Monday, January 21, 2019

Input Orange

After the race.

The winners are happy.

Congrats Richie, says Sweezus. Six wins on Willy Hill.

Yeah, thanks mate, says Richie.

Finished the poem? asks Sweezus. Guess you must've.

Yeah, says Richie. I was going for a Middle Tang feel.

No kidding? says Sweezus. Give us a synopsis.

I've climbed a mountain to see a recluse, says Richie. When I get there his place is empty. I tramp through the wet grass and smell the pine trees. I imagine he's gone fishing. I look in through his windows. I see his table and chair. It's a cool place, even though he's not in it. Eventually I realise I I've completed my visit. I don't need to see him. And I go back down the mountain.

Awesome, says Sweezus. You're like a really cool poet.

Thanks, says Richie.

We're working on Vello's Fringe play, says Sweezus. It's a follow up. Candide's Garden.

I know, says Richie. There's snails in it. And a moral dilemma.

We could use your input, being from Tassie, says Sweezus

Love to, says Richie, but I've only got a coupla days till the Great Ocean Road Race.

No worries, says Sweezus. We're meeting at Vello's office in the morning. Come if you want to.

Richie is tempted.

The next morning in the Velosophy office.

Vello sits with his feet up.

David peruses a gardening book. Royal Gardens.

Belle is looking up garden pests, seeking an orange one.

Have you found one? asks Terence.

Not yet, says Belle.

In comes Richie.

Hi, says Richie. I hear you guys need some help.

Yes, says Vello. Help with the removal of pests.

He throws a dark look at the Vellogram who also has his feet up.

The Vellogram glowers. Is Vello referring to him?

Orange ones, says Belle. Know any orange ones?

Sure do, says Richie. The Bronze Orange Stink Bug.

Terence can't believe his good luck. There's a Bronze Orange Stink Bug!

He will be the Bronze Orange Stink Bug in Candide's Garden.

Belle looks it up.

It's orange with a brown spot in the middle, although apparently, it starts off light green.

Why are they a pest? asks Vello.

They eat oranges, says Richie.

And how does one control them? asks David.

Richie does not want to say poison. So he doesn't.

Nor does he want to say birds or assassin bugs will eat them. Because they will, but not in large numbers.

So Richie goes for an old method.

Suck them up with an old vacuum cleaner, says Richie. And drown them in meths.

Vello ponders how this method would look on the stage.

Yes. He likes it.

So does Terence. He is already making rude sucking sounds.

But Belle foresees technical problems.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Tour Down Under: Stage Six - Resilience

The last day. The Queen stage.

The riders ride out of McLaren Vale.

Patrick Bevan among them, in spite of yesterday's fall.

And Richie Porte, who has won on Willunga Hill five time already.

And Daryl Impey, who has a good chance of winning the tour.

Now here comes Team Philosophe, who have not cheated.

And Team Crustacean, who have.

There goes Team Condor, who are more interested in controlling garden pests than they should be.

And there goes Elia Viviani.

Isn't it wonderful, says Belle.

No, says Terence. I don't like wearing this hat. I want my Eyebrow Hat back.

All right, says Belle. I guess it's not too hot at the moment.

Yay! says Terence.

And this is the last day, adds Belle.

Yay! cries Terence. Then what?

We practice papa's play. says Belle. I wonder if you'll be in it? You were in it last year.

Was I? asks Terence.

Yes, don't you remember? asks Belle. You were the Bright Red Object.

Yes! says Terence. This year I'll be the Bright Orange Object, with these eyebrows.

I don't think there'll be a Bright Orange Object in it, says Belle.

Terence eyebrows knit together. He has good control of them now.

You'll probably be something in the garden, says Belle.

Celia is listening.

May I be in it? asks Celia.

You'll have to ask papa, says Belle.

Go and ask him now! says Terence.

Celia flies off to ask Vello for a part in his play.

She flies over Team Condor, catching snatches of conversation.

Pablo: What is Tassie?

Sweezus: Tasmania.

Pablo: So! Richie's from Tasmania! Does that mean he knows that snails don't eat candied fruits and pistachios?

Arthur: Probably.

