MDFF 31 January 2015

(This dispatch is from 7 September 2011. I do not believe things have not improved)

G’day mates,
the future looks bleak with
no sign of change
darkness in the eye and down
in the soul
all across the wire to those in control
holding so much
with no show of heart
you think it’d be crazy
to watch it all fall apart
watch it all fall apart

Two NEW!!!! products being launched onto the Northern Territory market:

NEW!!!! Four hours English only policy with EXTRA added Culture!!!
NEW!!!! Closing the Gap policy with NO ADDED Intervention!!!!

 In the . .  Dispatch (of 10 Jan 2015, I was a bit unkind to our illustrious Chief Minister.

I’ve thought about the things he said at Kalkaringi.  He very much wants remote Aboriginal Children to have the same educational choices and opportunities as his own children.

Strewth, well I nevah’ Paul Henderson is in favour of bi-lingual education!
I should not have doubted his sincerity! He’s dinki-di!
Paul Henderson’s children are given the choice and opportunity to be taught in their mother tongue.

Paul Henderson wants Aboriginal children to have the same choice and opportunity.

Goodonya mate! You’re doing your job!

Things in Yuendumu are getting better:
The blue NTER ‘Prescribed Area’ (No Alcohol No Pornography) signs were up for over three years. No one in authority did anything about them.

When they were painted over (“If U want Porn go to Canberra”) they lasted two weeks.

So when they mysteriously re-appeared: a new record, they lasted only a week! Someone is doing their job!

Next time a Yuendumu Warlpiri resident asks to get their sewerage unblocked we are likely to witness prompt action, in record time. Someone will be doing their job!

We are being seriously derelict here in Yuendumu. Instead of co-operating with those that are doing their job and trying to ‘Close the Gap’ some of us keep taking the piss and refuse to surrender our sense of humour. They don’t understand why losing your sense of humour would be such a serious matter. They don’t have one.

Remember Nick Leeson the ‘rogue trader’ who singlehandedly broke the Barings Bank? And what about the ‘rogue soldiers’ that were entirely to blame for the torture at Abu Ghraib prison? And now the ‘rogue reporter’ who was the only phone hacker at News of the World.

Then there is the self-appointed ‘rogue two dog policy enforcer’ whose dog massacre at Nyirrpi was narrowly averted by loud whistle blowing by the Yuendumu and Alice Springs chapters of Wikileaks.

Not to mention the self-appointed ‘rogue sign remover’.

Or are these patsies that are following orders or acting in the (mean)spirit of their masters?  They are all just doing their job!

When the shit hits the fan, they will conveniently distance themselves from these ‘rogues’

Remember “I’m not a crook” Richard Nixon?

Remember how John Howard was always squeaky clean? It was always his lieutenants that were the fall guys that had done the dirty deeds.

“No we didn’t know anything about training ex-SAS personnel as wharfies in Dubai” “No we didn’t know anything about the AWB bribes”

Remember how we were weaving a better Australian social fabric, embracing and celebrating diversity, multiculturalism, virtually free University studies (before Universities became businesses),  Land Rights and self-determination for Aboriginal Australians, a quarter of a million Australians walking across the bridge for Reconciliation, bilingual teaching in remote Aboriginal Australia und so weiter.

Oh, had I a golden thread
and a needle so fine
I’d weave a magic strand
Of rainbow design
Of rainbow design

Then along came John Howard with his dog whistle and his merry men and proceeded to unravel the cloth, the magic strand, undoing all social progress since Federation. He was just doing his job.

John Howard’s “me too” successors were and are too politically wedged to be able to repair the loom, even if they knew how to, even if they wanted to.They’re just doing their job.

In English we have the words ‘widow’ (Warlpiri: ‘kalipuka’), ‘widower’ (‘warlukuta’ ) and ‘orphan’ (‘yapunta’).

About a month ago a five year old Yuendumu child was tragically run over in Alice Springs. As far as I’m aware, there is no English word for a parent that has lost a child. Warlpiri has such a word, it is ‘yultu’

About a week ago the young lady yultu, came and asked me if I could help her out. She was brandishing an on the spot fine for not wearing her seatbelt… $420. She will be able to pay it by instalments deducted from her ‘Income Managed’ (IM) Centrelink entitlements. Mercifully the Intervention Legislation is preventing her from spending her IM money on alcohol, gambling, tobacco or pornography, that way ensuring she will have enough left over to eventually pay off her fine. The Yuendumu police woman that wrote out the ticket was doing her job.

