Monthly Archives: December 2013

Of Faded Charm and Chopsticks – Some Melbourne Vignettes


Looking back over this life of sixty plus years, it certainly hasn’t been one frequently punctured by the pleasures of overseas travel. This is not a matter of regret and I am not about to use the time that She up there has deigned left to me in a frenzied bout of making up for lost time, even if I possessed the funds. I am resigned to the fact that I will probably not make it back to Europe. Some folk do not get to go in a lifetime – let alone twice! It was a great ambition once upon a time to see India. Now I’ll just follow Rick Stein and his ilk around. I had an urge to see those misty, remarkable mountains of Guilin. It is not likely now, but who knows? These were once resident on my vague bucket list – but I am too content with life in general, living a blissful existence with my beautiful DLP (Darling Loving Partner) by the river, to be unduly concerned with ticking off life ambitions. I have hopes for the more moderate goal of returning to Bali, the most recent of my out-of-Oz experiences. I loved that place. New Zealand is a maybe, as is Thailand – but they’re not absolutely non-negotiable musts. These days, essentially, my horizons are smaller and largely revolve around my own wide brown land – with a cruise or two still a possibility. My son and his partner are heading off to Europe in the new year and I am content to live vicariously through them, as I did when my daughter/son-in-law did the same not so long ago. My recall of the details of my own double feature there are very vague – it was so long ago now. The same could be said for the short time I had in Hong Kong way back before the handover, my only other external sojourn. From that adventure I remember an aborted landing – our descent into the old airport, on the Cathy Pacific jumbo, between the residential towers, was too fast according to our captain whom, as soon as wheels touched tarmac, banked us sharply back up into the stratosphere again. It was second time lucky. I remember a trip into the New Territories to stare at China – as you did back then; the crowds of humanity on the island and the pleasures of the Star Ferries. I wended my way somehow up to the top of Victoria Peak and there were a couple of very fine partakings of tucker I recall with some fondness. The memory that is strongest though, still featuring in my Bruegelesque nightmares, is of another dining experience, far from very fine, in which I was, inadvertently, the main attraction. The incident came back to haunt me one night in China Town, on our recent trip across the briny to Yarra City.

Trips to Melbourne are always such a joy. The pleasure is doubled when I am accompanied by my treasured DLP. For me there are a few constants in every trip – a wander in the environs of Brunswick and/or Smith Streets, the friendliness of Melburnians – possibly relishing the fact they reside in the world’s most liveable metropolis – and the smiles, together with the readiness to chat, of a plethora of beautiful women behind the tills of numerous frequented retail outlets.

Our home for the duration of the stay was DLP’s recommendation, the Crossley, on Little Bourke (No51). It could be described as a mid-range hostelry, perfectly adequate with a courteous reception staff. It did have the slightly faded feel that I am quite drawn to. There were two features I loved – firstly the framed vintage photography on its walls. And then there was the deep, substantial bath in our room, enabling me to get a ‘proper’ start to the day. This is not always possible staying away from home. I’d certainly consider the Crossley for future trips. It took a little while to get my bearings that side of the CBD, so used am I to staying the Spencer Street end, but that initial afternoon we were soon making our way to our first objective – the Exhibition Building. We stopped for more than satisfactory libations at Trunk Diner (No151 Exhibition) en route. Our aim was the annual Design Show and, although the exhibits didn’t disappoint, it was extremely crowded and overly warm – a hothouse. DLP beat a reasonably quick retreat but I persevered a while longer and picked up a few bibs and bobs. It did showcase that the local mob are a talented bunch. It was later, on our first evening that my Honkers bad dream came flooding back to haunt me.

DLP had another suggestion to enhance our trip, this time for our dining that night. As a result of her own visits, not accompanied by her biggest fan, she knew that just across the road from the hotel was the Shark Fin Inn City Restaurant (No50). We stepped out and hand in hand we entered a dining area that, in décor, had seen better days. As the night proceeded it proved it was still a popular venue. One wall was festooned with certificates, all from the eighties, mainly consisting of Age Good Dining Awards for an Asian restaurant. This, for some reason, made me feel somewhat uneasy, as did the number of hovering waiters, all of male persuasion. Without giving it perhaps the thought I should have, considering my vague feelings of discomfit, I ordered duck accompanied by, as there were only chopsticks to be seen, cutlery. Let me say from the get go that I adore duck and the one offered by this culinary establishment was succulently moist, sublimely delicious. That wasn’t the problem. I was having an attack of deja vu. I felt every eye in the room on me. Now I am useless with chopsticks and when in the past (coming to that) I’ve wielded them, there’s been embarrassingly far more spillage on tablecloths than actual food entering the appropriate orifice. And of late I have been lulled into a false sense of security by my Chinese noshing experiences in Devonport. No, I hadn’t thought it all through so eager was I to have a bird in Melbourne.

