Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Some Salt Story reviews

So here is an excerpt from a lovely local review by Bookworm in the Great Southern edition of Cafe' Capers:

'At the launch of her book Salt Story, Sarah Drummond described it as a "love letter to the South Coast" and personally I cannot think of a more apt description. Sarah is an interestingly multi-faceted character; a sea-goddess fisherwoman who looks like she could arm wrestle most men into tears, an intellectually competent historian and a poetic wordsmith all wrapped into one. Salt Story is an exhibition of her talents in all three personae.
While many will probably describe it as a book of short stories, Salt Story is really a collection of prose poems documenting a unique way of life that is a fascinating part of West Australian history. If you like the ocean, social history or the written word, you will enjoy this book ... My only complaint about this book is the one I have been heard to utter at the conclusion of a box of fine chocolates or a wedge of soft blue cheese ... there just wasn't enough!'

And on a slightly larger scale, here's some bits from Tim McGuire in last weekend's Weekend Australian, where he reviewed Salt Story alongside the memoir of an inner city bouncer:

"Our best writers are our best observers. American humorist David Sedaris springs to mind as a writer who generates perfectly articulated social truths through an aptitude for observation. We need writers who are able to identify truths about society, politics and industry. Sarah Drummond and Heath Lander do just that.
Salt Story: of sea dogs and fisherwomen is Drummond's first book, written as a tribute to the inshore and estuarine commercial fishing industry, and to the men and women whose livelihoods depend on it. Set on the wild south coast of Western Australia, the book follows Drummond's tutelage under a fisherman named Salt, her employer and guide to a way of life that is under threat, dying of a thousand government cuts.
... It is easy to identify the differences in Salt Story and The Bouncer, harder to map the similarities ... but these two memoirs are cut from the same cloth. In both, a mentor emerges to school the authors in two very different but equally unsafe professions. As apprentices, Drummond and Lander are unflagging. Their books are partly a reflection of what they've been taught and, mostly, of the truths they've laid bare for themselves: full of loneliness, risk and keen observations."

I quite like the juxtaposition of nightclub bouncer and apprentice deckie memoirs. They look good together. And I really like both of these reviews!

Update: Just found this link to the West Australian review published on Christmas Eve:

Monday, January 6, 2014

I would have married Catweazle

"I wanted to marry Catweazle."

I shouted this to my boss yesterday while he was up against a dastardly weed tree with a petrol hedge-trimmer, me holding his wobbly ladder straight.

"Catweazle? That guy?"
"Yep. Definitely. Would have married him."

He swept through the tree in a two-stroke swathe. Limbs, twigs and leaves of the feral plant fell around my sunglasses. I gathered their bits into the wheelbarrow and when he came down from the ladder he was still thinking about it and said:
"That's kinda weird Sarah. How old were you then?"

I was about nine when I fell in love with Catweazle.
Catweazle had Touchwood for a friend, plus a fox. And some rabbits. He could talk to the animals. He had a beard that was soft and white, and eyes that knew, and he lived in a forest hideaway that could be stumbled upon if you were a girl child who knew where to look.

You know, if Catweazle were alive and gave me that sideways eye right now I would fall in love with him all over again.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Stop fondling the shark hook

(I've just appropriated this new title from the No Fibs website {here} who reblogged this post this morning. Fair swap hey?)

Because I recently became an expert in great white shark management on the south coast of West Australia ...
Okay, let's start again, shall we?

Because I recently released a book about fishing on the south coast of West Australia and sporadically mentioned the Noahs that grind around the Sound looking for seals, people have been coming up to me in the street and asking what I reckon about the State Premier's latest plan to bait great whites that get closer than one kilometre off the metropolitan coast, and contract commercial fishers to kill them.

When these questions first started, I would look blankly at the person. Why ask me, was my first thought. My second thought was, why are you even asking this question? It's stupid. My third thought was 'the day when a great white shark bails me up while I'm shopping in York Street and bites me in half, I will demand that they hang it from the nearest baited hook and fire guns at it from a very great height.'

