Bland On Bland – Ghetto

The theme for the JVG Radio Method February 25, 2007oday was “GHETTO”. This is a true story and quite possibly the first page of my autobiography.


Accompaniment supplied on accordion this week by the inestimable Dave Evans

NOTE: The person nattering in the background at the beginning has been taken out and shot.


your house resembles the slums of fitzroy.
you are turning the neighbourhood into a ghetto.

those few carefully chosen venomous barbs introduced our occasionally spotted, previously mute next-door neighbour.

standing on a ladder peering down over the paling fence she exuded delusional self importance, with all the humour, charisma and personality of the queen herself.

flanked by her camellia and our banksia it was a perfectly executed text book ambush.
caught half in and half out of my mother’s car, we stood no chance
like john carradine in “stagecoach” i was gunned down before i could shoot back one single obscenity

it had taken 12 months of subversive reconnaissance and an undisclosed quantity of cream sherry to plan the attack, but she could not and would not allow interlopers so far below her station to colonise so close to her borders without responding.

her hair, an immaculate coiffure, so perfect it resembled a lacquered wood carving, and despite a more than fresh afternoon sea breeze, not a single strand defected.

her clothing and make up would have looked more than comfortable at a civic reception.
as a uniform for a hit and run- mid week commando raid on a quiet “to the point of boring” melbourne suburb, it was spectacular.

the enemy within, alfresco

elegant and understated, impeccably presented, supremely composed and confident to the point of arrogance.
a formidable opponent.

this was margaret thatcher playing norma desmond in sunset boulevard.

a final triumphant glare, and without uttering another word she sunk blissfully down below the fence line,
swallowed up by her camellias, roses, agapanthus and other exotic weeds

my mother, temporarily stunned, but ever charitable, merely said “unfortunate woman”
unfortunate the bitch lives next door i thought.

still. as a fifteen year old–white middle class male– and aspiring guitarist, i secretly found perverse satisfaction in being labelled a ghetto dweller
maybe i would be able to play the blues after all.

this was the opening salvo in what was to prove a long and dirty campaign.
i might not have had her style or vitriol, but i was not bound by adult hood to the geneva convention.
i was neither officer or gentleman – at least not when my parents were out.

the war may have started on the palace steps but i was determined it would be decided in the trenches

anonymous phone calls, overdriven guitar amplifiers, marbles on the roof, liberal applications of defoliants countered by complaints to my parents, the police, the council, the school,—- to anyone who’d listen.

propaganda, the weapon hardest to defend against, laid siege to my empire, my ghetto.
gossip, lies, slander, rumour and innuendo —- nobody loves you when you’re down and out —- i was down, but not yet out.

lucky this was years before september 11 or i’d still be playing poker with david hicks at guantanamo bay.

one school holiday, stung by an overnight assault on my push bike, i resolved to draw the enemy out of their bunker and into the open.
the tactics were simple — kick my football against the fence eight hours a day for the next three weeks, until the palings were as straight as the sydney mardi gras.

two days into the campaign her husband, who had proven himself to be even more insufferable, stormed down our drive, grabbed my footy and punctured it with a pocket knife, screaming at me to shut the fuck up.

sensing a minor victory, i told him to drop dead

incensed he wheeled round, retreated to his side of the border and in a rare display of neighbourly co-operation, promptly complied with my request.

the death certificate stated the cause as heart attack due to chronic long term arterial sclerosis —– but his wife made it abundantly clear it was murder.

here i was, now sixteen, living in a ghetto, playing a cheap jap guitar and branded a killer.
blind lemon sonny boy bland
even though my skin was never intended to be worn further south than the outer hebrides,
i felt black —- i felt truly black, in every sense of the word — as black as john mayall.
i’d gone down to the crossroads and i was never coming back.

thirty years later i found myself sitting beside my former neighbour and the latest of her four husbands at a suburban bus stop

we conversed briefly, politely and succinctly, as one does with a queen — but with out any animosity or recognition of the past.

i imagined her thinking “whatever you do, don’t mention the war”
i was thinking the same thing.

i asked how she was going.

she replied her neighbour’s house resembles the slums of fitzroy and they are turning the neighbourhood into a ghetto.

i hope her new husband likes football… i hope he likes it a lot!

© Copyright 2007 Ian Bland

Bland On Bland – Theme

The theme for the JVG Radio Method February 18th 2007 was “THEME”.
Sometimes Jon can be a bit too clever.

Theme…[audio:JVG_Poem20070218.mp3] Slide Guitar by Ed Bates


woke around seven, too tired to leave bed, felt buggered before i’d begun
made a futile attempt to out fart my daughter, she beat me & she’s not even one

a two minute shower, three minute oats, my usual sunday regime
plucked a half dirty shirt from the laundry floor, hawaiin, as always the theme

perhaps it’s a link to the pleasures of childhood, perhaps it’s only a stage
most men gravitate to hawaiin shirts when they reach a particular age

my girlfriend reckons that’s bullshit, proffered a theory of her own
she says men use the palm trees as cover, for their fading testosterone

i couldn’t be bothered to argue, who knows maybe she’s right
i offered to lend her a couple of mine, to help cover her cellulite

who cares, they make me feel happy, who cares if i look like a jester
nothing can match the scent of hibiscus blended with pure polyester

finally dressed, i left for the station, a walk then a train and a tram
every square inch covered in ads, the city turned into spam

the burgers are better, eat to get slimmer, life’s good, seriously
can’t beat the taste, no-one beats us, nine out of ten dentists agree

just do it, bloody idiot, because you’re worth it, the power of dreams
a hard earned thirst needs another shrimp on the barbie, endless slogans and themes

victoria, the place to be, our number plates volunteer
what’s the point in them shoving that down our throats, when we’re already here

it seems to me the themes alright, but the execution fails
it should be embossed on the number plates of all the cars in new south wales

victoria, on the move declares my aging number plate
was the government really suggesting we pack up and move interstate?

that would have saved millions on welfare, roads and transportation
and other superfluous areas too, like health and education

it’s election mode for little johnny howard, he’s already moved up a gear
brushing the dust off his old proven theme, a good liberal dose of fear

predictions of doom, evil and gloom, an attempt to frighten the masses
the message he’s sending, hot air he’s expending only adds to our greenhouse gasses

emmisions we know, specially kyoto, is not an issue he strongly promotes
though it’s good for the earth, it has little worth, it’s fear that wins you the votes

so i went to the lomond, i needed a guinness, a large one to make me resiliant
but even before, james started to pour, the whole fucking bar shouted brilliant

outside a young punk, obnoxiously drunk, determined to do me some hurt
he said what man allows, a proffussion of flowers, to be littered all over his shirt

my manhood at stake, the only action to take, to challenge the punk to a fight
but testosterone loss, made me mellow not cross, i was happy to tell him he’s right

i’d had enough, so i headed for home, by now it was starting to rain
caught the last bus, it was covered in ads for a well known hamburger chain

i ordered a ticket, it was just as nutritious and nowhere near as much fat
i asked for a two hour- zone one and two, and no i didn’t want fries with that

at last i’m in bed, i can empty my head of the slogans, the jingles and ads
then it occurred, life’s shaken not stirred, it’s one long succession of fads

it sounds melodramatic, our whole lives are thematic, from beginning to the inescapable end
i found bed so appealing, i yelled “oh what a feeling”, and bugger it all starts again

© Copyright 2007 Ian Bland

Bland On Bland

Since early 2007 I have had a regular spot on the JVG Radio Method program broadcast on 3RRR here in Melbourne.

After receiving a number of requests for the words I decided to put a recording of the poem up on the site so that Jon didn’t have to deal with it.