Caution – Rabbits hitch-hiking

Near Ridge Park, Adelaide is a traffic sign, which used to warn of elderly people crossing. For some weeks now, the sign has been upside down (see above). It’s on Glen Osmond Road, near the bottom of the south-east freeway. It would be one of the first things people driving from Victoria see on arriving in Adelaide. (For non-Australian readers, there is a fair bit of animosity between Victorians and Adelaideans). I often wonder what they might think of the sign, especially if they’ve looked at optical illusion pictures. On the other hand, they probably just see an upside down warning of elderly people ahead.

 

Caution – One-Eyed Rabbits Hitch-Hiking

Caution – One-eyed rabbits smoking cigars

Caution – One-eyed rabbits line-dancing

Caution – Abusive two-finger gestures ahead

Caution – Abusive two-finger gestures combined with A-OK gestures ahead

Caution – Abusive one-balled rabbits ahead

Caution – Elderly people helping each other across the road whilst doing head-stands

Caution – Elderly Inverted Line Dancers Ahead

Caution – Fancy cocktails with two straws ahead

Caution – One eyed rabbits drinking fancy cocktails ahead

Caution – One eyed rabbits spitting out fur-balls ahead

Caution – Double Fuck off back to Victoria

Caution – Bad shadow puppetry ahead

Caution – Rabbits cleaning their ears with Q-Tips

Hey Victorians:  Fuck off back to Melbourne and take your bloody one-eyed, one-balled, cigar-smoking, fur-ball-spitting, cocktail-drinking, line-dancing, hitch-hiking fucking rabbits with you.

 

Glen Osmond Road, Myrtle Bank


Copyright Mike Hopkins 2018

Reading with Louise Nicholas at the Halifax Cafe, Wednesday 26th September 2018

 

Wednesday, 26th September, 2018, 6 p.m to 7:30 p.m
Halifax Cafe,
187 Halifax Street, Adelaide

I’ll be reading with the wonderful Louise Nicholas as part of the Friendly Street Poets Featured Poets series (unless we’ve been deported before then)

(photo by Alex Ellinghausen)

More Details on the FSP site:
http://friendlystreetpoets.org.au/2018/09/16/fsp-featured-poets-at-halifax-cafe-mike-hopkins-and-louse-nicholas/

 

For non-Australians, the nasty looking character in the pic above is Peter Dutton., He very, very nearly became our Prime Minister a few weeks ago. Instead we ended up with an almost equally nasty piece of work called Scott Morrison, who came flying through a field of incompetents in a sort of Steven Bradbury finish. Dutton has been under investigation for fast-tracking tourist visas for European au pairs, some of whom allegedly work for alleged friends and party donors. At the same time, he prosecutes a vicious campaign against refugees, keeping them locked up for years in awful conditions offshore. He came into Parliament recently with two files marked with the names of political opponents – a not-so-veiled threat that he would dish out dirt on anyone who attacked him.

The Bands You Have and Haven’t Heard of

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin Wallpaper (27517850) - Fanpop

My old school pal, Paul Flatt, has undertaken the gargantuan task of writing a blog post every day through 2018, and a great job he is making of it. Granted, I may be biased, as his musings cover a life which overlapped with mine for several years when we were both students at the hell-hole known as Gunnersbury Grammar School for Boys in West London. But Paul writes well and ranges over topics as diverse as rock music, politics, rubbish removal (or non-removal) in Northampton, rugby, home renovations, television and radio and family life. His excellent blog can be found here.

In yesterday’s (7th September) post, Paul recounted getting his hands on an import version of Led Zeppelin 1. This would have been, I think, 1969, when he was 16 and I was 15 (I was the youngest in our year). I can also remember laying my hands on it, some months later than Paul did – the album was released in the USA before the UK. I too remember thrilling to the way Jimmy Page’s guitar soared between one stereo speaker and the other. (As an aside, it was my brother’s stereo system, which my mother bought “on the H.P.” from Simm’s Electrical in Sudbury Hill, and I can remember the repo men knocking on the door to take it away when she couldn’t keep up the payments).

