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The rise and fall of Saveloy Selassie

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Tutorial #1 for 2014.  Copyright; The Bucket History Academy


Saveloy Selassie was born in the Abyssian (now Ethiopian) village of Dabora  in 740 B.C., the only child of peasant farmers Bradworz and Awina.  We know very little about his childhood except that he had very large flat feet (a genetic inheritance, possibly from his maternal grandfather) and recurrent inflammations of the septum.

An itinerant tutor arrived at Dabora in 722 B.C. and recognised a studious intelligence in Saveloy so he taught him how to write in the Semitic boustrophedon style. (First line from right to left, and the next line left to right…etc ) but it soon became apparent that the young man was more interested in physical activities.

The Semites had only recently brought news to Dabora that the Greeks were conducting the Olympian Games at the Sanctuary of Zeus in the Peloponesus, so in 720 B.C. Saveloy set his heart on competing in the Dolichos, a race run over a distance of 15120 feet.

He started training immediately.  Wearing the brand new pair of over-sized sandals woven by his mother from papyrus reeds he ran all the way down to the headwaters of the Blue Nile and began to wade across it.  To his utter astonishment he found that he was able to walk across the surface of the water.   Science had not yet come to understand the principles of buoyancy afforded by air trapped within the cellular structure of papyrus, but it must have felt exquisitely uplifting so Saveloy continued his way across the river.

A group of women who were washing loincloths on the opposite bank  could hardly believe their eyes as they watched him striding athletically toward them barely creating a ripple. The village elders had always spoken of a man with supernatural powers who would one day come back to their village and lead the people to Elysium, their legendary paradise.  The women gathered around Saveloy with awe and anointed him with oil of cloves before decorating him with garlands made out of orchid and lablab flowers. Then they escorted him back to their hamlet of Drodo.

After hearing the women’s story, everyone in the village milled around Saveloy, some reverently bowing down before him and others dancing and chanting incantations and festooning him with gilded silk scarves and shiny trinkets.

The elders had been right.  This was the Promised Man and He had returned to them, the chosen people of Drodo.

Word of His arrival soon reached all the neighbouring villages. Men, women and children came and sat cross-legged before him, awestruck by his presence and the timbre of his sonorous voice.  Teenage girls swooned. The infirm and insane gathered in the hope of being healed. The elders then promised Saveloy ‘three fatted virgins and a sacred jade tiara encrusted with diamonds’  if he would just show them one more time how he was able to walk on water.

And so it came to pass that Saveloy, accompanied by hundreds of adoring followers, walked with saintly gait back down to the Blue Nile, stepped off the bank and sank in twenty feet of water.  He was never seen again.

The women wailed and wept as they returned to the village.  They gathered up the moist clay from where they had so recently washed and kissed Saveloy’s feet and they moulded an ornate altar from the very earth where he had been sitting.  The men built a shrine around it and blessed it with sprinklings of holy water distilled from hippopotamus urine.

Then on top of the altar they reverently and respectfully mounted the sandals which Saveloy had forgotten to put back on.

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The pursuit of Marilyn

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Memories of Dookie Agricultural College 1965-67

Times have changed.  Australia no longer values agricultural education and many of it’s colleges and research stations have been closed.  I retain fond memories of my alma mater and there remains a strong bond between my classmates to this day.
We share something very special.  Australians call it mateship.

The residential college on 6000 acres of land was located 20 miles from the nearest town of Shepparton.  As 16 – 22 year-olds most students possessed drivers licences and a few even owned cars.  (Indeed the college provided driving lessons and licence testing as part of the curriculum.)

However, possession of any of the following items on campus could result in immediate expulsion.

1. A car
2. Alcohol
3. A girl, having been, or in the throes of being, or even in the vague hope of being, biblically known.

You might think that 200 young men confined in such circumstances would revolt against the system, but the 1960’s in rural Australia were much simpler times.  There were no recreational drugs.  I was not even aware that such things existed.  The only electronic devices were a communal black and white television in the dormitory common room, and our own transistor radios.
There was just one telephone for student’s incoming calls and a couple of public payphones.

Hitchhiking was our primary means of travel, to Shepparton or Benalla on weekends, or longer trips home during holidays.

