Kennedy's Ingenious Solution
Unaipon Gongster Drinksterises
Whitefullas Are Not The Enemy
DRINKSTER’s abiding concern for the damage caused by the ethanol, or drinking alcohol industry is at its most intense in the ravaged communities of original Australians.
This discussion triggers a predictable, repetitive range of responses, from dead silence (on behalf of the ethanol peddlers), through overt racism (from whites living in proximity to drinking black communities, and from black communities who claim their drinking habits are no worse than the whites’), to the pious and useless sanctimony of prohibitionist dries, whatever their hue.
To throw some fresh light on how some of these issues might be addressed, DRINKSTER is delighted to publish an esteemed guest author, Gayle Kennedy.
While she has lived mainly in Sydney since 1973, Gayle is a Wongaiibon woman of the Ngiyaampaa speaking nation of south-western New South Wales, in outback Australia. With members of the Barkindji and Mutthi Mutthi nations, she and members of her family are traditional owners and co-guardians of the Lake Mungo area, where 40,000 year-old human remains lie, along with archeological evidence of at least 50,000 years of human inhabition. A much more recent part of her bloodline is from the Pictish/Norse influence of the outer Hebridean isle of Harris.
Gayle is an important writer, celebrated broadcaster and commentator, and partly through her experience of suffering polio as a girl, is internationally-respected for her understanding of disability and culture. She was for years the indigenous affairs contributor and researcher at Streetwise Comics, the Australian non-profit communications agency responsible for “communicating social issues to young people, indigenous communities and people of a culturally and linguistically diverse background and other hard to reach groups ... on a range of issues including health, education, employment, the law and indigenous-specific issues”.
NGARRINDJERRI GENIUS DAVID UNAIPON - CLICK ON IMAGE FOR DETAILS
Gayle won the David Unaipon Award for indigenous Australian literature with her essential work of fiction, Me, Antman and Fleabag (University of Queensland Press, 2007).
She is also a formidable expert on country music. Her Sydney Morning Herald tribute to Australian country hero, Slim Dusty, is a profound piece of reflective grief, unequalled in Slim’s vast canon of obituaries for its feeling, depth of understanding and simplicity.
This is the first chapter of Me, Antman and Fleabag.
How ta drink in the park
by GAYLE KENNEDY
Me, Antman and our mongrel, Fleabag, like partying outside. We both come from the bush. Me, I’m a NSW desert girl and Antman’s mob are river people. Cos we ain’t got no river or desert here in the city, we like sittin in the park yarnin, havin a charge, playin country music. We don’t cause no harm. Try telling that to the coppers. Soon as they see us they start growlin. They say, ‘No drinkin here’, ‘No music’ and ‘Git that dog registered’. Stuff like that. Then ya git sick of it and stay home and party in a yard the size of an old hanky with trains roarin by every time ya favourite song comes on.
We whinged bout it one day to Antman’s cuz, Damien. He’s a lawyer. Travelled round the world. He reckons we go about things the wrong way. Reckons we give up too easy. Says whitefullas aren’t the enemy. Says they love drinkin and partying outside too. He says they got it worked out so coppers don’t bother em. He showed us.
First he shouts Fleabag twelve months rego and a new collar in the Koori colours. Too deadly! Then he says the dog has to have a bath. Gawd Fleabag bunged on. Had to drag him out from under the house. He carried on like we was murderin him. Wouldn’t come near us for hours after. His guts got the better of him though and he come in for a feed. He got over it. Smelt good too.
Then we got an esky and a couple of fancy bottles of wine. Damien reckons no casks or flagons. Besides, the bottles got twist tops now, so once ya finished, ya fill em up with cheap stuff for next time. We pack a nice blanket and a picnic. Nothin fancy; bread, cold meat, tomatoes, a big ol lamb bone for Fleabag. We pile in Damien’s car and head to Balmain. Damien lives there.
We pull up at this deadly park right on the harbour. Antman and me are a bit nervous, but Fleabag’s outta the car and beltin cross the grass like there’s no tomorrow. There’s heaps of other dogs there, but that’s okay coz he got his nuts cut out a couple a years ago so he don’t go bluin no more.
We git the stuff outta the car, spread the blanket with the tucker, glasses and wine on the grass and sit down, still nervous. Then we see all these whitefullas. They’re all sittin round with wine, beer and tucker too! They’re havin a laugh. Kids and dogs are runnin around. There’s no trains, the harbour’s shinin, boats everywhere. We pour drinks; make sandwiches. People smile at us. They pat old Flea and fuss over his fancy collar. He laps it up.
And there’s no coppers in sight!
Antman grins. ‘Makes ya wanna sing, aye tidda?’
‘Sure does,’ I say, and whack old Slim in the CD player.
We know the drill and go every week now. Flea’s used to havin a tub too. Knows he’s goin to the park afterwards. Anyway, when we get sick of city life we go out bush, sometimes to visit my mob or sometimes Antman’s. Ant’s a builder so he goes whenever one job finishes. I do bar work or waitressin so I ain’t tied down either. Fleabag just comes along for the ride.