A very long way to the top

It may well be a long way to the top, but judging by the recent arena rock spectacular, the distance back down again is far, far greater. Inspired by the ABC TV series and, possibly, the movie ‘Cocoon’, veteran rockers emerged to deliver three and a half hours of perfect FM radio programming. But it begs the question: did it desecrate the very thing it sought to celebrate?

In the fifties, Little Richard recorded ‘Tutti Frutti’. The song was wild, raucous and it scared the living daylights out of middle-America. Then along came Pat Boone, who recorded an easily digestible version of Tutti Frutti that was as polite as the cardigan he was wearing. Needless to say, it was a smash hit. What became clear at a ‘Long Way to the Top’ was how much of early Australian rock music was based on the ‘Pat Boone’ model. The formula was simple. Take an American rock tune – usually by a black artist, and do a version of it that was easier on the eyes and ears. Back in the sixties, it resulted in number one hit singles. Thirty-odd years later it seems like a bizarre adaptation of the White Australia policy.

One of the difficulties facing the organisers must have been how to present so many acts in one evening. From that perspective, the night was an unqualified success. Changeovers were short and sharp and the night was relatively free of interruptions, but, overall, it felt much like a giant school concert, except it was the teachers on stage instead of the kids.

As for the performances, there was a distinct unevenness in the quality of the artists. Those who had never really stopped singing since their heyday faired best. Billy Thorpe, Russell Morris, Ross Wilson and Marcia Hines did particularly well. Bands such as Chain and the Masters and Apprentices were quite fine too, although Jim Keays should return his shirt to Austin Powers before anyone notices it’s missing. However, for every Normie Rowe, there was someone else for whom the standard was comparable to uncle Trevor’s rendition of ‘What’s New Pussycat’ at your sister’s wedding reception, save for the fact that on this occasion, you’d paid eighty bucks to listen to it.

As the night wore on, it was impossible not to be struck by an overwhelming sense that something was wrong. Here was a concert to celebrate the rebellious nature of rock and roll and yet that spirit was conspicuous by its absence. Even the songs the artists played were totally predictable. Indeed, the entire evening was one of well-mannered, superannuated Volvo-driving comfort that ran counter to everything the music stood for.

Suffice to say, I have never before been to a concert that had an intermission to allow gig-goers a chance to buy a choc-top.

If there’s one scene that will remain forever with me from that evening, it’s the sight of a certain man during the break, talking on his mobile phone while eating an Eskimo Pie and dancing.

Were rock and roll dead, it would surely have been turning in its grave.

What the evening needed more than anything was a shock. A surprise of some sort. Or, at least, a surprise that didn’t feature the words ‘I thought [insert name here] was dead.’ In short, what the night needed was Dinah Lee performing Eminem’s ‘Stan’ or Col Joye and the Joyboys drawing exclusively from the Slipknot songbook and engaging in some form of blatant self-abuse. But, alas, it was not to be.

To be fair, the evening wasn’t helped by the choice of venue. Put simply, the Rod Laver Arena is no more suited to hosting a rock concert than the front bar at the Espy is to hosting the Australian Open Tennis Final. By the time the finale rolled around, my seat had been so uncomfortable for so long that I began to seriously contemplate having my buttocks replaced through surgery. Instead, I had to content myself with dashing home for a warm cup of Horlicks before bedtime. As did many of the performers, no doubt.

Rock and roll is dead. Long live rock and roll.

How I Betrayed Christmas


In my defence, Christmas is a time that is ripe for exploitation and I’m hardly alone in taking advantage of it. Indeed, it’s no secret that the Festive Season is prone to being milked for pretty much every drop of human kindness possible. It’s for that reason that we are subjected to a whole range of Christmas products. Besides, it could have been worse: it could have been a movie.

On one level it’s surprising that so many films are devoted to a single day of the year. Suffice to say, the definitive movie about the Queen’s Birthday Holiday is, sadly, yet to be made. Christmas movies span the full gamut. They include the good (It’s A Wonderful Life), the bad (The Santa Clause) and the very, very ugly (Jingle All the Way – that Arnold Schwarzenegger could hold any kind of public office after starring in this lamentable piece of cinematic trash is, of itself, a Christmas miracle). For me, however, the most disturbing Christmas film ever made would have to be A Very Brady Christmas.

There were a couple of attempts to return to the Brady Family later in life. One was the sitcom, ‘The Brady Brides’ which lasted about as long as a carton on milk in the sun. The second was a made-for-television movie (or, at least, I hope it was made for television) called A Very Brady Christmas. There’s something about seeing the Brady kids as adults that feels desperately wrong. To find out that Bobby has dropped out of school to become a race car driver makes it seem as though Carol and Mike’s best efforts have gone completely to waste. Worse still is Mike’s man perm, which is now so seriously out of control that he looks like he’s the understudy to a member of the Hair Bear Bunch, whilst his moustache could well be on loan from a porn baron. And then there’s Alice – who, after years of courtship with Sam the Butcher, has just been abandoned in favour of another woman. The message of the film seeks to be that all of adult life is vaguely disappointing. But if films tend to be bad, the music is worse.

This holiday season, there are Yuletide records from Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond and Metallica. Over the years, we’ve had to endure seasonal missives that represent each point on what I like to think of as ‘the Adams Family register’. There’s the creepy (Mariah Carey), the kooky (Andy Williams) and, in what I have no doubt qualifies as the ‘seriously ooky’, Phil Spector. Just the sight of Freaky Phil dressed as St Nick on the album is enough to make you want to usher small children from the room.

