Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Up the wave like a walking marlin.

A small portion of the horde outside Woollies.
I am supposed to be taking some time off over this period of the year, having a break from writing, but then last night at 2am, I was infuriated beyond belief, and that reminded me of why I started this blog in the first place: to complain.
So, to start with we went through Xmas, and as Xmas approached I was not really conscious of a feeling of unease, of not really being able to settle to any particular task.
Now I'm an atheist, and so obviously don't celebrate Xmas, but of course, living in the town that is
ground zero for summer partying in NSW, Byron Bay, meant that in the end I couldn't really avoid it.
I did my best, I got all my clients' gardens mowed well before the traffic began to build up, and received a couple of superb Xmas cakes from Joanne and Becky which was better than nice. Both were superb, and since (like most middle-aged men) I have to watch my diet, and had been dieting most of the year, I decided to go absolutely hog-wild, and have a piece of cake each day over the holiday period.
So that gardens were done, and I like all the other locals in the area, I then hunkered down for the waves of tourist hordes that descend on us annually at this time.
However, the run to, and during Xmas, wasn't that bad, and I was reminded that, actually the crowds don't really begin to affect us like fleas on a dirty dog until New Year.
Most spend Chrissy with their families at a home of a family member, and then once boxing day had passed, they begin the long trek up the Pacific Highway to Byron Bay.
Clinton's lawn was nowhere near as glamorous as this.
Thus Christmas was quite pleasant, I spoke to my Brother Robert in the Hunter Valley, and we had a good chat. I texted with my other brother, David, also based at the headwaters of the Hunter in Newcastle. And that was really the end of my family Xmas.
At lunchtime I cycled down to join my friend Clinton for Xmas tea on his lawn.
Normally we go to his local coffee shop, the Yellow Flower in Suffolk Park, but they were of course shut, and so we recreated the last days of the Raj in India, with tea on the lawn.
That was nice, and we talked, then I got on my bike and cycled back to town.
I was able to pass on a piece of Xmas cake to Clint as well, which shows how the trickle down effect can work. (He enjoyed it as much as me.)
As I cycled back down Bangalow road that Christmas Day, I was conscious of a feeling of peace that I hadn't had since really, the first Christmas ads appeared on our TVs, sometime in October.
The pre-New Year's Eve traffic on Jonson Street
Being Christmas Day, there was no one on the road, and so in devil-may-care fashion I weaved back and forth across this perennially congested artery just for the hell of it, and great fun I found this little antic.
So with Xmas come and gone I was kind of starting to relax, and so when I went to the supermarket on the 29th of December, the crowds hit me like a punch in the face.
The line of cars bringing holiday makers stretched from the centre of town out to the end of Jonson Street.
For anyone who lives in Sydney, this is a daily event, but for us parochial coastliners, this annual holiday season influx is always stressful.
However the traffic wasn't worrying me on foot, but it was certainly a pre-cursor to what was going on in Woolies.
Everyone currently in NSW, north of Coffs Harbour, seemed to be in our shops.
I finally wrestled a shopping basket out of another customer that had finished with it, did my shopping, then queued at the checkout. I go through the self-check-out part, and normally I'm there for ten minutes, but this day it was like they were selling Stones tickets in the deli, the queues were indescribable.
Eventually I got through, and came out wondering if it was already February, but no, it was still the same New Year's Eve madness all around me.
So I took my groceries home, put them away and then commenced hunkering down (again).
So finally New Year's Eve came to our town, by this time I had changed my shopping schedule and was getting to the supermarket as soon as it opened, 8am.
Not a great chore, but it was all part of what we have to do around here to beat the crowds.
As I walked about I saw the preparations for NYE all around. There was a guard at the Gym car park, with a sandwich board sign, saying 'Gym and Club Parking only', (my gym is behind the RSL club).
Down on the beach front there were 'no parking signs' all around, and traffic flow diversions were all over the place.
