Saturday, December 24, 2011

Snow in the desert

No matter how many times I tell my three year old that the Pilbara is only likely to get snow during the next ice age, or in a parallel universe, or when the proverbial freezes over, she continues to ask when it’s going to arrive.

Maybe you’ve got the answer. I mean, if you're going to live in a desert which does a good job of flowing with money, palm trees which gather flies and eggs which fry themselves on the road, then why not snow as well? 

It's the Pilbara. Anything's bloody possible!


Whatdya mean Karratha?
Or…grrr… not Newman too?!
Not getting’ me to Panna
Or Para-what? Paraburdoo!

Get stuffed, have to pay me,
An awful lot for sure,
Cause you’re not getting me to Wickham
Or Samson or Roebourne, what’s more.

I’m on the tightest schedule,
You know I am the man?
I’m sure that you do realise
That heat’s not in my plan.

So nup. That’s a no to Hedo.
A no to Port South.
A no to outback Warralong
And Jigalong – read my mouth!

So… that’s what happened at Christmas,
When Santa outsourced himself
And subcontracted all his talents,
Reindeer, wife and elf.

You see, he’d had a big night out
At an early Christmas party
And done his back with a big fair whack
And boompf! Weren’t feeling hearty.

“I do not want to give this up,
My duty to mankind,
But alas, I’ve sent out forms for
Application, if you mind.”

Just like one bloke he’d wrangled
For, well, double the overtime rates -
A friend of a cousin who had a friend
Who was friends with someone’s mate,

So, the north west heat of WA
Got stuck with a bloke named Frosty
Who was, funnily enough, with a carrot nose stuck
And in scarves looked rather bossy

I know, a snowman really sucks
For delivering to the desert
So up in the greatest north north west
They prayed for, (what else?) a blizzard.

And lordy be on Christmas Eve
With Santa workers compo
The god or gods or angels or stars
Must have thought they’d just gone bonkers, 

that 30 000 hot sweaty folk
Who all loved cyclones and sun
Were still praying hard on the 24th
For a fierce snow storm to come.

And lo and behold on Christmas Day
It was snowing in the Pilbara skies
And Frosty did his job for Santa Claus
And we all ate hot mince pies. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

National release of "Red Dog" film sparks sneaky return of the legend

This week, the Pilbara had a bit of a coup. To the lovely Jess Mauboy, that's not coup as in cow-p or coop as in chickens or coop as in scoop. Even though it is a scoop. A lovely one at that. I hear the doves coo (as in coup). It was a national movie premiere, no less. Perhaps our debut. (The one which rhymes with coup, not mutt).

Speaking of mutts, that's where all these seemingly random literary segues are headed. To Red Dog.
He's a famous woofer in these parts. Liked to roam about the Pilbara between Paraburdoo and Dampier several decades ago. Today in Dampier, his statue stands proudly. The only way history could stop him disappearing into the ether of history forever.
Many people have stories about Red up here. Some knew him. Some fed him. Some knew someone who knew someone who knew him. And everyone else who didn't grabbed a role as an extra in the film so they missed out neither on history nor hobnobbing.
When the film premiered recently in the beautiful amphitheatre of the Walkington Theatre in Karratha, the town went off and Kleenex bought shares in the Shire of Roebourne.
Koko - star of "Red Dog" on location in Dampier, WA,
with Courtney Bertling, 2010
I like to imagine that Red Dog is still alive. He's out there wandering, looking for a bit of Chum and the odd truck ride to Port Hedland. And he quite likes the look of himself in the movies.

Woof and you’ll miss him

Who, oh who, let the dog out?
Who oh who? What’s more,
he’s been gone about a week,
he’ll be dripping down his cheek
gettin’ honks from hooning road trains by the score.

Someone out there yells, “Got ‘im!”
And the locals gather round ‘im to be fussy.
But he’s rather too polite,
floppy ears and hair’s not right
and it turns out we’ve been duped - it’s bloody Lassie.

Far oh far away in outer space,
even there the martians think they’re right.
And we reckon, finally, righto,
but they’ve mucked it too, that’s Pluto!
So they speed off green, embarrassed, into night.

That dog, oh dog gone it, he’s just vanished
and everyone is feeling rather goofy.
It’s a dog’s life for our Red
and we’d like to go to bed,
but we cannot help but being that bit snoopy
Red Dog? Nope. Doopa.
“There he is, all fluffy!” yells some kiddie,
wand’ring about Hedland last weekend.
But that kid’s in some blind fog
‘cause he’s sniffed down Doopa dog.
Must have overdone the fairyfloss again.

Some Paraburdoobian hears Elvis,
sniffs a hint and gets right on the scent.
But it’s Hound Dog on the radio,
not our Red, just yodeladio.
Our man eats a dagwood dog quite sad and spent.

