Order of the Almanac (Early observations from the inside)

Until now I have kept largely silent. Serving my apprenticeship like all new Almanackers. Soaking up the knowledge of those that have come before me. Graciously accepting my thrice daily ration of tepid water and pie crust, before turning back once more into the lesson plan. Studying match reports from older versions of the good book and chanting the names of John Harms and Paul Daffey to the tune of every club song.

It came about inauspiciously, that is, my introduction to The Almanac. Sure I’d heard of it, but like so many others I had dismissed the stories of its clandestine ranks as little more than the stuff of myth and rumour. And then, one night, it happened. Shuffling through a dimly lit car park I fumbled my keys. I’m reaching awkwardly beneath my car when my attention is drawn to the presence of feet on the other side. I snap back instinctively. There is movement behind me, too late I turn! I catch a fleeting glimpse of the 2010 Almanac, Jonathan Browns’ darkened eyes meeting mine, before thudding forcefully into the base of my neck…..then…..only darkness.

A hessian bag is peeled back over my head and I squint painfully at a single, naked light bulb that dangles hypnotically before me. Somewhere off in the distance a tap drips. The gloom is split by what I make out to be the names of Harms and Daffey worked cleverly into an ambigram, forged of white hot steel advancing upon my shirtless torso. Searing pain….bite reflex….then darkness once more.

OK a tad theatrical, I grant you, but one of the first things they teach you at Almanac College is to generously `season’ ones stories with pinches of flare. So where was I?

OK then, not quite so dramatic as it turns out. Rather, it came via the kindly visage of `Almanacker’ Bill Ellis (which is, incidentally, precisely the way Bill chooses to introduce himself in public these days). He greets me with a warm smile and an open palm to the forehead, which Bill assures me is the secret Almanac handshake (though I have my doubts). Some idle banter ensues before Bill suggests I try out, sweetening the deal with the possibility of a match day assignment, commissioned from the very top no less.

The suggestion alone shatters the space time continuum. Days pass, maybe months, I can’t be sure. When I’m not periodically clicking refresh on my E-mail like some slot machine junkie, I’m staring at the phone, telepathically coercing it to ring. When it does ring I’m willing it to be John, hanging up on telemarketers, angry employers and relatives alike when it’s not.

Then one glorious, unforgettable day it arrives. My assignment, sealed by the joyful tears of previous contributors, glides beneath my door. I study each word of my task intently before eating the correspondence. Not because there was any formal request to do so ……..but hey, any day off the pie crust is a good day.

I find myself overwhelmed and more than a little giddy. In part because of the appalling new eating habits I have acquired but mostly because I’m…..well…I’m in! I’m a fully-fledged, card carrying member of the Almanac fraternity.  All at once I’m rubbing cyber shoulders with names I recognise. Gareth Andrews, Matt Quartermaine, Mark “Squeezebox Wally” Wallace (love the Weddos), not to mention the editors, (sigh!).

I am equally invigorated by showering in the words and youthful enthusiasm of spritely young almanackers like Domenic Favata, Danielle Eid and Josh Barnstable. Their musings are like an anti-wrinkle cream for my soul.

It’s December 7th and I’m heading to the book launch. I’ve cut work early, feigning sickness (I panicked and went with morning sickness but I think they bought it.) The room is heavy with a hushed anticipation. Stories begin to filter through about the editors: “I’ve heard that Paul Daffey has no eyelids and shaves with a cheese grater!” “Really? Wow, well I’ve heard that John Harms once hog tied a polar bear and a hammerhead shark …..simultaneously…..using only a Geelong scarf!”, “No way!” “Seriously.”

I wonder aloud if either man will be in attendance. I hope so, I already have their entrance played out in my mind. A revolving bookcase reveals them sitting in red silk smoking jackets. Swishing a cognac in one hand whilst the other sedates a pretentious looking cat. A heavily scarred henchman deals copies of the new Almanac to the frenzied mob which are received like overdue food parcels but before their adoring hordes can advance upon them, both men disappear amid a veil of amateur pyrotechnics and the smell of burning cat fur. I know, I know, I’m `seasoning’ again.

As it happens, a great night was had by all but only Harms shows, further fuelling an earlier presented rumour that both men are separate manifestations of the same divine entity. I’m not sure, it’s too early for me to say but there was definitely something there. From behind a firm handshake and honest smile some undefined part of him filled the room like my fathers’ aftershave. Lingering on me long after I had gone.

I’m on the street again, hugging a shiny new Almanac to my chest and melodically squealing, “I’m in, I’m in!” Drawing the sort of nervous sideways stares that only a man serenading a book whilst skipping like a schoolgirl, can expect to attract.

How my life from here changes I’m not exactly sure but if the stories are to be believed I should come to expect, at the casual flaunting of  this compact, yet powerful new publication, the warm embrace of visiting dignitaries, unimpeded backstage invitations and tables at exclusive restaurants mysteriously becoming available. All of them meeting my gesture with a polite bow, a knowing grin and an open palm to my forehead. Seriously guys, we need a new handshake.

About Jamie Simmons

Born in Melbourne, a third generation Fitzroy supporter, in 1972 before emigrating to Tasmania during The Great Broccoli Famine of 86. Leaving my island lodgings, largely at the request of locals, to settle once more on the mainland in 1997. These days living out a peaceful existance on the outskirts of Brisbane, where I spend most of my time serving as a fashion warning to others.


  1. Hey Jamie,
    thanks for your kind words, the teens here really appreciate the praise
    from the wiser Almanacers :)

  2. Jamie, and I thought I was the one who’d had a few beers that night. Terrific to meet you and I look forward to more words on the page. Do you want me to mention to WAG Walker that you know Tassie pretty well?

  3. Jamie – fantastic. When the inevitable evil dictator rises up and crushes all that is good in society, Almanackers will meet in the woods (probably in the shadows of the Grampians) to organise a resistance like the French partisans in WW11.

    When you’re a Knacker you’re a Knacker all the way from your first cigarette to your last dying day.

  4. Jamie ,

    you seem to have sussed out the secret handshake………………….we have goats as well.

  5. Don’t worry Jamie. Goats are exclusive to the Tasmanian Chapter.

  6. Says who?

  7. Jamie Simmons says

    Goats are OK, I guess. I was hoping for something that really captured the Almanac bond we now share. How about matching ponchos?

  8. Ha, ha, Dips….
    The Knacker Resistance.
    It has a certain ring to it.

  9. I think the matching ponchoes might be a bit of a giveaway to the Gestapo/AFL when we are forced underground. Ponchoes tend to be a bit conspicuous in WA. We should probably stick with the handshake and the goats.

  10. Pamela Sherpa says

    Great report Jamie . What a laugh.

  11. I don’t mind the goats as such. It’s the cleaning the blood off the walls after the sacrifice that does my head in…

  12. Richard Naco says

    “you seem to have sussed out the secret handshake………………….we have goats as well.”

    You’re kidding?


    BTW Jamie, you’ve sussed why JTH wears such a daggy Geelong scarf. Such knowledge is inimical to becoming a part of the inner circle.

    I guess that means you’re in.

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