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The person, whom within MY lifetime, has done more for Peace and the preservation of good Literature in my lounge room, is the inventor of the MUTE BUTTON.

Eugene Polley of the Zenith Radio Corporation is credited with creating the first wireless TV remote that could turn off the sound. The marvellous invention came into being in 1995. Yes, that recently, only 22 years ago.

He did receive the Technology & Engineering Emmy Award (1997); IEEE Consumer Electronics Award (2009).

Unfortunately, this genius passed away in 2012 at the age of 96. This makes him ineligible as the prohibition of posthumous awards fails to recognise achievements by an individual who dies before the prize is awarded.

So, next best thing to do is to confer a Saint Hood, as this is an obvious miracle, witnessed by and of benefit to billions around the world.

FC Mickey Benefiel

Looking back from 20 years in the future

You are only 5 minutes late, don't get so bothered about a little delay.

I can remember when people had to line up for hours just to get on one of those big cramped, noisy aeroplanes in order to go from Hobart to Sydney. Then it took well over an hour to get there!

No Quick Cabs in those days. Everything was sub-sonic. Of course they used petrol driven jet engines back then and they had severe limitations on speed and weight, so they just crammed all the people they could into a plane and only went from one airfield to another. Oh, how I hated waiting for the suitcase to come off the plane and out on the conveyor belt, before I could even get out of the airport.

No door to door at all ! You had to take a cab or a rent a car to get to where you actually wanted to go. Now when I want to visit my son in Helensburgh, they put me down on the footpath right in front of the house, and my luggage as well.

And of course the high speed underwater ferries didn't even exist! I don't think anyone had even thought of such things back then. Hydrogen powered locomotion and aqua dynamics engineering have made a huge difference to all forms of transport, but especially getting back and forth to England or Canada. It took Jet aircraft 12 hours just to get from Perth to Cape town! Can you imagine, sitting in a chair for 12 hours!

Back then just about everyone drove cars. There were just as many idiots in the world then, so you can imagine how dangerous it was. Now when you call for a pickup to go visiting or for an outing, it may take a few minutes for the transporter to arrive; but they have progressed tremendously since they got the trucks off the transways. Used to call them roads in the old days, before they put everything underground.

So settle down in the recliner there and have a cold beer. Fortunately, some things never change.

Mickey Benefiel

Where the Wind Comes From

A storey for Fia

A little girl named Fia sat watching the leaves being swirled in the air by a Dust Devil when her Grandfather came and sat beside her. "you look very thoughtful, what are you thinking about?", asked the old man.

"Where does the wind come from, grandpa?" said the girl, squinting to keep the dust from his eyes. "And why does it make such a mess?", she continued.

"Mother Nature owns the wind, but she doesn't always do a good job of making it behave. Some days it just gets out of hand and runs wild."

Pointing to the sky Fia asked, "Does it blow the clouds around too?" They watched the thin layer of scratchy cloud, strung out in long streamers across the horizon.

"Sometimes it does, other times the clouds and the wind are just playing chasings."

"Does the wind make it rain?"

"Oh no. The clouds own the rain, and the wind is jealous about that. Sometimes they don't get on very well at all, the wind and the clouds. The wind will make the clouds angry and that's when they get all dark and cover the sun. If the wind gets too pushy the clouds throw rain and roar with thunder and lightning to try and scare it off, but the wind just keeps on blowing and that's when we get bad storms."

Fia frowned. “The wind is always bad!”

No, wind makes peoples windmills work and sailors are always needing the wind to make their yachts go. Sometimes the wind cools the land after a real hot day, but that's when it just puffs up a breeze. It dries the washing on the clothes lines and helps you fly your kite. The wind can be really good when it wants to. It just doesn’t try very often."

They sat in silence for while, thinking about the wind and clouds, then Fia looked very seriously at her grandfather and said "when I act bad mum makes me stay in doors and I can't go out and play. I wish I was the wind, then I could do whatever I wanted to, and no body could boss me around."

"Now don't get me wrong dear, the wind doesn't always get it's own way. Mum Nature has her own punishments she hands out. She gets angry and makes the wind spend days out blowing the water into waves. Hard work that. Then another time she gets cranky with the clouds and makes them SO cold, that the rain freezes into ice and snow and the clouds can't hang onto it and they dry out, loose their thunder and lighting and sometimes just turn into fog."

"Wind can be real cold too", said Fia. "Does she cause that as well? Because I don't like it when it gets real cold."

