Night lights

My father’s lollies


My Father was a great gardener. He could make vegetables sprout from the most unaccommodating soil. The aroma of fertiliser (just a nice name for chicken or horse shit) permeates the memories of my youth, as does the bounty of the garden tended by the old man.

For all his green-fingerish skills, his aptitude as a teacher who should pass these skills on to his children are none. My brother and I have trouble making grass grow. There were no Father-Son moments in the garden of our lives. No triumphant gathering of fresh cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, zucchini, peas, hanging beans, tomatoes, figs, potatoes, broccoli or cauliflowers (a small selection of what he grew). Not for us.

To be truthful, my brother and I didn’t actually seek tuition, but then neither was it ever offered as I remember. We would just get in the way, or we’d water incorrectly, or pick a too-green tomato, or just be trampling across freshly planted seedlings.

“Thank you, guys…” my father would try to sound encouraging, “but I don’t think that’s the … don’t … not there …not that way … what’s the matter with you.” His voice quickly rose with this blood pressure whenever my brother and I were around.

“What’s that? … I think I heard your mother calling. Go see what she wants… Go on off you go.” End of the lesson. It wasn’t just us, it was the same with his grandchildren.

I’m not complaining. However, if you saw what I was doing at the moment you may think differently. I am about to go visit my father at the nursing home where he now lives and take him a bag of lollies. Pardon the visual you are about to receive, but yes, I am currently pissing on those lollies.

I am standing over the toilet and pissing on one boiled lolly after another. They’re just ordinary boiled lollies. Come in bags of fifty. Wrapped in cellophane.

I love the boiled lolly. The whole simple idea of them is a wonder. Take a good handful of sugar, add water, a flavouring, boil, wait until it hardens, wrap, and there you have it.

I am now looking at boiled lollies that are enveloped with a thin covering of my uric acid. Perfect for visiting day. Continue reading

Man in the water

The man before the revolution

Everyone was waiting for the revolution. They had all heard about others and the tremendous benefits a revolution would bring. They felt there was a great need for the population to rise as one and assuage war against the oppressors.

This would be their crowd sourced revolution. From the people, for the people. Who would not want it?

Continue reading

Man alone on jetty
foggy road

A pocket pebble

I have a small, bronze coloured stone. It’s really a pebble, and it is the size and shape of a thimble that I have kept in my pocket for years. I can’t remember when I first found it and vowed to keep it.

I once lost it for a couple of years and then found it again in the pocket of a well worn corduroy jacket I had misplaced for a while.

The same stone helped me turn around a job interview that was going particularly bad. I pulled the stone and a paper clip (that I was also keeping at the time) from my pocket and placed it on the desk. My interviewers looked up at me with renewed interest.

I once showed the pebble to my wife. And she left me soon after. I don’t think it had anything to do with the pebble, but I’m not sure.

(First appeared on medium 26 Oct, 2014

Flash in the pan

The Doctor asked me to sit down and pull up the leg of my knee. I knew this was going to happen, yet I still wore those pants to the appointment. They were tighter around the legs than I would have liked for this situation which I quickly found out as I started to pull them up.

He looked over his desk and noticed. “I think you may have to pull them down”, he said.

“Oh, yes, of course.” I said apologetically.

He returned to his computer screen and seem distracted while I unbuttoned and then pulled them down to my ankles. I then unraveled the bandage that covered my recently operated knee. Two dark blood spots that had been brewing for a few days, appeared and breathed for the first time since my shower this morning. They were behind semi opaque bandages.

The operation had been to remove a bit of floating cartilage that was causing discomfit in my knee for the last six months.

“Come over here, Joe”, said the Doctor, “I just want to show you this”.

I looked down at my pants dangling all the way down at the floor. I looked over the desk. “You’ve got to be joking” I thought. Continue reading

nice house

Someone in the room – A short story

She hears her child’s call through the darkness, from a far off place as if in a dream. It’s really just from the bedroom across the corridor, through a layer of night and sleep. The beam of her bedside clock says 1.45am.

Mothers seem to instinctively hear that cry, that scream. They’ll sleep through the fatal car crash down the street, the rain on the iron roof, the party next door, but be instantly awakened by the slightest stirring of their child.


The child’s voice is now distressed, pleading. The Mother raises herself away from the cold empty space beside her in the big double bed. She fishes for her wedding ring on top of the book that had put her to sleep, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. She slips on the ring, wraps her dressing gown tightly around her and moves to the child’s room. Continue reading

I should give them a call

Often, when I am walking to the bus stop, or out at the Supermarket, I reach for my mobile. “I should give my Mother a call and ask how she is”, I say to myself.

Will my Father pick up the phone? I’ll hear that customary pause as he listens, still not quite believing that a voice could possibly come out of this instrument.

“Hello?” he’ll say questioning. Daring a voice to come through. “Hey, it’s me.”

“Ehh, Joe. How are you?” I can hear his face lighting up with delight. I can’t remember him ever doing the things modern parents are supposed to do.

He never came to any sport I, or my brother, did. He was a great gardener, and for most of the year his garden filled our dinner table with its bounty. Yet neither I nor my brother can grow a thing. We even have trouble growing weeds. But there is that smile in his voice, always happy to hear from me. I should call them. Continue reading

William Jamison The Turd

The year is 1939.

A young boy follows his mother into a Doctor’s Surgery. She is carrying a small tin, the lid painstakingly illustrated with bottles of wine.

The boy swallows and looks around his mother, stealing a glimpse of the Doctor who is happily chugging away at a cigar while he lounges forward in his leather upholstered leather chair, finalising notes from his previous patient.

It is late morning, fast approaching lunch and the Doctor is interrupted by the smell of something very desirable. There is a smell that has cut a path through the acrid scent of unwashed bodies and sickness that floats in the air. It has reached his nostrils.

They flare slightly in welcome. His eyes fix on the biscuit tin. And he follows it to the table where it comes to rest unassumingly. “Mrs Jamison”, he says, licking his lips, “please sit down.” Continue reading


A nice place to be

Sydney Road Community School was an educational experiment that started in the 70s in the Melbourne Suburb of Brunswick. A Nice Place To Be was a documentary about the Goals, the issues and the people who were the original players in this experiment.

A Nice Place To Be – Sydney Road Community School from joe distefano on Vimeo.

Sydney Road Community School was an educational experiment that started in the 70s in the Melbourne Suburb of Brunswick. A Nice Place To Be was a documentary about the Goals, the issues and the people who were the original players in this experiment.

A Nice Place To Be – Sydney Road Community School from joe distefano on Vimeo.

Another tear on the road to success

I was travelling to work on the Tram the other day. What I normally do is I read. The ride in gives me time to catch upon those things that I enjoy and reading is one of those.

Luckily I don’t play golf as riding the tram would be of no use at all.

There are often a lot of people travelling in and I notice no one. I am in a world of my own. Just me and the world created by the book.

This day was different. I looked up and noticed a lady sitting in the seat opposite me. She was non-desript, small, blond hair whose colour came out of a bottle. From her choice of clothes, she may have been a manager; she probably had a lot of responsibility; a successful person who has known the feel of many rungs up the corporate ladder. And I was sure she was travelling to meet and surpass another rung.

She was looking out the window, watching the rain crash against it. Drops formed into streams and raced off to see which would be the fastest to the ground.

She looked like any other person in this sardine can. Except for one thing. I saw something run down her face. I looked quickly and discretely as possible.

It was a tear. Continue reading