I can only think of two remotely decent Christmas songs in the past thirty years – ‘Fairytale in New York’ by The Pogues and ‘How to Make Gravy’ by Paul Kelly. The former is notable for the fact that whilst undeniably romantic, it also contains language that disqualifies it for use at Carols by Candlelight. Paul Kelly’s contribution is not merely incredibly stirring and heart-warming but includes a full recipe. As for the matter of my own contribution to the genre….well, what can I say?

John Lennon’s ‘Merry Xmas (War Is Over) was somewhat mystifyingly covered by a band calling themselves ‘The Incredible Penguins’; a supergroup comprising members of Kids in the Kitchen, Dear Enemy, Uncanny X-men and, most importantly, Pseudo Echo. It even included a brief appearance by a clearly confused and perhaps fatally jet-lagged Bob Geldolf. I was there because our school choir had been roped in to give the song the necessary emotional gut punch that such anthems require.

The precise nature of the charity eluded me then as now.

The connection between the song and the charity could politely be described as ‘distant’. And although the idea of penguins at war appeals to me greatly, I’ve unaware of a penguin participating in any of the major theatres of conflict during the past fifty years. In spite of the heavy-weight cast, the single limped to number 10 on the charts in December 1985, before sinking like a stone. Whilst the band and the proceeds of the song have long since disappeared, a certain sense of guilt remains. Although the opening line of the song was, ‘And so this is Christmas’, perhaps, ‘And so this is ridiculous’ may have been closer to the mark. I must make amends.

So to St Nick, his reindeer and anyone remotely connected with the Yuletide period, please accept my humble apologies. Happy Christmas.


Savage Henry

The Blood Curdling Tale of Savage Henry.


Take and eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth

And you’ll soon be blind and toothless, to boot

But if you’re a pirate, you’ll live by this code

In poem, in prose, in play or in ode


In a pale blue shack, perched by a creek

Lived a pirate called Henry who rarely did speak

His skin was like leather and his hair was like cotton

And inside his mouth, his teeth were all rotten

There on his neck was a permanent bruise

His arms and his hands were the home to tattoos

With rings on his fingers and a giant belt buckle

And the words ‘love’ and ‘hate’ spelled out on his knuckles.

He wore an eye patch and had a leg made of wood

He grunted and cursed like a good pirate should

From each of his ears there hung gold doubloons

Each the size and the shape of the moon.


On his left shoulder, just trying to hold on

Was a one-legged parrot named Algernon.

With a patch on his eye, just like his master

Algie forever predicted disaster

They’ll never be back, we’ve been abandoned

Shrieked Algie, It’s worse than I ever imagined

Parrot, be quiet! Henry did say

The squeak of your beak is spoiling my day


For Henry simply did not need reminding

About their predicament so clear and blinding

He’d spend every day on a chair in the damp

Sitting so still he’d develop a cramp

With his one seeing eye, not giving hope

He’d stare at the sea through an old telescope

For pirates are prone to having the irrits

When stranded on land – it weighs on their spirits


It was Tuesday just past when it did come to be

The SS Kalinka left Henry and Algie

They did it on purpose, they said they’d be back

And left them to wait in a broken down shack

Captain Fantastic had sailed through the heads

Hoisting the mainsail as he turned and said

We’ve run out of milk so we’re off to the market

We’ve no time to lose, you’ll just have to park it

There on your chair. You and your bird

We’ll be back in ten minutes. You have my word!

As minutes ticked on, they turned into hours

Which turned into days and as Henry grew sour

The side of his mouth turned down to the floor

And he cussed and cursed even more than before

Even Algernon’s feathers had started to droop

When they ran out of food and resorted to gloop.


(If you’ve not heard of gloop, if the term’s unfamiliar

Then you’re lucky you’ve not had to eat it for dinner

It’s mud and it’s worms, and some shredded gum leaves

And it tastes so foul that you’d never believe

That anyone in their right mind would consume it

With a knife or a fork or even to spoon it

Is an affront to all things gastronomical

What it does to your guts nigh-on phenomenal

But enough about gloop. It’s really not relevant

It’s just that it makes you break wind like an elephant

Eyes shut as he ate – he couldn’t bear looking

Henry would dream of Italian cooking.)


Hour after hour and day after day

All Henry’s hope slowly withered away

As each minute passed, his stomach would churn

He realized Kalinka would never return

It’s apparent, dear parrot, that we are forsaken

I’ll tell you that it leaves my confidence shaken.

Here by the creek, I’m starting to pall

– I barely feel like a pirate at all.


It’s simple, said Algie, The answer is clear

You’ll just have to resume your pirate career

But instead of the ocean, you’ll be on land

Instead of a cutlass, make do with your hands

– That’s blasphemy parrot! Shrieked Henry in anguish

I’d rather give in, stay here and languish

– Come now, said Algie, And pull up your sock

You’re not being rational. I think you’re in shock


It won’t be the same, Poor Henry complained

Well of course not, you goose! The parrot explained

It’s going to be different, but you still ought to try

There’s no point holding back, no need to be shy.

There’s no point in waiting in this broken down shack

For something that just might not ever come back


The more Henry thought, the more it was clear

And it quickly gave hope to the old buccaneer

By the time I set foot in that sorry old town

I’ll be the best pirate that’s going around.

I don’t need a cutlass or ship or a cannon

I’ll be more frightening than you could imagine

– Now that’s more like it, sang out Algernon

I knew you could do it, I knew all along!


