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Letter from Australia#6

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I was brazing new copper contacts to the spare control arm for the overhead crane, I’d done a similar job at Orgreave Coke Ovens back in Sheffield where I served my time as an electrician, so I sort of knew what I was doing even though everything I did here I did with a kind of nervous trepidation. It was my third day at the foundry, my first job since arriving in Australia. Suddenly, there was Halim, an electrician from Egypt (or was it Lebanon?) who was employed on the same day as me. I was trying hard to understand his broken English and I was thrilled when he appeared to be striking up a conversation.

“How long . . . you . . . be here?”

“Oh, about a week” I said, doing a quick calculation of the days since we docked in Sydney.

Halim let out a wookie-like cry followed by “Pomee *******!” before turning round and walking away. Well, how was I to know he was waiting to use the oxy torch?

 

I thought it a bit odd that the foundry had set on six electricians on the same day. After two months four of us got the sack. “That’s how some companies operate” explained the union rep. “Nothing we can do. Just go and get another job, there’s plenty of work.”

 

So I got another job. I joined Kilpatrick Green, a large electrical contractor doing a major overhaul of the Lindemans Wine factory at Lidcombe, a suburb in Sydney’s inner west. There were three huge aluminium wine vats with ladders and handrails. One lunchtime I took my flask and sandwiches and climbed to the top for a look around. The feeling was surreal, a warm wind ruffled my hair, the whole city was spread out before me, in the distance I could just make out the harbour bridge. It felt like the day I left school, I had the world at my feet again. This was my second chance and I was determined to make the best of it.

Six weeks later I was out of work again. The job had finished, the foreman called us together and handed us each a bottle of claret, compliments of Lindeman’s Wines.

“There’s a job starting up next week at Tennant Creek for completion by Christmas, fill out your details in the ledger if you’re going. Everyone here is eligible.”

“Where’s Tennant Creek?” I asked, hoping it was nearer home so I wouldn’t have such a long trip to work but everyone had already filed out leaving just one sparky to sign the ledger. The foreman looked across at me. “It’s half way between Alice Springs and Darwin, give or take a hundred miles or so.”

“Is there a bus?” I asked, feeling a bit dejected.

 

When I got home my wife cooked spaghetti bolognese topped with parmesan cheese and we polished off the bottle of claret that same night. Life for us in Australia just got better and better!

Edited by Downsunder

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Thanks Downsunder, I really enjoyed reading that.

 

Edited to add - I've just read the other five letters and thoroughly enjoyed them. I'm only surprised they haven't garnered more appreciation. Please keep writing some more!

Edited by Halibut

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Orgreave - covered in houses now!

 

Remember the Orgreave coke ovens very well, especially the stink. I spent the first 12 years of my life in Catcliffe and the stink never went away when we moved to Brinsworth, as my stepfather worked there and stunk of Benzene every time he came home from work.

 

---------- Post added 06-09-2018 at 15:42 ----------

 

Thanks Downsunder, I really enjoyed reading that.

 

Edited to add - I've just read the other five letters and thoroughly enjoyed them. I'm only surprised they haven't garnered more appreciation. Please keep writing some more!

 

Totally agree, his letters/posts take on a life of their own, fascinating stuff. I have commented before on his posts as I identify with his dilemmas. I too was a first generation immigrant to Canada and although I went with a job to go too, it only lasted just over a year, as a recession kicked in. Life got a little similar to Downsunder's after that lol

Edited by Ontarian1981

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Remember the Orgreave coke ovens very well, especially the stink. I spent the first 12 years of my life in Catcliffe and the stink never went away when we moved to Brinsworth, as my stepfather worked there and stunk of Benzene every time he came home from work.

 

---------- Post added 06-09-2018 at 15:42 ----------

 

 

The good news is that the River Rother is no longer polluted. There is a fishing club active on it. Took a bit of a step backwards during the floods of 2007, but I understand it has now recovered.

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Remember the Orgreave coke ovens very well, especially the stink. I spent the first 12 years of my life in Catcliffe and the stink never went away when we moved to Brinsworth, as my stepfather worked there and stunk of Benzene every time he came home from work.

 

---------- Post added 06-09-2018 at 15:42 ----------

 

 

The good news is that the River Rother is no longer polluted. There is a fishing club active on it. Took a bit of a step backwards during the floods of 2007, but I understand it has now recovered.

 

Don't get me going on floods, I lived just across from the River in the 50's and sometimes you got up after a night of rain and looked out of the front window and it was like you lived on a lake.:hihi:

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Really enjoyed reading it. The only criticism I have, it’s not long enough. I’m getting greedy now.

Being a skilled electrician must have been an advantage, the jobs seemed to be plentiful, that must have been a relief because you didn’t take much cash with you. I’m wondering if your wife also found a job straight away.

I will keep an eye on The History and Expats for more Letters from Australia.

Keep them coming.

I hope it was a good claret.

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It would be nice if we had another letter from Australia, before Christmas, Downsunder!

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