It has become somewhat of a tradition to celebrate DLP’s mother’s birthday at the China Garden, King Street, just before Christmas. It is a low-key type of place that offers a duck only slightly less well produced than the Shark Fin variety I experienced that first Melbourne eve. By the Mersey there are no tuxedoed maitre d’s hovering and I am comfortable handling my menu choice with greasy fingers. No-one bats an eye. I should have recalled that the bony nature of duck does not lend itself to manipulation by western implements. At the Shark Fin I was soon in trouble. Sure enough, an eagle-eyed waiter, noticing my futile attempts to get meat to part from bone, was soon rushing over to ask if all was to my satisfaction. I hurriedly gave him positive assurances, but by now sweat was starting to appear on my brow. I know this China Town venue was a world away, in time and location, from what occurred to me back in the day when the Shark Fin was in its pomp, but that didn’t help.

The brochure extolled this off shore island’s charm, describing it as a throwback to traditional Chinese life – and just a short ferry trip away from the glamour and glitz of Kowloon. I was tempted and signed up. Into the South China Sea the little conveyance ploughed and after a short time, I was there. It certainly was different with its ramshackle water frontage forming an arc around its harbour. I alighted from my transportation at the jetty and indeed was seemingly injected into another era. It was teeming with people too, but these beings were entirely made up of what could only be described as the ‘peasant’ class. I poked and prodded around a few tawdry shops specialising in faded tourist tat before deciding I would need to while away time, before the return ferry, at some form of eatery – and I was feeling peckish. I had already concluded that there were few, if any, English speakers around and the signage was entirely in Chinese. There were no helpful translations as in cosmopolitan HK. I soon found a dining hut that was close to full of frugally attired locals tucking in– always a good indicator of worth. I entered to be greeted by a cacophony of noise. This abated as the locals spotted me. As the hush intensified every diner turned to face me, mouths agape. I concluded occidentals were a rare species on the island. A wizened old man came over, bowing obsequiously with every step. He ushered me to a centrally located table – all the better for the floor show that was to occur all too soon – and handed me a blackened, well creased sheet of paper, all in indecipherable characters – obviously the menu. I stared with incomprehension. ‘English?’ I shakily inquired. My host looked at me with widened eyes, shrugged his shoulders and pointed at a line on the ‘bill of fare’. I took this to be a suggestion and nodded vigorously. He gave me a toothless smile and backed away, bowing as furiously as when he had first attended me. Gradually, as I waited, the surrounding masses returned to their own repast and conversations. Very soon my choice arrived. I had no idea what it was. By now the silence around me was renewed as every eye again focussed on myself and whatever it was plated afore me. The waiter then thrust some chopsticks at me. I shook my head at the offending objects and even though I knew the outcome, I hopefully uttered, ‘Cutlery? Knife? Fork?’ The old man’s mouth fell open and he offered a blank look in return, so I proceeded to mime the action I presumed to be a reasonable imitation of non-oriental engagement with a plate of food. His eyes widened and he beat a hasty return to the kitchen, throwing the wooden sticks at me. A deathly hush fell over the place. This was right royal, if perplexing, entertainment. I knew I had flummoxed the waiter and now I had a conundrum. The locals were settling back to watch what would develop.

