Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Sentimental Bloke

Australia is a land that loves its poets. Among the country’s best-known bards is Clarence Michael James Dennis, better known as C. J. Dennis, who was born in Auburn, SA, in 1876. He worked as a journalist but is remembered (and revered) for his generally humorous verse, and most particularly the charming book-length poem The Sentimental Bloke, which relates the life and love of a simple but solid working-class chap. It’s written in the working-class language of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so one occasionally need to turn to the glossary, which happily recent versions include. The spelling is as if the not particularly well educated hero was writing the poem–for example, cruel fortune is rendered “crool forchin,” but reading the poem aloud often helps.

This may not seem like much of a recommendation, but it actually is. It’s a delightful look at the heart and heartaches of a quite decent fellow. I love the whole poem, but particularly cherish the conclusion.

An’ I am rich, because me eyes ‘ave seen
The lovelight in the eyes of my Doreen;
An’ I am blest, becos me feet ‘ave trod
A land ‘oo’s fields reflect the smile of God.

So for those who might be interested in Australian classics, this is definitely one of them. And if you’d like to know a bit more about C. J. Dennis, you can find his biography here, at the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

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Filed under Australia, Literature, Poetry, Thoughts

Lance Corporal Bacon

I always like to remind people that, despite what most of us saw in textbooks long ago, history is not a line; it is a web. Everything is connected to myriad other things. I was reminded of that today, when I ran across an item about Lance Corporal Bacon. I’m working on a book on the history of pigs, which will be something of a companion volume to my book on the history of corn (Midwest Maize), since, at least in the U.S., pigs and corn are close to inseparable.

Reading a book on bacon, I ran across this bit of information: that the ANZACs, during World War I, gave a nickname to bacon that was almost all fat but with just a single, thin stripe of meat across the otherwise white slab. Because a lance corporal had only one stripe on his sleeve, the long streak of meat in the bacon became identified with that lone stripe of rank, thus making the fatty slab Lance Corporal Bacon.

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Filed under Australia, Food, History, Lore