Trevor – This morning I woke up to –
We’re going on a bear hunt! We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day. I’m not scared
Trevor was a tad perplexed. Of course the ditty has taken on a whole new meaning as spirits are uplifted for young – particularly the young – and old alike as they exercise around their neighbourhoods. But a bonus is being able to spot teddy bears in windows as they do so – furry beacons of hope in dark times. It’s an American president’s everlasting legacy – although the bears he hunted were of an entirely different nature. I wonder what the ultimate legacy of the inane and downright dangerous galoot that currently inhabits the Oval Office will be? Loved hearing Billy Connolly call him ‘The Great Tangerine’ on a recent show, but I digress.
Yes, Trevor was confused. He knew he should know, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Just what were the origins of the chant the little ones would chirp around the streets of the towns and cities of our country as they’re on the lookout? Of course, his listeners were soon onto it, putting him straight. We know it’s from Michael Rosen/Helen Oxenbury’s timeless classic picture book that still sells by the ton thirty years after it was first published. And it also contains the perfect lines for the CV world –
Can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Can’t go around it. Got to go through it!
And we do.
Trevor was taking calls from all over Oz as I stirred from my slumber. He has one of the biggest extended families there is on his nights. It consists of a motley array of insomniacs, shift workers, truckies and especially old dears who experience restless, wakeful wee small hours. For all of these Trevor is the voice in the darkness – a friend helping them make it through the night. He’s a mate to countless thousands. The topic under discussion, sometime after four that morning, was the fad for bear hunts sweeping the country. Considerate people were placing the family teddy in a street facing window to give such delight in these constricted times.
One old darling reported to him how she had placed two teddies, as well as the dog from Footrot Flats for good measure, in her portal to the world. Trevor posed the question as to how long it had been since she’d seen her own grandchildren. ‘Three months.’ she replied. ‘I only have one and he gives the best hugs in the world. Oh how I miss those hugs of his!’ We are all missing hugs at the moment.
Trevor Chappell – no, not that Trevor Chappell of cricket infamy! – is the overnight man, operating out of Melbourne for ABC radio in the 2am till 5.30 slot, Mondays to Thursdays. His show is one of the most networked in the country and he’s my nightly companion. I first got into the habit of leaving the radio on all night in the years of separation, eight in all, I had from my lovely lady last decade. Me in Burnie, she in Hobs – they were long nights. That’s all in the past now, but the habit has been hard to shake. In the end I gave into it. I’m a passive member of his club – I never ring in, but I listen during my interrupted sleeping. He takes my mind off what could become much darker thoughts, during these testing months, as the outside world grapples with the virus. His voice – warm and laconically Australian – is balm-like. He cares. You can tell he has empathy in spades for his nocturnal audience. He’s no shock-jock – that execrable crew.
He once did a summer for Macca and I thought he out-Macca-ed Macca. It was mooted he should take over the Sunday morning slot when the legend calls it a day – but there’s no sign of that. The former West Australian Weagles supporter has been doing this gig since the early noughties and long may he continue. And right at the moment we need all the Trevors we can get.
Did worry me, though, on another topic du jour – that of lock-down fashion. He said he wouldn’t be seen dead in trackies. They, according to the word of Chappell, are a sure sign that you’ve let yourself go. Dear me – I haven’t been out of them for months. I wonder what he makes of crocs?
Freya – Music for these Times – In between playing my old John Prine (didn’t realise I had so many), the album I have been picking up constantly is the self-titled ‘Freya Ridings’. This flame-haired British songstress’ voice soothes and caresses. Check her out on YouTube or Spotify if the name is new to you.
Trent – His ‘Tales from the Bunker’ is four weeks in now. The Weekend Australian’s regular feature, put together by Mr Dalton, again caught my perusing eye with several vignettes. There’s eleven year old Emily of Holland Park, South Brissy, who has started up a neighbourhood newspaper, which she hand delivers to the residents of her vicinity. Headed ‘The Corona Times’, it contains all the news of the doings in her street, as well as jokes and a ‘Neighbour of the Week’. Also from the same city is seventy years young Susan of Paddington who gives thanks for all the wonderful people in her life, but ponders why she’s wracked with guilt. Eventually she concludes it’s because ‘…the whole country is being held to ransom to safeguard those of my generation.’ Yep, it’s wonderful of the generations that follows us, isn’t it? After all, those in our age group haven’t exactly been kind to the planet we’ll be leaving behind to them.
