BROKE YOUNG ADULT- The 57th wisdom of Godfrey

I had misjudged the tidal crossing of the inlet on a long, hot, sandy tramp. Secure in the knowledge I was not to drown, crawled like a sodden sheep safely spewking up the shore, where a kindly chap in a wayward bus, like this happened every day, dropped me off in the next nearest town..

I was a broke, young adult, by societies standards of acceptability, a tad below it. I preferred to consider myself a “Vagabond, Professional Fig Picker and Poet”. Was hitching down Central Otago way, no shade there was, no passing car, hot wind in the canyons, goo of melting tar.

Out of the mirage a hearse appeared, a dour old man in black rolled  down the window, he said, “I will take you on down to Clyde..yet we are not alone you know”. I shivered in the chilly hearse, he drove so very slowly, did not look back at the box behind that rattled all the way to Clyde, I counted cows, although there were none, at the funeral home thanked them both for the good ride.  I was a broke, young adult. The undertaker shook my hand, pressed into it a five, said he rarely got to journey with someone still alive.

I was a broke, young adult. whiskers now growing in, hair long and bleached by sun and sea. Still cut in the style a monk may wear, last parting gift my sister Alice gave me. I had always feared high, wobbly places, could not abide beets, or cramped closed in spaces. In the brown, muddy boot prints of the bold I set out. “You will perish in the cold, or nasty cable swing bridge will pitch you over-side”, I was told.

At the first cable swing bridge, my knees knocked, at the sight of the river roiling brown in flood, so I sat in the mud, thought one step at a time, up the ladder to the bridge, hold the cables, look ahead not down, you will live to see the treats in the bakery case, far down the wild coast in Westport Town.

I was a broke young adult- taking shelter neath a rock ledge when the storm came, not far from that last cable swing bridge. And as it poured, I had chocolate for reward, located notebook and pen, watched lightning over the mountain, did not fear it or the closed in space of my snug den.

A broke young adult was I, far from home down in Sydney on the harbor quay. she wore a pale grey dress, same shade as her long hair, and from where I sat looked as though her head was no longer there…Elegantly she did glide, rather than walk past The Salvation Army, intent I remained on my writing, until the strange looking woman stopped before me.

She had a head- smiling introduced herself as Miss Lucerne Swish, from Manly. Miss Swish  said my kilt stood out, in the sun on the harbor wall, and the way I was bent over writing, looked as though I had no head at all. We  chatted as new aquaintence ships do, of bush-ballads, vegemite, books wise and ridiculous, talked of anything but beets, was a day I recall time paused for us.

As a broke, young adult, Godfrey’s early years on the road meant facing his fears, he never forgot the swing bridges, or the night he spent huddled in a remote ladies concrete loo as lightning struck all about, and flood waters rose. He never learned to abide moths or antique shops. Now with this “Computery Thing”, I have attempted to locate Lucerne Swish, whom must be very elderly now. In my search, I did locate Mrs Hortensis, landlady of the Woolamaloo boarding house where Godfrey resided in Sydney…another story…here is the simple wisdom he learned that day, so-long ago.  

The 57th Wisdom Of Godfrey states  –    By chance you happen be, Down Under on a  summers day, and observe a person who seems to have no head, passing along the quay, do not gawk. For it is entirely possible- that they may see you too, without a head and feel the same way. Take that time to just sit, time out to just sit and talk.

NEW SHOES FOR ADELAIDE / UNAFRAID- From Beatrice and Godfrey

Beatrice here, I suppose I must be the “Serious” part of Godfrey’s saga, I who have taken in Adelaide, The Chambermaid and her Larrikin partner, Benny, and yes, their beloved old plaid steamer trunk. It is the 4th year since Godfrey’s passing, Adelaide spends most of her time, when not down the market, cleaning. I have forbidden her throwing anything out, or touching the framed photo of a photo of a painting – a youthful Godfrey, on horseback, hanging above my hearth. In tattered wrapping, it came in the post, from Australia, long ago, not even Godfrey knew who sent it….a missing piece of his early years away. I had dreaded Godfrey’s prank happy sister, Alice, meeting up with the odd Benny and Adelaide, they did, however, and found each other delightful…Alice sold Adelaide her new red shoes.  

“I wear important shoes, I do, they clack on wet, clean floors of the cafe’, so special they ensure me the table by the window, it won’t be wobbly, or sticky, or drafty from the doors, my tea and bun will be hotter than yours”  “The sales girl, Alice promised to sell me shoes of splendor, ” A Pommegranite shade of leather, soft as a meeting of three wallabies, resting in the shade together”  “Hello, Forever! Time will never wear away the thick, and sturdy laces I choose, for my new red shoes.

Adelaide- sang as she worked, sang of her shoes in a voice so far off key as to be a key unknown. When not down the market, she insisted on cleaning up my old puce house they have made home. As I feared, she revived my dead plant, she obliterated cob-webs, old friends disappeared. Benny and I built a “Sleepout” for the two, a humble hut twixt chicken coop and pathway to the outdoor loo. They painted it yellow, first dry day of spring, dragged their plaid trunk out from neath my canoe, I no longer knee-capped my self on the thing.

I was writing today…Adelaide came in, this canty, old survivor, bowlegged with joy, no longer so annoying to me, came to show off her new shoes, and to ask, “Who indeed was Godfrey?…(She had never shown slightest interest before).   Feather duster in hand, she had torn up for rags, a shirt I had kept that Godfrey wore. I was learning as the years passed, to let go of dead plants and ragged shirts, but it came slow. “He was an odd little boy who disliked beets, grew into an odd young man, who still disliked beets, a vagabond like you and Benny, he made the great transition in 1985, neath my pear tree, Worzel and I are keepers of his story” “Well, spoke Adelaide, down the market as as you know, we oft scrounge old books from the jumble stall barrow, haul them home in our wagon, (though the way is fair steep), we are building a bed of books on for to sleep” “Today I found this very old, hand bound diary  in the heap”. “Journal on The Road to Dover”- by Godfrey”

Adelaide held out the leather bound book to me. Gobsmacked, I sat back, indeed it was his first, part of the missing years spent a wander, seeking wisdom, over the sea to Australia. “Said Adelaide, Worzel had my trunk in her window display, we were meant to locate it as we were this ratty book in the bargain bin today”. “If I did not have my new red shoes to wear, I would not have been, down to show them off in the market square”,. “Full circle works in odd ways yes, thank you Adelaide, and I opened  Godfrey’s journal, browned with age.

Unafraid- By Godfrey-       “I never knew Borscht, Godfrey wrote. thought I’d seen the last of beets when I left my valley home. I’ve a world to explore, a long, ocean crossing to be made, so I say, trust in life, face bowls of Borscht and beets unafraid. Unafraid- of the sea it is not in my destiny to drown. Unafraid- I have nothing to tempt thieves  should I stray to a lugubrious part of town. Unafraid- what is in the dark is also present in the open light of day. Unafraid- of  nasty things I’m sure to meet- let the beet grow where it may.  Unafraid- of caves, cable swing bridges, moths, pinchy bits of seaweed that tickle my behind, I ruck my kilt to the wind- Unafraid, that it be torn asunder, for I am not ashamed of what lies under”

Unafraid…a very early work of Godfrey, written as a shivering 16 year old, his first night on the road, somewhere south of Tharn. “I slept under a tractor in a hay barn, he wrote, a long nights wisdom, one of many I discovered early on..   And the future is yet another story… thank you from Beatrice. .