Wednesday 24 April 2013

Clinton, there's a man in a dog suit behind you.

I had a whole post neatly laid out in my mind when Byron Bay provided its usual interruption to my plans. I meet with Clinton every Thursday for coffee at his local coffee house and we discuss whatever is going on in our lives.
We were involved in an erudite discussion about the history and development of the English language when my eye was caught by this arresting tableau coming up the footpath.
Since I've started this blog, and even before when I would tell some of the stories of my town, occasionally people would say "are you making this up Lachlan?"
The picture shows I'm not, I don't have to.
I'm reminded for instance of when I returned to Byron after a short, horrendously mistaken attempt to live on the gold Coast.
The GC is only an hour's drive away, but a world away in culture.
Eventually I realised my mistake and headed back to this crazy town which is the only place I had ever felt at home.
Upon my arrival I called my Aunt Jen as promised to say I had arrived safely and as I was talking to her from the public phones in Jonson St, around lunchtime, a girl walked past me in full Jane-Austen-esque ballgown, but no shoes.
I knew I was home.

I did stop and speak with this dog-suited fellow and he gave me permission to use this pic on my blog.
The most Byron thing about it was that Clinton didn't bat an eyelid.
He, like me, habituated to this place, obviously thought it the most normal thing in the world for a man in a dog suit to first walk past, and then stop for a conversation.
I might add, just writing the above kind of crystallised in my mind one of the things I like about Byron Bay, viz; for the first time in my life I am not the looniest person around.

So if Byron can stop providing further must-snap photo ops I will finally get around to this week's theme: pressure.
It all started I guess at coffee with my other group of friends.
I was exercised about some issue and began speaking loudly and one of those present ask me to speak more quietly as she felt she was being 'battered' by my discourse.
Being an eternal digressor, bear with me here while I set things up.
Recently I wrote about having anxiety and many of you sent me supporting messages along the theme of 'it's good to speak about it'.
Thank you again.
I replied to some of you on Facebook saying "Thanks for your support as all I can remember from my childhood onwards is adults telling me to shut up".
Thus, my friend saying 'speak quieter' was my most ancient nightmare revisited.
I am going to speak with her and try to find a way forward, but it seems a bit of an impasse.
I am not prepared to go around constantly monitoring my decibels and she, to be fair, has sensitive ears.
If anyone has any thoughts on how to solve this I am happy to hear about it, but please note ear plugs for her and me sitting on the other side of the room have already been suggested.

Then Monday came around and I started the car and had no power.
My transmission had been a little iffy and this day it packed up completely.
I called the NRMA and when the helpful local mechanic arrived (we are on first name terms now and he doesn't have to ask directions to my tent) he first lifted my spirits by saying the car was just low on transmission fluid.
He then went on to send said spirits plummeting to the cellar by pointing out that when the fluid is this low there is a leak in my system.
Now a bit of urban philosophy I've developed in my time is this: "There are three things you never want to hear; 'you better come and see me', from your doctor. 'Audit' from your accountant and 'head gasket' from your mechanic."
For those of you not overly mechanical a head gasket is a seal in the engine, the actual gasket costs about $60, but so deeply buried within the engine is it that it takes six to ten hours labour to replace it.
My problem wasn't the head gasket, but I wasn't sure if the leak in the transmission was going to be a similar deal where it needed ten hours labour to pull the trans out, fix the leak and then put it all back together.
So the NRMA man filled the beast with fluid and I drove off to my mechanic who booked it in for Friday, also to get a pink slip as rego is due and I was already wondering how to pay for that.
So with this burgeoning mechanic bill looming above me like an Andean Condor cruising with ever greater menace over my financial carcasse, I went on with the week.
Gary, my mechanic, said I could use the car but to keep an eye on the transmission fluid.
But I then decided not to do any long distance driving, so had to text through to all my clients of the week in Ballina, Wollongbar and Possum Creek to say I couldn't be there.
Which of course meant no money which I was going to sorely, sorely need.
Then a text from my friend Sandy about other matters in which she mentioned that she was working for most of the week with her partner, Pete, painting his Byron property in advance of new tenants.
I owe Pete a lot of money and he has been great in not having my legs broken in lieu of the cash, but what he did say was I could do some work for him to pay it off.
Thus helping with the paint job was a good opportunity, so I hied me around to his house and began work.
It's good to be finally chipping away at the debt, but if you are working for no pay at the end of the week it is harder to motivate yourself.
Things weren't helped by my first morning on the job when I broke the grinding wheel on one of Pete's tools.
Scott did his best to stay awake.
He didn't get upset but I have mentally added it to my debt, the way this is going I will still be working for him when we are both residents of Feros Village, the old folks home up here.
So then Wednesday night came around and I am normally at soccer training, which is a piss off because all my favourite shows are clustered on six channels across four hours this night.
But as I couldn't drive to Alstonville (40k) due to car, I settled down to enjoy this and try to forget about money for a while when my set top box crapped out.
So loud and long did my swearing go on that the same possum from last week's column woke up and asked me to shut up.
However in adversity comes good.
I texted my friends Clinton, Ivan, Scott and the same Sandy as above, and to my delight both Scott and Clinton were able to provide me with replacements.
Additionally Clinton, Sandy and Scott were able to provide a greatly appreciated listening ear while I coped with all of this and thankfully, it was therapy week, so Paula had to endure a greater degree of intense moaning on my part than usual (and that's saying something).
Clinton did try, but a spot
 on the coffee shop awning
was more interesting than
 my moaning.
Friday tomorrow, up at five to get the car to Gary by 8, then cleaning the balcony for Eric at Clunes followed by more cleaning for Pete in Byron all the while waiting for the call from Gary telling me how much it's all gonna cost.

I'll close by saying that pressure makes things harder, by the time this is over I'll be made of Titanium.

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