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In Which We Fall Down Stairs And Rip Up A Weed

This is the sound that Robin makes when she trips and falls down the concrete steps in the garden:

Bump, bump, bump, bump...Bump.


Thus summoned, I raced outside to see what had happened. Robin was lying, pale, shocked and tearful at the bottom of the steps. I hurried down to her.

"Where does it hurt?"


"Can you stand up?"


"Hang on to me and try and stand. Then we'll get you inside and take a closer look."


Eventually, taking slow, baby steps, we climbed back up and got ourselves into the lounge. I sat Robin down and examined her carefully. There was a small cut oozing blood on her knee and a ragged graze on her other knee. A small graze on her bottom looked quite insignificant, so I ignored it and concentrated on cleaning up the two cuts on her legs. I put sticking plaster on them.

"I think you'll be OK," I said. "You've been very lucky; there doesn't seem to be any significant damage."


"Perhaps you ought to go to bed," I suggested. "You've had quite a shock and you need to rest."


The next morning she was very stiff and sore. The cuts on her legs had scabbed over nicely. However the graze on her bottom, which I'd ignored because it looked so superficial, had blossomed overnight into an enormous purple and red blotchy bruise that covered most of her hidously swollen left buttock.

"You must have taken most of the force of the fall on your bottom," I said. "Good job it's extremely well padded."

I ducked quickly in order to avoid the vase that she threw at me. She craned her neck and admired her left buttock in the dressing table mirror. "Purple," she said in tones of deepest satisfaction. "I like purple. It's my favourite colour."

"Well," I said, "I think you're going to have plenty of time to enjoy it. That is a very impressive bruise!"


The bruise was exactly the same shape as Australia. Interestingly it was exactly the same size as Australia as well. Robin had to shuffle sideways into the bedroom. Continents can't get through doors broad side on; they can only infiltrate with their edges.

"What's that square, pink bit?" she asked, poking the Gulf of Carpentaria. A salt water crocodile swam up from the depths of Robin's bottom and snapped at her fingers. Fortunately she snatched them away in time.

I tried to take a photograph of her bottom, but I couldn't find a lens with a wide enough angle. I pondered the advantages of hitching a ride into low Earth orbit over Robin. Surely her bottom would fit in my viewfinder if I was high enough above it?

She took her bottom to the doctor who was most impressed at the enormous size and the rich colour of the bruising. Nurses were called in to admire it, and there was talk of framing it and exhibiting Robin in the waiting room for the edification of waiting patients. Adverts were booked on the television, an interview was arranged on John Campbell's current affairs show and an eager queue formed outside the medical centre. A nurse was seconded to collect the entrance fee...

But no agreement could be reached on how to split the proceeds, and so the plan came to nothing. Arnica cream was prescribed instead; it seemed a reasonable alternative.

Since Robin couldn't really reach to rub the cream in herself, twice a day I had the indescribable pleasure of saying sternly to her: "Right! Take your pants off and bend over!"

And she did. Oh! The power, the power!

Arnica cream is rather strong smelling. As I massaged it into Melbourne, Robin's sister and her children stuck their heads up and said: "Pooh! What's that horrible smell?"

I rubbed more cream into the Nullarbor desert and herds of feral camels fled in terror across the vast, trackless wastes of Robin's bottom and smashed themselves into the Indian Pacific train. Eventually the cream reached Perth where it made the fairway on the golf course very slippery and completely messed up her father's game. He was furious. "Get that stuff out of here! You ruined a perfect hole in twenty one."

Over the course of the next few days, and after several copious applications of Arnica cream, the purple colour receded until it occupied only Robin's coastline. Sharks swam lazily up and down the fringes of her left buttock, feeding on careless surfers and the corpses of the pre-chewed get-well-soon rats that our cats brought in to comfort her. The interior of her posterior turned yellow and began to look much more like the vast deserts that actually make up much of Australia. At night, when I put my head beneath the bedclothes, I could distinctly see the flickering flames of Aboriginal campfires scattered all over Robin's bottom, and I could hear the hollow, haunting rhythms of a didgeridoo. I watched, fascinated until olfactory evidence convinced me that it wasn't really a didgeridoo that was making that noise, and I was forced to retreat from Robin's weapon of mass destruction, back into the fresh air.