Come parrot, said Henry, Now let us prepare

To wreak havoc and mayhem and create despair

Together they trundled off down into town

With Henry’s face all scrunched up in a frown

Ready to plunder, to loot and to pillage,

Henry and Algie soon came to the village

When they got to the town, they walked down the street

There was no one around – no one to meet

But Henry kept looking, at Algie’s insistence

Until they saw someone off in the distance


On a park bench, there sat an old man

Aha! Whispered Henry. And now for my plan

He snuck up behind on his one tippy-toe

And said in a voice all gravelly and low

Ahoy there me hearty, prepare to be boarded

By the scariest pirate that was ever recorded

In history’s page or in any other

So what do you say, you vile land lubber?


The old man looked up, and slowly breathed out

And rolled his false teeth around in his mouth

Oh dear, he said. I think you’ve made an error

I’m far too bored to be cowering in terror

Poor Henry’s face was seized with surprise

As the old man looked him dead in the eyes

Just what do you think you’re trying to achieve?

I’ve seen more frightening things after I sneeze

Pausing for breath, but not for too long

The old man’s barrage continued along

And has anyone told you that you have no manners?

Your hygiene is poor and as for your grammar

It’s not so much bad as it is non existent

You really can’t blame me for being resistant


Henry was unsure of how to reply

He fiddled about with the patch on his eye

What if I threaten to feed you to sharks?

– There aren’t any sharks! We’re here in a park!

– Or tell you that you have to go walk the plank?

When the old man just laughed, Henry’s heart sank

If none of these things can fill you with fear

Forgive me for asking, but why are you here?


– You’ll understand one day when you’re older

He answered, his hand on Henry’s right shoulder

I’ve spent every day of my life in this town

From sun coming up to sun going down

I wonder how happy this old man would be

If only I’d spent my life out to sea

Over the water and to the horizon

Each brand new day would bring a surprise and

I get a feeling, much more than a notion

That I could be happy just sailing the ocean


And with that poor Henry was quite overcome

Before he knew it, he’d started to run

And from his eyes there poured floods of tears

The words of the old man still caught in his ears

As Algernon squeaked, Henry slow down!

Henry dramatically fell to the ground

This just won’t work – it’s not meant to be

Somehow I’ve got to get back to the sea


I’ll build my own boat, there’s nothing else for it

I’ll hammer and bend, I’ll snap and I’ll saw it.

He started by busting the shack into bits

He didn’t have tools so he just used his mitts

He worked up a lathery sweat that was sizeable

Until the fruit of his labour became recognisable

Algie asked How do you know it will float?

Henry said, Algie, it’s not the first boat

That I have constructed from raw materials

I’m relying on science, not something ethereal.

And when it was built, Henry stood proudly

What a fantastic boat the pirate said loudly

To think of the trouble that I had to wrestle

Time I should have been building this vessel


They waited all day and they waited all night

Until the tides and conditions were right

Then on Tuesday morning, August the second,

Henry decided that destiny beckoned

He hauled up the anchor and raised up the sail

As Algie stood perched near the mast on a nail

He sang a sea shanty as they departed

That was way out of tune even before they had started

Into the creek and down to the river

The wind cold enough that timber would shiver

It’s safe to say Henry felt quite terrific

The moment his boat finally reached the Pacific

I tell you Algie, I never felt finer

I’m prouder of this boat than an ocean liner


The parrot responded, While you’re tickled pink

You’ve failed to notice we’re starting to sink.

Henry looked down, his thoughts in a tangle

Saw water rush in and lap at his ankles

Algie be quick and man the life craft!

Said Henry before he quickly felt daft

For they’d not prepared for an emergency

But now they were feeling incredible urgency

To rescue themselves from disaster before

They both came to grief down on the sea floor

Algie then squawked and started to fly

Don’t worry Henry! I won’t let you die

I’m off to find help and to raise the alarm

Whatever you do, just try and stay calm

And with that all said, Algie departed

Leaving old Henry quite broken hearted


The ocean then started to swallow the boat

And water lapped up around poor Henry’s throat

I’m done for, said Henry. From my feet to my knocker

It looks like I’m headed for Davy Jones’ locker

As Henry gave up and breathed his last gasp

A dolphin delivered him out of harm’s clasp

As he shuffled away from the coil so mortal

Henry was saved by a good dolphin’s dorsal

A fin that took hold of him under his arm

And dragged him up to the surface so calm

That was a close one, the dolphin then said

A few moments more and you’d surely be dead

Henry then coughed and said, You’re so clever!

What’s your name? The dolphin said, Trevor


Trevor took Henry to an island nearby

And before he left, he waved a goodbye

Farewell and good luck, Clever Trevor had cried

As he disappeared with the turn of the tide

Henry waved back as he sat on the sand

Before he collapsed with his head in his hands.


On a small little island no more than a grotto

Henry ate gloop but dreamed of risotto

He wondered each day how he’d come to be

Stuck on an atoll surrounded by sea

Then early one morning, he had an idea

I should reconsider my choice of career

Henry shouted, now very excited

Being a pirate has meant I’ve been blighted

Picked on, ignored and generally hated

I just can’t believe all the time that I’ve wasted!

From this day forth, whatever I do

Will be well intended, courageous and true

And if that should mean that my pirating days

Are now all behind me, then I will say

I’m only glad that it wasn’t too late

For me to choose love, rather than hate


And just as his lips finished speaking the words

He heard the sound of a one legged bird

Leading a ship, straight to his beach

As the SS Kalinka came to rest with screech

Henry! cried Algie, as he fluttered down

I hope you don’t mind that we ran aground

Here on your island, me and the crew

But I found the ship and we’ve come get you


Captain Fantastic appeared in state

Hello Savage Henry! I’m sorry we’re late

The traffic was awful and we took a wrong turn

I misplaced my compass and got so concerned

That you might be thinking that you were rejected

Left by a creek in a shack and dejected

But Algie here found us and lead us right to you

For no one means more to us than you do


Henry smiled, catching tears in his eye

It took him a while to compose a reply

I’ll rejoin the ship but I’m no buccaneer

I think it’s time for a change of career

Captain Fantastic was betwixt and between

Henry! He said What on earth do you mean?

– I mean that it’s time that we made people happy

From elderly right down to babies in nappies

I get a feeling much more than a notion

We’d make people happy right here on the ocean


Just for a moment, there was such a silence

(Which, I must say, is quite rare for pirates)

Then it’s agreed, said Captain Fantastic

Stretching the moment out like old elastic

From this moment on, we’ll only do good

Be kind and polite like a good pirate should

We’ll sail the seas in search of adventures

Whilst funding ourselves selling second hand dentures

Henry said, Wait, and hear my proposition

Why don’t we decide to make it our mission

To take tourists out and sail them around

Before taking them back and setting them down?

So any one can know a life on the sea

And still make it home in time for their tea


From that day on, the Kalinka kept sailing

With hoards of tourists all gripping the railing

And the very first person to travel abroad

Was the old man who claimed he was bored

The old man and Henry both stood and the helm

As Henry recorded the whole thing on film

Manning the camera and making a movie

The old man cried out This means so much to me!

A smile on his face, his arms stretched out wide

Henry watched on and felt nothing but pride

He often took pictures of their many guests

Everyone thought it was what he did best

To think that his talent might have gone undiscovered

Had he not been abandoned and had he not recovered

And taken a chance, been brave and daring

Together with Algie, an unlikely pairing


They sailed and sailed in perpetual motion

Spending their days rolling over the ocean

Whatever the weather and whatever the climate

People loved Henry, the video pirate.





The Beginner’s Guide to Being Alone

‘I began to suspect that Justine didn’t feel about me the way I felt about her when the restraining order arrived. Maybe she needed time. Maybe she needed space. Not less than two hundred metres at any given point, as it happens.’

So starts The Beginner’s Guide to Being Alone. Elroy Pitt leaves Melbourne and a failed marriage to start again in Brisbane. He reasons that when you change cities you need to learn to do things from scratch. Just as you do when you break up with someone. It is, of course, never that easy.

To The Far-Off Sea

If you’ve never heard of Derwent Lees, you’re hardly the Lone Ranger. Named after the river he was born beside, Derwent was involved in the greatest artistic revolution of the last century. Born in Clarence, Tasmania, he was sent to study at the prestigious Slade School in London after he lost his leg in a riding accident. Eventually, he became a lecturer and help shape Britain’s most important generation of artists. Whilst in London, he and his friends enthusiastically embraced a new type of art and the decadence that came with it. Derwent was, most probably, a schizophrenic, and his career was cut short by his illness. He is, without doubt, the greatest one-legged schizophrenic artist this country has ever produced.

To the Far-Off Sea is a fictional account of his life, his brutal descent into madness and tragic death in an asylum.

The Return of Captain Asparagus

Alec the Artichoke slept like a log

Asleep on a cloud in the Great Land of Nod

Snoring while tucked in a bed made of lettuce

Sleeping so deep, Snow White would be jealous

He was as sleepy as vegetables get

Not just catching ‘z’s but the whole alphabet

Alec was peaceful, just catching some kip

Until he was stirred by an almighty drip


The drip was the size of an elephant’s tear

And dripped from the sky into poor Alec’s ear

It rudely awoke the slumbering Alec

As he sat upright in a quick flood of panic

What was that? bellowed Alec, flustered and wet

Sopping and angry and very upset

He then cast his eye up towards the ceiling

And what Alec saw sent the artichoke reeling


Mere words can’t describe how poor Alec felt

When he saw the sky had started to melt

The artichoke leapt to his feet and declared

His voice all a-tremble because he was scared

The sky is a-leak he cried and repeated

So loud it ensured that sleep was unseated

Startled at hearing so anguished a cry

The vegies awoke wiping sleep from their eyes


For a moment they stood in absolute silence

Their mouths open wide at this vision of violence

It was Boris the Bean who said it out loud

I don’t understand how it rains without clouds

Huge drops of water fell out of the air

And those in the fridge could only but stare

Penelope Pea soon started to weep

As water began to rise ‘round her feet.

We’ll be washed away, she said through her sobbing

As large drops of water continued on dropping


Poor Rodney Rocket and all the Rockettes

Took sudden leave of their common sense

Then all the cheeses, fell to their kneeses

And snivelling snow peas started to sneezes

Terry the Turnip turned quite hysterical

And Boris Bean’s eyes were wide open and spherical

All of them slowly turning quite manic

As they descended deep into panic


Captain Asparagus could surely save us!

Declared a watermelon named Mavis

Without hesitation the others agreed

And some even let themselves feel relieved

But even before they could say ‘hallelujah’

Alec could not help but feel quite peculiar

There’s something not right he said in a whisper

Standing on top of the vegetable crisper


Then like a flash he quickly recalled

Why the Captain was not in the vegetable drawer

Saying louder than he might have desired

Have you forgotten the Captain retired?

