Wednesday, December 13, 2017


     Pulling up into the back parking area, Ivers got out and said,
"Burgoo, you and Reggie make sure those fucking toolboxes are locked and throw a tarp over the back of the Ute. I don't want these Hilston bungs nosing around and stealing mi good tools. I'm gonna' go see the Publican about cashing this check."
     Once that job was done, Reggie and me made our grand entrance into the bar. It was only 6 O'clock. The bar was about half-full. Ivers was nowhere to be seen. I ordered three middys and asked the barman if he'd seen Ivers.
"Yeah mate, he's in the back with the boss, cashing a cheque."
"That's good.", said Reggie. "I'm down to the bones of mi arse!"
"Look at that Reggie, they've got a dart board over in the corner. Soon as we've had our drinks, we'll chuck a few spears.", said I.
"I'm not much good at darts, Yorky mate. I can hit the board but that's about it."
"Well, I'm no fucking expert mate. We'll just play for fun."

     We'd just finished our  middys when Ivers appeared at the back room door and called us over. We passed the Publican as he walked over behind the bar.
"Shut that door Reggie.", said Ivers as we walked into a small office.
"Alright ya two bastards, I reckon 60 hours a piece will about do it. I've chucked in a couple of extra hours in for ya both. There's an extra hour for you Burgoo for helping load the Ute up Monday morning. Check ya money and make sure it's right. I might have given ya too much."
     That was Ivers attempt at making a joke. When the money was checked, I said to Ivers,
"Thanks for the work Cecil."
"Me too.", said Reggie.
"What work?", said Ivers. "You wouldn't work in an iron lung, Burgoo, but if ya stick it out with me mate, I'll make a decent worker out of ya. That's taking into account ya handicap."
"What fuckin' handicap?"
"You're a bugoo spittin', pommy bastard mate! That fuckin' handicap."
"Hey Cecil.", I said/
"What?", he replied.
"Fuck you. Your beers on the bar out there gitten' warm."
"Why didn't ya fuckin' say so Pongo? I've drunk enough warm beer this week."

     Tonight was a great night. We all had a pocket-full of money and all night to spend it in.
"Are we staying till closin' time, Ivers?", said Reggie.
"We're stayin' till we get kicked out mate. Why?"
"Oh, just thinkin' about pacing miself. I don't want to get pissed too early."
    Ivers shouted another round and said to Reggie,
"Here, get this into ya mate and don't worry about it. You're in safe hands sport. I'm drivin' us home."
"Were you happy  with the job Cecil?", I asked.
"I suppose so Burgoo, but I reckon we could have finished it in 4 days if you'd pulled ya finger out mate."
"Fuck you Cecil. I worked mi fuckin' arse off on that shed. Anyway, did ya  make enough money out of the job?"
"I didn't do too bad Burgoo but by the time I pay mi maintenance and bills and the missus dips her hand in the pot, I'll be fuckin' broke again, come Monday."

     The beer flowed consistently and as the night wore on, the bar room started to fill up a bit.
"Hey Burgoo, ya want a game of darts?", said Ivers."  "Loser buys the next round and the winner plays Reggie."
"Come on then Ivers. Don't be surprised when I beat ya."
"Fuck you Burgoo! I'll wipe the fuckin' floor with you, ya pommy bastard! I'm feeling real lucking tonight."
"You'd better be Cecil. Pommys are real good at darts!"
"All you pommy bastards are a pack a' puftas'. That's all you're good at."
"Fuck you Ivers!", I said as I picked up the best set of darts. "Nearest the bull and we'll play 301.  Will you score Reggie?"
"I'm not much good at numbers Yorky mate, but I'll give it a go."

"Three more middys.", said Reggie. "And a couple more bags of crisps."
     When the barman came back with the beers, Reggie said, "Did ya forget the crisps mate?"
"No mate, we don't usually sell a lot of crisps but you blokes have gone through a bloody carton-full."
"Well, I guess we'll start on the peanuts then. Couple of packets will do for now."

     Round about this time, an old boiler (sheila), walked into the bar and sat on her own in the corner. By this time, we all had a good glow on. Ivers, who had been the old girl up said,
"I think I'll go over and ask that old sheila if she wants to join us for a round."
     With that, he took off for the corner table. A few minutes later she was sat on a stool next to Ivers, who was ordering her a 7. She said to Reggie,
"What's your name mate?"
"Reggie, what's yours?"
"Cheryl. What's ya mates name?
"Yorky", I said. "Pleased to meet ya, love."
    Ivers piped up and said,
"His name's Burgoo!"
"What kind of a name's that?", said Cheryl.
"It's a pommy name 'cause he's a Burgoo spittin' bastard!"
"That's not very polite.". she said.
"Ya don't have to be polite to pommys love."
"Yes, ya do. Ya should be polite to everyone."
     I liked this old sheila. I jumped into the conversation and said,
"There ya go Cecil! What did I tell ya about being polite."
"Fuck you Burgoo, nobody's talkin' to you anyway. I thought you were playin' darts?"
"Ya wanat another beer love?", I asked the old girl.
"Yes please, I'll have a 7"
     I ordered 3 more middys and a seven. I had to wait for the beer, so I decided to go for a leak. I'd downed quite a few middys by now. As I was stood at the trough, Ivers walked in and said,
"Hey burgoo, are you trying to git on to that old boiler?"
" Course I'm fuckin' not Ivers! She's old enough to be mi grandmother and she's near on old enough to be your mother!"
"Bullshit burgoo, she ain't that old and anyway it doesn't matter. She's mine! Keep ya fuckin' eyes off her!"
"Fuck you Ivers. I'm not interested in ya boiler!", I said as I headed for the door.

     Back in the barroom, Reggie and I played another game of darts. After Reggie fluked a game, I said to Ivers,
"Your turn to play Reggie."
     Ivers, reluctantly, grabbed the darts off the bar and threw for a bull, whilst I ordered round for being the loser. The old sheila started chatting to me. She asked me questions about England, why I came out here at such a young age, things like that. A short while later, she excused herself and took off to the Ladies room. Ivers, who had been giving me a few dirty looks, came over after his throw.
"Are you tryin' to close the womb on me, Burgoo?"
"What d'ya mean Ivers? I was just tellin' her about England. She was interested."
"Bullshit, Burgoo! I told ya before, she's mine! And now she's starting to get cranky with me for callin' ya Burgoo!"
"Maybe you should use a few manners Cecil, then you'd be in there."
"Fuck you Burgoo, I don't need any fuckin' manners. I'm gettin' along all right, as I am."
"Look Cecil, we've all had a lot of grog tonight. Just relax a bit. I'm not interested in the old girl!"
     Ivers was gettin' quite upset now as he said the standard, "fuck you burgoo."

     At some stage in the evening, I lost Reggie.  He was nowhere to be found. After goin' for another leek, I walked round the back of the hotel to check the Ute. Walking a bit wobbly around the corner, I found Reggie, sittin' in the passengers seat, with the door open.
"Hey Reggie!", I yelled out. "Ya alright mate?"
     Once I got a bit closer, I could see what a stupid question it was. There was a great big puddle of chunder on the ground, between his legs.
"Fuckin' hell mate, are ya crook?"
"I think I'm fuckin' dyin' Yorky! I've been sneakin' a few shorts in, on the side."
     Looking down, I recognized the nights entertainment. Crips and peanuts floatin' on a pool of frothy, liquid.
"Can I do anythin' for ya' mate?"
"No mate, just leave me alone. I just need a lung full of fresh air. I'll be alright for a few more then. What's Ivers doin'?"
"He's still tryin' to chat up that old boiler. He's gettin' quite argumentative."
"Yeh, I noticed that before I felt crook."
" Ya want to come back in mate?"
"Not yet sport. I'll be in, in a few minutes, soon as I'm feelin' better."
     Just then, he burped and hurled another gut full on the ground. I jumped out of the way just in time as the amber fluid splattered his boots and wooly socks. He sat there moanin' and groanin' as the steam rose up between his legs, due to the cold night air.

     Back in the bar, I ordered another round for miself an Ivers. The old sheila was still nursing a flat 7 ounce.
"Hey Burgoo, where's that gutless fucking Reggie?"
"He's outside, sat in the Ute, chucking his guts."
"Jesus christ, he's not chundering on the floor of mi Ute, is he?"
"No mate, but there might be a bit of overspray on the outside."
"The weak piece a' shit, that'll eat mi good paint job away."
"Hey Cecil, there's more dings and paint missin' off that old fuckin' Ute, ya won't even notice it!"
"Fuck you Burgoo, that old Ute of mine is a real piss-cutter. She's done more work in her short life than you'll ever do in your fuckin' lifetime mate!"
"You know what Cecil, I'm going to the Ladies room and then I'm going home. You're an ignorant, ill-mannered bloke! I'm sick of the way you're talking to that young fella'."
"Oh come on love, don't be like that. I'm only jokin' around."
"No you're not Cecil. You're takin' the piss out of him!"
     With that, Ivers turned to me and said,
"Am I takin' the piss out of you Burgoo?"
"Well, you're not exactly being decent, are ya Cecil?"
"Fuck you Burgoo!"

     Ivers picked up his middy and tipped the rest of it down in one go. The old boiler made her exit to the Ladies room. When she was out of earshot, Ivers turned to me and said,
"If I don't get a root off this old sheila tonight, I'm holding you fully responsible Burgoo and I won't be real fuckin' happy!"
"If ya don't get a root Ivers, it's your own stupid fault for being so fuckin' rude. Fuck you!", I said, and rolled another smoke.
     When the old boiler returned, she walked up to me and said,
"I don't know how ya can tolerate Cecil. He's not a very polite man, to say the least."
    She then turned to Ivers and said,
"Thanks for the couple of beers, Cecil. I'm goin' home now."
"Hang on a minute love, till I find mi keys. I'll drive ya home."
"No thanks Cecil. I'll walk. I only live down the road. Besides, you're full. and I don't like drivin' with drunks.
"Jesus, I'm not that fuckin' full!"
"Yes you are! You need to sober up a bit before you drive back to Lake Cargelligo."
     Ivers was now resigned to the fact that there was not goin' to be any root for him tonight. At least not from her. She gathered up her change and smokes and said,
"Good night Cecil!", as she headed for the front door.

     Ivers was now in a foul mood.
"This is all your fault burgoo! I was makin' good headway till ya' opened ya bugoo spittin' mouth!"
"Don't blame me again, Ivers. It's ya own stupid fault. Anyways why did ya wanna' root that old sheila when you've got a decent lookin' wife at home?"
"Mind ya own business bugoo and leave mi missus out a' this or I'll knock ya arse over head!"
"Fuck you, Ivers.", I said, as the publican called  'Last Orders'.  Anyway, it's your shout mate."
      Ivers was really pissed off now, as he ordered our last round.
"You'd better order some stubbies, if ya want a drink on the way home."
"If you're sure ya' can drive, Ivers? Ya know there's a lot of potholes and roos' on the way back to the Lake. I don't want to end up, upside down, in a fuckin' table drain!"
"I can fuckin' drive drunk better than you can drive sober, any fuckin' day Burgoo. Where the fuck did Reggie go? If he's not here, he can fuckin' walk home! I'm not keen on the gutless bastard anyway. He's not a real good worker and he can't hold his grog! What kind of Aussie chucks his guts after a few middys anyway? He's shot his bolt with me, I won't be takin' him out anymore!"

