Tuesday, July 24, 2012

.....and drunkenness and chimneys

If you're contemplating pulling down your old chimney I recommend thinking again.....

I was over at my buddies the other day, we were chewing the fat and drinking beer as usual and I'd asked if I could borrow his F type crimp tool for television antenna connections.
I'd finally got around to getting a new aerial for my bedroom television but the cable connection at the antenna end was, as they all are now, F type.
So it was raining and climbing on the roof seemed like a story with bad news written all over it, so after crimping the connector on I bailed on the dodgey roof installation and instead, opted for the safer more comfortable, lets get on the piss option.

Given the task we'd just performed talk eventually turned to roofs in general and especially the dangers and pitfalls of tile roofs, which of course mine is. It was while we were running through this style of roofs many downsides that I remembered the day my friend John and I decided that we were man enough to demolish the chimney on another of my houses which I had owned some years before.

I think John Dennis has appeared in this blog on other occasions (of corned beef and genetic stupidity if I recall correctly, there may be others....) Anyway I've said it before and I'll say it again, John was/is a top bloke, a good fella, a wonderful old stick and all round hard case and character. That aside he has also been a bloody good mate to me at different times through my often troubled and tumultuous life.

John is a builder by trade and a drinker by profession so when you have just recently bought an old 1940's villa there can be no better man to have around than John especially when the significant other has remodeling plans in mind and John considers beer to be more than adequate currency.

So John and I had been busy re-lining the lounge walls with new Gibraltar board, (some would call it drywall) as the old matched lining and skrim was a little disconcerting during storms when the wind would blow and the wallpaper would flap away from the walls like some sort of bizarre indoor spinnaker.
We had spent the first half of the day gluing and screwing the new sheets of gib to the now exposed noggings and had decided to take a break for some lunch and a much deserved beer or two...... or three or four.... So as we sat in the kitchen admiring our handiwork and slowly getting a little bleary, my now ex partner pointed out how useless and ugly the fireplace was......
To be honest we had never used it but the job of doing anything with it seemed somewhat insurmountable to a lowly electrician such as myself and so it had not been considered into the remodeling scheme of things....
until now.....
"Well" said John with a twinkle in his eye and decidedly slurred lilt to his speech. "It's pretty bloody easy to bowl a chimney bro...."
Really, I hadn't even considered the chimney, my concern was the hearth and the odd little space that it occupied.... Truthfully I would have just walled the bastard mess off and fuck the chimney!
So we would have lost a small part of the lounge but really I couldn't have cared less, less space, less to heat I thought... and the chimney..... it's out of sight from the lounge, just leave it where it is....

Ahhhhh but alas, the game was on. A seed of an idea had burrowed in and taken root and the undeniable attraction to smash some shit up was irresistible to a couple of well sauced kiwi blokes such that we were.
So armed with a six pack and a sledge hammer each we clambered our way up on to the roof with much guffawing and joviality and took a masterful look at the job at hand.
My missus at this junction was looking all hell of a pleased as unknown to me she had wanted to see the end of the godawful fire place an mantel since we had taken ownership of the house.

The afternoon was getting on a little by now as John and I had stopped working on the walls at just after midday and our boozey lunch had gone on for a good two or three hours so with out a moments ado we got stuck in to it and cracked on.

Now John explained to me that the art of bringing down a brick chimney was to minimize the amount of walking one did across the tile roof as those old terracotta tiles tended to get a bit fragile as time went on. So what we would do was to knock down the bricks at the very top of the chimney and allow them to fall neatly down the inside of the chimney thus eliminating all danger to the delicate roof tiles.

"Alright" I said, "lets knock this bitch over".
Well that chimney may have been old but it was not in the least bit frail and despite how it looked from the ground, it was tall. Despite our inebriation we did not hit out at it like a pair of Canadian hockey players but had applied gentle taps at the top, but to no avail. After several minutes of ineffectiveness I threw caution to the wind, wound up and fired off a half decent swing at the bastard. To my chagrin I managed to miss my target for the most part and skimmed the hammer off the side of the damn thing, unbalanced myself on the sloping roof and ended up dropping the head of the hammer to the roof. Immediately the roof tiles, which totally unlike the chimney bricks appeared to be made out of old cake frosting flew immediately into a thousand shards and vanished into a gaping hole in the roof.......

"Ooooopppppssss". "Ah well not too bad, only took out two tiles, it'll be okay bro heh heh"
"Best we be careful brother I've only got about four spare tiles...."
At least now we know how hard we need to hit this thing to break it apart.

Actually little did either of us know but my blow had actually fractured most of the mortar at the uppermost portion of the stack and when John rounded off the next blow with enough force to crack the neighbors chimney 100 yards off we were most surprised when the top 2 feet of bricks on his side collapsed inwards in a lump comprised of probably eight or nine bricks still semi locked together with ancient mortar. Unfortunately so big was the chunk that before it fell completely down the inside of the chimney it crashed hard against the inside of the chimney on my side.
This resulted in a downpour of loose bricks which crashed around my feet and shattered several more roof tiles on my side........


