Read Bill the Bastard, Roland Perry. Great tale of a horse and THE men who loved him. Caught me choking.  Also some surprising facts I didn’t know about the 10th Light Horse after Gallipoli. They took Damascus in a mad rush of revenge. Why don’t we remember that?
Coffee with me mate and psych.
Another coffee with a bloke from the city with whom I am hatching small, good and cost neutral plots.
The rest of the day: script meetings, reading more about Bill the Bastard.
Then the house filled up with women and needles. Knitting. Hatching a large and positive plot.
7am met Claire Moody from ABC 7.30 report. She is small and warm and easily distracted by me and my scattered approach so I have to walk away and allow her to focus before I come back for the serious work. She wants to talk about the Albany Anzac thing and I do, with gusto, and scatter.
I realise I am excited about the days ahead.
We drink coffee. Don Perfrement in his little waterfront box makes a good espresso.
After the interview I’m pumped and have no idea what to do. I wander aimlessly. Then I remember I have tasks to complete. I set to.
I meet old friends for lunch in Due South, huge barn like new restaurant also on the waterfront. I’m spending so much time on the waterfront I expect Marlon Brando or Rod Steiger to pop up.
I come home to read more of Charles Bean by Ross Colthart. Ross writes that “28 ships left Albany”. Most accounts say 38. Typo?
Day 3
Up early and on Radio West with Terry Siva. We have some fun and I sob when talking about Uncle Amos Doust, up and over the top but not for long because he’s dead.  You know what surprises me? My anger and sadness all mixed in together. Anger at the brass, the generals, the Winston Churchills, the pricks who sent them over, wave after wave, to be annihilated. For what? Nothing.
I have to go see my doctor, but he isn’t there. Forgot. He leaves early Wednesday. The nurse opens up my wound and we discover that it is not healed. The hole is still empty. Better take it easy over the next few days.
There’s a dog in the street, every time it see me it goes me. No reason. I like dogs.  It has an insane hatred of me.
Day 4
Bugger. It starts today.
First, the doc. He doesn’t like the hole in my leg. Says it’s time I acted my age. I ask him how old is that. He hands me a mirror.
I drive into town. Wander up York Street, limping. All looks good. The work is not yet done but nearly done, close to done, good enough done. Too late now. Oh, someone tells me a whole lot of seats were made to commemorate Anzac, artistically prepared and now will not be installed. That’s sad.
I hang around. Drink coffee.
At the main stage the MC is a nervous young women and I offer to introduce The Coynes, led by Lester. Their solid rock is damn good and I wonder why they are not on the next day when the show really starts.
Day 5
Jesus, help me.
Early in the street. A coffee. I don’t start gigs with coffee. I start with a coffee.
Can’t start without acknowledging Menang Boodja, then Uncle Amos Doust, and others.
It’s a slow start.
My co-MC Stand Shaw (ABC) eventually shows (he’s got a job) and we have fun with the Green Islanders (Flinders park Primary), a fabulous group of young singers, then the Great Southern Grammar music extravaganza which blows us all away and forces me to join a woman on the tarmac and throw a leg in the air.
Roland Perry shows and takes up most of the day leaving Adam Morris time for one song, or so he says, but when he stops grumping and sings we learn that he can, man, can be sing.
At the end, after the Peperjacks, I am exhausted and the leg hurts but we have to watch the sound and light footage on the AEC roof.
The sound and light show is all about the Lighthouse Girl. It’s a great roof-top film.
Day 6
This is supposed to be the big one.
Crowds nowhere near 60,000 so far.
I start with a coffee. I never start with a coffee. But I do.
The day is a blur. I see people from yesterday, from the day before, from a past life, people I never saw before, but I never forget Blencowe Green, the boy who signed up for a few quid, at 16, then tries to get out when war is declared, but he can’t, is sent to France, and dies.
Everyone is in town. No, not everyone, but a couple of PMS, a GG, and G. They are followed by entourages. The Turkish Defense Attache and official Turkish representative for the 100 Anzac commemorations is also in town and the word is he walked everywhere, caught busses, and was a decent and honourable man.
I stay late to introduce Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse. He plays guitar like a magician and Gina sings like an angel.
We walk down to Centenial Park where Mal Dix MCs, Katie Noonan sings, the Waifs sing, Dan Sultan plays, struts and sings and WASO and Navy play and play and play.
Day 7
Quiet day.
But I cannot forget Uncle Bill Baker, or Uncle Jim Baker. Bill served in France and my mother was named after the farming women who took him into her home. Jim went to Anzac Cove and came home radicalised. His sister, my grandmother, would speak of him as “that communist”.
At some point I realise my brain is not on task and I have to leave. I can’t, but then I can. So I do.
We drive down to Ellen Cove to see the poppies.

We drive home and collapse.

Day 8
I have nothing more to add. I am sleeping.
Someone asked a number of people for their highlights. Many said the march. I missed the march. Others said the warships. Some the sound and light shows. Others meeting the PM. Then there were the poppies, at Ellen cove and in the Albany Entertainment Centre.
The reading: All Quiet on the Western Front (Erich Maria Remarque), Bill the Bastard (Roland Perry), Charles Bean (Ross Colthart) and Gallipoli (Peter Fitzsimmons).
Then there was telling of Amos Doust’s story for a sound and light film, as though I was my Grandfather Roy Doust.
The reading, the research, the story telling, all connected me to the horror, the incompetence, the futility, the bravery, the madness, the needles deaths, and I once again became my Grandfather, a man who could not go to war because of his disability. Through him I remembered the time and all his maimed and lost friends and relatives, and I wept.

5 thoughts on “DIARY OF A MAD WEEK

  1. Jon, thanks for a really emotional ride through your week. You caught me completely with your language. I share your feelings about that war: maybe that's why my own stories are set in that time. All the best with everything, mate!

  2. Just read through this now. Thanks for the journey. I was in W.A. at the time but just couldn't get to Albany for that experience.Incidentally, I came across the name Doust reading the Esperance police books of the 1880's. A shepherd named Doust had reported his hut at Carlingup, outside Ravensthorpe, raided by Aborigines in the days after John Dunn had his carotid artery severed by a native spear. One of the accused Aborigines, known as Moolyal, later led the man who did the spearing into Esperance and turned him over to the police. I saw the name Doust there and then saw your blog listed on A WineDark Sea. That Doust who shepherded for the Dempsters of Esperance Bay may have been an uncle of your Grandfather Roy. I don't know, but he may have been…

  3. Ciarian, that Doust would have been on our tree. We're all on it, all those from WA. Not sure about the others, the easterners. Two brothers came out from Sussex – James and Isaac – settled in Toodyay and from them we sprang.Before Sussex – France.Before France – Iran.

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