Almanac Everything (including Music): Fruity Ale and a Fire Bucket


Aside from irregularly charging into the charcoal chook shop on a tricky Tuesday and escaping with some cooked poultry and fried spud there’s limited chances in my cosy sphere to pretend I’m a hunter and gatherer.


But since we’ve now a fire bucket on the back patio I find myself sourcing wood throughout the wintry months, and last week in my pre-pub enthusiasm I zipped across the suburbs to a garden vendor and loaded my car with red-gum. My purchasing challenge had been made clear by the wife: don’t get stumps that are too big and don’t get stumps that are too small.


As a timber-collecting Goldilocks I surveyed the wood heap. With the drizzle tending to rain and the mud sloshing about my boots I pecked about the crumbling Cheops of logs like a fussy rooster. What I lacked in scientific application I compensated with crude, Cub Scout judgment and soon had a wagon-full of iron-hued stumps.


Easing the motor onto the weighbridge I felt an inner glow borne of a successful excursion that guaranteed I’d enjoy my subway sandwich at a proximate shopping centre. But this can be complex for I often find that a six-inch sub isn’t enough, and that twelve can be too much. Let’s all petition Doctor’s Associates Inc for a nine-inch sub!




Saturday saw the house lashed by angry squalls and clattering rain, but the mid-afternoon fire kept us warm. Starting the blaze is acutely ceremonial and Alex was enthusiastically insistent and Max, a spirited jumper and involuntary clapper, while their Mum lit the first match to get us underway.


Gradually, there were family and friends and burgundy wine and cheese and chat and nostalgic music, and these generated a fetching glow in which I happily swam.


With a national conference looming it was an ideal gathering at which to road-test my new ice-breaker. Having workshopped it extensively with my old comrade and new-ish colleague JB, out it came, for in some ways it’s the ultimate question, and taps neatly into the endless Zeitgeist.


On “Islands in the Stream” who gives the best performance: Kenny or Dolly?


With stunning clarity, the results were revealed as a little lop-sided, perhaps in a similar fashion to that which saw Anne Shirley “Willsy” Wills (OAM) collect 19 Most Popular State (South Australia) Personality Logies. After scrutineering the votes were


Dolly- 9
Kenny- 1.


Still, as the late wrestling icon Rowdy Roddy Piper used to say, it’s about the process.





The fire danced and crackled and my playlist changed mid-seventies gears from the Bee Gees to Dr Hook so we added heavy chunks of red-gum and then night descended. Inside our boys and the other kids tore about and transacted in robust and efficient ways as their games began, unfolded and then collapsed, as all games must.


Meanwhile across the city, country and globe all manner of professional games were being played, and remarkably every single team in which I’ve varying degrees of investment engineered a loss. Here’s a roll-call of anguish: the Glenelg Football club, the Adelaide Football club, the Socceroos, the Wallabies, and at The Oval in London, where many years ago, we’d personally witnessed a grim result, the Australian cricket side. I should’ve bagged them all up into a hideous multi and had myself an unpatriotic if tidy earn.


But none of these irritants mattered on my birthday for there I was by a mesmerising fire with fruity ale, if not fruity conversation. Later, the dogs, Buddy and Angel, flopped on their beds and the last of the storm fronts rushed furiously by. Happily, there’d still be cheese for late Sunday afternoon.


With a sturdy click the back door was locked, and at least in my mind, I could hear the projected voice of a 1960’s publican bark across his dark bar, “Time, please.”


I was soon asleep.


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About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello


  1. G’day Mickey

    Love it.

    We have a Melbourne friend who describes himself as an Urban Wood Collector. His yard is magnificent. I actually love clutter as it’s full of human warmth (inclusing in the dust and how good are cobwebs).

    Thanks for the reminder of Dolly and Kenny. I’d strike two medals.

    Looking forward to seeing you guys tomorrow at the Jack Hawkins lunch at the North Fitzroy Arms.

  2. Dave Brown says

    Duets are a team sport, all played well. Wasn’t the best of days sports wise (although, I enjoyed the SANFL result more than you), seems you more than compensated for it. Well played, Mickey.

  3. Nice work Mickey.

    I’ll add another vote to the surge of Dolly supporters. Elite performance.

    Timber-collecting Goldilocks gets my second vote, underrated caper in the middle of the year.

  4. Cheops was a nice touch. I’m all for the crazy descriptor.

  5. Dave Brown says

    No doubt about Mickey, JTH, he’s a top Giza

  6. Happy birthday, Mickey.
    Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I cannot get to the NFA on Friday.

    I vote Dolly also

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I’ll probably be going past you around Kaniva. I’ll wave.

  8. Kenny – “the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away – and knowing what to keep; ‘Cause every hands a winner and every hands a loser; and the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep”
    Is there a conference you’re not attending in the next month Mickey? Fleeing work, home or the Crows?
    We are in Broome this week where the only fire bucket has prawns sizzling above it.
    Perth hospitality highly dependent on Saturday’s result. I am predicting 0-0.

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    Mickey, the best part about following several teams between sports means you are likely that at least one of them will give you some joy over the course of a weekend. It’s truly, utterly deflating when they all lose.
    Look forward to having a few beers with you tomorrow to celebrate both our recent birthdays.
    Add another vote for Dolly from me.

  10. Thanks for your comments. Just enjoying some pre-North Fitzroy Arms quiet time on King Street. Looking forward to an effervescent afternoon.

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