The Right Wrong Right Side Of The Road

Which side of the road do you drive on where you live? if you’re in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaya, Siam, South India, North India, East North India, South Africa, Rhodesia, and Japan, you drive on the left hand side of the road. If you are elsewhere you drive on the right.

The chief need, whether on left or right, is to do it well. With dignity. With foresight. With accuracy. All concepts that I am desperate to introduce to the residents of our street.

We are a mixed lot here in Dreyer Way, and generally benefit from it. All races, all nationalities, all ages. We do not hold wild parties and we keep our lawns mowed. We do not break into each other’s houses. We pick up litter after bin night. But we also do not know how to park in the street to save our lives. If we do not learn, some of us will risk losing them.

The convention in Western Australia – at one time enforced by the police – was that you had to park your car as close to the curb as practicable. It had to be in a place that did not obstruct other road users or the driveways and pathways that served the street. The car had to be parked on the left of the street. This seems to have changed.

On days that see tradesmen working in the street – house repairers or lawn mowing men, etc. there is no problem – they follow the old rules and you can navigate around them as you go along. They are never loud or unruly and do not speed in the street. They may be different when they get out on the open highway, but at least they are exemplary here. The residents, however, have taken to parking every which way on both sides of the street – even when their own driveways are unoccupied. Their travelling guests follow suit, and often will stop opposite a car that is properly parked on the left hand side. This narrows the street’s passageway to door-wrenching size.

Please note that our house is base to four cars – Two big ones, one medium-sized sporter, and my little Suzuki. We park on our own drive and lawn and do not encumber the rest of the way.

The bottleneck is next door, and I am starting to think that there might have to be some creative thinking to solve it. I do not want to make enemies of the neighbours but I also do not want be barricaded into my yard. It might be too much to hope that a Sherman tank with a mine plow will come down the street and shove the Mazdas aside, but I may have to resort to driving over the next door’s council nature strip to bypass their visitor’s bus. Perhaps the council garbage truck will loosen their doors a little at about 5:00 AM. I’ll listen out…

Note: Apparently they also drive on the left side of the road in England, North England, West England, and Even Further West England. I’m glad they have followed our lead.

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Holding Facebook’s Beer

I was mildly amused when a Facebook game came by asking me to score points for admitting to foolish/sad/criminal behaviour in my past. And making it public to the entire planet. I mean, how could one resist the temptation to fill in the little chinks in the information brick wall. I’m just a little surprised they didn’t include a section that asked for sexual fantasies and credit card numbers…

Well, here at the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia we feel that this sort of blatant attempt at coercion is all very well, but should not be done on an amateur basis. If you are going to ask people to condemn themselves publicly, you need to give them more tempting chances. If they’re going down the sewer, make it a big one.

To this end, we have devised the following quiz for social media. There are no points scored, unless you count the knowing looks that people will give you at your next party.

Have you ever…

a. Shot a police cruiser in the grill work with a 17 pounder anti-tank gun from a camouflaged position?

b. Flayed an Albigensian heretic?

c. Written a song about your feelings and then played it to people at a party, accompanying yourself on guitar? All 15 verses?

d. Served week-old warm runny egg salad sandwiches from a service station cabinet to people at a church social?

e. Counterfeited a draft card to allow your underage classmates to buy beer at the local liquor store? Then phoned ahead to alert the local police?

f. Removed a ladder from an attic access hatch while someone was up there and then gone quietly home and had a good dinner?

g. Switched tops on the spray-paint cans in the local Bunnings store cabinet?

h. Put salt in the plaster mix of someone who is trying to invest a casting?

i. Invited a religious caller in to tell you their entire story by using an accent rich in unidentifiably foreign sounds, mixed with blatant grammatical error –  and then insisted that they sit down and drink toasts to your country? Used water tumblers full of hard liquor and cooking oil?

j. If they lasted the course, showed them the Albigensian skin…?

 

Old Coot On The Road

Old Coot here. How ya going?

I’m the maddening character in the little car at the front of the traffic queue going very slightly less than the sign-posted speed limit. The one in the hat with both hands on the wheel. If you’re polite to me I’ll be in the left-hand lane for most of the journey.

Note: I write from Perth, in Western Australia, where the left-hand lane is the curb-side slow lane. The middle and right-hand lanes are for the people who wish to go faster and I wouldn’t dream of interfering with them as they do.

