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the bolt chewer

Rembrandt had the knack. A couple of hours wandering about Amsterdam was all he needed to spot a likely subject for his attention. His painterly ambitions. Or in a Bunnings queue behind someone like Andrew and his young son Frank today.

Lismore people. After Cathedral.

Lismore is a Catholic town a little to the west of Byron Bay – that place on the coast where everybody wears towels and holds the ill-considered conception that everybody in Lismore wears army blankets. An incautious attitude that has its price, which is revealed here for the first time.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has made available a detailed fifty-year analysis of both the birth origins and ultimate work destinations of the entire NSW constabulary. Or in other words, where the average copper was born and where he is more likely to be working.

And now we know why, regionally speaking.

The ABS analysis shows that, remarkably, the Byron Bay Police station has been manned by more Lismore born subjects of the Queen than Prince Charles has had royal breakfasts. This is not because of the surf, or the cafes and restaurants. This is because of little blokes like Frank. The kid in the trolly.

Frank is in his dad’s Bunnings trolly today, he’s sitting in the little kiddie seat. Looking at me.

I’m from Byron and this kid is seriously junior.

He has a M8 X 30 stainless-steel button head bolt in his mouth and he’s chewing on it. The bolt is stuck in there like a paddle pop stick and the kid is looking at me over it with the cold dead stare of  a Detective Sergeant who has just joined you in the interview room three hours after you drunkenly smashed into six cars, somewhere on the highway. This before you had a techo yawn over his boots on the way in.

Frank’s dad finishes with the check-out and turns toward me; so a word. Rembrandt on the job. Latter-day.

‘ Your young bloke’s a bit big on the tooth mate. ‘

‘ Won’t give it up, ‘ he says, then he looks me over a bit. Picks me for just another vagrant Byron tosser.

‘ You blokes had wool security blankets when you was nippers mate, out here we give our kids something else. ‘

– he knows the old Lismore army blanket joke does Andrew, and so does his little Frank.

The bolt chewer.

header self-portrait of rembrandt aged about 22. painted 1628.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Those Lismore boys, tough as nails . . .

    November 12, 2012
  2. . . . and here’s to my favourite Tom Thumb getting back to the coast. In one piece!

    November 12, 2012
  3. there were teeth marks on that thing ..

    November 12, 2012
  4. Brad #

    Yeah Lismore Catholics, used to play a bit of footy in uni days for the Lismore Marist Bros. They never did worry too much about the Ballinas, Byrons and the like. Mind you, it got a bit likely going further west, the Casino and Kyogle kids used to gnaw on a few bolts too. Come to think of it i’d say it was the shavings off the bolts, lost in their mouths, that made their heads so hard. Loved their footy, loved a blue too. A wash up on the rocks at Lennox would be (was) preferable.
    Loving your work Pete. It’s amazing how much you can get out of that little area of Northern Rivers.

    November 13, 2012

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