Suddenly, a call comes from Snake Gully,
a Pilbara traveller’s seen a tucker box
But the dog that she has found
is glued on, not trotting round
and, embarrassed, she just sinks into her socks.

Finally, the word comes from Fremantle,
a red dog standing proud, now that’s our lingo.
Biggest dog you ever saw
looking out to Rotto’s shore
and we smile, realising then…the flour dingo.

So here we sit in Dampier just wondering…
enigma of the roads, where might he be?
For he never ever failed
to stop all chasing his tail
and he never ceased being stuff of legend, see.

Meanwhile, there’s a movie on in Karratha.
Lights down and all eyes agog.
“They made that film right here,”
whispers someone in the rear
and behind him, sitting quiet…shhh
                                                    …Red Dog.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Let them eat cake!

The Royal Honeymoon of the Dude and Dudess of Cambridge is in full swing. Apparently, some rich German bloke 'let it slip' that the couple was off to the Seychelles and pundits put it on costing more pounds per night than Victoria Beckham has ever admitted to weighing. 

Anyway, no photos, no proof. And so, like any self respecting conspirator, methinks it's a decoy. In fact, I have it on my own good authority (and too many gossip magazines in the last fortnight) that they're actually, probably, royally, hiding 'in plain sight'. And, in doing so, Weightless Katie's finally stuffing her face.
Jolly good shew...

Let them eat cake

After the day was over
and all of the guests had gone
with one tier of cake now nibbled
and just seven more to come
well past the midnight hour
when Kate hadn’t eaten a smidge
and Harry, bless his royal soul’d
praised his bro, ‘The Dude of Cambridge’,

‘twas time to discuss the honeymoon,
for Afghanistan was truly out.
They’d both heard a little whisper
of Bin Laden ‘bout to lose his clout.
Libya, little better.
Queensland, too many lizards.
The US, nope, tornadoes
and probably even blizzards.

‘Maybe, Willy, Germany
might be a fine decision.’
‘But no my Duchess, darling,
booked out for Eurovision.’
‘Urggh,’ shuddered Catherine,
‘You’re right, that would be wrong.
Even for a Sloane like me,
that’s way too much chiffon.’

The problem, as they saw it,
was not travelling afar,
but actually honeymooning now
in England, here or thar.
For somewhat out of kilter
‘twas suddenly hunting season
and everyone who’s anyone
was out there with good reason

Scouring every hill and dale,
skulking, in the woods,
trying with almighty skill
to apprehend the goods.
‘No, my darling Katiepoo,
such consequence we’d dread,
them hunting down that Beatrice
with the deer upon her head.’

‘Maybe to the Pilbara, Wills?
No fascinators there.’
We could land out at Whim Creek.’
‘No Kate; not enough beer.’
And so they planned a decoy,
declared, ‘No honeymooning.’
And made a show of catching them
a helicopter zooming,

but later on that evening,
snuck back through Buck’nham Palace
wound, much akin to Beatrice hunters,
where? Oh where? Do tell us...
Into the dark reception room
where the cake still sat, you know.
And there they hid for two whole weeks
and ate it. Jolly good show!

Copyright Elise Batchelor May 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cucumber sandwiches, champers, strawberries and scones

The day Chuck and Di shimmied down the aisle in 1981, I was 11. I was besotted by her dress and wondered if one might attach a hose to her train and play waterslides at the afterparty.

Then, in 1983, as a Perth Modern 'muso', our choir performed in Perth for the visiting couple and my Mum's photos of Princess Diana in her pink chiffon were...well, distant. But mine.

Me and Them

Them and Me

In 1986, I played 'princesses' with my year 10 class as all 26 of us managed to include those ridiculous puffball Diana sleeves on our debutante gowns. I looked like a melting snowman.

Me and Them

Then Diana died and, in our Carnegie apartment block, we refused to believe, for it was the acknowledged mad woman at number 13 who went about spreading the news. Subsequent distress ensued. That sort of surreal space where your mind cannot seem to connect the person with the situation in any way, shape or form.

For umpteen years afterwards, I didn't care about the royals. Much like my abandonment of the West Coast Eagles in the wake of all that Ben Cousins rubbish. The Queen's 'Miserable Year' I deemed as having been brought on by herself. I kind of liked Fergie too. Thus, in 1999, I did what I mistakenly believed everyone would do and voted in favour of Australia becoming a republic.

So here we are and I'm back on the wagon. Today. I'm chuffed to bits and getting the point that somewhere in our psyches, the search for meaning and purpose can be validly found in anything from footy to Oprah to a royal wedding.

