Letting go of the Anger and Other Things

I’ll start with an updat on last weeks update – I spoke to the mother of the girl allegedly dating a drug dealer and she is making some discreet enquiries.  She was grateful for the heads up and I guess time will tell whether the story is right or not.

******************************************
I’ve been asked to run for another committee and I’m weighing it up.  I have to find the passion for the sport again.   I find that I have lost a lot of respect for people involved and although I think I can do a better job than some of them I worry about the impact on available time.  I am enjoying having weekends off and spending time in the garden.   That will likely change if I take this position on and I am not prepared to do it unless I am 100% committed.  Maybe I still need some more time away from it.   Maybe I will never fully embrace it again.

******************************************
My contract is up in about 8 weeks so I am going to ask the boss tomorrow what his intentions are.  I look back twelve months and realise how much I have learned in this role but recognise that there is still a lot more to be done.   I remember the first couple of months when I was floundering not knowing anything at all about ISO 9001 or 27001, being a novice in Business Continuity Planning and Risk Management, but as the months wore on and my background knowledge increased and I was able to call on my former experience both in the police force and as CEO of one of the largest not-for-profit sporting groups in the country, I started to realise that I could make a difference and I like to think I have.   I guess I’ll find out soon if my boss concurs.

******************************************
I do keep dwelling on anger and an incident yesterday made me think a bit more about the impact of a marriage breakup on the kids and the log term impact on them.  I won’t go into detail of the actual comments made to me here because that’ll just get me into more trouble but I thought I’d make a few general comments.

I know better than some how comments made to children can have a profound impact on their lives, as can the actions of others.   Often there is no malice in the comments and no actual forethought about the long term impact of those actions.  I started to think about what impact it may have on kids to find that their parents no longer love each other and I have come to this conclusion.   Younger kids, if they are lucky, get the unconditional love of their parents, and that love is something totally different to that of the love between a husband and a wife.  Maybe to those who haven’t gone through a marriage break up this is not something that is true.  But I think for those of us who have it ought to be self evident.

I think that kids can feel threatened by that.  For them the love of a mother and father is the same as that of the love for their brothers and sisters and it is unconditional, just like that of a parent for a child.  But when a marriage goes wrong, particularly when they don’t see what was wrong, then it is something that is very hard to understand.  Perhaps in those cases, the worry is that if one parent falls out of love with the other, it is not a big stretch to think that they may also fall out of love with their children.  They don’t understand, maybe they can’t understand, that the love is different.

It seems to me that the parent who has the bulk of the custodianship of the child has a great responsibility to ensure that the child is protected from the detail of the breakup.  There are some things that children don’t need to know and both parents should do their absolute best to ensure that kids know that they are loved by both parents equally.  If they hear criticism of one, then the fears of losing that love creep in and the kids can hang onto anger about the breakup far longer than they should.   Maybe they can never really understand it until they get older.   It is difficult for the parent who is seen as the instigator of the breakup to defend themselves in those circumstances without bagging the other parent.  And as tempting as that is at times it is far better to keep quiet about things even when it means they still cop the bulk of the flak from the kids.

Sometimes the whole truth and nothing but the truth ca do way more harm than good.  Why be vindicative enough to drag the other parent off the pedestal.   There may be a future time and place for everything to be told, or maybe not.

I know that I have often referred to Don Miguel Ruiz and his book “The Four Agreements”because it had such a profound impact on me.   Back in the early days of this blog I wrote a piece about The First Agreement – Be Impeccable with your Word and I think it applies here.  It’s an orphan piece that drew no comments at the time so I would be interested in any comments on that now if anyone has the time to read it.

I know that there are a lot of readers of this blog who have gone through marriage breakups.  Tell me how your kids coped with it and how you may have tired to protect them from the detail.

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Letting go of the Anger and Other Things

I’ll start with an updat on last weeks update – I spoke to the mother of the girl allegedly dating a drug dealer and she is making some discreet enquiries.  She was grateful for the heads up and I guess time will tell whether the story is right or not.

