Obsession on inventing and discovering things is a male thing; Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Albert Einstein, Louis Pasteur, Georges Lemaitre and Francis Crick to mention a few. If Gertrude Darwin had published Charlie’s theory of evolution it would be Wallace’s Theory of Evolution or even worse… we’d still believe in God…
Anyway… a yet un-named female researcher in Tasmania recently made an important scientific discovery, as she was about to dine on fresh corn. It was a discovery that could turn the tables on when evolution began. Predictably the results of her discovery have been either ignored or ridiculed. She is a sister-at-arms of Barbara McClintock who was in 1983 awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine forty years after her own discovery, also on corn, which is an a-maiz-ing co-incidence. She too was ignored until after many years when the high priests of science finally, and no doubt reluctantly, recognised that she wasn’t talking baloney. These girls should have been blokes.
The whole drama began a few years ago when the old mate, who lives in a no-horse town in Tasmania that Henry Lawson would describe as a days ride west of nowhere, sold his last remaining one horsepower hay burner. Even calling it a town would be a charitable description… it is more or less, well less actually… to this day it is just a few houses either side of a creek and about ten inhabitants some of which are reputed to be sane. The old mate has spent his whole life there and apart from an occasional trip to a nearby coastal town he’s never left the place. It’s a few days ride to the coastal town on a rough track and he usually spends the best part of a week fishing off the rocks,
The little hamlet was once a two-horse town because the old mate in question once had an old horse and a young horse that added together made two horses and as no one else in the town had a horse… a two-horse-town was the deal. The town is otherwise unremarkable other than, and unknown to its inhabitants; the green pastures that surround the place contains a rare trace element that causes the grass to grow with a special nutritional significance that causes horses that eat it to be able to gallop really really fast. The reason they are unaware of it’s amazing properties is that no-one in the village, other than the old mate, had a horse and he never did anything faster than a slow amble, as you do in a town up in the hills of Tasmania.
The old mate's one horse power hay burner...
Anyway, back then, the old mate lived by himself, apart form his wife and a dog, in a corrugated iron shed on a couple of acres on the edge of the two-horse-town and he had a few more acres across the other side of a hill where he scratched a meagre living. He had an old cart that the old horse used to pull back and forth over the hill until one sad day the old horse dropped stone dead.
Not only did the town then become a one-horse-town which is about as inconsequential as a town can possibly become, but the old mate had no way of getting things backwards and forwards from his scrub ridden block of weeds and fallen timber that he called his run-out over the other side of the hill because while the young horse didn’t mind being ridden around the paddock it was beneath his dignity as well as being far too flighty and bad-tempered to get hitched up to a cart let alone pull it in a controlled and useful fashion.
Some time later the old mate rode his young horse to the coast for his annual fishing trip. He just happened to meet this young, flash, dodgy looking bloke who offered the old mate… who incidentally back then was also a young bloke… an unimaginable amount of money to buy his horse and then entered it in the Melbourne Cup and it won at odds of a hundred-to-one making the dodgy bloke rich and famous which is about as good as it gets… moving on, and so it became a no-horse-town and a one-car-town. The old mate promptly bought a brand new EH Holden sedan and drove it over the hill and parked it in his now vacant stable.
Anyway, anyway, anyway, the old mate kept that car immaculate… for almost a week anyway. And because he couldn’t hitch the horse cart to the car he started carrying things back and forth from the acres out-the-back to the home paddock in his new car. To start with he only used the boot (trunk) that soon became full so he began carrying things on the back seat.
Now sheep don’t like being carried in the boot of a car so the old mate used to put them on the back seat. Now sheep don’t like being carried in the back seat of a car either because they tend to run amok and wet themselves and drop little black pellets everywhere which not only makes the car very messy but it’s difficult to drive when there’s a sheep tearing around the car like a banshee. So he used to tie them up before he put them in the back seat and at least that confined the black pellets to the back of the car.
Now the little black pellets and dust and mud off his gumboots including the undiscovered trace elements and fertiliser and pasture and vegetable seed and corn seed that overflowed from various bags accumulated on the floor in the back of the EH Holden sedan until after twenty years there was a rich layer of compost about a foot deep just waiting for a spark of life to get it going.