Yuendumu (that was declared a ‘hub’ or ‘growth town’) is getting a new Centrelink building later this week. I believe it will arrive in kit form on the back of trucks and assembled by an interstate ‘fly in fly out’ crew assisted by an Alice Springs crane-hire firm. They are all doing their job.

Just as I was starting to despair, things are looking up. Yuendumu is moving forward. We’ve never had it so good. We ain’t worried, we’re sittin on top of the world



Sport and Play – Amateurs and Professionals

Throughout (the late nineteenth century) first-class cricketers were divided into two types: amateurs and professional, often also called gentlemen and players.  Amateurs, or gentlemen, were wealthier men who played cricket as a pastime, but not to earn money, or at least not in theory (W.G. Grace was the most notable of the ‘shamateurs’, who made lots of money out of the game yet continued to call themselves amateurs.)  Amateurs often played for a few seasons in their early twenties, as an interlude between school and the rest of their adult lives, before properly starting their careers.  There were lots of jobs around in Britain’s wealthy economy for these young men once they had completed their stint at the wicket and they were often supported by money from their families too.  It meant that it was relatively easy for talented amateurs to pursue the game at the highest level.  Professionals, or players, by contrast, were from the lower social orders and were paid to play, and often did so for as long as they could: it was their livelihood.  They were  the workhorses of the county teams, while it was the amateurs who generally provided the flair.  There were exceptions, of course, but the majority of amateurs were there to bat, and be heroes.

The background to this age of exciting amateur batsmen was the increase of cricket coaching within public schools, which began at the end of the 1880’s to produce a number of batsmen whose play was characterised by adventure, wristy offside drives and cuts and a belief in playing an aesthetically pleasing and aggressive form of the game.  These amateur batsmen, far more than their cricketing forerunners even, including W.G. Grace, were the peter Pan’s of the cricket world, who were enjoying the game for its own sake rather than necessarily the winning of it.  This was about playing the game in its true spirit, as they saw it, probably to do with their youth as much as their amateur status.  As Patrick Morrah, in ‘The Golden Age of Cricket’ writes:

These young cricketers personified the era that was now beginning.  They possessed a dash and insouciance that had been lacking in even the best of t heir predecessors.  They were true amateurs; they played cricket because they liked playing cricket; they went their own way and they cared neither for averages nor for public criticism.

The division of dashing amateur and workaday professionals enforced the existing social distinctions in late Victorian and Edwardian English society  Richard Holt writes that “In cricket the classes and the masses seemed by mutual consent to occupy their rightful respective places whilst the Empire was strengthened by sporting contacts.  Professionals might provide muscle and consistency but amateurs were supposed to have the flair, the sense of command, the wider vision and aesthetic appreciation.  Cricket united social classes, and it became universally followed.  It seems remarkable from the modern perspective that amateurs and professionals could play side by side at the same level of the game.

from Kevin Telfer ‘Peter Pan’s First XI’ Hodder and Stoughton, London 2010
More next week

Sport and Play

Kevin Telfer in Peter Pan’s First XI argues that there is a distinction between sport and play.

“There’s a distinction to made between sport and play. It is intuitive to think of sport as being a form of play, largely because of the language used to describe participation in sport – ‘playing cricket’ for example.  But at the end of the nineteenth century sport in England began to acquire the characteristics of work more than those of play.  Organised sport is like work because it is task oriented and generally involves physical exertion, preparation, has a formal structure, organisation and a serious purpose.  Play, on the other hand, is all about leisure, diversion and fun with no other aim than enjoyment.  Joking is a legitimate part of play, but is often frowned upon in sport, an altogether more serious pursuit.  The Victorians and Edwardians had an ambivalent attitude to leisure, as work had come to be valued far more than play, yet due to the wealth of the country there was more leisure time than ever before.  Proverbs such as ‘ the devil makes work for idle hands’ are emblematic of the Victorian philosophy towards leisure.  In the industrialised era sport began to be taken far more seriously, and sporting organisations took on the same structures as businesses, ultimately becoming a multi-billion pound industry.  According to Richard Holt, in his essay, ‘Cricket and Englishness: The Batsman as Hero’, ‘Cricket was a form of highly organised competition in which the rules of play and its etiquette were elevated into a new civic ideal of vigour, integrity and flair.’  Cricket was being transformed into not only a more serious and commercial game, but also one loaded with ‘British values’ and ‘saturated with expansionist imperial and Darwinist concerns’: it was being politicised.  Yet there were still amateurs at the highest level, as well as teams . . . . who rebelled against the notion of cricket as anything other than a game to be played for the fun of playing.

