Great expectations

I’ve been away for a few weeks on an important study tour, comparing the drainage systems of Newcastle with those of Cumbria. Unfortunately, my companion Jambo couldn’t make it to the UK. As I walked over the fells and sandy headlands of my old home I kept thinking how much he’d be enjoying himself. Instead, we hooked up with some visiting Kiwis, John and Val. We presented the opportunity as a house-sitting arrangement with the added extra of caring for a dog, when in truth it was caring for a dog with the added extra of having a house.

I got back on Saturday, and that afternoon the two of us returned to the drain.

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The big rains of December had scoured the bed, and the follow-up rains meant that there was barely a polystyrene cup or fag end to be seen.

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I was thinking, as I rounded the bend towards the railway bridge, how little had changed. There was a new roll-up next to the WORLD PEACE one. WORLD PEACE next to GODLESS seemed somehow … something. Not ironic; in fact, quite the opposite. The state things are in at the moment we’re more likely to see world peace in a Godless world.

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A black-shouldered kite swooped and heckled a grey goshawk, something I’d never seen before. I’d always considered these little kites to be quite delicate creatures but it really gave it to the goshawk.

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Here was something different though. As we arrived at the weir by the TAFE we saw a group of people with a dog and an electric remote-controlled boat. Jambo was fascinated and in he went. There was a time when he’d have swum over to find out was going on. If it weren’t for his incessant curiosity I’d never have got to know Old Mate and might never have written A Year Down the Drain. But this time he was content to stand and watch. Is he getting old? He did turn six on Boxing Day but that’s hardly old for a terrier.

Maybe things are changing around me more than I’d realised. What will 2016 bring? What will I think about the year when I re-read this post, in January 2017?

Which is perhaps a rather maudlin way of wishing you all a happy new year. I think!

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2 Responses to Great expectations

  1. Brian Yatman says:

    Hi – just wanted to say I’m about half-way through A Year Down the Drain and enjoying it very much. But I must admit I was 6 pages in before I realised you were writing about the dour northern Newcastle and not the one in England (joke). The cover illustration just has that autumnal Caught by the River vibe, and I made assumptions. Anyway, next time I’m up your way I’ll be sure to have a gander at Hamilton North, and the Styx in particular. Cheers, Brian

    • Mark MacLean says:

      Ah yes: the autumnal colours, the whiff of coal dust in the air, the sub-zero temperatures … No, wait a minute, this IS Newcastle, Australia!

      Glad to hear you’re enjoying the book. The Styx is looking particularly clean at the mo following all the recent rains, so it’s a nice time to visit. Might see you round!

      Mark

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