Now, at work, practically all our weeding in the parks is by hand. I’m so used to it I’ve started helping Mum at home, cos that’s what she does. A long time ago, it used to be herbicides were the thing. Trouble with any kind of weeding though is that it creates the perfect environment for exactly the thing you’re trying to get rid of.

Even now, apparently, chemicals are the thing. But not for Sam or my Mum.

Nicotine is a chemical. Specifically, an insecticide. My brother and I once camped for a month beside an orchard and market garden in Taradale where it was used that way. What insect does it kill, you ask? I don’t actually know. Lesser mortals say the human being. I call it ‘Redskins Revenge.’ Which is a pretty good name for a song.

Sam has put me with a celibate, vegetarian, non-smoking, non-drinking, space-cookie-eating German temp to clean up one side of Freyberg Park by ourselves. During afternoon smoko, Thurston proposes the following: Drugs are one’s means of not facing one’s problems.

But what problem?

OK, assuming he’s right, the problem had to be there to begin with, at thirteen or sixteen, or zero, otherwise we wouldn’t be taking drugs.

This then is my list of problems:

One. My Dad’s dead. My Granny and Grandfather are dead. A few trillion other people are probably dead. Life has marched on. I have no wife, no girlfriend, no kids. There is a lot of stuff missing.

Two. A certain noble anger, which is not really a problem but I’m putting it in anyway.

Three, a fear of telephones.

Four? Suburban fences. What’s the deal with them? The good ones are crapper than the crap ones.

Five. Why doesn’t everybody just get up and walk out?

And six? How come the stars are all joined up together?

As for the drug monster. Why does he need them? What does he look like? And what’s he doing in my stomach?

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