Digging up Mother

My parent’s house will shortly be put on the market.  Father died in February 2013 and clearing out the house has taken much longer than I would have anticipated.  We are almost there (my sisters and I) with some garden rubbish to be disposed of and a few shed items as well.

We will probably manage the sale ourselves and if we can find a willing auctioneer, will sell it via auction.  What this means then is it is time to dig up Mother.  That was the decision I came to this Saturday as I surveyed the house and considered what needed doing next.  I knew that she was under a rose bush and was confident I knew which rose bush.  My sister disagreed however and was sure that it was the adjacent bush.  Perhaps it was.

We have had what seems like weeks of rain and as a result, the clay-based soil in the front garden is damp and heavy.  Cutting through it was hard work.  I circled the rose bush that I favoured, levering out forkfuls of soil as I went.  I repeated the process and then resorted to the shovel to dig out the loosened soil.  Thus I dug a circular trench around the rose, exposing the roots and freeing them from the clay.  Eventually I pulled the bush out, severing some roots in the process but leaving a large bowl-shaped excavation that I continued to work on.

After a while, the soil changed consistency and I reached a layer of greasy clay that looked as though it would have been brilliant for making clay bricks.  It was also incredibly resistant to either fork or spade.  I now had a large and quite deep hole but had not found Mother.  I conceded that perhaps my sister was right and turned my attention to the second bush.  It was only about 12 degrees but even so by this stage, I felt the need to remove my jacket.

I started on the second bush, a bit peeved I had been chatting to the wrong shrub.  There had been those occasions when visiting dad that I had felt the need for a discussion with Mother and had slipped out into the front garden to commune with that rose, filling her in on the events of the day or just having a general chat.  The knowledge that I had misdirected my attention made me feel a bit silly.  I repeated the excavation process I had followed with the first bush and soon had that plant released from the ground as well.  I dug deeper and wider until the second hole was about the same depth as was the first.  I still didn’t find Mother.

I turned my attention to a third bush and divested myself of my jumper, leaving just a thin T-shirt on.  I was puzzled by this stage as my memory of the day on which we buried her did not support the location of the third bush at all but she had to be somewhere and I was starting to doubt the integrity of my recollections.  I repeated the process followed with the first two holes and dug the third hole and removed the bush.  Mother wasn’t there either and by this stage daylight was fading and I was exhausted.  I walked out of the garden 10 centimetres taller from all the claggy clay stuck to the bottom of my shoes, a bit cranky and perplexed by it all.

Today being Sunday, I was back at the house again, tackling some of the fun pre-sale jobs such as cleaning the oven.  My brother-in-law joined us early afternoon and somewhat in mirth when I advised that I could not find Mother, undertook to dig up further roses while at that time I supervised and cut back some rampant vegetation.  He dug up a fourth rose leaving a small neat hole that did not disclose mother.

I thought he needed a broader hole but no matter, he launched himself at another rosebush and dug that one up too.  This was now rose number five.  By this stage, he was feeling the heat and his jacket came off.  I noted a fair amount of huffing and puffing as he struggled with the sticky clay.  With that hole finally excavated, there was still another option (the sixth) and he tackled that rose bush as well.  Somewhat slowly by now and with frequent rests in between.

There was some talk of perhaps leaving her in situ and that maybe we would never find her.  I heard what they were saying but really did not want to leave my mother behind.  When the sixth hole did not yield a result except for yet another bare-rooted rose looking somewhat shocked, I suggested a cup of tea and a bit of a break.  We all needed it by then.

Suitably refreshed, we emerged to widen the last three holes, giving a greater area to investigate. My nephew had also arrived and he manned the digging implements for a while as well.  I watched them using a stabbing motion with a narrow-bladed implement as they chipped at the bottom of their holes – holes that I still didn’t really believe would yield success.

It made me think again about the first hole that I had dug and I asked my B-I-L to use that digger to chip away at the bottom of the first hole.  Chip, chip, chunk, chunk.  He chipped away and then I scrapped out the loose clay with the shovel.  Suddenly there was a flash of colour.  I directed him to it and then I could see that we had found her.  Just 5 cms below the first hole that I dug, she was waiting all along.  It was a relief to know that I had been speaking to the right bush after all.