On my plate I spied a piece of meat of indeterminate provenance with a splinter of bone protruding. I felt that would be as good a starting point as any so I reached out with fingers poised to pluck it away from my plate and transport it to my mouth. On realising what I was about to do a frantic ululation arose from the horrified citizens around me, to the degree that I was soon in no doubt that to continue with this course of action would cause immense injury to their cultural sensitivities. This explains my reticence to do the same on that Melbourne eve thirty years on. I decided to then move to Plan B, with the only problem being – I didn’t have one. Thankfully a young lady arose from her seat nearby and ventured across to me. For the next few minutes she gave me a crash course in the correct manual manipulation of those two prongs of oriental torture. By the end of my schooling others had joined her and seemed to be offering advice as well, not that I could understand any of their helpful hints. But following my rescuer’s lead, I decided to at least give it a go. By now practically the whole clientele of the restaurant, staff included, were ogling me from the sidelines, absorbed in proceedings. I was sweating profusely with the stress of it all, my hands shaking as I took hold of the chopsticks and endeavoured to get a morsel to its destination. When, eventually, after many futile attempts, I managed to do so, there were audible murmurs of delight from the assembled eggers-on. Most tries failed. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed money was changing hands. The Chinese were actually betting on the outcome of each attempt! Gradually more success came my way, to be greeted by back-slaps and a few cheers. By now I could see the funny side of all this and felt more at ease with an audience, but still little progress was being made in terms of the gruel still remaining to be dealt with. I was even in danger of missing the return boat to ‘civilisation’. This called for a more determined attack, so throwing caution to the wind, I raised the plate to my face, placed its rim against my chin and stated using the implements more in the nature of a shovel. I started pushing the glistening mass into my masticating mouth. This was more like it and didn’t seem to offend, so eventually I finished to the applause of an appreciative throng. There were more pats on the back and proffered hands. I left monies and quickly made my exit, receiving copious bows. They appreciated the colour I had added to their day. I was relieved the ordeal, although good-natured, was over.

Returning to the Shark Fin, as the night wore on, with the tables beginning to fill, those on patrol became less of a concern. I was able to surreptitiously use my digits. This chopstick-a-phobe had learnt a valuable lesson and I will return to the Shark Fin, if only to prove a point to myself. And, dear reader, my DLP has now had two tasty meals there as well so, if more adept than I in the usage of chopsticks, do venture there. Personally, next time I will not order duck.

DLP, on a roll, also selected the dining venue for the following night – the Spaghetti Tree up the Parliament end of Bourke (No59). It was not my first time at that eatery – I worked out I’d been before, shortly after its opening – thirty-five years previously. Back then it was the place to go for pasta. In the decades since it has certainly faded too – not some shiny minimalist hipster joint this! My generous portion of excellent lasagne was just what the doctor ordered after the rigours of the previous night, although our waiter seemed a bit perplexed that I preferred the hand-cut chips to go with the meal rather than wedges. Still, with fast, smiling and efficient service, it wouldn’t be decades before I returned again.

Melbourne Now is a varied exhibition, seemingly taking its cue somewhat from the MONA model. Spread across the two NGVs, its free and well worth a couple of hours time. Again, the artistic talent/legacy of the city old Bearbrass has become is to the fore. Redolent of the faded charms of the Jazz Age are the slightly fuzzy, but exceedingly stunning images produced by Edward Steichen to showcase it in the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair back in the day. On show at the St Kilda Road gallery, the accompanying art deco dresses displayed are just as impressive. I had high hopes, but less alluring for me was ‘Spectacle:The Music Video Exhibition’ at ACMI, Fed Square. I expected a visual trip down memory lane. There was some nostalgia there, but much of the music it showcased had passed me by. Not so at the Mushroom memorabilia housed temporarily at the RMIT Gallery, the top end of Swanston Street. I was back in ‘Countdown’ heaven.

We had just alighted from the 112 to Brunswick Street and down it came – pluvial rainfall. We were attired for summer so DLP quickly had to make some waterproofing purchases. A visit to Klein’s Perfumery (No313) is always a must, as is now Zetta Florence (No197B), just about my favourite Melbourne shopping experience. The outpouring from the heavens didn’t let up all day, meaning that negotiating often narrow CBD side-walks can be eye-threatening when the pointy end of umbrellas are aimed directly at you. The danger ramps up to extreme when, in their other hand, uber-cool pedestrians are manipulating digital devices, thus having little focus on the dangers their sodden parasols pose to oncoming foot traffic.

There were other highlights – the pine trees artfully arranged in Federation Square for Christmas; a delightfully befuddled waiter at Spigo (Menzies Alley, Melbourne Central) on his first day on the job as we breakfasted one morning; sojourning along a sunny Acland Street; assisting Asian visitors with ‘selfies’ and of course, at this time of year, the expressions on the young when viewing the Myer windows.

