‘I had written him a letter’.

Here I am, walking up and down (exam supervision), no other possibility than to draw entertainment from my own mind. I can’t sit down for very long, have to keep moving around the students, and can only jot down occasional words and reminders.

‘Get petrol’ features heavily at the moment.

So…Clancy Of The Overflow it is. My grandfather loved AB Paterson’s poems, and I went on to study them in Australian Literature. As with many aspects of reading and absorbing, I found that excessive analysis sometimes soured the enjoyment. A couple of decades later, however, that analysis has mellowed to an innate understanding of the writer’s background, and an appreciation of the times and circumstances in which they wrote. It’s much better this way.

‘He was shearing when I knew him’…

Someone needs a script book. But Clancy remains poised in the mid 1800s, a figure of our pioneering past, steadily being overtaken by Paterson’s city based workplace.

‘Get more hand sanitiser’. This is cold and flu season, and the exam halls are a soup of coughs and sneezes.

‘…we don’t know where he are.’

‘in my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy gone a-droving down the Cooper…drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.’

It’s a chant now, and all is quiet except the shuffling of papers and steady brush of pens and pencils. What subject is it? Engineering-Information Technology-Immunology. I am sure there is ‘poetry’ of a sort in any of those.

And in my fancy, I can see the ‘vision splendid’ and recall many nights seeing stars in cool air on the edges of suburbia. Those ‘everlasting stars’ propel me through another two turns of the room.

Paterson’s stuck in the city like I’m marooned (entirely voluntarily) in this big barn of a place, and you can feel his sadness and see the half light as it ‘struggles feebly’ between the buildings.

He doesn’t like the people – ‘eager eyes and greedy’.

He doesn’t like the noise – ‘fiendish rattle, Of the tramways and the buses’.

He doesn’t like the bustle and busyness – ‘as they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste’.

Do I need more lemonade? I think so.

Poor ‘Banjo’ Paterson…there is nothing like being in the middle of nowhere and having the ‘seasons come and go’. But at the same time, there is nothing like finding a patch of loveliness – an oasis – in the middle of a big city, and finding your own people to share it with. Both have their charms and detractions.

And I somehow fancy that I’d like to change with Clancy, Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go, While he faced the round eternal of the cashbook and the journal – But I doubt he’d suit the office, Clancy, of “The Overflow”.’

And with that, the ten minute warning announcement is delivered. The timing, and the final verse, are both perfect.

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Oases can be found anywhere – and everywhere