A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times


Now I don’t get out and about very often... Most days you’ll find me exactly where I am right now – slumped in an old red office chair behind my computer keyboard staring into space with a more than blank expression on my face, desperately hoping that it’s my turn for a little inspiration to pay an all-too-rare visit my way. 

Sometimes, I’ll get up and move around a bit, look out of the window perhaps, maybe even talk to the cat perchance another human being may one day be present for me to actually imbibe in a conversation with – but most of the time (well all of the time really) it’s just lots of sitting and lots of meaningless staring, only to be punctuated by the occasional depressive sigh. Most days, inspiration for me is making house calls elsewhere.

The casual observer may conclude that I’m not doing very much at all – that I’m wasting my time. And most days the casual observer might be 100% right. But last Monday was to be different. Last Monday wasn’t going to be most days.

You see, the sun was out, it was 30 odd degrees centigrade in the shade and I decided it was time that I parted company with my trusty office chair and actually make plans to go see what the outside world had to offer me. And nobody could ever dare say that I didn’t get anything done on that day, because within an hour of arriving in the wonderful expanse of countryside known as the great outdoors, I had:

Stood in the biggest and sloppiest dog turd on the face of the planet in open-toed sandals no less.

Had my sunglasses stolen by a naked toddler.

Halted the filming of a period drama.

Quite impressive, I’m sure you’ll agree. And you’d be right because you can’t do any of that from an office chair in Springwood, I can tell you!

We (Madi and I) had gone to the Daisy Hill Koala Centre, a place I’ve wanted to visit many times before (mainly down to the lack of Australian wildlife I have experienced in all my time here). What I hadn’t realised though, is that the gardens don’t actually open until 11.00am and we’d arrived quite a bit earlier than that. Now you might wonder why I wasn’t aware of this fact? 

Well the answer is a simple one – I’d only ever been out and about with my wife Jodie before now, and such is the degree of preparation and preamble which any outing with my wife normally entails, that it’s flat impossible to arrive anywhere before 11.00am, let alone somewhere less than an hour from home. In fact as Madi gleefully pointed out as we pulled up in the car park, “We wouldn't have left the house yet if Mum was coming!” 

However, a few minutes later, I had cause to wish that she’d come along after all.

Since the gardens were closed we decided to kill a little time by walking down by the adjoining river, an area completely devoid of animals. But they’d clearly not been long gone. And I realised this when, like previously mentioned, I looked down after stepping backwards to take a photo, to see the sloppiest, smelliest dog turd clinging to my open toed sandal and perilously close to making a final assault over the top on to my toes. I suspect you might think I make these things up round about now, but Madi likes to photograph anything bad that happens to me (she has a file on her phone labelled Andy being ‘Special’). So here’s the evidence for all to see.

So why did I wish my wife Jodie was there? Well she has many fine skills to her name, and one of those is an almost minesweeper-like ability to detect and avoid animal excrement of all forms. She can often be seen walking through the Hyperdome (shopping centre to you non-locals), down a street or through a field announcing “Dog muck!”, “Sheep poo!” or “Cat shit!” at the appropriate moment. Strange behaviour for someone who generally walks alone, but there you are. Had she been with us, I probably wouldn’t have stepped in it, and even if I had, there would have probably been a ready and waiting remedy to hand. And that’s because the preparation and preamble that makes it impossible to arrive anywhere before 11.00am is frustrating, but it does result in a bag full of tissues, wet wipes, towels and no doubt a washing line or two.

As it was, this day we had nothing and I had to do a passable impression of a rutting stag for ten minutes before all traces of the offending material had been transferred to the local fauna. I was just relieved to be wearing smooth soled sandals rather than deep-ridged trainers, which would have necessitated an unpalatable, but all too familiar, operation with a sharp pointy stick.

Anyway, with freshly scraped-clean sandals we set off again for the gardens which were now open.

It was getting hot by now, and so we headed straight for the waterfall type structure where a ribbon of water flows from high on the hill behind the koala house. Apparently, it’s a popular place to cool off in hot weather - and a source of brisk business for the full time employed first aid department given the number of people who fall on the slippery surfaces there. I could spend many a happy hour there, taking bets on who was likely to go arse over tit next.

Anyway, we took our shoes off left them on the side, along with my sunglasses and other stuff, and waded our way in. And it was then that I noticed a naked toddler running down the hill and making a beeline for our gear. He promptly picked up my designer shades (okay I paid $10 for them in a 2 for 1 deal in a Westfield mall but I’m trying to build a story here) and hared off back up the slope with them.

Now as a middle aged man (indeed as a man of any age) your options are somewhat limited when something like this happens. You haven’t really prepared for such eventualities. It’s not like you’ve been sitting in a pub at some point in your life and someone has said to you “Okay, here’s one for you. You’re having a paddle and a naked toddler runs up and whips off with your sunnies. What do you do?” You’d have thought about it then, but nobody ever raised the scenario, so you just haven’t.

I briefly contemplated chasing after the little fellow, but quickly realised that that wasn’t going to play well with the police… or with anyone else really. “So Mr Robinson, the only reason you were chasing this two year old naked child was to recover a pair of sunglasses which you say he stole from you worth … hmm let me see … around a fiver? That’s the explanation you’d like us to consider is it?"

