Wednesday, 27 February 2019

A CANBERRA BOY GOES FOR A SUNDAY DRIVE ALONG SMITHS ROAD

A CANBERRA BOY GOES FOR A SUNDAY DRIVE ALONG SMITHS ROAD

by Dave Wheeler

   I once bought a book entitled “Do it yourself surgery.” I was initially very pleased with my purchase, but when I got it home I became very disappointed after I found out the appendix had been removed.
   Yeah, I know, it’s an old one, but I still chuckle to myself when I think of it. It also reminds me of a story I was told about 40 years ago about a bloke who was living on a property that ran off Smith’s Road, via Tharwa, who engaged in some “do-it-yourself" surgery.
   Before I get to that story I will tell you a bit about Smith’s Road. If you travel just outside of Canberra to Tharwa, then follow the Naas Road towards Namadgi Park, the Smiths Road turnoff is a few k's on the left. It's mainly unsealed and extends about 30kms from Tharwa before coming to a dead end. It runs parallel to the Murrumbidgee River but would average around 1.5 kms in distance from it. You can however, turn off and go through a pine plantation and some farmland to Angle Crossing and onto the Monaro Highway if you like, but the ford over the Murrumbidgee is impassable after continued heavy rain. The furthest part of Smith’s Road from the Berra is in NSW.
The beginning of Smith’s Road is shown above where it turns off Naas Road at the bottom end of the map.
       Smiths Road is a nice drive if, like me, you enjoy driving slowly, as it's winding and mostly unpaved. It's not hard to imagine travelling along the same road 100 or more years ago, assuming it was there 100 years ago, which it probably was. You'll find along the road several ruins of very old houses in the form of chimneys/fireplaces standing by themselves.
   I almost bought land at the end of Smiths Road about 15 years ago but decided against it when I found there was a push for it to be fully sealed. That would defeat the purpose of my buying it, as I would want to use it to escape there in the weekends, and a sealed road would encourage more humans to go there. That was the last thing I would want if I had a bush block.
    Yet, I can understand those Smiths Road residents who work in the Berra and who commute to work every day wanting it sealed. Those living at the NSW end would take a lot of time to get into the Berra and it would be hard on their vehicles.
  The above photo was taken towards the end of Smith’s Road. After getting out of my car I urinated, drank some water, did some shadow boxing, a few push ups and some stretching, then some slow and deep breathing as I took in the fresh air. That made me feel really good, but I felt even better as I began doing nothing other than savour the silence, the sunshine, a pleasant breeze and birdsong. I would not have been dead for quids.  

