A bushie sort of farmer, an ugly one, went to town to have his dentures fixed. The dental mechanic said it would take him, with expected interruptions, about 3 hours. Would that be OK?
He said that he’d thought to bring a good book, so that should work. He was a Social Crediter and had a book on the subject, and thought to himself with relish of 3 hours leisure. Pity it wasn’t a week. But on reflection, he remembered that he was being pressured to go to a race meeting next weekend.
Now being shy of being fastidious, as some types of bushmen are, this was the sort of bloke who would usually have a haircut once a year whether he needed it or not. He only had about 5 months growth, I suppose, but with being difficult to look at, at any time, and appearing like one of those tumble weeds from the shoulders up, he supposed it best he get a haircut, unless next weekend at the race meeting he freighted the horses.
So he said to the dental mechanic, “Is there a barber shop here abouts?”
“Well along somewhat with a left and then a right and then walk down and lane way, and you’ll find a ‘woggy’ sort of bloke who’s a good barber”, so off went the lamb to his shearing.
He found the barber shop and could see through the full glass windows that there was no one inside, a bare room with just two barber’s chairs, but there was a short though only vaguely woggy bloke hanging out of the doorway propped with a hand on either door post, as though his object was to prevent entry. The door jammer said nothing. The bushie stopped close up to him, but still no movement and no word, and being far the bigger of them he contemplated pushing one arm off a door post for a type of forced entry, but nowadays barber shops which ran two-up schools out the back, whose entry was either by recognition or violence, were scarcer than rocking-horse droppings, so instead he said “Are you the barber?”.
“No, I make the pizzas here” said the inert figure.
After some body language from the bushie, in the form of a small move forward, the door jammer moved back a half step, and by occupying this space too, an entry was effected. Whoever this bloke is, thought the bushie, there is not the slightest intimation in him of a fawning shopkeeper, but not to be put off, and having at least someone to interrogate he says again “Are you the barber.”
“I make the pizzas here” comes the expressionless response.
Bare of everything except two barbers chairs, this doesn’t seem likely, but the bushie moves towards a barber’s chair, and although struck with a sudden insight of great moment, the door jammer, with eyes lighting up asks “You want a haircut?”
The bushie’s “Yes” gets the response, “I’ll get the barber.” But at the same time as he backs away saying this , his hanging arm closest to the chair moves, perhaps involuntarily, away from his side a little towards the chair. The body language the world over for “Take a chair.”
The bushie takes the chair saying, “I thought you were putting me on”.
Looking back on this, the bushie speculates that he was either taken for a policeman or a debt collector, or that the barber is something of which a Social Crediter can only approve, a man who not only offers a service (it was a really good haircut), and so earns his income, but whose barbering is his entertainment too, from trying out, and taking-the-mick out of his clients, to discover hidden beauty.
Next comes the usual how do you want it and so on, and then the how did you find this place? The Bushie tells the truth, “The dentist bloke told me you were here”
Neither realize that there are two “Chris dentists” within a mile.
“So Chris sent you? He’s a wog like me. What do you do for a living? Have you ever been to Italy? Have you been out of Australia?
To every answer the barber says “I knew it, I’ve been cutting hair for over 30 years, I knew it.”
Getting a short sharp lecture on how wonderful Italians and all things Italian are, the Bushie feels it incumbent upon him to make some comment. He reveals his love for Italian tenors, but the barber must be tone deaf, as he gives no response. So he changes tack and says “I think the thing I most like about Italians, is that they all keep 2 sets of books, which makes it very hard for Governments and bureaucrats to steel from them.”
…The Barber completely comprehends, and the Bushie becomes a blood brother immediately. Only those who are descendent from generations of harassed self-employed can enter this circle. Not because of exclusion, but because a descendant of employees has no roots in the pained world of the free.
“Do you know this one and/or that one of my relatives?”
He knows one. He’s a local politician. So the Barber says “He’s my such-and- such a relation, and he’s a liar. He tells lies all the time. So everybody loves him. Now what’s-his-name, who is the Premier of the State, he tells the truth too much, so the people hate him.”
He asks the Bushie, “I’m a wog, so what about you, what are you?” and gets the truthful answer “We’ve been in this country 4 and 5 generations on all sides, all here by the end of the 1800’s.”
The Barber responds with incredulity, as though he’s just found a dinosaur, and makes unintelligible noises.
The Barber takes something like a short stick and makes like a fencer thrusting. “Have you done some of this?”
The Bushie responds “Yes, I’ve done a lot of fighting, but not with swords or guns. I’ve only ever fought with ideas, because they are so much more dangerous.” A silence ensues.
What emerges from the conversation with multiple questions like “Have you seen the girls at such a place? This is a good place/way to make money, yes? How many wives do you have?” ( to which the answers are negative, except for the last one here which was “I’ve still got my first one”) it is clear that the impression that the Barber is trying to make, is that not living licentiously is a sorrowful misfortune only to be considered with a piteous shaking of the head.
But the Bushie doesn’t quite trust this. A really devout Catholic living an exemplary life, while carrying, in his own way, a lantern during full daylight looking for virtue, may be exhilaratingly entertaining to an Irishman or a Southern Italian, who would naturally be far too “mafiaistic” to show it.
Near the end the Barber says “Why, you should have many wives, mistresses? Why?”
To this the Bushie says “I suppose I’ve neglected the ladies, the riches, the drugs, the power, and the vanities, because I wanted to concentrate on the really exciting stuff!”
“The what?” he says, reaching out for support, lest he crash to the floor in astonishment. “What .. really .. exciting stuff?”
“The Truth of course.”
“What truth, what truth?
“Well the Absolute Truth, if it can be had, has the greatest value in terms of human satisfaction.”
Fortunately for the Bushie, the haircut was really finished by this, and the Barber recoveres sufficiently to make a few desultory brush downs of the back of the neck as a young man walked in, and sat along the wall. The Bushie’s flash backs are now in full flood, and he says to the young man “Have you read ‘The Man from Iron Bark’?”
“Then you don’t know about the gilded youths?” A negative.
And turning to the Barber, “Have you read it?” Another negative.
Then musing to himself he says, “All old Australians would know it, …. I forget how young you are.”
The Barber (in his mid-50s), without any idea that Banjo Patterson has been summoned from his grave, then says “How old do you think I am then?”
“I’d guess about 21 by the way you live.”
The Bushie is enjoying himself so much he doesn’t want to leave, but it’s time, and a customer is waiting, so playing for time he says, reaching for his hip pocket, “I need to be sitting down when I reach for my wallet, lest I faint or go into spasm.”
He pays and asks for a discount on account of all the valuable product he’s left lying on the floor, which looks as though a grey haired regiment has been shorn. The Barber ascents, but nobody discusses a discount from what?
The Bushie leaves, and speaking to his back the Barber says, “It’s been wonderful to meet an honest man.” The Bushie half turns, but they both then turn full away in embarrassment. They will probably not meet again.
The tantalisingly intriguing and tenaciously persistent character of this experience for both the Nordic and Latin representatives, is that both is in a confusing quandary as to whether one or two phonies were involved. Both know themselves to be false, base and mischievous, which accounts for one felon, but the other? Is it not possible that somewhere, momentarily if necessary, there may really have been, or is, an honorable man?