Wednesday 26 June 2013

Let me park the mower and I'll be right in.

Back to the "Only in Byron" bit instead of more of my mewlings about how hard life is.
I snapped this pic as I left the office on Friday, and it truly, in my opinion, sums up this town.
We presume the council grass man was driven in by the rain and clearly the most natural thing in the world was to slot it into a park, go in and buy his lunch at Byron Organic Kitchen and then return to work.
Now I may have mentioned this once or twice, but I have a thing about bad road users and I was impressed with this mower driver following the rules, parking neatly and then, I hope, checking his wing mirror before moving into the traffic stream.
You know what they say, "Nostalgia ain't what it used to be", well I'll tell you this for nothing, getting your licence deffo ain't what it used to be.
These days to get your 'P' plates you have to undergo 150 hours of logged driving with a licenced driver before you can sit your test.
Those who are reading this are unlikely to be getting their P-plates, but many will have no doubt suffered, or are suffering, the vertiginous stress of being the licenced driver clinging with bunched fingers to the dashboard as your child starts out on the road.
And so to the past.
When I got my P-plates back in the murky past of Bathurst in 1982 the system was this.
You studied the manual and then went into the motor registry and did a twenty question multiple choice test, if you got 17 or above you could then sit your driving test.
Previously you just booked in, the cop got in the car and asked you questions as you went while observing your driving skills.
As a recipe for accidents this couldn't be bettered.
Already nervous, the student is then negotiating a tricky hill start while the cop asked deviously trick questions like "What is the maximum legal length of a two rope?" (A trick because tow ropes were illegal then, maybe they still are).
So I suspect that the coppers themselves put the kybosh on this as they were forever in danger of their lives as the student veered all over the road whilst trying to think of the safe following distance on the highway or what to do when a siren is heard.
I duly passed my written test and fronted the police station, a copper got in and we drove up town made two lefts, got back onto the main street and returned to the station.
Test over in five minutes, me now a licenced driver.
I say "over in five minutes" not because I was such a good driver, but because of what I heard about a friend from high school who had massive breasts at age 17.
Her test lasted 45 minutes, and I'm convinced that this was not because she couldn't drive, but the cop wanted to observe her thorax moving as she changed gear and manoeuvred around the driving seat.
Also, a friend from Bathurst told me about his test to get a motor bike licence.
Clearly the cop couldn't ride pillion, so they would observe you as you drove around.
Well that's fine, but the system has issues in a wintry Bathurst.
Peter parked his bike, went inside and registered, then the copper came out and stood on the footpath and gave him his instructions.
"Head up town four blocks, then do a u-turn, return here and reverse park between these two cars".
Peter set off and within 50 metres was invisible in a Bathurst morning fog.
He dutifully did as asked, returned and parked to find the cop talking to a bystander.
He parked his bike, switched off and waited.
After a few minutes of conversation he tapped the cop on the shoulder, who then stared at him blankly.
Peter said, "did I pass?", this jogged the memory and the policeman said, "Oh, oh, er, yeah, ah, sure."
Licence given.
The closest thing to a 'peak hour' in Warialda.
My brother got his licence in Warialda, where my mother's family were from.
To say it was a one-horse town would be a disservice to one-horse towns.
A one-legged horse town would be a better description.
Parallel parking is easy.
My brother passed his test and told me that as far as he recalled not a single other vehicle was moving as he perambulated around town during the stagnantly hot lunch hour.
Additionally (as as the photo shows) the cop asked him to parallel park on a block with no other vehicles on it.
But even these stories of easy licence granting diminsih to vanishing point compared with one told by my Agriculture teacher Lindsay "Jack" Cartwright.
He was working on the wheat harvest down on the Hay plain.
The farmer came to him and said, "Lindsay, we need more drivers, can you drive a grain truck?"
He, Lindsay, said "yes, but I'm not licenced."
The farmer said, "no problem. Just head into the cop shop tell them that and they'll sort it out for you straightaway".
So Lindsay got in the ten-tonne grain truck and drove into town.
He pulled up outside the Police station (I think Deniliquin was the nearest town) and walked inside.
Behind the desk sat the local sergeant and Lindsay said, "I'd like to get my licence for a ten-tonner , please."
The sergeant said, "Can you drive a truck?"
Lindsay replied "Yes" and the sergeant responded, "OK, I'll fill in the paperwork now and you can drive me uptown to get some lunch."
Paperwork filed, the sergeant climbed into the cab (carefully skirting the topic of Lindsay driving the damn thing there without a licence in the first place), they drove to the cafe, the sergeant got out and Lindsay drove away, driving test done.
ADDENDUM: When I had coffee with Clinton yesterday he said he'd heard a similar story, but it was milk they went to get for the driving test, so possibly this story of Lindsay's was an urban myth.
But then as Clinton also pointed out, such was the way thing were done in country Australia in the sixties and seventies that if this incident happened more than once, that would be no surprise either.

So there you have it, things have ramped up massively since those days of yore, yet I still wonder why there are so many f@#%$ng idiots on the road.
And now let's move to one of the reasons I became a gardener.
Here I am (right) with my bulbous schoz scanning the flower of the Aloe vera plant.
Many who use this best of skin creams have never seen the plant it comes from, even fewer (inc me till now) have seen the flower.
I enjoyed this moment one the property of my client Eric at Clunes.
On my return home I noticed that my aloes were flowering too.
So I snapped the pic below.
Then I remembered how my aloes got there and that's a tribute to the toughness of these plants.
I'd done some work for Eric and he asked me to prune the aloes back, I did so and asked him if I could take the trimmings as I have some trouble with Psoriasis.
He consented and I took four or five large stems home.
The sweetest flower of them all, and the plants look good too.
My friend David "Dingo" Marshall on the hillside.
PS:a note for gardeners my hillside is entirely sand dune, a
geologic remnant of Belongil beach. Growing anything on
sand is HARD!
When I got home I needed to unload the car hurriedly and wasn't sure where I was going to plant my stems so I hastily threw them over the fence of the small garden on my hillside and then forgot about them.
Some time later I remembered them, went out to check and found that like a baby that can change it's own nappy, the stems had cheerfully taken root and were growing happily away on their own.
The ultimate plant for the lazy gardener.
Finally, I had a very stressful day yesterday for various reasons, but stuck to my guns and didn't head for the Rails (pub that is, not a suicide attempt) to get loaded.
I went to the gym instead and as I was leaving I saw this skyscape (below left), rainbow an' all.

This reminded me that here in Byron I have access to the ultimate non-drug relaxation technique.

So I headed out to Wategoes beach and took a moment to enjoy the tranquility of this wintersun dusk.
I hope you did too.
Next week back to the usual format of non-stop f@##$$%^ moaning.

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