Earlier this year I shook the hand of three of my heroes – the brothers Flanagan and Luka Bloom, at separate events. I would have been satisfied with that, but with Melbourne came the icing on the cake for 2013! Who should I stumble across waiting alone patiently for a promotion event to commence in the environs of Fed Square but the great Archie Roach. Knowing an opportunity to meet the man whose music has so enhanced my life would probably never occur for me again, I approached and asked for a handshake. He cordially complied and was also generous enough to scribble a couple of autographs, one for myself and another for my beautiful daughter. Let alone all of the above, this would have been enough to make another Melbourne visit special. I’ll never tire of this city – the rest of the world can wait.


A Blue Room Book Review – The Light Between Oceans – ML Stedman


Have you heard the news out of Canada? For us Luddite inclined traditionalists it’s the harbinger of what’s to come. Canada now, it seems, is replacing its postmen and women with something called community mailboxes. No longer will the mail come to the householder – Canadians will have to go fetch their post! This, of course, is a response to the decline of paper items going through the system, caused by the lazy alternative of various forms of electronica – and without question the increasing greed for mega-profits in order to pay ‘those on high’ even more obscene bonuses for making social responsibility the victim of yet deeper cost cutting and price gouging. Mark my words – Auspost will go down the same route before too long. Despite the best efforts of myself and Marieke Hardy, with her crew, the days of the letter are numbered. Unlike parcels, enveloped communication has become increasingly unprofitable. Canada further intends dismaying its throwbacks, still of the view that putting pen to paper to record one’s news or thoughts for the pleasure of another, by increasing the cost of its postage stamps by almost double. It’s win/win you see – a great dip in the wages payout bill with a parallel increase in charges – the way of modern business. Bugger the poor beggars who will have to find new work, the elderly: the public in general!

Here in Oz it seems the demise of our mail deliverers, tootling around on their dinky little motor bikes in their hi-viz canary outfits, will be consigned, like so much else, to the trash cans of history. It was sad enough when the postmaster general forced them to eschew their whistles. Does my memory serve me correctly in that, during my lifetime, we once had twice daily deliveries, with a Saturday one thrown in as well? For this to disappear completely, what is the world coming to???

Believe it or not there is a tenuous link between this rant and the book under review. The occupation of the main protagonist in ‘The Light Between Oceans’ has already gone the way the fine cohorts of men and women who deliver us our daily post seem destined to as well. His job is now no longer required by the modern world, but well and truly existed during my earlier decades as being vital to the safety of those at sea. Yes, lighthouse keepers for decades and decades spent months, even years, perched on rocks around or off our coastlines, ensuring that shipping didn’t end up smashed into the same location. My island alone is renowned for the sagas of those public spirited men and their families who gave up so much to attend to the lights at places such as Eddystone Point, as well as Tasman, Deal and Maatsuyker Islands. In this novel we meet the keepers and women of Janus Rock, a precipitous outcrop straddling the divide between the Indian and Southern Oceans off the coast of Western Australia.

Stedman has come up with a ripper yarn of the several Sophie choices that befall one self-reliant couple entrusted to the maintenance of the beam on Janus (there is much significance in the author’s selection of name for this site of the novel’s core event) Rock. The man was mind-wounded by his experiences in the Great War – his missus a lass of stoic, strong-willed stock. Much shared happiness, despite their isolation, is chiselled away by a decision foisted on them by some flotsam washed up on their tiny island. The book has a strong start recounting the tale of the wooing by the feisty maiden who is salve to her war-damaged intended beau. This was bookended by an ending that produced a pair of misty eyes for this reader at the unfairness of the hand that can be dealt. The saga does flag somewhat in it’s middle stages, but as the guilt starts to play on the minds of our isolated, in both senses of the word, duo, the author really hits her straps.

‘The Light Between Oceans’ was generally well received by critics around the land, a tribute to the skills of this fresh writer with no back catalogue. For her longevity, the proof of the pudding, as always, will be the sophomore publication. With this engaging first try it augurs well. But for a novelist today, as with car makers, milk deliverers, small farmers and business people – and posties – a future in anything is no given.

