2

The Gepps Cross Alehouse

So, today seven of us, who have deep connections to Kapunda, visited the pub for lunch.

Here’s the answers to the quiz. The winner was Mrs. G. Cross of Gepps Cross.

  1. Seven. Attendees were Crackshot, Swanny, Fats, Lukey, Woodsy, Stef, Mickey.
  2. Yes, lunch began at 12.30.
  3. No, incorrect. Everyone in attendance ordered a schnitzel.
  4. False. Nobody ordered the Diane sauce.
  5. No, incorrect. Everyone ordered salad with their meal despite the ‘no salad, extra chips option.’
  6. True. Apparently, Fats ate most of his salad to the surprise of not just his lunchmates but all in the pub.
  7. Three minutes. A new record time. That’s how long it took to disparage another Kapunda chap who wasn’t at the lunch but should have been. Sorry, Whitey.
  8. Inexcusably home on his couch. See Question 7.
  9. A goat. Lukey was elsewhere.
  10. Four. The number of former and current Kapunda publicans mentioned over lunch. For bonus points in order these were: Nugget (Clare Castle Hotel), Puffa (Prince of Wales), Alan Meaney (Prince of Wales) and Unknown Queenslanders (Prince of Wales).
  11. Four. Number of lunch attendees eager to play for Kapunda Cricket Club in the new year. This was announced after two beers and part way through the schnitzels.
  12. One. Number of lunch attendees who will likely play for Kapunda Cricket Club in the new year (Woodsy: current A5’s captain).
  13. Three. Number of attendees who went to the recent Adelaide Test.
  14. Six. Number of second inning South African Test wickets to fall during our lunch.
  15. One. Australian Test victories witnessed.
  16. None. Number of D. Warner fans in attendance at lunch.
  17. Three. Nostalgic and somewhat wistful mentions of cricket at Adelaide Oval during the 1980’s.
  18. Eight.
  19. One. Discussion of Greenock Schlungers (for those following at home this is the affectionate name for their local cricketers and not a German smallgood).
  20. None. Bikies spotted. Whew. If you don’t count avid amateur motorcyclists Fats and Swanny.
  21. 72.7 kilometres. Distance from Gepps Cross Alehouse to Kapunda.
  22. One. Beers needed for trip from Gepps Cross Alehouse to Kapunda.
  23. 14.7 kilometres. Distance from Greenock to Kapunda.
  24. Two. Beers needed from Greenock to Kapunda.
  25. Three. Number of attendees who drove up the river yesterday to look at the flood.
  26. A goat. Schnitzels are incapable of deliberate physical movement.

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2

To Alex and Max, on 2022

Dear Alex and Max

So you’ve now had a year back together at the same school. I was excited about how you’d go and hopeful that you’d look after each other as needed. I’m confident you’ll remain protective of each other.

I know it’s sometimes boring but am glad that most days you both head off to school willingly, and once there, generally try your hardest. Of course, I’m impressed that you seem to enjoy and do well in English! Reading and writing are, as I keep telling you, the keys to every subject. You are fine users of language. I’m also pleased by your achievements in Company Bright Alex and by yours in HASS, Max.

In addition to this I’m thrilled that you show excellent humour, and this great skill applies to school, home and life in general. You also understand the power of story.

I’ve been rapt by your approach to your new job at Caruso’s Alex. Thriving in part-time work is important and gives you many wonderful opportunities and life skills. I’m sure you’ll also get a job when you’re able Max, and will find it of huge personal benefit. I look forward to this too. What if you got a job at Caruso’s too?

Another year highpoint was our Melbourne adventure. I enjoyed exploring the city with you and going to the footy. I also look forward to our New Year trip, this time to Victor, and swimming, playing beach cricket and American football. We must decide on a Lake Lap equivalent for each afternoon around 5pm. It’s a vital tradition!

I’m happy how both of you show commitment to exercise. Hoops and biking are your passions Max and it pleases me when I say, ‘How about you go down to the school and play basketball’ and you usually accept the challenge, and do it!

Alex, I’m delighted with your regular sessions at the gym. I’m glad we made this happen for you. I was pleased too, when you went for a run to the beach and back before school earlier this week. I hope you’ll both continue to appreciate that Glenelg North and the beach are a wonderful place to live. Another highlight of our year has been the Onkaparinga hikes, which are great as they give us a chance to enjoy nature too.

I’m happy that we’re going to the Strikers this season and hopefully, we’ll be regulars in the members at Adelaide Oval for a long time! As you demonstrated at the first match, one of the attractions of watching cricket is the chance it offers to have good conversations, and I liked how you both chatted the other night about all sorts of stuff like the NBA and school.

So, well done on your years and I’m proud of your achievements. I’m excited to see what 2023 brings for you both.

Love Dad.

0

Why I Love When Harry Met Sally

Chicago to New York is a lengthy drive and mere minutes in Harry grabs his grapes, eats one, and with alarming vigour, spits the seed out of Sally’s car window.

Only problem: the window’s up. 

Leaving the glass splattered in grape-spit, Harry isn’t bothered. He continues to eat and expectorate like a hunter attempting to fell a beast with a blow-dart. The sound design of this is geared to maximise our irritation and unlike many films set in NYC When Harry Met Sally rarely looks overly sumptuous and alluring. It’s really a series of theatrical conversations.

Prior to the grape-eating episode as Harry and his girlfriend exchange their sloppy farewells, Sally honks her car horn to tell him she’s eager to leave. This shows us she’s also a little cantankerous and that the central conflict’s going to be tantalising. Knowing the conclusion, this awkward start heightens our curiosity.

How will the romance between Harry and Sally unfold?

Each is flawed, but charismatic and after a decade of brief, seemingly inconsequential encounters, their friendship finally blossoms.

And what a tremendous friendship it is.

*

Central to the film’s celebrated status is the use of extracts from interviews with older Italian couples. Inspired by actual conversations, the screenwriter Nora Ephron crafted these six scenes so they’re earnest, funny, and emblematic of enduring love.