Mother has now been extracted from the garden, the clay washed off the cream plastic brick, and she is now sitting alongside father in one of the bedrooms.  I am not sure if that is what they would have wanted but for now it will do.  The next resting place is a decision for another day.

It looked like wombats had attacked the front garden.

It looked like wombats had attacked the front garden.

At last, we found Mother.

At last, we found Mother

The Finer Points of Dining

I have had occasion to eat out several times this week.  These were social events and the opportunity to share company and break bread with friends and family.  All good.  My waistline and purse are suffering a bit, but hopefully this is not a permanent state of affairs.

I had some wonderful food, served with attention to service and detail.  Good experiences. You can hear the BUT coming though can’t you and there is a bone of contention in all this.  There is a practice now in many restaurants of not providing vegetables with a meal (whether cooked or salad variety).  You are provided with a piece of meat or a piece of chicken or a stack of vegetarian equivalent, tastefully displayed with a sauce or jus or perhaps some cauliflower foam, and a decorative garnish.  If you want vegetables with that, then they are ordered and paid for separately.

The restaurant I dined at last night did not do combined vegetables, so it was another $10 for a plate of beans, lightly sauteed in butter and served with toasted slivered almonds, or another $10 for chunks or roasted potatoes, seasoned with sea salt and rosemary, and then there was the usual roast beetroot and rocket salad – probably another $10 but I forget how much exactly.  Admittedly, these dishes each provided enough vegetable to be shared between two people, but given the cost of my main dish, I would have expected that an array of vegetables would have accompanied it.

The preceding night, I dined at a fish restaurant – new and with very positive reviews.  The service again was wonderful, but a platter of fish and the ubiquitous chips only was supplied.  A Greek or Green Salad had to be ordered extra.  No bread was provided – that had to be ordered extra as well.  The owner of this restaurant spent many years assisting his parents to run a Fish Cafe – great and unpretentious food with lots of repeat customers.  Eventually the parents got tired and decided that it was time to retire and their son moved on to his own restaurant.  He must be focusing on a different clientele.

On a positive note though, we did not realise when booking at this restaurant that it was run by the son (who also cooks).  My father had become quite well-known at the Fish Cafe, as he was a regular patron and always ordered the same thing.  Battered Garfish, with one fillet on the plate and one in a bag to take home as he could never eat the two.  (His appetite has declined in recent years.) When they saw him come in the door, the staff anticipated his requirements.

At the restaurant, Dad again ordered battered Garfish.  When it arrived, it came with a take-away box and the waiter explained that there was an extra fillet provided and that we would understand what the box was for.  It was only then that we discovered whose restaurant it was and were tickled that not only did the owner recognise my father, but that he catered for him as he did.  We will probably only go back on special occasions, given the cost but the gesture in looking after my father (in his nineties) was much appreciated.  That as much as anything will draw us back.

Am I alone in feeling that restaurants are gouging in pricing their meals as separate components, or am I exhibiting a lack of understanding in how costs are rising for restaurant managers?

Thank God it’s Friday

Just as well it was a short week this week (holiday Monday) as I had an attack of the blahs and the week dragged.  Probably adjusting to the earlier rising with Daylight Saving contributed to the feeling, plus ongoing altercations with young Donald.  He insists that he is still going to school, that he will not get a job and that I cannot make him do otherwise.  Just quietly, he is probably right, but if his intention is to go to school, then he actually has to do that.  I have told him that I am not intervening on his behalf with the school.  It is up to him to do so if he wants to try to talk his way back in.

Normally I ride my bicycle to work, or if the weather is inclement then I ride Jeffrey, my motor scooter.  Very occasionally I take the car, but this means that I must remember to keep shifting it through the day as there is a two-hour limit on car parks.  Thursday morning, I decided to drive as I was feeling tired and lethargic and also the weather was drizzly.  I was running rather late, so when I rushed outside to actually leave, I was not impressed to discover that the car was not in the driveway.  Nor was Donald in the house.  He had slipped out after I had gone to sleep and driven to Daisy’s house.  Needless to say I blew my top and left a very hostile message on his mobile phone.  At times like this I am beside myself with fury.  It’s that casual assumption that he can just take the car whenever he likes that upsets me.  I was also cross with myself that I had left the keys out where he could take them.  I shouldn’t have to hide them though.