Sweezus: Has he finished his poem yet?

Pablo: If he wins today, yes.

Celia flies onward. She flies over Team Crustacean.

Blue Claw (reciting): Too-bee-too-bee-too.

Pinky: Yours is lovely. What's Richie's again?

Blue Claw: My visit is complete.
                   I have gone down the mountain.
                   Why should I wait any longer?

Kobo (from inside Pinky): O, so it's finished.

Celia flies on.

Vello is riding beside Humboldt.

Celia lights on his handlebars.

Vello: Achh! A parrot!

Humboldt: It's Celia.

Vello: What the devil does she want?

Celia: A part in your play.

Vello: Buzz off! See me afterwards!

Celia: Is that good news?

Humboldt: I'd say so.

Elated, Celia flies to the top of Willunga Hill, to await the finish

It's the finish!

Richie wins the Queen stage!

Daryl Impey wins the Tour Down Under, for the second year running.

And the crowd applauds Patrick Bevan.

For his resilience.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Tour Down Under: Stage Five - Bad Things Happen

Stage five. Glenelg to Strathalbyn. For once, a nice day.

A nice day on which bad things will happen.

First bad thing:

Terence is watching the start in Glenelg.

He is wearing steampunk glasses. But not the top hat.

Belle has made him wear a stupid sun hat.

He glowers at the riders, through the glasses.

Never mind says Celia. At least you won't get sunstroke.

I CAN'T get sunstroke, says Terence.

Second bad thing:

Terence turns quickly. Celia is on his shoulder.

The glasses are big. They knock Celia off.

Aww! says a person. That parrot's been injured. Let me take it.

No! cries Terence.

Too late. Celia is taken away to the first aid tent.

Third bad thing:

Richie is stuck.

Sorry though I am to be missing you.
You are probably fishing.

What should come after that?

Pablo rides past him, and slows.

How goes the new poem? asks Pablo,.

Gotta finish it today, says Richie. It's Willunga Hill tomorrow.

I know, says Pablo. We too have something to finish. Perhaps you can help us.

What's the problem? asks Richie.

What is your moral position on the killing of snails?

Damn! Richie has enough problems without thinking of moral positions of that nature.

He answers too quickly.

It's wrong to kill snails.

So you are on the side of Vello, says Pablo. Vello thinks we should plant dandelion greens in a corner of the garden. This he thinks will keep the snails from our candied fruits and pistachios.

Far out! shouts Richie. Snails don't eat candied fruits and pistachios!

You know this? asks Pablo.

I'm from Tassie! says Richie.

I'll pass it on, says Pablo, speeding up.

Richie is fuming. He should have asked for help with his next line from Pablo, a serious poet.

Fourth bad thing:

Gaius has a puncture, and loses thirty valuable seconds.

Fifth bad thing.

Patrick Bevan crashes.

No bones broken. He gets back in the race. But may not ride tomorrow.

Sixth bad thing:

Caleb Ewan wins, then he doesn't.

One good thing:

Celia recovers, flies out of the first aid tent, up, up, and all the way to the finish.

Seeing everything.

Oh yes, says Celia. I saw everything. Ewan was on the wheel of Sagan. Philipsen tried to move in. Some head movements occurred that should not have. Mind you, this happens. I myself was knocked unconscious, earlier, by Terence. Anyway it was spotted. Ewan came first and Philipsen came second. Later Ewan was relegated which means Philipsen came first and Sagan came second, and in third place was Danny van Poppel.......

All right Celia. You may stop now. Thanks for clearing that up.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Tour Down Under: Stage Four - Energy

Cooler, but humid.

The teams ride out of Unley and head to the hills.

Team Crustacean is back. No one noticed they missed five loops yesterday.

They have oodles of energy.

Too-bee-too-be-too! whoops Blue Claw.

La-la-lah, warbles Pinky.

Even Ageless is humming. Hum-hum.

They pass Daryl Impey, who also is humming. Hmm hmm.

And Richie Porte, busy working on his poem.

How's it going? shouts Blue Claw?

Missing YOU! shouts Richie.

That's an even worse rhyme with fishing, thinks Blue Claw.