The vegetables collectively stopped in their tracks

And those that were cheering began to relax

Their mouths from a smile back into a frown

As all of them suddenly felt quite let down


Captain Asparagus had devoted his time

Maintaining the peace and battling crime

But he’d done his job a little too well

So well in fact it was quite hard to tell

Whether he simply fought crime in his stride

Or was lazing about on his backside

The lack of activity caused them to mutter

In clandestine meetings behind the butter


The vegies, believing their foe was defeated

Decided the Captain was no longer needed

They thought it was safe and made him retire

So gave him a send off, complete with a choir

Captain Asparagus walked into the distance

And called it a day at the vegies’ insistence

He packed up his things, and climbed out of the drawer

And decided he would not fight crime anymore


It all counts for little, the poor Captain thought

As he left the crisper and headed up North

Up through the shelves to the colder high reaches

Leaving behind the apples and peaches

The beans and the carrots, the peas and the fennel

Alone and unwanted, he slept in a kennel

He built from a tub of old margarine

It was ugly but it kept him warm, dry and clean


It was here the old Captain now spent the hours

His heart broken up, refusing to shower

Giving away the last of his health

Til he was a shadow of his former self

He stopped working out and then grew a beard
And to an outsider, it probably appeared

Captain Asparagus had let himself go

As he lived in the ice, the sleet and the snow


Back at the crisper, things grew more strained

And as drips kept on dripping down just like rain

The water kept rising much like the tide

As they swallowed it, along with their pride

The tension grew tight, just like a girdle

The air grew so sour that it made the milk curdle

Until the tension was pierced by a whistle

That shot through the fridge with the force of a missile.


I’ll save the day, a voice loudly declared

But when they turned around there was nobody there

Up here came a call, and they all looked above

To see a masked Mango, in a cape wearing gloves

Who are you? They cried. Tell us your plan

– I’m your new superhero, the Great Mango Man

I’m here with my sidekick, the Dynamite Spud

And we have a plan to save you from this flood


The old cauliflower was quickly all ears

As the water kept rising and his toes disappeared

And a tiny potato in a wrestling mask

Emerged from behind a big cardboard cask

He stood at the ready, his hands on his hips

And a message he wanted to shout on his lips

The way to get through this hour so dark

Is if we all pull together and build us an ark


With what shall be build it? The vegetables cried

The mango and spud, their eyes open wide

Looked deeply confused in response to the question

As the air filled with the scent of dissension

They stood doing nothing except getting older

And Mango Man answered by shrugging his shoulders

The mango and spud offered nothing but silence

As the water kept rising turning them into islands


The smiles on their faces soon turned to the ground

As the mango and spud began to turn ‘round

And start to run just as fast as they could

Into the distance to leave them for good

As they disappeared, the Artichoke sighed

Wasn’t that just a fat waste of time?

The watery drips had turned to a trickle

Leaving the vegetables in quite a pickle


Alec stood tall, gazing over the crop

Someone must journey their way to the top

Away from the water in search of assistance

If we are going to mount some resistance

– But who can assist us? They said in a chorus

Who would be willing to do something for us?

The artichoke yelled You’re acting like anarchists!

I must go in search of Captain Asparagus!


But it’s cold at the top! Said Penelope Pea

At most maybe two or perhaps three degrees

Alec was mindful it would not be much fun

But knew it was something that had to be done

With the water now rising up to their knees

Their limbs and their muscles had started to seize

There was no time to waste and no time to ponder

As Alec got ready to climb over yonder


Rugged up to the hilt, Alec prepared

To climb to the top, even though he was scared

To go just in case he ended up frozen

From the top of his tips right down to his toes, and

As Alex started to climb to a shelf

The vegies below wished him speed and good health

He climbed and he climbed until he was dizzy

Climbing so hard his breath became busy


He caught his breath and looked over the edge

His artichoke hands holding on to the ledge

Below on the crisper, he then looked in front

And was so surprised he go of a grunt

Is anyone there? Asked a white paper packet

What could it be making all of this racket?

– Who are you? said Alec, beginning to shake

As he stepped closer and started to quake


Under here, said a voice as old as blue cheese

Stop wasting time and unwrap me please!

Alec, still weary after all of his travel

Nevertheless began to unravel

The bundle of paper until he released

A gigantic fish from the depth of the seas

Holy Mackerel! Said Alec, falling about

No Sir! Said the fish. I’m a deep ocean trout.


Excuse me said Alec I don’t mean to disturb you

But I’m in search of a long green stem, who

Was the greatest crime-fighter that you’ve ever seen

A mean, lean and green crime- fighting machine

The trout shook his head, I can’t help you out

The people up here don’t want to be found

You’d be better off if you’d leave him alone

Turn around now and go on back home


I don’t have a choice the artichoke said

His limbs as stale as an old piece of bread

And as the cold started to bite at his heels

He wondered just how the Captain must feel

To live in a place that was so cold and miserable

To be all alone and nearly invisible

We need him said Alec It’s as simple as that

I must keep on looking and then bring him back


The deep ocean trout did not give a sermon

He could tell Alec was clearly determined

If you must, he said, in reluctant agreement

Just promise me now that you truly mean it

– Mean what? Asked the artichoke scratching his neck

– Mean you’ll treat the Captain with love and respect

And with that he understood what the trout meant

And knew that he must now resume his ascent


There’s no time to lose said Alec abruptly

As he scrambled quicker than Humpty Dumpty

He continued on climbing up through the frost

His limbs like lead and counting the cost

Until he reached the topper most shelf

And waited a moment to compose himself

When there in the corner he noticed a figure

And as he drew in, the figure got bigger


Dishevelled, unshaven and lounging about

A frown on his face and his guts hanging out

Oh Captain said Alec, What have we done

To you that’s so bad that it’s made you become

An unhappy ending to a once-happy story

Little more than a shadow of your former glory?

From under the brim of a beaten up hat

The Captain stared, asking, What are you looking at?


Alec responded, I don’t mean to pry

But the water is rising and we’re all going to die!

