Friday, June 25, 2010

Whale Tales

  Australia has a new Prime Minister.
Her name is Julia Gillard.
  She is a woman.
This is a first.
  She didn't like the direction things were going.
So she changed them.
  This is a great thing for some.
This is a fabulous thing for many women.
  This is also an upset which has divided the country and ripped a hole in some hearts.
And now it's a new day and we shall see...

These are all recent, stunning facts in the last 24 hours of Aussie politics. Two nights ago, the night the decision of a challenge to Kevin Rudd, now 'former' Prime Minister, we were glued to our tv, absorbing details by osmosis with the fervour of parched camels. But one of the funniest reports of the night was an interview between a prominent Australian journalist on a serious late night news program to our Environment Minister, Peter Garrett. You know 'Midnight Oil'? Well, that's Peter Garrett. In this interview, the presenter began hounding Peter Garrett on his allegiance to and opinions about this sudden political #spill (as @Twitterphiles would know it). And for the life of him, Peter Garrett was unable to come up with a response to satiate the desire of the presenter. Why? Because it was the first he'd heard of the troubles at the top. Yet the reporter kept at Mr Garrett. Every which way, every angle, up every orifice. Peter Garrett started getting tetchy. As you would. Kept trying to sway the conversation towards the point of the interview...


You see, Peter Garrett was in Morocco, on the other side of the planet to the rumblings here in Oz. He had been in serious meetings about Australia's role in stopping whale slaughter by Japan. His phone had been off. And, my oh my, he had no Facebook or Twitter to truly keep him informed! He literally knew nothing of this usurping-in-progress and was baffled by the perseverence of the presenter. Finally, boldly, he got his message out. It was a heartfelt message on the whales. And it was an awful shame of the night that, love the whales as we do, no one cared.

This was the most fascinating interview I saw throughout the leadership challenge, spill and change which has occurred. The country's up in arms as the leaders are tussling over their leaders and one dude's out there actually doing shit! You go man!!

With the happy coincidence that my most recent poem was a celebration of the glorious whales which journey our waters, this poem is for Peter Garrett and for the whales.

Learning to Fly

A Whale of a Tale

I’ve gathered you together to stick it to ‘em good,
for now’s the speccy weather in this north west neighbourhood.
I mean, you lot are perfect - you’ve been around the traps.
You know how much it’s worth it, my keen aquatic chaps
and chaplets, oops, I’m sorry dear, Miss what’s your story Dory,
I know your brain’s a sieve, I fear, but don’t want your guts all gory.

I’m writing them a letter, how I fancy myself whole.
Not whole and fried for dinner from at fish markets sold.
So, got you on webcam tonight in this Carnarvon caf’.
We’ve all got to be literate, right, and not pen something naff.

And thus, the conference call began with links hither to thither
as Humpback Harry, no steak Dianne, refused at all to dither.

‘Moby, mate, in your opinion, what should we all write?’
Moby, blushed, red onion. Quite odd, for a whale so white.
‘Well, first I must say thanks for asking me to share.
Don’t fancy us in tanks our gizzards here and there.
So me, I would just tell them what beauty holds our song
that is, except for Dory when her singing drones along.

Dory raised an eyebrow then promptly…ah…forgot
and feeling less than highbrow asked Harry, ‘Harry, what…
whatever are we here for?’ And all went splosh and splish
and titter, chortle, wherefore, memory like goldfish.

‘Don’t you worry Dory, gal,’ spoke Harry Humpback whale
How about, my Nemo pal, this rambling you curtail.
‘I would say, you write to them some funny jokes, I think.
Show them you’re intelligent and only when...gutted, stink.
‘Ahem, well, thank you Nemo, my orange stripy clown.
Always count on you, you know to stop us feeling down.

‘Jonah, down there, yup, that’s you, old man of the sea,
any thoughts to share, please do?’
                ‘Get me out of here’s my plea!’
That’s all Jonah offered and probably expected
all that krill from being swallowed got his nouse infected.

Then up piped an aged Free Willy, the Second, and a talker,
‘I’d tell ‘em they are silly and sign it, “Super Orca!”’
Ok, our Harry sighed aloud, I’ve taken down ideas
and really, well, can’t be too proud. You’re heightening my fears.’