MAN: I was sitting with my friend Arthur Cornrom in a restaurant. It was a cafeteria and this beautiful girl walked in and I turned to Arthur and I said, “Arthur, you see that girl? I’m going to marry her, and two weeks later we were married and it’s over fifty years later and we are still married.

These segments Illuminate our perceptions of Harry and Sally and function collectively as both a prologue to their love story, but also a euphoric epilogue. They help to enlist our hope. We want our central characters to tell a similar story.

*

Playing Pictionary on a Saturday evening years ago with friends (including my now wife, Claire) and one pair was trying to identify a grumpy-animal blob. Of course the game’s dark goal is to cruelly enjoy the other participants’ frustrations. Their attempts went like this:

              Koala! Koala!

Partner shakes head. Waves pencil at ambiguous drawing.

              Sad animal! Sad animal!

Partner again shakes head. Stabs at picture which is now representative of violence towards the partner.

              Bear! Bear! Frown bear!

Frown bear?

Decades on, we still talk about frown bear. We’ve all known a frown bear. When Harry Met Sally is also a celebration of friendship, and an illustrative moment is the Pictionary episode-

Harry: Rosemary’s Baby’s mouth! Won’t you come home Bill baby!

Woman: Babababy…kiss the baby!

Harry: Melancholy baby’s mouth!

Jess: Baba…baby fish mouth, baby fish mouth!

The deft, heartening bond between Harry and Jess is a counterpoint to the pronounced pessimism that Harry often shows Sally. During a football game the two men talk unreservedly. Meanwhile, a Mexican wave circles the stadium and their mindless participation in it as Harry delves into his marital woes is comical and poignant. He speaks of his estranged wife

Harry: “I don’t know if I’ve ever loved you.”

Jess: Ooo that’s harsh.

(They partake in the Mexican wave)

Jess: You don’t bounce back from that right away.

Harry: Thanks Jess.

*

A tightly crafted monologue is always a cinematic treat, and having arrived at his epiphany, Harry runs across Manhattan (there’s always someone running during the climax of a rom-com) and delivers this to Sally

I love that you get cold when it’s seventy-one degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend a day with you I can still smell your perfume on my clothes, and I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of the life to start as soon as possible.

Harry’s speech has an appealing rhythm and the repetition of key ideas like love and you add to its enveloping intimacy. A joyous soliloquy, ‘and I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night’ is a great, starry-eyed desire that holds very true for me.

*

So, before Christmas devours the calendar, Claire and I enjoy an early December tradition, when on a Sunday night with wine and chocolate, we arrive in the kind-hearted, affirming world of When Harry Met Sally.

0

Boys and basketball

Obviously, professional basketball appeals to teenage boys.

Ridiculously over-sized men doing ridiculously physical things with a ball and to each other. This all happens on a ridiculously under-sized court which appears to be the dimensions of a suburban shower cubicle.

How could this not appeal?

When I was seventeen some mates and I were all obsessed with basketball and more particularly the NBA, the professional American competition.

A match was televised on Sunday mornings and we’d all watch and discuss it that afternoon and at school during the week. It was my first real experience with sport that wasn’t Australian. Magic Johnson, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving were the big names and being adolescent I was seduced by their skill and their seemingly exotic names.

The teams and their locations were also mesmerising: Boston and the Celtics, Philadelphia and the 76ers, and Los Angeles and the Lakers. Given their rivalry, LA and Boston games were always the highlight.

So, I’m pleased and entirely unsurprised that Max, now gangly and twelve and curious about his expanding world, is besotted by the NBA. In his room he has about six basketballs, all arranged at the foot of his bed in a brown-orange pyramid. If he’s not playing the game during or after school, he’s in his room watching it online or talking about it to his brother Alex or me.

He loves the Brooklyn Nets.

With their New York City hipster-borough aesthetic this is probably the team I’d support if I were his age. Indigenous star Patty Mills plays for them as do some of Max’s favourites in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Australian export Ben Simmons is also on the roster but is currently spending much time on the bench, fouling out frequently.

Brooklyn’s a bit far to go during term time so I offered to take Max to the Adelaide 36ers and New Zealand Breakers match. He accepted.

It was my first time at a professional basketball match too. I’d been to footy, soccer, rugby league, golf, and cricket but not the hoops.

It was great.

We sat midcourt (not far from where Alex and I were at the Tame Impala concert a few nights’ previous) and it was engrossing, ridiculous fun. In his attempts to encourage our ownership, the courtside announcer often insisted, ‘Your Sixers.’ Max and I spoke of the implied ownership in the second person pronoun, ‘your.’ He gets it. As always, we’re being sold stuff.

Cricket’s Big Bash League has borrowed extensively from basketball’s entertainment formula. Merciless noise, music, lights, quick gimmicks and silly crowd participation. The curmudgeon in me tried to resist but couldn’t. It was harmless, sugary distraction.

And why not on a Friday night?

Max commentated throughout. He has the language and the technical insight. His vocabulary even seemed taken from Brooklyn with its streetwise, vaguely combative terminology.

An odd rite then occurred. Whenever the Breakers would earn shots from the free-throw line a mysterious ritual took place. Resulting, I imagine, from a weird sponsorship deal, the kids in the crowd began chanting.

‘Hungry Jacks! Hungry Jacks!’

Now, I wasn’t sure if hearing this was supposed to inspire or distract or scare the opponents with the thought that they might be force-fed a whopper, or, heaven forbid, a yumbo?

‘Hungry Jacks! Hungry Jacks!’

Maybe, I wondered, if they missed, the kid who yelled loudest would receive their (meagre) body weight in cheeseburgers or Baconators? This, of course, would likely condemn them to a life without any hope of being a professional basketballer.

But still they chanted.

Half-time at the merchandise stall I offered Max a hat or singlet but at his request bought him yet another basketball. Can you have too many? I’m probably guilty of having an excess of checked shirts in my wardrobe.