This time we couldn't help but laugh, Jesus, why was it that everything we touched always seemed to go pear shaped and smell so strongly of lemons!!!

We should have given it away when we saw the missus leaving.

We didn't.

It wasn't getting any earlier and so with promises that we would be more careful we continued bravely onwards. Truthfully, now that the first bricks had gone it started to come apart a lot easier and we had knocked nearly half the height of the stupid thing down before I thought about what would be happening down in the lounge room........


It was time to get more beer anyway so we fell down the ladder and made our unsteady way towards the kitchen fridge. It was as we were walking past the lounge windows that we noticed the fog inside.... WTF!

So the bricks had been coming down the chimney all right. Down the chimney and across the hearth to build a reasonably decent pile on the floor.... the beautiful polished Tawa floor... ... . . not so bad, a few deep scratches here and there but nothing that wouldn't buff out we laughed....
But the dust.....
The dust was spectacular! There was dust on every surface, the kids photos, the sofas, the cushions, the light fittings I tell you, there was dust on the fucking toilet seat three rooms away and what wasn't already covered in a layer of dust would be for another three years later when the rest of it fell out of the air!
The note on the door, left by the fleeing other half was simple and to the point, "You two idiots are fucking useless".

So it took us a while to stop laughing but we gathered up the remaining two six packs in the fridge, rolled a spliff and headed back up the ladder to the roof.

Being that the fire place was now mostly blocked with bricks and mortar we wisely decided that it would be best at this junction to stop putting more down the chute and instead we would simply throw them over the side of the roof to the ground below.

Ah, ha. Sounds simple right?


My first throw was good.
My second was a little short and that took care of a decent section of the gutter in that area, the damn plastic was as flimsy as the cursed roof tiles. Ah well nothing for it but to laugh really.
My next throw came up even shorter and smashed through another half a dozen roof tiles....


By now the two of us have given up all pretence of care and are rolling around in stitches, the damage is colossal!
This is an unprecedented failure on an epic scale.
The missus is gunna skin me.

Ah fuck it were screwed now might as well just get it done.


John has fallen down holding a huge chunk of bricks and half his torso has vanished through the goddamn roof.

Okay so this isn't working out so well. So we stop to finish the second half of the joint, lick our wounds and reassess the situation.

"Dude this plan needs a contingency...." I suggest,
"Your right bro" says the always effervescent John.....

"I've got it" he says. "It's simple man, we'll form a line....".

Suffice to say, this was not the deliverance we had hoped for and in fact added only further to the calamity of the whole debacle as we both managed to drop many more clusters of bricks and only the fact that roof tiles were fast becoming quite the scarcity on this particular corner of my roof, did the damage remain in a state no worse than tragic.
Unfortunately however the ceiling in several spots over my daughters bed did not escape so lightly and several clusters of bricks also managed to find their way into the hallway and the master bedroom via the ceiling....

It was just getting dark when the other half turned up....

John thought it best to make himself scarce... no man likes to see his mate being thrashed by a woman, I had to agree so we left via the front door as she came in the back.

All I know is that tile roofs can suck and if you have a chimney that you don't want and a tile roof... pay someone to get rid of it, at least they'll be insured and they can take the heat from the dragons breath if they make a hash of it......

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

and very large Kingfish.....

We've had a very wet summer.
It's easy to bemoan the fact but really it's been at least 10 years since we've had a really wet summer so I won't start complaining.
The other thing about having had ten years of good summers is that you forget some of the positive things that come along with a less than optimal summer.
One thing that we tend to get in New Zealand preceding and during a wet summer is, warm sea temperatures very early on in the season.
And why, you might ask, is this a positive?
Well for one thing, it brings the big game fish in close to the shore so that those of us who don't have the good fortune to own or have use of a large overnight type pleasure boat, can head out on fishing charters or in small day trips in smaller vessels and catch impressively large sport fish like Marlin, Blue-fin and Yellow-fin Tuna, Albacore and large shark.
Okay so if you don't like fishing there's not much of a positive coming from this wet summer lark I'll grant you, but hey, for me it's a plus. I caught large Albacore this year nah nah nahnah nah.

Anyway..... my son Luke, avid fisherman that he is managed to hook two good sized Kingfish while fishing off the rocks a little way north of Auckland some weeks ago. If you don't know the species here's a photo of the boy and his fish.

I suppose it's important to remember that the kid is about 6ft 2in so they are reasonable sized fish and nowhere near as big as they can get......

So seeing these two gargantuan fish reminded me of one of those almost long forgotten moments I had that probably fits well within the scope of a tale, woeful and miss-adventurous.....

