Monday, February 14, 2011

Bubble wrap or bust!

When I first moved from Melbourne to the Pilbara several years ago, it was, as many stories up here go, completely by accident. We were in a four wheel drive. Travelling around Oz with life compacted within the confines of a Nissan Patrol. And it was oh so very, very simple. We ran out of money at Exmouth. Well, everything bar $20 for fuel to get us five hours up the road.

In Karratha, we found a house (or my husband's employer did, as is also, necessarily, the way of things in a region which, whilst responsible for the country's booming economy, is brutally expensive to rent in.) And we shipped over our boxes.

All 78 of them.

Plus furniture.

Plus this funny thing which looked like either a ginger crusher or a guinea pig torture chamber. Still not sure.

Plus dust.

Plus. Plus. Plus.

And the mountain which was stacked up before us in our ever so fragile loungeroom ached like all the last straws in the world had been placed on its peak.

It didn't collapse under the pressure.

But I almost did. And to this day, I wonder how it is we so quickly move from the simplicity of a few boxed items of necessity to a hoarder's paradise. And still believe we'll need everything...sometime.

In the meantime, we've just moved again. I now call Port Hedland home and have been boxing and unboxing my life once again. Andrew Collins from ABC North West is also doing the same with his wife Melissa and little Pilbara baby Saffron as we speak.

Their motto is 'Bubble wrap or bust!'

So, to all of you who have ever moved and found the movement a less than moving experience, here's a little joy. And maybe a message of hope too: You'll never be alone in the experience. We've all lost the plot over it before. Don't you worry about that!

Packing It

As the ultimately anally and
organised type,
she would not believe the press
and he would not believe the hype
that to get somebody in to do the
packing was all right.
He said, “Nope, cannot afford it.”
She said, “Do it in a night.”

So the challenge it was on and they were
ready, set pack,
with the microwave unplugged
and all the crockery unstacked
And all the knives and forks and spoons
and what the Lordy be is that?
It’s a garlic crusher, darling.”
“Oh,” he mused, “not a…rat trap?”

How ‘bout,” she said with sense,
we chuck the kids’ toys all in here,”
as he packing taped the boxes
and forgot to drink his beer
and so in went lights and buzzers,
teacups pink and teapots clear,
every truck and train and block,
every thing which pings the ear.

Every mobile phone for babies,
every wind up singing car,
each and every tambourine, and drum
and battery powered guitar,
all the toys which ding and tinkle,
all the franchised kiddy stars,
Can’t we give it to the Salvo’s
and not cart it near and far?”

Sorry darling, no,” she frowned,
although she’d wondered just the same.
It is all just part and parcel of the
pack and movem game,
as he lugged another bloated box
to sit beside the frame
of the portrait posed and four foot wide,
smiles pinched and rather lame.

And they boxed up every cable,
five remotes from one tv.
He felt ripped and fully able,
she thought are we off our tree?
But the deed it needed doing
and between just you and me
with Bon Jovi in the background,
it was quite a sight to see.

And they had a kiss at four am
both sweating like drowned flies,
sorting uniforms from dress ups,
chucking out last year’s mince pies,
taping box on box on box with cheekbones
fierce and rippling thighs,
How about a break my darling?”
giving her his cheeky eyes.

“Hardy har,” she pulled a face and fiercely
onwards they did scramble
with a mission of precision all their
pots and pans to handle,
every match and dust collector,
every teapot trinket candle,
every dress and shirt and belt
and every thong, ugg boot and sandal,

every cute thing, wrapped in bubbles,
every CD stacked and packed,
here a loose spoon off the table,
there a stray coathanger whacked,
‘til the sun was dawning yawning
and the next door’s chicken clacked,
but unlike its single egg neither our two
had actually…cracked.

Ta dah!” he put his arm about her,
wiping off his sweat.
“We are legends, superstars;
more to the point, we’re done!” You bet.
And they stood amongst the silence
of the boxes’ towering threat
as amidst the great brown castle
sounded something like regret…

Bok-ekkkk. Bok-ekkkk!

