"I'm starting a new job tomorrow out Hilston way, if ya still wanna' work Burgoo."
"That's miles away from the Lake. It'll take an hours' travelling each way. Ya gonna' pay me for that?
"No fuckin' way, ya burgoo spittin' bastard. We'll be campin' out in the shed."
"What shed? Is it a fuckin' humpy?"
"No ya pommy bastard. It's the same shed that we're building."
"Then how can we camp in it, if it's not built yet?"
"Half of it's already built, Pongo. All the steel frame work's up and a bit of floorins' in. We've gotta' put the corrugated iron on the roof and the walls and finish the flooring. We've also gotta' weld up some tubular steel catching pens and forcing pens. So, ya still wanna' come?"
"No worries Cecil. I've got nothin' else on."
'You'll need to bring enough gear with ya for about a week or so."
"What are we gonna' do for tucker and grog, mate?"
"I'm providing the tucker and ya supply your own grog. I'm not a Vinnie de Paul fuckin' charity."
"Alright Cecil, keep ya fuckin' hair on mate. I was only askin'. Anyway, Cecil I've been meaning to ask you, why are you always so cranky and ignorant?"
"Fuck you Burgoo! But seein' as ya asked, I'll fuckin' tell ya!"
"Years ago I used to be real easy-goin', but I found out, the hard way, the better I treated mi workers, the more they took advantage of me. They cost me a lot of money! Between that and mi old missus hittin' me up for a ton of money for maintenance, I had to change mi ways. Anyways, what the fuck am I telling you all this for burgoo?"
" I thought it help us get on a bit better Cecil."
"You just keep ya head down ya arse up burgoo and you I will git on fine."
"No worries Cecil, suits me."
"Don't forget Burgoo, It's your first round, as soon as we hit Gilltraps!"
As we reversed into the street parking outside Taps, Ivers said,
"Keep your eye out for a bloke called Reggie. He's comin' out with us for a few days."
"Who's he and here d'ya know him from?"
"He's a blow-in I met at Twitcheys' the other night. He says he's lookin' for work so I'm givin' him a go."
"No worries Cecil."
"What the fuck are we sittin' here talking for in the hot street when Gilltraps has got cold beer, ten feet away?"
"I don't know Cecil, you're the one doin' the talkin'."
"Fuck you ya' Burgoo spittin bastard.", said Ivers as he opened the Utes' door, got out and slammed it, as he made his way into Traps."
Traps was busy that night so we had to wait a minute or so for our middies. Ivers, being as impatient as he was, yelled out,
"Oye, how about some fuckin' service here. You've got two thirsty customers waitin'."
One of Gilltraps bar stewards came over and said,
"What a' ya have fellas?"
"2 middies.", said Ivers. "and fuckin' hurry up. We're dyin' of thirst!"
"No worries mate. We're a bit busy tonight."
"Ya see that Burgoo. That's how ya git fast service mate. If I'd left it to you, we'd still be fuckin' waitin'.
"Well that's not my way Cec, what can I tell you."
The barman sat the 2 middies on the bar and I shouted the first round. Ivers picked up his beer and downed it in one go.
"AH!", he said, "You bloody little beauty! Come on Burgoo, get that middy up ya, it's your round."
"I just bought the first one Ivers."
"Did ya? It must be my turn then? Are you sure you bought the first one Burgoo?", said Ivers, with a slight grin on his face.
"Course I am. You just downed it."
"I'm just checkin' mate. You Pommy bastards are as tight as a fishes arse, and that's water-tight."
"What about you fuckin' Aussies mate? If you had another brain in your head, it would be fuckin' lonely."
"Two more middies.", said Ivers as he pulled out the old leather, sweat-stained wallet.
This was the kind of relationship I had with Cecil Ivers. I would have preferred it to be of a different nature but Ivers never said he was unhappy with it, so I continued to play my part. A few beers later, Ivers said,
"I'm off now. I'm havin' an early night. I've got a shit-load of stuff to git ready for tomorrow and I don't want to forget anything 'cause it's a fuckin' long drive back."
As he got up off his stool he said,
"Be at mi place tomorrow morning at 5 Burgoo. Ya can give us a hand to load up the Ute and before ya ask, Yes, I'll give ya' an extra hour and consider ya' self fuckin' lucky, ya burgoo spittin' bastard!"
The next morning I was at Ivers house, right on time. Ivers was already up and loading the Ute. As I walked into his yard, he said,
"Ya late Burgoo. What ya been doin', floggin' ya fuckin' maggot all morning?"
