Friday, December 31, 2010



Peter Frederick 

Sunday, December 26, 2010



Peter Frederick 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Peter Frederick 

Friday, December 17, 2010


‘This is ‘Springtime Nursing Homes’ an alarmed voice on the telephone informed me. ‘We have a problem with your vinyl – it won’t stay on the floor! The floor layer is jumping up and down….’
‘I am terribly sorry, but would you mind telling me where you are ringing from?’
The intake of a deep breath was heard. ’This is Brett Langley speaking. I am the manager of the nursing home in the town of Brine. Our local floor layer cannot install your bloody vinyl – it won’t stay on the floor. And our vinyl floor layer is jumping up and down!’
Writing everything down in my trusted day book, I required more details: ’I am giving your matter my utmost attention, Brett, and am noting down all the facts you are giving me….who is your flooring contractor?’
‘It’s Seaside Floor Coverings and the floor layer is a very good bloke, but he’s jumping up and down….’
‘I’ve got that, Brett. Now when can I come and meet you on site? Preferably with your floor layer and the owner of Seaside Floor Coverings…’
‘I want you to come right away, because the floor layer cannot finish his installation, he’s jumping….’
‘Yes, yes, I understand, Brett. Let me make a few phone calls and postpone some appointments I have for this afternoon and I shall ring you back and tell you the exact time I will be in your lovely town!’
And promptly, I arranged for a site-meeting for 4 pm and arrived somewhat earlier to familiarise myself with the situation.
Of course, not all tradesmen are like that. Most of them are hard working and decent people who have learned their trade properly in the colleges. They dress professionally and cleanly, remove surplus glue marks off the vinyl floor immediately and sweep the floor clean. Some even have a floor polisher with them and give their flooring a wonderful shine as the extra touch to an outstanding installation!
I had no chance of finding out to which category this floor layer belonged to – he wasn’t there!
‘Where is the floor layer?’ I enquired with amazement.
‘He is not here!’ His boss stated the obvious.
‘Why isn’t he?’ I enquired.
‘He had other things to do!’ His boss did not like being quizzed too deeply.
I took a deep breath. ‘If I come all the way from Melbourne in this matter, one would think that, if only for legal reasons, he’ll be here……’
‘You tell me and I’ll pass it on to him!’ His boss became more brutish.
‘I have to ask a few questions about the installation and if you can answer them for him, it is all right. Now what is the general problem?’
‘Well, don’t you see, it doesn’t stay put. The floor layer was jumping up and down……’
Brett Langley from the nursing home contributed: ‘ As you can see, he tried to install the stairs and couldn’t do it…your material!‘ Hitting me with an accusing look.
‘Ah, firstly, stairs need to be installed upwards not downwards – that’s the correct procedure - Australian Standard.’
Brett went on the attack: ‘Listen, he was jumping up and down….’
‘What adhesive was used? This question I directed to the flooring retailer.
‘Whatever you recommend!’
‘I am sorry, but for legal reasons you need to tell me, as I have to note down your answer.’
A shrug of the shoulder was the only answer.
The manager of the nursing home became impatient. ‘He is a very good bloke, Syd is. Tried very hard to install your flooring – for two days, actually. And then he came on Saturday as well and couldn’t do it. He was jumping……’
‘Yes, I’ve made a note of it.’
‘Now, has the subfloor been sanded and sealed?’ A shrug of the shoulders followed.
‘Has he spread the adhesive, whatever he used, with a trowel that has the correct size of notches?’ They darted incredulous glances darted at each other.
‘Has he got a trade certificate…..’
That hit home and everybody gasped!
‘Ah’, I thought, ‘he hasn’t!’
And now they were speaking to me simultaneously in a wild babble, accompanied with frantic gestures of their hands.
‘He was jumping up and down’ they kept repeating.
There was nothing more to be achieved. So, I managed to stay polite and outwardly calm and bid them farewell. This is one of the cases where I could not convince anybody of anything and drove off with the two still shouting behind me the main achievements of their athletic floor layer!