My little car is bright hi-vis green so that you can see it and dodge round it when you are racing toward your next amphetamine delivery. Don’t worry about me racing you for it…I hate to wear rubber off the tyres needlessly. And there is no need to flip fingers or scream obscenities out of the windows. I am perfectly willing to regard you as obscene under any circumstances.

No good looming up behind me to terrify me. I’ve worked retail for years – I can stand a looming that would crush a battlecruiser. I won’t speed up at all for tyrants, whether they are at a counter or a steering wheel. Being retired, I rarely need to get anywhere on my own time, let alone anyone else’s. And I like to use the exercise of driving to give me time to think. Time to think of my Super-Power…Old Coot Super Power.

Old Coots have been here before – sometimes here was better before, and sometimes it was worse – we have a comparison to go by. If it is worse now we are prepared to do something to make it better, and if it is better now we are prepared to take the time to be grateful.

We have seen better people than you do worse things, and as we are still here driving, we know how to cope with it. As conceited as you may want to be, you are not our worst nightmare. In fact a lot of us have taken up the nightmare business ourselves and we know how to do a lot with very small resources. And we are always looking for something to fill the day in between the morning radio serial and the cocktail hour.

Old Coots know that one day it is all going to end. And we’ve generally racked up enough time already to free us from regret if the one day turns out to be next Tuesday. Threatening us may seem all gangsta until you find out that we don’t care – and the man who doesn’t care is a floating sea mine with one bent horn. Steer clear.

Old Coots also can be very kind. We will change tyres for the helpless, guide the lost, and provide lunch for anyone. There is a price – we will talk while we do it. And the topic may not be apposite to the problem at hand. Don’t feel that you can ignore us – there will be a quiz later, and half your year’s marks will depend upon it.

Old Coots will rarely cuss you out, and if they do the terms they use will most likely sound quaint. They’re not. If an Old Coot calls you cowardly son of a bitch, he means it, and you are. Old Coots operate on simpler vocabularies.

If an Old Coot thanks you or praises you they also mean that sincerely.

 

The Mobile Phone As An Aid To Backstabbers Guild Activities

Up until the advent of the small mobile phone, recording embarrassing conversations for later use by the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia was a complex task. Tape recorders – at first the reel-to-reel style and later the cassette type – were employed to gather marketable admissions and defamatory statements but it meant that you had to set things up quite a bit in advance.

Cafe and bar meetings were pretty much out, as the necessary collusion with the owners of the premises was an expensive thing to purchase. And you had to be there hours beforehand to set up microphones and a recording room. It was a bit easier if you could lure your victim to a prepared apartment, but it still meant having an operative sitting there with headphones on listening to all that went on. Some of the BGA monitors were fine, but some got sloppy about it all. Worst of all were the ones who got allergies – it was impossible to do any serious blackmail in spring as they would sneeze at the worst possible moment.

All that has changed with the mobile phone. It need not be the latest iPhone 8 or any other sophisticated device – they all have a voice recorder in them. You just scroll though the menu, choose the appropriate app and press the red record button. The microphone gain is somewhat automatic and there is enough battery in there to go for hours. And generally it does not make any noise as it works – vital if it is concealed inside a pillow or under the bed.

There have been a number of challenges put forward as to the legal use of information gathered by these means – some sort of footling sentiment about warning the person that they were being recorded. This, of course, is nothing but naive humour to the BGA. We do not record anything for training purposes…unless you count pushing people onto the rails on the Mandurah line as training them. We record to despoil, dismay, and damage, and I am proud to say that the Guild does a workmanlike job whenever we bend our minds to it. If we decide that we are going to make you pay for your sins, you will pay the correct market price and we are professional enough to issue a receipt.

Note: Current mobile phone technology is not really effective in providing full stereophonic or wrap-around sound recording from the small devices. If you are aiming for a theatre-filling experience you still need to book our professional crew. It will all depend upon the depth of your wallet and your sense of malice.

Reforming The World

A number of my friends would like to reform the world. They wish others would think, vote, spend, and behave in a way that seems correct…to them.

This has become evident in conversation and in reading the things that they have written. In some cases they have undertaken concrete action to try to initiate changes, but I do not know if there has been much success…time will tell.

