Works in the Herald 1934

Much to my surprise, my young friend, Bobby (aged 10), turned up yesterday with the second part of his "History of Victoria." This unusual diligence and promptitude was to be commended, so I thanked him with a kindly pat on the head and turned to other things.

But Bobby was in no hurry to leave me. His arduous task completed, he seemed to have plenty of time on his hands. He wandered about my study, casually inspecting this and that, and interrupting me with seemingly irrelevant remarks which I finally came to recognise as extremely broad hints.

It would appear that when the matter of a history was first mooted I had made some rather vague remarks about picture shows and ice-creams and had then forgotten all about them. I promptly made honorable amends and furnished the wherewithal, and the young author withdrew with a celerity contrasting sharply with his recent dawdling casualness.

Part Two of my young colleague's history is, I fear, unorthodox as to the ordering of consecutive events; but it possesses a certain charming naivete and an austere avoidance of elaboration that might be well noted by other chroniclers of my acquaintance, so I give it here unedited.


When I was writing part one of this essay on our history I forgot all about putting in the bit about Mr Buckley the white black man in its right place which I never ought to of done becos it is a terrible interesting bit indeed.

Well this is what I would have said if I only thought about saying it in the proper places where it ought to have been put.

Well this Mr Buckley so it seems was brought up to be a convict but when he grew old enough he got a bit sick of convicking and decided to make a change so he went away and took up with a tribe of wild wandering blacks and when they saw him I mean the blacks they took him to be their king who died or something not long before and so Mr Buckley they thought was their deceased king come back washed white all over neck and behind the ears and everywhere.

So they said to him by sine language Please Mr Buckley come and rain over us and be our king.

So when Mr Buckley understood that they were driving at that's what he done and he had a pretty good time. He lernt their strange language and lived like a blackfellow on possum and grubs and snakes and things and he lernt to play at croberies and to throw the boomerang at which he became very profisn proffic I mean at which he got pretty good.

Well after a long time Mr Buckley heard how some white people had come to Melbourne so he thought he would look them up just to see what they looked like which he had forgotten all about.

Well when the white people first saw Mr Buckley who by this time was looking pretty wild they were all scared stiff but by and by a man who knew him before he was converted said Why it's old Mr Buckley we thought you were dead or something so then they all shook hands and asked him how he was and how the crops was going up country.

So by and by the newspaper reporters heard how Mr Buckley was knocking around so they all rushed away to get a good piece for the papers out of him but when they began to ask him questions like what it felt like to be a blackfellow and eat grubs and be married to a black lady well Mr Buckley opened his mouth to reply and all on a sudden he reelised he had forgotten all about how to speak English.

And the reporters who were a pretty ignerint lot in those days could not speak blackfellow so things were at a dead lock.

So the reporters went back and told their editers how it was a washout account of them not being able to talk black language and the editers gave them a good seveer talking to for being such ignerint reporters and some of the reporters got awful annoyed at finding out they were ignerint so they resined on the spot and went and became members of parliament but I never heard what became of Mr Buckley.

Well that is all I know about that and by rites I had ought to of put some more bits in here about the great landboom and federation and Canbra and the great war and the great depression which brings us down to modern times but I fell pretty tired and mum keeps yelling that its after bedtime so I think I better stop now and write finus which is latin for finish.

So that will complete the job which I agreed to do on certain terms and I hope it is suitable.

Later on perhaps I may tell you about the other interesting bits and write what teacher calls an apendix which is not the things you carry inside you but something or other at the end of books with the same name and is put in to give you the moneys worth.

Well verry likely I might do that when I am not so tired.

But I reckon I have given my moneys worth becos history writing is awful hard work so that will be all as the pay is pretty measly.


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In chastened mood I accept the gentle reprimand in Bobby's last sentence and, later possibly, should we agree to collaborate again I shall see to it that he is more adequately rewarded. Writers have to hear much criticism; but to be classed as a flinty-hearted publisher is the last indignity that can be heaped upon a poor writer's head.

Herald, 9 February 1934, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002