Using his surname as inspiration we adopted Craig Randall as a home team favourite while Antonius Cleveland also found our affection. The seven-foot Korean centre, Kai Sotto, impressed us with his dunking and gentle athleticism.

Despite the fuzzy etymology of The Breakers, they whopped us by thirty points. We turned the ball over too often and our Kiwi competitors made the most of their three-pointers, but it mattered little to us.

On our way home Max talked excitedly. I reckon we both won.

2

I Remember Kapunda High

I remember Eringa; majestic, homely, inspirational Eringa; our Eringa.

I remember English in the library and Geography in a bedroom and History in the maids’ chambers and Ag with Mr. Stephen Booth in a cellar.

I remember individual school photos in the foyer and given we were teenagers, everybody, absolutely everybody looked ghastly because we had inescapably horrific haircuts.

I remember the lone palm tree on the front lawn by the basketball court and thinking how glamorous and evocative it was of a tropical paradise.

I remember not getting out much as a kid.

Hello, I’m Michael Randall and I’m proud to have attended Kapunda High School from which I matriculated in 1983.

I remember there was no canteen and students dashed after the Masters’ bakery lunch van by the changerooms and before it screeched to a halt fought like crows on a carcass to grab the rear door handles and be first in line.

I remember then wondering what was the greater danger for these van chasers: getting run over, or devouring two pies with sauce, a coke, and a Kitchener bun?

I remember the Year 9 bushwalking camp which finished with two nights at the Pines but eating all of my scroggin before we left the school gates. Okay, just the chocolate. Thanks Mum.

I remember each term finishing with a social at the Parish Hall on Crase Street where we played spin the bottle, heard ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ way too often, did the Military Two-Step to ‘Eight Days a Week’ by the Beatles, and always, always had the last dance to ‘Hotel California.’ Indeed, as the Eagles said, you can check out of Kapunda High any time you like, but you can never leave.

I remember in Year 12 our infinitely lovely English teacher Mrs Mary Schultz chaperoning us through the novels of John Steinbeck and the poetry of GMH – no, not An Ode to a Clapped-Out Commodore – but the Jesuit priest and poet Gerard Manly Hopkins.

I remember an annual staff versus students footy match when in the middle of a pack a sharp yet widely noticed punch landed on a student’s jaw. Of course, the nameless umpire – who could have been a Ryan – yelled an ironic, ‘Play on!’ If a tribunal now met, the defendant might be allowed to lace up his boots in 2025, decades after his retirement from teaching.

I remember our Year 11 Careers trip and staying at the Goodwood Orphanage. At 4am one morning under Mr. Paul McCarthy’s watchful eye we went to the East End Markets to learn about zucchinis. After, it was time for breakfast. Being led through the front bar of the Producers Hotel towards the dining room we saw all sorts of supernatural faces who either hadn’t quite left the previous night or who’d caught the early bus in to make a start on their dawn Hock. But we’d gone on an official school excursion to the pub! Before sunrise! How great was this?

I remember innovations like vertical homegroups in which Years 8, 9, 10 and 11 were banded together as a happy family or depending on the students, like Yatala inmates.

I remember the PE teacher Mr. Geoff Schell leading the daily fitness revolution starring the Health Hustle which means if I now hear ‘Bad, Bad Leroy Brown’ or Toni Basil’s ‘Mickey’ I involuntarily slide on a pair of Adidas Mexico shorts and launch into some dreadfully uncoordinated star jumps. Of course, this is especially tricky if I’m driving.

I remember the compulsory wearing of a tie and needing to be careful with it in Tech Studies and over the stove in Home Ec. so you didn’t end up in hospital or worse: on the front page of both the Herald and the Leader, doubtless with your name misspelt in exotic and embarrassing ways.

I remember the Moreton Bay Figs by the oval which remain among my favourite trees.

I remember the yearly tradition of Charities Week when classes were suspended, and it was all about fun and fund-raising with go-carts on the tennis court and the Animal House-inspired Toga Tavern and emerging all dusty and dirty of face from the Ghost Tunnel which ran under Eringa and so, so many jars of guess the number of jellybeans.

I remember swimming carnivals and the awesome sight of our History teacher Mr. Michael Krips annihilating everybody in the staff and students race by doing a length of the pool in about six relaxed but massive strokes of freestyle.

I remember at the end of the day getting a ride to the primary school on Rexy Draper’s Hamilton bus to save me a longer walk home.

I remember the anticipation for school magazines and getting these signed during the last week of the year by classmates and teachers. Here’s an extract from the 1981 edition: Kapunda competed in Division 2 of the Interschool Swimming competition against Eudunda and Burra. Kapunda was not very successful at all. The Juniors and Seniors came third. We only had two first places for the night, Leanne Noack in butterfly and backstroke. On behalf of everyone here, thank you Leanne.

I remember a Freeling student baking a cake in Home Ec and being told by Mrs. Wendy Trinne that he’d forgotten to include an egg, so what did our pupil do? He flung down the oven door and just on top of the nearly done sponge cracked open one large bum nut.

I remember staff and students cricket matches, when batting at the Gundry’s Hill end, the occasion would finally arrive, and a certain teacher would flick it off middle stump, over the spotty fielders, over the boundary, over the school fence, over West Terrace, over the dusty footpath, over a neighbour’s front yard, and onto the roof of a white-washed cottage. Like a depth charge in a submarine movie. We all waited for it. He always delivered.

I remember PE classes doing archery on the oval.

I remember sitting in the Art Room and the roof rattling with arrows from a PE class doing archery on the oval.

I remember having a lunchtime disagreement on the croquet lawn with a Year 12 classmate when at the height of our quarrel, to her delight and my dismay, onto the slender shoulder of my grey Midford school shirt a passing bird dropped a warm, yoghurt-like blob.

I remember losing that argument to my dear friend Trisha Helbers.

But I remember my joy in April of last year when on that very same croquet lawn I married my wife Claire.

I remember being scared on my first day in Year 8 and in Year 12 being sad on my last.

