Monday, October 25, 2010

About a Boob

My mum, Beth Batchelor, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age thirty nine. What does thirty nine look like? Well, sometimes, believe it or not, it looks rather like this.

During the twenty years she moved through various chemos, remissions, brachii therapies and episodes of the old radiator radiating her vitals until she glowed, Beth learned to call cancer her 'friend'. Fairweather friend perhaps? Indeed not! For it stayed with her through thick wig and thin hair, through donut tunnels and through involuntary eyebrow waxes. Mum had a lifelong companion in cancer and, as such, we had to find ways to laugh.

Indeed, it was very funny when she shrunk her wig.

It was hilarious when we then went out for coffee, me with my handbag and mum with her inch of baby soft grey regrowth, and an old friend bumped into her, 'Beth! Love your hair. Where d'you get it done?!'

It was titillating when her pop in prosthetic breast slipped to her waist during a pertinent prayer time in church one Sunday morning. 'Oh my Lord, 'struth, dear God, please let me rise up, or at least my left breast, to greet your ever present presence. And where is the bloody superglue when you need it? Amen.' (Or something similar. Dad remembers it all too well. And in fact, despite what I've made up here being a little stretch of the truth, what she probably actually said was probably actually more hilarious.)

And it was incomprehensibly hysterical when this happened...

About a Boob

My mum found a teatowel and stuffed it in her bra.
That was back in ‘83 when she drove a bright blue car.
Mum was sick for quite a bit so we had to help out
to clean and do the dishes knowing mum she still had clout,

for if we made excuses like whose turn ‘twas to dry up
she’d just pull out her teatowel which would make us all shut up.
Yep, Mum she just got on with it - on that herself she prided,
the scar went where the left one were - she looked a bit lopsided.

But soon it was now Christmas (the America’s Cup in Perth)
she finally got her plastic jelly boobie, oh what mirth.
So out she chucked the teatowel and in the boob did go
opposite the real one snug and quite incognito.

Rarely did it wibble wobble as with Beth it travelled
rarely did it flip or flop ‘less bra straps did unravel.
And roam it did with Bethie B in her Datsun 1200
through rain and sunshine, heat and when it snowed and hailed and thundered

No Bethie’s boob did never leave her side, well, so to speak,
a matching piece of plastic jelly, complete with little peak.
Mum she made a resolution one day in mid summer,
'I’m going to get fit,' said she, 'take inches off my bum, huh?'

And every Saturday morning from then for years to come
my Mum and I would head out for a swim in the blue Datsun.
Off we’d tootle, 6am throughout the 1990s
off to do our morning laps and burn away calories.

Lap on lap, and lap on lap we swam and were so fit
and mum was proud as punch that very soon she’d lost a bit.
Her bathers were so stylish and the boob sat in its place
and after several years of this mum could have won a race.

And still the years they spun and flew and mum and I kept swimming
fit as fiddles, lap on lap and home we’d drive, both grinning.
And hang our towels out on the line and hang our bathers too
all rinsed and clean and then we’d have a cuppa, as you do. morning, like so many Saturdays, our duty done,
mum emptied out her swimming bag, stood standing in the sun.
Her look was rather quizzical. I could not work it out.
She counted up her togs, her towel, but something was left out.

Until, with horror, finally mum cried, ‘I am a fool!
I’ve left my bloody boob alone and sitting at the pool!'
And so we raced, (we were a pair of nutty looking women)
in our bright blue 1200 back to where we’d been a swimmin’.

I begged the lovely poolguard, PLEASE let us in for free!!
With mum, all matter of fact of course, ‘I’ve left my boob here, see!’
Sure enough, when we raced in, sick with fear and worry,
alone, bereft on the changeroom bench going nowhere in a hurry…

sat Bethie’s favourite boosie, stoic, wet and floppy.
She snatched it up off we tootled in our blue jalopy.
And cried until the tears were pools, ‘til the moon rose up that night
and never ever did again that boob leave Bethie’s sight.

Elise Batchelor October 2010 For Pink Ribbon Day

donate at:

Beth Batchelor, circa 1991.

 PS. That bit about the teatowel threats may have been a stretch of the truth. I adore my sister but despite any teatowelled threats, she was never inclined to dry the dishes (Love you Marg).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Go Pies! Go Saints! Goji berries!

For two weeks in a row now, I've forgotten to watch the AFL Grand Final. It's not that I mind the Australian Football League's determination to plaster itself like, well, plaster, all over the papers for the eight months leading up to the ultimate blokes-with-balls challenge. It's not that brawn, drop kicks and drug scandals offend me. It's not even that I think the teams at the top this year represented the phoenix-risen-dregs of the past forty. No, none of these potentially key issues led me to ignore the Grand Final at all.

Fact of the matter was that the fridge was empty. What better time to do the weekly shopping when NO ONE ELSE IN THE COUNTRY is.

For anyone reading from outside our beanie clad nation, you might well have three questions as you read the following two poems:

1) What is a Rob Oakeshott?
2) What the hell does he have to do with a tie?
3) A tie??!