The nice surprise for the week was receiving an email from a woman who I last saw thirty years ago.  We both met, some years before that when we both worked in a bar in Alice Springs.  K was only a couple of years older than me, but by comparison I was very innocent and naive.  She was the most overtly sexual woman I had ever met.  She wore skimpy skirts and low-cut tops, and her long hair, parted on the side seductively grazed those pouting lips.  As the male customers walked into our restaurant each evening, she would look them over critically and assess which were worth pursuing that evening.  Whichever man she chose, she usually got.  He didn’t have a chance.

K half terrified me and half fascinated me.  For some reason she took a shine to me and took me under her wing.  We were chalk and cheese but became good friends anyway.  We had many hilarious nights in the restaurant, and of course after work we would hit the town, living it up until the early hours and exhaustion hit.  I recall skinny dipping in the motel swimming pool at midnight, wearing sunglasses and our knickers on our heads as a disguise.  We probably kept half the guests awake with our raucous laughter and rude jokes.

She took me to my first bush race meeting, giving me more of a run-down on the men that were there than on the horses on the track.  It was their form that she was more concerned with anyway, though of course we did have a bet on the horses as well.  I recall when one famous Australian rock star, well known for his musical roles as well, hit town for a concert.  K took one look at the statuesque figure and said, ‘Duckie, I’m going to have him!’ and she did.  I gather it was a night to remember, for she said to me the next morning, ‘Boy, he wasn’t hiding behind the door when they were handed out!’  By her reports, he was very well endowed.  I think of that every time I see him on TV.

Although she had grown up in Alice, there came a time when she wanted a change, and she decided to move to Townsville.  I visited her a few times and still enjoyed her company although the relationship that she had at that time had brought about an element of more sedate behaviour.  Well, of a sort.

Something intriguing happened on one of those visits.  K and her sister had recently lost their father and were consulting a medium for some belated consultation with their parent.  There were unresolved issues from memory and they wanted to make contact with him.  This was taking place at the sister’s house, after which K and I were going out on the town.  At the appointed time, I drove over to the sister’s house to pick up K.  As I approached the back door, I could hear the conversation happening inside and deduced that the consultation was still in progress.  I didn’t knock, not wanting to create a disturbance but quietly opened the door, crept inside and sat down.

The man was talking in a focused fashion with his eyes closed to aid concentration or to better hear the voices I assume.  Suddenly, he stopped talking and went quiet.  He shifted in his seat and then started talking again.  He said that a young lady has just entered the room, and there is someone here who wishes to speak to her.  He described a young man who had died a short time previously and gave details of the death and my reactions to the news.  The description fitted a friend of mine, and he gave accurate detail of the circumstances and the impact on myself and the fact that I had sent a silent prayer to this friend.  I was told that the friend had received this prayer and wished to thank me.  Nobody in that room knew of my friend’s death, and I had never told K about it.  To say that I was rendered speechless at this encounter would be an understatement.  I wished later that I had thought to ask some questions, the answers to which only my friend and I would know the answers but was not quick enough.

K is now married and living a retired and settled life.  She had a young son (as a single mother) when I first knew her and now she has a granddaughter a little older than my son.  She always had a passion for animals and it seems that she still has a menagerie, with a focus on birds and parrots now – intelligent birds that are as demanding as little children.

I was delighted that she made contact with me.  I had often wondered what had become of her, but as she had married and changed her name, had no way of contacting her.  We shared news and photographs and promised to keep in touch.  She says that she has put on a bit more weight than she used to carry, but then haven’t we all?  In my mind’s eye though, I will still see the vamp that challenged and scared the pants off me when I first met her.  Can’t wait to catch up with her again.

Sailing Down the Murray

Resulting from an impulse Cudo Voucher purchase, this morning I took Father for a breakfast cruise in a paddle boat on the River Murray.  The breakfast was a bit average, but it’s the experience that one pays for rather than the food.  We received a glass of local sparking wine at the start of our meal (pleasant but sweet), but were told that coffee is not included and must be paid for at $5.00 a mug.

Just as we were about to board the boat, the sole partially detached itself from my right shoe and I flapped my way up the gangplank.  These shoes, a beautifully comfortable pair of Rockport walkers, belonged to my mother.  After her death in 2003, they found their way into my wardrobe and for the first time since leaving school I found myself wearing black lace-ups.  I have derived an enormous amount of comfort from those shoes, both physical and emotional   I think that I even wrote a poem in the early days titled ‘Walking in my Mother’s Shoes’.

