Tomato Time

Today’s haul: cherry toms, Black Russians, heritage and Oxheart, all grown from last year’s seeds.

Spot the odd one out. Also know as “Anyone for cricket?”

I had two leftover seedlings, so stuck them in the strip of dirt between the path and the fence.

Nothing has been planted there for 40 years. This is them today. I think they like it.


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Fifty years in Oz

On this day, 50 years ago, I first arrived in Australia.

We travelled the long way round; 36 hours in the air from London via New York, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Fiji and Melbourne, then to Adelaide.

We were travelling from the middle of an English winter and I wondered how I would cope with the heat of a South Australian summer.

In those days, the plane stopped to refuel at each interim airport and we had a chance to get off and walk around. At each stop the temperature was hotter than the previous one and each time I thought “Yep, I can handle this.”

The last leg was a domestic flight to Adelaide on one of those aircraft where the rear exit stairs drop down from the back of the plane as an extension of the centre aisle so you emerge under the tail.

It was a hot day and as I stepped onto the tarmac of the old Adelaide terminal it was like walking into an oven. It was like the time I worked in a foundry when the furnace was going full blast. The air almost seared your lungs as you breathed in. I wondered how anyone could survive in this, until I realised I was standing directly behind one of the jet engines that was still pumping out masses of heat. After that, a normal, hot Adelaide day was a relief.

Over the several months of the migrant application process I had filled in a total of 78 forms. On several of them, in answer to the question “Do you need accommodation on your arrival in Australia?” I answered a definitive “No”. And on dozens of them I put the actual address where I would be staying.

Nevertheless, after we disembarked the aircraft, we were greeted by a very nice woman who said she was there to take us to the migrant hostel in Woodville.

I explained that we didn’t need to go to the hostel. Ann was an Australian citizen returning home and although I was a migrant, our accommodation was all arranged as I had confirmed many times previously.

She was quite insistent, to the point of grabbing my arm and trying to pull me towards a waiting van. I stood my ground. Pointing to a group of people standing at the gate I said, “See those people over there? That’s my wife’s family. We’re going to stay with them.” And much to her consternation we walked over to join them.

It was the first time I’d met Ann’s Adelaide family and they drove us back to their family home where we would be staying until we found a place of our own.

Immediately, my new brother-in-laws whisked me over the road to the pub. One said to the barman, “A schooner for our Pommy brother-in-law”.

“Oh, you’re a Pom”, said the barman. “How long have you been in Australia?”
“Twenty minutes”, I replied.

“What do you think of the place?” he asked.

I must have given the right answer because not only did I get an ice-cold beer, I’m still here in this astonishing country fifty years later.

A couple of weeks later, in my new teaching job, I got talking to one of the other new teachers and we realised we had arrived in Adelaide on the same day. He and his wife were staying at the migrant hostel while waiting to move into a new house that was being built.
I told him about the incident with the welcoming party and the attempt to drag me to the hostel.

He said, “Oh, so you’re the mysterious Ian Short! They are still laying a place for you in the dining hall.”

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Yes, Matron

Four years ago, when I had my arm in a sling after breaking a shoulder, our then two-year old granddaughter saw me take it out to do some exercises and ordered, “Arrow, put arm in!”

Today we are in the newly re-developed Dunstan Playground and I am clambering down the rocks to meet her at the bottom of the giant slippery-dip. She sees me climbing down and calls out reprovingly, “Arrow! You’ve just had heart surgery!”

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Heart felt

Fours years to the day that I was admitted to the ED with a broken shoulder, I was admitted – as planned – to the Ashford cardiac unit where I now have a shiny new heart valve.

Many thanks to the talented Ashford/Flinders TAVI team, the great staff at SA Heart and the fabulous nurses at Ashford Hospital.

Thank goodness we live in a country with universal health care where ordinary people can benefit from these advanced technologies and procedures without bankrupting themselves or going into massive debt.

The eye-wateringly expensive biomechanical device now implanted in my heart uses bovine tissue inside a delicate wire frame.

The only downsides I can foresee are the occasional urge to say “Moo” and the thought that I might never be able to eat steak again. It could be a relative.

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Storm in Teacup

We are among the thousands without power this morning after last night’s storms.

But at least we can make a cuppa with my mom and dad’s vintage camping stove from the 1960s.

Below is a photo of me and the same camping stove in a roadside parkplatz in Germany in 1971. You can just see the stove on the bottom edge about a quarter of the way along from the left.

The enlargement shows it a bit better – you can make out the top of its tin box and the kettle on the boil. And yes, that is my beautiful Mark 1 Cortina behind me.

Another day, another roadside pit-stop. Same stove, same kettle, but in Austria.


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What the heck does the #ABC ‘s #AfternoonBriefing think it’s doing, putting sentimental music behind the Prime Minister’s and other MPs’ tributes to Peta Murphy in parliament today?

Do they think we are clods that we need cues on how to respond? What a cheap tactic.

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QandA ?

Is this what QandA has become?

Had to turn it off tonight as I couldn’t stand the shallowness and superficiality.


Doug Jacquier
Yes, it has. It has become the woke Olympics.

Robin Tourville
It makes me sad the term woke has arrived in Australia.

Ian Short
It’s not ‘wokeness’ that is the issue. Last night’s episode had too many panellists speaking on topics outside their field of expertise where their opinions are no more valid than mine, a host who let some some ramble on unchecked and unchallenged but frequently interrupted others, audience members who seemed more like partisan plants than genuine, random citizens, populist sloganeering from some speakers, and an audience that indiscriminately shrieked and brayed its approval of sometimes contradictory propositions.

Doug Jacquier
The whole show has gone down the tubes since Tony Jones left.

