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Transcript

I don’t have any secrets from my family. It’s fair to say that as the children have got older you might elaborate and give more detail, but my wife has always been a hundred per cent supportive and also a hundred per cent interested.

Bob
Bob and Mark Handby

Passing the Baton

Special guests:

Bob Handby – Water & Sanitation aid worker
Mark Handby – Water & Sanitation aid worker 

Host:

Alex Hahn, Australian Red Cross

 

Alex
Bob Handby is an Australian Red Cross legend. He has worked in conflict and disaster zones all over the world. His first mission with Red Cross was to Uganda in 1984 helping provide clean water and sanitation to those displaced during the country’s civil war. Since then, he has worked in Iraq after the Gulf War, Serbia during the Kosovo conflict, Myanmar, Rwanda, and most recently in Sierra Leone in the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Bob’s son, Mark, has also seen his fair share of the world. He has worked in emergency settings as an environmental health officer after bush fires here in Australia, and he was also deployed to Sierra Leone during the Ebola epidemic as a senior environmental health water and sanitation officer.

It is clear that it is not only a passion for all things water and sanitation that run in the family, but also an indelible love and respect for humanity. Today, we are going to be talking to Bob and Mark, and discovering what’s behind that truly extraordinary Handby humanitarian legacy. Hello, Bob and Mark, thanks for joining me.

Bob
Good morning.

Mark
Morning. 

Alex
Okay, so Bob, tell me, what made you want to become an aid worker?

Bob
I suppose I fell into it to some extent. I mean, I was involved in disasters in Australia here, particularly the Ash Wednesday bush fires in 1983, and what that taught me was how significant the public health response was to disasters and how much my profession had to offer, and there’s a little bit of a story behind which I won't go into, but as a consequence of that, that Australia Red Cross phoned me back in 1984 and they were looking for someone to go to Uganda and my name was put forward to them and asked me would I be prepared to go or was I interested in going, and with the encouragement of my wife 10 days later I was on my way to Uganda thinking what the hell am I doing here.

Alex
And, well, that sort of answers my next question which was why Australia Red Cross, it was because you got that phone call in 1984?

Bob
Yes, I was really just sitting in my office one day, on a Friday I think it was, waiting to go home and the phone call really came very much out of the blue, and I mean the process to become and aid worker now is quite long and complicated, but in those days it was a phone call and then you were on the plane and away we went.

Alex
Yes, it is very different in this day and age, that’s true. So you grew up on your grandfathers farm which made you a very competent handyman, you were fixing cars, busted water pipes, dealing with livestock, all of which are very transferable skills in the field, but what was your moral upbringing like? Was there something instilled in you as you were growing up or something that you experienced that you feel drew you into the humanitarian space later on?

Bob
Yeah, I think a little bit a reflection on my family, particularly my mother and father, they were very community-minded people, they were involved in everything community, and they even – when I think back of it a little I remember, I think it was my eighth or tenth birthday, I don’t recall which one, but I had a lot of friends when I was at primary school, but on one particular birthday I remember saying to my mum, “I don’t want all my friends to come.” There was one particular family of eight that were extremely poor that living down by the creek, I think it was seven boys and one girl, and I said to mum, “I just want to invite that family to my birthday.” So I suppose, when I think back, there was some reason that made me think I wanted to give a poor family or poor group of children that I went to school with an opportunity rather than my best friends who couldn’t work out why they weren’t invited to my birthday.

Alex
And so do you think that came from something inside you or something that your parents had taught you?