That spark of life came on a hot sultry day one November when a massive thunderstorm gathered over the mountains of Tasmania. It silently crept down towards the no horse town oblivious to everyone below and gathering strength all the way until it was smack-bang over the centre of the town. The old mate was having a siesta under a gum tree when the first bolt of lightning struck followed by the loudest clap of thunder ever recorded in a no-horse-town anywhere. The bolt of lightning hit the old mate’s car fair in the centre. It shattered all the windows, melted the tyres and blew the radio out of the dashboard, through the now vacant windows; clear across several paddocks where it landed in old Grandma Smith’s garden and sliced through a row of Brussel Sprouts. Grandma Smith who was asleep at the time, who was as deaf as a post anyway, never heard the thunder and slept on insensible to the whole fandango. Days later when she eventually found the radio lying beneath her mangled Brussel Sprouts, which had become a singed box of valves and tangled wires, she promptly blamed it on the UFO’s that she had been seeing regularly in the village over the past few years. It was that sort of village...
The life creating power of a huge cumulo-nimbus storm cloud capable of obliterating a EH Holden.
Moving on… a split nano-second after the lightning came a drenching downpour that filled the creek to overflowing and tore away the only bridge in the town making it not only a no horse town but also a no-bridge-town. It drenched the old mate’s car through the holes that were once windows. The seats were so soggy he couldn’t sit on them for a week.
Anyway, anyway, anyway… while the lightning was tearing around the car blowing out windows and vaporising the radio it also sent several million volts through the pile of compost that lay a foot deep on the back floor… that layer of compost was the closest thing to a primeval swamp since the beginning of time. And so it transpired, unknown to everyone, that the combination of primeval swamp, secret trace elements, rain and a few billion volts started a new form of life… it was a kind of amoeba looking thing with two heads.
Fire cloud over the Tasmanian World Heritage area in the 1980's.
Anyway life pretty much returned to normal in the no-horse and no-bridge town except that unbeknown to all ten residents that steadily reproducing in the back of the old mate’s EH Holden sedan was this new form of life. What they did notice however was that the seeds that had lain dormant in the compost waiting for the first flush of moisture began to germinate. Soon there was young corn, cabbages as well as a couple of spuds sprouting in the back of the car. The corn grew so healthily that it was soon growing out of the glass-less windows and grew so tall that when the old mate drove his car it looked like a mobile biodynamic green grocery. The old mate could now get his lunch out on his farm over the hill by simply picking a few corncobs and boiling them in his billy.
It was a matter of the purist coincidence that when the corn was at the peak of its productive capacity he took his annual trip to the coast to do some fishing. He had barely got to the little seaside town that he got pulled over by the cops for driving an unregistered vegetable garden.
Moving on… also by shear coincidence the old bloke just happened to have a beachside shack beside the lady scientist in question and in a spirit of generosity he offered her some of he vegetables that were growing out he windows of his EH Holden sedan including some of the heads of corn.
When the lady scientist was about to throw the corncobs into boiling water she noticed this unusual growth around part of the corncob. Being a good scientist she stopped what she was doing and examined the growth. To cut a long storey short she discovered that this growth was infact a large colony of these two-headed amoeba-like-things that bore no resemblance to any other form of life on earth.
Everything about them was completely different down to the smallest detail of their physiology. She had discovered a new form of life! This was without doubt a ticket straight to a Nobel Prize.
The tree of life... or should it be a hedge?
It is hardly surprising that the results of her discovery have been poo-poohed. It is even more certain that she’ll get the lead-balloon award as she has suggested that it’s a ridiculous notion that life on earth began on just one momentous occasion and all life sprang from that one happening. If conditions were right in one place, they’d be fine everywhere else and new forms of life would be, as Snow Patrol sang, …bursting into life… all over the show. And so, there can’t be a tree of life, more likely it’s a hedge and there are new hedges growing all the time.
All we just need to do is wait around for a couple of million years for evolution to provide a whole suite of new bird-like creatures so we can add a whole raft of new “ticks” to our bird lists…. must make some space in my note book…
The old mate's bull... not the only bull...
The old mate when told of this momentous discovery said it sounded like a lot of damn nonsense, bordering on claptrap, hogwash, bunk, and the result of guzzling too much moonshine…