Friday, February 27, 2009

Talking Turtle

The Global Financial Crisis is tedious. It seems to be giving manufacturers a pretext for sending some of our few remaining domestically based industries off shore, Bonds, Dunlop, King Gee and Grosby among them. One hesitates to use the tired 'Australian icons' tag but I can't help thinking that images of Paul Mercurio dancing a duet with a Chesty Bond torso or a cartoon dog ruff ruffing 'Grosby, they're great, mate' now seem quaintly irrelevant. And Robert Drewe's evocation of the dagginess of Dunlop 'volleys' in the 'The Shark Net' is now more firmly sealed in its time capsule than ever! We have a standard of living in Australia that has attracted migrants from all over the world and now the Pacific Group of companies who produce these products has rejected paying even the minimum wage to keep jobs here and is eroding that standard of living and by extension eroding the cultural confidence that produced Paul Mercurio and Robert Drewe and let us enjoy their art.

I am reading 'Turtle' a first 'novel' (it seems unequivocally autobiographical) by Glaswegian Gary Bryson for our book group. Easily our most rambunctious and rollicking choice to date, full of hebridean whimsy and phonetically written passages liberally sprinkled with 'fuck' (which is apparently already spelt exactly as it's pronounced in Glasgow!) While the book has significantly fewer 'fuck's than many I've read it easily holds the record for the most 'wee's! Bryson reserves his most amusing slabs of phonetic utterance for his mother Trixie and a turtle he discovers in the dilapidated Reptile House at the zoo whom he adopts as his mentor. As well as teaching him to swim the turtle is clearly going to help him exorcise his childhood demons. Here's one of Mr Turtle's messages to our protagonist, Donald Pinelli:
An it wisny jist the swimmin.
Ah taught ye how
tae hold the sweet breath uv freedom in those

stupit mammal lungs uv yours.
How tae kerrry the whole bastardin wurld on yer back.
Ah mean
fuck's sake, pal,
that's whit bein a turtle's aw aboot.
Can't argue with that! I think I'll romp through this choice long before our March 22 meeting.

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