Having always had a strong affinity with the sea you will usually find the trunk of any car I've ever owned or for that matter the truck I now own, cluttered with a selection of devices useful when at the beach, no surfboards anymore but usually a body-board a selection of wet-suits, a weight belt, mask, snorkel, a collection of different fins and until recently a spear gun and a catch bag. This summer has been the most empty the back of my truck has been due to the somewhat dismal weather.

So sometime ago I had decided that for something to do one weekend I'd take myself off somewhere different for a bit of a change and headed off to Port Waikato south of Auckland and out to the wild west coast.
By the time I arrived at the port it was getting on towards early evening so I did a quick scoot out on to the sand dunes to find a place reasonably free of wind where I could park the truck and set up camp for the night. Having found a good spot and familiarized myself with the area so I could find my way back in the dark I thought I might go up to the shop near the wharf and see if I could get some fish and chips for dinner.
So as I sat outside the quaint little convenience/takeaway store eating fresh fish and gigantic oil saturated chips, letting the peaceful veil of dusk settle over me, local kids began to appear out of the dusky light armed with fishing poles little pails and gleaming eyes.

I watched them for awhile and contemplated heading back out on to the beach for a G and T and to watch the sun drop over the edge of the sea but the sound of the kids excited chatter eventually won me over and I wiped the grease from my hands and meandered over to the end of the wharf to see what would bring so many kids from seemingly nowhere to this particular little spot.

When I got out to the end of the wharf I found a happy little bunch of perhaps ten kids, all boys except for one girl, aged from about 8 to 12 years. They were 'wowing' and being typically excited as kids that age are when out at night and competition is thick in the air.... Except for the little girl, who was probably the eldest, all the boys were jumping around and vying for 'the spot' which apparently netted the most, best or biggest fish.
They were fishing with tiny hooks that they baited with a flour and water dough with a dash of aniseed oil thrown in the mix and the 'target species' was sprats. Honestly there were so many of the little bastards down there one would only have required a sinker on a line and by dropping it in the water you would surely knock at least one of those little suckers unconscious after which it could have been picked out of the water with a short handled butterfly net!
Anyway the kids were having a great old time and were wheeling little sprats in by the dozen all the while telling stories about the 'big ones' they had seen here or caught here, you know how it goes... guys and their fishing stories...... The young girl as I recall was suitably unimpressed of course.

As the tide turned and the water below began to slowly rise toward us I started to notice that the schools of sprats would at times vanish out of the light being cast by the lamp mounted on a post at the end of the pier, only to return an instant later, thick in numbers and floating lazily in the current, then vanishing again in the blink of an eye only to return as before.

I asked the nearest child I was standing to about this; a young Maori boy, bare footed and snotty nosed. "Awwww yeah cuzz" he drawls at me, "sometimes there's alota big fish come here ay cuzz, and they scare all the little fullas away for a bit". I laughed inwardly at the idea of this gorgeous little fellas idea of a 'big' fish and continued to watch the sprats.... slowly letting my eyes drift out of focus and allowing my mind to wander......

That was when I saw it!

It was either a very fast moving fish or a decent sized one but regardless I know what I saw and it was a big splash of silver.

None of the kids seemed to have noticed it but I was awake again now and I started to pay attention! Sure enough it wasn't long before the sprats vanished and again a large silver splash appeared several feet blow the surface. My first thought was of large Trevally or Kahawai which made perfect sense either, either I was now interested and was starting to run inventory on what I had in the truck...shit!
I knew I didn't have a fishing rod but I did have some mono filament. I asked one of the kids if anyone had any decent sized hooks or sinkers.... Nope only sprat sized tackle... shit, shit, shit.

I remember about then the little girl made the first excited move she had made all night and at the same time sprats burst from the water and the predator that had brought them up followed them all the way to the surface.


It was a fucking Kingfish and not one but several of them.
I was just about frantic by now, damnit.... there must be something I can use around here, a bat, a long pole... a fucking gun!!!!!


SPEARGUN - ta da!
I had the spear gun in the back of the truck.

The kids by now had stopped fishing and were solely focused on just trying to catch a glimpse of the giant fish that were circling the wharf occasionally coming close to the surface to drag their backs along the barnacles on the barely submerged timbers supporting the structure of the wharf below us.
I ran back to the truck fumbling for my keys my hands trembling with excitement. How lucky would this be! Fresh Kingfish steaks over the coals for breakfast... oh yeah.
I opened the back door and hauled my trusty Beauchat out gave the rubber a quick check under the interior light and raced back up the wharf.
Boys being boys the kids were awestruck by the sight of an, 'anything' that shoots things and crowded around trying to get a better look at the awesome instrument of death whilst looking at me with equally awestruck and shining faces. They all had questions, would I definitely be able to kill a Kingfish with it, would I really be able to get it while I wasn't in the water, what else had I killed with it, could they have some of the fish when I killed it and so it went. Honestly I was starting to feel a bit like the clever and cool townie with all the cool stuff. Better get this thing done and stat!

