Almanac Memoir: Mickey Randall’s birthday

It’s important to begin by acknowledging my loved ones.


So, thanks to the following publicans: the late Peter “Puffa” Jansen of Kapunda’s Prince of Wales; the assorted landlords of England’s oldest boozer, located in St Albans’ scenic Verulamium Park, the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks; and Carlton premiership ruckman, Percy Jones, enigmatic leviathan and mine host of Melbourne’s North Fitzroy Arms.


Good afternoon and welcome. Thanks for coming; especially those who’ve driven some distance, and those who’ve come by penny-farthing.


In 2002 I shared a podium at Ayers House with Dad for my sister Jill’s wedding to my brother-in-law Barry. It was a wonderful occasion. Undertaking my MC duties by including what my wife calls, “charming anecdotes,” I’d saved my best for last.


Yes, you’ve guessed, I was to talk about Jill’s childhood obsession with our backyard chooks. So, my finale read, “Every day when Jill was seven she’d come home from school, and without even coming inside to say hello to Mum, she’d head straight out the back, and drop her bag just by the hen-house. Once inside she’d tie a length of string around the neck of the day’s favourite chook, and walk her around the backyard like a clucking, egg-laying hound.”


But before I delivered this conclusion Dad was to speak. It gave me great joy to introduce him, saying, “Here’s the father of the bride, my Dad.”


Dad took the stage, and with these words he began, “Every day when Jill was seven she’d come home from school, and without even coming inside to say hello to her Mum, she’d head straight out the back…”


In the words of a former Magarey Medallist, “I want to thank my parents, and especially Mum and Dad.” Thanks to my Mum and Dad for their support, encouragement and opportunities.


I acknowledge the Bureau of Meteorology for giving me the most frightening fifteen minutes of my life in 1988. Back then, you might recall, weather reports featured Kyancutta on the Eyre Peninsula. Beginning my career just up the road from Kyancutta at Wudinna Area School, I naturally assumed that Kyan, as it’s affectionately known, must be the bigger town, and as I passed through it for the first time in my VK Commodore, the boot containing my earthly possessions, I was able to count Kyancutta’s buildings. All of them. 1, 2, er, 3. Done. And one of these was an abandoned shop.


With Billy Joel warbling from the car speakers, I covered those ten kilometres in existential horror, terrified to think what my new hometown must be like. And then I saw the signpost: Wudinna, Population- 574. Whew.


One of my favourite stories was told to me at cricket there. Old mate Craig worked for ETSA, and early one Tuesday morning he was part of a crew working on a powerline in Elliston. Well-known identity Dick wobbled past, and Craig yelled, “Where you going Dick?”


Dick replied, “I’m going to the pub.” Dick liked a drink. A bit too much.


Craig offered, “Gee, it’s a bit early Dick. Nobody’ll be there.” To my endless joy Dick then explained, “No, the bloke what usually serves me, he’ll be there.”


I thank our astonishing boys Alex and Max. Already Alex has skills I don’t have, and this is good. It’s the point, isn’t it? Alex has earned his first belt in karate and plays the guitar really well. He already knows Iron Man by Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. During cricket season he showed a capacity for bowling leg spin which with his blonde hair might best be discouraged. He’s a great kid.


And Max. Max has an amazing capacity for language and wit. He recently said, “Mum, stop being ridiculous.” Mum replied, “You can’t even spell ridiculous, can you?” Max’s eyes sparkled. “Yes I can. M-U-M.” For his world he has an unquenchable curiosity, and I love this. These are two terrific, inspiring, fun boys.


And now I thank my beautiful wife, Kerry-ann, Kezza, Joey. We met early 1995 in Kimba. Like Singo on the punt at Randwick I was onto a winner. I was well positioned. I was twenty-eight and drove a Nissan Exa. With a turbo and a sunroof. In my home I had a CD tower!


But above this, I owned that most seductive accessory of the late twentieth century, the bread machine. With this exotic appliance one morning I made Kerry-ann breakfast. As she ate I asked, with probable over-confidence, “How’s your toast?” I then learned that she is one given, in the manner of many Queenslanders, to what is often called plain speak. She replied, “You’ve not spread the butter evenly, there’s too much vegemite, and the bread is stale.”


I thank her for our boys, and for sharing her life with me. I’m grateful for our adventures in England and Europe, but not Luton, our time in Singapore and Asia, and now, our lives just up the road, by the Old Gum Tree Park, with Alex and Max, and Buddy the dog. I love you.


Finally, I thank: Mick, Keef, Charlie and Bill; the Coopers family- Dr Tim, Max, Glenn, and the grand ancestor Thos; the Adelaide Crows premiership sides of ’97 and ’98; the cast and crew of The Big Lebowski, Apocalypse Now and The Notebook (What? I’ve been hacked!); DK Lillee; those at Pizza on Broadway for the large American; Bill Hunter; Frosty Lahood of Frosty Lahood Motors and his no root, no toot offer; everyone I played Mini-League with at the Kapunda Bombers; Bluto, Otter, Boon, Pinto, Flounder, D-Day and those of Delta Tau Chi House; PJ Harvey; the 1998 Group Three Canterbury Cup winner over 2000m: Waikikamukau; for his Indianapolis Speech the Great Shark Hunter Quint (You know the thing about a shark, he’s got… lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eye); Courtney Barnett; the Kimba Cricket Club; and of course you as you’ve a place in my heart.


