|A 1988 Australia Post release celebrating the wonderful|
childhood memory of lobbying
I grew up knowing that I had simply the best childhood anyone could have.
I took it pretty much for granted, until I went to school, and found out that others didn’t have a huge bush block of two and a half acres to run wild in. Add the adjoining neighbours blocks of similar size, and it was a magical, imagination-triggering existence.
Other kids lived on suburban blocks with indoor dunnies (toilets for non-Aussies). Heck, we didn’t have ‘town’ water until I was in high school, relying on our tanks and the vagaries of mother nature to fill those tanks.
No hot water…my Mum (Dad was always sick) used to stoke a fire in the back yard under a huge copper bowl, like a witch’s cauldron. I was the last of four kids. Twice a week, we could have a bath. No more, otherwise we’d run out of water. Mum would carry a two-gallon galvanized iron bucket of boiling water up our back stairs and throw it in the bath tub. We had a roster. First kid in got hot, clean water, but very shallow. By the time the fourth kid got into the tub, the water was deep, warmish, and grey with dirt and soap.
Did I feel deprived? Hell no!
School holidays were spent in our bushy back yard. We built cubby houses; played cowboys and Indians; climbed trees. Mum couldn’t afford TV. Occasionally we would get invited next door to those who had everything. We watched the Mickey Mouse Club, Roy Rogers, Rin Tin Tin.
|This is a pic of kids lobbying in a dam.|
The 'well' I lobbied in was a mere 3 foot diameter.
But we also had a deep hole in our back yard that we called ‘the well’.
I spent most summer holidays in an activity called ‘lobbying’. No, nothing to do with politics.
I don’t think ‘lobbying’ exists these days, because somehow the term has been the victim of the word police, who say that the creatures we used to catch with a piece of string with a dollop of meat hacked from our dog’s bones, tied securely on the end, are now called ‘yabbies’.
So, some people might call the activity yabbying. But I don’t. It was lobbying. So-called because we caught lobbies – lobsters.
That’s what I thought they were.
OK, so this has been a heckuva long preamble to tell you that my friend and fantastic author, Shehanne Moore, has bestowed upon me, via the scary Lady Fury, the coveted Lobster Award. Is there anyone more deserving of this award than me? No way, Jose.
I was a small child for my age, but I was courageous. As soon as I felt the nibble of the lobby on the dog meat bait, I lay down in the long grass, and peered down into the murky soup of ‘the well.’.
It took skill and courage to deftly pull the lobby up onto the grassy bank of our ‘well’ without actually falling in and drowning. The water was muddy, brown, like a latte without the froth.
No way could you see anything in the water. It was only when the blue claws of the lobby, clinging tightly to the dog meat with its massive pincers, broke the surface, that you could see the catch of the day.
Equipment for this popular bush backyard activity was:
- A yard or so of string (a metre or so for the modern youth)
- Some dollops of fatty beef, lamb or whatever was in the fridge for the dog
- A bucket to put the caught lobbies in.
- A notebook to record the number you caught. You see…you’d catch them, count them…them chuck them back in so that you had something to catch the next day.
I was a brave kid. You see, once you caught the lobby, and deftly pulled it up onto the grass, it got wind that it had been caught. It would let go of the lump of dog meat, no matter how much Mum paid for it, and would crawl backwards to the water. I never understood how they always knew which way the water was.
So, the trick was to grab them behind their razor sharp nippers without them getting you, and you could pick them up. Some of them were huge. I’m not joking.
Oh, if only I’d had a camera back in those days.
You’ll all think I’m doing one of those exaggerations that fishermen do…oh yeah, it was…THIS…long.
Lobbies were dark green/brown, like khaki, and sometimes had blue tips on their plump pincers. They had the body of a king prawn. In fact, they looked a lot like prawns.
I never cooked one, despite many people telling me they were great to eat. They weren’t pets, but they weren’t something I wanted to kill and eat. To me, they were what I did in the long, hot, summer, school holidays in the back blocks of Belmont, Brisbane. And catching lobbies in the well in the back yard was a heck of a lot more exciting than what my suburban school friends got up to in the holidays. Movies. The local public swimming pool. Nah. Nothing could compare with those halcyon days spent lobbying, with my trusty kelpie, Buster, at my side.
So Shey, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate being given the Jolly Lobster Award. It means more to me than you will ever know. Thanks.
And so, part of my obligation for accepting this award, is that I firstly display my award badge, link back to the person who gave it to me, Lady Fury, then complete the following questions:
1. Have you ever written a book involving sea scenes?(That is sea. Do please make sure there are no typos here). If not why not and do you intend to?
My second novel is set on an island where the sea provides most ingredients for the local cuisine. The sea, in all its moods, is a star in ‘Rosamanti’.
2. What is your current WIP?
‘Honor’s Debt’ is set in Ireland. Honor Quirk has seen her fair share of tragedy in her young life. At the age of twenty-seven, she sets out to fulfil a promise. A promise that will repay a very old debt. She arrives in Ireland determined to carry out her mission. When the opportunity arises to spend time on the old family farm in Tipperary, she jumps at it, but other family members make it very clear they don't want her there. As time passes, events of the past catch up with her, and she finds that instead of embarking on her quest alone, she has the unlikely support of others who also bear the scars caused by loss.
3. Do you have a favorite sea film? And why?
Has to be Titanic.
4. A favourite fish recipe to share?
Not really a recipe, but this is what I do.
Place a nice salmon steak in aluminium foil and seal the foil like a little boat. Drizzle it with lemon juice, salt and pepper, and some nice herbs (whatever you have). Then I bake it in a moderate oven for, oh, fifteen to twenty minutes. Serve with whatever you like. Tender, juicy, sumptuous.
5. Your favourite sea going book?
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
6. Can you share a fav sea-side memory?
Dad taking us to Wellington Point for a swim on a hot summer day. Nothing compares to those days.
7. Most memorable sea-going journey?
Being sea-sick over the side of my boyfriend’s (who eventually became my ex husband) 12 foot aluminium fishing dinghy. Great way to make a good impression.
And finally, I have to, in turn, bestow the Jolly Lobster award on 7 other unsuspecting people. In
- Kendall Talbot
- Isabella Hargreaves
- Tania Joyce
- Elizabeth Ellen Carter
- Susanne Bellamy
- Sarah Belle
- Sharon Woolich
Who remembers catching lobbies as a kid? I'd really love to hear from you.