Kate, from Port Melbourne, has been struggling, living in such close quarters for an extended period with a sullen, morose and non-communicative spouse. She feels that the period will most likely finally break her marriage as she ‘…hugs the kids and tries to give them something solid to build a life on.’ But, then, she succeeds in finding relief ‘…in the beauty of the autumn sun slanting into the kitchen of a morning…We have the winter coming, and this forced seclusion is beautiful,…’ but finishes with, ‘… but God, you cannot escape the fissures in your relationship.’ I count my lucky stars each and every day I have Leigh.
Noel – I was awake, probably because, in the back of my mind, I wanted to do it. So at 5.45 I reached for my clothes and dressed, rummaged around in various drawers for a torch and walked out to the end of our driveway. It was so still. The lights of Granton-side were shimmering off the Derwent, just across the road. Our wonderful neighbours, Noel and Jane, appeared on their front deck, Noel extracting a trombone from its case. On the dot of six he placed it to his lips and pierced the silence with an evocative ‘Last Post’. Between that and the more up-tempo ‘Reveille’, I thought of a father, a brother-in-law and a nephew who either went to war, or were in uniform, prepared to do so. To the best of my recall it was my very first dawn service – and I couldn’t have been in better company.
Fergus – I’d never heard of him – and that’s not surprising given my only slightly tongue-in-cheek disdain for the sport some of us now call football, but I’ll always refer to as soccer. Of course, compared to Aussie Rules, it’s a game for wusses, but it seems, unfathomably, to be quite popular.
So who was Fergus Suter? Well, it seems this Glaswegian stonemason was the first to give up his trade and accept money to play a sport which had previously been the preserve of young, entitled upper-crust toffs. These guys hated the smelly, unrefined riff-raff and regarded anyone like Suter as toxic. You played for the joy.
‘The English Game’ (Netflix) tells his story and it’s an intriguing upstairs/downstairs affair with the fledgling soccer tale being only one of the threads. Julian Fellowes had a hand in this so, like his behemoth, ‘Downton Abbey’, this is also concerned with the class system, as well as the role of women in late Victorian society. So if you’re a fan of that incredibly popular English series or, heaven forbid, soccer, then this is one for you. I thought there was much to recommend it.
Missing those charismatic bloodsuckers Sookie and Bill Compton from ‘True Blood’? Then the same platform as above offers up ‘Vampires’, a French take on the genre. I doubt it’ll have the legs of the US game-changer, but it’s just the same sort of mindlessness that’s so de-stressing for this fraught period of our collective lives. It’s just transferred from the Deep South to the underbelly of Paris. There’s blood a-plenty and a bit of the other as well, taking our minds off a less visual horror. And a second series of this offering was planned before that other horror hit.
A book to while away the hours as we wait for the curve to flatten out some more – Michael Robotham’s ‘Life or Death’ is a departure from his usual UK settings, but is still a page turning one – and prestigious prize winner to boot. See my review of it on my blog ‘The Blue Room’.
Peter – During the finishing off of this scribbling I listened to our state’s Premier, Peter Gutwein, give his daily press conference. I am impressed with him There’s even some great to see bi-partisanship here with both Bec from Labor and Cassie from the Greens stating he’s doing a sterling job. That’s along with his wingwoman, Health Minister Sarah Courtney, as well. Yep, we’re all in this together in Tassie. I’ve never voted Liberal in my life and probably never will. But, if he was in my electorate, next time around, I’d be sorely tempted. He’s made it possible to think we’re in the third quarter with a bit of lead on the opposition. I hope we hang on and win.
Profile of Trevor Chappell = https://www.abc.net.au/radio/people/trevor-chappell/7347210
Freya Ridings website = https://freyaridings.com/
‘The English Game’ trailer = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBOlhdSYhv8
Vampires Trailer = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUNXFhyZnzY
Blue Room’s review of Michael Robotham’s ‘Life or Death’ = stevelovell.id.au/2020/05/01/life-or-death-michael-robotham/