A special acknowledgement to those who’ve spoken; it’s humbling and heartening. Thanks to my immediate and extended family for your love and guidance. Disappointingly, there are some dear friends who couldn’t be here today. They’re in some stunning holiday locations: Italy, Bali, Hawaii, and Womma. Enjoy your afternoon.

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. Trucker Slim says

    Terrific speech Mickey. Hope you had a wonderful day. It just gets better from here. (Maybe!)


  2. Dave Brown says

    Goodonya Mickey, happy birthday!

  3. E.regnans says

    Great knock Mickey, well marked.
    Like a MEWaugh flick off the pads for the ton.

    Pool room.

  4. Gold Mickey and ironically I had face booked you hb just before this article went up.Tony McGuinness a immortal line !

  5. Manners Mickey. You forgot to thank the ladies for the spread. Too much time away from the bush I reckon with those high falutin’ foreigners.
    Never forget your roots. Though I can see by the guest list that several came.

  6. Or PB, as all speakers start in Ireland, “I’d like t’tank d’priest for d’hire o’d’hall.”

    Most enjoyable Mickey. I heard a lot of Puffa stories when recently in Kapunda.

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    But you couldn’t find a place for Mitani Chicken Salt, shame, Mickey, shame.

  8. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Happy Birthday Mickey. Love the line about the parents and Dick’s acute awareness of the early openers.

  9. Trucker- thanks for that. Hope to play as well as you!
    DB- it’s a modest raise of the bat.
    Er- pool room is surely the highest civil honour available in this country; as such, thank you.
    ‘Book- thanks for that. It’s the iconic Magarey line alongside, “Decorum, please, North Adelaide. 1990?”
    PB- Apologies for missing “spread.” Was very much a West Coast noun when I was there. A reminder of a gentler age.
    JTH- Puffa was enormous. As a young ‘un I knew I’d arrived when I’d been abused by him. He’d welcome you, bait you, father you, invite you to leave, and then, you’d depart much improved for the experience.
    Swish- Chicken Salt is much like an old Sinatra album: you don’t need to play it, but it’s comforting to know it’s there.
    Phillip- Most country towns host a Dick- hugely amusing, but tragic too.

    Thanks to everyone. Cheers.

  10. Onwards and upwards, Mickey !! Brilliant !!

  11. Thanks for that Smokie. I feel younger and healthier today than I did after the Almanackers v Adelaide Lutheran XI cricket match, despite my exceedingly modest contribution.

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    Wonderful Mickey. Happy birthday.
    Did that criticism end your bread making career?
    Great knock so far, put your head back down and turn it into a really big score!

  13. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Happy day Mickey R.
    (It’s just occurred to me that I’ve always spelt Mickey O’Louhlin with the ‘e’ even though he omits it. Vive the ‘e’!)
    That is quite a thank you list.
    Love the small tender minutiae. Cheer cheer to much more.

  14. Thanks Luke. Like so many moments early in a relationship, it was instructive. I’m now much more sensitive to the particular demands of bread and toast. Good learning for any young ‘un.

    Mathilde – thanks for this. It’s a first name which offers many variants. Although I’m always bemused by those who ask me how to spell “Michael.” Like “truck” or “cricket” there’s only one way. Still, I’ve had lots of “Micheal” over the years.

    I’ve no doubt there’s someone from Nottingham, or similar, an expert in names who could talk at length on the functional differences and varying levels of appropriateness of “Mickey” and “Micky.”

    Thanks to everyone.

  15. Tony Robb says

    Mickey Happy B’day. Always picked you as Nissan Exa man, Drove one my self until I seized the motor on the way to golf. Apparently they go better with oil

  16. Thanks Tony.

    I went HR, HQ and then VK Commodore before my mid life crisis struck two decades early and I bought the Exa- a ridiculous car.

    My mates still suggest it was so I couldn’t fit either passengers or golf clubs. I can’t rule that out.

    The Exa and I parted in 2003, and I rarely spot them.

    The producers of Snowtown bought a mate’s Exa and it features in the film as the vehicle of those responsible. If this isn’t on the Exa Wikipedia page, it should be.

  17. Earl O'Neill says

    Many happy returns Mickey. Good speech. I may use it if required at my 50th next weekend.

  18. Go for it Earl. Just change the names as required. Or not.

    Have a great party! Will it live up to the one you recently described on this site?

  19. Yes, many good friends at stunning locations on your birthday. The Gold Coast, however, was missing from your list. I think you might recall that one of your good friends, dare I say your very best friend, was there at the time. X

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