M.L. Stedman

News article on Canadian Postal Service =

An interview with ML Stedman =

A 2013 Televsion Top Ten with Phryne Rant

I couldn’t believe it! Headlines in my city’s daily! ‘Essie’s Future a Mystery!’ One of the ABC’s top rating shows set for the chop! Why? Well it seems the hipsters at Auntie have decided that they want to appeal to a younger demographic, for goodness sake! The problem? The obscenity of the median age for an ABC viewer being a truly ancient, decrepit 63 – just a smidge more past it than your humble scribe! And here I was thinking that the baby boomers were a rich source for ratings power considering their largely expanding retiree status meaning more time for watching. We also largely eschew other platforms for viewing that those young, digital savvy groovers Auntie now intends to seduce embrace. For heavens sake ABC – your affectionate appellation says it all. Stick to what you know and do so well! The Ten Network attempted to do what you now deign as necessary and look where that has gotten them! Your about to be abandoned old codgers catapulted you ahead of them, ABC!
My DLP (for this scribbling my Discerning Loving Partner) and my dear mother love ‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries’ – and so they should! It is patently right up their street. The fact that I am not a fan is neither here nor there – it doesn’t mean I don’t recognise it for its virtues – along with such popular staples as ‘New Tricks’, ‘Doc Martin’ and ‘Call the Midwife’. These really pull in the punters, but seemingly the punters that those who ‘know all,’ responsible for programming at our national broadcaster, appear to want to shun – end of rant.


As for my Top Ten of the best television on our small screens this year, it comes with a proviso. There is much on view free to air that, for various reasons, usually associated with interminable ads and looseness with starting times, I prefer to watch when they emerge on DVD. These include such gems as ‘Mad Men’, ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘House of Cards’, ‘Offspring’, ‘Homeland’, ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and ‘Californication’. Those listed below I watch in real time or record to hard-drive. Most of them are shared with DLP, although she tends to be more wide-ranging in her tastes and more tolerant of commercial channels than I. So in reverse order are my choices for 2013:-

10. ‘The Dr Blake Mysteries’ – proving what an under-rated talent Craig McLachlan has been all these years
9. ‘Would I Lie To You’ – the magic combination of Brydon, Mitchell and Mack almost rival Hills, Brough and Warhurst for chemistry – had me in hysterics on many an occasion
8. ‘The Agony of Life’ – such a simple but brilliant premise featuring some of the comeliest women and erudite men on our screens – and bloody funny in places
7. ‘The Time of Our Lives’ – the ABC hasn’t gone completely bonkers as have recommissioned this for 2014. It matches the quality of some of the family dramas on the commercial networks
6. ‘Keating – The Interviews’ – Australia’s last big picture PM can still talk the talk and retains his mongrel
5.’It’s A Date’ – A beautiful confection of some of our country’s most telegenic personalities with the icing of the luscious Poh in her first acting role
4. ‘House Husbands’ – Yes, I know, the storylines are twee, thin and predictable but this show is all heart. Gary Sweet can manage a full range of emotions with just a facial tic, without uttering a word
3.’ Lillehammer’- the ugliest of leading men exudes dangerous charm in this blackest of black comedies
2. ‘Redfern Now’/’Broadchurch’ – the former produced sublime performances from our leading indigenous actors to ace even the high quality of the first series. The latter was simply riveting dragging me away from Friday night footy. They both had to be included and I couldn’t split them
1. Borgen – the new benchmark for political drama world wide, with simply the best leading lady so far this century




HMs – ‘Derek’, ‘Gourmet Farmer’, ‘Downton Abbey’, ‘The Voice’ (guilty pleasure), ‘ The Last Leg‘/Adam Hills Tonight’

News Article on the demise of ‘Miss Fisher’ =


A Blue Room Book Review – The Cookbook Collector – Allegra Goodman


Who makes these decisions??? Who on earth in Obama’s administration would have had the ‘bright’ notion that it would be in the national interest to ‘eavesdrop’ on the personal mobile phone of the head of state of a friendly nation, in this case Germany’s Angela Merkel . Did the official responsible really presume she’d use this mode to air her country’s ‘secrets’. Did Obama okay it personally? I’d like to think not as he comes across as an eminently sensible, measured man – and he was sure quick to apologise and promise rectification. Are there still cold war warriors in the deep recesses of the Pentagon, or from wherever this was done, who would suspect that Merkel, in instructing hubby on what to pick up from the supermarket on the way home, would yield insights into the dangers lurking in the psyche of, from all appearances and actions, another thoroughly worthy statesperson? It beggars belief! Perhaps such are the insecurities of those who make these lousy decisions for the world’s sole remaining superpower that even bosom buddies are fair game. At least, though, the German matron was informed her American allies would not be so crass again. Obama would see to that.

