Sunday, May 24, 2009

You might need to be Aussie to get this...

The organizers of the Melbourne Writers Festival have run a Great Australian Text Message Competition, and apparently they had a fantastic response . The competition was to use a text message to get across the essence of an Australian novel. In the end, the entries they liked were actual messages not just a plot summary.

Not a bad effort to turn 100,000 words into 100 characters.

The winning entry from Nyunkia is: Picnic @ Hanging Rock: Miranda where R U???

If you're not Australian, you may not have heard of Picnic at Hanging Rock, a novel written by Australian author Joan Lindsay. It was also made into a movie, but I'm not sure if it was shown overseas. It's about a trip by a party of girls from Appleyard College, an upper class private boarding school, who travel to Hanging Rock in Victoria's Mount Macedon area for a picnic on Valentine's Day 1900. The excursion ends in tragedy when three girls and a teacher mysteriously vanish after climbing the rock. No reason for their disappearance is ever given, and the one girl who returned has no memory of what had happened to the others. A fourth girl had climbed the rock with the group, but returned in hysterics for reasons she could not explain.

Another text entry I thought was fun was this:

Clncy wher r u

Shearng? drovng?

Pls cntct ur accntnt
(Nicola Lane)

It's based on this very well known and well loved Australian poem, which I've copied below, in case you're interested... It shows the intense feelings many Australians have about the whole city versus the bush dichotomy.

"Clancy of the Overflow"

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just "on spec", addressed as follows: "Clancy, of The Overflow".

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written in a thumbnail dipped in tar)
'Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
"Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are."

In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving "down the Cooper" where the western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street,
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

And I somehow fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cashbook and the journal -
But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of "The Overflow".
The Bulletin, 21 December 1889.


2paw said...

That is so clever!!!The film is very haunting, even when I see it now, it has a eerie quality. Someone sang Clancy of the Overflow and I remember it really well with the tune, far better than without.

Brigitte said...

Thanks Barbara, for that lovely poem. I commiserate with that guy in his tiny office with no sunlight. No time to grow, eh?!
Did you know (well, of course you don' could you?) that I keep all your words of wisdom and other people's words of wisdom, that you put up on your blog?! I have a whole folder full on my computer, mainly Australiana. So please, when you feel something is worthwhile will you think of my folder and post it, I'd really love to read more....

JoyfullyHis said...

I've never heard of Hanging Rock or the film, but it gave me chills to hear about it! And I got a kick out of Clancy. It reminds me of the sentiment of the farmers and ranchers around our town. We complain about rush hour when there are 3 cars in front of us on the road. ;)

Liz Fielding said...

Read the book, saw the movie years ago. Rachel Roberts -- wonderful actress. Terrifically atmospheric in both book and movie.