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An albatross swan song – Verse 7: The Last Tango in Yanjing and a Weird Dairy lunch…

An albatross swan song
Verse 7: The Last Tango in Yanjing and a Weird Dairy lunch…


The cab dropped Pumpkin and me right outside Mona’s flat. The doubledheadedelephants had kicked in and I felt tingles in my toes again, so expectations were high. Pumpkin was excited. It was all good.

Mona welcomed us both with nie hao/s and hugs then escorted us towards the back room as the girls chattered in crescendo. I wondered why the girls where getting excited but then I got distracted – by now the room was humming harder. I tried to do cartwheels across the floor – but I can’t do cartwheels – so I hopped up and down on one leg.

It was at that point Mona and Pumpkin decided it best to redirect me to the lounge room where Mona introduced me to some of her ghosts. I had no idea that for yonks we’d been hanging out in a ghost house. All that sturdy functional old junk was a museum of ghosts.

But one piece of junk had been overlooked for many years: the shy but egotistical Mr Tango.

Mona and Pumpkin left me with the ghosts while they returned to the back room; they were going to teach an old bugger to dance (I think that’s what they said). I kept on hopping, hoping that soon I would exercise my free will and do something else. My leg was starting to ache like mad but my toes were doing fine.

Madam Ming, the ghostly chair came to my rescue: she slid behind me and invited me to rest my weary leg; adding that I was most pathetic life form she had seen since some guy named Big Iron used to frequent her rooms to practise his poetry. She then muttered something about Vogons and Empresses.

It was then I realised this 42 grade doubleheadedgoldenelephant shit was the real McCoy. My brain cell exploded as the ghosts appeared; or was it: as the ghosts appeared and my brain cell exploded. Sometimes dialectics is simply a matter of timing – the problem then becomes one of recall – which in this particular case was out of the question.

Time became nothing as the ghosts introduced themselves one by one and all at once. They chattered like crazy and began telling me all sorts of interesting things they had seen over the centuries.

And then out of the blue Kathy Farrelly roared into the lounge room driving the Potomac while reciting Ode for a Greek named Ern; Beauty is truth, truth beauty…


“Dive in Jus, and we’ll get back to lunch.” said Kath in a crystal clear voice. So I did. Kath then explained three things to me: I was a goose. I had walked out on our lunch after paying for the adjacent table. And I looked totally ridiculous when I fell over as I waddled out of the restaurant. Kath laughed her head off.

All of a sudden Alan Curran appeared in the back seat and was growing very big. He said to Kath while he munched on a very colourful mushroom, “I bet that Greek Ern bloke is a member of the Society Of Dirty Old Men – hahahahaha.”

Kath, as quick as a flash, turned around and kicked him around his analgram. He became small again.

The drive back to the restaurant seemed like eternity (Alan refused to share his mushroom), but we eventually arrived.

Fiona Reynolds welcomed us at the entrance and suggested I find my spectacles. I had no idea why she was concerned with such. It must be the editor in her I thought; besides, she knew I always forgot my specs. Anyway I was in a hurry to catch up with all my faceless friends. Fiona got back to her editing.

We entered the restaurant to see the Weird Dairy crew mooing about eating Peking Duck and Possum Fish, drinking Yanjing beer and looking wonderfully weird. But they all looked happy; actually they were laughing and chatting openly. The customers at the adjacent table were all smiling and thanking me for my earlier generosity: “Xie xie da bizi.” they said one by one.

“Thanks for the lift Kath, how weird is this? I thought our lunch was just a dream,” I said as we walked up to the table. Kath laughed and said, “Wait till you meet Eliot."

And I did.

I looked at Eliot all dressed up in his Mao Zedong T-shirt as he gazed back at me with a frozen yet sinister grin that made me feel REALLY uncomfortable. Paranoia hit me like a brick, so I hopped up and down on one leg. I asked Kath if we were in the correct fairytale. Kath checked at the front desk, came back and assured me we were in my fairytale and not Malice in Wonderland.

OK everything was good, so I drank something but can’t recall what. It was green; it must have been because John Pratt gave it me. It tasted great and I asked him for another. John said I’d have to hold my breath for three minutes between drinks to contra the carbon it took to produce the drink I had just drank. I asked him for a red.

Then I looked up and saw Ian MacDougall and Jenny Hume standing on the table shearing, sheep; the sheep were singing: “this wool was my wool, now this wool is your wool” over and over and over again; but they did harmonise.

I sat there and looked at all the words they wrote for Webdiary; most of the words – OK, the “ands” and “ifs” and “buts”. But I can remember who they were and what they stood for. I can remember enjoying the way they wrote and what they wrote about, and our light hearted moments – which I enjoyed most of all.

