H. B. Blue Mooney
is actually Jim Ewing. Invited at fifteen to leave Warrnambool Technical
College, Jim began playing senior Australian Rules football, and thus entered
the school of hard knocks, from which he has yet to graduate.
Of far too many
vocations engaged in, his most interesting include professional footballer and
boxer, merchant seaman, diver (legal and slightly
illegal), journalist, psychiatric nurse, playwright and
actor, and bulldozer operator in Papua, New Guinea.
now farms in south-west Victoria, continues
to write, and pays the bills by working part-time on a Southern Ocean
crayboat. DICKLOOSE is his first published novel, although excerpts from
others have appeared in the literary quarterly Meanjin as well as Australian
Playboy and Penthouse.
is intended to be the first volume
of a trilogy. Essentially it is a book for blokes. Bookshelves sag with accounts
by menopausal women whove run off to Tuscany
or Toulouse and shagged the
gorgeous swarthy gardener or some other live-wire Latin swordsman.
I thought, Why not a
middle-aged male reminiscing about his sexual adventures and misadventures?
Dickloose is the result. Fascist feminists will hate it. Yet world-wise
women possessing a sense of humour may well enjoy a read. It does, after all,
give access into the mind of the testosterone overdosed young Aussie male. And
the text is layered.
Wordplay and vernacular
through the funny, the exciting, the salacious.
That situations depicted took place over thirty years ago, with many of the
protagonists exhibiting attitudes prevalent at that time, maybe also qualifies
this as a kind of historical document.
The original manuscript of what
became Dickloose was written in the third-person. Although about my own
travels and copulative encounters, I called the central character BLUE MOONEY. I
found it easier to write about
the redheaded Blue
than myself directly. Now, despite Dickloose becoming a first-person
account, Ive retained
I grew up in an era where self-promoting skites were considered up themselves.
far prefer modest
champions such as Alan Border to those motor-mouthed self-inseminators most
currently spawn. Does this
clarify why I have continued to write through Blues eyes? No. But then I often
have difficulty explaining the specifics of my motivations.
Anyhow, the fact is that Henry
Banjo Blue Mooney is me. To protect both the innocent and the indecent, many
other names in the pages which follow are not those of the actual protagionists.
A few place-names too have been changed. But the characters themselves were, and
are, real. And all that you are about to read actually happened.
Jim Ewing, Discovery Bay,
Victoria, May 2009
September 27, 1975, Hampden
Football League Grand Final, Warrnambool versus Mortlake:
In a bucketing downpour the final siren blared. Joy-mad Cats supporters invaded
the Friendly Societys Park. Friendly? What a hostile bagging we
Warrnambool Blues now copped. And Blues? Cobber, a narrow grand final defeat
is pure black, black depressive, an eviscerating sensation.
Leaning forward I dug fingernails
of studs-gashed hands into muddied knees, hung my head. Lank red hair and red
goatee beard ran with turd-brown rivulets of sweat. Rolled down socks drooped
like flaccid navy-blue donuts. Adidas boots, with one racy stripe torn off, were
glueing to goal square quagmire. Other sections of the oval my disgusted and
disbelieving team-mates sought solitude. Meanwhile squealing streamer-waving
wives and girlfriends and groupies swamped our opposition: To the victors, the
One mini-skirted spurter, legs
mud-spattered and carnal knowledge charge written all over her, sprinted by.
Serves yer right ya filthy long-haired poofta! she shrieked.
A bit tough, I thought. Id dished
out a single backhander, and that only in retaliation for an elbow to my jaw. We
Blues were a slick hand-passing side. The rain hadnt helped. But ultimately two
things killed us; Mortlake possessed a whippet-quick rover in future Fitzroy
star 16 year-old Bernie Harris, and our ex-Collingwood ruckman Tender Terrence
Alexander was out suspended. Big Terry had got rubbed-out
the second semi-final after
Mulligan the Cats coach clocked one of our young players. This gave Terry
severe umbrage. Like many massive men big Terry waxed amiable unless stirred.
When that occurred you observed one rule – duck! Mulligan didnt. A love-pat to
the cheek broke the blokes jaw in several places. Thank Huey that Terry didnt
punch the bastard. Wed all have been accessories to a homicide!…
Discovery Bay Treefarm, September
2005 (school holidays):
Well…?! demands my daughter
Im wrenched back from an era
before footie became basketball-in-studded boots, when a red-blooded whack
payback saw umpires like Jeff Crouch yell, Okay youre both even. Now get on
with the bloody game!