My daughter's also a Kate. Her middle name, Elly, happens to be a derivative of my own, Elise, and mine of my mother's, Elizabeth. So, we have a small connection going on there and she's going to eat cucumber sandwiches and take a sip of Earl Grey tea tonight (whilst mummy gets shemozzled on champers). This is because, lucky for me, due to the fact that my own mother, Elizabeth, was au pair to the Queen's composer in London during the 1960s, only four degrees separate Wills and myself, thus rendering me invitation worthy. One up from my sister who only gets to watch it from the sidelines amongst the throngs in London.*

So I, Lady Sharleen Foxy-Hump,** could do nothing but reply to her Majesty in the affirmative...

Do sing along now. And have a jolly good night.

Pork on your fork

The grand old Queen did talk,
refined, as was her yen,
to all assembled hither at her
table once again.

She dinged her little fork
on her wine glass and then
the hush spread through the dining room
and thus she did begin.

‘My Ladies and my Lords
I think I need a gin;
with Wills and Kitty now engaged,
it’s time to marry them.

I know my Charles did baulk
and stuffed his up, but then,
he roosted with Camilla, yes,
that sourfaced feathered hen.

‘So we must walk the walk,
stop youngsters living in sin
and rally with our guest list,’
and with that began mayhem.

The Grand Old Duke of York,
that’s Andrew, had his pen,
and marched right up to his Mummy’s side
to write it all down then.

Like finest cheese to chalk
the list was odd, but then,
if Posh Spice is invited, surely I?
But when? Oh when?

I waited, just like Thorpe,
nine days, or maybe ten,
right at my humble letterbox
and prayed, Dear Wills…amen.

But nothing came at all,
whilst Kate showed off her gem,
‘til one day, oh surprise, surprise,
in hand scribed fountain pen,

‘Miss Leesie, come for pork,
for Wills is marrying.
Wear finest shoes and bestest gloves
and then we can begin.’

The plane it had great torque,
the wedding was akin
to something out of Dynasty
with all that next of kin.

But I heard voices talk,
those gossips, of my sin,
of how my gloves weren’t properlike…
I lost my royal grin.

For when they were up, they were up
and when they were down they were down
and when they were only halfway up
they were neither up nor down.

Perplexed, I popped a cork,
sipped champers in the din,
kicked off my thongs and partied hard
with Kate and Will-i-am.

Copyright Elise Batchelor April 2011

* bitch
** One's royal name for this occasion comprises your grandmother/grandfather's first name. Your surname is the hyphenation of your first pet followed by the street you grew up in. Oh, and due to the rights of poetic licence, I may have used mine.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'd love to have a tea with Jackman

In the two days leading up to April this year, I was beside myself. Well, I wish I had been beside myself so the self who was beside me could stay at home in Port Hedland whilst the other 'I' was freed up to tootle down the road to Karratha for a BFAT (A Bloody Freaking Awesome Thing).

You see, Hugh Jackman's publicist had liaised with the West Australian tourist industry to secure him a beach, for one day only, outside Karratha, called Hearson's Cove. The purpose? Why, to film the next in his series of extraordinarily delicious Lipton Iced Tea advertisements.

I thought the proposition ideal. The beach is a long, shelly stretch in a wide bay. The sun is imminently blue. The sea (when it is there, as opposed to when it is out two kilometers, according to local tides) is persistently warm.

Thus, when it came to the Friday morning of his ad. shoot at the commencement of April, all Karratha was abuzz and abussing its way out to this beach. Yet I was more despondent than a Britney fan who'd thought they were going to get live Spears for their splash of cash. And the only way I could cope was by going shopping. First, it was to the homewares store in Port Hedland where I spent over $100 on several items I absolutely did not need. Then I did the grocery shopping, spending $437 on food, drink, vegies and random homebrand appliances. An interesting venture given that I'd just done that week's grocery shopping the morning before.

By lunchtime, having ached my way through the morning, eaten four hot cross buns, crunched up a packet of triple choc biscuits, slurped a bucket of icecream, masticated several bags of chips and drunk six mugs of Lipton Tea, I had nothing left to do but write this poem.

Hugh and Cry

Not lying, I’m crying,
upon the floor I’m dying
and thinking, stop blinking,
mascara splodges inking
my face which is blotchy
and dribbly, blubbery, splotchy.
I’m sitting with icecream,
a bucket, topped with whipped cream.

My spoon I am slurping,
the wine’s made me start burping,
the Tim Tams are crumbs now
with me slumped in my pow wow,
crosslegged and moaning,
‘Oh woe is me,’ I’m groaning.
The morning, a heartbreak,
I’ve made a dreadful mistake.

Why did not I jump on
that bus and get a move on
from Hedland southwest where
Karratha had its coup there?
Hugh Jackman, oh heck, man,
he’s there today, so why am
I sitting here dribbly,
my guts all wobbly wibbly?

