did you sleep?” “Very good, how about you?” “Oh, very good, just went to toilet just once, I think it was at 4.30, or no, it might have been a bit earlier, perhaps 3.30.” “I slept very deeply again afterwards, ‘like an angel’. “You don’t look like an angel, get a haircut today, you look wild, more like a Hottentot.” ” Yes, but then I have to wash my hair, take a shower too.” “So what?” “Have you got a problem, taking a shower?” “No, not that, but it is still too early.” “You are not too early with being banal.” “Yes, I know, feel free! It is not too late. Many would find you very attractive, and you’ve got lovely eyes.” “Get #u&&et.” “How’s the coffee dear?” “Strong enough?” “Yes, it is a nice one today.” “It’s Lavazza, ground. We are on the last kilo.” “OK, next when it is on special we get two kilo’s again.” “Yes, at Farmers Market.” “I had a stomach cramp during the night.” “I might have eaten too much of the hummus.” “Yes, I noticed you were hoeing into it last night with the crackers too. Were you hungry?” “You’re a very healthy girl, you eat more than me!” “Not as healthy as you will be, emptying the red again.” “Well, you know after the drive from Sydney, one needs a bit of a relaxation.” “You say that every night”. “Yes, I know, but we don’t take any medication, you’ve got to have something”! We don’t smoke, don’t take any medication, live frugally, still have most of our teeth. So what if we drink a bit?” “True, dear, especially if it is a good one”. “I might go upstairs and check the blogs. Have you looked yet?” “No, I haven’t. I am still tired.” “Oh, there you go again, meckering as usual. Cheer up.” “I am cheery, have you looked at the lilies, another one has opened up, there are now three open”. “Yes, I noticed, make another coffee and take it upstairs”. “Alright dear, I will.”

And that is the answer to how fifty years have passed. (And all too quickly).”

Australia’s Timeless Art and Blue Mosque of Istanbul

January 7, 2014

untitledblue mosque

And where are our monuments of tolerance of faith, acceptance of all? I suppose the few Mosques scattered around our cities would have to bear some witness to this. But the fanatical opposition to be seen to care about boat people’s arrivals, a miniscule problem amidst the murder of thousands in where they come from, somehow negates and demolishes our image of tolerance and acceptance.

The Christmas Islands, Manus and now the towing back of boats, demolishes any attempt of our bridging between the home brew of local Presbeterion Christianity and our understanding of mainly tolerant Islam.

Our temples still are the Workers Clubs with crossed hammer and plumbers wrench in Revesby, the RSL’s with their gaming machines and foaming Coopers brew, the cricket and footie stadiums still remain our pastiches of blue Mosques. Not Istanbul but in Parramatta and St Kilda. The Alhambra might well be seen in Canberra’s lake Griffin with a bike track for politicians in shorts and wearing pointy helmets. Who knows?

Our lasting temple wedded down as proof of eternity and timeless beauty is seen in the sails of our Opera House, but it was Danish design, somehow a smudge on our own creative genuineness.
No, the real temples of spiritual continuity giving us an anchor for Australia to cling to are these.

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=ancient+aboriginal+cave+painting&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=KMLLUuz1BcvhlAXUr4DYBA&ved=0CCkQsAQ&biw=1038&bih=503

They are as timeless as Chartres, St Peters, or Istanbul’s blue mosque. We still have to credit and acknowledge the real Australian indigenous more solidly. It is underway, a work in progress.

Unchain Kids and Headstone buffing at the cemetery.

February 23, 2013

Django Unchained movie still 

Unchain the Kids and Headstone buffing at the Cemetery

So many kids are confused with their attention being drawn to so many things, it’s a wonder they can put socks on.
Our movie watching today includes accepting that at a cinema most viewers are now multitasking and divided into part watching, part eating pop corn or masticating on something, slurping slushies, and full-on texting on cell phones including taking photos of the movie they are watching and forwarding it onto the their texting friends whom they have probably never even met.
It all very mysterious.
I think I’ll visit my cemetery plot at Rook-wood and buff up the headstone a bit, for a week-end of reflection and serenity restoration.

We decided to go and see ‘Django Unchained’.  We have always liked Tarantino’s movies and read enough of the movie to take the risk knowing we would be subjected to the usual habit of so many that don’t seem to be able to take a couple of hours off without risking expiring from  lack of sugar ,salt and fatty substances.

