One man’s view
about the things
that really matter….
Stories that may
be strange, yet true,
from the Chaplain’s Travel Log….
Continuing the saga of ‘Bluey’
“When the Coppers finally got Bluey”
The series so far….
‘Bluey’ Jones was a ‘settled down’ Swaggie (more or less), – a drifter, that is, he occupied an old shack that had been abandoned years before in Blayney, NSW. He did casual work for an uncle of mine on his sheep station which was really just over the road from Bluey’s shack. Bluey was a good-hearted man in many ways who’d give you the shirt off his back (if anyone would have wanted such a disreputable garment), yet one who said he “didn’t need God, cos’ I’m orright” which was his favourite expression and pretty well summed up his whole philosophy of life.
This month’s episode.
It was the day before Christmas, and on this particular day, my uncle, Sam Marsden (his real name, but no relation to the man who was the second Chaplain of the colony of New South Wales), was sitting in his office at the far end of the long verandah of his old house, which had been built by his grandfather in the 1880’s, doing some accounts when the phone rang.
Sam answered with a vague, “Hello this is Blayney 156 (old days and manual telephone exchanges … this was 1954 if my memory serves me correctly). The voice at the other end sounded both terse, yet slightly embarrassed.
“Er, Mr. Marsden this is Sgt. ——– at the local police station. I’m sorry to disturb you, but I wonder if you would be able to come down to the station as soon as you are able…. (Uncle Sam was a very well-known and highly respected person in that town) … “er, you see we have a bloke here that we have had to arrest for a number of offences including resisting arrest and being, er, well let’s say ‘stubborn’ to my constable, and he has given your name as a possible referee and someone that might ‘go bail’ for him…”
Silence for a moment, then “I reckon that it’ll be Bluey Jones you’ve got there,,,,”
“Ah, yes, well, the character did give us that name but, well, we thought it may have just been made up you know…” the sergeant continued. “We get a few of these drifters who give us hurriedly made-up names, but yes… er, … you know him?”
“As well as anyone could I suppose” Sam said in a wearied tone. “Give me 10 minutes – I’ll get my cheque book and come down.”
Fifteen minutes, and Sam arrived at the police station.
“What happened?” Sam asked when the sergeant came out to the counter.
“Ah, Mr Marsden, we didn’t really want you to get mixed up in a situation like this,” the old sergeant almost stammered, “but, well, I hardly know where to start. You see my patrolling constable was travelling south- west (here the old ‘sarge’ lapsed into his best ‘Police-speak’ and began his explanation… “south-west along the mid-western highway about half way to Carcoar when he noticed a rather decrepit old vehicle wandering, that is, the vehicle was wandering, almost all over the road. My constable tried to flag him down but the driver probably couldn’t hear as the vehicle has almost no muffler, and the driver would not have been able to see him either as the vehicle has no rear vision mirror and as the vehicle was swerving the constable at first did not want to try to overtake him. Finally when he did manage to get level, the swerving vehicle almost knocked the constable off his police issue, Harley Davidson motorcycle. Not a pleasant thought you must realise. Here, this could take a while, better come into my office and I will explain there…”
Sam followed the old sergeant into his little office and sat down opposite the policeman.
“You must realise that I’m sorry to involve a leading citizen like you in all this, Mr. Marsden.”
“Sergeant, stop worrying, you know me well enough, since we both go to the same Church on Sundays, and besides, now we are in here, the name’s Sam”, uncle replied. “You’ve got me intrigued. Just what has the wretch actually done, then?”
“Well, when the constable finally got his attention, it took a long time for the vehicle to stop and he realised that it was very short on braking power. Upon examination the constable found that it not only has no brakes, but both of the rear tyres are worn down to the canvas, (old days again, before steel belted radials were even thought of), the windscreen wiper doesn’t even exist, the lights are very dim, and the windscreen has numerous cracks. And the steering!” the sergeant almost seemed to shudder, “the steering is so worn that it is a wonder that it even holds together! No wonder the vehicle was all over the road like a yard of pump water! The only things on the whole vehicle that can pass muster is that it has two near new tyres on the front.”