To Hearson’s he travelled,
his secrets to unravel
of dancing, so sexy,
with looks which do perplex me.
And right now, he’s sipping
his Lipton’s tea and dripping,
no doubt with his shirt off…
Oh I am such a nuff nuff.

I’m foolish, schoolgirlish,
and somewhat maybe churlish.
Oh bottom! It’s not fair!
So here now in Hedland,
my head and heart in bedlam,
I’ll sit here without cheer
for hours with a sore rear.

The phone rings, it bring brings
at midday and this voice sings:
‘How funny! How stupid?
Can you believe they took it?!
To think that they bought how
Hugh Jackman would be here now
and dancing and singing
down on the beach, hearts ringing.”

I listened, I shivered,
my bottom lip it quivered.
I blushed in the hush and
tried simply to be offhand:
‘Indeed yes, how crazy!
Who’d be sucked in so hazy?
Hugh Jackman, oh haha,
come up to see Karratha.’

And quickly, quite sickly,
I said goodbye all prickly.
And looked all around me;
my purchases astound me.
In woe I’d gone shopping,
the credit card hot hopping.
And that makes me coolish –
FIRST PRIZE Ms April Foolish!

Copyright Elise Batchelor 1st April 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

12 weeks and still counting...

Term one, 2011. I believe this term has been trundling on for about a decade and a half. I've had several changes in hairstyle, watched global warming come and go, then begin again, and eaten my body weight in Tim Tams, several times over.

And I'm not even teaching. So imagine how it's going for the real classroom troupers. Indeed, there should only be so many consecutive weeks in which the drawl of 'Go-od-mo-r-n-ing-mi-ss-who-ev-er-you-are' should be legally permissable, after which point, it's simply time to have a little nap on the desk until the final bell rings and the bliss of silence is incalculable.

So, to the classroom. To the amazing folk at the chalkface. And to every child who is still, besottingly, the perfect angel. Scratch and sniff stickers all round!

(With a special little hello to Macey, Kaylee, Charlotte, Katharine, Ainsley, Grace, Mrs Unkovich, Mrs Bradley and Miss Endersby).

How Many Peas?

One’s got plaits down to her tail
all dipped in fingerpaint.
One’s got fairy bread for lunch
which one might well call quaint.
One’s got shoes on two wrong feet;
he put them on himself.
Ones got laces wrapped around
his ankles, which now swell.

One’s got lice. One’s got sores.
One’s got chicken pox.
One’s got glue upon her eyes
and paint in her lunchbox.
One’s got snot below her lip
she’s blowing with her hanky.
One’s got a flashing headband which plays
Justin Bieber…swanky.

One’s still singing, ‘Row your boat
gently down the stream.’
And when she sees a crocodile,
she never forgets to scream.
One’s got texta on her dress
beneath her right armpit.
One’s got a pea stuck up his nose;
he thinks three more will fit.

One is sitting at her desk,
rather catatonic,
wondering when the term will end;
it’s time for gin and tonic.
And this is just the teachers.
Term one’s long and full.
And if we’re using big words might well
call it interminable.

But, then… little Charlotte smiles, gives her
teacher a sticker – a giraffe.
Cheeky Macey tells a joke
which makes the teacher laugh.
Robert paints a picture
with spots and dots and drool
and gives it to his teacher,
with an apple, ‘’Cause you’re cool!’

Kaylee finds her cupcake
(It’s a little bit squished, but hey)
and hands it to her teacher, saying,
‘You need this today.’
And all the class together
chant, ‘We love you – A LOT!’
They do it for the next three hours.
It’s deafening…but hits the spot.

You can find 'How Many Peas' here in the Pilbara Echo. Ed. 145 P.4
© Elise Batchelor April 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Blokes with balls

A girlfriend of mine once rang me in fits, tears and snot evidently dribbling from her facial orrifices as she laughed. Once I was able to lasso in some logical syntax, this is what she told me.

I came home to a spotless kitchen and the whiff of some gorgeous smelling risotto. My husband ushered me to the couch and pressed play on the DVD. It was Love Actually, actually. He then served me a glass of red and joined me for his brandy and dry. We chatted, in a somewhat surreal space to my mind, about the weather, the overgrown lawn, educational theory. Then he ran back to the kitchen, clanked and clattered a little and produced said rustic Italian feast which we ate by movie light, side by side, on our worn out blue sofa. I watched him watch me eat my last morsels of rice. Watched him watch me put my fork down in the bowl. Watched him watch me place my bowl on the floorboards. Watched him watch me settle back in to continue with the movie.

And he suddenly paused it, jumped up and flicked on the light.
What?! I cried. His pace suggested he'd left a burning cake in the oven. Or had suddenly developed a loose bowel.