Lily is my sole acknowledged
offspring. She is down from her mums abode an hour or so up-road in the log
mill town of Bovineville. A week now on the farm Lily is twelve going on
thirteen going on thirty-seven, and can be relatively sagacious. She is also
very, very pushy. It is at her insistence I am re-reading my account of that
1975 HFL grand final.
Again I think of Jeff Crouch, his
application of common sense, these days a most uncommon attribute
routinely dismissed by academicians. And the Aussie Rules game itself, though
still played by real men, is administered, interpreted, and umpired by poofters.
(The pejorative non-specific poofter. Dinkum homosexuals ought never to be
maligned by lumping them in with AFL chiefs or gaily attired umpiring maggots.)
Da-a-a-ad!…? I cop an
aggressive aggravated impatient gesture for a verbal response.
Fair go Lil, Im only down to…
You dad, are one freakily slow
Actually Im a fast reader. My
brains just a bit slow at processing sentences.
Lily folds her arms, gives me the
look. After shed unearthed then scrutinized my twenty year-old novel
manuscript ROOTLESS BOOTS, her, Dad, Id really like you to read this? was a
request in the vein of Marie Antionettes executioner inviting, Place your
alabaster neck under my gleaming guillotine, sils vous plait madame?
Nowadays Lily signs her surname
PMooney. Prestagiacometizini-Mooney is her full equator-long moniker. I and
my ex-missus Gorgonzola (the Mafia side of the hyphen) sure did saddle our kid
with an unpronouncable handicap. Id bet it contributes to Lilys cute
cantankerousness. But at least by age three she knew most of the alphabet.
ROOTLESS BOOTS, all 750 foolscap
pages of the bugger, got bashed out between 1980 and 1984 on an antique
Underwood typewriter. Rejected by every publisher on the planet it has been
silverfish food thereafter, until that is, Lily got interested.
Ever ask yourself, Is my kid a
bit odd? Other children Lilys age obliterate their honey-sweet imaginations
via violent computer games or mind-rot reality TV. But perusing her old mans
travel scribblings…? Ah well, Lily always has moved to her own tympanic
rhythm. And now that I think about it, I hope she always will.
We-eh-eh-eh-el??? enquires Lily
again, even more forcibly, over my shoulder. My ribs get jabbed by a bony
billiard cue elbow.
Kurt Vonnegut reckoned adolescence
is just childrens menopause…?
I resume reading ROOTLESS
But yeah, on paper both Blues
and Cats had gone into this grand final with one key man missing. However
Mulligan, well past his best, did more shin-kicking than goal-kicking whereas
big Terry was our ace tap ruckman, and more importantly, enforcer. We
Warrnamboolians were fucked before we even ran out. Howd we get close as we did
to those rampaging Cats? Our Chairman of Selectors, Billy The Bagman Toleman,
slipping the umpire a fat wad of moolah pre-match, may have helped? Otherwise, I
was buggered if I knew really.
Beaten we were though, by seven
points. I stood 6 1 and
12 stone 12lbs. At that moment
every inch and ounce of me ached. My direct opponent had kicked only a single
goal, but a vital one. I spat, and then slowly jogged off for the sepulchral
sanctuary of the grand final losers dressing room.
When a footballers reward for a
seasons bruises is a plastic cup of flat Great Western champagne what can he
do? He might keep gargling and get blind drunk, hoping to erase the memory of
the mistake which gifted that goal (but years on hell still wake nights
remembering it.) Me, I made a token appearance at our evenings club wake, then,
before any boozy vindictive post mortems began, departed with a lovely loving
lady who cared everything about fucking and fuck-all about football.
A fortnight later, shiny new Uluru-heavy
backpack dislocating shoulders, I alighted at Port Melbourne railway station. In
a humpback slouch I made my way bayside to where a decrepit Greek cruise ship,
MV Patris, lay alongside the
Okay stop, stop your finger right
there! commands Lily.
I appraise my demanding daughter.
She has her late Irish grandmothers firecracker volatility and scalpel tongue.
Lily did miss out on Connies spectacular ruby-red tresses. But though blonde, a
tinge of bushfire singe shows she hasnt completely escaped her grannies
We-e-e-ell…? Lily asks again
with a perempt poke at my tattered manuscript.
Well? What I feel is
uncomfortable, that my offspring has read all this stuff; those liberal serves
of four-letter words.
Well, what? I finally say,
warily shifting in chair, one bum cheek to the other.
There is no… (She spells it.)
I think, How very true. Since
Gorgonzola and I split up my dicks been redundant as a bricklayer in a bakery.
Manner confidential, Lily pulls up
a chair. She says, From the footy game, next thing youre off to New Zealand on
Which is what happened.