“Yes , well I bought them for him a couple of months back when he told me of a trip that he made to Dubbo.”
“But there’s more” the sergeant said looking quite angry now, “When he did manage to finally stop he wanted to fight the constable because he said ‘he hates Coppers and he wasn’t doing anyone any wrong!’ – I ask you…” but almost without taking a breath he continued. “The car has been left on the side of the road since it in such a deplorable condition. Oh, and by the way, the vehicle has no number plates or registration sticker. When the constable finally got back to the station here, we phoned the Department of Motor Transport in Sydney and as far as can be ascertained it has not been registered since before World War 2!
“So, what’s to be done?” Sam asked in a frustrated voice.
The offender had to be left at roadside while my constable came back to town, and our only wagon sent out to find him and bring him in. The local magistrate at the Petty Sessions in Bathurst can’t hear the case until some future date and so he’s in our one and only cell at the moment. I had to call out a JP. to hear the case and he remanded him without bail until we could get him before a proper magistrate. Sam, he’s a menace!”
It looked like Bluey’s stubborn and careless nature and attitude had finally landed him in a ‘lose-lose’ situation.
There was a long silence before Sam said, “I feel like refusing to help him this time. I’ve paid him well in the times that he has worked for me, not just in money but in kind. I’ve given him clothes and helped him with food and milk from our dairy, and some good cuts of lamb whenever we kill a sheep for the table. Even put some new tyres on his car. But he’s a real independent coot and won’t let on about things. I’ve even rescued him and that useless car when he drove into such a huge patch of blackberries that he couldn’t even open the doors to get out! …. Incorrigible! “, he continued after some thought. “But I can’t leave him in the cells. Despite whatever he has done I suppose that I’m the only person in town who even bothers about him.
Another silence. “Alright Sergeant, what’s the bail?”
A cheque was written and the sergeant called in ‘his’ constable and ordered him to go to the cell and to bring Bluey back to the sergeant’s office. Bluey stood with eyes looking at the floor, crestfallen and silent before the old policeman.
“Bluey Jones, or whatever your real name might be,” the old policeman almost thundered in his fiercest voice, “you have caused us no end of trouble; you have endangered the lives of many people by diving in that, that, rattletrap of yours; you have threatened one of my officers when he tried to apprehend you; you have brought shame and sorrow upon your employer who has gone out of his way to help you including coming down here this afternoon to put up your bail so that you did not have to stay in the cells. Do you have anything to say for yourself?”
Bluey shook his head slowly and in doing so finally noticed Sam sitting on the other side of the room. The sight of his sometime employer and benefactor suddenly seemed to hit him, hard, and his eyes not only began to fill with tears but sent two small ‘runs’ of water down his dirt ingrained face revealing two small lines of cleaner skin.
“Gee, I’m sorry Mr. Maarsden,” he said quietly, “I didn’t want t’ get yer inter this. I’m orright. I’ll get outa this, even if I have t’ spend some time in th’ clink – again”, he added ruefully.
The old sergeant, for all his experience in such matters didn’t know what to say, but Sam slowly stood and came across the room and put his arm around Bluey’s shoulders. He felt a distinct shudder in Bluey as if he didn’t know how to respond to this sudden act of, well, kindness.
“No-one’s ever put their arm around me before Mr. Maarsden even when I was a kid. I don’t know what to do…or say…” and here he gave a loud gasping, choking cry as if his heart would break.
“Sergeant do you think we could sit here for awhile, while I explain a few things to Bluey?”
”Yes, that will be alright” the old policeman replied quietly. For all his gruff exterior, the older man had a piece of gold at least in his heart.
“Bluey”, said Sam in a cracked voice “I don’t know how much you know about Christmas, but I want you to sit and listen – very carefully to what I’m going to say to you now.
