Merry Bloody Swishmas

Don’t you hate getting one of those run downs of the year just gone at this time of the year, either on two sheets of A4, interleaved into a charity endorsed Christmas card or as an unwelcome email. You know, where your closest pals rub your nose in their overseas holidays, new dog (he’s a Rescue dog, of course) and their progenies’ latest achievements, all photographically enhanced on either a $39 inkjet printer or in a 20GB email file (haven’t you heard of Dropbox?).

If not from your closest pals (in which case, you know all their stuff already), it’s from a four-moves-ago neighbour who you last saw at DFO but you managed to avoid by quickly ducking into the outlet where they sell Bonds undies at only about twice the price you can get them at from Coles.

But since virtually none of you out there fit into either category, I’ve decided that I’m going to lob my 2016 chronicle here for all to see.

The good news. We are all still here and alive. Although we are probably the only house in our postcode that isn’t being flogged off to developers, we hope that prices hold up and the local high school zone doesn’t shrink (these two are not independent) so that when the time comes to downsize (and the kids decamp) there will be something left in the kick to take a bit of a trip. 

Since our most recent family holiday (West Coast USA 2011), the three Swishters have all had their passports stamped, but Mrs Swish and I will have to wait until my employment situation becomes more stable and predictable (or non-existent, that suits too). So no lavish shots of Canadian mountain vistas or Croatian seaside hamlets from us, just this rehashed picture of the South Adelaide Cheer Squad at The Ponderosa from our weekend in Adelaide in April.

SAFC Cheer Squad

SAFC Cheer Squad

Speaking of work, don’t get me started. Ok, if you insist. The year started at one of our local institutions. After a few visits to the friendly users and the most heated team meeting I’ve ever attended, it soon became apparent that the project was being run by a triumvirate of Alicia Silverstone, Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey. Our reward for blowing the whistle was the winding up of the project and an immediate opportunity to find work elsewhere.

My next work stop took me to Footscray for a few months, where I discovered the delights of cheap sporting memoirs at the local Savers, Sunny Nguyen’s roast pork rolls and a chance to brush up on my Clem and Quang-ness first hand.

I wandered westward one preseason afternoon to take in the atmosphere at Footscray footy HQ, catching a glimpse of the future premiership coach being interviewed. “Yeh, sure, thanks mate”, said Bevo when I suggested that they hunted in packs more, work on their over the shoulder handball and have a Plan B because they can’t rely on Murphy and Wallis to do all of the hard work.


If only he knew…

Once that one was over, I joined a start-up who likened themselves to Uber and Facebook, in other words a “disruptor”. FFS, you are flogging accounting software not solving the Middle-East crisis. Once their MO became apparent to me, it was clear that my way of doing things was not compatible with their way, so despite me being lauded all round for getting my first project over the line successfully, in record time, I’d was outta there. Like M. Stipe, “Oh no I’ve said too much, I haven’t said enough” already.

But a chance Collins Street meeting has led to me starting a new job next week. I have the distinct advantage of having shared a hotel room with the new mob’s CEO in a past life (and he thinks I’ve still got the pictures), so onwards and upwards.

I broke my Ed Kuepper and Morrissey ducks this year, which is a pretty feeble effort really after all these years. One of them still has his dignity intact in my eyes. Unlike many of the denizens of the Almanac (I’m thinking Fithall and Kane, but there are others), I struggle to find the requisite enthusiasm for a night on the town these days, but I regret not dragging myself along to Radio Birdman and The Cure as well. Losing David Bowie was a shock, I’m glad I went to the ACMI exhibition last year (twice) and got to see his Young Americans coke spoon on display.

On the reading front, my commute to Footscray was enlivened by Elvis Costello’s recent tome, highly recommended. I also reread J.T.H’s Play On, reading the individual stories from the viewpoint of now knowing the author (whatever happened to Grace?). One of those Savers cheapies was Roger Kahn’s “The Boys of Summer” and I also enjoyed Michael Sexton’s Neil Sachse book (confusingly called Playing On) and Robert Forster’s “Grant and I”. My unread pile got higher, with Matt Zurbo’s book next on the list for completion.