Today, over four thousand people collected on the shores of one of the most populated beaches of Perth to protest against the state government's move to kill sharks that venture too close to our shores.

 Photo: Rebecca Dollery ABC

Some people get eaten by sharks. Not very many though. I could give you the stats on the amount of sharks who die every year for fish and chips and soup compared to the people who get bitten by them but I can't be bothered and you can find them pretty easily anyway. It's somewhere within the vicinity of 100,000 to 3.

I have seen a shark killed by bounty hunters and hung from its tail by ropes on the town jetty, all of her liveborn babies spilling out of her guts in front of a crowd with cameras. I've seen their dead bodies formaldehyded in sagging, sad circuses, their jaws propped open with sticks to display the horror and morbidity of their existance. These were the moments in my life when I understood the human drive to humiliate and kill off our only predators left.

The protest today was not so much about protecting our predators, as the state government's aggressive action against them. I can't even work out how the state government has wrangled a deal where they can kill a legally protected, endangered species. Don't certain great whites have to be declared a menace to us fun-loving, beachy sorts, to be shot on sight? The latest prerequisite seems to be that, if you are a shark over three metres long and hanging out within a kilometre of a beach anywhere near the city, you are dead meat.

Anyway, today's turnout was heartening. Thanks to all the folk in the city who let Colin Barnett know that his new macho/politico shark killing exercise in the name of tourism and crime prevention is just so not fucking okay. And as a confirmed fisherwoman, the footage of him fondling that shark hook for the media was disgusting.

In case any of my blogger mates have missed this, here is the link to Val Plumwood's essay about being attacked by an apex predator. Being Prey. It's brilliant.

And here's a link to today's protest: If you have fifteen minutes to spare, watch the video. It is a great overview of what is going on here.

Friday, January 3, 2014


She was a decrepit, failed restaurant venture, tethered in disgrace at the end of the Deepie but that night was the pinnacle of the old whalechaser’s career as an eatery.

We weren’t supposed to be there, something about asbestos and public liability but my father was the caretaker, so ... there we were.

Candles glowed in the jarrah-lined innards and a strange, longhaired man played guitar on the iron stairs. Cast iron cauldrons of dahl and rice sat steaming on tables beside huge mounds of baked salmon covered in lemon and strips of bacon.

Dad wanted to introduce his daughters to the woman he would marry. Together, they’d put on a feast.

My guests; my silent beau and the ancient, drunken Scot, were the escape plan if things got too strange.

We slid into red velvet booths, shared green ginger wine, peeled away silvery salmon skin, and broke flakes of juicy flesh from the bone with our fingers. The taste of bittersweet iron made my teeth hurt.

When Hector finally succumbed to his Drambuie on the booth seat, (crumpled kilt, legs askew, it was not pretty) Julian and I climbed back out into the clean night air and stood together on deck. 

Under the full moon, yachts flew like white moths across the harbour on their annual autumn migration.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Mother of the Bride

Yesterday I rode my bike down to the chalets where my daughter was staying for Christmas.
Her partner came outside and said, "Sarah, d' you reckon you can go and get us a coupla bottles of champagne?"

I should have clocked the look in his eye. But bewildered because he never drinks champagne,  I said, "Yeah yeah, fine. Just wait. I'll finish this cigarette and be off."

Meanwhile, in his impatience, in his moment, in his foresight, he walked inside and asked my daughter to marry him.

I rode my bike home into a finished sun and a misty fugue of midgies, past the cow paddock, past the bogans with their pit bull terriers and black headed sheep, over the bridge, past the Vietenam Vet's house, past the old couple who grow their own food, and the karri tree that refuses to die, past the pony breeders on the corner and that weird old Italian man's brick house.

And at the gate, me and my bike performed a joyous, age-old broggy in the gravel.