After a bit, Jenny, with the sweetest of smiles, floated towards me and said, “Hiya Justin,” then she kicked me in the shin.

“That’s for writing all that dead animal stuff in your stupid fairytale,” she said.

“But Jenny, I haven’t written the bloody thing yet,” I complained.

“Sometimes dialectical fairytales are a matter of timing, m’dear,” Jenny said straight back at me (mmmm noted). But I was not going to let that stop me from having a good time. My shin hurt like mad but everything was good.

Then Craig Rowley wandered in with a very big book and plonked it on the table. It was a present for Eliot: The Concise Dialectical Transcendental Translation Thingy for Dummies (and Call Centre Operators). Eliot was chuffed and gave Craig a copy of his Green Left Weekly or Hustler or a book about dietary supplements, I’m not sure which. Craig was chuffed too, then hurriedly stuffed the mag in his back pocket and wandered off and confessed to dear Father Park.

Things became more colourful when a toy train puffed in from the ceiling and Casey Jonesed up to the table. Craig Warton jumped out wearing a Nazi uniform (with eye patch), then promptly identified every badge and insignia on his uniform, what it did and how many people it could kill. He also carried a suspicious looking suitcase, but I knew Craig was a good bloke; he would never leave a party early - sans valise.

In the mean time Marilyn Shepherd was busy liberating a bowl of dumplings that ran happily across the table border and landed upon the soft carpet. Everyone cheered as the cute little dumplings ran to freedom. Solomon Wakeling burst into song and uplifted us all with his eloquent and picturesque sounds and syllables of decency and humanity.

David Roffey climbed upon the table and read out a whole lot of transactions nobody could understand; we all agreed they must have been the half time score and cheered, nevertheless it was good to hear from him.

By now Roger Fedyk, Ian MacDougall and Richard Tonkin were jamming like crazy, the house was on fire; Phil Kendall joined in by keeping the beat – in his usual code, which was lost on everybody because we had no idea how to decode his code, so we just looked at it and hummed to the beat – boom boom – clack clack – clack boom – boom clack:

--- -. . / - .-- --- / -.-- .. -. --. / -.-- .- -. --. / --- -. . / - .-- --- / -.-- .. -. --. / -.-- .- -. --. / --- -. . / - .-- --- / -.-- .. -. --. / -.-- .- -. --. / --- -. . / - .-- --- / -.-- .. -. --. / -.-- .- -. --. / --- -. . / - .-- --- / -.-- .. -. --. / -.-- .- -. --. / --- -. . / - .-- --- / -.-- .. -. --. / -.-- .- -. --.

Nevertheless Phil’s primeval code looked amazing as the dots and dashes exploded into daffodils and frolicked phonetically upon the ceiling. It was great; the crowd called out for more as the ceiling flew away – then all the daffodils drifted to the heavens above where they danced like a thousand Van Goghs on a starry night. It looked magnificent.

In a flash a whole bunch of students served up their homework. We ate it all and asked for dessert, but all at once their iPhones rang and off they went to play - or work because the poor little buggers were having a HECS of a time.

Geoff Pahoff turned up wearing only an American flag and mumbled something about not being able to find a scotch. Malcolm B Duncan popped up and said, “Yours aye, laddie.” Geoff immediately tipped Malcolm on his head, emptied him into a pint glass and enjoyed his scotch, without the rocks but with bow and kilt. Claude appeared out of nowhere, grabbed Geoff’s flag and pissed off real quick while mumbling something about a rebel culinary.

It all happened so quickly I almost missed it. Marilyn then tried to liberate another couple of dumplings but Geoff wouldn’t have a bar of it. Marilyn called him a piker and then passed Geoff a fig leaf. Fortunately it was a red white and blue fig leaf so Geoff was most grateful. So was everybody else.

Harry Heidelberg skiied all the way from the Alps with cold beers for everybody – or photographs of cold beers. We drank them anyway. Geoff wanted another scotch. Ian MacDougall didn’t say a word.

We all got distracted when Ernest Graham stood up and exclaimed, “Finally!” Ernie then presented his trophy: John Winston Howard’s head on a silver platter, with bits of JWH’s best mate from Texas on the side. We all tried the dish but agreed that the man of steel was a bit overdone except Bob Wall who made a feast of Ern’s dish and asked for more.

