Last night I headed up to Belgrave to see hilarious Australian band The Beards on their farewell tour (I say “up” because it’s literally up on the side of Mount Dandenong, and I live in the valley just below the mountain). I have never seen that many bearded men at a concert before, and this coming from someone who usually goes to Viking and Celtic-themed folk metal concerts. Even a number of the women in the crowd were sporting fake beards. I have never heard the word “beard” repeated so frequently that I almost need to wax it right out from my vocabulary and wait until it grows back.
I didn’t manage to get too many good photos of the band but I did manage to high-five them as they walked on and off stage between sets. The Husband (who has a beard and, as a guy with Ukrainian heritage, sometimes chooses to occasionally channel a decent Kozak moustache) was informed by some of the old blokes at the concert that he had good beard potential and to keep working on it!
Some of this content may be offensive to some of my readers, so don’t watch if you don’t like coarse language or drug references!
*Unfortunately the place was swarming with drunken yobbos. Most of the audience were fine but I’m not a huge fan of yobbos. They’re intimidating and sweaty and can be downright jerks. It just occurred to me that “drunken yobbo” is probably an Australian English term that makes sense to me but I’m not sure how I would communicate a definition to non-Australian readers. I couldn’t possibly nuance it. How is it different from “bogan,” for example? I don’t know. The differences are instinctive, subtle yet meaningful. Yobbos are basically rude, loud blokes (Aussie men, usually of Anglo-European ethnic heritage) who hold stubbies (glass bottles of beer) and yell crap whether at the footy (Australian Rules Football) or at a gig (a musical concert). Perhaps it is that yobbos are bogans but not all bogans are yobbos? And how is bogan different to patriot? Ah, sweet, complex, diverse Australian culture, how could I count your many variants on “drunk person with loudly expressed opinions”?
Ye’d be best off taking a different path.
The old woman in the kitchen liked to stand with hands on hips,
it made her feel strong and mighty; gave her the right to scold the young men as though they were
the sons she never had.
He felt small next to her, though they were the same height, but
there was something in the way the women looked at him:
A veiled fear, perhaps, hidden under their bonnets and how they all looked exactly alike
their uniform long skirts and high-shouldered blouses – no corsets, though – too impractical for these wild lands. Stay off Brumby’s Track, ye hear?
Something terrible happened there, once.
Sideways glances and anxious silence. Guilt, perhaps?
Guilty consciences because they talked among themselves,
But what did he have to do with it? The sins of his fathers
As if he could’ve come in a pre-incarnate form
To warn old uncle Tommy that there are stains that can be washed off stone
but not washed off a heart.
He knows that they know.
He can’t tell the boss not to take the most direct route.
He’ll just close his eyes when they come to where it happened.
He awoke from a dream of bones.
A stone-wrought ossuary festooned with wonga-wonga vine and
pollen-heavy yellow bursts of wattle.
Where wallabies and wombats grazed on the sharp thin blades of what posed for grass.
And wasn’t it sad how death followed them out here, too,
to this upside-down world where swans were black and even the gentlest creatures were dangerous?
As though God Himself had abandoned them to become part of the red soil and feed the ghost gums
Their faces turned to home, pining for a land that forced them into exile
on stinking ships and into camps to labour for the glory of the King’s expanding empire.
Here the sun travelled in the northern half of the sky and the birds sang strange songs.
Where the trees did not change colour in the autumn.
Somehow he carried the memories of his ancestors,
and their strange second-sight that saw through time:
layered over the wild granite peaks were visions of spirits,
of beings far more ancient than even the venerable Old Country;
phantoms who wept over the desecrated land as the blood of their lost children mingled with the melting snow.
And here in this place, where pale skin was burned red by the burning sun.
A disembodied voice whispered to him from that other space,
As though the skulls in his fading dream were crying out across so vast a chasm
That they now became an echo on the morning breeze. Cries of injustice hung in the air over this place.
He knew he should never have come back here – to this town, to this farm
Where whispers told him that something out there waited for him,
To drag him into the mausoleum disguised as a bushman’s hut.