Saturday, February 23, 2008

A funeral

I have just returned from a funeral service in Fremantle. It was pretty good as far as funerals go. Lily died peacefully at age 92 with her family around her. Turns out that only in the last two weeks of her life the family worked out that she was a year older than everyone thought.

The service was conducted by a celebrant who was so 'sincere' that he seemed like a close family member. There was a short period where he suggested that people might like to lay flowers on the coffin and surprisingly suggested that 'believers' might like to offer a prayer to Lily. Only one person took up that offer and it was her carer.

Getting ready this morning I had to iron my trousers. They were a bit wrinkled and neglected since retirement has not meant that I need to dress formally to go to work. It reminded me of some early morning ironing I had to do whilst in PNG in 1962. I had a kerosene heated iron. The method there was to heat up the vaporising tubes with methylated spirits and pump up the tank pressure and just as the metho was almost gone, turn on the vaporised kero and you were away. The principle was much the same as a kerosene plumber's blow lamp.

The urgent ironing at about 4am was to get dressed for the Government Station ANZAC day dawn service. In those colonial days on a small station with approximately 12 Europeans, to miss an ANZAC service would have almost meant a public flogging, but most certainly the cold shoulder from the Administration.

My problem was that I didn't have any methylated spirits left and had to try and heat the iron with bourbon whiskey. It took half a dozen charges of bourbon before it was hot enough to roar into life. Later postings put me too far from government stations to have to worry about ANZAC services and I figured I had done my bit when in the Sea Scouts every ANZAC Day dawn service.

Joan collected a kerosene powered iron years ago and today I decided that I would refurbish it and get it going again.

No comments: