The Great Australian Novel? Chapter 2

As I observed late last year,

Some of youse Pubsters may have noticed that I haven’t published more of the late Malcolm B. Duncan’s “Chronicles of Nadir” recently. The change of PM in September has everything to do with that.

The lawyers have a term for it: ex abundante cautela, and given a certain person’s proclivities, that seems sage advice.

Instead, I offer something from a manuscript on which Mr Duncan was working in the months before his death.

Not that I would suggest Mr Duncan was anything other than original, but if any Pubster can suggest a possible source of his inspiration they might find themselves with a Golden Echidna.

The Golden Echidna is still waiting its rightful owner.

Meanwhile, read on.


Waltzing Matilda

I put my mug of tea down on the table and picked up my pen to return to the Sudoku.

She entered the room.

Although She had fallen on hard times largely as a result of the depredations of those in my profession, I could never look at her, ageing although she now was, without my heart heaving into my mouth. She was eternally beautiful in that Sunset Boulevarde sort of way and She had established the most extraordinary relationship with Him. He had even written a play especially for Her in which She had starred to great critical acclaim and enough public arts funding to provide a small squadron of decent jet fighters rather than the crock of shit Brendan Nelson had ordered.

She threw up, narrowly missing the cat. I wondered whether there might be any utility in acquiring a small dog like the homosexuals next door had but then remembered that the cat would just eat it anyway.

She eructated a burp and said, “Better get a cloth.” She disappeared into the kitchen and returned with a bottle of disinfectant and a rather cheap superwipe I had bought from Aldi.

As she was cleaning up the mess, He said again, “Bugger, the Canaries”. “Oh,” she said groggily, “Claude hasn’t been at them again, has he?”

At the mention of his name, the cat opened a lazy eye – strange thing, astigmatism in a cat – confuses the hell out of canaries – noticed that there was nothing immediately edible and settled down to sleep again. Well, I say ‘settled’; what he actually did was close the eye. Within moments, he was snoring.

“Why does that bloody cat snore?” He asked.

“What’s that got to do with canaries?” She responded.

I could see it was going to be another one of those days.

“Canaries – sinking,” He said.

“You what?” she said flashing those eyes and dislodging just a small portion of a well-formed breast from her house gown. A tinge of areola was evident.

It was at moments like these that I became paralysed by the panorama of the moment – being a bottle baby, I wasn’t used to breasts. Well, not until I got the first set of my own but thereby hangs another tale. I’ll never forget that lass, though.

“Canary Islands – sinking,” He said.

“I think I should clean my teeth,” She said, and headed towards the bathroom.

What does one do? Confronted by a now raddled, broke, beautiful actress who parties too much, yearning for love, deep in regret and knowing that one can do nothing about it – well, one just soldiers on I suppose, as soldiers do.

Of course, He never soldiered on: He had been in the RAF. Rum do that must have been. She, on the other hand had been a Vietnam protester. Probably a good thing because if She had been in the RAAF she would probably have been a lesbian. Not that one has anything against lesbians – I’m one myself – but for Her, and the rest of humanity, it would be a sad waste.

She returned beaming Colgate. Thank god for agents. If I were writing this on my own, I would have missed all the product placements.

Claude stretched and went to his Snappy Tom bowl filled with Whiskers biscuits as it nestled quietly by its companion replete with Evian water. (Another $10K, the agent tells me.)

Really though, plus ça change. Here’s Luck is full of product names and I bet Lennie never got a brass razoo out of it.

I wonder what it is about journalists, actresses and the bottle. They seem to have a tripartite attraction.

He was having none of it. “I said the Canaries are buggered. Nothing to do with the fucking cat. Canary islands. About to sink.”

“Oh, global warming,” She said, leaning over my shoulder and looking at the paper. “You shit, you’ve done the Sudoku.”

Restraining the urge to say something like well, at least I’m sober enough to do it you raddled old cow, I smiled in that way that I first learnt when I started smoking Sobranies and said, “The whiteout is in the top drawer of the desk.”

Claude returned and jumped up on my lap. Immediately I was covered in 10 cm of thick, impervious fur.

“Forget the fucking Sudoku, woman: this is important,” He said.

“Well, excuse ME,” She said, and burped again.

I’d once seen Olivier burp, and She had it down pat. There are so few Australian icons of the theatre and no-one, not even He, has ever been able to produce what could be called the Great Australian Novel. Perhaps it is just that we are not Great in that sense. I had, however, become slightly confused by the exchange between them. As I steadied my nerves by scratching Claude’s head idly, my thoughts turned to Browning and what a truly terrible poet he was. Not as bad as Gwen Harwood of course, but we need not plumb those depths.

“Anyway,” She said in that irresistibly vacuous way that actresses have, “Global warming might be a good thing. The Canaries could be a reef. Greenland would be worth visiting again.”