Ever a sandal wearer in both winter and summer, it was a hesitant transition to these shoes but now I love them.  I was adamant therefore that when the soles wore out, they had to be replaced.  Re-soling is a tricky exercise and in my sad experience often not a success.  Slicing off the old sole is tricky and bonding a new sole in its place likewise problematic.  It frequently separates from the shoe again as the bonding does not hold under the stresses of walking.  Frustrating when the upper is still in such good condition.  Perhaps the shoes should be discarded but they are one of my last tangible links to my mother.

The river is relishing the break of the drought, but still flows gently.  As the Captain told us several times, it is the slowest flowing river in the driest continent.  The banks are lined with Willows, planted by early river boat captains, who used them as delineators of the river bank.  In times of flood, when the river spread sideways for huge distances, the trees marked the deep river channel so that boats which had ventured into new waterways could find their way back to the river and the deep water.

The boat was smaller than I expected.  Somehow, the mention of paddle boat brought to mind an image of a massive paddle steamer, playing the Murray tourist trade with faded genteel luxury.  The boat on which we found ourselves was much smaller – intimate even and built in the late 1970s.  It operates seven days a week servicing the tourist and corporate trade, with the Captain and his wife making their home on the lower deck.

It was misting with rain on the river, the day a mixture of greys and murky greens.  The brighter colour of the Willows provided contrast and relief.  Father gave me a potted analysis of the geological history of the cliffs as we passed, analysisng the sandwiched stratas.  Also the history of the river going back pillions of years when perhaps it followed a different path.  In those days, Australia was still connected to Antarctica.

We passed an old house on the cliff top, two straggly looking palm trees framing the view from the river.  We were told that at the time of Federation, the government gave two palm trees to the houses that lived along the river at that time, to be planted in commemoration of the great event.

I excitedly pointed out the high voltage transmission lines that straddled the river as we glided underneath.  Not many people get excited about these giant-like metallic towers that dominate  the landscape in stark silhouette.  In my day job, I acquire land for substations and easements for transmission lines like this and I have learnt to appreciate the geometry and strength of those towers.

I have seen Scandinavian designs of towers in the form of a line of giant men, striding over the landscape and holding the wires aloft with their arms.  Brilliant.  Each tower depicts a different phase of the stride.  I hope they get built some day.  There can still be art form in utility structures.

We watched the river birds, their take-offs and landings and discussed the merits of various river-front houses and houseboats.  We passed houseboats with clotheslines and dog kennels, Australian flags, solar panels and mini wind turbines.  Some were obviously occupied by permanent residents rather than holiday renters.

I nearly cancelled this trip, thinking that father would not be well enough.  He has perked up significantly after his recent hospitalisation with Serum Sickness and the severe allergic reaction is abating.  The Asbestosis is apparent in the breathy response to any exertion,  but he is stoic about that.  Stoic is one of the terms that I used to describe him in my Memorial Reflection blog.  I’m glad that I didn’t cancel and that we got to do the trip together.

Memorial Reflection

This afternoon, I attended the memorial service for Elliot Johnston QC.  Elliot was an old political comrade of my father’s, and also represented Dad when he was in strife over a conflict with a neighbour (another story).  He was a man of keen intellect and was highly respected both in the state and around the country.  This was a memorial service, as Elliot had bequeathed his body to the University.

There were many distinguished speakers who paid homage to the man and his accomplishments.  He was 93, so there were many years in which to make an impact.  The last speaker was his son, who spoke endearingly of his father, and towards the end of that tribute, listed the things that he had learnt from the man.  It got me thinking – what have I learnt from Dad?  It is something that needs some reflection, so I will report back on that.


Unfortunately, in the hours leading up to the service, I was involved in an accident with my car and it is probably going to be a write-off.  I had been pondering over effective control mechanisms in relation to young Donald’s use of the car and assumptions of ownership.  All rights and no responsibility, that sort of thing and definitely no cost. Well now there is no problem as there is no car!  For a while, anyway but hopefully long enough to re-introduce him to buses and his two feet.


I have now had a little time to consider what I have learnt from my father in growing up on his household and it woudl be as follows:

Work ethic – this was strongly instilled in all of us girls and demonstrated by my father, in fact by both parents.  What I have also learnt though is that one should look at working smarter not harder, and factor in some time for play.

