The Frog and The Footy


Ordering rissoles in Bali is a sign that I need to go home to Adelaide.

It’s a Friday night, and I’m in Barb’s sports bar for the Crows season opener. With an Adelaide Crow tattoo on his arm, mine host Ian ambles by as the club song choruses from the TV. He mutters, “It’s got a good beat, but I reckon the kids won’t dance to it.” He’ll say that another twenty one times before September. There’s a galaxy of Indonesian dishes on offer, but I inhale a plate of meaty patties, chips and veggies. The footy is streamed from Channel 7 in Perth and, frosty long necks of Bintan aside, when I find myself getting misty-eyed about the Bunnings ads, I know the score.

Then there’s the frog. He lurks in the grounds of our Singaporean condominium, and he’s seeking a mate. After dark his thoughts turn, as Barry White may have sung, to making a little love or as HG Nelson certainly said, to “wielding the night tools.” His call is a loud, resonating, metallic honk. He honks nightly into the cruel fug. His throbbing desperation wakes us up, and keeps us sleepless. Nightly. The wife and I want to escape his amphibious ardour so we’re heading to South Australia for a June holiday.

Despite living on the equator I love winter. The endless summer here delivers an effortless lifestyle of shorts and swimming, but Adelaide extends her charms. I like dressing for the cold; faded jeans and my boots- indestructible Blundstones bought in Kimba twenty years back. Include Dunlop volleys and a pair of dusty thongs and what other footwear is there? The Southern Ocean often lashes its wind at us so I’m a convert to the hoodie. We’ll stick a pair of rubber boots on each of our boys Alex and Max and they’ll be right. Cousins are often among our first friends and, happily, they’ll all soon be running, yelling and settling their necessary disputes.

We’ll relax in Adelaide, but I’ll also tour the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Coonawarra – viniculturally. Confirmed by one ignoble episode, tropical life and cabernet sauvignon simply don’t combine for me. It’ll be superb to plonk down with some old winter friends from Turkey Flat, d’Arenberg and Katnook, and discover what they’ve been up to. I’m confident that every bottle will burst with stories as I sit at assorted tables with Dad, my wife’s Dad and the brothers-in-law, and uncork some robust conversations about footy, the Ashes tour and everything else.

Winter back home often hosts cloudless, still days of pale sunshine; ideal for beach walks and parks. Blokes occasionally label their pubs; Rundle Street’s Exeter is, “The X.” The boys name their preferred coastal playgrounds- the Nemo Park, the Buffalo Park and the Rock Lobster; baptised for the B52’s song I unthinkingly played them once. They also have to climb some trees with their mates.

Enthusiastically standing on the terraces as Glenelg play at Brighton Road could placate my football pang. Contemporary AFL spectators have little opportunity to appreciate the contest, as it should be enjoyed. Standing, skilfully, allows for better talking, laughing and barracking, and also expedites what Roy Slaven described as, “drinking in concert.” Unlike modern colosseums, I can wander to Snout’s bar or the BBQ while maintaining an eye and an ear on the ball, without burrowing down a concrete hole, like a rodent, seeking a snag or a pint.

Improbable footballers such as cult Roosters full forward Grenville Deitrich charm me. Treasured exceptions who, despite their prohibitive shape, advance to a high level. Thankfully, these survive in the SANFL. Just. I favour this over the AFL as the national competition is increasingly conquered by charisma-free robots, automatons manufactured into facsimiles of footballers like an Asimov dystopia.

A fire is vital. Both sets of grandparents have wood fires. Grumpy’s Brewhaus at Verdun boasts a German-inspired microbrewery, wood-oven and combustion stove. A golden pint of Tomcat pilsner and a few slices of Funky Chicken pizza on a Sunday and I’ll be set. I taste it all now, and can smell the drifting eucalyptus smoke as Alex and Max scurry through the last of the autumn leaves on Grumpy’s lawn.

Life here in the endless summer is fine, but like gravity, winter at home exerts an indisputable pull. It will be a languid exhalation but, ultimately, we’re hoping that when we return to Singapore, our amorous frog is on his honeymoon.



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