Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Tales Of A 1980's Man Down Under - Dung And A Crack On The Back Of The Head

Imagine a freshly turned 18-year-old pom, who landed into a dusty thoroughbred racing stud, one hour's drive North of Melbourne. It could have been a disaster. It wasn't. It was bloody marvellous. Hard work. Hard play. Steady drinking. That was steady not heavy. Hearty eating. Gambling on anything that moved.  

This fella was an Irish stallion called Comeram. 'Just go and feed him,' said the boss on the first day I was there. As I was half-way into the stable and put the bucket of feed down to close the door, Comeram came for me, out of the darkness like a hammerhead shark, teeth bared with the intention of taking a large chunk out of some undesirable part of my body.

Somewhere in the melee my fist and his nose connected with some force. Both of us were shocked, but thereafter we respected each other a little more and even nearly became friends. Outside the stable I could hear hoots of laughter from the others. It was a case of 'let's have one over the new guy', I thought.

But we a ll got on famously. It was early starts and I was given the job description of Thoroughbred Technician, or stable lad to the rest of us. The daily routine would be - Up at 4.30am, muck out, sweep, empty the dung truck several times. Around 9am you were hungry and it was all stop for breakfast, which usually meant it was something like a Cottage Pie, some lamb chops or a steak with a fried egg on top. Morning was doing all sorts of jobs and then there was a four hour free time, spent down at the pub and TAB counter. Evening feed. Then whey hey - off to Melbourne to party and get back in time to start again at 5am.

It went well until one morning on one of the dung emptying journeys, I had an accident standing on the drawbar between the tractor and the trailer. Basically the tractor went round the corner, but the trailer didn't and I was catapulted into a five bar iron gate.

The lads told me later that I became so repetitive in my stupor that they made me write down the answers to the inane questions I kept asking, while the ambulance was waiting to come.

'Was I the driver?'

'No. Look at Answer No. 3.'

'Was it my fault?'

'No' they sighed in unison. 'Answer No. 4'

'Was I driving?'


'Was I....................?'

'For crying out loud, read No.......................'

I spent six days at the local hospital, which I don't remember. All I remember was a toothless face who stood over me at various intervals, people in white uniforms walking briskly past and the constant sound of racing commentaries blaring out of the radio. Otherwise nothing.

After 6 days they let me out. It was straight back into the old routine. Straight back onto the dung tractor and trailer. 'No worries, mate. She'll be right,' said the person who had driven the tractor the last time I was unceremoniously flung onto the gate. 'You seem a little more sensible than you were before.'

I put my hand into my pocket and found a scrunched up piece of paper. I could just make out the writing - 'No.1 No.2 No.3 No.4. I threw it as hard as I could and it reached the dung heap before the dung did.

I never looked back.

No comments:

Post a Comment