BOOTLICKER

Jim started to sing

2011-05-28

We all stood around the cemetery in the searing heat in our flak jackets. After about an hour a truck with the dead arrived and we set about preparing to have them buried. Before we lowered the coffins into the ground, Jim said a few words.

"Struggles are long and unhappy, but they're done for a reason, and these soldiers - our soldiers - the soldiers of and for Western Australia died for the most honourable cause of them all. People's lives are precious things, and our comrades now being returned to the earth died fighting for a better world for everyone. I can think of no nobler way of life.

Our comrades that we commend today fought for equality and justice. Each one was different but knew they mattered just the same. They believed that the way the world used to work was wrong and they believed whole-heartedly that we could make people's lives better with the lottery."

Jim, as always, never exaggerated anything. I still think he summed it all up. As we lowered the dead into the ground, Jim started to sing.

"Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day,

Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way.

Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town,

Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine,

staying home to watch the rain,

you are young and life is long,

and there is time to kill today.

And then one day you find,

ten years have got behind you -

no-one told you when to run,

you missed the starting gun."

With this, he fired his rifle once into the air, surprising even the most steely-nerved of us all.