Well, here we go again cobbers: Finally another instalment – albeit a small one.
I’ll try to keep my writings a little more consistent than when I began this saga, but I can’t make any promises at this point.
Hope y’all understand.
Dave’s parents weren’t surprised by the number of friends that Dave and Bron had made in both the village and the town, but they were by the number who turned up for the get-together at Hook’s Eye on Boxing Day. Bron was also a bit surprised, having until now thought that her favourite fishing spot was known only to perhaps a dozen people, rather than the two dozen plus who were now present. Although the number had been limited to those that knew the location of the almost private fishing spot there was still insufficient parking for all of the vehicles that people arrived in, and several had been left parked at the farm with their drivers and passengers then being shuttled to the site.
Not all had came for the fishing of course, and though quite a few rods and lines were to be seen set up on the far side of the eye, the side closest to where the party was gathered had been ruled off limits for the day so that people could go swimming without fear of being hooked. In fact, it being quite a hot day there were already several people swimming in the warm and crystal clear water, with an optimistic young Brian hoping that their splashing would drive any fish in the hole over to the side where he sat patiently with his line out.
A large and colourful assortment of folding camp chairs, eskies, beach umbrellas, and picnic blankets upon which was arranged enough food to feed an army were spread out on a small grassy area on the southern side of the eye, and it wasn’t too long before those not swimming began helping themselves.
Men who had partners sat with them for the obligatory hour of mundane conversations that didn’t involve manly pursuits, with a few unattached singles feeling that it’d be polite to do the same sitting with them, until finally getting up the courage to break away and form several separate groups, with each having topics of mutual interest to talk about.
They’d never admit as much to their menfolk but mostly the wives were happy to let them go so that they could discuss, not gossip, you understand, but discuss among themselves things that, quite simply put, men couldn’t even begin to comprehend the importance of.
Not surprisingly, the tradies from town sat together with some of the men from the village who used the same fishing hole, including Dave and the excavator owner-operator Darren, and beers in hand began discussing ideas for improving their hidden-away spot.
“Well,” began Bear, “For starters I think we could flatten an area large enough to put in a couple of tables with bench seats. Use the same design as the one we’re planning to submit to council for the beach contract.”
“Yeah, that’d be good,” replied Pipes. “Though I think we should also flatten enough ground to be able to park our utes properly. What do you think…. Space for half a dozen?”
“Going to take quite a bit of spade work to do that much by hand,” said Chips, and for some reason they all looked rather expectantly at Darren.
“Hmm… If I understand correctly what you’re all trying very hard not to ask outright,” he said with a grin, “is that knowing that council’s given me the go-ahead to clear the road to the beach, could I make a bit of a detour and use my machinery to flatten the ground here.”
“Oh, what a good idea! You know Mate, that would probably never have occurred to me if you hadn’t been around,” laughed Bear. “Would it be much of a problem to do that?”
“Nah. In fact given the tightness of the bends on the descent down to the bay I can only float the machines to the top of the road anyway, and that’s not too far from here. Should be able to knock it off with the Bob-cat in an hour, maybe an hour and a half at most.”
“Hmm…. Since you’re going to be working down this way I’ve got another job at the farm for you if you want it,” Dave quietly said to Darren. “And it’ll be a paid job this time. I’ll talk to you about it later.”
“Thanks mate,” Darren replied. “I can always use some extra work.”
“Right,” Bear went on. “Tables and seating should be easy to organise, especially if we get the council contract to install the facilities at the beach: We could build two table and bench seat combos for us at the same time as we do theirs. I don’t intend to rip the council off – well, not much anyway – because we might be able to get more work from them in the future, but we might be able to pad our quote out a small amount…. Say, enough to cover the cost of one of the table and seat combos.”
“Sounds quite reasonable,” offered Chips. “And if we keep in mind that any facilities we put here would be available for use by the general public, if they happen to find the place, our consciences would be clear…. Well, mostly clear.”
“Anyone think it’d be good to have a barbeque hot-plate here too, same as at the beach?” Pipes asked.