I remember hearing a teacher interviewed on the radio years ago and the announcer saying thank you because you create lives.

And I remember thinking how very true this is for those of us fortunate enough to attend Kapunda High School.

Thank you.

2

10,254 days

Running is an invitation to think.

Setting off in Kurralta Park, six kilometres from the Colley Reserve rotunda gave me ample opportunity to dwell on my joyous present and varied and wide past.

Ambling towards Glenelg over the following 36 minutes I did just that.

I was paid up for my first City Bay fun run since 1994, and this alone represented a triumph. Although I was only entered in the six-kilometre event and not the full twelve I was keen to participate and prove things to myself. But a week out I suffered an avulsion fracture in my foot which is when a flake of bone attached to a ligament is pulled away from the joint.

Ouch.

I was disappointed and that this happened at our Port Elliot townhouse on my annual writing retreat dampened the celebratory mood. Slipping on the bottom rung of the darkened staircase following three generous glasses of shiraz, I knew I should’ve gone the merlot.

Shiraz can be shameless.

So, ever supportive and kind, Claire suggested I do the City Bay fun run when I’d recovered. Five weeks later, this morning at 11.50 by Anzac Highway, and across from Australia’s best K Mart (no, really) my lovely wife said, ‘3, 2, 1, go!’

Like Forrest Gump, I was RUNNING! It was no leisurely jog to the beach and back. It was my own private event with the attendant excitement and exhilarating occasion.

Heading down the Anzac Highway footpath past the homes and shops and pubs I felt deep gratitude (especially when I didn’t go in the execrable Highway Inn). I wondered about the groups of lads I passed ambling down to the Morphettville racecourse. An Indian man was then easing local council how to vote pamphlets into letterboxes outside a big block of cream units. He cheerfully ignored me.

A biker roared through the traffic, his chopper adorned with ghastly yet tremendous wood-panelling, and with his stereo blasting. Speakers installed on motorbikes is always noteworthy and just a little bit funny. I couldn’t identify the music due to the car noise but the funky, yet laconic bass suggested Talking Heads. Puffing along, I inwardly nodded approval.

I was making pretty good time. In 1994 during my last City Bay, when I was non-grey and non-chubby, I had on the Swatch watch I’d bought duty-free on the way to New Zealand’s Contiki Tour the previous summer. Being on the youthful side of thirty and boosted by adrenalin I ran my first six kilometres in 24 minutes! In 2022, I knew this was beyond me however I remembered to be kind to myself. As the Dalai Lama says, ‘Kindness is my religion.’ He knows a few things, our Dalai.

Today my pace was more leisurely, but I had much more for which to be grateful. There was a cooling breeze and cloudy sky as friendly company. Just by the racecourse I felt a wave of nostalgia for the faded, sometimes vexed previous decades and renewed appreciation for where I was at this exact moment.

Indeed, I have the three ingredients for happiness: something to do, something to look forward to, and most vitally, someone to love. Arriving at the next intersection I again got the run of the lights and scampering across (this might be a generous description) was now in Glenelg East.

It was going well, and my sense of joy was percolating nicely. He’s deeply flawed but as American Beauty‘s Lester Burnham says when he’s on the verge of physical reinvention: ‘But you know what? It’s never too late to get it back.’

With the grass of Colley Terrace beneath my Brooks running shoes I peered anxiously ahead at the rotunda. It appeared deserted and my bespoke City Bay fun run was nearly done.

All about me people were easing into their Saturday afternoons by the beach and for the first time in decades I’d easily run a reasonable distance. I hoped this would be a symbol of capacity, of happy future surprise and of the rich possibilities of life, well-contemplated and favourably executed.

My run complete I effected the rotunda stairs (mercifully this time without incident) and Claire was waving some fizzing sparklers, just for me.

2

Dearest Alex, on watching Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell

Dearest Alex

As you know we love rituals such as attending the SANFL grand final, hiking in the Onkaparinga National Park, and when on our annual trip to Barmera completing a late-afternoon lap of Lake Bonney. Rituals celebrate our past and give excitement and shape to our future.

But among these there’s been Wednesday nights watching Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell.

I had long enjoyed it and reckon you were about ten when you first joined me on the lounge. As one of the show’s characters (probably played by Tosh Greenslade in a wig and glasses) may have said, ‘Shaun, you’re never too young (not even at fourteen like you) to be introduced to searing political satire and viciously sharp comedic writing and acting in this bumbling, endlessly self-parodying nation of ours.’

I loved how you’d laugh about the characters who’d feature in that week’s episode. You’d often do your own impersonation of them, such as the Daily Telegraph’s sub-editor Chris Lorax with his pathetic defence of his ‘lamentable puns’ when he feebly says, ‘It’s just a bit of fun’ or at the close of a sketch as the fantastic Sir Bobo Gargle would holler, ‘Release the Kraken!’ or the traffic reporter in the helicopter would say, ‘I’m Lois Price for Mad As Hell.’

All of this you got which pleases me hugely. I think a sense of humour and keen awareness of human frailty are vital and already you have these in ample proportion. I loved how we’d laugh at the same jokes, at the same absurdities such as Darius Horsham, chomping on his cigar and scalding the host by saying, ‘Shaun, don’t be an economic girly-man.’

In anticipating the next episode you’d wonder aloud if there’d be another caricature of a BBC nature documentary such as the Polyamorous Self Pleasuring Gastropods of Bolivia or this one-

We’d also look forward to the increasingly surreal and self-referential spoof of Enid Swink. Your appreciation of the ridiculous was obvious when we’d laugh uncontrollably as the characters would attack each other with the lightening that’d come from out of their fingers. Among our favourite moments was Swink: Origin with all that the title alone says about the shamelessness of the rubbish that Hollywood is trying to sell us.

But you’re alert to this.

