Hi there. I’m sure most of you are reading this while nursing a nasty hangover, glancing or between moments of keeping an eye on your kids as they roll around on newly acquired Christmas presents, driving as dangerously close to injuring themselves as they can. So thanks for stopping by! If you’re on the northern side of the planet, chuck a fire on the log. If you’re on the south, turn that airconditioning on and let me tell you a couple of tales.
I went into the city after I finished work on Thursday afternoon just past. The sun beat down on the bitumen making it stinking hot as the afternoon was growing long, and I had big plans to wrap up some Christmas shopping, along with a lovely stay in an air-conditioned suite at a hotel in town, where I’d relax in the spa, enjoy the surrounding city and its buzz until late, all with the comfort of 5 star accomodation to head back to; a nice little treat for us after my birthday earlier in the week.
I caught a tram. It was the no. 59 that travels down Elizabeth street, and I crammed myself into it along with seemingly a thousand others. Oh well, I’m a Melbourne boy and there’s nothing unusual to me about being sardined into a tin box that travels on rails.
Nearing my destination on Elizabeth street in the city, the tram suddenly ground to sudden stop. All the passengers and I reached to grip onto something to stop from toppling over, with soft, confused sounds of exclamation along with the screeching of tram wheels filling the air. The driver spoke over the PA ordering us immediately off the tram as it won’t be going any further. Panicked, several people behaved strangely while trying to disembark and it took a minute or so for the tram to clear.
On the street police cars zoomed past us. Further up the road a crowd had amassed onto the street, but I couldn’t see anything that would cause us to have to stop. Ambulances from my workplace flew by, as did a fire-truck.
…. more on that in a moment.
It’s been a huge year for me – and to be frank us, here at my house. We’ve experienced wave upon wave of highs and lows, and it’s been hard to keep up with almost everything in life – this blog included. I haven’t found time to finish recording what was supposed to be the first episode of my podcast for the year, let along the other planned episodes. And Almost everything else has suffered. My book? Still going. In fact I threw out half of it in August and started re-writing again. You do that!
In healthcare we talk about how many hours we do every fortnight in terms of ‘FTE’ (Full Time Equivalent). Doing 1.0 FTE means you are doing full-time hours. doing 0.5 means you are working usually 5 x 8 hour days a fortnight so, or sort of similar. The reason for this is complicated. I started the year with a set amount of hours to perform a fortnight of 1.0 FTE. By mid year I was often pushing 1.3 FTE, across a roster that had shifts ranging from starting at 6:30 in the morning, while others finished at midnight. Some of these were 8 hours, some 10 and some 12. This isn’t unusual in healthcare, but it is exhausting no matter what way you look at it. And to be frank, by the end of this year I am really exhausted.
In good news, there’s been several weddings for me to celebrate this year – none the least ours. Jane and I finally swapped a couple of considered verses and rings in July of this year, before heading off and having a great adventure in Thailand. Blogs on all of this were meant to be written by now, but sadly due to my work situation that will have to wait until the new year.
By the time I finished working on Thursday afternoon last week, before I stepped on the tram, I had just worked 9 days in a row straight – including on my birthday. The hours had covered the full spectrum of my shifts, the earliest AM to the latest PM time. It’s been brutal. But Christmas is here now and I feel I can relax.
I refreshed my display cabinet in the dining room a couple of days ago, ready for Christmas. I put in it a Molle 3 (post on this machine coming soon) an Empire that I have only just finished completely rebuilding after disassembling it and re-working it into a 100% working 112 year old typewriter.
Under that’s put in my beautiful Folding Standard 2 in its purple velvet lined case, and finally a Klein-Adler, which is still in the process of refurbishment, but is almost finished
Each one of these machines are magnificent typewriters, all of which I feel are masterful pieces of industrial art.
Sadly I had to work on Christmas day. The photo of me above greeting you Merry Christmas, was taking next to the Christmas tree at work. Christmas lunch started at my house without me, but I still got home in time to enjoy a few glasses of wine, and later scotch, with friends and my father.
The tram grinding to a stop mirrors how I feel this year is ending, and I feel can finally get some rest perhaps and let my hair down. After I got off the tram on Thursday I looked at the news sites to see what was happening. Police and ambulances were travelling in many directions, so I couldn’t figure out where whatever it was had occurred. Nothing in the news. I called work to find out if our hospital had been switched to a ‘code brown’ (Massive event occurring externally to the hospital) and after a couple of minutes I got through and they told me they hadn’t.
I crossed the road and caught another tram heading in a different direction, hoping to get myself closer to the hotel. Fire trucks raced at great speed down the road along the tram lines in the direction I now was heading. I still couldn’t figure out what was going on. Jane was already at the hotel, so I messaged her then called her to find out if she had seen anything up near her way. She hadn’t. I chose to walk while I tried to get my head around what was going on. A couple of minutes later a message flashed onto my mobile phone from a colleague at work: “We’ve gone to code brown”.
I left the chaos of Elizabeth street and about 15 minutes later arrived at the hotel in Russell Street. I was glad to sit down in the air-conditioning and have a shower. As I dropped out of my work clothes I turned the TV on. At the end of Elizabeth street where it meets flinders street, around the time the tram ground to a halt, a man drove an SUV through a crowd of people crossing the road. He hit 19 of them. All within a few hundred meters from where I was. All have survived.
I have much to be thankful for this year. It has been a great year despite the many lows along with the highs. But after that event I look a little more stock in the good things I have in life over Christmas. Every time I look at my wonderful collection of typewriters I am reminded about how they have endured for so long across a time in history that his seen much turmoil and greatness.
So, much love to your family. I’ll be back blogging soon. I promise. As will my podcast. And I want to use the Empire to crash out a few LONG over-due letters.
See you soon.