******************************************
I’ve been asked to run for another committee and I’m weighing it up.  I have to find the passion for the sport again.   I find that I have lost a lot of respect for people involved and although I think I can do a better job than some of them I worry about the impact on available time.  I am enjoying having weekends off and spending time in the garden.   That will likely change if I take this position on and I am not prepared to do it unless I am 100% committed.  Maybe I still need some more time away from it.   Maybe I will never fully embrace it again.

******************************************
My contract is up in about 8 weeks so I am going to ask the boss tomorrow what his intentions are.  I look back twelve months and realise how much I have learned in this role but recognise that there is still a lot more to be done.   I remember the first couple of months when I was floundering not knowing anything at all about ISO 9001 or 27001, being a novice in Business Continuity Planning and Risk Management, but as the months wore on and my background knowledge increased and I was able to call on my former experience both in the police force and as CEO of one of the largest not-for-profit sporting groups in the country, I started to realise that I could make a difference and I like to think I have.   I guess I’ll find out soon if my boss concurs.

******************************************
I do keep dwelling on anger and an incident yesterday made me think a bit more about the impact of a marriage breakup on the kids and the log term impact on them.  I won’t go into detail of the actual comments made to me here because that’ll just get me into more trouble but I thought I’d make a few general comments.

I know better than some how comments made to children can have a profound impact on their lives, as can the actions of others.   Often there is no malice in the comments and no actual forethought about the long term impact of those actions.  I started to think about what impact it may have on kids to find that their parents no longer love each other and I have come to this conclusion.   Younger kids, if they are lucky, get the unconditional love of their parents, and that love is something totally different to that of the love between a husband and a wife.  Maybe to those who haven’t gone through a marriage break up this is not something that is true.  But I think for those of us who have it ought to be self evident.

I think that kids can feel threatened by that.  For them the love of a mother and father is the same as that of the love for their brothers and sisters and it is unconditional, just like that of a parent for a child.  But when a marriage goes wrong, particularly when they don’t see what was wrong, then it is something that is very hard to understand.  Perhaps in those cases, the worry is that if one parent falls out of love with the other, it is not a big stretch to think that they may also fall out of love with their children.  They don’t understand, maybe they can’t understand, that the love is different.

It seems to me that the parent who has the bulk of the custodianship of the child has a great responsibility to ensure that the child is protected from the detail of the breakup.  There are some things that children don’t need to know and both parents should do their absolute best to ensure that kids know that they are loved by both parents equally.  If they hear criticism of one, then the fears of losing that love creep in and the kids can hang onto anger about the breakup far longer than they should.   Maybe they can never really understand it until they get older.   It is difficult for the parent who is seen as the instigator of the breakup to defend themselves in those circumstances without bagging the other parent.  And as tempting as that is at times it is far better to keep quiet about things even when it means they still cop the bulk of the flak from the kids.

Sometimes the whole truth and nothing but the truth ca do way more harm than good.  Why be vindicative enough to drag the other parent off the pedestal.   There may be a future time and place for everything to be told, or maybe not.

I know that I have often referred to Don Miguel Ruiz and his book “The Four Agreements”because it had such a profound impact on me.   Back in the early days of this blog I wrote a piece about The First Agreement – Be Impeccable with your Word and I think it applies here.  It’s an orphan piece that drew no comments at the time so I would be interested in any comments on that now if anyone has the time to read it.

I know that there are a lot of readers of this blog who have gone through marriage breakups.  Tell me how your kids coped with it and how you may have tired to protect them from the detail.

Kaz

In December last year my first little sister turned 50 which makes me feel old.  My other sister and I decided that we would do a photo book for her and it ended up taking much longer than I thought it would.  However, it was done, arrived a couple of weeks ago and we gave it to her the following weekend, late but I hope worth the wait.

My sister Deb and I both wrote a foreword and I am publishing that below.   First from Deb and then from me.

Dear Kaz,

Happy 50th birthday! Wow – where has the time gone! I remember when I was a little girl, how I always wanted to tag along with you and how I looked up to you and everything you did.

