There’s No Need To Boil Your Underwear Twice

I try to remain calm as I reach down to open the lid of the lap top; I reach out and press the power button. I know the boot and start up process should take at least a minute. I’m tingling from head to toe and I start hopping from one foot to the other. I know I’ll have difficulty entering my username and password; it’s a challenge to concentrate when I’m giddy with excitement. I click on the homepage icon on the browser toolbar; bam!!!, the AFL home page and the new season’s match highlights. With no new Aussie Rules Footy highlights the last six months have been painful to sit through; the first game of the 2019 Australian Football League season was played on Thursday, 21 March. Matches between the AFL’s eighteen teams are played Thursday through Sunday; during the 6 month season highlight video’s of the week’s nine games are on the AFL web site.

image source:jmcadam

I felt a sense of contentment as I started watching the Sydney Swans v Carlton Blues game highlights; even though I knew the final score I became caught up in the action as each team exchanged goals. It was a close scoring game up until the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Just before the final siren Buddy Franklin, known for his long range boundary line scoring bombs, took a specky and went back for his kick; he launched one that sailed through the big sticks for a sausage. As the siren sounded he reached up for his mouth guard, removed it, and put it down the front of his footy shorts. I don’t think what footy players wear has changed much over the years. I don’t remember many of them ever wearing protective gear but I think in this day and age, they may be encouraged to wear a body hugging garment such as tight fitting lycra underpants. I don’t think it matters who it is; if you’re playing four quarters of Australian Rules then you’re going to experience sweat drenched undies through the last two quarters of the game.

image source:zimbio.com

Snug fitting Chesty Y fronts were the first undies I remember wearing; they’re the only undies any true blue mum would ever buy their precious little ones. Chesty was a cartoon caricature trademark for the Australian clothing company Bonds. He had a powerful jutting jaw and a stunning physique; he became a superhero when he pulled on his trusty athletic singlet. Back then, we called our underpants undies or underdacks; they later became Reg Grundies, which was shortened to grundies. Reg Grundy was a pioneer of Australian television, and a household name to all Australians. He created many Australian television shows, but was best known for Wheel of Fortune and other game shows. As I approached adolescence, and wandered into adulthood I drifted away from Y fronts and started to wear Bond’s low rise sport briefs; boxers, boxer briefs, and the thong held little fascination for me.

It was the mid seventies and I stood at the fork in the road. I packed a few low rise briefs into my blue, metal frame, back pack. I had trust in Chesty to see me through the Thai, Malaysian, Burma and Indian humidity; I reasoned if the elastic was taut, and the fabric feels fresh and soft, then goodbye chaffing and sweat. Little did I know that cotton underwear has very poor moisture wicking properties, and once they’re wet, they’ll stay wet for as long as you’re wearing them. The Thailand I remember was transforming from a Vietnam War recreation and retreat escape into a tourist mecca. Bangkok still had a flat skyline, and it’s streets were clogged with people, motorcycles, tut tuts, and buses. The temperature nudged the nineties, and the humidity matched the air temperature. Every mid afternoon a brief thunderstorm topped up the humidity. My Chesty low rises were constantly moist; either from the rivulets of sweat that trickled down my back, or from crotch sweat. There was always a damp pair of just washed low rises resting on the end of a bed; or hanging somewhere in a dank hotel room.

image source:thetravelerstrunk.com

I wonder if Buddy’s grundies had the same degree of moistness as mine had in Thailand; if so, he must have experienced some serious chaffing. I don’t know if Prickly Heat cooling powder is available in Australia. It’s a great remedy for damp grundies chaffing; but it does take a little while to get used to the lengthy after burn sensation. Maybe the Australian Football League needs to make Prickly Heat a must have for all eighteen clubs.

