In the early 1980s recently graduated arts student Mark O’Flynn is told in no uncertain terms by his father to stop fruit picking and get a proper job! In an effort to kickstart his son’s career in the workplace he arranges for Mark to work in a quarry in outback Australia.
Dropped in the middle of central Queensland, and somewhat underwhelmed by the 40 degree heat, barrage of flies, never ending parade of snakes and a steady diet of meat and beer, Mark encounters a group of men the likes of whom he has never seen before in his city life. Men the colour of boiled mutton, who work only as hard as they need to, play as hard as they can, adhered strictly to the rules of the union and call each other ‘Brother’. Soon Mark realises that the men are under the false impression that he is a ‘science expert’ and decides the best … and only … thing to do is go with the flow.
So begins Mark’s adventures in being an ‘accidental expert’, a situation he finds himself in on a recurring basis, whether it is as a rock specialist, a writer and actor thrust prematurely upon the stage or a special agent charged with the safe transport of a life-size statue of the Virgin Mary to Ireland. These hilarious and droll accounts of three jobs that went ‘horribly wrong’ continue the rich tradition of the great Australian yarn – and will appeal to readers who appreciate the unexpected and the bizarre wrapped in a laconic sense of humour.
False Start was a finalist in the Finch Memoir Prize 2012.
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