   Why the joke about do-it-yourself-surgery makes me think of Smiths Road is because the story I was told about 40 years ago revolved around a bloke during the early 1950’s, then aged in his  twenties, who I will call “Blue,” who was living alongside Smith’s Road by himself. He apparently came to the conclusion that his cock had got him into too much trouble during his life and that it was time he did something about it.
  Cocks, according to some, have minds of their own, and many blokes will tell you that quite often it’s a case of the tail wagging the dog and not vice versa. All Nature cares about is gene reproduction, and if a bloke misuses his old fella and it results in an unwanted pregnancy that is exactly what Nature requires, even if what occurs ruins the life of the cock’s supposed owner as well as others. Just ask Barnaby Joyce. I wrote another yarn about the latter process on this blog in the anecdote entitled, "She pushed herself onto me.” It's on the following link.
http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com/2013/04/she-pushed-herself-onto-me.html
    Anyway, I was told that one afternoon Blue, while living out on Smith’s Road, got really pissed. He then decided that to ensure his beef bayonet no longer caused him any problems he would castrate himself. His old fella may have been in charge when in the presence of young ladies, but on that day Blue, in his alcohol-induced stupor, was determined to show his mere appendage who really called the shots.
   Being a rural worker Blue was probably highly skilled when it came to the job of castrating sheep and cattle, but when it came to being on the other end of the blade he was to discover it was an entirely different ball game in more ways than one.
   So, apparently Blue went ahead with the procedure and removed his own cods, although he made a real mess of it. Dancing well, singing well or driving a car well while pissed is hard enough; performing a well-executed act of castration without anaesthesia on oneself while pissed is impossible.
    After Blue began bleeding like a stuck pig he decided that the task was beyond him and that he should go to hospital and let the professionals finish the job. I bet he wished he’d used a rubber ring; the type he would have used on lambs as an alternative to normal castration.
    I was told that as Blue did not have a car he walked from his house onto Smiths Road with the intention of contacting a neighbour or getting a lift from a passing motorist. But, unfortunately he lost too much blood in the process and his dead body was found on the side of Smiths Road, minus his testicles.
    Normally when I recount yarns I have been told I only do so when I know they are almost certainly true, but as far as Blue’s do-it-yourself-surgery is concerned I heard it from only two blokes at around the same time period and I have not seen either of them since then, which was around 40 years ago. At a later stage however, I ran into others who had also heard the story, but had gone through many ears and mouths since I first heard the story.
    I did however, take what they told me seriously and still do, because the two who initially told me the story were not bullshit artists and as such I do not believe they created the story. That however, does not mean that whoever told them the story did not create the story. And if the latter persons did not create the story someone else back in the line of transmission may have done so.
   Maybe the story was created by way of Chinese whispers. A relatively mundane event may have occurred on Smith's Road and it may have changed into something as dramatic as Blue’s story as it was retold.  Maybe it was a case of someone on Smith’s Road dying or almost dying from a burst appendix and the story being embellished as it travelled from person-to-person. The castration story may be no more than a rural myth that ran its course.
     Then again, as I have pointed out in several of my posts, many people are more than happy to believe that JC walked on water over 2000 years ago, gave the blind sight, cast devils out of swine, fed the multitudes, etc, but are reluctant to accept the possibility stories such as the one I have repeated are true. That is the case even though Blue’s story is so much closer to the present and, unlike the JC stories, does not involve contravening the laws of physics.
    I am therefore saying I would not be at all surprised if the Blue story is entirely true. Young men do have problems controlling their cocks, and alcohol can cause them to do very stupid things. And if Blue did castrate himself he would definitely not have been the only bloke to have done so at that point in time nor would he be the only bloke to have died during the procedure. Apparently, in relative terms, self-castration is not unusual and is by no means restricted to blokes who want to become sheilas. See the following link.
https://www.nature.com/articles/nrurol.2014.84
   Maybe someone from the Tharwa area could set me right one way or the other on the Blue yarn. The only way the story could be verified or dismissed however, would be by asking someone who was at least a teenager in the early fifties and living within the area. Such a person would have to be at least 80, although there is a possibility the event occurred at a later time than I was told it occurred. 
    If it did occur there is also a possibility something was written up in the Berra Times about it, although I strongly doubt they would have gone into very much detail, particularly during that period. When reporting that sort of death they usually state something like, “There were no suspicious circumstances.” I have  known quite a few people who have topped themselves and their deaths have either been not reported or reported in the latter manner.  
    But, even if Blue did not exist and as such did not attempt to castrate himself, it made me think about the plight of lonely and disturbed young men who have made messes of their lives because of the misuse of their cocks, and who, in desperation, have made the mistake of attempting to seek refuge in the bottle. In doing so many have engaged in extreme and sometimes fatal forms of self-harm. Deliberately driving dangerously while pissed is a form of suicidal behaviour which is by no means uncommon, and not a lot different in some respects to self-castration.
   Unlike the drunken motorist who risks the lives of others, as well as his own, Blue was not a risk to anyone but himself.  
 The above photo is of the Smith’s Road bushfire shed and community hall.  

    Above are a couple of chimneys that are situated towards the end of Smiths Road on the right as one drives into it. That is all that remains of the old house other than its outside dunny. When was this house built? Was it in the 19th century? When did people stop living in it? What events occurred around the fireplace? Did happy families live in the house, where they sung around the piano and had Christmas lunches with their relo’s? Did the fireplace ever witness violence and disharmony? Were babies born in the house and/or was there death and sorrow around the fireplace? 
   Did Blue castrate himself in that house? If so were his testes consumed by his kelpie who did not want to waste good protein? What other stories could those chimneys tell?  
  The old chimney above is on the left when driving along Smiths Road from Tharwa. 
    Again, when was this house built? Was it in the 19th century? When did people stop living in it? What events occurred around the fireplace? Did happy families live in the house, where they sung around the piano and had Christmas lunches with their relo’s? Did the fireplace ever witness violence and disharmony? Were babies born in the house and/or was there death and sorrow around the fireplace? 
  
   The photo above was taken from the other side of the chimney in the previous photo showing the view its owner would have had. As the chimney is right next to the road I doubt the road would have existed at the time the house was built. There was probably only an ungraded track leading past the house. Was the house made at the same time John Tennant the bushranger roamed the slopes of yonder mountain shown in the photograph? The said mountain, Mount Tennent, was named in Tennant’s honour even though in doing so they misspelt his name. 

UPDATE 10/4/19

   I was contacted indirectly via email by a lady yesterday who said she had spoken to her cousin’s father in law who is in his 80’s and had lived in the Tharwa area when he was young. He said there was truth in the latter self-castration story but got quite cranky about being asked about it and said that the dead should be left in peace, or words to that effect.

     I asked via a mate a Smith’s Road resident who’d lived there for about 30 years if there was any truth in the story and he said he had not heard it. That however, would not be surprising if the event occurred around the time of my birth in the early fifties, because that was close to 70 years ago, and most of those who were around at the time would either be brown bread or would have moved on.  

      If any readers know anything about the alleged event let me know via the email link through the CONTACT button up the top, as several readers have expressed an interest in getting more details and being able to find out if it really occurred or if is just a rural myth.


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