     We made our way out to the parking lot. As we rounded the corner, Reggie was laid out on his back on the front seat. The passenger side door was still open. His legs were hung out of the doorway.
"Wake up ya bastard!", yelled Ivers as he neared the old Ute. "Git ya scungy, fuckin' carcass off mi drivin' seat."
     Ivers maneuvered the pile of puke and kicked Reggies boot!
"Come on, wake up ya useless fuckin' bastard! You're a fuckin' disgrace! Even the burgoo spittin' pommy can hold more grog than you, ya fuckin' pufta! Ya really let the fuckin' side down tonight, fuckin' yobo!
     It took me a while to wake up Reggie, as he was totally flaked out. Eventually, he came around. The first think he said was, "Where am I!"
     Ivers walked over to the fence and took a piss while I roused Reggie back into the world of the living.

     Once we were all settled in on the bench seat, he turned on the key, put her in first and slowly maneuvered the Ute around the corner, on to the main street. We headed off back to the Lake at at the break-neck speed of 30 miles an hour.
"Hey Burgoo, open one of those stubbies for me.",  said Ivers.
"Haven't  you had enough yet Cecil?", I said.
"I'll decide when I've had enough, burgoo. Not you, you pommy bastard!"
     I opened the beer with mi tobacco tin and passed Ivers his stubbie.
"Ya want one Reggie?", I asked.
"Ya, good on ya Yorky. I think I need a hair of the dog."
"Hair of the dog mate?", said Ivers. "Ya need ya arse kicking, ya gutless bastard. Ya let this Burgoo spitter drink ya under the table?
"Here ya go Reggie. Take no notice of him mate. He's cranky 'cause he missed out on rootin' that old sheila."
"It was all you're fault, Burgoo. You were the one who closed the womb."
"Fuck you Ivers. Ya didn't get a root 'cause you're too fuckin' ugly. That's why!"
"I've had more roots than you've had hot dinners, Burgoo. You're still floggin' ya fuckin' maggot every mornin'."
"Ivers, apart from your missus, you wouldn't get a fuck in a brothel with a fist full of money!"
"I'll stop this fuckin' Ute in a minute and deck ya, Burgoo! How would you like that?"
"Let it go Yorky.", said Reggie in a shaky voice.
     By this time, I had enough grog in me that my dutch courage was spilling over and out of mi mouth. I felt great!
"Fuck him Reggie. I've just about had enough of the fat, ignorant fucker! He's fuckin' ugly and I'm good lookin'. Any mirror will tell ya that."
"Keep it up Burgoo! I've fuckin' warned ya. I'm not gonna' tell ya again!"
     I was not firing on all 8 cylinders. I said to Ivers,
"Go root ya boot ya ugly, fat bastard!"
     All of a sudden, Ivers slammed on the brakes and the Ute broad-sided to a halt at the side of the road.
"Git out ya burgoo spittin bastard! I'll show you what a fat bastard I am."
     I had gone too far to stop now. I said to Ivers,
"When was the last time you saw ya dick without a mirror on ya boot, Ivers?"

     Ivers blood pressure had now made his face almost crimson. This was no mean feat as it was usually weather-worn brown from working in the Outback sun.
"You're a fuckin' dead man burgoo.", said Ivers, as he struggled to get out of the Ute.
"Shit Yorky!", said Reggie."Ya not gonna' fight him are ya?"
"Fucking oath, mate! I've had the fat fucker!"
"He'll fuckin' hurt ya mate. He's a big bloke!"
"He can't hurt me Reggie. I've got too many middys in me to feel it! Anyway, he's as full as a boot himself. Ya never know, I might get lucky!"
"Rather you than me mate.", said Reggie as I pushed open the door.
     As Ivers rounded the front of the Ute, he let out a big bellow and made a lunge for me. Luckily for me, he was as full as he was. I side-stepped him and he went stumbling past .
"Ya fuckin' missed me Ivers!", I said as he turned around for another go at me.
"I won't miss again, ya fuckin' bastard!", said Ivers, as he took a well-aimed blow that caught me on the side of mi head, behind mi left ear.
     Stumbling backwards, I lost mi footing on the loose dirt and hit the deck!
"I fuckin' told ya' I'd knock ya arse over head Burgoo, ya weak piece of shit!"
     Now I'd gone past caring. As I got to mi feet, I threw a straight left jab at Ivers face and luckily it caught him on the left corner of his mouth. I then moved back as fast as I could, which wasn't fast enough because of the amount of grog I had drunk. Ivers rubbed his lip. When he saw blood, on the back of his hand. He lunged forwards and grabbed hold of me. I decided, in mi drinken stupor to stay in close and try to pummel his big fat guts. Right, left, right, left, right , left! I pummeled away at Ivers' gut but it didn't seem to make much difference.
     Just then, I felt a big pain on the side of mi face.  Ivers' big hairy fist had made a connection with it and down I went like a sack of shit!
"That'll teach ya to fuck with me burgoo!", he said as he walked back around the front of the Ute.
     The next think I knew Reggie was helping mi back up, onto mi feet,
"Ya all right mate?"
"Yeah mate, I'm only just gettin' started!"
"Jesus, Yorky mate, let it go. the fat fuck's at least 3 stone more than you. Ya' can't win mate!"
"I don't care about winning Reggie."
"So why ya baiting him mate?"
" 'cause I fuckin' can. It's a matter of principle now."
"You're more game than me Yorky, I'll say that for ya."
"Come on you two bastards, git in the Ute before I leave ya' and you can fuckin' walk home!", said Ivers.

     Ivers put the Ute in gear and took off so fast, he spun the back wheels. Once he hit 30, he said,
"Give us one of those stubbies, Reggie.", said Ivers.
"Can ya open it Ivers?", said Reggie as he handed Ivers the stubby.
"Don't be such a fuckin' dingbat mate! I'm flat out driving with both hands, never mind one."
"Burgoo, open that fuckin' stubby for me or you can git out and walk."
     I opened the stubby and handed it to Ivers.
"Here ya go, ya fat fuck. I hope ya choke on it!"
"Ha ha ha ha!,  saig Ivers, as he took the stubby. "I told ya I'd knock ya arse over head, burgoo. You fuckin' pommys are al gutless pack a' bastards. Ya can't fight for shit.!"
"Yer not real good yourself Ivers."
"I'm better than you, burgoo! I knocked ya down."
"Yeh, maybe ya did Ivers, but ya know what, ya punch like a fuckin' old sheila. Ya never even hurt  me!"
"I can always stop the Ute if ya want another go Burgoo."
     Ivers was havin' a great old time now, gloatin' and braggin' about how he knocked me over. I bided mi time and as soon as there was a lull in his bullshit and skyving, I said,
"Hey Ivers."
"What d'ya want burgoo?"
"Would ya mind explainin' somethin' to me?"
"No worries burgoo.", he said with a stupid smug look on his face.
     I may have been pretty full but my timing was perfect. I waited a few seconds and then said, in a very polite voice, "Alright Cecil, Please tell me how a good-lookin' woman like ya missus can let an ugly fat bastard like you, git up in the saddle of a night-time? I she short-sighted?"
     Ivers slammed on the brakes again! This time we ended up sideways in the middle of the dirt road.
"Oh Jesus Yorky!", said Reggie, "You must have more guts than brains!"
"Fuck him!", I said as I jumped out the Ute. "I'm not finished with that fucker yet!"
     As Ivers walked round the front of the Ute again, I ran at him and threw a punch that landed right on his forehead. It rocked him back a foot or so and hurt mi fist in the process!
"Ya fuckin' burgoo spittin' bastard!", he said. "I couldn't see ya for the fuckin' hood lights. Ya fuckin' hit me, ya pommy fuckin' bastard!"
"Fuck you Ivers. That'll teach ya to keep ya squinty fuckin' eyes open."
     No sooner we're the words out of mi mouth, he punched me so fuckin' hard, I saw stars! As I hit the deck, he jumped on top of me and started to pummel me. As soon as Reggie saw what was happening, he jumped out of the Ute and tried to drag Ivers off of me, which took quite a bit of doing. Once I regained my feet, I said to Ivers,
"Fuck you Ivers, ya still didn't hurt me!"
     As he came at me at me again, Reggie jumped in between us and said,
"I think you pair of fuck-wits have had enough. Can we go home now?"
     I must have caught Ivers with at least a couple of good blows, 'cause one of his eyes was quite red. When we were settled in the Ute again, Ivers said, as he pulled away,
"Let me know of ya want another go burgoo, I can keep this up all night!"
     Wiping the  blood from mi nose, I said,
"It doesn't matter how many times ya knock me arse over head Ivers, you'll never fuckin' hurt me mate, and it will never change the fact that you're a fuckin' ugly fat bastard. I'm a more handsome  bloke than you'll ever be. You'll never be handsome as long as your fat fuckin' arse points to the ground!"
"Ah! Shut the fuck up ya winging, pommy, fucking bastard and pass me another stubby!
     I opened a couple more stubbies and handed him one.
"Cheers burgoo!", he said as tipped up the bottle.
"Hey Cecil, I see by your face, I must have caught ya with a couple of beauties!"
"Fuck you burgoo!", he said between guzzles.

     At long last, we made it to Gilltraps Hotel. Ivers didn't even bother to park. All he said, as I got out of the Ute, was,
"I'll bring ya gear round tomorrow for ya burgoo. I'm not huntin' through the Ute tonight, it's too fuckin' late! I almost forgot to tell ya burgoo, I've got a new job starting Monday morning if ya still lookin' for work."
"Pick me up at 6, on Gilltraps steps.", I said. "And don't be fuckin' late!!"