Later, ages later,
after you, yknow… full-on made out with your girlfriend, right?
What the hells going on here?
Gorgonzola assures me Lily has as yet never remotely approached the pleasures of
the horizontal hula. But here she is babbling away like Bettina bloody Arndt!
See dad, what youve done…
Lily index-fingers the brief opening chapters end, is what they call
self-censor. It reads a bit like, yknow, some nineteen-fifty movie?
Lilys never even seen a 1950s
flick. For her Hollywood pre-Tarantino is unexplored territory. Ignorance
however never will stop Lily having an opinion. Although true enough, her school
class has studied film and publishing trends.
Im telling you dad, this no
S-E-X stuff makes your story just so uncool and like, b-o-o-o-ring!
Patience, pater… Lil love, its
a humorous autobiography on travel.
Humorous?!!! Like shes
swallowed cat shit.
I feel fractional self-doubt. This
stone-heavy family jewels flattening tome in my lap, is it really a dud? Did
ROOTLESS BOOTS rebound return post from publishers because it simply aint
funny, and is bereft in the bonking department? Might it, I wonder,
indeed simply need restructuring, inclusion of all rude bits Id excised to
spare wonderful but wowserish parents embarrassment?
Victims of a driving mishap
Lauchie and Connie are now a decade deceased, no longer upsetable. However… do
I have any real desire to blow more years on a literary drudge that will again,
in all likelihood, end in a thousand bloody rejections? Bugger that!
Lily cajoles further, Hey see
dad, if youd put in the S-E-X? Well, its like Mr Rodgers says, Sex sells!
He does, does he? I say.
Found, the catalyst for all this
an influential chalkie! Byron Rodgers, Stiffy to his first form all-virgin
Bovineville English class, is also a competitive cyclist notorious for the
oversize salami inside his bike shorts.
Telling you dad, presses Lily,
include all your overseas girlfriends. Mum says you had thousands!
Alas, your mother exaggerates…
Oh for one tenth the tally
Gorgonzola imagines. Sicilian suspicion and jealousy contributed in no small way
to our bust-up.
I take Lilys innocent face in my
hands. Lil darling, my novel is dead, I tell her, ROOTLESS BOOTS is
So? Mr Rodgers reckons historical
sex is just hu-yoooj!
Im going to have a quiet word
with Stiffy Rodgers.
Promise me, dad, implores Lily,
getting up and crossing to the stairhead, you will at least think about
changing it, huh?
Reluctantly I nod, Okay, Ill
Coo-oo-ool! And Lilys away
Where are you off to? I call
getting up, manuscript tucked under arm.
Winds dropped a bit… Lily
grabs bridle off its spike hammered into a weight-bearing post, Gunna grab a
ride before lunch.
Lunch, to be made solely by me;
spoilt rotten by Gorgonzolas smothering Italian-ness, our daughter cant even
prepare a plate of Weeties. But oh mate, can she ride!
From my upstairs bedroom I watch
Lily swing up onto Bonnie her Arab mare. Cost me dough I dont have that
aristocratic nag. Such is parenthood. Roving rootrats do become caring fathers!
Horse and rider hit instant top
gear, flying by tea-trees and melaleucas proliferant on the farms wetland
fringe. Lilys ponytail and Bonnies tail thrash in the wind. Lily sticks like
shes super-glued. As well as inheriting her grandmums Irish temperament, she
has Connies long limbs. Her looks and complexion have a delightful Celtic-Latinness.
She and Bonnie are some sight alright. Too soon theyre out of mine. And Im
left holding this bloody manuscript.
I move to lounge window-wall, open
it, step onto breezy balcony. My scungy bluegum plantation borders reedy
national park lagoon. Beyond are huge dunes and the wild Southern Ocean. Those
wetlands adjacent are a gem, pure waters home to tortoises, eels, yabbies, rare
native fish. The rushes and reeds shelter swans, ducks, coots, spoonbills,
herons, kingfishers, and in season a few brolgas.
I mull over my Lily-seeded
conundrum. Why the fuck subject myself to drudge and disappointment? A full
rewrite? Jesus, the novel was a moribund artform even before I began the
Hmmm but if, if I did
re-work ROOTLESS BOOTS, best to begin with background info, right, and…?
Shit, quit this, quit it you fucking drongo!!! barks my brain with insane
urgency. Yet almost as soon its rationally reminding, Hey listen, you promised
the kid youd try.
Well, I did… didnt I?
Back indoors I go, to writing
desk, glance out at ocean horizon, switch on laptop, think S-E-X.