Centipeda cunninghamii sounds like a particularly gnarly episode of Happy Days, but it’s actually the scientific name given to a plant more commonly known as ‘OLD MAN WEED’. Brutal Truth have asked me to say a few words about the merits of Old Man Weed, but all I can tell you is it possesses a handful of medicinal qualities and grows along the Mighty Murray River in Victoria, Australia. I grew up along the Murray River, too – Echuca, to be exact – and while I myself possess zero medicinal qualities, I do come with a story about an old man and some weed.
When I was a teenager I skated non-stop. I skated so much it actually felt weird to walk. I skated to school, I snuck out to skate at lunch times, I skated every weekend from 7am Saturday morning till 9pm Sunday. The weekends were the best. I’d get up early, scarf down some cereal, and go meet my buddies at some predetermined schoolyard or car park where we’d shred away the best days of our lives.
But skating on the weekends was a tricky business. I had to get out of bed and split before my dad woke up and said the dreaded words, ‘don’t bugger off today. I want you to mow the lawn.’ Mowing the lawn only took an hour, but you had to wait until 11am to legally start your mower, and that meant I’d miss the meet up with my friends, which meant I’d lost them for all of Saturday and possibly the entire weekend. There were no cellphones back then, so if you missed the rendezvous you were as good as dead, so it was imperative that I get up early and sneak out before the old man woke up. Every now and then, though, while passing under the kitchen window, I’d hear, ‘Oi! Where do you think you’re going?’ and my weekend would be over.
I never understood why he couldn’t just mow the lawn himself. He was home all weekend anyway, tinkering with his motorcycle and listening to Peter fucking Tosh–why couldn’t he do it? Half the time the lawn didn’t even need mowing! It was as if he just wanted me to be miserable and bored every weekend like him. How wrong I was.
Flash forward now, to the year 2015. I’m a grown man and I’ve come home to visit my parents. It’s Saturday and (in lieu of having me mow the fucking lawn) my old man and I go to the pub for lunch. Three beers in I bring up the lawn, and he confesses that he had me mow all the time because the petrol fumes and exhaust smoke masked the smell of the weed he was smoking in the garage. He didn’t want mum to know. What a bastard.