NEG - guarantees nothing

By Stephen FitzAll the debate, all the policy, all the smoke screens…

Don't feed the trolls

Ever since Internet blogs allowed comments, there has been a particularly nasty,…

It’s Not Easy Being Green

By Henry JohnstonWatching Richard Di Natale posit the Greens political philosophy on…

Australian Psychological Society Medicare review submission betrays members…

The Australian Psychological Society’s (APS) submission to the Commonwealth Government’s Medicare Benefit…

Human qualities v animal behaviour

By Stephen FitzWho knows what evil lurks within the hearts of men?…

Readying Knives: The Mortality of Australian Prime Ministers

The opinion poll prime ministership is a modern Australian disease. Not only…

An open letter to Andrew Bolt

By Christian MarxOnce again, the shrill cries from Andrew Bolt can be…

Tony Abbott is responsible for our high energy…

Commentators blame successive governments over the last ten years for our lack…


A short announcement …

Here … this may warm the cockles of your heart! And considering the topic of the day at the moment, it is quite relevant. It happened a long time ago here in this town near where I live now. I know of the family, but best not name them as I believe the “situation” is still sensitive. They have a long memory, these small town residents!

A short announcement.

As well aware as we are these days of those “Great Moments in History” where an event is celebrated on canvas, like, say, George Washington crossing the Delaware or Captain James Cook bearing up proudly on the bow of the Endeavor’s whaler boat as he broaches the sandy shore of Botany Bay, or even our own Colonel Light on Montefiore Hill with his determined arm outstretched pointing to the possible location of the future precinct of Adelaide (and how right he was!) … I’d like to draw your attention to those little moments in history enacted in those little places way off the beaten track that one must acknowledge, do deliver their own great moments within their own little worlds. Less, perhaps, “momentous” than “of the moment”!

Such an event happened on the evening of the 2nd of June 1953 – on The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 2nd – at the Sedan Hotel front bar, where was gathered a regular small group of loyal local blokes, many bearing the Germanic names of that peoples that had been enemies in two wars of recent memory … but wishing to scotch any rumours of disloyalty to The Crown, the publican of the hotel called for silence with the ringing of a spoon on the rim of a schooner glass and proposed a toast to “Her Majesty The Queen”. THAT is the orthodox version of events. I have it on good authority, though I will not vouch for its exactness of detail, that another short announcement accompanied that toast that created a certain amount of “discussion” within that small community.

It went like this:

I doubt it goes without some knowledge in these small country towns, that certain individuals practice habits that are, shall we say, of a different complexion than the mainstream. Most accomplish these little peccadilloes in the secrecy and privacy of their own homes – by themselves and good luck to them – but of course there is a price to pay for all that secrecy. There is the paranoia that if discovered, the general consensus of “the mob” will excoriate and damn the individual in question to exile or worse. Such “difference” is a heavy burden to carry, particularly if one is working every day, shoulder to shoulder with his fellows in the fields. It wears on a chap!

Such a burden had for several years weighed heavily upon one such chap among that gathering that evening in the front bar of The Sedan Hotel (we shall not name names!). He had come to the decision a week or so before that he would share this burden with his fellows and take the consequences … whatever … he would “own” his idiosyncrasy. He had chosen that particular evening and he had steeled himself for the occasion with rehearsed lines and solemn mood to deliver to best advantage that which he wished to say. The fact that the publican had chosen – with his unfortunate royal toast to the newly coroneted queen – the very apex of that moment, the very inhale of breath so to speak, was inconvenient, but not a deterrence. He decided to press ahead.

The silence was heeded, the glasses were charged, the toast was made: “To the Queen!”..”Hear, Hear!” The schooners were just touched to eager, wetted lips when he made his own small announcement:

“I like wearing women’s clothes. I always have.”

There was a short brevity of spluttering chaos in the group.

I would not like to claim that he said it “gaily”, but rather, in a quiet, solemn voice. Soft, but determined. You know, there are some hesitations in the general hubbub of public gatherings where silence can follow momentous announcements. (I’m thinking of Julius Caesar about to cross the Rubicon and he says quietly; “Jacta alia est” (the die is cast). The legions, I suspect, fell silent. Or Horatio Nelson with his famous telescope to the blind eye: “I really do not see the signal”. There are others … there are others). Such a silence followed this announcement in the front bar of The Sedan Hotel. A full ten seconds silence. An eyewitness noted the ticking of a clock (two rooms away) for a full ten tocks. That record, I hasten to add, still stands! I suspect the shock of this fellow navvy, this rough-handed roustabout, whom they were more used to see in moleskins and blucher-boots, informing them of his preference for women’s petticoats and finery threw some small confusion into their male minds. It wasn’t long, however, “till the boat rightened itself”, the wave of confusion subsided and he was confronted with wide-eyed “enthusiasm”. Needless to say, his first suspicions of the possibility of estrangement, alienation and blind anger were quite sufficiently full-filled!



  1. helvityni

    A fitting story for these troubled times..I’m desperately waiting for some GOOD announcements, short or long.

    And of course in 1953 there were no Ladies at the front bar at the ‘Sedan’ hotel…..were there any Shandy sippers at the Ladies Parlour at the back?

    We had a hobby farm for ten years and a bit, I acquired my Driza-Bone coat ( it never rained), hubby had his moleskins and we both loved our RM Williams boots… so well made, they’ll see me out…Loved my farm/country experience, met some nice people, locals and tree-changers, the drought made me INNOVATIVE… Luckily the river never dried out, we had our water licence, no stealing..

    (what an earth are blucher-boots ?)

  2. Joseph Carli

    To a Pair of Blucher Boots

    Henry Lawson, 1890

    Old acquaintance unforgotten,
    Though you may be "ugly brutes",
    Though your leather's cracked and rotten,
    Worn-out pair of Blucher boots.

    'Tis the richer man before you,
    Dearer leathers grace his feet;
    'Twas the better man that wore you
    In the tramps through dust and heat!

    Oft rebuffed by "super's" snarling,
    When I asked him for a "show",
    On that long tramp to the Darling
    In the days of long ago;

    Tell me, if you know it, whether,
    As I sadly tramped away,
    Bore I heavy on your leather,
    Worn-out pair of Bluchers, say?

    Though your leather's cracked and rotten,
    Though you may be ugly brutes,
    I'll preserve you unforgotten,
    Worn-out pair of Blucher boots!

  3. John

    One person’s Wellingtons are another’s Bluchers, depends which side you were on at Waterloo.

  4. Percy T

    Great ode to Tony Abbott there Joseph.
    If only that massive narcissist would come out of hiding, how funny it would be.
    Next Mardi Gras, first float, I can picture in my mind’s eye.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Return to home page
Scroll Up
%d bloggers like this: