Twelve Caesars.

Twelve Caesars.

Book four..: Discourses on the 12 “Stations” of Christopher Corridini.


Fourth Station; Jesus meets His Mother.

On the capability and permissibility for a mother to intercede on behalf of her child.

A Mother’s Right.

I see her even now so a child sees his mother…like a son sees his mother for what was honoured what was loved and what was wanted…what was wanted and also what was lost…What tragedy is a mother?…can the loyalty of a legion of national heroes match her dedication and honour?…what an investment is her love of her offspring, to give so much of her heart so that in the end she can only watch as they leave her and leave her care..she must watch as they leave her care..she cannot hold them to herself any longer…then they are gone..and she grows old.

My younger brother had an accident while riding his motorcycle, the damage to his leg was quite severe and left him with steel pins and plaster cast for around eleven months. I had just returned from working in the north of Australia and the cold weather was not conducive to a good mood.

Winter…The carriage of the morning 8.28. train to the city was cold and draughty. Rain streaked on the panes of glass, angled and beaded by the wind. I sat chilled, committed to endure the ritual of confronting the almighty twin towers of LAW and ORDER..but rather, not exactly me, but my mother. I was brought along for moral support. We were going to the small-claims court to contest a hearing that went against my brother in the cause of the accident..My brother lost that case and had resigned himself to the result, but our mother was adamant that “justice and a fair decision” was our right.

I had already leaned in my young life that which a more trusting older generation did not seem to be able to grasp: You cannot for the love of Mary expect a fair shake from those tombs of Law ( those dusty-musty tombs) without pouring everything paid for and promised into that gaping maw of “legal representation” . It ‘d be cheaper to run a Rolls Royce.

A child over the road from the station. On her way to school no doubt. Yellow raincoat with bag clumsily slung over shoulder skipping carefree in the drizzle….(O’ …, child run past my window…wide, … something-something-with every stride….O’). The image started a rhyme growing in my head..


“Hmm, Yes mum.”

“Did you see that young girl over the road there? Ah, the young, they don’t seem to feel the cold like we do. ”

“hmm……(…youthful life in every…nuh..doesn’t work)”

“How many witnesses did you get hold of?”

“Well..the legal aid people said to bring along as many as possible, it looks good in the magistrate’s eyes.” Mother replied.

“Yes, but how many did you get?”

“Only Mrs. Rowe….Mrs. Morris wouldn’t come…I can’t blame her..she’s expecting, she’s nervous.”

“Hmm. Do you hold much hope?” I asked.

“I’ve just got to try…I..I can’t let that Wishart chap have clear run of it…. It grates on my….my nerves. To see poor Dominic..a year in plaster…an all that University study down the drain.. an’ that smarmy lawyer at the first hearing….I just have to fight it a bit…I’m his mother an’ I won’t see him hurt without sticking up for him a bit…’s…it’s my right.”

“Dominic saw fit to give it best…” I pondered.

“Well he shouldn’t have. He should be here now instead of me…But, well, at least I have his signature for me to represent him today.” And she clasped her handbag tight in her lap.

“I don’t know, that legal aid crew…I don’t know.” I said doubtfully..then self-reflecting that I wasn’t much good at this “moral support” thing…

“Well…I can only go by what they advise.. an’ if they won’t come in with us, then I have to go alone and this time I have Mrs Rowe!”

“Trump card.”

“Well she wasn’t there at the first hearing so she will be new evidence…and she says she saw the whole thing…the whole accident.. right there outside her window…. it’s a wonder that other legal fellah Dom’ hired didn’t bring her along to the first case.”

“Good of her to come.” I mused.

“Oh, I said I’d pay her for the half day she missed at her shop.”

“But her husband runs the shop doesn’t he?”

“Yes I know but….well, I have to give her something….I..”

(“..a child run past my window wide… Less a child with every stride.. er..nah!)

Central Station roared with life. So many people, so many people. I like crowds , but I don’t like to think myself part of the crowd. But I guess I am. To those other people I’m just, of those others…(Doctor, my eyes..can you see… can you feel….the child runs..)

“What did you say?”

“The bus, here, we’ll take the bus.” Mother paid the driver..” The law courts thanks,”

Those little sayings on the back of the tickets…what does this one….”There is no rainbow at the end of pot,”, ..Oh I don’t… no rainbow at the end….silly thing, can’t believe it…. Two punters were having it out over the races.

”No, I don’t want to see your tips..Like yesterday at Randwick..knew it would win,  just knew it…But nooo, you said it wouldn’t an’ just what ‘appens….It’s the last time I listen…”

“I know, I know, you just can’t win. So, who can?” the other answered..

The cold sterile buildings of the law courts. So neutral in design, so impartial in colour, so sparsely furnished, as though it was a crime itself to give the place any character at all. Here we met with Mrs Rowe. She suited the surroundings.

“Hello, so good of you to come .” My mother greeted her.

“Well… we’ll see Mrs Clarke.” She returned.

“Here, we’ll sit here, Oh, this is my son, Christopher.” We were introduced.

The seats offered little comfort. I was crowded to the end when another couple entered the waiting room. Gradually more people filled the room till there was standing room only. We all sat there in silence, trying, I thought, to sus out what each other person was doing there. I had to rush off for a “nervous”.

“Excuse me, I have to go to the loo..” I even felt guilty for that. The rest seemed to frown on me as I edged out the door…. Air, open air…ahh!

While I was in a cubicle, a man came through the outside door. He sounded angry with another person there.

“Listen here, I don’t give a tuppenny damn what his excuses are, I need that machine this weekend without fail.” The urinal flushed and a tap sprayed into a basin while the other answered.

“But sir, you must understand the difficulty he has in getting parts…..Here is a little list he wrote of the pieces….”

“Give us that list.” the paper was snatched, a door of a cubicle flung open and the toilet flushed. “There, that’s what I think of your “little list”….This weekend, that’s all.”

The outside door slammed. I thought they were both gone. I went to wash my hands and there was still one of them there. He glared at me when I appeared, one of those cold looks you get from an official who has some sort of authority deciding to deal with you in some way.

“Good morning.” I said.

“Mornin’.” The other man curtly replied and walked out, it was the angry one.

(.. child run past my window wide, Less a child with every stride….happy now in innocent age..goorr).

A motley crew it was there in the court room. A furtive bunch of clients with a shifty lot of solicitors. “Pearson please, of Pearson versus National ..” The clerk of the court called. “Pearson plea…”

“Oh yes Frank. here, it’s been deferred. They couldn’t arrange a witness.” And on and on, until;

“All rise please, his honour John Mathews presiding. ” It was the man shouting in the toilet. I almost chuckled out loud. The cases were got through speedily, but with little result. It always seemed they were deferred to a later date because of some obscure reason. One time a young man in a crushed and creased blue, pinned striped suit rushed in with a sheaf of papers addressed the magistrate for no more than a few seconds then dragged a sheepish looking client outside for a quick consultation. He never returned. No-one seemed to miss him. The court steamed on like a cargo of pilgrims to the promised land .Till finally: “Wishart verses Clarke.” Was called.

“Give ’em a run mum.” I encouraged.

Wishart was there with his lawyer.

“Your honour. We wish to present no new evidence at this appeal, but will rely on the judgement bought down at the preliminary hearing. Thank you.” The lawyer spoke then sat back down.

“Well, Mrs Clarke…You are the defendant’s mother it says here.” The magistrate read from his notes.

“Yes your honour, my son, Dominic, is away working up the Riverland at the…” my mother explained.

“Yes yes…But you see, he is now eighteen years of age, and so you cannot represent him here. You were explained that …before.”

‘Yes I know your honour but this time I have a little note he signed allowing me…”

“Regardless of your…little note, Mrs Clarke, I cannot let you represent your son.”

“But the Legal aid people said….” Mother tried to speak…The magistrate raised his voice in anger..

“I don’t give a tupp…well I’m afraid they led you astray…what makes you think you have the right to come here as a legal authority?” the magistrate tried to belittle mother.

I saw her eyes narrow and her jaw set..there was that moment of threatening silence that mothers impose as a kind of “clearing of space” before they speak…and then my mother spoke boldly..sharply..

“I have a mother’s right to defend my child!” my mother stood her ground and quickly but sternly replied…I could hear several soft gasps from people behind me…

This simple logic pulled the magistrate up and he seemed to give some thought to the reason. He then replied in a more conciliatory and polite manner.

“A mother’s authority, I’ll grant, has a reach so far,  but THAT doesn’t extend into the law courts…yet..”

“More’s the pity” my mother mumbled quietly.. The magistrate paused and raised one eyebrow as if to chastise her..but then thought better of it..for every man knows : A mother’s temper ought not be tested.

“…But this thing has dragged on long enough,” he continued ..” a decision must be reached on this case,” The magistrate rustled amongst some notes on the bench.”It’s best, I think , to defer this till we have an assessment of damages. If that’s agreeable to both parties?..Very well, case deferred for cost assessment and a hearing set on completion thereof.”

And that was it. No witnesses called, no discussion entered into, no completion.

“Short and sweet?” I sighed when we were outside.

“Damn and blast…What a waste of time.. what’s the use of those…” My mother was piqued at the result.

“Mrs Clarke.” It was Mrs Rowe.”I really must be off, if I only knew it was going to be this useless…You said you would reimburse me the half day…” We stood on the pavement at the corner of City Square.

“Oh yes Mrs Rowe, I’m dreadfully sorry….Here” and she handed Mrs Rowe a fifty dollar note.

“But Mrs Clarke, I thought we agreed on eighty dollars.” Mrs Rowe complained.

“What..Oh no Mrs Rowe it was fifty.” and they stood there, both frowning till Mrs Rowe shrugged her shoulders and walked away.

“A disappointing day all round eh?” I was trying to ease the feeling.

“A useless day would be more correct…Strange that It seemed so clear and simple last night in bed…” She sighed.

That rhyme started up again in my head…I was getting sick of it…(”A child run past my window wide, Less a…”) ahh forget it, don’t corrupt the memory..Leave the child run…

Fifth Station; Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry His cross.

Whether it is really in fact a choice or no-choice this conundrum of compatibility.

A Conundrum of Compatibility.

We…of the working class, have a problem. That problem is : Servility.

No longer is it a “tugging of the forelock” servility, the elimination of THAT little obsequiousness   was “executed” in the French Revolution along with a generous helping of the useless aristocracy…and with us of Irish descent, with the hard-work of the IRA against the Black and Tans back last century! Even here in Australia at the Eureka Stockade, we gave , as Henry Lawson says ; the ruling class a black-eye and a bloodied nose.

But it was still our lack of education, our ”cross to bear” that held us back..our lack of “letters” that confined us to vocal protesting and physical action to advance the cause of working class rights and entitlements. And here, I would salute those militant unions who took the fight right up to the noses of the governing class…The AWU and the BLF “Green bans” in Sydney and Melb’…Norm Gallagher’s  BLF on the building sites around Aust’…now the CFMEU on the streets for all of us! Good work..DAMN GOOD WORK…and more power to them in the future.

But now, in this twenty first century, when more of us than ever have a good sketch of education and we “knows our letters” enough to write down and communicate to a wider audience the need for universal democracy for this multi-cultural society…a society needing for the majority ; good health policies, secure employment policies through State infrastructure developments, decent wages for family security, education and many , many other causes.

We working people have the capacity to write from direct experience of these things now with the expansion of social media and the availability of free content blog sites. These multi-media outlets have exploded the “voice” of every-person to deliver to a watching population the instances of oppression and injustice instantly…and also to deliver the good oil on worthy projects direct to the public without the news being wrung through the filter of a biased, unworthy main-stream media, whose reason for existence is now more to betray, block and obfuscate than deliver news to the public.

But along with this ease of access to communicate, has come another tyrant to try to stand-over , humiliate, correct and control those from a working class education who have important things to say. It is the oppression of “correct communication”. It is another mechanism of the controlling upper-middle-class to suppress this rising enthusiasm of the educated working class from fully exploiting their potential to create an atmosphere of radical politics and radical ideas.

I can speak from my own experience here as I have been a contributor of articles to blog-sites for quite a few years, writing from a left-wing perspective (as ANY self-respecting worker would have to!) and delivering on the subjects concerning social improvement for the nation as a whole..This would go well, I noticed, until I broached the subject of class-warfare between the working class and a controlling upper-middle-class. It was this barricade that brought me undone with many on those blog-sites as I was informed that many there on those same blogs were of the middle class and seemed to see themselves as a kind of “gate-keeper” of their middle class values. I was excoriated by a coterie of private school graduates who see ones like myself as an interloper into the exclusive world of correct topic, syntax and polite conversation…”sure, you can protest..but on our terms!”…I, and my building site aged male attitude didn’t fit..there were times when my commentary would be met with deafening silence and totally could almost “hear” the sharp offended intake of breath..such are the basic tools of the offended sensibilities of the “front parlour set”, where good manners and knowing one’s place is an imperative to polite society…doncha know?

What, however was more alarming and the reason for the writing of this piece, was the buckling and caving-in of some of the other working class bloggers of those sites. A kind of subservience to what has been created in the world of the written language as the “strata of grammatical purity”…a subtle tyranny set in place by those of the well-educated middle class to keep out the barbarians of loud , vulgar front-bar types whose language is more akin to a shout in the street than gentle whispers in the parlour..A nasty piece of useless baggage from an anachronistic era when “polite society” knew everything about good writing and fuck all about good communication! When the job of written communication was more about NOT telling the dirty little secrets of the ruling class.

 All this exclusiveness has now gone by the wayside..with the changing script-face of post-modern writing, a more generic style of writing has become the norm..grammatical correctness has to take second place to emojis and abbreviated words…technology and word-limit demands swift response and the increasing habit of texting on the run has brought new language to the fore. No longer must a person who has struggled with the curse of a low-level education wait cap-in-hand for the master of English to judge or correct their work with either a patronising compliment, like a gold star from the teacher, of wither under the disdainful glare of disapproval..Now, thanks to the great equaliser, those of us who relish more the substance of a political piece than the syntax can just tell those pompous, self-righteous scribblers to fuck off!

So having levelled the playing-field for legitimate commentary, we of the working class must now decide if we wish to be on the same team as those who have gamed our camaraderie just to “Lord it” over us. There is now that ; “Conundrum of Compatibility”..will we get on together as equals, or do we of the working class just tell the middle class to piss off and go do your own dirty-work? For myself, I don’t need the bums..they have nothing to offer or help me with…I don’t appreciate their smug delusions of grandeur, their non-producing lifestyles nor their lazy mental attitude. But I have to concede there is the need for networking, and THAT is the one thing the middle class has a lot of experience in…and their mostly idle unskilled-hands are good for picking up a phone and connecting A to B.

So I would like to see the Labour movement along with the unions and the political arm of the Left  bring more rank and file workers to the political fore and utilise the “in-situ” experience of long-term skilled people to create a new, more structurally sound body of political grunt to confront and defeat the filth from the Right-wing .

The reserves of power and enthusiasm in the over-shadowed educated working class must now be utilised and promoted to the highest levels of political office. What some would see as the “vulgar” or “crude” mechanism of leverage of power has to be reconsidered in the light of what we see now in this current form of government; a politburo of poisonous, poltroons with not the slightest trace of decency and honour for all their years of private, expensive schooling and the best suits and bling OUR expense accounts can buy. We are looking at filth of the lowest order and if these criothans can lay claim to the highest standards of rhetoric and education, then I say ;

FUCK THE BULLSHIT…let the workers take power, we’ll straighten them out !

An’ this is the problem iddnit?..There’s this expectation that the language used to raise pertinent points of social concern has to be filtered through this fucking sterile filter of middle-class sensibilities…so that the product that comes out the end, be it essay, short-story or novel has to be “manufactured” to fit into existing moulds of acceptable style and delivery..AND ; Identity Politics…well..fuck you!…you’ll get what I deliver to you, how I want to deliver that subject matter to you and for the rest you can shove it up your arse!…and if you don’t want to read my stuff, stiff shit!…I couldn’t give a fuck…I’ve already had my career as a carpenter and that is good enough for me…I am a tradesman…more qualified than any number of arsehole management, non-producing pricks and that’s where you can park it!

Sixth Station; Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

How the ruling class manipulates language to control us.

The Language of Class Control.

Back in my first marriage, when I was “encouraged” to attend many spiritual “workshops” in that miasma of “new age” enlightenment, run, in the most part by self-proclaimed wanker gurus from the legion of reformed middle-class hippie escapees of the “Leafy Suburbs”, The formula for discussion was to take one’s turn of holding the “Talking Stick” and then and only then quietly and serenely make your point or tell your story to the group…I don’t think I need tell you the actual jargon-stacked sentences that preceded and followed each “talker” as they held that sacred icon of conversation : “The Stick”…..I think the comedy television series ; “Kath and Kim” demonstrated such contrived jargon with fair and considered accuracy.

In short, we can differentiate between the social classes by the methodology of conversation practice used. There seems to be a bias toward what the middle-class calls “polite manners”..”polite conversation”..where one waits one’s turn while the incumbent “converser” talks their talk to the very end of what THEY wish to talk about…no matter the length, tediousness or delusion of their conversation…: “THEY have the right to be heard”…Whereas, in my experience in the building trade, any conversation of passionate expression held on site and carried over by habit to the front bar, has to be called out in a loud, firm voice, somewhat peppered with colourful expletives and colloquialisms..whilst in the action of doing work, that echoes between rooms and perhaps between floors of an empty building…the many conversations competing with other machinery sounds or even different conversations…so a regular cacophony of shouted points and counterpoints..layer upon the methodology of debate and this gets carried…as I said..over by force of habit and location into the front bar or back-yard BBQ where the surrounding noise of the other patrons/family groups or the several televisions playing different sports at the one time in a bar has to be competed with….THAT is the natural order of working class rhetoric and political debate..the pointed finger, the half eaten sausage on bread..between sips of wine or stubby..a kind of chaotic logic, where the most vitriolic voiced opinion will sometimes win the day, depending heavily on the passionate belief of the speaker…No nice manners here..and the proving of the point you wanted to make was encased in the solid belief in what you wanted to say…if you didn’t have the strength of voice to carry your convictions, you lost the conversation…simple as that!

And this is where the domination of the middle-class in matters of opinion and politics controls the Main Stream Media and the Parliamentary debate…it is no more than a continuity of that “well-mannered talking stick” holding the floor and delivering a one-sided, bias toward that class that has drawn up the rules-of-discussion, the conditions of loquatial  intercourse, where the short-patience, the tumbling-out of thoughts in a sudden envision of idea and schematic implementation with an unruly manner, the speaking over another less enthralling speaker to get one’s point across while it is fresh in the mind, like a spring zephyr…and not to have it suffocated under the oppressive boredom of another’s sermon of mind-numbing middle-class impotent drudgery.

Now with social media, we hear those same middle-class voices calling for censorship on the more rudely expressors of political contradiction to satisfy that pompous, pontificating, self-righteous endless rambling to nowhere conversations of the middle-classes…FUCK ‘EM I say!…I had a gut-full back in that first marriage of waiting for the “talking stick” that had to do the rounds of pontificating and patronising jargon before it got to you, and I won’t now, as an experienced adult stand in some fuckin’ middle-class mannerism queue waiting till they have finished their waffling chatter…a seemingly endless stream of obfuscation and filibustering…one might as well wait for the blowing of Gabriel’s Trumpet sounding the end of the world!…And don’t they manipulate the “taking of turn” to have their say, using every methodology and trickery learned in debating class or from their cadgey mentors to hold on to that “right to be heard” until time or the subject matter is talked into oblivion…and so having succeeded by default in exhausting the subject where they had no capacity to actually do the job in the first place.

If we look back to the time of a certain Senator’s faux pas with his paramour, we heard so many “finishing-school pontificators” demanding we “rude and noisy” people not criticise the minister on his degenerate behaviour, because : “It’s the rorting, not the rooting…you see?”…when all the time it was the betrayal of moral and ethical standards of the family and community that he represented..all the time!..and yet so much momentum was wasted of those flatulating commentators demanding we :”Don’t call her/him’s not fair..” or wtte and now we see just how “fair” it was with that bastard colluding to run the Murray-Darling basin into the ground…literally!…He would’ve been castigated if not castrated if we had pinned him on the moral issue instead of the stupid pursuit of the rorting issue…a commonplace action amongst so many in his position..useless waffling middle-classes..a bunch of chatterers more fixed on their own personal identity politics than the broader issue at hand!

And is no more than those medieval overlords forbidding the Irish to speak their Gaelic language, the forbidding by the mediaeval bishops of the translation of the Bible from Latin to English to stop any commons understanding of the religion, the attempts to squash the indigenous languages by stopping the spread or talking of such any other name..a tyranny!…WE..will speak in the language WE best know, WE best communicate with and which WE best understand!…The working classes don’t need middle-class lessons in debate or elocution, for what eloquence we have lacked in the past, we will make up with our own vernacular…and believe me..we have more than enough colourful colloquialisms to describe bastardry behaviour than the proverbial Inuit has to describe snow!

Time for the working classes, vulgar as we can be, with our shouty rhetoric, our noisy demands to be heard, our earned moment on the dias and deserved voices to call in united yell to those bastards who THINK they hold both the Right to rule and the Floor of the Parliament to have their pathetic whinge hold pride of place in the vocal annals of humankind.

Social media IS the “common voice”…IS the crude instrument, IS the majority voice of those who have the lungs to shout from social “room to room”, from “house to house” and from “floor to floor” the message that will not be heard if we have to wait our turn for that strangely elusive “talking stick” so gratuitously and patronisingly “gifted” to us from the middle-classes.

NO!!….Here we are and we now take the floor…and by the living will hear what we have to say..and YOU’LL..take your turn to remain silent till WE say it!

