I don’t watch TV these days, as I can’t keep pace with the intellectual scripts and subtle plots of shows like Big Brother, I’m a celebrity, get me out of here, and that fallen angel The Shire. However when I was a wee lad that flashing screen caught and held my attention – perhaps far too much. On Saturday mornings I would sit in my PJs, bowl of cereal to hand, and get ready for the weekend with a couple of hours of Hey, Hey It’s Saturday. That Daryl Somers. That crazy ostrich. And who could forget John Blackman’s high brow quips. Of all the various gags and long running thematic segments one that has mysteriously always stuck with me was a newspaper article submitted to the segment Media Watch. The article described how some small town’s elected officials were busy cutting the ribbon at the opening of some new local attraction, probably a Big Prawn, or a new swimming pool. The local paper’s sub editor, who was clearly having a slow day and was probably also hoping he could slip in a bit of spice without the editor noticing had titled the article with the headline “Councillors celebrate huge erection”. I nearly blew out a huge mouthful of half chewed Corn Flakes all over the TV screen at that one I can tell you. Odd isn’t it, my recollections from that time of my life don’t seem at all to include much advanced algebra, but somewhere in my cortex some strange mix of brain chemicals and cellular structures retains that small piece of humour. There’s a lesson there I think for you three unit maths teachers struggling with the perennial question of how to get your year ten students to retain formulas – use double entendres when explaining the method of calculating the area under a complex hyperbolic waveform.
And so, as we prepare to bid a fond farewell to the year 2012 I too am celebrating with a huge erection of my own – a new totem pole. When we bought ridgesong many years ago the seller thoughtfully left behind some potentially useful objects; one of which was a rusted out old box trailer. Someone more enterprising than me might have dived in and got it back on the road; I mean all it needed was two new wheels, a new draw bar, a new floor, gate and sides, new lights and wiring loom and it with a smick of paint it’d be just like a new bought one. Well I must have been a bit lazy though and so it just sat there forlornly exchanging atomic bonds between the steel and the atmosphere and slowly flaking itself into the surrounding soil. The problem was that it is rather difficult to take a box trailer to the metal recyclers, as it doesn’t easily fit into a box trailer.
The solution my friends, as it is often the case, was a POWER TOOL. One of my favourites is the angle grinder, so called because you can slice off parts of your body with the fast spinning cutting edge at almost any angle. There’s really nothing a good angle grinder can’t cut is there? Steel, tiles, skin, muscle, bone. Even better, it makes sparks. What more could a bloke ask for? Thus armed and loaded with plenty of cutting disks I eventually got around to slicing, dicing and julienning that old box trailer until all I had left where a selection of potentially useful bits of metal and a smaller pile of stuff for the landfill. Amongst the useful bits were a set of leaf springs, and a 1.8m long section of solid steel with a 40mm x 10mm cross section. Just waiting for the day they would become….
…this. Whatever it is. Beauty and meaning are in the eye of the beholder. So far it has been interpreted as being a representation of happy people spinning around with their arms held in the air; as a broom; a flower; and what someone’s bed hair looks like. In the background you can see Birdman casting his beady gaze over at this new, upstart neighbour and trying to decide whether the ‘hood is going downhill.
The more observant of you might say “OK, I can see the leaf springs but what about the long length of solid steel? Where does that fit in?”. Well done you! It’s not there. But is in the shed leaning up with its new friends the shovel, the pick and the adze. By cutting a sharp edge at one end (angle grinder….so useful!) it has promoted itself from behind the garage amongst the useful metal pile to the tool pile, having become a heavy tamping bar. Which in this case was needed to help dig a hole deep enough for the six metre or so pole that forms the backbone of the spinning dancer, or the flower, or the broom. I can’t decide. Here; interpret away…