Thursday, October 16, 2008
JIM SMITH - PART 3 ©
That evening, after a cold shower outside under a tree, we had a good feed and went to bed early. I was so tired that as soon as mi head hit the pillow I was engulfed with darkness. The next thing I remember was Jims' voice saying,
"Come on Yorky! Git out'a that fart sack mate. The sun will be up before ya if not!"
Jim and I worked at the fence every day, just about. The weather was getting hotter and hotter as the summer progressed.
One day, he said to me, "D'ya want some fried eggs for smoko, Yorky?"
"Yeh, but there's no electricity out here and it's far too dry to start a fire so how ya gonna make fried eggs?"
"Grab the shovel mate and wash it off with a little bit of water and then lay it out flat in the sun over there for a couple of hours."
When lunchtime came, Jim took 4 eggs out of the tucker box and said to me, "Go git the shovel Yorky. It should be hot enough by now."
The shovel had been laying out flat in the hot sun where I'd left it. I brought it over to where Jim was sat under a shady tree. He put some butter on the shovel and within seconds it started to melt. As soon as the butter had melted he said, "Put it back in the sun, mate and crack these 4 eggs into it."
I got the shock of mi life when the cold egg yolks hit the hot butter and started to crackle. Within 5 minutes the eggs were as good as any fried eggs I'd seen anywhere, although I broke the yolks while trying to get them out of the Bush frying pan. That frying pan had the longest handle I'd ever seen and it didn't need to be washed up after.
On another occasion, we were walking through the scrub looking for some more parrots nests. Jim spotted a used hole so he sent me up the tree. Surprisingly enough, it was not very high.
"It might be a Ring-Necks nest.", I said to Jim as I pulled miself up to the next branch.
When I got level with the hole I called out to Jim, "If it's a Ring-Neck it must have a sweet tooth!"
"Because I can smell honey in that hole!"
"Oh shit!", said Jim. "Get out of that tree Yorky. It's not a parrots nest. It's a beehive mate!!!"
I only needed telling once! I slid down the tree as fast as I could go and ripped the leg of mi trousers in the processs. I'd seen a few bees hovering around the tree when I went up but I didn't think anymore of it. No sooner were my feet on the ground, the bees started to fly out of the hole. They were really pissed now as they chased after Jim and me, who were by this time, tearing through the scrub like a couple of old gray roos with a pack of roo-dogs at their heels.
"Ow! They're on the back of my neck Jim."
"Just keep running Yorky! Don't wave ya arms around or you'll make 'em more cranky!"
"Yow!", I yelled again. "One just got me under the eye on mi cheek."
"Keep running Yorky! They're giving up now!"
After a few hundred yards Jim stopped and turned around.
"They've given up mate..", he said between laughs.
"What are you laughing at Jim? They stung mi neck at least 4 times and once on the cheek, see."
Jim apologized for laughing but the apology didn't stop his laughter as he said,
"A couple of them got me too Yorky. I can't help it mate. You sounded so funny when you said, 'the Ring-Neck must have a sweet tooth'. That's when I realized it was a beehive but it was too late then. They were already coming out of the hole. Give us a look at ya neck Yorky.", he said, still laughing away.
"It's not bloody funny!", I said, reverting back to my Yorkshire accent. This started him up laughing even louder.
"Stand still mate. You've got a couple of stings still sticking out of ya neck."
He used his bush penknife and his thumbnail to remove the two remaining stings. Then he looked around for a leaf to rub the back of mi neck and cheek with. After, he rubbed the back of his arm where he'd gotten stung.
The bee stings hurt for quite a while but as soon as the burning started to fade I could see the funny side of it myself.
"You're the Bushman, why don't we go back with the right gear and take the honeycombs out.", I said to Jim.
"Not on your life mate. I'm scared of bees and they always seem to pick up on my fear. I only went honey-gathering once. That was enough for me. It's easier to buy it at the store."
At the end of a long, hot day and getting towards the end of the fence contract, Jim said to me, "D'ya wanna go into town tomorrow with me Yorky?"
"Oh yea! That would be great Jim."
"Ya must have a good, few quid coming to ya now mate."
"I probably have Jim. We've been so busy I haven't had much time to think about money and even if I had, there's nowhere to spend it out here."
"Yeh mate, that's the beauty of the Bush. It doesn't cost as much money as living in town would. It costs ya money everytime ya stick ya head out a' the front door. If ya lived at the Lake."
"What time are we off tomorrow Jim?"