But he's passed Richie, so has no chance to say it.

Why is Richie Porte missing you? asks Ageless. Have you been collaborating?

No way, says Blue Claw. Our styles are too different.

Richie is left to complete his next line without feedback.

But he is inspired by the Adelaide Hills and the beauty of Stirling and Aldgate.

The beauty of your grasses, fresh with rain

(Richie has invented the rain, poetic licence)

And close by your window the music of pines.

(Richie sneezes. He has not invented the pines).

Luis León Sánchez zooms past, looking for a victory.

He passes Gaius and Humboldt.

There goes Luis León Sánchez, says Gaius. Perhaps he'll win today.

Vello and David ride up.

Gaius! What do snails like? asks Vello.

Gaius is taken aback. Does Vello think he is slacking? He decides to answer in a straightforward manner.

Lettuce, cucumber, dandelion greens and carrots.

Wonderful! says Vello. Dandelion greens. They will serve the purpose.

Vello speeds ahead to catch up with Sweezus.

Dandelion greens, says David. That's made him happy.

Is he hungry? asks Humboldt. What's all this about snails?

Something to plant in Candide's Garden, says David. The young ones devised cruel means to deal with the snails. Crushing and poison. Vello has been trying to think of something snails like.

Very commendable, says Gaius. But it's not like Vello to care about the welfare of snails.

Ha ha, laughs David. That's true. But this is his play. Not his garden.

By now they have arrived at the Corkscrew, and their minds turn from snails.

At the bottom of the Corkscrew, they are some way behind the group sprint to the finish.

So let's watch the group sprint to the finish.

Twenty riders pelt down Montecute Road into Athelstone.

Who is winning? Will it be Luis León Sánchez today?

No. Looks like it won't be. Daryl Impey whizzes past him. Hmmmmm!

And then Patrick Bevan.

Third, Sánchez. Okay.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Tour Down Under: Stage Three - Crushing Snails

Stage three. Lobethal to Uraidla. Another hot day.

Terence is wearing Hatter with Eyebrows.

A child with a tooter stares at him.

Are you baby Jesus? asks she.

NO! shouts Terence. See these eyebrows?

He manipulates the eyebrows, to prove that he isn't.

The child laughs.

Come away, says her mother.

Why would the kid ask that? asks Celia.

This is Lobethal, says Belle. They do Christmas lights every year. And scenes of nativities.

Oh, says Celia.

Terence waves at Sweezus, Arthur, and Pablo.

They don't even see him.

They are trying to catch up with Vello, who has joined an early breakaway.

They catch up.

Bold move, says Pablo.

Thank you, says Vello. Thought I may as well risk it.

How do you like this? asks Sweezus. The old woman is out in the garden, crushing snails.

What? cries Vello. Oh, the play. Yes that sounds promising. And what is the upshot?

They debate the virtues of killing garden pests directly, or by other methods, says Sweezus.

Such as poison, says Arthur.

Or planting something snails don't like, says Pablo.

Or something they do like, says Vello. I'm with you. Yes, keep going along those lines. I approve. But now I'm going to drop back.

He drops back, and finds himself level with Pinky.

She shoots forward and turns around sharply, heading between his two wheels.

Merde! cries Vello.

But Vello is a canny rider. He doesn't fall off.

What did we do? asks Kobo.

Nothing, says Pinky. This is boring. Let's stop at a café in Uraidla and not do the six loops.

O yes let's, says Kobo. Ageless and Blue Claw won't know.

They stop at a café in Uraidla. But would you believe it? Ageless and Blue Claw are in the café waiting to order.

Hello ladies, says Ageless. Finished at last?

Don't tell me you've completed six loops, says Kobo, emerging from Pinky.

Six loops? says Ageless. I thought the race had been shortened.

No it hasn't, says Pinky. If you look out of the window you'll see them go round five more times.

Curses! says Ageless.  And what are YOU doing here?

Just stopped for a wee, says Pinky.

She goes into the men's toilet, although she doesn't have to.

And she doesn't emerge for some time.

Ageless, Blue Claw and Kobo watch as the teams do five more loops of Summertown and Uraidla.

