Dem Ol Macadam Blues Again
(Another of Pat's exploits
or the only time the world realised I could sing)
Ian Johnson 1998
In the light of a late setting sun and to the casual squawking of white Cockatoos on Telopea park, Pat pushed his long neck through the curtains of the old passion pit. The pit was temporarily being misused by several of us who believed its sensual acoustics may make a silk purse out of our guitar work and possibly even our shrill vocals. Well; and naturally with great sincerity, I've seen worse. At least we cared what we sounded like and sought a modicum of sound isolation. Some people don't have any regard for their audiences.
I looked up to see this long neck pressing through the curtains. At its extremity, the familiar black ranchers hat pulled way down low over Pats eyes.
"Come and get a hamburger Billy"
Hamburgers did not have great appeal in my meatless existence. Had they, in themselves, that would surely have been severely tarnished by the 4 kilometre each way walk necessary to secure one. It seemed important to Pat so I went along for the walk.
Pat did not walk, he strode.
Soon we were striding out "dem ole macadam blues." Top of our voices - no accompaniment to speak of though Pat did have an old harp which hardly got to his mouth as he was too absorbed in the song.
The kilometres passed and while we may have sung the no-bus blues and such like, we always got back to "dem ole macadam blues again." Upon arriving at Harry's, a hamburger joint with wheels in one of the centre car parks, "dem macadam blues" had some structure and the words were pretty much fixed so we slowed the last few metres to finish the song.
Around the caravan were perhaps 40 people. Most of them looked up as we came
upon the scene - we probably thought, with some admiration.
Around 25 people pressed toward the side of the small caravan. Half of this was open above a servery where the wall lifted to form a single flap covering the first few rows of customers. A strut supported the flap at each end.
Behind the servery was one hugely muscular bespectacled Chinese cook. His head was shaved. His body glimmered dull through sweat. He was the archi-typical Chinese bodyguard. If he had a steel brimmed bowler, I would solemnly declare him to be that character in Goldfinger who gave the Scottish James Bond the best run he had had for his money.
Pat and I were about as patient a pair of customers as you would find.
Just the same, after a short time of quiet, we were soon belting out "dem ole hamburger waiting line blues - again". This went on for some time. There was little other noise. I remember thinking that our words would have to soon run out.
Out from the opening, across the top of the crowd, thrust these two huge Chinese arms. Each had one huge Chinese hand and each of these held three huge cowboy hamburgers.
Pat knew they were for us, I was flabbergasted yet had not really guessed what was intended. A big toothy Chinese smile said it all.
A huge, an almighty roar went up from the crowd. All were well ahead of us in the waiting line. THEY were singing the real hamburger waiting line blues.
As quickly as they delivered the hamburgers to the back of crowd, the two huge Chinese arms accompanied by a deafening Kung-fu like scream struck sideways to knock the struts from the awning. As with its owner, without a moments indecision, the awning dropped directly onto the first dozen or so people. These eventually extricated themselves with an awful din and the canopy was locked into place for the evening with nothing more said.
As we, laden, walked west into the last glimmer of sunlight we looked back occasionally to see a crowd still at the closed caravan. Still thinking its owner would not be so stubborn as to actually abandon them. I gave a couple of my burgers to Pat, extricated the meat from the other and in the circumstances had no choice but to eat the remainder.
They were the best burgers ever made and none were cheaper.
Just the same, by the time we returned home we were back into "dem ole macadam blues again." Pats version was a distinctly muffled attempt between hiccups.
Pat is kind of an attractor of tall stories but that's probably enough for this sitting.