Tuesday 6 June 2017
Two stories from the future biography of Berenice Walters
I belong to my local branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers. Each month we are given a theme to write a contribution for our monthly magazine. This month the theme is ‘toilet humour’. I submitted two short stories about Berenice and thought you may enjoy reading them.
In the 1930s the Sydney suburb of Maroubra still needed the service of the ‘night soil carters’ or dunny men. There were typically dressed in shorts and sturdy work boots or sandshoes.
The outdoor toilet pan was collected twice weekly at the Lawson home. It was an undesirable job with one aspect fraught with additional stress. That was, surviving the onslaught of local dogs who were inclined to let these 'intruders' in but, greatly resented the removal of what was, no doubt to them, personal property.
The Lawson’s dog, Spot, was a working breed and typically very active and very protective.
One poor dunny man was leaving Lawson’s back yard one day, a full, and smelly, pan balanced on his shoulders. Spot darting and snapping at the man’s bare legs trying to warn of the dog. In desperation, he threw his hat at the very excited dog. Spot, in turn, grabbed the hat and tore off down the street, leaving behind an extremely agitated 'dunny' man.
Mrs Lawson, a very prim and proper woman, must have nearly had a fit at the thought of the pan landing on the ground.
Berenice had her first encounter with a snake shortly she and her husband, Bern bought their farm at Bargo. As she came out of the outside toilet a snake was entering. Berenice launch herself into the air, breasts popping clear out of her strapless sun top, and hanging there like a helicopter before coming back to land. Grabbing a nearby hoe, she hysterically cut the poor animal up into tiny pieces.
The next run in Berenice had with a snake had a happier ending. Berenice and Bern were walking down the paddock when he suddenly yelled "snake"! Berenice took off like a rocket and leapt up onto a log while Bern laughed hysterically. Apparently when he yelled out "snake" they both took off (the snake and Berenice), Berenice leaping onto the log for protection, the snake dashing under the same log for the same reason.