The 12:04 to Belgrave.

It looked like an ordinary train but it was much more than that.
It’s the 12:04am; the last train to Belgrave departing from Flinder’s Street station and if you miss it it’s a long walk home; about 40 Kms.
We had been refereeing at Albert Park Stadium for more than a decade and, most of the time, there was a car to get us there, but for a couple of years after the cops put my old Kombi off the road we were down to one car. My eldest had stopped refereeing by then but for my youngest and myself it was our sole source of income.
Poorly paid but all cash money and as long as we got to the stadium early enough [most games started at 5:50 pm] we would be rostered on for enough games to make the night worthwhile.
My wife got home too late for us to take the car and she got first dibs on it because she earned more money than I did.
For a variety of reasons the last game could finish quite late and we had to hang around to get paid and either get a lift into the city or catch the last tram.
The 12:04 was legendary and no one in their right mind wanted to willingly catch that train so there was always a mad scramble to catch the the 11:47, the second last train.
The journey took about an hour followed by a fifteen minute walk in the dark so we didn’t need any additional complications.
After running up and down for six games we were pretty tired. We were both senior referees so we usually got the difficult games. By the end of the night we just wanted to go home.
It was inevitable that one night there would be enough complications to force us to catch that train. As it was, we were so held up that we nearly missed it.
The train was packed.
Four minutes into the next day and it was packed!
We were experienced public transport users so we were on our guard. We headed for a group of young ‘suits’ who had obviously stayed back for a few drinks. They looked reasonably harmless and I figured that if anything kicked off the hoons would go for them first leaving us to duck for cover.
The atmosphere in the carriage was was light and happy but I knew that this could change as we went along and picked up more people along the way.
The first surprise came in the form of an accordion player who got on at Richmond and stayed with us till Camberwell. He played his accordion and sang the whole way. Whenever he picked a song that people knew the whole carriage would join in.
It was excellent.
When we got to Camberwell he took a bow and got off the train. He didn’t ask for any money and he got off so quickly that no one thought to offer him any.
The whole carriage waved to him as the train pulled out.
That pretty much set the tone for the journey and new people getting on joined right in.
Now, there is an unwritten law that no one speaks to anyone else on a train in Melbourne but that rule went out the window [so to speak] on this 12:04 to Belgrave.
The conversations were all friendly and mostly in depth. There were some seriously dangerous people on this train but it seemed that the normal rules that applied to the universe had been suspended, just for this journey.
Eventually the train reached Ringwood, which was then and still is a dangerous suburb at night.
The train sat in the station for what seemed like forever and eventually the roughest looking bloke on our carriage leaned out the door and shouted to the driver, “Can we get this fucking train moving before we all get killed.”
That wasn’t his exact words but that’s what he meant and I guess the driver thought that if this particularly tough looking bloke was worried, it was probably time to move.
After Ringwood our happy little bad of misfits started to thin out until we reached Tecoma, the second last stop on the line and there was only Matt and I left in the carriage.
By the time we made it into our home it was nearly 2o’clock in the morning. We were hungry and tired but we talked about our adventure while we ate and finally made it to our beds.
We have often talked about that train ride and the story of it has gone into family folk law.
Sometimes the universe manages to combine certain elements so that you end up with a story that you tell over and over, and so it was with the 12:04 to Belgrave.

What Are You Lookin’ At??


I know what I like but finding out what you like has been interesting.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, I’m amazed that you folks take the time to stop and read the stories, memoirs and essays that I write. I know how hard it can be to find time but a heap of you regularly do just that.
The stories etc., that I think are my best are not always the ones that attract the most interest; and that’s OK.
WP suggests that I write more of what you show interest in but you wouldn’t want me to do that, would you?
Maybe you would?


As I would expect, photos get a lot of likes [I do the same thing, it’s easy to decide if you enjoy it at a glance and you don’t feel guilty about not visiting the page if you are busy].
Stories get slightly less views than likes [some people are just being kind and that’s ok, and some people may not know that there is a story to go with that photo; no worries.]
I thought it might be fun to pick out some of my favourites from my first six months on WP and also to point out some that you read/liked more than others. Stuff that appears on both lists will be coloured green……… because I like green! [OK, so I didn’t do this but I left the sentence in anyway].



The Day I Met Chester.


I wrote this several years ago as a script for a YouTube video. It came out of nowhere and I love it. I guess it reminds me of the first feelings of being able to make something out of nothing, just the stuff floating around in my head. You liked it as well, it ranks as my 5th most viewed.
The Spotted Librarian: Some Things Don’t Change.


I have been telling this story, on and off, for forty years and eventually I got it down on paper [so to speak]. It got a good reaction when I first published it and it got quite a few comments. It seemed to touch people in different ways. Some people are, or were teachers and recognised some of the situations. Others have children and are seeing some of these things happening in the present day.
Then it became just another story that I had written but it stayed in my ‘Top Posts and Pages by Likes’ section on the side of my blog. Then, a few weeks ago it started to get several views each day until it has risen to be my second most read post. This might be because it is showing up when I ‘like’ other people’s stuff and they look at my avatar on their email feed and WP list my top three post.
Incidentally, this is how You Cannot Please Everyone became my most read post by a factor of 2 and half! I wrote it as one of my very early posts and it took on a life of it’s own because it would show up on my avatar when I ‘liked’ something [which I do a lot of…. there’s so much to like].
When a Seagull Needs Coffee


I like this one because I wrote it for my granddaughter and it came to life very easily [some stories do that].
You read it as well…. it comes in at number 9
And ‘liked’ it… at number 6
Out There Waiting For You


This is the story that started an interesting adventure. It was meant to stand alone but eventually became part of a trilogy [the only one I have written so far]. It’s very short and I love it [you did too and insisted on more].
You made it my 7th most read post, 6th in comments but 12th in ‘likes’
He Who Loves an Old House


Obviously, this was a very personal post. It is about my house and you reacted to it right from the start. Lot’s of lovely comments. This is the post that has the most integration of my words and my photographs and I think that is why it is one of my favourites.
You made it my 4th most read post, 3rd in comments and 4th in ‘likes’
Not Alone.


