Smiles and lighter moments still emerge from floodwaters

WHILE there has been much shock and devastation from floods that caused enormous destruction in Bundaberg, there have been some lighter moments along the way, too.

And we wouldn't be Aussies unless we used those lighter moments to break up the heavy atmosphere and show a brave face by cracking a laugh or smile.

So here are some of the mildly amusing encounters we've come across in the past few days:

At a press conference at the council chambers earlier this week, a photo was taken of the people in the room and Member for Hinkler Paul Neville insisted on being at the back, because "I've wet my pants". It's okay, Paul, we knew you were talking about the rain.

As one of our reporters was making his way past the flood-affected Targo St, he caught the attention of a bloke who was theatrically casting a fishing line from the second storey of his home for a laugh. Mate, if you catch a fish in there, I wouldn't eat it.

Bob Katter's team was keen for the man in the 10-gallon hat to make a publicity appearance in Bundaberg during the natural disaster. They didn't do their research too well, though. When his sidekick rang the NewsMail office to alert us to his appearance the next day, she had just one question for the team:

"So ... where's a good place for us to organise the press conference?"

It didn't fill us with confidence that turning up would have yielded much useful information, but Bob may have got lucky. Given the Prime Minister called the election that day, at least someone would have wanted to talk to him about something.

Speaking of the PM, she has at least one devoted fan in Bundaberg. While on a tour of flood- and tornado-affected parts of the city, a middle-aged man shouted out to her: "I'm all yours, Julia!"

And still on the PM, during a press conference in Burnett Heads with journalists and photographers from around the region and state, the constant flashing of cameras set off the large dogs belonging to tornado-affected homeowners to whom she was talking.

As the dogs barked viciously, Ms Gillard joked this was a reaction not uncommonly reserved for photographers.

"Yeah, that's how some of us feel about politicians too," replied NewsMail photographer Max Fleet.

There were a few tears of shock from NewsMail staff when they saw the state of their flooded office on Thursday morning.

But the mood-breaker came when an ad rep brought out a painting universally hated by staff, from the office of the most recent worker to be "gifted" with it.

Damaged by floodwaters because it had never made it onto the wall anyway, the ad rep stamped her foot through the canvas to the cheers of the whole office.

Veteran NewsMail reporter and steadfast technology denier Mike Derry has kept his colleagues amused all week.

First, he walked into the newspaper's temporary office set-up at CQUniversity and told editor Christina Ongley she'd better be sitting down.

"I've bought a mobile phone," the newly nicknamed Digital Derry told her.

He later had to take his boss's car to a job and she asked him whether he could refuel on his way back, given the tank was low. When he returned, he told her the tank was now really low and he couldn't fill it because he couldn't figure out how to open the petrol cap - and neither could the firefighters he'd just interviewed.

The editor was able to show him the secret method: just press on the cap and it pops open.


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