Thursday, August 20, 2009
“Ya ever had a fuck Yorky?”, said Kevin.
"Nah mate, I’m only 15. I doubt whether I'd git one in a brothel with a walletful of money."
We had a good laugh at this one.
"You'll have to come into town and stay at my place one night Yorky. I'll take ya down the main street after dark and introduce ya to the town bike."
"What's a town bike?"
"Not what mate, who? is more like it."
"OK, then who?"
"Who, is a young sheila that loves it. She's called the town bike because everybody rides her, Yorky. Don't ya git it mate?"
"I do now." I said. "But, I think I'll stick to walking until I git a ute."
"Yeh, that'll git ya a sheila, mate." he said with a smile.
After about an hour of joking and driving Kevin said to me, "We'll grease her up this time around Yorky. After I've finished dumping her I'll show ya how to grease her."
Once I became familiar with the header it only took me a few minutes to grease her, which I did while Kevin was emptying out the bin into the truck. Greased and emptied, we set off around the wheat paddock again.
"What's the matter?" said Kevin as I scratched away at my shoulders and the back of my neck.
"The wheat dust is making my skin itchy, mate."
"Yeh, you'll get itchy for the first couple of days, then after that you'll git used to it, mate. Wait till we start stripping the oats and barley. They're much worse than wheat mate."
"How long does it take to git used to that, Kevin?"
"Oh, once you've scratched all ya' skin off Yorky, you won't notice it anymore." he said with a grin.
Our days passed very much like that for about 8 weeks. One night as we were driving home, Digger said to me, "Grab the rifle off the back window will ya Yorky mate."
"No problem, mate." I said as I turned around to get it.
"There's a box of 22's in the glove box," said Kevin. "Fill the mag up will ya?"
"What ya gonna shoot?
"We need a couple of roo's for dog tucker. Diggers' got five dogs and I've got six of the bastards plus the old man has a couple. Two roos don't last very long between a dozen or so dogs. There's some scrub country up the back of Diggers' place so we'll swing by there on our way home. We'll get two or three quite easy 'cause it's right on dusk now."
"There's a small mob." said Digger, as we drove along side one of his fences.
"Jump in the back with the gun, Digger. Once you've shot one we'll chase 'em down the fence line. If we're lucky you'll git one on the hop!"
Digger very quietly opened the door and climbed in the back of the Ute with Kevin's' 5-shot Bruno 22.
BANG! A half-grown roo fell over on its' side and the others took off at top speed.
"Hang on Digger!" yelled Kevin as we bounced over the rough dirt track.
"Wait till we git a bit closer, sport. OK Digger, let 'em have it!"
Digger fired 2 shots and a big roo hit the dust. Two more shots rang out, but the roos kept hopping.
"Ah, ya useless fucking bastard!" yelled Kevin out the window. "Ya only got one of 'em."
Diggers rough head came into view upside-down in Kevins' side window and said, "You fucking try hitting 'em with a pea rifle off the back of a Ute with no crate on it if ya so fucking good Kevin. It's not as fucking easy as it looks, mate. Anyway, it took me all mi time to hang on. I almost fell out!"
"Ah ya fucking useless Digger", yelled Kevin. "Too much fucking wanking is your problem, mate."
"Well it's cheaper than looking after a fucking wife in town, Kevin."
At first I used to think that they were fair dinkum when they spoke to each other this way but after a while I came to realize that it was all designed to entertain me and entertain me they did.
The Ute pulled up alongside where the roo was now balanced on one leg and his tail and from looks of him he was not in a very good mood.
"He looks a bit cranky." said Kevin, as we got out of the cab.
"He's got a broken leg, that's why." I said.
"They're pretty tough bastards." said Digger, who was sitting on the edge of the back of the Ute.
"They sure are Digger." I said.
"You think you're as tough as a roo, Yorky?" said Digger.
"What d'ya mean Digger?"
"Well, for instance, it would be a bit of a shame to waste another good bullet on him, wouldn't it? "
"I suppose so." I said in my naiveté, not knowing I was in the process of being set up.
"Ya could strangle him, Digger." I said, which was exactly what he'd wanted me to say and I'd taken the bait, hook, line and sinker!
"Yeh, I probably could mate, but I'll bet mi boots a pommy bastard like you wouldn't be able to strangle him."
There was no way out of the challenge now 'cause I was in too deep, so my next line had to be "How much ya wanna bet, Digger?"
