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.

Guardian

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

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393 thoughts on “The Great Australian Novel? Chapter 2

  1. Today was my last work day..from next Saturday I am officially retired..”Get f#cked ; work ethic”!!…should’a done it years ago!

  2. jaycee

    Today was my last work day

    I chucked in full time 5 days a week in Jan 2006. Never regretted that.

    A limited amount of part time OK if the work is intriguing.

  3. jaycee423

    A well earned rest. You’ll have 2GB on speed dial before you know it 😆
    .
    CTar1
    And wouldn’t the French love a chance to gouge “la perfide Angleterre”.

  4. Thank you Leone Janice for giving up one of the quilts to share with me. In recognition of your true Pubster qualities of sharing and caring, I am petitioning Fiona to give you a suitable honour.

  5. kk – The French want their money back. Forget about Chuck Yeager and other septic crap.

    The investment by the French in A/C technology in the immediate decade after WWII spawned the Mirage 111O and the Concord. It’s still the basis of ‘Fast jets’.

  6. Patchwork quilts – I’ve got a number of “bear print” and others.

    My mother persisted until the maths/geometry of the ‘cutting’ and assembly defeated her.

    I used to be a dab hand with a ‘wheel’ and cutting board.

    • CTar,

      I can remember a few visits to Canberra when me dad and OH were happily(?) and usefully occupied cutting out the light cardboard templates while me mum and I either cut the fabric pieces or stitched them onto the templates.

      They were interesting patchworks, but the only three I’m keeping are her first, one she made for my (single) bed, and unquilted (the design is Grandmother’s Flower Garden):

      and a pair sort of like this:

      which incorporated lots of scraps from my dressmaking of 25 years – for her, for me, and for DD. A lot of memories in those two.

  7. Janice,

    Thank you for your grace in allowing Puffy to have one of the quilts (whisper, she wants it for Grand-dragonette).

    Please accept many hugs especially from me, and also from your many friends here, plus this little offering:

    One day – maybe not this year, but I hope next (2017) autumn – I will hop into my car and head north to meet you.

    We are all so lucky to know you, Janice. Thank you for being here.

    • CTar,

      I’ve only made two large patchworks, and even though I thought I’d removed every skerrick of cardboard as the assembly progressed, there were always one, or two, or (horror) three left over. That’s why the wise patchworker (moi was always one of those) always leaves a small unstitched seam on the wrong side to allow removal of the errant piece.

  8. Ahhh! patchwork quilts, mum was a fan of the hexagonal shapes, her cigarette packets were cut up to make the cardboard templates, she scavenged material from everywhere, when she was given striped jersey which didn’t work in quilts she made our knickers, [black stripes are very visible under light cotton], i returned from somewhere to find my favourite dress and long skirt were in the quilt on my bed. F A I L!

    Fiona’s quilts look very tasteful, I have always argued that restricting the number fabrics in the quilt made it more aesthetic while mum argued that it was a folk art – not sure we have kept an examples of her prodigious industry.

    • Billie,

      The ‘crazy quilt’ was definitely an example of folk art – nothing refeened like hexagons, triangles, diamonds, squares, or rectangles, just fitting where it touched. Very much an example of using available material to make something warm for those icy-cold northern hemisphere winters.

      Somewhat like rag rugs:

      I think most of my limited knowledge of quilting comes from north America, and something that women involved with their local church would do: creating warmth for the battlers out in the cold cold prairies (see: Anne of Green Gables etc.). I rather suspect that sewing one’s quantity of patchwork replaced the sampler for mid to late 19th century American gals.

      The first patchwork I made (as a chee-ild) incorporated scraps from my second cousin’s outfits in her vain attempt at becoming Miss Australia (yes, Gigilene, I will look for it, and if it still exists it will be photographed and recorded here).

  9. Well, no mention of the liberals’ offer to let one Labor & one Green view the Classified Volume on the two MSM news bulletins I saw. Nor on 7&abit. I think it’s an offer meant to be refused & underreported, leaving the way open for future lines to the effect that curmudgeonly Labor has spurned the government’s generous offer to provide information. A sort of mini Gish Gallop, going very light on the detail with no context whatsoever.

  10. A brave group of protestors have been camped out in the Pilliga scrub for weeks, protesting about Santos and their fracking. It’s not pleasant out there at this time of year. It’s damn hot and very uncomfortable camping in the bush.

    Today the NSW police turned nasty. I had a lot of respect for the way the NSW police handled the Bentley blockade in northern NSW a year or so ago, they understood what the protest was about and some of them said if they had been in any other job they would have been joining the protest. Not the coppers in the Pilliga though. Their attitude is different, or perhaps their orders are different now the Coalition is in charge in NSW.

    Assaulting women who had no weapons and were engaged in a peaceful, non-violent protest is a bastard act.

    Police in ‘rare’ use of pepper spray in anti-Santos CSG fight, protesters say
    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/police-in-rare-use-of-pepper-spray-in-antisantos-csg-fight-protesters-say-20160202-gmjo49.html

    More detail from @PilligaPush on Twitter

    A word of warning.
    Over a year ago a couple of Queensland police vehicles with Santos sponsorship logos were photographed near the NSW/Queensland border during the reign of Campbell Newman. There are claims Santos is paying/sponsoring NSW police, with a lot of tweeting and passing around of this old image as ‘proof’.

    It’s not true, and those peddling this misinformation are doing their cause a lot of damage.

    • It’s not true, and those peddling this misinformation are doing their cause a lot of damage.

      Which bit?

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