And to attest to the timelessness of the music (to me at least), I have it in the CD player in my car. It was one of the few CDs which I left in the car before I went to Vietnam last year, so I was clearly listening to it last year as well.

Led Zeppelin II was an album I liked as well, but then, as often happens with me, I started to lose interest when the band became “big”. I always tended to prefer, for some reason, niche bands or bands that were made up of eccentrics or had a guitarist kicked out of another band that went on to become huge without him.

Which reminded me of a poem I wrote a few years ago:

 

The Bands You’ve Never Heard of

I always loved the bands that never quite made it,

 

that had a critically acclaimed first album

which they couldn’t follow up,

 

released a single which briefly

reached twenty-nine in the top thirty,

 

had an incredible multi-instrumentalist

who could play two saxophones at the same time

and was revered as a god in Nigeria,

 

that were nothing without the drop dead lead guitarist

who dropped dead too young to join the twenty-seven club,

 

that were formed by a bloke

who left a super group just before it became super

and now lives in a council house in the English Midlands

a few miles from the sprawling Gothic estates of his erstwhile band members,

 

that made an ill-advised appearance on Top of the Pops

stoned out of their minds miming

in front of the gob-smacked bubblegummers,

 

released L.P.s. with multi-coloured swirls on the vinyl,

causing a ripple of excitement at the time

and now eagerly sought by collectors of oddities,

 

had intriguing names taken from a Kipling poem, or a classic film

or an obscure 18th century inventor of agricultural implements,

 

produced albums with two stupendous tracks,

the rest filled with white boy versions of Elmore James standards,

 

that were talented jazz musicians trying their luck

at being a rock band before realising it needed a different key;

 

that you can find in grainy recordings on YouTube

with a hundred and twenty views and two ‘likes’, one of which is mine;

 

that wrote a great song which most people think

was written by the well-known band who took it to number one in the charts,

 

that referenced snatches of Bach or Coltrane

in the middle of 30 minute organ solos,

 

devised a killer riff that was stolen

and used in someone else’s million seller,

 

toured the States as support acts for Led Zep or Purple,

third on the bill, live at the Fillmore,

paid a pittance to open the show

and would have had the crowd screaming “more, more, more”

but the crowd was still queuing to get in,

 

that were just as good as the great bands

but not as good-looking.

 

You’ve got no idea who I’m talking about, have you?

 

______________

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2018
except image

Parliament House – Cleaning Contractor Report

Parliament House – Cleaning Contractor Report

August 24th 2018

Claim for Additional Payment

 

Our monthly charge for cleaning Parliament House covers the items, areas and services recorded in our contract (CC2018PD345/13). This additional claim is submitted for the extraordinary work of cleaning and refurbishment on the evening of August 24th 2018, identified herewith:

  • Large bloodstained areas around, under and immediately behind the front bench.
  • Deep incisions in the furniture inflicted by several sharp instruments.
  • Blood spatter on walls. More than usual.
  • Several areas of severe soakage, some still warm (urine?), others cold (tears?)
  • Around the opposition benches, also areas of severe soakage (tears of laughter?).
  • Deep indentations on walls and the backs of seats, as if inflicted by members’ foreheads.
  • Extensive deep drag marks in the carpets leading to the exits, as if a body, maybe several bodies had been pulled, heels down, out of the building, to be disposed of.
  • Unusual amounts of rotten tomatoes, banana skins and crumpled ransom notes.
  • Several piles of vomit in the public gallery.
  • Most difficult to deal with are the heaps of excrement. They resemble those found at another of our clients, an abattoir, at the point where animals realise their fate.

We attach our bill for additional payment, in the amount of $22,000, due to the need to call in specialist staff and equipment to deal with the above, and to provide trauma counselling to those staff.

Yours Faithfully,

 

 

 

__________________________

F. Carpenter
Manager, Canberra Corporate Cleaning Pty. Ltd

 

 

 

 


Copyright Mike Hopkins 2018

Note to Australian Federal Police - this is a work of fiction
Special thanks to Rachael Mead for the workshop in which this was drafted.