There…cop that!..but really, it is little more than the replaying of the old Australian “cultural cringe”..this need for validation from some “higher” authority..

Love poems to a woman.

An Afternoon Rest….by Guillaume Seignac .

Where the natural beauty?

Where does nature’s beauty lie,

In the silhouettes of the trees, as I wander by?

In her coursing fields and wide, open skies,

Or is it in the clarion call of a cockatoo’s cry?

Where does one seek such beauty?

Is it in deep silence of the night,

In its vast splendour and quiet delight,

In the dazzling colours of sunshine..aye!

Or perhaps the rustle of Mallee trees on a windy day?

But for me it is not of these things…

Not in the trees nor heaven’s stars,

Nor the deep silence of night’s sky,

For me beauty gently lays, sleepy, and shy,

Therein the soft, beating heart, of my lover it lies.

When can I see these things?

In the morning as my lover wakes,

From the moment first breath on breath she takes,

As from my finger on her brow I stroke,

Moving her fringe so her eyes I contemplate.

So, where the beauty?

Not solely in the physical do I see,

But in a woman’s voice, sweetly, as she speaks my name

With love in her eyes when she looks to me,

Giving hint of women’s contract with eternity…

Therein lies the true beauty.

Twelve Caesars.

 Twelve Caesars.

Book four..

Part two…: Discourses on the 12 “Stations” of Christopher Corridini.

My fuckin’ oath ; “NOW”..for never has a more useless mob of bastards held sway over a more indolent mob of servile masses..Christ!…how many times have I railed against these criminals on social media blog-sites to only get slandered and reviled by the great unwashed of wannabe middle-class, negative geared, franking-credited wankers!…Their comments on my pieces tell the story of their low wit and even lower intelligence…so many not even knowing the status of what constituted a “middle-class” let alone if they belonged to it!

Here read an example and then the commentary..

Third Station; Jesus falls for the first time.

How an incompetent middle-class and their hangers-on screw us over.

 The Long Days Dying.

When a ruling class, used to total dominance of governance, economics and military command has reached the end of its capacity and capability to perform those requirements listed above because of either complete corruption, debased ideology, or incompetent leadership … then one of two things can happen: The class in question steps aside and relinquishes control of civil governance to the next capable social class with the enthusiasm and drive necessary for the job, or it collapses further into its own debased corruption and fights and claws its way to the inevitable bitter and bloody end via a series of political/social pogroms against its own people until it is brought down in a violent civil war. This is the example of history.

In the case of huge shifts in such class changes, like the end of the Patriarchal Roman Republic, a massive civil war ended the careers and lives of many aristocratic families. Likewise with the European collapse of the aristocratic rule of many nations there over many epochs of history. The ruling elites of aristocracy became so corrupt and entrenched in their behaviour of prestige, confected worship and exaggerated affluence and pomposity, they failed to stay connected with the “working coal-face” of their societies and a rising middle-class ended up becoming their “estate pawnbrokers” until they were beholden to the very class they scorned as aspiring upstarts with little knowledge of the affairs of the aristocratic state and less knowledge of table etiquette!

But it wasn’t long once that middle-class gained knowledge and command of the “wheels of finance” that they then started to call the shots on governance of industry … THEIR (the middle-class) interests being once less for pomp and circumstance than crude wealth. Soon, a bargain suitable to both parties was “signed” where the aristocrats would parade around in their sartorial splendour and suck on their afternoon teas while the middle-classes would now “manage” the affairs of state.

We here in Australia witnessed a variety of this “cosy little arrangement” with the colluding of Fraser’s Liberal National Party coalition seeking out and conspiring with The British Crown representative in their foppish Governor General; John Kerr fomenting a coup against the democratically elected Labor government of the day.

This cosy little agreement did not just come about over tea and scones in a conservatory atmosphere, first there were many civil conflicts that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and the destruction of whole cities in the vain attempt of the aristocracy to show the world that they “still had it” when it came to battle and glory … except they didn’t … their corruption had reached even into their own delusions that ribbons, medals, and a flourish of golden epaulette would be enough to rout the enemy.

The fools died, as all fools die in their own vanity … in shame and disgrace … and so ended the era of aristocratic rule and the new era of middle-class governance and commerce began.

We peoples of the western, English language nations, have now lived under this rule of the middle-classes for more than two hundred years … in some cases; more than that number. But like the once mighty, unassailable aristocratic rulers, they too are now corrupted so completely in mind and body-corporate, that it has become time for that class to relinquish control of what they can no longer manage to the next class-in-line with both the enthusiasm and drive to take the nation to the next level of Social Concorde and fair governance … the educated working/producing classes.

Of course, the self-deluded egos of the middle-classes, serenaded to such giddy heights on its own aggrandisement of its intellect through select school education, select corporate management and select positions of political favour, cannot see past its own long nose to the pustulance of corruption on the tip. It’s inflated “born to rule” hubris now mimicking the most extreme egregious examples of Aristocratic pomp and buffoonery with such ostentatious displays of gross wealth and opulence best described in the classic literature of “Trimalchio’s Feast” on those riches literally snatched from the arms and tireless efforts of the working class men, women and children of the world. Their greed, like the actual bodies of many of those gluttons of desire, knows neither restraint nor corpulent limits.

Now, having reached the limits of political, corporate and personal decadence, the middle-classes have run out of time and exhausted the patience of those they wish to rule … the Western democracies are hungering for good, reliable social governance, a situation now impossible under a class that has made its collective ambition to control as much wealth of both fiscal and commodity as possible under its embracing of the stupid and gullible temptation of a “Neo-liberal” monetary philosophy … developed by its own sons and daughters, enlarged by its own financial houses and put in place by its own politicians to the detriment and destitution of those very people they totally rely upon for the riches they both aspire to and adore!

The middle-classes are a spent force ethically, morally, socially and politically.

But rest assured, they will not go quietly … for even here in Australia, a country once proudly living under a secure “separation of powers” system that isolated certain essential authorities from the potentially corrupting influence of political lobbying, we now see this current Liberal / National Party, existing under what can only politely be called “governance” of the nation, going about systematically corrupting and planting persons of favour in all those vulnerable institutions for what can be considered no other reason than to enact both policy and institute laws that will brace that corrupt coalition against oversight and judgement of the people. The only way they are going to relinquish power could well be through civil disorder. Managed through those now corrupted institutions and given credible authority for those actions by both the planted operatives in the authorities inside government and then … most importantly AND most effectively … given absolution from guilt for such despicable actions by the blathering, educated to imbecility confederacy of more private-schooled middle-class aspirants and fellow travellers in the wider community.

No … my fellow workers and producers … these leeches on the backs of the producers and workers of western democracy will not go quietly … in many cases, like the tick firmly clamped to a dog’s ear and growing fat on the extracted blood it sucks from its living host, they will have to be extracted one at a time from governance, authority, corporation and utility … extracted and made redundant with what can be said, using their own sculptured language.



  1. Corridini; March 31, 2019 at 6:00 pm

It has to be acknowledged, if not accepted, that with one of the highest ranking religious officials that served as moral mentor to so many, incarcerated for moral impropriety, many of the highest “respected” financial houses CEO’s NEEDING a bit of “stir-time” for their ethical fraud, the so many corporate identities physically abusing both the environment and sections of the populace for their own enrichment and the major political representative of the above culprits having little to NO control over its own political party or direction, allowing plutocrats of any nationality to come in and take control of the nation’s economic direction and ideology…Corporations running amok and gouging of or depriving of the public of essential utility services…There would appear little hope of resurrecting the sinking ship of middle-class management of the nation.
If we are going to change the rules, we will need to change the ruling class.

  1. K-Lee; March 31, 2019 at 6:00 pm

“The middle-classes are a spent force ethically, morally, socially and politically.”

Jesus Corridini, you really give meaning to the meaningless phrase “class envy”.

The middle class you so despise contains the vast majority of Australians, probably including you. Compared to the world as a whole, we are all affluent.

I couldn’t give a rat’s arse what school someone went to, what their tertiary qualifications are, what suburb they live in, what their income is – all of those things that people use to define that amorphous concept of middle class.

What matters to me is honesty, integrity, respect, empathy, kindness, generosity, a willingness to listen to and be advised by experts – those sort of things. It is spurious to pretend those attributes are class-related. Would you be happy for Pauline’s supporters to take over the reins?

  1. Corridini; March 31, 2019 at 6:17 pm

We, as a nation under the example of a spurious middle-class government are now exporting terrorism to our neighbouring states..we exported destruction and death to around a million men, women and children in Iraq on a base of lies and cover-up under John Howard..we have incarcerated thousands of refugees, causing pain and death to many, in the name of “border protection”…all these policies have been formulated under middle-class leadership..A million people marched over Sydney Harbour bridge against the Iraq war and also for support for the indigenous peoples….they have been ignored.

The parliament, judiciary, corporate boards, regulating authorities, policing authorities, energy, communications, health on and on are in a majority under the control of private-schooled leadership…under middle-class leadership…and nearly ALL those named groups have been or shall have to be investigated for corruption and / or fraud.
The religious houses and other government institutions past have nearly ALL been associated with abuse of their wards..where will it end?…..It will end with a complete clean out of the positions of control.

  1. Alcibiades; March 31, 2019 at 6:26 pm


Sorry, cannot take this article seriously. Delusional to believe or expect the comparatively well off citizens of Oz will rally to the call of a workers revolution … with extreme predjudice ?! Nah.

The last six years have been obscene, but, extreme predjudice ?

Turnbull = disappointment

Australians = apathetic

A degree of lustration will be necessary in a civil change of government, however, your descriptors are surely lacking objectivity, and one says this being of passionate belief in Gaol for the corrupt, across the board.

One word of advice … if desirous of avoiding terminal sanction by fellow travelers, try to ensure you’re never in a leadership role, or associated with one who is as a patron, even successful revolutions tend to eat their own, especially in the second & third phases.

Just … wow.

  1. corvus boreus; March 31, 2019 at 6:28 pm

Abridged version;
[propaganda poster of men firing guns (+ token female waving flag)]
Attention middle class!!
Step aside or violent civil war will be waged upon you!!
You will be ‘extracted’ and ‘made redundant’,

Is this blog now a forum for advocating class-based purges through violent civil war?

  1. Corridini; March 31, 2019 at 6:44 pm

Corvus boreus..The elephant in the room of climate catastrophe may just make the decision for us….I am not the instigator of the change I speak of…I am relating the process that could well take place…sure..I want such change, but I cannot instigate it..but I say history is on my side of the arguement…what do others have on their side besides ; “I wish”?

  1. Kronomex; March 31, 2019 at 7:10 pm

Here we go again with your seemingly endless obssesion with class. For some of us it has become rather tiresome, please give it a break. Find something else to bang on about for a while.

            Corridini; March 31, 2019 at 7:23 pm

Now that is curious…I talk about class…The Union Secretary talks about class…as does the Union Boss and many other union people…Dougey Cameron talks about class as does Billy and Tanya and a host of Labor people..there is a general consensus that there is huge class divisions in Aust’ society…but we see on the site there are those who want to seemingly dismiss such a concept from the pages of discussion..!!…..Who..we must ask do these people represent?…is it the Labor movement founded by the working class Unions? it the under-class (that word again!) and the vulnerable..or perhaps…just perhaps it is their own perceived vanity that THEY are above such a tawdry discussion..situated as they are in comfort and security..?

Yes..Who are these people?

  1. Corridini; March 31, 2019 at 7:57 pm

” The middle class you so despise contains the vast majority of Australians, . . . ”
I read that there were several hundred suicides among the Centerlink debt fiasco..many also in the indigenous community..and so many young as well..not to mention the rising homelessness and impoverished who are these “vast majority”…perhaps they are the “silent majority” that John Howard like to quote.

  1. Phil; March 31, 2019 at 9:56 pm

I think Corridini has touched some very sensitive nerves. His writing here is certainly florid but its clear to me that he has hoisted his flag, articulated his position and is prepared to stand by it – good on him, he gets my respect for that.

The concept of class is meaningless to me – a fiction used to bolster or badger but nonetheless a mighty fiction.

Good on you Corridini, I can see where you are looking even though I can’t argue the position with such passion – I’d rather let the system do what systems do – they always collapse. Seneca agrees.

  1. Matters Not; March 31, 2019 at 10:25 pm


The concept of class is meaningless to me

Same with all concepts, because definitions of a concept can (and do) vary widely. Therefore ’tis the duty of any writer to outline an intended meaning – (if they want to be taken seriously).

By way of explanation: Concepts are mental representations … that make up the fundamental building blocks of thoughts and beliefs.

  1. Corridini; March 31, 2019 at 10:40 pm

What is “class” and what distinguishes it?….

“Bill’s” story…

I have an older cousin who is a bricklayer named Bill. His name really is Biacchio…but that is how the anglicising of “foreign” names go in Australia…; Biacchio becomes Bill.. Bill was sponsored to Australia by his uncle at the tender age of fourteen, in the early fifties, after the war…He went to school here for a year and then was put to work for his uncle as a brickies labourer…he was a big bloke..a very strong man.

He worked for many years for a property developer named John. I too worked for John, though not as far back as Bill. As a matter of fact, Bill worked for him for so long he had become sort of adopted into the family circle…Bill was divorced, his child grown up so he was on his own and would be available to do little jobs at the John’s family home on the weekends and such, so he was asked to stay for dinner some Sundays and it became a habit…so that every Sunday, for many years, he’d go to Johns’ for Sunday dinner….and he appreciated it…he had worked so long for the family business that it seemed natural…..until one day he stopped going.

I was working for John then and he spoke to me in a concerned way that he confessed he didn’t know why Bill stopped coming…and Bill wouldn’t say…John just couldn’t work it out…and I asked Bill on the job one day ; “‘Why don’t you go to John’s for Sunday dinner any more?”…at first he was reluctant to tell me..but I was persistent. He leant against the wall crowbar in hand and told me.

‘You remember that job we did for Cathy ?…yes, well, you remember that big cedar tree out the back she was going to get a contractor to remove?..yes, well…..a couple of months ago, we’re all there at the table having dinner..a roast..and there’s me and John next to me and over the table is Agneta (Johns’ wife) and Cathy….and Agneta stops in the middle of her eating and asks Cathy ; “Did you get the contractor to remove that tree, Cathy?”…to which Cathy replied ; “Oh, no!…they were much too expensive…they wanted a thousand dollars!”….there was a moments silence while they returned to their eating, then Agneta stops again looks at Cathy..with her fork with a bit of potato on it pointing at me and she says ; “Why don’t you get Bill to do the job…he’s cheap!”…

[ now this is the important point…listen closely…after relating this sad little episode to me and he felt it, believe me..he was saddened ..he leant toward me and spoke in a lowered tone like he was telling a confidant]..:

“You are never their friend…never!…you’re always just the worker…you’re never a friend to them, just the worker.”

He didn’t say anything to them, he didn’t let them see he was hurt…he finished his meal and then pleaded weariness and went home…But at that moment, this man with almost no schooling, no outward knowledge of the structural strata of social classes or even any nous of the perception of those with such excellent education qualifications, this man learnt and interpreted in an instant the Marxian ethos ; the positioning of himself, his fellows in trade, and all those in employment who do labour for a boss…in those words ; “…you are never THEIR friend…” their friend….them. He did not just mean John and his family, he was referring to that whole class of people…a class he never before gave more than a seconds’ thought to in regards HIS position in their society. He was one of the most honest workers I have met…he would scorn shirking on the job as one would spit a bad taste out of one’s mouth!

Yet while Bill understood the situation, John and his wife didn’t !…They didn’t because they had been tutored ( both at expensive private schools) in a different but parallel system…THEY were not required to sympathise with Bill “the worker”…they behaved toward Bill as they would toward their other possessions. They couldn’t see any problem with their behaviour because THEY had been educated into their social position and expected someone like Bill to seek to admire and aspire UPWARD to their level of society. But Bill had NO INTEREST in becoming as one with that strata of society..he was confident and content in his own his own skilled are most of us. So while Bill mixed with them out of a sense of camaraderie and friendship, they saw themselves as doing him a favour……extraordinary, as in reality, it was Bill who, by his skilled labour, helped create the income and therefore their status and lifestyle they got through their speculative building. the distinguishing feature of “class”…and it is also there in that minor, sad tale where you will find both an example of the betrayal of trust and the corruption of opportunity to exploit.

  1. Steve Davison; April 1, 2019 at 11:07 am

I’m with Corridini on the matter of class.

There is a class war going on but only one side is fighting it.

Liberalism was the economic doctrine of the rising middle-class, the economics of individualism, which is why the right-wing pundit Thomas Friedman correctly referred to himself a few years back as a liberal only to have progressives in the US scratching their heads in utter confusion.

They were confused because liberalism has nothing to do with progressive ideals.

Neo-liberalism is the extreme version of liberalism; it is simply more focused on the individual at the expense of society. The original liberals, and conservatives for that matter, had a regard for the health of society as a whole that is now completely missing from right-wing economics and politics.

So liberalism and neo-liberalism are doctrines of the INFLUENTIAL middle class, not the masses in Australia who think of themselves as middle class simply because they do not live in poverty.

  1. Corridini; April 1, 2019 at 11:21 am

“. . . not the masses in Australia who think of themselves as middle class simply because they do not live in poverty.”…

Dead right, Steve..I know of many gormless tradies who think they are “middle-class” because they are contractors..ergo..: “Small business”…even though they work alone and are on piece-rates…f#ckin’ wankers buy a tinnie or a cheap shack over to buggery and they think they are part of the higher echelon of Forbes Magazine “Most Rich List”…

  1. Keith Grandvilla; April 1, 2019 at 12:11 pm

come the revolution the first to go are the revolutionaries – and then it starts again as those who sought to fight for and represent the workers become the very thing they fought to overthrow.

it will ever be thus, unless we live as ants or bees – for the colony.

  1. Corridini; April 1, 2019 at 12:16 pm

You could say that, Keith..and indeed there is reason to say that..hence Chairman Mao developed a theory of “continuous revolution” to re-start and re-fresh new thinking…not a bad idea…perhaps not developed enough yet..perhaps the Chinese “One belt – One road” system is their way of opening up a new system of trading between nations that will “revolutionise” the Asia – Pacific…I reckon Aust’ better get on board or it could be left floating like an isolated grogan in the South Pacific Ocean.

  1. New England Cocky; April 1, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Uhm Corridini … The deposing of Gough Whitlam in 1975 was a conspiracy between the US State Department through CIA General Black (Green?) with the Palace knowing the details and strategy before the event and doing nothing to inform the elected Australian government. It happened because US President Nixon took a dislike to any national government perceived by the Yanks as being “socialist” rather than purely “capitalist”. Think Allende in Chile, Whitlam in Oz, etc.

Then Whitlam had done the dirty on the Vietnam imperialist war of the USA (United States of Apartheid) by withdrawing Australian troops in December 1972 immediately after winning the election.

There is considerable documentary evidence including the book “The Falcon and the Snowman” plus the extensive work by a leading Australia history professor, Jenny Brockie (at ANU?). The Palace refuses to release the correspondence between GG John Curr and the Queen from this period, over 40 years after the event, possibly to protect the Queen from her sins.

  1. Phil ;April 1, 2019 at 4:02 pm

For mine the best explanation of the dismissal of Gough was in Pilgers ” A Secret Country ” In short it was all about American bases on Australian soil. ‘ Gough wanted to know what the fcuck was going on? ‘

But further up the page. Anyone thinking there is no class in Australia must live under a mushroom in the garden with the elves and the fairies. Class = The government has no class in fact they’re in a class of their own. I think the class this government is in is still being adjudicated by the Smithsonian Institute. The only institute in America with any class at all.

Barnaby, well he’s a class act on par with Pooline Hanson. It’s called the ‘ Shit Class’ John Howard now there’s a class act, he’s in that class of what best can be described as the ‘ Paragon of Dork Class ‘ Umm who else? Jewellery Bishop. Jewellery well she’s best described as ‘ Upper Class ‘ . In fact she’s probably into the Stratosphere Class. We common as dog class call that class ‘ The mile high club class ‘ Most of us common dog class may get lucky once or twice in our lives and get a class blow job whilst in company of Jewellery’s class in the mile high club class. . Then there is Morrison he’s in that class that’s real high in the class list of class. He’s in that class that lets them speak in tongue’s and speak to that invisible man in the sky. Now that’s class.

On a serious note no class in Australia..Bwaaahahahahahahahah. Yea right. Hey I come from a place that invented class. You had no doubt what class you were in the second you dropped out on that cheap linen sheet on your mothers bed with a Midwife standing by to make sure you or mum didn’t croak it . Brother did I know my class. The best example of the sheep class was getting caned at school for not participating in ‘ God save the Queen ‘ Still being working class had its advantages in later life. I learnt how to fight this came in handy in telling upper class twats that looked down on me for not participating in the old flag wrap around, to go and make love to themselves. What’s for tea mum? Well tonight we are going to have some exotic margarine sandwiches with a nice cup of tea. Of course there are no people still living like this is there? Bwahahahahamwahahaha.

No Class….That’d be a fine thing.

  1. Old Codger; April 1, 2019 at 5:28 pm

Go Phil.

I once taught in a rather elite private school and was looked down upon by some of the students for a number of reasons: where I lived and what I wore. One new teacher coming from another state was concerned about having the right post code and went hugely into debt to get that post code. Class was everything and promised a bright future. That I came from the state education system was reason enough for some of my colleagues to wonder about me. And when one of my students, after a lecture from the police stated that people from the western suburbs should not be allowed to have guns…well that was class for you.

Saw on a TV documentary one of the American captains of industry expressing concerned that the ‘others’ might climb the stairwell with guns to kill them. Extreme prejudice.