After a couple of unforgettable months in Thailand we prepared for the journey into Burma and the ancient city of Bagan. The gateway to Burma was somewhat open; the military dictatorship had started issuing one week visas, and the country was becoming part of the South East Asian hippie trail. Upon entering the country you had to show your confirmed onward travel, and declare all of the foreign currency you were taking into the country. You were given papers showing that amount, and told to always get a receipt from the bank when you changed money. The receipts, and the amount of foreign money that you left with a week later, had to equal what you had declared on entering the country. You learnt from other travellers to take duty free Johnnie Walker and Marlboro cigarettes into Burma, and to hide US dollars somewhere on you; all to be sold and exchanged on the black market.

image source:jmcadam

That last night in Bangkok I tortured myself; racking my brain as to where to hide my US dollars. I had to declare some of the dollars; the rest was my nest egg to exchange, when needed, on the black markets of India and Pakistan, the Middle East, and Turkey. I toyed with putting the wad of dollars into the front of my Chesty low rise sport briefs. I practised stuffing and then sitting and walking in the dank hotel room, and then strolling the moisture laden steaming streets of Bangkok; when I returned to the hotel room I reached into, and down the front of, my grundies and pulled out the wad of US dollars. The wad was a spongy ball of paper mache.

Even though there was a bulge at the ankle bone in each of my socks I still walked with a jaunty step into the customs and immigration area at the Rangoon airport. I declared a small amount of US dollars; just enough for what it should cost to travel the hippie trail for a week in Burma, I think the customs and immigration officers knew where every traveller’s Johnnie Walker and carton of Marlboro was heading; and I think they knew that we all had undeclared dollars somewhere. The military was making the rules, but the people were keeping the country functioning.

If Buddy’s grundies had the same degree of moistness as mine did in Thailand, then I don’t understand why he’s cramming his mouth guard down the front of his footy shorts instead of shoving it into his socks; maybe he doesn’t want any of his teammates borrowing his mouth guard. I think he’d have to give it a good soak in a glass of Dettol though before slipping it back into his mouth. The trainers would have to have a few bottles of it handy if Buddy is taking his mouth guard out every time he takes a mark, or at the end of each quarter.

image source:jmcadam

It seems I had the same idea of where to hide my US dollars as most people do when they’re trying to smuggle something.

Prominent bulge in man’s trousers found to contain four smuggled kittens: a man attempting to cross from Malaysia into Singapore was found by immigration officials to be carrying four kittens in a bulge in his trousers. Officers were prompted to conduct further checks when they heard meowing sounds coming from the bulge in his pants.
Traveller arrested smuggling live hummingbirds in his trousers: a traveller was caught at Rochambeau airport in Cayenne, French Guiana trying to smuggle more than a dozen live hummingbirds in special pouches sewn into the inside of his underwear. The birds were individually wrapped in cloth and taped up to prevent them from escaping from their sweaty travel container. That would be some pecker in your pants.
Man tried to smuggle 51 turtles in pants across border: Canadian Border Services, seized 41 live turtles a man had taped to his legs, and 10 he had hidden between his legs. The collection included eastern box turtles, diamondback terrapins, endangered spotted turtles and red-eared sliders. Fortunately there were no snapping turtles.
Man caught smuggling snake in pants at German Airport: security officers noticed a large bulge in a traveller’s pants. When he was stopped and told to reveal what he had hidden in his pants, he pulled out a bag tied with a cord. Inside the bag was a 15.75-inch boa. That is some trouser snake.
Man caught with live pigeons down his pants at Melbourne Airport: when customs and border control officers stopped a traveller from Dubai they found a multi-vitamin container holding two birds eggs in his pocket. A further search revealed he was wearing tights with the two live birds stuffed inside; one in each leg.

image source:jmcadam

This bloke can’t be the sharpest tool in the shed. The owner of RG Equipment of Fresno, California, is asking for help to find the man who stole a chainsaw. The shop’s video surveillance camera shows a man taking a chainsaw from a display, nonchalantly stuffing the blade of the power tool down the front of his pants, and then covering the engine assembly with his jacket.

I think I’ll have a backyard cricket party this summer. We’ll probably use a hard cork ball instead of a tennis ball. I think I’ve got an old Cricket Cup in the basement that everyone can wear when they’re batting; what a great way of getting rid of your fear of a hard, fast travelling, round object whacking you in the groin. Amazon has packs of 3×84 Dettol antibacterial surface cleaning disinfectant wipes so there shouldn’t be a problem sharing the Cup.

