BAZ lived on the property but technically was never fostered by Hazel. He was in his forties, was a bit of a grouch, and had a dark streak of humour. He had a kind heart which only showed if you didn’t piss him off, and his laugh was a wicked snuffle similar to that of the Grinch.
I pissed him off a lot.
One of my earlier memories of Baz is where he truly became a hero in my eyes. A man I could love and admire. As I became older the admiration lessened, but the love did not.
There was a scrub fire in the area, bad enough that all the able men in the surrounding properties went to help fight it. Baz was away for several days to do what he could.
When the fire was controlled he came home exhausted but triumphant.
“Wow, Baz,” I said, as we gathered around him while dinner was being cooked. “Can I have your autograph?” and I offered pen and paper. He stared down at me, disbelieved.
He signed the paper though. So ends the memory.
In the summer months Baz would buy ice-cream and if it was a hot day, serve cones to everyone to help cool off. On one of these afternoons when I was 12 or 13 he and I snarled at each other and the argument ended when I slammed the door to my bedroom.
A few minutes later he knocked on the door and offered me an ice-cream.
I was suspicious.
When I shut the door I lifted the top scoop of ice-cream. Chilli was crammed through the hollow part of the cone.
And I screamed, to make him think he’d got me. From the kitchen I heard his cackle. “Ooh hoo hoo hoo. Eh ha ha ha.”