Bob
I think you’re influenced by your parents. I mean, you’re born with a particular personality but certainly – we lived on a farm that belonged to my grandparents and they were, you know, just wonderful people who liked to – in fact my grandfather often said to when we would drive his paddocks, he said, “I don’t know whether I own that one or I don’t own that one,” I said, “How come, Pa?” He said, “Well when people are going bad sometimes I buy them land off them and give it – really it’s just an excuse to give them some money to help them out,” and he said, “And I don't know whether we signed a contract or whether I bought it back off them or they own it.” So my grandfather had that – you know he was a Light Horseman in the First World War and went through tough times. And then, as I said, my mother and father were very community-minded, and in their own way we used to have indigenous families come and live with us when their mother was going in to have babies, and I know my father, who wasn’t a wealthy man by any stretch of the imagination, used to go to the local high school and unbeknown to us at the time would pay for families, well children, to go away on school camps because they couldn’t afford it. So I think all that sort of thing just, with you realising it, does rub off on you.

Alex
Sounds like an extraordinarily humanitarian-styled family, that’s amazing. So your first mission was to Uganda in 1984. During those early years, Mark, I don't think you were quite born yet.

Mark
Not quite.

Alex
But in those in early missions, what were those missions like?

Bob
Well Uganda was, to be perfect honestly, was a horrific mission, it was an ICRC mission and the Civil War was quite intense, it was following Idi Amin, it was now under the control of Milton Obote and the current president, you know, Yoweri Museveni was fighting Milton Obote, and while I didn’t realise at the time, because it was my first mission, I knew nothing else, that there was some security issues that we had and we had those in convoys where we split and people went the other way, got shot and all died unfortunately, but we often got held up at road blocks, I was marched through the bush at times with a gun to my head to separate and leave from my local workers because they wanted to interrogate them about what we had seen when we crossed the front line, and soldiers would get drunk at night and then fire shots over you. And, you know, I thought, “This is pretty tough,” but when I subsequently did other missions and I spoke to and worked with other experienced ICRC delegates, and they’d say, “Where have you worked previously?” I said, “I was in Uganda in 1984.” They’d say, “Oh God, you weren’t there were you? That was a hopeless place to work.” And I realised that was not necessarily the normal[sic] but it was a fairly strong initiation, because it was in the days we had no briefings about security and, you know, as I said, ten days from the phone call I was on the plane thinking what the hell am I doing here.

Alex
Sounds like a baptism of fire more than just a regular Red Cross mission, that sounds really intense as a first mission.

Bob
Yeah, it became quite strange, because very often when we had security incidents we wouldn’t go out in the field, so we’d go on what we call standby and that’s where the nickname came, Handy, I know Handby on standby, at least Ugandans thought it was really funny when I got replaced by a boy called Michael Lake, up, I got a little trip to Uganda about a month ago for American group who wanted me to go and give some advice on a project they had over there. It was really nice to go back after – from 1984 ‘til this year, to go back into Kampala and see it operating as a big, vibrant African city with traffic jams and new buildings and people everywhere. So that was good for the soul to see it go from a war-torn country to something that’s really thriving at the moment.

Alex
Mark, so you wouldn’t have obviously been around for the Uganda mission, but the later missions when you were a young child, do you remember that time in your life? What was like having dad overseas at these all exotic places and comes back, did he tell you stories?

Mark
Yeah, definitely. So I was born in 1985, which was the year after the Ugandan trip, I don’t think – I don’t feel like I was any different to other children. I think there was probably once when he was coaching our junior football side and he had to take off through the season, and that was maybe the only time I really remember as a really young child having a, sort of, unique situation where your father is away.

Alex
Did he come home and ever tell you interesting stories? I mean, I don't think he would have probably told the more dangerous and scary stories, but anything you remember?

Mark
I think we had nearly all the stories. I don’t know, he might correct me on this, but when I hear more and more stories get rolled out through different podcasts, none of them surprise me, I’ve heard pretty much all of them. I feel like they were almost kept, sort of, amongst our family in a way because it maybe wasn’t useful for everybody to realise some of the things he came across. But our dinner table, family, it’s just constantly full of stories, and hence why the influence on me.

