AT THE BOOK MARKET, I DO NOT SELL ANY
ALL DAY LONG I DON’T MAKE A PENNY
“HEY YOU! BUY A BOOK
AND DO NOT JUST LOOK”
AS AN AUTHOR, I'M LOSING MY SANITY.
THERE WAS A YOUNG GIRL FROM TASSIE
WHO WAS PRETTY BUT KNOWN AS A HUSSY
WHEN SHE MET A YOUNG SCOTT
WHO LIKED HER A LOT
AND CALLED HER “MY WEE BONNIE LASSIE!”
LEGS VARY IN SHAPE AND IN SIZE,
IN SHORT SKIRT, THERE IS NO SURPRISE,
SOME ARE SKINNY LIKE STICKS
HAIRY LEGS ARE THE PITS
BUT CONCRETE CRUSHERS I DESPISE!
THE BABY CRIES PIERCINGLY LOUD
“SHUT UP!” THE FATHER DOES SHOUT
THE MOTHER THEN NURSES
TO AVOID FURTHER CURSES
BUT AS PARENTS THEY BOTH ARE SO PROUD!
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
‘Hello Peter, your car has been serviced and it is ready for your country trip.’ The friendly voice on the telephone belonged to Stan, the man in charge of Selby’s Motors. Since a lot of people treat their car almost like a loved one, as a member of the family, his role was like that of a family doctor. His diagnosis of a car is always eagerly awaited by customers and his recommendations are followed religiously.
‘That’s great, Stan, thanks for your good work.’ I am sure I sounded relieved and grateful.
‘That’s alright, Peter. We know that you are due for your country trip and therefore have made servicing your car a top priority!’
Good service! I thought. Whilst I hated putting the car in for service as I always felt stranded without it, I realised that it had to be maintained properly. If not, it could let me down in the country side, in the middle of nowhere, between two towns, with tons of mozzies swarming around. I knew from bitter experience that you could do nothing about it then because when the motor doesn’t run, the air conditioning doesn’t either. It then gets stifling hot inside the car and you are forced to open a window. And that’s when the gnats get you! Out of nowhere they converge on one as if trained that way.
So, I went to my loyal service station and picked up my car. Relieved, I sank into the comfortable seat, turned on the air conditioning and sighed with sheer pleasure as the crisp, clean, refrigerated air hit me. Automatically, I undid my tie, took it off and dropped it on the seat next to me. I undid the top button of my shirt and . . . ah, that was luxury! For a moment I envied all those people who did not have to wear a business suit, shirt and tie.
Upon driving back to the office, the traffic was at its peak and I got nearer to my office only by the stop-start method, which I always found unnerving. I much preferred to do my business calls in the country because at least you could drive without the frustration of traffic and stop where you wanted to stop. It was wonderful to be able to park right outside an architect’s office and just go inside!
Suddenly, I had the feeling that something was not right. Was it the air conditioning? I fingered the control buttons - it was turned on alright, but why was the air suddenly so stiflingly warm? Feeling the air vents, I panicked. The fan which normally blew out the refrigerated air was not working. What an inconvenience! I was supposed to go on a country trip but could not possibly do so with the car in such condition!
‘Stan,’ I explained on my car phone to the service manager of the workshop, ‘the air conditioning does not work. It started alright, blowing cold air but suddenly the fan is not working. What happened?’
‘There can’t be much wrong, Peter,’ Stan’s voice was very reassuring. ‘We checked everything before handing you the car. Can you bring it back and we’ll have a look at it?’
Despite the heavy traffic I managed a u-turn and raced back to the workshop. Once there, Stan sounded less optimistic ‘To check the air conditioning’s fan and motor, we have to open up the dashboard and have a look at everything - it will take a while as it is a big job. Leave it here and we will phone you tomorrow with the result of our inspection.’
This did not sound reassuring at all. I’d have to face another full day without my car! Feeling like a broken man, I hailed a taxi cab and returned to the office. Whilst I had enough business to attend to at my desk, it was not a happy situation. I was in the middle of a large batch of phone calls when Stan reached me on the line. His call got to me between my outgoing calls.