“Orright Mr. Maarsden,” He said in a rather muffled voice.
“Bluey,” Sam began, “It’s almost Christmas, and I want to share with you something that I don’t think that you’ve ever heard before….”
”Awww, I do know about Christmas Mr. Maarsden, I got tort about ‘t wenn I w’s a kid. It’s about bein’ good’n all that.
“Wrong Bluey,” Sam answered sharply, Wrong! Very wrong. It’s just the opposite. It’s about people that you and I might call bad.”
Bluey’s face changed to a very perplexed look.
“Wot d’yer mean bad? Are y’ tryin to scare me or sumthin?”
Sam changed tack for a moment. “You’ve always told me that you don’t need or want God because you’re ‘Orright’ as you say. Well Bluey, you’re not ‘Orright’ and neither was I or even the Sergeant here. God has sent us a message. A message in a book that we call the Bible. In it he has said that we are all like sheep that have got away from their original yards and paddocks and have become prey or prospects for marauding dingos or other wild dogs. You know what I mean by that, since you’ve helped me with both mustering and repairing fences to protect the sheep. Now we are definitely like that. Like stupid sheep that have no thought of danger or consequences, and Bluey we are all in a mess.
In God’s message in another place he talked about how we can come back to him and he will forgive us and take us back into his flock. Now Bluey, you’ve often told me that you don’t need or want God. But the fact is He, wants you. That’s what Christmas is all about. Jesus came to this world like a shepherd looking for His lost sheep. In the country where He lived, being a shepherd was a dangerous job because of the many wild animals that wanted to take sheep from a shepherd’s flock. But He wanted us, even though we had rebelled and wanted to go our own way, and that’s why He wasn’t going to let danger stop Him. He loved us Bluey. Me, the Sergeant and especially you. Nothing you say or do can change that.
In another place Jesus said that He was like a good shepherd that was actually willing to die in order to protect his sheep.
It sounds like that up till now you have been hearing a wrong or twisted message about Christmas being for ‘good’ children or as a reward for those who have kept some religious law or duty. But that’s a distorted or reversed message Bluey, and you’ve been listening to that and not the real one.
Think about this. Why, why do you think I bothered to come down here to post bail for you? Why bother at all? To quote your own words ‘I don’t need you’. Why did I bother? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s because if I as a sheep farmer can care about sheep by going out in the middle of winter, (and you know how cold winters get up here,) to help a ewe or sickly lamb, how much more did God care for us stupid idiots who think that we are a mob of ‘self-made men’ and don’t need Him to pull us out of the ‘un-get-outable’ mess that we have gotten ourselves into in this mad world?”
Sam was speaking louder now and really showing Bluey how concerned he was for the man.
“Bluey, it’s nearly Christmas, why miss out on another opportunity to come to the Good Shepherd’s flock? Why not listen to his call now and come and receive a new start and life that will never end? We’ve got some spare rooms in the shearers quarters that have just been refurbished. Why not come with me now, share in Christmas with the rest of the family who are coming ‘home’ for Christmas and then, you can start on a completely new life – and,” he added slowly and deliberately, “I am prepared to write off the bail money and, speak and act for you before the magistrate when you come before him.“
Three, hardened, tough blokes from the bush sat in that room. None wanted to look up, but each tried to surreptitiously wipe their eyes before moving.
“Come on Bluey”, the gruff old sergeant said, “It’s just possible that between me and Mr. Marsden here we may be able to get the magistrate to accept Mr. Marsden’s bail money as a fine and that would be the end of it, provided of course that you are willing…”
Want to really understand the real reasons as to what Christmas is really all about?
Contact me, Neil Flower, Assistant Chaplain. 0408 216 401
1 Isaiah 53:6 “We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him (Jesus) the sins of us all.”
2 1 Peter 2:24-25 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
3 John 10:11-18 “I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd … lays down his life for his sheep.”
4 Psalm 95:7-8 & Hebrews 3:13-15 “If today you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…”