Monday, December 11, 2017


     War dog, being true to his word, had spoken to the boss of the Relief Work crew. I was due to start in a couple of days. War dog was correct when he said it was an easy job. Although the money wasn't great, it came in real handy. After meeting the boss, who was a decent townie bloke, he said,
"You'd might as well work ya mate war dog seeing as ya know each other. You'll be clearing up weeds and garbage around the Lake side, down the end of the street. Tomorrow, I'll have your crew filling in a few pot holes on the bitumen road at the other end of town just before the dirt starts."
"Good on ya mate.", I said. " I appreciate the work."
"No worries sport. They're lean times and anyway, it gives us permanent council blokes a chance to catch up on a bit of maintenance."
     At around 10 O'clock, Me and War dog were having smoko. He was telling me some of his bullshit war stories. Some of his stories were really far-fetched. Although I told him he was a bullshit artist, I drew the line at calling him a fuckin' liar, as some blokes did. In the middle of one of his stories, a tall, scrawny looking, Abbo walked up and said,
"G'day War dog, ya got a spare smoke I can git off ya mate?"
"No, fuck you ya black bastard. I've been keeping you in smokes, since you've been on the job. If ya spent less money on that cheap, fuckin' plonk and a bit more on smokes, ya wouldn't have to be on the bite all the time!"
"Yeah, ya right War dog, I'm gonna change mi ways."
"Oh fuckin' bullshit Popeye, I've heard that story before."
"G'day mate.", he said to me. "Ya got a spare smoke?"
"I've only got rollies mate."
"That'll do mate. I'm not real fussy."
"That sounds right.", said War dog. "You'd smoke goanna shit if it was offered to you!"
"I don't know about that.", said Popeye, having a bit of a laugh at War dogs' joke.
     I gave Popeye a bit of tobacco and a rolling paper.
"Good on'ya mate.", he said as he rolled the ugliest smoke I'd ever seen/
     Once the smoke was going, he said to War dog,
"I bought a packet of Rochmans last night but the missus took 'em off me."
"They're called fuckin' Rothmans!", said War dog. "Anyways, why'd ya let that old Ginn of yours take all ya smokes?"
"I didn't let her mate. She took 'em off me after she knocked mi arse over head on Chamens' corner/"
"Don't tell me she knocked ya arse over head again mate!"
"Yeah, I didn't even get a punch in, I was so full."
     Popeye turned to me and said, "What's ya name mate?"
"Yorky." I offered him mi hand and said, "Good to meet ya mate. What happened to ya eye?"
"The missus did that mate?"
"How come?", I asked.
"We were havin' a bit of a party on the river bank, out near the Mission. We were all full and I called her a black bitch. She hauled off and landed a fuckin' right on mi jaw. When I went down I hit mi face on a rock and shattered mi eye socket and this is how it healed."
"Jesus Popeye, why d'ya let her knock ya around like that."
"She's bigger than me mate and she's got a real bad temper when she's on the grog."
"Are ya gonna' work today?", asked War dog.
"Yeah, as soon as I sober up mate.", said Popeye.
     I felt quite sorry for Popeye. As I studied his face, I thought that I had a few emotional problems but Popeye stole the show. I filled mi tin mug with some Billy Tea that we'd just brewed and offered it to Popeye.
"Have a cuppa mate. It'll sober ya up."
"Ya wouldn't happen to have any wine in ya tucker box?"
"No mate, I'm not keen on plonk but I don't mind a few beers."
"Beer'll do if ya got a can."
"No mate, it's tea or nothing."
"Alright mate, that'll have to do if ya haven't got anything stronger."
     Popeye stood on the burnt-out rolley and then sat down cross-legged on the bare ground in his ratty old jeans.
"Ya wouldn't have another spare smoke there would ya mate?"
     I stood up and pulled the tobacco out of mi pocket, as War dog said,
"Ya rooted now Yorky mate! The black bastard'll be biting ya all fucking day long."
"No worries War dog. I can't begrudge a bloke a smoke. Anyway mate, I've got a lot more than him in life."
"Ya fuckin' won't have if ya keep that caper up cobber!"
      It turned out, by the end of the day old War dog was right. Mi 2-ounce packet of Drum had now been reduced to under 1-ounce. To boot, he even bit me for two bob, till payday.
     That night in Giltraps' bar, War dog was well on his way. He'd been drinkin' pretty heavy with another mate of his. After his drinking mate had gone home, he came over to where I was sitting and gave me a real good ear-bashing about giving the Abbos' money and smokes.
"Once they tell their mates that you're an easy bite, Yorky, the whole fuckin' Mission will be following ya around mate. The more ya give 'em, the more they'll take advantage of ya' good nature sport. Besides that, where's the motivation to work if you're gonna' keep 'em in money and smokes?"
     I thought long and hard that night about what War dog had said. Try as I could, I couldn't see miself being as hard and rude to the Abbos' as War dog was.

     One afternoon, I was sittin' in the Dagos' milk bar having a feed when a young bloke I knew, happened to walk in for  a packet of smokes.
"How are ya Yorky?", he said, as he walked over and sat down at my table.
"Not too bad Phil. How are you mate?"
"Pretty good mate. Hey Yorky, someone told me ya used to box in the tents on the showgrounds."
"Yeah that's right Phil."
"What was it like?"
"Not too good mate, unless you've got your own stall or side show. There's not much money in it and it's a pretty hard life. Why ya wanna' know? Ya not thinkin' of joining up are ya mate."
"Shit no mate. The old man would find me and drag me off home. No mate, I'm short of a few bob and I was wondering if ya wanted to buy a decent pair of boxing gloves.
"I never thought about it mate, but ya never know. Maybe I could have a bit a' fun with 'em in mi room at Giltraps."
"They're a good pair. Me and mi mate had a pair a-piece. We were using them for a bit of Aussie Rules training."
"Shit Phil, were ya gonna' fight ya way to a win?"
"Nah Yorky, we thought a bit a' trainin' would toughen us up before this years season started."
"How much ya want for 'em?"
"Ya can have 'em for 5 bucks."
"Alright mate, ya got a deal."
"Good on ya' Yorky. That'll help me out a lot."
"No worries Phil.
"When d'ya wanna' git 'em?"
" Can ya drop 'em off at Traps for me, tonight?"
"No worrys Yorky mate. Are ya' livin' at Traps?"
"Yeah mate. Mi rooms number 8. If I'm not there,I'll be in the bar."
"I'll drop 'em off about 7. That be alright?"
"Yeah, no problem."
"Ya think ya could give us the fiver now Yorky?"
"Yeah, long as ya remember to bring 'em."
"I won't forget mate. I'll git mi girlfriend to run mi down."
     Phil stuck the fiver in his pocket and left the Dagos' shop, happier than when he walked in.

     Walking back to Giltraps, I started making plans for what I could do with a pair of gloves. At 7 that night, I was laid on mi bed when Phil arrived with them.
"I brought the gloves Yorky. Are they alright?"
"They look alright to me mate. They're in pretty good shape. How many ounces are they?"
"I'm not sure. The bloke I got 'em off said he thought they were 14 ounces."
"Oh well, no worries Phil. I'll have a bit of fun with 'em."
"Hey Yorky, I can't stay. I've gotta shoot through. Mi Sheilas' waiting for me, outside in her car."
"No worries Phil. Thanks mate."
"You're welcome Yorky.", he said as he closed the door behind him.

     As soon as Phil was gone, I put the gloves on and did a bit of shadow-boxin' in front of the dressing table mirror. I ran through a few moves that Sally had taught me in the Boxing Troupe. I was just about to take 'em off when there was a knock on the door. It opened on its' own and War dog walked in.
"What are you fuckin' up to Yorky? Where d'ya git the gloves from?"
"I just bought 'em mate."
"What the fuck are ya gonna do with those stupid fuckin' things!"
"Oh I don't know mate. Have a bit of fun, I suppose."
"I though you would have had enough of that shit on the showgrounds mate."
"Here War dog.", I said, as I pulled off the right-hand glove. "You can have the right-hander. Let's try 'em out"
"Fuck you, ya pommy bastard! Ya think I'm as stupid as I look?"
"Come on War dog, be a good sport."
"Fuck you, ya bastard. I'm forty fuckin' years older than you. I'd be winded after half-a-minute! Go and ask Freddy, he's more ya age and size."
"Shit, good idea mate. Have ya seen him around?"
"Last time I saw him he was heading for his room. I'm off to the bar for a couple of quiet ones. I've been hittin' her a bit hard the last couple of nights."
"Yeah, ya looked a bit worse for wear last night."
"Ya not fuckin' kidding mate. I should never have graduated to that top-shelf. I didn't now whether I Arthur or fuckin' Martha, by the time Trap kicked me out. Haroo mate!", said War dog as he walked out and left the door open behind him.
"What about the door War dog?", I yelled out after him.
"What about it?", he said, as he disappeared into the bar room.
     I tied a bow in the gloves and hung 'em on the hook behind the door. I took off to Freddys' room at the end of the corridor.
"Hey Freddie!", I yelled out, as I knocked on his door. "Are ya in here ,ate?"
"What d'ya want Yorky? I'm having a nap."
"Not any more mate. Open the door!"
"Come back in half-an-hour, I've only just laid down."
"Open the door mate, I won't keep ya long."
     Begrudgingly, Freddy opened the door and I could see why he wanted a sleep. His face had a look of pain on it from too much grog,
"What d'ya want Yorky mate?"
" Come and see mi new boxing gloves mate. I just bought em."
"Jesus fuckin' christ Yorky mate, is that all ya got  me up for?"
"Yeah mate, we can have a glove each and do a bit of sparring."
"Are you fuckin' kidding me mate. I couldn't fight me way out of a wet paper bag."
"No worries mate. I can teach ya a bit of show boxing. It'll be fun."
"It might sound like fun to you Yorky but it sounds like shit to me. I don't want to be rude mat ebut I'm off back to bed for a couple of hours. I fuckin' rooted!
     That being his final word, he closed the door on me with a bang.

     Back to mi room I went and threw miself on the squeeky old cot, resigned to the facat that the only thing that wanted to spar around with me for a bit was the shadows (and I don't mean the music group.)  I hadn't been laid down long before a knock came on the door.
"Who is it?", I yelled out.
     No answer.
"Who is it?", I yelled out again.
     No answer.
"Fuck me dead,", I said as I got up and opened the door. Soon as I opened the door, there stood the the answer to mi sparring fun. Popeye Johnson!
"Popeye, how are ya mate? Come in. How've ya been."
"Not too good Yorky mate. I need a hair of the dog."
"Ya been on the plonk again mate?"
"Yeah mate. The missus just beat me up again and took all mi money and the last of mi 'Rochmans'!"
"They're called 'Rothmans', Popeye."
"Yeah, 'Rochmans' I know mate. Ya got a smoke mate?"
     Popeye looked a bit worse for wear so I rolled him a drum and lit it up for him.
"Good on'ya mate.", said Popeye, as he puffed away on the Drum and then proceeded to cough his guts out.
"Sit down Popeye before ya fall down!"
     Sitting on the edge of the spare bed, he said,
"These rollies are fuckin' strong mate!"
"Would ya like me to start smoking 'Rochmans'?", I said jokingly. "Might help with the coughing mate."
"Ya got a lazy 20 cents in ya pocket I can borrow mate?"
"What ya want 20 cents for?"
"We're out a' petrol to git back to the Mission."
"Did ya mean petrol of plonk mate?"
     Popeye gave me a slight grin and said,
"Did I say petrol? Yeah, I meant plonk, mate."
"You're already well on ya way Popeye. Anymore and you'll be full as a boot again."
"She'll be right mate. I just need another glass. That'll git me back to the Mission tonight."
"What ya mean 'git back to the mission?"
"I'm walkin' mate. Mi missus drove back with mi cousin and they left me in town."
"Don't ya usually sleep on the bench on Chamans Corner mate?"
"Sometimes I do mate., but that fat, fuckin' sergant Monty always picks mi up and throws me into the Bull wagon and it hurts too mate."
"What's it like in the lock-up Popeye?"
"Not too fuckin' good mate."
"How come?"
"I gotta' sleep on the concrete floor and it's fuckin' cold."
"Do you have to pay a fine for being drunk and disorderly?"
"Yeah mate, but I never have the money."
"So what happens then?"
"Last time, I had to hose out the cells and weed his fuckin' garden."
"Why d'ya hose the cells out mate?"
"There's shit in the corners and piss on the floor."
"Arent' ya allowed to go to the dunny mate?"
"No fuckin' way  mate. He chucks ya in when he picks ya up and you're in till mornin'."
"Jesus Popeye, that's a bit fuckin' rough mate."
"Yeah, I was in for 2 days, a while back."
"What did ya do mate?"
"I got a lucky punch in on mi missus and knocked her arse over head. First time I got one in for a while. the old Serg picked me up for it. Ya got another smoke Yorky? I liek 'rochmans' better but a rolley will do."
     Handing him another smoke, he said,
"Good on ya Yorky. Did ya forget about the 20 cents mate?"
"Jesus Popye, you'll send me fuckin' broke mate."
     This little joke made him laugh a bit. I asked him what was so funny?
"You white fellas' are all millionaires mate, how can you be broke?"
"Just 'cause I've got more money than you Popeye, doesn't mean I'm a millionaire mate."
"Ya gotta' have more money than me mate. I'm broke down to the bones of mi arse."
"Why don't ya work Popeye?"
"I did. I got fired off the Relief work for being full on the job."
"Can't ya git another one?"
"Are you fuckin' jokin' Yorky? There's not much work around for black fellas'."
"Somebody told me ya git a government check every month?"
"Yeah, but the mission boss takes it off me before I git it."
"Why's that mate?"
"I drank last months up and never paid mi rent."
"Why d'ya do that ?"
" 'cause once I start on the plonk mate, I can't stop. Ya got that 20 cents Yorky?"
"Hey, listen Popeye. I might have a little job for ya."
"Do I have to work?", he asked.
"No mate, this is gonna be fun. Ya know when ya git real full and ya missus knocks ya down and takes ya money and smokes?"
"What about it mate?"
"Alrighty, here's the deal! Every night you're in town and broke, come to mi room and I'll give ya a couple of smokes and the money for 5 ounces of plonk."
"What do I have to do for it?"
"You can be mi sparring partner mate."
     With that, I got off mi bed and took the boxing gloves off the back of the door.
"I'm only any good at fighting when I'm not full.", said Popeye, as he looked at the gloves. "Where's the other pair?", he asked. " 'Cause I don't have any."
"We don't need 'em mate. You have one and I'll have the other. We can take turns with the right had one."
"Just for fun?"
"Yeah mate, just to fill in a bit a' time."
"Alright mate, I'll do it for a 7 ounce a' plonk and 2 'Rochmans'. I don't like that Drum Tobacco, it's too strong."
"I'll buy a pack of 'Rochmans' at the Dagos' shop and just so we're clear, a 7 of plonk and 2 Rothmans."
"Yeah, 'Rochmans' mate.
"Ya wanna start now mate?"
"Nah mate, I'm not broke yet. I've got 20 cents in mi pocket so I'm off for a drink now."
"You'll have 2 more smokes and another 20 cents Popeye."
"She'll be right mate. I might come back later."