To suggest that Australia has a classless society is just straight bullshit. And yes, my father was a steelworker which made me working class. Education has ‘lifted’ me out of that state. And I am firmly fed up with those who profess to have ‘common sense’ where those educated do not, priding in their ignorance. Going back to my beer.

  1. Corridini; April 1, 2019 at 5:45 pm

For my own preference..and I have stated many times such…I would like to see a takeover of the higher echelons of governance and all its authorities by the educated working class..of which there now are enough with tertiary education to have the vision for long term policy and yet still close enough to their roots to know sensible social policy…Shouldn’t be too hard.

  1. Guest; April 1, 2019 at 6:13 pm

Corridini, you are a student of ancient history. You are familiar with the story of the Gracchi brothers who had a mixed heritage in their family – plebeian and patrician. But with Greek education in oratory, political skills and military pursuits they set about trying to take land from the patricians in order to give to soldiers returning from wars. They were let down by depending too much on the support of the plebs. Ultimately their actions led to their deaths. And, some say, to the downfall of the Republic and the establishing of Dictatorship.

“With extreme prejudice”, be careful what you wish for.

  1. Corridini; April 1, 2019 at 6:42 pm

Actually, if memory serves me well, the Gracchi bros and their old confederate Fulvius Flaccus were killed by a conspiracy of the patricians USING THE PLEBS as back-up claiming that the Gracchi’s wanted to take EVERYBODY’s land…when in fact it was only the government owned land that the Patricians had taken over and were using as their own that the Gracchi’s wanted to redistribute…An age old trick used by the “born to rule” class…we see the same tactics used these days by the big corps “Axe the tax”…and the Franking credits “stealing from the impoverished widows etc”

Yes, I even wrote a little limerick on an essay I submitted on the above subject…If memory serves me well..:

“Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus,
And his ol’ mate; Fulvius Flaccus,
Tried to distribute the land,
But the capitalist band
Cried; “MY GOD!…
They’re trying to dak-us!!”

didn’t enhance my marking score but…

“With extreme prejudice”, be careful what you wish for.”…….You have to take the chance with some of these things..or stay “wallowing in the shallows for eternity”.

  1. K-Lee; April 1, 2019 at 7:07 pm

I have reread the comments to see if I had missed something. No-one suggested there weren’t different classes in Australian society.

The proposition put forward by Corridini in this, and many other articles, is that “The middle-classes are a spent force ethically, morally, socially and politically.”

If middle class is an economic description, are they really the people to blame for all of society’s woes? Are the teachers and nurses and police and firemen really such villains? Are the middle class really the ones in power?

There is an interesting article on the subject in the SMH – Rising inequality is hollowing out the Australian middle class

“The top 10 and particularly the top 1 per cent keep increasing their share and diminishing or rolling back the Australian middle class. The share of the 40 per cent below the top 10 is getting smaller and smaller.

  1. Corridini; April 1, 2019 at 7:20 pm

K-Lee…: ” Are the teachers and nurses and police and firemen really such villains?”…..I don’t know how these skilled workers, all presumably on a PAYE wage, could be considered “middle-class” …except that some may have made lucrative investments that have elevated them above their need to work for a living in an employed state…and even then, they could hardly be considered more than the “petty bourgeoisie”…lower middle-class..and then most likely only in their own estimation!….It is the controlling “Upper Middle-class” that is the bone of contention.
But what’s the problem?…I am not trying to prove a class distinction, only drawing attention to where a problem lies and what may be a way to resolve it..and even YOU would have to admit that with Brexit being one MAJOR middle-class balls-up, Trump and his coterie being another and the LNP here being icing on the cake of gormless incompetence…topped with the cherry of the highest order of the Catholic Church in Aust’ being dragged into disrepute..and THAT institution being the giver of holy orders to the highest echelon of upper middle-class society…there something rotting in that shall remain nameless Nordic State.

  1. Phil.; April 1, 2019 at 7:22 pm

Old Codger
April 1, 2019 at 5:28 pm.

Yea Ditto with the class analysis. That it doesn’t exist is, not only bullshit it is an insult to my failing intelligence.

When I was a kid I was in the Navy cadets in a Navy town called Portsmouth in the UK as an aside it’s where Cristopher Hitchens was born, unfortunately I didn’t get his brains. I was in the Navy cadets and sung in the in Navy choir. The priest that used to run it and old salt himself, would take us poor kids on trips around the back blocks of Hampshire. We that’s about a dozen of us, were sought of paraded around as some type of amusement to please the owners of the stately homes we visited. It was akin to Oliver Twist in a small way.

I up until I was about 11, never saw a refrigerator before, I never ever saw a white bath with chrome taps. Our tin bath like many of our neighbours hanged on the door along side my grandfathers gutted rabbits. I remember it well the rabbits would be allowed to get full of maggots it was called ” Jugged Hare ” We btw compared to some of the kids I knew could well be described as middle class. We had margarine some of them had dripping.

But back to the stately homes. I had never seen oak tables before that wouldn’t fit in our small garden much less in our front lounge room. Stained glass in widows, that wouldn’t look out of place in a country church. And seeing a TV with an attached record player was something out of Star Trek. I made a joke out of someone on here calling his position ” Sheer Luxury ” like the old Python skit. Yes the wealth of these people compared to us low life’s from the two up two down houses was obscene.

Oh yes class exists and it has done so since the mists of time. Ricketts a disease associated with the poor is believe it or not, making a comeback in the UK. Yes the mighty UK that not only starved to death people in the third world whilst they stole their recourses with rape, pillage and plunder, now have carried on the fine tradition with their own people.

Here’s a thing, I have a cousin who came from the same back ground as me, his mother my dad’s sister a Socialist who wrote letters to the Iranian embassy to save a persecuted religion ‘ The Bahia’s ‘ in Iran scrubbed hospital floors and shop doorways, to put him through Manchester university and Oxford. He has a PhD in physics. He doesn’t programme computers he designs them. He is a Tory. He is retired now, he had companies in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and PNG. I am now convinced that a taste of the ‘ Silver Spoon ‘ is akin to getting hit in the head with a wall brick.

Class and all it’s nastiness has been in Australia since they dropped anchor in Botany Bay. That btw is not an opinion to be debated, it is a fact.

  1. K-Lee; April 1, 2019 at 7:36 pm

“even YOU would have to admit that with Brexit being one MAJOR middle-class balls-up”

No I don’t agree with that at all. I think the upper class thought they would get approval for the status quo but the working class voted for something they didn’t even understand. I think the middle class are the ones campaigning in the streets for another referendum.

“some may have made lucrative investments that have elevated them above their need to work for a living in an employed state…and even then, they could hardly be considered more than the “petty bourgeoisie”

I am completely confused as to what you consider middle class if teachers et al are not part of it. Are you saying any PAYE worker is not middle class? Do you think middle class people don’t have to work for a living?

  1. Corridini; April 1, 2019 at 7:47 pm

” I am completely confused as to what you consider middle class . . . ” …… Here’s why you and I are miles apart…we shouldn’t be..we both push the same barrow on social sympathies etc….but I can see that whereas I have a concrete view on what I will back and what I believe in..moulded over many years of working experience and social gatherings..I can feel…feel..mind..that I couldn’t trust you when or if I needed someone like you for back-up if the chips were down.
There is an air of doubt in your social convictions “debate the issue” too much..and then there is doubt created in what really is the truth or deception in a conviction…
Like Phil related about his cousin above…you can never know when one who is more keen on social status than they are on their class affiliations will let you down….I have had similar experience as Phil has had with a family my understanding of class is a solid consideration…yours ?

  1. Alcibiades; April 1, 2019 at 7:50 pm

Quite. The Vampyres & their minions, the 1% & 10% ain’t no ‘middle class’, not by a longshot.

Oxfam 21Jan19

Our economy is broken. Hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty while huge rewards go to those at the very top. There are more billionaires than ever before, and their fortunes have grown to record levels. Meanwhile, the world’s poorest got even poorer…

And then there is the 67 multi-millionaires in Oz who in financial year 2016-2017 paid NO tax, not even a cent. Not even the MediCare levy, since they spent ~$2M each to manage their affairs to create the legal fiction of having no taxable income. In 2015-2016 it was 62 of ’em. In 2014-2015 it was 50 of ’em.

The ‘middle class’ ?

Our rent-seeking foreign owned tax-avoiding/evading multinational corporations selling our nations oil & gas resources for their profit to be transferred overseas, have accumulated in the last financial year tax credits of ~$324 Billion. This means they will essentially avoid tax liabilities for the next decade. The farce of these manufactured fictional tax credits accumulate from year to year. And next year the accumulated credits will be ?

2017-18 receipts totaling more than $29.7 billion … only $1.16 billion was paid in Petroleum Resources Rent Tax (PRRT). 2016-17 receipts totaling more than $22.7 billion … just $970 million in PRRT was paid. Over the next decade Qatar will earn taxes of ~$26 billion for the equivalent volume of what these corporations will extract & profit from Oz. Our expected revenue return over the coming decade ? Zero. Whilst Natural Gas prices soar & soar with no domestic reservation policy and remaining industry in Oz is up against the wall. In fact we will re-import our exported LNG into a newly built facility in Victoria. FFS!

The ‘middle class’, hm ?

Ex Goldman Sachs Malcolm Turnbull with his ~$200Million safely secured beyond the ATOs reach in the Cayman Islands tax haven …

  1. K-Lee; April 1, 2019 at 7:53 pm

Why do you always end up denigrating me rather than debating the topic? Your persistence in attacking the character of someone you have never met and know absolutely nothing about does not advance the discussion.

As I just said, no-one has suggested that Australia is a classless society. Not me, not anyone. The point of contention is your blaming of the middle class for everything and my trying to work out what you mean by middle class. We obviously have very different ideas about that.

      29.Corridini; April 1, 2019 at 8:18 pm

” We obviously have very different ideas about that.”…and let us leave it there…go in peace..

      30. Alcibiades; April 1, 2019 at 8:26 pm


All the ‘middle class’ bullshit & incitement to ‘extreme predjudice’ was bad enough, yet …

Chairman Mao of the Cultural Revolution & little red book fame had the right idea ? Perpetual revolution endlessly re-inventing itself is the answer for Australian society, though the concept is not fully developed ?!

A nutjob or an agent provocateur, or even maybe both ?

  • Corridini; April 1, 2019 at 8:36 pm

” Chairman Mao of the Cultural Revolution & little red book fame “…sort of slightly patronisingly dismissive of a leader who had the care of over a billion people to consider…how many people seek or rely upon your governing skills, Alcibiades?….10?….five? …one?

  1. Alcibiades; April 1, 2019 at 8:50 pm

Always the same, hey m8 ? ‘Twas dismissive of you. You are so full of it. Good luck with trying to sell Mao at the local pub. Along with the quaint little anecdotes. An unreconstructed die hard communist. Jeez thought they were long extinct. Delusional. Keep stroking your pud m8, with extreme predjudice, ya seem to enjoy it.

Bollocks! was all Coridini could play.
Bollocks! he played it night and day.
Bollocks! yes, it was Bollocks!,
It was Bollocks! Bollocks!
You could hear it two hundred miles away.


  1. Corridini; April 1, 2019 at 8:56 pm

” Image result for Alcibiades
Alcibiades (or Alkibiades) was a gifted and flamboyant Athenian statesman and general whose shifting of sides during the Peloponnesian War in the 5th century BCE earned him a reputation for cunning and treachery. Good looking and rich, he was also notorious for his extravagant lifestyle and loose morals.”

You picked your moniker well..

  1. Matters Not; April 1, 2019 at 11:22 pm

Perhaps, if we forget the class concept – that particular mental construct – and return to the estate concept – a rather popular way of intellectually dividing society a few hundred years ago in France.

At that time, the social groupings were divided into three groups called **estates**. The first estate was of clergy, the second estate was of nobility and the third estate consisted of others and individuals such as peasants, merchants, lawyers, artisans and industrial workers etc

The estate concept was considered useful because it explained/communicated/represented/modelled the apparent divisions in society at that time. But not now – for most. These days, some (but not all) consider that the class concept is a useful way to represent (and communicate) the apparent divisions within the (concept) of society. But like any concept, it only becomes useful if it’s defined.

For example, in ‘education’, the class concept developed (and employed) tends to select certain criteria that have been shown to both effect and affect students’ outcomes. For example, parents’ educations levels (or lack of same) have been shown to be influential on such outcomes – as has the SES of the peer group, and other measurable variables, such as (concepts like) status, prestige, wealth, access to technology, … and so on.


  1. Mick Tailer; April 2, 2019 at 9:00 am

I apologise if this post has got out of hand.

Carole and I have been interstate for a few days attending a wedding, and today we’ll be travelling for most of the day.

In the meantime I will be closing comments, and upon my return home the post will be reviewed to see if it – in any part – encourages violence. If so, it will be removed.

The encouragement of violence violates our conditions with Google and repeated violations would see us lose our ads, thus our income, and thus our site.

You get the drift..what’s the point putting the simplest discussion up for debate when the majority of these “intellectual left” commentors are so up themselves or so fucking ignorant of even their own social status they can’t even get to the topic!?

Twelve Caesars.

Twelve Caesars.

Book four..

Part one.;

Discourses on the 12 “Stations” of Christopher Corridini.

First Station; Jesus is condemned to death.

On bullying and how to resolve such things.

Pissed in the tea pot.

The best payback I know of personally was confessed to me by a woman tradie..a house painter who was bullied by this misogynist speculator builder who didn’t believe building sites were a place for “girlies” as he called her..He would bump the step-ladder when she was on it, kick her long-handled roller as he walked past and generally be a real bastard.

On her last day, just before she left the job, she took his tea-pot from the smoko bench (he liked his tea made in a pot and poured into a mug)…and went and urinated in it…swirled it around a few times, emptied it out and replaced it…just as she was getting into her van, she told the apprentice of what she had done( knowing full well the mischievous personality of the lad).

At smoko, the builder prepared his usual pot of tea, poured himself his mug and proceeded to drink it down…the apprentice, being an apprentice, let him get a few good gulps down and then with an air of innocence blurted out:

“Oh..I meant to tell you..that painter woman..she pissed in your tea pot..”

At this point we can, as Mark Twain wrote..; “Draw the curtain of charity down over the following proceedings.”

I know I’m not going to fool anybody by trying to pass this chapter off as the accepted modus operandi of creative writing, so I won’t I will say this instead..:

I fucking hate the middle-classes…from the lowest to the uppest!

And I would suggest that if you do not think likewise, just bugger off and go count your stocks and shares, because you’re going to hate what I am going to say..and that saying is that one of the best things Chairman Mao did was to instigate The Cultural Revolution against the bourgeoise .. because that class both harbours and encourages the most destructive and insidious vices of humankind! And I don’t give a rat’s arse whether he or his following leaders succeed or not in a grander ambition, just as long as he shafted those middle-class bastards to sheol!..just once..just one fuckin’ time!

Look what you have done to us! See where you have taken us! Even my own family were not immune to your manipulations..from my grandfather and grandmother fighting to survive in a great depression of YOUR making, to my father..a migrant trying to escape a war of YOUR making…a dictator..Mussolini..the very epitome of fascist tyranny..a megalomaniac trying to become a twentieth century father trying to escape a fascist nation comes unknowingly..innocently to what was THE original Fascist State…the original Corporate State..manufactured by The South Australia Company as a corporate entity..he comes here in all innocence to be immediately interned upon arrival as an “enemy alien” to be sent to Darwin to work on the hospital there and then to most ironically get bombed out by the Japanese!…oh..the irony that turned into the family joke..; to escape from Mussolini to get bombed out by Tojo..a complete circle..also my mother escaping from a life of drudge in the Murray Mallee hoping to develop her skills as a writer to end up in a life of domestic cleaner drudgefor middle-class women in the city…But what hope had any of them really, when all they were…all we are now or will ever be under the yoke of middle-class economics is a wage-slave to the social tyranny of the bourgeoisie..the mean-spirited scrimpers and scrapers and arse-lickers of the petty to the manipulative corrupted politics of the upper middle-classes.

But it is not necessarily the individuals in that class that we rail against, even though the worst of the worst of humanity can be found there, it is the encouraging philosophy of greed, envy and control that is humanity’s greatest enemy..and the Earth’s too I might add..for the industrialisation and mass-production of everything has brought wrack and ruin upon The Earth, reducing a once paradise to an industrial waste block…

It was The Enclosure Laws that spelt the beginning of the end for those guilds and cottage-craft industries and the small plot farmers of England and Europe that drove millions into the mass-production factories and killed off a whole era of skilled tradespeople and crafts-people…a situation we have not yet awoken from and just as we might, we are hit once again with the fraud of the so-called “Gig Economy” of slave labour or the begging-bowl of zero-hour contracts. 

What was wrong with cottage industries, the weavers, the hat makers, the potters who earned a living turning out local handcraft and cloth that were used in the homes and lives of the working people?…What was wrong with the Trade Guilds that served so many people and gave an edge of quality to work-practices that served humanity down through time?..Nothing that the greed for control of that market could usurp..the killing off of both cottage craft and trade skills so that the merchants and factory owners could herd the millions into cramped cities and suburbs to fill their factories and then oppress and suppress the working people..crush them beneath their rents and low wages…and did we REALLY NEED to industrialise our agriculture except that with the “enclosure laws” herding the millions into cities, so many no longer had the means to grow or barter for their own setting off an avalanche of snowballing “essential industries” that really only served the promotion of more industrialisation…

Two of the most prestigious private colleges in Adelaide were originally initated, set up and managed on the board of directors by one of the most egregious scoundrel land speculators of the early province. This man’s cunning and outright audacity in coercing and manipulating the price of broad-acre real estate essential to the farming settler’s survival across some of the most valuable regions of the State are notoriously legendary.

Legendary, not in an honourable way, but rather in a collusion with, but also in competition with those most grasping and greedy speculators of the day…: The South Australian Company, board of directors.

Charles Flaxman was employed and sent to the early settlement as George Fife Angas’s “Confidential Clerk”…a position where he was to quietly obtain favourable and opportune parcels of prime broad-acre land for his master at a cut-price rate to secure a handsome profit for his master. THAT was the initial understanding of his employment. The old adage of ; “Honour among thieves” was the friable cement that held the “confederacy” together…a situation that was destined to fail once Charles Flaxman saw the golden opportunity to secure his own percentage of parcels of that rich land for his own profit.

In those early days of settlement, South Australia was a property speculator’s dream, a paradise originally conceived as a property management ponzi scheme where the sale of grabbed land with or without the indigenous owners permission was to be sold to the first migrants to the new province and the money used to bring out more prospective land purchasers to buy more grabbed land…this went on until someone worked out that food was needed in a hurry or the new colony would starve to death!…So the hardy farmers from the East German valleys were brought out to till the soils and provide stability for the money hungry speculators.

Even then it was a close call as the province went into receivership only six years after the first founding, owing creditors in England over 300,000 pounds and the entire kit and caboodle was seized by the British Government in lieu of debts and the British taxpayer bailed out the entire failed early example of “Private profit – Public Liability”….Except the original instigators of the schamozzle were left “in-situ” to continue their speculation..except now,  they had to form a lobby-group to push their enterprises through a real parliament…arise the : “National Defence League”…the incubus of the Liberal Party of Australia and “safe-harbour” for all the white-collar crooks and spielers in the nation.

And of them all, George Fife Angas and his “confidential clerk” were the brightest, “bravest”, and most devious of them all.

An example of Flaxman’s sharp intellect and swiftness of action can be demonstrated in his becoming aware of some prime land north of Adelaide in what is now The Barossa Valley. The German surveyor; Johann Menge made note of the water and soil quality of this wide valley so that it attracted the attention of Flaxman, always on the lookout for land parcels for his master. So taking the surveyor;  Col’ William Light with him for company, he went on horse-back to surreptitiously inspect the country…once there, he found another couple of land speculators in company with Johann Menge..; a Mr. Torrens and companion who foolishly confessed to Flaxman an intention to claim the land once back in Adelaide, within the twisted rights of a perverted piece of legislation of what was called ; “Special Surveys”, where a parcel of 4,000 acres of land could be claimed with a deposit of 4,000 pounds, which then allowed the “purchaser” right of purchase for the surrounding “surveyed land” of 12,000 acres for each block of 4,000 acres…once the price of land was then dropped from one pound per acre to 12/6 pence per acre…it became a speculator’s wet-dream!

On hearing of this intention from Mr. Torrens, Charles Flaxman excused himself from their company, pleading to set up camp away from them for the night, when in fact he left Col’ Light there and rode helter skelter back to the Adelaide lands office to reach it just before closing time to submit his own claim to that very valley that Mr. Torrens thought he was entitled to…A legendary ride by a desperate entrepreneur…BUT..there was a sting in the tail to his action..Because while he did claim that initial four parcels of land of 4,000 acres each, a total of 16,000 acres with right of purchase for another surrounding 48 thousands of acres, he claimed three of them in George Angas’s name and ONE PARCEL of 4,000 acres in HIS OWN name..thereby securing a quarter of the total for his own profit…and not only did he double-cross his master by this covert action, he then had the audacity of forcing Angas, on threat of dropping the entire claim (Angas was in England at this time) unless Angas paid also for HIS : Flaxman’s quarter share!!…The audacity of the man to play Angas at his own game was seen as the ultimate insult and though Angas did wincingly fork out the money, it broke the employment contract and started a vitriolic litigation that lasted for many years.