‘This is Stan again, Peter. Your car is ready to be picked up. I’ve fixed everything. Now you can go on your country trip. Can you come right away as our workshop closes early?’
Slightly breathless I had entered the service station and Stan was waiting for me. All the other office staff and all the mechanics seemed to be looking at me, for some reason. ‘Peter, where is your necktie?’ Stan enquired with a very formal attitude. This was an unexpected question and I said the most stupid reply I could think of:
‘I haven’t got a necktie,’ I replied, totally confused about what that had to do with my car? ‘And what’s a necktie?’
‘Your tie, Peter!’ and he tucked at his own accessory to jog my memory.
‘Oh my tie? It’s in the car, on the seat.’
Suddenly, the whole office staff and the mechanics started to laugh and Stan explained: ‘Peter, we found your tie entangled in the fan. Here it is,’ and like a magician, he produced my tie which was in a terrible state.
‘It somehow got sucked up into the air intake opening at the floor and prevented the fan from blowing. There is nothing else wrong with your car!’
With a red face, I had accepted my car keys back and the tattered tie and got into my station wagon. What happened? Well, with all that starting and stopping in heavy traffic, the tie had fallen from my seat onto the floor, must have slid forward and been sucked into the air opening. What a reason to give a car back to a mechanic! I did not live this down for a while. Whenever I put my car in for service, Stan or whoever was serving customers, always remarked: ‘Ah, I see you’re wearing your tie!’ Naturally, I can laugh about this now but I still wish it had never happened to me!
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Outside, there blows a freezing wind
and brings the South pole closer home.
I fancy polar creatures roam
at intersections, public places,
where people rush with frosty faces
past penguins and seals in masses
who stare at them with frozen asses
as they pursue their daily chore,
so frozen deep down to their core.
Friday, July 1, 2011
I turned and there was Ian, a youngish architect, smiling at me. He had set himself up on his parents’ farm and travelled up and down the country district, finding business and was seemingly cushioned against the vagaries of the economy that his city counterparts dread so much. Conducting my business was easy as Ian was naturally friendly to visitors. He did not get too many and that made me very welcome.
‘Be careful when you drive on to Dunkston and into Victoria,’ he warned.
‘I know, Ian, I heard about the plague of locusts on the radio. Unfortunately, I will have to spend a day in town because I have to put my car in for service,’ giving him an accusing look which went unnoticed. Anyhow, I wondered what there was to warn about? They were tiny creatures, weren’t they? What could they do? Plus, the government was constantly announcing that it was spraying the area, obviously killing them off before they started swarming, so if I kept the windows closed and the air conditioning on, they could not get to me. I just had to drive through the swarm in comfort. Easy!
Well, it wasn’t! I was wrong as usual and my hair greyed a bit more than nature intended. But first, I had to get the car serviced. There were two good mechanics and I chose one with the least cars waiting. The workshop was located at the begin of the town and it was unique because it had a life-size mannequin outside, near the road, with a motorised arm waving motorists into its driveway. Obviously, the owner of the petrol station cum repair shop had a sense of humour!
Looking at the dummy, I had noticed that it was also being used as an advertising medium for other things because it had a large sign hanging from its neck, inviting everybody to a play in the town: ‘Rome, sweet Rome’ it said in large letters - obviously a pun directed at the Italian population of the area. Also, the dummy was dressed in a Roman toga and, like in ancient Rome, had a laurel wreath placed on its realistic wig. With its finely detailed face and accurate proportions the mannequin really did look lifelike! To make it attract even more attention, the service station owner had installed a windscreen wiper motor that moved the arm. Waving at passers-by and directing motorists into the driveway was certainly a clever set-up!
Wally, the owner came out, smiling. He knew that another city slicker had been lured into his establishment! ‘You like my dummy, then?’ he started a conversation.
‘It’s incredibly lifelike! It certainly gets a lot of attention,’ I observed admiringly.
Wally nodded proudly ‘Yes, I put a bit of work into it,’ pointing at the arms. ‘I’ve installed a windscreen wiper motor. Actually I put two of them in the dummy and added hinges to the arms.’
I stared at the animated figure.
‘I’ve also installed a loudspeaker and work everything from the console in my office. He pointed to his small office with all the space occupied with paperwork and with spare parts used as paperweights. And sure enough, there was a microphone and some buttons and knobs giving the appearance of a primitive radio station.
