Book Review ‘Sweet Jimmy’ by Bryan Brown

Background orchids image © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021 and photographed at The Tropic Gardener of Brisbane https://thetropicgardener.com.au/

I was absorbed and entertained all the way through this book.  Pared down storytelling, laced with moral ambiguity, shouting Australian crime noir.  Does author Bryan Brown know these blokes, hear good stories down the pub, or possess a very robust imagination?

Love his unabashed style ‘Clinton buys himself a pepper pie and a chocolate milk’.

Australians need no introduction to Bryan Brown, an actor of many characters in many movies around the world yet he remains true to his homeland (see ABC1 TV series ‘Old School’) and this new book of short stories highlight his considerable talent as an author.

It is refreshing to read a book of short stories which speaks to my generation of Australians: relationships, morals, turn-of-phrase, scenery, all genuine and if you can’t keep up that’s your problem – work on it.

Even if short stories are not your thing, be surprised at how well these work in such a compact way.

‘Sweet Jimmy’

Professor Leong asks why Frank missed his last counselling appointment.  ‘It gets in the way of my revenge,’ says straight-forward Frank. My favourite!

These men love their families yet, like Frank, they show questionable behaviour to avenge them.

The bookcover image, a Phalaenopsis orchid, ties-in with a story where both sides of the law are involved.

Alert – Sexist comment ahead…

From a woman’s perspective I thought Typical Males but I think from a male’s point of view the characters could be genuine mates in a bad place.  Not their fault, they scheme, they seek revenge.  They plot their way through sad, unjust or criminal situations which end with a tenebrous finale.

Also, there is one story I consider to be a Stephen King homage.

This compilation encapsulates the essence of crime fiction. Reminiscent of Peter Corris’ Cliff Hardy series, Bryan Brown plays it low-key but maybe one of his laconic blokes will soon score their own book. 

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

My Tree Orchid with Pink Flowers

Trees are dropping leaves to survive and the ground is like iron.  Just the other morning I watered my Dendrobium orchid and the long buds were tightly closed.  Drought conditions have sent the ants in all directions in search of sustenance but even they were absent.

In the afternoon I returned from lunch with friends and à la voile!  There was my tree orchid in full bloom!

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Springtime is not properly acknowledged in my garden until this orchid flowers.  It is always my September spectacular.

Australian orchids tend to be small, for instance the Cooktown Orchid which is the floral emblem of Queensland, but this species is large and robust.  The dull afternoon light does not do justice to its display.

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A semi deciduous pink-flowering orchid, it is ‘probably’ native to Australia, a Dendrobium Nobile, and in this case has been grown as an epiphyte – tree hugger.  It has been in the family for over forty years and needs basically no care at all.  The blooms have a very faint fragrance.

Why I say ‘probably’ native to Australia is because I always thought it came from the Pacific region.  In fact, originally its forebears came from northern India/southern China where it would have been quite used to extremes in temperature.

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Then I discovered hybrids have been produced.  These can be subdivided into two types, the ‘English’ and ‘Japanese’ type, and later I read this historical document courtesy of The Shambles, a country garden at Montville in south-east Queensland:

Dendrobium nobile  Reliable soft cane epiphytic orchid.  We have many unnamed flower colour varieties from mauve, pink and white range.  A trouble-free orchid flowering in spring.  Introduced to Britain c.1836 by Loddiges’ Nursery.  Requested from Loddiges’ Nursery on 1st February 1849 for Camden Park NSW Australia and obtained from them, brought out from England by Captain P. P. King in that year.  India www.qos.org.au 1A.1885, 13.1900/1,15.Camden Orchid walk, West Garden, near back stairs, Blue trellis garden, Rain forest walk.

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After reading the Wagga Orchid Society PDF (link below) and using a bit of guesstimation, years later my orchid could have been transported from the Riverina region of New South Wales, Australia, on consignment to a Brisbane plant nursery.

I now look at my tree orchid in awe and wonderment – such a lineage.

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The following shot was taken a few days later in much better sunlight.  There was a bee hovering around but it refused to be photographed.

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Gretchen Bernet-Ward

P.S. If you are interested in lovely flowers and picturesque settings in rural countryside, I can recommend a visit to the website and blogspot of The Shambles country garden, Montville, Queensland.

https://montvillegarden.com/
https://montvillegarden.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/montvillegarden
and further reading
http://waggaorchidsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Dendrobium-nobile-orchid-growing.pdf

The Shambles Monsieur Tillier Rose
The Shambles and ‘Monsieur Tillier Rose’