Jim ….. a Character Study (Part 2)

Here’s the second half of Jaycee’s portrait of Jim.

Bruce was known as The Pinball Wizard because that was his occupation: hiring and maintaining pinball machines. He ran a very successful business at it too…until the electronic video games made their appearance on the scene. Bruce failed to take these first crude machines seriously, thinking they were a passing fad. They weren’t, and failing to take the tide at the flood, Bruce missed the boat. Nobody wanted his machines in their shop any more, and he couldn’t get rid of them or borrow against them to upgrade … he had left his run too late! Anyhow, he walked into the front bar one evening, looking for company and maybe a sympathetic ear to chew (a problem shared is a problem halved), not to mention a cool beaded glass of beer to smack one’s lips over – and who was there on the next stool? – Jim!

“Hello Bruce, why the long face?”

“O…g’day Jim.” A pause to sip his beer and weigh his reply.

“Oh … a few problems with the business … y’know,” and Bruce told Jim the whole sorry saga of his missing the gravy train and light-heartedly berating himself for not seeing the obvious. Jim sat through this narrative in unusual silence, just swilling the dregs of his nearly (and ruefully) empty pint glass. Jim’s contemplative silence, Bruce later confessed, may have been more to do with this fact rather than his – Bruce’s – enlightening story. Then, however, Jim had an inspiration that many consider his finest moment. For, when Bruce had finished talking, Jim stared at him open-mouthed as if to say something … he then swiveled his whole body around on the barstool to gape into the bar server, He nodded his head several times as if amazed and then slapped his hand down smartly and sharply on the bar-top, turning back to Bruce as he did so….

“Now, that’s fate!” he announced with nodding head to Bruce. Bruce finished sipping his beer and looked sideways at Jim.

“Huh! …what is?” Bruce asked.

“Why, meeting you just at this moment!” Jim didn’t give Bruce a chance to question him, but took up the conversation.

“Just today I received a letter from my uncle’s trustees (my uncle died recently, you know) telling me that he had left me some property in his will – he had a tidy packet tucked away, I can tell you, but no kids – a two-storey building in Bankstown!” Jim’s eyes were fairly popping out of his head.

“What’s that got to do with me?” Bruce asked, but now interested in this suddenly wealthier Jim.

“Well – it’s an amusement parlour …TWO HUNDRED MACHINES!!! … and I was just sitting here lamenting how in the blue blazes I was going to manage the place. I was thinking to best sell the whole lot!”

Now, you or I would’ve squinted one eye at Jim and perhaps left it at that … but, as I just told you, Bruce was a desperate man staring bankruptcy in its ugly face. Also (if I might add), the gods had at that moment chosen to punish Bruce for being too successful at wooing women, so had endowed Jim’s story with a cloak of irresistible attraction. Bruce looked smilingly at Jim’s credulous expression and spoke the very words Jim wanted to hear:

“Care for another beer, Jim?”

(Image Credit: Pinball Wizard Arcade)

Let me just go off on a bit of a tangent and tell you about Bruce. How many times have I said, “If only I knew then what I know now.”

Bruce was what would be called these days a chick magnet – attractive young ladies adhered to him like rouge to a mummer. He didn’t work at it; he wasn’t a mongrel or a presumptuous bloke, he didn’t put on airs or con anybody. He was what he was, and that was – calm … Bruce exuded what the Italians call tranquillamente, and in a climate of frenzy and hurry, that was all that was needed, and he had it naturally. I remember a conversation amongst a group of us about rising early for work and how lousy it was sometimes. Bruce listened, sipped his beer (he always sipped – he was in no hurry) and commented to the attentive gathering that he like to wake “naturally”.

“Oh – and what time is that?” someone asked.

Bruce casually lit up a cigarette.

“About one pm,” he replied … a low whistle came from somewhere. But back to the story.

So the remainder of the night was spent examining (1) the layout of the premises (Jim); (2) mintenance and upgrading (Bruce); (3) staff requirements / management policy (combined effort); (4) wages – here, Jim’s benevolence came to the fore.

“Well … that’s very generous of you, Jim, but fifty – fifty seems a little too good …”

Bruce stared glassy-eyed into his beer. “BUT … if it’s alright with the boss – who am I to argue?” and they shook hands on the deal and I might say that Bruce was so overwhelmed with this stroke of good fortune when all looked blackest that tears of happiness nearly – I say, nearly – welled up in his eyes. And Jim WAS generous, because that is what he would have liked to have given – had he got it !!!

Closing time came and the two partners separated with more handshaking and effusive congratulations on the promise of a glowing future etc., etc., and Jim reminding Bruce to meet him here at the pub at ten o’clock in the morning and they would go to the airport to get a standby flight to Sydney to look the joint over.

“Righto, Jim,” Bruce slurred.

“Righto, Bruce,” Jim slurred.

And they wobbled away to their respective vehicles.


Bruce standing at the front bar sipping an Angostura bitters and soda. There is a discarded Bex Powder wrapper at his feet. Next to it stands a light travelling suitcase containing the necessities for a short stay in Sydney. The time is ten-thirty am. … no Jim. Bruce makes a phone call from the booth.