Alex
I’ve spoken to a lot of aid workers who’ve been in conflict situations and been in disaster situations, and they’ve all told me in one way or another that there are just some things you don’t talk to family and friends about, that kind of – especially people who aren’t in the sector who don’t experience the things that you’ve experienced. And so my question was, seeing as you have both gone into the field, is it a free for all? Do you guys talk about everything or are there still some things that you won’t actually talk to each other about?

Bob
No, I don’t have any secrets from my family. I don’t – it’s fair to say that as the children have got older you might elaborate and give more detail, but my wife has always been a hundred per cent supportive and also a hundred per cent interested in – you know, even today, if I go as a guest speaker at a local Probus Club or a Lions Club or a convention or a conference or somewhere, if Judy can come along and listen she still does, and she’s heard the stories a million times but she’ll always often say, “Well, I haven’t heard that one before.” I think within our own family I’ve made a point – because, Mark has, as he got older, expressed a bit of interested in being an aid worker, and one of my daughters is a midwife, certainly expressed an interest, so I felt that they needed to know the reality of it and the truth of it but not the whole spectrum.


Alex
And having such a young child at home back in those early days and, sort of, early ’90s, and obviously having your wife at home as well, the work you were doing is extremely dangerous, did that ever weigh on your mind when you were on a mission?

Bob
I think it was – well I always describe myself as being two people, one when I’m home you know mowing the front lawn or doing the house chores and looking after the children and going out on family things, this is one part of my life, the other part is when I’m in the field and you almost switch and switch and you cope with what’s around you. So yes, I’ve always been conscious of the fact that I have family back at home, and I’ve always been really comfortable in the fact that I had a wife that was very competent at taking care of the home front, and fortunately for me Judy’s not a person who worries, she doesn’t worry about anything, so she’s never been a person who’d ring up and say I read in the news paper and seen it on the TV, what’s happening, or rung the Red Cross and said I’m concerned about my husband. She’s never made a phone call in her life about things like that. But when I’ve been in the field and there has been some incidents and there is, I’ve rung her and said, “Look, this is what’s happened, there’s been a bit of an incident, I’m fine, I don’t know whether you’re going to get it on TV or not.” And I don’t give her the detail over the phone, you wouldn’t give the detail anyway because you never know who’s listening, but she will often get home and story, she’ll say, “I knew there was something up and  to know the details.” So when you’re in the field you don’t relay all the information back home, but certainly when I get home I’ve never had any secrets. I mean, having said that there’s some horrible gory details that often pictures that come to my mind that I don’t think I share them with anybody because there’s no need to, but the general context of where you’re working and what you’re doing, there’s been no secrets about that.

Alex
And so, seeing the things that you’ve seen and experienced the things that you’ve experienced, like you just said there are some things that you do keep to yourself. Did having those experiences change you as a parent in terms of the way you handled Mark?

Bob
I’d like to think not and I’ve always been conscious and I’ll often say to people, “I’ve never used my experiences against my children.” So when they’ve been wanting, wanting, wanting another pair of shoes or another this or another that or wanting to do this, I’ve never said if you were an African you’d be happy with one pair of shoes, I’ve never – I’ve consciously not used that as a lever to say to my kids, you know, you’re actually pretty well off. So I think I’ve been conscious to try and make sure it hasn’t had an impact on my children. I can tell you a very quick story that when I came back from Iraq in ’91 and the children were all quite young, we were in a – we were staying in Melbourne and I had quite a few American dollars in my back pocket and I had no – it was basically my daily allowance and when I was camped up in the mountains I had nothing to spend it on so I brought it home with me. So I had the girls, the two girls, Sarah and Petria, and Mark was trouping around Myers and they’re wanting to buy this and they’re wanting to buy that, and I was extremely tired and I said to my wife, I took her aside and said, “I can’t cope with this,” I said, “I think we need to give them some money and let them decide how to spend it.” So they were looking at you know $140 Reeboks and all the trendy things in those days, so I think...

Alex
Christmas come early.

Bob
Yeah, well I think I gave them $200 each, which was a lot of money at least, back in ‘91.