To be continued – tomorrow Tefler looks at Amateurs and Professionals
from Kevin Telfer 
‘Peter Pan’s First XI’ Hodder and Stoughton, London 2010

Inclusive Australia Day?

 writes this Australia Day, we’re all responsible for working towards a more inclusive future

That I don’t celebrate “Australia Day” is going to be of no shock to anyone. The 26th of January for me has always been a day of attending protests, of going to Invasion Day events, or even just of hiding away at home avoiding the lot of it. This date has long been a day of protest for Aboriginal people; from the 1938 Day of Mourning and the Aboriginal Conference, to 40,000 people who marched in 1988 protesting the Bicentennial celebrations and calling for land rights, to the commemoration of 40 years of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 2012; made infamous due to then Prime Minister Julia Gillard losing her shoe whilst being escorted away from protesters. This year promises to be no different, with protests planned around the country.

Perhaps I have rose-tinted glasses on but when remembering how Aboriginal protests were perceived by the rest of this country when I was younger, it feels like there was more acceptance. It was almost expected that we would protest on the day which commemorates our displacement and the destruction of our lands, cultures and families. In addition, I don’t remember seeing cars with Australian flags flying from their windows, drunk people draping flags around their shoulders, and people taking to social media to complain when racist t-shirts are removed from the shelves of major retailers. Jingoistic sentiments are on the rise and questioning this phenomenon seems to be met with ignorance or hostility; prominently shown in John Pilger’s 2014 documentary Utopia.

I recently got into a debate with someone who claimed there was nothing offensive about the slogan “Australia: we eat meat, drink beer and speak English”. I pointed out that I’ve lived here 36 years and I only do one of those things so is my presence here wrong? I have had people close to me and my family cut contact because they are a “proud Australian” and by questioning this day I am raining on their parade. Amusingly, I have been told “If you don’t like it then leave”. Certainly it feels like the History Wars during the Howard years did a lot of damage and we are having to fight harder for recognition than ever before.

Celeste Liddle.Celeste Liddle.

I was asked my opinion on an ad produced by Meat and Livestock Australia and featuring cricket broadcaster Richie Benaud. My answer was that though it had generated much social media derision, the ad did not surprise me. It, in fact, exactly represented how I, and many other Aboriginal people, perceive Australia Day: a celebration for white men who watch sport, eat meat and ignore the historical facts of this country. From a feminist perspective, that the sole woman invited to Richie’s BBQ was responsible for providing baked goods was also unsurprising. This ad was simply a two minute snippet of what we see publicly leading up to this date every single year.

There is mixed opinion sometimes on how we, as Aboriginal people, approach this awareness building within this country. Do we provide Indigenous voices within mainstream forums on Australia Day or do we continue to protest in the hope that the rest of Australia finally notices? Certainly Adam Goodes highlighted some of these conflicts in his acceptance speech for his Australian of the Year Award in 2014.

Recently, I witnessed discussion regarding Jessica Mauboy’s choice to perform at the Australia Day concert at the Opera House. Whilst I would never make the same choice as Mauboy, I believe that  she is not the only performer on that stage who could make a stand against the white-washing of Australian history. There is, in fact, proud history of prominent non-Indigenous people making public stands in support of Indigenous Australia. The “Sorry” tracksuits that Midnight Oil wore during the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics made international headlines. In 1983, David Bowie made a bold statement on the situation of Aboriginal people in his video clip for Let’s Dance. In 2003, whilst being inducted into the Cricket Hall of Fame, Ian Chappell challenged the Australian Cricket Board to formally recognise the 14 Aboriginal players who toured England in 1868. There are many more examples but such acts of solidarity and reconciliation have become a rarity in Australia today.