“Hello Mark…It’s Bruce … er..where’s Jim?” ( Jim boards with Mark).

“In bed. Why?”

“What’s he doing in bed? He’s supposed to meet me here at the pub at ten!”

“He’s in bed because some fool was buying him drinks all night and now he’s hungover to buggery! Anyway, what’s he got to meet you for?”

Bruce suddenly got a shakey feeling and hesitated to answer.

“Well…” he drawled uneasily, ” We’re supposed to go to Sydney to look at this pinball parlour that he had inherited from his uncle……..”

Bruce didn’t get the chance to say any more, as the guffawing laughter at the other end of the line drowned all further communication. It also made it useless to proceed as Bruce had suddenly become enlightened …

He just quietly hung up.

To his credit, Bruce never held any animosity against Jim for the con-job. He saw the ludicrousness of the proposition and laughed at his own folly. Jim, of course, never even considered it a “con”. To him it was just another good yarn: “that was yesterday … this is today” was his philosophy.

Though I will let you in on a little secret. I buttonholed Jim one day and asked him (carefully choosing my words) if there was ever a risk of over-egging the details in his “explanations”. His answer surprised me with its unspoken depth of understanding of that basic human weakness. He looked intently at me for a longer than comfortable time and he said:

“My father had a small dagger in a scabbard – Middle Eastern, very ornate handle with emeralds and rubies, the scabbard with gold inlay, looked good – all fake, of course. He used to bring it out when people came to dinner – said he won it from a sheik in a marksmanship competition when he was serving in the army during the war. Really , he bought it from a stall in the Prahran Markets when we were on a holiday in Melbourne when I was very young … and he was only a supply clerk in the war and never went overseas … but everyone marveled at it. Rarely did anyone take the dagger from the sheath – they just loved the jewels and the gold. I thought that strange, considering that the blade is really the most important part, since it must do the real “work” – so I learnt at a very young age that people will always admire the bling rather than respect the blade.”

… and then the cheeky bastard gave me a wink!!

The last time I saw Jim was when I was working with my brickie mate, Frank, on a job at Brighton, just off the esplanade. I’d heard Jim was threatening to return for a visit from Sydney where he had gone a year or two before to live. I was riding my treadly home one afternoon and had just reached the Seacliff Hotel when I chanced to glance over to the carpark and there was Jim’s car with the NSW number plate on it and Jim sitting in it. I quickly glided over the road on my bike, alighting to one pedal as I cruised up behind the car. I was just going to call out when I noticed he was sitting in a trance-like state staring out to sea. He was wearing a combat-style jacket, CIA sunglasses, and a camouflage baseball cap. There was a book open on the steering-wheel. I crept up and peered over his shoulder at the title …Submarine Command. Hello! I thought, here’s tonight’s story. I stepped back a couple of paces out of respect to his daydreams, then banged on the side of the car. “Jim!” I called, “Hey, Jim!”

But I have a soft spot for ol’ Jim, you see – he’s a loner, a dreamer. One must respect dreamers – they’re our only salvation. At the risk of sounding sentimental, I have jotted down a few lines of verse to celebrate his audacity…

It is only in the harbours of our mind
That we reach our full potential,
Where images of reality and fantasy mingle,
Where drunkards and kings are equal…

(Image Credit: Your Story)

234 thoughts on “Jim ….. a Character Study (Part 2)

  1. Don’t know what’s going on over at The Guardian, but it seems to have lost some ‘momentum” lately….it just doesn’t have the same “punch” since the Viner lady left.

  2. Fiona

    I think my problems at the time of the previous post were due to windows downloading a lot of updates in the background while I was busy boasting of my nerdlike IT achievements in repairing my computer and saving my data. Just after I posted my computer demanded that I restart my computer so the updates could be finalised.

    After the restart everything seems to be working Okey Dokey without any keyboard lag or stalling. I will email my phone number though in case of future emergencies such as the one I have just experienced.

    You have mail.

  3. Let’s hear it for the Baroness!

    If Dave had been wearing a sporran it would definitely have been discomfited.

  4. And let’s hear it for Emma!

    British actor Emma Thompson has staged a solo protest against Tony Abbott’s stance on climate change during a trip to the icy wilderness of the Arctic.

    Thompson singled out the Australian prime minister for criticism while on a visit to the remote island of Spitsbergen. She is pictured holding a sign that reads: “Tony Abbott climate change is real, I’m standing on it!”


  5. I call BS on that one, Paul

    The Sydney Daily Telegraph has apologised for manipulating an image of Boston bombing victim James Costello by adding an Arab headdress to portray journalist Mike Carlton staggering away from a Gaza-like disaster in a two-page spread headlined “Imploding. Always” and “Mad Mike Goes to War”.

    The Telegraph’s editor, Paul Whittaker, apologised for using the Boston bombing victim’s image and admitted he was unaware of its origin, which was first pointed out by Twitter user @TheMurdochTimes.

    “The Photoshopped image was an amalgam of different images put together during the art production process,” he told Guardian Australia.