He returned to the couch. Sat down beside me. Smiled. Into my eyes smiled.
What? It was a bit much.
Then he looked down at my empty risotto bowl and nodded at it. 'Good?'
'Yum?' I answered, hoping this was the correct response.
'Cool,' he replied. Grinning. Frozen. Waiting for....

Suddenly realising the entire set up was a ploy which, no matter how seemingly romantic and altruistic in nature was actually an enactment of the universe's most fundemental, archetypal bluff, I began to laugh. Indeed, I descended into a torrent of hysterical fits, gushing forth, Versuvius like.

And that's when I rang you.

He's still sitting on the couch waiting for her reply...

International Man’s Day

If she gets a day, then so should I.
The time is nigh, but I don’t deny
she pulls her weight around the house
and her cooking’s grouse (she’s quite the spouse),
but since we’ve had, oh, what do you say?
That Women’s Day, that purple display,
to celebrate me, I’ll clean the place
at such a pace she’ll think I’m ace.

I’ll even scrub the feral wok.
Soap suds will flock; she’ll think I rock
and then I’ll tidy up the yard;
it can’t be hard and buy her char-
donnay, the best; it costs five bucks
(I think it sucks), but she’s deluxe
and for her I will also tote
a post-it note(and will not gloat)

that tells me to PUT DOWN THE SEAT.
Now, what a treat. That’s hard to beat
and she will not scream from the loo
as she’d normally do in such a stew
for not just will the seat be down
but a full roll wound I cleverly found
with the other loo rolls she hides so well
on the window sill. And I’m no dill.

After all these jobs are done
I’ll suck up scum, as vacuuming’s fun
and dust her precious ornaments
and ceiling vents and pay the rent
and other bills and fines and fees
(it’s such a breeze If yur organeezed).
I’ll scour the laundry and shower too
and TA DAH! The loo, with flair, I do.

And scrub the sink of facial hair,
the shavings there beyond compare,
and then the bath, I polish it well.
It sparkles ‘til my head does swell.
I then pick up my path that flows
of winding clothes and socks and shoes.
Ecstatic she will be tonight
I’m a bit of all right. She’ll show delight.

Especially when I cook the dinner
and tell her she’s thinner, she’s with a winner.
No chore undone, a spotless home
and bubbly foam in a bath to roam.
My darling will be in such bliss
in the bath’s abyss and I’ll blow a kiss
and because I’ve cleaned ‘til the house shines bright
I’m a shining light and if my cards play right,

oh yes, we had that Women’s Day
(they’re quite ok in the strangest way).
But if she’s had HER day, tonight is MINE
and because I shine and she thinks I’m fine,
I’m sure she’ll want to thank me, yes,
for I ‘m the best and she is blessed.
So off I pop into our bedroom now,
where I’ll “take a bow” and she’ll purr “meow”…

                          …if she ever gets out of the bath.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bite me!

The Laws of Attraction must state in their fine print that my pathetic, girly skin is a fair target for mozzie mauling. That's one thing up here. The bastards are breeding like it's the last water they'll ever see and they suck not just the blood, but the life blood out of unsuspecting victims.

Sandflies, however, roam in another realm of disaster.


Unequivocally, with passion, and a body covered in carcenogenic bitey beastie protection (ie. RID upon DEET upon Bushman's. And none of this natural twaddle. Sandflies laugh out loud in the face of natural balms.)

So, here's my poem, to honour the sandfly sufferer and mark said sufferer as a legend of the maul.

Superbad Bities

Four am in stillest night,
in the tent with stars all bright,
full moon out which lights the sky,
far from shore and high and dry,

I am woken by a ping!
Something like a little sting.
Not a mozzie, all is silent.
What on earth is this here tyrant?

Sitting with an itchy butt,
wiggling it around a lot,
cannot seem to make it cease.
Looks like I’ve got worms, good grief!

Then I feel it on my arm.
Hairs spike up in great alarm.
I rub on my funny bone,
right up to my armpit zone.

Suddenly they’re on my knees;
right, then left, then right, oh please!
Then upon my heel and toe.
Twitch about all do-ce-do.

Little finger, largest thumb,
then again upon my bum.
Undies not protecting much
as I scratch that such and such.

Silent evil, little din,
next they are upon my shin,
on my ankle, in my hair,
up my nose (how’d they get there?)

Here a knuckle; this is rotten,
then I scratch my belly button
for as long as I am able
to thus gaze upon my navel.

Ouch! My eyelash. Ludicrous.
Rub my shoulder, scratch my wrist,
Itch my back ‘til I am sore,
scratch my ribs with bites galore.

Hair and scalp, that bloody menace,
every nook and sweaty crevice,
bits the light has never seen,
not wish on your enemy.