"Very fuckin' funny Ivers. I see you're in your usual charming mood this morning."
"Throw those fuckin' tools in the back and don't forget any or we'll be in the shit."
"Ya mean, I'll be in the shit."
"Right, first time Burgoo."
About the time we were finishing loading the Ute, Ivers wife came out into the yard and said to Ivers,
"I've got hot tea and toast for ya, when your done Cec."
"We'll be done in five minutes,", said Ivers, without even lookin up.
After we had finished, Ivers said to me,
"Come on inside Burgoo. Let's have a mug of tea before we take off."
I noticed Ivers old, weather-board house was quite neat, as I followed him into the kitchen. His missus was pouring the tea and putting some hot toast on the table as we entered.
"This is Burgoo.", said Ivers as we sat down."
"Mi names Yorky Mrs. Ivers. Pleased to meet ya."
"His names Burgoo.", said Ivers, as he shoved a piece of toast in his mouth.
"What did you call him Cec?", said Mrs. Ivers.
"His names Burgoo, 'cause he's a Burgoo spittin' pommy bastard!"
"Behave yourself Cec and show a bit of respect and manners. He's a guest in our house."
"He's a pommy bastard."
"My names Susan. How d'ya like Australia Yorky?"
"I love it Susan. It's a really great place."
"Did ya come out here with ya parents?"
Before I could answer, Ivers said,
"He hasn't got any parents. I told ya, he's a burgoo spittin' pommy bastard!"
"Oh shit up Cec and act your age! Would you like more toast Yorky?"
"Yes please.", said Ivers in a mock english accent. "Anyone would think that you're well bred Burgoo!"
"Maybe he is Cec. How would you know?"
"None of these pommys they send out here are well bred. They're all a pack a' bastards that we have to put up with."
"How can you stand workin' with him all day, when he's so rude Yorky?"
"Oh, this is nothin' Mrs. Ivers. He's being quite polite this morning."
Ivers looked at me and said,
"You crawling pommy bastard!", and then shoved the last piece of toast in his mouth and swilled it down with the last of his tea.
Getting up out of his chair, he said,
"Come on Burgoo, get a bloody move on. We've got a long drive this morning."
"He hasn't finished yet Cec."
"If he eats anymore I'm gonna' dock it off his pay."
"Don't listen to him Yorky. He's all bark and no bite. He's a big softy really."
"Jesus Sue, don't give the bloody game away or I'll never get any work out of the pommy bastard!"
"Thanks for breakfast Mrs. Ivers.", I said, pushing back my chair.
Ivers now had one of his usual scowls on his face as he picked up his tucker box. He gave his missus a quick peck on the cheek and said,
"I'll see ya on the weekend Darl."
"Don't forget ya clothes bag.", said Sue, as Ivers headed for the door.
"Yeah, right. Thanks."
"What would you do without me Cec.", she said jokingly.
Ivers just grunted, took the bag from her and made his exit. His missus stood at the door and waved us off as we pulled away from his front yard.
"Yes please, no thank you Mrs. Ivers!", said Ivers, in a phony pommy accent as he shoved the gear shift into second.
"What's the matter with you this morning Cecil? Did ya miss out last night?"
"Fuck you!", said Ivers as we made our way back to Twitcheys' Hotel, where the new blow-in was supposed to be waiting for us.
Ivers applied the brakes outside Twitcheys as the blow-in walked over to the Ute.
"Jesus christ.", said Ivers. "The bastard fronted up! Hurry up Sport!", yelled Ivers, out of the window. "I haven't got all day to wait for you, ya bastard. Throw ya gear in the back and hop in before we strike a blow."
"G'day.", said the blow-in as he opened the door and slid in. "Mi names Reggie."
"Yorky.", I said, offering him mi hand.
Without fail, Ivers piped up right on que and said,
"His name's Burgoo. He's a crawlin' pommy bastard.
The blow-in didn't know what to say, so he forced a fake smile onto his face.
Driving off up Lake Cargelligos' main street , Ivers said to Reggie,
"I hope you're as good as ya word Reggie?"
"What d'ya mean?", said Reggie.
"Work! That's what I mean mate, what fuckin' else. I want this fuckin' job finished in record time. I've got a lot of fuckin' bills to pay out this month."
Reggie didn't know what to say, so he said to me,
"Ya want a smoke mate?", as he pulled out a packet of Pall Mall.
"Good on ya Reggie. Don't mind if I do."
A minute later, Ivers said,
"Open that fuckin' window ya bastard. I hate those stinkin' breathing sticks."
