On Tuesday afternoon, just before the skies opened and a pleasant round had to be put on hold, a young fellow with a fine set of dreadlocks caught up with the Professor's party of three. The best policy would have been to let him play through, as one of life's near-irrefutable rules is that the brain shrinks in inverse proportion to the length of the dreads sprouting atop it. But Doctor Yowie is a soft touch for lost souls and The Herbalist even worse, so before the one flint-hearted member of the group could send the Richmond Rastafarian on his solitary way down the fairway, an invitation had been issued and everyone was shaking hands. To his credit, the new addition removed his glove before doing so, which spoke of good manners and respectable parents.
Well it turns out that, while jumping to conclusions about apparent hippies is generally a sound policy, there are indeed times when first impressions can be deceptive. As the rain came down and the now-party of four sheltered beneath an ancient cypress pine -- one of the few green fanatics have not had removed in the name of promoting "native" tress, which often aren't native to the parts of the country where they are being planted in their invasive legions -- the subject turned to birds and the expanding number of crested pigeons one sees these days. Assuming that Mr Dreadlocks would subscribe to the Greens view of things and in the interests of ruining the newcomer's round, the Professor quipped that Christine Milne's sprout-sucking admirers would attribute the species' increasing incidence to climate change.
"Aren't they just the biggest arseholes," said Dreadlocks. He then observed that, when he wants advice on nature and its ways, he puts no faith in those who think of Fitzroy's Edinburgh Gardens a wilderness.
We're seeing more of the quite delightful crested pigeons because they like open grasslands -- golf courses, in other words. Rasta turned out to be a thoroughly decent bloke, also agreeing that the ecological havoc pseudo-conservationists are promoting at Yarra Bend Golf Course, where they have transplanted a colony of shrieking, crapping fruit bats to the verge of the third hole, should make them liable to criminal prosecution. Like crested pigeons, the bats are extending their range because suburban gardens' plentiful food supplies make it worthwhile putting up with the sort of Melbourne weather they once spurned. Thanks to those filthy bats, the bellbirds and their calls, which used to be amongst the Bend's charms, are no more, a 200-metre stretch of Yarra riverbank is a wasteland of dead and dying trees, and there are taxpayer-funded signs all over the place warning golfers not to lift hand or club against the wretched creatures. What one doesn't need when relaxing on the fairway is a further hectoring by know-nothing bureaucrats and ecological vandals toting clipboards, dubious degrees in environmental science and the power to impose steep fines. Along with their droppings, the plague of stickybeaking green urgers is one more way in which bats are inflicting their gross damage.
By the time the rain stopped and the round resumed, Mr Rasta had also announced that he voted for Abbott and detested Christine Milne, whom he memorably described.
"How could anyone vote for a fanatic with a face like two cats leaving the room side-by-side?" he wondered
And do you know what? He was right!
Mr Rasta will be welcome to make it a foursome any time he feels like it from now on.
A footnote: Unlike any other pigeon, the crested variety whistles -- although not in the conventional manner. When alarmed and taking flight, air passing over their wings produces a high-pitched warning to their mates. An entire flock taking off is quite the thing to hear.
Update: As reader Kae notes in comments, it's actually more of a squeak than a whistle