There are stories
about my mum’s
uncle – that he was
a cad, a Jack the Lad,
someone even said
he was Tony Soprano
before there was Tony
Soprano – they neglect
to point out that not only was this
before the Sopranos happened
(we’re talking the late 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s)
but that also – it was Hastings.
Anyway, I have one memory of him.
I reckon I was nine years old.
He had cancer – he’d been on the chemo and
he had recovered, at that point at least, he was out
from hospital anyway.
And he had lost a lot of weight and his voice too and
really most of his presence. And he rasped in this
high, weird voice, “get the tapes! Get the tapes!”
And his wife drove around to their house and returned
with these tapes.
Was it confession time? What were the tapes? What was
Turns out these precious tapes contained those filthy
single-entendre songs by Kevin Bloody Wilson. And
a rotten stand-up routine by Rodney Rude.
These guys were Aussie comics. They were
staples of the blue-collar circuit.
And we were all told to sit in the room and listen to these
And they were inappropriate – and we giggled a bit, and stifled
the laughs as the first few fucks started flying.
Then, we children were told to go to another room – but it was far
too late. That music – which is being generous to even
call it that – had made an impression on me.
I never found a stack of dirty magazines in my house or
in fact under anyone’s bed. (I was never looking). I never
sly-grogged the booze nor tried to smoke or in
fact did anything like that
when I was a
But my mum’s uncle made her a tape of these filthy, silly
songs. And though I don’t think she really wanted it she
was given it.
And it was unlabeled and buried in under where the records
See, I knew where to find it – and on the days when I’d
get home from school and let myself in, my mum just back
at work, I’d have half an hour – sometimes a tiny bit longer –
before my brother got home. I was charged with letting myself
in and then putting the key back out.
I’d make a sandwich, get a glass of milk, and I’d put the headphones
on, and listen – wide-eyed and with glee as Kevin sang tuneless
country songs about fucking and filthiness and most of it flew
over my head – but not after third, and fourth and fifth
and sixth listens…
And there were more. Many more after that.
And I don’t even know why I wanted to listen to it – but I guess
I was trying to understand it.
It was stupid and naughty and dirty and silly and I loved it.
I fucking loved it.
It had a huge impact on me. It was profound – when it really
shouldn’t have been.
I was also listening to it – trying to ascertain what my mum’s
uncle saw in it. And wondering why we had copies of these
stupid, rude songs.
But within the year – and maybe it was within months
or weeks even, this living legend, this man about town,
this owner of these special tapes…
was dead. The cancer completing its journey.
The laughs silenced.
At his funeral I stood awkwardly,
a new sweatshirt to look tidy, my
best outfit. Me doing the best I
And his baby son – less than a year old,
burst into tears right as the coffin was
lowered into the car.
There are no words for this.
It was my first funeral.
It was the worst funeral.
There aren’t words for this.
At least none written by
fucking Rodney Rude or that
cunt Kevin Bloody Wilson.