Sixteen cows

Sixteen cows on a hill

Mooing and chewin’ and eating their fill

Sixteen cows on a hill

Janice and Jackie and Josie and Jill

Sixteen cows on a hill

Holding on tight so they don’t take a spill

Sixteen cows on a hill

There in the morning, and up there still


Sixteen cows in the sun

Walking slowly, and then they run

Sixteen cows in the sun

Harriet, Hermione, Hilary and Hon

Sixteen cows in the sun

Green green grass for everyone

Sixteen cows in the sun

Waves crash below but they wet no-one


Sixteen cows and the moon

Clomping and chomping a greengrass tune

Sixteen cows and the moon

Jessie, Julie, Justine and June

Sixteen cows and the moon

Working class cows with no silver spoon

Sixteen cows and the moon

They don’t say say moon, they say mooooon


Sixteen cows on a hill

Black as night and then some still

Sixteen cows on a hill

Laury and Lena and Lisa and Lil

Sixteen cows on a hill

Staring at the ocean and thinking about nil

Sixteen cows on a hill

There in the morning. And up there still

Peace and war, and selection 1979-80 style

As the Ashes has waned and holidays have dawned, I have found myself watching more youtube highlights. I have gravitated to the 1979-80 summer, the “peace” season after the split by World Series Cricket ended in Packer’s Tilsit Peace. Joel Garner cleaning up Greg Chappell, that sort of thing.

It was peak cricket interest for me, I was 12 when WSC broke and almost 15 when the band got back together. Playing at school, on weekends and in the street. Old enough to work holiday jobs in the Tandy warehouse and spend the money on Marella Jubes to share with John Emburey on the fence during the lulls in the day-nighters.

I was strong establishment in the first season, a Craig Serjeant, Thommo and Wayne Clark man. The strong WA presence in the team for the Windies in 1977-78 warmed my heart, and I remember cheering Serjeant and Wood on as they got us home in the 3rd Test.

By the second season, the dreary nature of the Ashes, outside of Hoggy’s excellence and anger, made me flirt a bit with WSC. I liked “Big” Garth Le Roux and Imran. Watching Viv and Barry bat together was something else. The Australians other than GS Chappell and Lillee weren’t really much chop. Still, my priority was the Test team, the Kim Hughes thing was starting (Serjeant having a major loss of form), and the Pakistan games were riveting. The World Cup came and went with Porter a new star. We got sod all news reports about the India tour later that year but I perused the scorecards regularly and noted how consistent Hughes was.

When the peace was announced, I had mixed feelings. But I vowed to gobble it all up.

Sitting here now, I think there’s a few “truths” that underpin the narrative about these times:

  • Australia were full of stars and they all went to WSC
  • Australia was weak during WSC
  • Australia was strong after WSC because the WSC players were available.

These are all contestable. For instance, not long after the glory of 74-75 and 75-76, we were mediocre in the following season against Pakistan. Squibbed the fight in Adelaide and got destroyed in Sydney. Let England score 400+ in the 4th dig of the Centenary Test. Contrived to choose Davis, Serjeant, Hookes, Cosier, Hughes and Robinson in batting slots for an Ashes, with Pascoe and Malone uncapped and O’Keeffe and Bright the spinners. If Thommo wasn’t injured, Lillee was. Post Redpath/Stackpole/Sheahan/Chappells/Walters, we had churned through Francis, Davis, Woodcock, two Edwards, Turner, and Yallop, none of who were picked for the 77 squad.

If you look at the WSC list, there were a few categories:

  • Bonafide stars – Chappell, Lillee, Marsh (Thommo)
  • Solid test players – Hookes, Walker, Walters, McCosker, Pascoe
  • Old guys having a payday – Chappelli, Redpath, Edwards, Mallett, McKenzie, Watson
  • Uncapped guys with potential – Laird, Prior, Kent, Langer (Wessels)
  • B-graders – Gilmour, O’Keefe, Bright, Davis, Malone, Robinson
  • C-graders who were “in the club” – Trevor Chappell, Dennis Yagmich

For what it’s worth, the 77-79 Test team did better than is remembered. They won a tight series against a full strength India 3-2. They met the full might of the Windies on awful wickets, but recovered to shade the second sub-series against non-WSC players. They were closer to England than 5-1 suggests, being in position to win at least 4 matches but collapsing as an inexperienced lineup with poor captaincy and revolving door selection, a rubbish tail and some dodgy umpiring demands. They then should have beaten full-strength Pakistan 2-0, and were very honourable in a 2-0 loss from 6 against India – we would take that today!