I remember being dressed up by Mum as “twins” and thinking that was the best thing in the world. (even though she says she didn’t!!) I remember watching you in your dancing costumes and wanting desperately to do that, even though I was a Brownie and not allowed to do 2 things. I remember watching you get ready for a night out and thinking how beautiful you were. I remember you teaching me how to pluck my eyebrows
 when I started to develop the mono brow and how terrible I thought it was.

I remember you teaching me about the facts of life, because Mum wouldn’t and taught how to use “women’s stuff”. I remember raiding your cupboard when I could and then emphatically denying it to you. I remember you always going out with boys, and being terribly lonely when it appeared I didn’t have as many as you did! I remember you and Shirley and our days at Corowa each year, and again, being really jealous because you were surrounded by boys.

I remember you kissing that boy in the swimming pool at Corowa and then “bribing you” to take me out or “I would tell Mum!” I then remember how you did take me to the movies at Corowa, but wouldn’t sit with me! I remember using that bribe over and over and you falling for it! I remember you coming back from America, so brown and tanned and wearing a gorgeous slender blue dress, with your green eyes peeping out at me, and I remember thinking, that’s just what I would do! And I did!

I remember your wedding and how gorgeous you looked. I also remembered that I caused  a real fuss over not wanting a flower on my waist! (And winning again!) I remember you & Gerry moving into your house – the church – and remember how horrified Mum & Dad were!

I remember thinking how lucky you were that “you had escaped!” I remember you giving me my 2nd nephew and how proud I was and how I didn’t think it would ever happen to me! I remember the first Christmas we had with Luke & Jacob – and how I spoilt both of them, with their own Christmas sacks – even though Santa had already bought them one!

I remember wondering whether you were proud of me when I joined the Police Force and that you couldn’t make it to my graduation being a sense of sadness, even though you had just given birth. I remember you having your subsequent babies and what a joy it was to have Jacob, Myles, Clayton (oh boy!) and then Shez. I remember thinking how incredibly lucky you were to have your 3 boys and then a beautiful daughter! I remember when Nana died and how sad we all were!

And I remember when Dad passed away and you weren’t there with us and how I wanted to hold you and cry with you! We did just that when you returned!  

I remember our family picnics. I remember our family holidays. I remember our family.  But most of all, I remember how lucky I am to have such a beautiful, caring, loving  BIG sister and how lucky I am to be younger than you! No seriously, how lucky I am,  just to have YOU!

Happy 50th Birthday Kaz, from the bottom of our hearts,
Deb, Andrew, Brody, Chase & Laine. xxxx

And from Me –
This photo book is not a record of my sister Karen’s life, it is however, a record of the life that Deb and I and our family and friends have shared with her.  Each photo is a snapshot of a point in time and collectively they paint a picture of that shared part of the first 50 years of her life.  And there is a lot revealed.

The photos are in no particular order and that is my fault because it was difficult to sort everything in a strictly chronological order but I also think in the end that it is a strength of the album because in turning each page there is a surprise to be had.

If you look closely you will see the simpler times spent growing up at Richardson Street, the bikes we got for Christmas one year, the swimming pool that Dad kept shifting around the yard and remember the times we’d spend going round and round in circles to form a whirlpool.  You’ll see the go-kart and some of the dress ups – Karen as Annie Oakley and me as the Sheriff, the two of us with the Hoogens wearing plastic buckets on our heads playing Zig and Zag.  There are first days at school, christenings, family days with our cousins and the barbecues and day trips with the Browns.    There are the birthday parties, one with Uncle Arthur walking around a circle of kids playing drop the hankie, and others where we blow out the candles.

There are some of Christmas and Easter holidays – Corowa, Koondrook, Eden and Narooma, wonderful times we all shared and have continued to share as our own families have grown up.

