Saturday, August 4, 2012

The EKKA's coming

He got on board the bus, a tall rawboned man with the sandblasted countenance and oddly rolling gate of someone who had spent many years outdoors on a horse. His clothes spoke country too, from the battered hat, neat shirt and clean well worn boots, to the carefully pressed dark jeans with the cuffs turned up. The bus driver greeted him like a long lost friend, which as it turned out they were, asking what he was doing in these parts.
Oh I'm off to the show to steward the wood chop, he replied in a voice that was designed to carry across great distance. I do it every year

In the next twenty minutes one learnt things about the bus driver that one had been woefully ignorant of... it seems he was a jockey in his day... well that explained his short stature. The other gentleman had worked the shows and rodeos that crisscross this vast land. All the small shows feed into the annual show in each state including the EKKA in Brisbane.
A place one dreams of showing a quilt in... it was meant to be this year, but life kept getting in the way.
They both had been bad boys in their day between the drinking and the brawling and now they both were constantly chased by their doctors to remove skin cancers with alarming regularity.

They passed the trip by exchanging stories about people they knew in common...
Do you remember so and so?
Which one was he?
He was the one that could ride anything... he used to get up and just lay down on the animal and they couldn't shift him.
Oh he had incredible balance... he just used to lay there as they bucked and kicked
Yeah, blackfella of course (as though that explained everything). Well he's dead. Went down a gully and his horse rolled on him.
Damn shame, they don't make riders like that any more

What happened to so and so?
Oh he's still chopping... never seen anyone so precise with only one arm. His father's still chopping too
His father was the biggest man I've ever seen
Yeah, but he could chop like no one else. It's a dying art, the young just aren't interested.

No the shows aren't the same. This one used to be a real country show and the EKKA? It's full of kids who don't know or care where their steaks come from. All they're interested in is show bags.

It was on the tip of one's tongue to point out that the children were often very interested in the animals. They were usually in the petting shed patting their future steaks... but one stayed quiet. As a former country mouse one knows not to poke the grumpy bears J


ancilla_ksst said...

Very cool encounter. I have a few friends like that whom I have met through the dogs- cowboys, old hands. They are amazing characters sometimes and have the greatest stories. Have had a few great times around campfires or kitchen stoves listening to them.

Master's piece said...

They are a dying breed. As the cities expand, they are diminishing in numbers :(