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Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

Mung olives and other treats

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Has six years passed since I rang the Mullum office and in the process, gave rise to St Mungo of Bethany? It’s been too long, but thanks for the hundreds of emails since from you lot, which keep me in touch with a place I still love dearly.

I’ve just been on the phone to James Jeffrey, who reminded me of that time. Bloody Anne Summers finally gets to be right. And my wife reminded me this week that when I started the twitter hashtag #Mungolives, she asked me what Mung olives were.

I sent Mungo and Jenny a note last week that said, in part: ‘Too few are quick to laughter, but I’m glad we’re part of that mischievous cohort’.

Today it must feel hard to laugh. Instead it must feel like one of the foundation stones of The Echo has been rent asunder. Please know I’m thinking of all of you and send my love and condolences. I loved David’s remembrance. What a history.

I imagine Mungo and Nick are now discussing Australia’s chances against India in the tests this summer before a freestyle jam session.  To that end, and putting aside Brecht’s To Prosperity, I turn to Roy Harper, an English musician David hopefully recalls, and his song When an old cricketer leaves the crease. It fits you all, I think. 

Congrats to David Lovejoy for his informative, heartfelt and erudite obituary on the one-and-only Mungo MacCallum. If Mungo helped you to write, then clearly, he did a splendid job!

The thing I most liked about the tall bearded one was his acerbic wit and side-splitting evisceration of deserving pollies and other nefarious power brokers. There’s no more powerful literary weapon than satire and Mungo was the Aussie past master. His withering observations on dishonest John will be long remembered.

I recall Mungo having a go at the mean-spirited former PM at the Byron Writers Fest when he raged against Howard’s ignorance of the arts, noting that ‘the last time he went to the theatre was to have his appendix out’.  Good on ya Mungo. Rest in peace. 

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