Sunday, November 05, 2006

Tea and bongs

You are travelling to another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. You are entering The Twilight Zone. A place where Coles bar cake is a lovely snack and everyone is happy because they are growing tomatoes.

How and why did we enter this other dimension? Well, I found something in my letterbox the other day that reminded me of my last visit to the Twilight Zone, so I thought we’d just step across the threshold together. Another crapalogue? Local government election material? Someone filled my letterbox with sauce? No. It was an invitation to a local meeting of Nosy Bastards Anonymous, aka, Neighbourhood Watch.

The invitation made me think of the meeting I was forced to attend a few months ago. No, I didn’t have to sit down and say, “Hi, I’m Redcap and I’m an alcoholic.” It wasn’t that type of meeting - I go to those on Tuesdays. This was a Watch meeting, but it was all special-like - this wasn't the usual angry clutch of five people pissed off by finding used condoms and empty Bacardi Breezer bottles in their violas. No, this would be nearly as good as CSI because there would be Senior Policemen talking about Important Things. Hurrah!

For those of you who are not blessed with Neighbourhood Watch, it's not really made up of concerned citizens, as you might think. Most of the members are just plain old curtain-twitchers. You know the type. You’ve staggered out to get the paper, weighed down by a four-star hangover (complete with the shakes), wearing your jammies and with bedhead that makes that dude from A Flock of Seagulls look pretty darned sleek. You see the lace curtain across the road twitch and you know they’re there: people with nothing better to do than keep an eye on their neighbours. I realise this is probably a sign of social disintegration, but I just don’t care what my neighbours are doing. Unless they’re mowing the lawn at 7am on a Sunday. Then I care and I want to kill them. But the rest of the time, I don’t want anything to do with them. (This probably explains why we didn't get trick-or-treaters this year. Oh, and there aren't any Mars Bars left, by the way.)

Anyway, this is why it’s called Neighbourhood Watch: because they do. I like to imagine a few pissed coppers sitting in a pub one night, coming up with the idea. “Hey, you bastards, let’s get all the nosy bastards everywhere to work for us. For no pay! It’ll be a bloody great joke.” But, as bloody usual, I digress.

The meeting I went to was doubly blessed because the Police Woodwind Quintet was performing. They were lovely, really: very woodwind, definitely a quintet and rather good musicians. I’m just not quite sure why they work for the police force. Do they call them in to quieten down unpleasant siege situations by playing the Brahms Lullaby? By the time they'd Mozarted up the stage a bit, there were three people in the audience. Including me. There was dead silence at the end of the first song, followed by me clapping extremely loudly to compensate because I felt bad for them. A few more people drifted in every few minutes and the process was repeated, with me continuing to lead the applause out of embarrassment.

By the time the room was three-quarters full, I’d realised I was going to be the only person there under the age of 55. At least I didn't have to lead the applause anymore, though. Between songs, one of the coppers called, “We’ve put the billy on and there’s cake in the other room!” I got all excited for a moment, thinking that John McCrea and the boys were waiting to take over from the woodwind quintet and we were in for a bit of Sheep go to Heaven. Hurrah! It was worth my while coming here after all! Sadly, I realised my mistake when the assembled throng murmured, “Ooh, cake! How lovely!” and trundled off, returning with Styrofoam cups and slices of a particularly grim variety of Coles bar cake. “Oh, it’s lovely cake,” they said, slurping milky tea and hoovering crumbs.

By then, I was hoping for it to start raining vodka and for the ceiling to spring a leak above my chair. I was also seriously considering poking myself in the head with a pencil and saying, “Oh, goodness, I’m bleeding. Blood rule! Best go then!”

Finally, the band scarpered (probably to the pub, the lucky bastards). Cake still didn’t appear, dashing my hopes for once and for all. Instead, a copper stepped up to the stage and welcomed everyone before starting on the fertile subject of grow houses.

