Thursday, 21 May 2015

I was looking for a job...

Four or five weeks I'd waited for a job and then a chance visit to the caravan park office solved my unemployment issue. I can't remember why I'd gone to the office but the girl behind the desk said she'd tried to ring me about a job. Normally I have my phone glued to my forehead in-case it rings for work but the one time I didn't have it on me and I get a call.

It was weird to finally get a job.

"Shit, I don't have a job!"

Gets a job.

"Shit, I've got a job!"

The girl in the office warned me that the job I'd been given was very 'strenuous'. This strenuous job turned out to be spading. I'd not even been aware a job like this existed but when I started to tell people this was the job I'd gotten, everybody warned me about how hard it was.

So the initial joy of getting a job was soon replaced by outright fear. I didn't sleep a wink the night before I started the job. Me, a pampered office worker, was to suddenly be thrown into the world of spading. I tired to reassure my own brain with thoughts like "at least I'll get in shape" and "at least I'll be working outdoors", but my brain would usually scream back "you're too unfit to do this, you might die".

When the morning came, a new, grim 5:00am reality dawned on me. It was still dark outside and suddenly I felt like a boy on his first day at school. I stood outside some random building and waited for the farmer to come and pick me up in his van. The other guys were there, all banter and machismo, whilst I stood around trying not to look terrified. When the farmer pulled up in his van I crawled on and sat at the front with a lad called Chris. He was also starting his first day and so we chatted about all the small things to cover our nerves. I remember feeling like I wanted to be sick. What a great first impression that would have been? Chundering all over the farmer.

About half way through the journey the farmer said that he needed both a spader and a deleafer. He swiveled around on his chair and eyed up me and Chris. Chris is 6 foot 4 and built like a bear. And I'm not. Deleafing requires you to be nimble and good with your fingers. The farmer asked if either of us did martial arts, we shook our heads no, but I told him I was good at ping pong. Why I did that I will never know.

He told me I would be deleafing and I thought I'd won the farm work lottery. Deleafing is dead easy compared to most other farm jobs. You just swan about cutting leaves, how hard could it be? I was taken under the wing of a French guy who with his strong Parisian accent made everything sound dramatic and epic. I asked him how long he'd been at the farm, "too long' he replied. And so the day began and I started to deleaf. The guys told me not to worry about being fast, but just make sure I was doing it correctly. Great, I thought. Until the next day....

The second day and everything changed. The farmer bollocked us for not doing enough work the previous day and threatened to underpay us. Bit harsh I thought. He spoke to me like I'd been working on a farm all my life. Sorry mate, that privilege belongs to Yorkshire Water.

This farmer by the way. He's the antichrist with a cowboy hat. A genuinely terrifying man. He shouts, balls, complains, calls you a c*** 18 times a day. I had a big run in with him a couple days into working. We had to inject poison into these little sucker trees and I was given a gun to use. There were 4 of us and we all set off when it suddenly became clear my gun was fucked. It wouldn't pump the poison. One of the other fellas tried to help me but scurried off shortly after as he was worried about not clearing his own patch of work. This left me stranded and clueless. I had no fucking idea how to fix this gun. The antichrist wasn't anywhere to be seen and so I desperately tried to fix this piece of shit gun myself. Panic mounted but I managed to fix two tubes which the poison pumped through together as I couldn't unhook the one that was broken. I finally managed to get it working when I heard the screech of a van. Lucifer was back. He jumped out of his van and eyed up my invention. He then scowled and screamed about what a "dumb fucking idea that was". He shouted at me for a few minutes, I can't remember what he said but it involved calling me the c word a few times and I had to mop his spit off my face when he was done. What a lovely thing to happen to you at the age of 30...

Anyways,  he did some farmer magic and sorted the gun out. He looked at me as if to say why couldn't I do this? Well unlike Satan, I wasn't birthed on a farm with a shovel in my hand.

When the day is done there is immense satisfaction. You've worked your bollocks off for 8 hours and everything seems right in the world. The farmer reverts to being a normal human being and you think to yourself that you might just be able to see this job out. This changed the week after though.

Getting up is brutal. Your alarm starts to ring and your'e just devastated. Everybody is depressed on the way to the farm. I try to get some extra sleep during the journey to the farm and kid myself that it's actually possible. Once you start work however, it's okay. The day moves along and before you know it, you're off home again. I try to pump as much shit as possible into my body to help me get through. I've got mars bars and energy drinks coming out of my arse.

Today is Friday and yesterday we had to smash a lot of acres deleafing. We were doing well but then the team leader said we would take a late lunch. This killed me off. I started to slow down badly and unfortunately some grass saw this and told the farmer. At the end of the day when we were heading home the farmer uttered the words I'd been dreading, "tomorrow Steve, you'll be spading".  I felt aggrieved as I'd busted my hump all week and was getting better. Thursday night I considered my options, leaving Tully, going back to Melbourne, going somewhere else, going back to England... I'm not arsed about another year in Australia and I don't want to waste my last 3 months here being ordered around by the prince of darkness. He's already threatened to sack me numerous times and has made it clear I won't be given time to get used to spading. I have to hit the ground running...with a spade.

