October 16, 2017
October 3, 2016
October 3, 2016
RHA eBooks Adult
The great shift from saltwater bays to grassy paddocks, from boats to tractors, began innocently enough with a phone call at the tail end of 2007. A bloke called Michael Baker was on a make-or-break mission to save the family brickworks. If his tall red chimneys kept gushing black smoke into the blue skies around Wingham, he told Bob, one day there’d be a knock at his door and he’d be ordered to clean up or close down. Five generations turned to dust on the back of a stranger’s signature. Even the thought must have felt like a sharp pain. ‘We need a new kiln. Can you help us?’ he asked.
Bob was 63 years old, a civil engineer who specialised in combustion. I was 55, a journalist turned author. We were both technically retired. No mortgages, no dependents, enough resources to see us comfortably through – provided we didn’t go mad or fall for one of those scams aimed at people looking for an easy windfall. Old people, mostly. Desperate. In our separate ways, we’d always lived prudently, understanding cash was a tool that gave us choices but that nothing saved us in the end. In other words, we weren’t giant risk-takers, although we were always willing to have a go if the odds weren’t stacked against us.
‘From what I understand,’ Bob said, ‘the brickworks are already operating leanly and finding the money for a new kiln will be tough. I might spend a year busting my gut on a design that will end up in the bottom drawer forever.’
There were other issues: the future of bricks in a new high-tech, quick-fix, temporary world was anybody’s guess. Family members were bitterly divided about the long-term benefits when piled against the short-term investment. Wingham, a small town on the mid-north coast, was three and a half hours north of Pittwater if the traffic behaved – a significant drive. After a while, Bob returned Michael’s call. The answer, with regret, was no.Continue Reading