Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Some Mothers do have em

 It's cold and wet in the garden city - so a fire is handy.

I phoned the usual mob and asked for a delivery of wood. It was arranged for Saturday morning. The man called early today and asked if I'd mind if he put it off until tomorrow because it was still raining this morning, and he didn't like operating in the rain. 

I'm easy going and said "no worries".

An hour later he phoned again and said the rain had eased and he could come this morning. It hadn't on this side of town, but I'm easy going and said "no worries".

He turned up - not the usual bloke, but one much younger and a bit gormless looking. He was driving an Isuzu diesel ute of indeterminate tonnage and quasi-vintage appearance. Previously deliveries had been performed with a Nissan 4WD ute - very handy in Toowoomba with soft soil and steep back yards. The previous sentence describes our place pretty accurately.

I was worried about the possibility of bogging (he had two loads - ours and someone elses) on board. He said (and I quote) -

"She'll be OK - I've driven into steeper yards before - it pulls like a train".

It occurred to me that trains run on rails, not red soil and couch grass, but I'm easy going and said "no worries".

He backed in, scraped the fence on the way, and stopped close enough to where we stack the wood to beging unloading. I helped him.

Then the fun started. When he tried to drive out, the truck simply sat spinning its wheels and turning our backyard into something resembling the Somme.

He kept trying to drive out until I finally stopped being easy going and asked politely for him to stop. He then began to look quite plaintive, and phoned base for help. I only heard his end of the conversation, but I'm pretty sure that the person on the other end was not pleased - nor was he prepared to help.

We have a neighbour across the road, a generous family man who holidays on Fraser Island. He has a Navara 4WD crew cab ute with all the bells and whistles. He offered to help, and carefully reversed the ute into place. He hooked up a chain to the front frame of the truck.

After some carefull manouevring on the part of the neighbour, and some ham-fisted driving on the part of the Woodman, he was free. He clouted the gate on the way out. See the outward bend in the frame? Obviously it was open when he hit it, but the way this character drove, you couldn't assume anything.

He handed me back the cheque for the wood, on account of the damage done to the lawn and gate. I'm easy going, said "no worries",  and told him to keep the cheque. 

I couldn't abide his doleful look. Maybe he's learned something.

Now I've got to stack a tonne of wet, muddy wood. I'll wait until it stops raining. Nana (visiting at the moment) will have a fire. When you're nudging ninety, you feel the cold a bit, especially when you come from FNQ.*

* Far North Queensland

Next Chapter - Jellybeans in the Jungle

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Laundry Run

It's possible to blog about almost anything. Whether anyone wants to read the results is another matter entirely.

I note that BOAB neglected his blog for a bit because he didn't have anything to write about. I have no such reservations.  Anyhow, if he can write about taking pics of drivers behaving badly from a pushie, I feel that it's OK to do the same from a Mazda MX5.

Continue to read at your own risk.

Today I had intended to drive about 300km to visit a sick mate, but a brief phone conversation revealed he wasn't really up to visitors, so I abandoned the original plan to restore some laundry (and a wiimote*) to number one son after he left it behind last visit. It also gave me an opportunity to have a coffee with number two daughter.

* Google it.

The Mazda's boot is entirely the wrong shape for a conventional laundry basket, so a different arrangement was necessary. Note that it's wearing its seatbelt. (Incidentially, whilst taking safety, all shots in the car where taken with both eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel).

It was not the day to drive with the top down. In fact it was downright mucky. The road surface had a dry line from the morning's traffic.

Heading off the escarpment, down what those of my generation call the Toll Bar, the usual phalanx of trucks was present. Maybe in my lifetime we'll see a bypass. Maybe not.

The section called the "saddle " where trucks come to geief regularly was congested, but traffic thinned out after that.

This little car cruises comfortably at about 120kph, but this is Queensland, so 100kph (give or take) is the go. At this speed it sits just under 3000rpm. For years I'd driven big Aussie sixes which aided by tall gearing tooled along at about 1600rpm at 100kph. The relatively high rev rate of the MX5 took some getting used to. It seems unflustered at this speed, and returns in the high sevens (lit/100km) when cruising.

Once on the flat, the trucks encountered followed their usual practice of monstering traffic from a position about 2 metres from the rear bumper. I wasn't prepared to take a shot with the camera facing to the rear, so had to content myself with this pic of a prime mover that had just overtaken me and was intimidating another driver. If I had taken the shot a fraction of a second earlier, you would have been able to see how close he was to this car (silver Falcon). The sedan had just ducked to the left. At the 105kph the truckie was travelling, there was little margin for error. You'll be sprung without mercy for exceeding the limit by 3kph, but apparently tailgating is OK, even if you're piloting a 40 tonne rig. Admittedly this was a prime mover only, but often I've seen exactly the same behaviour from drivers of fully laden rigs.

Driving such a diminutive machine concentrates the mind wonderfully, especially when they're in close proximity. I've never ridden a bike in traffic, but I guess the feeling's the same. Except, I guess, that a bike doesn't have airbags and seatbelts.

Gatton loomed out of the murk, and I needed to make some phone calls, so I broke the journey at the BP service station, bought a paper, and got on the dog n bone. The paper (The Oz - The Fart of the Nation) was notable for publishing a front page story, which if analysed closely, apparently reveals that Wayne Swan, Andrew Robb, and the mining industry are all telling porkies about the super profits tax. George Megalogenis' piece was interesting. He reports that the miners are actually paying about 27.81% at the moment. Unless my memory's playing tricks, for about thirty years of the forty-five I was employed full-time, I was paying tax at the top marginal rate - a bloody sight more than 27.81%.

The most interesting thing I saw at this stop was the caterpillar-like prison van. It was empty. I doubt that there'd be much change from 150 grand after this monstrosity was converted from an Isuzu chassis. The drivers were having a quick Maccas. Everybody's gotta eat.

The Mazda has a good quality sound system, and I'd loaded a couple of Django Reinhardt CDs. This was a better alternative to the doom  and gloom I've got sick of hearing on the radio about my investment portfolio.

In short order, I was on the Ipswich Motorway -

This road has been under construction for yonks, so It's different from week to week, and my poor old GPS has a nervous breakdown when I negotiate it because the roads aren't yet loaded into its tiny brain.

The kids were fine, lunch was great, but the weather stayed pretty poor. By the time I got back to Toowoomba, the gloomy skies had enveloped the city.

Storms are forecast.

Maybe Gibbo will be up to a visit in a day or two.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Xenophobia - The Last Refuge of a Politician

They're at it again.

The coalition are running a series of TV ads showing a refugee boat superimposed on a map with arrows going south from the Asian mainland to Australia.

This appeal to xenophobia follows a tradition established in the days of the gold rushes, when the Chinese were the target - 

It was also popular in the 50s and 60s, but then the fear was the threat of Communism, which, through a combination of gravity and the dubious domino theory was about to overwhelm us - 

This is a Liberal Party election poster from 1966.

It's surprising, in a way, that someone in the engine room of the Coalition believes that Australians still have the same fear of THE OTHER as they did back then, but no doubt they've done their research.

I'd harboured the belief that we'd grown up as a nation. Obviously I was deluded.

Paul Dobbyn in the Catholic Leader puts it well.

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