The 2017 Black Dog Cup

Greetings Tipsters


Around March 2000, I went to bed and didn’t want to get up ever again. I spent four weeks in bed. Other than urinating. There I’d be, curled up, blanket over my head, feeling safe and secure but that bladder pressure would only increase, there’d be no choice but to GET OUT OF BED!


There must have been other times I had to get out of bed, to shower, eat, score booze and drugs. My girlfriend came over most nights. But it’s the urination that sticks in my mind.  I hated it.


Got a good song out of it, tho never had the right band for it and the chords in my head don’t properly connect with my hands. Anyway, and I’ve never had to describe it before, but imagine an Otis Redding version of ‘Never Saw Her Face’ done by The Plimsouls.



I don’t wanna get out of bed, I don’t wanna eat

I want two bottles of red wine and the blankets over my feet

I don’t wanna see visitors, healthy and full of cheer

Take your smiles somewhere else, I’m miserable right here


I hate myself and I wanna die

Life means nothing and I don’t care why

I hate myself and I wanna die

There’s no point in going on

Pull the curtains over the sun


Codeine, booze and a stereo, I don’t need much more

Just cigarettes, an answerphone and a good lock on the door

Why the hell would I want a job?  I’d only have to go out

And talk to other people and amplify my doubts


I hate myself and I wanna die

Life means nothing and I don’t care why

I hate myself and I wanna die

There’s no point in going on

Pull the curtains over the sun


Do I have to spell it out? I like it here, it’s what I know

What’s the point in trying? One day we’re all gonna go


Key change in the bridge, ascending riff, chiming guitars, harmonies, then a drum and vox chant bit before swinging into the chorus a couple more times.


Not bad, eh?


In 1940 Bridget Fehon, my maternal grandmother, went to bed and didn’t want to get up ever again. But Bede, her firstborn, was sick so she had to. Her husband had recently died of illnesses and injuries dating back to France, 1918. She had five kids and a war widows’ pension.


Perspective, eh?


A mate’s son has been ‘diagnosed with Aspergers.’ He seems like a reasonable kid to me. I shared a house with his dad, played in a band with him.Maybe we was a bit weird but no more so than anyone else I knew then.  Or now.


Labels. I hate them. You’re this or you’re that? No, we’re all different and we’re all the same and we all eat and shit and make idiots of ourselves in our special unique fashions.  I’m wary of this tendency toward diagnoses and MHI, of creating a syndrome for behaviour that may be a bit weird to some, especially to tenured psych professors scratching around for a theme on which to hang the quarterly journal.


No-one knows what’s going on inside Tom Boyd’s head except, maybe, Tom. We don’t know what it’s like to be in the front rank of the Pathway To Football Success since 8 or 9 years of age, dealt and traded for a vast amount of money that Tom, if he has the slightest tendency toward reflection and self-analysis, will have agonised over.


“They’re paying me a million dollars a season and I’ve only played one good game!”


“It was the Grand Final…”

”It’s just one game, I haven’t done shit this season!”


Three-quarters of suicides are men. Partly that’d be cos we’re just better at getting things done. Partly that’d be cos we’re not as good at talking as women. Y’know, you can tell dead easy that a mate has something on his mind and you can make a good guess as to what it is so you make a few conversational nudges but he aint talking so you crack a joke and get a riff running and soon you’re both laughing again.


That works sometimes. Other times it just blows over, or comes out on the fourth longneck of Coopers’ Sparkling, and them actions’ll account for 597 of 600 of those moments.


We are what we are. Some of my friends are high achievers, some are pensioners, they’ve hung all hung out at parties, ‘success’ ain’t an issue, being a decent person is. Some are garrulous and rarely shut up, some are shy and rarely speak. So what? Do we need another diagnosis?


We all have frailties, strengths, eccentricities. Just let folks be folks. Lend an ear when needed.


Cheers Tipsters


P&C, A Stop Privatisation Of Footy Production, a division of Trans-Dementia Enterprises.


Lifeline (and hyperlink the word Lifeline to: ) is a free and confidential support service which can be reached on 13 11 14.

Beyond Blue (and link that to can be reached on 1300 22 46 36.

Brought to you with the assistance of ‘Curtis/Live!’, Curtis Mayfield and band in New York, January 1971, esp the take on ‘People Get Ready’.

About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.


  1. E.regnans says

    Thanks very much Earl.
    No one knows what’s happening inside another. Inside the mind of another.
    Understanding, even when you think you’ve got it, is more likely to be a misunderstanding.

    Many years ago we had a Leunig poem as the close of our wedding ceremony.
    “Let it go,
    Let it out,
    Let it all unravel,
    Let it free
    And it will be
    A path on which to travel.”