     With that, Popeye headed for the door and back along the corridor to the bar room. I decided not to go to the bar tonight. With nothing left to do for entertainment, I was forced to write a quick aerogram to mi mother, back in Yorkshire. Once I'd finished it, I took off to the post office and dropped it in the box. On the way back, Popeye and a couple of other black fellas' were arguing and shouting at each other, at the corner of Gilltraps. I tried to sneak past 'em but Popeye caught me with his one good eye. This time, I had 3 black fellas' biting me at once for 20 cents and a smoke. I had no other alternative than to say,
"No, git fucked. I'm broke."
     The last thing I heard as I disappeared into Traps, was a slurry Abbos' voice say,
"You white fellas' are all millionaires!"
     'I made it!', I thought as I opened the door to mi room and locked it behind me. I knew it wouldn't be long before Popeye would be knocking on mi door. I rolled a smoke and waited. True to form, five minutes later I heard his knock.
"Hey mate, are ya in there?"

     I knew Popeye was pretty full by now so he'd be no use as a sparring partner this night. I kept quiet and ignored his constant knocking. After a few minutes, he threw in the towel and took off.
     At this point you've probably realized by now that a lot of grog was consumed at Gilltraps. Twitcheys' and Blackers' Hotels were not far behind. The reason for this, although not the only one, was all work and commerce was done over a couple of beers. If one did not join in the cultural pastime not much laboring work would be found. Survival would become more of a reality.

"Ya want a game of pool Yorky?", said Freddy as we sat at the bar.
"Yeah, why not mate. I'l put our 20 cents in line."
     The pool table was our only source of entertainment in the bar. Most times, there was a line-up of 5 or 6  twenty cent pieces in front of ours.
"Keep a good eye out for our 20 cents.", said Freddy. "I'm off for a piss."
     Sometimes a 20 cent piece would go missing or jump the que on the side of the pool table which undoubtably would start a big argument and sometimes a fight. A lot of locals would not drink at Gilltraps because it was the Abbos' favorite watering hole. A lot of blokes called it 'The Blood House'. There were tiles, half-way up the sides of the walls, in those days. It made it easier for the Groom to wash off the blood, in the early morning.
"Are we up yet Yorky?", said Freddy, when he came back from the dunny.
"Nah mate, are ya' kiddin'? There's still another 4 games to go before we're on."
"How's our 20 cents?", he said as he looked across the room at the pool table.
"She's still there mate. I've  been watchin' it."

     Eventually, our turn came around. I shoved the 20 cents in the slot and pulled it back out. The coin dropped in the metal tin on the inside of the table. We always knew when it was getting full, as the coin made a different sound when it dropped in.  After we finished the game of pool we had one last round and called it quits for the evening.
"I'm glad I live at Gilltraps.", said Freddy, as we walked down the short hallway.
"Why, 'cause ya don't have far to walk home mate?"
"Yeah, right first-time mate!"

     Knock, knock, knock! "Who is it?", I yelled.
"It's Popeye mate.", said a voice on the other side of the door. "Let me in."
"Are ya sober?", I said, before I opened it.
"Yeah mate, too sober."
     Opening the door, I said to Popeye, "Come in quick, before Cath Gilltrap sees ya." Cath Gilltrap would not be happy if she caught Mission Abbos' visiting the rooms. Only paying Abbos' were allowed in the guests' quarters.
"Ya look good.", I said to Popeye, as I closed the door behind him. "Ya not full mate?"
"I'm fucking broke mate, that's why."
"Hasn't ya missus got any money?"
"No mate, she pissed it all away on plonk."
"How ya gonna' eat till the end of the month mate?"
"We're  off out Roo shootin' tomorrow night."
"Yeah, spotlightin' mate."
"Don't ya use spears anymore Popeye?"
"Are ya jokin' with me again mate? I can never tell with you white fellas' whether ya jokin' or not."
"No, I'm fair dinkum mate."
"I couldn't hit a fucking tree at 10 feet mate, but I'm not bad with a rifle, long as I don't get dust in mi good eye."
"Can ya see out of ya dodgey eye?"
"Not real good. It's pretty blurry mate."
"How come you've got blue eyes?"
"Mi dad was a white fella, I reckon."
"What d'ya mean mate, didn't ya know him."
"No way mate. I guess he snuck on to the Mission and rooted mi mum one night."
"I thought white fellas' weren't allowed on the mission?"
"They're not mate, unless ya git permission. Back in those day days they used to sneak on after the pubs closed."
"Ya know Tommy Clark, Popeye?"
"Yeah mate, he's my cousin. He lives close to me. I've been fencing with him a couple a' times but that's a bastard of a job. Too fuckin' hard for me mate. Ya got a smoke mate?"
"Ya remember the deal from the other night when ya were as pissed as a parrot?"
"Sure do mate. A bit of friendly sparring for 2- 7s' and 3 'Rochmans'."
"One 7s' and 2 Rothmans', Popeye."
"Yeah, I know mate. I was just testing ya to see if you'd remembered!"
     Popeye grinned from ear to ear as he said, "No worries mate!"
"Alright Popeye.", I said, as I untied the laces and handed one of the gloves to him. You can have the right hand and I'll use the left."
"What about the laces?"
"Just pull 'em up tight and tuck 'em in."
     Just then, there was a knock on the door. It opened before I had time to ask who it was.
"What are you two pack a' bastards up to?", said War dog, as he marched into the room.
"Shut the door behind ya War dog, in case someone sees in."
"G'day mate.", said Popeye, as he sat on the spare bed with a boxing glove on his right hand.
"Did ya' hurt ya' hand Popeye?", said War dog.
"Ya kiddin' me aren't ya mate? It's a fuckin' boxin' glove."
"Ya ought to put the other one on as well. It'll stop ya drinkin' and floggin' ya maggot Popeye!"
     This little joke of War dogs' gave Popeye a good laugh as he rolled back on the bed.
"Do you white fellas' flog ya maggot?", said Popeye.
" 'Course we fuckin' do! I bashed the old bishop five times this morning, before I got out a' bed."
"Bullshit!", said Popeye, as he almost had a belly laugh.
"Ya think I'm too fuckin' old mate?" said War dog.
"I think ya might be.  Five times is a lot."
"You bend over that fuckin' chair Popeye and I'll show ya how fuckin' old I am mate.", said War dog.
     Popeye  was not at all sure now whether War dog was jokin' or not, so he said,
"Fuck you ya' bastard!", said Popeye as he stood up in a boxers' stance, with the one boxing glove on.
"He's bullshittin' ya Popeye. Take no notice of him mate."
"I had ya goin' then didn't I Popeye.", said War dog, with a big grin on his face.
"Fuckin' oath mate, I thought ya were fair dinkum for a minute there."
"Ya' wanna' be the referee for a few minutes War dog?"
"Might as well mate. I got fuck all else on, except bending mi elbow."
     Popeye and miself stood up and faced each other. War dog announced the contenders to the imaginary audience.
"Ding, Ding, Ding!", said War dog.
     I threw the first punch at Popeye that caught him on the side of the face.
"Not too fuckin' hard mate!", said Popeye, as he tried to back peddle in the small room.
"I'm not punchin' hard Popeye. Besides that, I'm at a disadvantage. I've only got the left-hand glove."
"BANG!  Popeye threw a wild right that caught me a glancing blow on the forehead.
"I thought ya' said, no hard hittin' mate. Ya almost knocked mi fuckin' head off.", I said.
     Popeye had a big grin on his face now as he knew he had landed a good blow. With more dancing around, he threw another wild punch that missed completely, which caused him to spin around and fall on the spare bed.  After two, 3-minute rounds, Popeye said,
"That's enough mate! I'm fuckin' rooted from too many 'Rochmans".
"One more round Popeye!", I said.
"No fuckin' way. I've earned mi plonk and smokes!"
"Fuck you two yobos'!", said War dog. "I'm off for a middy! You two are as crazy as parrot shit!"
"Good idea.", said Popeye. "So who won?"
"I reckon I'd have to call that bout a draw.", I said.
     Popeye grinned from ear to ear as he removed the right-hand glove.
"Where's mi money for the plonk and 'Rochmans', Yorky?"
"Here ya go Popeye.", I said, as I handed him enough for a glass of plonk and two Rothmans.
"Can ya spare 2 more 'Rochmans' mate? Ya can take 'em off the next fight."
"No way mate. If I do that, ya won't show up again."
"Popeye smiled and said, "I was just bullshittin' ya mate. Good on ya.", he said, as he made a hasty exit.
     The deal I had struck with Popeye lasted about two weeks. That doesn't mean we sparred every night 'cause most nights he'd been on the plonk with his mates and he could hardly talk, never mind box. At these times, I'd send him away because he would get angry and abusive. On one of these occasions, he wanted to re-negotiate the deal to a half-gallon of plonk and a full pack of cigarettes.  I think his mates were using him to get some grog for themselves.
     I happened to tell War dog about Popeye wanting a better deal and he said,
"I can handle those full-blood Bungs, 'cause there's not many of 'em around and they only bite ya for 20 cents, but once they've got a bit of white fella' in 'em, the price goes up to 50 cents. Good fuckin' job they won't be around forever!"
"What d'ya mean by that War dog?"
"Assimilation Mate! We'll breed the black bastards out."
"I don't know what ya mean War dog?"
"Jesus Christ Yorky, don't ya know any fuckin' thing? They don't 'throw back' mate."
"What does that mean?"
"Fuck me rome, Yorky! Where ya been all ya life? That's what ya git for living too long in that Pommy bastard country of yours!"

