Aside from irregularly charging into the charcoal chook shop on a tricky Tuesday and escaping with some cooked poultry and fried spud there’s limited chances in my cosy sphere to pretend I’m a hunter and gatherer.
But since we’ve now a fire bucket on the back patio I find myself sourcing wood throughout the wintry months, and last week in my pre-pub enthusiasm I zipped across the suburbs to a garden vendor and loaded my car with red-gum. My purchasing challenge had been made clear by the wife: don’t get stumps that are too big and don’t get stumps that are too small.
As a timber-collecting Goldilocks I surveyed the wood heap. With the drizzle tending to rain and the mud sloshing about my boots I pecked about the crumbling Cheops of logs like a fussy rooster. What I lacked in scientific application I compensated with crude, Cub Scout judgment and soon had a wagon-full of iron-hued stumps.
Easing the motor onto the weighbridge I felt an inner glow borne of a successful excursion that guaranteed I’d enjoy my subway sandwich at a proximate shopping centre. But this can be complex for I often find that a six-inch sub isn’t enough, and that twelve can be too much. Let’s all petition Doctor’s Associates Inc for a nine-inch sub!
Saturday saw the house lashed by angry squalls and clattering rain but the mid-afternoon fire kept us warm. Starting the blaze is acutely ceremonial and Alex was enthusiastically insistent and Max, a spirited jumper and involuntary clapper, while their Mum lit the first match to get us underway.
Gradually, there were family and friends and burgundy wine and cheese and chat and nostalgic music, and these generated a fetching glow in which I happily swam.
With a national conference looming it was an ideal gathering at which to road-test my new ice-breaker. Having workshopped it extensively with my old comrade and new-ish colleague JB, out it came, for in some ways it’s the ultimate question, and taps neatly into the endless Zeitgeist.
On “Islands in the Stream” who gives the best performance: Kenny or Dolly?
With stunning clarity, the results were revealed as a little lop-sided, perhaps in a similar fashion to that which saw Anne Shirley “Willsy” Wills (OAM) collect 19 Most Popular State (South Australia) Personality Logies. After scrutineering the votes were
Still, as the late wrestling icon Rowdy Roddy Piper used to say, it’s about the process.
The fire danced and crackled and my playlist changed mid-seventies gears from the Bee Gees to Dr Hook so we added heavy chunks of red-gum and then night descended. Inside our boys and the other kids tore about and transacted in robust and efficient ways as their games began, unfolded and then collapsed, as all games must.
Meanwhile across the city, country and globe all manner of professional games were being played, and remarkably every single team in which I’ve varying degrees of investment engineered a loss. Here’s a roll-call of anguish: the Glenelg Football club, the Adelaide Football club, the Socceroos, the Wallabies, and at The Oval in London, where many years ago, we’d personally witnessed a grim result, the Australian cricket side. I should’ve bagged them all up into a hideous multi and had myself an unpatriotic if tidy earn.
But none of these irritants mattered on my birthday for there I was by a mesmerising fire with fruity ale, if not fruity conversation. Later, the dogs, Buddy and Angel, flopped on their beds and the last of the storm fronts rushed furiously by. Happily, there’d still be cheese for late Sunday afternoon.
With a sturdy click the back door was locked, and at least in my mind, I could hear the projected voice of a 1960’s publican bark across his dark bar, “Time, please.”
I was soon asleep.