But this story is about the third point, it’s about the selection of a combined team in 79-80. Because, as with some of the decisions today, it’s hard to see how and why decisions were made. But it’s also clear that some WSC guys were backed in – and didn’t cut it.

To get started with a benchmark, here are three teams:

Last test team before WSC: Serjeant, McCosker, G Chappell, Hughes, Hookes, Walters, Marsh, Bright, Walker, Malone, Thomson

Last test team before 1979-80 season: Hilditch, Yallop, Border, Hughes, Whatmore, Darling, Sleep, Wright, Dymock, Hogg, Higgs

Last Supertest team: McCosker, Laird, Kent, G Chappell, I Chappell, Hookes, Marsh, Bright, Lillee, Thomson, Pascoe

Two mini-series of 3 tests against each of England and the West Indies was announced. These tests would be interwined, a unique situation. And inter-intertwining would be a plethora of limited overs matches.

Christian Ryan in his Golden Boy masterpiece reports that none of the experts asked to pick their combined squads had reigning Australian test captain, Kim Hughes, in them – despite coming off almost 600 runs at 59 in India. This was the mood… the WSC heroes were going to come back and take up what was rightfully theirs.

With all bans lifted, the WSC players were free to play grade and Shield. The Shield started while the India tour was on, so some guys got a headstart.

The first test – West Indies v Australia, Brisbane

Laird, McCosker, Border, G Chappell, Hughes, Hookes, Marsh, Bright, Lillee, Hogg, Thomson

This was a reasonable compromise between the two squads to kick off the summer. Laird had a ton against NSW. McCosker however had no big scores but had some handy runs in the French Fries Cup. This team had played a one-dayer against the Windies, Hughes and Chappell getting us home, me on the Hill in full Cornetto-devouring mode.

In the test, Hughes and Chappell batted big in the second innings to secure an honourable draw. Laird with 92 and 75 laid the foundation however.

First test – England v Australia, Perth

In: Wiener, Toohey, Dymock

Out: McCosker, Hookes, Hogg

Plucked from nowhere, based on a few fifties in the Shield and Cup, was Julian Wiener. An unbelievable selection, he had played neither tests nor WSC the season before. Similarly, Peter Toohey, not even in the top 8 batsmen for the India tour, despite being a great spin player – recalled. Hookes was dropped after scoring 43 and 37, against the actual Fab 4 of Holding, Roberts, Garner and Croft.

Kim Hughes played another classic lone hand of 99 to set up a win for Australia, Border consolidating in the second dig and Dymock getting 6. Wiener got a 50 on debut.

Second test – West Indies v Australia – Melbourne

In: Hogg, Higgs

Out: Thomson, Bright

This meant there were now 6 “establishment” players, 4 WSC players and Wildcard Wiener.

We got pumped by 10 wickets, Wiener topscoring in the first, Laird and Hughes getting runs in the second and Lillee, Dymock and Higgs all getting wickets. Hogg got 0-59 off 6. Incredible stuff, Haynes and then Viv taking to him.

Second test – England v Australia, Sydney

I saw every minute of this rain-affected game.

In: McCosker, I Chappell, Pascoe

Out: Laird, Toohey, Hogg. I can’t confirm but presume Laird must have been injured?

Back from the test cricket wilderness came 34 year old Ian Chappell, 4 years after his retirement.

Lillee and Dymock skittled England on a greentop. Then Chappelli topscored with a vital 42 as we crimped a small but vital lead. Gower’s sublime lone hand meant we had a challenging 200+ chase but G Chappell aided by McCosker and then Hughes with 40s made it look pretty easy (the pitch was drying out – good toss to win!)

Third test – West Indies v Australia – Adelaide

In: Laird, Mallett

Out: McCosker, Higgs

Higgs was dropped after getting 1 over on the SCG seamer. Mallett was back, another 34-yr old veteran coming back after premature retirement. He was just an afterthought for WSC apparently, Packer being no fan of his “Straight breakers”. He had been having a purple patch in the Shield, however.

Lillee’s 5 kept us in the series despite Viv and Lloyd going ballistic. We were 3-26 in reply, but Laird with Hughes and Border got us over 200. Dymock got 5 as they set us almost 600, Laird topscored as we were 400 short in a humiliating loss.