My thoughts naturally wandered into a reverie about democracy, the Aelthing and the Witenagemot.

“Reef? Who wants a new reef? Got a reef. Just want to keep it,” He replied.

“Whatever,” She said, and drifted towards the toaster. Claude raised his head slightly, thought better of it, and settled down to sleep once more. It was moments like these that I felt completely trapped.

Sanderus Antiquariaat

393 thoughts on “The Great Australian Novel? Chapter 2

    • Close, I suppose, the early porcelain was pricy.

      Chelsea beat Worcester to producing porcelain but didn’t have soapstone in its porcelain mix so like Bow and Derby it made figurines and cabinet plates etc. Their teapots would fall apart if boiling water was poured into them!

      Meissen started making porcelain earlier still, King Augustus the Strong of Saxony had imprisoned an alchemist to force him to make gold but he, with the help of a more educated person he worked out the formula for hard paste porcelain! Frederick the Great of Prussia twice marched into Saxony to loot the Meissen factory and the Meissen shop in Dresden.

      Augustus really was strong: he had dozens of mistresses who bore him hundreds of bastards! He still had the strength to fight wars in Sweden.

      Worcester in its early years tried imitating Chinese plates, tea bowls etc but couldn’t make it is cheaply as Chinese. So they developed printing on porcelain and started reproducing in porcelain the shapes of English silver, sauce boats and the like.

      The history of porcelain is fascinating!

  1. Jaeger,

    Ah, thank you. I’m not entirely surprised.

    Me dad joined up at the start of WW2 even though he was under age (only just 20, and was not on speaking terms with his dad, so his next oldest brother went along and swore that Ray was over 21).

    He (me dad) left school at 13 to help support the family during the Great Depression, and worked in all sorts of jobs. He also spent some time out of work, and when he was kicked out of his aunt’s house because he was unemployed he went through the whole sleeping under bridges/on park benches thing.

    The war was his making in many ways. He avoided entanglements, got into the ex-service people’s training scheme, matriculated at night school, and read Economics at the University of Sydney. Very much to his surprise, he was awarded honours, and got a job as a trainee in the Commonwealth Public Service, where he remained until invalided out in 1979.

    A man of grit, determination, and utter integrity (that most uncomfortable of virtues).

  2. A John Howard “Chesty Bonds cartoon. Can’t remember this cunning plan.

    Chesty Bond – John Howard posing with I.C.T.C.F. report and polls papers stuffed into his singlet with Peter Costello, Tim Fischer and Peter Reith in background – Howard gives press conference at Bonds factory as government announces funding to help develop global competitive capacity in the textile, clothing and footwear industries, 1997

  3. Fiona


    It is possible to have grit without being a Chesty Bond type.

    Of course,Chesty Bonds are just the 😆 “Hollywood” version of the real world. The wiry little buggers are the ones I’ve found to be strong in the grit department.

    • Kaffeeklatscher,

      Me dad was definitely in that category. He was very selective about his battles.

      A lovely and true gentleman.

      I think I might go to bed now before moi’s whiskers get wet.

  4. The NBN company has flatly refused to say how much brand new copper it need beyond its existing reserves of 1800km to make its Fibre to the Node broadband rollout model function correctly, in response to a question by one of the most powerful Senators overseeing its operations.

    In Senate Estimates hearings in October last year, the NBN company made the remarkable revelation that it was purchasing 1800km of brand new copper cable to a cost of about $14 million.

  5. Well, that’s something!

    High court decisions are not football matches: it’s not always clear who has won and by how much.

    The full bench’s decision in M68 does uphold the government’s right to send asylum seekers to foreign countries to be detained. The court found the action is lawful under the constitution and empowered by the extraordinary breadth of a newly inserted provision in the Migration Act.

    But the court’s decision is no blank cheque. All seven judges explicitly ruled that the commonwealth can’t simply detain people offshore for as long as it likes.

    Nor can it ask a foreign government to incarcerate people indefinitely on its behalf.

    In a forecast of a likely area of future legal challenge, the joint decision from French CJ, Kiefel and Nettle JJ said explicitly that “the commonwealth may only participate in that [offshore processing] regime if, and for so long as, it serves the purpose of processing”.

    “The commonwealth is not authorised … to support an offshore detention regime which is not reasonably necessary to achieve that purpose.”

  6. Just so

    “How can the Turnbull Government be trusted to run TAFE when they can’t even control VET FEE HELP?” Victorian Training and Skills Minister Steve Herbert said.

    “The Andrews Labor Government is working to restore TAFE and refocus our training system to grow jobs and meet the needs of industry.”

    States and territories spent about $4 billion and the Commonwealth $3 billion last financial year, excluding VET FEE-HELP loans.