We were not disappointed. As soon as the movie started, there were those familiar rising halos of smells with chewing, swallowing and ingestion noises of the patrons. Why can’t the movie theatres introduce a special room for those that want to eat and swallow? I mean, IKEA have rooms with cubbies and slippery dips and lots of balls and balloons when mum and dad go for a new flat pack kitchen or 100 number tea-lights. Most pubs and hotels cater for eating hordes away from those that like peace and quiet. Why not do the same for those that can’t seem to get away from ingesting food. A special room for munchers, lickers and slushy slurping. Cinemas would make a fortune

After the movie, we decided to visit a brother at Dungog in combination with a drive- by and stay with friends at Ettalong. Next day we went for a walk along the waterfront promenade and perhaps also look for a place to enjoy a meal, all in the one hit. Right on the beach and just fifty centimeters above sea level we found the right place.

imagesettalong

Actually, the place found us. The building towers over everything at Ettalong. It’s the Eiffel Tower of the Central Coast. The building is huge and painted a shimmering white. The front of the building facing the sea and bay is a huge RSL club (returned soldiers league club). When we were there we didn’t see any uniformed soldiers having returned from wars, world-wide riots, revolutions or other disturbances. What we did see were many couples including their children going for a ‘Nosh-up’ which at the time we were there, had a mouth watering menu of many dishes at $9.- a plate, including a fifty percent discount on the first drink.

The curious tradition of non- club members having to sign-in still exists and it still gets up my gander/dander. Do non members steal the cutlery, perhaps secreting the forks and knives up their sleeves? I still don’t get the reason for this oddity,no matter how often it gets explained. A bit like cricket, I suppose. I can understand ‘members only’ or ‘members AND the public’, but why this ritual of signing up when they allow anyone to go and visit and then having to identify and give name and address? I would think foreign tourists would be loath to give information of that kind for just wanting to have a meal or dance the night away. What next, an FBI agent or rendition to Egypt, water-boarding?  Helvi would sorely miss me, for sure.

The fifty percent discount when ordering a meal applies to the first drink only. Fair enough, I thought and ordered a bottle of Lindeman’s merlot with utter confidence. It was very lovely to drink, unctuously rich Dutch cigar box with hints of Sunday school prune and ambitious towards the fruit loaded Pavlova on the middle palate.

I thought it better to wait for the 50% discount on the glass of wine after depletion of the bottle settled in. I dutifully went to the bar again, which there now was a long queue of 50% discount patrons waiting in a line which had a rope strung along a few stainless steel barriers. That 50 % must have really been a good business move, I thought. As I shuffled forward and it became my turn I asked for the three glasses of merlot with the discount.

The barmaid asked for my meal tickets as proof of having ordered three meals I did not have the receipts, but… and here comes the good bit. She said…”oh, you look like a NICE OLD Gentleman”, “don’t worry sir,” she added ever so kind and friendly. I was feeling a strange mixture of elation and mortification. I am now ‘nice and old’. A new era has heralded itself.

I think I might just leave the buffing of my headstone for a while yet. Too spooky!

Rosaria from Gozo (Malta) and Rockdale’s RSL

August 8, 2012

The double glass doors to the Rockdale’s Returned soldier’s Club were always obliging to anyone passing by. They would swing open regardless of the  intention to enter or walk by. That electronic eye above those doors didn’t miss a beat or a person, and would even swing open for the occasional straying dog. Music was amplified as well to the outside world. That’s if it was music. Often it was the drone of football crowds, cricket or sport commentary being piped into the pedestrians ears.

For a while the Azzopardis had to subject them-selves to the ritual that all clubs have, the ‘signing in.’ Non members had to sign in and have proof of existence and show a driver’s license or other proof of being alive and in the here and all of Rockdale’s environs. It was always an area of confusion and bafflement which they finally solved by just joining. Non-members paid more for meals and drinks, so what was the ‘signing’ up for? The joining and becoming a member involved a photo imprinted on a card. From then on no one would ever check the card or the bone fide of the member. Members would go through those open doors and show the membership cards from a distance. The mere opening of a wallet sufficed and the nod of approval given. You were in with the rest of them and accepted.

Many of the clubs gave excellent value. Dinners of fish and chips for instance for pensioners still alive on a Thursday night would be treated to this delightful dish for just $ 5.-. Hzanna and her husband generally avoided the pensioner special night. The carefully built-up aura of ‘business acumen’ might get a bit of a knock if the proprietors of The Azzopardi’s Meat Solutions were seen to hob-knob with those whose sole achievements in live did now depended on the $5.- Fish & Chips special. Of course, the pious ‘Halal’ and ‘head scarf wearing facade’  as so subtly presented in the Azzopardi’s Meat Solutions Shop would need some caution when entering those hallowed gambling and drinking venues. Hzanna thought it rather devious when they had to walk by the club and around the block when a known and solidly financial customer was spotted whose preferences in the carnivorous world was known to include Halal obligations. Of course, once inside those concerns could be jettisoned. No believer of Islam would ever consider getting near those dens of alcohol beverages and gambling machinery.