"How much ya make a week, Yorky?"
"10 quid. Why?"
"I'll bet ya half a weeks wages."
"You're on Digger." I said as I offered him my handshake.
"Ya words good enough for me, Yorky." he said with a big smile.
"Jesus Christ!" said Kevin. "This'll be a bit of fun. The pommy versus the roo, to the death!"
'Oh shit!' I thought, you let them con you Yorky, now you'll have to go through with it or they'll take the piss out of ya for weeks on end. They'll say that you're a gutless pommy bastard. You'll never hear the end of it.
"Whenever you're ready Yorky." said Digger. "Take ya time mate. He's got a real strong tail. Look how he's sitting up there mate!"
I turned to face the roo, who was now growling and raring to go. As I moved towards him he moved around a bit so he was still facing me, so I moved back around the other way. As soon as I made my move the roo made his, so he was still facing me. I thought, 'I may be able to run around the back side of him', but he saw what I was up to and hopped around on his one good leg and thick strong, sinewy tail to face me again.
"Ya not making much headway with him Yorky." said Kevin.
"I think the Pommy bastard's scared of him." said Digger.
"If I go at him face on, Digger, he'll kick mi guts out mate!"
"Yeh, he most likely will Yorky." said Digger, who was now chewing on a piece of wheat stalk.
"Tell ya what I'll do for ya Yorky." said Kevin, with a smile. "I'll distract him with a branch and you sneak around the back of him and when he's not looking at ya, run in and grab him mate!"
"OK!" I said, glad for some help. "Go grab a big stick."
Kevin moved over to the side of the fence and picked up a large stick with some eucalyptus leaves on the end of it.
"Alright Yorky!" he said with a big smile. "Git ready mate!"
Kevin walked in front of the roo and shook the stick in the roos face and as the roo turned to face him, I made the best of my opportunity. Running towards the roo, I grabbed him by the throat with mi bare hands. This really pissed him off. As I started to squeeze, he put his hands up to my hands that were wrapped tightly around his neck and started to claw at them, so I squeezed his neck much harder now. He fell over backwards on top of me, which knocked me to the ground, but by this time we were both fighting for our lives.
As we rolled around on the ground the roos one good back leg kept coming in, up and down with great force as his large razor sharp toenail cut through the air trying to connect with some solid pommy skin. The red dust was flying quite thick now as we rolled around in the dirt. The roos' large, thick tail was thumping the ground as he tried to get his balance back so he could regain his one good leg. We were so close together now that we could smell each other and he sure didn't like the smell of white, pommy, Palmolive-flavored skin, so he kicked as hard as he could while at the same time trying to twist his body so he was facing me.
I could hear Digger and Kevin laughing their heads off as Digger said, "Look out Yorky, If he gets turned around to face ya, ya fucked mate! I'll never collect mi five quid!" he roared with laughter.
"Fuck you Digger!" I screamed. "And fuck ya five quid mate. This bastard is a bloody strong roo, even with one leg!"
"Hang on to him, Yorky baby." roared Kevin from the sideline. "I think ya making a bit of progress with him, mate. Try squeezing a bit harder Yorky!"
I could feel the vibration in the roos' voice box as he growled and growled. I was squeezing as hard as I could but it was not making much of an impression on him as we still rolled around in the Aussie dirt. He tried to regain his foot and rolled over on his other side, taking me with him as I tried to get a foothold in the dust with mi work boot.
"I think ya getting one up on him, Yorky!" roared Kevin amidst a big belly laugh. "His eyes are starting to bulge a little bit."
"I can't squeeze any harder!”, I yelled to Kevin as we rolled around again.
"If he turns around to face ya Yorky, give him a big kiss. That'll confuse him mate, but be careful he doesn't bite ya lip."
"And look out for his breath!" added Kevin. "It probably stinks. It doesn't look like he's cleaned his teeth for a while, mate!"
"Give us a fucking hand, Kevin!" I yelled. "I'm stuck with him. I can't kill him and I can't let him go!"
"Ya going great Yorky." yelled Digger. "I'm getting mi 5 quid out now so I can pay ya mate, as soon as he's dead."
The roo was in no worse shape now than before I started. His sinewy neck was as strong as hard-core rubber under the gray and brown fur. The more and longer I squeezed, the more it seemed to piss him off. I felt like he knew I'd lost before I started and all I could do now was to hang on to his neck so he couldn't turn around and kick me to death.