It’s an indicator of how significant Mad As Hell is for us that watching the news or driving around and hearing mention of the current Opposition Leader you’d immediately go into character of the spokesperson Brion Pegmatite and mutter the name, ‘Peter’ in that sneering, villainous way that was his Voldemort-like signature. He and the man that inspired him really do find it difficult to show empathy, compassion, or joy.

So, beyond the thirty minutes of mutual fun this provided I can tell that the show has given you much as a thinker and writer, an emerging citizen, and a talented drama student. It’s been a joy to share it with you.

It’s sad that it’s finished but as we know one of Micallef’s exquisite skills is his sense of timing and this is probably another example.

I know there’ll be more rituals to come for us, and I look forward to seeing what these might be.

Love Dad

Thanks to the ABC for both the show and these images.

5

Sausage Roll Review: The Goolwa Bakery

It’s a snaking and demanding ribbon of tar from Glenelg to Goolwa along and across the Hills and between the vines until the great arc of the Southern Ocean appears like a pale blue relief.

It was supposed to pour down but instead just spat with appalled apathy on my Korean car’s bonnet. I’ve the best part of three days overlooking Knight’s Beach to write and think and read for which I’m enormously grateful.

But I need to open my holiday with a sausage roll, as one should.

My now annual writing retreat is largely predicated on nostalgia and other investigations of the past so exiting the Southern Expressway and ignoring the radio I push in a CD on my hugely old-school car stereo.

The Eagles accompany me on my trip down to the gushing, green Fleurieu. Although my tiny brain is prejudiced happily to the past, I reckon they stand up well. It’d be easy to mock them as symbols of 70’s American excess but the songs and the musicianship are peerless. Eagles Live was enormous in my youth, and it might’ve had the be-jesus overdubbed out of it, but ‘Seven Bridges Road’ and its climbing harmonies still arrest me.

The Goolwa Bakery is located on a side street, and I was instantly smitten by the cosy interior. Some modern bakeries tend towards supermarket dimensions, to their consequent detriment. The atmosphere was also buoyed by a fishbowl in TV, sitting on a table near the door, as it always is in a rural baked goods emporium.

Ordering my $5 sausage roll my thoughts meandered towards Pulp Fiction’s Mia Wallace and her famous $5 shake, a speciality at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. Initially expressing disbelief Vincent Vega then takes a socially inappropriate sip and exclaims that it’s a ‘pretty expletive good milkshake!’

And so it was with my sausage roll.

Claiming a chair on the early afternoon footpath and withdrawing (careful now) the lunch from its brown bag it appeared as a freshly busted hunk of axe handle in both girth and approximation.

My first bite met with peppery whiffs and pleasantry. There was flaky, tasty pastry and it wasn’t sweaty which the medically alert among you will know is the biggest killer of over 55’s in this antipodean country.

Looking about my environs I note that the bakery shares premises with the Goolwa Health Centre and hope that all the kiddies reading now grasp the attendant irony.

The woman serving the baked grub was effervescent if somewhat resigned; I wondered about her life but not for long.

Munching on I was acutely aware of my enormous privilege as I was soon to drive to my beach accommodation. I’d be on a balcony with long, glorious hours in front of me.

Five quick minutes later I’d finished my lunch, scanned the surroundings, and pointed my motor west.

The Goolwa Bakery is over a century old. They know how to craft a sausage roll.

I’m unsure but they might even serve them (sauce if required) with ‘pink champagne on ice’ in the Hotel California.

0

You in the Garden

Bustling through the kitchen I’m delighted to hear music as the Billy Joel record would’ve finished twenty minutes ago when I was at the beach.

I’m instantly elated that you’ve put another album on the turntable. I want it to be your record player too. I want it to be a shared hobby. Music is such a rich part of our relationship, and with this simple, affirming act, you just composed another song.

Arriving on the patio is a scene from our movie and this one is shot from my point of view. The record is Supertramp’s Breakfast in America and I know you like them too. They are evocative of our teenage years. All the promise and the torture.

There’s been a whirl of activity with plants and prunings and dead stuff scattered on the lawn in piles. This is movingly symbolic. It’s our home and you’re invested. I love that this has happened while I’ve been elsewhere, during our mid-afternoon.

This is a quiet triumph. A minor, suburban miracle.

Then, of course, there’s you.

In your lovely hair, all tied in a ponytail, there’s bits of twigs and leaves. You’re in a simple, checked shirt and your (now) muddy jeans. You’re wearing black gardening gloves, and these are at once stylish and practical. The camera trails us around while overhead the festive clouds skip by. The water feature percolates away.

With their galloping piano and saxophone and catchiness Supertramp continues, at volume of course. You give me a tour of your horticultural achievements. This is boundlessly heartening and yet another big moment in our small, precious life.

And regularly during this episode you smile your smile. It’s so loving and pure and utterly perfect. I follow you about the garden across the lawn. Our anonymous space is now enchanted by care and devotion but mostly you.

This movie scene has been a magical, unforeseen gift.

Thank you, Claire Louise.

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Running up that Carrackalinga Hill

Claire and I trudge through the soft sand of the beach and then nurse a coffee at the village green. How daggily cool when from the barista’s van bursts, ‘The Pina Colada Song?’ Of course, I’m not into yoga but may have half a brain.

We’re in Carrackalinga with old friends. It’s Saturday morning and our day reaches out with electric possibility.

Planned equally with science and enthusiasm, my run’s to the Forktree Brewery and back to our accommodation. It’s my daily four kilometres. But up a hill.

How tough can it be?

Round, emerald knolls watch over Carrackalinga and making my way up the road a herd of sheep encourages my ambling by bleating in charitable ways. Last night’s pizza is now unwelcome ballast.

On the outskirts of town, a council election poster urges participation in this democratic event. Texas-sized utes and rattling 4WDs pass and some swerve away from me in vehicular acknowledgement of my ascent. Or not wishing to bloody their gleaming bull bars.

There’s several twists and the road’s undulating. Accustomed to the flat esplanade of Glenelg North, my thighs protest this topographical change to their jogging routine.

