The Tunnel

The Tunnel

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When Dennis McIntosh first walked onto the construction site for the tunnel running from Werribee, in Melbourne's west, to the Westgate Bridge, he'd never worked underground before and he was terrified. The tunnel was being dug 80 metres below the surface, and lying on his back with the section roof just centimetres from his face caused him to hyperventilate. To make matters worse, he was 27 years old and starting again as a beginner. He'd already done an apprenticeship in the shearing sheds, earning his stripes during eight years of working up and down Australia. But he'd sworn never to go back to shearing after the wide-comb dispute, and having been through four jobs in as many months, he was desperate for work. He was an alcoholic and his eldest daughter was on an intensive brain-retraining program due to a childhood injury; he had to settle. This was his last chance. That was in 1985, and when he resurfaced for the final time seven years later, Dennis was a changed man. He'd survived bitter disputes with the other men on his crew; disagreements with management, who set about increasing the men's hours and workload for no extra pay, and cutting their bonus; betrayals by his co-workers; long lonely nightshifts, and the breakup of his marriage. Dennis McIntosh was taught some hard lessons in the tunnel, and not just about the work he was doing. He learnt to control his panic attacks and stay off the grog, but his epiphany came with the recovery of his daughter, and the realisation that he too could retrain his brain, by getting himself an education. That was his get-out plan, and he achieved it by eventually completing a PhD. Praise for Beaten By a Blow: 'Destined to take its place alongside the survival classics of Australian literature.'Sunday Herald Sun 'The genuine article: gritty and honest and harsh as a crow's cry.' Robert DreweI headed to the Werribee swimming pool, an old outdoor Olympicsize pool. ... I swam stroke for stroke, washing awaythe tunnel, the dark, the sticky airand the constant noiseof the jack pick and ... After that swim all I wanted was to do butterfly.

Title:The Tunnel
Author:Dennis McIntosh
Publisher:Penguin UK - 2014-10-22


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