Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hey, we're the fire brigade, we've come to burn your shit

It's suddenly been an eventful few days. Firstly, I fall with ill health once again. Then I have a coughing fit so fierce I wonder if I am going to either die or break a rib (in the end it was neither - just a bruised lung. What have I got to complain about?) Then I go to a doctor for the first time in over six years, surrendering myself completely. And then the fire brigade takes over our property for a day-and-a-half. Oh, and I've got a brand new baby boy cousin, I've infected the rest of my nuclear family and we had the power cut off today.

My trip to the doctors isn't particularly remarkable material, save going prepared with a good book to read (in this case the book being Asimov's Foundation and Earth) and actually discovering that my illness has made me so weak that I was actually asleep in the waiting room, so drained from the experience of sitting in a car for 30 minutes that I wasn't able to read a fucking book! Even so, it was a good measure to take as bizarrely the waiting room, unique among all I have ever seen, did not have so much as a solitary Woman's Day. While you're waiting for your appointment to begin half an hour later than it's actually meant to... examine our curtains. Look at the same crap 'motivational posters' you see in every public place. Think mean-spirited, xenophobic thoughts when you read that she got her doctorate from The University of Witwaterstrand, Johannesburg. And, for the most fun of all, watch that slowly ticking clock.

In fairness, ridiculous waits are such a universal aspect of health care I didn't even register it enough to make the faintest of complaints and she was a very good doctor, if somewhat absent minded in her manner of not giving me a prescription until I actually asked for one. It was also notable that when she gave me the routine examinations, she only took the briefest of glances in my mouth before recoiling in horror and mumbling "Yes, you've certainly been coughing a lot.." Now I know what Jenna Jameson's check-ups are like. Baddum-tish.

After coming back from the doctors we saw that somebody had set a fire on a windy day and didn't think that much about it. This is burn-off time after all, and living where I do you actually want fires to get started - this burns off the scrub, twigs, leaves and other natural kindling to leave the ground mostly bare in a certain radius around you. This means when you reach the real fire season in Summer, unless there's a Black Saturday fireball-inferno, there won't be enough fuel for any malignant, roving bushfire to reach your property.

So we were a bit surprised when the fire brigade showed up in force. Not THAT surprised, understand, because the fire was next door (but entirely under control) and we are just about the only people in the valley to have a road up the ridge to where it was. The former chief actually marked us on the map as a potential base for bad fires in the region which was... eh, not the best news for reasons to be explored right now.

Over the space of 24 hours the fire brigade chose to ignore our existence as the actual owners of the house save for their first arrival, and drive up our hill with well over a dozen fire trucks and also the largest fucking bulldozer I've ever seen to give our roadworks a massive makeover. Even though at no point was there any danger they've gone all over the property at 70+ kph, giving no notice at all about when they have been planning to show up and not bothering with communication - they seemed to end up using our land as a shortcut to cut across the ridge, because the numbers of trucks that went up and came down never seemed to tally in the slightest. At one point we were told that they meant to spend 'a week' on the hillside. A WEEK? I've no idea if this is still the plan.

The real interesting part is where they decided to set fire to 50% of our property, which is often seen as something of the opposite to a fire brigade's usual purpse, to stop the spread. Okay, we could have done with a burn-off but their approach was rather heavy-handed. This also led to my dad, being the most able-bodied person in the household, have to rush out with a big fire rake to try and make his line of defense to protect mum's lovingly cultivated aboretum of native trees on the fenceline. This prompted the exchange of the night, when a fireman said into his walkie-talkie that "The property-holder is taking measures to not burn the fenced-in trees". Imagine that something behind a fence would be protected! And 'property-holder' , don't you love that flattering name? It sounds so wonderfully temporary.

In retrospect this entry comes across as painfully middle-class. Maybe I should blog about proper spouse-beating techniques next week...

1 comment:

Youth of Australia said...

Um. Please don't.

I had similar dispiriting events today... but yours probably wins.