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These pages are a collection of stories from the Writer's Group at Box Hill U3A.

Out on a limb

The sun is out today and I feel wonderful. I live out the back of a pub which nestles in a beautiful fern gully at the foot of a mountain range. On a clear day I can seethe township not far away. I can't remember how long I've been here; it seems like forever. The air is always crisp and cool, even in summer, and I will never leave my home; I have too many friends here.

After all this time, I'm still amazed at how many different birds live up this way. My favourite is the Australian King Parrot, with its brilliant scarlet underside and beautiful green back. But I also love the Kookaburras with their cheeky laugh and the Rainbow Lorikeets, who are always screeching and chattering. The other day I had a visit from a possum, but the publican's dog, Maisie, frightened it away before I could have a chat. I was all prepared to offer it a home with me, but I doubt it'll come back now.

Matt is the publican and a better bloke you couldn't hope to meet. He is fond of me too, in fact he loves me, I know because I heard him say so not long ago. He's a real sweetie, and he'd be quite embarrassed if he found out I knew what he said. He takes care of me too. When they have a big do at the pub and a lot of people are expected, he puts up a big fence to keep them in, so they don't trample all over my carpet of native violets.

Something happened recently that made me chuckle, and Maisie was the culprit again. I was having a bit of shuteye, when I heard a scratching noise and felt a bit of a breeze. I glimpsed a furry thing whizzing by, but thought nothing of it until the next day, when I heard Matt on the phone to the fire brigade. "Paul," he said "can you come over with your extension ladder; it's the damn cat again. Maisie must have been chasing it, and you know what that means." So that was it, I thought, Woosie's out on a limb again. I couldn't see him, but I knew Paul would get him down, and he did, eventually. Nobody seems to own Woosie, but Matt keeps an eye out for him. I heard someone ask Matt once why they called him Woosie, and he said it was because he liked his grog too much. But it's actually because he's got a gammy leg and walks with a bit of a wobble.

I know I've implied it already, but I do love living here. I used to think it would have been nicer higher upon the hill, where you'd get a panoramic view. At my age though, I'm glad I'm snug down here, as I'm getting a little creaky now. Anyway, things have changed. Once there was bushland as far you could see, but now that vista has gone. Clumps of buildings have sprung up all over the place, and the habitat has been destroyed to make way for their coming.

It's a pity people are so short-sighted. Look at what's happening now; they're going to have a carbon tax. Don't they know that we love carbon dioxide, and if they hadn't decimated our numbers in the past, the problem (here I acknowledge there is some debate about this) might not be of so much apparent concern. But that's humans for you. It seems to me most of them are pretty self-centred, they don't know how to share, or perhaps they don't even know that we care too.

Matt, of course, is not one of them; he's a good bloke, who treats everyone and everything with respect. To show you exactly what I mean I'm going to let you in on something that he would probably prefer you don't know. I'm sure he thinks I'm asleep when he does his nightly rounds after the pub has shut, but I'm not. I stay awake especially, and every night, he looks up at me, gives a wave and says "Goodnight your Majesty," and I whisper "Sleep tight."

Goldie Fox