Finally, the brown tourist sign I’ve been seeking for excruciating minutes:

Forktree Brewery.

Despite being presently incapable of having a beer, I’ve never been so pleased to arrive at a brewery.

I’m soaked. My ears popped on the way up and my legs are so convinced of an alpine elevation that they expect a few twirling snowflakes.

A woman and her dog survey the beer garden. We exchange a few only-one-of-us-is-in-a-brewery words. With her hound marching her tree-ward she asks, ‘Where have you run from?’

Still in the carpark and puffing I reply, ‘Our holiday house back down the hill.’

She replies, ‘Awesome! Great job!’ Her husband appears with two pints. She’s an American but they live on Kangaroo Island. They both take a sip.

‘How’s the beer?’

‘Pretty good,’ they nod.

‘Lovely,’ I say, ‘We’re heading to Myponga later. Might go to the Smiling Samoyed Brewery.’ They both offer a glowing critique.

The brewery’s 151 metres above sea level. This might seem numerically unimpressive but having extracted a personal toll each of those demanding centimetres now generates a handsome reward.

Hands on hips, I drink in the wide vista up and down the Fleurieu coast. Gentle, green ranges. Sprawling white homes hugging the shore. A seaweedy tan smears the shallows and then the gulf deepens into a marine blue.

Tumbling down the hill. It’s almost controlled falling. Again, the vehicles are generous, and the sheep are softly supportive. A couple rotund blokes nod at me from a front lawn.

The cotton wool clouds loom as if they’re daubed on a God-sized canvas and although it’s mid-winter these pledge imminent awakening. Spring could almost be ready to say, ‘Boo!’

Our double story digs swim into sight and wondering what’s happening inside with Claire, my friends, and the boys, their past thirty minutes is unveiled: toast, hairdryers, and teenagers still in bunks.

I crunch up the gravel driveway.

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Tramping through Tanunda

David Franz Winery

My fifty-second consecutive day of jogging four kilometres begins at our Valley Hotel apartment. I cut through the beers garden (note plural: who has just one beer?) and consider how often I’ve run to, but never away from a pub.

Tanunda’s Murray Street is Barossa vine-zero and already enjoying pedestrian traffic with tourists and locals shuffling in and out of the coffee shops and bakeries. A community market’s on and the sun catches the golden varnished pine of trucks and steamrollers and assorted wooden toys.

Scurrying along Bilyara Road I recall that Wolf Blass has a shiraz named Bilyara. Us Kapunda folk used to frequent his winery and I wonder if Claire and I should invest a nostalgic hour but given that the Barossa now hosts one hundred and fifty cellar doors perhaps we should keep our visits to novel vinous venues.

It’s downhill past the Tanunda Oval which is being widened to accommodate (hopefully) SANFL footy and first-class cricket. A second, smaller oval for the kids is under development although the skyline’s disarmingly clear because many ancient trees were felled for this progress.

It’s just after eight on the Queen’s Birthday holiday so it’s effectively Sunday. A ute rumbles past with a dog hanging out the window.

Glancing over towards the wicket area I remember a Colts cricket game when I was fielding at very short leg as in thundered my mate Rocket. Already scary quick, in a few brisk years he’d be selected to play Sheffield Shield. The only helmets within the postcode were, I suspect, on the bonces of a bikie gang as they made their philanthropical way towards the pub.

The Tanunda batsman and I were shaking in equal measure, but it was worse for him as with trembling mitts he was attempting to keep hold of some dreadfully narrow willow. As the Kookaburra collected his head the crack was awful, preternaturally percussive, and he dropped to the concrete pitch, a flannelled tangle. Deeply concerned (well, as concerned as boys become regarding matters of physical safety), we rushed to his splayed self, and knew he was fine when he announced weakly, ‘You bastards.’

Now on Langmeil Road and pushing towards my halfway mark I’m taken by the wide, tree-lined boulevard and its handsome homes.

It’s crisp and mercifully still as the ferocious front of the previous week has absconded. According to Mum and Dad it plonked nearly five inches at their place on the Greenock side of Nuriootpa.

Approaching the brashly-monikered and tucked-away cellar door Riesling Freak, I vow to visit prior to the first Test against the Windies given that cricket and white wine seasons conflate. As the gleaming folk of HR might say, some useful synergies may then be generated.

I pull up puffing at Langmeil Wines where my wife marked a significant birthday. We all then traipsed, with purpled glasses in hand, to Peter Lehmann’s and the now defunct Richmond Grove wineries.

But today we’ll explore the Barossa Valley Estates and David Franz cellar doors. Given the affection with which we know the earthy and personal contours of this valley, I’m hoping for both wistful memory and shared discovery.

Barossa Valley Estates

I turn back towards the town centre.

On Fechner Drive (highly Barossan nomenclature) there’s a single vine on an empty block. It’s still smeared with shrivelled black dots and I wonder what happens with its annual fruit yield. Birds, possums, furtive backyard vignerons?

Across the road is a lemon tree bursting with confident blobs, already tennis ball-sized and auditioning for Van Gogh’s yellow period. Then there’s a pastoral counterpoint: an olden stone barn with rusting implements scattered about with the entire mise en scène evoking the original German settlement.

I notice a succession of peppercorn trees and recall the one a nine iron from my childhood home, where under its secretive branches was an enchanted space of games and invention. These, I decide, are the trees of innocence while surging, aspirational gums are for adults.

Nicking through the Tanunda Oval I recollect a rare win in my first year of senior footy for the Bombers. I wonder at the pronounced south to north slope of the ground. As a kid this escaped me.

On the canteen wall, the chalk on the Magpie menu blackboard shows hotdogs are $5 and this seems about right. In the clubrooms under the grandstand, I assume mettwurst and port remain available for the stalwarts.

I skirt the white terrace benches by the southern goal and remember dark, wintry afternoons as a kid scampering around in my footy boots. These silent symbols have been there forever and are redolent of all that’s nurturing and treasured about long past Saturdays.