No such language from the execrable Abbott after our country, acting way above our station as a relatively minor regional power, felt it necessary to bug the mobile phone of the leader of our nearest and extremely populous northern neighbour. Not satisfied with our infringement on Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s personal space, some moron felt it was in our ‘national interest’ (there’s that term again) to bug his wife’s as well. This all occurred under the shambolic auspices of Abbott’s immediate predecessor in his first term as PM. But the ‘mad monk’ seemed to agree that we are so important we have every right to piss off a neighbour we had spent decades trying to get into the good books of – let alone someone he was trying to cultivate as an ally in his war against the poor wretches who use that country as a stepping stone en route to ours in the hope of escaping certain harassment, even death, in their own. Not satisfied with the job he’d done on Indonesia, our Tony and his cohorts then turned their attention to the affairs of our number one trading partner over a matter we had no business sticking our nose into. Why should we give a rats who owns those rocks in the South China Sea! Of course East Timor is small fry, but we still felt we had to gather information from the cabinet room of one of the world’s most destitute countries so we were in more of a position to assist giant multi-national Woodside Petroleum bully then out of their Timor Sea petroleum rights for an unfair price. Of course, that too, under Downer, was in the ‘national interest’.

So what has this rant to do with Goodman’s quite engaging book? Well her tale, in part, examines the fictional personnel of those early dot com start-ups that eventually came up with the idea of giving governments the means to gather masses of digital data from ‘private’ sources. This technocretin is not exactly sure just what a ‘start-up’ is, but it seems in the early nineties any organisation with the prefix of ‘e’ or suffix of ‘com’ engendered much interest and millions of dollars on the stock market – till the ‘bubble’ burst early this century. Many involved became paper millionaires, but most went belly up soon after. These included the book’s Veritech and ISIS companies. The former was run by Emily Bach and it did not survive the ‘bubble’ bursting, but nonetheless came up with the idea for the means to reap the data off all on-line communications, with opportunities for government purchase thereof. The latter company hung in there and reaped the rewards of that idea as it just so happens its messianic CEO, Jonathan, was in a relationship with Emily. Then 9/11 happened to put paid to all his plans. I must admit that this narrative thread lost me in places, but I became enamoured of the parallel story line. It involved Emily’s sister, Jessamine (just quietly, I was also enamoured of the name), who involves herself with yet another messianic figure, this time a venerated tree-hugger. This was much to the chagrin of the man who truly loved her – her much older boss at the antiquarian book shop of her employment. This plotline is a tale of following what one’s heart desires, even though the odds are stacked agin. As a sideline George, Jessamine’s would be suitor, is angling to purchase a fantastic collection of first edition cookbooks (thus the title), currently in the care of one very odd woman.

Goodman’s novel takes a while to grab hold, but once one is in the web there’s no way out till a follow through is conducted to the very last page. I didn’t particularly care about all the nonsense with the dot coms, the book’s intrigues involving’ Jewishness’ or whether or not George wins his quest for the cookery tomes – but I found myself enthralled as to whether or not the bookseller’s quest for affection and more from his Jessamine would be successful. Was it a Hollywood ending? Well you’ll just have to find that out for yourselves, but what would one expect?

Allegra – another appellation with allure, particularly when attached to the handsome woman who appears on the dust jacket – Goodman, we are informed, is a New York Times’ best-seller. Her book’s not great literature, but it paces along at a fair clip. It is just a tad overloaded with some personnel who, really, are superfluous to needs. In an ideal world I’d investigate her other offerings, but the un-perused pile alongside my bed is not diminishing to a marked degree. There’s a way to go before I have that luxury. Those who chance by this scribbling, though, could do worse.


Ms Goodman’s web-site =

Saving Santa? All in a Knight's Work


‘Oh no!’ cried Santa
‘This is a fine mess
What a pickle I am in
What a jam!
It’s a farrago of horrors
A terrible imbroglio!
What can I do? Oh woe is me!
Who can help me
With my conundrum?
It will soon be dawn
And no further can I proceed

Look! Look at my poor reindeer!
Look at mighty Rudolf’s
Once bright red snozzle
It has well and truly waned to puce
Blitzen’s stuffed. He’s blitzed!
Prancer has no dance
And woebegone Dancer can
Hardly raise a prance
And as for Donner and Cupid
Well they’re both entirely kaput
Comet, it seems, will never
Utter a comment again
What with his mouth so a-foaming
It’s completely apparent
they are all as spent as can be
And so will I be
And worse
If no solution can be found.