"yes she does, but to make up for that she lets us have the fire place to get warm again. She owns fire too."

Hello to the Animals in my Garden

I am sitting in my small secluded back garden, the air around me is redolent with the perfume of roses, the trees and shrubs sway in a light breeze. I am watching the tiny silvereye birds joyfully playing in a terracotta bird-bath which I had just filled with freshwater. It stands between two rose bushes, which give a protective cover and an escape route from marauding cats or bossy larger birds. The birds are like small children at the seaside, jumping in and out of the shallow water. This is repeated many times.

I speak to them softly, "Go on my pretties, enjoy yourselves."

As long as I don’t move they continue to bathe and drink the water. The sun catches their shiny olive-green backs and wings as the drops of water sparkle on them.

Another day, same place, I heard a rustle from the dry leaves that had fallen from the magnolia tree, my most prized garden plant. I sat still, listening intently, leaning forward to try to see what animal was disturbing the leaf litter. A glistening scaly head, beautifully patterned in amazing geometric precision, appeared. "A snake," I thought, getting ready to jump on the garden seat.

I couldn't take my eyes away from the beautiful creature. I sat very still as it crunched and crackled its way through the dried leaves. About sixteen inches were visible now. A sigh of relief escaped me when a small leg and foot appeared. It was a wonderful blue-tongued lizard! The biggest I have ever seen.

"You are welcome to my garden," I said, "and to the snails as well."

The most frequent four-footed visitor to my garden is a small wallaby. She is a female because she was pregnant last year. and now she is quite slim, although I never did see a joey. She’s a quiet little thing, she stands and listens to me as I speak in a gentle even tone. She will sit and listen, unmoving, as I talk to her about the weather, or pruning the roses. I haven’t got a dog, so its nice to have this uncritical, quiet little companion. She sits about ten feet away from me but if I make a sudden move she turns and quickly hides in the shrubbery. But still she comes back again and again. She poos a bit but I don’t care. I like her tranquil company and she loves my garden. I think she likes me too!


I have come to the borders of sleep,

Yet my eyes will not close.

I am wondering why.

Was it what I ate tonight?

I’m wondering.

Or the wine that I drank;

Or perhaps the heat of the day

Which has continued till now.

I’m wondering. Why?

Is it the warmth of the body

Now slumbering next to my own?

Or the beams of bright light

Filtering through to my face

From the round golden Moon

Which I’ve watched half the night

As the eclipse passed mysteriously by.

I’m wondering why.

Or maybe, just maybe,

twas the movie we watched:

a classic whodunit, but gory and bloody

and full of strange spirits.

We both were excited, but scared just the same.

I’m still not asleep and I’ve counted more sheep;

Done deep respirations and tried to relax

But still I’m not sleeping

And wondering why.

We put out the light and turned off the cat

So why am I bothering any more about that?

And now it is raining, a little at first,

And now there is more and the wind’s getting up

And keeping me wakeful

The more I ignore it.

We’re away in the morning - a holiday trip;

Our bags ready-packed, await in the hall,

But now I’m remembering, now wide awake,

I should take a towel and my swimmers forgotten.

Need some more money; there’s never enough.

Won’t worry right now cos I’m trying to sleep.

Will the taxi come early? Or late?

We’ll need to have breakfast

And time to wash up.

The sheets are all ruffled,

The doonah too heavy,

It’s no wonder I’m restless

Yet bordering on sleep.


I can’t . . . I can’t . . .

The clock . . . says . . . three . . .

Three . . . I forgot . . . forget . . .

For . . . ever . . . and . . . ever . . .

Aa . . .m . . .en . . .