"It's your round mate. You git 'em, while I go and 'siphon the python'.
" What?", I said.
" 'Point percy at the porcelain' mate. I'm off for a fuckin' piss. When I git back, I'll educate ya in the ways of the bush."
     Upon his return, War dog took a large gulp out of the middy glass, lit up a camel, turned on his bar stool to face me.
"Yorky mate, You're a pretty good bloke for a young fella' but you've got a bit of a handicap, from being a fuckin' pommy.  Now, listen to me mate", he said in an arrogant tone of voice. "Take those coons in Africa, for instance, they throw back if ya breed 'em with white fellas'. They get whiter and whiter over the years till eventually they'll have white fellas' features and white skin. At some point, these 2 whites will breed and out pops a black kid with full-on coon features! That's called 'throw-back'.  The Aussie Abbos' are the only black fellas' that don't throw-back. That means, they get whiter and whiter till there's no more bung left in 'em."
"Why would ya wanna' do that War dog?"
" 'Cause we're  a racist pack a' bastards and we live in a racist, imperialistic country sport! Not so long back mate, way before your time, when the bungs were still living in the Bush, we rounded the bastards up and stuck 'em on a bloody mission. Any of the pick-a-ninis that had a splash of white fella' in 'em, we drafted 'em off, scubbed 'em up good, stuck some white fellas' clothes on 'em and trucked 'em off to Sydney to be trained up as servants for those rich bastards' houses around the harbor-side."
"D'ya think that 's right War dog?"
"Right n' wrong got fuck all to do with it mate. I'm just givin' ya' a bit of a history lesson!"
"Are you fair dinkum War dog or are ya' bullshittin' me?"
" Course I'm fair dinkum. I've got better things to do with mi time than educate you mate. I'm tellin' ya all this 'cause ya' livin' in God' own country now and ya' should know at least a bit a' fuckin' history! Empty ya glass mate, it's my shout."
     War dog lit up another smoke as Gilltrap pulled a couple more middys.
"At one time, according to our imperialistic government and sanctioned  by that fuckin' pommy bastard Queen of yours, black fellas' were classified as animals. If they were on ya land, ya could shoot the bastards on site!"
"How can that be true War dog, when really, it's their land."
"Not any fuckin' more mate. It's ours now."
"But if they weren't doing any damage, why shoot 'em?"
"Sheep stealing mate. Ya think they're gonna' eat  goannas and witchity grubs when there's a lump of fuckin' mutton walkin' around on four legs. Would you?"
"No, I suppose not."
"Right mate. You've gotta' wake up to the ways of the Bush. It's not just about faking an Aussie fuckin' accent. If ya hang around those Abbos' too much and if ya' caught talkin' to those young ginns that hang out on the pavement in front of Traps', you'll be labeled a fuckin' ginn-jockey and bang goes ya' fuckin' chances of gittin' on to a white sheila."
"How can that be War dog, 'cause there's a couple of townies that are married to ginns?"
"Right mate. Let me tell ya what they're in for. Soon as they get the urge to go walkabout, they'll take off when that stupid bastards' not around and leave him with a swag a' kids to look after, on his own for a couple of months. Ya' see those Mission bungs over there, in the corner of the bar mate? That's the only place they're allowed to be served."
"Why's that?", I asked.
"Because there's a relatively new law that says, the bastards are legally allowed in hotel bars now for a drink. Before that, they got served at the back door and drank in the parking lot."
"But why keep 'em in the corner?"
" 'Cause as soon as they're full and run out of money, the black bastards will be swarming around ya, slobbering and spittin' all over the place, tryin' to bite ya for a couple of dollars. All ya gotta do is look at ya' mate Popeye. I don't see ya hangin' around with him when he's full."
"Yeah, but that's because he gets argumentative."
"They're all the fuckin' same, those bungs. They can't hold their grog!"
"Hey War dog, have ya ever fucked a ginn?"
"Jesus Yorky mate, ya gittin' a bit personal now aren't ya?"
"Well, have ya'? I'm curious what its like."
"Yeah, I did once mate and it was terrible. She stunk so fuckin' bad, I had to take a shit next to her before I climbed on!"
"Fuckin hell War dog! That's fuckin' disgusting! Ya' know what mate, you're a racist, fuckin' bastard for doing that!"
"Settle down Yorky mate, don't lose ya fuckin' marbles, ya pommy bastard! I'm bullshittin' ya mate. It's a fuckin' Bush joke!"
"That's not even funny mate!"
     War dog started to laugh and then took another gulp of his beer.
"Jesus christ Yorky.", he said between laughs. "You should have seen ya' face mate! I got ya' a beaut there. I thought ya were gonna' chuck up ya' beer sport!
     After he stopped laughing, he said,
"I've told ya before Yorky mate, You're too fuckin' naive. I'm helpin' to wise ya up mate, 'cause if ya don't, ya' not gonna' survive Bush life sport. You'll end up in the Big Smoke doing a 9-to-5er. If that happens you'd might as well be fuckin' dead!
"Don't you worry about me, War dog. I'll survive. I'm a fuckin' hard worker."
"I'll agree with ya there mate, but a bit of education and gray matter don't go astray."
"It's your shout Yorky mate, then I'm off to bed."
"Fuck me dead.", said War dog, as Gilltrap put the beers down on the bar. "I'm out a' smokes. Give us a packet of Camels, Gilltap."
"We're out a' Camels sport. What about Lucky Strikes?  I got plenty of those."
"Fuck those things mate, they'll fuckin' kill ya."
"Please ya fuckin' self then.", said Gilltrap, and walked over to another school, to fill up their middys.
"Ya wanna' Drum, War dog?"
"Not much fuckin' option is there? You'll have to roll it for me."
"Can't ya roll mate?"
"Not any more since I got this bastard, fuckin' Arthritis in mi hands. I'm flat out doin' mi fuckin' work boots up these days."

     A couple of nights later, I'd just finished a days work, helping a cocky repair some of his broken-down fences. I'd no sooner taken a shower, got dressed and was relaxing on mi old cot, when a knock came on mi door.
"Who is it?", I yelled. No answer came. "Who is it.", I yelled again. Still no answer.  Begrudgingly, I got up. On the other side of the door stood Popeye.
"Can I come in mate?"
"Ya look half-full to me Popeye. I told ya not to come here unless ya sober."
"No mate, no. I'm alright. I've only had a couple of beers."
     I decided to let him come in, in case Gilltraps missus saw him loitering around the guests rooms. Once inside, he bit me for a 'Rochmans' and a light.
"Ya wanna do some sparrin' mate?", he said as he puffed away on the smoke, like he hadn't had one for a week.
"Nah mate, ya not sober. You'll be too slow to move."
"Bullshit Yorky mate, I'm more sober than I've been all day."
"Be that as it may Popeye. that doesn't mean ya sober."
"Come on mate, let's do a couple of rounds. I need the plonk and a couple a' smokes."
     I tried to discourage him by saying,
"We don't have a referee. Get Freddy. I just saw him walkin' into his room."
"Alright Popeye, but don't complain if I catch ya with a couple of good ones."
     After talking to Freddie for a few minutes, I convinced him to be the referee for a couple of rounds. Back in my room, Popeye was sat on the bed where I'd left him, only now, he had the right-hand glove on.
"Come on mate, I'm ready and raring to go!"
"He's half cut!", said Freddy, soon as he saw Popeye.
"Fuck you Freddy, I'm fit as a buck rat!"
"Alright Popeye, don't say ya weren't warned.", I said.
     Once I had the left-hand glove on and the laces were pulled up tight, I said to Freddy,
"Here mate, use the second-hand on mi alarm clock. It's easy to see. Let's just do two 2-minute rounds. He doesn't look like he'll do three minutes."
"Don't ya worry about me Yorky mate. I'm good to go! Don't forget to announce me to the crowd.", said Popeye as he got up off the bed.
"What the fuck is he talkin' about?", asked Freddy.
"Last time we sparred, War dog was the ref and he played his part to the hilt by announcing the contenders. Just play along mate. We'll call him 'Popeye the Punisher'."
"Yeh, I like that!", said Popeye. "You can be 'Yorky, the Pommy Bastard!"
"Hey, dont' git fuckin' cheeky Popeye, just 'cause  ya got a couple of beers in ya."
"Ring the bell Freddy. I'm good to go mate.", said Popeye.
     The first straight left of the fight caught Popeye on the cheek just under his good eye.
"Hang on a minute mate, mi eye's watering. I can't see straight."
     After a few seconds, Freddy said, "Fight on!"  The next left hook sent Popeye backwards onto the spare bed. It wasn't the punch that caused it. The back of Popeye's thong had caught on the rug and down he went. By now, Popeye was on his feet again. He threw a well-aimed right that caught me fair and square on the side of mi face. As I rocked backwards, I hit the dressing table and a few odds and ends went flying to the floor.
"Oh! A massive right thrown by Popeye the Punisher just sent Yorky, the Pommy Bastard bouncing into the ropes!", said Freddy.
     Popeye was now as happy as a pig in shit as he danced around with his arms up in the air, shouting "Yeh, Yeh, Popeye the Punisher!"
"Hey Popeye, I thought you said we'd be goin' easy on each other?", I said.
"I am goin' easy on ya mate.", said Popeye, who was now grinning like a black Cheshire cat.
"Alright Popeye, you've set the tone mate. Now it's my turn!:"
"You've gotta' hit me first!", said Popeye, still grinning from ear to ear.
    As the last word left his mouth, I let go with a fairly hard left hook which caught Popeye fair on the chin. Down he went like a sack a' shit, hit the edge of the bed and slithered onto the carpet.
"Oh! Oh!", said Freddy. "What a punch! I think Popeye the Punisher is fucked!"
     Freddy started to count, 1-2-3-4, Popeye struggled to his feet as Freddy said, "I think he's gonna' make the count. He's a tough black fella' this Popeye the Punisher!"
     Popeye was not very happy now as he regained his feet.
"Yah alright Popeye?", I asked.
"Fuck you ,ya bastard! You said 'no hard hittin'."
"Fuckin' hell Popeye, Ya didn't mind it when ya knocked me backwards!"
"That was a lucky, fuckin' punch Yorky. You hit me on purpose!"
"Well, we are fuckin' sparring Popeye. What d'ya expect?"
"Fuck You Yorky. I'm sick a' this fuckin' game. I'm not playin' anymore."
     Popeye ripped off his glove and thew it on the bed in disgust.
"I want mi money and 2 'Rochmans'."
"No worries Popeye, but I did warn ya that you weren't sober."
     I handed him the money for the plonk and his two 'Rochmans'.
"I thought the loser didn't get any prize money?", said Freddy.
"Fuck you too, ya white bastard.", said Popeye as he headed for the door. "You're a useless referee anyway!