As I eventually regained my feet, I yelled to Kevin,
"Bait him with the stick mate, I'm gonna try to let him go!"
"Nah mate.", he said. "Hang onto him Yorky. You're doing great cobber!"
"Fuck you Kevin! You take over if ya want but I'm lettin’ him go right now mate, so grab the stick!"
I let go of the grip I'd had on the roos' throat and as I opened mi hands he shot forwards and regained his feet. I shot backwards as fast as I could go without losing mi footing. The roo had turned around again as he'd gone forward so now we stood face to face with each other at a distance of about 8 feet.
As we both stood there, breathing hard and gasping for breath, Digger said, "I think you've just about got him fucked Yorky. Dive on him again mate and give him another good dose. Show him what you're made of Yorky!"
"Fuck you Digger!", I said, between gasps. "He's too good for me mate."
Digger was now sat on a can in the back of the Ute still laughing away to himself as Kevin shot the roo and stuck him in the back of the Ute with the other one.
"Alright.” said Kevin. "Let's go. It'll be ten O'clock before I get home at this rate. The missus will be wondering where I got to."
When we got back to the homestead we threw the 2 roos into the dog pen and Kevin opened 'em up with a sharp pocketknife so as to make it easier for them to get at the meat. When we walked away the Kelpies were all fighting to maintain their positions in the pack and some of them were fighting to move up a position so they could eat before the rest of 'em.
"Look at the bastards!" said Kevin. "They won't work for a bloody week after a feed like that."
"Yeah." said Digger. "It's just as well we won't be needing 'em for a while."
That evening, after a good shower, Digger related the story of how Yorky had tried to strangle a roo on the way home. Dick Skipworth had a good laugh between mouthfuls of cold mutton and Nellie said to me, "Be careful of those two boys of mine, Yorky, they'll kid ya up a tree and chop it down it ya let 'em."
"I can see that, Mrs. Skipworth. I'll watch out for 'em from now on. I owe Digger 5 quid."
Digger started to laugh and after he'd finished he said, "I'm canceling the bet, Yorky. That's the best 5 quids worth of entertainment I've ever had in mi life, mate."
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
"Hey Yorky mate, are we playing anywhere on Thursday night?"
"Yeah Bob, I've got a Jazz gig at a bar on the North Shore, nine till twelve."
"Well good on ya, mate. That's on my side of Sydney. What time are you gonna pick me up?
"Probably about 8:15. The gigs not far from your place so there's not much use in getting there too early."
"Have you got any gigs for over Xmas yet?"
"No mate, I was thinking of having a few nights off."
"That would suit me fine. Mi mate, who plays in a three-piece, needs a piano player. The regular bloke is off to Tassie for the week with his old lady. She's been whinging about going down there for months."
"No worries Bob, I'm off up to Coffs Harbour for three or four days."
"Jesus mate, they grow some off the best Ganja this side off the black stump. How about bringing some of it back down to Sydney with ya?"
"I'm not a real connoisseur of Ganja Bob. I've only smoked it a few times, and I've never bought it before."
'It's real easy Yorky mate, you just hand over the bucks and they hand over the stuff, ya can't go wrong pal."
"How much does it sell for in Sydney?"
"Twice as much as you can get it up there for. You could make yourself a couple of easy bucks. It would pay for ya holiday."
"I don't know anyone down here who would buy it."
"Jesus mate, my mate Bernie will buy as much off it as you can get. He's stoned 24\7. He even smokes it in his sleep; besides it's in short supply down here, no one has any.Ya' can't go wrong sport."
"Well, you contact him and see what you can do. If it's as you say, I'll think about it."
"I'll give him a ring after the next break. How's that sound?"
"Sounds good to me Bob."
After the next set, Bob came back from the bar and handed me a beer and said,
"Here ya go, Yorky mate, get this into ya, I called mi mate and he said whatever the Ganja costs you he'll double ya money as long as it's good stuff."
"OK mate I'll see what I can do."
A week later I found myself heading out of Sydney in a Northeasterly direction towards Coffs Harbor. Once I got out of the northern suburbs, it was a very pleasant drive as the road, more or less, followed the coastline all the way up to Coffs. My old orange 78 Holden Station Wagon was purring along, and the sun was reflecting off of the ocean.
