The Shadow

"Between the idea / And the reality / Between the motion / And the act / Falls the Shadow . . . For Thine is the Kingdom"

15 April 2007

Fair dinkum, you could bowl me over with a purple feather!

This afternoon I hopped in my car, drove through a copule of suburbs and found myself in a place that seemed remarkably like a set in one of those you-beaut, true-blue, ridgy-didge, dinky-di 'Australian films'. And I was pretending to be French.

As a member of that famous institution, The McNeilly Park Boules Club, I was on the innaugural excursion to the Canterbury Bowling and Sydney Petanque Club. We were in search of the real deal; the masters at lazily tossing metal balls around a patch of rammed earth; some little snails in full flight. Primed and ready for boules (boul-ay) the French way.

But that was not what we got. The Petanque-ers were not there and when we rocked up we were met by a handful of hardened, old codgers chancing their arms on the green with their biased balls. There was not a 'Bonjour' to be heard, nor a baguette to be seen. Unfortunately there were no boules either.

Instead, we found ourselves in the natural habitat of the Aussie Battler and these battlers were doing what all battlers do best: standing in defiance against the greedy, penny pinching big wigs from the other end of town.

In the all but forgotten atmosphere of the smoky club room with Reschs on tap, a man who looked like a Norm - and was probably club president - and his mate who looked like a Mal told us the story. A big property developer in the pockets of both major parties, had big plans for the site. Some large blocks of flats had just gone up next door and the developer was keen to set a nine-storey precedent right where we sat.

"Can you imagine how much this land is worth?" asked Mal.

"They'll only ever sell it over my dead body," retorted Norm.

I half expected Mick Molloy to waltz in from the carpark and say 'G'day'.

It was the Quinessential Australian Narrative (QAN) being played out before our very eyes - the underdog fighting back to save what was rightfully his. But this time it was real.

Ever since the Aborigines were forced off their land the story's been repeating iteslf across the country. It's just the vibe of the thing. You can smell it in the air at the crack of dawn . . . and if a man's home is his castle, then the local bowling club is his country manor. You'd have to be a cane toad lover to think anything else. Just ask Sam Kekovich.

In this day and age, we may not be able to put the QAN back into QANTAS as it's about to be flogged to the highest bidder, but that's no reason to give up.

That's why I'm happy to see Norm and Mal and their mates hanging in there. And you can too. On Sunday 29 April down Canertbury way the bowlers will be bowling, the petanque-ers will be petanque-ing and the bocci-ers will be bocci-ing. There'll be music, a barbeque and plenty of fluid - as well as the guy who does mornings on 2SM.

You probably won't see Mick Molloy - though I'm sure he'd fit right in - but you will be able to find out Norm and Mal's real names as you battle it out with the best of the battlers.


At 12:04 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...



At 8:30 pm, Blogger TimT said...

Ah, but they will always be Norm and Mal in my heart of hearts ...

At 9:16 pm, Blogger Jonathan said...

How fast did you drive your car? Was John Clarke creeping around offering you a deal?

At 11:38 pm, Blogger tdix said...

anonymous - bigger than Beijing it may be, but it sure won't be able to match it in the toxic fume stakes and tha's probably a good thing!

TimT - that's a pretty NormMal reaction.

Jonno - John Clarke's a Kiwi and I'm sure that's why he's really against the battlers.

At 10:37 pm, Blogger Moffitt the Prophet said...

What time?

At 12:47 pm, Blogger tdix said...

It startd at 10am. Unfortunately I will not be gettiing there until 1.30 or 2.


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