Yule Fever (With Apologies To The King's Minstrel)
I must go down to the shops again, to the crowded shops go I
And all I have is a long list of the gifts that I must buy,
And a few bob in the old kick and a mere spot of credit;
For he'll trust me, so the boss said, but I hate the way he said it.
I must go down to the shops again, for the call of Christmastide
Is a stern call and a hard call that may not be denied.
And all I ask is a fair choice at reasonable prices
And a hard heart for bland blokes with blandishing devices.
I must go down to the shops again. There's gifts for Mum and Dad
And Jim's gift and Joe's gift and toy for Peter's lad.
Then all I want are gloves for Clare? And June? I'll send her roses,
And - who's next? The list says - I've lost it! Holy Moses!
But I must go down to the shops again, to the shops and the milling crowd
On a hot day and a fierce day when the skies know ne'er a cloud;
And all I ask is a fair spin 'mid the masses overheating
And the loud bawl of the bored babe, and the toy drums beating.
I must go down to the shops again, for I would be counted still
With the kind ./.. of the free hand in this season of goodwill;
And all I ask is a stout heart to carry on undaunted
While we scour town for the salt-pot that we know Aunt Annie wanted.
I must go down to the shops again, for they'll ply me, sure as fate
With the pink tie and the puce sock, and I must reciprocate.
But all I ask is a long seat when the weary trek is finished
And enough left for the Yule feast ere the bank-roll be dimished.
'Bosses Don'T Seem Right' - A Christmas Monologue
The thing's all wrong (I sez to ‘im)
Now look, there's this ‘ere Monday, Jim,
Comes before Christmas. Be a toff
An' lest us ‘ave the Monday off.
‘E ‘ums an' ‘ars. An' then he's got
To talk a lot of silly rot
Abut ‘ow business binds a man;
An' ‘e don't quite see ‘ow ‘e can
Afford to give me Monday in,
Seein' he'll lose a lot of tin
Under our capit'listic plan
Which sort of binds a business man
‘Lest his competitors was bound
To give the Monday all around.
If but (‘e sez) they would agree
To let the trade ‘ave Monday free
Then ‘e would do it. There you are!
Shows ‘ow Democracy's a bar.
It's competition, don't you see,
That robs a man of liberty.
But, under Socialism . . . Wot?
Now, listen, I ain't talkin' rot.
I know that ‘e's me boss. But look,
Our scheme of Gover'ment's all crook.
Now, under Socialism, see,
If I said, 'I want Monday free!'
Why, under right conditions, then,
They'd treat their men like they was men;
An' seein' it was Christmas week,
We would n't ‘ave to go an' seek
No favors. We'd just tell ‘em flat:
'We're takin' Monday; an' that's that!'
Wot? Bosses? . . . Well, I s'pose there'd be
This, wot you call, Bureaucracy.
To rule us. Yes; per'aps there might;
An' as you say, it don't seem right
That they should want to boss a man . . . .
But wot about his Fascist plan?
Now, under that, we'd say, 'look ‘ere
Us fellers wants this Monday clear.'
An', bein' reasonable like,
Blokes would n't ‘ave to call a strike
To get their way . . . . Well, I suppose
There's be Dictators - coves like those
To fed a coot on castor oil
If they decided not to toil
On Monday. That seems pretty tough,
All systems seems to treat men rough.
To this green place the tourists troop,
By twos, by threes, and group by group,
Lads in bright blazers, girls in slacks,
Hikers with rucksack on their backs.
And bush ways, till their advent stilled,
With joyous shouting now is filled
'Cooee!' each gay town-dweller cries,
And counts himself full forest wise.
An old grey bushman lounging by
Marks the sophisticated cry
And smiles a little as he says,
'The city folk got real queer ways.
What's this here 'cooee' mean at all?
Seems like a kind of mating call.
Childish they seem.' He smiles again,
The wise one in his own domain.
Here's his revenge for all he meets
Of stares and smiles in city streets,
For ridicule and laughing snubs
By city paths and city pubs.