My fourth and final kilometre concludes as I burst back through the Valley Hotel’s beer garden.

Random granite blocks (and man) at Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park
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A Butcher of Victorville Pale Ale at the Greenock Brewers

It was a perfect half hour.

We strolled in, exchanged greetings with mine hosts and were offered a beer. It was then that we learnt the nostalgic truth.

At the Greenock Brewers Chris and Lisa Higgins sell tremendous beers in bottles and on tap. And, most wonderfully, they can offer you a butcher of beer too.

In a world where the blind madness of upsized consumption has held us to ransom by making us believe we need more and bigger serves of everything from homes to cars to buckets of popcorn at the cinema, being served a beer in a 200ml glass is of great comfort and wistful joy.

Urban myth suggests the Newmarket Hotel in Adelaide first served a butcher of beer to workers from nearby cattle yards, and so the term entered the local vernacular.

Garden-fresh from lunch at the Greenock pub, Nick, Chrisso and I wandered through the shadows of Laucke’s flour mills having decided upon a quick visit and concluding refreshment.

I’m confident it was the first butcher I’d had this millennium. Most pubs no longer stock schooner or butcher glasses and therefore it’s a pint or you’re spitting feathers.

It was instantly the mid-1980s and I was being taught to pull a beer (along with old mate Davo) at the Kapunda Golf Club by Gus Higgins (who was Chris’s uncle). Suddenly all of us were far skinnier but had fatter hair. Allan Border was Australian cricket captain. There were Kingswoods parked outside too.

The Victorville Pale Ale is fiendishly easy to consume. It’s zesty and agreeable and sparkles with citrus notes. I also purchased a six pack for medical and research purposes. If it’d been an hour later, we might’ve dropped anchor and cancelled our evening plans and had a second butcher.

With this nostalgic tone set we spoke of our past, most notably Kapunda icon Skeeta and shared stories of his footy exploits and his drinking exploits and his drinking at footy exploits. Many of us associate Skeeta instantly with the Holden Torana, more particularly his being driven and then not being driven, largely as it frequently ended up in exotic places where a Torana shouldn’t be.

With the golden Barossa light bending across the brewery and through the windows we shared more stories and then it was time for Nick, Chrisso and I to point our non-Torana cars homewards.

I’d enjoyed the beer, and the company enormously. I couldn’t wait until the next time I’d drink a butcher.

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Vinyl Records for Velociraptors

My quest for nostalgic albums continues and I swing between Mr V Music of Semaphore and The Record Store in Warradale. Here’s some recent purchases and my meanderings on how these are autobiographically illustrative. That’s surely the purpose of music: to allow for and encourage personal connection.

I had much Billy Joel in my diet when I was young. Mum and Dad’s collection included his album 52nd Street which I enjoyed but The Stranger is his best record and features his finest song, ‘Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.’ Inspired by side two of the Beatles’ Abbey Road and its unbroken suite of songs I love how Billy Joel structures this narrative of doomed lovers Brenda and Eddie within the framing story of the old school friends dining together. There’s nostalgia and romance and Dixieland jazz and a great piano solo. It was among the first long songs (7minutes, 37 seconds) I got to know as well as Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 11 minute, ‘I Heard it Through The Grapevine.’ These are wonderful for losing myself in and allowing the narrative possibilities to unfold.

Certain artists are forever associated with particular people growing up and The Beach Boys remind me of Davo, who was in my year at school and lived up the street. He also had the vinyl of Dream Police by Cheap Trick, and we’d play that at huge volume when his folks were out. Claire and I featured, ‘I Can Hear Music’ at out wedding ceremony and many would agree that ‘God Only Knows’ is among the greatest love songs despite it not actually using rhyme but repetition with the second and third verses both having ‘me’ to end each of the eight lines. If I was imprisoned and forced to listen to one of those Pink FM-type radio stations and some cow-eyed poppet came on and wailed eight verse lines in a row that ended with an identical word I’d screech back with unholy bug-eyed salivation but such is the symphonic beauty of Brian Wilson’s melody that we accommodate his lyrical curiosity.

This record evokes my hometown of Kapunda when I was in Year 11. It takes me back to that summer and teenaged parties and driving around town in our old cars. I think of that New Year’s Eve at Stephen’s which, of course, was much anticipated, unlike now when these nights are mostly to be endured and midnight comes as a relief and at 12.01 one dives enthusiastically into the cot from the bedroom door. ‘It’s Raining Again’ is a sweet song that conjures both sadness and happiness and memories of dear old friends while the record’s finest tune, ‘Bonnie’ is built around an uplifting melody despite the lyrics being about a man stalking a famous actress, so no harm there. I just need a copy of Crime of the Century to complete my Supertramp set along with Crisis. What Crisis, Breakfast in America, and Even in the Quietest Moments.

Paul McCartney is my favourite Beatle and a woman I worked with taught his kids in St John’s Wood at their local school. She was utterly mad but I like that Paul and Linda didn’t send their offspring to some fox hunting snootery. Again, this record features his boyishly optimistic love song, ‘Listen to What the Man Said’ and we included it our wedding ceremony. The soprano saxophone solo makes it soar with pure joy. It’s redolent of London’s Hyde Park on a cloudless summer day.

One of jazz’s most significant texts, this double album runs for 93 minutes and is at once demanding, beautiful, and dangerous. Urban myth suggests Davis recorded it after being inspired by Hendrix’s famous guitar-on-fire set at Woodstock. It’s not one I often play when Claire’s home but I have made it part of Alex’s education and happily, he wasn’t horrified by it. One night last week during his daily bathroom residency I heard another Miles Davis album drifting from under the door so it’s good to know my parenting is now complete. Whew! I’m keen to also buy 1959’s Kind of Blue and John Coltrane’s saxophonic hymn, A Love Supreme.

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Our beloved school, Kapunda High

Word quickly escaped that a fire had ravaged our beloved Kapunda High on a Tuesday night in late March. It was awful and yet bought many together. As published in the local paper here’s my story.

