Friday, October 3, 2008
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES - MEETING JIM SMITH ~ Part 1 ~ Chapter 4 ©
One evening Peter Smith unexpectedly drove into Burts' yard and stopped in a cloud of dust outside my tin shed.
"G'day ya bastard!" he said with a huge grin on his face.
"G'day Peter, How are ya mate?"
My use of the Aussie accent and lingo was now improving somewhat.
"I'm good sport, and I'm good because I've got some good news for ya Yorky!"
"Ya got me a new job Peter?"
"Sure have mate! It took me awhile but I eventually found one for ya."
"What's it doing and who will I be working with? , I said, as mi heart was now skipping beats like a room skips over a fence.
"Well mate, you'll be starting a new career in contract fencing with a real good bloke called Jim Smith."
"Is he any relation to you Pete?"
"Na mate, no relation at all but he's a beaut bloke."
"Where does Jim Smith live Peter?" I asked as he started the Ute.
"Burgooney, about 3 miles from the station."
"What fucking station? My old tin shed was bigger than that station ticket office and that Joey I had could hop across that room in one hop on one leg!", I said as we drove off down the track, laughing.
The red dust flew up behind us as we drove along and Peter turned on the radio. We drove in silence as we listened to Slim Dusty singing one of his famous Bush ballads called, 'My Home on the Sunburnt Plain'.
"Grab that gate, Yorky." said Peter as we slowed down.
The gate was opened and closed in a jiffy and the Ute was once more kicking up dust as it rolled over large potholes.
"There's Jims' old Bedford truck, right where he said it would be."
"I can't see anyone around Peter?"
"Oh he's probably gone off in the Bush chasing a parrot."
"What d'ya mean 'chasing a parrot?"
"Jim's mad about parrots. He's got a small Avery back of his Humpy."
"He must really like parrots."
"Like 'em! If he hears a parrot he's not seen in these parts he'd drop his tools at the drop of a hat and go off chasing to find out where it's nesting."
"There's somebody walking out of the Bush."
"That's him mate. Let's git out and go meet him." Said Peter.
" G'day Jim, ya' been off in the Bush chasing parrots again mate?"
"Not this time mate", said Jim Smith. "I had a few minutes to spare so I went to drop mi guts. So this is mi new pommy fencer is it Pete?"
"Yeah mate. This is Yorky, Jim. Yorky, this is Jim."
"Nice to meet ya Yorky.", said Jim as we shook hands on the track.
"I'm glad ya could give a bit of a hand mate. The weather's starting to heat up now and I always seem to slow down when that happens."
"I haven't fenced before, ya know.", I said to Jim.
"No worries mate. I'll teach ya all I know. It'll only take mi 5 minutes."
This little joke from Jim let me know he was a real good bloke.
"Better put ya gear on Jims' truck Yorky, I gotta git back to my place now. I've got a few things I've got to finish today.", said Peter.
After mi 2 cases and mi trumpet were put on the open back of Jims' old Bedford truck, I walked over to Peter and said to him,
"I wanna thank ya for everything you've done for me mate."
"Bullshit! Enjoy ya new job mate. Ya deserve it. See ya later Jim.", said Peter as he hopped in his Ute.
"Alright mate.", said Jim. Drop in some time when ya passing."
"Don't forget to make him work Jim."
"She'll be right mate. I'll look after him."
"Alright Yorky, hop in the truck and we'll git ya gear back to the house. We'll start work tomorrow, that'll give ya time to unpack a bit of gear and fix up the room we've got for ya."
"Is it hard work, fencing?"
"Well, it's not easy Yorky, put it that way, but you'll get used to it mate. Just take it easy for a couple of days, then you'll be right. The main thing is ya hands. Once they toughen up to the job, bobs ya aunty mate."
I liked this man. He was easy going and I could tell he had a big heart.
"Can ya drive mate?" asked Jim.
"No, old Burt wouldn't let me. He gave me a push bike to go up the mali."
"Oh that's no good mate. Ya gotta be able to drive in the Bush. Ya git more work that way. Anyway that's not a problem because you'll be driving as good as me in a few days."
"Ya mean you'll teach me to drive Jim?"
"No mate, you'll teach ya self. I'm gonna provide the truck!"
"Oh, that's really kind of you."
"No, it's a fact of Bush life. I had to learn to drive when I was 13 or I wouldn't have been able to git to work."
"Have you been working since you were 13?"
"Sure have Yorky. The only problem is it's habit-forming. Once you start, it's hard to stop, especially when you've got a wife and 4 young kids like I've got."
"How far to your place now?"
"About another 10 minutes mate."
Jim puffed away on a small cigar.
"Do you always smoke cigars, Jim?"
"Yup, I sure do Yorky. That's another thing I started at 13 and now it's hard to stop, D'ya wanna try one mate?"
"If you've got enough, I'll have one."
"Oh, I think I can spare one, but if ya get the taste for 'em you'll have to buy ya own. There's a packet in the glove box. Help ya self mate."
"How d'ya like 'em?", he asked, as I puffed and coughed mi guts out.
"They're a bit strong."
"Yeah, they're beauties aren't they?", he said with a big grin on his face.
"Oh look". I said. "There's Burgooney Station."
"Yeh, that's right. Ya know Burgooney do ya?"
"Not really. It's where I got off when they sent me out here."
"Well, ya know Burgooney as well as anyone can 'cause that's all there is at Burgooney, the Ticket Station and I've never seen it open as long as I've been around here. My old Humpy's down the track a couple more miles. I think it used to belong to the railroad at one time."
"Who owns it now?"
"The cocky down the track further."
"Does it cost ya much in rent?"
"Not a penny, 'cause it's not worth it. The old place is falling down around mi ears, Yorky, but she'll do till I get something better, I suppose."
A few minutes later Jim pulled off the main track and took a small one-way Bush track through the scrub.
"There she is Yorky. That's mi old palace.", he said as we pulled up in a large clearing which was obviously his front yard.
As soon as the old Bedford pulled up outside the old broken-down Humpy, 4 little kids raced up to the drivers door and stared to bang on it with their small fists.
"Alright, alright.", said Jim to the kids. "Let a man git out so he can give ya a hug!"
The kids backed away from the door and Jim jumped down from the cab onto the dirt.
They were now tearing at his trouser legs for his undivided attention. He picked up each on of 'em in turn and gave them a big, noisy kiss on their cheeks. After that, they tried to drag him off into the old house.
"Come on Yorky.", he said. "We'll git ya gear in a while mate."
As soon as I got out of the cab, Jims' kids cried out in surprise and ran off into the house. I just stood there not knowing what to do or say.
"Did I scare them off Jim?"
"No Yorky, You're the first visitor they've seen for 6 months so they're a bit shy around strangers. Come on mate, let's go inside."