I have few such ambitions – my desires for fundamental world-wide changes sort of peak at hoping people will not park too closely in shopping centres or leave chip wrappers on my lawn. This may seem sad or pathetic, but it at least has the advantage of providing daily reward – when my car doors are undented I sleep in peace.

My ability to affect Theresa May, Kim Jong Il, Donald Trump, or even Justin Trudeau is equal to my ability to juggle dugongs. I hesitate to even consider the mechanics of the thing. Any anxiety on my part about what they do remains untreated and untreatable. I could as easily alter the second law of thermodynamics.

So…what do I do when I want to do a bit of reforming…a bit of activism…a bit of righteousness? I turn to the nearest sinner and grasp them firmly by the conscience and turn on the guilt lamp – turn it up high until they start to sweat and twitch and gibber. Then I compel them to tell me all their misdeeds and browbeat them until they are a nervous jelly. By the time I am finished they have surrendered their entire psyche to me and are ready to be moulded anew. I demand – they obey. It is like training animals in a circus – a flea circus.

Of course I need hardly tell you that the nearest sinner to me is…me. It is a very efficient process – I know my peccadilloes intimately and can go right to the heart of the dirty little matters. No good pretending to me that I wasn’t there – I know where I was and I can prove it. If there is any argument I give myself a quick cuff round the ear and yell at me. It works every time.

And the great thing about it is…I never learn. I’ll be doing things that are worth sneering at for years to come. I can be as domineering to me as I want to and there is nothing I can do to stop me.

I’m Going To Tell You Again…

Like I told you before.

And ain’t I a fool for doin’ it? If you took no blessed notice of me last time, what on earth makes me think that you are going pay attention now?

What? The tyre iron. I just had it in my hand. It was the closest heavy object I could pick up. And they took away my boarding pike when the neighbours complained. I miss that pike.

So let’s start over. I am the person who owns the house – the householder. Even if I do not hold the house all the time, I am allowed to fondle it some of the time. And when I do I want it to be a clean and neat house. Uncluttered. Not hung round with spare newspapers and pizza advertisements. No offers to sell it or buy it. No flyers promoting mulch or religion. No chemist’s fridge magnets. No council elections letters. Nothing.

You see, I only have so much space in my recycle bin, and the council is going to reduce the number of times per year they empty it, and if you and your commercial friends fill it up with advertising paper, there will be no room for the household paper. Then I will be forced to use either Plan A or Plan B.

Plan A is to bring all of the extra paper that you force on me back to your premises and dump it in your reception area. As I cannot visit all the firms that inundate me., I will have to select one firm a week to receive all of the rest of the paper. One week it will be you…

Plan B? Ah, we come to the tyre iron. You may feel it better to pick that pizza pamphlet back up out of the letter box and pedal off. Bon Voyage.

The Creepy Clown Phenomenon

A recent remake of a horror movie has also repeated a strange cultural phenomenon – the amateur creepy clown menacing the local suburbs.

We’ve seen internet posts threatening various areas of the city, followed by defiance from the residents and officially stern warnings from the police that this sort of activity is going to get the teenagers who do it into trouble. This is all to be expected – it is the foolish response to a commercial promotion and the official reaction to it. Predictable.

The Guild takes no stance on this – neither do I personally. While I think it is just one of those things – like presidential elections – that is beneath contempt, I do retain at least small interest in watching and waiting for the inevitable.

Perth has a number of outer-metropolitan suburbs that are still semi-rural. Many of the properties in them are owned by small-plot users, and some of the small plots are used for fruit-growing, wine making, and other activities. The people who own them and engage in these lucrative activities are varied…but many of them have a European migrant background – Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Poland…etc. Lovely decent people who like to live their lives undisturbed by officialdom or by private troublemakers. They often strike me as people who value their privacy, and who are prepared to take vigorous action to preserve it.

I would hesitate to use the term Moustache Pete as it may be a little pejorative. Moustache Piotr or Moustache Petros likewise. But you get my drift.

Could it be possible that some wisenheimer teenager will put on a creepy clown mask and hide along the roadside in one of our outer suburbs. Might they pop out and try to terrify these citizens as they go along the street?

Can you say ” double barreled 12 gauge Boito hammer gun  “? Can you say it in Italian, Greek, or Serbo-Croatian? The sound it makes is remarkably similar in all three languages…

Best to just go back to your video games, children.