I asked them if they could keep fishing because their little baits kept the sprats in a place where if the Kingies came to the top again I would have a clear shot.
The tide by now had come in substantially and it was getting late. I knew 1 of 2 things was likely to happen soon.
1) the kids would have to go home and I would lose my baits or
2) one of their parents was going to turn up and go ballistic at me for flourishing a spear gun around their children.
It struck me that time was of the essence....

I was busy congratulating myself on my fine fortune, having the spear gun in the car and that being that the tide was well toward in, the water was only a mere 2 or 3 feet blow me and my chances of missing such a large target was virtually impossible, when one of the Kings appeared virtually side on and directly in front of me!!!
I didn't so much aim as point. I wasn't really used to shooting above water from a semi crouched position rather than with arm fully extended so it was a bit of a shot from the hip so to speak.
I knew from experience that the spear landed deep but what I didn't know was how and where but that wasn't really the thought that was most pertinent to me at that moment.........
What suddenly struck me was the speed at which the slack line attached to my spear was being taken up.......
I think I was still thinking exactly that thought when the line came up taught. For a moment I was still in a semi crouch.... but only for a moment.....
In the flash of time it takes to say "oh sh...." I was over the edge and into the water.

So lets recap

I'm fully dressed.
It's dark.
The water is cold.
I've got no wetsuit.
I've got no fins.

I've got 50lbs of wounded but not apparently critically wounded muscle, designed for the environment I am now in, attached to a 300 pound break strain line and it's making a desperate bid to go to the bottom.

Kill me now!

So I kick out for the surface, no mask, no fins, can't see a fucking thing. Damn that bastard is strong!

I refuse to let go of my gun and I haven't got a knife of course so I struggle in the water treading like a mad man my head bobbing up and down, occasionally an extra powerful tug sees me yanked under and I come up spluttering and choking. I figure I'm reasonably near the wharf, I can tell by the light so I strike out for it and immediately smash my hand into something and at the same moment my head collides with a post at the end of the wharf. Fucking barnacles!

I can hear the kids on the wharf and they're making a hell of a racket. God I think... they're probably freaking out really bad, that poor little girl is going to have nightmares for years.
Thankfully I can feel the fight going out of the fish and I struggle around the side of the wharf to the landing stairs and drag myself up onto the lowest step and start hauling the line in until I can grab the stupid fish and drag it up onto the wharf.
I can still hear the kids and now I can see some of them peering at me as I lie on the wharf gasping for air.... one of them seems to be crying so I sit up to make sure they are okay.....

The little girls is on the ground doubled up.... They're all laughing but that girl.... she is fit to burst.
I tell you.
They are crying and holding each other up and as I catch my breath and as they start heading off back up the wharf toward the shop I could still hear them laughing even as they headed off through the darkness.

I still remember quite clearly that little snotty nosed kid that first spoke to me wandering up, tears still fresh in his eyes as he held out his hand and said to me. "Hey townie, here's your bloody keys ay". He handed me my truck keys and dragged his snotty nose down the sleeve of his shirt, flicked his head back at me and started wandering off up the wharf. He stopped after a few steps and turned back to look at me and said, "Hey townie, you sure showed that fish ay cuzz" and he burst out laughing as he staggered off into the night.

You know.... I swear I can still hear him laughing......

Currently Listening to:

An eclectic mix of various sounds sent to me by the love of my life.
Thank you Angela for so many things.

Friday, June 24, 2011


I've often been told that I seem to ooze a certain confidence.
Maybe I do maybe I don't... It's hard to be certain of something that you are the soul judge of, especially when it is with regard to your own abilities....

The one thing I can be positive of, is that cats DO have confidence. They will rarely if ever second guess themselves.... have you noticed?

Put it this way... Have you ever walked along a length of 2 x 4 four timber that is laying on the ground?
Easy isn't it?
I mean... even I can manage a couple of flowery pirouettes while prancing down the timbers length
Try lifting that piece of timber and setting it atop a pair of chairs.... shit changes huh..???

Now try putting that same piece of timber atop a pair of 7 foot ladders!!! Shit just got VERY real, right!!!

Cats don't get that.

Yes... Cats fall. I've seen a cat I once owned fall from the roof of my house. Sure he landed on his feet as all cats will... but he was messed up!
I saw an Opossum do the same and that sucker ran sideways for forty feet before he collided with the bottom of the neighbours fence and skimmed off it, to finally vanish out of sight, a giant ball of hissing angry fur.... You can guarantee though that he slept WELL off the ground that night. Somewhere 30 or 40 feet above the ground in a tree!
But cats are not afraid to walk the 2 x 4 even if it is 30 feet from the ground, more sometimes.

Now I don't know about you but 30 feet is NOT the sort of distance I take in my stride when it comes to falling.
That shit will will fuck you up!
So I'm short at 5' 7" and 30 feet feels like a long way up.... how the hell does that feel as a cat!
And yet those little suckers will sleep on that 2 x 4 - 30 feet up in the air.... They'll sleep or wash!!!