 Peter Frederick 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010






Peter Frederick 


Friday, December 10, 2010


'Good morning Peter!’ it was a very cultured voice that said this on the car phone.
‘Oh, hello, Declan!’ I greeted my boss. And, treating him like a customer and, because I had a complicated intersection to negotiate, with heavy traffic, I added:  ‘What can I do for you?’ I must have sounded somewhat tense because his voice sounded extra relaxed:
‘You are on a busy road, aren’t you!’
‘Actually, yes I am, Declan, in the middle of an intersection, trying to make a turn.’
‘Don’t let me stop you, Peter’ A casual laugh came from my car loudspeaker. ‘I just want to ask you to go to South Australia  tomorrow. There is a new architect in Adelaide who wants to know more about the flooring products we have. I shall fax all the details to your home.’
‘Oh, thank you very much. Yes, I’ll take care of that.'
‘Right Peter, I leave everything in your good hands!’ Click and he was gone. And so was my opportunity to complete my right- hand  turn and some cars behind me started to sound their car horns in irritation.

The following day my boarding the plane to Adelaide went without a hitch as Marilyn from my office had booked for me and my ticket was waiting at the airline’s airport counter.
The weather was beautiful, with a deep blue sky devoid of clouds. With an air of expectation I settled myself into my seat and routinely checked the pocket in front of me for the latest in-flight magazine. There were always articles which interested me: from far away places, with the latest designs in fashion, interesting products or pictures about the life-styles of the rich and famous. Just paging through the glossy pages never failed to transport me into a different world.
‘But why was the plane not taking off?’ I wondered. The passengers had all been seated quite a while ago, and, yet, it remained motionless. Becoming increasingly fidgety in my seat I started to observe my surroundings in more detail.

Most passengers on board were obviously business people, in suits and ties and on the other side of the aisle there was a sports team, with tall, burly young men and their manager somewhere between them.
Nearby was an air hostess, stunningly beautiful; her hair style and face was that of a classic Hollywood actress with a figure to match. She reminded me of the actress Grace Kelly and momentarily I forgot my impatience and my appointment   in Adelaide. ‘Why did such a creature become an air hostess when she could be an actress or a top model?’ I asked myself.

She smiled across a row of seats to a young man in a window-seat and I started to concentrate on their conversation.
‘Will you, please, apologise for your remark?’ she smiled at him as if in reply to a compliment.
‘F… you! Get that bloody plane going, you c…’ The young sportsman had blond, closely-cropped hair and when trying to stand up, it turned out that he was too drunk to do so, leading him to fall back into his seat. All this team mates seemed to agree with him and muttered similar expletives.
The airline Venus showed no emotion. She looked at him with her beautiful blue eyes and her sweet lips whispered softly:
That young man’s face got a shade redder and his eyes bulged with hostility: ‘Get that f….. plane in the air you b…’
Again his mates supported him and the air became blue with expletives.
Was this woman real or a mirage? She showed no effects whatsoever but gently leant into the row of seats towards the culprit.
‘Get off the plane!’ She smiled at him as if he was the only man in the world!
‘S…. are you getting this f…. plane flying or not? What a c…. you are.’
And, again, he was supported by a chorus of shouted words that would make a sailor’s tattoo blush!
During a break in all that commotion, I could make out her gently uttered words:
‘The plane is not leaving with you on board!’ She gracefully  nodded reinforcement to her statement.

I looked around the other passengers. The sports people were obviously too intoxicated to perceive reality, they kept the stream of swearwords coming out of their cake-holes. The rest of the plane just sat there with vacant faces conveying apathy.