"Oh, I thought we'd go in pretty early mate before it gets too hot. I said I'd take the missus and kids in with me this time' cause she hasn't been to town for a couple of months now."
"Doesn't she like town life?"
"Na mate. She's a good sort is my missus. It works well for both of us. Neither one of us like to hang around the towns much. Anyway, Bush life is nice and peaceful mate. Just the way I like it."
"Maybe I'll by miself a good rifle tomorrow."
"Yeh mate, I'll help ya pick one out at the Barbers shop. He's got a few good pea-rifles. We might try a bit a' rabbit shooting if ya like Yorky."
"Oh yeah Jim, that would be real beaut."
"Yeh, the rifle will come in real handy then. We'll git a better chance at 'em with 2 rifles mate."
The following morning we all got up early. Jim, his wife Shirl and the 4 small kids all squashed into his old blue Holden ute. I sat in the back. We didn't take the old Bedford 'cause it was too dangerous with no brakes. The ride into town was a lot of fun as we tore along the dirt roads at 60 miles an hour. By the time we arrived I was covered in red dust but I was so happy to have a day off and the thought of getting mi first rifle made everything pale in comparison.
We all waited in the Ute while Jim went into Blackers. He was the Publican at the Australian Hotel. Jim knew him so he took a check there to cash it so we'd all have some money.
When he came out, he asked me how much money I wanted.
"Oh just pay for the rifle and a few quid for some Drum and Monopoles and you can save the rest for me 'cause I don't have any bank account."
"Alright Yorky, long as that suits ya. I don't have a bank account miself mate. I don't like handing my hard-earned money over to the bank. Ya never know when they'll go broke and I can look after mi own money better than they can."
Jim gave Shirley a fist full of money so she could by some supplies to take back with us.
"I'll meet ya back here Shirl. Yorky an me are gonna have a look at a few rifle. Come on mate, let's go."
We walked across the street to Ray Orrs Barber Shop. The sign read OPEN so we went straight in.
"G'day gentlemen.", said Ray Orr, who was sat in the barbers chair reading the local Lake Cargelligo paper (which was all of 4 pages wide.)
"G'day. How ya going?", said Jim.
"Real good. Ya got a new man I hear.", said Ray
"Sure have Ray. Best little worker around these parts."
"They tell me old Burt Booth has gotten himself a new Pommy out at his place." Said Ray.
"Good luck to him.", I said. "He can have it for all I care."
"Didn't ya like old Burt?", asked Ray.
"That's an understatement! Anyway, I've got a much better job now and I make a lot more money so I've come in to buy one of ya rifles."
"No problem mate. Which one are ya interested in then?"
"We'll have a look at all of 'em.", said Jim. "We'll be going spotlighting rabbits soon. She's getting too warm for fencing."
"Ya not wrong there mate.", said Ray.
We took a good half-hour looking through the rifles and finally settled on a 5-shot Anshultz.
"That's a real beaut rifle.", said Ray, as Jim looked down the sights. "Not too expensive either for a German-made rifle."
"How much is it Ray?". I asked.
"That one will set you back 9 pounds."
"I'll take it.", I said.
"Better git ya self some bullets for it as well Yorky, while you're at it.", said Jim.
"What type shall we get Jim?"
"Ya probably better off with hollow-points mate. They're a better bullet for what we're gonna use 'em for."
"They come 50 in a box.", said Ray. "How many boxes d'ya want?"
"Give Yorky 5 boxes and I'll take 10."
"Ya must be gonna make a few Bob are ya Jim?", said Ray.
"Well, I won't be shooting tin cans with 'em Ray, if that's what ya mean."
After we paid for the rifle and bullets Jim said, "You'd better give us a haircut while I'm here Ray. It's getting too long for summer. I can't stand it once it starts growing over mi ears."
"Me too.", I said to Ray. "Ya can give me a short crewcut 'cause nobodys gonna see me in the Bush."
We walked out of the Barber shop lighter in the pocket and lighter on the head.
"Put the rifle up on the back window of the Ute, Yorky. I'll see ya in the Degos' shop."
I put mi new rifle where Jim had suggested and for good measure I covered it up with an old blanket that I'd sat on as we drove into town.
When I got over to the Greek Café, Jim was buying up all the Greeks' Monopole Midgets.
"Save some for me Jim 'cause I owe ya a few packets."
"That’s a'right mate.", said the Greek Café owner. "I've got some more in the back'a. What'sa ya name?", he said to me.
"Yorky. What's yours?"