The Day of the Jackhole

The Day of the Jackhole

Celebrating 40 years on this earth

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1975. Highly flammable.

November 1, 2011

It’s night time. I’m sitting in Dad’s ute or truck with my hands on the dash and looking at the scene. The Ilfracombe pub is burning down. I am in my pajamas. They are summer pajamas with the short singlet top and the bloomer bottoms. That’s them in the picture above. But right now, I am sitting in Dad’s ute or truck with my brother, Michael. I don’t know where Mum is. She might’ve stayed home. The Ilfracombe pub is burning down and we are watching. Dad has told us to wait here while he goes off to … I guess fight the fire? I can’t remember. Michael and I are fascinated by the glow. And kind of excited.

We’re also bickering, which is something we’re world-class at.

He’s teasing me. He says: “You’d better not go out there. YOU’LL BURN AND DIE!”

If these are not the exact words, it’s how I interpret his taunts.

Michael is adept at identifying my worst fears and needling them until I snap back and do something that might get me in trouble. That’s the goal. To get me in trouble. He seems to know that I’m extremely stressed about the bright red label in my pajamas. and have been for a while. The bright red label that has a black pictograph of a flame and the words “highly flammable”. If I step out of this truck, I will burst into flames in my highly flammable pyjamas. Of this, I have no doubt.

But I desperately want to get closer to the fire (confession: at this age, I am a terrible firebug and fascinated by matches and sticking things into bar heaters), but I remain with my hands clutching the dash of this truck.

Bickering with my brother as the flames flicker and glow on our angry faces.

* The only part of this story I’m second guessing is if we were in the ute, or if I imagined that tiny detail. It’s so vivid in my mind. I remember the glow on the horizon, and then I think we went into town. Regardless, the Railway Hotel DID burn down, Michael DID say that stuff to me and my 70s pjs WERE highly flammable. That is all.


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