To this end, I wish to challenge my fellow Australian citizens to follow the examples of people who were truly about a more inclusive country and take a stand. Offer to perform as a supporter at a Survival Day concert. Attend an Invasion Day march. Read up on the Frontier Wars and the legal fiction of Terra Nullius. Even just  learn about the traditional owners of the land you’re standing on and recognise them. Australia Day will always be a day of mourning for the First Peoples of this country, but it is possible to work towards a positive and more inclusive future.

Australia Day?

Dick Smith wrote of his concern about the divisiveness of Australia Day in Fairfax media a couple of days ago.  We think it worth sharing.

I love this land and its people and believe I won the lottery of life being born here.

Celebrating our national day on the date of British settlement in 1788 has never been a date that brings all Australians together, no matter how many flags we wave or happy barbecues we may enjoy. For many Indigenous Australians, the date is no holiday but a reminder of their country being taken over by others. It completely disrupted a way of life that had been undisturbed for 50,000 years.

The early British settlers considered Australia “Terra Nullius”, in effect an empty place that would be subject to British law and customs and the indigenous people were, for the most part, invisible and discounted.

Fortunately, in the last few decades most Australians have changed their views on this. We now understand that the first Australians lived here for countless generations in balance with the fragile Australian environment. Using fire and moving lightly on the land, they not only nurtured the environment, but developed a rich and remarkable culture that has survived longer than any civilisation in history.

The more we appreciate this remarkable story of human endurance that we are now part of, the more we have come to understand how much Indigenous Australians can teach us about carefully managing our natural wonders.

Our modern economy is built on furious growth and expansion and it is not building the foundation of a society that will survive anywhere near as long as Aboriginal culture. Quite simply, our way of life is becoming unsustainable. We cannot dig and deforest forever, our cities must soon enough stop expanding and the mad rush to own more and more will end badly. Exponential growth in a finite world is an impossibility.

For some years now I have been arguing that a step we could take towards building a society that will prosper for countless generations is to recognise that out national day must start with celebrating the truth: that is that Indigenous Australians were here before the new settlers and our national day should not be built around the day the First Fleet and its cargo of convicts arrived in Sydney Harbour. It’s not an opinion that has always been popular.

When I was appointed Chair of the National Centenary of Federation Council, one of the suggestions I made was to change Australia Day to a date we could all celebrate. Did that go down like a lead balloon!  I had no support at all.  Clearly, Prime Minister John Howard – who had appointed me – was not supportive of the idea; neither were most of the politicians of the day. But as we begin to consider a referendum that will finally recognise Indigenous Australians in our Constitution, I think it is now time to revisit the idea.

Finding another date will not be easy but it won’t be impossible, either.  I would suggest a date that is orientated towards when we gained our independence from British rule or perhaps a date based on when Matthew Flinders first used the name ‘Australia’.  January 26 could simply be known as ‘First Fleet Day’– yes, an important day for modern Australia but certainly not the day that our more inclusive society should celebrate as the day our nation was formed.

We have built a remarkable nation in the years since 1788, but it is time to acknowledge that our modern society was established on the foundations of something much deeper and even more amazing. Our national day should reflect that truth.

This is not a view that all will support, I know and I wish them no disrespect. But one of the advantages of living in a democracy is we have the freedom to say what we think and be able to stand up for what we believe is important. I look forward to a day we can ALL celebrate as Australians.


by that mover and shaker Ira Maine

As a supplement to the ages old ancient practice of gathering dry twigs for kindling, we here at Soggy Bottom have also developed the habit of collecting and hoarding those cylindrical cardboard tubes that lurk usefully at the centre of all toilet rolls and paper towels.  As our family is well aware, when dry twigs are in short supply, many a merry blaze has been given it’s start with the aid of these useful devices alone.  To this end, the Lady of the Manor (God bless her) has, at suitable locations, placed strategic bins  into which all cardboard cylinders must be gathered, on pain of the stick.

