Fast, Loose Beginnings by John Kinsella

By John Kinsella

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There are issues of sexuality here, suppressed, we imagine, by bullying. The sub-human redneck has a language he 48 KINSELLA_1 19/5/06 11:38 AM Page 49 BIG LES wants the listener to respect, to learn, as he learns their manners and their ways. Les has always been a traveller, and, coming home from the cities of the world, is conscious of detachment from his place. In the migrant ethnicities of Australian identity, he belongs and recollects and connects with the migrant past, despite resisting ‘multiculturalism’.

I was feeling pretty ill but the conversation kept me hooked. Les’s many years in the city had altered his sense of country but not vanquished it. We walked down to the salt, and he and my uncle named the many trees planted in an effort to reclaim saline land. My strongest memory is of Les switching flies on his back with a looping arc of the arm as he walked and talked. I chatted with him about the salt and the remarkable reclamation project that had begun twentyfive years earlier. It is said that it was the first consistent and persistent programme of its kind undertaken privately in Australia.

I wanted to speak to the guy who’d yelled out. I couldn’t see him. I wanted to explain the poems: how they were laments rather than celebrations, how even when an idyll was conveyed it was always bittersweet. Always irony. After that day, I became more determined in my campaigning. It’s the only answer. As Midnight Oil said (before Garrett went GMan): ‘Give it back …’ Dorothy was exhausted and returned to the Hilton, where we’d all been put up. I went to her room later, and talked with her daughter Kate and Kate’s partner Melissa.

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