Third test – England v Australia – Melbourne

School was back by the time this game was played in early February.

In: McCosker

Out: Wiener

8 WSC players lined up here.

Hughes ran Gooch out for 99, Lillee got 6, then Laird, Chappelli and Border all got 50s to support the skipper’s ton. Lillee made it 11 for the match then the brothers made hay to sweep the English and super-skipper Brearley 3-0 in the series.

One day teams

The following players, all former test players, played ODI’s that summer without getting a test recall: Walters, Darling, Laughlin, Walker, Yallop and Whatmore.

Pakistan tour

Three tests against Pakistan were scheduled. The squad included Hookes, and a number of players not featuring in the tests… Yallop, and Mick Malone as former test players, and Graeme Beard and Geoff Lawson, a couple of uncapped New South Welshmen (Lawson had toured India as a replacement earlier in the season). Yallop averaged 33 in the Shield without a ton. He did have some success in India the year before however.

From what I recall, Chappelli and Mallett were unavailable. Pascoe may have been injured, or smart enough to fake one, given what was ahead! McCosker was dropped. Peter Toohey, a sublime player of spin, missed out despite averaging 50+ in the Shield and peeling off 3 tons.

Australia lost 1-0 after going behind in the first despite a Hughes special of 85 out of 220 batting at 3. They prepared flat tracks for the final two games and runs flowed for most guys. Our highly variable top 6 lineups were:

Laird, Yallop (!), Hughes, Chappell, Hookes, Border


Wiener, Laird, Hughes, Chappell, Yallop, Border

We broke every cardinal rule by changing the openers nearly every test. (This would continue in 80-1 when Laird would be dropped, then brought back for the tough 81-2 series then dropped again. He and Dyson and Wood and then Wessels played roundabouts, with Wayne Phillips popping up in 83-4 but Wood and Dyson reverting for 84-5, until Digger Hilditch was reborn.)


Bizarrely, despite some solid form, Wiener was then overlooked for the Centenary Test tour – for Wood and Dyson, who had not played a test all summer. Wood originally couldn’t get into the WA squad, and didn’t make a ton all season. But he had admirers, it was rumoured WSC tried to sign him for the second year. Mallett also came back into the squad, and played in the Centenary Test, which was to be his last.

In summary, senior WSC players in Chappelli, McCosker and Mallett all returned to the test team but were gone for good from it within 6 months. There was clearly no interest from them or the selectors in building a team for the future, which would rebound on them the next year in England (when Kent, T Chappell and Wellham joined Hughes, Border, Yallop, Dyson and Wood in one of the weakest and most inexperienced lineups ever to tour.)

Guys like Walker and Malone didn’t play a test after WSC. In fact, of the 26 in the original WSC squad, 13 never played a test afterwards. Of the 13 that did play, only 5 had careers of note after the peace deal – G Chappell, Lillee, Marsh, Laird and Pascoe. Hookes had one good season and Bright a couple of good matches.

Considering WSC was supposed to have improved the games of those who partook, perhaps it’s fair to say it made stars even better. And uncovered a few new ones, in Laird and Wessels. But it did no favours to fringe or older players.

So the story of selection seems one of random choosing between two relatively mediocre squads, with no real reference to form or youth/experience. At times, almost random.

Sound familiar?

The false hope of King Arthur, the Border wars and the collapse of the Lehmann Brothers – a plea against insider training

You I know I have developed a bit of a theory. I keep seeing former players going on about how Simmo and Border identified a group of players, and backed them in. Eg G Marsh. Boon. S Waugh.

I think they don’t understand history. I think they think that’s the right way to build a team all the time. As if form, class and being able to accommodate different personalities are irrelevant.

What they miss is the crucial context. By 1987, when at nadir, Australia had had 11 years of turmoil:

– the premature loss of Chappelli, Mallett and R Edwards

– the bizarre decision to recall Simmo
– re- integration of WSC players
– G Chappell and the “yes; no” approach to captaincy
– emergence of limited overs formats, with greater emphasis on fielding
– unstaged retirement of Chappell, Marsh and Lillee
– dominance of program by Windies
– the Hughes v Hookes tensions
– the defections to Sth Africa, and then their impending return

Of course Simmo and Border were both craggy cranky self-identifiers. They gained comfort in each other.

