Mick: To an Old Mate [poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, 1926]

[Editor: This poem by “Dryblower” Murphy was published in Dryblower’s Verses (1926).]


To An Old Mate.

The fire’s gorn down in the parlor grate
An’ I’m sittin’ up for awhile,
’Cos I started rememberin’ my old mate —
Mick, of the Ninety Mile.

I’m wonderin’ where Old Mick can be.
Is ’e sound in wind an’ limb?
An’ I’m wonderin’ if ’e’s thinkin’ of me
The same as I’m thinkin’ of ’im?

* * *

Lars time I ’eard about my mate Mick
’E was up Wiluna way;
’E’d been a month in the ’orspittle, sick,
An’ they reckoned ’e ’adn’t a tray.

I drors a fiver outer the bank
(My Gord, if the old woman knoo),
An it might a bin pride, or it might a bin swank —
It was back in a week or two.

We were mates as boys an’ mates as men,
Mates in tucker an’ tramps;
Mates with never a scratch o’ the pen
Beyond the battery stamps.

Mick could corl me a crimson cow
An’ I could name ’im a nark,
But there wasn’t a man that we’d allow
To pass the same remark.

We was mates in everythink on the earth,
Mates when we dollied gold,
Mates in jamborees in Perth,
Mates when our swags was rolled.

We’ve stoushed each other to end a spree,
We’ve argued shicker and straight,
But if ever a bloke picked on to me —
Well, Mick would pick ee’s mate!

My ’arf was ’is, ’is ’arf was mine.
Come turn an’ turn about;
We’d both of us paid each other’s fine
An’ bailed each other out.

It’s a harder thing to get a mate
Than it is to get a wife,
Who merely keeps yer from lickin’ y’r plate
An’ swallerin’ ’arf y’r knife.

I don’t say a wife ain’t good, in ’er place,
Look ’ow she keeps the kids;
An’ there’s few like ’er in the yooman race
For closin’ down on quids.

Mine is a prim little pommy piece
With a set on blokes who booze,
The sort that allus ’ollers ’Perleece!’
When y’r beak in a beer you lose.

Perhaps she’s wrong, perhaps she’s right,
I never argue points;
But lots of coves just shicker for spite
When a woman’s tongue’s on joints.

I tell ’er me wages is three-fifteen
When I sign for four pound ten,
Which keeps me from lookin’ like real dead mean
When I’m razzlin’ now an’ then

It’s a ’orrible action to deceive,
But blokes must save theirselves;
A lot of you people wouldn’t ber-leeve
The skelingtons stowed on shelves.

I’ve a shop an’ ’ouse in Brickville West,
Where I sunk a thousand quids;
The missus I mentioned runs the nest,
And of course there’s a cuppler kids.

Lars Christmas Mick comes down from the scrub,
Not knowin’ the wife will rouse,
’As a lot of pints at the Brickville pub
An’ lumbers along to the ’ouse

She sees ’e’s shicker, but keeps it down,
Though ’er dial is red with rage;
Then she sez to me, “Bill, go up town
An’ get me the onions an’ sage.”

Now Mick ’ad been as near’s could be
Two days in the ’fields express,
“Can I ’ave a camp?” sez Mick to me,
An’ I like at fool, sez “Yes.”

While she plucked the goose, Bill goes to bed
(Our bed, if you please, by the way);
But when I returned to the yard he’d fled,
An’ the spouse was avin’ ’er say.

“Ow dare you sleep in yore dirty boots,
You clay-covered cannibal, you?”
Poor Mick, like lots of similar coots,
Was stunned be the hullabaloo!

“Why did she want to go rousin’ on me?”
Asked Mick from the poultry pound;
“I’d never go barefoot about,” said he,
“With respectable ladies around.”

So down at a rubby along the road,
We lunched on steak and eggs;
An’ Mick rolls up his swag abode
An’ silently pulled his pegs.

“I’m sorry,” sez I, as the whistle blew
An’ the train drew out at three;
“Don’t be sorry for me,” sez Mick, “it’s you
That needs it more than me!”

* * *

So I’m wonderin’ where old Mick can be —
Is ’e sound in wind an’ limb?
An’ I’m wonderin’ if ’e’s thinkin’ of me
The same as I’m thinkin’ of ’im?

Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 32-34

Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 13 June 1920, p. 4

Editor’s notes:
crimson cow = bloody cow

old woman, the = wife

Perth = the capital city of the state of Western Australia

pommy = someone from England

pub = hotel; an establishment where the main line of business is to sell alcoholic drinks for customers to consume on the premises (“pub” comes from the abbreviation of “public house”)

rouse = (slang) get angry, lose one’s temper; rebuke, scold, tell off

shicker = drunk

spree = a drinking spree; in general terms, a “spree” refers to an outburst of, or period of, an activity or indulgence (e.g. a crime spree, a spending spree)

stoush = fight, brawl (stoush may also mean to hit or punch)

swag = a swagman’s bundle, being a number of personal belongings rolled up in a blanket, and hung from the shoulder; also known as a “bluey”, “drum”, or “Matilda”

swank = to behave or dress in such a way as to impress people; pretentious in style; to show off, swagger

tucker = food

Vernacular spellings:
’ad (had)
allus (always)
an’ (and)
’arf (half)
’as (has)
’ave (have)
avin’ (having)
be (by)
ber-leeve (believe)
bin (been)
corl (call)
’cos (because)
cuppler (couple of)
drors (draws)
’e (he)
’eard (heard)
’e’d (he had)
ee’s (his)
’er (her)
’e’s (he is)
everythink (everything)
Gord (God)
gorn (gone)
’im (him)
’is (his)
knoo (knew)
lars (last)
might a (might have)
near’s (near as)
o’ (of)
’ollers (hollers)
’orrible (horrible)
’orspittle (hospital)
’ouse (house)
outer (out of)
’ow (how)
sez (says)
skelingtons (skeletons)
yer (you)
yooman (human)
yore (your)
y’r (your)

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