The café being not quite adjacent to the finish line they miss Peter Sagan winning narrowly from Luis León Sánchez.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Tour Down Under: Stage Two - Hard Draggy Finish

Another hot day. The stage has been shortened.

The teams roll out of Norwood, and up the Gorge Road.

At the side of the road Terence is watching, in a brown top hat with steampunk glasses.

Team Crustacean streams by.

Yay! cries Terence. Go Team Stinky!

Did you hear that? asks Pinky. That clown said Go Team Pinky

Team Stinky, says Kobo. That would be Terence.

He was wearing a top hat and strange metal glasses, says Pinky.

No talking! shouts Ageless. Lead me out!

Who does he think he is? grumbles Pinky.

Your team leader, says Blue Claw. You should do it.

He can lead himself out, says Pinky. This is too hot a day. We have our own agenda.

What is it? asks Blue Claw.

You'll see, says Pinky.

Richie Porte rides up behind Ageless.

You spend a lot of time in the library, says Richie.

How do you know? asks Ageless.

It's on your profile, says Richie. Can I run a poem past you?

No! says Ageless. I'm having enough trouble. Run it past Blue Claw.

Okay, says Richie. Is he a poet?

Every B C is a poet, says Blue Claw. I've written several. Would you care for a short one?

Yeah, a short one, says Richie. Caleb Ewan's not too far behind.

O to be me, O to be you, O too bee two, O-too-bee-too-bee-too, says Blue Claw.

It's different, says Richie.

Is it? asks Blue Claw.

Caleb's gaining, says Richie. I'll just give you my last three lines:

I have knocked at your door, no one answered
Are you fishing in some autumn pool?
sorry I am to be missing.......

Is missing the best rhyme for fishing? asks Blue Claw.

It's not the end of the line yet, says Richie. But I've got to go.

Let us leave them and skip to not far from the finish.

Not far from the finish, a pile up!

What can have caused it?

 A set of tiny green wheels and four tight pink fingers, changing direction in the midst of the peloton and heading straight for a café. Did anyone see it?

No, thought not.

And the leaders don't need to. Hurrah for the pile up!

Patrick Bevan picks a good line on the hard draggy finish. Zoom! He beats Caleb Ewan and Peter Sagan.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tour Down Under: Stage One - Steampunk

Stage one of the Tour Down Under. A very hot day.

The teams ride out of North Adelaide, determined.

They follow South Road and the Port River Expressway, then turn up towards the Adelaide Hills and Snake Gully.

Richie Porte pedals mechanically and works on his poem.

To your home on the top of the mountain
I have climbed without stopping......

Yeah that's cool, thinks Richie. No potatoes.

Peter Sagan is some way behind Richie, trying to figure out if it's worth catching up.

Max Walscheid is visualising gaps and squeezing through them.

Team Condor sticks together.

Sweezus: Anyone heard of steampunk?

Pablo: Is it a train?

Sweezus: Nah. Vello thinks I know what it is.

Arthur: So find out. Anyway, what for?

Sweezus: This play I'm supposed to be helping them finish.

Pablo: What is it?

Arthur: Candide's Garden. It's a follow up.

Pablo: Let us take our mind off the bad heat in Snake Gully by thinking up dialogue.

Sweezus: Cool.

They begin to do that.

In Inglewood, Terence is waiting, wearing Hatter with Eyebrows.

A few people have stared.

What's he, mummy? asks a baby.

A boy dressed up, says mummy. I don't know what his mummy is thinking. To let him wear a hat like that with orange hair and eyebrows on a hot day like this. He'll be steaming!

She looks around for Terence's mummy, in order to frown at her negligence.

But there is no mummy. Only a parrot.

The parrot is having an altercation with a man with a tooter.

So obtrusive! squawks Celia.

It's tradition, shrugs the man. Wee-waw! Wee- waw! He toots at a rider.

Who is it?

Jacub Mareczko.

Jacub ignores the tooter. He is thinking of gaps.

Fast forward to the hot finish in Port Adelaide.

Elia Viviani spies a small gap. He shoots through it to beat Max Walscheid and Jacub Mareczko.

Proving something essential, about gaps.