I know. How embarrassment. But yes, the first match was a tie (despite our Prime Minister begging it not to be, ok, like, PLEEEEASE no!) So, do we go to extra time? Do we hold on until someone fangs in one more point or one more goal to end the drought? No. No. Ohhhh no. We play again chaps, next week. Uh huh, that's right. And I have one word for ewes all.

Rob Oakeshott.

Two words actually or, given Rob Oakeshott's history making speech in his final decision to decide the undecided Australian Priministerial Pozzie recently, more like two trillion words. Words to the power of infinity. In fact, if the symbol for infinity (other than being baggsed by the ABC already) had one true meaning, it would be Rob Oakeshott. Indeed, when, on election day, he had the final vote which decided our Julia as top jobber, and he blabbed on for a decade to secure his place in the arse end of history forever, many young women remained blessed by the fact Rob Oakeshott is not THEIR father and won't be MC at their 18th, 21st, wedding or church fete. I think Rob Oakeshott is possibly handsome.

But that's not relevant, is it?

And so, to two poems, representing two weeks of footy finals in which Collingwood (the Pies) and St Kilda (the Saints) got sweaty, moped a bit then played again, got sweaty and ... finished.

Who won?

Dunno. I was languishing in the exotic food aisle of Woolies, pondering the internal and spiritual benefits of the Goji berry. Not often I get to ponder the Goji berry in silence.

It’s Just Not Cricket

The week is quite unique in Oz,
the world turned upside down.
The Saturday is holy, makes
some buzz and others frown.

But do take note that in this sacred
time, if you don’t care,
there’s one thing not to mention.
Oh no, just don’t go there!

Just keep your trap well shut ok.
Just hold your breath all right,
unless you wish to risk your blasphemy
being met with fright.

It’s like crazy sales on Boxing Day
being held on Christmas Eve.
Like flouting a bikini,
still in winter. How naïve.

Like dressing all in white
to dance around in mud.
Like singing ‘Happy birthday Julia!’
to Kevin Rudd.

Like wearing flannel floppy hats
when everyone’s in beanies.
Like raving about little stumps
to a mob of zealous greenies.

Like snoozing on the lawn
whilst magpies dart and swoop.
Like eating chook for takeaway
in God’s own chicken coop.

Like singing breezy summer tunes
instead of thumping songs
by blokes with voices deep and wearing
knee high socks, not thongs.

Like putting on your coloured zinc
in shades of green and gold
and being mocked, “It should be black
with red or white!’ you’re told.

Indeed, if I have stumped you,
this poem’s all a code,
a mighty ditty for the week,
a thumping bloody ode.

It’s all about the AFL
for better, worse, whatever.
It’s all about the mud and MCG
and Melbourne weather.

It’s all about the footy.
All else will cop retorts.
It’s all about the finals.
Big men. Wide screens. Tight shorts.

So get up off the lawn
and find some muddy puddles
and get that flannel of yer head;
it has the mob befuddled

and put away your string bikini
‘til the furore dies,
until the party heads have slept
and dreamt of Saints and Pies.

And only then, go mention slips
and ducks and runs and wickets.
For lordy be, in grand final week,
such talk is just not cricket.

© Elise Batchelor September 2010

In the Middle of the MCG

Rob Oakeshott he sat like that
in the middle of the MCG
and he called Bob Katter,
‘Do you really matter
in my iddy biddy gang of three?’

For the siren - it had told its tale
and the players all lay stuffed.
And they really wondered
if the scored had blundered
and they’d all been totally bluffed.

Well, old BobKat he tipped his hat
and his voice rang brittle like rust.
‘Carn the Pies!’
rang across the skies.
‘You other lot can eat my dust.’

The crowds they booed and hissed at him
(Well half of them, that is).
‘I’m goin’ back bush!’
And they gave him a push
to Queensland in a tizz.

And Rob Oakeshott sat smirking still
in the middle of the MCG,
caught up in the muddle,
teams now in a huddle,
he could not hide his glee.

Tony Windsor stood up next
and kept it short, if quaint.
‘My great Aunt Hilda
loves St Kilda,
so I vote for the Saints!’

And the crowds they booed and hissed again
(the other half this time).
All disarray
on the field today
and the chaos was sublime.

The Pies they’d gathered in a mob,
their socks all sagged in sorrow.
The Saints meanwhile
were a strung out pile
with wedgies ‘til tomorrow.

And just when there was no hope left,
or so the punters reckoned,
that Rob Oakeshott
they’d near forgot
to the microphone was beckoned.

Well Rob Oakeshott raced to his spot
and gathered up his minions -
those trillion thoughts,
comebacks, retorts
and his vast range of opinions.

He tapped upon the microphone.
100 000 eyes
now glared at Rob
thinkin’, who’s this knob?
as he started to surmise…

And he rattled on about the goal posts.
And he babbled on about the time.
And he praised and bemoaned
as the crowds they groaned
and yawned and slept and whined.

And seven days on down the track
there was no one left there, see,
‘xcept Rob Oakeshott
still hot to trot
in the middle of the MCG.

And soon the place filled up again
with Rob hardly contrite
and they carried him out
on a stretcher taut,
wrapped up quite white and tight.

So the rules were changed forever more
for fear of a tie, praise be!
‘Cause there’s nothing less hot
than a Rob Oakeshott
in the middle of the MCG.

© Elise Batchelor September 2010