More Mistakes

Journal: 019

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Not a mistake at all. I said I almost never saw wombats these days, so it’s inevitable that from then on I would. At dusk last week between Morgan and Burra, mallee country, there were wombats all along the verge. One started crossing the road, saw (or heard) me coming, and broke into an impressive gallop. I should get dash-cam and take my own photos like the above.


I wrote I’m Making a Mistake at least partly to see how long it would take me to rectify it. The answer, so far, is a while. I thought I might have a job lined up which would keep me closer to home but it fell through, and anyway, while Dragan’s away Sam and I seem to be getting used to each other. There’s regulatory stuff I have to do too. Meanwhile, Milly seems mellow. I took her out to dinner for her birthday and gave her The History of Bees, Maja Lunde and Mary Leunig’s brand new, One Good Turn. We all used to love Mary Leunig and the kids would pore endlessly over her drawings.


Last trip I made a mistake of a different kind, or more correctly I guess, a wrong turn. Following the multiple secondary roads which are the official cross country route (in South Australia) for trucks from NSW heading to the West, I got from Renmark to Burra ok, but then, in the dark with oncoming traffic, turned left 100 m before the correct turnoff to Spalding, Warnertown, Port Pirie and thence via Highway One to Port Augusta. I quickly realised my mistake but, unable to turn around, pressed on. The road turned to gravel, kilometres passed, tens of kilometres, I pressed on. I was forced into a left turn when I needed a right, I pressed on. Finally, I came to a bitumen cross road with a sign pointing right to Clare. I was way, way south of where I hoped to be.

I hadn’t been through Clare for 40 years, there were hills with 35 kph hairpin bends I’d forgotten, then just as the road levelled out:Ā  “Bridgeworks”, “Road Closed”, “Detour”. I turned on to a track through the trees, under a railway bridge with 8 inches (0.2m) to spare and came out at a T-junction onto the main street. No signs. It was after 9.00 pm local time, the town centre was deserted. I stopped where I was in the road and went for a walk. A lone truck came along. The driver said turn right, go over the hill and turn left to Lochiel (which is on Highway One but a long way south of Port Pirie). I took his advice, I was sure there were shorter routes but it was late, drove an endless straight road to Lochiel, turned onto the highway, went to bed. I was hours and 100 km out of my way (map).


I’m not sure if it’s a mistake or just old age, but I’m 20 kg overweight. Since starting this job in April I’ve gone over 100 kg. I feel (and look) like a blob. Yes I’ve stopped swimming, but even in full training four or five years ago, 20 km/week, the best I could hope for was the high 90s. I’m a vego. I live on fruit, vegies and nuts. It’s not fair. And then there’s this article in the Age about the Zoo no longer giving fruit to animals because it’s making them obese. I eat 5 pieces of fruit/day, more if stone fruit or grapes are in season. I’m back on the 5:2 diet. ‘Starvation’ days are porridge, one apple, one orange. It’s already killing me.

When I met Milly I was a rake, and I don’t mean the Georgette Heyer kind. I was 10 stone, driving all night on diet pills; half a briquette, 2 shakers and a bottle of coke every two hours. Eyes like saucers. Hair buzzing. A year into marriage and that little belly started coming. And kept coming. I stood it till 40, then mid-life crisis, vego, competitive swimmer. For a while most of my less than 90 kg was muscle. Now it’s just a foundation for all that extra flab. Hang ageing gracefully, I want to be that 40 something guy again. I want to pull chicks. What is it again I should do with them?


I’m not going to a review any of the books I’ve read recently. Lincoln in the Bardo was try-hard (read Lisa/ANZLL’s post (here) on David Malouf’s comments about “clever” fiction). The 7th Function of Language (Lisa again) was fun, with a Lit. professor hero, and lots of lectures about literature, but in the end was just ordinary crime fiction. The Natashas (2016) by Yelena Moskovich was interesting, worth reading, I wonder if I bought it because one of you recommended it. The other day, waiting for the car to be serviced, I picked up Beloved for $2.00 from an op shop and I’m loving it.