In the normal way, tube transference is a simple matter.  You simply pull off the last of  the paper towels, mop up the spilled Grange, cross to the bin and drop in the latest tubular contribution.  Kitchen or dining room, lounge or verandah, this method is tried and tested, and needs no further testimonial here.  However, there is one area of the family home where the normal rules, the accepted ettiquette and proper modes of cylindrical behaviour do not, and simply cannot apply.  It is to the family home what outer space is to astronauts.  I refer, of course, to the bathroom, and specifically to my own tiled and chromed extravaganza.

Most houses I come across have their toilets separated from the main thrust of the bathroom. The toilet lurks, perhaps a little embarrassedly, usually in a room about the size of a coffin with a tiny doll’s house porcelain handbasin specifically designed to smash you in the hip as you sit down.  Not at our house.  Oh, dear me, no.  Resplendent in its warm wooden seat and surrounded by friendly showers, handbasins and sophisticated bathroom accoutrements, our toilet provides you with both ease and comfort and a splendid view of the garden should you choose to fling wide the window.  To the left and conveniently to hand, a generous, soft and forgiving roll of the finest ‘fluffy but strong’ toilet tissue, which by a tortuous and circumlocutory route brings me back to the centre, the nub of my story.

One day, having completed my business, I found there to be insufficient tissue available for my needs.  By my left foot a whole new pack of six, conveniently placed there by my glamourous and ever vigilant Lady of the Manor.  Emblazoned across the pack wrapper was the advice to ‘please dispose of this wrapper thoughtfully’.  Hmmm.

If you’ve found it necessary to replace a toilet roll whilst you are still seated and whilst still in in a partially unadministered state, you will also have found that disposing of the used cardboard cylinder from the old roll now presents a problem.  You cannot arise and go now and go to Inishfree, for reasons too delicate to pursue.  The only feasible course of action available to you is to, instead of just dumping it on the floor where it might cause an accident, simply nail your courage to the sticking place and hurl the disused cylinder across the room in the general direction of the strategic bin.  When I first tried this, something miraculous happened.  The missile flew through the air, hit the corner of the shower, bounced off, hit the mirror, flew down into the sink, performed a perfect 360, sailed out and leapt straight into the bin.  I have been trying, since that day, to replicate this astonishing feat with a view to turning it into a marketable game.

If at any stage you should find yourself a guest in my home and you experience an inconvenient lavatorial delay, be patient.  The noise from within means that problems of Archimedian proportion are being wrestled with, problems that may very well change the world.  It may be of some comfort to you to know that the inconvenience you are now suffering is a small price to pay when you consider that you were in on the ground floor when something big

Soggy Bottom, January 2015

Poetry Sunday 25 January 2015

Amplified Aims of Circle by Lionel Fogarty

Enticing as a educate civilised
Gave personal property concepts.
Landmass hearts received architectures
For those unfriendly renders.
But function combines religious
Giving failing communities.
Mystic no more the brinks of exquisite sad whirlwind.
Frozen rapture times, came slices where abyss mountains swallow
Music, only children’s clouds can sing heart growth.
Unscrew occupation where politics
Sends money voices in control
Unscrew fester ripple hate
Liberty a entice prism shade
Liberty a entice relocation earth fathers of indigenous exist.
Love man identity butterflies by city encumbrance tenderness
For the strains the radiate must built action over words foreclosed.
Dormant the same old pain mole,
And let go matter burrowed deep
Enticing times of aims encircled.

(Written while passing over NSW while flying to Melbourne, Sorry Day 26/01/2013)

MDFF 24 January 2015

Bonjour mes amies,

My holiday reading included Stephen Clarke’s ‘1000 Years of Annoying the French’, a hilarious yet historically accurate take on English-French relations. That is, hilarious to all but French people and historically accurate from an Anglo-centric perspective.

Greg Champion’s French song….

The book included many quotes, such as:
“History is a series of lies on which we agree”- Napoleon Bonaparte.
“English is just badly pronounced French”- Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929) French Prime Minister.
“deGaulle has a head like a banana and hips like a woman”- Hugh Dalton (a minister in Churchill’s government).

The latter quote was subsequently improved upon when paraphrased by Alexander Cadogan (Foreign Office) who replaced the banana with a pineapple.

The French presence in North America started as early as 1524. In 1713 King Louis XIV ceded all of French Canada to Britain (Treaty of Utrecht) including Acadie (Nova Scotia).