Book Review: “The Rules of Backyard Cricket” by Jock Serong

The Rules of Backyard CricketThe Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a terrific read, gripping from start to finish. It describes the rise and fall of brothers who become two of the leading Australian cricketers. Serong says that the characters are not based on real cricketers, but he writes with an insider’s authority. The events are almost completely believable apart from some unlikely twists that stretch credulity.

The main characters, Darren and Walley Keefe, could almost parallel the Waugh twins – one dour and professional, the other a maverick. Serong extends the differences in personalities for the Keefe brothers, one becoming more of a Shane Warne character and the other a seemingly dour Bradman.

The book takes us inside the cosseted world of the elite sportsmen – the hangers-on, the corruption, the drugs, the media circus, the betting – as well as the excitement of the brothers progress from child prodigies to national figures.

The writing is of a high standard. Each chapter commences with a short update of Darren’s current predicament and then goes chronologically through the series of events which led the brothers to their current impasse. There are well delineated supporting characters, which add colour and credibility to the story.

Recommended, especially if you are or were into cricket and like a rollicking thriller.

View all my reviews

Book Review: “Meet My Mother” by Louise Nicholas

Meet My MotherMeet My Mother by Louise Nicholas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Louise Nicholas is a much-loved and admired Adelaide based poet. This book, about her mother Dorothy, builds on the writing of her mother, and supplements it with Louise’s recollections of her relationship with her mother. There are poems by Louise about her mother, poetic letters which her mother wrote to her in Louise’s adult travelling years, and sections of prose providing a timeline through her mother’s life.

Louise describes her mother’s life, in a non-pejorative way, as ‘a little life’. Most of us indeed lead little lives, without achieving or experiencing anything world shattering, getting through life as best we can. This book shows that a little life can still be an incredibly rich life, where the day-to-day challenges of childhood, family and ageing are wrestled with. It is written with the gentle humour and accessibility which characterises Louise’s poetry. And in Dorothy’s poetic letters to Louise, one can detect the seeds of Louise’s poetic style – just one of the many gifts that her mother left her.

A lovely book.

View all my reviews

Book Review: “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien

The Things They CarriedThe Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tim O’Brien was conscripted into the U.S. Army and sent to Vietnam. This book is a series of vignettes, not claiming to be fact, which detail the life, the events, the state of mind of a soldier and his colleagues before, during and after the Vietnam war. It is completely engrossing, partly because it is incredibly well-written and partly because it gives such insight into the minds of the men he describes. The events cover the full gamut of what we now know happens in war – the brutality, the incredible endurance, the tenderness, the cruelty, the dehumanisation. Some of the most touching stories take place in the U.S.A. when the main character is only a child and falls in love, and later when he is grappling with the possibility of escaping to Canada and dodging the draft.

The stories stand alone, but together form a rich picture of one man’s incredible experiences, his fight with his conscience and his battle to retain his sanity. This is not a standard war memoir; this is a complex insight into the effect of war on ordinary men.

Highly, highly recommended.

View all my reviews

NaPoWriMo 2018 – #30 Thirty

thirty-2428143_960_720.jpg

 

Thanks again to Paul Flatt for a prompt, which led to this, the thirtieth and final one of the month, thank god. Appropriately, on the subject of 30.

Thirty

The Virgin Mary stopped ageing

when she was thirty, so

what did she die of?

 

There are only ten commandments.

Occ Health and Safety laws

cover the other twenty

 

If there were only thirty

ways to leave your lover

the divorce rate might be lower

 

If God took his time

and spent thirty days on his creation

we wouldn’t need lawyers

 

There are only seven deadly sins

because the other twenty-three

are physically impossible

 

Imagine the noise

if Spinal Tap’s amp

went up to thirty

 

How much weed

would the Byrds have needed

to go thirty miles high

 

and how much more

to reach

cloud thirty?

 


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Copyright Mike Hopkins 2018

Image: https://pixabay.com/en/thirty-30s-skin-pass-zone-30s-zone-2428143/

About NaPoWriMo

(Some / most of these could be rightly described as “chopped up text”. But that’s how first drafts often look.)