‘How about, now let me see, let’s start it just like this:

     Dear fellows sailing in the sea, please just give us a miss.
     We practise hard our breaching to make you like us more          
     We sing our songs, no screeching, and swim from deep to shore.
     We don’t hurt you, so don’t hurt us…
            Sound good so far?’ nods, ‘Fine’.
Please leave us be, don’t cause a fuss, we’re having a whale of a time’.

The gang on webcam groaned a lot, then simply laughed out loud.
Bad pun Harry! Lame, you twit, won’t stand out from the crowd.
But Harry took the letter and printed it with pride
and posted it, go getter, then swam right back outside
And off into the waters of the Indian, his home,
right up the coast, new daughters, then back down south to roam.


They got it! Harry’s missive, and read it patiently.
(It’s hard to be dismissive of a letter from the sea.)
And suddenly, the whaling ceased! Our Harry was astounded.
Forever whales then lived in peace and whaling ships were grounded.

So now our Harry Humpback, he’s got himself an agent,
selling joke books, quite a stack, his wit a strong reagent.
For if a whale of a bad, bad pun can change things in bad weather
then Harry, whale…he was the one, to Save the Whales! Forever.

© Elise Batchelor June 2010
Photo: © Rob Whitehead 2003, 'Learning to Fly', Augusta, Western Australia

Friday, June 18, 2010

Who would you invite to dinner?

Cate Blanchett and I go way back. In fact, our lives bear so many parallels it's beyond the beyond to believe. First, she went to high school in Melbourne, as did I. It so happened we attended the same bottle green clad girls' school, albeit, at different campuses and in different years. We both did drama, although she was Drama Captain and I was just full of drama. Or full of it in general. I'm sure you'll also appreciate the confluence of my first and her middle name. She has a sister - I have a sister. We are both non-natural blondes of the thin and frustrating Australian variety and I'd go to her stylist if I could afford it. Cate too, like me, contemplated performing on 'Red Faces' for Hey Hey it's Saturday during uni. The only difference there was that she did appear in an act on 'Red Faces' and I didn't. Finally, I love her work. And I'm sure she worships mine. Who doesn't love a poet whose pen leaks with odes to failure and stuff ups and who lives in a desert mining town in the remote and forgotten (yet financially fricking freaky) north west of Australia?

Should I go on? Oh...I already have.

Suffice to say, were I to select a select selection of much admired thespians and humbly invite them to a party, Cate would be among them. Funny I should mention this idea. For, in fact, I did do this recently, in honour of Johnny Depp's birthday. Some came, most were happy to remain for the duration, all left in one piece and no one died. Or so I believe.

Who would you invite to a celebrity dinner?

Here's my take on a night with some favourite stars. So, pull out your maracas and your Happy Boy harmonicas (just as Andrew Collins and Rachel Fountain did as we performed this on air at the ABC) and sing it loud, ok!

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Didn’t we have a lovely time
the night they came to di-nner
sitting a-round my table grand
and all because they agreed, you know that
as we sat, I pondered that
I’m surprised they came at a-all -
little old me at a dinner par-tee as they
had their feed.

There he sat in his party hat,
a patch upon his e-eye.
Nothing was wrong, he was jollied along
because he liked the look, you know his
makeup too my ba-a-lance threw
but such is the way with thes-pians.
Tried not to blush or talk in a rush as we
had our feed.

Mu-ust now mention he spoke French and
none of us had a clue-hoo.
It was his night and to my delight
it didn’t matter whatever his patter so
we chatted on, and smiled along,
pretending we understood-ood, he
ate like a sparrow but sucked out the ma-rrow
of his feed.

Cate to my left was beautifully dressed
in a little bit of lame.
She, you see‘d gone to school with me
(or not exactly but down the road).
Beside me she sat, I told her that
we had a lot in co-mmon.
She winced a tad but oh I was glad as she
had her feed.

After the goose, before the moose,
I asked if Hugh might si-ing.
Maybe a dance, or shirtless prance
beside my ‘lectric keyboard and he
stuttered a bit, called me a twit ‘n
I smiled and sipped my cham-pers,
wishing I’d had maracas to share as he
had his feed.

