Sunday, January 03, 2010

Herd it through the grapevines

My those grapes ain't half sauvignon by Pants

Sheila and Paddy have finally left after a morning of bluster that made Oxford Circus seem like the Bodleian Library. Fond as I am of Sheila, she is a cross between the Supreme Dalek and a Super Hadron Collider. After a couple of hours of breathless monologue concerning what you are failing to do/doing wrong/shouldn't be doing in the first place, you long for a black hole to dive into. And that's when she's relaxed. When she is either packing or unpacking, it is best to ensure you have a potholing appointment that you can't get out of. It's all right for Paddy, he can just turn off his hearing aid.

The day began at 8am when Jack the Whipper turned up with his roadshow of hacking and mulching machinery. Sheila met him in the supermarket. As you know, this is the best way to contract tradespeople, especially ones you don't really need. Piffle to that silly old notion of working out what you want doing and getting three quotes. Bonding over the sun-dried tomato and olive ciabatta is the way smart people do business these days. The bread counter at Safeway is the new Yellow Pages.

It was all right for Paddy, whose hearing aid sat firmly on zero as he nodded apprecatively over his breakfast ciabatta. Jack the Whipper, commanding a cutting implement roughly the size of a combine harvester, wore bomb disposal earmuffs. It sounded like he was mincing mammoth out there. Sheila considered shouting above the racket the sort of challenge to which she was more than equal. She was bang on the money on that one. She sounded like AC/DC screaming at a man mincing mammoth to shut the fuck up. I cowered in my room watching old Einsterzende Neubauten videos on Youtube and dreaming of gentler times in the bleak inner city slums.

Like I said, visitors are a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I am a couple of cases of decent wine better off and that may go some way to repairing the damaged nervous system. I am literally filled to the gills with fine Larrikin's End seafood and my fridge spills over with little delicacies of the kind I would normally consider too decadent even if I had the money to buy them. Yesterday we went on a boat cruise up to Larrikin's End Winery and Macrame Boutique. The wines are very lovely and the hanging plant slings the finest in the southern hemisphere but, unfortunately, they use illegal foreign workers (pictured above) whom they obviously treat very badly. There are many fine hair stylists in Larrikin's End. It behoves every employer to ensure that guest workers are treated with respect and this means getting them salon savvy.

Paddy and I hoed into the Riesling and ordered fish and chips. Sheila chose a Devonshire tea from the winery cafe but with black coffee instead of tea. When they brought the coffee and scones out together, Sheila went into exterminate mode. She wanted her coffee to be presented to her halfway through her first scone. What are they teaching them in hospitality school these days? It cost Paddy several hundred dollars in wine purchases to restore jocularity.

They are almost back to Melbourne as I write and my heart rate is approaching the normal range again. I don't know how much Jack the Whipper cost and I don't want to. I'm guessing about the same as I paid for my lawnmower which I am perfectly happy to take for a leisurely stroll around Seat of Pants but find difficult to do when I am actually a thousand miles away. The lawns are of course much neater than I can get them myself and that will be nice for a week or two until they grow again. Grass has a habit of growing faster in the places you can't easily get to but that has never caused me undue concern. Nature and I have a pact. We leave each other alone and it works very well. All is calm, all is bright...