A feeling of rage overcame me as no employee should be exposed to such a situation. I tried to stand up in support of this lady and had a lot to say about rat bags and riff-raff but was stopped by a restraining hand on my shoulder. Spinning around there was an air steward standing behind me who obviously could read my body language and forestalled my participation.
Smiling at me reassuringly, he calmed me down and made me sit down again.
Glancing at the situation, there was suddenly the pilot calmly explaining to the culprit that the plane simply would not leave with him on board.
‘Furthermore, I have called the airport police - they are on the way now!’ Still, it had no effect, neither on this man nor on his mates.

Sure enough, two stern looking officers in dark blue overcoats appeared and without ado, they asked the man for his airline ticket. This was given to them after much fumbling and was immediately pocketed out of sight. The man now had no ticket!
‘Come with us!’ This command was shouted and strong arms  reached out in an attempt to yank him from his seat.
Slowly, as if in a dream, the young man heaved himself out of his seat and staggered to the aisle. There, he was grabbed and, more dragged than walked, forced to leave the plane.
The captain, now showing his disgust in his face, offered an invitation to the other young lads: ‘Anybody else want to leave the plane?’
I do not know what went on their minds, if they were thinking at all, but it was suddenly very quiet. Too quiet.
Although I had a feeling of triumph, after all, justice had prevailed, and civilisation and good manners had been reinstated, I still would have expelled the manager or leader of this group as well because he clearly did not exercise control over the group he was responsible for.

Peter Frederick 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


 The bright sunshine reflected the mood of the soldiers as they rode their motorcycles in a long military column, like serpentines, winding their way through the crowded city. Resplendent in their uniforms, some soldiers sat proudly on their motorcycles while others chose to rest in the open crew trucks as they slowly returned to their barracks.

They had just completed a highly successful military manoeuvre as part of their annual war games. It had been a great accomplishment and even their general, who gave no indication of his emotions, seemed satisfied with the outcome. He hardly spoke a word, but this was taken as a positive sign by his lieutenants and the non-commissioned officers.

The exhilaration of their successes was also acknowledged by the townsfolk, who had gathered on the footpaths, occasionally spilling onto the street, adding to the traffic congestion.

Everywhere people could be seen throwing flowers at the soldiers and personnel, cheering so loudly; they were even drowning out the military bands playing rousing songs from their specially festooned vehicles.

‘Hurray,’ they shout and ‘well done, boys!’ whilst constantly jostling each other to get closer to the convoy. And as far as you looked, there were cheering faces everywhere.

The seemingly endless column could only move slowly as trying to get back to the barracks, was proving to be quite tedious.

Per thought so too, as he drove his grey motorcycle with side car complete with passengers ‘All this stopping and starting is really strenuous’ he thought ‘it requires intensive concentration’ He seemed almost invisible to the crowd, sitting on his bike and all his bulky equipment, which would have fallen off long ago had it not been firmly secured with leather straps. And in front of him, reclining on some luggage that made a comfortable cushion, was Gina, an Italian girl who was luxuriously stretched out on the luggage, laughing and waving back at the cheering people.

‘Gina, you will have to get off from there and sit behind me in a proper seat! I can hardly steer and see the traffic ahead of me. And should we have to gather speed, you could fall off.’

A peeling laugh was Gina’s reply. ‘You worry too much, you are too serious. Enjoy the day – everybody else does!’ Where upon she returned her attention to the onlookers, smiling and waving at them.

Intermingled with the soldiers, who were perched high on the trucks and armoured personnel carriers were civilians. They were mainly Italian girls, ‘helpers’ as they were affectionately called, who had come to Denmark to work under contract to the armed forces. As they were always cheerful and hard-working, they added to the prevailing camaraderie.

The Tudor-style houses on either side of the road were adorned with colourful flags and buntings which were stretched across the road and gave the appearance of a roof over the road. They were mainly red flags with white crosses fluttering in the breeze, seemingly with excitement. And the occasional cloud tries to smile cheerfully from the powder-blue sky.

