Strange times in the world of media and publishing, and so during a recent work lull I figured I would take the bit between the teeth and re-acquaint myself with the nobility of good, honest, physical toil. I’ve always stubbornly resisted alternative employment in the past, determined that I was a writer, dammit, and I should damn well write or go hungry. This has seemed an increasingly blinkered world-view in recent times as the vocation of writer seems to be evolving into an honorary one in which you are expected to make your labour available as a community service. And so I recently accepted a good mate’s offer for a sly cashy helping him out with some landscaping for a couple of days. It would do me good, get me out from behind the computer into the fresh air, with the wind in my hair and the earth under my fingernails. That was until he announced he had 230 bales of sugar cane mulch arriving. And he had to go to the dentist. Scoundrel! And so I found myself at the mercy of a big, strong, Murwillimbah farm boy hurling bales of mulch at me from the back of his flat bed truck, while I scurried to stack ‘em as fast as he could hurl ‘em lest I became buried alive. If you’ve ever seen the David Williamson play, or film, The Club, in which the footy talent scout discovers the country farm boy who can drop kick a bag of wheat the length of a barn – yeah, well, he was one of those style of fellows. And I was the hapless, soft-skinned office worker who hadn’t done an honest day’s physical labour in about 20 years. In the end, I got the bales of mulch stacked without major mishap, apart from a near coronary and around 48 hours recovery time. I made a net loss on the day’s labour once I paid for the bodywork required to unkink the knots in my body, and I handed in my gardening gloves that day. The media landscape may be in a state of flux but it’s nothing compared to the landscaping landscape. I think I have a mild dose of PTSD. I nearly died for $25/hour. I will never complain about 50c/word again.