NaPoWriMo 2018 – #29 The Heart of a Saint

red-heart-in-hands.jpg

The heart of St Laurence O’Toole has been returned to its home in Christ Church Cathedral, but gardaí are being tight-lipped about how the relic was recovered.”

The Journal.ie April 28th, 2018

The Heart of a Saint

I wandered into Christchurch Cathedral last night. Well, I admit I was drinking all day in the Brazen Head and needed to clear my head. The gate of the Cathedral being open like, I thought I’d sit for a while and ponder the state of the world. I found my way inside, let’s say I may have used an implement to gain access. I was drawn to this wooden box, a reliquary they call it, in one of the alcoves. There it was, just sitting there, so you don’t pass up a chance like that. Could be worth a few bob you know. I stuck it under my jacket and legged it. I just caught the last bus home, sat upstairs on it I did, the reliquary on my knee. Even then it felt a bit strange, like something was ticking inside. So I gets it home, opens up the box, and bejesus there’s this thing, a pumping heart inside. And it was an old heart, I could tell. All grizzled and marbled, a very old man by the look of it. I wondered who the man was, and was he missing his still beating heart. There’s nobody I know would pay money for a thing like that. So next morning, I went for a walk down the high street, took the box with me, looking for somewhere to dump it. I bought the Daily Mirror. There on the front page: “Saint Laurence O’Toole’s heart goes missing”. Jesus Christ Almighty, I had a saint’s heart in my hands. That can’t be good. How was I to get rid of it. I thought of the butcher’s shop, you know, stick it in the bin with the offal and off cuts. But then that might have gone to pet food, and that didn’t seem right for a saint. I thought of the hospital, leave it outside the morgue, but who knows with those guys they might have taken it in for dissection practice. It was still beating away in the box, seemed to be getting a bit agitated. I sat down next to an old fella having a sandwich on a bench. I just left it there by the bench, but the old fella came chasing after me “you’ve left your heart behind”, he says. How did he know it was a heart is what I want to know? Probably heard it beating away I suppose. I couldn’t get rid of it. Everywhere I went, someone would see me and come roaring after me “You’ve left your heart behind”. “I know, I know” says I. So the only way I got rid of it, was by going out at midnight, nobody around, covering it up in a Tesco’s bag, climbing the gates of Phoenix Park, running into the trees and leaving it there. As I ran away I swear I could still hear it beating. I rang the Gardai from a phone box, told them where to look, and next morning, sure enough, I see a patrol car going into the park. So it’s back in the alcove in the Cathedral now, and the priest is happy to have his saint’s heart back, and I’m relieved to be rid of it. Though, you know, I sometimes miss having a beating heart in my hand.

Note to Gardai: This is a work of fiction


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Copyright Mike Hopkins 2018

Image: George Hodan

About NaPoWriMo

(Some / most of these could be rightly described as “chopped up text”. But that’s how first drafts often look.)

NaPoWriMo 2018 – #28 Q & A With a Ghost

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Nearing the end of the month and running out of ideas. Here’s a draft inspired by reading Anne Carson.

Q & A With a Ghost

after Anne Carson

Q. Do you sleep?
A. Yes but there is no day or night
Q. Do you stay there forever?
A. Forever has no meaning here
Q. Do you eat?
A. Yes, but what we call food you might call inspiration
Q. What about sex?
A. Yes, but without the physical bit
Q. Do you have language?
A. No but we understand each other perfectly
Q. Is there such as thing as the Bardo?
A. There is a place like that. We call it the waiting room.
Q. Do you ever see your past life?
A. It plays on a big screen every Saturday.
Q. Are there saints?
A. and devils too
Q. Who do you report to?
A. The choir director
Q. So you have singing?
A. I’m a soprano
Q. and poetry?
A. Dear god no.

 


 

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Copyright Mike Hopkins 2018

Image: Mike Hopkins

About NaPoWriMo

(Some / most of these could be rightly described as “chopped up text”. But that’s how first drafts often look.)