So this weekend I will have a mull over my options.

This traveling experience continues to surprise me, even in the harder moments it's still interesting. Whatever road I take I know it will continue to be a fascinating journey.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Birthday and that.

The great thing about traveling is that you start to appreciate the small things - a clean t-shirt, a mattress, not living in a fucking tent. Yes, I've finally hauled myself out of the tent and got myself a cabin. I'll miss the tent in a way, especially at night, but it's nice to be able to sleep on a mattress rather than a bit of rubble.

The cabin now means I can organise my clothes. I'm still wearing the gear I bought from Primark before traveling which includes generic t-shirts and daft Hawaiian shorts. The shorts in particular have been subject to much derision from fellow travelers for their flowery patterns. I only expected to wear this shite in Thailand but hey-ho, here I am 7 months later looking like a reject from Miami Vice, or Scarface, or something else from the 80s.

The cabin gets pretty hot during the day which  is kind of like saying the surface of the sun is lukewarm. I once went inside the cabin in the afternoon and my face melted off. I don't care though I'm just giddy to have 4 walls again.

'twas my birthday last week. I turned 30. 30! I wondered what a birthday in Tully might be like? Would I visit the Gumboot? Head over to Alligators Nest (false advertising, if I ever saw some)? Climb the mountain?

Naaaaah, I got drunk at the beach. Yay. I got on it at about lunchtime and didn't stop until I had no concept of time anymore due to alcohol poisoning. It was great. We stayed at the beach until about 3 and then headed back to the caravan park. The guys I'm traveling with all made a big effort to make my birthday in Tully great which I'm really thankful for. I got some interesting gifts including a box of crunchy nut cornflakes, a kind of broccoli and green bean flower bunch, and a ukulele. Getting a gift like a ukulele is great although because it's a gift there is pressure to actually learn that shit. I've tried to learn guitar a few times in my life but normally give up when I can't play a Led Zeppelin tune within a week. I'm going to try and take baby steps learning the ukulele but it's a bit shit at the start. You have to learn to strum and tune your ukulele.Yawn. Ah well, it's not like there's anything else to do in this place is it?

After the gifts I was serenaded by some other people at the caravan site. I didn't know most of them but they still came over and sung happy birthday to me. I don't know what tipped them off? Maybe the big flashing badge I was wearing that said 'Happy 30th, birthday boy'. One guy took the opportunity to sing happy birthday to me on his own. He has one of those x-factor/boy band type voices and sings Man in the Mirror everyday in the kitchen. It was flattering but a little weird and being the socially awkward goon I am I kind of squirmed whilst trying to look like I enjoyed it. Fair play to the guy though, he powered through and I gave him a hug afterwards.

I think the day after we climbed the mountain. The days in Tully blur into each other so I'm not actually sure of the time-frame. I exhibited 4 out of the 5 symptoms of a heart attack whilst climbing up but it was totally worth it. The views were stunning and it wasn't too dissimilar from looking out over the Ilkley Moors. It was a nice moment only temporarily obscured when one of our lot did a big fart when another group of hikers arrived at the top.Climbing the mountain means we have officially done everything in Tully there is to do, I'm amazed it took 3 weeks to be honest.

During this time I lived in an unreality bubble. In this bubble I didn't care about jumping, or a job, or money. It was quite refreshing to forget about that stuff, at least for a few days. On the Saturday we went back to the beach but decided to camp out there for the night. I wasn't convinced I was going to stay there the night so I was completely unprepared, but when we arrived and started a fire I just knew I couldn't leave. It was ridiculously picturesque with the moonlight reflecting in the sea and marshmallows roasting on the fire.

There was a sour incident involving garlic source however. I'd been drinking gin for a couple of hours and when we were cooking food I was holding a torch so the people making the food could see. I'd been standing there like a pleb in a gin fog holding a torch and when it came to my burger someone slathered garlic sauce all over it. In my mind this was act of war and so I ranted and raved for a couple of minutes. There was an awkward silence in the group and I was worried I'd ruined this insanely good evening, luckily things got back on track a bit later.I'm not allowed to have gin anymore.

We slept at the beach that evening, our fire keeping us warm through the night. It was marvelous but I'm still shaking sand out from every orifice.

On a completely unrelated note, Oliver, a lad I used to work with in Melbourne messaged me on Facebook saying I look like Bron from Game of Thrones. The cheeky, grime loving, Coventry bastard.This is the same lad who told me about "drop bears", which fooled old Browney, and when I started warning other people about them they explained to me it's BS, like tartan colored paint.

I got the body armor as a birthday gift.