[Editor: A poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, regarding the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York to Australia in 1901. Published in The Sun (Kalgoorlie, WA), 5 May 1901. A different version of the same poem, entitled “The Coming Crawl”, was written with reference to Fremantle and Perth (WA).]
“In the Event.”
“In the event of a royal visit being paid to Kalgoorlie, great gratification would be expressed by the people thereof, than whom there are no more loyal subjects, the large number of men sent to Africa to defend the Crown proving the same. A loyal reception would be given to those who would thus so signally honor us and who have exhibited such a royal interest in our welfare.” — The voice of the smoodger, per medium of Senator Standforth Smith —
If the Jook should deign to notice us when visiting the West
(Though the chances are particularly small),
Let us satisfy the longing that consumes the loyal breast,
Of indulging in an extra-special crawl.
Ignore the bilious croaker, who at big expenses jibs,
Don’t invite him to the levee or the luncheon,
Don’t admit him to the grovel to His Most Exalted Nibs,
Who’ll someday own and wield the Royal truncheon.
If possible, imagine how the loyalists would greet
The royal wherry entering the port,
To bore the blasé couple and the long enduring suite
With questions of a rather private sort:
Did their Highnesses feel qualmish when the Leuwin loomed abeam?
Did they then prefer the leeward of the ship?
Was it there their pink complexions turned a sickly sort of green?
Was the cabin steward busy on the trip?
Kalgoorlie would be cheering as the train came in and stopped
To see a wonder in this Western clime.
Not so much the Royal noddles out of open windows popped
As the marvel of a train that’s in to time.
There’d be a languid “How d’ye do?” for members of the “club,”
Then luncheon and a gorgeous civic spree.
There’d of course be “leading citizens” to wolf the gratis grub
And to gaze upon the swankey which is free.
An English king once lived and thrived on what his soldiers ate,
So George, perhaps, might thus sustain his girth;
But Heav’n defend his vitals if he dared to masticate
The railway meal between the fields and Perth.
Let him shun the platform sandwich into which the novice wades,
Which earns the dentist many a thumping fee,
And the cup of hot-and-dirty, which as “coffee” masquerades,
And the patriarchial egg and gum-leaf tea.
Provided that the noble couple do extend the cruise,
And find the time to do the Golden Mile,
Besides the mines there’s lots of things to interest and amuse
And raise upon the regal lips a smile.
If the Duke desired to witness how the outlaws of the bush
Once looted both the traveller and the mail,
He might take a trip to Somerville where Cochrane and his push
Were practising the ancient game of “scale.”
Though Kalgoorlie has no Mayoress to give the Duchess tea
And fill her with the gossip of the day,
There’s a lady at the Boulder who could locum tenens be;
For Burra’s Jane will always have her say.
So come, exalted scion, come, our mighty nation’s link,
We long to gaze upon a royal rover;
But surprised we never shall be, if within your “private pink”
The Duchess gently whispers, “Git it over.”
The Sun (Kalgoorlie, WA), 5 May 1901, p. 4
A different version of the same poem was published in:
The West Australian Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 5 May 1901, p. 4
“In the Event” was written with reference to Kalgoorlie (WA), whereas a different version of the same poem, entitled “The Coming Crawl”, was written with reference to Fremantle and Perth (WA).
It was proposed that the Duke and Duchess of York should visit Kalgoorlie during their trip to Australia in 1901; however, the royal couple were unable to include the city in their itinerary.
See: “The proposed visit to Kalgoorlie: Impossible to accept the invitation”, The Inquirer & Commercial News (Perth, WA), 17 May 1901, p. 3
Boulder = the town of Boulder (Western Australia), south of Kalgoorlie; it was named after the Great Boulder gold mine; in 1989 Boulder merged with Kalgoorlie to form the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder
See: “Golden Mile & Super Pit: Kalgoorlie-Boulder”, Eastern Goldfields Historical Society
d’ye = (vernacular) do ye; do you
field = goldfield (in the context of the goldfields of Western Australia; also used regarding other goldfield areas)
Golden Mile = an area rich in gold, located to the east of Kalgoorlie and Boulder, in Western Australia; the first gold find in the area was made by Paddy Hannan in 1893, and the area soon became the site of a major gold rush; most of the gold field is now part of the Fimiston Open Pit (also known as the Super Pit)
See: 1) “Golden Mile Mines, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Kalgoorlie-Boulder Shire, Western Australia, Australia”, Mindat.org (an outreach project of the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy)
2) “Item ST 40942 Brochure – ‘The Story of the Golden Mile, Western Australia’, West Australian Government Tourist Bureau, 1947”, Museums Victoria
3) “Golden Mile & Super Pit: Kalgoorlie-Boulder”, Eastern Goldfields Historical Society
4) “Super Pit gold mine”, Wikipedia
George = Prince George (born 3 June 1865) of the United Kingdom, Duke of York (from 24 May 1892), King George V (from 6 May 1910); he died 20 January 1936
git = (vernacular) get
gratis = free, without charge; something given or a service supplied for nothing, at no cost, without payment, as a favour (derived from the Latin “gratis”, contraction of “gratiis”, meaning “as a kindness” or “as a favour”)
grub = (slang) food
jib = to be reluctant or unwilling to do something; to balk at carrying on an action; to stop work, to refuse to go on (also: jibbed, jibbing, jibs)
Jook = (vernacular) Duke
Leeuwin = Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia, the most south-westerly point of the Australian mainland
Leuwin = a common misspelling of “Leeuwin” (i.e. Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia)
levee = a formal reception held in honor of someone; a formal reception of guests or visitors at a royal court; an afternoon assembly held by a British monarch (or his/her representative), attended by men only
noddle = (slang) head; (archaic meaning: back of the head)
pink = (slang) ear; used in the phrases “a word in your pink ear” (i.e. a private communication) and “on one’s pink ear” (i.e. to be down and out; homeless)
push = a gang; historically, the term refers to a street gang; may also be used to refer to a group
Somerville = a suburb of Kalgoorlie (located south of the city), in Western Australia
Standforth Smith = Staniforth Smith (1869-1934), born in Kingston (Victoria), moved to Western Australia in 1896, becoming mayor of Kalgoorlie (1900), and a Free Trade Senator for WA (1901-1906); served in the military during the First World War; died in Boyup Brook (WA) in 1934
swankey = poor quality beer; a drink brewed from with sugar, hops, ginger, wheat, malt, and yeast; any weak fermented drink; sweetened water and vinegar
wherry = a long light rowing boat (with sharp ends), mainly used to carry passengers on rivers and around harbours; a racing scull; a skiff; (British) a light half-decked barge or fishing boat (plural: wherries)