That my friends is confidence.

So it leads me to wonder.... What changes in our lives that eventually erodes that confidence we have in ourselves as we get higher from the ground or as we get older?

Is it our ability to calculate odds, is it our ability to calculate the cost of the consequences.. or is it simply fear...

I used to think nothing of having a friend drive a car at me so that I could leap onto the bonnet, roll up the windscreen and land on my feet on the roof..... I simply would not do that now. But WHY? I could do it when I was younger and surely I am a far more able and capable man now... surely...
But I would not attempt the same stunt now as that more able and capable man...

What does that mean...?

All I really know... is that...

I wish I was a cat....


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

... and direct drive ski boats...

I was pottering around in the workshop I have under my house the other day when I spied an old, much loved but nonetheless very much abused Holden V8 engine. I had taken it from a vehicle I once owned and it's still perched upon an engine stand and it looks ever so forlorn. It's manifold is carburettor-less and both heads are unbolted and askew, but it reminded me of a most amusing tale that I had long ago forgotten.

I used to work, at one of many stages, with an old guy called Tony. By older I mean I was probably only 20 - 21 and he would have been knocking on the door of 65 I suppose...

Now Tony, despite his age was one of the more active and interesting people I had ever had the pleasure of working with. He was still a certified diver, a qualification I had only just achieved, he actively enjoyed water skiing and he was as skilled an engineer as I had ever come across.

There was nothing Tony could not build or design. He had his own workshop and by that I mean he had several milling machines, several lathes(including a vertical lathe) two very large band saws, a reciprocating hacksaw that frightened me and more wielders (gas, MIG, TIG and arc) than you could shake a stick at!

If you couldn't find, buy or steal it - Tony could make it for you!

One Monday morning Tony arrived for work looking rather smug and I couldn't help but notice. So as we sat chatting over a morning cup of coffee, discussing the weekends highlights he looked at me rather beady eyed and said, "I've got myself a new ski boat".
"Ahhhh" says I. "I wondered what the smug look was all about".

"Yes" he says. "350cu small block Chev in a 14 foot fibreglass Haines".

"Dang!" was the best I had to offer.

"Yup" He says. "Only one problem, she's got no gearbox".
I for one didn't really see any problem with this as there would be plenty of old 2 stage powerglides floating around the place that I was sure would mate up nicely to the Chev bell housing, especially when you considered that Tony was on the job...

So nothing happened for quite some time until one day Tony meandered into my workshop at work, deep in thought and obviously carefully mulling something over.
He finally broke free from his reverie and looked up at me with a ponderous look...

"... whataya ya reckon the boat would go like as a direct drive?" he asked.
To be honest I had never (and still haven't) owned a boat, which he knew, so I was surprised that he had even bothered to ask me.
I had however owned several radio controlled model boats with small nitro powered glow engines and they had been direct drive types.
The first thing that came to my mind was the fact that in a full sized version you would have to crank the engine while the boat was in the water and this would mean that the prop would start to make thrust while cranking and the boat would begin moving forward right from that moment. But as Tony rightfully pointed out, you simply wouldn't crank it into life unless there was nobody in front of you. Simple.

O.k second challenge. Being that the prop would be under constant load at all times including idle, she was going to need the mother of all flywheels. Again, this is "TONY" we're talking about here, so no problem really, just mate something off an old truck motor to the output flange on the ole Chev and Bobs your uncle.

O.k third challenge. No reverse. Hmmmm. This one was solved by my youth and enthusiasm.
"Tony" I said, "who the fuck needs reverse when you've got that much horse power for going forward!"
"Just come in toward your trailer slightly up current and drift down current until your in line with the trailer and give it some herb" I reasoned, altogether enthusiastically (I had never owned a boat but I'd been on more than enough to have seen that technique put into play).
Tony, having owned more than his fair share had also successfully employed the same technique.

And so it was that Tony became the proud owner of a not so new boat with a very near to new and reasonably well worked over motor that could pull a small housing estate through a sea of near dry cement!

As a ski boat it was outstanding, especially when you got more than two people behind it - as this took a bit of the, 'snap' out of it.
I liked it, although it was a bit of a handful on take off and getting it back on the trailer under certain conditions was fraught with peril.
More than once we managed to miss time the exact moment or the motor miss fired when aligning with the trailer and this saw the hull punctured as the beast powered up the trailer over the side and crunched into the trailers tail light brackets. But otherwise... that boat was grunty and the traction was nothing short of spine snapping...

But all good things must come to an end and eventually I guess the novelty wore off and Tony decided that the boat was getting a little bit worse for wear and tear. So he put it up for sale.

To be honest I wasn't entirely surprised by the lack of response.. prop driven, direct drive power boats were not exactly the flavor of the month 20 years ago and it's a brave man that takes one on, even today.

