Tuesday 30 April 2013

Since when has being a loud mouth been genetic!?

For those of you who have been watching this space my car repairs came out at a decidedly reasonable $600.
All this to service the car, fix the transmission leak and do the annual pink slip for rego.
So relieved.
The other issue I raised was me talking to loud, I still haven't resolved this with my sensitive-eared friend, but have contacted her and am planning to meet with her and see if there is a way out of this.
I just had a mental picture of the cone of silence from Get Smart, but if the two of us got into one of these it would of course be a foretaste of hell for her, with my voice booming around inside those acoustic walls like a sports car's exhaust inside a tunnel.
I guess what we would need to do is I get inside the cone of silence and she sits outside it.
Which leads me to a curious coincidence.
English surnames that end in 'er' generally come from a job.
Thus, Hunter, Shooter, Fisher, Farmer and Thatcher for example.
For those of gen 'wifi' who may be reading this, a long time ago people did live in houses with a thatched roof, usually reeds tied tightly into bundles and woven, or 'thatched', together.
Less well known are Cooper and Fletcher, a maker of barrels and arrows respectively.
Also curious is Webb and Webster, which started life as 'wevva' slid over to 'webbe' and is derived from 'wefan' to weave.
Of course the commonest name of all, Smith, comes from blacksmithing, but there are also Tin, Silver and Goldsmiths scattered about.
Likewise (I just looked it up, I do research things) there are 100 people with the surname of 'Miner' in the Australian phone book
My surname is Barker and that is a job as well.
A barker was the guy who stood outside the circus and said "roll up, roll up, see the bearded lady" and such like.
A barker at work.
Now in the days before electronic amplification, the main qualifications for this job were a big, loud voice and verbal diarrhoea.
Two qualifications that those who know me well will tell you I have in spades.
Additionally, my father was a lecturer at Charles Sturt Uni, Mitchell college as was, and he taught before lapel mikes were the norm and was famous for his carrying voice.
So could it be that the reason I am so loud and (big word alert) loquacious is that we Barkers have been barkers since antiquity and it's in my genes to never shut up?
I'll tell my coffee friend this and see if it ameliorates her attitude toward me.
So having taken you through a history lesson of sorts I'll go onto a story that usually amuses.
When I was living on the Gold Coast I was 'nearly homeless'.
The quote marks are there because I wasn't sleeping in bus shelters and shop doorways, but I was the next step back from there.
I lived in backpackers hostels and campgrounds, No Fixed Abode is probably more accurate.
Eventually I began to get some work as a gardener and was laying turf in a new housing estate at Ormeau.
It was a tough gig, if I had sat down with a pencil and paper and tried to work out the worst conditions possible for turf and man, that summer would have been it.
It was very hot, mid-30s plus every day and often 30 degrees by 7am.
All those summers ago I laid this lawn
(very badly), while astral travelling to
Omicron-Persei 8.
Bush fires were burning in both western NSW and western QLD and the winds were blowing across the estate as from the very furnaces of hell.
Small bits of ash would fall on me as I worked and the turf roll would often dry out to a burlap sack texture by the time I carried it from the pallet to its place on the lawn.
I had to run the sprinklers constantly on the pallet and the laid turf and the amount of water wasted to provide a lawn was doing my head in.
One morning I drove from my backpackers in Surfers Paradise and when I got there I went to roll a cigarette while I contemplated the day.
But could I find my Champion Ruby? No.
I tore that car apart, but could not locate it.
Eventually I realised I must have dropped it in the car park at the backpackers and drove up to the shop and bought a new pack.
I went on with my hot work for a few weeks and eventually one Sunday I said, "I have got to clean this car out".
Leaving anything around the backpackers during the day was an invitation to steal, so everything I owned was in that car, tools, clothes, the lot.
The mess indescribable, but I'll have a go.
Take away coffee cups jostled for position with burger wrappers, the ash tray was piled so high that it was becoming difficult to see through the windscreen and there were parts of the carpet that had already evolved into new life forms.
So, time to clean.
I borrowed a vac from the backpackers and got some garbage bags and went down and began to unload my life piecemeal from the car in the underground car park.
My recollection is that I filled 1 and a 1/2 garbage bags with rubbish, which is pretty filthy for an ordinary mid-sized sedan.
Eventually I got everything out and was using a dustpan brush to clean between the drivers seat and the console when I came across my missing tobacco pouch.
It had slipped out of my pocket in transit and wedged itself in the gap in perfect position to be out of sight.
"You beauty!", I exclaimed.
There was $20 odd worth of baccy in the pouch and, at that time in my life, was  ~5% of my weekly income, so a great find.
I had a pouch on the go, so I tipped my current pouch into the found pouch and went on with my life.
Over the next fortnight though I began to notice a change in my behaviour.
I'll bring in a quote from a great writer, Doug Adams, to set this up.

"Ford then behaving oddly, or, as Arthur thought to himself, he began behaving in a way differently odd to the odd ways he more customarily behaved."

I was finding it difficult to stick to any task and my consumption of muffins, candy bars and take away coffee began to accelerate from one each morning and afternoon to driving up to the shop every hour, and still eating a full lunch.
In this period I also had a somewhat scary experience where I was driving home from Ormeau one afternoon and couldn't remember where I was living.
I had to pull over and really think hard to come up with the answer.
"Aren't I staying at Miami beach campground?", I said to myself. "No, didn't I check out of there on Monday?" "No, I think I'm at Broadbeach Backpackers, didn't I check in there on Tuesday?"
"Maybe, but what day is it today, it's Thursday isn't it?", and so it went for some minutes till I eventually came up with the answer (my tent wasn't in the car, so that helped me remember I was back at another campground just up the coast).
Anyway, you all may have guessed where this is going and soon after I got the answer myself.
As I came to the end of my recently found tobacco pouch, I was scrabbling in the bottom for the dregs when my fingers roughed across a small twig.
I pulled it out and suddenly it all fell into place.
The night before I lost my baccy pouch some Israeli backpackers had come and asked me to help them navigate away from the Gold Coast to their next stop at Noosa Heads.
I drew a pencil marking on their map, up the Pacific Hwy, turn to the Gateway Motorway and onward to the Sunshine Coast.
Happy with my help they gave me a large marijuana bud which I stashed at the bottom of my tobacco pouch in case the coppers pulled me over.
Then, as the pouch slipped down next to the seat, the heat from the console dried the bud to dust and the jiggling of the car in motion then vibrated the dope dust evenly throughout the tobacco.
I smoked 30-40 rollies a day in that period and was thus stoned from morning through to bed time.
No wonder the turf in the picture is iffy and when I told the people at the Ormeau coffee shop that I had finished my turf laying and wouldn't be buying coffee, candy bars and muffins there anymore, they had to close down.
A cast iron example for legalising marijuana, I know the shops that sell food would go for it.

Sweet Mary Jane, the source of my
erratic behaviour that summer.
(Actually every summer till 2007 when I gave it up)

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