After about eight hours of driving, I hit the outskirts of Coffs. Coffs Harbor used to be a small coastal town. That was before the developers got their greedy claws into it. Now, from what I could see, they had ruined the place. I saw malls where small shops used to be, and big new houses where once stood good old Aussie Bush.
There's a familiar site, a large, colorful Windmill that some Old Dutch bloke had shipped out from Holland in pieces. The local people said he was homesick and that’s why he had it moved, thousands of miles, on a boat, to Coffs. Thinking about it, it might have been easier to go back to Holland for a bloody holiday. Once it was put back together, he turned the bottom section of it into a high-class restaurant, which looked quite unique.
I drove straight out of town, past, the Plantation Hotel and onwards to my mate Ken's place. On the right hand side of me was the beautiful Pacific Ocean and on the left was acres and acres of Banana Plantations. In Coffs, bananas grew all over the hillside. This scene was much more enjoyable to me than the over-developed township. After fifteen minutes more driving I was knocking on Kens' front door.
"Yorky Mate!" he said, as he opened the front door. "Good to see ya mate. Ya made it all right. How was the drive up?"
"Not bad mate." I said, as we shook hands. "I'm bloody glad to be out of Sydney for a while. Your old lady doesn't mind me hanging out with you for a few days does she?"
"No mate, she'll be glad to talk to another Pommy Bastard. She gets sick of talking to me every day, that’s when I'm not out wind-surfing, which is most of the time."
"Jesus Ken, you've got a great place here, right on the beach. You couldn’t get any closer if you tried mate."
"Only place for a life-long surfer to live Yorky. Mi daughter loves it too. She's like me. We can't keep her out of the water. Anyway, come in Yorky mate. It's too bloody warm standing on the doorstep."
A few hours later, after our socializing was done, Ken and I took off for a couple of cold middies at the local Hotel. Once we got situated in some comfortable chairs I introduced the subject of Ganja.
"Hey Ken, do you know anyone around hear who and sells Ganja?"
"Jesus mate there are more marijuana growers around here than there are Banana Plantations. I don't know any of my surfing mates who don't smoke."
"Do you still smoke mate?"
"Nah, Yorky mate, my old lady really cops the shits when I smoke these days. She thinks it’s a bad influence on mi daughter. Can you fucking believe that? It's her bastard pommy upbringing that does it."
"Don't you have a puff before you go Wind-Surfing?"
"Some times. The problem is; if I smoke too much, I stay out in the surf all fucking day. That really sends her over the top."
"She gets cranky eh?"
"You could say that. Put it this way, no pussy for a month lets me know she's not real fucking happy."
"Drink up Yorky mate, it's my shout. Anyway, what are you so interested in ganja for? I thought you didn't smoke."
"I don't, well not very much. Let me explain the deal to you."
Kenny listened while I went through the saga of the ganja. At the end, he said,
"Sounds like a good plan to me Yorky, I'm sure I can line you up with a score before you go back to the Big Smoke, I'll call this bloke I know when we get home. Him and his mate are big time dealers around here. They're sure to have as much as you need. "
Later that evening, at Kens place, the doorbell rang. Kens old lady answered it.
"Its for you Kenneth." she said, as she walked back in the room. I don't want that Yobbo in my house. Take him down stairs to the den. I heard on the grapevine that he's a big-time drug dealer!"
"Jesus love, he sells a bit of Ganja now and again. That’s not drug dealing, that’s a hobby."
"I don't care what you call it Ken. You know my views on drugs!"
"Ok sweetheart, I'll take him in the basement. We can have a game of pool. Let's go Yorky mate. This is mi mate Bruce, Yorky. Ya' got any weed for sale?"
"Does a Roo shit in the bush mate? In all the time you've known me have you ever not seen me without weed for sale?"
Bruce was a sleazy looking Bastard if I ever saw one. His shifty eyes were all over the place except where they should be, in his head.
"Yorky's looking to buy a bit of Ganja to take back down to Sydney with him."
"We'll mate, you're talking to the right bloke." He said, as his shifty eyes quickly scanned my way, averting my eyes in the process.
"How much are you looking for, a couple of Pounds?"
"No mate." I said. "More like a quarter."
"Ounces or Pounds?"
"Jesus Christ mate, I could smoke that in a fucking night on mi own."
"Yeah well, maybe you could Bruce, but I'm not a big time smoker."
"How much is it anyway?"
"For you mate, $200 an ounce and that’s cheap. You won't find it anywhere else cheaper than that. Me and my mate have the best prices on the East coast, and the best Ganja, I might add!"