He deems it now the crowning joke
To 'pull the legs' of city folk.
'What? Snakes?' says he. 'By gosh, you're right.
It's days like this they're apt to fight.'
So moves the pageantry today
By many a pleasant bushland way,
And laughing crowds wake merriment
Where once, mid silences there went
Some wandering band of blacks, to seek,
Their scanty fare by hill and creek,
Less than ten score of years ago.
And of the future? Who may know.
Content amid this Christmas scene
Of gleaming sky and glowing green
And happy shouts, one well might pray
For even yet some happier day
When, growing saner, kindlier still,
May devise, by wooded hill
And shaded vale, some scene of mirth
As yet unvisioned on our eath.
Is it for this our feet are set,
While war and folly men forget?
Orm ust this land drift back again
To primal silence, making vain
All that our vaunted progress won?
Who knows? Who cares? Here is the sun!
Glad youth calls youth by hill and creek. . . .
These are no thoughts for Christmas week.
A Bush Christmas
The sun burns hotly thro' the gums
As down the road old Rogan comes
The hatter from the lonely hut
Beside the track to Woollybutt.
He likes to spend his Christmas with us here.
He says a man gets sort of strange
Living alone without a change,
Gets sort of settled in his way;
And so he comes each Christmas day
To share a bite of tucker and a beer.
Dad and the boys have nought to do,
Except a stray odd job or two.
Along the fence or in the yard,
'It ain't a day for workin' hard.'
Says Dad. 'One day a year don't matter much.'
And then dishevelled, hot and red,
Mum, thro' the doorway puts her head
And says, 'This Christmas cooking, My!
The sun's near fit for cooking by.'
Upon her word she never did see such.
Your fault,' says Dad, 'you know it is.
Plum puddin'! on a day like this,
And roasted turkeys! Spare me days,
I can't get over women's ways.
In climates such as this the thing's all wrong.
A bit of cold corned beef an' bread
Would do us very well instead.'
Then Rogan said, 'You're right; it's hot.
It makes a feller drink a lot.'
And Dad gets up and says, 'Well, come along.'
The dinner's served - full bite and sup.
'Come on,' says Mum, 'Now all sit up.'
The meal takes on a festive air;
And even father eats his share
And passes up his plate to have some more.
He laughs and says it's Christmas time,
'That's cookin', Mum. The stuffin's prime.'
But Rogan pauses once to praise,
Then eats as tho' he'd starved for days.
And pitches turkey bones outside the door.
The sun burns hotly thro' the gums,
The chirping of the locusts comes
Across the paddocks, parched and grey.
'Whew!' wheezes Father. 'What a day!'
And sheds his vest. For coats no man had need.
Then Rogan shoves his plate aside
And sighs, as sated men have sighed,
At many boards in many climes
On many other Christmas times.
'By gum!' he says, 'That was a slap-up feed!'
Then, with his black pipe well alight,
Old Rogan brings the kids delight
By telling o'er again his yarns
Of Christmas tide 'mid English barns
When he was, long ago, a farmer's boy.
His old eyes glisten as he sees
Half glimpses of old memories,
Of whitened fields and winter snows,
And yuletide logs and mistletoes,
And all that half-forgotten, hallowed joy.
The children listen, mouths agape,
And see a land with no escape
Fro biting cold and snow and frost
A land to all earth's brightness lost,
A strange and freakish Christmas land to them.
But Rogan, with his dim old eyes
Grown far away and strangely wise
Talks on; and pauses but to ask
'Ain't there a dropp more in that cask?'
And father nods; but Mother says 'Ahem!'
The sun slants redly thro' the gums
As quietly the evening comes,
And Rogan gets his old grey mare,
That matches well his own grey hair,
And rides away into the setting sun.
'Ah, well,' says Dad. 'I got to say
I never spent a lazier day.
We ought to get that top fence wired.'
'My!' sighs poor Mum. 'But I am tired!
An' all that washing up still to be done.'