GaGa was there, enjoying her fare,
dressed up as choc dipped duck-ling.
Into the mood, her look matched her food
and though she wasn’t invited I had
little choice but to hear her voice
when Hugh declined to si-ing.
Banging on with some mo-nster song when she’d
had her feed.

Clive to my right, was quite a delight,
all rugged British ac-cent.
So not behavin’, a little un-shaven,
winking at me constantly,
until he grabbed a hanky, dabbed his
eye a little swo-llen:
an allergy to my goosey ragout when he’d
had his feed.

But I didn’t mind, he’d found the time
to come and that was lo-vely.
If and when I’d poi-soned him,
I checked my medicine box in case and
offered him anti-hystamine
and found him rather grateful,
cursing away at my dinner par-tay as we
had our feed.

Then as we dined, was candles time
and out I turned the li-ights.
Brought out a cake, make no mistake,
a pirate ship with treasure on it.
Cla-apped and banged, to Jo-o-hnny sang and he
blew the candles fierce-ly,
blu-ushed and laughed, curling up his moustache and we
had our feed.

The night as you’d guess, a fine success,
a birthday party per-fect
and when I unchained them,
unre-strained them from their chairs,
‘twas all forgiven.
Possibly, maybe, looks a bit shady,
taking off their handcuffs,
but wow, and phew, they’d
loved my stew and farewelled
their feed.

Cate trotted out, a goddess with clout,
followed by the o-thers.
Mr O-owen’s eye was growing.
Off to the doc, but you know that my
Johnny, sweet chap, with his party hat,
sailed off holding his trea-sure:
lo-o-lly bag to add to his swag,
au revoir indeed.

Didn’t we have a lovely time when we

Elise Batchelor June 2010
Photo: Katharine Whitehead

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chookedy chookedy chook chook poo

Green is one of my favourite colours. Actually, I tell a lie. I hate green. I grew up in it. Well, the bottle green variety of it, that is: thick woven, girls' school blazer and bottle green striped tie and always with matching undies. How I detested those matching undies. Just don't get me started on the stockings. Urgh.

I only said green is one of my favourite colours in case Al Gore were listening. Or my lawnmower. Or the planet. Indeed, having just celebrated World Environment Day in early June, I took care to think about our precious Earth and my green aspirations. And what I thought of was just how many times I've tried to go green and got it all wrong. Not necessarily major international corporation oil slick in the ocean wrong. We best not go there. But other wrongs. So, I'm sorry planet Earth. I shall continue to try and love you by atoning for my sins of misplaced recycling endeavour and hope I get it right somewhere along the way.

Fortunately, my angst is assuaged a little knowing that I am not alone. Oh how I am so not alone. So now, let us turn to some kindred spirits, heady with love in their acts of mucked up planet appreciation. We have Sarah, Courtney, Robert, Max, Jake and, last and smelliest, Yvette...

Chook poo love song to the planet

Scooping up the chicken poo
left on dirt as chickens do,
Yvette she knew, yes, through and through,
Earth would love this stinky brew.

Piffed it out into the sky
upon the garden just nearby.
Heart so full, Yvette near cried,
I love you planet, watch me try!

Down the road I heard her sing,
‘twas Sarah, earthy goddess thing,
at her best recycling
all the cards and Chrissie bling.

Tossing them into the fire,
heart uplifted, higher, higher,
thinking of her great desire
not to...catch the house on fire.

The two of them were full of mirth,
saving their dear planet Earth
and tidying, for what it’s worth,
the junk and poop, like spring rebirth.

Max he was a kindred chap:
loving the planet, he’d got the knack
of filling up his shopping sack
to take his plastic bags all back.

That’s right, to the supermarket.
Do his bit before he carked it
and to his wife he had remarked
with groceries bought, he’d multi-tasked it.

Robert rather loved bright flowers.
Took deep whiffs and smelt for hours
and with his great greeny powers
gave them to his love in showers.

Offered them with loving flair.
He’d hit a soft spot with her there.
Roses garlanded her hair
and strewn about most everywhere.