In contrast, Australia suffers no such moment of crisis. It has an abundance of talent. There a million pathways. Modern cats are a very broad spectrum. For every Smith there are probably 10 Maxwells. Players move around between leagues and formats and teams. They balance a million expectations.

I think the Smith-Lehmann insiderism is a false reading of history. An Arthurist deviation.

Even AFL teams have moved beyond Swansification. They have integrated it, into other threads, like Balmism and Clarksonism. In people like Buckley, we have coaches able to see the positive in each and every young player.

So either these guys in Australian cricket are duds at hist0ry. Or have just found a convenient way of getting their mates into a team, against a hapless opponent.

Shane! Shane!

Warning: this is a story about Shane Watson. It’s a positive story.

Something about the criticism of Watson sticks in my craw. The injuries, the reviews, the LBs, the sort of criticism that helped hound Kim Hughes to South Africa.

Even now when I see some 8yo parrot his dad and make the all-knowing obvious retort about a review, I spew.

So, to lay it to rest, I am going to map out the glorious 2 years of SR Watson. Who batted and bowled as well as most before him, having a patch as our best allrounderer probably since Miller. Nowhere as good as Miller, but pretty good nonetheless.

It’s the Richmond 2017 approach. I am sick of hearing what he couldn’t do. Let’s talk about what he could do.

And then I will let it go.


The Watson story begins in the early 2000s when this well-built kid started trying to bowl 145km/h thunderbolts. And bat like Viv Richards. He had potential, so was fast-tracked into the limited overs team There was no spot for him in the Test team, despite a couple of very handy Shield seasons and some big runs in County.

But when we wanted to occasionally pick MacGill as well as Warne, it was thought we needed a Mitch Marsh type to bowl a few overs, take a couple of wickets. To bat 7, with Gilchrist at 6. So Watson got a few tests, in 2004-6. He got a few runs, looked classical, didn’t go on with it. Bowled fast and a got a couple of wickets. And he got a few soft tissue injuries, because he tried too hard and didn’t train as smart as Steve Smith.

They tried Watson and Symonds in that role, Symonds being eventually preferred because he could imitate Funky Miller with some seam and then pseudo-spin. And field the house down.

I didn’t pay much attention to this, we were heading towards serious stuff like buying a house and having our first kid and changing jobs and looking after a sick cat.

Then the 2008 tour to India happened. It was a bit of a watershed. We had churned through MacGill and Hogg, I think Symonds was suspended. So Cam White, who I really rated, and Watson, were picked, and played Richie Benaud era allrounder roles (as in, the teams that had Slasher, Benaud, Johnny Martin and Davo all at the same time.)

It was an interesting series, we lost 2-0 but that flattered India I thought. We made 400+ on a few occasions. Krezja got a bucketful. White got a few good scalps and looked too good for number 8 – which he was. Steve Smith predux!

I saw a fair bit of this series on pay, and it seemed Watson was intent on being like his namesake, Graeme Donald Watson, who was my first hero – and had a penchant for big moments, rather than consistency. He might take no wickets for a couple of games and then get 5-15, or seem out of form with the bat and then clout a rapid 80. Sometimes in the same game.

Watson made 41 in the first test. But his 78 in the second was a gem. He batted for 156 balls, hitting one of the best cover drives I had ever seen. Wow, I thought, he really does have the potential the insiders had been talking about. He got a 36 in a giant total in the 3rd. Failed in the 4th.

With the ball, considering he was the 4th seamer on spin-friendly tracks, he showed some of the wicket-sense that would become a feature later on – he got a 4, a 3 a 2 and a 1.

Averaging 25 with the bat and 32 with the ball, it was good, not great, but showed promise. There were still questions about which discipline was his strongest.

When they got back to Australia, they chucked Symonds in the team, too, and batted him ahead of Watson. Watto flopped, and that made it 5 single digit scores in his last 8 knocks. He got a couple of wickets, but Symonds’ pair of 20s saw him retained, and Watson sent back to the Shield.

It was a transitional summer, Hayden failing to hang on, Symonds got the heave, Ronnie McDonald got the callup for Sydney. Then they picked Phil Hughes and Marcus North. Things looked lost for Watson when Hughes tore the South Africans apart. North batted well and could also bowl. McDonald was a handy squad member. And Mitch Johnson looked a proper allrounder, smashing tons and breaking fingers. Ricky Ponting liked his new team, calling that win in South Africa with a bunch of newcomers one of his favourite series.