Dookie College blazer…after 47 years the blazer is in far better condition than the model. Made by “Ashmans of Bendigo, The home of better suits. This garment is the work of skilled hand-craftsman”

The distinctive Dookie College blazer was recognised by motorists throughout Northern Victoria, and although it was a long walk to get to the Midland Highway, once there we were guaranteed rides to almost anywhere in the State.

There were six agricultural colleges in Australia’s eastern States
(Roseworthy, Longerenong, Dookie, Wagga, Hawkesbury and Gatton) separated by a distance of 1500 miles, and an intense rivalry existed between them in two fields of human endeavour;

A.  Inter-collegiate sports held annually.
B. The pursuit of Marilyn.

I have no idea how these Marilyn shenanigans commenced, but by 1965 they were well established.

When I arrived at Dookie there was a framed print of the famous Marilyn Monroe 1953 Playboy Magazine photograph hanging in the dormitory common room.  Junior students were instructed to guard the picture against theft because it had become traditional for other colleges to mount expeditions at unexpected times to steal the picture as a mark of collegiate superiority.

The picture vanished from Dookie soon afterwards and students at Wagga Agricultural College in New South Wales advised that they now had possession.  The only rule was that the picture had to be hung in the publicly accessible common room of each college, so a car (illegal expulsion-threatening) load of Dookie boys then drove many hours through the night, stole the picture back, and were rewarded with hero status upon their return.  We all once again basked under the warm glow of Marilyn’s magnificence until some other little bastards came and stole it once more.

During my three years at Dookie, Marilyn traveled thousands of miles around Australia in the grasp of some of the finest specimens of young Aussie manhood imaginable.

These were times of simple pleasures, many of which will come to light and be magnified tenfold at our 50th anniversary reunion in 2015.

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Dookie College staff 1965

Dookie College float being prepared for Melbourne’s Moomba Parade circa 1966.

Dookie cricketing legends….or NOT, as the case may be.

GOF the Entomologist

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In January 1965, I was one of a hundred pimply-faced teenage boys who entered the portals of Dookie Agricultural College in rural Victoria, to be unceremoniously delivered, like lambs to the slaughter, into the hands of senior students for 2 weeks of bastardisation initiation and orientation.

This practise was to be outlawed a few years later when some
do-gooding spoilsports pointed out that teenagers were actually being killed during similar rituals elsewhere in Australia.
Death, as they so cogently suggested, was more often than not, a deterrent to satisfactory completion of a course of education.

One of the less radical methods employed to ensure that we got very little sleep for 14 nights in a row, was the allocation to each one of us, by our masters, of an unusual and bizarre research subject, about which we were required to write one thousand words.

A week later, one at a time, we stood in front of our assembled peers and a panel of terrorist judges up to midnight and beyond, to read our discoveries out loud.

Anyone detected smiling or otherwise enjoying an oration was immediately sent on a four-mile run to the bottom corner of the bush paddock to sing our newly-learned College Song to a big old gum tree which had probably witnessed this sort of juvenile shenanigans for at least the previous 40 years.

My special research subject was;

"The mating habits of flies on heat".

Now I don't know about you, but my knowledge of this subject at the time was infinitesimal.  You are now older than I was, so you probably  know a great deal more.

After writing 1000 words on my topic in the studious sarcasm-free style to which you have become accustomed here in The Bucket, my total knowledge about flies bonking was still somewhere around zero. 

Accordingly, I stood on the rostrum to deliver my poorly-researched discourse with some scholarly authority. 
Unfortunately at some stage during the performance a judgment was made that my face had betrayed the brain's serious intent.

Natural history does not record whether the Old Gum Tree, or the nocturnal creatures resident within it's boughs appreciated my 1 am solo baritone interpretation of the College Song, two verses of which were;    

"Godiva was a lady,
 Who through Coventry did ride,
 Upon a snow-white horse
 To show off her lily-white hide. 

 The only ones to notice,
 That she was upon a horse,
 Was one blind man, the MG boys,
 And the Dookie boys of course."

Well OK, I know this is not Chaucer, Wordsworth or Frost, but hey this was an Agricultural College, not some hallowed seat of learning for English Literature.

Credit where it is due.

At least wherever I travel in the world and come across naked women riding horses I am doubly well versed on appropriate etiquette and how to behave with propriety.

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