In 1991 I began a series of correspondence with a Mr Bob Taylor of Rockhampton that proved to be a most fascinating journey. I had first met him at a Larrikins concert in Rockhampton and our friendship continued for several years. Bob was one of those old time Australians who loved the poetry of the people. His vast repertoire always amazed me and especially when he would pull a real gem out of his memory. I was particularly interested in a poem he sent me titled ‘People’s Proper Places’ as it reminded me of an English song I had heard in the seventies by the Critic’s Group led by Ewan MacColl. They are definitely related!
Our correspondence file is now over 60 items and I will progressively add material to the collection. When I corresponded, mostly in the mid-nineties, Bob, then in his late seventies, had retired from a life spent on ‘the land’ and mainly with horses. He loved horses and many of the poems are about them.
Did you ever hear of the man who wanted to get his horse shod all round? Six nails in each shoe, twenty-four nails. The farrier said he would shoe the horse for $500 or a cent for the first nail, two cents for the second nail, four cents for the third nail etc. The horse owner thought the $500 was outrageous so he settled for the farrier’s offer. What the final bill ended up is astounding! Work it out.