MY FATHER was a quiet man. Not shy, just quiet. His four brothers (there were two sisters) said he was the lesser sportsman of the family but with the sharpest mind. He and three of his brothers won scholarships to Melbourne Uni. The fifth remained at home in Ballarat to assist his father in the family plumbing business. He was my favourite. He was boisterous and burly and threw himself with great gusto into the rowdy games his nephews and nieces devised at family gatherings.
I only retain fragments of memory of my father. Fishing days, help with the darkness of maths homework, being there in the thin crowd to watch my sporting achievements, especially the day I took a towering mark in the goal square for the under 15s only to watch Simon Price grab my “clearing” kick and send it sailing back over my head. Does humiliation ever fade?
My father told me once that when he was born chewing gum had not been invented, or at least hadn't reached Ballarat. I've never checked that out but then I never questioned my dad. During the war years he gave up smoking so my mother could have his ration of cigarettes, the packets doled out by our downtown barber Mr Belaire. Dad did not live long enough to appreciate the irony of his sacrifice.
I often wonder how he would cope with the world today if given the chance to revisit. Technology has moved on at lightning speed. Automatic transmission and remote locking, smart phones, keyhole surgery.
All these thoughts of advanced technology tumbled in upon me when my partner insisted that I get an expert in to sort out the mysterious logic of my computer software. She was getting a bit impatient with my constant cries for help.
Some 25 years ago when a group of us teachers were told to attend computer training for beginners, Frank and I, two of the oldest and slower ones, walked out early, showing our frustration with appropriate loud slamming of doors. We were letting the world know our temperaments were not suited to embracing the ether peripheries of the computer world. Weeks later we were enrolled in a second course with the assurance that this time we would make it to the promised land. Once again doors slammed.
So it was to be many years later when a friend recognised my untapped talent and led me by the hand into the misty world of computers.
Last week during his afternoon visit, my computer expert took me down many new and bewildering paths and I was soon struggling to keep up. Now as I look at this screen before me displaying 51 icons (is that the term for them?) I realise I understand the function of maybe eight. The rest I leave well alone. In the past I have signed up for a membership to a massage parlour, a dating service and cancelled the house insurance.
As for that scary bit when I am told to type in my password I'm never too sure which one to use as I keep on making up smarter and more complex ones.
Still I can send and receive emails, ask Google some curly questions and fool around with YouTube.
If Dad were to come back and visit one day – and who's to say in this ever-changing world of ours that he won't – I could show him a thing or two that would make him very proud.