Eventually though he got a good strong bite and one Friday afternoon he asked me if I would be able to give him a hand on Saturday morning to put the boat in the water as he had a... 'would be' buyer.
So we arranged to meet up at a little bay with a launching ramp not far from Hillsborough bay on the Manukau harbour in time for the mornings full tide.
When I arrived Tony and the would be buyer were already there.

The 'mark', for want of a better word, was looking over the boat enthusiastically. He was a young Maori guy and from his car I could tell he was a V8 enthusiast. This became more and more obvious as he simply glazed over the minor defects in the boats hull and the obvious signs of vibration wear and became more and more focused on the gleaming Chevy.
So we got the boat in the water and once we were all seated Tony hit the starter.

At this point I must explain the seating arrangement.

Now Tony may have been a great engineer but he was also British and despite having lived in New Zealand for the past 14 years he had lost none of his frugal mentality. So what he had come up with was a bracket that was bolted and molded/glassed into the floor of the boat. To this he had fitted the bench seat from the front of an HQ Holden utility. His reasoning was pretty sound really. There were thousands of these seats around and when one wore out or the springs got rusty and collapsed he would throw it away and bolt in another which he cheaply obtained from the local automotive wreckers. Brilliant in many ways. They were really very comfortable, they were large and three could sit comfortably on it, they were cheap and they were easily obtainable.
However seeing as how the boat was up for sale the particular seat we found ourselves sitting upon that particular morning was really past it's use by date, but why buy a new one when your about to sell it, right...?

Why indeed...?

Anyway... The three of us are perched happily on this bench seat when Tony keys the starter.
The sound of the engine is beautiful. Extractors to a resonator to a four inch tail pipe about two feet long on each side, deafening is one way of putting it but when it's that beautiful purr it's easy to look past the pain and the blood in your ears...
Tony and I both glanced at the 'mark' and we could tell from the dreamy expression on his face that if the motor performed as per it's usual standard and didn't misfire or run rough we had a taker on our hands. We were already making good wake at idle and the young fella was obviously bursting to see what this thing could do.

So with a knowing nod at me and a devilish smirk Tony slammed the throttle wide open.

With a bellow like a wounded bull the prop bit and the engine note went straight to 4000RPM.
The g force was spectacular!
For an instant...
In the next it was gone!
The back of our seat collapsed and folded backwards!
Only Tony who was gripping the steering wheel remained on the wretched seat but he didn't have the strength to maintain his grip on the wheel and take one hand off to back off the throttle. In the blink of an eye, the 'mark' and I were a tangled, battered, cut and bruised mass, forced cruelly back and pinned to the transom by the amazing g forces that only two hundred horsepower of screaming V8 can apply.
The nose of the boat was still pointing at the sky as we had still nowhere near reached planing speed as yet and the prop was still cavitating. But it was catching up fast and the faster we went the more perilous became our predicament, because now as the nose began to level out our speed was starting to allow the boat to skim and our driver was less steering and more simply hanging on for dear life, staring awestruck and terrified at the sky!!!
Without a steady hand on the wheel or if Tony's strength failed we could quite understandably cut viciously to the left or right which would see us quickly and spectacularly removed from our relatively safe position, glued to the transom.
Myself and the 'mark' had been somewhat shredded by the cowl that ran half the length of the boat and covered the drive shaft. So between fighting the g forces still being applied and slipping on the blood soaked floor our efforts to move toward the accursed throttle were rather thwarted and we tore on madly, completely out of control.
I eventually made it forward inch by inch until I came up behind Tony locked my feet in the gap between the uselessly folded down seat back and the seat itself, wrapped my arms around Tony and also grabbed the wheel. This left him free to take one hand off the wheel and slam the throttle closed!
The resultant lack of forward thrust and the grip of the water on the hull threw the bewildered 'mark' from a cowering position aft, ass over kite to the front of the boat where he landed face down over the seat where our feet would normally have been.

He stayed there for quite awhile... we let him.

Tony killed the ignition.

When he finally hauled himself up and sat himself down Tony began apologizing profusely but our man simply raised one hand and shook his head.

The trip back to shore was a quiet and very low RPM one.

Tony and I decided that it would be wiser perhaps to simply bring the boat in close enough to allow our passenger to disembark rather than risk a dodgy trailer mounting and kill our young friend with a second terror stunt.
Him and I jumped out into the waist deep water and waded to shore, he staggered off towards his car (I suspected it was to check his undies) and I backed Tonys car and the trailer down to the water and dipped the trailer in. To Tony's credit he managed to dock the boat on the trailer without a hint of incident but I could tell from the rueful look on his face that he knew this particular sale was lost.
In honesty I was surprised the young fella hadn't got in his car and vanished in a cloud of dust, smoke and small bouncing stones...
In fact as Tony and I stood beside the trailer fastening the last tie downs, he reappeared.