  7. Oxford dictionary “process” – A series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

    Refugee processing therefore will have a very long list of actions/steps. Each of which may be of any duration.

  8. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    James Massola and Mark Kenny on how Turnbull is facing a backbench revolt over GST.
    Peter Martin says forget about GST and fix what’s broken.
    And more on the subject from Malcolm Maiden.
    David Tyler on Scott Morrison’s ego and personality in his job as Treasurer. It’s hardly an endorsement.,8637
    Gareth Hutchens sheets to blame for fiscal deficit blowout largely at the feet of the federal government. Oh, and it’s mainly a revenue issue.
    The cost of WestConnex is going to be monstrous!
    Warren Entsch says that the government could ditch the SSM plebiscite. But what would the right wing rump do?
    This doesn’t sound like “small government” to me. Or does it?
    Six foods to avoid if you’re worried about food safety. An one horror story at the end of the article.
    Aussie scientists might have the answer to managing the spread of the Zika virus.

  9. Section 2 . . .

    And it’s goodbye to Rand Paul!
    And idiot Trump calls “foul!” after his loss in Iowa.
    Trumps five stages of grief. Backwards!
    Americans are united by a single emotion at the primaries. Anger.–do-you-want-a-partisan-or-an-outsider-20160202-gmk6yl.html
    The solidarity of the banned Essendon players has developed a major fault line. Stand by.
    Bully boy blowhard Alan Jones sticks his beak into Liberal pre-selection.
    Tania Plibersek describes Australia’s politics on asylum seekers as “toxic since 2001”.
    George Williams looks at the effects of yesterday’s High Court decision.
    Lenore Taylor puts it to us that Turnbull has a legal but not a moral defence over asylum seekers.
    Michelle Grattan on the government’s reaction to the High Court decision.

  10. Section 4 . . . Cartoon Corner

    Looks like Ron Tandberg’s had enough of this phrase.

    And Alan Moir’s not happy with our cricket team!

    Andrew Dyson nicely illustrate current global economics.

    David Pope takes to the high seas again over the High Court decision.
    Mark Knight and Melbourne’s V-Line problems.
    David Rowe and Keating’s GST meditation.

  11. Bernie Sanders has been quoting from Franklin Roosevelt, particularly the speech from the twilight of his presidency where he proposed a second bill of rights. Sanders enumerates each of the proposals in his own stump speeches.

    Socialism might be due for a return in America.

    It was once a normal thing to be a socialist of sorts in America. What was Roosevelt’s New Deal but a US type of socialism? Immediately after WW2 communism, even, wasn’t seen as the evil it later would be assessed as, particularly during the fifties.

    In John Ford’s great film, The Grapes of Wrath (1940), the Joad family sees their repossessed farmhouse bulldozed before them, and the camera pans down on to their shadows as they stand helpless in the dirt. They pile into their last possession, an overloaded Ford truck, and head west. After a series of harrowing adventures, the embattled refugees from the Okies arrive at a government welfare camp, somewhere east of California. There they’re treated to a completely new experience, a socialist experience. A paternal, pipe smoking New Deal official shows them to a clean cabin, explains to them the reasonable camp rules. Where are the cops Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) asks. There are no cops here, the official replies.

    For the first time in their lives, this American family experiences the kindness that can come from a benevolent governmemt.

    The Grapes of Wrath was partly a cinematic advertisement for Roosevelt’s policies, but it was also meshing with a spirit of the time in American politics and thinking which would be brief and which would not last. It was the time of unionisation, of the songs of woody guthrie, a time when workers could sing the Nationale without counting on police harrassment, when people could say this land is my land without, as today, making it sound false and jingoistic.

    Bernie Sanders is channelling arguably the greatest US president in reviving for the American people some socialist ideals they probably don’t realise they once had.

    • I don’t think the RWNJ. ideals have yet “run their race”..There is an air of expectancy in the ‘burbs that reject most vehemently any disquiet to their lives and any disruption to their mediocrity..and they (the citz’ of the burbs) will vote down most severely that party that interrupts their 24 / 7 service expectations.

      These devourers of mediocrity are in fact the promulgators of a true totalitarianism.

  12. It’s a pity that our legislators have law degrees. Law is very cheap to impart using old chalk and talk technologies. Assessment is by examination and graduates with pretty poor marks are indistinguishable to the general public from outstanding scholars.

    Technical skills like surgery, carpentry, plumbing, programming cost more to impart. The students need access to tools and expert instructors. They should be imparted by competency Based Training where if the score isn’t 9 or 10, it should be done again.

    If our legislators had a technical bent they would not be gutting TAFE

  13. dedalus

    What was Roosevelt’s New Deal but a US type of socialism?

