Australian miners in firing line of PNG resources law shake-up
James Sinclair - Last word on a land he loved

The wild Hagara Irishman with a seeming dislike of cowboys

An outdoor assembly at Hagara Primary School
An outdoor assembly at Hagara primary school in more recent and peaceful times

ALLYN HICKS

SYDNEY - During my teaching years in Papua New Guinea, I worked with a variety of headmasters, but one in particular stands out.

His name was Fred Briggs and he was from Ireland. We worked together at Hagara Primary School in Port Moresby.

Fred was a reasonable enough bloke but had a violent, explosive temper, what is quaintly referred to as having a “short fuse”. In fact Fred had no fuse at all. His outbursts of temper were pretty much instantaneous.

Fred was also something of an odd ball. He would only eat sausages. On the plus side, he also liked a beer.

During recess break he would amble around the perimeter of the playground, dressed in khakis, military-style boots and a huge hat.

The students had a nickname for him but, due to his fearsome temper, none would dare utter it within his hearing.

I was surprised one day when on playground duty to find a star pupil - the quiet, intelligent and industrious Tarata - huddled in a corner, tears running down his face.

He looked most disconsolate and unhappy, apparently the result of a confrontation with the headmaster.

Between sobs he told me what happened. Apparently, as Fred was loping past Tarata with his peculiar bouncing style of walking, Tarata, for some reason known only to himself, called out loudly; “Hullo Cowboy!”

What induced this normally well behaved student to commit such an act of self-destruction is difficult to comprehend.

Fred’s reaction was predictable, hence Tarata’s discomfort.

One thing was for sure, no student at Hagara ever tried such a stunt again.

The ‘Hullo Cowboy’ nickname remained securely in the saddlebag.

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)