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On Wednesday there was a pilgrimage to Kapunda High School, and its centrepiece, the mansion known as Eringa. People stared and shook their heads and became teary at the sight of the burned ruins.

One former student said to me that, ‘it was like someone has died.’ Indeed, the stunning structure around which the school has grown is like a much-loved old friend and main character in the town’s story. We embrace it dearly.

In our Kapunda group-chat my cousin Froggy praised the school saying, ‘Its aura and rich history have played a big part in many people’s lives.’ We all agreed.

When I began Year 8 it had less than a couple hundred students but was always at the town’s heart. It seemed snug. Even as gawky teenagers I think we realised it was special and would shape our lives for the best.

It still does.

Not purpose-built as a school, it was the residence of Sir Sidney Kidman, his wife, and children, and just like a family home, remains a source of deep pride for Kapunda. We had classes in what were servants’ quarters, high-ceiling bedrooms, and grand reception rooms with stained glass windows. It was wonderfully unique.

Every year, the prefects ran a week of lunchtime fundraising activities. A key attraction was a ghost experience in the tunnels running under the mansion. Can you imagine this happening now? Nobody was spooked but there was mischief and laughter in the darkness, and we’d emerge caked in thick dust and blinking at the sun, ready for more mayhem with Bunsen burners or hockey sticks.

My wife and I met in Year 8 and were only ever going to be married at our beloved school. The affection we hold for it, and the teachers and students with whom we shared the beautiful building and grounds meant we had to return to where it all began for us.

Our choice of wedding venue surprised some city guests who’d not ever visited Kapunda but then saw it’s no drab school. It’s a welcoming estate flanked by Moreton Bay Figs, rose gardens and a fetching sweep of lawn.

On our day last April, the setting was moving and picturesque, and this made Tuesday’s fire more devastating.

For those like me who moved away, a trip home always meant a slow lap of the town. You’d ease past the duck pond, Dutton Park (home of the Bombers), the Prince of Wales pub (there might be a car you recognise out the front) and Gundry’s Hill.

But you’d also drive to the high school, pause by the fence and smile at the view. I’m not sure other towns can make this claim. Even for those who went there our school is a tourist attraction.

Driving up up late Wednesday afternoon, we wanted not to merely witness the awful smouldering ruins, but to see friends and to grieve. This was never only about the building.

At the school we saw our treasured history teacher Paul McCarthy and his wife Kerry. There were handshakes and hugs. These were precisely the people we needed to see.

Later in the pub local icon Tolly remarked that it was, ‘like a wake.’ How terrible that Eringa, the showpiece of not only the school, but Kapunda itself, has suffered this? But those who’d come and congregated weren’t really at a wake. There’s already a rugged resolve that this dreadful event not be a final chapter. Following the equally devastating fire of 1902, Sidney and Isabel Kidman rebuilt their home.

For the thousands touched by Kapunda High, we’re hopeful that this happier side of history can be repeated.

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Record Recollections

In the wonderful High Fidelity the protagonist Rob Gordon and his disturbed employees Barry and Dick trade musical top fives at the record store, Championship Vinyl. Since Alex and myself were gifted a turntable at Christmas I’ve bought a dozen or so second-hand albums and my personal top five follows (from the beginning of 2022).

Of course this is entirely an exercise in yoofy nostalgia so has been limited to music from my adolescence. I’ve decided that if an album’s from a time when I could vote, then I won’t buy it!

On state election day I went to a record fair and wandering about the tables and crates of vinyl I thought, gee what am I doing here? There’s only middle-aged and old blokes here, all nattering about rare B-sides and European pressings of obscure collectables. Then I thought, oh, hang on…

5. On a distant Sunday evening during Countdown Molly once slurred, ‘Boz is the buzz’ or something like this. Great 70’s songs, and it has an intriguing cover with a coquettish Boz on a bench at Casino Point, south of LA avoiding an assertive female mitt. Many of the songs would’ve been played on 5KA and 5AD. I probably tried to record one live from the radio onto my little cassette recorder (when it wasn’t playing the best of Little River Band) and guess that it was, ‘Lido Shuffle.’ No, I still have no idea what this song title means.
4. A school mate’s brother had this and as teenagers we’d play it while flat on the floor in his parents’ darkened lounge room, initially mocking its jazzy, beat poetry stylings. Old friend Stephen once said that it only belonged in a ‘peace room.’ And then like kids with glazed-eyes like extras in a horror-film we were lured into its world, for ever (It’s no good Jim, they’re gone). Probably not one to play at a Sunday barbeque though.
3. Another album I discovered through an older friend. I knew the artist courtesy of his work in Steely Dan and this was similarly slick with its flawless musicianship and spiky tales about life in that most foreign of lands, America. Driving about dusty Kapunda in a green Gemini we’d play air cowbell to ‘New Frontier’ as I imagine all the cool skinny kids did in the summer of ’83.
2. Ahh, Skyhooks. At the time I knew little about Melbourne but liked that there were songs about it. People usually seemed to sing only about New York, California and London, and Skyhooks made me curious about Carlton, Balwyn and Toorak. Living in the 70’s was their debut but I preferred Ego is not a dirty word. I insisted on ‘All My Friends Are Getting Married’ for our own wedding. Yeah, funny. I know.
1. Probably the most famous live album and with ample reason. There’s great songs and through the clever sequencing the mood and narrative are beautifully controlled. ‘Play Me’ is a sublime song and, ‘You are the sun, I am the moon/ You are the words, I am the tune / Play me’ are lyrical poignancy. Just before his last tour I thought given that I’d not seen Neil in concert I should get a ticket to his Adelaide Entertainment Centre concert. Within days he announced that due to health concerns he’d be retiring from performing, immediately. Poo. Not just an album but a cultural artefact. Good lord!

Honourable mentions- Late for the Sky by Jackson Browne, Glen Campbell’s Greatest Hits, and Beggars Banquet (NB- no possessive apostrophe) by the Rolling Stones.