A couple of weeks back I put up a story here; “The Seven Weeping Men of Sedan” … I wrote that piece along with another local-centred story … that I would like to put up here, but it stretches out to nearly 7000 words … a tad too long for one posting and when broken up, short stories, being short stories, tend to suffer from the separation … It is a romance that I wanted to locate locally using local names and identifying landmarks that I feel demonstrate the Australian quirkiness of names … places like The Bulldog Run … The Sleeper Track … The Seven Sisters Junction, etc … I wanted to use these places as a background for the developing love story of the young couple. I wanted the story to show how a story grows from a point of location to a moment of … or perhaps a lifetime of commitment to each other … sure … in this cynical age of everyone for themselves, romantic love can be seen as a fantasy … a youthful delusion best grown out of … and I can see from my own experience of grown children, the idea of romance of any kind today is looked upon with the curled lip of scepticism … But I don’t know … I think there is still a little bit of room for the desire of close affection and loyalty … and (can I say it ) … Love … right into old age.
Here is the story if you want to read it.
I had a notion of an idea for those stories to be the basis … along with my pieces of local history, to lay a foundation for the construction of a new direction for the town of Sedan … here in the Murray Mallee.
Sedan is just another of those slowly dilapidating towns hanging on by the skin of its teeth in what was once a thriving farming area of the Germanic pioneers, but is now a fringe marginal farming district. Climate change has made the averages of cropping/stock yields turn from good to medium to now marginal … and in doing so has brought about a shift in perception for those who inherit the old farms from a career in agriculture to a more reliable income in the Barossa wine industry or other pursuits. So the old cottages have been let go for too long and much infrastructure neglected … from a once thriving centre with numerous businesses catering to a large labour force to now only three functioning operations.
It is crumbling.
I wanted to shift the perception from a sighted ruin of a town to one jam-packed with history and mystery … Ideally located between two major tourist draw-cards of The Barossa and the Murray River. Sedan has the history and the silent, brooding nature of those Germanic Pioneers to provide the mystery and the mythology for a interesting stop-over to any travelling through the town.
Sedan is different than most country towns in that rather than just one “drive through” main street, it is located at a crossroad north, south, east and west … traffic to and from the river district of that section of the Murray River has to pass through Sedan … and where you have crossroads, some traffic has to stop … and once stopped, people have a tendency to look about their position … and there you have them! You just have to have the attraction to hold them.
And that is where The Sedan Hotel comes in.
Of the three remaining businesses operating in Sedan, only the hotel has the capacity to attract and hold the public … the other two being service places for passing travellers. I took that story of the weeping men of Sedan to the mine-hosts of that hotel and explained my ambition and the methodology for ascertaining the possible success of such a plan that I thought would be of benefit to all in the town … It was to leave several copies in A4 loose leaf – tied at the corners with soft cord – on the bar top just to see if there was interest at all in the notion of a different storyline for the town, ie; would there be enough interest locally and with the hotel managers to create an aura of mystery and mythology of the district to push the envelope further up the chain of command to the progress association and thence to the local council for further promotion.
As I said … the stories are there, the mystery is there as is the history … all it needs is mixing and marketing … and those stories were perhaps the blue-touch paper that could light up the imagination seeking for more!
But it was to no avail … there was little interest in even perusing the papers there on the bar by the clientele … I would have thought the title; “The seven Weeping Men of Sedan” would attract curiosity at least … a little of the; “’Allo, allo! What’s this then?” moment … but no … even the hotel managers showed little interest in anything different about their town than the irregular live music gig or a Christmas dress-up night or whatever … and that was it.
And that reflects the many situations I find on Twitter or social media blog, where any number of posts seek to enliven the imagination of the viewers is to little avail … I myself have posted hundreds of articles and stories that have drawn much criticism and some acclaim. I post such articles in a deliberate attempt to spark some emotional reaction from the reader … for to me that is what politics is all about: an emotional commitment to a cause … emotional connection, not analytical, not statistical … for they are but cold comforts … but pure unadulterated emotion … for that is what moves a nation … a populace … and it was that which was missing in my seeking from those stories I left anonymously on the bar-top.
Some here would blame the story … but I was told not many got even past the title page … and that was the attraction to persuade to read on. It failed … as some here also would have it that perhaps it was just; “Your stupid little anecdotes” … but to that I say every story paints a social picture … I like to think my stories contain more than just bland amusement … but like those story-tellers of old, there is a story behind the telling of the story … indeed, a “reminiscing” piece I hope Michael puts up here soon, is peppered with social observations of that period and those fellows I grew up with there behind the bathos and pathos of the piece ..
No story is worth its salt if it cannot connect with the reader … whether they like it or not! But then there is the question of a capacity or the dour lack of capability to have imagination enough to take an interest.
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