Alex
A lot of money back then, yeah.

Bob
And then stood back and watched them spend their $200, and I said, “Well if you buy $140 Reeboks you’ve only got $60 left,” and they started to put a value on the money, but I really struggled coming out of the one context immediately ?[0:14:07] next one and my children them wanting everything, and I couldn’t – even then, I wouldn’t say, “You can’t have it, you can’t have it.” I just found a way of saying, well you start making some decisions for yourself.

Alex
And how has this – is this ringing true to you, Mark? Is this kind of what Bob was like as a father? I do remember hearing that story on a Richard Fidler interview, and weren’t you wanting a kite?

Mark
I think I did, yeah, I don’t remember it but, yeah, I’m sure it’s true. 

Alex
Did you ask your dad to get you a kite? And what happened?

Mark
Well as the story has it, yeah I think we went to the market in St. Kilda and we’d spent all our money and I asked...

Bob
This was the day after the day in Myers where they were wanting the Reebok, so it’s tied up with that.

Mark
Yeah and I had my shiny new Reeboks on and then I asked for a kite to which dad said, “No.” And I wasn’t really happy so I asked him to go back to Iraq and earn some more money.

Alex
And did you?

Bob
Well if everyone knew how far from me wanting to go back to Iraq- I’d lost twenty pounds at the camp for three months in the – up near north of Mosul where they’re fighting now with the Kurds, it was the most horrific experience of my thirty-odd years in the field in terms of living and surviving, and for someone to say, “Would you go back to get some more money so I can buy a kite,” it was one of those things that you just [Yeah, wow] – Mark was six at the time so I forgave him.

Alex
I going to ask, actually, how old were you? It’s alright that you were six and not sixteen.

Mark
Yes, exactly.

Alex
So there’s a particular type of person that’s drawn to aid work, it’s – not a lot of people are going to give up the comforts and luxuries of life and travel half way around the world to help people that they don’t know in conflict that doesn’t affect them. So, Mark, what it is about the way you were brought up that made you want to do that?

Mark
It’s a good question. It was, I guess, just a gradual transition. I think I became more and more interested in what he was doing. I think, maybe, the Rwandan – is Rwandan trip in ’94 with the genocide? I think maybe it was a combination of the magnitude of the event but also I was getting towards nineteen years old, that really sparked my interest, and still to this day I’ve read a lot of books about it. I think I maybe started asking a lot more questions, but I just think and heard stories of things that he’s able to achieve, and there was just that natural progression.

Alex
And it’s not only the, sort of, moral imperative that’s clearly been instilled in you, but it’s also a love for water and sanitation. So your career has gone down a similar path to your fathers in terms of you guys have both worked in the wash fields.

Mark
Absolutely, yeah. So 2003, I think, Cyclone Amy, I was in about Year 10 and dad had done a little bit of work with the Red Cross in Fiji and I was going in that Year 10 stage and I was umming and ahing between engineering, and I just to love aeroplanes and travel, so aeronautical engineering, and then an interest in what he did, and then I went and spent a couple of weeks with him in Fiji, saw first had what he was able to do and, you know, the community reaction to when we were switching on water to each household, and that really changed the course. I chose my subjects for VCE and then that’s the path I went on from then. I mean you grow up and you’re a silly teenager at times and you go to uni and you take your focus off a little bit, but since that trip when I was 15, 16 years old, I guess I’ve had a pretty clear idea and focus about what I’ve wanted to do. 

Alex
And now, I don’t want to ask you that question which is why did you follow in your father’s footsteps because I think you’ve probably got your own passions about the work that you do. Can you talk to me about that? How did that come about?

Mark
Yeah, so the work that he does is really hands on on the ground and helping, you know, a lot of people. I’m an environment health officer, so I come in from the public health background, and I think there are fantastic linkages between the wash sector through the public health side. I see that’s where he’s had a big impact and we’ve grown up talking about water supplies and things like that. So it was, as I said, a natural progression, but I don’t think – yeah, I couldn’t see myself in another profession.

Alex
And what was your title when you were deployed to Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak, you were environmental officer?

Mark
Yeah, so it was environment health and it was predominantly coordinating all the wash aspects of an Ebola centre.

Alex
So did Bob give you any advice before you went off?

Mark
A lot, yeah. So again, the Ebola response was that unique mix of the environment health, public health wash field, it was something I was very, very keen to get to. I was going to go earlier with my father and it didn’t eventuate, he went and came back before I’d gone. So although it was an intimidating and a scary situation from a public health and environmental health perspective, there was a very known risk, there were very known controls, and I was comfortable with the risk. But there were definitely times, thank goodness for Wi-Fi, that I called him up and asked him some advice when I was over there.

Alex
And do you remember those phone calls? Do you remember what you were asked, Bob, and what you said?

Bob
Look, I don’t remember the particular questions, but I get a lot of questions from people who are aid workers, young people I’ve mentored or been involved in their career, and 99% of the time they know the answer, they’re just looking for a little bit of reinforcement about their decision-making, and I’m very happy to do that because what we – the work that we do, and one of the things I think that attracted Mark to it, is that it’s actually not rocket science, you can achieve so much by using a bit of common sense and a little bit of knowledge and having the resources of the Red Cross, and a lot of people – I’ve shown lots of photos of the work I’ve done throughout the world and people would say to me, “Well how do you how to do that?” And most of time I say, “I don’t but local people do.” and harnessing the knowledge of local people, the local Red Cross volunteers is how you get the work done. So the question – it was really great that I had done the Ebola before Mark went because I was able to show him some photos and said, “Well these are the things that we need to be conscious about,” and that phone call I got from him, he knew the answers and was just looking for reinforcement.

Alex
And so his advice was helpful then?

Mark
Absolutely.

Alex
Ten out of ten?

Mark
I don’t often give him ten out of ten, I’ve give him nine and a half [Laughs]. 

Alex
So you mentioned that you have trained and mentored quite a lot of Red Cross delegates. You were also deployed to Sierra Leone as we’ve before. Was it a sense of your career coming full circle when you watched Mark go off to that same epidemic, that same response?

Bob
Yeah a little bit of that. I think the – to close the lid for me, we’d need to do a deployment together and then I think I could hang up my hat completely. I mean, I’ve – I’m still on the list to be deployed, but as I told the Australia Red Cross, I’m the last resort, I know that if I put my hand up, particularly in the Pacific where people know me so well, if there’s an opportunity to work in the Pacific or somewhere in the world, if I put my hand up other people don’t get to go, so it’s no good mentoring and supporting people and then me going and they don’t go. But the Ebola was one of those last resorts. We had a lot of people in the field, the Australian Red Cross did an amazing job in the Ebola response, but they were running out of people – people didn’t want to go, people weren’t prepared to go, families didn’t want them to go, they kept ringing me up and saying, “Well what about you, Bob, would you go?” And I wanted to be really satisfied that everyone else had gone. And it was Christmas so no-one wanted to be away from home for Christmas. And, in fact, once again it was my wife, after one of these phone calls my wife said, “Well why don’t you go?” And I hadn’t – and as soon as she said that and I started thinking, there was no really good reason why I should go. So yeah, it was really very exciting to – when Mark eventually got to do a deployment, because it’s been a long road. I mean, going back to the trip that he did in Fiji when he was doing year 10, I mean it was the best couple of thousand dollars Judy and I have ever spent when I was working over there saying, well Mark was floundering not knowing really what course of action to take in his life and career and study, so I said to Judy, “Next holidays, fly him over.” And I have to admit, I kept some really fantastic trips available for when he got there, and I remember him sitting out one day on a rock and they’re working in the absolutely idyllic part of the world and he’d made some comment to me like, “This is not a bad life you’ve got here dad..” I said, “Would you like to do this sort of stuff, Mark?” He said, “I’d love to.” I said, “Okay mate, you know what to do. Go home and get the books open, start studying, do your degree, do this, do this, and you can be doing this sort of work.” So, you know, that was when he was in Year 10, now he’s 31, and so it’s been a long road but a road that’s stuck to and done a great job to get there. 

