Sunday, May 24, 2009

They Sent Our Work to China

They sent our work to China cheaper, better, less rejects and that included flying it six billion miles or however far it is. They showed us one of the Chinese boxes, looked like crap we reckoned. Ours were handcrafted from local timbers cut by Len, sanded by Trev, varnished by Brendon, foiled by Kev, drilled assembled and packed by Trish and I. We thought of ourselves as craftsmen even though Trish and I were women.

Brendan was an Irishman, He laughed at everything, eight hours a day. I wondered if laughter overlaid sorrow. Had four daughters. Never drank but was a fierce smoker before he fell off a roof in Ireland and smashed his foot to a limping pulp. Nurofen plus were his lollies he said. Had a strawberry jam sandwich for lunch every day. Wore his work clothes to shreds. As bits of his shirt and shorts fell away he revealed himself to me. Married at eighteen to the same woman, the only one he had ever had. Trish didn’t believe it. I found it hard not to love him; it is widely known that I am partial to the Irish.

Len was the foreman. He rode his bike to work everyday down from the hills. He loved God and his family of boys. He was clean. He ate Trish’s banana one day thinking it was his. We called him Banana Man after that but not to his face. Len’s kids collect rare poultry from the internet. Transylvanian nude necks and bantam pheasants flew in from all over the country. Something was always in the incubator from an outer Brisbane suburb but small gene pools and the air trip affected the hatch rate. They remained ever hopeful. When my son’s friend suicided he gave me a copy of the Watchtower, What to Do When a Sibling Suicides. Don’t blame yourself, it said. Although we weren’t related somehow I took some of the blame.

Kevin was a printer from Manchester. He was still in love with hot metal. Married an Aussie girl, been here for forty years. I told him how I had heard on the radio that printers in the seventeenth century drank beer all day in order to be able to piss on the ink pads. By the end of the day they were drunk and now some of the words of Shakespeare are questionable. When his doctor asked him how much he drank he lied. He learned how to walk the minefield of work place relations in the priters union. He could hold his cards close to his chest.When they executed the Bali bombers he said “They shot those pricks at last.” Kev stuck to his priciples.

Trev was black but he was so pale you couldn’t really tell. Trish was New Zealander, “Yeah I’m Maori,” she said, “but my family don’t go on about it. We work hard, it is our thing and we know how to party.” Trev was an open book, told us everything, who he had fucked, when and how many times. What they had sucked, licked and stroked. He had zero shame. “Dirty bastard,” said Trish, “Do you use condoms? You’ll catch something.” she warned. He gambled on everything dogs, horses, trots, footy. Carried home the off cuts. No one knew what he did with them. He was an artist, he said. He gave me a cracked ceramic pot carved with black swans and a cityscape. I keep it by the front door full of crow’s feathers. Seems fitting. Later I met Trev at the railway station. He was working for a meat processor. The off cuts were better he said.

After Trev, we got Alan. He wise cracked and made anti feminist remarks when we met him. Trish and I sent him to coventry first thing. Didn’t take him long to work it out and mend his ways. Trish didn’t like him, talks too fucking much. But I didn’t mind the stories of his wives, his life, his work, his opinions, his jokes his accountant, his loves, his cars, his ups and downs and his money. I liked that he threw his alarm clock down the back yard when he gave up shift work. I was a mystery to him, a woman of immense bravery because I caught the train and walked home from work through the park alone. “Aren’t you afraid?” he asked.

Chris was crazy. His name was Paul but I believed his real name was Chris. He wanted to kill people. He listed all the people he wanted to bash, shoot or stab. First he wanted to kill his ex Mrs, shooting was preferable, then bash his ex mate who fucked the ex Mrs, then stab the bloke up the road for staring at him, then bash, stab and shoot his neighbors for stealing his stuff, then shoot, although it was probably too good for them, all the fucking scummy junkie cunts. He told us this as he ate his sausage roll and sauce at lunch time. The cops had a bloke in hand cuffs down at the deli. “They should have shot the fucking junkie.” I kept low during these tirades. There had been a fucking junkie in my family until he made his final run to paradise. Trish said, “He is on something or he has an anger problem.” I thought it was both.

1 comment:

  1. I think you should read this out on radio national's poetry show