Captain Asparagus leapt to his feet

Before slipping over the ice and the sleet

Don’t panic he said as he picked himself up

Smoothed back his hair and sucked in his gut

Captain Asparagus will soon save the day

He cried as he felt his trousers give way


However, he said to the young artichoke

As he reattached a flowing red cloak

And Alec leaned in and he did his best

To listen to whatever the Captain said next

There’s just one little problem I need to fix

Would you be willing to be my side-kick?

The Captain asked Alec, adding as he did

I hereby rename you the Artichoke Kid!


The Captain and Alec took off like thunder

The Asparagus spear and Artichoke wonder

Down through the shelves and past the dairy

At such a speed it was really quite scary

Meanwhile the vegies were very upset

The hands of the water wrapped round their necks

Save us! They wailed as the water closed in

Until it began to tickle their chins


Fear not! Cried the Captain, I’ll save the day

For justice, truth and the Asparagus way!

Beside him stood the Artichoke Kid

Standing on top of a margarine lid

Together they ran just as fast as they could

While the vegies below just silently stood

And watched as they leapt with an almighty roar

And crashed with great speed into the fridge door


They crashed with such force, it threatened to dent them

Such was their speed and sense of momentum

The door of the fridge then flew open wide

And the vegies washed out of the fridge like the tide

Onto a vast open plain made of lino

Where are we? They asked and the Captain said I know

The vegies fell quiet and gathered around

Listening quite hard, not making a sound


We’re in a place where we can start over

Where life is as sweet as a giant pavlova

Adding just as a tear pushed on through

Where all of your wildest dreams can come true

– Look over there! cried the Artichoke Kid

And the vegies all gasped aloud as they did

For just past the open fly wire screen

Was the prettiest thing that they’d ever seen


A wide open door and a glowing so bright

Drawing them t’wards the gentle sun light

As they reached the door, they fell from a stair

And suddenly found themselves in the fresh air

This is amazing whispered the Captain

Caught in a daze until somebody slapped him

Don’t you see shouted Alec, without saying pardon

You’ve managed to lead us all back to the garden


The vegetables were all extremely excited

As many of them found themselves reunited

With loved ones they’d lost and friends they’d forgotten

With vegies they long assumed had turned rotten

They danced and sang for all they were worth

Hugging and rolling themselves in the earth

Under the gaze of the lucky old sun

The vegetables spent the whole day having fun


Penelope Pea was as pleased as could be

Boris the Bean was calm and serene

Terry the Turnip and the Melon named Mavis

Could not remove the smiles from their faces

Rodney Rocket and old Colonel Corn

Had not felt so good since the day they were born

They each enjoyed every minute and hour

From the baby peas up to the old cauliflower


They’d made an error, that much was clear,

In throwing the Captain out on his ear

And as their home turned into a lake

The vegies admitted they’d made a mistake

By taking a chance they then uncovered

An entire world they would not have discovered

If not for the fact that trouble had found them

Crawled in behind and tried to surround them


This is the story of Captain Asparagus

How he beat the odds and defied the averages

Who, along with the Artichoke Kid

Did something as good as anyone did

By not allowing his heart to harden

And leading the vegetables back to the garden

So with all of his soul and not just a fraction

The Captain watched on with great satisfaction


For this is the story of Captain Asparagus

Who saved the fruits, the beets and the cabbages

When water came dripping and they felt accosted

And helped them escape when the fridge was defrosted

The asparagus spear, who was to learn,

What made him great which saw him return

Braver than he had been ever before

The greatest superhero in the vegetable drawer.


The Adventures of Captain Asparagus and Squash Boy

The Adventures of Captain Asparagus and Squash Boy


This is the story of Captain Asparagus

Friend to the fruits and the beets and the cabbages

Who upholds the peace and who upholds the law

The greatest superhero in the vegetable drawer

He’s green and he’s tall and he’s very heroic

In the cold face of fear he’s strong and he’s stoic

To any bad fruit he says See you later,

The Captain fights crime in the refrigerator


Whatever the problem, he’s up to the task

Dressed for success in a cape and a mask

His head always high, a smile on his lips

Standing astride with his hands on his hips

He defends the sick and supports the sad

From a green esca-pea or good apple turned bad

But in spite of success, he felt unfulfilled

It was no longer enough to be crispy and chilled

Because things could be lonely for Captain Asparagus

As he battled the creeps, the kooks and the savages

And before you could get to the end of this sentence

He decided that he needed to find an apprentice


Word soon traveled out to the brothers and sisters

From the freezer up top right down to the crisper

Everyone lining up had a single ambition

– They hoped above hope to pass the audition

Carrots, celery, artichoke, rocket

From the hinge of the fridge right down to the socket

But none of them seemed to quite fit the bill

And the Captain resigned to keep searching still

The Captain then sighed and said – No one seems right

I’ve seen so many people I’m losing my sight.

I need a pal, a buddy, I want a compadre

A need a boy wonder to my kemosabe


Perhaps I can help? came a voice from behind

The Captain turned round, only to find

A tiny pipsqueak who looked shrunk from the wash

A small yellow fellow, nothing more than a squash.

It’s a squash! cried the Captain, his face screwing up.

You’re no more than a child, you’re no more than a pup.

– Silence! commanded the squash as he stood.

I may be small but I’m committed to good.

And I will not rest and I will not fail,

Until evil is smote and goodness prevails.


The Captain was shocked and sat up in surprise

At the steely hard look in the young squash’s eyes

In that case, he said. We shall not be coy.

From this day forth you’ll be known as Squash Boy.

You’ll defend every cheese, every bean, every grape,

Whenever you’re wearing your mask and your cape.

I’ll not let you down, said the squash as he grinned

He put on his mask, saying, Now let’s begin.


And so came a time of unheard of stability

As the Captain and Squash Boy used all their ability

To ensure that any malfeasance would cease

And that all those who lived in the fridge lived in peace.