“Mum, Mum, wait till you see this!”
The girl was hard to see in the darkness: a vague silhouette, slithering over
piles of rotting rubbish, fruit, vegetables and other unsold and out-of-date
foodstuff. Behind the shopping centre a yard was enclosed by a brick wall,
high, but not high enough to stop determined scavengers bunking up and over
to look for anything which might fill an empty belly.
Lily was always hungry. There never seemed to be enough money for food.
What did Mum do with it, she wondered. Smokes? Drink? Pokies? She could
not be sure but they both did this nightly round of the grocery chuck outs.
Her hands slipped over more rotten fruit: bananas oozing from split skins;
apples, some still firm, most slimy and not worth a second touch, oranges
covered in films of mould; mushy plums, apricots, grapes getting pongy,
squashed tomatoes: a jumble of stale bread rolls, cream buns, tacky glazed
icing, crumpets, doughy muffins, smashed cream cakes. Lily’s fingers dipped
in and out of her mouth: the taste was good but it was too dark to see what
she was eating.
A rat scurried away.
Her hand fingered inside a fibre carton: packets of something unopened,
several of them. She pulled one out in front of her face. “Hey Mum, come
over,” a loud but muffled whisper, “wait till you see what I got.”
Her mother, a formless shadow slid around the jumbled garbage. “What is it
then? What yer got?”
“Doughnuts, packets of ’em. They’re in boxes like this. I seen ’em in the shop.
Cor. I love doughnuts.”
“OK, put ’em in the bag. We’d better be orf ’fore security comes round.”
“I got a few rolls as well.”
“OK, that’ll do us dinner. Come on.”
“Mum, how come all this food don’t get sold in the shops?”
“Dunno luv. Waste, ain’t it.

Is this an apple which I see before me?
Come, let me behold thee.
’Tis shapen like an apple red
yet hath these shining russet yellow streaks all round.
’Tis small, yet light upon my hand,
with tiny broken stalk upon its upward face.
’Tis like a cherry – larger – yet not so sweet;
with juice, ’tis crisp and crunchy to the bite,
a taste like fallen honey drops,
sharp to my teeth, sweet to my tongue,
rapture to my nose, with flavour rich and joyful;
and cheerful sound unto my ears.
This gentle longing to have thee whole,
at once, as favourite love-bites on my lips.
Oh, wondrous fruit, how blest thou art.
Thy skin, though firm doth still resist my ardent bite
yet longeth to be with me – as any lover might –
to satisfy my hungry need.
I love thee still,
thy inner flesh so firm, so white,
so pure within and true.
I love thee, all of thee.
Resist me not, my love is sure
And will be till I’ve eaten all of you!

The three of us moved cautiously past the ruins of the house and into the overgrown back garden. We were moving carefully as the long grass hid ankle-turning bricks, toe-stubbing baulks of timber and shin-barking pipes. We had learned of these obstacles the hard way in other similar sites, there being quite a few of them in our area. We knew the garden contained apple trees and we were checking on the ripeness of this season's crop. The garden was comparatively large which was unusual. Few were in this part of the country where land was at a premium. The house had been a single storey dwelling, commonly known as a bungalow, another rarity. This was in a street in an up-market part of town where the houses were all single storey and all of different design. We three lived in two storey, semi-detached structures differing only in internal decorations and colour schemes. Less affluent but at least they were still standing.

There along the remains of the back fence were the trees. The apples must have been ripe because they had all gone. Some other bunch of scrumpers had beaten up to the prize. We stared at the fruitless branches for a few moments and then turned to retreat. One of our group spotted something over in the corner beside the blackened remains of the burnt garden shed. "Spuds" he exclaimed. Carefully we moved towards the yellowed, grub eaten leafy tops of the tubers. There was a lone plant among the weeds. Scrapping away the top soil with bare hands we rapidly uncovered a handful of egg sized, thin skinned potatoes. Further digging with a piece of fence paling uncovered a couple more. Sorting them out fairly required a bit of bargaining, but all of us were quickly satisfied with our share. Then our leader spotted a pile of dried prunings. "Let's make a fire and roast them" he suggested. "I'll go home and get some matches while you two break up some of those sticks and get the fire ready". He was off and back in quick time. He must have run. We soon had a small fire crackling away and after the initial blaze had died down, tossed the salvaged vegetables onto the embers along with some more twigs. The potatoes were carefully watched and turned over periodically using two sticks. A smell of charred murphy's mixed with the odour of the burning apple wood and we sniffed appreciatively. A single blackened sphere was rolled out of the fire and a sliver of wood driven in to determine if it was cooked. The judgement was that sufficient heat had been absorbed and the rest were rolled out. Gingerly they were hefted onto the piece of paling previously used for excavating. With fingers and twigs the exterior carbonised shell was removed revealing steaming white, charcoal-spotted delicacies. Within minutes they were no more.