Study the black and white photos and you’ll see that old divan we lay on recovering from measles and mumps, the black and white Admiral TV set and the convaire briquette heater that cheered and warmed our winters.   There are the venetian blinds and later the orange curtains and the wall paper.   In the driveway are the many cars we’ve had, Dad’s old van, Mum’s Vauxhall, the Mini Minor that all five of us went to Adelaide in [I still don’t know how we fitted] and the Holden that I did 100 mph in on the road from Corowa to Howlong.

And as you watch the faces grow older through the pages, take note of the clothes.  See how Mum dressed us for a visit to Father Christmas in the City, Karen with Hat and gloves, me with bow tie and fedora.   Look at the photos of the 70’s as our hair  grew longer and trouser legs wider, and remember how even I wore the platform shoes.  Watch how Deb mimics her big sister through the years.   Look at some of the very bad paisley shirts and have a laugh at Karen’s short hair.

I wish I could include the smells and sounds of those times as well.    The Sunday roast dinners, the scones at Nana Joyce’s, the petrol Dad tipped down the open drains, the smell of cut grass and the fermenting apples as they fell from the trees in the front yard.    I remember Mum playing old records like the Ballad of Davey
Crockett and the Indian Love Call, the choruses of the Browns and Joyces singing that song about getting drunk, 3AK where no wrinklies fly, the XYZoo, Rick Melbourne and his wakeup calls on 3DB.

You’ll see the introduction of our partners to the family and the growth of the 11 grandkids we collectively gave Mum and Dad.  You can watch the parade of hairstyles that Karen and Deb have had over the years and note the disappearance of Gerry’s and latterly my own receding hairline.

There are also photos of those who we shared parts of our lives with who have either  passed away or moved onto other things and that is a reminder that each snapshot is a precious moment to be remembered and enjoyed for that reason alone.  It is a reminder that the future is not writ, that innocence, happiness and the sad times will sometimes creep upon us and at other times leap out and grab us by the jugular.   That hopes and dreams all change over time and what makes the future worth anticipating is not it’s predictability but the unknown factor, not fate, but the ability to choose for ourselves.


And not only people come and go in our lives.  We shared a lot of time with furkids over the years – Noddy, Bamby and Billy Jack, Chai, Spike, Bessie and Tuppy.    Pets  who were friends who did not judge us but always welcomed us home with wagging  tails.

I could write a story about every one of the photos contained in this book but that would make it the longest book ever written and don’t they say that every picture is worth a thousand words anyway?  And if I did that, it would become more my story than that of Karen @ 50.


Siblings have a special bond, more than friends, there are the shared experiences that make the relationship unique.  I am privileged to have two pretty good sisters [I don’t want your heads swelling too much] and to have been raised in a loving family.  We don’t pretend that everything was always perfect because in the end life isn’t really a fairy tale.  It’s the unexpected that keeps things interesting and the memories that provide the anchor which allows us to steady the ship in hard times and move forward knowing that family is the shelter we can turn to.

Thank you for being my sister Kaz.   Sorry I got you into trouble at times when we were growing up, but it was your fault that you climbed into the pram I was pushing down the hill.

There are of course many more years to come and many more photos to take, snapshots of lives we’ve been sharing for more than 50 years now.   I hope I’m around to do the second 50 years.

Love
Loz

Kaz

In December last year my first little sister turned 50 which makes me feel old.  My other sister and I decided that we would do a photo book for her and it ended up taking much longer than I thought it would.  However, it was done, arrived a couple of weeks ago and we gave it to her the following weekend, late but I hope worth the wait.

My sister Deb and I both wrote a foreword and I am publishing that below.   First from Deb and then from me.


Dear Kaz,

Happy 50th birthday! Wow – where has the time gone! I remember when I was a little girl, how I always wanted to tag along with you and how I looked up to you and everything you did.

I remember being dressed up by Mum as “twins” and thinking that was the best thing in the world. (even though she says she didn’t!!) I remember watching you in your dancing costumes and wanting desperately to do that, even though I was a Brownie and not allowed to do 2 things. I remember watching you get ready for a night out and thinking how beautiful you were. I remember you teaching me how to pluck my eyebrows
 when I started to develop the mono brow and how terrible I thought it was.

