Boomerang

(Yes folks. It came back).

The Kimberley Hotel has two garden bars. One is out the back, beside the pool.  On the sunny cooler days of the dry season, when there is no need for air conditioning, it is a popular place for patrons to sit and drink.  There is an open passage past the restaurant dining room to the main bar.  There, the pool tables are populated by players, who bet money, cigarettes or beer on the outcome of the games.  In the front, there is a veranda with tables where bar meals are eaten and another garden bar where on Thursday nights the weekly trivia quiz is held.
This particular Saturday afternoon I was out on the veranda drinking my usual lemon lime and bitters.  I was only there on the off chance of a conversation with someone interesting.  My bike was parked outside and I was hoping to have a chat with any bikers passing through. I figured the best place to meet them would be the hotel.

The pub was noisy as usual with the buzz of conversation, the knock of billiard balls, and the occasional shout of victory, or a cry of “unlucky!” after a missed shot.  On a high stool at the bar behind the pool tables, an old aboriginal gentleman sat quietly alone, sipping a beer. He stepped out onto the veranda for a few minutes to smoke a thin, carefully rolled cigarette. Then he returned to his stool with his beer.   He was a handsome old man, with white hair and beard, bushy eyebrows and a weathered face from which his dark eyes twinkled with cheerful humour. He looked for all the world like a kindly old blackfeller Santa.

Outside, a tourist bus pulled up and disgorged its passengers. There seemed to be dozens of them, mostly retirees, by the look of it.  They all made a rush for the bar and ordered enough beers and glasses of wine to keep the bar staff busy for a full fifteen minutes.  Some also ordered meals and went to imbibe their drinks on the veranda as they waited for the food to arrive.  The noise of conversation doubled.  One of the tourists, an elderly Englishman with a northern accent, eyed the old Aboriginal gentleman for a while. He seemed to make up his mind about something.  Picking up his beer he sidled over and sat on the next stool.

“G’day” he said. “Are you local?”

“Yep.” Said the old man.

“And you’re Aboriginal, right?”

The old man held his arm out beside the Englishman’s. His black skin was answer enough, but “yep” he said laconically.

“Can I ask you a favour then?” said the Pom. We’ve just come up the Tanami from Alice Springs. I bought a boomerang down there. I did not get a chance to ask anyone to show me how to throw it.  And I’d like to get a few shots of a real indigenous person throwing a boomerang, to take home. Will you throw it for me?”

The old man looked dubious. “I don’t think so mate” he said.

“I’ll buy you a beer”.

“Alright then. Where’s the stick?”

The Englishman went out to the bus and returned in a few minutes with an enormous boomerang and a digital camera.

Boomerang 3.png

The old man took the boomerang and walked out past me to the edge of the veranda.  He raised it and threw it towards the bus.  Then he turned round and walked straight back to his stool by the bar.  He finished his beer in a few swallows, in anticipation of the promised fresh one.  The Englishman had started clicking with his camera as soon as the old chap stepped on to the veranda.  He walked out, still clicking, following the boomerang with his lens as it veered left away from the bus, lifting and spinning through the air. Over the bus it flew, out over the road beyond and back around high over the trees beside the pub.  He ran around behind it, trying to track it as it flew.  Chasing it, he disappeared from my sight around the corner of the building.  I expected the projectile would land in the pool. I waited to hear the splash, but I was surprised at what happened next.

The boomerang came flying down the passage from the back of the hotel and skittered past the old man’s feet, coming to a halt under the pool table, not more than two metres from where he sat. The pool players went silent looking at it, and at the old man sitting calmly on his stool.   A few seconds later the tourist followed it, gushing with enthusiasm.

“That was incredible! That passage is only a few feet wide!” He took a few shots of the boomerang where it had landed and picked it up. Then he went over to the bar and bought the promised beer. “Could you do that again?” he asked. “For another beer?  I didn’t get a shot of it flying around the back of the hotel”.

The old man shook his head. “I only do that once a year” he said. “Come back next year.”

The tourist looked disappointed, and for a moment seemed about to try to persuade the old fellow, but it was plain the old man was resolute, so with a sigh of resignation the tourist accepted the decision and patted the old man on the shoulder.  “Thanks again. That was really amazing. Wait till I tell them about this back in Kettlewell.”

He went over and sat down with his fellow travellers.  He showed them the pictures he had taken on the screen of his camera.  There was a murmur of appreciation as he told the story of what they had missed.  A few of them raised their drinks to the old man, but he was not looking their way.

After a minute or so the old gentleman rolled himself another cigarette, picked up his beer, and came out onto the veranda to light the rolly.

“That was a great throw” I said.

“Bugger that” he said. “I was taken away when I was eight. I was raised at the mission.  That is the first time I’ve ever thrown a bloody boomerang”.