So I think all of this, though it didn't affect me directly, as I wasn't driving, and had done my shopping, did affect me, and I was very unsettled and quite stressed all during NYE.
I guess it was the sheer weight of numbers in and all around the town, that just created a kind of subliminal background radiation of tension.
However, hunkered down though I was, I couldn't just sit in my flat and do nothing, as I was kind of antsy, so I went to the Gym and had a decent workout, which did help.
I cycled home, and then brought up the Coastalwatch camera to check the surf.
I had no great hopes, as summer is usually not such a great time for surfing. The reason for this is that the wind tends to be onshore. When the wind is onshore, it makes the waves ragged and scrappy.
The offshore wind is what we crave, as that creates smooth, glassy waves, that are better than sex.
So I checked the Coastal Watch website and discovered somewhat to my surprise that the wind was offshore, out of the south, and the waves looked quite good.
However, an offshore wind that is too powerful, is as bad as an onshore wind, as this makes it hard to paddle onto the waves.
Once I went out and the wind was offshore at 30 knots (ie, very, very strong), and had the quite unnerving experience of being blown back up the face of the wave. That day, when I did finally get hold of one, I stayed crouched for the first part of the ride, but then with the corner looming, I stood up to negotiate the change in direction across the sand bar, and the wind blew me straight off my board and up and over the top of the wave.
Here is today's Coast watch, showing
a return to the more usual onshore, north wind.
That was some experience.
Anyway, back to New year's Eve, the coastcam was telling me that the wind was offshore at 18 knots.
Not wanting to relive the 'being blown backwards' experience, I said to myself that I'll watch the coastcam throughout the day, and if it stays offshore, but drops in strength, I'll go.
So I watched and waited, then just when I was thinking of giving it away for the day, around 5pm, the wind dropped down below 15knots, and it was time to go.
I'm so glad I did, as it turned out to be one of the best surfs I've ever had in the bay.
The swell wasn't big, 2ft, or thereabouts, but with the (now) light offshore breeze, it was so glassy that you could see fish swimming in the waves.
By the way, I always hesitate to write about surfing without pictures, but the problem I'm sure you can appreciate is that while I'm out there, I can't take photos. However, I found this one on the net of the day, so this should give some idea of the perfection.
Anyway, I went. I was anxious all day, but got some help from Kieran who runs the book shop in the little mall part of the apartment complex where I live.
He checked that indeed my door was locked. As you may recall when my anxiety gets bad it manifests with a range of bizarre checking procedures, that make it hard to leave the house, or even live my damn life.
I'd love to present the image of a cool surfer with a devil may care 'tude, but sadly it's simply not the case, and I am like everyone else, a mass of conflicting fears, doubts and neuroses masquerading as a human.
But with Kieran's help I got out the door, and walked the kilometre to the Pass.
In I splashed, and then headed out wide away from the oncoming surfers knifing at you down the waves.
Once I got out there, I suddenly realised how good it was.
'This', I said to myself, 'is gonna be good'.
And so it was, talk about the glittering prize.
The big problem with the Pass is that it is so crowded, and this was New Year's Eve no less, the most crowded day of our holiday town's year.
However, there weren't a lot of people out there, much to my surprise, I can only assume that either a) the word of the glassy waves hadn't got out yet, or (more likely) b) everyone else was getting ahead start on getting pissed for NYE.
Anyway, giving thanks to whichever supernatural deity you choose to explain away the physical manifestations of nature, I sized up the oncoming waves and made my move.
The Pass is a right handed wave, and as I was out wide of the break point, that meant I had to loom in menacingly from seaward until I got to the nexus of breaking wave and smooth water.
In I went, and did a lateral turn to pick up the oncoming wave's energy. Though a smooth day, this is still kind of a hairy moment. If you get it wrong, you end up a) near drowned, or b) looking stupid, and in my case c) mostly both.
But I had got my timing right, and the white wash came at me in a foaming torrent.