Oh yeah, the Crows. Well, I’ve already told my version of their story in these pages. We’ll be back for more next year, but I’ve also pencilled in a couple of AFLW games. The eldest Swishter is even considering playing footy next year. It would be good to have some regular sport back into the rhythm of our winters after no netball for a couple of years.

As to the rest of the family’s year, I’m not going to overshare. Let’s just say that we have our moments, but we’re doing OK. The pantry doors remain wonky for the fifth successive festive season.


Cote d’Henley – year round Xmas trees

And so this is Christmas. Until yesterday, I couldn’t have cared less. But today we are going to get the overpriced tree which I’ll try to wrangle into the medieval tree torture stand and achieve an acceptable level of perpendicularity. I found a Johnny Cash Christmas CD and I might even put up those outside lights I bought three years ago but have never used.

Who knows, I might even redo the deck and clean out the Weber Q in time for the now traditional turkey roll and roast pork combo I serve up to the five of us. And I’ve found out that Primo Estate delivers free if you buy a dozen, so I’d best get onto that.

This year’s presents might be more folding stuff than the toy catalogue fodder of earlier times, but don’t worry girls, you’ll still be getting a lolly stocking like the old days. And yes, we’ll watch Xmas Vacation and Love Actually (even the rude bits Didge).

So to all of you in Almanac land or those directed here otherwise, hug those that are close to you, and regardless of your spiritual preferences, think about what’s important to you and cherish it.

And remember, when in doubt, back yourself.

About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. Great stuff,Swish funny and importantly good luck workwise and I loved the photos

  2. Very good Swish. Ah, Christmas. You’ve captured the ragged joy and existential misery! Well done. Hope to see you in Adelaide or Melbourne in 2017. Or in DFO.

    I’m off to clean the gutters.

  3. Great stuff Swish. You are an ornament – to ……………..
    Sretan Bozic to you and all the Swishters.
    Was in Adelaide last week for the wedding of my niece and the Norwood captain (can’t choose your relatives).
    Drove up to the Barossa the back way through Mt Pleasant. Had a wonderful lunch at Seppeltsfield and visited the Eagle at Wolf Blass in Nuri. Drove back the old way through Gawler and down Main North Road past your old stamping grounds. Smithfield and Brahman Lodge pubs where losses were consoled and brain cells drowned in the 70’s. Many unhappy memories of drives back from Gawler trots/races and the ghosts of girlfriends past.
    Don’t plan to reprise it any time soon.

  4. So if you live interstate but are able to get back to Elizabeth Oval once during the year I think you really have the appropriate balance in life. Did the whole family make the trip? I’m glad the ethical quandary re the start up landed in the right place. Ie out of it.

  5. One recent Christmas we flew home with our adopted country’s carrier, and awash with yuletide emotion I re-watched Love Actually. Faintly troubled, I realised a few days after that an entire story had been omitted. Yes, the one with Martin Freeman (with whom we once shared the Gatwick Express).

    Life in a benevolent dictatorship where murder and killing by person and state are fine, but the slightest suggestion of a knee-trembler…

  6. bob.speechley says

    Love your closing remarks. I might add that your association with our brothers and sisters who were welcomed to “our country” by the recently recast Malcolm Fraser has been a joy to share. So glad that Clem was saved after his tussle with the chicken bone following the Preliminary Final bout.

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks ‘Book. I’ll be right, even if I’m not.

    Ta Mickey. I wouldn’t have thought that the Old Gum Tree would produce that many leaves. That LA thread left me faintly troubled. Was is really that necessary? Came across a movie length pilot of Doc Martin recently and there was a rather raunchy scene in there that was more Blue Velvet than Port Wenn.

    PB, much appreciated. My new CEO and I shared a boss by the name of Bozic back then. Mysterious.

    Culls, Mrs Swish and I made the trip. Unsurprisingly, I wrote about it here. It’s a fine line between indigent and indignant re work and it’s a long way to fall from the high horse, but, yeh, it feels good to be elsewhere.

    Thank you Bob. I don’t claim any special affinity with Quang’s lot (or for that matter Clem’s lot really), but our nation is all the better for their presence.

