Patrick
Chapter 10

Copyright© 2011 by Pedant

Mum was talking to Rob when we came in.

"And... ?" he asked me.

"I'm to begin Scotch College on Monday. I need to get uniforms. They recommended some place on Hay Street."

"Oxford, I'm sure," said Mum.

"Right."

"I'll phone Michiko right away, the four of us can go shopping tomorrow morning."

"Get me a beer first, please" said Dad. "I'm going to get out of this costume."

"I'm getting out of my suit, too," I said. "But no beer for me."

When I emerged from the study, Mum had gone off the fetch Sarah. Dad was sitting at the kitchen table with Rob, each with a bottle of Little Creatures, which is brewed in Fremantle. I got some lemonade out of the fridge. Just when I sat down, the phone went. Dad answered.

"Hollister ... Rob Scott? Yes, he's here. Just a minute." He handed the phone to Rob.

"Scott. Yes, I remember you. Of course. Tomorrow morning? Ten? Fine, see you then."

Dad looked at him, raising his eyebrows.

"That was the veep of BHP (Billiton). He wanted to know whether I could attend a meeting tomorrow with him and some blokes from Rio Tinto and Xstrata. He didn't mention Fortescue. We can guess what it's all about."

"The new resources tax?" asked Dad.

"Exactly. It will hit those corporations and this state pretty hard from what I've read. Not just up in the Pilbara [see "Mining a Meteorite"], but the gold in Kalgoorlie and the offshore gas, too. And Barnett is irate with good reason."

"Barnett?" I asked.

"Colin Barnett is the Premier of Western Australia, Pat. Anyroad, I think that Colin Barnett has hit the nail pretty well on the head with his assessment of the reality of the situation. Far from being behind the rest of Australia in his thinking, he is well ahead of it. Who cares indeed what is happening in the Eastern States, I surely don't. The only point he makes that I have some issue with is the skills shortage. We should have a massive training scheme in place for Western Australians to gain the necessary skills to fill the vacancies, and our people should get the top jobs and have imported labour do the bottom level jobs."

Dad nodded. "I'm not as disparaging of NSW, Victoria, or Tasmania as he is."

"Perhaps not," said Rob, finishing his beer, "But he makes sense to me. In this country there are Pie Makers and there are Pie Eaters. The states of Western Australia and Queensland are our Pie Makers, producing the majority of our country's wealth. States like Tasmania and Victoria are our Pie Eaters."

"He's just reacting to Julia," Dad remarked. [Julia Gillard is the Prime Minister of Australia.]

"Ju-Liar, is what I call her!"

Mum and Sarah arrived. Rob went to see whether he had a suit for the morning.

"Anything new?"

"Rob got a call from the mining corporations. They want his input, presumably the new resources tax. He's irate anyway."

"Good. Between Pat and Sarah and Pat and Rachel and the schools and now the miners he's come right back in under two weeks. He sure doesn't feel useless now."

"No," Dad agreed. "So you and Miyako are taking the kids downtown tomorrow?"

"Not quite downtown. Subiaco. But, yes, we'll take Sarah and Al in and then meet there. I checked. They open at nine."

"Aha. Well, I'll take Rob downtown for his ten, if he wants. Or he can take your car, you take my Rover and I'll take the ute."

"Or I can just take a taxi," said Rob, who'd come back downstairs. "I'm a big boy. After all, they'll pay."

"Then call Elite and take a town car for the day. It'll cost a fortune, but it'll be there whenever you need it. And the wait time for a cab's up around $50 an hour, anyway," added Mum.

In the morning, we left after Dad, but before Rob's limo arrived. Once we were at Oxford, Rachel and I just let the mums take over. I ended up with three sets of clothes, but only one necktie and one sweater. The clerk said that he didn't think I needed a summer uniform now that it was autumn. When we met up with Rachel and Miyako, Mum told Miyako not to worry about the cost, as there were used uniforms available at PC because the girls were all growing. She didn't know whether Scotch College had similar sales. It was a bit early, but we went to a sushi place – only a bit along Hay Street.

The sign said "Kaiten-Zushi," and when we got inside I found that meant we sat at a counter where the sushi dishes were presented to the customers on a conveyor belt. You just take what you like. Rachel was able to tell me the names of all the dishes. She also knew what they were. We ate a lot and I could tell from Miyako's reaction that it cost a lot, too. Mum paid with a bank card.

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