So THIS was the sort of person that later desired to start a “Propriety School” for the education of the children of his peers in the province…for all the like-minded, like attitude, like cunning members of his own class…a private school that would inculcate the intentions of gaining, securing and protecting their ill-gotten wealth . The fore-runner of those public-funded, private screened, profiteering poltroons of a future white-collar criminal class, that now holds by far majority major influence in our institutions of law-making, judiciary, corporate boards, government political appointments, politicians themselves and higher echelon authorities in the land….a corruption complete of every institution of governance by a coterie of like-minded philosophied religious/capitalist indoctrinated “consciousness of kind” pusillanimous buffoons that have steered this nation and a few others in the West to the situation we find ourselves in now…teetering on the verge of economic, physical, social and environmental breakdown…AND STILL having no desire or perhaps no idea of which way to go from here except to encourage feral bogan elements in our midst to clamour and cry for a new Fascist order to protect and secure those ill-gotten gains.

The entire private school system has to be blocked from any future funding by THE State Government and left to fund themselves..We ; the people can no longer afford to pay for their private fantasies. They have to be left to grow up or get out!

The Ant.

The ant, in silence, goes about

It’s ordered business,

It builds nests,

And it knows.

The worm, in depths of dark, damp Earth,

Tunnels and turns,

In silence,

And it knows.

Humanity, goes about its intent,

With all the noise and rancour

Of accrued wisdom,

But it knows not.

You know the time-line and the story-line…you bastards!…I despise you, humanity despises you and if your own mothers could have known the egregious intent in your souls, then I suspect many (not all, for some of them trained you) of those also would have despised you!..Time for us to pay you back.

So I will start with this..:

Second Station; Jesus carries his cross.

On our Culture and why we need a way to redefine it..


“The Culture is dead, long live the Culture!”…

When I was quite young, and I heard for the first time the cry of ; “The King is dead, long live the King!”..I was confused…how can the king live long if he is already dead?…But of course, know the logic of that old saying with out me saying it.

And just as the new King replaced that deceased King, so too must we replace the old dead Australian culture with a new one…just as a language will absorb sounds and words from another tongue and “convert” them into common words of the dominant language, so too must we allow our culture to do the change.

It is why the English language has become so flexible and widely spoken..this absorption and adoption cannot and should not be stopped..just as the death and birth of cultures ought not be do so can see a language Ancient Greek has died and so too has Latin as a spoken language. In truth, those ancient languages never were the true language of the people..most speaking a mixture of Mediterranean / Middle-East / Asiatic dialects..the pure, grammatical Greek and Latin was restricted to the elite ruling classes and academics.

“ Nevertheless the Greek nation with all that it had possessed–with its nationality, its language, its art–belonged to the past.It was only in a comparatively narrow circle not of men of culture–for such, strictly speaking, no longer existed–but of men of erudition that the Greek literature was still cherished even when dead; that the rich inheritance which it had left was inventoried with melancholy pleasure or arid refinement of research; and that, possibly, the living sense of sympathy or the dead erudition was elevated into a semblance of productiveness.” (Mommsen; “History of Rome”).

The tragedy of any society is for it to lock itself into a stagnant situation of cultural growth. This happens with the creation of an “industry” around a favoured era of the nation’s history..a false reality, a twisted jingoism is created with a romantic view of what existed and of what happened in that epoch. We saw this with the Menzies era after the second world war, when conservative governments went all out promoting the “Anzac Spirit”, with special day celebrations and marches..Returned service people leagues and institutions holding a falsely elevated and powerful social position in the community and even their heads of office like Bruce Ruxton drawing up political policy for the government…When all the time the last of the old culture of the “Bronze Anzac” had died on the brutal battlefields or prisoner of war camps in Burma, Thailand or Singapore…there is no illusion any more of the stolid, manly returned soldier…ALL were wounded, ALL were hurt..just that everything was done to hide away from the public eyes those whose wounds were so obvious or whose pain was most visible.

The notion of an Empire “on which the sun will never set”, has created a romantic illusion of the Victorian era of English monarchy..A time in reality of brutal management of earlier colonisation. This illusion was formulated and maintained in Australia up to the second world war.. by then, following on from the great depression, any illusion of a Greater British Empire could only be maintained with blind faith and a fiercely selective reporting of worshipping propaganda…the beast was already dead, but because of the political need for conservative dominance, a kind of bizarre “dance” was performed around regular appearances of the Royal Family in the colonies and by all those status class-leeches that depended on them..a weird dance of necromancing the ancient rites of aristocracy and class privilege…and along with this black magic of public adoration and worship, there was the Menzies era of metaphorical necrophilia with a lost cultural soul.

“The literary tendency of this age was varied and could not be otherwise, for the age itself was divided between the old and the new modes. The same tendencies which came into conflict on the field of politics, the national-Italian tendency of the conservatives, the Hellene-Italian or, if the term be preferred, cosmopolitan tendency of the new monarchy, fought their battles also on the field of literature.  The former attached itself to the older Latin literature, which in the theatre, in the school, and in erudite research assumed more and more the character of classical. . .

. . . the poets of the sixth century were never more vividly felt than in this epoch of thoroughly developed epigonism (an artistic or literary imitation of an artist by a later generation), which in literature as decidedly as in politics looked up to the century of the Hannibalic warriors as to the golden age that had now unhappily passed away beyond recall. No doubt there was in this admiration of the old classics no small portion of the same hollowness and hypocrisy which are characteristic of the conservatism of this age in general. . . “(ibid)

This obsession we had with a dead culture, the culture of “ockerism”, of a romantic construct of the “Bronze Aussie”, with an imperial monarchy giving “cultural cred” to a coterie of anachronistic worshippers of all things regal and militaristic. But in effect, this masculine bravado, this Anzac legend had died with the dying days of the second world war..instead, where brave reality was needed to reconstruct the hurt of a generation, a phony pastiche of “masculinity” was erected as a stop-gap until it was hoped a new wave of younger patriotic citizens could be persuaded to keep carrying the flag….but then along came the Vietnam War….and THAT put the kybosh on THAT little plan.

The world of literature of that age giving a certain credence to the myth can perhaps be best represented with the film of the Neville Shute story : “A Town like Alice”…taking us from the heroic to the horrors of war to the sentimental romanticism of a town in the centre of Australia…overlooking with suitable musical accompaniment the real-life horrors of what happened to those returned soldiers, traumatised by the brutalities they had experienced or seen. Such horrors were not allowed to be presented to the general public…instead, this cultural myth of male camaraderie and stoic, silent endurance was manufactured and maintained.

In contrast, we have the Richard Flannigan novel of ; “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”.. A story close to his own knowledge of his father’s experiences on the Thai-Burma railway..He in effect buries the myth of cultural heroism…:

There has been an attempt at resurrecting this myth of “heroic masculinity”, this white supremacy, Western Cultural supremacy over all others..It is is a failure, like the proud, ancient Romans gathered in their exclusive Senate house or their expensive villas in old Pompei and waxing lyrical in those grammatically pure languages of a culture, long dead in the streets outside.

John Howard sidled up with what is left of the monarchists and in his time as Prime Minister, they worked in-step with the Murdoch media to concoct a “new vision” of an old story of the “Anzacs of Gallipoli”, turning the faces of the youth of the nation toward their own private sunset and delivered a gross stage-set of the “heroics of war” with a emulation cringe-worthy of a modern “Biggles” or something like the wide-eyed “Brylcreme philosophy” of a Boy’s own Annual…and in gingering up an old stew, he has created, in his tin-pot middle-class manner, a farcical effigy of “Golden Aussie Youth” with his “battlers” and personal wish for such to “feel relaxed and comfortable in their own skin”…a “skin” now clothed in the Nazi uniform of our once Fascist enemy and with a face over-rouged and whored-up for Hayek’s Capitalism!

No…Just as Ancient Rome had to fall so Modern Europe could arise, so must we let our archaic Anglo-European culture die so a new Australian culture can be born into the environment it exists..into the Pacific/Indian oceans..into the region of Asia…

Into our multi-cultural, honest and honourable image.


Lay with me . . .

Lay with me my love,

And let our limbs entwine,

Tight fitting.. as fingers in a glove,

Lay with me my love,

Lay with me . . .

So our bodies together cocoon,

Locked as a couplet of pale, silvered spoons,

Lay with me and we will re-live,

Memories of a youth lost in loving,

In the old flat down “The Bay”,

When all that was needed,

Was sunshine..sandy beach and,

Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” on vinyl,

With – all – the – time – in – the – world,

For us together to “dance the antic hay”!

Just the memory of that one sweet moment,

Give more than valid reason to say,

“Those.. those were the days!”

Twelve Caesars.

 Twelve Caesars.

Book three..: “Twelve Caesars”.

Part quintus.

The young men and women that grew from such a healthy outdoors environment , grew bodies that glowed with a shimmering water-silvered endowment that drew the jealousy of the gods! The sea –water that ran from their bodies when re-alighting onto ‘sharkey rock’ after a dive revealed all the beauty that nature could encompass in desire and comeliness in a youthful human form…their hungry eyes rejoiced in each other with a pagan worship of mother nature’s creation.

Having no money and no capacity to travel far, all the children congregated in a tribal-like conglomerate on the beaches . There was nothing in the stultifying doctrine of Catholicism or the Protestant work ethic that could not be laughed off under the pagan influence of sun , sea and surf and the merciful salvation of Fookes’s Fish and Chip Shop.

Ahh!..Mrs. Fookes..never did she know how much she helped create a revolution in her own small way, by her unconnected generosity to the local kids. From behind the counter of that unique fish and chippery, she contributed to the making of “baby-boomer” revolutionaries. She had a stride like a parade-ground Sergeant Major, and a voice to match..but her heart was of pure gold. She wasn’t like “Aunt Mary”, the railway porter on the train station who would line the kids up and threaten any delinquents that she would cut their heads off and put a cabbage in it’s place if’n she had any more cheek!

Mrs. Fookes saw how so many were scrawny kids hungry for a decent bit of daytime tucker, scrounging around for empty cool-drink bottles to cash in for a bob’s worth of of the kids would go inside with a few bottles at threepence each return deposit and Mrs Fookes would dish out more than a shillings chips and sometimes throw in a piece of fish that “was just laying around waiting for a mouth to eat “…and there’s a couple extra chips or a “ potato pattie for your little plump friend there at the door…he looks hungrier than the rest of you!” and the booty was all shared around amongst many..right down to greasy fingers dabbing up even the last salt grains..’all for one, one for all’…till she worked out a way to legitimise her care by pointing one day to some large empty glass jars in an alcove by the counter..”Listen you kids” she said in her commanding voice, “I want some interesting shells and things to make a sea-side display for the customers to look at while they wait..if you bring me something interesting or curious from the sea, I will give you some fish and chips in return…but it’s gotta be interesting, mind!” and she wagged a finger in warning to not try any silly buggers with her..and she meant it!..and she stuck to her word…The kids would bring their little treasures from Neptunes hoard and she’d exchange for tucker…Did anyone then realise what this meant, this system of barter ?..It meant freedom!..liberated from going home during the day for food..No longer under the parents watchful eyes the children were free to create their own sea-side society from morning to late afternoon,without oversight or consultation with adults!..God bless Mrs. Fookes!..and may a warm fire be forever burning in her hearth and warm slippers handy on a cold night…God bless her.

Mind you, she had to have a pretty tough hide to handle her fisherman husband ; Edgar Gordon Fookes…a stone-cutter by trade, fisherman by choice and garrulous old bastard by nature. Edgar and his sons had a fishers camp on the Yorke Peninsula, where they would set out to their secret fishing grounds and catch choice fish to clean and put on ice which Edgar would deliver straight back to the shop..never were fresher fish, more delicious fish and chips served to a long queue of faithful customers..five or more deep at the counter till a ticketing system had to be introduced.

Edgar would deliver his catch and then lean against the end of the counter smoking his big, fat meerschaum pipe and observing what he called ‘the idle rich” customers coming and going. He was a garrulous old bloke and the kids held their distance when he was around, saving their moments to barter with the kindly Mrs. Fookes when he was away.

One day , on a quiet afternoon, Edgar was “resting” on his arm at the end of the counter watching a matronly looking lady in heavy fur coat  peruse with concerned expression and a pair of  prinz nez opera glasses the trays of select fish in the display fridge…after several sweeps in this manner, Edgar could be observed huffing and puffing in an agitated way on his pipe..Edgar prided himself on the freshness and quality of his catch..Finally, the matron straightened up and dropping her glasses to her bosom, addressed Mrs. Fookes behind the counter.

“ Madam, “ she spoke in a ‘Toorak Gardens’ dialect , “Are these fish frrrrresh?”.

This was too much for Edgar to take lying down! He swiftly sidled up to the lady and taking his pipe with a sudden but measured movement from his mouth , he looked her square in the eye and informed her in a mocking emulation of the lady’s own accent;

“Madam!…if they were any frrrrresher…they’d be indecent!” and he turned abruptly away to resume his place at the end of the counter..huffing and puffing at his pipe.

These long, hot, glorious days of summer, over the growing years of all those children developed a naturalism in their hearts that far outweighed the confected indoctrination from the adult world of conservative ritual and religious corruption..even the memories of corporal punishment metered out with summary judgement by Sister Laurence, the playground “enforcer”, armed not with swish or cane like the other nuns, but rather with a fore-arm’s length of stout jarrah wood that she came bearing down on young Christopher who was playing marbles in a “forbidden area” with Brian Hurley , her habit and cloak billowing in the wind with a scowl on her face and the lump of jarrah raised in her claw-like hand looking for all the world like a Valkrie descending…and to this day, Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkries” conjures the exact picture of that moment for Christopher.

Then there were days of adventure, the world of adults figuring very little in the imaginations of these groups of young kids creating fantastic worlds among the gullies and hills on the edge of the sea..there were many warrens of rabbits dotted among the wild olives and oleanders and blue-bush where young boys would go rabbiting to pick up a few bob selling their catches to the houses of their friends and neighbours…Willy Wilson had ferrets, and one day we made the trek up to the top of the gully near to the old Linwood Quarry… On “our side” of the gully, up the hill a ways, there was a ruin of a house..or rather, not really a ruin, but the remnants of an intention to perhaps was one of those ill-fated projects that get started by one of the party “in expectation of”..but is then abandoned when things go awry…I know of a few such stories..quite sad, really…I’ll tell you about them someday..

Anyway, we closed off the windows and doors in this one-roomed ‘fort” and we started a “club”…and we called it “The Kit Kat Klub”…I don’t know for the life of me where we got that name…all I can think of is perhaps that old sit-com ; “The Private World of Dobie Gilles” (perhaps!).

But the “eternal enemy” from across the!..not the O’Niels this time, but those German immigrants ..; the Skrypeks and the Leuchells…broke in and graffitied our club name there on the wall to : “The Shit Kat Klub”….bastards!

It was then that I learned of the abyss that divided catholicism from the proddos’…WE would never have written the word ; “shit” on any wall…THAT would be a “cardinal sin” !…just seeing the word there, I remember made me blush…but also perhaps, dangerously, awoke in me a curiosity for the power of the word.

Yes..growing up with only half a clue as to what is really going on in the adult world maybe a good thing. And speaking of girls when you are growing up..I remember this little plump girl used to hang around us down the beach all those long hot summers..Cyglinda..or Ziggy as we used to call her…it was amazing how in the space of only a couple of summers, she had lost that puppy-fat..or rather it had moved to all the right places and those scraggly locks of wispy hair had grown to blonde tresses to be admired…amazing!!

Ziggy became Cyglinda..once again and where only a couple of years ago she had thrown Davey Parker over her shoulder in a full toss for giving her lip, there walked with demure poise an attractive young lady!

Ah yes…Cyglinda …her old man was, I believe a unrepentant Hitlerite..He had a white scar ran around his neck, about half an inch wide where he claimed a Polish officer, when he was captured as a German soldier, had cut his throat and left him in the snow…He survived, as was apparent..and thrived on Emma Street .

Emma Street held a sort of local “infamy”, in that it was the scene of a fateful train collision where two people, a man and his wife were killed. There were no bells or wig-wag signals there and the train came suddenly onto the crossing from between a cutting.

It wasn’t so dangerous in the days of steam locomotives, as the noise and smoke from the engine gave warning…but with the onset of the old “Red-Hen” diesel electric trains, they were much quieter.

The train-line came out of a cutting onto a high embankment that fell away on both sides..The road wound into the gully past Langdon’s and Willy Wilson’s place, curved around the base and ascended the side of the hill straight onto the Emma Street crossing.

It was there every night, the grandmother of the four children of those parents killed , would walk to the crossing with the children to meet the parents on the other side and then they would all get into the car for the ride home just up The Cove Road a ways…so they were there when the car was hit and they must have saw their parents killed. It was talked about for years. The crossing was closed after that accident.

I must have been about nine or ten years old then. I remember hearing the crash while we were racing our bitzas down Paringa Avenue wasn’t a crash!, but more of a whoomph!..and someone said ;

‘Was that a crash?”…but then it was silent so we went back to our bitzas..until the sirens came and then we ran toward the station and we could see the “Red-Hen” train stopped just at Emma Street crossing and we knew it was an accident.

When I got there, I could see these two bodies laid out on the ground with sheets covering them..but the sheets were not long enough to cover the entire body, so the feet stuck out the bottom…It was a man and a woman..the man had black patent-leather shoes and his feet were leaning away from each other in a ‘V’..The woman had stockings on and one apricot “pump” shoe on her right foot, there was only the one shoe..but in their haste to make the bodies half decent, they had put the ladies shoe on the wrong foot, and it hung there by the toes…and I had this almost unstoppable urge to go and put the shoe (an apricot one with a white petal with a bright pearl centre fixed at the tongue) on the correct foot…of course, I didn’t.

I was staring at this strange and to me, unsightly anomaly; transfixed by this one disorderly item when the world came crashing in with Willy Wilson’s pitched voice calling my name….I looked to where he was standing at the bottom of the high embankment on which we stood .

“Is it an accident? “ he asked in all innocence.

“Yes!” I replied

“Anyone hurt?”


“Oh…..Hey!…I’m going ferret’n tomorra…wanna come?”…I had turned back to the bodies there and was once again held by the offending shoe..and that was the funny thing , it was the shoe that worried me more than the two people dead there…very strange !

“D’you wanna come!!” Willie called again…an as I turned away a big copper appeared on the scene and called for us kids to clear off out of it..

“Someone get these kids out of here!” he yelled…”C’mon..get out of it you kids..bugger off!”

We turned and ran away and I remembered Willy , so I called back to him..

“Ok..yeah!..tomorro’ at my place..ok?”…and I could see my mother coming with that cross look on her face so I ducked past Hogben’s place across the paddock to home. But I tell you what..those ferrets of Willy’s were an out of control lot..and he didn’t know that much about the fine art of ferreting and that turned out to be one big adventure!

I was telling you about Willie Wilson and his ferrets…Willie Wilson kept ferrets, he used them for trapping rabbits in any of the multitude of warrens dotted about the hills where I grew up before the Mixxy got a hold..I’m talking back in the late fifties or so. A lot of people kept ferrets for that purpose in those days..there was a front-bar trade in fresh bunny-meat back then..along with local caught fish like snook and such, that you could buy off the catchers down at the Seacliff Hotel….I know, ’cause my old man used to come home of a Thursday evening, with a smile on his face, a good half-dozen long-necks clinking away in his kit-bag, a big bar of Cadbury’s chocolate in his rough hands and a roll of newspaper-wrapped fresh produce under his arm…every Thursday night, like clockwork…that’s how it went in those days..before age, homesickness for the old country and the drink got a hold on him…that’s how it went in those days…

Willie Wilson kept ferrets, so did the Oxfords…and the O’Niels..not the ones on the corner, but down by the station…The O’Niels on the corner..( one ; John, grew up to become a copper in forensics and he had to deal with those “Snowtown Murders” done for him..I’ll tell you about him one day). They kept ferrets to catch rabbits…the ferrets were clean, but the cages would sometimes stink to high heaven!..Tex, Marlene Oxford’s long time beau kept the cages clean,,I’ll tell you about him too someday. Tex knew how to hunt with ferrets…Willie was just learning…it was a slow job with Willie…he was young, he was keen.

I can only recall going “ferreting” with Willie once…just after that Emma St. crossing crash that I told you about..The day was cold, it was wet and the whole episode was a disaster for both ferreting and friendship. There were four of us..Davey Parker, Bruce Irving, myself and Willie..we took turns carrying the cage with the ferrets..we hiked right up to the top of the long gully, not far from the old Linwood Quarry, where one of the O’Niel men (there were four families, not related , in the district) got his coat caught in the crusher feeder and was killed there…I can just remember the wife coming to our place and my Mother comforting her with some prayers…I suppose it was a catholic thing.

There is an art to catching rabbits with ferrets…Willie did not have that art..all he did was to block as many holes as he had nets, bury in the rest and then let the ferret down one hole..if all goes well, the rabbits will flee the ferret and get caught in any one of the nets as they run out of the warren..the biggest worry, is that if the ferret is hungry, it will trap and kill a rabbit down in the warren and remain there till it eats it to it’s hearts content. Then all you can do is to try to smoke it out or wait.

That’s what must have happened..after the rabbits stopped coming out, the ferret remained. Willie tried to smoke it out with setting fire to some paper in one of the holes, but all it did was to sear the ferrets nose and made it flee back down the warren……..and it rained..and it rained, and rained, and rained some more till we all looked like a picture of one of those groups of American Indian’s sitting under their blankets on the prairie..except we didn’t have blankets, just wet skin, cold hands and it was getting dark and we lost our patience and our kid-tempers and told Willie where he could stick his ferret IF it EVER came out and to our dying shame, we deserted him there and then.

Not my most glorious moment, but there is only so much the patience of a child can stand, especially when we could see more rabbits hopping about the dusky hill-sides than what we caught with the stupid ferret!

The last I heard of Willie Wilson , and that was many, many years ago, was from aforementioned Bruce…He mentioned he had bumped into Willie at the old “Vincent Hotel” there on Mosely Square.

“He was hard up for some dough and he said in all confidence that he had been “casing” this jeweler shop down Jetty Road, and he had a plan all worked out on how to rob the place….I told him I didn’t want to know…truth is ; I thought he was full of bullshit at the time” Bruce took a healthy drought from his pint of beer.