 

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The Train on Platform Eight Not Stopping at South Kensington

 

When nanna’s in Eliza Street replaced Edith Street and the Dandenong Market during school holidays my cousin Peter and I would invest several days in designing and constructing complex train layouts on one side of the Peel Street backyard. My brother and I each had a Hornby O Gauge goods train set and we shared a passenger train. My brother is about eighteen months older than me and in the last years of building had lost interest in constructing convoluted railways so my cousin and I combined all that made up the Great Northern Railway, Midland Railway, and the passenger train. My set was green which represented the Great Northern Railway and my brothers were red for the Midland Railway. Each of our train sets had at least four different types of goods carriages and a guards van. Each of the train sets, and the passenger train, were kept in a massive wooden box in the backyard shed; the box also housed two railway stations, level crossings, points, some wooden bridges and a collection of curved, straight and cross over metal railway lines. When the train sets were combined there were enough rails to cover one side of the backyard. The side of the yard that we built our railways on was mostly dirt and a lemon tree was in front of the shed.

peel backyard

the backyard fifty plus years later

The other side of the yard was a grassed area that was home to the Hill’s rotary clothesline for mums washing; she washed clothes twice a week and hung them out to dry. On mums washing side the grass was boarded with flowers and a passion fruit vine on one of the fences. In front of the back fence was a large drum that was used to burn different types of rubbish; we called it the incinerator.

Peter and I would start the railway in the morning by digging valleys and gullies, heaping dirt for mounds, ridges and terraces and smoothing out spaces for different landforms. After lunch, we would assemble the rails; create cross overs, using points for station sidings, and invent long meandering ribbons of rail. We would finish the construction late afternoon and only had enough time to disentangle the rails and to pack everything in the box in the shed before Peter went back to nannas for tea. The next day we would start a new layout and start the building again, and the next day until the going to the pictures day. I don’t remember ever running a train with carriages around one of our constructions; we sometimes pushed carriages and released a wind-up engine on half done unfinished sections.

The barren landscape of Iran and Afghanistan reminded me of the dirt we moulded and shaped into barren, battered, and eroded plateaus in the back yard of Peel Street. Local buses and trucks transported me from Kabul, through the Khyber Pass, into Pakistan. I had eaten street food through Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan and since Kabul, I was getting more feverish and nauseated. I don’t remember if I ended up in Islamabad or Rawalpindi but I decided to return to Oz and brought a third-class railway ticket to New Delhi to start the overland trek to Australia. The British left the Indian subcontinent with trains that run on time and third-class non-sleeper travel. It may have changed over the years since my first journey but the third class compartments had wooden plank seats facing each other with a second row above; five people squeezed onto each plank and you looked through legs if you were sitting on the lower plank. There were no cooling fans, you slept sitting, and in most cases, there were no toilet facilities; some carriages had a hole in the floor in a cubicle at one end.

india train

somewhere in india

I was starting to suffer fever and chills and diarrhea. I drifted into and out of limited sleep and remember being woken by the syncopated thunk of something hitting the carriage floor. It was the heel of boots caused by double marching, combat dressed and armed, soldiers crowding the carriage corridors. The Pakistan Army was moving troops in urgency to the Indian border; it was the posturing before another major conflict between Pakistan and India.

boots train

these boots are made for marching

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military confrontation between India and Pakistan during the Bangladesh Liberation War. I don’t remember the border crossing but I do remember the air raid sirens in New Delhi; I spent most of the time in New Delhi huddled in the corner of a dark dank room with stomach pain, nausea, extremely watery diarrhea, and fatigue.

Long before it became a tourist attraction and a World Heritage Site I undertook a wondrous train journey in India on The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Toy Train. I never imagined when connecting the rails in the backyard of Peel Street that a railway line could have multiple loops, reverses, and double circles. Today the four miles from Ghoom Station to Darjeeling Station is a tourist attraction; you can leave your review of the experience on TripAdvisor and even book online. Darjeeling was constructed as a summer resort for the British Raj elite to avoid the simmering, sweltering, heat of Indian summers. Today it is famous for the tea grown on the surrounding plantations. I used the toy train to reach Darjeeling; the trip from Siliguri took about eight hours. As the engine slowly heaved and steamed through a market or a town it was common to get out and walk alongside, or ahead of, the train and look back at the looping, snaking, belching, narrow-gauge toy train, or stop at a market stall to buy fruit and other foods.

