When I was in primary school, I entered a short-story competition with a science-fiction tale I had written. Later, one of the teachers told me the judges thought the story was pretty good, but they couldn't make it the winner because it wasn't sufficiently "Australian" in theme.
I was thinking about this the other day, and I had an interesting thought (it happens, now and again). If Tolkien had been born here in Oz, would he have had to change his work to make it more acceptable to local publishers?
And so, to continue the Hobbit theme, here is a slightly "Ozzified" version of Tolkien's great work. And, a warning, it contains some authentically Australian swearing....
Chapter 1 - A Random Booze-Up.
In a shed at the back there lived a hobbit. Not a daggy shed – with bits of iron sticking up everywhere, undies on the washing line and a rusty Monaro out the back. Nor yet, some posh bugger’s palace, with a satellite dish and a pool and five cars parked on the street. It was a hobbit’s shed, and that meant bonza.
It had a fly-screen door with one of those gas tubes at the top, to stop it banging, and a beaut set of coloured danglers to keep the flies away. The door opened to a kitchen with a corker flower pattern of orange lino, a few deck-chairs, and a beer fridge – the hobbit had a lot of bludger mates. The shed went quite a way back, taking up a fair old slice of Yobbiton – as everyone called it, mainly because of all the Housing-Trust yobbos that lived there. There were no other rooms, no leaving the kitchen for the hobbit: the telly was on the bench, the sangers in the esky, the dunny a quick nip out to Fred McKenzie’s fruit-tree. The hobbit was on a good lurk.
By a bit of ripper luck, the hobbit was sitting outside in a deck-chair one day, drinking a tinnie, when Gandalf rocked up. Gandalf! You wouldn’t believe the goss I’ve heard about that old bugger – make your toenails curl. Shit hit the fan wherever he went, but it never seemed to stick. He’d been gone for a while - saving a princess from a fire-breathing, flesh-eating dragon, some said. Others said he was down the pub. Wherever he’d been, he was back.
He had an oil-stained flannel hat, a moth-eaten blue tank-top and a pair of steel-reinforced donga-boots, plus a cloud of flies that stuck to him like chewy on a blanket. He stank, too, worse than a drover’s jock-strap.
“G’day!” said Bilbo, and he was fair-dinkum. It was a beaut day, and the footy was on later.
Gandalf scratched noisily under his armpit and spat a big gold logie on the ground. “Whaddya mean, ‘G'day’? It is a bloody good day? It better be a bloody good day? It was a bloody good day until you came along?”
“Keep your hair on, grandpa.” Bilbo decided this old bloke was a wanker. He opened another VB, hoping he'd piss off.
Gandalf pulled a soggy looking rolly from behind his ear and stuck it in his gob. “Listen, Lofty, how ‘bout me and some mates roll round your place Wednesday for a few beers and some grub?” He lit his rolly and blew a big cloud of smoke nowhere in particular.
Bilbo threw an empty tin at the cat. “Whaddya reckon this is – bushweek?”
“Nah, nah, hear me out.” The ciggy waggled up and down in Gandalf's cakehole as he spoke. “There’s a bit of bizzo to discuss, something that might float your boat.”
“Bizzo? What kind of bizzo?” Bilbo wondered whether this old codger might be a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
Gandalf cast a quick squiz over his shoulder. “You, me, a bunch of dwarfs, trolls, giant-spiders – and a bloody big pile of jewellery.”
"No thanks." Bilbo shook his head and grabbed another beer. “I hate Sydney.”