Bland On Bland – Sydney

This week’s poem I wrote for Jon’s JVG Radio Method on 3RRR revisits the Australian towns theme, or at least one of them. The topic today is about “SYDNEY”.
Click to hear today’s poem… [audio:JVG_Poem20071021.mp3]

Jon and I chatted about the Melbourne/Sydney rivalry, the sick note that Ed’s mum sent to the station management (with it’s not so veiled threats to Jon) and Jon has promised to treat Ed “marginally” better.

Today’s poem is based on a true story…

Ed Bates supplied the road trip blues slide guitar. Welcome back mate.


We could make an absolute fortune in Sydney, and live near the harbour shore
Tantalising words to a seventeen year old from the neighbourhood mouth “Lofty” Gore

His family all came from Sydney, and the picture he presented to me
You’d have thought they owned half the city, from The Heads to Circular Quay

He once claimed he’d swum to Tasmania, so you’d reckon I should have known
And his father, according to “Lofty,” was third in line to the throne

Some endow words with lustre beyond meaning, and “Lofty” was definitely one
At dawn I stood shivering outside Kalkallo, hitching north on Highway 31

The plan was to work till we’d saved enough money for a Triumph Bonneville, 69
Just two dollars between us, but “Lofty” assured me, we’d be swimming in cash in no time

Not a 68 or 70, but a 69 Bonnie, for all I knew they could have been the same
this was less about bikes than it was about dreams, and dreams seem more real with a name

A semi pulled over, headed for Sydney, we were there by the end of the day
Our new home, a pig farm in the back blocks of Camden, not exactly Double Bay

At sunrise and sunset we mucked out the pens, overseen by “Lofty’s” cousin
In between, we made fruit box lids, for the grand sum of ten cents a dozen

Dog owners often resemble their pets, budgie owners are usually fast talkers
“Lofty’s” cousin and wife, looked, ate and smelt like a pair of their prize winning porkers

Half of our wages went towards board, a few hay bales in the corner of the shed
The stench and the clamour of rampaging pigs, intent on eating my bed

The swill we were served up you wouldn’t feed swine, sort of beige with a vaguely grey cast
But his cousin scoffed it down with a spoon in both hands, that way he could eat twice as fast

When a boar ran amok in the market garden, the damage was docked from our pays
His cousin, that bastard, could have been founding father to Howard and his AWA’s

A few months later and a few kilos lighter, enough cash for our bikes in the kitty
We bade our farewells with a grunt and an oink, and headed at last for the city

It was almost five weeks since we’d had a day off, finally free of the pigs and the boss
thought we’d have a night out before hunting for bikes, and headed, of course, to The Cross

Macleay and Darlinghurst, we sat by the fountain, some bloke asked us back for a smoke
When we came to The Cross we were rolling in money, but when we came to we were broke

For one precious minute the world was our oyster, but the oyster’s a slippery crustacean
Seven hours later, I’m being swept up, by a cleaner at Liverpool Station

Shattered, dejected, pissed off and beaten, I headed back south down the Hume
Pulled a ride within minutes, a cocky from Goulburn, he dropped me there mid afternoon

For four days I trudged in forty degrees, and yes, lost round four kilograms
Bedraggled and starving, little chance of a lift, drinking water, when I could, from the dams

On the fifth day I crawled into Jugiong, by then it was pouring with rain
My bag and coat lost in the hills outside Yass, trying to jump a moving freight train

I sat by the road, chin on my knees, totally consumed by self pity
When out of nowhere a voice, “Headed for Melbourne?” I’d never heard words sound as pretty

He needed a rest, wanted someone to drive, inquired if was I up to that task
I felt obliged to confess, I didn’t have a licence, he said “That’s not the question I asked”

It took less than eight hours, but I’ll never forget him, all I know is his first name was Horace
Drove a well travelled Wolseley, the donk from an Austin, the gearbox pulled from a Morris

Wurundjeri, from the Warragul mob, moved to Sydney when he was a boy
Every chance he got, when his car was behaving, he’d visit Uncles and Aunts in Fitzroy

Melbourne or Sydney, I asked Horace his preference, as he was tweaking the carburettor
He shrugged and replied, “Just different that’s all, different, neither’s worse, neither’s better”

Some drunks staggered past when we stopped at the lights, the corner of Swan St and punt
One spat on our windscreen, looked daggers at Horace and said “What you looking at you black —- well, let’s just say an affront

I pondered that moment, warm in my bed, home in my middle class digs
It might be a long way from Sydney to Melbourne, but there’s just no escaping those pigs

© Copyright 2007 Ian Bland

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