Meanwhile, Watson was averaging 52 with the bat and 18 with the ball in a limited Shield campaign. It was enough to get on him on the plane to England.

By then I was a regular on the Tonk on the SMH website suggesting that Watson could open. I had been saying it all summer, since they got back from India. He had a proper technique, but played shots. It got a run in the paper version one day, my obsession with this path. But with Hughes going gangbusters it seemed a cry in the wilderness.

The golden years

I won’t bore you with narrative. Because the numbers really speak for themselves. Before being recalled – as opener, as suggested – at Edgbaston for the can’t lose 3rd test in 2009, he had 1 50 and no 5-fors. Then…

v England (in England)

3rd test

62 and 53

4th Test

51 and 34

5th test


Averaged 48 opening in England in a losing Ashes

V Windies

2nd test

96 and 48

3rd test

89 and 30

v Pakistan

1st test

93 and 120*

2nd test


Averaged 60 for the home summer, opening against Roach, Taylor, Amir, Asif etc

He also took 13 handy wickets in 6 tests i.e. 1 an innings on average.

V NZ (in NZ)

1st test


So in that flurry of 11 tests in 8 months after moving to open, he scored 1 ton, 8 50’s and took some wickets.

v Pakistan (in England)

1st test


2nd test


Averaged 10 for the series. (And not much more with the bat.)

V India (In India)

1st test

126 and 56

2nd test

57 and 32

Averaged 68 in a 2-0 loss.

V England

1st test

36 and 41*

2nd test

51 and 57

3rd test


4th test


5th test

45 and 38

So scored more than 400 at nearly 50, opening against Anderson and Tremlett and Bresnan, in a humiliation.

This was the end of Watson’s golden run. Clarke replaced Ponting, Katich his partner was gone. After missing a summer with a calf, he bowled less, and Cowan had been bought into open. So Watson had to shuffle down to 3, which didn’t suit him with the pace off the ball and often a slow run rate to contend with (Cowan being Cowan).

Still, it’s worth recapping that glorious run of tests. Averaging 50 at the top of the order against quality quicks, while taking handy wickets including some bags. Fielding well. Starring in the limited overs formats too.

That’s how you win consecutive Allan Border Medals, as the best cricketer in the land.

There were to be many more highlights, but never enough to keep the knockers off his back. Clarke used him as a stock bowler, and he rarely got the chance to open, batting as low as 6, which never suited his aggressive style. And there were more injuries, for instance after Clarke used for him almost 50 over against Sri Lanka in Hobart. The days of “he has to bowl to hold his place”, despite having a batting average well over 40 at that stage.

  • The ridiculous 5-17 in Sth Africa, in that bizarre test when we made 47
  • The strong finish to the 2013 Ashes – the 68 batting 6 in the 4th test arguably better than the 178 on Day 1 in the 5th. And the solid 2013-14 return, an underrated 50 in Adelaide and then calypso ton in Perth. But the best innings was the 80* in the chase with Rogers at Melbourne, a very mature counter-attacking knock.
  • Captaining Australia in India. Not bad after being dropped for eating in class or whatever it was.
  • Double cameos in his recall test against Sth Africa, smashing them around to enable the declarations that won us the game with an over to spare. Batting 6,
  • Helping Smith with 84 overs in the India series in 2014-15, keeping it tight on the flat decks as Lyon was getting tonked seriously. He bowled almost 30 overs in Sydney, which had to affect his batting, but was still lampooned for getting out for 81.
  • Having the good grace to retire after being dropped, and allowing Mitchell Marsh a long run at it. A 20-test run in which he averaged about half with the bat and 10 more with the ball what Watson did in his first 20 tests.

So Watson’s final record is not a true indicator of his worth as a cricketer. He was pivotal in providing a winnable structure as continued to struggle in the period between dominant teams. He put his hand up to open, and smashed it. 35 with the bat and 32 with the ball is better than just about anyone we have had try that role (Symonds got 40 with the bat and 37 with the ball, but not opening). If you control for (a) opening; (b) stop-start through injury; (c) unclear role definition under Clarke (d) the lack of support eg HomeworkGate, he was good enough to average 40 with the bat and 30 with the ball. Imagine if Renshaw or Bancroft – or Burns – or anyone – could manage that!