    I was unaware that that particular image had been partially used. It is an inadvertent but regrettable mistake for which the Daily Telegraph apologises unreservedly.”


  6. Here’s some good news – but not for Rupert.

    News Corporation’s full-year profit has been more than halved as revenue from its Australian newspapers continues to slide, the company’s full-year results reveal.

    The company made a net profit of US$237m (A$256.42m) for the year to 30 June, down 53% from US$506m in 2012-13.

    However, the 2012-13 result was boosted by a one-off gain from the sale of its stake in New Zealand’s Sky pay TV operation.

    Earnings from the company’s news and information division fell 16% in 2013/14 to US$130 million, mostly due to weakness in its Australian newspapers, which suffered an 18% drop in revenue, of which 10% was related to the foreign currency impact.


  7. CTar,

    Perfect Friday arvo viewing. I’ve just sent the link to Darling Daughter, who was a mean trombonist at school.

  8. gigi

    These cows are amazing!

    It’s a ripper, isn’t it! Much better than ‘Ed’ and Bacon sandwiches or ‘Dave’ and Samantha pointing at fish.

  9. Breaking news on ABC is that the He man is beating his chest and promising to work on tougher sanctions on Russia. Maybe he should catch up on some of these docos that are being played on TV how the world through tit for tat fell into WW1

    There was a article I think in the Guardian on the grandson of the British FM at the time of start of WW1 found some papers that detailed the conversations between the FM and King George V. The gist was France had declared war on Germany and the King asked the FM why they had not also declared war. The reply to the King was that he could not find a valid reason to go to war. The King response was find one. Charming.

  10. Tortoises make good pets. I used to know a family who owned one called Sophie. She had a bronze with yellow lines shell. Lived mainly indoors, stepping onto the garden occasionally. A very silent little being. You’d never know she existed because most of the time you didn’t see her. Then suddenly she would cross the timber floor, and you would know without looking that it was her and not the cat crossing. Different sounds.

  11. Fiona

    Perfect Friday arvo viewing.,

    Pure whimsey – the cows appearing on top of the ridge reminded me of old Westerns. Native Indian cows on the attack.

  12. Like a bilby threatening a brown bear, Abbott issues list of ways Russia can "avoid further Australian sanctions". Putin still laughing.— Dave Donovan (@davrosz) August 8, 2014

  13. Hi all.

    Since my last post I have had a very interesting telephone conversation with an extremely nice gentleman, who professes to be politically to the right of Genghis Khan (yes you have heard that expressed before on this website regarding one of our much loved moderators partner).

    I can now state categorically that I am much more informed about computers and their workings, their history, their future and what is probably causing my recent problems with said devices and also how to fix those problems.

    Thank you sir.

    Now to take buddy for a walk before the raffle starts, bakson.

  14. Shorten should be beating up Abbott and Mesma for killing off an export market. I know the amount we sell – used to sell – to Russia is tiny but the whole thing was a golden opportunity for Shorten to give Abbott a good kicking. So what did he do? Agreed with the bastard and ranted about sanctions against Russia. Who the frack is advising the LOTO? My cats could do better. I could do much better. Can I have the job?

  15. leone

    Considering the govt never misses an opportunity to blame the Gillard govt for its action on live export, it would have been reasonable for Shorten to blame Abbott for the present situation.

  16. This would be the self-serving David Irvine who had Bernard Collaery’s officeds raided (http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/asio-raids-office-of-lawyer-bernard-collaery-over-east-timor-spy-claim-20131203-2yoxq.html) to cover his own backside

    Irvine gave an example of a potential scenario in which Asio received information from another source that an al-Qaida website had been accessed by a particular IP address in Australia, and it could ask ISPs to identify which user that was at that time.

    Metadata would include the senders and recipients of emails, but not the content, and not the individual websites people visited. The IP address through which a person accessed the internet would, however, be included in metadata.

    Irvine hit back at claims of mass surveillance, saying the government was not storing the data itself and agencies only accessed it when needed for investigations.

    “The way in which we access it is very closely monitored and oversighted, in our case by the inspector-general of intelligence and security,” Irvine said.


  17. I ponder on this fad of getting stuck into Putin….is it selective amnesia, or are they just plain thick!…If one was to reflect on a bit of history, one would be inclined to consider Putin’s stance against the western powers justified in the face of their training, funding and supplying logistics to the Mujaheddin against the Soviet bloc under one aspiring chappy named “Osama Bin Laden” !….That! , as they say..went well.

  18. jaycee
    I think it’s all part of the government’s ‘Back to the 1950s’ mindset. Russia = bad guys then so Russia must still be the bad guys now, no matter how much things might have changed in the last 60 years.. I fully expect to see a replay of the Petrov business with some other hapless Russians playing the parts of Petrov and Mrs Petrov. Perhaps that Irvine fool will use metadata to find some incriminating evidence for the 2014 version.

    Only a fool would deliberately antagonise a powerful leader. Abbott is that fool. Abbott offended Putin in his first weeks as PM and it has been downhill ever since. Mesma isn’t helping.

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