"You got any with ya now?"
"Don't be silly mate. Ya think I drive around with it in mi Ute. The cops have been watching me for months now. They're only waiting for one little excuse to pick me up. I've been busted before. One more time and I'll be vacationing in Grafton for a few months."
"Well you won't have far to go Bruce." said Ken, laughing. "Grafton's only an hours drive from here. Your mate could visit you on the week-ends with a joint."
"Very fucking funny Kenny! You should be in the clubs mate. You're a laugh-a-fuckin' minute."
"I'm only joking with ya Bruce, for fucks sake. So when ya gonna bring us a bud around to try out?"
"Don’t you fucking trust me mate?"
"Sure I do Bruce but Yorky doesn't."
"Ya don't trust me mate?"
"Well, it's not that I don’t trust ya Bruce, but I would like a sample before I buy."
"Jesus Christ, what am I dealing with here, a bunch of fuckin' novices? Alright then, when ya going back down to Sydney?"
"I'll be back tomorrow with a small sample. I'm not a fucking charity ya know. People around here trust me. I've got my good name to consider!"
"Don't get the shits Bruce." said Kenny. "Yorky's right. He doesn't know you from a bar of soap. You could be a real gouging Bastard for all he knows."
"I've never gouged any bastard in mi life; 'Honest Bruce' is who I'm known as!"
"We're not accusing you of anything mate. Just like to be on the safe side, ya know." "Ok, I'll see see ya tomorrow evening, about the same time."
The next evening Bruce dropped off a reasonable-sized bud, which Ken and I tried. Ken was much more of a toker than I was and he reckoned that the Ganja was well worth $200 an ounce.
Driving back down to Sydney with the Ganja tucked under the front seat; I was smiling to myself, thinking about all the money I was going to make when I got home.
'I can sell it for $400 an ounce. That would be double mi money and still a fair price for Bobs mate to pay. This little caper is too easy; if every thing goes well, I may decide to do this more often!'
The first thing I did when I arrived back was to call Bob. He said he'd send his mate around to pick up the stuff.
"Tell him to bring the cash with him. I don't do credit."
That was the last thing I said to him as I put the phone down. An hour later Bobs' mate, Bernie, was ringing my doorbell.
"How are ya mate?" he said as I let him in.
"I'm Bernie, Bobs mate."
"Yea I know mate, Bob said you were on your way over."
"Ya got the weed?"
"Yea, sit down at the table Bernie I'll go get it. Here ya go mate." I said, as I handed him the bag,
"Ya got the money?"
"Yea. Ya don't mind if I check it out first do ya?"
"No mate, go ahead."
With that, he tipped the bag of Ganja out on the table and immediately pulled a weird face.
"What the fuck is this shit!" he said as he moved the Ganja around on the table.
"What d'ya mean? What's wrong with it?" I asked.
"This stuff is fuckin' shit man! Is this some sort of a fucking joke? I just drove all the way over the harbor bridge to see this crap!"
"I don't know what your talking about mate." I said, as his face changed radically before my eyes.
"Are you fuckin' kidding me sport, you had me drive all the way out here to look at a bunch of fucking shake?"
"What are you talking about mate? What the fuck is shake anyway?"
"You're fuckin' serious aren't you? You have no idea what I'm talking about do you?"
"Look mate." I said. as I looked him square in the eyes. "Bob asked me to bring some Ganja back from Coffs. He said Sydney was all dried up so while I was up there I met this bloke who I bought this from, that's all I know."
"Did you try it out before you bought it?
"Sure I did. Ya think I'm fucking stupid! He brought a bud around for me and mi mate to try, then dropped this stuff off just before I left to come back down here."
"Did you get ripped on it?"
"Course I did! Mind you I haven't smoked much, I've only tried it a couple of times. What the hell is shake anyway?"
"Jesus Christ mate, you really did come down in the last shower! Ya not shit'n me are ya.?"
"No mate, I'm not a bullshit artist. I did it as a favour for Bob and I thought I might make a few bucks in the process."
"Well mate, all I can tell you from 30 years of dealing is, you've been well and truly shafted!"
"So what your saying is the weed is no good."
"No good mate? That’s this years' understatement. This shit wouldn't make a good cup of tea!"
"Oh for fucks sake." I said. What do you suggest I do with it?"