Per sits proudly on his motorcycle, smiling happily and every now and then  wiping perspiration from his face. The convoy was approaching the city centre now and only making slow progress due the traffic congestion. This made the driving for him increasingly difficult and required all his concentration. With all that stopping and starting, suddenly increasing speed and slowing down abruptly, there was a distinct danger of either running into the vehicle in front of him or being run down by the enormous truck behind him. Especially since his view of the traffic ahead was partly obstructed by Gina.

‘Gina, get into the seat behind me. Now! ’ He said to her and managed to say this in a firm, commanding voice; and she obeyed immediately. After all, he was responsible for the safety of his passengers and the transport.

The late afternoon sun was throwing long shadows, when the column finally arrives at the barracks. Soldiers and the civilian girls dismount cheerfully, rushing towards the canteen as they were in need of some light refreshments before storing away the equipment and vehicles in their proper places.

As they all hurried towards the canteen,  Per, hurried along too, becoming part of the long line of people on a narrow walkway. Pushing and shoving his way down the winding stairs and around a corner, he did not see the lieutenant standing there, out of sight and ready to pounce on any transgressor of military discipline. He had a reputation among the soldiers for being constantly angry.

Per was part of the mass of people now slowly shuffling down the stairs. In front of him, he noticed Gina and tapping her playfully on her shoulder, he smiled as he teased her with the only Italian word he knew:
‘Avanti, avanti!’.

The lieutenant, who was also Italian, overheard this, mistook this as a joke at his expense and stopped Per as everyone rushed past him.

The lieutenant’s face becomes an angry grimace as he gives Per a dressing down and made notes for a report with all the resulting consequences. Per tried to plead with him and attempts to explain that the remark was meant for Gina, but to no avail.

Standing there and desperate, he sees the General and a Colonel walking across the now empty square. Boldly stepping forward and addressing them in a proper military manner, he explains his predicament.

The General listens intently and turns to the officer at his side: ‘Deal with this issue and let me know!’
The Colonel’s voice was not unfriendly: ‘Go into the canteen now and write your report on this incident. And have it on my desk by tomorrow morning, at the latest. I shall look into this matter!’’ She saluted him as a sign of dismissal.

The barrack square is now devoid of people, giving Per a feeling of sudden loneliness. He makes his way back to the canteen, and as he enters, a wave of cheerfulness engulfes him.

Per finds a seat at a table along the wall and pulls a sheet of writing paper from a rack, attached to the wall in front of him. It was at eye level, containing mostly magazines and some stationary. Thoughtfully, he places the sheet on the table and, taking his writing pen out of his pocket, he tries to gather his thoughts together for his report.

He quickly glanced around, taking-in the mass of people who are enjoying themselves. The vast whitewashed hall had light-brown oak beams and wooden chandeliers with many light bulbs which had individual lamp shades patterned with chequered red and white material. The oak tables, too, were covered with table cloths in the same red and white pattern, adding cheerfulness to the prevailing bonhomie.

How do I start, what’s the best way of beginning?’ he thinks, staring at the empty white page. Suddenly he becomes aware of an Italian waitress bending over his shoulders; she places a printed double page in front of him that seems to have been torn from the centre of one of the many magazines.

She seemes to know about his predicament.
‘Here! Read this – it’s all in here’, she says with compassion and disappears. Somewhat confused, Per looks at the pages in front of him; they seem to tell a story and he begins to read:

“The bright sunshine reflected the mood of the soldiers, as they rode their motorcycles in a long military column, like serpentines winding their way through the crowded city. Resplendent in their uniforms, some soldiers sat proudly on their motorcycles while others chose to rest in the open crew trucks as they slowly returned to their barracks.

They had just completed a highly successful military manoeuvre as part of their annual war games. It had been a great accomplishment and even their General, who gave no indication of his emotions, satisfied with the outcome. He hardly spoke a word, but this was taken as a positive sign by his lieutenants and the non-commissioned officers”.

He continues reading with utter amazement and discovers that the story is his story!