The board began to buck and caper under my stomach and as ever at this time I felt rather than saw what was going on beneath me via vibrations through my rib cage.
One of the hardest things about taking off by the way, is keeping on paddling, when all you want to do is grab the board with both arms and clutch it to your stomach like a much loved baby.
However if you do do that, the wave will pass beneath you and you will end up looking a), b) and c) as described before.
But I felt the ocean through my bones, and gave it a brief steam hammer of paddling, and then got the reward, the front of my board poked out of the white wash and the glittering prize of the wave opened up before like the Yellow Brick Road in the Wizard of Oz.
I don't think that's me, but it is possible.
With an ecstatic cry of 'Yeah Baby Yeah', taken from the Austin Powers movies, I gave it one last paddle then clambered to my feet.
I'd love to say I leapt to my feet in one smooth balletic movement a la Nijinsky, but I'm fifty years old now, and nothing I do is smooth and balletic.
Mind you, considering I was planning to stand on a board no longer or wider than me that was moving across the Pacific ocean at close to thirty knots, I have to give myself some credit for even getting myself in the position to do it.
Anyway, up I clambered, and then the wave unfurled before me like a kind of slanted escalator.
The surface was so smooth that I felt like a hockey puck gliding across some Canadian ice rink.
I jabbed my right, rear foot into the board hard, and that took me up to the top of the wave where you go to pick up speed.
I raced along, flying like a bird.
Paradoxical this is, nothing in written from can really describe what it's like to be riding a glassy wave in speed and silence in the sub-tropical sunset, though that's what I'm trying to do.
Then I realised that the wave was slowing down, or I was outriding it, either way, it was time for a course correction.
I dragged my left, front foot, down and away, and brought my whole travelling system round in a long raking left hand turn, re-entering that's called, or 'rio' for short.
I came all the way around and now I was going back up the wave in the opposite direction.
This is how you regain your speed.
The oncoming wave front met me within seconds, and then it was time to u-turn again round to the right.
Round I went, and now I was cruising with frantic pace across the bottom of the wave.
When you are down there, you can, if the waves are glassy, look into the wave, and at times I have had the extraordinary experience of travelling along with a school of fish, as if you are one of the school. It is totally trippy I can tell you.
However this was denied me this day as the setting sun in the direction of travel made the whole face of the wave glow, and reflect orange and gold. (Not complaining, definitely)
I scrubbled my back foot again to maintain the speed and then came to the Corner Bar.
This is not a local drinking hole, but a sand bar at the corner of Main Beach.
Here the waves go from peeling along from the Pass, around the corner, and become front on atom smashers.
If you're a really good surfer, you can make this corner and keep riding, but I'm definitely not that, so judging discretion was the better part of valour, I baled out.
This I did by stamping with due force and violence on the back of the board with my rear foot, and arcing like a walking Marlin up the face of the wave, briefly into the air, and then to splash down into the crystal waters of the Bay.
Man that was great.
I hope you get some feel for why we go surfing from that.
I then had to face the paddle back, but after a wave like that you are prepared to paddle to New Zealand if you can have another one, so I dug 'em in, and paddled back upcurrent to the takeoff point.
I got four rides that day, all as good as that, and was in the water for an hour and a half.
Landing with splash like Apollo 13 after the fourth one I knew I was done, so tired even lifting my arm shoulder high was beyond me, so I picked up the shore break and coasted home on my stomach.
Home I walked in the sub-tropical dusk, had a shower, watched some TV then hit my bed like a cut down pine tree.
A great day, and I have to say, the sort of day that I can have now that have given the grog away.
If you drink heavily on a daily basis, you simply don't have the physicality required to do that sort of on-ocean explosive exercise.
I'm writing this on Jan 1, 2015.
Today marks two years since I've had a drink, and days like that will remind me why I am doing it.
Wishing you all a great 2015.
LK