"You can shove it up ya fuckin arse for all I care!" He said as he got up from the chair. "That was a waste of my valuable time."
"Look mate, don’t get cranky about it." I said. From what you're saying I've been ripped off. But that doesn't mean I'm going to stand here and let you fucking well make matters worse by insulting me!"
Now I really had the shits, the pulse in my navel was starting to beat strongly and I was entertaining the idea of smacking this rude bastard in the mouth.
"Ok, Ok mate." said Bernie. "Settle down. I didn't mean any harm. You got ripped off, and you've got a right to get cranky."
"Do you have any decent suggestions for me?" I asked.
"Yea, I do mate. Never buy drugs from some one you don't know, especially when you have no idea what you're looking at. How much did you pay for this crap?"
"Eight hundred bucks!"
"Jesus Christ! Well mate, chalk it up to experience and consider your self lucky. They could have gotten you for a lot more!"
After Bernie left, I sat at the table looking at four ounces of shake. Eight hundred dollars it cost me to learn a new word, SHAKE, a bunch of stalks and leaves. Let me tell you, I have been conned a few times in my life and not once has it ever felt good and this time was no exception. After ten minutes of thinkin' with a pipeful of St Bruno Flake I decided that action was required. I would simply call Ken, get Bruces' number and call him up and politely explain the situation to him, and a genuine misunderstanding will be put right."
"Bruce, how are ya mate, its Yorky."
"What do ya want mate?"
"It's about the Ganja."
"What about it?"
"I tried to sell it to a mate of mine and he said it was no good."
"What do ya mean no good?"
" Mi mate said it was a bunch of shake."
"So why are you calling me?"
"I would appreciate a refund as I can't sell it."
"Look mate you tried it before you bought it you had no complaints then."
"Yea, but this stuff you put in the bag is not the same as what I tried."
"Listen mate, I gave you a great deal, I put more than 4oz in the bag. You should think your self lucky mate."
"All the same Bruce I would like a refund please."
"What do you think I am mate, a fucking shop? You get no fucking refunds from me. You bought it and your stuck with it! Don't fucking call here again ya bastard!"
With that, he put the phone down as I heard a loud click in mi ear. I decided it was time to give Bruce one more opportunity to make it right. After dialing his number I waited quite calmly as I listened to the dial tone.
"G'day." said Bruces' voice on the other end of the line.
"Bruce, this is Yorky mate."
"What do you fucking want? I thought I told you not to fuckin' call here again."
"Yea, ya did Bruce, but I forgot to tell you something."
"Listen to me, you fucking scumbag, cock sucking, mongrel-bred, mother-fucking drug addict, if my $800 is not returned within the next twenty-four hours you know what I'm gonna do fuck-face? I'm going to take this bag of useless shit you gouged me on and I'm going to wrap it up like a Xmas present and I'm going to post it off to the Coffs Harbor Police Station to 'Care of the Desk Sergeant' with your full-fucking-name and address on it, arsehole. Do you fucking well understand me, anus- breath? You ripped off the wrong one this time, you mongrel bred cunt!"
Within ten minutes my phone started ringing. I picked it up and a voice on the other end said,
"Yorky, it's Bruce."
"What do you want? ya Bastard?"
"You're not going to do something you might regret are you.?"
"No mate, I'm gonna do something that you'll regret. You'll regret the fucking day you ripped old Yorky off mate. I've dealt with much bigger mongrel-bred Bastards than you Bruce. Don't fucking call here again mate!"
"Now hold on Yorky, hold on a minute. Let me talk to my partner about it and I'll call you back within the hour."
"I'll be here mate. I'm not going anywhere. I'm broke!"
An hour later the phone rang and Bruce very politely explained to me how a mistake had been made with the Baggies. He asked for my address and informed me that an over-night bank cheque would be sent to me as soon as he got off the phone. He then asked me quite politely if that would be a satisfactory arrangement and would that put the matter to rest.
"No worries Bruce." was my reply.
The next day a Special Delivery letter arrived with a bank cheque made out in my name to the tune of $800! There was only one more thing bothering me now; I had mi $800 back and some fine Coffs Harbor shake. I didn't want to rip off Bruce so I packed his shake in a small cardboard box and sent it back to him FIRST CLASS MAIL.