Saturday, December 9, 2017


     Tuesday morning, as I was sitting outside mi shack, Burt came walking across the yard from the direction of the grain shed. He was carrying an old wheat bag that was tied at the top with a bit of bailing twine.
"Hey Burt.", I called out. "What ya got in the bag mate?"
"Kittens.", he said, as he put the bag in the back of the Ute. "Grab ya' bloody gear mate and hurry up. We've still got a shit load of stumps to stack up in that boundary paddock."
     I grabbed mi smokes and mi hat and headed for the Ute.
"Go fetch that chain from the machinery shed. We're gonna' need it today. "
     Soon as we were loaded, we took off out into the Malley, for another days' hard work. After a short while, I said to Burt,
"Why d'ya bring a bag of kittens with us?"
"Git rid of the bastards. I've got more bloody cats in the grain shed than fuckin' rats!"
     A lot of cockeys, in those days, would keep a couple of feral cats around their grain sheds to keep the rat and mice population down.  Rodents can make a hell of a mess once they start gnawing on the seed-wheat bags. You can only imagine what happens when the cocky goes to load 'em up on a flat bed; wasted wheat all over the place. Some cockys even kept a carpet snake in the shed. They were  not as efficient as cats but they did the job!

     As we drove along, I wondered how the kittens would be able hunt for themselves once Burt dropped them off in the malley. When we arrived at the malley paddock, Burt stirred up one of the bigger fires that was still going, from the day before.
"Go and git me that bag of kittens, cobber.", said Burt as he put the finishing touches to the now, glowing embers.
     I still hadn't realized what Burts intentions were as I put the wheat bag on the ground. He untied the bailing twine from around the sack, grabbed the bottom corners and tipped out the kittens. I was really surprised at seeing them as I expected them to be bigger. There were six of 'em, wriggling around on the ground making a soft meowing sound. I'd grown up on a farm. I'd seen lots of baby kittens. These ones looked about 3 days old, as their eyes had not opened yet.
"What ya gonna' do with 'em Burt?"
"Git rid of the bastards! What d'ya think."
     Old Burt walked around the outside of the fire and then bent down and picked up a short, sturdy-looking stick. He picked up one of the kittens by the tail and gave it a 'wallop' on the head with the stick. Then he threw it into the fire on top of the hot coals.
"It's still alive Burt!" I said, as the kittens' legs moved around a bit.
"Bullshit! That's only it's fuckin' nervous twitching."
     Bending over, he picked up another kitten and did the same thing again. In no time, all 6 kittens were on the hot coals, sizzling away. I was now in shock!
I said to Burt, "How could you do that mate? They were only babies!"
"Bloody nuisances! Too many of 'em."
"Ya know what Burt, I think you're a cruel bloke!"
"Don't be so bloody sentimental mate or I'll bash you on the fuckin' head and chuck ya' on the fire, ya' good-for-nothin' pommy bastard! What are ya' standing there staring at mate? Git ya fuckin' arse into gear. We've got a lot a' work to do today!"



     At long last, the Melbourne show came to an end. We packed everything into a large truck. Our next stop was to be Davenport in Tasmania. My ride across on the ferry was included in the price of the trucks' ticket, otherwise I might not have been able to go. Money was tight now 'cause I was only making eight bucks a week, which was less than I'd made at old Burts' place.
     I enjoyed the ferry ride over and the drive around Tazmania. The scenery was really beautiful. We drove through hundreds and hundreds of acres of Government forests. The paddocks were all green and some of them were surrounded by black stone walls which reminded me of my beloved Yorkshire Moors.

"Tasmania's not a bad-looking place.", I said to Kid, who was quietly driving along.
"Yeah, it's a real pretty place. Pity its' history isn't so pretty."
"Why, What happened?"
"Years ago, the white fellas' had an Abo drive."
'What's an Abo drive?"
"Ya know what a roo drive is?"
" 'Course. A group of people walk through the bush, beating it with sticks as they go. This drives the roos out into the open where the shooters can blast 'em."
"That's right sport."
"Ya mean, that's what they did to the Abos?"
"You got it mate. The white fellas' formed a huge line and went on an Abo drive. They shot every lst one of 'em on sight. By the time they'd finished, there was only one little girl left. She was lucky. One of the cockies wives felt sorry for her and hid her until it was all over."
"I've never heard of that before."
"That don't mean it never happened!"
"How many Abos did they shoot?"
"Don't exactly know mate. No one does 'cause no one bothered to count 'em. They didn't consider them human."
"Why not?"
"How the hell would I know mate. All I know is, the white fellas' slaughtered thousands and thousands of Abos. It's called a 'genocide'."
     What Kid Young told me about the Aborigines made me feel sick, especially when I thought about how kind Sally and the boys had been to me when I was with Sharmans Boxing Troupe.

     I had only been in Australia for 14 months now.  I'd travelled over so much country that it felt more like a lifetime.  By this time, I was really sick of the Showground but I couldn't get off yet because Lake Cargelligo was hundreds of miles away in West New South Wales. I only had five dollars to mi name and even if I could have hitched a ride, five dollars would not have gone very far before it ran out. I planned to leave the grounds one we headed back up North, whenever that might have been.

     The tent was set up on the Davenport Showground the day before the show was about to start. I'd bought miself a cheap stock whip and Kid had taught me how to crack it. He also showed me how to make a cotton cracker which got tied on the end of the long leather thong.
     That afternoon, I was stood outside the tent with another showie bloke. The showie had very kindly consented to hold a roll of paper for me so I didn't have to jam it into a crack in one of the outside tent poles. I was pretty good with the stock whip by now and the showie was quite impressed as the stock whip cracked with a loud band and a piece of the paper would be taken off the roll he was holding.
     Just then, a Tazzie cop came walking by., He stood for a few minutes watching while I cracked the paper smaller and smaller.
"That's pretty clever mate.", he said to me.
"Not really.", I said. "It's just a matter of practice. Ya wanna' have a go?"
"Not me mate. How long ya been practicing with it"
"Only a week or so.", I said as I lit up a fag.
"Ya think ya could knock a fag out of ya mates' mouth with that stock whip?"
"I've never tried?"
"No, and ya ain't gonna' try it on me either.", the showie said.
"Come on.", said the cop. "Be a good sport and hold a fag out of ya mouth for him."
"You stick a fag in ya mouth and hold it for him.", he said.
"I don't smoke. I tell ya what I'll do with ya. I'll give ya a couple of bucks if ya hold it out and ya mate can crack it out. How's that sound?"
"Two bucks each and you're on!", I said.
"Now just a bloody minute!", said the showie.
"Come on mate.", I said. "You're just as fuckin' broke as I am. We can make two bucks each out of this."
"What about if ya miss and ya cut the end of mi nose off?"
"Don't worry mate. I won't miss, I promise ya. I can't afford to miss anyway 'cause I'm almost flat broke, don't forget."
"Have we got  a deal or not?", said the cop.
"If I miss do we have to pay you four bucks?"
"No, I guess not. Now hurry up before I change mi mind."
"Alright.", said the Showie as he lit up a Lucky Strike fag.
     As I paced out the right distance I said to the showie, "Now, you hold still mate and don't puff on the fag 'cause it will get too small."
"I'm gonna take three practice shots just to get the distance right. Then on the fourth shot, I'll crack it clean out of his gob!", I said to the cop.
     This made the cop laugh. Then I said to him, "Better git ya money out mate. It'll help me concentrate."
"Alright mate.", he said with a grin as he produced 2 two dollar bills from his pocket.
"Here we go!", I said. "Hold that fag still mate, it's shaking all over the place. Lean forwards a bit so I can get a real good crack at it!"
"If you fucking miss Yorky, I'll..........."
     The sound of the stock whip cut him off before he could finish his sentence.
"Keep still!", I said.
     CRACK! The stock whip echoed through the afternoon air.
     CRACK! The cop was really enjoying himself now as the stock whip flashed and snapped with a large back in front of the showies face.
"Yowww! A fuckin' spark burnt mi lip!"
     He spat the small piece of the cigarette out onto the grass as the big cop doubled over in two, laughing his head off. When he straightened himself up and wiped the tears from his eyes, from laughing, he said,
"What a fuckin' beauty mate. That's the best bit of fun I've had for years. You're pretty good with that stock whip Cobber, I got to hand it to ya. Here's ya four dollars. It was worth every cent of it.", he said as he walked away, still laughing.
"You alright mate?", I said to the showie.
"Yeah Yorky, it was only a small spark that hit mi lip when ya cracked the fag in half."
"Is it sore?"
"Just a bit."
"Here, rub this two buck note on it, That'll make it feel better mate."
"Well, fuck me dead Yorky. That was the easiest two bucks I've ever made."
"Me too.", I said.

     Tazmania could be a really wet place. My stint there was just one of those times. That evening it rained inches. It rained so hard, all the show tents got flooded out. Before I realized it, the water had seeped up through the ground and flooded mi blankets and soaked through mi suitcase. All mi clothes were damp and had to be hung out on a fence to dry along with mi couple of wool blankets. This did not do too much to enhance my feelings about showground life. I was very grateful to the rain, 'cause it made the decision to leave the showground easier. As soon as the Tazi circuit was over we went back over to the Aussie mainland on the same ferry.

     The Chad Morgan show stopped at a small town on the outskirts of Melbourne for a couple for a couple of days. Whilst we were over in Tazzi, I had made good friends with the Maori Troubadours, who were following the same circuit. They were all easy-going blokes. Of an evening, they would cook up an iron cauldron of their favorite food, 'Pooha and Porkbones'.  There was always plenty to spare and they were kind enough to invite me to dinner almost every evening. It beat the hell out of the garbage I'd been eating.
     One evening, after dinner, one of the boys said, "Ah well Yorky, this is our last showground for a while mate."
"What d'ya mean? Where ya off to?"
"We've had the showground scene eh. We're all off, back up to Queensland where it's warmer, eh."
"Which way ya' goin'?"
"Straight up North. We're gonna' take the inland roads, eh."
"Will ya be goin' past a town called Lake Cargelligo, in New South Wales?"
"I dunno'. Let's get the maps out and see, eh?"
     We spread out a large map of New South on the ground. I looked for the Lake. "There it is!", I said. "It's not too far from Griffith and West Wyalong."
"Ah, West Wyalong. We go through that place on our way, eh?"
     My heart was not starting to quicken, as I asked, "Can I get a ride up there with ya, if ya got enough room?"
"Can't see why not. The rest of the boys are flying up North from Melbourne. You can do a bit of relief-driving for me if ya like, eh."

