Saturday, January 3, 2015


A parable for stupid senior citizens . 
On two occasions  women doctors have firmly told me that men over 60 should  not  ascend   ladders ,  clamber   onto  roofs , climb  trees .  Both  said  emergency  wards  of  hospitals  were  filled  with  men  PM Bob Hawke  would  have described as  silly old buggers.  When I described  one of my symptoms as light headedness at  times  when firmly on the ground , sitting in front of the idiot box, a  doctor , 10 years ago, rolled her  eyes ,when I said I had been up on the roof cleaning out the  gutters, sweeping  , taking photographs . 

Since then , I must admit , I have climbed to great (dangerous ) heights , as it were , in  Darwin and North Queensland, and I am past three score and 10 . In my latest alpine adventure , just before  Christmas,  I felt certain that one of the pesky possums had jammed  itself  in  the guttering downpipe. While  borrowing  the neighbour’s ladder , a  woman  said a possum had  died in her  downpipe years ago and  stank  to the high heavens . 

Not wanting  Santa to be put off   by such a  stench ,  I decided to ignore  medical advice and clamber up into the  gods. Before lift off, I psyched myself to be ultra careful  and tackle  the task scientifically.  Importantly, I told myself  to only  walk on the   iron sheets over the verandah , not the  brittle  plastic ones.  A broom , bucket  and  secateurs were  put  up  on  the roof , ready  for action . 

Then I buckled on a  pair of  sandals the German wildlife carer known as the Queen of the  Jungle had given me  to wear about the garden . She had hardly worn  them   and  they  had  been  in  a  shed  for years . No sign of a  jammed possum was  found ;  the  gutters were  cleared  out ; fallen nuts  swept  off  with  gusto. Then  decided  to  cut back as many  palm fronds  near  the roof as possible in what proved to be a  vain  bid to stop  the  possums  from their noisy , nightly  jaunts .
Had to lean out  to reach  and wrestle with some  fronds- but did not plummet to earth. Finished, paused to admire the view , walked  back  across the roof to the back verandah and decided to make one more  check to see that  a  skinny possum  was  not   jammed in the  elbow.  Put  foot  on a  plastic sheet- crunch- flung myself  forward onto metal sheeting to prevent falling through.  Okay .  Check again that there is no possum , then  climb down ladder. Walk down the side of  the  house , and   sandals  felt  strange ... soles  had   become detached   and were  hanging  by  the  ankle straps only . Had  this  happened while leaning out over the roof , Houston , the  Eagle could  have  landed  in  spectacular  fashion .