A barbeque was thought to be a good idea by all and after some ideas were bandied about it was decided that they should build one that was fitted with removable cast iron gas burners and had both a hot-plate and a grill, with those wanting to use it bringing along and connecting their own gas bottle. The idea of having a padlocked cover over the hot-plate and grill was voted down as that would prevent people other than those with a key using them, though a lockable compartment to hold the burners when not in use could be incorporated. “Outsiders” wanting to use the barbeque would have to bring along a supply of wood or heat beads if they wanted to use it, and although that might deter some people it was considered to be a fair compromise.
Jeff Mullins had been with the group, sitting in position where he could keep a watchful eye on young Brian, and seeing the lad haul in what was probably his fourth or fifth fish got up and made his way to where he was proudly shown a bucket containing two nice flathead and three bream.
“Dave, I was watching you and Bron while I was fishing,” said a very happy Brian when he returned with Jeff to show off his catch. Both of you didn’t even try to do any fishing, which means I’m not breaking any rules!”
“Good for you, Brian. Looks like you’re going to have a pretty good meal tonight,” Bron said, putting an arm across his shoulders, giving him a squeeze and making him glow with pleasure when she added “And I think I’m going to have some pretty stiff competition when you’re old enough to join the Cock & Bull Fishing Club.”
“Actually, under eighteens are allowed into the beer garden of any hotel provided they’re accompanied by a parent,” said Gareth who was standing nearby. “Can’t drink alcohol of course, but I can’t see why Brian couldn’t become a Junior member of the club,” he added with a small wink at Bron.
Brian swung towards his mother in excitement. “Is that true mum? Could I really become a junior member?”
Before she had a chance to answer Jeff chipped in with “Of course you can. And if your mum can’t be with you, I can. Of course, in that case you’ll have to share any fish you catch with me as well as your mum.”
“Gosh, I’d do that anyway, Jeff: You’re always very good to me and mum, and I know she’s really happy when we’re all together.”
“OK Matey,” growled Jeff over a sudden lump in his throat. “We need to take these back down to the water and gut ‘n scale ‘em: Don’t want to make a mess in our kitchen, do we? Are you coming with us mum?” he asked Laura as he picked up the bucket of fish and began walking back towards the rocks.
“Out of the mouths of babes,” murmured Gwen when she and others close to Laura and Jeff couldn’t help but notice, when they walked away on either side of Brian, that they’d both coloured somewhat more than what might have been blamed on too much sunshine.
As the day’s happy event began to wind down those that needed to be were ferried back to the farm to pick up their cars and head for home and soon it was only the tradies who were left to make a final check to make sure no litter had been left behind.
“I think we should attach a sign to the barbeque, asking people to make sure they take their rubbish home with them,“ said Pipes. “I know our lot would, but there are many drop-ins that might not.”
“Unfortunately true. It’s a pity there isn’t some way we could restrict access to the place, but it is on public land after all. By the way, Dave’s father gave me ten dollars towards the hire of the portaloo. Said it was the first time he’d ever seen one used at a private function and he was very impressed. Reckoned it was a much better idea than digging a hole in the ground and rigging up a screen around it, especially where ladies are concerned.”
“That was good of him. Both his parents seem to be really nice people don’t they? I wonder if the truck driver delivering and picking up the portaloo is impressed with the idea, given the state of the track he has to drive along to get here.”
“I doubt that it’d be much of a problem for him: Access to some of our building sites is often a lot worse than here. Besides, our company’s a regular customer and his company’s already been paid for the hire, so no need for us to worry about it. OK, Let’s go.”
Shortly after, the last cars drove away, leaving behind two seagulls looking in vain for any scraps of food that may have been left left behind.
Back at the farm the ladies set about preparing dinner while the men went into the garage to begin work on the restoration of several rusted but still good tools that had been left by McKenzie. Among these were two wood-planes, the working parts of which were disassembled, wire brushed clean and lightly oiled then put aside while the bodies were worked on. Fortunately the soles had only a light covering of rust and to remove that Gareth simply tacked two sheets of fine emery cloth to a perfectly straight and flat board and pushed the planes back and forth along it until the soles of both were smooth and shiny for their full lengths.
