Monday, 5th March 2001.
Early in the afternoon I caught a bus out to Cherokee Heights Middle School,
where Tara was doing her prac teaching. I arrived at the beginning of the final
period of the day, and successfully found the science class where Tara was
I'd forgotten what it was like to be in grade 8. All the girls were taller than
the boys, learning was secondary and socialising was of the Utmost Importance.
Tara introduced me at the beginning of the class, and towards the end of the
lesson Tara called a halt to proceedings and we had a little question-and-answer
Thankfully the students had never heard of Neighbours. Instead I was grilled on Survivor
II, which they told me is set in Australia. They didn't know a great deal about
Australia, but hey they're 13 years old, they're probably more concerned about
body hair and things like that. They were amazed that I was visiting Madison, which
they considered to be the arse-end of nowhere. I told them to quit their bitchin',
since I was brought up in Evandale (pop. 800). Not that there's anything wrong with
Evandale, it's just that if you're looking for somewhere that's nowhere near the
action, then a small town in rural Tasmania is a good start.
After my interrogation Tara and I went to a kosher bakery run by Mr Donutman.
(possibly not his real name) "We're just finishing up," he said.
"Oh, are you closing?" asked Tara, a little disappointed.
"No, no," he said, "Come back in about an hour and they'll all be ready. The donuts,
that is." So we left to do some grocery shopping.
An hour later we returned. "You're back!" he said. "What would you like? We've
got some fresh cake donuts."
Tara wrinkled her nose. "Cake donuts? I don't really like them."
"You're probably thinking about cake donuts that you get in supermarkets and the like.
Here, try this!" he said, thrusting a still-warm donut towards us. We had half each,
and it was gooooood.
"You like it?" asked Mr Donutman.
"Oh yeah!" we said.
"Well how about a sour cream donut?" He grabbed a donut from the rack behind him
and slapped it down in front of us. Again, it was yum. Chocolate donut?
Magnificent! Tara ended up buying a boxful. All the while Mr Donutman was telling
us all about his business, he could talk the hind leg off a donkey.
Loaded up with food and donuts, we decided to rent a video. Neither of us had seen
The Matrix, so we rented that. The video rental joint was in a dodgy part of
town. Next to the video store was a "Cheques Cashed" kinda place. As we walked out
there were three huge black blokes sitting in a pick-up truck. A couple had
balaclavas on. Just as we made it to Tara's car (parked next to the pick-up truck)
one of the blokes got out and walked into the "Cheques Cashed" joint. We decided that
it looked like a bad scene, so we made like a tree and left. Eh?
(he was probably wearing the balaclava because it was cold.)
Back at Tara's (after enduring a painful impersonation of Barney the purple
dinosaur after dinner next door) we found a video Tara compiled while she was in Tasmania.
And what a classic it was. There was a promo video done for Launceston College, and
various snippets from Northern Tasmanian tv. There were some clips from Southern
Cross News, including coverage of the Independent Schools Swimming Championships from
Windmill Hill pool! It gets better - the commentary (yes, there was commentary!) was
done by Ray James.
For those of you unfamiliar with Ray James' work, allow me to shed some light on
the legend of Raincoat Ray.
Ray James was an excitable sports presenter. He'd been around for years when
I was a kid. Ray could usually be found doing sports reporting for the nightly
news, or doing something for the Sunday morning sports show. The Sunday morning
sports show would be a compilation of the week's sporting action, plus magazine-style
segments, I'm sure you're familiar with the format. There would be highlights from
the state and regional football leagues: the TFL, NTFL (or whatever it was called at
the time), and NWFU. For me, it was during
these highlights packages that Raincoat Ray used to shine. What he would have to do
is provide commentary for the highlights. After the match had been completed. The
highlights would be edited, and Ray would then script his commentary.
Problem was, he would say the same thing Every Single Time! He would be describing
play, his voice getting higher and higher with post-match excitement, and then as the
player shot for goal, Ray would say something like:
"...gathered by Williams. Williams snaps, and snaps truly!"