Have you got the good scissors, Wes?
The ones you cut bacon with?
The bacon fat prevents rust.
Hmm, OK. I’m cutting out the skull and cross bones.
The Taste and Decency.
The boat. Big Minch will want a pirate flag.
Will you stitch it up?
Oh no. That sewing machine and I don’t agree. That ‘tension adjustment’ only ratchets up my tension.
Relax. I’ll stitch it, Allie.
Wes bought the 3.3m tinnie, with 9.8 throbbing Mercury horses, from Tommy ‘Ruff’ Cerphus. Tommy was a plasterer. You might have seen his ute getting about with Ruff Cerphus Plastering plastered on the side. No? Well, keep your eyes open.
Tommy got the nickname on account of his extensive acne scars, but they never held him back. Women were wild for him. Wild. He had a charming Irish brogue, despite being 100% Maltese. It gave him more mystique than a licorice turban, plus he had slim hips and could cha-cha like a motorised muchacho.
Eventually, Tommy’s ballroom gigolo commitments left him precious little time for boats, so his loss was Wes’s gain.
Wes named it Taste and Decency to honour Ignatius J Reilly, ranting slob hero of the world’s best novel, A Confederacy of Dunces. Alice and Big Minch bounced a plastic bottle of Fanta on the hull, and the plucky craft was launched to ply the waterways.
They boated waters wild and flat, salty, brackish, muddy and fresh. They probed the bottomless reaches and prop-graunching boulders of the Clarence to take legendary historian Prof Smith to Yulgilbar Castle. Prof’s tinnie was powered by a heritage Seagull outboard which looked like it was reclaimed from the first Victa lawnmower. The graunching proved too much for the Seagull’s heritiginous bones, and Taste and Decency had to tow her home.
Sadly, T&D was doomed to let Bonalbo down in her hour of need. A big flood hit Bonalbo in the early 2000s. People needed evacuating. The RFS sprang into action.
“I’ll get the boat,” announced Captain Wes.
But tug as he might, Wes couldn’t get the throbbing 9.8 horses to throb. At all.
He lifted the lid and wiped away a bit of oil, only to discover he’d wiped away the wiring, which had actually dissolved due to ‘limited maintenance’ (or, according to Alice Piddens, ‘criminal neglect’).
“OK, Plan B,” announced Wes. “Take the Inter and rescue old Mavis.” The International fire truck was semi-amphibious, provided it had about a decade to dry out between floods.
“Anything I can do?” offered Johnny Bosco, brand new school principal on his second day in the job.
“Right, Johnny, pants off and go piggyback that lady and her cat out.”
“Will do, Wes. What’s her name?”
“Tidddles, with three Ds.”
“The woman or the cat?”
“Both of them.”
For years, woman, cat, and Johnny would suffer nightmares featuring the pantsless piggybacker.
Wes replaced the 9.8-er with a 3.0, but it wasn’t the same. It barely had enough poke to overcome the drag of the pirate flag. And let’s not talk about the shear pin for the propeller. Nominally made from finest brass, but more likely melted-down toothpaste tubes, it snapped right at the far end of Toonumbar Dam.
I don’t think the Minches ever fully forgave Wes for that epic row in the gathering dark back to the boat ramp.
Come next flood, Wes didn’t bother with the boat. He went straight to pants off.
But Big Minch didn’t give up boating. He and two mates went $175 each in a timeshare for another tinnie, which they named Ramming Speed. There wasn’t much timesharing because all three hands were needed on deck to bail. The thing took on water the way Keith Richards took on cocaine.
After several near-sinkings they braced the ex-owner, who confessed that his dad had moored it in the Hunter River back in the days when the Hunter glowed in the dark, and chemical nasties had eaten the hull full of microscopic pinholes.
That was too much for Wes. He handed Big Minch a crowbar.
“Put that thing to death, and sell it for scrap!”
A lesson to us all.