Bloke and I know all about grow houses, having lived next door to one. It was a bit of a running joke, actually. All the signs were there: two people living in a four-bedroom rented house; newly-installed, locked gates; an enormous yet sweet-tempered malamute for scaring trespassers and a Staffy for biting them; tenants who looked a little on the rough side, yet never, ever had noisy parties; and the clincher, a huge trailer-load of hydroponic gear in the driveway one day that was gone the next. Despite all these signs, we never smelled anything, so we just kept joking about it. Then the people disappeared and the owners’ parents came to clean up. Having removed six garbage bags of dog poo, they leaned over the fence to ask whether we’d ever seen anything funny going on in the house. They thought the tenants had been “growing mara-joo-ana in there” and had destroyed the electrics in an effort to get around the meter. Oops. Obviously our collective sense of smell was on the fritz for nearly a year.

“Now keep an eye out for drug houses,” the copper told the gathered Watchers. “You’ll know something funny’s going on from the people coming and going at odd hours, the blinds always being down, perhaps things being stolen in the area. And of course, there’s the smell.”

“But what does marijuana is smell like?” one old guy piped up. “Rotten eggs?”

“Ahhh, no,” the copper said, completely straight-faced. They must teach them the art of the poker face at the academy. They certainly don’t teach it at Hack School, because I nearly choked.

“The closest smell I can suggest is burning rope,” he said.

Burning rope? I thought. That guy’s snotter must be out of action too. Is there some sort of nose-disabling virus going around? Are we all doomed to die from gas leaks because we can't smell them?

After some guff about drug testing and evil, evil hoon drivers, another policeman decided to get a bit of audience participation happening by asking some questions. As you do.

“Who knows what equipment is used for smoking marijuana?” he asked cheerfully.

(Pause) “Bongs!” piped up about 15 oldies, all at once. (It was almost as though they'd rehearsed it. One, two, three - BONGS! But for the true effect, you’ll need to imagine this said in nanna voice. If you're a guy and can’t produce nanna voice for yourself, just ask the nearest girlie. Every woman has nanna voice inside her, waiting to get out.) There was another slight pause and a few more people chipped in rather hestitantly with, “And pi-ipes.” (Also said in nanna voice.)

Needless to say, I nearly choked again. After all, I now had a licence to kill: what else could give me the excuse to walk up to my workmates at odd moments for the next three weeks and shriek, “Bongs!” in a nanna voice? Gold, Jerry, gold!

Since there was obviously a knowledge gap in the room, the policeman must have thought a quick lesson in bong-making was warranted. After all, you never know when you’ll need one. So he explained a bit about the different types, concentrating on the bucket and the Coke bottle models. When a copper starts talking to 100 senior citizens about how to make a bong, you know you're in bat country. Or at least bong country.

“But whatever sort of bong you make, you need a bit of hose,” he said. “So if your hose doesn’t seem to reach the petunias anymore, perhaps you should be looking hard at the grandchildren.”

“Ooohhhh,” tutted the old people in front of me, exchanging “young folk these days!” looks.

The same bloke who’d wanted to know what the green gear smelled like also wanted to know what a plant looked like. Is this guy writing a book? I think he's going to have to get a bit more gonzo than just going to a Neighbourhood Watch meeting.

“Oh, it looks rather like a tomato plant,” the copper said. “But the main difference is that you can put all the water in the world on a marijuana plant, but you’ll never get a tomato off it.” Ba dum tish. Obviously the coppers who aren’t in the woodwind quintet are all hoping to get into the Boys in Blue Comedy Review.

So, I’ve thought about it, but I don’t think I’ll go to my local Neighbourhood Watch meeting. After all, I don’t like Styrofoam tea or dirt cake, I’ve already been told how to make a bong and I know that I should be looking for tomato plants if I want to get high. What more could they teach me?

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At 9:00 pm, November 05, 2006, Blogger Steph said...

Bloody wowsers!
Wish i had a dealer living next door. I have to drive all the way to Parramatta to score my hooch!

At 9:02 pm, November 05, 2006, Blogger redcap said...

Ah, I probably should clarify here that they weren't actually dealing the stuff. They were keeping it all very much to themselves, the selfish bastards. We had a much better relationship with their dogs than we had with them :P

At 8:32 am, November 06, 2006, Blogger foodkitty said...

educational stand-up schtik, what is the police force coming to?

