Ol’ Blind Joe
By Stirling Hamilton
I JOINED Toodyay’s Moondyne Committee sometime before 2008 (early records are sketchy) and shortly thereafter became the character Ol’ Blind Joe judging the festival’s lively cleavage competition each year at the Victoria Hotel.
I always approach the first Sunday in May with trepidation exacerbated this year by the threat of a last-minute Perth lockdown to determine whether hordes of flatlanders could attend, otherwise it was gonna be another dismal no-show like last year.
After hearing the good news that borders were to stay open after all, I lobbed at the nearby Freemasons Hotel and settled in to gather some Dutch courage for the daunting challenge ahead after having been a hermit these past several years.Read more
It wasn’t too long before I felt like a diamond tipped stylus slipping into the groove of a Beatles’ White Album vinyl record, coming home at last to roost.
Having spent half my life living and working in hotels, the development of a finely honed bullshit/reality detection radar system seems a completely natural part of my neural pathway development.
Speaking of Radar, he’s 78 today with exactly the same smile of youth on his dial.
Back to the tale at hand. I was watching the world walk by with a nod here and a word there and found myself swimming in a lake of oxytocin and dopamine which I’ve missed of late.
I’m reading Patricia Churchlands, a neuro-philosopher who writes that “being engaged in some way for the good of the community, whatever that community, is a factor in a meaningful life.
“We long to belong and belonging and caring anchors our sense of place in the universe.”
Well, the pub has always been the hub of the community and it serves as our central nexus of communication and connection.
You usually find out soon enough if you’re talking to a good man or not but be careful though, some of them critters out there are sociopaths and quite clever at hiding their motives.
Turning to the bar I recognised a girl I’ve known since she was knee-high to a grasshopper and asked her if it was she.
Yep, now she done gone grown up and serving me drinks wearing a Floozie outfit quite fulsomely yet, as a girl she was a shy little flower.
The Moondyne Committee has changed the name of my gig from Cleavage Competition to Floozie Competition.
It’ll be down to some waste of space in a suit in Perth who’s providing the funding and crossing their legs to protect their politically correct persona.
Patricia says: “Knowing about the neurobiological and evolutionary basis for social behaviour can soften the arrogance and self-righteousness that often attends discussions of morality.
“It may help us all to think a little more carefully and rationally.”
Anyhow, after three hours of girding my loins at the Freemasons Hotel, I set out for The Vic to deal with destiny and found myself at a table centre-stage next to a large group of well-to-do women frolicking in cascading fountains of laughter.
The bell tolled, the bevy of beauties arrayed themselves and, as I arrived, a character seemingly attired as Little Lord Fauntleroy pranced up on my left while the ‘Judge most dreaded’ from the rowdy street theatre trial of Moondyne Joe appeared on my right.
The Little Lord assumed the role of Master of Ceremonies (MC) without even acknowledging the time-honoured presence of the venerable Ol’ Blind Joe and proceeded to usurp the entire proceedings.
What really got my goat was when he judged and awarded the prizes without so much as a by-your-leave or even a pretence of consulting The Oracle.
At times I’ve had MCs over the years.
We talk and plan and judging is decided by audience approval but Ol’ Blind Joe is always ultimately the Supreme Court judge and jury and can overrule public opinion.
I returned to my table contemplating resignation but thought it unbearable to relinquish my role and allow it to become a tawdry charade.
The ladies next to me were most amusing, with one blonde lady especially striking me with her acerbic sense of humour.
As they were leaving, I tapped her on the arm and said that she reminded me of that female actor in the TV comedy hit show Absolutely Fabulous.
Neither of us could remember her name but we both knew who I meant and she thanked me for the compliment and re-joined her friends.
Not very momentous, and kind of apropros of nothing, I hear you say.
Except that half an hour later the same lady returned by herself, put her hand on my shoulder and whispered in my ear “Joanna Lumley”.
We smiled at each other and she vanished into the mist, yet it was for me the most memorable occasion of the day.
Turns out it was meaningful and I’m quite certain she remembers it as vividly as I.
This is why I’m aghast at algorithms like those used by Facebook that herd us into paddocks of like-minded people.
I never would have otherwise met that lady because she hails from a different class to me yet, left alone on open ground we could find common traits and celebrate them.
Life is made up of a few moments all strung together like pearls. Each moment is a pearl, and it is up to us to pick the ones with the highest lustre – Cherokee author, filmmaker and philosopher Joyce Sequichie Hilfer.