Then, one morning, as the fridge was still sleeping

There was heard a slight rattle, followed by creaking

It was clear that this was no ordinary day

As the entire front side of the world peeled away

And out of the mass of intensified light

Came a hideous beast, such a hideous sight


It was hairless and headless and had five long necks

That reached into the fridge without fear or respect

The creature seemed intent on helping itself

As it preyed on the contents of shelf after shelf

Look out! It’s coming, cried Cameron the Carrot

Squawking and squeaking, sounding just like a parrot

Becky the Bean could not look any longer

As the creature drew close until it drew up along her

And just as it seemed that all hope was lost

And Becky would bear the most terrible cost

There came a blood-curdling cry from way up on high

As the Captain prepared himself to reply

Hey you there! Hey creature! Enough is enough

And to get its attention, flicked the lights on and off


Why don’t you try stalking an asparagus spear?

And when you do that, you’ll be out on your ear,

Or you would if you had some, you bad bald-faced freak!

Come do your worst if you’ve still got the cheek!


The vile creature paused and then started to rise

Which caught Captain Asparagus a bit by surprise

I think he heard me! Despite not having ears.

Squash Boy? – Oh Captain my Captain, I’m here!

Squash Boy stood astride a huge Champagne bottle

As he loosened the wire to give it full throttle

Captain Asparagus said, Have you gone berserk?

Do really think launching your self’s going to work?

– Now’s not the time to be faint of heart!

Said his loyal sidekick as he prepared to depart

It’s time for action, because there’s been enough talk

So make yourself useful and loosen this cork.


As the creature closed in, our heroes prepared

To send the young Squash Boy flying into the air

Good luck old pal! the Captain did say

Good luck to you because I’ll be okay,

Said the squash as the cork finally gave way

Taking Squash Boy along with the cool champagne spray

The explosion frightened the creature, alright

As Squash Boy flew off and into the light

Squash Boy! Come back! cried the Captain in vain.

Squash boy? he whimpered again and again


The creature was angry and took the bottle away

With such brutal force it made the shelf sway.

I cannot hang on! said a Tomato named Thomas

If I should fall, will you make me this promise?

– Anything Tom, said the Captain, Just say.

– Thank Squash boy for driving the creature away.

And with that, poor Thomas fell from the shelf

And the good Captain winced at the sound of a squelch

Poor Thomas, he said. And my faithful boy wonder.

I feel so torn up that I’m ready to chunder.


As they all gathered round with nothing to say

The Captain stood up and said, Lettuce pray.

Lawrence the Lettuce bowed his gigantic head

An offered a short quiet thought for the dead.

From this moment on, swore Captain Asparagus,

I’ll suffer no pain, I’ll ignore the ravages.

And even if I’m forced to go it alone,

I’ll go and find Squash Boy and I’ll bring him home.

There followed a silence, a momentary pause

Until everyone burst into tears and applause


While those around him were still drying their eyes

The Captain prepared and packed his supplies

If I don’t return, remember me please

As one who stood up for all fruit and cheese

Who fought for the former and defended the latter

As someone who believed that vegetable matters

The Captain prised open the giant fridge door

And ever so gently dropped himself to the floor

With his mouth hanging wide just like a tortoise

He gasped at a world so absolutely ginormous

I’m shocked, I’m stunned, I’m conflabulated

That a world such as this was ever created.


The Captain crept quietly with maximum stealth

Till he reached the bottom rung of a shelf

He climbed and he climbed until he just had to stop

Because the good Captain had climbed to the top

And when he got there, the Captain was speechless

It was there he found Squash Boy sliced up into pieces

Oh Squash Boy! he said, as he burst into tears

Which is unheard of for an asparagus spear

Don’t cry, came a voice, Don’t cry please

The Captain turned around and got up off his knees

He almost forgot what he was weeping about

As he saw before him a green brussell sprout

I’m Captain Asparagus, Ma’am, How do you do?

– Not so well, and it’s Ms Brussell to you.

– Ms Brussell, I ask you whatever’s the worry?

There’s no need for fear, there’s no need to be sorry.

– Well I do not know if you have noticed or not,

But you’re standing beside a gigantic pot,

And inside that pot is boiling hot water

Into which I’ll be dumped like a lamb to the slaughter.

– Fear not Ms Brussell, it will do you no harm,

He cried as he bundled her into his arms

And leapt from the bench, down onto the floor

And dashed with great speed back towards the fridge door

But just as they did, they heard something purr

And were blocked by a monster all covered in fur.


Stand aside! cried the Captain. Monster be gone!

Before the monster could tell what was going on

The Captain jumped up and over its paw

And landed gently back down on the floor

Oh Captain my Captain! cried out Ms Brussell

As the good Captain used all of his muscles

To open the door to the fridge and run home

Back to the crisper and back to his own

There he saw gathered each individual

Bowing their heads in a candlelit vigil

Until Kate Coriander said Look over there!

And they all turned around and started to stare.

Captain you’re back! They cried in a cheer

I’m back said the Captain, And it’s good to be here.

Allow me to introduce Ms Brussell Sprout

Who’ll tell you what I did, while I was out

The Captain stood proudly, hands by his side

As people applauded, their smiles dial-wide

That night they were thankful for the Captain’s return

And also were mindful of all that they’d learned

That you should be thankful for every day

And how you miss people when they go away


For this is the story of Captain Asparagus

Friend to the fruits and the beets and the cabbages

Who lost his Boy Wonder but rescued a sprout

Which is exactly what being a hero’s about

And even if fear always knows where to find you

You can still be courageous if someone reminds you


This is the story of Captain Asparagus

Friend to the fruits and the beets and the cabbages

Who upholds the peace and who upholds the law

The greatest superhero in the vegetable drawer



The Man From Kazakhstan

The Man from Kazakhstan.