We’ve done Europe
And the two Americas
We are through with Asia
Major and Minor
Deliveries have been made
To the Pacific and Kiwiland
And Africa was a doddle
For my sleigh pulling team
But here we are
Stuck atop massive Uluru
Surrounded by all this
Horizon-less red distance
And they cannot go on
Simply cannot do it
And nor should they
But where are they?
Where can they possibly be?
With all those Aussie tots awaiting

Across the land they’ll soon awake
To find no presents (sob)
To confront empty stockings (sob)
To discover nothing under the tree (sob)
Surely those boomers are not at fault
They have never let me down afore
In all the time I have done this job
Always they are here,
Waiting on the monolith
To take the place of springless deer
My replacement team
For this final leg over Oz
My loyal six white boomers
Of whom there is no sign
So who will pull the sled till sun-up
Laden with gifts galore
For all good boys and girls?

There is but one chance. I know
Two fearless, tiny
Bravehearts. Only they
Will know what to do
They are my only hope, but
Where, oh where, is my sleighmobile?
What have I done with it?
If only I can locate it
There is still a chance for me’

And find his sleighmobile Santa did
So he placed a call to the pair
Two little mites so pure of heart
His only chance that this Christmas
Smiles will not be scarce
On the faces of Aussie kids

Down south in faraway Tassie
Two Yuletide weary Daddies
Did once more suit up
These two dynamic mini-knights
And once more they summoned
Old Whitebelly and that mighty
Flying fursty ferret steed
And with colander armour a-shining, and
With wooden sword and lance a waving,
Off flew our valiant, valiant mates
To face a suspected foe.

Those fiendish, gnarlish gnus, they knew
had been so quiet, so low profile
Of late
Could they be the cause of Santa’s crisis?
Tessa Tyger and LFM strongly
Felt that may be so.

Over Bass Strait they went
Their separate ways
One took the west coast
The other swerved towards the east
Brave, brave Bryn swooped
Across the Nullabor and on
Up to the Pilbara
And scouted around the Kimberley
Valkyrie Tyger surveyed the hazy ranges
Continuing to Mangoland and theTip
They met over Darwin, and then
South they scooted on
But alack and alas
Not a single snowy boomer
Did they espy!

Empty handed they descended
Back down to Uluru
All long faces and
Shrugging shoulders abounded, and
Of course, time stands still for
No-one, human or beast

Suddenly Tessa’s face lit up
Her febrile mind had hit on it
‘There’s one more place I know
Where they may be sought
And not too far away, we
May be okay even yet’

Up, up to a great height
Shot Santa’s minuscule trouble shooters
And from that elevated advantage
They cringed at a frightful sight
For across in the Pound –
That’s Wilpena Pound on the map
They spotted their quarry
Tethered and bound
Six white boomers were cowering, enslaved
About to be dinner for –
Well, you guessed it – a salivating
Posse of those evil creatures
Those vile, vexatious gnarlish gnus
Clutching in hooves some
Fearsome knives, to
Slice and dice our Santa’s
Formidable reserve team


Down came the courageous avian
With a flying ferret by her side
And just as those awful, awful
Putrid pestilence-ridden gnus
Were a-thinking of roo burgers
Doused in pepperberry sauce
They heard a fearful cacophony
From up above, and to flight
They did take. Off they
Scattered, into the desert
For they knew from battles past
They’d be no match gainst the
Will of Tessa Tyger Gordon
And her stout warrior pal, LFM

They unchained the boomers
Who then leapt to the skies
To save the day
For a despairing St Nick
Now he can finish his deliveries
That one and the same eve
And Christmas Downunder this day
Would go as per plan

Home flew our tired foursome
Home to bed and to dream
The dreams of all those who await
The sunrise on a special day
They’ll awake to gifts now discharged
They will awake to
Their Mummy and Daddy’s
Enduring love

We know them, these two
We know of their worth
We know the joy they give
We know they are gold
Beyond compare.