Tony and I again began pouring forth a rapid string of apologies and the young bloke once again raised his hand in a 'stop' gesture.

With a maniacal glint in in his eye, he looked steadily at the both of us and said,

"Fuck yeah man, I'll take it!!!"


Ya just never really know whats gunna happen...

(In memory of Tony Callum. Merchant Navy man and all around bloody good bloke)

Currently listening to:
Annabel Fay - Annabel Fay

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Every now and again I like to get up quite early on a Saturday and head down to the local mall, just a little before it opens.

I like to swing by the Henderson Courthouse.
There's an old homeless guy who sleeps in the Courtroom entrance outside the main doors.
I buy him a pie and a pack of cigarettes.

Over the years we've become somewhat familiar.

I've never quite managed to get his story from him but I'm sure it would be interesting, if I could...

He's a rather grizzled old fellow, not what I would consider tough but certainly hardy and he doesn't smell all that bad really.

He can wolf down a pie faster than anyone I know but it's the cigarettes that have won him over...

I don't usually stay with him long.
I can tell it makes him nervous and uncomfortable but I usually stay to talk with him long enough to ask him a couple of questions about the most topical issues on the news at the time.
At first I started doing it for my own amusement but also I was hoping to see how sane the guy was, mostly because every time I had stopped to chat, offer a cigarette and asked his name he had proffered different ones... I still don't know his real name.

He's usually very gruff and at times can be extraordinarily racist, especially toward Maori people, I guess a lot of the kids that give him a hard time during those cold nights are local Maori kids.
But being that I'm Maori and I most of all know what that entails, what he has to say could never offend me - lets face it there are times when my lot can be pretty bloody useless and even I can feel quilt by association!
But nearly every time what he has to say has me in stitches. I've learnt not to laugh out loud at him now, it seems loud outbursts of sound make him nervous... But some of his responses are absolute gems and I'm certain that under the booze addled exterior there lies a very astute and wonderful mind.
Anyway last Saturday I got the 'go to the mall early thing' (which is what this blog is about really..) and I thought 'go get a pie and some smokes and go pay Dave, Pete, Steve, Gav, Rick a visit'.
So after he'd breathed down his pie, struck up his first cigarette and carefully hidden the pack in his voluminous coat, I asked him what he thought about the state of the Commonwealth Games debarcle in Delhi.

"Arrrrrr well son" he rasped at me (he always calls me son even though I'd only put him at 5 or 6 years older than me)
"Every living thing has an arsehole". "And planet earth... planet earths arsehole is India!"
"Even bloody England didn't want it son!"

Well bowl me over with a feather!!!

Never underestimate that old homeless guy you walk past on the street. He may have a lot more going on in there than you have given him credit for.


Anyway what I was meant to be getting to was that I really like being the first or one of the first people into a mall in the morning.

I like the way it's all new, fresh and shiny.
My local Mall always smells like fresh coffee and Jaffle pies and it's always warm...

To me, getting to the mall at this time is much like when somebody rips the cellophane of a new box of assorted chocolates and offers me the first one. I already know everything that is in there but it still feels special to be the first one to look in there and make a choice.

I like to sit in the food hall, sip my hot chocolate and watch the people that come there to eat breakfast at that hour.

I make up stories about them...
That guy over there is a soldier just recently returned from Afghanistan, struggling to fit back into civilian life or sleep later than 5AM. He's crept out of the house while his family still sleeps so he can have breakfast at a time that he's become more accustomed to...

That woman there is sneaking home after spending a night at her lovers house, grabbing a quick coffee before racing home to beat her husbands return from another night shift...

The grandmother there is struggling to control three kids dumped on her by her ingrate children...

It can keep me amused for quite awhile...

It's a nice sensation, however false - of superiority.
I was here before the place was despoiled by the hordes that will soon be pouring through the many doors, jostling and scrambling.
The teenagers in their secretive little groups, the girls giggling and flicking their hair, the boys furtive and so projective of non existent confidence.
The grannies with their hand carts and purple rinses.
The busy moms with two sulking kids in tow.

Yes it is nice, like being first to the Christmas tree on Christmas morning.

Try it one day - I highly recommend it...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

.. on being a slow learner

So... the photo is of one of my favorite T-Shirts - Talk about appropriate but of late I've begun to think I may yet have to hand it on...

I was over at my good buddies house several weeks ago and it was a little beyond cold.

It was the type of biting cold that has cues of brass monkeys lined up outside the local wielders shop... if you know what I mean..?

So he's rummaging around trying to find dry kindling and fire starters and stuff - but all to no avail.
The best he could manage was a pile of semi dry chunks of timber and a bottle of some mysterious fluid called Shell 'Fuel light'.
Really, the lack of any instructions indicating what the product was even meant to be used in, should have been the only warning necessary...!
But having dissuaded him from using 98 octane petrol I figured this, roughly Kerosene smelling fluid was a much safer bet than that and therefore we stood a far greater chance of coming out of this fiasco alive, regardless of what it was.