But in that period from 2009-11 he was even better. He was as good an allrounder type as we have had, since Miller.

Which isn’t saying much – but it’s still worth saying.

Chuck didn’t chuck

Leslie O’Brien Fleetwood-Smith

More Errol Flynn than Stevie Nicks

A glimmer of left arm unorthodox

As depression gripped the docks

Centre-part and pencil mo

Formed a pair with Billy O’

He did take one for two-nine-eight

But Hammond’s scalp was on his plate

Winter is coming…

“Winter is coming”

Said John Snow

Off the long run; 7 for 4-0

Targeting fingers

Targeting stumps

Blueing with the fans and

Blueing with the umps

To the Victor go the spoils

Imagine if Victor Trumper

Tapped his foot like little Thumper

It would make his straight drives far from handsome

Less Kim Hughes and a lot more Handscomb

Imagine if he twirled his bat

And wore a white, floppy hat;

Imagine that, but reflect on this –

He was twice as good, and averaged half as much as, Smith


Some men are born without a bum

And they’re stuck like that till kingdom come

Their pants go up and then fall down

Bumless men are in your town


At the beginning of every footy season I make the same pledge. Not to change teams – that’s a never. Not to stop watching this year – that usually comes around the June long weekend.

No, it’s a constructive pledge, made in good faith. And, as any resolution should do, it lasts as long as my resolve, which, generally, is a few weeks.

The pledge is to fill the season with the smells of home cooking. Thus putting all of that time to good effect – it essentially means (football) results don’t matter. If I can put good food on the table, fill the freezer with simple reheats or kids’ lunches, I will be encouraged to watch footy, potentially as much as I want.

I think I may have disclosed earlier that the Tiger curse lays heavily on my kitchen. And, as evidenced by last night’s dramatics*, it’s just not possible to combine watching Richmond and constructive cooking. (Destructive eating – hello, old friend…)

So the cooking comes into play as required, generally as a post-game stress reliever, or a pre-game nerve preventer. (B)eater-blocking.

Well, it’s week 1 and I am master of my own domain. In play we have:

  • Pete’s Table-topping pop-up beef stew
  • Pete’s sneaky beans
  • Pete’s oh! pears

Pete’s table-topping pop-up beef stew

Wake up hungry. Go to the butcher on Good Friday (ah, Marrickville, you perfect ville).

1kg of blade. Cut chunky, say 1.7m cube. Who cares, it’s Easter. Start with an onion, chopped in accordance with mood. Lightly sweat over a mild heat, lid on, cast iron French pot. Smash a garlic clove and dice the bugger, add to the onion. Reserve one garlic clove (raw) and eat if going to the Dendy later. Add the meat and brown. You can coat the meat in flour first, but lazybones will just chuck a table spoon in and stir to make a gravy. Add paprika.

Let this ferment over low-medium heat for 15 minutes while you revisit the empty fridge. Take the scungy carrot and dice it. Voila. Hide a zucchini and dice half of it. Take all the mongrel tomatoes you can find and roughly chop those, chuck it in.

At this stage, add Worcestershire sauce. enough to make your heart stop. Just enough.

Drain a tin of lentils while the kids are high on chocolate. They won’t even notice. Chuck half of that in. Half a tin of diced tomatoes, juice and all. Splash of quality red. Salt and pepper.

By now you’re oven should be nicely 200.

Pop some baking paper over your masterpiece. Lid on, in we go, say 90 minutes. If you’re not rushed, just turn the heat off after that, let the frog slowly boil into a caramel everythingness.

Serving options:

  • if alone, eat straight from pot! Don’t stop till you get enough.
  • Plated with mash.
  • Cooked a glorious second time, in a pie.
  • If rushed for time or don’t give a flying freddo frog, add a square of pastry to the stew/mash plate, and pretend you saw it on Foxtel.

This will freeze with ease, but eat the fucker, it will smell so good!

Pete’s sneaky beans

This one’s a great work lunch microwaver, or easy dinner for kids – could even be tacoised if required.

Half an onion and a garlic clove (avoid the extra fresh one unless going to the Chauvel that night.) Chuck in the second half of the tin of tomatoes above. Get that all tight and saucy, thick and swimmable. Grate the half a zucchini and add with the half a tin of lentils above. Plus salt and pepper. Let that bumble along for 15 mins with the lid on.

Add two tins of red kidney beans, including the sauce; add a bit more salt and pepper.

