Cessnock Men’s Shed

It was with great pleasure that I recently attended the opening of the newly established woodwork workshop that is the most recent expansion of the Cessnock Men’s Shed and Community Garden. Members from across the State frequently brag about the quality of their local men’s sheds and the contribution the sheds make. Tonight I will be no different except I will offer my contribution in a slightly different format. For the many thousands of people in the Cessnock electorate and across the State who regularly tune in to the audio broadcast from this Chamber I offer this: Tonight I will recite poetry. I suggest listeners fill up a cup of tea or coffee, put some jam and cream on a scone, find a comfy lounge chair, roll out the crocheted rug and settle in.While listeners make themselves comfortable I will return to outlining my most recent visit to the Cessnock Men’s Shed. In 2013 the group was fortunate enough to receive $15,900 from a Community Building Partnerships Grant—a great Labor initiative. The funds were used to completely overhaul an area that was once a greenhouse. With a fair bit of trade-based skill, a Yes We Can attitude and a bunch of guesswork, the greenhouse is now a fully enclosed, purpose-built woodwork room. This new space will allow the Cessnock Men’s Shed to expand its pursuits and take on extra projects. Importantly, with the assistance of local inventor and creator Noel Findley they will undertake sign projects on wood using his hand-built pantograph.

I am sure that many from the shed will be at home listening now, so to shed president Peter Torenbeek and his hardworking team I extend my warmest regards. I hope shed member “Dunny” has filled the bus for his excursion to neighbouring men’s sheds. I remind anyone who has plans to drop out of the trip that the refund policy of the good Mr Dunnicliff is anything but generous. Now to the poem: Noel Findley is not only the creator of a clever pantograph machine but he also has a real talent for words. He tells me he drafted the following poem in just a few hours. For me it sums up quite brilliantly my experiences in attending men’s sheds across the region. I encourage members of Parliament who are keenly awaiting my poetry recital to share these words with their local sheds. Perhaps it will spur on a men’s shed word challenge, which I will happily sponsor.

The poem that I am about to read—probably ruin—has been professionally narrated by Mike Goodman and it can be sourced from the Cessnock Men’s Shed. Running alongside Mike’s dulcet tones is a photo slideshow featuring all of the types of work, activity and socialising that happens at the Cessnock Men’s Shed. To that end, each local shed would be able to take the existing voiceover recording and insert their personalised photographs. I hope that I do Noel Findley of Cessnock Men’s Shed proud as I read his September 2013 poem entitled The Men’s Shed:

Let me relate a little lament
About an old man’s life in retirement
I finished work some time ago
And since that time, it’s been rather slow

I mowed the lawn from dusk till dawn
The firewood was duly sawn
I fixed the house, I washed the car
But things like that don’t take you far

I looked around and I did see
The life that I knew did promptly flee
I wondered then about the years I spent
About the many jobs that came and went

My health went off, the black dog came
I felt as though I was quite insane
I didn’t want to fall in a heap
Or spend all day in a wasteful sleep

Sometime after retirement
I wondered where all the good blokes went
Then I heard about this Men’s Shed thing
“Do you think dear wife, should I give it a fling?”

“Yes!” she agreed in sympathy
Dancing about with obvious glee
“I have aerobics and coffee, and shopping to do
All the things that I did before I had you”

The first time I entered that gate with a tremor
With a feeling like being an apprentice, I remember
But I was greeted with friendship and “Sit down please do!”
And asked if I took my coffee with one lump or two

“You can spend your day reading a paper” said he
“Or join yourself in a building spree
But whatever it is you choose to do
The decision is simply up to you”

“If a nice long chat is to be your thing
There’s nothing here to give you a sting
Some blokes just need to have a talk
Or maybe to take a simple walk”

So if you think your talent is a bit short
Then let me make to you a simple report
We’re here to support you and give you some will
To stand right beside you, even when you are ill

In friendship and mateship we will stand
Always willing to help and lend you a hand
So start with a walk through the front gate
And spend time with us at the Men’s Shed, MATE!