Next to pop out of the ether was an ark captained by Andrew Glikson. Andrew christened the ark: CO2 - 387 ppm; CO2+CH4 >450 ppm equivalent. The ark was decorated with lots of colourful drawings and graphs. It looked magnificent. We all climbed aboard CO2 - 387 ppm; CO2+CH4 >450 ppm equivalent and went sailing around and around. We had a wonderful time even if we had no idea what we were really sailing in or whether it was seaworthy; so we took Andrew’s word for it and held our breath for three minutes just to be sure. John Pratt held his breath for six minutes because I didn’t know how to hold my breath. I thought that was good of him.

Paul Morrella was standing at the ark’s stern while denying we were sailing in an ark, rather an economy. Paul then recited a beautiful speech convincing us that democracy was the root of all evil. No one disagreed so we erected him Boss of the World. Which was a good thing for Paul immediately abdicated from his democratically elected position and reinstated himself as dictator. Which was also good for no one else was in a fit state to govern or vote for anything – not even New South Wales or Wollongong shire.

It all became a bit too much for me so I hopped towards the dunny for a rest, but not before feeling something soft underfoot. I looked down and thought: oh dear, those cute little dumplings now look like Jackson Pollocks.

Marilyn came to their rescue in the form of Tinkerbell. She fluttered her way over to where I was hopping and bashed me over the head with her magic wand until all the Jackson Pollocks turned into six million tiny pumpkins. Marilyn then waved her magic wand in the air (finally) and six million golden coaches appeared and whisked the pumpkins away to safety. I had absolutely no idea how she did it but it looked fantastic. It was also a lot cheaper than the Pacific Solution.

I eventually found the dunny and locked myself inside a cubicle; usually a safe place for a wee rest and some peace and quiet.

Next: The Weird Dairy dialectical long lunch continues……….and Pumpkin meets her Ghost.


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Quality not quantity!

 Great bod, Geoff!

 Shame about the dick!

Richard: Oi!


How do you make a Grecian earn?

Geoff's contribution reminds of me of doing the "nature boy" bit when I was a little kid, out side under the sprinkler on a hot day.

"You better look out", my Nana would warn, with just the hint of a twinkle  in the eye to belie the mock severity,

 "or a black bird will come along and peck it off..."

Leaf it alone

As you can tell from this recent photograph of me, while I regret the loss of the flag, my only objection to the fig leaf was where she was planning to stick the pin.

And before anybody comes up with some smartarsed comment, I point out the  photo was taken just as I had emerged from my routine early morning swim in the Tweed river and the water was very very cold.



"Im just mad about..."

Banana skins, Justin

Banana skins.


Yes, an enormous amount should be said for oxtail, stewed/braised/casseroled, or soup.

My late Dad used to do a version and I agree it's seventh heaven.

My theory about the issue of substance underlying your post, Justin, is that people are in a frame of mind very similar to the late nineties, when the Howard government was still young.

Howard's defining moment came, I reckon, when he dealt with the Bryant  Port Arthur tragedy and also had the wit to not tarry too late over East Timor.

Likewise, Rudd has established himself. His moment came by way of Malcolm Turnbull's rash pusuit concerning Utegate-all Turnbull succeeded in doing was making Rudd look like a victim of foul politics and Rudd, who is the authentic heir to Howard, showed the same canniness of an instinctive political figure, in the way he played that situation over that week. 

So the public is "relaxed and comfortable" and it will take a while for the weaknesses of Labor to come through, same as happened with the preceding government, especially when the current opposition is  as dysfunctional as Labor was during its decade in the wilderness.

Which is a shame, when you think about it. Poor opposition creates lazy government and Labor should no more be afforded relief from scrutiny than the previous lot and for exactly the same reason,as history has proved.

Cheers Jenny and the good looking one

Hi Jenny, how wonderful to hear from you again; I trust you and the good looking one are doing fine and good to hear you have finished your book. I’d love to write a book but I really don’t have the skills to do it; for me it’s easier just to write silly stuff.

I checked out Ian’s Rainbow Serpent thingie but didn’t read it. Sadly I am a climate change dunce (along with just about everything else) and have no idea who has got it right, who thinks they have got it right or whether it is all an inconvenient fairy tale. I’ll leave it to the experts and hope that all will be well. Let’s hope the experts re climate are more competent than our economic experts hey.

The Web Diary experience was an interesting one, an enjoyable and informative one. It gave us the opportunity to communicate, agree, disagree and sometimes compromise. It also gave us the opportunity to connect with human beings all over the show and share. The internet is a wonderful medium.

When one sits and meditates about WD many names pop into my mind. Many of those names/contributors have written stuff I thoroughly enjoyed, stuff that was written with reason, sincerity and purpose; like Paul Walter’s contributions, Anthony Nolan’s and many who have disappeared into the ether such as John Costigan, Mark Ross and Will Howard to mention just a few.

