Ballina editor spins his red chair one last time
MY office chair is red.
Each evening, it gets spun around, and slid under the corner-style office table as I head for the door.
This week, that office chair will be spun by me for the final time.
Yes, folks, the time has come for me to move on to new challenges and end my time here at the Advocate.
I can't remember how long I've had the red chair for. It certainly wasn't the first chair assigned to my butt when I began on this newspaper just shy of 18 years ago.
That chair was more the standard office grey.
There is the myth that red cars go faster -- but over the years, my red chair hasn't moved much, but the typing fingers and brain have gone at a fair rate of knots.
My first full edition of the newspaper had the opening of the skate park on the front page, headed "Finally, a skate park”.
And hasn't Ballina changed since then!
Back in 2001, Fawcett Park was a car park, there was only one set of traffic lights in Ballina -- they were on Kerr St near Ballina Fair -- the Alstonville and Ballina bypasses were years away and the debate on where to put the Lennox Head skate park was in full swing.
Some of the big issues of the day were the change to nose-in parking for the soon-to-upgraded CBD, what was then called the Angels Beach cycleway (then shared path) was stalled and the lean on the former coast guard tower had not long been discovered.
But, I enjoy a good laugh, and I have enjoyed recording for history some funny stories.
There was the local bloke whose long-term nickname among his closest friends is "mother” and the lads marked the 40th anniversary of giving him flowers and cards on Mother's Day.
There was the member of the winter swimming club who forked out cash to put in a classified ad to alert his fellow swimmers that he didn't make the soup the crew were going to share that week -- even though he did. Needless to say, his cooking is very ordinary.
There was the fishing club group who worked hard to get a toilet block built and held an opening event for the loo -- but they forgot to bring the keys, so no one could get in to christen the facilities.
And there is the man who owns a hat Errol Flynn wore in a movie, and he told the story of how it supposedly had a special power over women.
I've also taken every opportunity to write stories on Ballina's history, particularly Ballina's part in the inaugural trans-Pacific flight made by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and crew in 1928, as well as the 1973 Las Balsas raft expedition -- I have been lucky enough to write about three of the raftsmen.
On the other side of the ledger, a dude came into the office and threatened to bring his "heavies” around to my house, a guy waltzed in with a stock whip which was meant for my butt, and a guy turned up at my house one night with a knife and gave my neighbours a lesson in obscenities.
I have enjoyed bringing stories about our shire to you.
I've always taken the attitude that my job has been to do my bit to bring our community closer together, to promote all the good in our community and to give a voice to the community.
That's up to you to judge how I went.
As for the red chair, I won't be sliding it under the table this week, but rather, will leave it out ready for someone else to jump into it.
I'll pinch the title of the final episode of the TV series MASH: "Goodbye, farewell, amen”.