10 October 2013

Fifty Books!

Initially when I saw the ABC Local Radio's competition to win 50 books by localising literature, I didn't think I had an entry.  The idea was to take a classic piece of literature and localise it - make it about Queensland.

I thought the examples they gave were pretty good, but I didn't have any ideas for localising the title of a classic.  However once it was pointed out to me that you could write a poem, I knew what I had to do.

There's a great Australian Bush Poem by Banjo Paterson that many Aussies would know called "The Man From Ironbark" which was begging to be parodied.  It's about a bloke from the bush who comes to the big smoke and gets a new style - a beard shave that goes horribly wrong.  Upping the ante, my protagonist went one further.

To my massive shock and surprise, the ABC didn't disqualify me on the grounds of "Anatomical Terms Some Of Our Listeners Won't Have Heard," and I won the 50 books!

Here is a frightening example of my accent, for the enjoyment of Heather.  I did broaden it a little for the bush poetry, but probably not enough.  I still sounded like a city girl instead of a rugged bush balladeer.

with deepest apologies to A.B. "Banjo" Paterson,
the good people of Charleville, Qld, Aust.,
and tattoo artists everywhere.

There was a bloke from Charleville who struck Toowoomba town,
He wandered over street and park, he wandered up and down.
Searching for a “look” he could display back home with pride,
A haircut or a beard shave, some look he’d never tried.
He’d heard the man from Ironbark had had a shave and cut,
But knew he had to move quite quick, before the shops were shut.

He hit Grand Central, Margaret Street and Cliffo’s for good luck,
He didn’t like his chances of a haircut for a buck.
One salon said they’d shave his head and one suggested foils,
A ritzy salon tried to sell him mousses, sprays and oils.
Despairing that he’d ever find a look to fit the bill,
He thought he’d ask his Facebook friends, our man from Charleville.

He did a status update: “I’m hitting the big smoke –
Can you suggest a change of style for this poor outback bloke?”
One friend suggested piercings.  He thought he’d look a clown
With bling in tongue or nipple (or p’rhaps one further down?)
Another friend said, “Tattoos, mate! Let’s do an online poll!
Where should Charlie get his tat?  Can’t wait to see this!  LOL!”

Now this idea, it grew on him.  He thought he would do well
To check out “Innervision,” “Inked Up” and “Hot As Hell.”
He didn’t know the style of tat, nor settled on location,
He thought of searching Pinterest for artistic inspiration.
But first thing’s first: sustaining ale, for pain he sorely hated.
Not noticing how much he’d drunk, became inebriated.

He staggered in.  “Now ink me up, I'll knock ‘em dead, I will.
I'll go and do Toowoomba toff back home in Charleville."
He settled on a nice half-sleeve of Navajo design,
And lay upon a couch beside a stunning girl sublime.
They traded nervous grimaces and passed the time of day.
“You had a drink?”  “My word, I have.  It’s my first tat today.”

Bewildered by his task, the artist’s brow grew fierce and black.
“I’ve never known a country bloke to do his lower back.
I guess we’ve got the signatures we legally require, but
This bloomin’ yokel’s gonna think his arse is set on fire.”
The artist checked designs with both but due to all the drink,
A grunt was all reply he got.  He started with the ink.

By now you will have realized what luck our bloke had copped -
It seems the tattoo art of the hapless two were swapped!
The artist raised his hand as he paused before attack,
Then pressed the tattoo needle on our victim's lower back.
He fetched a wild up-country yell: his face an ashen white, shouting
“Murder! Bloody murder! They’ve set me arse alight!”

But when he’d sobered up he was quite glad the job was done,
For soon he grew quite proud of that fine tramp stamp on his bum.
And though a dolphin he’d reject if he’d been thinking clearer,
He showed it off on Instagram with selfies in the mirror.
And whether he's believed or no, I’ll say this in goodwill:
Tramp stamps now are all the go way up in Charleville.

-       Ukulele Jutsum © 2013.


Charlie said...

I love the poem and love that you won such a great prize. Does it come with a babysitter so you have time to read?

Tracy P. said...

That's so amazing! I can't wait to listen when I can find a quiet place. Love it! Congratulations, and happy reading! (Now I suppose it will be a while before we hear from you again with all that reading to do.)

gartcott aka Penny Hannah said...

I just love the poem, and to have it read by the author is a real treat. Are you going to share the list of prize books? Perhaps you could get some waterproof ones that you could read while you're training for the Swimathon......?

Allegro ma non troppo said...

It's beautiful.

wide eyed said...

just used this poem as an illustration for my grade seven child's homework on text structures of ballads - maybe you could introduce it into the C2C

Janet said...

Love it!