I didn't want it to get lost, seeing as the scales were now well balanced.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Wool packs were put in place and the catching pens were filled up. Six pieces of paper with the numbers 1 to 6 were folded up and put in a hat. After they'd been shaken up, each shearer drew out a number, which denoted what stand he would work on. Whoever drew number 1 was expected to do the reps job, which meant in the event of a problem arising, the representative had to speak for the men. He would complain to Freeman, who was the contractor, and in turn, Freeman would go and see the cocky.
The shearers all picked up their hand-pieces after the draw and then proceeded to screw a comb and cutter in place. At the back of the hand-piece was a screw hole which had to be filled with oil at the end of every run, which lasted 2 hours.
Everything was now in place so everyone stood around waiting for the bell to go at 7:30. When 7:30 arrived Freeman rang the bell. All six shearers entered their pens and grabbed hold of a large, rough Wether. After tipping it over on its' arse they dragged it backwards by its front legs to the down-tube, where their stand was.
Gundy sat up his sheep, tucked the sheeps' right front leg under the side of his ribs, tucked the other front leg behind his left elbow and pulled the string which set the shearing machine in motion. He adjusted the tension knob and then made 3 to 4 long blows from the sheeps' brisket down to its flank. He grabbed the now loose belly wool and threw it on the floor. It was my job to pick them all up. He then ran the machine out the top at the back leg, which trimmed all the wool off. Turning the machine around he made one long blow around the sheeps' crutch, from toe to toe. Then he shore the head, which is called the topknot. Taking a step forward, the sheep was now at a slight angle between his legs as he bent over and opened up the neck wool. The machine disappeared under the wool until Gundy flicked his wrist and the machine reappeared. He then proceeded to run his blow up the side of the wrinkly neck until it was clean. Picking up the front leg with his left hand he ran the blows down it as he turned around. Once the leg was clean he dropped the big Wether on its' back and started the long blow. In no time at all the sheep was half-shorn as Gundy dragged his right foot forwards and cleaned up around the horns and head. Once this was done, he pushed his blows over the wrinkles and down to the brisket. Then he cleaned around the shoulder and picked up the last front let. In a matter of seconds the leg was clean and he pushed the hand-piece down to the last flank, letting the sheeps' head come forwards. WHOOSH, WHOOSH, WHOOSH, went the blows as Gundys' arm pushed the bog-eye flat on the skin, out to the toe then clean up over the tail.
'CLUNK!' Gundy pulled the string again and the machine came out of gear. The sheep, which was now shorn 'clean as a whistle', fell through his legs and he pushed it down the chute with the sole of his right boot. Straightening up, he wiped the sweat from his brow and walked into the pen for another wooly Wether.
A roustabout listens for the 'clunking' sound which the overhead gear makes when the shearer pulls the string. This means someone has just started or finished a sheep. It can be a very demanding job, picking up wool for 6 fast shearers.
At 9:27 the bell goes and the shearer is not allowed to go in the pen for another sheep until 10 O'clock. From 9:30 to 10 is Smoko. Half-an-hour to have a cup of tea and a sandwich. After that the shearer rolls a smoke and then cleans up the combs and cutters he's used, ready for grinding again. With about 10 minutes left before 10 O'clock he lays on his back on the shearing board and puts his legs up on the wall. This little trick helps relieve the pain in his back from 2 hours of bending over, working his guts out.
At 10 O'clock, the bell rings and the process is started all over again. By the time 5:30 rolls around, it's no wonder the shearer likes a few beers. He has just finished slaving his guts out for 8 solid hours in heat that can reach the 120 degree mark.
Cyclone did the first few days really hard. Each time he straightened up from shearing a sheep, the pain on his face and in his eyes could be felt by all. He must have been sat in Giltraps' bar for at least three months, boozing all his money away. Many people did not believe he could even shear a sheep, let alone be a gun shearer.
Each day, as he persevered with the task of getting fitter, his shearing tally improved slowly but surely. By the end of the shed, old Cyclone was the top tally-man. He was a good-hearted man and never abused the Rousie if a fleece was missed and left laying on his stand.
Many years later I heard ,'through the grape-vine', that Cyclone drowned in four inches of water. Apparently, him and a few mates were driving home from the Hotel, drunk as usual, when the car spun off the road and into a table drain containing water. The car flipped over on its top and Cyclone was trapped inside, face down in the water. His reckless lifestyle brought him to an appropriate end.
One evening when Gundy and Cyclone were grogging on, they ran out of beer and plonk. Gundy said to me, "Hey Chummy, ya got any plonk left mate?"
