Bullgoose muscles in on Steely Dan

“Nan! He won’t wake up.”

Wes and Alice Piddens were entertaining their golden granddaughters, Big Sweetie and Sweetie Duderina, on the veranda at Bonalbo. Actually, Wes was entertaining them by snoring in his squatter’s chair.

“Pull a hair out of his nose.”

“Ewww! Will that wake him up?”

“Probably not, but it’ll serve him right.”

“I heard that.”

“You want a prize?”

“Big Wes, where is Muss-well-brook?”

“Muswellbrook, Big Sweetie.”

“No, when Daddy sings it he goes, “When Black Friday comes, fly down to Muss-well-brook, gonna strike all the big red words from my little black book.”

“Aha. Black Friday, by Steely Dan. Wall Street Crash.”

Sweetie Duderina piped up, crooning into an imaginary microphone, “Gonna do just what I please, gonna wear no socks and shoes…”

And Big Sweetie joined in with, “nothing to do but feed all the kangaroooooooos!”

“Brilliant. Notice how they avoid the obvious rhyme of, “do just what I choose, gonna wear no socks and shoes’? They avoid it like a western taipan. Brilliant.”

“Wes, they are five and ten, not PhD candidates.”

(a round of cuddles and cheek-pinching) “Not yet, hahaha.”

“What’s it about, Big Wes?”

“Well it’s about this slick seppo businessman in debt to his eyeballs who can tell there’s a financial disaster coming so he nicks off as far away as he can from New York, and that’s Muswellbrook, NSW.”

“Are you sure it’s not Mus-well-brook?”

“Yep. They’re Yanks. Yanks say, Mell-born and Briss-bain and The Great Barry-rear Reef. And Muss-well-brook.”

“Have you been there? To Muscle-brook?”

Wes’s face clouded. Salt tears rolled to the end of his eyelashes and hung on grimly.

“Oh yes, I have.”

“Here we go…” Alice rolled her eyes.

“When I was a little boy, me and your Great Auntie Helen went on a holiday with our Gran and Pop.”

“Great, Great Gran and Pop?”

“Yep. So we’re driving along in the Chev ute. Pop’s driving, Helen’s next to him and I’m sitting on Gran’s lap.”

(Children chortling)

“I was a lot smaller then. I was only about five, capisce?”

(More chortling)

“At this point you need to know that Gran was a notorious gutter grabber.”



“Gutter grabber. She’d stick her arm out the window and grab the gutter.”

“Wow! She musta had way long arms, Big Wes.”

“Not the gutter on the road, the gutter on the car.”


“You know on a can of tomato soup or baked beans there’s this lip goes around the top?”


“Well, back in the day, cars had a lip around the roof where it was joined to the body. It was called the gutter.”

Sweetie Duderina was confused. “So they used to make cars in tomato soup factories?”

“No. Only Nissan Cedrics.”


“So we’re heading up the main street of Muswellbrook. Gran’s gutter grabbing and leaning on the door. We hit a bump. The door flies open. I fly out and land on my head. And Gran lands on me. She was a big woman, Gran.”


“Did you die?”

“Here’s the thing. Pop didn’t notice. He was concentrating on the road and the traffic. He just pressed on.”

“As luck would have it, Gran and I landed right in front of the chemist’s shop. The chemist and his crew come out and grab us and carry us inside and bandage my head and bandage Gran’s knee and fill us with Aspro and Bex and cod liver oil and return us to the land of the living.”


“Meanwhile, in the Chev, Helen starts to cry. Pop says, “What’s up, pet?”

“Granny and Little Wes, they’re gone!”

“He looks and, sure enough, we’re gone.  Pop must’ve felt pretty silly. He slammed on the brakes, did a U-ey and commenced to search for the missing passengers. Took him a while to find us too, seeing as we were indoors regaining consciousness etc.”

“And that, girls, is why Big Wes has suffered from lifelong, chronic concussion. It explains, but doesn’t excuse his slips, gaffes, faux pas, poor decisions, snafus and his enduring bad attitude.”

Alice always did like the last word.

A lesson to us all


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