Friday, August 3, 2012


I’ve been reading a bit about fencing lately, and have realised that John Mawbey ought not to have employed Jimmy Governor and his young wife to do his fencing job in the first place.
Fencing is a job for two able-bodied men.
It involves heavy lifting and teamwork.
So it was not suitable for just one able-bodied adult male and his teenage female wife.
Ethel would have been exhausted as a result of helping Jimmy with the fencing, plus doing housekeeping for Mrs Mawbey three days a week, plus caring for her toddler son.
The child may have spent a lot of time unattended and alone which would not have been good for his future psychological wellbeing.
In giving the Governors the job, John Mawbey appears to have been looking for ‘value for money’, what the pair could provide, and ‘driving a hard bargain’, instead of taking their ability to get the job done into consideration.
Doing the job on his own without another male helper meant that money would be coming in very slowly for Jimmy, and that he would  have to be at Breelong for a long time in order to complete the job.
So it is not surprising that Jimmy was struggling and pleased when his younger brother Joe and their mate Jacky Underwood turned up and agreed to help him.
But under the terms of Jimmy’s contract with Mr Mawbey, Joe and Jacky were not allowed to help him.
In giving them the work, and paying them with part of his own rations and possibly his wages, Jimmy was effectively sub-contracting them, thereby breaking his contract with Mr Mawbey.
The failure of Mr Mawbey to step in here and nip the situation in the bud suggests he was willing to overlook this in favour of getting more cheap labour.
But he eventually paid the price for this.
As the owner of the property, he had the right to tell Joe and Jacky to leave on the grounds they were trespassing.
He had not authorised them to work for him, so they had no right to be there.
When many of the fence posts were found to be not up to scratch, probably because of poor workmanship by Joe and Jacky, Jimmy’s workmates would have been shamed and offended when their work was rejected.
Mr Mawbey ought to have been supervising the fencing work more closely, particularly once he knew that Joe and Jacky were involved, so he could have picked up on any shoddy workmanship much sooner than he did.
Jimmy may have felt he needed to take a job that was too much for him because he now had to provide for a wife and child.
He ended up fencing himself into a corner, and made his wife Ethel feel fenced in too, so much so that she wanted to leave him.
In a way, Jimmy was 'set up' by John Mawbey to fail.
Being placed in a 'no win' situation can make anybody feel very angry.
And to have this done in front of family and friends would have been even worse.