Once through those glass doors and past the membership card desk, the Azzopardis would quicken their steps, relieved that their ethics (or their dodgy religious ardour) weren’t spotted by their devoted customers. The walk towards the dining table would be over a bright blue soft surface which had a mix of solid red British Commonwealth stars and green Royal bangles woven into the hard wearing and mainly acrylic floor covering.  This walk would glide them past an area where most of the noise piped to the outside was coming from. A mixture of music, rattling of coins and TV sporting noise. A cacophony of noise of many an Australian club that would travel (tsunami-like) and repeat itself over the thousands of kilometres throughout the time zones of the Southern Hemisphere of Australia. To compliment the carpet there would be on many walls a happy mixture of framed and glassed hand-signed football heroes’ T-Shirts with a couple of youthful Queen Elizabeth’s, flanked by Phil, hung in between it all, just for good measure.

If anyone could be bothered to investigate the noises including of rattling coins a bit closer, he (or indeed a she) could do no better than to hone in on a room separated from the rest, somewhat clad in darkness but with a night-club glitter and sparkling lights. Indeed with some poetic license (and a couple of beers,) it almost resembled a sky lit-up by fireworks on a New Year’s Eve. The noise was not so much from the people inside the room but from loudspeakers and screens mounted around  a (con)-agglomerate of flashing lights and spinning wheels, all encased within a cabinet in front of which would be seated a stubbornly  silent club member in deep and serious concentration focussed on those rotating and spinning wheels. Every now and then, he or she would lift an arm quickly and push a button that would then result in a renewed and vigorous rotating of the wheels. Those wheels seemed to have playing cards on them. This was playing poker at its most convenient. Chairs were provided and you did not have to talk to others.  All one did was feed coins or notes into it.

The Azzopardis remained deeply puzzled by this past time. They were still too much Maltese to understand getting together and then still not converse and talk. Why the silence? Why indeed. Things are just different, that’s why!

Rosaria from Gozo ( with Halal sausages making an entrance)

August 4, 2012

29, 2011 by gerard oosterman

The sausages were flying out of Azzopardi’s Meat Solutions shop at Australia’s Rockdale Shopping Emporium. Ever since his brilliant flash of insight to use chopped up rosemary, a touch of hot chilli with the mince, together with the stamp of Halal, his turnover doubled. He cleverly managed attracting the many Moslims in the area into buying his Meat Solutions.
He now had a separate Halal division whereby for just 50cents a kilo more those sausages turned into Halal blessed snags. The ingredients were the same and Joe reckoned that dead sheep don’t talk too much about Islam, let alone Halal. He assuaged his conscience by a self administered reassurance of being exceptionally well endowed with sound business acumen. Once inside the mouth, Halal killed or not, his sausages would taste succulent and lovely anyway.

A further improvement, aided by his ever accelerating ‘business acumen’ was for his wife to sometimes wear a headscarf when helping out during busy times. This scarf wasn’t necessarily a sign of belonging to the faith of Islam. At least it was a hint. People were free to interpret it the way they wanted to. It could do no harm. In fact, the opposite, it did no harm, but, this little item of a scarf could well add to the ‘bottom line’. Money kept rolling in. The ‘bottom line’ is what this proud butcher now frequently used. What is your bottom line? He was forever asking this lately especially at social events such as at sausage sizzles or at the local club?

Whenever a subject turned towards his religion he would smartly have some ‘bottom liners’ ready to steer things to the safety of money-talk and the making of it. This was much more important.

He sometimes laid awake tossing and turning, his conscience nagging him somewhat. Was dishonesty creeping up, gaining the upper hand? He turned around, back to back to his wife in their new King size bed with the inbuilt stereo. They hadn’t listened to much music lately, too busy. What can one do? He wanted to be successful and that is what the scarf and Halal was providing him and his family. Hzanna had queried him on her having to wear a scarf in his shop. She knew her canny husband. She wondered how she could possibly explain this in the next Skype episode with her sister Rosaria.

Of course, years ago, Maltese women wore scarfs going to their Sunday church as well. She might have to explain that Halal and Islam were very close to Catholicism and that the scarf was for hygiene as well as respect for customers. It was all a bit complicated. She felt like getting up; take a long shower with a good scrubbing down. Was she feeling a bit sullied by the infusion of not only rosemary into the Halal sausages but also by wearing a scarf with such dubious intentions?

They had joined the local RSL club some weeks ago and just before her birthday she received a very considerate ‘congratulations’ but also an offer of special deals including the dinner for two for the price of one. They often had special deals on lunches and wine. The clatter and jingling of poker machines were just next to the Restaurant. This was convenient for those wanting to glaze the evening with a chance to even make some money and to have a play on the pokies, especially when a dinner just cost half. The club had shown great insight and good planning in placing the machines just next to the diners.

