Worzel here, indeed, he was an odd young man who disliked beets, but oh how Godfrey loved cakes and pastries. Over the years, when it rained, or was Sunday, we baked our way through my “Purity”, and his beloved “Edmond’s” cookbooks. But we never conquered the Lamington, just never quite got it right…Godfrey’s Australian travels fill many journals, many too time worn to decipher…I will try with this favorite.
When only a lad, long ago, I remember lived nearby a fellow my Grandmother knew. He had an odd accent, this chap he loved to sing, and laugh in the pub where Grandma drank, sang late at night after he had had a few.
I oft lay awake as he went clomping home, past our house belting out every word. He sang with a longing I felt even back then, and “Waltzing Matilda” was the loveliest song I’d ever heard.
Indeed, it is true, I abhor the beet root, and all things beet related, rendered or grown. From Ma’s iron paw, beets, bullies and school, I’d escape knees up running down the High street to drool. Pressing my face to the bakeshop window case, my innocent, waifish charm often earned me a biscuit that had fallen on the floor, but more often a swat and a shoo with a broom from the door…
Mrs Kromplak, my teacher kept a flask in her desk, she had dab aim with thrown chalk, but as I grew older, Miss and I would look through the Atlas, look through dodgy old text books about Australia and talk. So distant from Wales, as if in dream, so bonny and wild, Australia fair, perhaps beets were unheard of there?
Mrs Kromplak retired, Australia bound!, Oh the beer, the Wombat, her family history, great giant red rock, gone was Miss across the ocean, wrote to me of her first Lamington.
In parting, Mrs Kromplak, she gave me a journal, red leather stitching, bound by hand. Save I did, every coin I made from my roadside manure stand, but in truth, a major amount of my manure money, I spent on sweets down at the bakery.
Oh, but when first I bit a Lamington…was outside the tearooms in Katoomba, bit a Lamington, was on a stone wall I sat, looking down the blue canyon. The tender outer coconut, chocolate adhered to the finest sweet sponge, wrapped in a dream squelch of freshest cream. I had a whole tray my first day, no longer thought of beets, or home in Wales far away.
When first I bit a Lamington…hitched from the big city, to a job in the country, a Tiger Snake in Mildura chased me high up a fruit tree. I did not worry, thought of tea and a Lamington waiting in town, until the snake was dispatched, and I clambered safely down.
When first I bit a Lamington, many happy miles I peddled my pink push-bike, dodging the odd tinny, or juice carton aimed at my head from passing ute. Cheek of Emu while camping, thump of wombat outside my tent at night. The Southern Cross in that warm woven blanket of starlight. Country roads, undulating between the little towns, I passed farms with names, “Coldstream”, “Dunwhinging”, “Schitt’s Creek”, and the rather rustic, debris strewn, scenic “Panty Downs”.
But when first I bit a Lamington, it was farewell Ma’s shortbread, so long Neenish Tart, good to know you Spotted Dick, it was fun, you remain in my heart, Pavlova and Cream Bun, for Godfrey has been seduced by the Lamington.
At a Malacoota Burger Bar, burger large and slovenly, aroma muttoney, onions, pineapple ring, fried egg, great heap of slaw, saw a vague hint of beetroot, disguised by piccalilli, being suffocated tenderly by thick tomato sauce. A passing gull gulped the beets I threw, grateful for the scran, I was tossed by wind and sun, safonsified by a burger, and of course a Lamington.
And when asked, how’d you like her? (I was asked frequently) said I, since a lad I have wished to explore your country. Long ago, a lonely for home, singing larrikin inspired me, to seek that wide, green river, ride the sandy pathways of “Clancy”. To dip my kilt hem in the Indian Ocean, misspend my youth with balladry and a Lamington.
Serendipitous discovery, included for me both bush and bakery, when first I bit a Lamington. I watched Cricket, played Toilet Seat Ping Pong, was escorted from the Sydney Opera House stage, the ushers did not like my song. In the dust of the station yards, got personal with what I later learned was called a “Dagg,” accidently was wormed twice, nearly dipped for lice. All was forgotten, when sunset at end of day, that first journey I’d gladly do again…back when first, I bit a Lamington.