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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Auld Lang Syne, Dandelion Wine, and Bugger Bob the Builder

When I started this blog I resolved, with the very best of intentions, to post an entry at the beginning of each week.
While a cursory glance at the archive will show that I have failed dismally, all I can say is that I meant it at the time.
Though I began with the best of intentions, it all went wrong, but at least I now know where it went wrong: I was in thinking of this blog as a fresh start, a New Year, if you like.

I had convinced myself that I had quit my day job to pursue a more satisfying career as a penniless author, eking out a living toiling at menial manual work by day and writing Great Australian Novels in my soulless garret by night.
Actually, I quit my day job because my two bosses were boorish, bigoted, bullshitting, beer-swilling misogynist pigs who gleefully abused their power while shamelessly rorting the company for everything that wasn’t nailed down.
Evoking Sir Les Patterson and Romper Stomper respectively, they combined the personal charm of an ulcerated rat in your undies with the managerial ethics of Gordon Gecko. 
I assume that both are still with the company, but surely only as a prelude to going on to the pinnacle of their working lives as senior office bearers with a union somewhere, perhaps one allegedly looking after the interests of health sector workers.

The garret isn’t quite accurate either, though our house does have a decent attic space that could easily be converted into a soulless garret – if you ignore the picture windows and geraniums in the window boxes.

Anyway, the blog was part of that whole fresh start, New Year thing, which is why – I now realise - my resolution to write every week fell by the wayside; it was a faux New Years resolution.
Not that that is really an excuse. Putting a thousand words in more or less the correct order and adding a sprinkling of punctuation isn’t exactly mission impossible, but because it had assumed a New Years Eve aura, that is precisely what it became.
A recipe for failure.
Take one New Years Eve, a dollop of guilt, a tblspn of self-obsession masquerading as self-awareness, a pinch of Auld Lang Syne and several dashes of alcohol and suddenly everybody becomes a resolution Masterchef.

Disgusting fat-bodies, who’s greatest athletic achievement is to eat in at McDonalds instead of using the drive-thru, solemnly swear on their grandmother’s grave to run 25km a day and lose 50 kilos by February.
Come January 1, the mother of all day-after-the-nights-before, the full horror of what they said the night before hits them.
Donning enough lycra to kit-out the Tour de France, they heave themselves off down the street, mowing down small children and little old ladies before hamstrings, fine-tuned by 20 years of bending to the chocolate/beer shelf in the fridge, give way.
Limping home, they console themselves with three pizzas and the thought that they can string out the hamstring excuse until everybody forgets the whole thing.

The key ingredient in their failure is, of course, alcohol, but who among us hasn’t, with a skinful on board, faithfully pledged to complete the impossible mission?
Take our ersatz Prime Minister. As a rowdy New Years Eve in the Lodge made its way to The Countdown, it can only have been the combination of Passion Pop and VBs pinched from Tim’s beer-fridge in the shed that led the redoubtable Muzz Gillard to solemnly promise not to tell lies.
Equally, it was surely only a night on the dandelion wine and stinging-nettle hooch chasers that led actual Prime Minister Bob Brown to declare: I will not release my inner totalitarian this year. 
Clearly, neither of them had any intention whatsoever of honouring such ridiculous promises, so one can only conclude that it was the demon dandelion and pernicious Passion Pop doing the talking.

While I am the first to admit that I’m more than happy to occasionally fade into an alcoholic haze – and my ‘weekly post’ promise had that New Years ring to it – in all honesty that excuse is just a pile of poo.
The truth is that I have spent the past few months learning how to be a carpenter, cabinet-maker, tiler, plasterer, painter, plumber and tree surgeon.
I have been adding these strings to my bow because the quotes I have received from the various tradies that have bothered to turn up have been so outrageous a Saudi princeling would baulk at them.
As I have gone about learning various crafts, I have finally discovered that a: nothing that tradies do is that difficult and b: they are among the biggest bullshit artists on the planet.
(Yes, even bigger than Muzz Gillard.)

When a tradie says “Your internal reflexive flange-grommet
stabilisation joint has collapsed” what that really means is that the previous tradie used a second-hand hinge (the one he charged you $600 for) he found rattling around at the bottom of his tool-box on your kitchen cupboard.
It also means that the $2000 price quoted for the job can be broken down into $31 for parts, $959 for one hour’s labour and $1000 toward the piss fund for a three week fishing trip at Shark Bay at Christmas.
In the past two months I have successfully completed work, for which I was quoted $9,000, for a grand total of $1, 247 including $850 for tools which I will be able to use for the next 10 years.  
The air in our house, I can tell you, will be thick with Schadenfreude when the Gillard-inspired BER-rort gravy train finally grinds to a halt and Tasmanian tradies suddenly realise that the people they have spent months happily treating like dirt don’t actually need them any more.

Unfortunately, an essay on the perfidies of tradies would hardly be news to anybody, hence the New Years Eve angle.
Anyway, if everybody else can have Christmas in July, I see no reason why I can’t have New Years in September – as long as I avoid the dandelion wine and the Passion Pop.
Oh, and the kitchen is finished too.