How much fun! A whole book of Mike O’Connor columns highlighting his disaster-prone life! Could Life on a Column really be drawn from real life? Mike assures us that they are his real misadventures, and that he has always been disaster prone.
Mike explains that he was working as a bank teller and fell into the career of journalism when his mother pointed out an advertisement for a cadet journalist at The Telegraph. The Telegraph was an afternoon newspaper that Queenslanders bought to catch up on the day’s events back before everyone began watching the news on TV. Mike has been in the journalism game for over 40 years and has written columns for Q Weekend’s Saturday magazine and a Back Chat column in The Courier Mail. Mike’s columns have been favoured reading material for me over the years and I enjoyed reading his zany take on the week’s often disastrous events.
Mike recalls having always exhibited an exceptional talent for falling over. As his childhood slipped by, he fell from every possible vantage point. He occasionally changed it up by knocking himself unconscious by colliding with tree branches, open windows and doors. He recalls one occasion when he fell into a boat after misjudging the distance between the boat and the dock. As he fell, the mooring rope looped itself around his arm, and he was left dangling over the water. He had to scream loudly for help, which was eventually forthcoming from his friends who were drinking at a nearby yacht club.
Another tale relates how Mike cleaned out the garage one Saturday morning. He did a proper job of it, emptying shelves, then cleaning and restacking them with what he had decided to keep. His long-suffering partner kept a check on him throughout the day, knowing his talent for disaster. At last, the job was complete, with the only remaining task being to drive his partner’s car back into the now gleaming garage. He placed the car in the garage but decided that he had parked a little too close to the mower and he should reverse back a bit. He jumped back in the car to reverse it back a fraction when the O’Connor talent for disaster resurfaced. The garage was one with a pillar in the middle between the two garage doors. Mike had undertaken the simple task without closing the door of the car and then could not locate the brake when he needed to. The result was that he sheared the door off the car altogether. His partner was spectacularly unimpressed by the sight of her treasured BMW 4 wheel drive sans the driver’s side door.
I was surprised to learn that Mike is allowed to use a whipper snipper for lawn maintenance, given his track record. One day after completing the whipper snipping, Mike reached for the off button on the trusty tool only to find that it had shaken loose and fallen off. He couldn’t believe his eyes, but the switch was gone, and he was left with the dilemma of how to stop the machine. He related that his partner was waiting for him to go shopping with her, which put him under additional pressure, not wanting to reveal that he had unwittingly broken another object. He thought of trying to tip the remaining fuel out but remembered in time that this would lead to a major disaster. He tried to cover the exhaust, thinking this would stall it, and almost gassed himself in the process. He finally managed to unscrew a plastic cover and place a rag over the air intake. Disaster averted for once!
Apparently, Mike’s ability to suffer disaster from a seemingly innocent event runs in his family. One of his columns is about how he begins each day with a sneezing fit. One morning, feeling a mammoth sneeze coming on, he attempted to grasp a wad of paper towel from the wall near the stove. Just at the crucial moment when he had reached under the range hood to grab the paper towel, he gave an almighty sneeze and knocked his head on the range hood. He fell to his knees in pain, with blood gushing out of a gash on his forehead. When Mike told his brother this story, he retaliated with a tale about being in his office where he works as a lawyer, speaking to two clients. He leant back in his office chair and then tipped slowly backwards until his legs went in the air. He landed in a cupboard full of files which then descended on top of him. They agreed that they share a rare gift for disaster.
Life on a Column by Mike O’Connor is available to order via his website. Click here to learn more.
Join the Starts at 60 Book Club for more great reading recommendations!