I remember you teaching me about the facts of life, because Mum wouldn’t and taught how to use “women’s stuff”. I remember raiding your cupboard when I could and then emphatically denying it to you. I remember you always going out with boys, and being terribly lonely when it appeared I didn’t have as many as you did! I remember you and Shirley and our days at Corowa each year, and again, being really jealous because you were surrounded by boys.

I remember you kissing that boy in the swimming pool at Corowa and then “bribing you” to take me out or “I would tell Mum!” I then remember how you did take me to the movies at Corowa, but wouldn’t sit with me! I remember using that bribe over and over and you falling for it! I remember you coming back from America, so brown and tanned and wearing a gorgeous slender blue dress, with your green eyes peeping out at me, and I remember thinking, that’s just what I would do! And I did!

I remember your wedding and how gorgeous you looked. I also remembered that I caused  a real fuss over not wanting a flower on my waist! (And winning again!) I remember you & Gerry moving into your house – the church – and remember how horrified Mum & Dad were!

I remember thinking how lucky you were that “you had escaped!” I remember you giving me my 2nd nephew and how proud I was and how I didn’t think it would ever happen to me! I remember the first Christmas we had with Luke & Jacob – and how I spoilt both of them, with their own Christmas sacks – even though Santa had already bought them one!

I remember wondering whether you were proud of me when I joined the Police Force and that you couldn’t make it to my graduation being a sense of sadness, even though you had just given birth. I remember you having your subsequent babies and what a joy it was to have Jacob, Myles, Clayton (oh boy!) and then Shez. I remember thinking how incredibly lucky you were to have your 3 boys and then a beautiful daughter! I remember when Nana died and how sad we all were!

And I remember when Dad passed away and you weren’t there with us and how I wanted to hold you and cry with you! We did just that when you returned!  

I remember our family picnics. I remember our family holidays. I remember our family.  But most of all, I remember how lucky I am to have such a beautiful, caring, loving  BIG sister and how lucky I am to be younger than you! No seriously, how lucky I am,  just to have YOU!

Happy 50th Birthday Kaz, from the bottom of our hearts,
Deb, Andrew, Brody, Chase & Laine. xxxx


And from Me –
This photo book is not a record of my sister Karen’s life, it is however, a record of the life that Deb and I and our family and friends have shared with her.  Each photo is a snapshot of a point in time and collectively they paint a picture of that shared part of the first 50 years of her life.  And there is a lot revealed.

The photos are in no particular order and that is my fault because it was difficult to sort everything in a strictly chronological order but I also think in the end that it is a strength of the album because in turning each page there is a surprise to be had.

If you look closely you will see the simpler times spent growing up at Richardson Street, the bikes we got for Christmas one year, the swimming pool that Dad kept shifting around the yard and remember the times we’d spend going round and round in circles to form a whirlpool.  You’ll see the go-kart and some of the dress ups – Karen as Annie Oakley and me as the Sheriff, the two of us with the Hoogens wearing plastic buckets on our heads playing Zig and Zag.  There are first days at school, christenings, family days with our cousins and the barbecues and day trips with the Browns.    There are the birthday parties, one with Uncle Arthur walking around a circle of kids playing drop the hankie, and others where we blow out the candles.

There are some of Christmas and Easter holidays – Corowa, Koondrook, Eden and Narooma, wonderful times we all shared and have continued to share as our own families have grown up.

Study the black and white photos and you’ll see that old divan we lay on recovering from measles and mumps, the black and white Admiral TV set and the convaire briquette heater that cheered and warmed our winters.   There are the venetian blinds and later the orange curtains and the wall paper.   In the driveway are the many cars we’ve had, Dad’s old van, Mum’s Vauxhall, the Mini Minor that all five of us went to Adelaide in [I still don’t know how we fitted] and the Holden that I did 100 mph in on the road from Corowa to Howlong.

