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At “Rough-and-Bumpy.
At “Rough-and-Bumpy."  
 

Western Mail, Thursday 10 August 1933, page 2

At “Rough-and-Bumpy."

In the village of Rough-and-Bumpy (Rubempre it was printed on the war map) in the forward area lived Suzann. Chisleface, the padre's unsaved (and unshaved) dingbat, captured Suzanne's transient affections through the customers she got for Old Madame, her mother, by daily and nightly singing the praises of the estaminet vintage to his thirsty cobbers. Although he knew more about the roses of Picardy than its language - he couldn't parley a complete sentence - he enjoyed the long, cold winter evenings before the well-stoked stove in the little stone-paved boozer, and managed to tell the same old lie with his eyes and monosyllabic trench French, atrociously pronounced. He was happy, supremely happy though haunted at times with the usual fear that someone of higher rank and stronger pull would beat him for his ''tab.”

Chisleface's fear was well founded, for it soon became evident that the swaggering, mean-souled Quarter Bloke, who would not give you the steam off a bully beef stew and grudged a digger even the sniff of it, had also done his block on the village belle.

Time and opportunity for the indent autocrat synchronised with pay day Chisleface got blotto. The vin blanc and vin rouge had proved too heady; he had visions of quart-pot bosses and tyrannical lance-privates stalking along on horseback What he thought of them, and what he would do to them when they got back to civvy life were the themes of an eloquent and verbally illuminated address. The Quarter Bloke, with all the arrogance of his tribe, promptly "took the necessary action," and placed Chisleface under arrest. The next 14 days were spent by Chisleface in the Cafe de Clink, chewing the cud of an unphilosophic and remorseless resentment and feeding the physical fires with fray bentos and Anzac wafers.

In the enforced absence of his victim, the wily food controller made the going good. Three times a day he beat a pad past the Cafe du Chat Noir and circled to the back entrance, his haversack bulging with bully beef. If Suzanne had a passion it was for that army ration, and the Quarter Bloke built on her weakness. After two days he was home and dried at the maison, and was tolerated by Madame as an economic necessity.

On the fourteenth day Chisleface was shunted from Paradise. His first thought, naturally, was of Suzanne. When he presented himself on the sandbag mat at the front entrance of the estaminet his reception was as cold as that of his tale of a fanciful fortnight in the line. As with heavy heart and leaden feet he turned to the rival boozer he noticed that the table was piled high with dinkum Queensland beef and a supporting pyramid of fray bentos. He realised at once that he was a beaten man.

Hell hath no fury like unto a woman scorned, unless it be that of a digger bereft of his pro tem. innamorta. Chisleface's fury, however, remained inarticulate, and cooling off, he developed the hard cold determination of a Bulldog Drummond and Sherlock Holmes combined under the one tin hat. He got busy. He tracked the smiling and confident food controller on his nocturnal peregrinations. He bided his time. The moment came to strike. He dramatically broke in upon a touching scene as the Quarter Bloke was in the act of handing over a tin of beef to the eager Suzanne. The meeting was tense, though silent and without violence The evidence was complete.

Winter over, the warm days of spring followed; the twilights lengthened and Chisleface, no longer needed the comfort of the fireside at the Cafe du Chat Noir. He spent his evenings in the Cafe de la Oiseau Bleu. There was no better dressed digger in the battalion. He became a sartorial dream in his new strides (mounted service pattern), Fox's puttees, Aussie tunic, and dinkum Aussie Stetson. He breathed regularly an aroma that no longer pleased the olfactory organ of his boss, nor improved his popularity with his fellow dingbats - that peculiar aroma that comes from a supplementary army diet of rum and onions. Anything he required from the Q.M. store he got on demand and without demur.

While we remained at Rough-and Bumpy, and for a long time after, Chisleface was always ready to hold forth on the value of bully beef as inflated war-time currency - a point that may possibly appeal to politicians in these days of national emergency.

"Dingbat," Laverton