Tummy, toosh and cheek and lip,
palm and wrist with bony bit,
hip and thigh and calf and jaw
underarm and chin, what’s more,

reeling, feeling rather grotty,
next another on my botty,
now my lips and just for fun,
open wide, it pings my tongue.

In between my fingers now,
then upon my right eyebrow.
Forming now a crazy nexus,
how’d it get my solar plexus?!

And by now I’m scratching mad,
nutcase spinning superbad.
Midgies, give yourselves a clap.
You lot win, but take this – SLAP!

Headtorch on and hunt for keys.
Scrounging round upon my knees,
find them in the mess of stuff,
bit to ‘blivion, had enough.

Eye the zip and spy the ute,
count from three, two, one and scoot.
Beep, unlock, jump in, and slam!
Lock the doors from this here scam.

Hoon away into the night,
past the dawn to bright sunlight,
far away from Cleaverville.
Camping there? Don’t be a dill!

Four weeks on and I still count
scars of which did well surmount
one hundred and forty eight,
done and dusted, well too late.

So, if you pass me on the street
you will know me, hard to beat,
I’m the one who still looks rotten,
…scratching on her itchy bottom.

Elise Batchelor March 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Christchurch Quakes

Our world is a crazy beast right now. The December floods in West Australia's Gascoyne region were incredible. Then Melbourne rained all January, Queensland then New South Wales and Victoria had their monumental floods in Feburary, only to be mopped up by the massive Cyclone Yasi in the country's north east corner. The Pilbara has rained and cycloned its way through summer and, next thing you know, there are fires culling suburbs in Perth, more deluges in Queensland and flooded roads in the Kimberley.

And then the Christchurch earthquake.
And then Japan's earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear reactor explosions.

I suggested I'd buy a lotto ticket. Now seems the right time.
My friend Beth replied not to bother. 'All the outlets,' she reckons, have probably 'been flooded, burned, and knocked down in earthquakes and nuked! There is always fine print to these games.'

In the fine print, there is of course the worst of all of this. Not the buildings, or the holes in the road, the debris littering rooftops, or the cars and boats littering village streets.

It's the death.

Yet still, amongst that, there persists that singular gift of humanity we cling to through all such sobering times.

I was privileged to be given the opportunity to write about the Christchurch earthquake in its wake. And this is what I share with you today.

The photo is of two sisters together in France. The lady on the left makes her home in Christchurch. this 'little old lady' was injured, but survived. And thus, carrying hope in a handbag, she still makes her home in Christchurch.

Blessings to all.

The Pilbara Poet

When the earth moved

Newly wed and under wraps in a fine hotel,
their synchronicity was blinding.
Both felt it at once,
the earth moving for them.
Yet neither screamed,
for the weight of the moment
sucked breath away,
deep into dust and steel,
with the rose petal bed shifted
eight floors south
and their thumping hearts
clogged quick into lifelessness.

In the next room
a businessman walked out
the third floor
at street level
with a scratch
upon his temple.
And a headache.

The little old lady hunkered beneath
her shattered shoulder and
the ridiculous armour of a black wool coat
noted her own irony, stuttering, dazed
through this Armageddon of
broken earth in her city’s heart.
It was Tuesday.
Her mass day.
Holy Mother of God.
And she had been communing with her Lord,
giving thanks for her many blessings.
At least one person watching on
the evening news saw her confusion,
wondering if she was wondering
whether Christ went down with her church too.

We build along the fault lines of hope.
It is our nature, and will be done
until the lovers sleep at peace,
until the bells ring out once more.

Until we are certain we are solid.

© Elise Batchelor March 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thirty something (and a bit)

When Jennifer Aniston turned forty, she avoided a midlife crisis with a luxury holiday to Mexico and a renewal of her vows that blonde will always be the new blonde. When Sarah Jessica Parker turned forty, she had a perfume made of her essence (although why one would want to smell like Sarah Jessica Parker is beyond me). When Shane Warne turned forty, he avoided the psychological crash and burn of midlife by continuing to send random large busted women text messages professing undying lust (if not dyed hair). When Kylie turned forty, she began to look like a cat. When my husband turned forty...oh, sorry, that's right, he didn't. And Never Will he tells me. Got that?

And when I turned forty, I did it in style. The only way to do it. I bought something red. And by god, did it feel gooooood.

The Red One

I want the red one, thanks, ‘cause it goes faster.
It may well make a mess, cause a disaster,
but with my fine tuned skills I’ll be the master
and take the chance on ending up in plaster.

Don’t want the blue one, no, it’s not the same.
It may well sink, not swim when in the rain
and blue, well, it’s for boys, (I know that’s lame),
But, oh, I love the red - it’s like a flame.

I’ll polish it each day for best protection
and when I gaze at it, there’s my reflection
and I will smile at me, need no correction,
for choosing red is just my predilection.