It was the Friday and her birthday when they invited some of their friends to go and celebrate at the Rockdale RSL. That day Hzanna had been to her health and beauty trainer for a hot stone treatment. Now that the meat solution shop was doing so well, husband had been very generous in allowing a few little luxuries. They denied much when the children were growing up and just lived frugally, eating most of the meat that had dated somewhat and could no longer be used in the sausages. Not even the Halal ones. One had standards to uphold and the inspectors of butcher-shops were especially trained to inspect suspect dark skinned pretend butchers trying to muscle into the Rockdale precinct. Mr Azzopardi was too much of a conscientious and trained butcher to risk being seen in the category of dodgy meat traders. There were certain standards to uphold!

Rosaria of Gozo ( The pokies of Rockdale RSL)

August 17, 2011


The double glass doors to the Rockdale’s Returned soldier’s Club were always obliging to anyone passing by. They would swing open regardless of the intention to enter or walk by. That electronic eye above those doors didn’t miss a beat or a person, and would even swing open for the occasional straying dog. Music was amplified as well to the outside world. That’s if it was music. Often it was the drone of football crowds, cricket or sport commentary being piped into the pedestrians ears.

For a while the Azzopardis had to subject them-selves to the ritual that all clubs have, the ‘signing in.’ Non members had to sign in and have proof of existence and show a driver’s license or other proof of being alive and in the here and all of Rockdale’s environs. It was always an area of confusion and bafflement which they finally solved by just joining. Non-members paid more for meals and drinks, so what was the ‘signing’ up for? The joining and becoming a member involved a photo imprinted on a card. From then on no one would ever check the card or the bone fide of the member. Members would go through those open doors and show the membership cards from a distance. The mere opening of a wallet sufficed and the nod of approval given. You were in with the rest of them and accepted.

Many of the clubs gave excellent value. Dinners of fish and chips for instance for pensioners still alive on a Thursday night would be treated to this delightful dish for just $ 5.-. Hzanna and her husband generally avoided the pensioner special night. The carefully built-up aura of ‘business acumen’ might get a bit of a knock if the proprietors of The Azzopardi’s Meat Solutions were seen to hob-knob with those whose sole achievements in live did now depended on the $5.- Fish & Chips special. Of course, the pious ‘Halal’ and ‘head scarf wearing facade’ as so subtly presented in the Azzopardi’s Meat Solutions Shop would need some caution when entering those hallowed gambling and drinking venues. Hzanna thought it rather devious when they had to walk by the club and around the block when a known and solidly financial customer was spotted whose preferences in the carnivorous world was known to include Halal obligations.
Of course, once inside those concerns could be jettisoned. No believer of Islam would ever consider getting near those dens of alcohol beverages and gambling machinery.

Once through those glass doors and past the membership card desk, the Azzopardis would quicken their steps, relieved that their ethics (or their dodgy religious ardour) weren’t spotted by their devoted customers.
The walk towards the dining table would be over a bright blue soft surface which had a mix of solid red British Commonwealth stars and green Royal bangles woven into the hard wearing and mainly acrylic floor covering. This walk would glide them past an area where most of the noise piped to the outside was coming from. A mixture of music, rattling of coins and TV sporting noise. A cacophony of noise of many an Australian club that would travel (tsunami-like) and repeat itself over the thousands of kilometres throughout the time zones of the Southern Hemisphere of Australia. To compliment the carpet there would be on many walls a happy mixture of framed and glassed hand-signed football heroes’ T-Shirts with a couple of youthful Queen Elizabeth’s, flanked by Phil, hung in between it all, just for good measure.

If anyone could be bothered to investigate the noises including of rattling coins a bit closer, he (or indeed a she) could do no better than to hone in on a room separated from the rest, somewhat clad in darkness but with a night-club glitter and sparkling lights. Indeed with some poetic license (and a couple of beers,) it almost resembled a sky lit-up by fireworks on a New Year’s Eve. The noise was not so much from the people inside the room but from loudspeakers and screens mounted around a (con)-agglomerate of flashing lights and spinning wheels, all encased within a cabinet in front of which would be seated a stubbornly silent club member in deep and serious concentration focussed on those rotating and spinning wheels. Every now and then, he or she would lift an arm quickly and push a button that would then result in a renewed and vigorous rotating of the wheels. Those wheels seemed to have playing cards on them. This was playing poker at its most convenient. Chairs were provided and you did not have to talk to others. All one did was feed coins or notes into it.

The Azzopardis remained deeply puzzled by this past time. They were still too much Maltese to understand getting together and then still not converse and talk. Why the silence? Why indeed. Things are just different, that’s why!