The world found my friend, the vagabond Godfrey odd, odd as he himself viewed the world. He was always delighted when the odd found him. I know he felt very much at peace in Tasmania- welcoming and charming, quaint and wild, this is a favorite memory…
Just a nice sized island, wrote Godfrey. Tasmania remains sweet in heart and memory.
On my way to St Mary’s, met a family of hippies, down from valley to town in donkey cart. Folks came from the city, they came from the mainland, came from the Ruggedy Ranges west, they came by bike as did Godfrey, saw a sign on the ferries, “Annual Shouting Festival- November 28th,29th, in St Mary’s.”
On the town domain, welcome to all, with sausage sizzle, singing dog contest, Country Women’s Association baking display in the hall. The tug of war was twixt sheep-men and dairy farmers, rope heavy over a pit of what looked like manure, a good hearted, albeit desperate struggle by all. The Shepards prevailed at the St Mary’s Shouting Festival.
“I bet on the cow-pat bingo, wrote Godfrey, found a nice, grassy spot to relax in the shade, the shouting reminded me of my old Ma back in Wales, the racket she made.”
“From Wrexham to Bristol it is said Ma was heard, at tea time yelling for me”. Passed person to person, dock side to town, “yer old Ma is calling you, Godfrey”.
St Mary’s revived the memory. Grandmother Abarth had a go, on the fish boats in distant Strahn, they felt her voices tremor, and trampers on the high tracks the echo. Granny Abarth could shout, but not out shout Mary Slaney, with uncountable number of children, all boys. Jelly salads jiggled in the C.W.A. hall, and horses shied from the noise.
Little Anthony Patrick Eugene yelled alone, the Politeskis shouted at each other, an actual, face slapping row broke out, between the Slape siblings, sisters and brother.
Baldur Soriano cheated with a megaphone, he was pelted with spuds by a separatist group, from Dyke Road Women’s Farm, and chased off stage home. Rumor spread that Baldur was pinned down and held, his bum painted blue. Baldur would never tell, the truth of what happened, to his behind, for cheating at The Shouting Festival.
There were shouters louder than bulls and Black Cockatoos, shouters louder than bag pipes are shrill, there was a trio that shouted out praise for the Lord, there was cattle caller, the famous shouter, Dirty Old Bill. And amid the loud winning, and grumbling defeats, cheered an odd young man who disliked beets.
Who was the clear winner of the festival, who won, who did well? At the St Mary’s Shouting Festival, was there money, or ribbon or trophy? It came down to Mary Slaney, versus Dirty Old Bill, the champion from Stanley. Her sons and husband filled two rows in the grandstand, Bill entrusted the milking that night of his cows to the farmhand.
A tractor was started, and over the roar, Mrs Slaney shouted the names of her family, not missing a son. Shouted out, Walter, John, James, Micah, Verne, Jack-Thomas, Travis, Theodore and wee Carlton. Old Bill called out cows names so loud, milkers miles away paused and listened- each one. Buttercup, Patsy, Flora, Spattertail, Bouncer, and old Udderton…
It was a tough decision, but winner take all, Mary Slaney still shouting out Joel, Trevor, Beverly, Timothy- Paul… she won a welcome holiday, in a quaint B and B, she truly could out shout my Ma, noted Godfrey.
There were true shouts, all about in the pub until late, after music and dance, Godfrey pedaled home past the Slaney’s gate, where a sign “Beware of The Children” hangs still, thought Godfrey in passing, I certainly will.
“It was lovely, the wee town of St Mary’s, peaceful and quiet, resonating long after, in the heart of the vagabond, Godfrey.