"It's open.", said Reggie, in a nervous voice.
"It's only half-open, ya fuckin' dingbat!"
With that, Reggie wound the handle all the way down.
Reggie was a medium height, skinny sort of bloke with slicked down hair. The front of it was combed over in a small quiff. The length of it was the standard Bush length of those days, short back and sides. Anyone who let their hair grow long was called a 'bloody Yobo." He wore the usual bush clothes, navy blue singlet, shorts and Blunstones, with no socks.
"D'ya bring enough grog with ya mate?", said Ivers to Reggie.
"No mate. I'm broke. I asked the Publican to put a couple of dozen cans on tab for me but he said, "Why would I do that, I don't even know ya'. Ya might shoot through on me. Try me again once you've cashed a couple of checks over the bar."
"That sounds like Twitchy.", said Ivers. "He's been shafted one too many times."
Reggie made the mistake of asking Ivers if he'd brought any spare tinnies with hiim.
"You've gotta' be fuckin' jokin' mate. I'm a fuckin' building contractor, not a fuckin' nurse maid! Even Burgoo knows to bring his own grog when we're campin' out and he's a fuckin' pommy!"
Just then, Ivers lifted the side of his arse and let go one of of the loudest and longest farts I've ever heard. The expression on his face didn't change one little bit as he said to me,
"Hey burgoo, do farts have lumps in 'em?"
"Not too my knowledge Cecil."
"Then I think I might have shit miself. It's probably that beef stew the missus made last night."
"Oh Jesus Reggie! Open the fuckin' window mate."
"It's already open mate. It won't open any more."
"Ivers, stop the fuckin' Ute mate. That's really fuckin' disgusting! You smell worse than a roo dog that's been eatin' rotten kangaroo meat!"
Ivers never even took his eyes off the road as he said,
"Fuck you Burgoo. Ya think your shit doesn't stink? That's what I mean about you pommy bastards. You're all up ya selves!"
As I pulled mi singlet out of mi work pants and covered mi nose with the end of it, I said to Ivers in a muffled voice,
"You need a fuckin' pull-through Ivers, with a length of barbwire."
Ivers, who was, by now, quite predictable said,
"Fuck you Burgoo!".
By this time, I knew Ivers habitual responses so to tease him a bit more, I said to him,
"Hey Cecil, your missus seems like a lovely, well-mannered lady. How does she put up with you? She must be a saint!"
This little joke pushed one of Ivers' buttons and he said,
"Shut the fuck up Burgoo or I'll stop this fuckin' Ute and knock ya arse over head, ya pommy bastard."
"All right Cecil, no worries mate. Just havin' a bit a' fun."
"Ya won't think it's fun if I give ya a fat lip, ya pommy bastard.", he said, as he turned off the main Hilston dirt road, onto a bush track that led to the cocky's property.
When we arrived at the cockys' half-built shearing shed, the cocky was already there, cleaning up the place, as the last bloke had left all his garbage laying around.
"Unload the Ute, Burgoo, while I have a yarn with the cocky. Ya can stack all our gear over there. "
"Come on Reggie, let's git started. It's not gonna unload itself.", I said to Reggie.
"Jesus, Yorky mate, how do you put up with that bastard. he's as ignorant as pig shit."
"Yeah, you're not wrong there Reggie. He wouldn't win a popularity contest or a beauty contest!"
"Is he alway like that?"
"Yeh mate, he's pretty consistent. The one good thing in his favor though, he's a good payer if ya work hard and he always pays cash money."
"If he starts on me like he does you mate, I don't think I'll last too long.", said Reggie.
"Try to ignore him and you'll be right mate. He's like a big, fuckin' wart, he grows on ya, after a while."
"He sounds like a dose a' pox to me Yorky and I'm not lookin' forward to a week of that!"
When Ivers had finished talking to the cocky, the cocky hopped in his Ute and took off.
"Haven't ya finished unloadin' that fuckin' Ute yet Burgoo? Ya fuckin' around like an old Moll at a christening!", He said, as he walked towards me. "Alright you two bludging bastards, here's the Johny Dory!"
Ivers walked us both around the job sight and pointed out al the work he wanted done in a week.
"Strueth! That's a lot of work to do in a week!", said Reggie.
"Bullshit!", said Ivers. "Those fuckin' bungs out at the mission could do this in a week and still have a couple of hours to spare! If ya not up for it mate, you'd better fuck off now!"
"No, no, she'll be right mate. You're the boss."
"Yeah, that's right sport and don't you forget it!"