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Xmas Party season (Oh god, do I have to)

The drunken idiots that work at Byron Central Apartments.
In this picture taken early in the evening, everyone is at least standing upright.
The other day I was at work when Susanna, a work colleague, said, "Are you coming to the sausage sizzle?"
I replied, "Unlikely, as I'm a vegetarian, what's the occasion?"
To which she answered, "it's the work Chrissy party."
My mind lurched, 'god, is it that time of year again?', I said to myself. I looked down at the date stamp at the bottom of my computer screen, and saw that it was indeed the 15th of December, and so, yes it was Xmas party season.
I did end up going, though my consumption was kinda limited, as I don't eat meat, and I don't drink either these days. However, Susanna did ask me to go, which, since one of my most oft repeated complaints here in this blog, and at home alone watching television is that I don't have a social life. I went.
Actually now that I think about it, I don't really work here where I do my writing, I just sort of come in and sponge off the Byron Central Apartments network for my internet connection.
However, if you inhabit an office long enough, you sort of become involved, somewhat like a soap opera, in the lives and aspirations of those around you, and thus an invite to the staff party came my way.
It was held at Byron Bay Bowling club, and this club, like most others in the post-'smoking-is-banned' world, have had to turn to other sources of income, and thus they allow casual drunken idiots like us to have a bowl.
Showing my form while Susanna and Meggsie look on and laugh.
Anyway, we had a good time, and for many reasons (despite my caption above), no one drank too much.
Partly because everyone in this hippy town is on some sort of special spiritual diet/path/way of life, but also because here in the countryside, there is no public transport.
There are two parts to this, first, as there is no public transport, everyone has to drive, and secondly, due to the hideously expensive nature of Byron Bay, none of us lowly wage dogs can afford to live in town.
Scott the Boss lives up at Possum Creek, Meggsie the maitenance woman, lives in Clunes, 30 k away, Susanna, the receptionist lives in Mullumbimby, Elaine the cleaning supervisor lives also in Mullum.
So not much drinking went on, which I think is a good thing.
Partly because I'm a recovering alcoholic, but also because as I learned in the latter part of my life in the corporate world of Sydney, the annual Xmas party is a career threatening event.
It's the time of the year for photocopying your bum and faxing it to your boss.
I saw this happen one year while working for a large computer firm in Sydney, and I was most impressed that the disgruntled employee that did this rebellious act had the mental wherewithal to fax it from another part of the building, so that the boss couldn't immediately link it the employees partying in our part of the office.
We did wonder later when we got together in the new year whether the boss who received this most unwanted of faxes did examine the derriere pictured closely to see if they could decipher whose bum it was, but then we got on the juice and forgot all about it.
When we did come back to work in January, the bum-faxing employee was still employed, and so we gathered that the boss had not been able to figure out who it was.

It's also that time of year for having quick knee trembler with another staff member in the stationery closet.
Now this activity, is not technically illegal. However, the legality of the act (or otherwise), kind of depends of the marital status of the persons involved. And this broom or stationery closet act, invariably occurs because the people involved are married to other people and thus this is an opportunity for a bit of extra curricular naughtiness.
The logic here is that those who are married to each other, and work with each other, do not need to snatch a few stolen moments in the stationery cupboard as they have an entire house to cavort in.
If you do catch a couple involved in this drunken act at the Xmas party, the best thing to do is get a photo of them, and then if they are in any way above you on the work totem pole, use the picture as blackmail to further your own career and rise up the ladder.

The next thing that comes with Xmas party season is 'THE TRUTH!"
"THE TRUTH!" is that overwhelming desire to finally tell your boss what you f%^&-ing well think of their sorry arse.
All year you've had to cope with this mental pigmy ruining your life, and the office Xmas party, with a few free drinks under your belt seems like an ideal time explain a few things, as you see it, to your boss.
However I strongly caution you not to do this at the Xmas party, particularly if you have a mortgage and can't afford to lose your job.
If you really can't hold it back anymore, then it's time for you to get a new job.
Thus my advice for you is to get a new job, start it, then when two weeks have passed, and things are going well in your new place of work, phone up your old boss, and then let an air horn off into the mouth piece of the phone after asking them to listen closely.
The air horn will say it better than anything you can come up with verbally.