Helen Nichols
Yes. I have been so cross with the demise of a series like used to watch religiously. Don’t like PK as the host nor the RN host. Too opinionated and aggressive interviewing style and very defensive if a criticism is made. Unhelpful for the reputation of our ABC. 🥺

Marg Bonnar
I’ve tuned out.

Alison Mackinnon
I agree. The only reason I kept watching was a weird fascination with how young people are thinking (?) these days and an interest in Chen Le.

Rita Mary Purvis
I don’t mind the change in tone from week to week but did think last night’s episode smacked of the last day of term levity, laced with mild hysteria, that teachers would recognise.
On a more positive note there’s been a reduction in belligerent politicians yelling over an opponent’s answer to cut them out of completing their point.
Will I stick with it? Maybe check out the first fifteen minutes? Or make Monday my early night?

Greg Osborn
It’s terrible. Can’t bare to watch these days.

John Schumann
Can’t disagree, Shorty. And, in true ABC style, I bet everyone lived within 5 km of Ultimo. Was Barnsey on? He usually gets a guernsey.

Ian Short
John Schumann No, it was Anthony Callea this week.

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Bird Alarm

There is a bird in our garden whose call is three, quick, short, high-pitched tweets.

It sounds exactly like the warning beeps from our fridge when you leave the door open.

During the Spring mating season I am forever checking the darn fridge.


Margaret Ralston
Ian, maybe its fallen in love with your fridge

Ian Short to Margaret Ralston
If it wasn’t sustainably irresponsible, I’d be tempted to leave the fridge open and drive the poor bird bonkers.

Rita Mary Purvis
Oh the puzzle of bird sounds. Apart from the obvious crow, kookaburra, magpie . . . I can’t identify many others with confidence. Grrr! Lack of knowledge is so frustrating!
And occasionally there are new intriguing sounds. A few years back one such new sound turned out to be a brown pigeon which I had dubbed ‘the moom bird’ after the rather mournful sound it made.
We now have a two note rather tuneful sound. If I had more musical knowledge I might be able to identify the notation for those two notes and possibly get identification of the species.

Megan Hausler
Rita I believe your moom bird might be a bronze wing. We have them nesting next door…. Very distinctive sound during mating season.

Rita Mary Purvis to Megan Hausler
Oh yes, I recollect that name now; I was a little too casual at coming up with a near enough description.
Thank you.
I’m so glad you have them near you.

Lynda Coleman
There’s a bird around my garden that “ding dongs” exactly like a door bell I think it’s a Tui, as they mimic sounds.

Marg Bonnar
They’d make an attractive couple.☺️

Robin Tourville
Now that’s funny😹are you sure it’s not Phil? Having a go? Birds are often messengers.

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A ‘Doctor Who’ moment.

On this day sixty years ago in my childhood home in Birmingham, I watched the very first live broadcast of Doctor Who, Episode 1, “An Unearthly Child” with William Hartnell as the tetchy First Doctor.
There was some concern that the broadcast might have to be postponed out of respect for the death of President Kennedy the day before, but with only minutes to spare, the decision was made to go ahead.
I was engrossed by the story of the mysterious school girl Susan Foreman, how her teachers Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton discovered the Doctor and his space/time machine in a London junkyard and how all three became the Doctor’s first companions in an adventure in the distant past.
Fast forward 42 years through time. After a 16 year lull, Doctor Who was re-launched in March 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the 9th Doctor and Billie Piper as his companion Rose. The show gained massive popularity with both former and new audiences.
Later that year on a day in August I go into the local Cash Converters – it’s a franchised chain of pawnbrokers in Australia. I’m checking out the second-hand music gear.
Nearby is a young guy buying band p.a. kit. Mid 20s maybe, long straight black hair, eye liner, baggy black sleeveless t-shirt showing his Ozzy Osbourne style tattoos. The drummer, maybe.
I’m looking at myself about 30 years before, minus the tatts.
By chance I’m dressed like Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor Who character, all in black with a T-shirt under a black jacket and close-cropped hair, like some sort of off-duty U-boat commander.
He notices me looking and I say “Hey, man”.
“Hey”, he replies, then, “Do I know you?”
“Yeah”, I said. “I’m you from 2035.” He grinned.
“Just called in to say ‘Keep on rocking’.” He smiled again. He got it.
Then I left.


Peter Vawser
Well done, Dr.

Yvonne Dumsday
Brilliant memory.

Greg Osborn
I watched it too. Hiding behind the couch as it scared me deliciously. Love the tatts man encounter story.

Ian Short to Greg Osborn
I didn’t hide behind the couch until the Daleks first appeared.

Ian Short
That’s actually a bit of poetic licence for effect. In reality I was old enough not to have to watch Doctor Who from behind the couch. That happened a few years earlier with the genuinely scary Quatermass and the Pit.

Maria Trajkovic
That’s so cool 😎

Marg Bonnar
Magic. I was there too. Unforgettable. 🙏

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On this day…..

On this day, sixty years ago, late on a Friday night in downtown Birmingham, England, my dad and I were coming out of the AGM of our fishing club. Stepping out into the normally bustling Friday night city streets, we wondered why everything seemed so quiet. There was hardly any traffic and small groups of people were huddled on street corners, talking together quietly but intently. It was very strange. Dad asked someone, “What’s going on?” The reply: “Kennedy’s been shot”.

Robin Tourville
I was in class at an all girls Catholic School Notre Dame Na Mure. When Sister Bernadette Julie came into my 4th grade classroom crying. Rolling a TV on a cart. Our First Catholic President had been shot! When it was announced that he had died. The whole school 1 st. to 12 grade went to the Campus Chapel. We prayed until our parents came to pick us up. Everyone was sobbing. My Dad thought the Communist’s Castro & Nakita Krushchev did it.

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