Gary Oakley - Pent up emotion

Running time
3 min 26 sec
Date made
Place made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


it's not so much about anger, it's about, it's a living on the edge thing that you’ve got to get off. There is anger too, because when you're on a boat, and you're doing a patrol or you're on a boat, and you dive for a long time, there's always a bit of angst.

And I've been in a mess where you know, blokes "Are you going to eat that sausage? ", you know, fighting over the food. What happens, too, if you're going on patrol and you’re way three or four months, three months, you end up at the end of that year, not eating the best of food in the world because it's all frozen and usually, when you're on a patrol, you get fed four times, when the watches changed every six hours.

So basically, there's a lot of pent-up emotion and blokes, you try not to do it, you don't want to be fighting the guys that you mess with. So, there's that pent up emotion and you’ve got to blow it out of the system, and usually what they used to, and, I mean, this is the bad old days of the defence force where, you know, I can remember at Platypus we would go up to the bar at lunchtime and put away six schooners and go to work.

I mean, when I first joined the Navy, a question, I was asked the question, "Do you drink? " And I went, "Yeah ", and they went, "Good ", because blokes didn't trust you if you didn't drink. People, you know, it's one of those kind of jobs and, I mean, it was nothing for guys to be in the bar at lunchtime and put away six or seven schooners in 50 minutes, you know, and go back to work.

And I knew blokes and we’d go back to work on an AB switchboard with open bloody switches and stuff half cut. The bad old days. But it bred that kind of a thing, too, but when you came back alongside, you had all that pent up emotion, all that other stuff that you've tried to keep in you and you don't want to take it out on the wife and kids when you get home.

So, basically blokes would go up the bar, they'd all go home and they’d get a skinful. Submarines, we used to have a thing, what they used to call horoscope reading Friday, where half the boat would go somewhere or the branch would go to a pub and the officers would come and then there'd be no rank and then you'd all have a few beers and then you tell people what you thought of them.

You usually did it on a Friday and if an officer had been an arsehole that week, you told him, "You’re an arsehole " and you got stuck into him. So, you had a weekend to get over it and a weekend to have a think about it and then on Monday all would be worked out.

On Ovens, we used to have a thing called the drip book and if anybody on the boat come down there, if someone was pissing them off, instead of taking their anger out on somebody, they could write it in the book. So you'd write, such and such is a right bastard, you know, whatever, whatever, you get it out of your system, because it was in the book.

And the captain he'd come down and read the book every week or something, just to get a gauge of how the crew are feeling and who has been an idiot and whatever. So, there were these other things that you did to try to get all that pent up feeling, you know, I mean, it's a bloody hard job, and it could be monotonous, monotonous, and, and your best mates could get on your nerves like that, you know?

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