Darjeeling railway

image source:wikimedia

At times the train would stop in a town for another engine to be hitched onto the back of the carriages to give an extra push up, and around, the loop ahead. There were few Europeans on the local train and the villagers used the trains just as trams and buses are used today. The loud shrill train whistle warned the swarm of 1960 Land Rovers that the little train that could was about to cross the mountain road ahead. The longer the train chugged and the more loops looped the higher you went and the colder it got.

We stayed for a week or more in Darjeeling; getting lost in the interconnecting roads, steep flights of steps and bustling streets winding through town, trying to find a space in the kite filled sky to fly a kite with the same skill as a Himalayan, sipping tea in the tea rooms, and admiring the Darjeeling Zoo. I still contemplate the sign on the fence of the llama enclosure: Beware of Llama spit.

kanchenjunga

kanchenjunga

Newport station is at the convergence of the Altona, Williamstown, and the Werribee-Geelong lines; it was a young boys utopia for train watching. Most goods trains would stop at Newport station and as a young boy, I would always ensure that I would get to look through the open door into the guard’s van. I was never sure what the guard did in the guard’s van but I watched him wave a green flag from the door when it was acceptable for the goods train to leave the station. And there was a raised seat inside and at the back of the van that perched the guard above the top of the carriages that allowed him to look down the length of the train. I wanted to be a guard on a goods train.

I was one of the tourists that began to trickle into Burma in the late seventies. The military dictatorship only issued one-week visas, you had to show confirmed onward travel from Burma, and on arriving you had to declare all the foreign currency you were taking into the country and obtain a voucher showing that amount. You were warned to always get a receipt from the bank when you changed money because the receipts and the voucher had to match went you left the country a week later. Burma was not yet a stop on the hippie trail but you knew to take into the country duty-free Johnnie Walker and Marlboro cigarettes as well as to hide US dollars somewhere on you and not to declare them; all to be sold and exchanged on the black market. The luxury hotels and transportation catering to tourists were yet to spring up because for decades the country only had limited contact with the outside world. The second day in Burma we boarded a local riverboat on the banks of the Irrawaddy River in Rangoon for a fifteen-hour river trip and then on to the site of the remnants of thousands of Buddhist temples. We shared the wooden deck with other passengers, baskets of live chickens, a few pigs, and huge cloth bundles. The remains of the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan is indescribable. And now we had two days before we had to leave Burma.

temples

the kingdom of pagan

I don’t remember the town or railway station that we hitched a ride to but the vintage bus driver assured us we could buy a ticket to Rangoon at the station when the train arrived. We waited on the platform with other would-be passengers; similar to when we shared the wooden deck of the Irrawaddy riverboat. When the train appeared in the distance we stood waiting at the ticket sellers window; the train stopped at the station and still no ticket seller; people started to get on the train and still no ticket seller. A passenger on the platform told us we could not buy tickets at this station for this train. In a panic, I went to the guard’s van. It was just like Newport station; there was a guard inside. Somehow he understood our dilemma of no ticket; I think the smuggled into the country undeclared American dollars helped his understanding. He beckoned us into the van and onto a pile of bundles at one end. I remember being lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of the guard’s van and waking up and watching through the open guard’s van door the sun rising on the Burmese countryside: rice paddies magically appearing and the sun glistening on what must be steeples of gold-leafed pagodas in distant villages.

from the guards van

from the guards van

We ate heartily in Rangoon that evening because we had not spent sufficient declared dollars to match the receipts for the seven days we were in Burma. We flew out of Burma the next day; the last day our visa was valid. I thought of the railway guards van that got us to the airport on time.

 

The Products of Frank Hornby

World Heritage: Mountain Railways of India

Kingdom of Pagan

other images: pixabay