To rub salt in the wounds of any French Canadians reading this dispatch, King Louis XIV looked like this:MDFF

Small comfort that the ‘Sun King’ carked it two years aprés.

Between 1755 and 1763 an estimated 12,600 Acadiens were deported (out of a total of about 18,000).

Governor Lawrence gave the order to commence deportation. At Grand Pré, empty cargo ships arrived and all males over the age of ten were commanded to attend a meeting on pain of forfeiting goods and chattels.

Colonel Winslow told over 400 assembled men and boys that what he was about to do was very disagreeable to him “as I know it must be grievous to you who are of the same species”. Winslow went on to announce that “your land and tenements, cattle of all kinds and livestock of all sorts are forfeited to the Crown with all your other effects, savings, your money and household goods and you yourselves will be removed from this Province”. To show that the Brits believed in fair play Winslow furthermore told the shocked gathering that “I am through his Majesty’s goodness directed to allow you liberty to carry of your money and household goods as many as you can without discommoding the vessels you go in “. Never mind that after packing in the deportees no room for household goods remained.

[Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory (2014): “The review supports the teaching of literacy in first language where feasible“ . Never mind the several decades in which attempts to make it feasible have suffered persistent socio-political and bureaucratic sabotage.]

Just in case you thought that politically opportunistic lying (such as ‘non-core promises’) was a recent phenomenon, Colonel Winslow promised that “whole families shall go in the same vessel”. Simultaneously Governor Lawrence sent an order to Colonel Monckton: ‘I would have you not wait for the wives and children coming in, but ship off the men without them’

Eventually women and children arrived to join the men, bringing as many belongings as they could carry, but despite British promises, these were left behind on the shore, to be ‘found’ five years later by English settlers.

The Guardian- 27 Nov. 2014 (reporting on the closing down of the East Kimberley community of Oombulgurri):
“Finally, the 10 residents who resolutely stayed to the end were forcibly evicted, given just two days notice of eviction and allowed to bring only one box of belongings each. They had to leave behind cars, whitegoods, tools and personal possessions.”

The last (almost three thousand) deportees set sail, packed tightly as slaves in 14 vessels. If the Acadiens had had portholes they would have seen the smoke and flames rising from their settlements, as the soldiers burned houses and barns, to ensure the departure was final.

The West Australian- 26 June 2014:
“The Department of Housing confirmed this week about 44 houses and associated infrastructure like fencing, demountable school buildings, the power house, donga dwellings, various sheds and septic tanks would be buried ‘on-site’”

ABC News- 23 September 2014:
(Aboriginal Affairs Minister) Peter Collier said demolition was necessary to reduce further vandalism and theft, and to leave the site in a safe condition for future non-residential use by the traditional owners.

[Genius!!! Might this non-residential use include exploration for diamonds by non-traditional owners? Might the real reason be to ensure the departure was final?]

C’est pareil, n’est pas? 

The self-proclaimed Prime Minister for Aborigines’ Government has cut funding to the  States for services to Homelands. The West Australian Government intends to close down 150 or so Aboriginal Communities…

A song dedicated to Tony Abbott and “Twiggy” Forrest:
Bob Dylan’s Positively 4th Street:
You’ve got a lot of nerve to say you are my friend…

jusqu’à ce que la prochaine fois



Survival International- January 2015:

“Throughout India, thousands of people are being illegally evicted from their ancestral homes in tiger reserves in the name of conservation”.

The tiger, he looked out of his cage and smiled
He said come here boy, I want to talk to you a while
He said I once was running wild and free, just the same as you
But it’s one step from the jungle to the zoo

It’s one step from the jungle to the zoo (woo hoo)
You better watch out or they’re gonna get you too (hm hm)
They’ll clip your claws, cut your hair, make a pussy cat out of you
It’s one step from the jungle to the zoo

He said son when you go running through the grass
You better look out for all the hidden traps
They’ll feed you sweets and goodies ’til you’re too fat to move
Then it’s one step from the jungle to the zoo

Table Service

By Ira Maine

I had passed the café several times, the establishment advertising the quality of their table service.  One day, I thought, I’ll test it out.  This service was only available between two and four in the afternoon, obviously something they could only practice in the lull following the lunch interval and before the madness of the rush hour had begun.  Seizing the bull by the horns, so to speak, and arriving during the designated period, I sat down eagerly and waited.