And their looks were stunted horror
as the sound screeched from the ground
and they quick began to wonder
where this sound might well be found.
In amidst the thousand boxes,
deep within it did resound
and he heard her swear prolific
as his blood thumped round and round.

Was it Joseph’s wind up truck,
or was it Rosie’s fluffy chook?
Was it Elly’s dancing Tinkerbell
or Max’s talking book?
Could it be right near the top?
Could they take the merest look?
No, that sound came from the depths,
depths of despair and they both shook.

Bok-ekkkk. Bok-ekkk!

And the answer? It was simple:
They must unpack every box,
every stupid household item,
every jewel and single sock,
every shell and vase and ruddy muddy
gumboot, every jock.
as it showed, that torment on her face,
before he’d thrown a rock…

Bok-ekkkkk. Bok- Ekkkk!

Two hours on and all their work undone
the thing still rang on aloud
She was crying, he was chucking stuff,
but nowhere to be found
was the voice of greatest torment,
ringing out and all around
and they sat amidst debris
with everything just come to ground.

Bok-ekkk. Bok-ekk!

Then she heard it. There it was and there she
found the microwave,
sitting all alone behind the rubble,
unboxed barricade
and she opened it to find it
and to end this mad charade -
her egg timer - clucking chicken -
done its time and on parade.

Bok-ekkk. Bok-ekkkk!

And the husband and his wife,
with exhaustion and great thirst,
took a lesson from this moment
before into tears both burst,
that when packing and upstacking
when that moving time’s the worst
is quite easily and simply…

take the batteries out first.


©Elise Batchelor February 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Off to school! Zips zipped, lunches packed and buttons pressed...

Feb ’76. I trot off to Lake Grace Primary School in rural Western Australia with a tiny orange suitcase and a library bag. Many years later, I’m bracing to do the same with my own kidlets. Remember, if this school bizzo’s raising your blood pressure, simply recite, “When ‘ing’ comes to stay, ‘e’ goes away”. It won’t help with bullies, but it’s quite the calming mantra.

What did you think of your first day? More to the point, how did you cope when it was your very own children you were sending off with a packed lunch and name labels coming out every orifice?

The first day of the rest of their lives

On the eve of the morn of the too quick come dawn,
he took her outside and they sat on the lawn.
‘It’s this white burning terror. We’re making an error,
she pleaded, eyes wide with her lip all aquiver.

Can’t we say no and just not let him go,
blame the heat or your mother or tumults of…snow?
I just must be honest, it’s too quick upon us,
I’m bursting with fear and you’re looking quite anxious.’

He grimaced a bit and agreed, this was it,
for morning would come and they’d have to commit.
‘Ok, that’s enough now, unfurrow your tight brow,’
he rallied to calm her, although he knew not how.

‘But what if he’s sad or his handwriting’s bad
and the kids are all mean and pick on him, poor lad?
Or what if he’s short and can’t see as he ought
‘cause the desk is too big; did you give that a thought?

‘And what if his lunchbox is wrong and his school socks
too long and his school bag too small so he doesn’t belong?
And what if his uniform rips when my little boy trips
and the children all laugh and he spills all his chips?

And what if his pencils all break or his teacher’s a fake
and she can’t teach apostrophes? My heart will break!
And what if his hat blows away? And it’s NO HAT, NO PLAY!
And he’s stuck by himself in the classroom all day?

‘And…what if he wets his pants?’

‘And then there is high school and what if he’s uncool
or worse still, quite popular making the girls drool?
And then he starts wagging or going on bragging,
under the weight of a school bag that’s sagging?

'And then there’s the ball, oh my goodness, my Lord.
It’s way, way too soon and how can we afford
the tux and the shoes and the limo they choose
and what if he’s drunk and passed out in the loos?

‘And…what if he wets his pants?!’

‘Calm down my dove, please settle, my love.
Aren’t you jumping the gun? For when push comes to shove,
you’re turning the screw in a right royal stew
when the fact is right now you’re twelve days overdue

and you have to give BIRTH first!’

‘Oh right, you’re correct, but what I suspect
is my waters are breaking and to be quite direct…

I think I’ve just wet my pants!!’

PS. Yes, that picture's me. No, I'm not pregnant. Done it twice. That's enough for me!