Roma Writer's Group

The Works of David Bowden

Short Story: "Anything Goes" 29.2.2004

Pat Crawford, sat on the verandah of the Shearer's Quarters at "Albury Station" with his legs outstretched and said,"G'wan Bowden drink up - I want to see how sick you will be in the morning!"

Pat was a man who had been a heavy drinker and had given up alcohol totally. He had owned a small sheep and cattle North of Mungalalla in Queensland.
The shearing tem were working for a Contractor named Tom Heyer from Mungalalla. Tom Heyer was of Afghanistan heritage. A really smart man. However he cut corners and had a penchant for not paying his men properly. He was well known as "Heyer the Liar."

The evening was the 27th of February 1968. The night Lionel Rose, an Aboriginal Boxer was to box Fighting Harada of Japan for the World Bantam Heavyweight Title of the World.

The team had the radio playing quietly as they waited for the Fight to start. The evening was dark with a myriad of stars twinkling through the leaves of the River gums between the Shearer's Quarters and the Creek it was built beside. Rain had fallen a few days previously and the frogs were in full voice croaking in the creek.
Most shearers and shed hands have some beer, rum or sweet sherry to have a reviver after a hard day's work. However to-night extra supplies were brought for the duration of the fifteen round fight.

Lionel Rose was still a teenager. Even the most one-eyed Aussie would be hard pressed to back him. The Japanese Boxer, Fighting Harada, had successfully defended his title five times.

As the fight time came closer the bottle levels lowered. Pat Crawford laughed at some of the wild stories flying around and the antics some were getting up to.
A part Aboriginal had caused enormous amounts of laughter with his trick of putting a lighted match to the seat of his jeans, farting and watching a blue flame leap out. Another shearer caused a bit of a stir when he started to wield a butcher's knife around. There seemed no intent to harm. However he put it down and someone quickly removed and hid it from him.

Somewhere along the line someone wanted to place a bet that Pat Crawford could kill and dress a sheep faster than the New south Wales gun shearer could shear a sheep. Most had witnessed the cook and another station hand taking about three quarters of an hour to kill and dress a sheep at the Killing Gallows that afternoon.
The New South Wales shearer was pretty sure of himself and took any bets offered. He had been ringing the shed with sheep shorn easily in two minutes. There were only a couple of punters willing to take bets on Pat.

The fight started and everyone was surprised to hear that Lionel Rose was holding his own and perhaps a bit better. Two thirds of the way through the fight Lionel Rose knocked Harada down. He got up and finished the fifteen rounds. Lionel Rose won on unanimous points to become the first Australian to win a World Championship.
The bottle levels were lowered a little more in celebration.

Pat Crawford had his laughs next morning. Especially at the seedy David Bowden as he tried to shear with a monumental hangover.
At five o'clock the race between Pat Crawford and the New South Wales shearer was set to go.

Pat had stipulated that he would cut the sheep's throat and bleed it out before starting. To the surprise of the shearer, Pat also said the shearer could catch the sheep in the sweating pen, drag it onto the board ready for shearing. The Shearer had a look of pure glee.

The Wool Presser yelled out Ready! Go!

The shearer deftly took the belly wool off and flipped it to the roustabout. Cleaned inside the crutch, quickly cleaned the first hind leg, up the neck, cleaned the top knot around the eyes, horn and first ear, grabbed the first front leg and shore easily as he swung onto the long blow for the length of the body and just over the backbone. He swung with a flourish to clean the second eye and ear, down the second side of the neck and over the shoulder. He cleaned the second front leg and was ready to go down the whipping side.

Most in the shed were watching the smooth flow of the work of the shearer and not taking any notice of Pat killing the sheep outside.

As the shearer started his final blows, a wool roller outside yelled out, "Pat's finished"

. With disbelief the shearer looked out his chute opening to see Pat lift the completely skinned, debowled and headless body up onto the night gallows to set.
To say the New South Wales shearer was upset with loosing his money and a certain amount of pride would be an understatement.

Pat was given hearty congratulations by everyone.

Later at a quiet time David Bowden asked Pat if there was any secret in the fast way he had skinned the sheep etc.

"Well, Bowden, there is to be sure. Most butchers use a method of trying to open the skin points up with the point of the knife. I saw some operators mulsing sheep once. I decided that if I was to cut through the skin with the blade of the knife I could open up the points on the four legs, neck and down the belly and brisket easier and faster. I always skin punching the hide one way and break on the turn of the body using my wrist on the tail section. Then I cut through the brisket in one cut to let the inside bowels come out easily."

"All is fair then because …anything goes you know!!" (Ends)