    Thanks for that line. For many years I’ve wondered why the RWNJ wing of the Repugs have frothed at the mouth over Roosevelt and their obsession with scrubbing away any trace of the New Deal.

    Being from Down Under the New Deal stuff seemed pretty SOP . I knew of the RWNJ socialism phobia but had not made the leap from that to realising that to them the New Deal was tantamount to being a paid up member of the goddam commie party. Till along came dedalus 🙂

    • Yep.

      He was telling the homeless man about the new ‘Ask Izzy’ app which gives homeless people a load of wrong and/or useless information on where to go for help.

      Assuming, as his kind always do, that absolutely everyone has a smart phone or a tablet on them, all the time.

      I bet he didn’t give the man a few dollars for a cup of coffee either.

    • how do homeless people recharge their phones. it’s not like the Melbourne Club [where the photo is taken] will let him use a powerpoint

  14. Turnbull wants legislation on changes to the way the senate is elected pushed through parliament by 17 March. Richard Di Natale, good little Liberal clone that he is, looks like helping the legislation get through the senate.

    Phil Coorey wrote about it yesterday. You might need to Google or use a private window to get the full story.

    Micro-parties threaten payback if Senate laws changed

    Minor political parties that have used complex preference deals in win Senate seats are threatening to target the Greens in inner-city seats if the party cuts a deal with the government to change how senators are elected.

    Glenn Druery, the so-called preference whisperer who helped micro-parties build complex deals before the 2013 election and resulted in six on them winning Senate spots with a tiny primary vote, said he, too, was wiling to help target the Greens.

    With a federal election due by spring, the Turnbull government has started to move on implementing changes to the Electoral Act to stop micro-parties gaming the system.

    Labor is split on the issue. Shadow minister of state Gary Gray wants to back the government, but he is being opposed by Senate powerbrokers Stephen Conroy, Sam Dastyari and Penny Wong, who contend that the mooted changes to the voting system would benefit the Coalition.

    The government would prefer to have Labor on board, given it is the alternative government, and shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said that remained possible.

    “It’s a matter for the government to put forward a proposal. We’re hoping that occurs soon,” he said

    Antony Green provided a lot of information on this last night.
    Moves Underway to Change the Senate’s Electoral System

  15. The Liberals choose a reality TV personality as their candidate for Bendigo.

    Farmer wants a husband: MP slams Liberals over rival’s reality TV ‘hypocrisy’

    What next? Lucy Turnbull starring in the exciting new series ‘Real Housewives of Point Piper’? Or should that be ‘Real Housewives of Deakin’ now she has graciously condescended to slum it and move into The Lodge.

    • ” Of course, Dahlings, I couldn’t possibly de-camp from the delightful precincts of My Point Piper without my entourag’e of Gustave Courbet and friends!..oh no! to do such would be to not only “slum”, but to be absolutely “undone!”…”

  16. Churches offer sanctuary to asylum seekers facing deportation to Nauru
    Anglican Dean of Brisbane says he is prepared to be charged with obstruction and calls conditions in offshore detention ‘tantamount to state-sanctioned abuse’

    More –'sanctuary'-to-asylum-seekers/7138646

  17. Australia needs to be more agile and innovative, so let’s sack all the scientists.

    Climate science to be gutted as CSIRO set to swing jobs axe: reports

    Fears that some of Australia’s most important climate research institutions will be gutted by the Turnbull government have been realised with deep job cuts for scientists to be announced to staff later today.
    Fairfax Media has learnt that as many as 110 positions in the Oceans and Atmosphere division will go, with a similarly sharp reduction in the Land and Water division.
    “Climate will be all gone, basically,” said one senior scientist, before the announcement. “We understand both the Prime Minister [Malcolm Turnbull] and the [Science] Minister [Christopher Pyne] have signed off on the cuts.”

  18. Refugees could face cuts in their welfare payments if they refuse to integrate into German society, Labour Minister Andrea Nahles has said.

    “If you come to us seeking protection and wanting to start a new life, you have to stick to our rules and values,” Nahles wrote in an op-ed for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

    “If you signal that you can’t integrate, your benefits will be cut.”

  19. The Federal Senate will investigate the financial risks posed by climate change, and how transparent companies are about their exposure to them, after a Greens motion established an inquiry earlier this week.

    The terms of reference are an inquiry into “current carbon risk disclosure practices within corporate Australia,” and how government agencies manage and report their exposure to the financial risks associated with climate change.

    The motion which established the Inquiry was moved by the Greens, supported by Labor and key independents, but opposed by the Coalition, who Senator Scott Ryan said “does not support additional red tape….”

    Financial analysts, however, are increasingly sounding the alarm. In a speech to Lloyd’s of London last September, Bank of England boss Mark Carney flagged climate change’s “potentially profound implications for insurers, financial stability and the economy”.


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