Column 8

Is there an Australian political version of The Twelve Days of Christmas? Alicia Parmiter, of North Curl Curl, is looking for the lyrics. "There appears to be more than one (all finishing with the line 'And a politician up a gum tree'), but the one I recall includes the line 'two Medibanks', which rather dates it.'

A new version would have to mention our current Deputy Prime Minister, who Peter Riley, of Penrith, says may be the most aptly named politician in the country. "Warren Truss is also the Minister for Infrastructure, which makes him the minister for bridges. Now, the state government is building a pedestrian bridge over the Nepean River at Penrith. In a letterbox drop it describes the bridge as a warren truss design. No, the minister doesn't design bridges. A warren truss is an engineering term used to describe a bridge whose load bearing structure is composed of connected equilateral triangles." 

"When Sunday comics ran to four double pages, Charlie Chuckles used to read at least some on air. This was, however, from your opposition paper." Thank you, Geoff Linn, of Gilead, just when we were enjoying what has been a mighty flood of reminiscences.

Not just read out, advises Richard Mason, of Newtown, "but acted out, like proper little radio dramas. It was on 2UW and the host was Charlie Chuckles, ? who introduced Superman, Joe Palooka, Popeye and the rest of The Sunday Telegraph comics. As a Sun-Herald -only family, it meant I could get two doses of comics by listening to the radio . . . Sorry, wireless."

Alan Parker, of Turramurra, took us back further, to 1942, when as a six-year-old he was eligible to join the Charlie Chuckles Club and receive the kookaburra badge. "There were also birthday calls to children, who were given clues as to where their birthday presents were hidden, such as 'follow the wireless aerial lead to its end'."

So who was this Charlie? The late broadcaster Howard Craven. "A wonderful swarm of bees" is mentioned in the missives. But his "picture", as Geoff reminds us, was obscured by an escritoire.

"As someone who reads the death notices every day (yes, it's a family tradition)," Carole Dawes, of Randwick, wonders why Wednesday and Saturday have a significantly larger number of notices than other days. "Who started that tradition?" Perhaps someone no longer in a position to answer you, Carole.

Column8@smh.com.au (no attachments please).

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