The theme this week for Jon’s JVG Radio Method on 3RRR is “GERMANY”. A bit of a curly one I thought… there are a lot of directions you can go in. I hope you like where it took me.

Click to hear today’s poem… [audio:JVG_Poem20080413.mp3]

Dan Warner and I swapped time slots this week. He had a pressing engagement (tickets for the footy) so I went to air about an hour late. Jon and I chatted as we do and I mentioned the CD launch is only a few weeks away on May 3rd.

Ed Bates did a cracker of a job on the slide guitar backing this week. Thanks Ed.


GERMANY

“Never, ever, trust a German, those bastards have hearts of ice”
Old Sid would offer passers by his unsolicited advice

“They’d cut your throat soon as look at you, those dirty rotten krauts”
He’d add to reinforce his point, as if you were in any doubt

Unless your surname started with Mac or Mc, O apostrophe or Fitz
Sid viewed you very suspiciously, half the street he nicknamed “Fritz”

When the Smith’s moved in across the street Sid greeted them with a gun
Blonde hair, blue eyes, forget the name you were automatically a Hun

He had a cattle dog named Bayonet, with teeth as sharp as a leopard
He’d let it off its chain at night to sic the neighbour’s German shepherd

Sidney Owen O’Flarety, known locally as El Cid
Lived around the corner from where I grew up as a kid

Hatred sired on the Western Front, the birthplace of his rage
Just sixteen years old when he went to war, he’d lied about his age

Though his comments were clearly racist, most people cut him some slack
He’d sailed for France with both his brothers — only he came back

Then World War Two, his youngest son Len was lost at El Alamein
Sid clung to his hate like a drowning man; it helped to mask his pain

While many found him deeply offensive, appalled at the way he behaved
Others saw Sid as a victim of war, few ever come home unscathed

He’d lived a nightmare, buried his fear, surrounded by horror and death
Shipped home and expected to get on with life, not even time to catch breath

No wonder that fear turned to anger, why history is doomed to repeat
Why Bombs unleashed on a Flanders’s field could explode on a Melbourne street

At least in the trenches you knew where you stood, which is more than can be said about peace
Where asking for help was seen as a weakness, so you suffered and found a release

Sid’s wife Dulce had the patience of Job, but even Job could be forced to retreat
When Sid had a drink he was back in the trenches, at war with the rest of the street

The postie — a spy, the milkman — the Kaiser, Dulce’s tolerance regularly tested
Sid thought the paperboy was throwing grenades, smashed his bike, Sid was arrested

When Dulce won a trip in “The Women’s Weekly”, the whole family was on Cloud Nine
Until Sid found out the prize was a cruise —- a cruise for two — down the Rhine

Sid had conniptions, “Do what you want Dulce, but don’t think you’re taking me”
He finally relented but told all his mates he was packing his 303

They were nearly thrown off the aircraft, they’d barely got through the door
When Sid bailed up the Lufthansa hostess and claimed her as a prisoner of war
First day of the cruise they met Ada and Bert and soon they were best of mates
The Keller’s were tourists from Westphalia, Sid didn’t realise it was a German State

They didn’t speak very good English, when Sid said “kraut” they were tickled
They’d run off and bring back a stoneware jar of cabbage, fermented and pickled

Their last night aboard they took Sid to the bar, the first time he’d ever tried schnapps
Two bottles later he was fired up and ready to take on the Germans and Japs

Pulled his old slouch hat from his suitcase, determined to take over the ship
He made it as far as the stairwell, fell down and fractured his hip

The Keller’s drove them back to their village, for two months Sid convalesced
Treated with nothing but kindness, while he did nothing but rest

Sid’s hip was too fragile to suffer a flight, crammed in like a can of sardines
With the Keller’s assistance they sailed back to Melbourne, the journey Sid made in 1918

Peace finally came to the neighbourhood, free of Sid’s threats and abuse
At war with Germany for 50 odd years, he decided it was time for a truce

He no longer threw rocks at Mercedes, Volksy’s could park without fear
The postie and milko resumed their deliveries, though the paperboy still wouldn’t go near

Generals and Rulers start and end wars, and determine how the rest of us live
But treaties mean nothing, as history has proven, until the people are prepared to forgive

The O’Flarety’s and Keller’s remained great friends and for the rest of their lives kept in touch
Sid was proud to call them his mates, but told everyone they were Dutch

© Copyright 2008 Ian Bland

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