Petrol! Good grief!

My only advice was simply, "looks to me like it's a fuel you can light".
Talk about the blind leading the blind..!

We trundled back inside the house beers in hand, guffawing loudly and being generally manly.

Both his kids were sitting on the couch, glued to the TV. Two boys, 4 and 2 years.
The fireplace is situated on the wall opposite the couch. It's one of those enclosed types with the glass door at the front. The old fire place was an open type and the new one had been installed recessed into the old one so that the door was now flush with the wall. The old mantelpiece was still in place and it was above this, that a large LCD television was mounted.

My mate threw the armful of wood blocks he had brought up from downstairs into the open fire box and proceeded to pour liberal amounts of 'fuel light' over it. After he spent a few minutes of futile searching I tossed him my lighter and leaning in from his kneeling position he flicked the lighter.



As far as I am aware flame fronts travel at the speed of sound or faster, approximately 300 metres per second. So if there was any credit I could give my buddy at this point it would have to be that he traveled backwards 1 metre in 3 100th's of a second! Impressive! I think even Usain Bolt would feel threatened. And we wonder why sometimes we wake up the next day after an event like this and our neck is sore or our legs ache or there's a strange twinge in our lower back... Speed of sound movement takes some muscle!!!

Anyway, my mate is still on the floor albeit no longer kneeling, looking for all the world like a possum thats just chewed a high tension power line - theres no hair left on his arms, the bald spot in the middle of his head is, well... balder and his eyes are as round and black as a man who's doctor has just told him, he'll be chopping his cock off today!

I eventually managed to stop laughing and after we assured the two boys that this was all a very normal part of getting a fire started (...we couldn't have them rushing up to mom when she got home and spilling the beans. That sort of shit will have you sleeping on the couch for a week!) I decided it was time to step forth and apply my excellent skills to the task at hand.

"So" I said, somewhat waspishly, whilst snatching rapidly, "gimme that lighter you homo, before someone actually gets hurt!"
To be honest, I was surprised that the front of the television was still intact. The fireball that had belched from the fire box had been quite spectacular and had ballooned outwards at first but had quickly flared upwards as it had died and I had seen the outer membrane of the screen buckle.

"Look" I said, in an altogether far too haughty tone, "It's all rather elementary me old mate, the fuel is obviously... somewhat volatile, so what we need is a wicking effect". "We need an absorbent material that will contain the fluid and not allow too many vapors to gather in the air space within the fire box".
Having not just given myself an 'insta-tan' and having used the same technique on a number of occasions, I was feeling entirely superior at this stage.
I grabbed two paper towelettes from a roll in the kitchen and proceeded to form them into rough ball shapes as I made my way back to the lounge room.
I knelt in front of the fire and placed the balls of paper on the grate. I then proceeded to slowly and carefully apply a trickle of 'fuel light' over them. When I was satisfied that the paper balls were reasonably laden with the solvent I placed the little timber blocks in a small pile on top.
"There" I said brushing my hands on my jeans. "Now we simply light the paper and they will work like a torch or much like the wick of a candle, far less dangerous and likely to hurt the kids" I said, a hint of self righteousness creeping into my tone. "Wheres that lighter...?"

"... chick ..."


If anything I believe my fireball was bigger... but my air of superiority had lulled me into an altogether false sense of security and alas, I did not move backwards at the speed of sound!

What a pair of fucking muppets!

The kids of course have come out of their television reverie and are wanting to see a repeat of the action filled fire lighting game!
I've now got brown hair and a lot less fringe and arm hair and... much to my chagrin I'm now equipped with the apparently, popular, 'insta-tan'!
Oh the shame.
Pride as always, truly cometh before a fall.

I will never forget my friends sideways stare and singular, scorched raised eyebrow. Cutting...

The house smells like the local hair dressing salon on free hair straightening day and it wont be long before buddies better half will be home...

Fast forward to last weekend -

My mate and I have been standing around in his shed drinking beer and bullshitting each other for most of the afternoon. Most of our hairs grown back and by some degree of luck (and a little bribery) the boys haven't told mom what went on and we haven't been sprung by the good wife for endangering her beloved boys. All is well.

At some stage later in the afternoon the lovely wife ahoy's out, "you guys look after the kids I've got to go to the shops" and, "hey it's cold, can you get the fire started please".

Funny you know - 6 Heineken's down and everything just seems so easy...

We roll upstairs after she's left to check on the boys and light the fire.
Damn all the Metho's used up. Never mind, grab that bottle of fuel light over there mate...

So this time my buddies very careful with the amount of the wretched stuff he applies and makes quite sure there is only a hint on the, this time, dry kindling.



"Roll you fool, roll..!!!"

Turns out the stuff is for use in pressurized lanterns and is volatile PLUS!

I think he deserves my T-Shirt.

Currently listening to:

Slinky Factor 3
Nice n Urlich