‘I have only one problem’ he said.
‘What’s that?’ I could not think of a drawback.
‘Come into my office right now’ His voice had become a whisper like a conspirator’s. Eagerly, I had followed him. He placed himself in front of his microphone, his hands hovering over the knobs and buttons. His expression became grim and determined.
He obviously had forgotten about me, judging from his intensive staring at a van with a family inside. Clearly tourists, they had stopped in front of the dummy, and stared at it, talking to each other excitedly. Then one man had left the van and slowly approached the figure, as if mesmerised.
‘Watch this bastard,’ Wally whispered. ‘They all do that!’
‘Do what?’ I whispered back, feeling like a conspirator, too, only not knowing the plot.
The man stood in front of ‘Nero’ as I had named the Roman mannequin, reached out and tried to shake hands with him. This must harm the mechanism, I thought.
Suddenly, the dummy jerked and boomed at the tourist ‘Let go of me bloody arm! What do you think you are doing?’
The shock was very visible, especially as there was nobody else in the driveway. The man almost jumped out of his skin. Trembling, he sprinted to his van, got into it and drove off with the acceleration of a racing car driver.
‘See that?’ Wally turned to me. ‘They all try to shake hands and it damages the motors inside it.’
‘That’s incredible,’ I could only stammer.
But Wally was made of sterner stuff because I heard him mumble: ‘I hope his drycleaner can keep a secret!’
I had to stay in Dunkston while my new muffler was being installed and I also took advantage of getting a full car service at the same time. Wally was an old-fashioned mechanic who took his work very personally, and whatever he did, he did properly. However, I had some visits to make in the town: to the hospital, the local government authority and flooring contractors, all in walking distance, so not much time was lost.
Upon leaving an architect’s place and walking towards a Government department where more architects were waiting for me, I had passed a large cinema and noticed a sizeable poster advertising a concert by Slim Dusty. It was a pleasant shock because Slim Dusty was one of my heroes of country music. In fact, it had always been my dream to attend one of his concerts and witness this legend perform. His concert was scheduled for the next day! I was reading the poster with excitement when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
‘Hello, Peter! You are back in town.’ It was Terry Stringer, an architect, whose small office I had intended to visit.
‘Hello, Terry.’ I was pleased to see him as he was completely natural with none of the snobbish air I sometimes encounter from city establishments.
‘Yes, I was coming to see you this afternoon, if that’s alright with you? I have some new samples for you and your catalogue needs updating.’
‘Splendid, Peter. Let’s say about 3 pm? That’s it then. I see you are a Slim Dusty fan? Are you going to his concert tomorrow? It will be a great event.’
‘Unfortunately, Terry, I can’t! You know how it is - there is always another town to call on.’
‘I know what you are like, Peter. You are too correct. That’s what’s wrong with you.’
‘W-what do you mean?’
‘Let’s say, if you had a car problem that needed fixing or if you were not feeling very well and had to take a day off - you are entitled to it, aren’t you? Then you would have your chance to see Slim Dusty and nobody would know!’
‘You make it sound so easy, Terry’
‘But it is easy. And don’t forget that after the concert, you can meet the master in the pub and have a yarn with him. You know what Slim is like!’
‘Yes, he is very folksy and,’ I was pulling myself together, ‘I have my car in for repairs and a service today. I tell you what, Terry, if the car is not ready by this evening I shall stay here for another day. But only then.’
‘Please yourself. So I shall see you at 3 o’clock then’. Terry nodded and left me in inner turmoil. I have always been a stickler for correctness. It didn’t not matter how far away from a boss I worked, I always did the correct thing, otherwise I just would not have been able to look at myself in the mirror in the morning. Therefore, I decided to leave it up to God. If my car was still being repaired the next day, then I would have had no other choice and I would see Slim.
Wally, the repairman, smiled when I called on him late afternoon. ‘It’s all ready, Peter. New muffler and full service! The tyres are alright and I have just test driven it.’
‘Thank you, Wally. I am relieved that I have a reliable vehicle again and do not need to feel stranded any more!’
But there was a touch of regret in my voice.