Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Douglas Gordon Wells


A tribute to an absent friend

He was born and christened Douglas Gordon Wells, but to all of us he was simply known as Kegs......or sometimes Guts......occasionally Doberman and quite often as The Fat Man. He was a wharf labourer, but preferred to be called a Cargo'ologist. He quickly became a local legend along the Northern Beaches and when on patrol at Avalon when rostered, beachgoers at times were convinced a sperm whale had been stranded on the dry sand, whereas 'twas only Doug sunbaking to improve his tan.
Kegs was not your typical iconic bronzed Aussie surf lifesaver, six foot two inches tall, tanned nut brown complexion and a taut well defined body that bullets would bounce off. On the contrary, some unkind people were known to say that if you shoved a greased stick up his bum and spun him around, he would resemble a large oversize globe of the world.

If anyone in the club had a secret they were too embarrassed to reveal openly, all they had to do was tell Kegs and it would no longer be a secret, the whole club would know. He was known to enjoy the odd ice cold beer on the odd occasion, usually 17 schooners every third day at one sitting. He also had a nasty habit of becoming quite aggressive after downing quantities of amber liquid capable of sinking the QE2 in under an hour. Whenever Kegs began laughing and snorting in a manner that only he could, it was a wise move to give him a wide berth. His snorting laughter sounded like a cud chewing Bactrian camel attempting to clear the phlegm from its throat by blowing it out its arsehole. Whenever he started using his weather balloon sized stomach to bump people backwards, it was time to make oneself scarce......and fast.

Kegs would have loved Gabi to wear this dress at the club as well.

One of Kegs fingers had been amputated just below the joint and this became the terror of the women and girls who attended club functions and the Sunday arvo drink sessions known as QY's.

Flirting with death.

Many a female after giving out a loud squeak, was seen to rise and pop up suddenly like a jack in a box, then direct a torrent of abuse at you know who. Kegs never seemed to be offended and simply went into his camel phlegm clearing impersonation. The girls refused to have anything whatsoever to do with him and regarded him as a disgusting predator. He seemed to regard this as understandable and totally acceptable and once again never seemed to take offence. I remember the first time I took my fiance Gabi to the beach and clubhouse. She only brought with her a minimum change of clothing that consisted of an extremelly short blue beach dress with matching blue briefs. After spending the day in and out of the surf, we both adjourned to the clubhouse at 5 pm to get wet on the inside at QY's. She had showered and changed into her blue outfit and sat down on a stool at the QY's bar. When Kegs entered the club, the first thing he noticed was just enough of Gabi's tight fitting blue polyester briefs that happened to be on display, to arouse his primal instincts.

Gabi.   Worth a second look.

"Well I'll be f....d, look at that," he cried, through a mouth almost dribbling with saliva and immediately launched himself towards the bar, his evil eyes glinting whilst sucking his probing stubby.
Also worth a second look.
"Oh shit," I exclaimed and flew over to warn Gabi of the impending assault about to be launched upon her smooth and delightfully shaped, but highly vulnerable rear end.. Too late. I arrived behind the bar just in time to hear her give out a loud squeak and to see her height momentarily increase several inches. Kegs waited for the abuse he was certain would follow, but became puzzled by Gabi's attitude and demeaner. "Oh you must be Kegs," she said ever so sweetly, "Trevor's told me all about you and your overworked little pinkie ." She then added, "Come on big boy, buy me a beer and let's get to know each other."

To this day I have no idea what they were rabbiting on about, but Kegs couldn't believe his luck. For at least the next hour or so the two of them were constantly laughing and joking, whilst ensuring that more space was becoming available in the beer fridge.

Around two hours after Gabi's surprised squeak, Kegs pulled me aside and asked me where in Heaven's name had I met her. I informed him that Gabi and I had met at work and after only a few short months made the commitment to get knotted, or should I say tie the knot. He was then forthcoming with some advice, "Whatever you do Pogo, don't lose her, she's one in a million, fantastic personality and a good sort to boot." Seeing how that was over 37 years ago and I am still using her to correct my many spelling mistakes, I suppose I must have deemed that advice to be worthwhile.

For the oversize lump that he was, Kegs had what could be referred to as a rather weak stomach. Whenever there was a barbecue at the rear of the clubhouse, he would always attempt to barge his way to the front of the queue and grab the first steak, chop or sausage. He got his comeuppance when a strategically placed dog turd sandwich was pilfered, bitten into, then regurgitated all over the barbecue hot plate.



A similar event took place one evening when at least two kilos of witchetty grubs were on the menu. The bulk of these creatures were thrown onto the hot plate while some of the live ones were placed on a sandwich uncooked. You guessed it, after trampling everyone down in the queue, Kegs arrived at the prime position up front and grabbed the first sandwich.....Guess which one?
Once again the hose was required to remove the multi coloured liquid laugh from the food preparation area. 