"Sure have Gundy. Why?"
"Can we have some of it?", he said with a boyish grin.
"Tell ya what I'll do Gundy. You teach me to shear and I'll provide you with a gallon of plonk and a carton of fags a week. How's that sound mate?"
"You're on Chummy! Now go and fetch ya' half-gallon flagon. We'll start ya payments off tonight!"
That evening Gundy and Cyclone almost finished the whole flagon off. I said to Gundy, "Fuckin' hell Gundy! You're like a big kid with a bag of lollies. Ya can't stop till you've drunk the lot!"
This little joke of mine sent old Gundy into fits of laughter, along with a spasm of coughing.
The following morning, true to his word, Gundy stared my shearing lessons. At the end of the first run, he called out, "Chummy! Git over here mate, if ya wanna' learn to shear!"
He pulled the machine out of gear and said, "Alright Chummy, ya can finish the last side. Pull his head forwards and put ya knees there. Now push down on his shoulder and hang on to the hand-piece."
The hand-piece was really hot from all the sand in the wool and it wanted to spin out of my hand as I tried to control it.
"Ya gotta' keep it on the skin, Chummy. It's the shortest way around the sheep, mate! Don't do any of that jabbin', mate, or it will become a habit."
The wool was actually coming off the skin as I pushed the hand-piece along the contours of the sheep.
"That's it Chummy! Keep the comb full and go slow until you've got all the blows down."
As I finished off the big wether, Athel Cook came walking up the board.
"What are ya doing with that sheep, Chummy? Tryin' to root it mate?"
"I'm leaning to shear, Athel.", I said, without raising my head.
"You shear, ya pommy bastard? You'll never make a shearer as long as ya arsehole points to the ground, mate!"
"He'll make a better shearer than you Athel!", said Gundy.
"Bullshit mate! No fuckin' pommy will out-shear me!"
"Tell ya what, Athel, I'll bet ya, before this shed's over that Chummy can shear one of these wethers under 5 minutes!", said Gundy.
"Fucking bullshit Gundy!"
"I'll bet ya 10 bucks and a gallon flagon of plonk, mate!"
"Alright Gundy, ya fuckin' on, mate!"
As I pulled the machine out of gear, the sweat was pouring out of mi forehead and the small of mi back had a cramped pain in it from bending right over.
"Ya hear that mate? I'm gonna make a good shearer out of you. Just listen to what I tell you and every spare moment ya have, stand in front of me and watch."
"I'll give it my best shot, mate. I won't let ya down.", I said.
Each day, I started and finished off sheep for Gundy. Towards the end of the first week I shore a Wether from start to finish. It took me about 14 minutes and by the time I was finished, I was drenched in sweat.
"Good on you Chummy!", said Gundy. "that wasn't too bad for a learner. We've got to work on the blow and keep the machine flat on the skin."
The Shearing Shed on the One Tree Plain was now on it's last day. I had shorn my sheep in 4 minutes and 50 seconds! Gundy and the others had won their bet. Athel Cook was not too pleased about this. That evening, in the barroom, he tried to make things hard for me by calling me a 'pommy bastard' all evening. Eventually, his wife came out of the Sow Pen and took him home.
For the record; 15 years later, I was shearing around the Lake again. Athel, who was now about 60, had the misfortune of meeting me in Giltraps. A bloke, Mark Hargraves, had been kind enough to find me some work. Athel would be working alongside me for two weeks! On Sunday night, he was trying his best to upset me by calling me derogatory names and telling everyone in the bar that he was going to 'work me to death' in the following two weeks.
The first day, Athel shore 110 and I shore 125!
The next day, he shore 120 and I shore 150!
Try as he could, for the next two weeks, he could not keep up with me. By the end of the first week he was not looking too good. At first, everyone at Giltraps took the piss out of him 'cause he'd bragged and skited that he'd shear more sheep than that 'gutless, pommy bastard Yorky'! Halfway during the second week, he looked terrible. His ego was crushed and he could hardly walk. He was overworking his body so much that people stopped teasing his and told him to 'slow down before old Yorky works ya into the ground!' He refused to listen and kept up his pace hoping to catch up with me. At the end of two weeks he had to visit the local doctor for some pills. A week later, he had a heart attack and dropped dead.
From that day on, some shearers claimed that Yorky was the only shearer in Lake Cargelligo to work another shearer to death!
"Bullshit!", I said. "He had no hope of catching me!"