I remember reading a comment by Will quite a while ago stating he was retiring from the blogging thing for he had written just about all he had to share, or words to that effect. I feel the same and don’t have much more to say that I haven’t already said; anyway listening/reading is far more an education than talking.

Anyway Jenny I been cooking a big pot of oxtail soup (a favourite) and it is ready for my attention; as I am rather hungry I will bid you farewell and wish you and the good looking one a wonderful future.

PS. Paul, albatrosses are not into sniffing Petrels old mate – it would be bit like human beings sniffing monkeys don’t you think? But you will find out what that terrible substance was when Fiona posts the final verse.

PSS Richard Geoff knows how to decipher that code. A quick cut and paste should do the trick.


Justin Obodie: "... you will find out what that terrible substance was when Fiona posts the final verse."

Sorry about the delay, Justin. It's been a difficult week; besides, I don't really want to publish the final verse because then you will flap those beautiful wings and ....

... I am really going to miss you.

Tomorrow, then.

Maybe somewhere... in time...

Of swans and songs and those who have gone

Sorry Justin me lad. Just dropped by (even had to wrack the old brain for my password!) and seeing your swan song I realised I should have said so long before I headed back to the bush for good. We did have some interesting exchanges, that I agree - but the 'ugly one' as you dubbed him and I have moved on. He's up to his eyes in Plimer on his website noah's rainbow serpent. I've forgotten how to insert a hyperlink so you will have to google him if you are interested. I find it all a bit heavy. As for me I've just finished my book - at last  - all about the pioneers of the Nambucca valley.

Your shins are safe, remember I don't do shoes if I can help it.

And we don't shear sheep on our spread. Too hard on the back. As for jamming, the biggest jam session in history is coming up for our 30th in december ( he can't be so ugly after all) - will be a real folk fest - not this stuff the next generation try to pass off as Oz folk/country. It will be a sorry day when the likes of MWR, EB, DT and the "ugly one" and their ilk depart this world and they are all pushing 70 or more. But I can see their old mates - Henderson, Ayrton, Affley and Kempster and others up there waiting to jam on when they arrive. Just been listening to the only recording (made at a party by the sound of it) of Don Ayrton - he was just magic. Very sad end though more than twenty five years ago now. What a terrible loss but at least we have this one cd. God bless the person who made it so long ago. The only other recording we know of is a reel tape, probably long past rescuing, made together with the "ugly one" in 1962 - now in the NFSA - hell that was nearly fifty years ago - back when they were both part of the old Sydney Push.

The years vanish to become the past so quickly - so it was time for me to go - so much to do as life's clock turns ever faster.  No time to waste. Don't want this verse of Don's to be true for me as well.

Counting the stars how long will it take
That you've seen on the nights that you've lain awake
Counting the things you still have to do
Counting the dreams that should have come true - but didn't

The name of the book? "Down Vanished Years" - a fitting title by one who will hit 70 next year I reckon.

May all your dreams come true, may that verse not become your life's swan song.

We never met, and never will - but I guess I got to know you a little.

Sweet dreams. 

piper at the gates of dawn

Talk about Alice in Wonderland.

Obodie, you should leave the opium den thingies be..

Unless it's Petrel you've been sniffing.


Paul Walter..

...turns up to share a few cokes (ok mine had additives) and a lengthy session of political/philosophical discourse over the pool table.  

Not adding to your mental ramble, Justin, just recounting the night. QED.

ps looking at your transcription of Phil's sequence...it looks kinda  Arabic.

wise cracks

Richard Tonkin: "...turns up to share a few cokes (ok mine had additives)...

Ah, sorry. Yours has talcum or chalk adulterating it. Look, I don't look down on you for this. Can recommend a good fellow.

But glad you shared this, tho - explained the sinus problem later.

On more serious note, readers will note the efficient rebuttal by Tonkin of Alan Curran'smischievous nonsenses - now there's a bod who, if his writings display valid evidence, has been at some thing suspicious and should toss it forthwith down the dunny, if his latest is an example.

Time enough for love

Robert Heinlein on LSD? 14 Diarists in the one breath.. Justin, you are a noble soul.

Such writing makes me glad to have collected as many family ghosts as I can.   Especially on a night like this, when my father has just lost his last brother.  In a room full of strangers now, I'm looking forward to going home to the memories and their unfolding combinations.  Meawhile there is, I confess, the escape hatch of the pub's disability dunny, a peaceful sonic isolation tank.

The jam sounds interesting.  What are we drinking?  Sounds like Absynthe. 

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