We weren't starving. On the contrary, it could be argued that we were the best fed generation of our century, meaning we received a balanced diet with adequate nutrition for growing boys. Yes, we were boys; six year old boys, living on the outskirts of London during World War Two. None of us were abnormally skinny but there was only one fat boy in our school and he was the local doctor's son. Doctors got well paid, often in kind by grateful patients who grew vegetables on allotments and reared rabbits in hutches, but had little cash. I said we were not starving, but we were always hungry, particularly for anything sweet. Many years later in my early twenties, I went on a camping holiday with three other lads. We had challenged ourselves to live off the land as much as possible. We had rifles, spear guns, fishing rods and our wits. We feasted on wallaby, native hen, abalone, crayfish, stingray, parrotfish and leather jacket. We fared well on this high protein diet and I periodically relive that most enjoyable week. But those potatoes and their contribution to my diet have been a particularly fond memory.

About 10 years ago, as I was about to enter Central Station in Sydney, a very untidy man approached me. He was about 30 years old, looked pretty down and out, and was probably an alcoholic.

"Could you give me a dollar, mate, so I can buy some breakfast?" he said.

"A dollar?" I said. "That ain't gonna buy you any breakfast."

"I've already got a couple of dollars." he replied

You won't get much for that," I said. "Here's twenty bucks, mate. Go and get yourself some eggs and bacon and then go and have a beer on me."

"Gee, thanks, cobber," he said, and then was gone – to the nearest pub, probably.

I turned to enter the station but a woman wearing a charity badge stood in front of me and poked a tin can at me and said, "Would you care to make a donation to the XYZ appeal, sir?"

"What's it about?" I asked.

"It's a nationwide appeal for funds to help the poor and needy."

"The poor and needy," I said. "That's wonderful. How much does your organisation hope to collect?"

"$1,000,000," she replied.

"In that case," I said, "I most certainly do wish to make a contribution."

I put my hand into my pocket and pulled out a handful of coins. I searched through the coins and found a five cent piece. I dropped the five cent piece into her tin can, smiled, and then turned to go into the station.

The lady called to me, "Excuse me, sir."

"Yes? Is there something wrong?"

"No, no, sir. We are always most grateful for donations of whatever size, but your five cent donation took me by surprise for I happened to notice that you gave $20 to a complete stranger."

"It's perfectly simple," I said. "You are collecting $1 million, nationwide, for the poor and needy. Our population is more than 20 million, so if everyone gives five cents you will attain your target and have quite a bit to spare. Charities ought only ever seek funding in small amounts from the population at large so that everyone gets to know and understand the value of helping those less fortunate than themselves, where even the widow's mite is welcomed as a treasure."

"Oh! I understand," she said, "but er, er, er, I cannot understand why you gave $20 to an apparent dipsomaniac."

"Quite simple," I said, "his need was greater than yours."

Arnold was an amateur astronomer and knew that a certain star was going to disappear behind the moon and reappear about an hour later. To get a better view and out of the dazzle of street lights, he wandered into a churchyard with the idea of standing in the shadow of a yew tree. In the gloom, and with his eyes looking heavenward, he failed to notice an open grave immediately in front of him. In an instant, he found himself on the broad of his back. Although he could still see the stars shining, they were confined to a narrow rectangle slit.

He stood up, assessed what had happened and tried to climb out of the grave. His attempt proved futile as the wall surfaces crumbled to the touch and were slippery because of an earlier shower of rain. Despite it being summer, he was cold, and getting colder simply because he was only wearing a T-shirt and it had got wet when he fell into the grave. He resigned himself to the fact that he would have to suffer it until morning when someone was bound to come along and help him out. However, he was wrong about that. Shortly after midnight, with his teeth chattering, he couldn't help uttering aloud, "Im cold, I'm cold, ye gods I'm freezing."

What a shock he got when from up above, in the dark, he heard a voice, "I'm not surprised you're cold. You've gone and kicked all your dirt off."

The voice had a slur to it and Arnold guessed that his saviour was half-drunk or maybe an alcoholic.

"Thank God! Please help me out."

"No way, mate. You stay there where they put you."

"What are you talking about? Help me out."

"Don't be silly, cobber, you're dead. You just lie down and go back to sleep again."

"Don't be crazy, I'm not dead. I fell into this grave."

"There's all this dirt up here that you kicked off, but I found a shovel so I'll chuck it in and cover you up again."

No sooner had this been said, than a great heap of dirt landed on Arnold's head. His first thought was that he was about to be buried alive and there was nothing he could do about it.

Resignedly, he called out to the fellow up above, "I'm still cold, mate. Keep shoveling, don't stop, keep shoveling."

And that was how Arnold got out of his grave. You see, the drunk kept shoveling until he filled it enough for Arnold to hop out of it.