And as you watch the faces grow older through the pages, take note of the clothes.  See how Mum dressed us for a visit to Father Christmas in the City, Karen with Hat and gloves, me with bow tie and fedora.   Look at the photos of the 70’s as our hair  grew longer and trouser legs wider, and remember how even I wore the platform shoes.  Watch how Deb mimics her big sister through the years.   Look at some of the very bad paisley shirts and have a laugh at Karen’s short hair.



I wish I could include the smells and sounds of those times as well.    The Sunday roast dinners, the scones at Nana Joyce’s, the petrol Dad tipped down the open drains, the smell of cut grass and the fermenting apples as they fell from the trees in the front yard.    I remember Mum playing old records like the Ballad of Davey
Crockett and the Indian Love Call, the choruses of the Browns and Joyces singing that song about getting drunk, 3AK where no wrinklies fly, the XYZoo, Rick Melbourne and his wakeup calls on 3DB.

You’ll see the introduction of our partners to the family and the growth of the 11 grandkids we collectively gave Mum and Dad.  You can watch the parade of hairstyles that Karen and Deb have had over the years and note the disappearance of Gerry’s and latterly my own receding hairline.

There are also photos of those who we shared parts of our lives with who have either  passed away or moved onto other things and that is a reminder that each snapshot is a precious moment to be remembered and enjoyed for that reason alone.  It is a reminder that the future is not writ, that innocence, happiness and the sad times will sometimes creep upon us and at other times leap out and grab us by the jugular.   That hopes and dreams all change over time and what makes the future worth anticipating is not it’s predictability but the unknown factor, not fate, but the ability to choose for ourselves.


And not only people come and go in our lives.  We shared a lot of time with furkids over the years – Noddy, Bamby and Billy Jack, Chai, Spike, Bessie and Tuppy.    Pets  who were friends who did not judge us but always welcomed us home with wagging  tails.

I could write a story about every one of the photos contained in this book but that would make it the longest book ever written and don’t they say that every picture is worth a thousand words anyway?  And if I did that, it would become more my story than that of Karen @ 50.


Siblings have a special bond, more than friends, there are the shared experiences that make the relationship unique.  I am privileged to have two pretty good sisters [I don’t want your heads swelling too much] and to have been raised in a loving family.  We don’t pretend that everything was always perfect because in the end life isn’t really a fairy tale.  It’s the unexpected that keeps things interesting and the memories that provide the anchor which allows us to steady the ship in hard times and move forward knowing that family is the shelter we can turn to.

Thank you for being my sister Kaz.   Sorry I got you into trouble at times when we were growing up, but it was your fault that you climbed into the pram I was pushing down the hill.

There are of course many more years to come and many more photos to take, snapshots of lives we’ve been sharing for more than 50 years now.   I hope I’m around to do the second 50 years.

Love
Loz

Driving

I got my drivers licence when I was 19 years old – I think – I say that because I don’t think I was one of those who rushed out when I turned 18 and got it straight away. For starters, I didn’t have a car, secondly, the whole process of learning to drive was a terrible ordeal. I can’t remember Dad taking me out for lessons, I do remember what a terrible passenger my mother was, so sitting next to her whilst she was trying to teach me was close to a fate worse than death. I clearly remember, one time, after I’d had my licence for a few years and was driving her somewhere, pulling up the car throwing her the keys and telling her to drive herself.

Now I have three of my kids with licences and I have some sympathy for my mother. Son number one’s first lesson was in a new housing estate at Narooma one Christmas and the very first time he turned the engine on with the steering wheel on full lock, lifted the clutch and spun the wheels in the gravel shoulder, catapulting us straight towards a ditch and barbed wire fence, forcing me to yank on the hand break, I knew it was going to be an experience.

I visited the US back in 1991 and on the way home in the car my youngest gave me a running commentary on where her brother had nearly run off the road because he was talking, or looking at his watch, or adjusting the rearview mirror. None of that was too bad, but then she said, “And that’s where he nearly ran over Evan Higgins”, a neighbours kid who in trying to cross the road had waved to my son. Unfortunately he felt the obligation to wave back and in taking one hand off the wheel forgot to straighten it as he came around the corner, veering directly at the kid who was trying to be friendly.

