6 min read

Childbirth and Chainsaws

"Could there not be two things further apart?" - Glenn Robbins
Childbirth and Chainsaws

Very serious topics.

Say it again, Glenn - "Could there not be two things further apart?"

Thanks Glenn.

None of this confusion like 'Meat Loaf the singer or Meat Loaf the food?' on this episode.

Think of childbirth. That's one topic.

Think of a chainsaw. That's the other topic.

Yes. Definitely Somehow Related.

Listen here, on Apple Podcasts or anywhere else you like to listen.


Plenty Ahead!

The Answer, Thinking Music from Fast Forward and Michael Veitch joins in as a guest to tell his near death story involving a chainsaw and the Yarra Valley.

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Michael Veitch tells his near-death-chainsaw story

All I remember was just seeing, like an inch or so from my face, a passing a tree trunk

If you'd rather listen you can hear Michael on the episode from 28:20.

We had a kind of a thick grove of bush that was - north facing so blocking out the light so in the low winter sun the hot house hardly got any light.

And it was just cutting through the tops of the crowns of these big we called messmate eucalyptus obliqua which is a tall fast growing eucalypt with rather thick crown, but they're long and tall, but rather thin.

So I said, Look, I can take a few out. So my wife said, Okay, we show you know what you're doing. And of course I went "Of course I do!"

So by about four o'clock I'd taken down about, I mean, there were a couple 100 trees there, and I'd taken down before was about 30.

I think I've taken down at all went well, I've been roughly showed how to drop a tree, cut on one side and then stand back and it will kind of one side, you make two incisions and then we look at the way which way the winds going.

And then, this is all a bit scary, of course, because because I'm an idiot, I didn't really know what I was doing.

So what happened early in the day was a couple got caught up, which what happens when you cut them.

The crowns are tangled, so they're actually still holding, but nothing's actually supporting them down below, usually.

There's two (trees), two that were caught up like that. And I went on, and 'I don't like the look of this. I'll get back to it at the end of the day."

I went happily merrily on my way, chopping and felling and chopping and felling. And the end of the day, I can't believe I still can't believe I was so stupid to go, 'Oh, it's getting dark', because it was about half us four, 'I better go back to those trees because they might come down in the middle of the night'.

Which of course, of course, that would be great because there's nobody there. But of course because being a stupid male I said I've got to fix it up.

If I was a clever woman, I would have said, 'I'm just gonna leave that until A) they are the follow their own court or else someone who knows two incomes along'.

So I went out and looked at again, I saw an old dead Blackwood in the middle of it. Okay, if I just, they're leaning on that - if I cut that, they'll be all over.

I make the first cut. And then the second cut and step back quickly.

And as I thought after a few seconds, they slowly started to topple over.

But what happened was there was a third tree that I've totally forgotten about that was cut that was just behind me and that and the fallen crowns pushed that one over.

So and then it all just got weird.

All I remember was just seeing, like an inch or so from my face, a passing a tree trunk, and then all I remembers being on the ground, with a chainsaw next to me, I'd thrown the chainsaw, somehow.

That's what I was under a tree that had fallen across my left thigh, for some reason, and I was on the ground, I looked down and said, 'Oh, look, bugger my boots come off!"

Then I realized, 'oh, actually no, my foot is in my boots and my boots come off.'

Michael evenutally managed to get help, get the tree trunk off his lower half and ended up with a seriously broken ankle.

He can no longer play squash but has since picked up a chainsaw.

Coroners take aim at authorities for inaction amid ‘over-represented’ chainsaw deaths
Tasmanian coroners probing the deaths of two men felling trees say people wanting to buy and use chainsaws should first undergo accredited training, noting previous coronial recommendation are yet to be acted on.

By the way, Micheal's onto his 11th book.

Find his books via Booktopia, Hachette, Penguin and Pan Macmillan

Dave mentions Michael's book Flak.

Thinking Music

Fast Forward - Guys At The Bar/Soggy Pockets

Take it away, Glenn Robbins and Michael Veitch!

The alternative considered by Glenn and Dave - The Whizz Bang Theatre Company

The Answer - Childbirth and Chainsaws

Chainsaws were invented in the 1700s as a medical instrument to help surgeons with difficult childbirth.

If a baby was too large to pass through the birth canal, parts of the pelvis would be removed.

Two Scottish doctors in 1780  invented the chainsaw to make the removal both easier and less time-consuming.

It was made from watch parts and used a hand crank (photo below).

Later it was more widely used in surgeries and eventually grew to the timber application we know today.

Here's a photo.

Historical osteotome, a medical bone chainsaw
Historical osteotome, a medical bone chainsaw

Photo by Sabine Salfer - private photo taken at Orthopädische Universitätsklinik Frankfurt (M), Public Domain, Link

Read more here - Chainsaw article on Wikiepedia & Business Insider - Chainsaws were originally invented for helping with childbirth, not for cutting wood.


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Podcast Credits

The robot's voice comes from Google Home. They're pretty good.

Hosted by Glenn Robbins and Dave O'Neil

Edited by Courtney Carthy

Original theme music by Kit Warhurst.

Artwork created by Stacy Gougoulis.