Encouragement Award

Another excerpt from phwoar, where Tom Whitebait judges “young smartarses” for the young writer awards.

Phwoar. Might as well get the Young Writer crap done as she heats up. “Get the juices flowing. Then get right back into his own stuff.” Be like the sand bar breaking at Moore River, first a piss like trickle, then a flood of creativity churning and scouring, the teenage bodies bucking and roiling….

He wonders if Coetzee’s ever sponsored a young writers’ award? He doubts it. “Wanker.”

He picks up the plastic backed spiral bound with a sigh. Flicks through. Just a matter of rubber stamping the finalists, choosing a winner. Had seemed like a good idea. At the time. Give back to the community. He had got his degree for free after all. Now in hindsight, he is more than a little worried that he’ll just be helping some young smart-arse take the food out of his own mouth.

And he needs the dosh now, every cent of it. Even if it comes from a Queensland fiction prize. The harbourmaster’s cottage converted into a Freo mansion, the shack up the coast, the fuel driving the restored Torana Sunbird between the two. And two stroke isn’t getting any cheaper either… seems like every time he takes the tinny out for a feed of crays (why does he sound like a wanker even to himself when he says that?) the cost of juicing up the Mercury could have bought him a dinner for two at Little Creatures. With pints. And wedges.

Not this lot though. No threatening talent here. Usual dross. Blah di blah di blah. Here’s some kid writing a story about saving a gum tree from a bulldozer. A gum tree! He shakes the river of greying hair in annoyance. It’s never a gum tree, it’s got to be a Melaleuca. Or Ghost Gum. River Redgum. That sort of thing. And it has to be a judder of redgums, a coruscation of Jacarandas or a skittish gaggle of paperbarks. The metronomic lemon scented, dot, dot, dot. Makes you sound like you know what you are talking about. Especially when you put it next to a few short sentences.

“Un. Fucken. Believable.” This kid has a paragraph long sentence! Must be two hundred and fifty words. If he doesn’t know this stuff by…he turns the page and scans to the name crayoned on the bottom…Year 2, then he never will. “Give up now Jaidyn. Best you can hope for is a Vogel.”

And another story mentions getting into a car. What car? Is it an EH? “Christ on a treddlie! Get your shit together kiddo.”

Crap, crap and more crap. And this was the cream of it. But what is floating to the top here is more like Nan’s septic tank when the buffalo grass had got into the leach drain back in those Preston Point days, when the boys were told to have a slash on the old lemon tree if they had to, but if they needed a crap, too bad – they’d have to bake it all the way home.

Hang. On. Though. One phrase does catch his eye. “Her skin was the dirty white of a used government panel van up for tender. Legs as skinny as a garfish’s dick.”


“She swung them out of the i30 like a pair of chopsticks after a dim sim and, as they hit the ground, she looked him in the eye, and popped a warhead into her mouth.”

“i30? Must be one of those new Korean jobs”, he thinks. “Shoulda been an EK, no wait, an FB ute, but ya can’t blame a young ‘un for not knowing that. And “warhead”? Shoulda been a Redskin or a Musk Stick, or even a Chico, but nevertheless…” He flicks through paragraph after paragraph, the pages flapping the table like he’s just landed a big Cobia right there on the laminex.

The stuff is brilliant. Vogel ready. And the female protagonist doesn’t do any hooting or brooding. Nor does she have to be blind drunk the whole time like he is reduced to. The kid has all the latest cars, sounding like they are out of some new, frightening, Asian world order. Vehicles he has never heard of. Kias, Hyundais, Ssangyong Korandos. (Or should that be Ssangyongs Korando?)

No she has to be stopped. Has to nip this one. In. The. Bud. He looks around, but the Metters has fucken gone out, and is still barely warm to the touch. So much for the ground Nicaraguan. Might have to fossick in the pantry for that half jar of vanilla flavoured Moccona he couldn’t remember buying. Did anyone? And somewhere there’s that 10 kilo drum of Pablo instant he keeps as a memento from the hungry years.  In any case, burning the offending piece is too drastic, too obvious. He can’t just trash the thing. Wait. What’s the biggest wet blanket you can possibly give to a writer? He pulls out a red sharpie from his be-tartanned pencil case and writes across the top of the essay in big letters – “Encouragement Award”.


About AHC McDonald

Comedian, artist, photographer and critic. From 2007 to 2017 ran the culture and satire site The Worst of Perth
This entry was posted in worst book, worst of perth and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Encouragement Award

  1. you'll get wet says:

    Mick Mulie felt deepfried. He was gutted. Totally crumbed. He collapsed on his plate smothered in Winton vinaigrette.

    ‘Waitress!’ Mick sputtered like an old hand-cranked Lister from his Jarrah picnic table at the Fishing Boat Harbour, ‘There’s a Bug in my Bisque!’

    A smartly dressed Kailis waitress inched towards him, crabwise. ‘Didn’t you order Moreton Bay Bugs swimming in Bisque?’

    He had. How fucken embarrassing. Mick felt totally scaled.Waitress looked good though. Bet she’d go off like a prawn cracker haw haw. Mick trawled through the wiki-littoral of his memory for a literary pick-up line.

    ‘Love the uniform! You totally look like a Blue Swimmer!’

    Immediately Mick felt that familiar sinking feeling he felt whenever his dinghy sank. His line had flatlined. Flat as a Flatfish. Perched on the edge of his plate, he felt like a metaphor for growing up in a Westralian coastal craytown. Dickhead. He quickly apologised, ‘Sorry love, bad joke eh.’

    ‘No worries,’ she replied, ‘What happens on the crayboat stays on the crayboat,’ and with a click of her claws she inched away. Crabwise. Fuck. Mick thought. Am I dreaming or what. Shit that’s some good Sinsemilla Tom brought back from the Greens protest in Broome.

    Yeah Broome. The Greens. Medicinal marijuana. You know it makes sense. Shit eh.


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