     I was never sure whether the Maoris were telling me or asking me, a question because at the end of every sentence they would always say, "eh?" or "eh boy!"
     That evening, I quit the Chad Morgan Show. I drew the small amount of the money I had coming to me. I took mi gear to the Maoris' tent and helped them pack up their show. As soon as everything was packed away, we hit the road for Melbourne.
     I was really cramped in the front cab of the truck but once we dropped off the rest of the boys, outside a house which belonged to one of their sisters, we settled down and relaxed, ready for the long haul North.
     It was a quiet trip up North, after the driver had told me all about the North and South Island of New Zealand. As arranged, I drove the truck when he was tired. Although I didn't even have a car license, my bush-driving skills came in pretty handy as I manouvered the big, flat-top along the highways. At long last, we arrived at West Wyalong. The Maori driver gave me a few dollars to get me back to the Lake. By now, I was broke down to the bones of mi arse.
     He dropped me off at an all-night petrol station that was on the main West Wyalong/Lake road. We said our goodbyes and he disappeared up the highway in the red truck, while I sat on mi suitcase outside the all-nighter, waiting to hitch a ride. There were plenty of cars and trucks that used the station, but none were going in my directions. At 10 in the morning, a dusty Ute pulled in and filled up with petrol.
"Ya heading towards Lake Cargelligo, mate?"
"Sure am Cobber.", the driver said.
"Can I get a lift?"
"Shit yeah! Toss ya gear in the back sport."
     I entertained the jackaroo with stories about the showgrounds, all the way to the Lake. He was on his way to Rankin Springs, so he dropped me off right outside the Dagos' shop in the Main street.



     It was my habit to walk around the Showground, in my downtime, and see as many free shows as possible. I went in to see a show with The African Pygmies.
"Showie mate.", I said to the ticket man.
"Whose show, sport?"
"Chad Morgan."
"Go straight in mate."
     Inside the tent was a roped-off area. In the center of the roped-off area was a thatched straw hut. Sitting outside the hut were four small pygmies. They were about 4'6", and all of them had a tightly curled, negroid beard. Each one of them had a bone shoved through the septum of his nose. One of them had a large pair of brass earrings. The others had a large hole in their lobes where the thick rings had once hung. As soon as anyone entered the tent, they would make a war-like cry as they charged towards the boundary ropes, carrying their shields of bark and pointing their sharp spears. After this, they would speak to each other in their own language. Then, one of them pointed to someone, usually a young woman, then they'd all look at the large cooking pot which stood over a charcoal fire.  After this, they'd all go back inside the straw hut and the sprooker would say,
"The show's over. The pygmies are going to sleep for a while."
"That show stinks!", I heard someone say as they left the tent.
     I went off into one more show, before I went back to work. It was the Maori Troubadours. The band consisted of six Maoris. They stood an a stage, with a backdrop of a Maori village painted on a huge canvas. They took turns at singing their local songs in their own language. I only had enough time to listen to one song but I planned to come back later, as they were really good.

     As I was sauntering around at a steady pace, checking out the poster boards, a big Melbourne City Copper stopped me.
"G'day.", he said.
"G'day.", I said, in a friendly sort of way.
     I was not expecting anymore than a greeting, when he said to me,
"Your name Richard Swindells mate?"
     I almost fell over with shock when he asked me that question.
"What if it is?", I said, not knowing how the hell he knew my name, 'cause all anyone knew me by, on the showgrounds, was Yorky.
"Show us ya arms.", he said.
"What for? I've done nothin' illegal."
"I wanna' make a positive ID, 'cause we've got a wanted poster for you, back at our local station."
"You must be mistaken.", I said, with a bit of fear now creeping into mi voice."
"Just be a good lad and show me ya arms."
"All right, but that's all!"
     When he saw the tattoos on mi arms, he said, "Where did 'ya git those from?"
"Rex Stokers in Bradford, England. Why?"
"Just making sure I've got the right man."
"The right man for 'what'? I've done nothin' wrong."
     Now I was getting really scared, as he questioned me.
"We've got a missing child report out on you. It's been circulated all over Australia."
"You must be joking? Who would file a missing report on me?"
     He put his hand in the top pocket of his uniform and pulled out a small, back notebook, and started to thumb through the pages.
     I stood there, in front of him, waiting in anticipation.
"Ah! Here we are. A Mrs. I. Bailey from England has filed a lost child report on you."
"Oh shit! That's mi mother."
"How long since you wrote home son?"
"Probably about six weeks."
"Well according to my information, it says here that you've not been seen or heard from for three months."
"That's not true. She's a panic merchant. If I don't write every week she thinks I've been killed or something."
"Where d'ya live in Australia?"
"At Lake Cargelligo, New South Wales."
"How long ya staying at the show?"
"Oh, probably till the end of it.", I said.
"Alright, tell ya what I'm gonna' do. By rights, I should take you back to the station to fill out a report but seeing as ya look healthy enough to me, I'll do it later miself. Now, listen to me young fella'. We don't have time to go looking for every Tom, Dick or Harry that gets reported missing. We've got better things to do with our time, like chasing down hardcore criminals. Now! I want ya to promise me you'll write home to ya old mother, 'cause it's obvious to me she's worried about ya. Is that a deal?"
"Yes.", I said.
     I'd have said 'yes' to anything at that point.
"Make sure ya do and don't get into any trouble. You're pretty young to be looking after yourself.  I've got a young bloke, same age as you but I'm damn sure I wouldn't be letting him work on no showgrounds. Now, Take good care of yourself and if I was you, I'd head straight back to Lake Cargelligo after the shows are over. Alright?"
"Alright.", I said and walked off into the crowd. 'What an embarrassment!', I thought, as I got lost in the sea of bodies that were milling around the showground. 'Just wait till I write another letter to Iris, I'll soon put a stop to her shenanigans!'

Friday, December 8, 2017


     As I walked around, I saw a large colorful banner which read THE CHAD MORGAN COUNTRY SHOW. 'This looks interesting', I thought as I read the blurb and looked at the posters. A few minutes later, as I was still stood there looking, the curtain parted and a bloke in a white cowboy had and long gray hair came through. He wore buckskin trousers, a fringed buckskin jacket, check shirt, cowboy boots and two fair-dinkum Colt pistols sat in their holsters, on his hips.
"D'day.", he said as he lit up a smoke.
"G'day.", I said back.
"Ya lookin' for work mate?"
"Yeah, I'm just makin' the rounds."
"I can give ya a job here if ya want."
"What doin'?"
"Collecting tickets at the door mate."
"That's all?"
"That's it mate. Piece-a-piss eh? Money for old rope!"
"How much money?"
"Twelve buck a week and feed ya self. Ya can sleep in the tent."
"Alright, that sounds like a good clean job."
"Won't git any better mate. Six shows a day and you're free between shows. Not like other sweat pits where ya doing 16 hours a day for peanuts."
"Alright, I'll take it."
"Kid Young's my name.", he said as he offered his hand.
"Yorky's mine.", I said as I shook it. You the boss Kid?"
"Wish I fuckin' was.", he said with a smile. "I wouldn't be working these bloody showgrounds at my age!"
"That you, on the poster up there?"
"Was 15 years ago. They used my arm and wrist in the serial called Whiplash. Ya ever heard of it?"
"Yeah, I've seen a couple of the shows."
"I was the stuntman and the whip cracker. They used me because the pufta star of the show couldn't even crack a fart, never mind a stock whip."
"Are ya good with a stock whip?", I asked.
"Does a dog have fleas? Been crackin' stock whips since I was a kid on mi old mans' property. 'Course he lost everything in the depression so I had to find a way of makin' a living. The old stock whip came in real handy. Kept me alive all these years, so far. Where's ya swag?"
"Up at Jimmy Sharmans' tent. I'll just go up and git it."
"Ya been traveling with Sharmans' have ya?
"Yeah, for a few weeks."
"Fuck that for a joke. There's easier ways of makin' money than that. Alright, grab ya gear and store it under under the back of the stage. It'll be a safe a place as any and ya can git it out anytime ya like."
"Be back in a minute.", I said and took off back to Sharmans' tent to pick up mi case and trumpet.
"Where ya going Yorky?, said Sally as I grabbed mi gear.
"Just down the road Sal. I got a job workin' at the Chad Morgan show.
"Good on ya mate. Good ya not too far away from the family."
"See ya every day. Don't forget to come down and see the show. I'll be collecting tickets at the entrance."
"Alright mate. I'll do that."
     Just as I was leaving, Sal said to me, "This is mi last show, Yorky!"
"What d'ya mean?"
"Sick of it all mate. It's a mugs game.  I'm off back to see  mi family in Brewarrina."
"Good on you Sal! I'm a bit sick of it miself but I haven't got enough money to get back to Lake yet and it's too far to hitch-hike."

     When I got back to the Chad Morgan tent, I walked in and saw the stage. The tent was a huge one. It was big enough to pack in at least 300 people. The stage was all carpeted and there were 4 microphones and stands lined up across the front.
     I walked round back, there was a bloke packing some gear into a large crate. When he saw me he said,
"Gooday, You  must be the young bloke that Kid hired are ya?"
"Yeah.", I said. Mi names Yorky."
"Snooky.", he said, as we shook hands.
"What's yer job Snooky?"
"Manager mate. I've been working the show for 10 years now. I do all the organizing and packing when we're on the road."
"Where should I put  mi gear?"
"Stick it under there, anywhere ya like mate. It won't be in mi way."
     Snooky, I found out later was one of Australia's' Boxing Champions in his younger days. He'd boxed in all the championship weights but had to give it up 'cause he got hurt real bad in his last fight. He was about 50 years old and still had a good mop of greased-down hair. He sported 2 large cauliflower ears and a nose that must have been broken in at least a couple of places. He was called 'Snooky' on account of his always 'snookin' his broken nose. It kept getting blocked on him, he told me, when I asked why they called him 'Snooky.' Although he was out of shape now, it wasn't difficult to see that he'd once been a big, powerful man. Nobody tried to take the piss out of old Snooky as he wasn't against throwing a good left hook when he felt it warranted it.
"Ya ready to go?", said Kid Young as he came through the curtain.
"Just about.", said Snooky. "I just wanna' check those stage lights to make sure they're all workin'"
"Give us a shout when ya ready, Snooky and we'll get this show on the road!
"Pop out the front Yorky and watch the lights for me when I hit the main switches.", said Snooky.
     Once Snooky was satisfied everything was in order, he said to me "Tell that old cowboy we're ready to roll mate."
"Any time you're ready Kid.", I said.
     He was adjusting the level of his six guns as he stood at the bottom of the stairs that led up onto the platform.
"Are ya six-guns real?", I asked him.
"What do they fuckin' look like to you?"
"Oh, I didn't mean they looked phony, what I meant was, do they fire?"
"Nah. The only way I can wear 'em in the street is if the barrels have been plugged up with weld. The cops would have mi arse in jail real quick if not. Those bastards are always on the lookout  for a reason to grab me."
"Ready to go Kid?", said a fairly attractive blonde.
"Anytime you're ready Sue."
"Who's that Kid?", I asked.
"That's Joe Gilmores' old lady. Or, in other words, Don de Laos, world famous juggler."
"Is he world famous?"
"I don't know about that but he's a pretty good juggler, I'll say that for him."
     Kid was now ready to go. He walked up the steps onto the platform and started to 'sprook'.
"Where ya from?", said Sue as I stood near the ticket box.
"Lake Cargelligo."
"Ya been on the grounds long?"
"Couple of months. And you?"
"Ten years. I've been married to Joe for three years now."
"Where did ya work before ya got married?"
"Fred Duffys' show. Ya heard of him?"
"Yeah, I worked for him a couple of weeks."
"Everybody's heard of Fred Duffy."
"Did you dance?"
"I did, till I married Joe. After  that he wouldn't let me dance anymore. He hates old Duffys' guts!"
"He's not a real likable character.", I said.
"He's not bad, old Duffy, once ya git to know him but that can take years 'cause he's very seldom sober.", said Sue.