And so you do what I did. Nothing at all. Eventually my thief got bored, discarded them in a bush and I sheepishly went to collect them. Having cooled off, we decided to move on and see what else the gardens had to offer. Now when we first walked in, I’d seen a small sign that said something about filming, but didn’t read it. I really should pay more attention I suppose because as we emerged from behind some trees, we found ourselves right in the middle of a period drama. There were horses, there were coaches there were gentlemen and ladies... all in period costume… and then there was us in just shorts, T-shirts and shades. We didn’t really fit in, and it didn’t go unnoticed.

Somebody yelled ‘Cut!’ and a nice lady who I think was liasing with the film crew on behalf of the Koala Centre, strode over to us. “Are you enjoying your day in the gardens today?” she enquired patiently. She didn’t fool me though. I knew this was a precursor to what she really wanted to say. After all, I know someone with an agenda when I see one. 

She put it very nicely, but here’s what she said in essence. “We’re fookin filming today and you’re right in the middle of the bastid shot. Didn’t you read the bloody signs on the way in? Now it’s a sodding massive garden, this. Bloody huge it is. So please go bugger off and play somewhere else in it. Thank you so much sir.”

She did however invite us to stay and watch for a bit, hence the pictures below. You can tell the cameraman in the back of the coach is thinking, “That’s the pillock who just ruined our shot.” I also want to show you another photo though, something else you won’t see when the programme is aired on TV later in the year sometime.

 

As you can see, it’s a period coach being pulled along by a 21st century ute with the actors being filmed inside the carriage. When you see the finished programme, you won’t see anything of that of course. Nor will you see any of the other day trippers just out of shot, the dozens of crew in vests and shorts, the 6 large trucks containing goodness-knows-what or the idiot in crappy sunglasses with smelly sandals taking photos of it all. Nor will you see the 14 hours of effort (no thanks to me) that went into creating what will probably end up as no more than two minutes worth of useable film. You will see what the producers want you to see… a carefully edited version of what happened on the day. In effect, a total illusion.

I know this isn’t a revelation to you. You know that what you see on film and TV – the finished product – isn’t real. But what you might not think about too often is that the finished product almost every individual, business and organisation presents to the world is just as much an illusion as well. It’s a carefully edited version of what they want you to see, and not an accurate reflection of any kind of reality. It’s the glossy tip of a sometimes scabby and perilous iceberg.

It gives no real indication of what went into creating what you see, hear and touch. You get no real feel for the time and effort it took to get to what you’re now experiencing. A film crew will often work all day in order to get two minutes of useable film. Some days they will work all day and get nothing they end up using (not always my fault). The same input/output ratio is often in place in less obvious fields, but you wouldn’t know it without getting a peek behind the scenes at the preparation, the trial and error, the blood, the sweat and the tears.

The bottom line is that because you usually only get to see the final result, rather than the processes that led to it, it’s very tempting to draw the conclusion that others have life much easier than you do – that their grass is greener than yours. The reality though, is that if they do have green grass, they have invested much time and effort in growing and tending it. They probably have an awful lot of grass that dies or goes brown as well. Sometimes their grass won’t grow at all, and the only thing separating them from the masses is a recognition that nothing worth doing is ever as easy as it looks… and a refusal to give up. Green grass takes time and effort to cultivate.

I think this whole issue of the ‘hidden workings’, explains a lot. It explains why we have a tendency to look enviously at what others are doing; it explains why we are tempted to easily abandon our own jobs, businesses and projects for ‘easier pickings’ elsewhere… and it explains why most of us then give up on these new undertakings as well, when the full enormity of the iceberg is revealed… when our grass starts to turn brown… or to keep the film analogy alive, when we see what’s piling up on our cutting room floor.

Whatever businesses, projects or careers changes you’re planning, it’s worth investing some time and effort to see past the illusion created by the ‘finished product’. It isn’t always easy because the world doesn’t want you to see the iceberg below the surface, it doesn’t want you to see its scrubby grass, and it doesn’t want you to look at what’s on its cutting room floor either. That would just spoil the illusion. No, it isn’t easy, but it is crucially important.

Building a business or a career on an illusion is tantamount to building a marina in an oasis. Ultimately it will leave you high and dry. Yes, there’s short term comfort in illusion, but it doesn’t come close to compensating for the pain and discomfort when reality sets in.

And while we’re on the subject of the grass being greener... I was watching the recent World Cup held in Brazil and it was evident that the grass on some of the pitches, which was in a very poor condition a few days before the tournament, was somehow miraculously transformed come kick off time. The media however, were quick to quell my thoughts of me going prematurely insane by exposing the previously unknown secret – the grass at these venues had been painted!

I did a little research into this and found that it’s pretty big business in North and South America, where long dry spells can leave grass looking very tired and brown. Believe it or not, there are now franchise opportunities in the United States which help people get started in the grass painting business, but how hard can it be?

There are plenty of situations where greener grass would be desirable, and where weather, animal urine or footfall has rendered the surface less than perfect. I’m thinking about sports stadiums, golf courses, public parks and gardens, and even private koala gardens where there is a filming party, wedding or other event. I also wonder whether there’s a market for an ‘Emergency Grass Repair’ service? 

If you want to look into this, the following company seem to offer the paint products you need. http://www.naturalgreengrasspatch.co.uk/



So all in all, we’ve come a long way from a foot full of dog shit, haven’t we? 

Oh, and if you ever get to watch what was being filmed on your television and see anyone who looks like me in crappy shades, dubious shorts and shitty sandals, you’ll know the film editors did a really lousy job!


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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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