I’m usu­ally good at go­ing back­wards

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - BACKCHAT - [email protected] live.com.au mike o’con­nor

The plan was to trim a few hedges in my mother’s gar­den as a pre­lude to spring. Know­ing when to stop, alas, is not one of our shared tal­ents and I ad­mire those ring­ing tones, “That’s enough!” Those pos­sessed of such dis­ci­pline know there is lit­tle point in launch­ing a fren­zied at­tack on a gar­den if the re­sult is sev­eral tonnes of cut­tings and clip­pings you have no way of re­mov­ing.

The O’Con­nor way, how­ever, is to in­dulge in the frenzy with lit­tle thought for the con­se­quences and so, as Mother watched ap­pre­hen­sively from the win­dow, my wife and I launched into her gar­den. Three sweat-drenched hours later, Mum and the house had all but dis­ap­peared be­hind the yard. “I think we might have over­done it,” I said to my wife. “We need a truck.”

“We’ll be back next week­end,” I said to Mum, leav­ing her stand­ing in the yard wear­ing a wor­ried look and dwarfed by the Ever­est-like pile of rub­bish.

The fol­low­ing Sun­day dawned, and so did in­spi­ra­tion. “I know!” I said.

“Why do I always get this un­easy feel­ing when you say that?” replied my wife.

“Oh ye of lit­tle faith,” I said. “We’ll rent a trailer. It will be cheaper than rent­ing a ute.” The trailer, a large, boxed af­fair with high sides, turned out to be a won­der­ful idea. Apart from a slight de­lay while I re­cov­ered from walk­ing into a power pole on the foot­path with an arm­load of cut­tings – which is eas­ier to do than you might think – it all went smoothly. “To the dump!” I cried, and we rat­tled off down the street, trailer fully laden.

“Have you ever re­versed a trailer?” asked my wife as we ar­rived.

“I don’t be­lieve so,” I said. “How hard can it be?” a worker waved me for­ward and pointed to a gap at the tip face. I re­versed care­fully and the trailer spun in the op­po­site di­rec­tion to which I in­tended. I drove for­ward and back and the same thing hap­pened. It was now at right an­gles to the driver’s side of the car. I went for­ward and back and it speared off to the pas­sen­ger side, nar­rowly miss­ing the car be­side us. “I think you’re get­ting the hang of it,” said my wife. “Par­don me while I crawl to the

A queue of cars had now formed and the coun­cil worker was stand­ing with his hands on his hips as he watched me do the Trailer Two-Step – for­ward one-two, back one-two. I tried twice more and stopped when I al­most ran over a man’s foot. I got out and walked over to the coun­cil worker. “What are you like at re­vers­ing trail­ers?” I asked.

“I’m not al­lowed to do it for you but I’ll di­rect you,” he said, and with a se­ries of “left hand down, right hand down, now straighten up” di­rec­tives we re­versed, ar­row-like, into our slot.

“How did he do that?” I asked my wife, who

“Ev­ery­one’s good at some­thing,” she replied.

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