"Pass me that stock whip Yorky.", said Kid, who was now starting to attract a small  crowd.
     I passed him the whip and he walked back to the center of the wide platform. The stock whip was still coiled in his left hand. The curtain opened and out came a pleasant-looking young girl dressed in Indian garb. She even wore a full-feathered head-dress with a long, feathered tail.
I asked Sue, "Who's that?"
"That's Snookys' daughter."
"Not bad-lookin'.", I said.
"What's yer name, anyway?"
"Yorky. Yours is Sue, isn't it?"
"Yeah, that's right. We should get to know each other quite well before the show's over Yorky, 'cause we'll be here in the same spot for 10 days!"
"That'll make a chance from traveling.", I said.
"Yeah, that's right. What a luxury, ten days in the same town."
     Kid Young was now introducing Minnie HaHa to the crowd. Then he said,
"This is what we're gonna' do now. I want a young boy or girl from the crowd to come up here and help me. All ya have to do is hold a sixpence for me. First with their hand up can come up on stage."
"There's one.", said Minnie HaHa, who was pointing to a small girl.
"Come up here Love and hold this sixpence for me."
     Once the child was helped up the steps, Kid came over and asked her name.
"Linda.", she said.
"Alright, this is my new assistant."
     He whispered some instructions into the girls' ear. Then he said to the crowd which was getting bigger by the minute,
"Alright, we're ready to go! This is what we'll do. I'm gonna' take this sixpence and put it on Lindas'  tongue. Then I'm going to attempt to cut it off her tongue with this stock whip!"
     Kid let the stock whip unravel, so the crowd could see it. He put the sixpence on the girls' tongue. The small girl was stood there with her head back and her tongue stuck out as far as it would go.
"Now, don't you move 'cause now comes the hard part. I am going to attempt to cut the tongue, oops, I mean the sixpence off of her tongue with one mighty crack of mi stock whip."
     He got the crowd to join in by saying,
"I'm gonna count to 3 but I'm not a good counter so you'll have to help me."
     ONE...TWO...and before he got to 'Three', the young girl spit the coin out into the crowd and started laughing. This corny trick suckered all the mums and dads into the tent, plus their winging kids at half-price. Then he ran through the list and credentials of all the stars appearing with the Chad Morgan Show.
     Once the tent was packed, the show started. First to take the stage was a brother and sister called Ricky and Tammy. Their act consisted of 3 or 4 songs that they had written themselves. Most of the lyrics were about love. Ricky was 19 and Tammy was 25. He had straight blonde hair which came down to the bottom of his ears. He looked quite ordinary and wore a two-piece suit. He also played the guitar. His sister was much better looking than him. She also had blonde hair which hung well below her bare shoulders. She had about 10 different country outfits in her wardrobe.
     One one occasion Ricky was standing at the entrance to the tent where I was making sure no one tried to sneak in. He was a Ukrainian by birth but he was raised in Australia. He used to enjoy takin' the piss out of me, calling me a 'Pommy Bastard'. On this particular  day, I was in no mood for his 'I'm a Star!' bullshit, so I called him, 'nothing but a fancy dago'. He didn't appreciate this comment so he punched me on the top of  mi arm and then turned to go. Now I was really cranky. I knew if I jabbed in the face I would have got fired. Instead, I grabbed him from behind and gave him a big bear-hug. He started to moan as I applied pressure. His arms happened to be straight down by his side when I grabbed him so he was completely powerless.
"When ya promise to stop acting like a retarded schoolboy, I'll stop squeezing!"
"Alright, alright.", he said. "I promise."
     When I let him go, he was really upset, not too mention his face was bright red and I heard some of his chest bones crunch. He straightened his fancy suit and said to me,
"I'm gonna' git you, ya smart bastard! I'll git ya fired for that mate, just you see!"
"Hey Ricky, You're the one who's a smart bastard. I don't need to talk to you. In my books, you're no better or worse than the next man but I will tell ya' this much, if ya git me fired from this job, I'll make sure ya won't be able to walk ya 'pretty boy' image on that stage for at least a couple of weeks!"
"Are you threatening me?", said Ricky.
"No sport, I'm givin' ya an honest warning!"
"What d'ya think you're gonna' do?"
"Never you mind cobber.", I said. "Ya won't look too good playing the guitar on stage if ya sister has to stare lovingly into a big black eye!"
"You wouldn't dare!"
"Fuckin' try me. That's ya last warning, now fuck off and leave me alone. I'm busy!"
     Late one evening, after the show had closed down, I happened to be walking past Ricky and Tammys' caravan when I noticed the van was bobbing up and down on its springs. They were the only ones that were allowed  to use the van. It made me wonder what the hell was going between them. I never mentioned it to anyone but it was good ammo for me if he ever decided to start up a war again!"

     Next up on stage was Kid Young, who by now had finished sprooking. As he walked on stage to his theme music, which was 'Ghost Riders in the Sky, he would start to crack his stock whip. After he had doen a few fancy cracks, he'd pick up another one and crack one in each hand. A few minutes of that and the music would go soft and he'd call another volunteer from the audience. This time he'd call for a girl about 16 to 20. Once he had conned in another sucker, he'd have her hold a thin, rolled-up piece of paper, then he started cracking his whip. At each crack, he'd slice a piece off the paper until there was only a small amount left. Usually the volunteer would drop the small, remaining piece of paper and this would give the crowd a laugh. He'd call for another volunteer, this time he'd get a small boy. Once the boy was in position, facing the crowd, he do the sixpence act, only this time he'd knock the sixpence off the boys' tongue. His stock whips would make a really loud 'Crack'. All of this created some good entertainment so that the crowd would have gotten their moneys' worth. Once Kid had finished his act, he would introduce the following one. Then he would go back outside on the platform again and sprook up another crowd.
     Minnie HaHas' act followed Kid Young. She would come out doing her Indian Maid act to the music of 'Apache'. Sometimes she'd dance to a record and at other times she danced to Tony Woorsleys' backing band, known as The Blue Jays.  Minnie HaHas' dance lasted about 4 minutes. It was really tame and family oriented to Fred Duffys' girls. Sometimes during the late night show when the crowds were a bit drunk, someone would shout out "Git ya gear off darlin'. Snookys' daughter was a real nice girl, so these sort of comments would make her blush and on many occasions, she would walk off stage or cut short the act.

     Johnny Devlin was next up. Normally he didn't travel with the show. He was only booked to make guest appearances at the Melbourne show.  He was a tall, somewhat handsome  rock and roll singer who dressed in a maroon suit with a black collar. He sang songs like, 'Hound Dog'  and other Presley songs that were popular in those days.
     Once he asked me if I'd keep his caravan clean for him as he used to host a lot of boozing parties in it, after each show. He promised me 10 bucks, which he said he'd pay as soon as the last show was over. He turned out be be a liar 'cause as soon as the show was over, he shot through without paying me. Many year later, as I was traveling up the Gold Coast of Queensland, I saw his name in neon lights above a Variety Club. As I stood there, I considered going in and asking for mi ten bucks, plus interest. By this time he had become an old 'has been'. Just knowing that was well worth the ten bucks he owed me.
     Kevin Sheegog was next up, on stage. He also was a an old 'has been'  country singer. He was short, with a permanent five O'clock shadow. His hair was quite thin and his ragged, lined face gave away his chronic drinking habig. He'd sing and play songs like, 'Wolverton Mountain' and 'Jambalaya'. His voice was a deep baritone sound but the life force and resonance had long left it.

     Don deLaos was tall and italian-looking. He was born in Australia to Dago parents. 'Don the Louse' had an athletes build. He wore a tight, white, one-piece jumpsuit that had rhinestones and sparkles all over it. First, he'd balance on a round, painted log with a flat, oblong plank on top. He'd clown around, as he stood on the plank, making it go from side to side, pretending he'd almost fallen off. Once this part of act was over, he would stack four tables, one on top of each other and then perform his balancing act on top of the tables. Taking two large rings, he'd then climb through both of them, while balancing on the roller log. Don the Louse was a life-long 'showie'. He told me he'd learned everything from his Dad, who was also in the business his whole life. The final and best part of Dons' act was when he'd ride a unicycle along a slack-wire. I tried walking on the slack-wire many times but never succeeded in taking more than one step. Don said that this act had to be learned as a child as it took so much balance.
     Although he was not much liked by any of the 'showies', he was pretty friendly towards me. I asked him to teach me to juggle. With his help, and a lot of practice, I became quite good at it. At one time, I could juggle four balls in what's known in the biz as 'The Shower'. At the night shows would be turned down and he would juggle four flaming sticks. I must admit, it was an impressive sight to see the fiery sticks spinning in the darkness.

     The Blue Jays played a lot of the background music for the acts. Finally, their lead singer, Tony Woorsley, would take the stage. He was a decent bloke but not a great singer, although he very well-known in the Club scene. He also appeared on my TV pop music programs of that era.

      The management had booked another popular singer of his day, Normie Roe. At the time, he was well-known in Melbourne. His mother used to mange him. She would turn up at many a show to watch her 'little Normie' sing. Kid Young was sprooking Normies' name one afternoon, saying he would be appearing on the inside, next show. The tent filled up to maximum capacity within a few minutes but Normie was not due to perform until the evenings' late show. Once the crowd found out they'd been gypped, they starated to cause a riot and the only way to keep them from setting the tent on fire was to give 'em their money back or a free pass to the evening show, when he would be singing. 

     The final act to take the stage was Chad Morgan, himself. He was the ugliest man I'd ever met, although at times when he was sober, he could be a decent bloke. He was billed at 'The Sheik of Scrubby Creek.' On his head he wore a Karki, canvas bush hat with the front turned straight up. It was held there by a large, shiny nappy pin.  He had dark eyes, a pointy nose and the largest set of buck teeth I had every clapped eyes on. Cowboy boots, pants and a cowboy fringed shirt made up the rest of his image. He was a 100% alcoholic, of this there was no doubt. Between shows, him and Sheedog would drink cheap plonk. Sometimes he was too drunk to stand up at the late night show. At times someone would have to help  him up the stairs onto the stage. When he wasn't too 'full', he could be quite funny as he sang his crazy Bush songs, then peeled back his lips to reveal his monstrous, greeny-yellow bucked teeth. He even scared the daylights out of some kids when he showed his buck teeth. This became part of his act.

     Well there ya have it, THE CHAD MORGAN SHOW.

     A couple of times during the 10 day show, I'd usually play 'The Saints' as it was an upbeat jazz song.  Plus, it was the only Jazz song the Blue Jays could play. Each time I played it, it brought the house down and eventually they stopped me playing 'cause I was upstaging the other acts and that would not do, especially 'cause I was an 'unknown'. One evening, the crowd was shouting for me to play. Kid Young said I would not be playing at that particular show, they shouted, "Cheat"! "Fraud!" or 'Phony." "We want Yorky or we want our money back".  Kid would let me play 'The Saints' but after that, they  never let me play again.