The closest that I came to THE TRUTH! was when I was working for a water cooler supply company in  North Sydney.
The boss was a brutal, fat, arrogant bully, whom I heartily detested.
He it was who would call all of us in the computer department into his office, tell us what he wanted done, then tell us how to do it technically, even though he was unqualified.
We would go away and do it, then when it didn't work, he would blame us, and threaten us with the sack for incompetence.
Man I loathed that arsehole.
Anyway, the Xmas party duly arrived and I made possibly the only good decision around drinking I ever made in that heavy drinking period of my life.
I could feel the rounds of temper rolling into the chamber, and knew if I had a few beers the desire to tell my boss THE TRUTH! would be uncontrollable, and so I decided not to drink at that party.
It stood me in good stead, as the boss returned late that Friday from an interstate trip, and called me into his office at six pm to discuss some technical matter. I think this was a power trip on his part, dragging me away from the Xmas party, but I handled it, largely due to my being (for once) sober at six pm on a Friday night.
Actually when I did follow my own advice and left that company, what happened was kind of amusing.
I had ceased talking with the fat controlling boss by this point, and had put all my energies into the new job search. I found one, and was due to start on the Monday with a new company in Sydney's CBD.
Due to the nature of contracting computer work at the time, you rarely gave notice, and this I didn't do. I got my ducks in a row at the new job, and kept drawing my pay from the water cooler company.
Then my last Friday came, and so I thought I had better tell the boss I was leaving.
I went around to his office, and spoke with his secretary, a lovely, matronly, middle-aged woman named Lee. "Hey Lee," I said, "is fatso here?", I said jerking my head in the direction of the fat controller's office.
"No," said Lee, "he's in Brisbane I think, and I'm not even sure when he'll be back."
"Oh," I said, somewhat non-plussed, "well, I'm quitting, and so I came to tell him that."
"Oh," replied Lee, "well when are you finishing up? Can you tell him next week?"
"Not really", I said, "I'm quitting now, starting new job Monday."
"Oh," said Lee again, "well, I'll leave a note for him to see when he comes in. I'd tell him myself, but I'm quitting today as well."
And so Lee and I walked out of the building late that Friday, and never looked back, either literally or metaphorically.
I would still love to know what the boss made of it when he did return to the office and found that the computer department was now unstaffed, and that even his secretary had left without a spoken word as well.

So over the Xmas party season, don't drink and drive, don't fax a picture of your bum to the boss, and don't, however much you wish for it, tell your boss THE TRUTH!
Wait till January, then let it rip from the phone on the desk at your new job.

 

 

 

You gotta stay focussed Lachlan!

This photo on the right shows my sink, seemingly with a kind of reverse snow storm bulging upward. It is of course, detergent, and clearly I had turned on the tap to do the washing up, then squirted the detergent in, and then got distracted.
What happened was that just as I began this process, my phone beeped and it was a message from Scott the boss and supervisor of the apartments that I live in.
I do a little work for him now and then, and this text was to do with work, and so I got involved in replying to his text. Then as I typed on my phone screen I began to notice a different noise, as of a kind of trickling, like water spilling into an underground cavern, heard from a distance.
When I looked up the foam was piled high in my sink and the water was trickling over and onto my kitchen floor.
I leapt across the gap and switched the tap off, then reached in and took the plug out, to let the water drain down to a manageable level.
Then I looked down at all the water running across my floor, and got out the mop and started to squeegee it up.
Once I started, I then realised that this a perfect opportunity to clean my floor, which I duly did.
So although the headline reads 'stay focussed', in the end this happy accident meant that I cleaned my floor.
Where does a year go, huh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This ain't over.

And so finally to the youtube clip below.
It has nothing to do with Xmas party season, but it's another of my favourite Simpsons moments, and it came on the other night, so I was reminded to share it with you.
What happens in the plot is that Grandpa Simpson starts a fling with 'stone-cold hoochie', Zelda, played by Olympia Dukakis.
Grandpa and Olympia then flee to Branson Missouri, to have a fling. Now Branson Missouri is, as Homer describes it, 'like Vegas if it was run by Ned Flanders'.
Ned Flanders being an ultra-behaved christian.
Branson, Missouri is the place which repeatedly has the epitome of ultra-naff, Andy Williams, performing there.
That's how bad it is.
Anyway, Homer and the family head down to Branson to bring Grandpa back, but they get on the wrong bus, and end up in Bronson, Missouri.
Bronson, Missouri is populated entirely by Charles Bronsons. Wives, Mothers, fathers, kids, they're all Charles Bronson.
For those who don't know, Charles Bronson was the essence of the seventies TV tough guy.
Most notable for his starring role in the Death Wish series of movies. In which he played a sort of vigilante who solved all the ills of the world with extreme violence.
Anyway, for those who remember the wooden acting, and ultra-violence of Bronson on screen, enjoy this six-year-old Bronson asking his mother for some cookies.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Another one of those f$%-ing days