Courtney, wow, she’d upped the stakes
to make mosaics from old plates -
plenty of room to make mistakes
and better than those plastic fakes.

Jake he gardened for a living and
whippersnipped into oblivion,
out in winter in his skivvy’n
loving the earth it made ‘im giddy ‘n

everyone knew what it meant:
Do their best ‘til they were spent.
Just like paying planet rent,
mending the environment.

Hearts all full, they tended it.
Dusted, patched and rendered it.
Pruned and preened, made splendid it
and there it sat, pretended it

had not been tragically put out
with all the ways they’d shown their clout
in proving love, without a doubt,
but sadly, no, had come to nout…

For Jake had whippersnipped, good grief,
lawns and gardens beyond belief,
‘til every flower, plant and leaf
were flattened mulch, yes, gravel in chief.

Courntey had been unaware
her fine mosaics brought a heady glare
from her dear mother standing there
now set to launch a kitchen chair

upon her daughter grimacing
because, oh dear, now here’s the thing,
the family fine boned china…ding!
Courtney, artiste, had smashed, ka-ching.

Oops, winced Courtney, too late now
and there was Robert with a heavy brow,
busted by his wife and how
he’d had to promise, make a vow

that never would he steal again
flowers plucked from down the lane
from all the neighbours’ homes, what shame.
Should have asked, but he wasn’t game.

And to our Max with logic elastic
returned his bags, not quite fantastic,
for as he shopped enthusiastic
simply bought up brand new plastic:

Snap lock bags and rolls for the bin,
orange ones to put the green stuff in,
took him a while ‘til the truth went ding!
Hardly a beacon of re-cy-c-ling.

Back at Sarah’s place meanwhile
burning cards, how versatile,
smoke filled air a thousand miles.
Mucked it all up and did it in style.

Loving the earth with fire in the heart.
How to get it wrong, oh, where to start?
Greenie mishaps off the chart,
served with aplomb, quite a la carte.    

As for Yvette…What can you do?
Tossing chook droppings, suddenly knew
as back she stepped - you saw it too?
Splodge! Splat! Yup. Into…dog poo.

Hoe. Hoe...Hoe.

This is Sarah. This is Sarah before her Christmas a la carte went up in smoke up la chimney - tinsel, wrapping, leftover pudding, Tupperware rice mould, Santa earrings, cards and all!

©Elise Batchelor 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

In your car and follow that star!

When the International Space Station recently emerged as a speeding star over the dawn horizon of the North West Aussie Pilbara region, my family and I jumped up and down like looneys (as far as my post baby bladder allows these days). We beamed our


into the atmosphere and we were loud. So loud, we're sure they heard us. The ISS was being pursued at the time by the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the last days of what may well have been its final mission. Our view was awesome: rather gritty, a bit crusty, waves lapping behind us, tent thankfully sandfly proof. We were camping at our Indian Ocean secret spot along 40 Mile Beach near Karratha. And admiring its speedy passage across the sky smacked my gob harder than a flying sandcastle.

Meanwhile, I'm led to believe, down the road were a couple of grey nomads (and for those of you reading from the far reaches of the globe, this is a term of ...endearment? for wandering Australian retirees travelling about the country in their vans, campers, tents and other weird, wonderful getups.) They were having a few issues with their vehicle of choice whose brand shall remain nameless (and don't worry runaway 4wd types, it's not you!) They spent the night on a large station, surrounded by plenty of space and a few international travellers. international space station of its own, one might say. So it's to these folks we turn: Geoff, Shirl and their not so trusty four wheel drive, Apollo. They have their own astronomical story to tell...and it's pretty, uh, far out...

Apollo and the ISS

Geoff had the radio turned up loud,
tapping on the steering wheel, royally proud
of his shiny sublimy four wheel drive,
‘Apollo’* took them travelling, fully alive.

Shirl felt it first and moaned out loud
Didn’t sound right even under the shroud
of blasting beats from the stere-e-ere-oh
and caravan wheels back there on tow.

But loy-a-lly she faced the music,
‘Geoff!’ she called, should he choose to hear it.
‘Geoff!’ again, ‘Can you HEAR THAT SOUND!’
But thumping his beat, didn’t turn around.’

