This ph. no. I’ve got is like a vortex for wrong numbered calls. I return to all kinds of garbled messages. “Penny this is Peter calling from Doikin, your school placement starts tomorrow.” “Penny please call me as soon as you get this message. It’s Peter.” “Is Mr.Lewellyn there?” “Vuh vuhvuh vu vuhvu va vuhvuh n’ vuhvuh, vuvuh?”
“Hello this is Mary from St.John of God ringing for Peter. I was given the message that you handle the deliveries from the Werribee clinic? We’d like to place an order for six knees please. Could you get back to me on ________?”
All random, but as Burroughs said, How random is random?
The first job I got after getting out of high school was with a small business concern here in Geelong. It was called Total Knee and is one of many jobs regrettable enough to leave off today’s resume.
Owned and run by Jimmy G——, a short, gruff man and in some ways little more than an Italian stereotype. There were some memorable things, like, he’d say he was a beatboxer “and a damn good one too!” but really all he’d do was put his hand over his mouth, cough a bit and clear his throat.
There was also his ‘motorchair the world’ rant, which all of us eventually learned not to argue against or even interrupt once underway. This was back when those motorised chair-things were still relatively rare and expensive. Total Knee was taking them on as a new area of sales but the lion’s share of business came from high-tensile aluminium knee joints, and crutches.
Jimmy would rave on about how one day everyone would be riding in motorised chairs. Ramps everywhere, extending into the sky. Battery recharge stations. The way he saw it, every1’s a winner. The chair manufacturers, the insurance people, ramp builders, people because they didn’t have to walk anymore, and most of all—Total Knee Pty. Ltd.
When things got slow sometimes on a Thursday me n’ a few of the lads would strut down through town wiv a spanner or a bike chain tucked up the sleeve and drum up a bit of business, literally. Thursday being when all the old people come out.
Hey I never said I was no Saint.
(By the by, this is what happens when you put a kid in prep when he’s only 4 and a half, rather than letting him wait for the next year — just because his birthday falls right on mid-year)
At some point I got jack of the knee replacement game and went on to other things. I still see some of the fellas in the mall now and then. They’ll be walking one direction and I’ll be going the other. I nod hello but don’t stop. Some of them don’t recognise me at all anymore.
2. the idle mind
7. max. span of memory tissue
9. the hidden
10. circular nature
First Wednesday of the month is when the Historical Society meets. They always have some guest-speaking old biddy going on and on about some pointless and obscure topic but I like it because they’re all so polite and I always hear something that’s a bit of a cack; the other month one of em says, ‘Now here’s some music to get you in the mood“ except he pronounced it ‘mewd’. Plus I’m by far the youngest there and I like it that way.
The other Wednesday I was sitting in there, 2nd row from the front, same as usual and they’d just turned back on the lights after a series of wacky little films from the mid-1960s doing things like boasting the burgeoning industrial sector of the town (all but gone now) and explaining the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works, ”Them’s those blokes who dig ditches inthey?“
And I sat there for a moment letting some wave of unrequested endorphins flow, probably set off by the large meal I was digesting. I stared into the sun-worn spammy complexion of the mostly bald head sitting in the front row, and the way the thin white-grey hair on it was encouraged to run in ordered, clumpy lines via the use of Brill Cream or some such.
Eventually I got up and started helping put away the chairs. I stood there for a moment in the middle of the theatrette. Then this old boy, squinting slightly comes up to me and says, ”I say do you remember me?“. Me hearing that phrase has always meant it’s time to get the fuck out of Dodge. I started reversing toward the door, hands out and fingers up in a gesture of ‘Hey not me, man’, but a small group of cronies had gathered behind me, one of them putting a foot out and tripping me.
The next thing I know they’re laying into me from all sides. Tan patent-leather Hush Puppies, gleaming darkly varnished hard-wood walking sticks, glass bead-embroided handbags. I balled up but it didn’t help much. There’s several bits I don’t remember, although through an ear filled with blood I did hear the old boy’s muffled voice (presumably to the ambulance guy) ”Took a bit of a tumble down the stairs I’m afraid”. Even in a near-blackout state I thought it interesting that they’d beat me to an inch of my life then see fit to call an ambulance.
I’m sure the injuries look nothing like a fall down stairs but who’s gonna get sus on old people? I suppose I had it coming…
Anyway, I’m in hospital, mending. They have laptops here that you can rent. I didn’t know that.