When I turned the car off recently, I did my in-car checks of the 'park' lever, handbrake, and ignition off, and finding them satisfactory, pulled the keys out of the ignition and got out of the car.
I was back from a gardening job, and so that means that I get my two fuel canisters - one for the whipper-snipper [weed whacker - for north American readers], and one for the mower - out of the back of the car and put them in the storage area of the underground car park.
As a gardener most of my work is in the summer, and so I don't like to leave fuel in the car for obvious reasons.
So I walked around to the back of the car to get the fuel, and then noticed that the lights were on.
"That's odd," I said to myself, "I was sure I did all my checks. Must have forgotten to check the lights."
So I went back to the front of the car, leaned in through the window and went to turn the lights off.
To my unholy consternation I discovered that the lights were indeed off.
"What the f$%&?", I flicked the switch off and on a few times, but it had no effect. With a lugubrious sigh, I realised that yet another thing had gone wrong with my car.
This follows on from a post of some weeks ago in which I was talking about the 'Check Engine' light.
To bring you up to speed there.
For most of the life of this particular car, first with Tom, whom I bought it from, and then in the year that I have had it, the Check Engine light comes on as soon as the engine has warmed up, and stays on for the rest of the day.
Thus, as I came down the hill from Clunes a few months ago, and the Check Engine light went out, I went, 'aww, that can't be good.'
However, nothing catastrophic happened, and the car ran OK.
THEN!
I was going somewhere a few weeks later when this yellow 'Hold' light came on, and didn't go off. Then the Check Engine light came on as well, and I once again spent most of my time at the wheel wondering what this panoply of odd lights could portend. I did look up the manual, but couldn't find after a cursory glance what the 'Hold' light means.
However the engine kept running and so I tried to put it out of my mind.
Then came the lights staying on thing and I now have to go through an extra round of checking before and after I set out in the car.
Since I can't leave the lights on while parked, as it will flatten the battery, I now have to each time I pull up, get out, open the bonnet, unship the negative battery cable from the battery to get the lights to go off, then shut the bonnet.
A bit of a hassle, but worth it to keep my car rolling.
HOWEVER!
After I shut the bonnet [hood for north Americans], I went back to lock the car. I shut the driver's door then turned the key and the driver's door locked, but the satisfying car-wide 'cloonk', telling me the central locking had locked all the doors, hadn't kicked in.
So dear reader, I can now confirm for you that central-locking is electrical.
With the battery now unconnected, I have to, as well as taking the battery out of the circuit, lock each door individually.
What's more, if I have forgotten to wind up the electronic windows, I have to reconnect the battery, turn on the ignition, then wind up the windows, turn the ignition off again, then go back around and disconnect the battery again.
For a man with OCD checking disorder, just parking the car has now become a major enterprise.
And I might add, this car ghost-in-the-electrical-system rubbish followed on from the ghost-in-my-apartment's-electrical-system malarkey.
What happened there was that I came out one morning and went to boil the jug to make my morning coffee.
However when I picked it up to fill it with water, I noticed to, again, my unholy consternation, that the jug was already quite hot, and once I felt that and looked closer, I saw that there was steam coming out of the jug's nozzle.
WTF? I said to myself, then I noticed that the damn thing was exhibiting a noise as of a low level of boiling going on.
I leant in closer, and sure enough the jug was boiling, even though the switch was off.
As I later discovered, the heating element had blown the circuit, and overridden the auto-off switch.
"AAARGHHH!" I yelled into the six am quiet of my apartment complex.
The immediate problem was no hot water for coffee, but I solved that by getting out a saucepan and boiling some water, but the longer term problem was that for a nutjob like me, who seeks to control the world by checking everything, now the jug and the car, were exhibiting signs of self-animation, and now even when I had checked both that everything was off, they may switch themselves on in some ghostly fashion, while I sleep.
The upshot being I may burn the apartment down despite my five thousand checks.

