Camped on a clay pan on Hamilton Station. The manager, Phantom, his wife, Allison, and young daughter, Amber, were coming for dinner as our hosts. We’ve met the Phantom before. He has always proved to be a gentleman, if not a bit of a rough diamond. A raconteur of sorts, who entertains our groups regularly with a mix of coarse language, humour, and unique observations on life.
Phantom arrive for our Thai feast, and eased himself into a cold beer and a yarn. Now it should be noted that the Phantom was drinking light beers.
During a blokey moment, the men drifted to Phantom’s ute, and after examining his rifle and .22 magnum pistol, we talked motor bikes and camel hunting. “This is a knife,” says the Phantom as he proudly shows us his camel knife, and forged from a car spring. He uses it to remove the fatty humps from the camels, saving his butcher’s knives.
Around this time our Thai friends, after some persuasion, ply Phantom with a Bundy, and start him on a dangerous course.
Over the next hour or two, the three of them consumed a bottle of Bundy, and a bottle of Thai “whiskey” made from rice. They were full.
Phantom sang us Three Blind Mice in Pitjanjatara. Very amusing. He then asked “Spanish”, one of our Thai ex-pats from Spain, to sing Three Blind Mice in Spanish. Spanish said he didn’t know it, and after pleading and cajoling for some time, we believed him.
Phantom was getting agitated, and disappeared for a minute, only to return with his pistol. He was convinced that Spanish was a terrorist because he didn’t know Three Blind Mice in his native tongue. He demanded that Spanish sing, or he would shoot him. He put the pistol on his head, cocked the hammer and asked again. Spanish didn’t know the song. Phantom held his pistol up and let a round off, put the pistol back on the Spaniard and demanded again.
Allison, the English rose and Phantom’s wife, awoke from her swag, walked across to her husband, and disarmed him.
"Words are clumsy pretenders of the images of my mind."
As a practicing artist I have travelled far and wide across Australia, walked on country, camped on country and rolled out my swag. I thank the custodians and I acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. I pay my respect to Elders past and present.