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a biscuit, a pie and a lost tooth

tape

When I was a boy there was a holy trinity of biscuits.

Bush Biscuits were summer afternoons at the Kapunda Swimming Pool. Skinny and brown as nuts we’d munch these while listening to Australian Crawl on someone’s cassette player. No doubt a TDK C-90 tape. These biscuits were impossibly bland- it was as if scientists had extracted their flavour in a hidden lab. If it rained you could shelter under one for they had the surface area of a picnic blanket. I still don’t know why we held such affection for them.

Then there was the Rolls Royce. The Iced Vo-Vo. Sweet and stylish, with desiccated coconut and pink fondant and strawberry jam these represent those moments of wholesome joy that punctuate childhood. These remain the anti- Milk Arrowroot; the biscuit that shouldn’t exist.

And then there’s the Salada. It’s a plain cracker that’s lasted. Forget the wholemeal or light versions. Go the original. Just as they come, or with butter, or cheese. Best of all, with vegemite, made into a sandwich so you can squeeze them together and make little brown worms. For me these are primary school and sharing these with old mate Greggy at recess before running up to the tiny oval and dobbing the footy.

And in a week of petite milestones, our boys have discovered the Salada. I’m just a little bit pleased and the memories evoked by this dry biscuit, again probably a culinary mystery, have sprinkled my week with nostalgia. When their mum went shopping last Sunday their hysteria was obvious.

“Mum, get Saladas!”

“No! Two packets,” demanded the other.

Later, I pinched one for myself and it was Abba and Grease and the Sturt Footy Club and the Jumbo Prince and Happy Days on the tele.

*

While the wife was buying these dry crackers on Sunday the boys and I wandered up to Semaphore. It is a vibrant, eclectic village, possessing the best strip in Adelaide, and we happened upon the Semaphore Bakehouse for lunch. Our next moment of celebration then occurred as we sat at an outside table and devoured our pies.

As the punters and their dogs and the shuffling folks drifted past us boys sat there and worked away at our food and it was fun. How Australian, I thought, to enjoy a steaming pie of a sunny, June morning? As tradition dictates Max removed the lid- he prefers deconstruction as his modus operandi for interrogating his world, while Alex applied himself with messy vigour to the challenge. It was wonderful.

There was but one injury. Burnt roof of mouth to their Dad.

*

It was threatening for some time. Then on Thursday it happened. Max lost a front tooth. And with this his face is forever changed, destined to march to an adulthood of deepened voice and hardening cheeks and the loss of innocence that every parent dreads.

Of course it mattered little to him, but he enjoyed the healthy handful of coins left by the Tooth Fairy, and as we set off for school this morning these were clinking away in his pocket.

Winter has rushed upon us this last week. But as we move through our routines these biscuits and pies and a tiny tooth have allowed some golden rays to bend down towards us.

As it’s Friday, I might treat myself to an Iced Vo Vo.

biscuit

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DK Lillee, the Jumbo Prince, and that Young Mum at the Checkout

abba

This boy bought some fried chicken. YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!

Share if you wear shoes!

Ten ways Internet cat videos are making you a zombie!

We know social media can be a torrent of infantile noise. But I recently found a quiet raindrop in the form of a story.

The author was at a supermarket checkout, harassed by shopping and kids. Suburban drudgery. The English poet Philip Larkin might’ve been right in “Dockery and Son”

Life is first boredom, then fear.
Whether or not we use it, it goes

An elderly woman saw her frustration, and offered support before saying, “You know what? I loved being a mother, and enjoyed every minute.”

Enjoyed every minute? Really? Utter rubbish, the writer barked. Dwelling upon her experiences, she knew, of course, that parenting could be dreadful. Excruciating. But, in those reflective moments after the kids were asleep, she loved having parented.

Is this the defining distillation of adulthood? That life becomes gratifying only in retrospect. That we find our satisfaction in the past tense, in having transacted, having accomplished? For kids life is mostly present tense, as it should be. But moving from present to past is hard.

I remind myself to splash about in the moment.

*

My first SANFL game. I was at a friend’s when Dad picked me up late morning, and we went to the 1976 Grand Final at Footy Park between hot fancy Port and Sturt. The attendance was 66,897, but anecdotally, closer to eighty.

I was among the hundreds sitting on the grass, between the fence and the boundary. It was three and four deep, and arguably like sticking your kids on the roof of the XY Falcon while you drove interstate. But it wasn’t frightening; it was a Match Day Experience.

Sturt ruckman Rick Davies hypnotised me. The Jumbo Prince. He defeated Port and his performance yielded statistics that, forty years on, in this era of high disposals, are astonishing

21 kicks, 21 handballs, 15 marks and 21 hitouts.

At the siren, I scampered onto the ground, and patted Davies, a gigantic double-blue fridge. It was an IMAX moment alongside the coat-hanger-as-antennae B&W footage of my childhood.

The afternoon gave me much: league football, a big event, and the irresistible rush of crowds. In taking me from our little home, it painted a vivid vista of possibility.

Thanks, Dad.

*

On a searing Singaporean day, we watched the 2014 AFL Grand Final, and our seven year-old Alex is now on the Hawks. The Crows have plummeted to number two, and are mostly forgotten like all those number two songs on Countdown when Abba’s “Fernando” was top of the pops for fourteen weeks.

Do you remember, in the latter epoch of its reign when Molly decided to not show the whole video clip because the entire country was ill of its Eurovision-inspired confectionary and communicable melodies? “Fernando” had, in a Sunday night televisual sense, finally faced its Waterloo.

If Tex’s Crows are good enough they’ll give him some moments, and win him back. While Hawthorn keeps winning flags, Alex might never return. Happy with the Happy Team, he could be an Abba fan forever.

As a young fella, the boys’ cousin Dylan changed the team he supported three times in three seasons, until with wardrobe space, cash and patience running out, his mum threatened that she’d never buy him another footy jumper. He’s finally a loyal supporter. Mums have this power. And now he has the Power.

*

We’re at the scoreboard end. Like an Arctic ice floe, there’s foam eskies everywhere. I doubt any sunscreen was applied. Those droopy white hats, worn by Arthur Dunger on the Paul Hogan Show, flopped all about on that sloping hill.

My first Adelaide Oval experience was with Dad at an Ashes Test. It was Australia Day, 1975, after the first day washout. Our captain, Ian Chappell, was caught behind for a third-ball duck. His brother scraped to five. But feisty swinging from Jenner, Walker, Lillee and Mallett got us to three hundred, just shy of stumps.

It was nearly six, and the ground announcer confirmed the English openers Amiss and Lloyd would face two overs.

The first from DK Lillee.

The second from JR Thompson.

A pyroclastic flow of noise instantly buried the outer and the ancient grandstands named for Sir Edwin Smith and George Giffen. I was happily pulverised, and it was apocalyptic and baptismal.

With only eight deliveries each, Chappell unleashed both. Lillee, with his Hellenistic menace, and then Thompson’s Wild West gun slinging. Majesty and volatility, both presenting as terror.

The crowd commotion was now medieval village riot, the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park, and a rapidly unhinging Neapolitan wedding.

How could this not shape a small country boy? Thanks for this too, Dad.

That the batsmen survived mattered little. The next day Lillee took a wicket with the morning’s third ball, as he and Thompson seized seven victims. England was done.

*

These were my introductions to widescreen sport. How could I have had better? I can’t wait to offer Alex and Max this gift; this tormenting, ageless, rewarding gift.

It’s time for them to catch some moments of their own.

DK