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Tales of OZ - continued
In part one of Tales of OZ I spun a yarn around the concept of failure and average as national ethos, - that we celebrate a 'near enough is good enough' wait-a-while.
For my reflective I've had some spite, spittle and spat. Then a criticism gets worse. Hells bells! Australians should get used to articles of social critique dealing with introspection. Not everyone is bronze tan Olympian gold-medallist.
Ned Kelly was both a folk hero and an Irish thug. The Eureka stockade was an unmitigated disaster with a flag to rally under. Queen Victoria makes a fat sculpture and Australia continues with affection for a foreign sovereign as 'head of state' (lower-case).
Australia is many things to all sorts of people of about 200 ethnic origins. I share in a melting pot that must surely be considered a success. To suggest that I belittle our nation by writing about failure sadly reflects on the very point I'm making - our lack of humour. It's getting so bad, our humour I mean, that we import canned slap-n-tickle from America.
Sojourning to Vietnam lost our National humour. Politicians didn't go to their fracas, rather they opted to dispatch our best and I lost a migrant soccer acquaintance - a helicopter pilot.
Last year I visited a friend who had returned also to a non-welcome. With only days to live he lay on a bed before a glowing mallee root. The wallpaper was smoke brown in colour for he had been there awhile. I asked how he was going?
"Not bad, Pieter," he replied. Then he farted and giggled. "It's them," - fart - "tablets. Give's a cig. Can't do harm now." Fart. He had a tumour removed. They had cut it out of his head. He expired gradually, but it wasn't Peter Jackson that done it. I can tell many stories about him, though it's his champion farts I recall foremost. The rest was whiskey talk years ago and a promise to let it be forgotten.
Australia shamefully neglected its soldiers who served in Vietnam; it was politically expediency following the moratorium marches in the big cities. Not long after our nation was hurdling along to the constitutional crisis of 1975. Entire plantations were sacrificed and pulped to write about and explain this historical period. What you'll not read is the debates in the bush that supported the Liberals' drive to oust Whitlam's Labor Party. Conservatism won over the social experimenters 'It's Time' crowd.
Following the return of World War Two many soldiers accepted the rural 640-acre farms settlement schemes. That's how the rural settlements got their infrastructure like schools and hospitals. Carve away squatter lands and give it to tough soldiers and their women folk. Populate or perish.
One such couple had a daughter who I had a crush on. I often went to the farm. It was a property in wild country that ran to water in winter and snakes in summer. Over the water the largest mobile dunes spill, exposing aboriginal midden and twisted dead she-oaks. We'd hunt duck over decoys, shivering in stone-hides with the Labrador and smelly wirehair pointer, passionate about the wind, the sunset, the alert dogs and a flagon of port-wine.
Here I got the gist of the political show and the sway of these soldiers over their representatives. It was my introduction to the club, the passwords and the shibboleths of mentors. Conservative Australia of the 1970s was flexing its muscle and made a stand. Later on Pauline Hanson made a 1990s stand and flopped in true OZ celebratory style, a product of an education system that cannot spell xenophobia. Things are even more different now.
May is lambing time. We sat beneath the posted shearing shed by the concrete trough watching the frolic in the afternoon warmth. A flock of crows fought and brawled over a dead lamb without tongue. The fox got that.
"You know," said L.W. who rolled his sleaves up to his armpits. "You know nothing worries me much. Seen a bit I have. Was at Kokoda. Couldn't say I relished the experience. Fine soldiers." L.W. blinked a lot when memories chilled the ambience, a thing I noticed in the hunting camp. L.W. never slept much. He stood up catnapping and I saw him once asleep leaning against a coastal thicket, perfectly propped and vertical.
"You know, I've done some things, but there's one thing that haunts me." He said. "There's one thing that gets me and makes me just so angry." He pointed at the ravens and crows in pitched battle and pecking mayhem.
"What's it? What's getting at you?" I asked, rolling his smoke from tobacco in a tattered pouch.
"It's them flaming crows out there. Bastards." He was silent and blinked a regular rap. "You know what worries me more than anything is those bastards coming to pick out my eyes when I'm down with an attack of something far from home in the bottom paddock." He pinched the smoke end over a broken redhead and mulled it over some more. "There'd be nobody to come and help."
On his retirement he moved far away and the lass was gone too. She told me her older brother had drowned in that trough when here father and mother opened up the land. They had helped each other a lot back then.
Regards from Down Under
-- Pieter (email@example.com), April 16, 2000
Hello, Down under. I am still awake on US east coast and I do not know why! Just thought I would tell you that someone is still here beside no gold and gold loser(same person?)
-- FutureShock (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 16, 2000.
Kinda makes you think everything is meaningless...
-- Few (Hermit@the.holler), April 16, 2000.
Howdi FS, I ain't got no gold. Can't work out why either. No help to you at all I'm sad to say..., rough-n-tumble tomorrow heh?(hehe)
G'Day Few, The droning sound you are hearing is that of a didgeridoo. The futility has been there as long as the 40,000 year old aborigine midden. We're only just a puff of someone's sardonic imagination. By the way this story is quite true.
Regards from the Deepest South of OZ
-- Pieter (email@example.com), April 16, 2000.
And it is beautifully told.
-- Pat (-@still.here), April 16, 2000.