One evening, at dinnertime, I asked Jazzer the cook if there was any more dinner. I had been working really hard and my appetite was growing.

“There’s plenty left in the kitchen, Chummy. Help ya self mate.”
I filled my plate as full again as the first round. When I got back into the dining room everyone joked about the amount of food on the plate.
Roy James said, “I think I’ll have another plateful myself.”
He came back into the dining room with a huge amount of food on his plate.
Freeman said to me, as a joke, “Hey Chummy, ya think ya can eat more than big Roy can?”
Just for the fun of it, I said, “Course I can. Anyday! Why?”
Gundy said to Freeman, “Here’s 5 bucks that says he can!”
Freeman said, “Here’s 5 bucks that says he can’t!”
The other shearers and shed hands all placed their bets and the eating contest began. Roy and I took our places at opposite ends of the table. We stared at each other for a couple of seconds then started to eat our platefuls."
Gundy gave a running commentary as we ate. Speed was not a factor; volume was what bets were based on. Roy and I finished off our second plate of food; mashed potatoes, cabbage, carrots, mutton and gravy. After the third plateful we ran out of the main course. Then we started on the sweets! We ate a large bowl full of Apple Strudel each and then the bowls were filled up, ready to go again. Halfway through the second bowl, big Roy said, “Fuck this for a joke! The pommy bastard’s too good for me! He must have hollow, fuckin’ legs.”
“Come on Chummy, you’ve gotta’ finish that bowl to win!”, said Freeman.
Very slowly, I finished off the bowl of Apple Strudel and then sat back in mi chair and relaxed. The winners of the contest collected their bets and then cheered.
“Are you full yet, Chummy?, asked Chummy.
As I sat there, I began to think, ‘I don’t want to have to do this again so I’d better seal up my win a bit safer.’
“Not really Gundy. I could eat a big, tasty bowl of cornflakes with milk and sugar.”
No one believed I could eat another morsel so the bets were all on again. Freeman filled up a large bowl of cornflakes. I sat there and loosened mi belt. After stretching mi arms over the back of mi head, I slowly started on the cornflakes! The going was much slower now since big Roy had dropped out of the contest. 15 minutes later the bowl was clean!
The winnings were all collected and Gundy was all smiles as he helped me to my room. Strangely enough, I slept quite well that night and the following day it was like it never happened.



Van Nuys, United States

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Artist's Description

Aussies in the Bush will bet on anything! A couple of cockroaches moving across the bar will get a bet going in a heartbeat!

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  • iAN Derrick
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