‘Who put this in front of me?’ he asks the soldier sitting next to him. But only a shrugging of a shoulder is his reply. Standing up, Per waves his double page and calls out: ‘Hey, has anybody seen who put this in front of me?’
Several, very elated, people reply: ‘It was a waitress!’ But nobody can remember which one as there are quite a number of them working busily, moving in and out of the room.

Returning to the intriguing story about himself, he reads on that he will get up, walk across the vast hall to the next room, where he will meet his future wife…….

On reading these details Per becomes very apprehensive and yet inquisitive. As if under a spell, he feels compelled to read this story right to the end.

It goes on to say that he crosses the floor, and walked towards the door to the next room to find a pretty blond girl there and says:
’I shall see you this evening!’
‘Yes, I shall see you this evening!’ she nods shyly.

And when he started to read about an enormous wedding which was being held, with all the soldiers and staff attending, the drive from the church through streets festooned with flags and buntings and about the cheers and well-wishes of the people crowding at the footpath, smiling and happy,

Per felt the enormity of the moment! Pale and shaking all over, he rose from his seat and walked stiffly towards the other door at the end of canteen.

Nobody took any notice of him as he crossed the hall, the noise of chatter and hilarity continued unabated, whilst he suddenly felt terribly lonely in what he thought was the most very important moment of his life.

Reaching the door, he looked through a small glass window into a waiting room: It had the same whitewashed walls, and a few wooden chairs were placed at the opposite end of the room.

At first, Per perceived the room as empty but he suddenly became aware of a girl sitting on one of the chairs, exactly as it was told in the story. A feeling of de ja vu came over him and he felt that he had known her all his life. Everything here was so familiar; she was young and fresh-faced and her long blond hair cascaded richly around her shoulders.

She wore a white sleeveless summer dress which accentuated her pink skin. Her feet were in narrow-strap sandals and her shapely hands were resting in her lap. Her gaze was lowered to the floor and she seems to be waiting for something predestined…….

As he opens the door and steps into the room, she glances up at him for a moment with a shy smile on her face. She seems to have expected him. Her face, he had always known; it was so familiar, so natural. She did not have the need to wear make-up as her skin is smooth and pale. Her lips are full and pale too and he senses that she, too, may be aware of this all-important moment in their lives.

He introduces himself and she quickly looks up at him with the bluest eyes he has ever seen and nods knowingly.

Per, feeing so in unison with her and still remembering the story he’d just read, this story about him, he is only able to stumble out the words from his dry mouth: ‘You are my future wife!’

Her eyes still cast down, she immediately nods and whispers: ‘I know!’ A slow blush appears on her cheeks giving them a shell pink look.

’ I shall see you this evening!’ he hears himself say, feeling stunned by this momentous event. 

But she, too, knows all that and without looking up she nods with decisiveness ‘Yes Per, I shall see you this evening!’

Per finds himself back in the canteen with this strange feeling, a sense of surrender and finality. He realises that he forgot to ask her for her name, but finds this detail unimportant. He has found his future wife, he now has a purpose in life and that is all that matters!

Suddenly a determination to act overcame him and, having already read the story – his story- he knew what to do next! Striding purpose-fully past the tables with his care-free comrades, across the barrack square, he found himself suddenly standing outside the office of the woman lieutenant.

The two girls in the main office smiled when they saw him entering and seem to sense his urgency to meet the lieutenant. They pointed to one of the doors; “This way!’ Upon entering the lieutenant’s room, he was greeted warmly and offered a seat. This officer seems to have plenty of time as she listened patiently to his, somewhat garbled, report and smiled at his uttered intention to marry. Nodding reassuringly, she promised to arrange for the paperwork and other formalities and, wishing him well, she led this dazed soldier out the door.

‘Don’t worry about a thing,’ he heard her say, ‘I’ll arrange the necessary papers and then call you in for signing. It is that easy!’

This conversation reassured Per greatly. He stepped outside and suddenly finds the barrack’s square full of people, soldiers and civilians, cheering him and shouting their best wishes.

It’s as though everyone around him knew what was going on, except he!

Peter Frederick