Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Home Advantage - DoctorShoot

“Like you they suspect idiosyncrasy of witchcraft. Above all, don't get out too easily...” from The Aboriginal Cricketer - Les Murray.

Contact from Rhino. He only writes letters and is the only person I know who quotes Les Murray. His weightlifter hands played classical guitar for fifteen years but refuse emails, so my news is slow. Rhino is at the annual Imparja Cup, a national indigenous cricket tournament in Alice Springs. Rhino has connections in New South Wales cricket and is jealous that Rod Marsh is “here stealing my future stars”. Signed: “as ever Rhino COP”.

We still exchange letters every year.

I once spent time with Rhino cramped into a university four-wheel-drive during a three week trip from Adelaide to Fregon community for the 1981 aboriginal football carnival.
He had folded his bulk amongst the swags and water bottles and, as we clattered and cramped north into the desert, he recited, through owl glasses, the form for twenty-three community teams we would witness playing in the dust over three days.

We slept on dewy cold earth under star carpets, and woke from primordeal crying dreams, each dawn a little further inland, and deeper amongst camp-fires crackling about eagles and giant goannas.

Before cutting into Pitjantjatjara lands from the highway we stopped into a roadhouse. Last pies and iced coffees. Rhino and I had last beers. Immediately below a battered, two gallon pewter mug, a bar-sign read:
“peacekeeper - if you haven’t had the vote for 18 years f..k off”

Fourteen years earlier a Commonwealth of Australia Constitution amendment granted indigenous australians citizenship. Since our trip to the carnival was partly a celebration of that emancipation, Rhino made the obvious enquiry.

“Keeps blackefellers out. Can’t hold their grog and anyone who doesn’t agree can f..k off too” came the considered reply. The dents in the pewter cup clearly showed that non-compliants were methodically dealt with. Our red, gold, and black armbands made us candidates.
The giant cup stayed on it’s wooden slab. We edged out into the gushing heat. In the shade of a Moreton Bay fig, like refugees, we agreed to always stay in touch.

The football carnival was won by home side Fregon per tradition. Fregon timekeepers kept the grand final going over four hours until their side at last hit the lead and the siren blared it’s conclusion over the mayhem of dancing and music. Fregon had won the carnival cup. We had been a hidden yet intrusive part. My Pitjantjatjara language skills advanced a little, and my understanding of indigenous carnivals and the meaning of reconciliation improved slightly.

Rhino doesn’t tell me who won the Imparja Cup, but adds a PS: he’s “off the grog and going to the Caribbean World Cup”. He fancies the home side at 15/1.
Out of my jealous window giant pines tower clear from sub-tropical rainforest canopies weaving negative blue shapes of mystery; cup after cup of peace across an unending horizon.

18 comments:

mimi said...

Doc: I will come back to this and read properly. tonight is Champions' League final in Athens, and I'm occupied elsewhere!

marcela said...

doc - lovely, road trip feel.
cups of peace - amen!

in a completely different tone, this is an srticle i really enjoyed about home advantage:
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n01/runc01_.html

DoctorShoot said...

thank you marcela. an interesting article link indeed.
I guess my point above about what happens to the home advantage when indigenous 'home' is occupied by a colonial power and you have your carnivals 2000 miles in the desert was not clearly defined enough.

marcela said...

oh. no. you were clear.
i was freely associating... based on the title, i guess.

DoctorShoot said...

marcela
sorry to be dense there.

my tendered excuse is that I have been up all night smoking too many cigars in the chill night air whilst watching football through the window, and drinking too many whiskeys whilst intermittently putting little children back to sleep, and worrying that my psuds submission wouldn't be up to the mark, and....

MotM said...

Doc - there's a novel here surely?

Great to have you back on Pseuds above the line. Hope the small children are well and that you get some time to write some more here.

DoctorShoot said...

well a life really mouth,
but yes a collection of bits without any accepted form that I try and rework into 500 or less words for blogshots...
the collection is called 'australia in capitals' and needs a lot of time and concentration and work...
alas time....well sometimes the ammunition goes off in storage but I may dust off the boxes and see what is still in there worth firing....
btw bad luck to the pool....I guess things are a bit brighter in wallasey than across the ditch this morning....

MotM said...