I’ll keep it shiny clean and housed inside.
It will have pride of place and we will ride.
The fastest gears it hits; oh no, don’t chide.
This girl is superkeen and cannot hide

wanting the red one, yes, it’s superstition.
But if I think of pink I feel the scission
which tears my heart in two with fine precision
and even black or white cause deep derision.

And so HE trots off to the special place
where all the red ones sit and wait with grace.
Oh how I just can’t wait to set the pace.
All whirr and whizz bang biz! It will be ace.

As he returns no sign of shiny toy
and he bemoans, ‘Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.’
My heart it caves, implodes and out seeps joy
until I rea-lise it’s a decoy.
He holds a whisk and asks, ‘Will this thing do?’
I stare dumfounded asking, ‘Would it you?’
He ponders, squinting, what oh what to do?
And then I know I shouldn’t feel so blue.

‘I’m only joking!’ he beams, just as I spy
my bright red mixmaster from my left eye.
‘Oh happy day! Thank you! I may well cry!’
‘How ‘bout instead, my love, bake lemon pie.’

So turning forty was not really hard.
Not that I am, but were I, I would star.
For if you’re going to do the crisis BLAH,
then get the RED one and it will take you far!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bubble wrap or bust!

When I first moved from Melbourne to the Pilbara several years ago, it was, as many stories up here go, completely by accident. We were in a four wheel drive. Travelling around Oz with life compacted within the confines of a Nissan Patrol. And it was oh so very, very simple. We ran out of money at Exmouth. Well, everything bar $20 for fuel to get us five hours up the road.

In Karratha, we found a house (or my husband's employer did, as is also, necessarily, the way of things in a region which, whilst responsible for the country's booming economy, is brutally expensive to rent in.) And we shipped over our boxes.

All 78 of them.

Plus furniture.

Plus this funny thing which looked like either a ginger crusher or a guinea pig torture chamber. Still not sure.

Plus dust.

Plus. Plus. Plus.

And the mountain which was stacked up before us in our ever so fragile loungeroom ached like all the last straws in the world had been placed on its peak.

It didn't collapse under the pressure.

But I almost did. And to this day, I wonder how it is we so quickly move from the simplicity of a few boxed items of necessity to a hoarder's paradise. And still believe we'll need everything...sometime.

In the meantime, we've just moved again. I now call Port Hedland home and have been boxing and unboxing my life once again. Andrew Collins from ABC North West is also doing the same with his wife Melissa and little Pilbara baby Saffron as we speak.

Their motto is 'Bubble wrap or bust!'

So, to all of you who have ever moved and found the movement a less than moving experience, here's a little joy. And maybe a message of hope too: You'll never be alone in the experience. We've all lost the plot over it before. Don't you worry about that!

Packing It

As the ultimately anally and
organised type,
she would not believe the press
and he would not believe the hype
that to get somebody in to do the
packing was all right.
He said, “Nope, cannot afford it.”
She said, “Do it in a night.”

So the challenge it was on and they were
ready, set pack,
with the microwave unplugged
and all the crockery unstacked
And all the knives and forks and spoons
and what the Lordy be is that?
It’s a garlic crusher, darling.”
“Oh,” he mused, “not a…rat trap?”

How ‘bout,” she said with sense,
we chuck the kids’ toys all in here,”
as he packing taped the boxes
and forgot to drink his beer
and so in went lights and buzzers,
teacups pink and teapots clear,
every truck and train and block,
every thing which pings the ear.

Every mobile phone for babies,
every wind up singing car,
each and every tambourine, and drum
and battery powered guitar,
all the toys which ding and tinkle,
all the franchised kiddy stars,
Can’t we give it to the Salvo’s
and not cart it near and far?”

Sorry darling, no,” she frowned,
although she’d wondered just the same.
It is all just part and parcel of the
pack and movem game,
as he lugged another bloated box
to sit beside the frame
of the portrait posed and four foot wide,
smiles pinched and rather lame.

And they boxed up every cable,
five remotes from one tv.
He felt ripped and fully able,
she thought are we off our tree?
But the deed it needed doing
and between just you and me
with Bon Jovi in the background,
it was quite a sight to see.

And they had a kiss at four am
both sweating like drowned flies,
sorting uniforms from dress ups,
chucking out last year’s mince pies,
taping box on box on box with cheekbones
fierce and rippling thighs,
How about a break my darling?”
giving her his cheeky eyes.

“Hardy har,” she pulled a face and fiercely
onwards they did scramble
with a mission of precision all their
pots and pans to handle,
every match and dust collector,
every teapot trinket candle,
every dress and shirt and belt
and every thong, ugg boot and sandal,

every cute thing, wrapped in bubbles,
every CD stacked and packed,
here a loose spoon off the table,
there a stray coathanger whacked,
‘til the sun was dawning yawning
and the next door’s chicken clacked,
but unlike its single egg neither our two
had actually…cracked.