This time Shirl cried out, ‘My dear!
Houston? GEOFF!! Got a problem here!’
Around spun Geoff, nose tapping the beat,
Shirl now squiggling in her seat.

She flicked off the music, speaking clear,
‘I said, just listen, to the engine dear.’
His face then blanched. Coconut white.
A rattle and thump, his wife was right!

So here they were two nomads bold
travelling the earth to lands untold,
through the dust and rickety gravel,
never did they think it would unravel.

Su-dden-ly, the plans had changed.
Something in the engine was deranged.
and caught on a road ‘twixt nowhere near,
landscape burnt, they felt the fear.

Then…just like a dream a sign emerged
beside the road both on the verge
of pondering, wondering about their fate,
sun now setting, getting late.

A station it was, with plenty of space
and dusk now coming was a race
to find a spot with Apollo intact
before a diff or engine cracked.

Soon found a paddock by the sea,
wide and vast as this land can be,
a scattering of vans spread far apart
by folks whose travels were an art:

A German couple in a battered van,
a family from France in a hired tin can
and way over there were a bunch of Swiss,
blonde and yodelling, hard to miss.

Vast amounts of space to camp
on which to muse beside their lamp.
‘Oh dear Geoff, maybe in the morning
someone can help us on sun’s dawning.’

‘Better still,’ mused Geoff-er-y,
‘the first night star’s above the sea.
Let’s make a wish from this vast station
for ve-hicular inspiration.’

They wished the star might ease their plight
and all too soon the dawn brought light.
Geoff woke first and mustered Shirl,
‘Look outside! Check it out my girl.’

Everyone else in the paddock near,
everyone was up and up they peered as a-
cross the sky a bright star moved,
followed by another one along its groove.

Curve balls over the daybreak light.
What an anomaly, a bit of all right!
And off the light headed north northwest
‘It’s a sign, it’s a sign!’ burst forth our Geoff.

They jumped in Apollo, perilous car,
‘Follow, follow, FOLLOW THAT STAR!’
Away from the station scattered with races
all peering up with glowing faces.

Out down the gravel to the nor’ nor’west
off to Karratha (just my guess).
If only they had known when they awoke
‘twas no bright star but full of folk -

astronauts not on vacation
but hurtling past on a fast space station,
speeding round out in the dark,
thinking life is quite a lark.

So, as a p.s. to this tale of Apollo,
the four wheel drive drove ‘til tomorrow
and up they went, not into town
and sailing into space you could see Geoff frown.

The ISS it took them far,
into orbit with their car
and with just a little less gravity
and wicked views, the world to see,

the four wheel drive was simply fine
and Geoff and Shirl had a whirl of a time.
Talk about nomads flying free
around the world dexterity.

So if you see a funny shape
up in space, it’s the 'Great Escape’,
for Geoff and Shirl can still be found
following the space station round and round
          and round and…round and
                                             and round...

© Elise Batchelor ABC North West 26th May 2010
© Rob Whitehead 2010 - photo of the ISS and Atlantis
    in the predawn Pilbara sky
* Apollo: not the car's real name

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

JLo, Brangelina, SuBo TomKat and introducing...P.Po.

I was in the chemist the other day and noted a perfume on the counter going for a tres hefty price. Then I thought to myself, do I really want to smell like Sarah Jessica Parker? ...and bought the little pack of jellybeans instead.

In Shakespeare's time, to be a performer, artist, writer or public figure involved dealing with petulant crowds, rotten cabbages and a dictionary with the disclaimer 'Spelling? As you like it.' These days, everyone wants to live the dream of fame, fortune and...god, what's the third thing? Oh yes, that's right, artistic integrity. All it takes is uploading a video, finding a funky acronym for your name, auditioning for MasterSurvivorIdolChef or...ah...writing a blog...and you are the star.

So, if becoming the next Lady Gaga, the next beacon of masculine perfection, or the next chick in the tabloids sans undies, sans anything, is your thing, here's some advice from an elderly lady who's trod the boards, tripped the light fantastic, and bought the occasional house, orphan and country.

All the best, P.Po.

Life is a stage...and most of us are going through it.