Alex
You must be pretty proud of him.

Bob
Oh we’re extremely proud, Judy and I, of all our children. I mean, we’ve got three fantastic children and nine grandchildren, we’re very lucky in that regard. But to see them, you know, doing the things that they set their target, their aim to do, and Mark’s also very lucky and should never discount the fact that his wife is very supportive and Ashleigh has – I think she was 15 when she started coming to our family home and “Where was Bob?” Well Bob in here or Bob was- so she, actually to some extent, grew up with that’s almost normal, and I think that’s been helpful in terms of her understanding of why Mark wants to do this sort of work. But, you know, with two little girls it’s not an easy thing, and I had two little girls when I did my first mission, so I know and I think Mark understands too that if you haven’t got that support of your wife it would never happen.

Alex
Well said.

Mark
Absolutely. 

Alex
Bob, you’ve seen some pretty horrific things, you’ve been shot at, you’ve had your colleagues shot over and guns held to your head, I mean pretty intense stuff. As a father, was there a part of you that wanted to protect Mark from possibly going through all of that?

Bob
No, I think my – and I’ve actually been in the field a couple of times, and Sarah, my eldest daughter she’s a midwife, she was the one that sort of expressed interest early on in wanting to be a nurse and wanting to work for the Red Cross or for an aid agency, and I distinctly stopped in the field when I’ve been out in the wilds of Africa by myself and taking a photo of my car with no-one around, just my car and me, and I remember taking it and thinking, “I’m going to show Sarah that because if she wants to do this sort of work, that could be her one day, and she really needs to understand that this life is not always easy, you are sometimes lonely, you are sometimes in dangerous situations.” So I’ve made a point of, I think, educating them to the best of my ability about the realities of it, and then leaving it up to them to make the decision whether they do it or not. Having said that, if Mark went off to work in Syria or Afghanistan or somewhere – you know, if he rang up and said I’m off to such and such, I would be as nervous as hell with him going off. And I think when you’re home it’s more difficult than the person in the field, the person in the field knows the context, they know what’s happening day to day, the person in Australia just sees what’s on TV and you don’t always get a really accurate picture of what you’re doing when you’re in the field. So I’d be nervous about it but I would certainly never say don’t go because of the danger, because I know people who have done – haven’t done missions because they thought it would be dangerous and have done missions because they thought it would be safe, and you have got no idea sitting here in Australia or talking to the Red Cross in predicting that if the Red Cross are inviting you to come along and you come, then you have confidence in the organisation that to the best of their ability they’ll make it safe, and they’re not going to invite you into an area where, up to a point, I mean you can’t – there’s no guarantees, but if the Red Cross invited me into a context, then I’ll be prepared to go. Having said that, there’s a few countries over the years that I’ve chosen to ignore [Yeah] for security and safety reasons.

Ale
So, Bob, you’ve got nine grandchildren, and, Mark, you’ve got two little girls.

Mark
Two girls, yes. 

Alex
Would you both be happy with your grandchildren and children respectively following in your footsteps?