“And then?” I asked.

“Well..I was wrong..he did rob the shop…or rather..he TRIED to rob the shop..”

Now..bear with me dear reader and let us ‘workshop’ through what Bruce told me :

It seems that Willy’s “well thought out plan” consisted of an early hours raid on the shop with the help of an airline bag with half a house-brick secreted inside it. The object of the brick was to penetrate the plate-glass shop-front, the airline bag was to transport the swag away…devilishly clever , what?

But…(there’s always a but in these plans).

Scene: Willie stands in front of the jeweler shop , it is three am. No-one is about..he takes the half-brick from the bag and flings it toward the window….


Let us apply the filmatic application of slow motion to the following scene…: We are at the moment where the brick has just left the grip of Willy’s right hand..At that very moment, a police patrol on it’s regular neighbourhood patrol turns the corner into Jetty Road two shops down from the Jeweller..The lights attract Willy’s gaze and he turns his head (we’re still in slow motion, mind) toward the source..the police officer in the passengers seat likewise turns his gaze toward a person in the moment of executing an unexpected action on the sidewalk of number one fifty six Jetty Road Glenelg..The half-brick continues it’s unstoppable course toward the plate glass…cause and effect is inevitable.

The upshot (if we return to real time) was that the patrol car had pulled up, apprehended and escorted Willy to the back seat of the patrol car while the last shards of the plate-glass window was still tinkling onto the sidewalk…cruel fate.

And that was that for Willy Wilson as far as I can report. I have heard no more.

Christopher coasted through those years of primary schooling..The rudimentary academic education barely sufficient to claim a place in a lower stream of the state high school, while the totally useless religious indoctrination was, presumably necessary to keep him “in the faith” for the more important Catholic principle of saving his eternal soul. Never was a more futile project implemented by more tragic adherents to a faith never more doomed to ethical and moral disintegration..thankfully, such is the inevitable fate of all religion…curse them, curse them and cast them all to the rubbish-bin of history!

But there were traitors in the there anything easier to find than a traitor?..There were those, born too close to the end of the war that would align themselves too readily with the conservative ambitions of their parents and teachers. These were the one’s given and eagerly accepting the roles of ‘prefect” or “house captain”..These traitors were the sleepers that were groomed like the ‘domestic steer’ to give example to and lead the next generation on the similar path to their elders..curse their souls to perdition! Keen as mustard for the ‘glittering prize’ of financial reward or recognised kudos, their eyes keen for advantage over their neighbour, fellow worker, brother or sister, they easily absorbed the tactics and strategy of their social masters, well fitted and suited to a Judas class.

But these quislings were to give themselves away by their keen association with appointed positioning by authority..They were the ones quick to grasp the baton to lead the house marches around the parade ground at the end of the sports day in the St. Josephs school . The O’Connell’s, the Vort-Ronald’s, the Van Der Lindens et al, high-stepping to the thumping piano tunes of Mrs.Gilchrist as she belted out a Sousa march on the old upright piano near the corner of the tennis courts by the front gate of the school, while behind those “creatures” in desultory obedience under threat of Sister Laurence’s jarrah log, the rest of the school kids swung their arms in militaristic style to the foreboding tunes and the House banners…Mercy / blue..Rosary / red..Lourdes / green and Fatima / yellow…around and around they would march until Mrs. Gilchrist’s  piano thumped its last note and the “battalion” was bought to a stumbling, colliding , comical halt in place for Father Collins to deliver his gospel of the day in the dulcet tones of his West Ireland brogue..

Which would best describe the final year of Christopher’s primary education.

“…I often think and wonder

If he kicked me by mistake

Some body-else would they

In silence it not take.

Well, it is getting late

And it’s time to say ; “Addio”.

He smiles, and goes his way

(And we will meet “tomorrow”).

The passing of one’s childhood years portends the approach of those dangerous years of puberty and sexual exploration..and whatever the instruction from well-meaning adult or confessor, these years of self-doubt and egotistical vanity can only be lived by oneself and by oneself only…it is a lonely path in a jungle of wild creatures waiting to spring!

Christopher entered the puberty years cautiously and immediately fell in love with a girl in his High-school class…Nena Beerbaum…who, being of the same age as himself..thirteen years, barely acknowledged his existence, being more attracted to the boys from the higher forms. But that was neither here nor there, because Christopher was an absolute novice at what constituted ‘going ‘round with’ a girl..himself even unsure in those times of what one would do if and when one went with a girl…and although he would not admit such to anyone of his peers, who all except the exceptionally shy, Michael Cretchley, seemed to know exactly what one did when alone with a girlfriend..

“When you’ve kissed her enough, you put it up there, don’t you?” said Joe Adams, the biggest, most erudite kid in the class…he seemed to know of these things..But put it up where?..thought being the days before any ready access to such pictorial descriptive magazines that depicted naked women in wanton display, it was left to his imagination to try to conjure in his mind the “up there” location spoke about with such confidence by Joe Adams..and several of the other boys nodding in suave agreement.

But Christopher had never had the curiosity to enquire of the female reproductive system…this sudden interest in girls seemed to grow out of nowhere to now intrude upon his everyday thoughts..he knew “it” was “down there” between a girl’s legs because that was where everything else was and the short skirts worn by Nena and her coterie drew his eyes to that location every recess and lunchtime when he wasn’t playing games up on the oval..but what was it that Joe and other older boys referred to?…Christopher remembered when he was so much younger..a small boy of around six or seven years standing next to his one year older sister down the garden and urinating while she did the same in a squat next to him..

“Why can’t you stand when you go to the toilet?” Christopher asked.

“Because I haven’t got one of those” Violet, his sister answered..and she motioned to his penis.

“What have you got?” he asked innocently, as this was the first time such a thing came of interest.

“ just comes out from inside of me” his sister answered..and sure enough, when Christopher had a cursory glance at the place of interest, there was little of note to see..just a sort of seam in the skin and that was it…certainly an unfortunate lacking of necessary equipment as far as he was concerned..he enquired of his mother later why this was so..

“Because she is a girl and you are a boy.” Was the only thing his mother would say except to add that he would find out all about it in years to come…needless to say that at his tender age, Christopher was not in the least curious……..until now!…and although he knew that a certain “congress” between a man and a women was what made babies, he was still not dead sure what that detail was..and the devil of it was that without explicit detail of the actions required, there was no place to go to for knowledge..the strict Catholicism of his parents forbade any mention of sexual proclivities and the current curriculum in the high schools of the times had not to date embraced any sex-education classes that an awakening young people in the mid sixties of the twentieth century demanded and it was not until a burgeoning youth pregnancy rate dropped like a bomb on the bowdlerish adults in the room that it was decided the best way to frighten the girls off sex was to drag them to sex-education classes..the boys loved the illustrations!

Anything to do with female genitalia and its miraculous actions was hidden away like the bottles of wine Christopher’s father secreted around the flower-beds of the house…even the packages of “vanity pads” on the rack in Rowlands store down the end of the street, were discreetly hid away in plain brown-paper bags..and again was the evasive answer given to Christopher one day when out of curiosity, he asked Mr. Rowlands what was in the bags?

“You’ll find out one day, my lad”..he answered in his Yorkshire tone and he gave a wry smile..and that was it..and another time in that same age, he went to take a clean rag that hung side by side with others similar from the washing line to use for himself, his Mother snatched it back off him and chastised him with :

“Can’t I have my personal things left alone!”….and that was it as far as any gender detail went. There were so many mysteries that a young boy was shielded the name ‘virgin’ which was thrown around whenever the mother of Jesus Christ was mentioned..”The Virgin Mary”, she was, virgin..what was this?..he decided out of the blue at the dinner table one night to ask his father..

“Dad…what’s a virgin?”…his father halted the action of raising his fork with the cut of mutton on it to his mouth..which remained open for the moment..thought on it and then evasively replied..”Ask your mother.”

“Mum…” Christopher began, but his mother cut in..

“It’s a girl who hasn’t….known a man..” she softly spoke. Christopher thought for a minute or two on this advice, then with a clarity of certainty he blurted ;

“Well, there can’t be any around here, as I am a man and all the girls in this family know me.”…and with that comforting certainty of knowledge, he went back to eating his mutton chops and three vegetables…There was a degree of suppressed coughing from the head of the table..

Once in high school and at the coming of age, this strange conundrum came up of why was he interested in those girl creatures all of a sudden?..What was the strange power held in abeyance from him? Why did he want to get close to Nena so he could smell her strange girl-perfume, hear her soft lisping tone of speaking, the rustle of her clothing the shapely form of her body..oh how he yearned for the unknowing and at that point of his tender years..the unknowable!

He would try to flirt with her with clumsy teasing phrases like ; “Your slip’s showing”..a line he was told by his older brother…and other equally gormless trys until Nena would in variably tire of his insistence and tell him to “rack off!”…or ; “Don’t be stupid!”…and she would wound him..but not enough to drive him completely away, for the attraction was greater than mere warning could dissuade…and he would return…and she would tolerate him once more..

But the flirting on his part and the condescending tolerance on her part was as close as Christopher would ever get to the alluring mystery of Nena Beerbaum in his short sojourn at secondary education..for once the tantalising age of fifteen was in sight, Christopher waved goodbye to all his school chums at the school gate as they fled to their respective homes for the summer holidays…one of the boys called to him to cry ;

“See you next year!”

“Not if I can help it!” Christopher called back as he pedalled away from the last of his juvenile years..a new world of work and wages was now open to him.

The Nesting Tree.

The Nesting Tree.

Come, friends, listeners, come sit near me,

Together we shall hear of the story I plead,

Turn life’s pages with its entrancing scenes,

Witness the unfolding of one’s living deeds,

And tell you I shall, the story of “The Nesting Tree”.


At the back of the old settler’s hut, there you will see,

An old, so very old, gnarled branched mallee tree.

It’s central trunk long dead, smoothed and grey,

Time’s caress removed rough bark and did sand,

All sharp edges from that tall, trunk so grand.


There is a hollow up a dozen feet from the bole,

Just to the left of a greying spar, bone sculp’d,

That give nesting shelter every year to galahs.

Their red and grey colours matched as a pair,

Returning season on season to raise chicks there.


Now, every summer of the last twenty five,

The same pair made that nesting tree their hide,

Come back every year for they mate for life,

There they’d patiently sit..lay eggs, raise their chicks.

There they’d return each year to reclaim their abode.


Galahs were there when we first bought the place,

There when my parents built the first house,

They were there long after I was engaged,

They were there when I left in a marriage done,

There when I returned years later with my son.


For the marriage failed, my husband a beast,

When in drunken rage I would hide from his fists,

All too often he would strike out in raging hate,

But came the time when I no more would suffer,

Returning to my my father and mother.


And I marked the same with those galahs in that tree,

They too returned to reclaim their nest-tree,

That in the end I too did return to familiar territory,

Returned to that home where I could rest, be free,

Returned to safety in mine own “Nesting Tree”.


Is it our fate in a struggle to succeed,

That sometimes the odds fall so great against need,

So much hurt that leaves one’s heart to bleed,

That with the loss complete of all and sundry,

No choice but return to one’s own Nesting Tree?


And it was that year when loss I first redressed,

When I became more inured to life’s cruelness,

That I found a chick fallen from the galah’s nest,

Whether it be cat attack or just plain excess,

I never knew, but I held that chick in gentle caress.


I held that bird without hope, tender fledgling,

And I was of two minds as to what to do,

Leave it down and let nature deal the fatal blow?

Yet in its small, frightened eye, I could myself espy,

And who was I to refuse it balm, never has it done me harm.


Why not, with helping touch relieve its hurt,

With tender love & care, will it not sing its dirge?

“It will not fly free” you could say..but then, does a tree run away?

Does oyster glued to rock not wait in patience for its food?

So this bird too, some moments I’ll share, a little of life’s splendid air.


For its helplessness struck close to my heart,

Was I not also hurt in helpless compact?

And I thought it too I could grant a fresh start,

So I raised it up to a sprightly young bird,

And its company and song were the sweetest I heard.


Came the drought of those four long years,

The galahs never returned to claim their nest,

Very few remained in the paddocks and trees,

And I can only presume they left for fear,

Of dying in a land left barren and drear.


But my bird’s company and talk stayed with me long,

Long after my mother and father had “gone”,

Long after I had said cheerio to my son,

As he left to find work, another place, another town,

I could not in all fairness hold him down.


That left me alone on the farming property,

Alone with that galah as my only company,

For how many old folk had now passed away,

But it was alright, for I had my familiar ways,

My garden and church and community days.


But all this world of mine came crashing down,

Just when I thought the future I owned,

When my son, the father’s blood, took to drinking,

And in a state of drunken wild, a car-crash took my only child,

And left me with only my broken dreams to hold.


And it was on one day several years gone past,

Orchard and gardening the balm of my heart,

When the numbness of love lost had since passed,

Habit and routine had done its hard work,

Only leaving moments of sadness to burn its mark.


I watched my pet galah at the casement window sit,

Looking to the outside world in wistful sight,

And I couldn’t help but feel the moment had come,

Like my own search for a land of peaceful times,

To let her feel the strength of wind on her wings.


It was in the steadfast look of that galah I could see,

That it was looking, staring constant out toward a tree,

Its trunk bare, with a hollow, behind the old settler’s hut,

And following its gaze I could clearly conceive,

Its hungering sight falling onto The Nesting Tree.


It was many years that I kept as pet that galah,

Fed it, held it, laughed at its stumbling larks,

Cursed it for when it tore into packets of seeds,

And mocked it when it danced for its tea.

Its hobbling-bobbling a curious sight to see.


But on that one day it did dawn on me,

That I was now obliged to set it free,

For I owed it to myself to also believe in me,

So I kissed it’s crown and stroked it’s wings,

And opened the window and let it feel the wind.


There awhile sat the galah in steady repose,

As if deciding whether it worth the risk to soar,

Then turned to me and bobbed it’s knows,

Took a couple of times spreading wide its wings,

And flew away out to the sun in tumbling turns.


Two years passed and I thought I’d never see,

Again that galah that I came to set free,

Then one fine summer day near sunset I did glean,

Silhouetted against the brazen afternoon shine,

A shape of galahs outside my window screen.


And sure, there, as I stand so near to thee, my galah with a mate had come back to me!

We called out to each other with our own familiar chitter-chatter in repartee,

She pranced to me her mate by a nodding of her crest raised in laughing scree,

Bobbing and bowing in welcoming greet to me…..I reciprocated with exaggerated bow..”thankee”..


They then took to their wings, in resounding scream,

And I rushed to the window where I could discern,

They did fly true, fly free..returning once more,

As was done there first with her parent’s before,

To stake claim for their new home..near to my The Nesting Tree.

Twelve Caesars.

Twelve Caesars.

Book three..: “Twelve Caesars”

Part quartus.

The marriage of the eldest daughter of Richard and Grace Thomas to an Italian cemented more than a covert engagement that took place over a couple of years of secret meetings and assignations, it legitimized and sealed the relationship between new and old Catholicism.

It must be agreed that the late convert to this or that religion is in the main so much more strident in their belief than the person nurtured in that same religion from childhood . I cannot speak with confidence of the other two Abrahamic religions, but I can reassure you that the Catholic convert, of which Grace Thomas was a excellent example, inculcated robust pious devotion in both their own person and their children’s devotions. However, it was a faith awry with the distorted values and priorities of the fervent convert. Richard Thomas, despite his conversion to “the faith” in able to marry Grace, did not have a religious bone in his body, neither for the Wesleyan Methodist nor the Catholic faith. Indeed, his major belief in life centred in himself and next toward Grace as a kind of “supporting act”..his behaviour toward his children over the long-term was as an “invisible father.”

Enrico Corridini had been raised in the shadow of the state religion from birth that became, through it’s total amplitude in the village ; a kind of background white-noise that was absorbed into the daily activities and became an almost automatic reflex of habit of duty rather than a devotion to a singular creed..indeed, it could be said that in Italy, in some districts, the state religion had to compete with an age-old pagan belief in “the evil eye” and other superstitions and all the ramifications. Whatever the understanding in these “old religion” countries, the stringent adherence to doctrine is taken far less seriously than the intense devotion of the convert.

This unwavering devotion became a bone of contention in the Corridini household over the years, affecting the relationship between husband and wife and also their children. But the more damaging unwavering devotion of Rosaline was to her mother..a devotion nurtured into the very skin of all Grace’s children. It was as if drawn with an indelible pencil onto the soul of her girls..for the boys hearts were, naturally , drawn toward the charms and attractions of other women…” Your son is your son till he finds a wife, but your daughter is your daughter for all your life.” The elder son unfortunately died in a motor accident while quite young and the surviving son went his own way to marry a woman disliked by much that she never went to the wedding.

Richard Thomas carried this burden of motherly devotion to their children with a fatalistic narcissism…I remember him walking past me one day, he walked past with his signature limp and helping stick.he paused just then, turned to me and in a passing thought said to me..:

“ You know…Irish women make good mothers, but terrible wives.”..and he turned and walked on.

The marriage of Enrico and Rosaline was followed swiftly by the birth of their first child, just inside the “legitimate” time-line of acceptance. It has been noticed within the immediate family blood-line, that all the women run very close to breaking that “contract of legitimacy “..But it must be acknowledged as a proverb of truth that grew into tradition in the Murray Mallee district in those days that ; “with marriage and childbirth, one could never be sure of the first-born, as they could come at any time, but the next ones always took nine months”.

After the first child, there followed three others in quick succession so that there were four children in the first five years. Then there was a break, perhaps due to weariness and helped along with the length of time spent breast-feeding the last child..a period of three an attempt to slow or stop the breeding program..But there were two known miscarriages between the forth and the fifth child. It was after the first of these miscarriages that Richard and Grace Thomas came from the bush to live in the Corridini house to assist their daughter look after the young children. They stayed for ten years and were an added irritation to Enrico Corridini, who, coming from a tradition of builders and labourers of the Dolomites , would find it somewhat “difficult” to come home at sunset, weary from a hard day at a building site, to see Richard fiddling at his motorcycle and side-car whilst whistling a serene tune as if life was one big bowl of cherries..

“Boia che Boia!!” he would cry in desperation to his Italian workmates when telling them of his home situation…he would smack the balls of his hands against the sides of his forehead as he did so…his eyes pinched in frustration as if to shut the image of  the blasphemy of idleness of Richard Thomas out of his mind.

It was during this period of difficulty, that Enrico took to drink.

I have been persistent in my advice through the years to anyone contemplating immigration as a solution (unless in life or death situations) to their dire poverty, to I do not believe that the economic advantage outweighs the loss of cultural stability. I concluded this from observation of the elderly Enrico, who in later life would, come a Sunday morning, retire amongst the fruit trees and vegetables down the garden, with transistor radio, small chair and a glass of sweet sherry to listen in peace and quiet to his radio program. I do not recall it’s name, but it opened and closed with it’s theme song..; “Arrivaderci Roma”.

I can recall him lamenting to a visitor ; Guido Passardi, who had travelled several times back to the “old country” , that he wished he could go back to sit under the olive tree in the square and talk with the other old men…Guido quickly threw cold water on this fancy by informing him that most of their old acquaintances back in the village were either dead, gravely ill or suffering senile dementia.

Of the four children born in quick succession, Christopher was the youngest . Being the last of that first group, he was the one kept on the breast for three years..a situation he was in later life to describe as “a learning curve” but which the other siblings saw as spoilt..and did tease and trick the child at every opportunity driving him more to seek the protection and comfort of his mother . A situation that could have developed into a nasty little psychosis save for the resumption of the birthing program when Christopher was but seven years old and securely bundled into the sadistic arms of the ironically named ; Sisters Of Mercy convent school.

Here begun an education runneth over with all the scheming machinations of an organization extremely well practiced in the arts of subliminal subversion to religious fetishism. It was a pity that more time was not spent on teaching actual scholarly education, rather than the fire and brimstone of sin and repentance! The nuts and bolts of academic learning were omitted for slide-shows of the most gory tortures of saints and sinners, from a clunky projector eagerly manned by a young, weedy-looking, lip-licking “brother”,  followed by regular genuflections before “The Stations of The Cross” in the big church out the back of the school.

To the point that when the teacher of mathematics, on one of the first days at the state high school, handed out the slim, yellow covered volume of the three coloured volume set of ; Mathematics (red), Geometry (green) and Algebra, the young Christopher looked down in eye-watering dismay at the hieroglyphics of algebraic symbols on the page…and when the teacher commanded the class to turn to page five to tackle some of the simpler algebraic problems …a situation those students coming from the state primary schools seemed at least familiar with …but to young  Chris’ were as mystifying as the giggling of girls..but even more perplexing , because he had never before seen or heard of such twisted logic in those years of religious instruction and simple arithmetic…and for one whose passing scholarly marks reflected more his commanding knowledge of the lives and the suffering deaths of the saints and martyrs of Catholicism, this was “all Greek” to him..

“Owlgebra!”…he cried in a just too loud voice so that the whole class turned toward him to gaze..”…how long’s this been going on?” 