Over time, we eased off on the application of Arnica cream. Sales of gas masks in Australia dropped as dramatically as a Qantas aeroplane and the feral camels of the Nullarbor stopped their hysterically frenzied attacks on the first class coaches of the Indian Pacific railway. The aborigines ended their corroboree and packed the didgeridoos away in the luggage compartments of their Daimler and Rolls Royce billabongs. Robin's father had a hip replacement operation to try and improve his golf game. It worked brilliantly, but he remained uncertain as to whether or not the lack of Arnica cream was a contributing factor. All the sharks died of starvation. The swelling died down and once again, Robin had a pristine bum and could walk forwards through doors.

And they all lived happily ever afterwards.

My garden was a jungle. Creepy creepers crept over the lawn and engulfed the shed. Triffids lurked in the weeds, stalking and ambushing the innocent travellers who waited patiently at the bus stop on the footpath just outside the gate. On quiet days the pathetic cries of strangling roses wafted in the wind. Deep in the foetid undergrowth gangs of Maori freedom fighters could be heard holding a hui on the application of Marxist-Leninist doctrine to iwi and hapu, and its effect on whanau in a post-Hegelian, post-Colonial society.

Drastic action was required. I made a desperate phone call.

"Help," I explained.

"I'll be there immediately."

There was a whoosh and suddenly there he was – Supergardener to the rescue! His torn cloak billowed in the wind. He wore a blue boiler suit with grass-stained underpants hanging loosely on the outside. He struck a dramatic pose. The dramatic pose struck him back, but after a brief squabble Supergardener triumphed.

"Show me this garden, squire," he commanded, and I obeyed.

"Oooohh. Sheeee...," he sucked air through his teeth. "It's a big job, squire. Lots to do. And it's a bad time of year." He paused and thought for a while, supporting himself on the dessicated corpse of a Mormon missionary that was slowly digesting in the belly of the enormous Venus Fly Trap that coiled around the front gate. "I'll tell you what," he continued. "Because it's you, I'll give you a special rate and we'll clear the lot for a small fortune. How does that sound?"

"Fortunately", I said, "my fortune is very small indeed. It's a perfect match. I'll accept your kind offer. When can you start?"

"Tomorrow," said Supergardener. He scratched vigorously deep inside his grass-stained underpants. "Hedgehogs," he explained.

The next day Supergardener and Derek the Boy Wonder turned up bright and early, pitchforks at the ready, flame throwers cocked. Slowly the jungle retreated under their onslaught. "Nasturtium," said Supergardener as he dragged a huge ragged bush up the garden path to the trailer attached to his ute. "You can put that in a salad. Good for you." He tore off a broad leaf and took a bite. He chewed thoughtfully for a time and then spat it out. "Perhaps not," he said and re-entered the fray. He rescued Derek from the clutches of an over-enthusiastic vine that was slowly strangling a power pole and which appeared to prefer the taste of the Boy Wonder to the taste of concrete lightly seasoned with possum collar. "I've warned you about that stuff before," he said. "Don't you ever learn?" Derek looked suitably chastened.

Faster than I would have believed possible, the dynamic duo cleared up the weeds. Naked beds of dirt shivered in the breeze and hunched against the fence, protecting their vitals with rampant roses and begging for mercy and mulch.

Supergardener leaned nonchalantly on his pitchfork. "Just got to get rid of the stuff we pulled up and then mulch the dirt beds and we're done," he said. He turned his super gaze to the tottering tower of foliage piled up in the trailer. Heat rays shot out from his eyes and the foliage shrivelled and burned to a dull grey ash which blew away in the wind.

"Very Aristotelian," I said.

"Yes," agreed Supergardener, "those post-Platonic Greeks really knew their stuff when it came to their theories of vision and their descriptions of how eyeballs work."

He sent the Boy Wonder off to get a load of mulch and when he returned they hastily spread it all over the whimpering soil. Sighs of relief could be heard quite clearly as the mulch covered the multitude of sins that the weeding had exposed. The garden lay naked, silent and still, basking in the sunshine.


Supergardener and Derek the Boy Wonder left to rescue another hapless garden. This fight was over now; it had been just another job. From their point of view it was just one more skirmish in their never ending battle to make the world a sanctuary for flowers; a place where vegetables could stand tall and proud without their rights and freedoms being compromised. Death to All Terrorists! Weeds will never flourish as long as Supergardener and Derek maintain their vigilance.

"Who was that masked man?" asked Robin as they rode off into the sunset.

Now that everything was safe and quiet again, the cats came out of hiding and began to explore the revitalised garden that had been presented to them.

They were thrilled. So many new toilets, so little poo.

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