I’m very proud of this. It is the third part of a trilogy and a lot of people REALLY wanted me to write it. I put a lot of thought and effort into it. I experimented with the idea of having three points of view and I think it worked very well. I posted it and waited for a response. It got a few likes and a few reads but not the reaction I had been hoping for. This taught me a very good lesson and SIGNIFICANTLY increased my confusion!
Mostly I write stuff and post it and then move on to the next idea. I don’t generally sit around and wonder what people are going to say or if they will like/view it. But, on this occasion I did and it was not pleasant. I got a taste of what writers go through every day….. waiting to hear if that half wit publisher wants to publish their work.
It ranked in 40th in reads, 60th in comments, and probably just a low in likes!



I like To Watch


I wrote this post in response to someone else’s post about the disparity between ‘likes’ and ‘reads’.
I enjoyed writing it and even though I wrote it when I had not been here for very long, my opinions have not changed.
You love it. LOTS of likes and heaps of views. It is my 3rd most viewed post!
I guess it is topical. At some stage we all ask ourselves the question, but I must say that I’m a little surprised that it ranks so highly.
You Cannot Please Everyone


I think I understand why this post took off, but I’m still a little surprised that it got so many reads. It was early days and WP had to list something with my avatar and this was the post that got a bit of attention.
I wrote it out of frustration and disappointment. I had just gotten a piece published [which was and is still a big deal for me] and my friend gets all upset because she recognises herself in the story! Why not be happy for me? She knew that there had not been a lot of successes in my life at that time. So why not enjoy it with me? I guess my emotion comes through in the piece and I guess you guys have experienced similar disappointments.
Shagpile Carpet


Those of you who subject yourself to my stuff regularly will know that I write these types of ‘unusual’ stories from time to time.
A lot of them are inspired by a fellow WP person who likes to post macro shots and ask people to guess what they think the photo is about.
Sometimes I look at them and these crazy ideas start to form. I write them down and sometimes they come out as a bizarre story which appeals to me so I post it in her comments section. I keep a copy and when I come across it again I’ll work on it some more and post it with an appropriate photo.
You have liked and read quite a few of these but for some reason, this is the one that you have read the most.
I’m not sure if I think that it is my best but I do like it, so fair enough.
You have made it my 6th most read post! Impressive.
Not Alone.


See above.
One of my favourites and it ranks as my 45th most read post!
It ranks below several of my photos which don’t have any words and they still got more reads!!!!!!



The Spotted Librarian: Some Things Don’t Change.
By a long way.
You Cannot Please Everyone
He Who Loves an Old House
I like To Watch
Not a lot of surprises here I guess. If you liked to read it there was a chance you had something to add.



You Cannot Please Everyone
The Spotted Librarian: Some Things Don’t Change.
I like To Watch



These are stories that you might like to read when you have nothing else to do [I’m smiling at the thought that you wouldn’t have anything else to do]
The Mouse Who Liked Cheezels.


Ophelia Drinkwater Has Lots of Cool Stuff.

John William Waterhouse - Lamia

Let’s Eat Grandad



That’s it for now but I will write write a post about my more recent stuff at some later date.
If you were bored shitless then blame WP, it was one of their ideas.
I must admit that I had fun doing the research and I was surprised that your reactions to my stuff matched my own with only a few exceptions.
I was all ready to give you guys a serve and then I had to pull my head in.
Some would say that I should do this more often.

Lost Afternoon


5 Photos to tell the story.


These photos were ‘lost’ for a while, but now they are found.

We spent a bit of time at this beach. It’s in an upmarket suburb and it takes more than an hour for us to get to it.

This particular day was magical (as you can see) we arrived in time to catch the sunset, but it is the way the sky and the sea are the same colour that makes these shots interesting. The shots are not particularly high res as I had not worked out the camera at this stage and I was used to film cameras.



The bridge in the background is the famous West Gate Bridge (I think that they could have named it after someone).

It famously fell during the construction phase and many of the workers lost their lives. A few years later I was a newly minted primary school teacher in the northern suburb of St Albans and I remember that there were a couple of kids at that school who had lost their dads on that bridge.


It has been some time since we visited this spot and it might have something to do with our last visit.

It was a beautiful afternoon and we had been sitting in the car watching the view. We could hear this absolutely beautiful music coming from a car in the carpark, which added greatly to our experience.

As we were leaving, we drew up alongside the car which had it’s windows rolled down on this balmy afternoon.

We wanted to know what the music was.

We asked the driver but I cannot tell you what the music was, the name went right out of my head. The young driver said that it was his cousin’s favourite CD and that he had just come from his funeral.

His twenty-one-year-old cousin had taken his life.

There were tears rolling down this young man’s face and this amazing music continued to play.

I admit that I was stunned.

I’ve been touched by sudden death before and so has my wife but this rocked both of us.

I mumbled something about how sorry we both were and we slowly moved away.

I was in no condition to drive so I parked and we held each other for a long time.

These photos were not taken on that day but they were taken at that place and looking at them reminds me of that day and that terrible sadness.