IT’S NOT AUSTRALIAN
It had not changed a bit ‘cept the paint job was new
And the sign ‘Gen’ral Store,’ how it stood out in blue.
Then I thought to myself – no it couldn’t be so;
He’d be eighty at least; He’d have died years ago.
But I wandered inside on the chance he’d be there;
The old man that I’d known, with the head of white hair.
How the mem’ries flowed back, when I walked through the door,
As the inside was still as I’d known it before.
I near choked on emotion and held back a tear
When the wrinkled stooped frame of a man did appear.
It was him! ‘Twas old Digger, my mentor and friend,
He instilled in me hope, when my world seemed to end.
For the moment I kept to the side and observed
The old man I revered and just watched as he served;
When I noticed a lad slip the smokes in his coat,
While his mate bought a drink with a five dollar note.
I then followed him out having seen what he’d done
And I called to the lad, “Have you got a sec son;
Would you take a seat here on this bench for a while.”
And the smile that he had, disappeared from his dial.
“Do you know the old man in the store there my lad?”
“No I don’t,” said the boy, “Is the old bloke your dad?”
“Wish he was,” I replied. “For the man in the store
He has fathered more boys, than his wife ever bore.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” said the boy with a frown.
“Should I care? What’s your drift? Tell me what’s going down.”
“The old man’s name is Digger and years ago son,
Just like you – did not know him – that’s how it begun.”
“I had lost both my parents – they died in a crash
And I lived on the streets, eating other folk’s trash.
I was only sixteen – ’twas my birthday in fact,
When I robbed the old man, but got caught in the act.”
“Though he never pressed charges… instead gave me work
And a room of my own; man I felt like a jerk.
It was Digger old mate, who put hope in my life,
By the fact he was able to keep me from strife.”
“He had lost his dad too, back in nineteen sixteen,
Then the Second World War claimed his sons, Rick and Dean.
From that time, the old man he took on the odd stray;
Gave them hope and a future and help on the way.”
“No he’s not my old dad, but a true friend of mine,
And to steal from the man, would be right out of line.
For old Digger is eighty and failing in health,
While this store is his life line, the sum of his wealth.”
“So do give it some thought, where you go now from here,
For the smokes in your pocket won’t break him I fear;
It is not the offence which would hurt the old man,
But the fact that you failed, to be Australian.
From the book You’re Joking – Milk in Billy Tea!