Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I can knock a hundred dollars off that Trucoat!

New Kids On The Block were wrong. Step One was not, contrary to their toe-tapping super ballad, lots of fun. Step One was securing a rental property on Bribie Island by bullying my extended tribe into inspecting a slew of houses, apartments, units, granny flats and garden shed. Prices ranged from suspiciously low to spectacularly outrageous.
One agent actually tried to connect us with a nice old couple who had renovated the bottom floor of their Queenslander and turned it into a self-contained, one-bedroom unit. The agent told me over the phone that it came fully furnished, with all bills paid and Foxtel and broadband connections.
'Really?' I asked, impressed. 'There's actually cable and broadband included?'
'Oh yes!' trilled Martha* 'They have all the connections there, you just have to sign up with a provider and get it turned on and that's not included in the rent, but they have all the connections there!'
'So ... they have a phone line ... and the street has Foxtel cables ...'
'Right. E. O. How much?'
'$300 per week!'
'Hmm. Thank you, Martha. Allow me to talk it over with the missus.'

Despite the general hilarity involved in renting a property via telephone and intermanet (why would they only include three angles of the same kitchen?), we are now the proud renters of a three bedroom house with a garden and gas cooking. The drawback will be having to walk the entire 200 metres all the way to the beach when we want a swim. Too, too trying, dahling.
Seriously though, do come visit. Three bedrooms = cheap Queensland accommodation 4 U! Ring now!

NKOTB had it a little closer to the mark with Step Two. There definitely is much we can do. However, I believe The Boys were talking about holding hands, necking and Levi-searing frottage sessions, whereas our activities have included looking for cars, inspecting cars and ... as of 3pm today buying a car.
Yessiree. I done gone and negotiated myself into a Toyota Camry station wagon.
Central locking. Electrical mirrors. Red enough to deliver your mail. The first car I've ever owned that didn't need a choke. I took it for a test drive down to our Sainted Family Mechanic who pointed out oil leaks and bald tyres, then I called Dad (who has flogged the odd used car in his time).
'You don't want to come down?' I asked with the trepidation of a young warrior on his first hunt.
'You've haggled in China, it's just the same thing. But
whatever you do, don't go in there and tell them that you liked the car. Tell them what's wrong with it and offer them a price less the cost of fixing it. And the rego.'
So I did. The British salesman brought me in, sat me down and I recited the faults and repair costs and need for new tyres. The good old used car salesman gave me his banter: they wouldn't cost that much to repair, their mechanic would fix that in-house, there were plenty of people interested, it's a great car, those are country miles, Toyotas are bullet-proof, a guy came to drive it this morning, Indian families love these Camrys (not sure how that was working on me), we sell 35 cars a month here and after all that - do you know what, my friends?
It was marvellous.
The used car salesman is a cultural institution. A character, a caricature, a legend and an experience all rolled into one, like cowboys and politicians. We all know what they're like, but to actually meet one in the flesh and talk to him, and have him talk to you! The marvellous things he says would come straight out of a book of clich├ęs
, were it not for the actual, factual, silk-tied, stripe-shirted being lounging there on the comfortable-for-Officeworks chairs, shuffling foxed manilla folders around and explaining proudly about how it is an Australian requirement that they sell a road-worthy vehicle. 'Lots of 'em do,' he answers when I ask about re-treaded tyres 'But not here. It's illegal to put re-treads on. We don't do that here.'
For a story-teller and a writer to hear this most beautiful brand of bullshit is quite a rare occasion. I'd rather spend a few hours negotiating for a used car than attend a poetry reading. What fan of Fargo hasn't wanted to spend more time with William H. Macy's Jerry Lundegaard?
I offered him my price.
He ummed and ahhed. He looked at me.
I looked at him.
'I'll have to ask the boss,' he said, and disappeared into a back office. Assuming he was probably doing the same thing, I picked my nose and looked outside at the sun for a few moments.
He returned and offered me just under halfway between my offer and the sale price.
I ummed and ahhed. I looked at him.
I asked about the warranty (nationwide, as it turns out) and said that I would call my Dad.
He offered me the private phone in his goldfish tank office and left me in peace.
Dad and I talked. We discussed. We opined. We picked our noses and looked outside at the weather. We took our time.
'Do you think that's okay?' asked Dad. 'It seems reasonable.'
'Yeah. I'm pretty happy with it. It's a good price.'
I said goodbye and went outside and found my modern cultural artefact directing a gormless teen in baggy pants to wipe down a bunch of cars with a sponge.
'What did your dad say?' he asked. 'I bet the old man's going to try and screw me down!'
I smiled on the inside and squinted regretfully on the outside.
I offered him a hundred dollars less.
We shook hands.

In the section on the sales contract where it calls for my details, I instructed him to put "Writer". He liked that. 'You've got it made, mate!'

I drive out on Monday the 19th.


GTH - I can't go past T.O.o. Sam for the points here. Along with a slew of excellent suggestions for slogans and what could be the beginning of a worldwide advertising campaign, he also got the jump on the current champion, River, by correctly identifying the painted gluteus maximi as everyone's phavourite physio first.


  1. Ahhh, Big-block in the front; Mattress in the Back!

    There's your housing and transport solution all in one!

    (I think that is what you call a "Homologation-Special"?)

    PS: I hope you click on my URL's when I leave them... I put a lot of time into their chooosin'

  2. GTH - a Sandman? As per TooS - all business in the front and bonking in the back?

    Toyota Camry Station wagon - niiiice. Nice also to know I'm not the only SW-driving blogger in these here parts. Not exactly a chick-magnet though.

  3. TooS - Actually inspired by an ad I saw for a blue Sandman in that keystone publication "Just Cars". $5000 = V8 beauty and an angry wife trying to park it in shopping centres.

    Kath - We are indeed a fabulous breed. On the chick-magnet stakes, it appears to have worked retroactively. Did I mention it was redder than a new post box?

  4. I concur. SWs rock - for extreme pulling power though you do require the babyseat and dog drool frosting on the rear windows. ('cause, ya see, chicks dig kids and dogs)

    My favourite parallel universe logic of the UCS is the three gs above red book price of the vehicle he's trying to flog you, and three below for your trade-in.

    'Oh, Subaru WRX,' he says sucking on his lower lip,'not much of a market for them I'm afraid. Tell ya what, I'll get on the blower to Trev at the other yard - see if he can use one.'
    One well rehearsed one-sided conversation later - with lots of 'got a young fellah here', 'really trying to help him out', 'subaru I'm afraid', 'no...nothing, ah well at least I tried's - he'll regretfully advise you you'll need to turn around and drop your pants to receive a right-royal rodgering.

    GTH - from the hint of chainlink in the top left I could add that it's a Sandman at the motor show. Or possibly somewhere else entirely.

  5. Best of luck in Qld - stay in touch - katherine@kern.com.au - there must be some way we can harness our evil writing skills and it was a shame our paths didn't cross in Adelaide.

  6. Has your cheese curdled and your bread dried out yet? Eyes bloodshot from too much coffee and staring at the back of semi trailers?


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32