Recent audiobooks

EM Forster (M, Eng), Howards End (1910) ā€“ Project Gutenberg
Terry Pratchett (M,Eng) , Strata (1981)
Ian Rankin (M, Scot), Blood Hunt (1995)
Matthew Quick (M, USA), Love May Fail (2015)

Currently reading

Toni Morrison, Beloved
Dale Spender, Mothers of the Novel


If you look on the Menu bar you’ll see I’ve started a Journal page to make it easier for new readers to find earlier posts. (Which begs the question, what brings in new readers? In my case it seems to be mostly posts about early Australian and English Lit.)

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13 thoughts on “More Mistakes

  1. Oh dear Bill, I think you have a previous post I haven’t read, but I will get to it I promise. This just popped up while I was decluttering my in-box so I decided to strike while the iron’s hot (to use a cliche.) Your “rake” comment made me laugh. My JA group did a whole discussion on rakes a few years ago.

    Your discussion of taking the wrong turn in your truck opened my eyes (once again) to the challenges of truck driving – on this occasion to just how difficult a wrong turn can be if you happened to not be driving a car. I’m learning a lot through your Journal posts.

    As for weight, it’s a fact I think that most of us, as we get older, just don’t keep the weight off as easily a we once did. Maybe it’s because we are not chasing kids etc etc. Dare I say that instead of doing that horrible 5:2 you just reduce one or two things from your daily diet? I have found when my weight starts creeping up that there’s something I’ve added to my diet that I can remove – like toast and jam on a wintery night (stopped that), or fruit juice at breakfast (replaced that with water), or a square or two of chocolate with my coffee (stopped that as a regular thing.) To me, that’s better than actually starving myself. Also, I’m not sure that 5 pieces of fruit a day is the best. How about more carrots and celery, and less fruit? We have a friend who was getting seriously overweight and he took to carrying bags of carrots and celery for snacking. He is now an excellent weight – he also took up walking and other things too, but changing the snacking routine was a big part of it. (Aren’t nutrition guidelines something like 5 servings of veg and 2 of fruit a day?? ie not 5 pieces of fruit? Though perhaps for vegos it’s different so ignore me if it is.)

    And that, I think, is more than enough from me for the moment. Good luck with the wrong turns and the diet.

    BTW Didn’t anyone ever tell you that life was not meant to be easy (oops, fair!!)

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    • I know life’s not fair. Doesn’t stop me complaining! Over the years I’ve given up soft drink, beer, meat, cake, bread, muesli bars, flavoured yoghurt with zero effect. The story about fruit making you fat was the last straw, but there’s been plenty of those – like swimming making me eat more, for instance. I do carry celery with me and sometimes even force myself to eat it.

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      • Perhaps you should get out and push the truck rather than drive it!

        Waa at a meeting yesterday with a fellow, roughly our age I think., who has lost 30kg in order to have knee replacement surgery. He is now 136kg and has plateaued even though he said he is eating less and less. Thinks he needs to take up swimming, again. Anyhow, good thing is he has now qualified for surgery.

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  2. Far be it from me to discourage you from losing weight, (though fruit, vegies and nuts, where’s the protein? Have some baked beans every now and again, eh?) …
    As for ‘pulling chicks’, the size or a shape of a bloke has never interested me. I’m interested in the state of the bloke’s mind, and whether he has real respect for women.

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  3. Constant worrying about weight is so boring, isn’t it? I could have hugged my GP when she said to me “Before you turned 40 I was happy to nag you about losing weight but now I’m not going to. Be fat but fit.” Thankfully the fit bit is okay with me – I manage to keep up a reasonable routine (although not swimming as much as I used to and I miss it – my stage II melanoma 18mths ago gave me a big fright – my years swimming, lying on the beach in a row boat caught up with me).

    Agree about wombats – so rarely see them trundling along these days. Oddly, on our last trip to Canberra we saw multiple echidnas (I put them in the same category as wombats – hardly see them now).

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    • So boring? Yes. My family are sick of my whingeing but helpful nevertheless. But the big future problem is going to be the fall-off in my fitness, and the only way I can address that is exercise. And so far I’m not. So I know who to blame!

      I rely on my ‘mediterranean’ complexion to keep me free of skin cancer. Fingers crossed!

      You realise you’re going to see echidnas everwhere now?

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      • I reckon the key is making the exercise part of your week. There are days when I go along to gym and only put in a 70% effort but I figure Iā€™m there which is better than nothing. And having supportive people rather than sabotagers makes a big difference.

        I know, echidnas everywhere!

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