It was a gorgeous Spring day and I’d arrayed myself comfortably at an outdoor table, under the soft green shade of a Plane tree.  In a state of excited anticipation I spread my newspaper luxuriously, slipped on my glasses and was very quickly absorbed in an article devoted to the removal of significant stains from a tombstone.  The article proved to be a fascinating one which took all of my attention, and when I eventually looked up from my studied perusal, I found that almost twenty minutes had passed since I’d first sat down.

Strange, I thought, reluctantly removing my mind from graven images and addressing the case in point; if I’ve been here for twenty minutes, where  have all the waiters gone?  What about this establishment’s much vaunted table service?  Why was I not surrounded by waiters frantic to indulge my every whim?  What on earth had happened?

Perplexed and just a smidgen disappointed, I cast my gaze around in the hope that an effusively apologetic flunkey might materialise, bearing with him a liberal aperitif to set things to rights.  Sadly, no such occurrence occurred and the continued absence of table service continued to be palpably palpable.  There was not a waiter or waitress to be seen.  Surely, there must be some mistake, some reason, I mused, idly turning the page whilst at the same time, somewhat distractedly pouring myself a refreshing glass of water.

I never knew afterwards quite how it happened, or how much my state of distraction contributed to the events that followed.  All I can tell you is that as I turned the page.  I was presented with a shocking full page portrait of my theatrical Aunt Agatha in what can best be described as a provocative state of undress.  Aghast, I sprang to my feet, my shocked knees clouting the table, sending it spinning into it’s neighbour.  In a moment, and much too fast for me to prevent it, the empty tables dominoed, sending bottles, napkins and glasses crashing to the floor in a tsunami of broken glass and sturdily bouncing chairs.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, before smashed things had stopped tinkling, the place was alive with concerned persons racing about with mops and buckets, shovelling and sweeping, fixing and settling, whilst at the same time, with gritted teeth, casting withering glances in my direction.

‘Tell me,’ I asked angrily of the senior person who was now insisting I pay a recklessly inflated damages bill, ‘Tell me, what the hell happened here?  I came here to experience the particularly notable service you offer between the hours of two and four.  I sat here for half an hour and was not approached by a member of your staff in all that time.  What’s going on?’

The senior person looked blankly at me.

“Noteworthy service, Sir…?

‘…able.’ I replied, correcting the fellow and pointing accusingly first at my watch and then at the sign, ‘between two and four of the clock…’

The blank look held for a moment, then cleared, to be replaced by one which mixed triumph with blindingly patronising condescension.  A thin smile hovered.

‘The sign, Sir, reads ‘No table service’.  There might, I agree, be too little distance between the ‘o’ of ‘no’ and the ‘t’ of ‘table’, but only enough to cause amusement, and certainly not enough to cause even the most dull-witted fellow to sit here unattended for half an hour without investigation.  Now, if you would like to pay this trifling damages bill’

There are red-faced times in your life when you wish…

Scarlet and silent, I bitterly swiped my card.

Outflanked, chastened and poorer, I folded my chagrined tents and took my ignominious leave.

Poetry Sunday 18 January 2015

Poetry Editor, Ira Maine has submitted this masterpiece

Over The EdgeA poem by Pat Ingoldsby.

Although if might look like it
From the far distance
The horizon is not in fact
The edge of the world.
It is actually a sheer drop
Of 200,000 feet
Into Mrs Moriarty’s back garden.
She is not very happy about this
Because huge ships
Frequently fall down
Onto her patio
With an unmerciful crash
While she is playing chess
With Rupert Netherby.
“Fuck it anyway, Rupert”
She exclaims.
“There’s another ship.”
“You really should complain
to somebody” says Rupert.
“I would if I thought they
Were doing it on purpose.”
She replies.
Night time is the worst.
All the sailors shout
“Avast belay”
And hoot their sirens
And fire bright rockets.
I don’t know how she
puts up with it.,
Perhaps she is glad of the company

The failure in each line to begin with uppercase is as the poem appears in Pat Ingoldsby’s self published book, “Poems so fresh and new…yahoo!  Willow Publications(Dublin 1995)