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Mad Jack’s Cockatoo


CLASSIC BUSH VERSE – HORSES, DOGS & DAGS

Mad Jack’s Cockatoo

WILLIAM RYLAND

Bush folklore sees a lot of animals and birds that ‘like a drink or three’ and, in this story, the boozer is a cockatoo. Believe it or not but I have seen men, silently drinking, sharing their beer with a sulphur-crested cockatoo who, when offered, seem to like a drop.

There’s a man that went out in the floodtime and drought,
By the banks of the outer Barcoo,
And they called him Mad Jack ’cause the swag on his back
Was the perch for an old cockatoo.

By the towns near and far, in shed, shanty and bar,
Came the yarns of Mad Jack and his bird,
And this tale I relate (it was told by a mate),
Is just one of the many I’ve heard.

Now Jack was a bloke who could drink, holy smoke,
He could swig twenty mugs to my ten,
And that old cockatoo, it could sink quite a few,
And it drank with the rest of the men.

One day when the heat was a thing hard to beat,
Mad Jack and his old cockatoo
Came in from the West, at the old Swagman’s Rest,
Jack ordered the schooners for two.

And when these had gone down he forked out half-a-crown,
And they drank till the money was spent,
Then Jack pulled out a note from his old tattered coat,
And between them they drank every cent.

Then that old cockatoo, it swore red, black and blue,
And it knocked all the mugs off the bar,
Then it flew through the air, and it pulled at the hair
Of a bloke who was drinking Three Star.

And it jerked out the pegs from the barrels and kegs,
Knocked the bottles all down from the shelf,
With a sound like a cheer it dived into the beer,
And it finished up drowning itself.

When at last Mad Jack awoke from his sleep he ne’er spoke,
But he cried like a lost husband’s wife,
And each quick falling tear made a flood -with the beer,
And the men had to swim for their life.

Then Mad Jack he did drown; when the waters went down
He was lying there stiffened and blue,
And it’s told far and wide that stretched out by his side
Was his track-mate — the old cockatoo.