Anyway, with my sweeping and weeding done up the beach front at Julian's beach side hotel, and with Caitlyn's lawn mowed at Mullumbimby, I was finished with gardening and the car for the day, and so I went up to my desk to do some research on an article I was writing for Independent Australia.
Quickly my head was into global warming figures and tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and all the rest, when my phone beeped.
It was a message from my therapist, Simon the Super-listener, it was my monthly therapy session, and all off the above car stress had completely blown it out of my mind, that it was today.
"AARRRGGHHH," I yelled.
"ARRRGGHHHH!," I yelled into the thankfully empty office.
"Shit, it's therapy day".
Now just to background this a bit, for those who have been following my progress away from dysfunction.
Previously my therapist was Paula the Wonder Horse, whom I saw with great productivity for nearly five years.
However after 80-odd sessions, Paula had to finally put up her hands and tell me that she had heard how much I hate my parents for the eightieth time and it was time for me to move on.
Not really of course, the real reason was that there is a natural arc to therapy, and after some time, it's good to freshen things up with a new person. So Paula, with carefully prepared efficiency lumbered her colleague Simon with being trapped in a room listening to my eternal, internecine, always rambling stories of my life as a youth in Bathurst.
Simon is great as well, and I am already looking forward to broaching new frontiers with him.
Paula the Wonder Horse's web page, note former name.
I might add, that one of the reasons Paula couldn't see me anymore was that she had decided to resurrect her movie career, she used to be one of the Bond girls, and had been called back into action by the makers of the Bond films. (see pictures)
I know now why she changed her name, it was nothing to do with getting married, but all to do with her dark past on the silver screen.
Paula did deny that she had ever been a Bond girl, but I knew she was lying.
Anyway, now I'm with Simon, and things are great, so I was less than impressed with myself for forgetting our appointment.
However, now I had a new problem, as I said the office was empty, and thus there was no one around to help me with my 'lock-up' checks which I needed to do before I could go to therapy, about ten minutes walk away.
So with the pressure on, I raced back to my apartment, windows shut (so rain can't get in), power off to the TV and set top box (I didn't want them coming on either in ghostly fashion), shower off, bathroom sink taps off, jug definitely unplugged, and all six burners and timer on the oven were off.
I had to literally wrench myself away and had to work hard not to go round and do these checks twenty or thirty times, but I was already late to therapy, and had to go.
So outside the door, I turned the key, checked that it was indeed locked, and then turned to go.
The credits of the Bond movie, 'A View to a Kill', showing Paula's past life.
The worm of doubt came into my mind, back I turned, I checked the door was locked again, it was.
Away I turned, the worm returned, back I turned, checked again, then turned away once more, took two steps, the worm of anxiety came back.
Then I had to stop and just use brute force of will.
I turned back, and said inside my head, "Right, Lachlan, you idiot, the f%$^&ing door is locked and you are looking at it locked now with your fingers on the door, showing you it's locked."
With the satisfactory clanking of the door showing it was indeed locked, I finally wrested myself away from the door and began walking to Simon's office.
Once more back on the street, I had to go past the office door, I stopped and checked that I had shut and locked that.
I had, so I turned to go, now already 15 minutes after my appointment with Simon was due to start.
Then the worm returned, back I went, checked the office door was indeed locked.
I think I stood at the office door for another three minutes, constantly pushing on the door, testing it was locked.
Then, finally, having to use the same brute force I had had to use on my apartment door, I wrenched myself away form the office door and made for Simon's office.

Now with Paula, our therapy was mainly focussed on my terrible childhood.
With Simon, we are mainly focussing on my debilitating checking, using various techniques to tackle it.
So never have I gone to therapy with greater relief than this day, with the various machines in my life turning themselves off and on, at will.
Finally I pitched up at Simon's office, puffing from the jog-trotting I had been doing to get there as quickly as my checking allowed.
I went in and sat down, after explaining why I was late, we settled in and Simon asked, "So how's your checking going?"
"Well, Simon," I said, "Boy am I glad you asked."
Therapy then proceeded as it usually does, with me talking volubly and at length of my dysfunction, and the therapist, in this case, Simon, slowly backing away against the wall, trying to escape.
Finally three o'clock came, and Simon was free of me.
I left feeling somewhat relaxed.
Simon is still in Byron Bay Hospital under sedation, where he screams in his sleep, "NO Lachlan, NO, please don't tell me the same story again".

Those who tune in regularly will have noticed that I haven't been regular with the Blog, that is because with the summer my gardening in necessarily busier, but also my work with Independent Australia is stepping up.
However, like Simon above, I'm sure you can use a break as well, even reading about the life of a nutjob can be exhausting, man do I understand that!