Bob
Yes, if that’s what they wanted and if they were educated around the realities of it and not just thinking this is going to be a real fun opportunity to go and work in Vanuatu. I mean, there’s a lot of aid work that’s not dangerous, I mean not a lot of people work for the ICRC, not a lot of people work in Ebola, 90% of aid workers are probably in the islands of the Pacific or, you know, in Asia or somewhere or in countries in Africa where it’s not dangerous, so we have to keep things in perspective. If someone came to me, one of my grandchildren, and said dad I want to work for the ICRC because I’d love to be working in Syria, I’d say well you really want to understand what you’re getting yourself into. But they’re only young, and the advantage that they will have is that they will be brought up – and my wife’s already written a book for them called Pa’s Pillow, and everywhere I go I take my own pillow and the pillow has become famous, because Judy has written this book and it’s been written by the pillow, this is the pillow’s story and all the countries that it goes to and how it sits in the suitcase and can’t wait for the excitement of where I’m going to sleep that night. And she’s written that for the grandchildren, and each of the grandchildren feature in that book doing something with the pillow, so this is another way of educating the children about when they come to our places and Pa’s not home, where is he, oh well him and his pillow are in Africa or wherever. So they already have been educated, and I’ve been to all the kids schools and talked to them about water and sanitation in their classes even though there might only be five or six or seven, and they often sit down and they get talking about – like I’ve just come back from Uganda so the questions I get of course will be, “Oh what animals did you see and what was this and what….” So they’ll be educated and I would certainly support them to do it. But having said that, I think there are some complications around aid work at the moment that are getting a little bit more difficult. I mean, some of the theatres of war are more – particularly a little bit more complex. I think that probably back in the eighties I – just reading reports and seeing what’s on TV sometimes, that there is – the respect for the Red Cross and the Red Crescent is always there, and I’ve never experienced a place where – well one or to exceptions where people have been drunk where we haven’t been respected and how everyone hasn’t got us through, but there are – there’s less respect, I think, for the emblem  now than there has been in the past, and that’s certainly a concern. 

Alex
Yeah, and you’re absolutely right with that, that’s why Australia Red Cross has – not a target campaign, because aid workers are become collateral damage really, which is a crass way to put it, but it certainly – it does seem to be a little bit different from back, you know, twenty, thirty years ago when respect from all parties concerned in the conflict was perhaps a little bit higher.

Bob
Yeah.

Alex
So with that in mind, Mark, would you still support your kids wanting to get into this line of work?

Mark
I think so, yeah. I think, I guess, echoing what dad said is that – I think he has an intricate knowledge of what soft skills are required and potentially I would have thought that he would have said something to me or tapped me on the shoulder if he didn’t think that I had those or I was up to it, and I would say the same thing for my children. If they were interested, you know, absolutely. 

Alex
And is Pa’s Pillow one of their favourite books?

Mark
Yeah. In fact, my five year old daughter took it to kinder on – she has show and tell once a term, and she actually took it as a show and tell and had to read it out to everybody.

Alex
That’s very sweet.

Bob
My pillow is very – it’s got a pillow case that’s slip rather it’s got, you know, quite bright colours on it and so all the grandchildren know this famous  pillow. So when I go north with the nine – with seven grandchildren, I never get to sleep on my pillow, they actually start fighting over who’s sleeping on Pa’s pillow, and we have to have a roster as to who’s going to sleep on Pa’s pillow every night, so it’s become quite famous in its own right.

Alex
Well I hope you get to sleep on your own pillow tonight.

Bob
It’s had some horrible dribbles all over it, every now and again I say to Judy, “I’ve got to throw this pillow out and get another one,” she said, “You can’t throw that pillow out, it’s famous that pillow!”

Alex
You could wash it though, that’d be alright.

Bob
Yeah it’s just even that would…yes. We wash the pillow separate, the actual pillow itself, yeah, I think that would change the whole dynamic of the pillow that’s been washed. You know, it’s slept in the mountains of Iraq with me for three months and all– and the reason I take my own pillow, because I know actually what’s been on that pillow. So all the places – you know, I could tell you some stories about places where I have meant to sleep, and I always take a sheet, a double sheet and a pillow. So I know what I’m lying on, I know what’s over the top of me and I know what my head’s on. So it’s not a fluke that I take my own pillow.

Alex
It must be a comfort from home as well being half way across the world.

Bob
Yeah, I think a little bit of that.

Alex
Well, Bob and Mark, thank you very much for your time.

Bob
Pleasure.

Mark
Thank you very much.

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