I similarly plummeted an age demographic by going to a local Progress Association meeting. But I had to dob them into Consumer Affairs - they should have been called Lack of Progress Association

At 5:32 pm, November 06, 2006, Blogger audrey said...

A girl I used to know had a hollowed out closet hidden behind a bookshelf to store her hydro bushel stash in. She showed me one day. It was quite frighening and smelt not a bit like burning rope.

At 5:52 pm, November 06, 2006, Blogger redcap said...

Foodkitty, what does a Progress Association talk about, exactly?

Hi Audrey! Glad you're back :) Did it really smell like burning rope? Admittedly, I've never seen it growing, but I've always thought the, er, ready-to-use version just smelled a bit green and herby.

At 6:28 pm, November 06, 2006, Anonymous Ms Batville said...

Am I the only person here who wouldn't know what burning rope actually smelt like?

At 8:17 am, November 07, 2006, Blogger londongirl said...

Lordy. This made me squeal with laughter like a demented soul.

The four star hangover with the shakes bit is absolutely spot on. I too have been known to go to my local shop in my PJs in a desperate search for fat coke and wotsits.

Loving the mixing with old nosey parkers too... Excellent.

One bonus of living in a scuzzy area is that we don't have that kind of thing.

At 2:43 pm, November 08, 2006, Blogger gigglewick said...


We are always pleased to appear on our local Neighbourhood Watch newsletter (as we now have twice) in the following manner:

Car theft:
Gigglewick Street x 1

(Oh honey, that's us! Aren't you proud?)

Theft of property:
Gigglewick Street x 1

(We're famous! We're famous!)

At 3:16 pm, November 08, 2006, Blogger killerrabbit said...

You are such a good neighbourbourhood citizen. How could the young tykes not trick or treat you?

Did you also know what implements were used to smoke the evil weed? And anyway doesn't everyone just make joints nowadays...not that I would know of course

At 4:03 pm, November 08, 2006, Blogger redcap said...

Ms Batville, to tell the truth, I've never set any on fire to really know. I imagine it smells sort of ropish and burny, though.

Londongirl, you aren't missing anything! Watch, schmotch.

Gigglewick, ah bugger! Twice? That's a bit harsh. Fingers crossed you don't make a third appearance.

Killer, you're right. I'm a wondefful neighbourhood citizen. The best thing I can do for my neighbours is leave them the hell alone. And yes, I'm afraid I did know. But only because they sell an extensive range of bongs and pipes in Adelaide cigarette shops ;)

At 12:33 pm, November 10, 2006, Blogger Bonestorm said...

'Curtain-twitchers'. I like it. We have a few around here, actually. I think it's a condition that definitely becomes more prevalent with age.

At 3:09 pm, November 10, 2006, Blogger Miss Natalie said...

LMAO! Gotta love a sign like that.

At 4:39 pm, November 10, 2006, Blogger redcap said...

Bonestorm, I hear ha. Younger people tend not to have curtains to twitch. Or, if SA's finest are to be believed, they're too busy making bongs.

Miss Natalie, that sign's a cracker, isn't it? I wonder where it is. By the way, I like your new outfit :)

At 5:10 pm, November 11, 2006, Blogger Ms Smack said...

freakin' hate nosey neighbours.

I've moved to avoid one who I couldnt get rid off. She took my offer of 'come over for dinner' as an offer to pour all of her neurotic personality disorder all over me, rocking in the corner, sucking marrow from her byo lamb shank and angrily muted all ads on the telly with my remote, like they were stealing her brainwaves.

At 4:46 pm, November 12, 2006, Blogger audrey said...

"smelt NOT a bit like burning rope..."

At 4:49 pm, November 12, 2006, Blogger redcap said...

Sorry, Audrey - I've been MORE THAN A BIT absent-minded lately ;)

At 5:00 am, November 23, 2006, Blogger PetStarr said...

Christ, how big a bong are these kids making that they need to trim the hose so much that it doesn't reach the petunias anymore?

PS: BONGS! he he he

At 8:45 am, April 02, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

LOOK. If you are trying to sell bongs, grinders, pipes or anything else, you can just FUCK OFF. This blog does not have advertising of any sort and I will continue to delete all of your comments, so just don't even bother leaving them.


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