― 97 ―

Brogan's Flat

It wasn't quite the spot an average person would select
To study classic architecture in,
For every man in Brogan's Flat was his own architect,
And materialised his plans in slabs and tin.
The sun-baked street was crooked, and the houses wide apart,
With a patch of bush between them now and then;
But the township didn't pride itself on literature or art -
All its pride was concentrated on its men.

As I don't hail from Brogan's Flat, it don't apply to me;
So you can take my word this tale is true.
The people there possessed in a superlative degree
The faculty to go for all they knew.

  ― 98 ―
If a Brogan's Flat inhabitant played cards, he played to win;
And he always held the joker and the bower;
But if he didn't play at cards, then cards were deadly sin
And a shocking waste of energy and power.

The good men there were extra good, the bad ones very bad,
The tall men always grew extremely tall;
And every man was jolly or superlatively sad,
And they always smoked or never smoked at all.
The pious men at Brogan's Flat spent all their time in prayer,
The gossips spent the whole of theirs in chat;
And the teamsters on the Namoi never quite knew how to swear
Till they had a final course at Brogan's Flat.

Bill Peters kept the smithy at the west end of the town,
And he couldn't fit a shoe or weld a link,
Fix a bolt for Jimmy Thompson or a nut for Johnny Brown,
But his shibboleth was “Comanavadrink.”
Then sounds of noisy revelry would float from Murphy's bar,
And be followed by a simple old refrain,

  ― 99 ―
The melodies were various, but as constant as a star
Was the chorus - it was “Fillemupagain.”

Beyond the mill, where Brogan's Flat extended to the east,
Stood the forge of Jock McTavish, who would swear
That the man who touched strong drink was more degraded than a beast,
And that wine was a delusion and a snare.
While McTavish made a horse-shoe 'twas his custom to inveigh
Against publicans and whisky, rum and gin,
And his preaching was as powerful while riveting a stay
As the blows with which he drove the rivets in.

While Peters sang a roaring song in praise of rosy wine,
And filled himself with whisky from the still,
McTavish used to preach in praise of abstinence divine
And sing of sparkling water from the rill.
If a stranger came to Brogan's Flat, and entered from the west,
The place seemed full of drunkenness and mirth,

  ― 100 ―
While the stranger from the eastward always thought the town was blessed,
And imagined it the soberest spot on earth.

Now, although the temperance question was decided east and west,
In the middle Brogan's Flat was still in doubt;
And the middle folks consulted and decided it was best
Just to meet and thrash the troubled problem out.
So they called a public meeting and arranged for a debate,
And the subject for discussion it was this:
"Does the cup what's said to cheer us, and what don't inebriate,
Or does whisky, give the greatest share of bliss?”

Jock McTavish championed temperance with eloquence and skill,
And his reasons were convincing and profound;
While Peters fought for alcohol and whisky from the still,
And his arguments were logical and sound.
And every point McTavish made was driven home with force

  ― 101 ―
Like his mighty sledge, his blows were hard and true;
While the arguments that Peters used, he clinched without remorse,
As he clinched the nails when nailing on a shoe.

When the chairman put the question, he announced, 'mid great applause,
That the voting had resulted in a tie;
And he couldn't give a casting vote on either side, because
He was at a loss to give a reason why.
He had listened to the various points the speakers dwelt upon,
And he felt convinced the meeting would agree
That the intellectual arguments delivered pro and con.
Were just about as equal as could be.

When Peters rose to move a vote of thanks unto the chair,
He said, “I'd like to make this one remark -
The arguments of friend McTavish lead me to declare
That I've always been a-gropin' in the dark.
I've been like one benighted, and I'm certain as can be
That I've always been mistaken heretofore;

  ― 102 ―
From to-night I'll stick to water, varied now and then with tea,
And I'll never touch the whisky any more.”

Then McTavish rose to second it, and briefly he announced,
"Mr. Peters has converted me outright;
And, although my love for water has been ardent and pronounced,
I will never touch cold water from to-night.
I feel to William Peters gratitude that's quite intense,
Words fail me to express the thoughts I think,
But I can't resist his eloquence, his wit, and common sense -
In short, my brethren, Comanavadrink.”

McTavish now sings roaring songs in praise of rosy wine,
And fills himself with whisky from the still;
While Peters preaches temperance and abstinence divine,
And sings of sparkling water from the rill.
Now, the stranger entering Brogan's Flat, and coming from the west,
Never hears the sounds of revelry and mirth;
And the stranger from the eastward never marks the place as blest,
For he thinks he's struck the drunkest spot on earth.