Ta dah!” he put his arm about her,
wiping off his sweat.
“We are legends, superstars;
more to the point, we’re done!” You bet.
And they stood amongst the silence
of the boxes’ towering threat
as amidst the great brown castle
sounded something like regret…

Bok-ekkkk. Bok-ekkkk!

And their looks were stunted horror
as the sound screeched from the ground
and they quick began to wonder
where this sound might well be found.
In amidst the thousand boxes,
deep within it did resound
and he heard her swear prolific
as his blood thumped round and round.

Was it Joseph’s wind up truck,
or was it Rosie’s fluffy chook?
Was it Elly’s dancing Tinkerbell
or Max’s talking book?
Could it be right near the top?
Could they take the merest look?
No, that sound came from the depths,
depths of despair and they both shook.

Bok-ekkkk. Bok-ekkk!

And the answer? It was simple:
They must unpack every box,
every stupid household item,
every jewel and single sock,
every shell and vase and ruddy muddy
gumboot, every jock.
as it showed, that torment on her face,
before he’d thrown a rock…

Bok-ekkkkk. Bok- Ekkkk!

Two hours on and all their work undone
the thing still rang on aloud
She was crying, he was chucking stuff,
but nowhere to be found
was the voice of greatest torment,
ringing out and all around
and they sat amidst debris
with everything just come to ground.

Bok-ekkk. Bok-ekk!

Then she heard it. There it was and there she
found the microwave,
sitting all alone behind the rubble,
unboxed barricade
and she opened it to find it
and to end this mad charade -
her egg timer - clucking chicken -
done its time and on parade.

Bok-ekkk. Bok-ekkkk!

And the husband and his wife,
with exhaustion and great thirst,
took a lesson from this moment
before into tears both burst,
that when packing and upstacking
when that moving time’s the worst
is quite easily and simply…

take the batteries out first.


©Elise Batchelor February 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Off to school! Zips zipped, lunches packed and buttons pressed...

Feb ’76. I trot off to Lake Grace Primary School in rural Western Australia with a tiny orange suitcase and a library bag. Many years later, I’m bracing to do the same with my own kidlets. Remember, if this school bizzo’s raising your blood pressure, simply recite, “When ‘ing’ comes to stay, ‘e’ goes away”. It won’t help with bullies, but it’s quite the calming mantra.

What did you think of your first day? More to the point, how did you cope when it was your very own children you were sending off with a packed lunch and name labels coming out every orifice?

The first day of the rest of their lives

On the eve of the morn of the too quick come dawn,
he took her outside and they sat on the lawn.
‘It’s this white burning terror. We’re making an error,
she pleaded, eyes wide with her lip all aquiver.

Can’t we say no and just not let him go,
blame the heat or your mother or tumults of…snow?
I just must be honest, it’s too quick upon us,
I’m bursting with fear and you’re looking quite anxious.’

He grimaced a bit and agreed, this was it,
for morning would come and they’d have to commit.
‘Ok, that’s enough now, unfurrow your tight brow,’
he rallied to calm her, although he knew not how.

‘But what if he’s sad or his handwriting’s bad
and the kids are all mean and pick on him, poor lad?
Or what if he’s short and can’t see as he ought
‘cause the desk is too big; did you give that a thought?

‘And what if his lunchbox is wrong and his school socks
too long and his school bag too small so he doesn’t belong?
And what if his uniform rips when my little boy trips
and the children all laugh and he spills all his chips?

And what if his pencils all break or his teacher’s a fake
and she can’t teach apostrophes? My heart will break!
And what if his hat blows away? And it’s NO HAT, NO PLAY!
And he’s stuck by himself in the classroom all day?

‘And…what if he wets his pants?’

‘And then there is high school and what if he’s uncool
or worse still, quite popular making the girls drool?
And then he starts wagging or going on bragging,
under the weight of a school bag that’s sagging?

'And then there’s the ball, oh my goodness, my Lord.
It’s way, way too soon and how can we afford
the tux and the shoes and the limo they choose
and what if he’s drunk and passed out in the loos?

‘And…what if he wets his pants?!’

‘Calm down my dove, please settle, my love.
Aren’t you jumping the gun? For when push comes to shove,
you’re turning the screw in a right royal stew
when the fact is right now you’re twelve days overdue

and you have to give BIRTH first!’

‘Oh right, you’re correct, but what I suspect
is my waters are breaking and to be quite direct…

I think I’ve just wet my pants!!’

PS. Yes, that picture's me. No, I'm not pregnant. Done it twice. That's enough for me!