    And the tree is now up, a proudly perpendicular pricy pinus. I may have found my calling as the Christmas Tree Whisperer.

  8. A great read Swish!

  9. Cat from the Country says

    Thanks Swish.
    You have made my morning.
    I also wish you and all Almanackers a blessed whatever is your preference. Relax and look forward to a New Year … and a Geelong Premiership!

  10. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    My kind of man Swish, mostly – Morrissey, Cure, Johnny Cash, Xmas Vacation – The gifts that keep on giving .

  11. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    We’ll catch up soon WP, thanks

    Gee Cat, that five year drought must be killing you. But thanks, glad your day was made.

    Ta Phil, I heard that Hawaiian Xmas song in a Japanese takeaway last week. I was instantly reminded of a red bathing suit. You win the subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club

  12. G’day Swish,

    Have you done some media work in Footscray? I reckon the good atmosphere was established at the Whitten Oval. Interview the future premiership coach must have been good experience. As you mention, Collins Street, did you work for the Age newspaper (Fairfax Media)?

    I have strong passions of writing stories in English and want to use my talents and skills, so am willing to gain new skills in Australia. I was about to apply for university, but the scholarship doesn’t cover university fees, so I am hoping to undertake a diploma course in journalism at TAFE and to be awarded with a scholarship.

    Achieving dreams is important and great, isn’t it? I hope your daughter plays AFLW in the future. Which club does she want to play?

    Opposed to the beach, my hometown has got a lot of snow that I heard in the news and would have a very white Christmas.



  13. Lovely work Swish. I’ve found 2016 to be a very disrupting year. Wonderful on some levels, horrid on others. It has challenged and, in many ways, defeated me. But 2017 is another day.

    Good luck in the new employment. Good luck in 2017. All the best for Christmas.

  14. Merry Bloody Swishmas to you and all of the Swishes too, Swish. Good to catch you and various hangers on this year. Savers replenishes my reading pile, although I’ll be on Matt’s book every bedtime for the foreseeable future (I’m about a quarter of the way through atm)

  15. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Yoshi – I didn’t really speak to Bevo, but maybe I should have. Good to see you having a crack at journalism, I wish you well.

    Ta Dips, 2016 was stranger than fiction and many of us have had our faith in human nature sorely tested. We’ll come back better after the break, maybe we need to swap CHB with CHF and/or handball,handball,handball.

    I’ve pencilled in Easter next year Dave, but I can guess that you’ll be a few ks north of me if that is the case.

  16. Luke Reynolds says

    Merry Swishmas Christ. Or vice versa.
    What an interesting read “Grant and I” was.
    Any year that’s told as well as this is a year well lived.
    Guessing Ed K is the one with his dignity intact?? Thanks for introducing me to him in 2016.

  17. Luke Reynolds says

    I have heard of Dropbox too. They use it in the office at work. As for me using it…..

  18. Brilliant Swish.

    Chuffed that Play On is being read on a train somewhere – especially in the company of the other mentions. After Confessions of a Thirteenth Man came out I was most asked about the Beautiful Car, the Camira and Andrea Francois. Some people were also interested in Spoiler. A few asked about the cricket. But the idea of the freedom of the road in summer was much more attractive. It was so much fun.

    We received the third of this type of letter for the season yesterday. From Lord Mulcaster. But like you Swish he has his own approach to things – and it is always amusing.

    I reckon I’ll put up a post: Unachievements. Many in our household, but sitting at my desk looking out the window, I’d say failing to keep the gore wasp out of our lemon tree is high on the list.

  19. Swish,
    I have so many achievements to list and stories to tell that my Christmas cards get sent in a business envelope along with two A3 sheets, including photos, selfies and twitter posts that were retweeted more than once.

  20. Thanks for your wishes Swish!

    I wish you all Merry Swishmas!!


  21. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Always happy to help a young up and comer out Luke.

    Unachievements. Hmm, you’ve nailed one of my few strengths there John. I could unachieve for Australia. Put it in the next Olympics and I’ll be in a Ken Done designed blazer (or does Prue Acton design them now?). What’s WADA’s stance on Bundaberg Ginger Beer?

    Smokie, you must use a bloody big font.

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