Cook lid on for 20-30 mins until thick and contestable.

Chuck into meal size portions, cool safely, and freeze until required.

Pete’s oh! pears

Wait till the buerre bosc pears are on special, $2-3 a kilo. Buy them a week ahead so they unconcrete a bit – get them out of the crisper for a couple of days.

We usually cook 6. Core, and peel if you want.  Baste with a sugar/vanilla syrup. Sit in a ceramic baking tray with arses covered in the syrup – make sure you coat the core hole, too.

Cook on that beautiful residual heat from the stew – start at around 150 for 30 mins or so, then drop down to 100 for another 30, then turn the stove off and just let it be.

Re-baste with the syrup every 15 mins or so, until you don’t give a shit.

These are great served hot with custard, ice cream etc. But we like ours cold, with hot porridge, so store them in the fridge until the perfect autumn breakfast moment.

From this you should get dinner for four (stew) plus a couple of piefuls leftover; 3-4 work lunches; and a cracking dessert for four plus a couple leftover for breakfast.

Next week, it’s the Tigers and the Pies on Friday night, so cooking might be Saturday night – it’s going to rain for much of the week, so I can feel a soup coming on.

Until then, happy cooking, happy eating, enjoy Shane Watson’s final moments, and I hope your team wins, unless it is Adelaide, Brisbane, Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fremantle, Geelong, Gold Coast, Hawthorn, Melbourne, North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Sydney, St Kilda, West Coast, Western Bulldogs or Western Sydney.

* If you haven’t caught up, the Tiges managed to turn a routine win over wooden spoon contender Carlton into a great escape. Still, we’re on top right now, and they’re right on bottom.

Blinky Billie

Billie wasn’t like other girls

She blinked a lot. She blinked so much, they called her “Blinky Billie”

Billie didn’t care; she kept blinking

Everyone was so busy laughing at her teasing her, they forget to ask why she blinked so much

Her parents thought she had dry eyes. The doctor thought she might have a nervous condition

Billie didn’t care; she kept blinking

So how did she come to blink so much?

Well, her brother kept playing this song about a girl with kaleidoscope eyes. She thought that would be cool. To see the world like that.

The  one night, she heard her dad, as he left her bedroom, say to her mum “I can’t wait for her to shut her eyes”

That night, all Billie could think about, as went in and out of sleep, from dreams to nightmares to nothingness, was “shutter eyes… shutter eyes… shutter eyes…”

When she woke, and blinked, she was so surprised. Her eyes were like a camera! Every time she blinked her eyes took a photo of what she could see, and stored it away

Billie spent hours that morning taking photos of the things around her- her room, her house, her friends, her family, the garden, her breakfast, herself (in the mirror), her books, her cat, the sky, the beach, a ball, random things, but things she loved nonetheless

She realised that if she didn’t like what she was looking at, she could blink up a picture she did like. Instant replay. So the more people teased her, the more she blinked – blink; blink; blink. “Silly Billie”, they said. She didn’t care, she kept on blinking

She took thousands of thousands of pictures. Then one day one of the pictures she blinked up scared her. After a while, she realised that is was two pictures put together, she had blinked so much her eyes were getting tired and she was starting to see double

She didn’t like that feeling, but if she concentrated really hard, she could usually blink up something that made her feel OK again, like her mum, her cat, or a cloud

Other times only the scary images came. She kept her eyes on things that made her feel safe. But if she blinked, up might come a picture, and she would notice things she’d never seen before. Shadows, or shapes in the shadows, or shapes without shadows. Sometimes she was confused, was it a picture she’d seen but never noticed the darkness, or just a mash-up of two images.

Sometimes, maybe more than sometimes, these pictures were exciting. Things she couldn’t understand, or imagine on her own. Like art she’d seen in her father’s books on Bosch, art she had seen but wasn’t meant to

She had to work really hard to hold those pictures, so she could study all the detail. If she blinked, they were gone. She could never get them back quite the way she wanted or remembered. BUt – sometimes – in searching for them she found something else that excited her

Like dark, shadow, halos, other tricks of the light. Colour, texture, shape, movement. Faces blurring and merging. People with 8 legs and a cat’s tail. These pictures made her laugh. Laughing, blinking, laughing, blinking.

Blinky Billie, they called her. She didn’t care, she was too busy laughing. And blinking.

She was the girl with shutter eyes…