Works in the Herald 1934

We are a joyful people.

It is the sunlight, visitors tell us. How can we help it? they ask. See how we bask in it almost everlastingly -- soaking it in, absorbing it, secreting, imprisoning it within the deepest recesses of our blithe and buoyant beings to be poured out at every opportunity from that inexhaustible well of gladness that lies deep within us.

We are the children of the sun. Our secret selves, our very souls are fashioned of the sunlight. It dances about us as we go, it surrounds us with an aura of brightness even at the darkest midnight hour when crooners croon and the wail of the saxophone is loud in the land. Even then a glow of gladness is about us, so that folk say, "There goes a merry man. He is a Victorian. He is being officially glad."

I repeat, we are a joyful people.

See how we celebrate centenaries -- officially.

Even in our signs and symbols, in all our outer manifestations of gladness, sunlight must find a place. This sunlight that we love.

Come, let us have a visible symbol to celebrate this our Centenary. Let a medal be struck that is truly typical.

Stay, what is this? Oh, blessed inspiration! A sheep's skull.

Here is sunlight triumphant! Sunlight in excelsis! The very apotheosis of the happy sun god! Here is sunlight -- well, a little too much sunlight perhaps, as you say. For the owner of this very skull perished in the drought of 1900 of a trifling overdose of sunlight, and the meat was picked off it by a merry old crow who loved the sunlight, and the drought and sheep's skulls.

But, oh, what artistry is here! Symbolic of some sunlit abattoir! Idyllic emblem of the great outback what time the squatter squats beneath his sunny eave and laughs and laughs that strange, merry laughter of the man who does not care; for, at least, they have left him the sunlight.

Ho down derry! We are a merry, merry -- we are a joyous people.

But stay! What is this we glimpse behind the naked skull, piercing as a shaft, and as it were, its very occiput, or else its calcined cranium. A single stalk of wheat! Oh, symbol of plenty! -- Well, perhaps not plenty; but as much as is good for people of our station in life.

Not a sheaf of wheat, mark you; nor a field of wheat, but one lorn, lonely stalk.

Well do I remember noting that very stalk -- that identical straw with its attenuated ear - pallid in a paddock where it stood alone during the great drought of 1910. The farmer came out shortly after and stuck it in his hair, and we danced together in the paddock amongst the sunstruck stubble. It was then, I remember, that I got my own sunstroke, the effects of which have never left me. That is why I am glad; for I now we are a joyful, joyful people when we celebrate - officially.

But let us have more symbols of the sun. Lest us print a postage stamp. Shall we have a red stamp to mirror old Sol himself? Purple, to signify our regal state? Primrose, for pleasure? Mauve, for merriment?

Ha! The Chief Assistant Secretary to the Acting Deputy Comptroller of Dead Letters has been inspired! Black! He say, black! Who, save a genius, could have envisioned that? What subtlety -- to symbolise sunlight by inference! For without sun how could there be shade? And, the brighter glows the ancient sun, the deeper looms the shadow. So here shall the black shadow predicate the glowing sun, that merry monarch of us all.

Come then, let us lick and stick a black stamp upon the back of a jolly letter explaining why we can't meet the next mortgage payment.

And now our sunny symbols are complete -- a black stamp, a sheep's skull and a single stalk of barren corn.

Oh, we are a joyous, joyous people when we celebrate -- officially.

And so my masters, let us hie forth and be happy. Let us hang some crepe about our hats and hire a motor hearse and take a jolly joy-ride to some sunlit necropolis and ponder gleefully upon the tomb.

For I have repeated, and I repeat again. We are a joyous, joyous people when we celebrate -- officially.

Oh. Hy nonny, nonny! Hear our shouts of merry laughter go zooming to the zenith of our sunlit sky.

Har. Har. Har!

Herald, 4 June 1934, p8

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2003-06