Wednesday 3 July 2013

The worst p-plate test experience of them all and botanico-sexual kinks

To paraphrase the Two Ronnies: "In a packed blog today!" we will be a bit all over the place, but then since that accurately sums up my life, let's go with it.
So let's start in the garden.
Following last week's post in which I showed some pics of the aloes in Eric's garden and at my place I received this picture from my friend Mike.
He lives not far from Bondi in Sydney's east and had a similar planting story to tell.
He bunged a small aloe stem in this bed four years ago and now he has this magnificent beast.
The flowering is a curiousity.
I have been working in Eric's garden for five years and have never seen the flower before.
Additionally, plant things, flowering and otherwise, tend to happen earlier for us up here in the north, so to see these flowers spring forth at the same time 800k to the south piqued my interest.
As I said to Mike, "It's as if an aloe switched was flicked across the state".
It's most likely something to do with the season, colder than usual?, wetter than usual?, no frost?, some frost?
Who knows.
In the end for whatever reason these flowers appeared, they are food for the soul.
Elsewhere in the undergrowth I had an interesting job this week, pruning grass trees.
Those who know where I live will immediately assume this means enormous marijuana plants, but no, Grass trees, of the genus Xanthorrea, look like this (right).
This grass tree, however, looking like the botanical equivalent of an uncared for shetland pony, is in need of some attention.
Pruning these things is not something to be taken lightly, indeed the second half of the title of this post refers to what is going on in this second picture (below right).
Now I love plants, but that doesn't mean I am going over the top and expressing my love for them physically.
To deal with the xanth you have to get very personal with them.
The down hanging brown growth has to grabbed by the handful and cut away bit by bit.
To do this you have to get heavily personal and invade the plant's personal space.
Usually the dead material is full of ants and these spread up your arm in waves.
However I find it satisfying to clean them up and is one of the things I like about gardening, variety.
I've learned a little in my chaotic life in the workplace (I've had over three hundred different jobs. That includes part-time work as a student and each garden I label a different job, but even so that seems a lot) and one of those things is that we want some variety in our work and some sameness.
If you are driving to work and can go over in your mind what is coming up, that is stress reducing.
If you face unmitigated chaos in your work from the moment step across the threshold, that is very stressful.
Particularly if the chaos is different from yesterday's and you know tomorrow will be different again.
This was best learned by me when I took a job at a bakery in Byron.
I was living in a rustic shack west of Bangalow with no toilet.
I was on the dole and basically staring out the window.
The finished result.
I developed the real bad habit of having a drink at 11 in the morning.
After some weeks I ran into a friend and told him "I've got to get a job. I need to get out of that bloody shack during the day."
My friend said, "I used to do deliveries for the bakery in Byron and as far as I know, they've haven't been able to find a replacement. Why don't you ring them?"
I now know why they hadn't been able to find a replacement.
The job was every definition of a living hell.
And the relevant part was this.
After 1am the only things that are open in Byron are the nightclubs and the only place that the nightclub patrons can get food at that time are the two bakeries.
My bakery was 50 metres down the street from the infamous Cheeky Monkeys backpacker bar, which closed at 3am.
I started work at 3 and every night I would step across that threshold to be confronted by a sea of screaming drunk backpackers demanding pies and sausage rolls.
No coffee in the staff room and warming up for work, I went from half-asleep to stressed in the time it took to put my foot across the door.
Indeed it was while working there that I was suddenly reminded that I came to the north coast to be a gardener, not deal with drunken idiots.
So I'll close this particular strand of discourse with this panorama shot of Liz's wonderful garden and the peace I find there.

And so to the p-plate stories.
I'd like to say there has been a flood of correspondence, but I've had three stories, so I'll call that a flood.
The first is from Jane Williams and those who have suffered Bathurst, or Byron for the that matter, over Easter will understand.

Jane wrote:
"Such fun getting your P's back in the day!
Mine was in 1980, the Easter long weekend (didn't realise this when I booked it!) I didn't have the question and answer test just the Cop in the car!
Straight up William Street through all the bikie traffic that was in town and then a hill start near Stannies.
At that time that was where all the police stayed for the weekend, so there were cop cars coming and going while I was doing the bloody hill start!
That over I had to go to some random narrow street, (to this day I'm not sure where) and do a three point turn.
I ran up the gutter while doing this but I was distracted by the cop asking me questions.
I was pretty sure I would fail, but he said he hadn't failed anyone that day and he wasn't going to fail me!
Back to the Police Station and I had to angle park between two motor bikes!
Did it perfectly!!!
All in all he only asked me three questions!
Does make you wonder Lock Barker why there are so many bad young drivers on the road these days.
I only had my L's for three months and the only accident I've ever had wasn't my doing!
:) Btw Lindsay Cartright was a great teacher! There are still a few of the "oldies" left from when we were there! :)"

Thanks Jane.

Next is from pharmacist Fleur.

Fleur wrote:
Walgett was humming this day.
"I had one of those non event driving tests,  in Walgett I got my L’s on the first day of the Easter school break, and then my P’s the last day , so had my L’s less than a week.
Having made my appointment with the police, he got in the car, asked how long I had been driving, which I truthfully said years... on the farm, chatted about the weather, the shearers strike and so on.
He directed me across town, (not far) he got out went in and saw a bloke, came out and we headed back to the station.
He went through the list of things I had to achieve in the test... hill starts, traffic lights etc all blissfully ticked off as not possible to do."

Editor's Note: Walgett is flat! A town planning lecturer at Charles Sturt Uni had a student there and his assignment was to fully map the town, including contour lines. The student emailed back that Walgett was at 130m above sea level and the 131m contour line was 40k out of town. He didn't have to put contour lines in the assignment and Fleur didn't have to do a hillstart.

Fleur continues:
"The next time I drove was in Sydney traffic 6 months later , in the rain at night , in my brother's bomb of a mini, that had a very loose gear box, what a freak out that was.
I’m not sure who was more stressed, my brother or myself."

I'd say any other road user nearby - Ed.

Finally, this story is not an urban myth and easily tops the list for best p-plate story ever.

One of Fleur's friends showed up for her driving test in Walgett. The cop was waiting outside the station with his clipboard.
She gave her name and they got in the car and started the test.
Right from the start things went wrong.
She bunny-hopped her first attempt to pull away from the curb, the seat was in the wrong position with subsequent difficulties of putting the correct pressure on clutch or accelerator pedal.
When she went for the blinkers she constantly turned the windscreen wipers on.
After some minutes of staccato travel around town the cop said, "Have you ever driven this car before?"
Fleur's friend said, "No", looking curiously at the cop.
The cop replied, "then why did you choose to do your test in it?"
Fleur's friend answered very confusedly, "I didn't, you provided it for me."
There then presumably followed two looks of wild surmise, followed by a rapid u-turn and fast return to the police station to find the owner of the car inside reporting, again presumably, in outraged tones that her car had just been stolen right in front of the police station.
Needless to say she didn't get her Ps that day.

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