“Like brand new,” he said after the blades had been sharpened, the knobs and totes sanded and rubbed over with linseed oil and turpentine, and all the parts reassembled. He then took apart and did the same for a block plane and a spoke-shave, both of which Dave had thought were not worth the effort of salvaging and had been proved wrong.
Gareth, keeping company with Dave, and Gwen with Bron, had enjoyed the day immensely, and having met many of their friends, both at the get-together and elsewhere, understood why the young couple had decided to make Brocklesbury their home.
“In fact,” Gwen said over dinner that evening, “if we ever get too old and worn out to run our own farm up north, I think this place would be an ideal place to spend our retirement.”
“I think so too, Dear, though me having only recently turned sixty two, I hope that time’s a long way off yet.”
“You’ve only just turned sixty two!?” said Bron, trying to sound quite surprised. “Honestly dad, you don’t look a day over seventy two.”
Although everyone laughed the real joke lay in the fact that anyone who met Gareth for the first time would think he was in his early fifties, if that, not just because of his very youthful looks but also because he was more fit than many men half his age. Gwen always felt fortunate that despite her advancing years she too had somehow managed to retain her youthful looks and figure, otherwise she may have had to spend a lot of time chasing young women away from her husband!
* * *
Jeff Mullins was sat at the kitchen table having a cup of tea and Laura was drying the dishes after a meal of freshly caught fish when Brian, who was trying to read a fishing magazine, looked up with a worried frown on his face.
“Jeff, you remember when Mister Morgan said I could go into the beer garden of the hotel if I was with a parent… If I’m not with mum, how can I go in with you, like you said? I mean, you’re not my father and everybody knows that, so how would that work?”
“Well, Mate, everybody around here knows me pretty well, and they probably also know how much I care about you and your mum, so I don’t think anybody would think or say anything about it.”
“Oh. Be a lot easier if you were my dad though, wouldn’t it?”
Laura paused in drying the dishes and wondering how Jeff was going to handle that question tightly gripped the baking dish she was holding and waited nervously for the answer.
Jeff looked at Brian in the way that only a man who cared about him as much he did could and quietly asked “Would you really want an old man like me as a father?”
“Of course I would!] And you’re not an old man either!”
“You think not? Oh well, In that case I guess I’ll have to talk to your mum about it.”
He’d spoken without remembering that Laura was standing well within earshot of the conversation but was made aware of that when she suddenly dropped the baking tray on the floor. By the time he’d risen from his chair and got to her she had already turned to stare unseeingly through the kitchen window into the night, and when he placed is hands on her upper arms he could feel her trembling beneath his touch.
Slowly he turned her to face him and the expression on both their faces as they looked at each other seemed to make any speech unnecessary, and when Jeff drew her close Laura buried her head in his shoulder and her unbidden tears soaked unheeded into his shirt. They held each other tightly for several minutes without saying a word, and a watching Brian somehow knew that though his mother was crying something magical had happened, and there was nothing for him to get worried about.
“You know what I’m going to ask, don’t you?” Jeff said as he eased her back so that he could look her in the eyes.
“Are you really sure you want to?” she replied huskily.
“Of course ’m sure, otherwise I wouldn’t have said anything.”
“You don’t have to, you know.”
“I suppose not, but I’m a bit old fashionedin that regard I guess.”
“You know what my answer will be, don’t you?”
“I reckon I know that too. But I’m asking anyway: Will you marry me?”
“Yes Jeff. Yes, I will.”
There was a slight pause, then….
“I spoke to your mum: I can be your dad.”
“For real. Now, go and get ready for bed.”
And as a grinning Brian padded happily off to put on his pyjamas his mum set about making him a cup of cocoa, and one for Jeff, whose cup of tea had gone cold.
Statistics: Posted by Bidadisndat — Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:21 am