When one of the surf clubs senior members sadly passed away, his remains were to be taken out to sea in the Avalon surf boat and deposited in the surf directly off the clubhouse. Kegs was invited to be one of the crew members and was honoured to be selected. The urn containing the ashes was held aloft by Brian Sproule the sweep, whilst the rowers held the oars upright. 

SLSA Burial at sea.

As the ashes were being committed to the sea, a sudden gust of wind blew them in the direction of crew member Kegs. It would be fair to say that not one grain of ash missed him. One of the boat crew comedians commented that Kegs resembled a fat Al Jolson and insisted he sing 'Mammy.' When Kegs realised what had enveloped him a massive technicolour yawn was forthcoming. When the boat returned to shore the crew were ankle deep in what resembled a mixed vegie pack floating in snot. One of the shore based Honour Guard noticed the foul smelling green, yellow and orange coloured lumpy slush and threw up immediately. Kegs witnessed this and could not prevent himself from having another one in sympathy. The breeze happened to be blowing on shore, so there were not too many who hung around any longer than they had to.

On a more than disgusting note, one of our well known senior mischief makers would entertain those present at many of the club's bucks nights by demonstrating how more than two dozen copper pennies could fit inside his foreskin. At the end of the performance, the pennies would spray all over the floor and on one occasion  a witness to this unique occurence picked up a coin off the floor and dropped it in Keg's beer.......' Kerplonk!' Those present were forced to promptly scatter in all directions to avoid being covered from head to toe with the colorful contents of his well rounded stomach. Ahh! what a refined, cultured lot we all were in those days.

I was present one evening when 27 were packed in tight........Ouch!!
Many of Kegs close personal friends would be able to tell many tall tales about their dubious misadventures with him. The end result would be a novel greater than 'War and Peace.' However there was another side to Dougie Wells.

Kegs loved body surfing and every Sunday morning he would join the hung over clubbies off the rocks at the southern end of the beach. The rock bottom underneath ensured that the waves kept breaking consistently in the same area. Every now and then a loud shout would be given as a warning and everyone would start swimming frantically out the back to avoid the big sets that Huey would send in unexpectedly to keep us on our toes.

Kegs could body surf with the best of them and would be seen screaming down the front of many waves in excess of 8 feet. He took me under his wing and was responsible for me learning the ropes so to speak. Up until this period in time, body surfing to me was standing in waist deep water and pushing forward on a broken wave no more than 3 feet high. Everything I learned about body surfing I owe to him. He suggested I try using a hand board and after doing so I've never been without one. 

While on patrol with him, he saw to it that the first aid knowledge obtained during Bronze Medallion training remained fresh and not forgotten.

When it came to competition, Kegs was almost unbeatable at Pillow Fighting. He took over from Allan Granquist (Pogo Senior) and became a living legend. He even featured in the classic Bruce Brown surfing movie 'The Endless Summer.' Keg's secret at Pillow Fighting was to wind the pillow into a tight ball and strike his opponent with the ball of the hand. Some competitors would spin around the pole twice before landing unconscious onto the sand.

During the 1960's whenever there was any work needed to be done in or around the clubhouse, many members would suddenly go missing in action and reappear after the work was completed. It always appeared to be left to the same dozen or so members to get the work done. Kegs was always one of them. He would pitch in and take on just about anything that required attention. Please note that I said just about anything.
On one clean up day he entered the mens toilet and saw me on my hands and knees cleaning the urinal. He cried out, "Jesus Pogo, how the f'..k can you do that?" He burped then retched and proceeded to cover my spotlessly clean floor with snotty mixed vegies. On the many other clean up days he attended, he was only permitted to enter the toilet during a call of nature and even then only under strict supervision.

Back then the most difficult of all trophies to win was the Patrol Proficiency Pennant. It was later renamed the Patrol Efficiency Pennant. To be awarded this prize required a member to complete all his rostered patrols throughout the season. One was also required not to be even one minute late when signing on. On one occasion I became one of two members to win this award. The other member was Douglas Gordon Wells, but for him it was not a one off occurrence as it was for yours truly. Kegs hardly ever  had a season go by without winning this award. The year I won mine turned out to be the pennants final year, but this did not mean Keg's almost perfect run would end. His patrol attendance remained as a shining example for many other members, up until he opted for Active Reserve membership many years later.

Doug's serious side never arose in general conversation, nor did he brag about his many achievements. Most of the time he would be the butt of many over the top practical jokes, but I can assure you he gave as good as he got.

I believe it was in 1990 Doug suffered a massive stroke that was responsible for him being confined in a wheel chair for the following 3 years. He sadly passed away during 1993 aged 64 and was sorely missed by his many mates in and out of the surf club.
Throughout his life he was a hard worker, but oh boy, he made up for that by playing just as hard.

If ever he runs into those cheeky Philadelphia Cream Cheese eating angels, they better be sitting down with their backs firmly pressed up against the wall.

Hmmm! .............I wonder if angels squeak?

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