Dig out the boxes Doc!

I think they won't be too disappointed, the Reds. They went a long way, without very many talented players, and saluted them at the end. And they went further than Man Utd or Chelsea, and they'll enjoy that.

offside said...

Doc,

I enjoyed this but I feel it could do with a bit more background. I don't know about Mouth's suggestion of a novel but something longer, yes, definitely. The material is really good and the writing is excellent. Let it flow.

Who ever said anything about 500 words?

DoctorShoot said...

thanks offside
i have a couple more pieces to trickle through over the coming millenium and as a suite they shoulkd background each other and in the hope they give sufficient context and background to each other.
five hundered words is the self imposed exile that so much of my life has dwelt in....

file said...

doc,

St.Spike once told a tale of a man waiting for a red bus in the City of London, like everyone else he wore a bowler hat, pin-striped suit with westcott and watch chain and carried an umbrella.

He spies across Liverpool St. a man in a Sun Hat and thinks 'Well that's odd! What on earth is that man doing wearing a sun hat in February in the City of London?' he thought 'I think I'll follow him and find out!'

So the Bowler Hatted bod trailed after the Sun Hat stylist, he followed him onto the number 38, and off it. He followed him down onto the tube and up into the airport, where he boarded a plane on a seat just behind him only to land in Algiers.

They walked and they walked till their shadows dissolved in the hot desert sun and just at midday the Sun Hat man turned around and saw, to his amazement, a man in a pin-striped suit and Bowler Hat carrying an umbrella

'Well that's odd' he thought 'I wonder what a man in a Bowler Hat is doing in the desert? I think I'll follow him and find out...'

you, doc, are the man in the sun hat, your writing is 98% humidity and 39 degrees in the shade, you are the Panama Hat on the corpulant, pin-striped, connesieur that is pseuds'

don't worry about ghosts of Laurie Lee, I think your voice is gilded paisley silks and eucalyptus breeze, sustained even in your comments

It's a sad sad world you inhabit in this piece but I end up just feeling nostalgic for an outback I have never known, brilliant, as is;

"We slept on dewy cold earth under star carpets, and woke from primordeal crying dreams, each dawn a little further inland, and deeper amongst camp-fires crackling about eagles and giant goannas."

More please!

DoctorShoot said...

file
thank you for your insightful thoughts...
you probably can suspect how close to the mark you are....

marcela said...

hey, doc. if anyone was being dense it was me...
file's critique is rather wonderful.

reminds me of the line about 'the man on the bus to clapham'... there must be a full story behind that cliche line.

your story is rather perfect as it is, and nothing needs defining any more clearly. :)

DoctorShoot said...

thank you Marcela
there are so many brilliant writers amongst our ebren pseudo collective that I feel a little overawed.
I have enjoyed many of your works on GU and value your opinion.

levremance said...

Evocative imagery Doc and timely too with the 40th anniversary of the referendum this week, here's a little background:

http://www.abc.net.au/messageclub/duknow/stories/s888141.htm

Did that Fregon timekeeper wind up at York Park last year?

Zeph said...

Doc, nothing to add to the comments above except to say that you should have no hesitation about writing more. You have an eye for the vivid moment, and we would all enjoy anything else you might write.

And I love this sentence: "In the shade of a Moreton Bay fig, like refugees, we agreed to always stay in touch." Great.

mimi said...

Coming back to this piece in the sorrow of last night's defeat, I read with more care.
Very enjoyable. Seems to me that there is something of the Hunter S. about this. A few more mind-altering substances, Doc, and we could have our very own Fear and Loathing of the Psueds.

DoctorShoot said...

thanks levre.
one of my favourite all time quotes from australian news reporting is:
"A Fan in a corporate box tapping on the timekeepers' window with a stubbie was the only reason the official realised play continued after he activated the siren in the shambolic conclusion to Sunday's St Kilda-Fremantle match."
what a lark!!
and yes the opressed indigenous ranks of australian citizenry celebrate 40 years of being recognised as human this year. I am told the roadhouse sign has been replaced by a more subtle dissuading of drinkers considered undesirable by the owners.
Zeph and Mimi thank you for kind words.
I have a few more selections from the suite to build the picture, (one on ebren's cutting table right now...)
cheers
doc

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