We worked really hard all day moving 10 X 4 corrugated iron sheeting closer to the shed, ready to put the roof on the next day. At 6:30 the cocky drove up in his Ute and handed Ivers an old beat-up tucker box, said a few words to him, then drove off. Ivers carried the tucker box over to where we were working and said,
"That'll do for the day. We'll git a good early start in the morning."
"What we doin' for dinner Cecil?", I asked.
"Jesus Christ Burgoo, Ya already had a sandwich at lunch time. Don't tell me ya hungry again?
"I'm a growin' boy Cecil. What can I tell ya."
Ivers bent down and opened the Tucker box. He pulled out a six back of cold Tooeys and tossed us both a beer.
"Good on ya Cecil.", I said as I tested the cold can on mi forehead.
Reggie opened his can and said, "Cheers." He almost downed it all in one go. "Ya got anymore where that one came from?"
"Can you cook Reggie?", Asked Ivers.
"Sure mate. Why?"
" 'Cause there's 3 T-bones in the Esky and an electric fry pan in that wood crate. You're the cook mate! I'll have mine medium-rare and don't fuckin' burn it or you'll be walking to Hilston ta get more! There's a loaf a' bread in my tucker box and a tub of margerine. That should do us for tonight."
Ivers finished off his can and tossed us both another can each. A couple of beers after a hard days work was always welcome. It turned out that Reggie wasn't a bad cook after all either. Even Ivers wasn't complaining about the T-bone as he tore a chunk out of it, gave it a couple of chews and then swallowed it. Just for a joke, I said to Ivers,
"Didn't ya mother ever tell ya to chew ya food well before swallowing it Cecil?
"Fuck you burgoo! Look after ya own fuckin' steak and don't worry about mine. I'll bet you never had a T-bone in ya life till you came over here. What did you eat in Burgoo Land, Spam and fuckin' beans?"
"Ha ha ha, very fuckin' funny Cecil. No, my old man had a farm. We had chicken and roast potatoes for Sunday dinner."
"Jesus Burgoo, that's pretty rich tucker for a pommy, mate. Did it give ya the scours?"
"No, it didn't Ivers. Unike you, when ya dropped ya guts in the Ute this mornin'."
Reggie started laughing. Between laughs he said,
"Yorky's got a point there Cec. That was pretty rank mate. I almost had a chunder out the window."
"Fuck you Reggie. I thought you were on mi side, ya turncoat, Aussie bastard! I hope ya not gonna' end up like this pommy bastard!"
With that, Ivers got up and walked over to his Esky box and took out another six-pack of warm beer. When he came back, he said to me, "Are ya beers cold Burgoo?"
"No mate, I haven't got one of those magic bricks that ya stick in the freeze box."
Ivers tossed Reggie a warm can and said, "Here mate, ya fuckin' owe me. Ya can buy me a couple on Wednesday when we drive into Hilston."
"Are we off into town Wednesday night Cecil?", I asked.
"I suppose so. I'm gettin too old for this camping out lark. ", said Ivers.
Resting on a cold, wooden floor all night with no mattress was not the best place I had ever rested but it certainly wasn't the worst either.
Next morning, we were all up at daylight and the long, hard day began. Ivers showed up both how he wanted the corrugated roof put in place and hammered down. Working with large pieces of corrugated iron sheets was not an easy job and 90 degrees of sun, bouncing off of it did not contribute the the eyesight. Reggie was not handling the job very well. Ivers barking out his orders didn't help matters much either.
"I don't think I'm goin' to last the week out Yorky. This stinkin' job is the worst I've ever had for years mate."
"Don't let the work git to ya Reggie and just ignore Ivers manners. That's just how he is. He isn't gonna' change mate. Besides, if ya pull the pin, I'll be left with Ivers on mi own."
At one point, we needed some more nails, so I said to Reggie,
"You sit up here for a while mate and I'll climb down and get us some more."
Swinging mi leg over the side of the roof, I caught mi knee on a bent corner of the corrugation. I never took much notice of it until I was on the ground. In the process of looking for the roofing nails, I noticed a more than usual amount of flies landing on mi leg. Looking down, I saw a 2 inch gash in the side of mi knee. Blood was trickling down mi leg and into the inside of mi sock.
"Fuck me dead!", I exclaimed out loud as I examined the gash. I pulled it apart and found out it was also quite deep.
Ivers, who was working close by said,
"What ya whinging about now, ya pommy bastard?"
"I just put a big gash in mi leg, climbing down off the roof!"