Tools – thanks to Dad, I can use all the tools in my shed and have reasonable competency in a range of handyperson tasks.  He still insists on keeping blades sharpened and moving parts oiled though as noone can do that as well as him.  He is probably right there too – certainly better than me.

Hospitality – set another place at the table.  Dad would often meet someone in the course of the day and bring them home for a meal for a bed.  His hospitality was plain, but anyone was always welcome and he would offer any help that he thought was needed.  He picked up hitchhikers, international travellers and people like that.

Passionate beliefs – work for causes in which you believe.  Dad still hands out how-to-vote cards for the Greens and attends various meetings of those causes that interest him.  He is a life member of the Friends of the ABC.  He is not one to stand back and let others do the work – he is in there helping.

Family Values he has a stong sense of family and respect for family strength.  He would do anything to help his family, nuclear or extended.

Stoicism – this is a late addition but it has occurrerd to me that the expression ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going‘, was probably written for my father.  He picks himself up, dusts himself off and keeps going.

So – what has your father taught you?

Father’s Day 2011

There have been fifty eight Father’s Day celebrations for me.  They have slid past in recent years with little more fanfare than a box of chocolates.  With the intensity of the self-absorbed, it is easy to overlook the significance beyond the day itself.  I spent last Sunday on Eyre Peninsula on a work trip.  Sitting in the sun in Kimba, away from city distractions gave me the space and licence for reflection.

It is said that you only truly appreciate what you have when it’s gone.  Well father is not gone yet, but he is 95, and he has also just been diagnosed with asbestosis.  Both of these factors make it smart to review what I have now rather than later.

My father’s life has spanned truly remarkable social, cultural and technological changes.  He was born during World War I, and was a conscientious objector in World War 2.  (He subsequently accepted the call-up with the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.)  He was born to a single mother, a situation that brought shame and disgrace to her and her family.  Years later, I gave birth through choice to a child on my own, with that grandchild being welcomed by my father with great pride and joy.

Although my father did not have the opportunity to finish primary school, all of his daughters attained a post-graduate tertiary education.   He remembers seeing the first aircraft fly over the country town in which he was living.  Now I have a pilot’s licence and his family treats international jet travel as akin to catching a bus.    He is not very tech-savvy, but he does have an email account and a mobile phone.

Those things that I have described are the trappings of his external environment.  Other changes have come from within.  He grew up in an era when sons were everything, and he assumed that he would have a family of sons too, instead of the four daughters that he sired.  He has never totally overcome the bitterness of this disappointment but has learnt to embrace his daughters and their accomplishments.  He still voices his disappointment in only having three grandchildren – hardly the dynasty he dreamed of.

Dad grew up in an environment that although within Australia’s egalitarian society, was still class-driven.  His mother was firmly of the view that you could not step outside your station in life.  This was no doubt reinforced by her time working as a domestic servant in Adelaide as she struggled to support herself and her child.

Perhaps some of those early experiences stimulated his political awakening, for as a young man he joined the Eureka Youth League and later the Communist Party.  He developed a strong sense of justice and fair play.  For example, he opposed funding for private schools on the basis that this money should be directed towards state-based education.  Having missed out on the education that he had craved, he was adamant that the state should provide the best education possible to the general public, and of course without fees.

My early memories are of a dad who was tall, who was clever, who had black hair and clear blue eyes and a charm that he plied with the ladies.  Osteoporosis and age have taken their toll on the height, the hair and they eyes, but he still likes to turn on the charm.  He was never a man’s man, and he had more male acquaintances than mates.  Neither a drinker, a smoker or a sporting man, he was not comfortable in blokey masculine company that was driven by those interests.

He loved exploring ideas however or scientific concepts.  His information was gleaned from extensive reading and listening to the ABC radio.  It was a self-education that was broader than the formal education that many of his cohorts received.

So what sort of Dad was he?  Unconventional – definitely unconventional.  After my birth, my mother was told she would not have any more children (not correct).  The second of what were then two girls, I was not the boy he desperately wanted.  So he made do with me instead.  He took me to work with him from when I was a pre-schooler onwards, and later my younger sisters as well.  He was determined to teach us the handyman skills that he deemed necessary.