You’d be on solid ground to ask, as I have many times myself since ; what sort of adults would turn their children over to the care of a bunch of lunatics? For that is what those “inmates of Christ” were..contemplate the situation for a moment..: You have a cloister of healthy women, all who have sworn to maintain a chaste, childless life in the service of an “unknown”..You have a likewise mob of males, all once and perhaps still testosterone driven to submit their desires to the will of their God..yet..yet we know..we know only too well that under those cowls, under those habits there beat the heart and temperament of a human being, with all the wanton vices and desires of the human body. Along with the ‘call to serve the Lord’, was a certain resentment in how they were expected to it could sometimes seem as all give and no receive on the earthly side of the ledger..and here they were left in charge of herding and corralling all these offspring of lascivious copulation..all these screaming, demanding sprays of semen and ovulation flowing over the school-yard and into the classrooms…and here they were having to wipe the bottoms and the noses of the little grommets..all day , every day till the parents…those incorrigible sinners and fuckers, those “Sunday Saints” came to collect their moments of flailing desire and nocturnal fornications…these running, jumping, yelling , one singular spermatozoon success story amongst volumes of body-fluids and menstrual waste…But not for the holy “Sister” or “Brother” or “Father”..not for those incestuously suggestive relations of God the rhythmic caress of deep sexual see but never to touch, to feel the desire but never to consummate..nothing save furtive self-fondling in the dark silence of their cell, all resulting evidence flushed down to the septic tank or burned in the lighting-up of the morning cooking fire in the communal kitchen, a sigh of both release and simultaneous regret at both “getting away with something shameful” and in quick succession the knowledge of getting away with nothing at all., for here they still were and here they will stay..and the hunger never go away.

“Please, Jesus, please Jesus, please Jesus! out this sin of lust from my body…mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa…”.

The body of Christ amen.

But He doesn’t , He never can…for how can one but believe, if one does believe, in one’s heart of hearts, that it was He; that creator , that omnipotent God , who put it there! And could the question just as easy be put; If the sin of lust could result in the creation of bastard life in the human body…what was the Sin of God that caused Him to create such bastard life in the celestial body : Earth?

Such theological questions were beyond the imagination of the small cluster of children herded to pray and genuflect before the Stations of the Cross during their weekly prayer lessons in the big church out the back of the school. Indeed, such questions were not even considered by the parents of Christopher as they signed their children over to the care and education of such a bunch of crazed lunatics that inhabited that five acres of  ecclesiastical asylum near the railway station.

The one question, the imperative  answer to which sealed the decision of a young Rosaline to marry a man twenty years older than herself, was one she put to the old German herder whilst waiting to board the station ferry to cross the Murray River. She had been “engaged” to Enrico for nearly a year , while she still worked at the big station on the Murray River..Enrico and Rosaline met every few days when he would come to the river to collect a truck-load of water for the wood-cutting camp where he worked and lived during the war years. Enrico had “popped the question” a while back and while she had cautiously consented, she had yet to make her final decision.

Rosaline Thomas grew up by the river. She worked as a house-maid at both Punyelroo and Portee stations near Swan Reach and Blanchetown. Many times she was called to accompany the lady of the house to cross the river on a flat-topped ferry, used for ferrying supplies across the river there at the station. She told of an old German hand there at Portee who, whenever he had to cross the river, would pick up a small stone, a pebble, carry it across the river and place it on the other side..Rosaline asked him why he did it…he was at first reluctant to tell her..but she persisted..

“Well, is my own little thing…I think of the small stone as my soul,…you see, I cannot swim..and so I take the stone, carry it, and if or when I reach safely the solid ground on the other side, I leave it dzair….when I come back, I do the same”

“What would happen if the ferry starts to sink?” Rosaline asked.

“Dzen I will try to throw it with all my might, to the other side….and I think if it reaches there , then  I feel I too will reach there…”

“And if it doesn’t?”

“Dzen, I think I vill be lost in the waters of the river…”

It was the thought, the visual imagination of that thrown pebble, desperate, hopeless and valueless, falling into the waters of the river and a life lost as a consequence of that one little pebble…

What was her life to be ? Would it be lost in a desperate gamble with a married life on the edge of the river…a dirt farmer’s wife in the ‘heartbreak country’ of the mallee? Uneducated, in poverty, her family property-less and impoverished…

She was decided.

Christopher stood as instructed before the first small icon of the Stations of the Cross.The pictures were at some height above his tiny frame, he craned his neck to see it. Sister Mary Joseph placed one arm around his slender child body and in a secretive whisper described the goings on in the painting..she did this to each child in turn , from one station stop to the next, with each station becoming more and more intense with the humiliation and torment of  The Christ, her voice too grew in intensity and anger..

‘Look!” she’d say, “look how they laugh and mock our Lord Jesus……..” and the children’s eyes all wide and staring at the horror of the gore and blood on the crown of thorns and the leering faces of the torturers.  The children’s hands clasping and wringing in fear and horror…several of the little girls clung to the habit of the squatting sister as she related the means of cruelty inflicted on the body of the Son of God as “He suffered for our sins here on Earth…He suffered for us..” her eyes alight also with the self-inflicted emotional pain of the scenes she described. 

The young nun then proceeded to instruct the small group of children in the ritual of the journey through The Stations of the Cross..she would say the Leaders chant :

“We adore thee O Christ, and bless thee.”

Then she would ask the children to repeat after her..:

“By your holy cross Thou has redeemed the world”.

Then she would gather the little cluster of children around her and softly tell them a little maxim of life ; “As a child, we sometimes feel alone..sometimes others do not stand up for me when I am picked on and help me Jesus to be strong and protect me in thy light”.

The chant was repeated at every Station, along with the repeated response and then another little homily on the lessons of life through the eyes of reverence for Jesus. “ As a child, I sometimes repeat stories that are unclean and disrespectful..Help me to keep myself pure and clean…” All while standing before another frame of the torment or torture of Our Lord Jesus Christ. These lurid paintings left nothing to the imagination, from the first of the condemning to death before Pontius Pilate to the meeting of his mother and the women of Jerusalem on the road to crucifixion and the stripping away of his garments to the hammering in of the nails to his hands and feet and the sinking in of the spear into the side of his body…

These chants, prayers and visuals were displayed in graphic intensity to the ears and gaze of those five year old children, fresh from the comforts and protection of Mother , Father and the safety of home..To Christopher, they were a shocking assault on his quiet nature..He had never seen someone so deliberately hurt..He had never seen someone held down and tortured, He had never seen a person stripped, beaten, speared , gored and nailed to a wooden cross…Yet here was Sister Mary Joseph explaining it all with the soft, gentle, assured voice of a confident adult…it must be so.

But strangely, the terror didn’t bite into young Christopher. Those carefully designed pictures, those beguiling, persuasive homilies and all the Sister’s gently pitched whispers into his child ears were to be of no avail…for even as a child, Christopher was more of a “touching” child..he was more interested in the tactile nature of things..on the habit of Sister Joseph, he would touch to feel the heavy-starched white cloth parts of her cowl as she cooed , as with a lover’s breath, the corrupting words of indoctrination into his ear, wondering why it was so sharp…he would stand by her side and feel the heavy wooden beads of the Rosary belt that wrapped around her waist then dangled down the side of her habit-skirt..He would be mesmerized at the large, pendulating black cross that swung against her breast as she leant down to him. His was the world of touch, sights and sounds, the child’s world of wonder , when the wind told stories to his ears..alike to the animal kingdom.. windy days telling hurried stories of trees and hills, grasses and ferns, of white-capped ocean waves and gliding seagulls under drifts of wind-blown clouds scattered over azure skies. A child’s ears and innocence tuned to that elusive pitch and timbre that becomes dulled and destroyed by adulthood and those wailing whispers on the wind are seldom heard again.

What is lost in the eyes of the child, when such macabre icons are drawn to their gaze..The innocence that must be destroyed so guilt can be created, hatred infused before a depraved love constructed, fear before security, doubt in place of certainty, death before life. What is religion that would need to do such to a child..for it is surely children to which all it’s cunning indoctrination are delivered…as the adult convert must be a relatively low number in proportion, so it is the child that must be coaxed out of it’s dreamy cocoon into the adult world of  conditioned certainty..where “trigger words” or scenarios are imbedded into the vernacular to be drawn upon when needed by civic state or religion..for they do work fist in glove in collusion with each else could it be explained or excused, for what were these series of cameos of horror and degradation but in reality a kind of ecclesiastical pornography pushed into the subliminal thoughts of the children’s minds, a “sleeper” awaiting the right moment to respond.

After the last Station was reflected upon, the last homily spoke, the last humiliation imbedded into their child minds..the children were lined up and marched back single-file to the classroom near the row of huge old pine trees..Christopher looked at the radiating branches ascending high up into the depth of the foliage..

“ Wow! what a great place for a tree-house “ he was thinking.

This was the beginning of a long period of stability for Rosaline and the Corridini House..both social and economic. The home they had built near the southern coast of Adelaide was to remain her home till the death of them both.

It was a long period of stability for many migrant families, but by the end of the decade, it was already too late..their world of authority was fast unraveling…the next generation would relinquish their cultural ties and become more enamored to their new country..but they didn’t know it yet although before too many more years had passed, it was to come upon them like a clap of thunder, for except for a minor skirmish in Korea that would kick off a long festering sore of “the cold war” on two fronts, there was a kind of “Pax Australiana” in place where the demand economy was creating the need for a larger labour force which was filled by mass immigration from Europe and then England.

The adults who made this epic journey were pushed out in the main to the rough, largely un-serviced outer suburbs..some of which had neither mains water , sewerage or even electricity at the start!…this created ghettos not only of migrant families from all corners of Europe, but also the less well-off of Anglo-Australians. The mix of ethnicities made strange bedfellows of the children of those families…so that Christopher found friendship through the primary school with Dutch, Latvian, Scottish, German, Irish and some of dubious parentage altogether!…but they became ‘fellow travelers’ in the poverty enriched neighbourhoods  in the foothills on the edge of  the sea.

By a coincidental twist of fate, while the adults, survivors of a world war, in some cases two wars, an economic depression that impoverished so many, were a motley collection of spiritually broken , in many cases physically broken individuals, who were subjected to the corrupting influence of conservative thinking and propaganda that drove a wedge of fear into their susceptible hearts, their “multi-mix” children, with an improved diet of high protein, clean water, fresh air and unsupervised, unregulated freedom on the wide beaches of  the gulf, grew into wild free-spirited youths, who found rebellion against the restraints of conservative lifestyle as easy as diving off “sharkey rock” into a crystal- clear , cool ocean. The name of that rock lent its moniker to a young boy of the area..his name was Kevin, but a continuous conflict between his alcoholic parents drove him to seek the solitude of that rock whose geological shape of stone gave the impression of a shark’s fin..I knew of Ruth Holmstrom from my youngest years, but she died before I was old enough to work out what domestic violence meant… I have to tell you the story (as I know it) of Ruth Holmstrom. I have to give her a bit of longevity in this world lest she be forgotten altogether, for the little I know of her as a child of around six or seven years is through my one clear memory of meeting her on the footpath at her letterbox as I was making my way to the beach one summer day.. She looked down to me and smiled weakly.

The Holmstroms lived on Jervois Tce. About halfway between our house and Rowland’s Deli’ at the top of the hill-slope to the beach there by Mrs. Fookes Fish & Chip shop.. The house was of red-brick, plain frontage, with dull, dark-green painted doors and windows. The blinds were always drawn. There was a low red-brick front fence with a small white gate. Mrs. Holmstrom grew watermelons out the back yard that didn’t have a side fence to the road , and so the ripe melons were subject to some young boys stealing one or which Ruth would give chase when she could, yelling and cursing at them…young Potter was a main culprit and he was swift of his credit, he did share the booty amongst us other kids.

There were three children with Vernon and Ruth Holmstrom…the oldest was a girl whose name slips my memory a tad..I’ve got it written down somewhere..just a tic an’ I’ll find it….ah, yes..Julie..and then there was Kevin and Trevor. I knew the two boys better because they joined the other local boys down the beach.. They were known by their nick-names of ; “Sharkey” (Kevin) and “Porpoise” ( the younger Trevor)..there is a large diving-off rock there at the Marino Rocks beach called “Sharkey” and I thought and still do think it was a given name for the older Holmstrom boy as he could be so often sitting there alone on the rock.

The one time I remember Mrs.Holmstrom was the summer day I was walking down the path to the beach..I had my towel over my shoulder and I was jumping over the lines of tiny ants that I had noticed had made a right-angled track every so often regularly across the path…I was jumping one of these tracks when I bumped into Ruth Holmstrom at her letterbox there by the gate , collecting her mail…She was a big blowsy sort of woman with a wavey, ruffled mass of shortish dark hair and she had on a loose, floaty, white cotton dress with large red flower prints on it..neither she nor I said a word..she just looked down at me and smiled weakly and it was then I noticed one side of her face was swollen and marked by a large bruise along with a black-eye. She just smiled at me, glanced nervously around and then quickly made her way back inside the house.

Potter lived just a couple of houses up from the Holmstroms and I asked him recently about Ruth and Vernon and told of my memory..and he remarked that he wasn’t surprised, because he witnessed Vernon hit Ruth in the face with a full, closed fist once when he was there with the boys..he said the sound was like a crunching whack!, and he fled out the back door. Vernon was a violent man, extremely violent..he could be heard up and down the street yelling and threatening all the family..he would not stop short of striking the children as swiftly and as viciously as he did his wife..yet he was never reported to the police and the community kept quiet, as was the custom..or shall we say ; “culture” in those days when it came to domestic violence.

When My sister was here over Christmas I spoke to her too about this recurring memory and she told me that yes, Mrs. Holmstrom had come to our mother several times to complain about Vernon’s drunken violence…but my mother had told her to try and keep the peace and hold the family together for the sake of the children.. Ruth, along with her husband was also an alcoholic…so there was that too.

But it was not long after the meeting at the letter-box , when our mother was getting the bath ready for us kids one night that she matter-of-fact quietly informed us that Mrs. Holmstrom had died that week and she had died because she had slipped in the bath and chipped the bone in her elbow and that small chip had worked its way up to her heart and she had died from a heart attack because of the bone chip…so you have to be careful not to muck around while having a bath otherwise you could fall over and chip your elbow and die like Ruth Holmstrom.

But I no longer believe a word of that story.

Twelve Caesars.

 Twelve Caesars..

Book Three…”Twelve Caesars”.

Part tertius.

Richard, having almost no education worthy to read or write save to sign his name, having little knowledge of the world of literature or of scholarship, his life was one of inquisitive discovery of the practicalities of engineering, while Grace’s life ,ironically,  well-read and well-educated in her father’s office, was one of hiding and forgetting.

These two comparative strangers to each other, so recently married and now after a year of living in Sydney, set out to return to South Australia with a four month old baby girl, no money, no prospects but all the passion and determination of a conquering Caesar!..except on the trip back, a damn sight rougher than the trip over, Grace was extremely seasick and the baby, according to legend, not being able to be breast-fed, had to be sustained on brandy and water for the duration..

   There is not one letter extant, if one ever did exist, neither love letter or note, nothing of any subject at all from Richard Thomas…all memories of  their early years comes from Grace and only from Grace…make of that what you will, but as history is always written by the victors, the inscription on the gravestone of the couple (Grace preceded) demonstrates the influence Grace had on her children ;

“In loving memory of;

Grace Mary Thomas.

Devoted wife of Richard Thomas.

Beloved mother of  Rosaline, Mary, Hannah, John and Daniel.

Born 1898, Died 1980.

Native of County Cork , Ireland.

R.I.P. “

And of Richard , chiseled on the headstone below Grace’s, almost as an afterthought :

“In Memory of ;

Richard Thomas,

Loved husband of the above”.

To say that it was a surprise when Richard Thomas returned to his home town of Moonta unannounced and dropped into his family one evening at dinner time unannounced and introduced his wife and child that he had failed in both cases to inform his parents of , would be a Chapel Choir Stopper of unprecedented  shock and understatement. Then Richard’s next announcement that their only son  had converted from Wesleyan Methodist to Catholic to do so was a resounding thunderclap that raised the roof.

After his mother was revived by her bevy of daughters, the recriminations began! Exile was the only recourse and the young couple set out bent-backed and penniless to make their way in a cold cruel world just as the Great Depression opened it’s doors to a view of hell for the poor and unemployed…of which Richard was one of it’s best examples.

To look through the eyes of deep poverty, is to see cold charity as the slap of condemnation, to see pity as the scorn of patronizing and the government dole as a Judas payment for betrayal of social responsibility…but the one thing that is seen for what it truly is and is never hidden, is the pitiless hatred and cruelty of the “haves” for the “have-not”. It is the cold, scornful disdain from those born into security and property or just plain comfortably well-off toward those in the depression years who were made and kept homeless and itinerant..; ”the sussos”.

Richard and Grace Thomas made for the Riverland of South Australia..Their choice made from the knowledge that there was the best chance for Richard to ply his skill of “tinker” with the growing irrigation agriculture and the fact that water was free along with a plentiful supply of fresh rabbits. So armed with a .22 calibre rifle, canvas groundsheets and a dutch-oven cooking pot. the Thomas family settled down to a makeshift life of itinerancy, sustenance(‘susso’) dole, living in abandoned hovels and tents of Richard’s unique manufacture from wheat-bags and wood and another child on the way to at least ten years of frightening existence on the edge of calamity.

While the well established and addressed may mark moments of  family history with mirth and sentimental tears, the grossly impoverished mark their “progress” through time with memories of near escapes, disasters and hurried departures that..may in time be recalled in conversation as ‘funny moments’, or ‘phew! moments’ , they are mostly moments one shudders to recall at all or if ever mentioned, are accompanied with a deep groan of remorse or regret. These latter are the hallmarks of the Thomas family album…very few photos are extant that show the depression years with a smile or look of contented well-being.

With the arrival of the second child; Maggie, Richard was well established in the riverland district doing the rounds of country towns to both collect the susso-dole and ply his trade. There are stories in the family vault that paint over the horror of those years with a humourous gloss that is only the thinnest of skins deep. There is the story of swapping their home-made tent for a small open boat into which they loaded all their possessions  along with their two children and rowed up-river on The Murray from Renmark to Mildura looking for work and then back to take up seasonal work in Renmark..six weeks up two back, living off rabbits and god knows what else along the way..: This article originally appeared in the “Riverlander” March 1958.
The author, Rosaline Thomas (now deceased), did the trip with her parents in the depression years, when work and money were very scarce. It shows the determination of the hardy souls in those times.

It was published in a magazine that promoted Murray River and associated articles of interest in those days, with an objective (as was the common theme of the Menzies fifties) of presenting a “homely image” of the family and times…along with so many cover-ups of the damaged returned soldiers from the 2nd World War. So there is a certain amount of edited out realities not presented in the original anecdote that I will explain at the end …How do I know of such things?..because the author was my mother.

Row-Boat from Renmark to Mildura.

By Rosaline Thomas.

Have you ever thought of travelling by river? Not in a comfortable steamer, but in an open boat. My father and mother, my sister and I, tried it some years ago when we did the trip from Renmark to Mildura and back.

Our two-roomed canvas cottage that stood on blocks was exchanged for a rowing boat and a white tent. We rolled the latter, stowing it with only what was necessary, including a fortnight’s groceries, into the boat and left early one morning.

It was my job to mind my little sister, while mother and father, seated side by side, rowed the boat. Unfortunately Maggie developed a love for watching things zig-zag down through the water out of sight. I am unable to remember how many odds and ends we lost this way until she tired of it. We then began to count the scarred trees out of which the aborigines had cut their canoes. On the lonely stretches of the river there often were many.

Posts for the tent were cut whenever we decided it was too chilly to sleep under the stars, or if we stayed a few days to fish or set rabbit traps. In fact, we travelled ‘Wagga’s way’, as we came to call it; because he was the only other person we met using a rowing boat for that purpose.

Wagga was the first, but one of the many characters we happened to meet. A big man, straight, in spite of sixty years, He had a huge, rounded beard as black as midnight. So was his big cat “Satan”, who sat on the prow of his master’s rowing boat and was the most ‘human’ cat I have ever met. Wagga always pushed, facing the front to row his boat, as he “liked to see the way”, He was a super-cook and used the native way to cook fish or wild game, straight from line or gun, wrapped in clay and placed amongst glowing coals: When cooked the feathers stripped off with the clay.

We first met him one evening when he rowed across the river to warn us that the side where we intended to camp was haunted. The story was that a woman passenger on one of the paddle steamers had wandered off while the crew were cutting logs for the boiler fires. She was never found. Her spirit, we were told, used to come back to that part of the river looking for the boat.

Mother is Irish, so we did not stay to find out the truth, but quickly crossed to the other side. It was here next day that a huge ram frightened us. Father and Wagga went off shooting and We other three sat on a fallen gum tree to drink in the surroundings. Suddenly mother’s sixth sense caused her to look round and there, not more than three yards behind, stood the ram. His curled horns looked really dreadful. We hastily and quietly withdrew to the boat and continued enjoying peace and wild beauty from there.

Between towns we met several families who had settled on the banks of the river. One that astonished us was the goat farm people. They were a big family and owned goats of every kind, size, sex and colour. They ate goats, milked them and used home-tanned skins for rugs and mats. We were welcomed like old friends. A huge meal was prepared for all and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I have often wondered how they never grew tired of goats, goats, goats.

Sometimes we never met anyone for days; there was just the never-ending scrub and the gurgling of the Murray River. Then, round a bend, a home stead would come suddenly into view. The people of the homesteads were mostly kind, giving us meat and often flour. In return father would solder their leaking kettles and things.

There was only one accident.Maggie, running down to the water’s edge to watch a paddle steamer, cut her foot badly. We came to a homestead next day and the people there re-bandaged it. Not a scar was left.

We reached Mildura four days before Christmas, pitched our tent opposite the town and decided to stay a few days.
The next couple of mornings father spent in the township, trying to get soldering or other work. We others washed and cleaned everything, giving the camp oven a good scrub with the clean, white sand found at the water’s edge. Christmas was spent quietly, it was cool under the giant gums. Then it was decided we would go back to Renmark. In Renmark the fruit picking season was about to start and father had been promised some work. So we started back. It took six weeks to come up, and a fortnight to get back.

…sounds like the romantic holiday…but you picture it in the wild bush of those days, with two children under five sleeping under the stars with the mozzies and flies and snakes and no reliable food and the risk of drowning the lot of them in the days before the locks were completed.

