Tag Archives: Michelle

G for George

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Sadly, my little G for George came across a far greater menace than Hitler’s Luftwaffe

I always had a fascination with aircraft, sparked by Dad’s job at the Government Aircraft Factory and his former life as an armament fitter in the Royal Air Force out of Malta. I loved it when he would take us to the air shows at Laverton RAAF Base to see Mirages, Phantoms and the new F-111s put through their paces, while Iroquois and Chinook helicopters dropped cars as part of their demonstrations. While most kids had posters of pop stars and footballers my bedroom was plastered with Hercules, Caribous, Orions and Mirages.

In the days before computers and flight simulators there weren’t too many ways for a young fella to indulge in his love of aviation apart from running around like an idiot with his arms spread out and making “gneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer” noises. My first toy aeroplane was a battery-powered pressed-metal Boeing 707 that taxied haphazardly around the kitchen floor with red lights flashing in its engines. I later had some fun toys like U-Fly It and Vertibird but nothing captured my imagination more than making plastic model kits of aeroplanes. I loved opening the box and seeing all the parts, breaking out the glue and going for it. However, I had little patience and my efforts were usually pretty ordinary. I never painted them, unless you include excess glue, so I had a room full of poorly made grey planes engaged a rather bland fishing line-assisted dogfight above my bed.

Then one day I got an Airfix model kit of an Avro Lancaster as a present and was lucky enough to have my cousin Phillip build and paint it for me. Phil, who went on to become a sign writer, was awesome at this sort of thing. The paintwork, from the matt black underbelly to the familiar brown and green camouflage upper surfaces, was top notch. He even painted the thumbnail sized pilots with great detail. My Lancaster took pride and place on the tallboy in my bedroom and I treasured it so much I didn’t even pick it up to play with it. It was painted in the livery of G for George, which belonged to 460 Squadron RAAF and flew 90 missions over occupied Europe; a record at the time. It was later flown to Australia and is now immortalised at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Sadly, my little G for George would not enjoy the same fortune and came across a far greater menace than Hitler’s Luftwaffe – my preschool sisters.I remember the day well. I was nine years old and came home from school in a happy mood to be greeted by Mum acting rather odd. I could feel her eyes glued to my back as I walked down the hallway to my room where I was met with the most appalling sight – G for George had crashed! My beautiful bomber was on its belly, undercarriage sheered off, propellers bent, guns snapped off, even the little plastic aircrew were dead and scattered around the wreckage! I shall spare you the horrific fate of the tail gunner, suffice to say it was surely against the Geneva Convention. I never did find his tiny head.

The flaps were hanging off the wings and the bomb bay doors were completely detached. G for George had well and truly bought it!

I screamed and went straight to my sisters’ room to seek vengeance only for Mum to get in the way and attempt to claim responsibility by claiming the plane was the victim of an unfortunate dusting accident. This was no dusting accident; this was the savage, orchestrated destruction of an aviation icon by evil minds and tiny hands. Mum continued to insist it was her, but the nervous smirks on the Twins’ faces told me otherwise.

The Mum Whisperer

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When my older brother Anton was in his mid teens he discovered he had a gift that probably saved our lives on more than one occasion. I can’t remember the details behind this amazing discovery except to say it began with the two of us carrying on in a manner that well and truly gave Mum the shits. We could see she was about to lose it and then an amazing thing happened. Instead of using me as a human shield Anton looked at her and uttered the word “volcano” in a slow and somewhat patronising way – “Volcaaaanooo”. It was his way of saying “she’s gonna blow!”

I was mid way through my third fearful Hail Mary when all of a sudden Mum lost it. Not in a better-call-the-doctor-to-remove-the-egg-flipper-from-my-arse lost it, but laughing lost it. She pissed herself. After that any time Mum was about to crack it, Anton would calm the situation using the “volcaaaanooo trick”. I later learned to my detriment that I didn’t share his talent. My only attempt at using it was met with the words “I’ll give you fucking volcano!” and a smack on the head.

Volcano reminds me of another episode years before where a couple of words managed to diffuse a very tense situation. We were all at the kitchen table on a Sunday afternoon and as usual us kids were being noisy little shits.

My Dad valued one thing more than anything – peace-and-quiet. “Dad?” we’d ask. “What do you want for your birthday?” “Peace and quiet,” would be his instant reply. There was none of it on this Sunday and suddenly Dad was staring at us, slowly knocking on the table in a menacing way that suggested if we didn’t shut the fuck up we’ll meet the same fate as the roast beef.

On hearing the knocking my sister Michelle, who was about three and immensely cute, said “who’s there?”

The knocking stopped and for a second you could have heard a pin drop on a sponge. The smile that appeared on Dad’s face before he burst into laughter is still one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

On Mum’s Secret Service

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One of the coolest things I made was an FM bug.

When I was about 15, I found a new hobby making things with electronic kits that required soldering components like resistors and transistors onto printed circuit boards. One of the coolest things I made was an FM bug. This crude spy device had a little microphone which can be picked up from another room using a radio tuned to around 83 on the FM dial. One day after school I hid it in my sisters’ room and sat at the kitchen table listening to them talking on my ghetto blaster.

Mum asked what I was listening to and I told her it was Michelle and Charlene. Intrigued, she sat down only to hear Charlene swearing in Maltese. In a flash she was gone. One second my mother was with me, the next I could hear her dishing out carnage through my radio.

Remember that movie Who Dares Wins about the British SAS attack on the Iranian Embassy siege in London? What happened to my sisters reminds of the scene where the terrorists are chatting away totally oblivious to the fact that commandos were about to burst through a wall and shoot them through the head. My sisters could not have been prepared for mum to come bursting through the door to hand out the bollocking they copped.

For my efforts I copped a smack across the back of the head for spying on my sisters – even the SAS thank their intelligence people.