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Look on My Works…

Ozymandias

 

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

 

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)

150827102252-donald-trump-july-10-2015-super-169.jpg

Easter 1916

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

That woman’s days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our winged horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road.
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute by minute they live:
The stone’s in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven’s part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse –
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

W.B. Yeats

 

24 April 1916
It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798. Organised by seven members of the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Rising began on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, and lasted for six days.

Boomerang Story

The Kimberley Hotel has two garden bars. One is out the back, beside the pool.  On the sunny cooler days of the dry season, when there is no need for air conditioning, it is a popular place for patrons to sit and drink.  There is an open passage past the restaurant dining room to the main bar.  There, the pool tables are populated by players, who bet money, cigarettes or beer on the outcome of the games.  In the front there is a veranda with tables where bar meals are eaten, and another garden bar where on Thursday nights the weekly trivia quiz is held. 
This particular Saturday afternoon I was out on the veranda drinking my usual lemon lime and bitters.  I was only there on the off chance of a conversation with someone interesting.  My bike was parked outside and I was hoping to have a chat with any bikers passing through. I figured the best place to meet them would be the hotel.  

The pub was noisy as usual with the buzz of conversation, the knock of billiard balls, and the occasional shout of victory, or a cry of “unlucky!” after a missed shot.  On a high stool at the bar behind the pool tables an old aboriginal gentleman sat quietly alone, sipping a beer. He stepped out onto the veranda for a few minutes to smoke a thin, carefully rolled cigarette. Then he returned to his stool with his beer.   He was a handsome old man, with white hair and beard, bushy eyebrows and a weathered face from which his dark eyes twinkled with cheerful humour. He looked for all the world like a kindly old blackfeller Santa. 

Outside, a tourist bus pulled up and disgorged its passengers. There seemed to be dozens of them, mostly retirees, by the look of it.  They all made a rush for the bar and ordered enough beers and glasses of wine to keep the bar staff busy for a full fifteen minutes.  Some also ordered meals and went to imbibe their drinks on the veranda as they waited for the food to arrive.  The noise of conversation doubled.  One of the tourists, an elderly Englishman with a northern accent, eyed the old Aboriginal gentleman for a while. He seemed to make up his mind about something.  Picking up his beer he sidled over and sat on the next stool. 

“G’day” he said. “Are you local?”

“Yep.” Said the old man.

“And you’re Aboriginal, right?”

The old man held his arm out beside the Englishman’s. His black skin was answer enough, but “yep” he said laconically. 

“Can I ask you a favour then?” said the Pom. We’ve just come up the Tanami from Alice Springs. I bought a boomerang down there. I did not get a chance to ask anyone to show me how to throw it.  And I’d like to get a few shots of a real indigenous person throwing a boomerang, to take home. Will you throw it for me?”

The old man looked dubious. “I don’t think so mate” he said.

“I’ll buy you a beer”. 

“Alright then. Where’s the stick?” 

The Englishman went out to the bus and returned in a few minutes with an enormous boomerang and a digital camera.  The old man took the boomerang and walked out past me to the edge of the veranda.  He raised it and threw it towards the bus.  Then he turned round and walked straight back to his stool by the bar.  He finished his beer in a few swallows, in anticipation of the promised fresh one.  The Englishman had started clicking with his camera as soon as the old chap stepped on to the veranda.  He walked out, still clicking, following the boomerang with his lens as it veered left away from the bus, lifting and spinning through the air. Over the bus it flew, out over the road beyond and back around high over the trees beside the pub.  He ran around behind it, trying to track it as it flew.  Chasing it, he disappeared from my sight around the corner of the building.  I expected the projectile would land in the pool. I waited to hear the splash, but I was surprised at what happened next.  

The boomerang came flying down the passage from the back of the hotel and skittered past the old man’s feet, coming to a halt under the pool table, not more than two metres from where he sat. The pool players went silent looking at it, and at the old man sitting calmly on his stool.   A few seconds later the tourist followed it, gushing with enthusiasm. 

“That was incredible! That passage is only a few feet wide!” He took a few shots of the boomerang where it had landed and picked it up. Then he went over to the bar and bought the promised beer. “Could you do that again?” he asked. “For another beer?  I didn’t get a shot of it flying around the back of the hotel”.

The old man shook his head. “I only do that once a year” he said. “Come back next year.”

The tourist looked disappointed, and for a moment seemed about to try to persuade the old fellow, but it was plain the old man was resolute, so with a sigh of resignation the tourist accepted the decision and patted the old man on the shoulder.  “Thanks again. That was really amazing. Wait till I tell them about this back in Kettlewell.”

He went over and sat down with his fellow travellers.  He showed them the pictures he had taken on the screen of his camera.  There was a murmur of appreciation as he told the story of what they had missed.  A few of them raised their drinks to the old man, but he was not looking their way.

After a minute or so the old gentleman rolled himself another cigarette, picked up his beer, and came out onto the veranda to light the rolly. 

“That was a great throw” I said. 

“Bugger that” he said. “I was taken away when I was eight. I was raised at the mission.  That is the first time I’ve ever thrown a bloody boomerang”.