And there is the story of the birth of the third a punt..on the river..while Richard and the midwife argued the toss over who should get the five pound baby endowment payment…best told in “proverb /Parable..:

Proverb : Knots well tied are easiest undone.

Parable : Richard Thomas gingerly poled the punt off the bank of the Murray River with the butt-end of the oar. The Mid-wife comforted and settled Mrs.Grace Thomas as best as possible in the cramped craft. Considering the advanced state of her labour, this was no easy task for either woman.

Grace groaned with another prolonged contraction.

“There, dear..It’s near now, we’ll soon be over the river and at the hospital”. The mid-wife soothed.

Now, in those days, the government, in its’ kindness, gave a family an endowment of five pounds for every child born. In the years of the great depression, five quid went a long way..with the Thomas family, it went the whole hog!..Fivers weren’t something you came across every day, so it had already been earmarked for some desperately needed items for that family that lived in a wheatbag-tent on the” wrong side of the river”.

Richard Thomas was standing in the punt as he rowed across the river, so he hadn’t noticed the mid-wife subtly cajole his wife into signing a document that granted the said five pounds to her ; the mid-wife, for “services rendered”…never mind that she was already in the pay of the government hospital !  Grace Thomas was in no state of mind to contend what she had groggily signed her name to.

The mistake the mid-wife made was to hold the freshly signed document away and up to the sun for the ink to dry and in doing so inadvertently displayed the treachery to the curious gaze of Richard Thomas, whose face was only inches away from the paper as he rowed the punt across the river.

“Five quid!” He cried as he snatched the paper.

The mid-wife froze with her arm still outstretched, mouth slightly agape and a sharp gasp sprung to her lips.

“Mr. Thomas!..Now give that back this instant. That is a legal document and it is mine!” She demanded.

Richard looked at the document, then at the mid-wife. An angry smile came to his lips.

“Then swim for it!” and he screwed the paper up and flicked it into the river.

“Ahh! You can’t do that!” the midwife cried and with both hands gripping the gunwale, watched the ball of paper drift away and sink.

“Consider it done!” Richard smiled gleefully.

“Then..then I’ll not attend your wife!”

“Ohhh!..” groaned Gracie.

Then we’ll stay right here on the river!” shouted Richard as he flung the oars into the punt.

“Ohhhh….” wailed Gracie again..and at this point nature intervened and a baby girl was born in the punt on the middle of the Murray River.

Five quid went a long way in the great depression. Sounds hilarious, he and she squabbling, the midwife refusing to attend to Grace, about to go into labour, and he throwing the oars down in the punt refusing to get them off the river until she does and then the child not waiting for anyone and being born in the bottom of the punt crowded with the three of them and the bilge-water floating down the Murray River…you can just picture the hilarity !

And the time the whole family was over the river at a big annual fair and my mother told the chuckling story of how she bought and wore a dress exactly the same as an aboriginal girl there and they laughed and roamed around the fair arm in arm innocently telling everyone they met that they were twins , to the laughs and pointing guffaws of many..

Proverb : “What the eye doesn’t see,

              The heart doesn’t grieve.”

Parable : ” I laugh now when I think of it”. The old lady chuckled, “But I was young then, about fourteen..or sixteen..but I was a ‘young’ sixteen….you know?..and I had gone to the millinery store in the town and bought a dress for the fair. The dress was pink floral with a blouse all in one and it had two pieces of material, like braces, with big buttons on the waistline and those two braces went over the shoulders down the back.”

“Ahh..I was young then….anyway at the fair there was the excitement of a merry-go-round and bucking horses and shearing contests and….and… know, that sort of thing and everybody from the district and from beyond the bend of the river..and they’re dressed up to the nines,  oh dear,ha!…the big day of the year for us then, ha!”

“Well, there was this aboriginal girl there the same age as me it turned out, and she had on EXACTLY the same dress that I had..exactly!…and we ran up to each other and laughed and became great friends that day…she worked, like me, at another station on the Murray….cooking, cleaning, looking after the children that sort of thing…..anyway, we were great friends that day an’ we walked all around that fair together arm in arm, laughing and having great fun and we’d tell everyone we met that we were twins!..ha! ha!…TWINS!….you’d laugh now, but we didn’t even think of her being black and me white then..some people smiled and others threw their heads back and laughed and we just thought they were as happy as we were, ha!”

“Oh, a jolly good time we had that day…..I can’t even remember her name now….ha!….Ah well….twins..twins indeed…can you imagine!” .. all the while their tent, along with many other ‘sussos’ in a depression camp along the bank of the river were being burnt down with a suspiciously started fire that satisfied the secret desires of the old families and townies of the area…they lost everything but what they had on their person that day and it marked my mother with a fear of fire the rest of her life.

And there is the story of Richard and Grace going to the nearby town to do the weekly shop with the next youngest addition to the family , leaving the girls home and the stranger who called around from out of the bush and asked where their parents were and they silly, telling him and he slunk away and was planning something while he watched and they were fortunate young Robert Kruger was there with them , for when the stranger rushed for the cottage, they were able to get inside and bolt the door..but Tess, remembering she left her little dog outside rushed out to rescue him and only got back as the man lunged for her.. known in the family as; 

Incident on the Bulldog Run.

If you turn off the main ‘Halfway House Road” there about seven mile out of the town, there onto a dirt, bush track ; “The Bulldog Run” and go a few mile down that track, you’ll see away there off the side in the mallee scrub; Rhidoni’s old place…a small cottage built in that old pioneer style of four rooms with a lean-to on the back and the old “bucket ‘n’ chuck-it” dunny out the back yard.

The Thomas family had made this cottage their home…for the near future..a future fraught with the uncertainty of shifting fortune and work…Not that Dick Thomas was such a determined seeker of full-time permanent employment ..nor was his wife Grace that keen to become a part of any township community….herself having escaped from a trapped, middle-class life back in civil-war torn Ireland, but still retaining enough of that class’s snobbery to scorn small-town society.

No..the bush suited them just fine and so they sought out these cheap-rental, isolated cottages where scrutiny and regulation was never a problem.

So in consequence, Dick and Grace Thomas and their children stayed in many old pioneer huts out in the deep mallee back in the pre-war years..Because of their isolated positions, far from the nearest town, these huts and settler’s cottages could be rented much cheaper…and with them never being flush of funds at the best of times…

Such run-down old pioneers huts, part stone construct , part pug ‘n’ pine were the usual homes on such tracks as “The Sleeper Track”.. named after the cutting of railway sleepers..”The Seven Cross-roads” or as it is locally known ; “The Seven Sisters Junction”…or in the case I am about to tell of ..: “The Bulldog Run”..locally shortened to just “The Bulldog”..not named solely on account of that particular breed of dog, but because of the wilds of country in ; “ That’s wild country out there..real bulldog country…”

It was at Rhidoni’s  old place..out in the sticks there just a bit off from The Bulldog…The Thomas’s lived there a while with three of their children..there were five kids, but the eldest girl had gone to work on one of the river stations as a servant girl and the oldest boy had got work at the local post office in the town of Sedan and was away for most weekends..that left the two early teenage girls and the youngest boy who was around four or five years old.

The parents went to town one day, taking the youngest boy with them to get supplies, leaving the two girls home with the company of a local youth named Murray also in his late teens , who was courting after the elder girl : Maggie..he was safe..But there were some dodgy characters who made their way to the Murray Mallee to escape the law in the city and there was no better place to “disappear” than in the wilds of the mallee in those days..Such a desperate character came upon the cottage there with the three teenagers alone.

The rough looking man watched the youths play a while, reassuring himself there was no adult about..He then calmly approached them in the front yard.

“Hello, children” he said, his gaze roaming cautiously about ” Is mum or dad around?” He asked in an innocuous tone as if he knew the parents…foolishly,  Tess, the younger of the three replied that “No..they had gone to the town to get supplies and won’t be back for a while”…

The man nodded, tipped his hat and melted into the bush..

But the teenagers became suspicious of his motives when they spotted him lurking about just out a ways in the scrub..They decided it was better if they went inside when they saw him sneaking up closer to the house..

It was fortunate they did, for no sooner than they had gone inside than they heard him cautiously try the door handle..the three children silently stared in fear as the handle of the door moved up and down as he tried to get in…Now this is when things got a tad worse!..Tess had a little dog..a poodle she was most fond of and it had been forgotten when they retreated into the house..Tess became distressed when she noticed the dog’s absence and with a shriek, quickly ducked out the back door to retrieve the poodle, much to the panicked cries of Maggie and her boyfriend Murray..

“NO!..Tess..come back!” But it was too late..they heard her call for the dog and they could hear the man leave the front door and scurry toward the voice of  Tess..They heard him cry ;

“YOU…stay there!…”

Murray opened the front door and called for Tess..

“IN HERE Tess, the front door!” and she suddenly appeared, little dog in arms and scurried through the front door with the rough man not half a dozen strides behind her!…Murray slammed the door in his face and quickly secured it..the man put his shoulder to the door and crashed it several times, but fortunately it was built of strong, stout rough-cut timber so it stood firm against his thrusts…He then went to get the axe there at the wood heap and proceeded to hack at the door…The children were terrified..

Here, the youth ; Murray, did the smartest thing he would do in what turned out to be an otherwise mundane life..He went as close to the front door as to be heard by the man outside and in a “just too loud” whisper, said :

“Maggie…go get your dad’s rifle and I’ll shoot the bugger through the door!”…

All went silent, the axe went still and the man seemed to think for a moment and then abandoned his intended deed and slunk away quickly into the bush…Of course, there was no rifle, it was just a clever bluff..and it worked..The police who later came and searched for the man found him and reported to the parents that he was a wanted rapist from the city..

Lucky children indeed..

The poverty, the fear, the uncertainty …week in , week out mark the personalities of the adults carrying the responsibility and they in turn nurture the children with that same doubt and fear…it shaped the family and cast the mould for the shape of the families to come.

Richard and Grace raised their children in the worst time of chaos, carrying their own ghosts and demons. They were not able to stabilize their family structures to bring order and prosperity to their ‘House”. Neither were able to leave much of an impression on their existence on this planet, even in advanced age, when a secure pension should have granted them a modicum of financial certainty, their long-term poverty was so ingrained that they could not plan much farther than the next pension cheque. Grace, to give her credit was the more astute of them both, securing a tenuous hold on what was to be her only solid piece of owned real-estate…her grave.

Grace, for all her education and skills at writing with the most beautiful script one could see, carried the shame of her penury to that grave, coming from a once wealthy middle-class life to finish in abject poverty, leaving her worldly possessions to her daughters . The kitchen furniture and utensils to the eldest, the bedroom furniture to the youngest and the rest ( of a list of such dismal value to be too embarrassing to mention here!) to the middle child…of the two boys, one died in a motor accident as a young man and the other she disowned through a reason only Grace would ever know…I have a letter to my mother demonstrating her disappointments in that regard..:

C/O P.O. Sedan July 22″d 1953

“My dear Rosaline,

Delighted to get your nice letter and welcome parcel and for the little special for myself. I love my smart little pants and coloured cottons, I was almost out of them, I must have forgotten to write the second letter somehow so I will give you all the news now.

Dad only spent a week at Moonta with the promise of going back in three weeks time but he hasn’t gone since because the motor bike is not useable just now some part gone or worn though and to replace will cost about £10 and then the weather has been awful. Whenever I hear a storm warning, I wonder if all you folks are safe. I wish I could get down to see you and have a long talk but it’s too cold yet for travelling.

Well I am pleased that you are all more or less over the colds and flu it’s the same with us and the Krugers, colds and toothache etc. I keep very well thank God. Dad’s leg is troubling him a lot, especially at night when he goes to bed, he can’t sleep for the pain in it, then again some nights he is alright, the wet cold weather gets him. But he will do nothing for it. So there you are! One of these days it will get him properly I have no doubt. I am glad you got the teeth fixed and hope the lower set now is comfortable all the years I have been wearing mine and they are as good as when I first got them.

We laughed at Peter’s drawing of the elephant, I was so pleased to read John’s little letter my word he is coming on all right, I never imaged he was old enough to make his first communion. Margaret showed me a photo you sent her taken outside the church, it was very nice, John looks so like Richard doesn’t he.

Congratulations on your writing success, nothing like trying! Good Luck.

Now about our doings up here. Tess’s watch never came to light unfortunately. Mary, Dad’s sister found us somehow so we had the whole tribe here last Sunday. She and Phil have six children. The oldest boy is doing his army training, then a girl 16, a girl going on 15, a boy 11, and two younger girls one 9, one 6. She has a nice family and of course was overwhelmed to see us after all these years, she is a female porter on the Marino line, we saw her heaps of times but failed to recognise her or she us. Phil of course I remembered easily.

She was full of herself and her doings her “trust home”, her refrigerator their this and that. She came armed with piles of tucker, groceries etc., and pressed 27/- on me (that I dare not refuse!) and 10/- on Dad, but she is a woman one has to be very wary of. She was not well in the door when she took charge of my kitchen produced all her stuff and bossed about getting dinner, she wouldn’t let me use my meat for my own family, she brought a cooked leg of mutton with her etc, etc. All loud talk all the time. “have you this Mary, have you that” taking it for granted I had nothing of course, (the poor relation) Her job, all the things she brought, her car she brought too. (the car was only an old thing any way) Of course they were all over us and I was glad to see them and all but as I said one has to step carefully with Dick’s people and a little of them go a long way. I took them up to visit Maggie and Murray, just to give her an eyeful of their nice place. Murray has been doing up his lounge room lately; brought a nice bright carpet for the floor and new curtains and a lovely polished table, so it did look nice, (took the wind out of Mary’s sails I hope) They have a stainless steel sink too. Murray I mean.

I am afraid, Rosaline, she will talk afterwards about us we are not smart like the townies and I have  gone old, of course Dick is a little God and so clever, still I impressed several times on her and Phil that with all his cleverness he can’t keep us, that my two sons have to pay the house rent and buy all the food etc., and Oh Rosaline, was I thankful Oh, so thankful, that I had my lounge room fixed up and my nice dressing table and your lovely bed spread on my bed and nice blue curtains at my windows, of course she noticed I had no wardrobe, (but I will soon) and my kitchen is all green and cream. Danny brought me a lovely big cream and green kitchen cabinet, it brightens up the kitchen, and was I glad we had it.

They stayed here all day till Afternoon and are coming again in a fortnight’s time, Gee, I expect there will be no more peace for us with that mob. When finally they took their departure I felt kind of bemumbled in my brain from her incessant loud talk all the time and the teenagers rushing about. They make me feel as if a heavy weight has been pressed on me they are all so full of energy and of themselves. The teenage girls like John of course, Dan wasn’t too joyous, a bit cautious with them. Mary and Dick talked about their sister’s and Dad and Mum all the time. Now that Dad has come in for the family property, he is a great chap in all their eyes, yet all the years along they never had a good word for any of us. I am quite sure from bits here and there that Dick when he got to Moonta made a big yarn to his mother and sisters about that time with me leaving him and all my supposedly bad goings on etc. but I bet he did not say a word about the real reason, his dirt, his laziness etc. So Rosaline, you “stand up” for me if she says anything to you because they are all going down to see you. I put you on your guard be very careful what you say to her. They are a peculiar kind of folks the Thomas’s. Thank goodness they live in Adelaide and we up here. The poor old woman sits all day in her wheel chair, hanging on to her purse of money (she knows her family) Allisha looks after her I believe. Mary fought with all of them, the things she said about Lucy her sister were awful. So there you are.

One of these days when the weather clears I must come down to see you and tell you about things. Be on the watch for Mary’s family descending on you, she wants to meet you. But a little goes a long long way I fancy she knows Enrico, she asked me his name and I showed her his photo. She’s stout and blond haired but not bad looking, like Dad not a bad figure either. Thanks awfully for the dresses I love them Dan was glad of the jamas Dad liked the pants will be glad of the jacket. How does the garden grow. I never reared any chickens last season maybe next. Goodbye for now and much love and thanks to you all. Look after yourself Love again.

Ever Yours Loving Mother G.T.

Xxxxxxxx “

Richard, with barely an education and no record of letters or documentation, left no will or anything of value,  and lived his remaining days after Grace’s death in a state of unbelieving dismay, so far and so many years from the original convent a small caravan in the bush to eventually die in a aged-care institution in an advanced state of sometimes violent demetia..But he did leave one thing..

He left a toy. A tinker’s toy. A windmill ..or wind-pump as some would call it…designed, scaled and made by himself, soldered together, cut and shaped out of old tin cans and wire. It pumps water when placed into the wind, through two troughs into a sleeve-valve of his own design. You will find these singular toys throughout Australia and even a few Europe, England and America…he must have made hundreds of them.

Twelve Caesars.

 Twelve Caesars..

Book three.. “Twelve Caesars”.

Part  secundus.

It was into that once thriving community between the world wars that my Cornish / Irish ancestors stepped with faltering feet just as the great depression bit into the soul of the nation….and like those early German pioneers, they were on their own.

There is a direct correlation between the two time periods…not solely through any genetic or ethnic association, but rather; that with the passing of my mother’s generation, there ended that last epoch of casual anonymity. For much of their lives, over that entire history, many, many people had little or no individual documentation..they were lucky in the early days to even have a birth certificate, or at least a real one, never mind the plethora of personal information each of us has available to information gatherers now!..and so it was from the earliest times…one only had the word of the giver that he or she was whom they said they drivers licence, or ID. card or banking card at all..just the word of the giver..just their honest word; “I am Jack,  the son of Jack the elder, the son of Jack the eldest “and so on and on..and women barely figured at all..

I do not use my own mother from any sort of filial loyalty, but rather as the best example I know of that generation and that social class who struggled from absolute poverty and obscurity to hunger for a modicum of self- respect and independence in a world saturated and suffocated under the blanket of obsessive middle-class materialistic banality..and also being hamstrung by obligatory religious adherence. She failed and died in absolute obscurity..but oh how she hungered to be able to express her desires into the written word..let me tell you a tale of her early life..

The collected poems of Adam Lindsay Gordon.

Once upon a time, out in the deep Mallee forest near the Murray River there lived three sisters, aged sixteen, fourteen and thirteen…for as was common in those days, children came in quick succession. Their names being..from the eldest : Rose, Maggie and Tess. It was the years of post-Great Depression and the second world war raged another world away…in the deep Mallee where the sisters lived, the war was only a policy inconvenience, or in their case an opportunity for their father and mother to gain steady employment at a charcoal burning camp as he; a mechanic, and she ; as cook to around a dozen men who cut the mallee wood to burn in the pits to make charcoal. The two younger girls helped their mother with the preparation of the food, while, Rose, the eldest worked not far away at Portee Station, a sheep station on the rim of the Murray River.

Being of a family that by necessity throughout the Great Depression had to make their living moving from town to town, seasonal crop to seasonal crop for work, the girls were schooled at home by their mother who was fortunate back in her native Ireland to have had an excellent education because of her middle-class family…coming to this country to be suddenly married and a mother of three girls at the start of the worst set-back for the nation’s economy in its short history while moving around seeking casual employment left her to make do on her own capabilities.

A long time back she had abandoned her middle-class sensibilities to the practical bent of survival..another thing that she had abandoned was her Protestant religion to swing to Catholicism…and she embraced that faith with all the fervour of the religious convert…she was unbending and unyielding in her reverence toward the belief and standards of that faith…and as such would not tolerate her daughters becoming corrupted by such a deviant subjects like romantic novels or poetry, herself having a long time before cast out such publications from her possessions till the only tome of any literature in her domestic enclave…which by frugal providence was a hand-stitched, split wheat-bag tent of her husband’s own design, for rarely was there a actual house over or around them…was her large, prized edition of The Bible (with illustrations).

So when her eldest daughter brought home a second-hand book of poetry, “The Collected Poems of Adam Lindsay Gordon”, accompanied by Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”, her lips pinched, her eyes narrowed and her heart hardened and at first opportunity, she cast both editions out of the tent-flap with an admonishing chastisement and appropriate irony considering their present establishment to her daughter that such wanton literature will not be tolerated under HER roof while she yet lives!

This did not deter Rose from pursuing her secret inner desire to one day become a poet herself…she dreamed of lines of absolute beauty written with the most delightful script on pages of soft paper..Her favourite poem from the book she now held most dear to herself was “Thora’s Song”..her romantic heart ached for the chance to just feel the same emotions Thora felt for her lover…and Rose would dream of one day meeting just such a poetic soul as herself to be able to exchange that similar felt emotion in tender moments of love…As such a time had not yet come, Rose would stroll to the river’s edge on her evening off perambulations and there under the fading light of an afternoon’s umbra shine, read softly out to the air the works of Adam Lindsay Gordon, taking particular care on that most loved poem “Thora’s  Song”, her lilting Irish falsetto matching tune with the many river birds calls and warbles there so that the lingua franca of the evening on the river’s edge was a song in itself..a melody of harmonies that lay a hymn of sound floating just above those primrose-lit waters of the soft flowing Murray River.

To this dream of poet, Rose would, in between chores in the kitchen of the riverside station where she worked, take time to compose poems of her own hand. Most of these crude attempts she screwed up and burnt in the big kitchen stove…some..a few she felt happier with she placed between the pages of a school exercise book she used for her home school lessons that she taught to her younger siblings when she went home for two days a week to the charcoal camp where her family lived.…Rose would sometimes read these poems out to the giggling frivolity of her siblings who had little interest in literature and more in ribbons and hats. 

