If it weren't for gumboots where would be be?

John Clarke as Fred Dagg in 1978.

John Clarke as Fred Dagg in 1978.

I bought a pair of gumboots the other week and all hell broke loose.  I would have bought just one, but they only sell them by the pair these days. 

Since my rubbery purchase, the country has been struck by not one, but a pair of ex-tropical cyclones that have repeatedly emptied their overflowing boots of rain on us.

To top it off, in the middle of endless grey skies, John Clarke kicked us all in the guts by popping his clogs while out tramping in the Australian wilderness in a place near Mt Abrupt.  I kid you not.

John Clarke's death was mourned on both sides of the Tasman.

John Clarke's death was mourned on both sides of the Tasman.

Science may say otherwise, but if I hadn't bought those gumboots, maybe none of this would have happened. 

Climate change and all, but if that right boot on my last pair of gumboots had held itself together for just a few weeks longer ….  

Perhaps I should have just cracked open another roll of duct tape. In truth, I didn't realise how propitious were the circumstances surrounding my last pair of gumboots.

I inherited them from my father in law. They were long white freezing-works gumboots that somehow he'd inherited, long before I got in on the act. To be frank Trevor, they'd seen better days.

Apparently, when my wife was a teenager, my father-in-law would make her wear them to school on rainy days. She never told him they never made it past the end of their street.

I'd been tolerating a split just above the right heel of said gumboots for quite some time and well, after three trailer loads of bark and stone last week, I could tolerate the hole no more.

Nothing spreads bark and stone quite so well as a foot on the end of a gumboot, but nothing hurts quite so much as pushing a full wheelbarrow uphill with a boot full of stones and bark biting.

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Apart from maybe a crook back – which landed on me (only hours after the joy of christening a little dirt on my squeaky new black gumboots) like a 747 in a one-in-one-hundred Wellington westerly.

Truth is, I may have moved a rock or two too many around the back paddock. My feet may have been toasty warm and my gumboot stoneless and all, but my back spat the dummy. It laid me low – about as low as the two weather fronts that have just hit the land of the long white raincloud.

"The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the body," I recited to my wife from the floor having googled my ailment. 

"Surely this makes it the most painful" I said. My pain shared, I further hypothesised, my pain was halved. Technically speaking I wasn't half being a pain.

Over the next two days I could be found in various reclining poses on anything flat in our house – the lounge room floor, the sunroom couch, the kitchen table.

If it was flat it was fair game.  I'd give anything a go if it relieved my lower back pain.  And I went through more ice than a roomful of politicians at an election year cocktail party.

In desperation my wife googled cures:  "Epidural injection" came up in extreme cases she said. I'd told her it was as painful as child birth. On numerous occasions. She told me to stop acting like a baby.

I slept on our bed and that made things worse. In desperation I shuffled my way out to the sleepout in the dark and collapsed on the extra hard bed there for my extra soft back. This worked wonders according to my wife.

Trouble is, there's something in the sleepout that always makes me sneeze.  Now I've always been an expressive and explosive sneezer. Loud I'm told. If I stand in the hallway and sneeze I can make our doorbell ring with the noise I make. True story.

So I'm sneezing a lot from sleeping in the sleepout, and each sneeze sends lightening bolts of pain down my right buttock, which causes me to shriek and grab my crotch like I'm an extra in a Michael Jackson video, which causes much mirth for the rest of my family, and little might I say, from me.

I took to wearing belts to keep it all in one piece – as many belts as I could find to tightly strap around my middle aged middle. I looked like a Turkish weightlifter going for a clean and jerk world record each time I stood up from the couch.

And don't get me started on going to the toilet. 

For close on a week the family have had to endure me sporadically screaming out 'EPIDURAL!" from on the throne, and frankly they've had enough.

As for getting on a clean pair of y-fronts in the morning…impossible.

The good news is the rain looks like it's stopped for a couple of days.  The pain levels have dropped.  I now sneeze without a crotch grab. The kids walk past the dunny door without enduring the screams of the tormented.

All I wanted was a new pair of gumboots to keep my feet dry and the mud out. John Clarke didn't have to go all Mt Abrupt on us. We didn't know how lucky we were.

 - Stuff

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