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Stories by Frank Walsh


I was a first year apprentice training to be an Electrician when the firm got a contract to do the wiring in Ball and Welsh’s Emporium in Melbourne.

Our workshop was in the basement I would use the lift to travel up to the various floors we were working on.

One day I entered the lift at the basement passed the first floor and stopped at the mezzanine level. I got a hell of a fright. .There was a large man, arms outstretched, on the floor leaning up against the lift’s glass door. What the hell was he doing there? The store was not open and none of our crew was on that floor. In a panic I pushed the lift button and returned to the basement. I searched around for a weapon and armed myself with a length of heavy duty conduit that would serve as a club.

Quietly I sneaked up the stairs until I was on the mezzanine and came around a corner, weapon raised shouting ‘What the hell do you think you are doing here.’

He didn’t reply. I was facing a dressed-up dummy my workmates had placed there to give me a fright!


I was till a first year apprentice when the boss put me on a job at an old house that was owned by an elderly lady who lived on her own. The place had an outdoor toilet building and another small building that was the laundry. I was to run overhead conduit from the house to provide electricity to both buildings.. There was a very solidly built ladder leaning up against the laundry wall. I didn’t need it for the job so just admired the way it was well built and left it alone.

A day after the job was finished the boss told me that the old lady wanted me to visit her after work. ‘What’s this?’ I thought I might think myself not bad- looking but fair go, I’m still a teenager and she must be over 70!

Five thirty and I knock on her front door. She comes out smiling, but instead of asking me in for a drink or what have you, she just leads me around the back to the laundry

and points to the ladder up against the laundry wall. I had run the overhead conduit from the house and straight through two ladder rungs to the laundry.

It took the all my Saturday morning off to disassemble the complete ladder extract the cable and reassemble the darn thing!


There were three of us on a house renovation job.. My boss, and an A grade electrician were outside chatting to the neighbours while I was inside having a sticky beak around the house. In one bedroom there was a large wardrobe with one of our stepladder beside it. This ornate piece of furniture had one of those fancy flat tops with a raised border around it. I could see there was stuff stored on the top and decided to have a look at what’s up there.. Lying amongst general junk was a 45 caliber automatic pistol.

I picked it up, twirled it around imagining I was James Bond or someone.. Without noticing it my finger clicked over a lever that turned out to be the safety catch.

I squeezed the trigger and 5 shots blasted out. Two went thru the ceiling and shattered roof tiles. One splintered a set of drawers, another chipped plaster off the brick wall and the last on destroyed a container that housed a silver ornament.

The boss came running in and we had to tell the owner who was absent at the time. I was sent home by a very angry employer!

Turned out the gun belonged to a relative who was ex army and had served in Korea..

He had been storing his stuff and using that bedroom when he visited


I once had to crawl under a house connecting up wiring with an electrician I will never forget. Once under there he suddenly lay down and started moaning while holding his belly.

‘What’s wrong mate are you crook? Will I go get a doctor?’

‘No, no he gasped between moans. My wife’s expecting and I’m feeling her berthing




Toorack, Malvern South Yarra. Lots of wealthy ‘Old Money’ people there. 9.30 one morning, the lady at a mansion we were working on complained that she had a headache and must rest all that day . ‘All right for the money mob’ said the electrician with me. ‘The workers have to keep going’.

She left the room and I could hear her on the telephone.. I caught some words including ‘Insolent’ and ‘Lack of respect.’

‘Struth’ I thought. ‘She must be ringing our boss.’

An hour later there was a knock on the front door and the boss stood there with another electrician. The bloke with me was sacked on the spot and the replacement electrician took over his work My mate had to pack up his tools and the boss escorted him off the premises.