Now the world of that district held to habit and routine and the celebration of “Empire Day” was one of fan-fair, parade and concert in the main town institute, where a repertoire of songs and short skits of plays and dances by locals were encouraged. So that when Rose arrived at her parent’s tent on the Friday afternoon, her sisters excitedly greeted her with the news that they were going with old Eddy in the truck to Truro to audition as sailors in a skit dancing The Sailor’s Hornpipe…and surely Rose would come along to watch!…Of course Rose was as excited and delighted and went to sleep that night formulating a desire to approach Miss. Josie Rudge, the organising person, on the morrow to see if she could perform a poetic recitation at the event.

The dour Miss Rudge, school teacher and choralist for the Truro Congregational Church, was a disciplinarian type who “took no prisoners”, as she was want to say whenever the children got out of hand…

”In line! In line!”..she’d demand “and no fooling around…I’ll take no prisoners if I see anyone mucking about!…you there!..back in the markers on the floor…in line!”

But yes, They were seeking appropriate recitations for the “in-betweens” of the songs and dance routines and Miss Rudge gave Rose a time that afternoon for a reading. The piece Miss Rudge picked was a short poem that tested the elocution of the reader..more suited to one of the preferred young ladies from a “good family” of the district who were favoured with an exclusive schooled education in Adelaide and spoke the “King’s English” with just a little bit of plummy accent. Of course, Rose, coming from the Mallee bush with the hint of brogue of her Irish mother slipping off her lips like a syrup of Sligo was hard pressed to wrap those words around her tongue and she stumbled in quite a few places with the desired entrapment placed there by the cunning Miss Rudge.

And as she finished the reading from the elevated stage, Rose, who had prided herself on her practiced poetry was somewhat shy and reticent of her chances..The stern Miss Rudge did not dismiss Rose there and then, but rather encouraged her to practice when at home and she will be notified of her placement with in the fortnight.

Rose felt encouraged by that short advice and regardless of a faint feeling of caution, spent the following days at and after work bending her spoken language to deliver to the best of her capability those immortal words of her beloved bard ; Adam Lindsay Gordon, and his poem ; “Thora’s Song”.

Unbeknownst to Rose, from the first introduction of herself to Miss Josie Rudge, she hadn’t a chance of stepping out on that stage at Empire Day to deliver any thing at all, as her family situation was already known and scorned by the stern protestant Miss Rudge, who despised anything Catholic entering within her perimeter of “England forever”..and after Rose and her sisters departed, she was heard to say to her assistant most viciously..:

“The nerve! think I would allow the daughter of that Irish Catholic woman to stumble and ramble with her atrocious interpretation of the good King’s English upon my stage…On Empire Day of all times..The poor child threw out more “Haiches” from her mouth than Clem Highett would hen’s from his hatchery!…and that mother of hers!.a face the map of Ireland…”As Catholic as Connaugh” they would say..No, I won’t have it..I will send a letter to her this week or so..don’t want to break the poor kitchen maid’s heart here and now…I’ll let her sisters dance The Hornpipe though…don’t want to appear too officious…do we?”

Unaware of the futility of her ambitions, Rose kept softly practicing her recitation whenever she had that the Lady of Portee Station..Margaret Esau, would smile to herself when she heard her young servant girl softly reciting poems on the back verandah of the Portee Station Homestead on many a quiet evening.

Margaret Esau encouraged Rose to work on her pronunciations, for she was well aware of Rose’s poetical ambitions which were innocently and proudly confessed when Margret first interviewed Rose for the position of kitchen maid… an ambition that made Rose’s eyes shine with delight when she said it and brought a sympathetic smile to Margaret’s lips..for she could see that while the ambition was worthy, the letter Rose had written and the language of her spoken words displayed a working class accent with less than ready education. And so  Margaret would sensitively correct any of the more exaggerated mistakes of interpretation when Rose served at the table… even promising Rose a day off so as to be able to attend to rehearsals when required. So it was a rather worried Margaret Esau that heard the gentle sobbing on the back verandah outside the kitchen one evening…Upon enquiry, she was shown the letter of rejection from Miss Josie Rudge of the Empire Day Hall Committee, citing (dishonestly) a lack of space within the program for Rose’s poetry recitation. Margaret comforted the sad Rose and taking the letter from her hands, Margaret said she would see if she could persuade Miss Rudge to find space for Rose’s reading.

This reassurance did little to comfort Rose’s unease, for she had read something unsettling in the tone of Miss Rudge’s letter..a hint of slighting tone of voice..even the opening address of “Dear Child” felt like a dismissal of her as a working girl with a place in the household of a large station..a position of responsibility that Rose wore with some degree of pride…And even though the wording was seemingly polite and respectful, Rose (as did Margaret when she read the letter ) could feel her eyes burn with indignation when the writer had consoled her with the expression that “. . .regardless of this lost opportunity to recite with those fine young ladies from the Adelaide private finishing schools, she was sure to use her accrued skills learned at the kitchen table to further herself in the arts of scullery maid or another hand trade”.

This example of passive snobbery on Miss Rudge’s part did not go un-noticed by Margaret Esau and while Rose wept for the burning insult, Margaret’s lips pinched together in anger for the presumption of Miss Rudge’s to insult her ; Margaret’s young study, with such language reserved for that middle-class to use against one of their own…”She has no right to presume” Margaret hissed and took it upon herself to sort Miss Rudge out by putting HER back in HER place in the order of status in the district.

Rose had gone to that spot on the banks of the Murray River where she felt most private and secure, she took with her that tome of poetry of Adam Lindsay Gordon’s that she felt in kinship with and began to read out loud that most private of her favourites ;

“Thora’s Song”

“We severed in autumn early,

Ere the earth was torn by the plough;

The wheat and the oats and the barley

Are ripe for the harvest now.

We sunder’d one misty morning,

Ere the hills were dimm’d by the rain,

Through the flowers those hills adorning —

Thou comest not back again.

My heart is heavy and weary

With the weight of a weary soul;

The mid-day glare grows dreary,

And dreary the midnight scroll.

The corn-stalks sigh for the sickle,

‘Neath the load of the golden grain;

I sigh for a mate more fickle —

Thou comest not back again.  . . . ”

The soft lilting of her voice now pitched less high as a sadness weighed down upon her soul..that gentle wash of the Irish brogue inserted from her mother’s talk and homeland as sweet as the honeyed air of summer skies.. Her Irish tongue a whisper of angels in the voice when saddened enough to sing a lament to her own destiny. for there was growing in her heart a dread that her ambition to aspire for a poet was but a pipe dream…the words of her mother damning such heathen verse to Sheol and the tittering laughter of her sisters when she tried to share with them her love for the written word in rhyme and metre and now that letter from Miss Rudge, a teacher at the Truro school no less, that gave more than hint of Rose’s incompetence with the language, all buffering down on her spirit and telling her that she was just being a silly girl to try to reach for a place above her station in life..the life of a servant girl and workhorse for her betters and nothing more..her dreams of one day writing poetry that sang with the spirits of the Gods of air, fire and water…a dream of smoke and mirrors..a will o the wisp that will vanish with the first puff of wind…silly person…silly girl.

Rose stood and straightened her skirt and turned to go…she had noticed the silence of the birds as she read her verse..and she sensed that even they were in accord with her sombre mood and were wont to intrude too cheerfully upon her mood there…Rose stopped for just that moment in her departure and,turned to address The River….

“Goodnight” she said.

A few days later, Rose was called to the telephone to receive a call from Miss Rudge of the Empire Day Concert Committee..the short of the conversation..for it was short and terse..was that, yes, there now appeared a place in the program for her to recite some poetry and it was imperative that she MOST PROMPTLY attend to rehearsals on the fifth of the month ten am the Civic Hall Truro..and report to her, Miss Rudge. And the telephone went dead at that demand. Rose was beside herself with joy and handed the receiver back to Margaret who smiled in kind.

“Did you….?” Rose asked and then stopped.

“I think Miss Rudge looked into her heart and reconsidered” Margaret cut any further conversation on the subject short…”I always say, Rose…that The River has ways of letting a poor man live like a king and in turn making the wise man look like an ass!…You know..I wasn’t always the wife of Mr, John Esau…”

It was after Rose had left to walk to the river that evening on receiving the letter, that Margaret Esau placed a call through to Miss Josie Rudge’s residence…there was a controlled anger in Margaret’s voice as she explained that it would be a pity for herself and her husband John, who were quite generous to the school and hall committees, to make the trip to Truro for the concert only to find that her house-maid, Rose was being denied a chance to recite a most favoured poem that she had been practicing assiduously for the last few weeks…

“Oh but really, Mrs Esau..the girl is totally unsuitable to recite on stage” Josie Rudge complained “She is almost illiterate and her elocution is as deep and broad as an Irish bog!”…Margaret let a long silence hang in the air before she answered..

“I have been coaching her, Miss Rudge.”

There was a sharp intake of breath at the other end of the line..then a new tack was tried..

“Well, the McBain twins have come back for the holidays from their finishing school in Adelaide and I have promised them a quartet of songs with piano accompaniment in the program”…

“Yes, we are well acquainted with the McBains of Anna Creek Station…quite well acquainted and I can assure you that they will not mind if you reduce their girls to a triplet of songs and make shift to place young Rose into the repertoire.” This last with the stern voice of the Lady of the Manor…of course, Miss Rudge complied with Margaret’s wishes and a telephone call was put through several days later to tell Rose the good news.

Rose walked out onto the stage of the Truro Civic Hall on the evening of the Empire Day Concert and stood proud to recite her favourite poem..;

“From the collected poems of Adam Lindsay Gordon.” She spoke in a clear an precise voice..the hint of Irish brogue adding a lilt of delightful colour to her words..

“Thora’s Song” Rose announced..and she began the recital.

And when Rose had finished the poem, and a suitable round of applause rent the high ceilings of the hall, she surprised everyone to announce that she . . . 

“ . . . would now like to do a short poem of my own hand in recognition of our benefactor Mrs Margaret Esau of Portee station…on a theme gratefully borrowed from Mr Henry Wadsworth Longfellow .. ;  “Hiawatha”…and Rose began ;

“On the shores of the mighty Murray,

By its calm and tranquil waters,

Stood the halls of Portee Station . . . “

John Esau leaned over to whisper into Margaret’s ear..

“Be blowed if she hasn’t stolen some of the thunder of Mr Longfellow”..and he chuckled.

“I suspect Mr Longfellow can spare a bit” Margaret smiled.

“The cheek of the girl” John smirked.

“Yes” Margaret agreed “marvellous isn’t it?”

There is an announcement in the regional newspaper of the times of the proceedings of that Empire Day reads thus:

“ Items that were particularly well received were “The Flag Makers”, a patriotic tableau presented by grades VI and VII . A nautical song ; All Over the Place by Pauline Harris assisted by the senior girls who danced The Sailor’s Hornpipe.

Films were also shown on the school’s projector, interesting and instructive films in keeping with the observance of Empire Day. They were entitled “Battle for France” the “Evacuation of Dunkirk” and the fall of France (two years ago) and “The Navy at Work”.

A variety of songs and poetry recitals were given by the young ladies of the district..Of particular appeal was the recital of a poem “Thora’s Song” from The Collected Poems of Adam Lindsay Gordon, by Miss Rosaline ThomasThomasThomasThomasThomas of Portee Station.

The dancing and other items were arranged by Miss Josie Rudge and Mrs I. Richards was the pianist for the evening..A grand time was had by all!”

And while we have the word of the first Caesar ; Julius..and HIS wars and HIS adventures..even the histories others have written of him are soaked in doubts and mystery…oh, we have a ”definitive history” of the man, as much as two thousand years of  telling cannot but help to develop into Chinese whispers!…But HE being a bullshit artist as well, it is close enough, our own experiences and accrued living knowledge informs us of both the capability and limitations of one person’s actions in one person’s lifetime…the rest is conjecture…beautiful confected conjecture.

It goes like this :

Twelve Caesars.

“Now at last I am free!

Off through the scrub I run

Where sheep tracks only are seen

Nothing but bush and sun

Till all of a sudden I come

Out where an axe swings free.

Cutting, for love and money

The axe bites deep in a tree…”

A passing moment does not a lifetime make, but a moment’s passion can be a lifetime’s mistake. A life brought into being by the strangest union in the most unusual chances and circumstances one could imagine. He from the north of Italy, in the Dolomites, she from the ‘heartbreak country’ of the Murray Mallee in Australia..

They met on the banks of the Murray River, He there to collect a truck-load of water for the charcoal burning camp where himself, along with a dozen or so fellow countrymen were interned as “enemy aliens”,  cutting mallee trees to burn to charcoal for the war effort..she on an evening ambulation from the riverside  sheep station where she worked as a servant girl.

He being able to speak barely a word of English, she not being able to understand a single word of Italian..But they met and exchanged pleasantries as only such ethnically diverse  strangers could.

He asked (in Italian) if they ate well at the big house…

She replied ( in English) that the evening light spread a certain calm over the waters of the river, didn’t he think?

He was a stone-mason by trade.

She desired to be a poet.

They got on well.

Indeed, They eventually wed..the youthful composer of the above doggerel ; Rosaline Thomas and the refugee Italian ; Enrico Corradini (whom she would call; “Ricky”). And as she describes her running through the scrub to meet with her lover, I can now ask, knowing the ending of her story ; Was she running to embrace life, or running from a destructive lifestyle?..And Enrico, the refugee , HE we know was running from hunger and war, but did he realise then as he surely did later, what and where was he running to?

A myth surrounding their meeting and courtship arose in the family circle..It seems the erstwhile Enrico was out hunting rabbits one day and he got lost..only to stumble onto the dusty bush camp where, coincidently, the young Rosaline was in attendance to her mother ; Grace Thomas, who was expecting her fifth child. Rosaline’s father, having difficulty understanding the gesticulating “eyetalian”, instructed Rose to show him the track leading to the presumed wood-cutters camp from whence he came.

A week or so later, Enrico turned up again, gun in hand and lost again..the same procedure as last time was followed and that was that, until again..another week later Enrico shows up again, lost and hunting rabbits…this time, as Rosaline is leading the gentleman away, Richard Thomas scratched the back of his head in thought…he turned to his wife..:

“You know..that eyetie must be the worst shot in the world…he’s never got one single bunny!”

But it was a lie..they lied..we all lie, I lie, all our loved ones lie..soft lies, lies to protect reputations, to enhance the myth..the whole of history is a lie..a comfortable lie, a necessary lie..admit it!..we love the lie.

But wait!..Richard and Grace Thomas have their own story of their courtship to it too another myth?

It goes like this.:

“Now, for the love of Love and her soft hours, let us not confound the time with her conference harsh. There’s not a minute of our lives should stretch without some pleasure…”

It is the year of 1926.

Both were unknown to each other and were travelling on the same ship from Adelaide to Sydney. He for escape from a detested blacksmith occupation in the Moonta mines, she to join a nunnery.

When the ship berthed at the quay in Sydney, they were both meandering aimlessly on the wharf, she expecting to be collected by a couple of sisters from the convent, he just rubbernecking at the surroundings , neither looking where they were going and they bumped into each other. After apologies and pleasantries were exchanged, Richard Thomas invited Grace for a cuppa at a nearby café while she waited.

It was here she confessed her ambition to join the nunnery as a novice in preparation to take holy orders. Richard was shocked, as he had by now decided that here was the girl of his dreams and had already resolved that she would be his future wife. He tried to dissuade Grace from so final a decision, but her mind was made up…the reason being (and she poured her tale out to the sympathetic Richard who gasped and sorrowed for her in all the right places) that she was broken-hearted by a broken promise from the man she loved and followed from her home in Bandon  City, County Cork, Ireland to this end of the Earth in expectation of marriage…only to discover that in the time of his arrival in Australia some ten months before her recent arrival, he had found and married another woman. Grace was heartbroken. It was the cloistered life for her!

“He would lean down from his police horse and whisper to me” ( Gracie confided tearfully) ; “ ‘’re my angel of grace’..and I’d stand on my tip-toes and turn my face to his lips…” and she faltered and gulped. Richard blushed for her and his heart melted.

She at least had divulged the name of the convent to Richard before saying goodbye and  finally departing with the two nuns…Richard fixed that name in his memory, he underlined that name in his mind and went to find some digs as close to the convent as convention would allow!

From this vantage point, Richard Thomas set out every day to sit upon a flat rock right outside the convent gates of the “ The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart” , patiently trying to catch a glimpse of the woman he had designs to marry . This devotion of patience and diligence was the first and last time he exhibited such dedication to another person in his entire life..and after three weeks of  stoic sentinel waiting, feeding solely on apples plucked from a low, overhanging branch over the convent wall, he was rewarded.

The Mother Superior, becoming concerned at the attention this handsome young man by the gate was gaining amongst her bevy of novices, called a recently admitted novice; Grace Johnson (who admitted a passing knowledge of the young man) into her office and addressed her thus:

“Sister..while there are those of us who are called to serve the will of our Lord Jesus in these cloistered environs, we must accept that there are those who are better suited to serve His wishes in the world of man…May I suggest you relinquish both your temporal vows and habit as a novice and go out into that world and attend to this young man and his relationship with yourself.. and should you wish to return after it has been sorted out will be more than welcome…”

Grace Johnson and Richard Thomas were wed three months later by one : Father McCarthy in a small chapel in Surry Hills with a stranger dragged off the street as witness…Neither had a birth certificate on hand to validate their identity, but seeing as Father McCarthy had just the day before taken their confession as devout Catholics…he knew he could trust them. the family story of how Richard and Grace met, courted and married. It has a certain romantic ‘ring’ to it, does it not?…it sounds good to me!…but I have doubts it could hold up under even a light forensic examination…for instance:

Let us start with Grace’s point of departure from Ireland in the year of Our Lord 1923..:

Bandon City in County Cork, was one of the most murderous places in the British Isles at that time. There was a civil war in progress between the Irish Republicans which were predominately Catholic and the British Loyalists, who rejoiced in the Protestant  Church of Ireland. The name ; Johnson is a primary giveaway and the fact that two of Grace’s uncles were killed by the IRA. because of the suspicion of their working with the “Black and Tans” militant terrorists against the IRA., and herself only saved from what must result in at least serious injury by a ricocheting bullet being deflected by the large, brass belt-buckle around the waist of her dress as she leaned out the second floor window of their residence in the High Street of Bandon Town…leans her to the Loyalist / Orangemen side of politics and religion. Her parents were very middle-class merchants and solid Church of Ireland.

So why suddenly become a Catholic in Australia? And given that the order she chose already had a large following and capital city headquarters in Adelaide, why go to Sydney to join?

I have heard three different versions of why Grace left Ireland from three of her children..all assuring me that they were told by is an example..:  The Love Bowl.

It stood on my grandmother’s dresser in the lounge. A strange, glass bowl about eight inches across, of several soft colours, neither striped nor layered, but like clouds in the sky, their burred edges blended and vague..touching and yet not..where one colour would have a common border , then interrupted by another intruding between the two.

When I was around twelve years old I asked her what it was. My grandmother came from Ireland, she was a tiny woman with a wealth of stories from the old country. She saw my curiosity in the bowl and after a moment’s hesitation, she got up from her arm-chair and came and reached up and took the bowl down from its place on the shelf.

“It’s called a ‘Love Bowl’ “ she spoke, not necessarily to me, as to a distant past. “Or at least that’s what my mother called it…It was hers …given to her by my father when they were is the only thing of my mother’s that I have carried with me from Ireland.” She touched the bowl tenderly, turning it around slowly in her hands, the familiarity in which she caressed its surface demonstrated that she had done this thing many times in her life.

“Here,” she said , once again noticing my interest “ look at this..if I hold it to the light in a certain manner, like can clearly see the blending of the all becomes clear and can see it all plain as day…But then, if I turn it this look! just the slightest effect of the light, see how it now is clouded and you have no clear idea of where one colour stops and the other starts…it becomes no longer can trust your own eyes…that’s why it is called a “love bowl”…because that is how love works”.

“What do you mean, gran’ ? ” I asked innocently.” How does love work?”

Gran’ placed the bowl on the wide board top of the dresser and leant on her fore-arms and we both stared at the bowl while she explained.

“ When one is in love..truly in love, one trusts and one gives oneself completely over to that trust so that one’s eyes become clear and focused…like when the light falls in the right place on the bowl and you can see the blending of colours have no doubts, you have no fear in your heart.” and grandma suddenly stood straight and threw her arms up in the air “ You feel full of life and full of feel you could take on the world and win!..and why not? are in love..”

Gran’ stopped in her enthusiasm and once more came to rest her arms on the dresser. She turned the bowl to another side and slowly spoke again;

“ But then..if you suddenly start to doubt your the colours in the bowl when turned against the light, you can no longer see your way start to doubt even your own eyes and you start to imagine what is not there..suspicion creeps into your soul and you blame others for what you yourself conceive..and then anger, jealousy and spite enters into the relationship and that’s when love leaves the house..” She took a deep breath and straightened..”That is why the bowl is always left so that the light strikes it at the right angle…so love will stay in the heart and in the home.”

I remember then reaching for the bowl and I nearly upset it, so that gran’ quickly grasped it and held it away from my greedy fingers. She was frightened.

“No!”..she cried “In the name of heaven, careful!..” She must have seen a look of hurt in my eyes, so she softened and explained..; “It’s the glass, lad..and the way it is made..It is worked in a certain way , of such glass, of a certain temperature that if it were to break, it would not just break into several bits, but shatter into a million pieces so that it can never be put back would break like a broken heart..”

“Your dad must have loved your mum.” I remarked casually.

“ He did, lad..he did..but she died in childbirth with her fourth child…and not more than a year later he remarried…” Gran was silent for a minute “He married his younger secretary..and I sometimes wonder…” She looked at me and stopped.

She then replaced the bowl up on its shelf, adjusted it to her satisfaction and dusted her hands on her skirt and stared for a moment.

“I suppose I should be thankful it is still in one piece then .”

Gran’ passed away a long time ago now, but I have often wondered what happened to the bowl.