Ivers took a look at it and said,
"There's a first-aid kit under the seat of the Ute. Go get it and clean it up."
In the process of wiping off the blood with a small bottle of rubbing alcohol and a cotton pad, Ivers took another look.
"If it doesn't stop bleeding Burgoo, we'll have to put a few stitches in it."
"Fuck that for a joke Ivers. That'll fuckin' hurt!"
"Then just put a lump a' gauze in it and stick it in place with a band-aid. Ya can wrap that crepe bandage around it. It should stop the bleeding."
The band-aid didn't want to stick at first but eventually it did. I wrapped it up with the bandage. The blood was starting to seep through a bit. I said to Ivers,
"Yah think it's gonna be alright?"
" Course it fuckin' is Burgoo. It's only a scratch."
"Fuck you Cecil, there's a fuckin' big gash in it!"
"Oh bullshit burgoo, my old missus has a bigger gash than that and she's got no worries!"
I was not going to get any sympathy from Ivers so I said,
"Fuck you Ivers, ya Aussie fuckin' bastard!"
"Stop fuckin' whinging burgoo and git back up on that bloody roof, I want it finished today."
Once I was up on the roof, Reggie said,
"What happened mate?"
"I cut the inside of mi knee on the corner of the corrugation as I was climbin' down."
"Shit mate, from the look of the blood on the bandage, ya may have to sew it up or go into Hilston to the hospital. They'll sew it and give ya a tetanus shot."
"She'll be right mate.", I said. "I'll keep an eye on it."
"What did Ivers say.",
"He said his missus has a bigger gash than that and she's still walkin' around."
Reggie burst out laughing. Between laughs he tried to apologize.
"Sorry about laughing mate, I just couldn't help it. I know he's an ignorant bastard but ya gotta' admit, it's not a bad joke."
"Yeah, suppose ya right, mate. If it wasn't stinging so much, I'd probably be laughing mi head off as well!"
"What are you bludging, fuckin' bastards doin' up there!", yelled Ivers. "Git ya fuckin' arses into gear or you'll both be up the fuckin' track!"
By the end if the day, the roof was in place, hammered down and the center cap was in place. The roof was finished! Ivers climbed the extension ladder and begrudgingly gave it his seal of approval.
At the end of the next day, with Ivers help, the walls were also hammered into place.
Wednesday mornin' came round too early, for my liking.
Ivers said, "We'll finish putting the shearing board in that those mongrel bred bastards left half-finished."
He showed us how he wanted the boards clamped together before we nailed them into place.
"Look at this bodgy fuckin' work.", said Ivers as he inspected the way the other crew had nailed the boards down. "Pull those boards up Burgoo before ya nail 'em. These fuckin' boards are still not 100% dry. If we leave 'em like that, in a couple of months there'll be bloody gaps in 'em! I don't know how some of these fuckin' builders make a living doing bullshit work like that!"
For all of Ivers ignorance bluster, I will say, he was a damn good builder. He never let shoddy work slip by.
By the end of Wednesday night, we were making good time on the shearing board. Around 6 O'clock the cocky showed up with a dozen cold cans, steak and chops.
"Are we still going into town Ivers?", asked Reggie.
"Nah, fuck it mate. We've got plenty of grog and tucker. If we go into Hilston we'll git full an dbe late back. We'll probably be finished by Friday arvo anyway, so we'll stick it out here."
We finished all the flooring, including the slats for the pens. By Friday arvo we'd finished everything that Ivers had contracted to do. While Reggie and me were loading all the gear into the old Falcon Ute, Ivers walked the cocky around the completed shed. The cocky was laughing and joking around with Ivers so I reckoned he was pretty happy with the work.
After the inspection was finished, the Cocky pulled out his checkbook, leaned over the bonnet of his Ute and wrote out the check for Ivers. He walked over to where Reggie and I were standing, shook our hands and thanked us for a job well done.
It wasn't long now before Ivers Ute was rattling and banging away as we bounced along the Cockys' dirt truck road, on our way to the watering hole, The Hilston Hotel.
Reggie was in high spirits as we drove along. He had finished the job, without pulling the pin. Ivers, also seemed in a bit better mood due to the fact that he had a big fat cheque folded up in his sweat-stained wallet.
The gash in my leg was healing. It had formed a long dark-looking scab on it. The sides of the gash were not too inflamed looking so I was happy about that, plus we'd put in a lot more hours by camping out, which meant we had a fair bit of money coming to us. That put a good smile on my face. All in all we were happy as pigs in shit!