    Love your song. Love imagining “an Otis Redding version of ‘Never Saw Her Face’ done by The Plimsouls”
    Go well.

  2. Thanks for this, Earl.
    Some very acute observations, mate. Well done.

  3. Hate labels too, Earl.

    When they put me on lithium years many ago (stopped taking 6 months later) , the “condition” was called manic depressive which then became bipolar which then got broken down with more labels: dysthymia, seasonal affective disorder, persistent depressive disorder, psychotic depression, situational depression, peripartum depression, and a special one for women premenstrual dysphoric disorder. And they’re still finding more!

    Depression is shit and labels certainly don’t help.

  4. Cuts to the point and to the bone. Brilliant Earl.
    I have similar memories of 6 months spent wandering around Perth with my main thoughts being what time the express trains ran and whether a bridge was high enough. I had blown up my career and nearly my relationships and thought I was uniquely beyond help and redemption (after all hadn’t I tried everything?)
    I have trouble these days recognising that person, except acknowledging it was me. But it was a slow “one foot after the other” journey back. Fall like a stone, rise like a feather. I reckon the John Kennedy Snr “don’t think – do” speech should be played at every rehab and mental health program.
    I had fallen into the easy trap of thinking my history was my destiny. Took a long time to prove myself wrong. But here I am – working, happy, comfortably well off and with great family and friends.
    Thanks Earl. Thanks Knackers. May I wish it for Tom; and Bernie; and Tyrone; and Travis; and ………….

  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Good on you for letting it out Earl. Share, talk, write, vent. Great community here full of wounded healers and healing wounders. Like Jan and yourself I also hate labels and loved PB’s suggestion to “Find your jollies” when I met him last year.

    Hi anxiety, maternal gene, thoughts never stopping unless drowned out by slabs of VB. Replaced by Reiki, Transcendental Meditation, New Age claptrap. It worked for while until the lapse came and a depression culminating to thoughts of the end for the betterment of all. Writing for the footy almanac and learning about Tom Wills (another afflicted by the Black Dog)helped me.

    I now take my meds, look for things to be grateful for, eliminated toxic people from my life, including some family members. Been off the grog for 20 months, regularly working, listening rather than speaking. Cigarettes will kill me eventually, but I’m happy with my fags and coffee and a lucid mind. You just never no when things will turn. This wonderfully honest article may open an unknown portal into something good. I hope so.

  6. Courageous writing from all.Shining lights on the darkness that is depression will help the droves to see.Brilliant stuff almanackers, writing is a powerful tool and sharing alleviates the pain for others.
    Great work.

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Just great Earl.

    I’ve got a bunch of thoughts swirling around about mental toughness, resilience and sport, and that the opposite of those characteristics is seen as a flaw, weakness, something to be ashamed of (or even taken advantage of) rather than something that “just is”.

    One day I’ll distill those thoughts into something sensible, just like you have here.

  8. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    This piece moves and moves, it stops and continues and changes, it maintains great energy … which is often good medicine. ‘We are what we are …let folks be folks.’ Indeed. And I might add, be interested in each other and careful with each other. We don’t know what others carry.
    Thanks Earl.

  9. G’day Earl,

    I am so sad to hear you have faced such tough times as well as have Jan, Phil and Swish (and may be other Almanackers)…

    Same as you, Jan and Phil, I hate labels. They are stereotyping people negatively and judgemental. Bloody psychiatrists just set such diagnosis for their favours and their businesses. In our world, they world lead discriminations.

    I have been grown up under the tough competition for academically. Hard entry exams for high school and university. Academic scores were competing and important at schools. I missed so many social opportunities and now feel lonely and miserable. And recently I have been broken up.

    I want to be loved and respected. These are important in my life. As a 44-yo guy, I am worried of being able to find a love (only want a Western woman for cultural and language interests) and of the future career. Thanks to media crisis (such as the Age who laid off Martin Flanagan and Rohan Connolly), my childhood dream of being a journalist is less likely to be achieved.

    Actually I have been advised not to disclose my mental issues but now I take a risk and want to be brave like you, Phil and Gigs.



  10. Earl O'Neill says

    Many thanks, folks.
    Here’s to us, may sunny days lie ahead.

  11. Punxsa-and-the-rest-of-it Pete says

    Love ya Earl. Kills me that Big Tom has been worn down by all the expectation. When he’s fighting fit again, I’ll be cheering for him as loudly as anyone.

  12. John Butler says

    Reasons to be cheerful:
    Radio Birdman
    Died Pretty
    Nick Cave
    James Brown
    Tom Waits
    Neil Young
    Bobby Z

    I could go on….. And on.

    Onya, Earl

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