My Great Gran, has penned a book,
she’s gonna make a mill’.
She reckons it’s the stuff of legend
and my Great Gran’s no dill.

She’s seen about a billion things
and wants to shine a light
on stuff knows a bit about -
it's scandalous all right!

She reckons that her book’s about
the bestest guide you’ll find
to making yourself famous, yep,
no brains at all required.

‘Cause, “Now-a-days,” she notes, “that thing called
talent’s just an option,”
and she sits me down and tells me all,
Let’s start,” she says, “with adoption.”

Fame’s about adoption -
a kid or maybe seven.
And skip the queue as bright stars do
and you’ll still go to heaven.

If that is not appealing
and kids are not your thing,
then buy a little toy dog
for your handbag, decked in bling.

Of course, though, with your little one
or massive kiddy tribe,
you’ll need to buy a plane
to cram the whole shebang inside.

Better still, a pilot’s licence,
that would show some nouse
and if you’re even wiser still,
you’ll park it at your house.

And speaking of great wisdom,
it’s best to join a cult
like one with mystic thingies
or an alien revolt.

And if that doesn’t suit you
and stardom’s what you need,
make up your own religion,
great fame is guaranteed!

Find yourself a toyboy.
Or buy yourself a brand:
TomKat, Brangelina,
and fame comes hand in hand.

Then when, as is quite certain,
arrives the mournful day
when you break up, it’s simple -
turf the whole lot on ebay.

And with it all the merchandise,
like single strands of hair,
or kidneys, or those orphans
and of course there’s bottled air,

the stuff which you have breathed upon
before the love did end
and when they’re piffed, then sell your poor
imaginary friend.

Then it’s time to PARTY HARD
and try to look the part.
There are so many rules with this
so, let’s just make a start:

Deny a drinking habit.
Deny eating disorders.
Deny the need for undies.
Deny the old court order.

Deny you ever drove unlicensed,
flaunting thus your fame.
Deny you checked out early from your
rehab stint …again.

And make the whole lot up
because the headlines are what count.
Then, after that - you go see Oprah!
Sort the whole lot out.

And just in case you get the sense that
no one knows you’re there,
here are some tips to surely guarantee
the starstruck stare.

Things which, if you’re feeling little,
make you look quite big.
For instance, you can shave your head
and buy a matted wig.

Or buy a pair of sunnies that are
wider than your dog,
designer plastic donuts, yep,
and all will be agog.

And always, always, every day
it’s vital to be seen
with a large-size-brand-name-decaf-soy-skim-chai-latte…
- with cream.

And strut about the streets with these
unless you hail from Beckham,
for calories are banned in this strange
universe I reckon.

In this case, if you do aspire
to mirror such a star
just visualize the pencil’s life
and this will take you far.

Get yourself a berry phone
(or whatever fruit is in)
and text all day and night
and text with tonic and with gin

and text your way through dinners
and text whilst on the loo
and text and text whilst kissing
and with the…other too.

When you find the perfect mate
(to last for, let’s say, months)
you must, you must take all these steps
to fame, don’t be a dunce:

Marry ‘em on camera
and probably while you’re there,
get divorced just minutes later.
Save some hassles, yeah?

Whack it all on YouTube
and watch it all upload,
then sit back, put your heels up
and note the world explode.

And better, better, even more
with marriage and divorce
stand side by side, but text your vows
(or dumpsville speech) of course!

And finally, grins Great Grannie, when your
bright star shines no more,
do not give up your ball gowns
or your sty-i-list what’s more.

Just find the fabbest newspaper
and practise shedding tears
and not just dainty ones but ones where
snot flings past your ears.

And pick the best photographer
to shoot you at your worst
and suck your thumb, chew bubblegum
and have your wild outburst

and make sure every bit of it
does make the leading page
and with the quote, ‘LEAVE ME ALONE’
‘twill get you centre stage.

My Great Gran, she could make buck
with this, I’m pretty sure.
She knows the stuff of history
and how fame open doors.

And maybe she’ll be praised for it,
not treated looney-tuney;
I’m so proud of Great Grandma Jolie-Pitt-Cruise-Beckham-Clooney.

© P.Po. (The chick formerly known as Elise Batchelor) 2010