Thursday 31 August 2006

'Twas Mulga Bill

Got back in touch with an old friend from down under today. He pointed me towards his blog and blogs being blogs it seemed like the thing to do to link to it. It was funny reading through some of the things he wrote, though, as they seemed to chime with some thoughts that had been developing in my head for a few days.

Like many thoughts, I'm convinced they're not original but as Pete points out they are mine and no-one else will have had them in exactly the same way. But I'm rambling again. The thing is that so much in life these days just scoots past and becomes part of the general mish-mash that is the past. The past becomes an abstract-expressionist wash of colour and shape. Emotions cast their hues over the landscape of past events.

So much of what happens is destined to become another colourful highlight on this canvas, but it's nice from time to time to have sections that are brought sharply into focus. They become the points of reality around which the landscape is formed. Viewed through the long lens of history some seem funny, some just plain bewildering, others poignant and the rest all have their own meaning and effect.

So what? So I'll put some more stuff on this blog, post some more photos, drag up some more memories and record some more humdrum details until I get bored again. Another snapshot of snapshots. Maybe someone will read it this time.

'Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk who caught the cycling craze
He turned aside the good old horse that served him many days
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, respledent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine.
And as he wheeled it through the door with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said "Excuse me, can you ride?"
"See here, young man," said Mulga Bill, "from Walgett to the sea,
From Conroy's Gap to Castlereagh there's none can ride like me.

"I'm good all round at everything, as everybody knows
Although I'm not the one to talk - I hate a man who blows -
But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wild cat can it fight.
There's nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel
There's nothing walks or jumps or runs on axle, hoof or wheel
But what I'll sit, while hide will hold, and girths and straps are tight.
I'll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight."

'Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk who sought his own abode
That lies above the Dead Man's Creek, along the mountain road.
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
But ere he'd gone a dozen yard, it bolted clean away.
It left the track, and through the trees just like a silver streak
It whistled down the awful slope, towards the Dead Man's Creek.

It shaved a stump by half an inch; it dodged a big White Box.
The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling down the rocks.
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
But Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.
It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree.
It raced beside a precipice as close as close can be.
And then, as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek,
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dead Man's Creek.

'Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk who slowly swam ashore.
He said, "I've had some narrer shaves and lively rides before.
I've rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five-pound bet,
But this was sure the derndest ride that I've encountered yet.
I'll give this two-wheeled outlaw best: it's shaken all my nerve
To feel it whistle through the air and plunge, and buck, and swerve.
It's safe at rest in Dead Man's Creek - I'll leave it lying still
A horse's back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill.

A.B. ("Banjo") Paterson, 1864-1941