Working with him, we were also the gophers, the fetch and carry people.  He was a contractor in those days and was paid by output rather than by the hour.  I didn’t realise it at the time but we did make his task a bit easier by attending to the set-up and breakdown tasks.  I didn’t enjoy the instruction however, as his style was to lecture, while we were required to stand and watch his demonstrations obediently and attentively.  Not fun at all.

Working with him was also the main avenue of spending any time with him as he worked most days and had little time for ‘playing’.  He never attended our school or sporting events, and of course never followed sporting activities himself.  He didn’t go fishing or cook family BBQs.  All that was quite foreign to him.  Of course he didn’t have any example of such parenting styles from his own childhood either.  A step father came on the scene when Dad was around six, but these were the Depression years, and from what I understand, family times were fairly depressed as well.  He did enjoy camping, with a more Spartan style than commonly favoured today.  Camping would have been a regular event if he could have managed it and he was disappointed that as my sisters and I grew older, we were less and less interested.  He was sure that this would not have been the case if we had been boys instead of girls.

He did play Chinese Checkers though, using a board made by interns when he was sent by the army to a camp based at Loveday in South Australia during the latter years of World War 2.  He painted Quondong seeds to use as counters.  We played many games with that set.  We also made things with Meccano, played Pick-Up Sticks and listened to the radio.  No TV in our house during our school years.  We also read lots – books or papers.  Avid readers, all of us.  Dad soaked up information and education from these sources and would discuss it with anyone who would sit still long enough to listen.  It has to be said though that his form of discussion leant more towards lecturing than a mutual exchange of ideas.

Resulting from his years of political activism, he also has an ASIO file.  I ordered a copy of it a few years ago under Freedom of Information legislation, getting the details also that applied to my mother.  By coincidence, my parents were visiting when the papers arrived in the post.   We all read, astonished over our cups of tea.  The insignificant detail that had been deemed suitable for recording and filing was almost laughable, except that it indicated that people in our neighbourhood or community had been interviewed at some stage to collate the personal and inane information.

For instance, my mother had attended a cake decorating class, organised by women within their political circle.  That was funny but another example was a little sad.  A neighbour, a refugee from a war-torn eastern block country, had approached my parents to act as referees on his application for Australian Citizenship.  I believe they also helped him with filling in the forms.  This association was seen as suspicious and was thoroughly investigated for sinister connections.  I wonder how it affected the poor man’s application?

Although Dad was born into and brought up in impoverished circumstances, and lived for many of his formative years in rural areas, he is a very well-spoken man.  He has often been thought to be English, but on his mother’s side at least, is an Australian of several generations.

His opinions in early life though were typical of that era.  Women were the home-makers and he expected that his daughters would be also.  A man needed sons of course with whom to achieve the important things in life and to preserve the family integrity and name.  He was very unsophisticated and unschooled in the niceties of social engagement.  He needed little in life in the way of material possessions, and had little understanding of those who did.

His sense of home decorating was Spartan and make-do.  This was to give my mother a lot of grief, as she yearned for more creature comforts and despaired of father’s habit of dumping furniture and bits and pieces that he could see no further use for on the back verandah or in one of his many sheds, where they gradually deteriorated through exposure and neglect.  In exasperation and frustration at the backyard clutter and detritus, mother referred to him as an old Steptoe.  The concept of a neat and tidy back yard that could be used for socializing and family entertainment was quite foreign to him and still is.

He has never been a drinker, a smoker or a gambler, though I believe he did smoke the occasional pipe in his twenties.  When Dad first started working, he automatically gave all his pay to his mother.  Later, when he was married, he handed over his pay to my mother, who was the financial controller of the household.  It never occurred to him to be either mean or precious in relation to his earnings.  Not one to spend money flippantly, if ever I were in need of financial assistance, he would do what he could to help and has often offered.

It has only been during this last year that Dad has stopped trying to do household maintenance tasks for me, as he has always felt that he should look after his daughters.  With both knees replaced and both hips too, thanks to arthritis, he would still try to get up on my roof to inspect the gutters or whatever.  I learnt to keep quiet about chores that needed doing.  It was easier not to let him know than to try to stop him from ‘assisting’.  I guess that there are different ways that people say ‘I love you.’  Dad’s not a vocal man in that sense, but can belt it out with a hammer and nails.