I wasn’t that great a driver when I look back. Like most I did some stupid things like the time I got Mum’s HT Holden up to 100 miles an hour on a country road near Corowa one Christmas.

When I joined the police force I had to do a number of specialist driving courses and it was only then that I actually learnt how to drive defensively, but at speed and safely. The best course I did was just before Pope John Paul II was visiting the State and I was chosen as one of the drivers for the visit. We learnt all sorts of fun stuff like hand break turns and reverse 180’s, stuff that at the time gave you a great deal of confidence in your own ability.

But, I’ve also learnt that it is a skill that needs to be practiced and we often lapse into lazy bad habits when we drive. How many of us, have drifted off on occasions, gone into auto pilot only to wake up and wonder what happened over the last few seconds. Dangerous things that need only a little tilt of the X factor to end in disaster. I’ve had my share of near misses, nearly got cleaned up by a Semi trailer one day when it crept over double lines onto my side of the road. I have been t-boned once by a bloke who was reading a Melways [which is a Melbourne Street Directory] balanced on his steering wheel at the time. It was his bad luck that the car I was driving and the one he hit was full of five uniformed coppers, all of whom fortunately, were able to walk away from the car with a few minor cuts and bruises.

Driving

I got my drivers licence when I was 19 years old – I think – I say that because I don’t think I was one of those who rushed out when I turned 18 and got it straight away. For starters, I didn’t have a car, secondly, the whole process of learning to drive was a terrible ordeal. I can’t remember Dad taking me out for lessons, I do remember what a terrible passenger my mother was, so sitting next to her whilst she was trying to teach me was close to a fate worse than death. I clearly remember, one time, after I’d had my licence for a few years and was driving her somewhere, pulling up the car throwing her the keys and telling her to drive herself.

Now I have three of my kids with licences and I have some sympathy for my mother. Son number one’s first lesson was in a new housing estate at Narooma one Christmas and the very first time he turned the engine on with the steering wheel on full lock, lifted the clutch and spun the wheels in the gravel shoulder, catapulting us straight towards a ditch and barbed wire fence, forcing me to yank on the hand break, I knew it was going to be an experience.

I visited the US back in 1991 and on the way home in the car my youngest gave me a running commentary on where her brother had nearly run off the road because he was talking, or looking at his watch, or adjusting the rearview mirror. None of that was too bad, but then she said, “And that’s where he nearly ran over Evan Higgins”, a neighbours kid who in trying to cross the road had waved to my son. Unfortunately he felt the obligation to wave back and in taking one hand off the wheel forgot to straighten it as he came around the corner, veering directly at the kid who was trying to be friendly.

I wasn’t that great a driver when I look back. Like most I did some stupid things like the time I got Mum’s HT Holden up to 100 miles an hour on a country road near Corowa one Christmas.

When I joined the police force I had to do a number of specialist driving courses and it was only then that I actually learnt how to drive defensively, but at speed and safely. The best course I did was just before Pope John Paul II was visiting the State and I was chosen as one of the drivers for the visit. We learnt all sorts of fun stuff like hand break turns and reverse 180’s, stuff that at the time gave you a great deal of confidence in your own ability.

But, I’ve also learnt that it is a skill that needs to be practiced and we often lapse into lazy bad habits when we drive. How many of us, have drifted off on occasions, gone into auto pilot only to wake up and wonder what happened over the last few seconds. Dangerous things that need only a little tilt of the X factor to end in disaster. I’ve had my share of near misses, nearly got cleaned up by a Semi trailer one day when it crept over double lines onto my side of the road. I have been t-boned once by a bloke who was reading a Melways [which is a Melbourne Street Directory] balanced on his steering wheel at the time. It was his bad luck that the car I was driving and the one he hit was full of five uniformed coppers, all of whom fortunately, were able to walk away from the car with a few minor cuts and bruises.