There was a man from Kazakhstan, with a moustache on his face.

He came to Narre Warren after he fell from outer space.

He trawled the streets for children until he came to Springfield Drive.

He wanted them for dinner – to eat them while alive.


He came to number thirty eight, and waltzed right up the drive

And rapped upon the door, until a boy, aged five

Named Jumping Jake appeared, and asked Just who are you?

– I am the man from Kazakhstan and I’ve come to dine on you.


Jumping Jake let out a scream, louder than any other

Slammed shut the door and with great speed, went to find his brother.

Jumping Jake yelled Brodie! As he burst into his room

I saw a man from Kazakhstan, who’s come to bring our doom.


A man from Kazakhstan? Said Brode. It’s such a lovely place

I’ll bet you ready money that he’s come from outer space.

He leapt to his computer and jumped on the internet

And pretty soon he’d figured out just who young Jake had met.


The men of Kazakhstan wouldn’t do us any damage.

They don’t eat kids for dinner – They prefer peas and cabbage.

Then Brodie pushed a button, and found out what was what

He’s definitely an alien and he’s from the planet SNOT.


– The Planet Snot! Cried Jake. But that’s my favourite place!

As he wiped away the remnants of the planet from his face.

– And he’s not a human being said Brode. His disguise will not fool me.

For aliens from Planet Snot are known as Bunburies.


Tell me Jake, said Brodie. Could you describe this fella?

I’ll bet he had a moustache that is really an antenna.

– He did have a moustache said Jake. It stretched across his face

Does he use it to get messages from his home in outer space?


No, said Brode, he doesn’t. It just mostly hides his lips

And he tunes into the radio, to pick up cooking tips.

Just then they heard a rattling, and a banging at the door

It seemed the Man from Kazakhstan had come for them once more.


I have a plan, said Brodie. So go get Napping Noah.

We’ll make ourselves a trap, He said, just as his voice dropped lower.

Jumping Jake went tearing off to find his younger brother

Who was lying fast asleep, under a doona cover.


I am the Man from Kazakhstan, said a voice from the front door.

I’m so hungry for my dinner that I’m going to eat you raw!

– You’re not a man from Kazakhstan. You’re nothing but a phony.

You’re a Bunbury through and through, yelled out Jake and Brodie.


The Man from Kazakhstan fell still and everything was quiet.

Until he roared in anguish and he started up a riot.

How did you know? he howled aloud. You seem to know a lot.

That I am just a Bunbury? And I’m from the Planet Snot?


– You’ve a Bunbury look about you and a very Bunbury face

You’re not a man from Kazakhstan, you’re just a big disgrace.

As Brodie finished speaking, he heard a Bunbury sniffle.

– Well, if I can’t have kids for dinner, how about a sausage sizzle?


Jake got quite excited and he wanted to agree

But Brodie wasn’t sure, so he asked cautiously:

I thought aliens ate children? I dare you to deny it!

– That might be true, he answered. But I’ll try and change my diet.


– I don’t like the sound of this, as the seconds all grew slower

I think it’s time we activated ‘Operation Noah’.

Let’s bring Noah to the door, and don’t forget the doona.

I can’t believe I waited, I should have done this sooner!


Growing tired of waiting and wanting some results

The Bunbury from Planet Snot started sucking out the bolts,

That held the door upon its frame and he sounded an alert –

He’d eat Jake and Brode for dinner, and Noah for dessert.


The door fell off its hinges and there in all his splendour

Stood the Bunbury from Snot, carrying a blender.

I’ll blend you up for dinner, I’ll toast you for hors d’oeuvres

And wash it down with petrol when I want to quench my thirst.


As he stood in the doorway, he was a most disturbing fellow.

And when he smiled his lips unveiled his teeth all chipped and yellow.

His hands were like meat cleavers, his eyes were green and wonky

His breath so foul and rancid it could probably kill a donkey.


It’s fair to say you can’t describe the fear that they were feeling

And as the creature entered, Noah dropped down from the ceiling

Carrying the doona, he covered up the Bunbury

The alien went berserk, and yelled to all and sundry:

How did you know, how did you guess the best way to defeat us?

How did you boys uncover, my one and only weakness?


It’s simple, answered Brodie, as they all sighed in relief

To beat a man from Planet Snot, you need a handkerchief.

– Curse you, yelled the alien, I want to go back home.

Back to Planet Snot, where wild Bunburies roam.


I didn’t ask to be here or to cause you any terror.

I came to Narre Warren because I clearly made an error.

I was aiming for the moon, but it seems that I’m off course

And I wasn’t hunting children, I was looking for my horse


– That’s not true! Yelled Jake – I can tell you boys his name!

The horse’s name is Dennis and he has a silver mane.

And wings upon his back, for he’s no ordinary horse

– Can he fly through outer space? They asked.

The Bunbury said Of course!


So they went in search of Dennis, determined not to fail

And found him at the letter box, feasting on the mail.

They loaded up the Bunbury, onto his horse named Dennis

And gave him such a warning and a promise for his penance.


No more eating children, said Noah, Brode and Jake.

– I promise said the Bunbury. That I’ll swap from kids to steak.

And with that he waved good bye, and he rode off into space,

The Bunbury from Planet Snot with a moustache on his face


The boys went back inside, as if all was hunky dory

Jake played the piano, and Brodie wrote a story.

He sat at his computer and began to write a lot,

Not of a man from Kazakhstan but of a Bunbury from Snot.