Jul 11, 2010

How Uncle Arthur Caught Crabs

In the depression years Uncle Arthur, Gretel's father's twin brother, would often drop in unexpectedly to Gretel's house with some crabs he'd caught in the swamp.

Like Uncle Arthur's manner of dress, his method of catching crabs was unique.

Dressed in his normal everyday clothes (man pictured on left), he'd wade into the middle of the swamp wearing his crab catcher's hat (also pictured). There he would wait humming quietly, till he saw some tell tale bubbles coming up from between the roots of the mangroves.

Then he'd freeze. His face would freeze, his hands would freeze, his body would freeze. For a moment he would become, as they say, "at one with the swamp."

Then, usually within a two minute period, if conditions were right, up from the bottom of the swamp, in a great concophanical mountain of bubbles would float, one, and sometimes two, big blue-swimmer crabs.

The crabs would float on the surface of the water, staring up into Uncle Arthur's weird blue eyes, till he'd scoop them up in his crab catcher's hat. Once in his hat they would struggle and click and clack their claws together like captured tabby cats waking up in the back of an Rspca van.  But of course, by then, it was too late.

Now Uncle Arthur claimed he had the rare gift of Crab Whispering - which, he said, was kind of like horse whispering and water divining - except you did it with crabs. And it was more fun because you got to eat the crab later. Which was hard with horses, because once you'd whispered a horse up, then the last thing you'd want to do was eat it. Or so Uncle Arthur claimed. And no-one would ever dream about eating their divining stick - unless they had good teeth.

Needless to say, Crab Whispering or no, his neighbours claimed something else, and had accused him on more than one occasion of 'being mighty friendly with some of the younger good looking horses' in their back paddocks - especially on moon lit nights when the horses were too scared to go anywhere near the swamp lest the drop bears get 'em.

Of course that was all horse rot and hear say and Uncle Arthur's best friend, Wodger C. Wurmold, happened to be a barrister of law. And that very fact, mentioned in a polite screaming match with Uncle Arthur's neighbours, was enough to put the knocker on any mention of his amorous horse loving antics - true or otherwise - that his neighbours might be claiming.

But, regardless of his equus amor vincit omnia,  the sad thing about Uncle Arthur was his pet rodent - which was named 'Doink', after his mother- in-law.

Now Uncle Arthur couldn't go anywhere without the illustrious "Doink". In fact Doink was prone to popping up here, there - and, embaressingly, everywhere.

Once in the soup, once in the apple pie, and, incredably, once in the front of Uncle Arthur's trousers - when he'd forgot to check them for either echidnas (which love to hide in trousers) or Doink.

Of course that latter case was the most innapropriate and it goes without saying that no more will be said about that episode - just that the entire church choir (where Uncle Arthur sang 'sub-baritone solo') stopped singing in the middle of Handel's Messiah when Doink poked his head from the front of Uncle Arthur's trousers.

Even the Queen Mother, who happened to be visiting Lower Cessnock Cathedral at the time, seemed suitably unimpressed....

But that, my friends will have to be another post (see "How Doink Met the Queen Mother" Uncle Arthur's Memoirs, VOl2. Page 345)

Thank you for looinking and watch out for Doink if you click for big!

PS This one for welovetoillustrate. An amazing concaphony of talent there be lies there!

Oh, I forgot to mention the flies, didn't I? Uncle Arthur was adept at catching flies. That's why you rarely saw him with his mouth shut.


  1. There are no limits to your imagination, are there?!?

  2. Thankyou Laura

    You are very kind - and have good taste :)

    Hello Janne - well, I remember well, it all started at 10.30 AM, on the 12th November 1989 when, on the island of Mooreaha, a large coconut fell onto the head of the man who was sitting next to me at the bar.... :)

  3. ahahah :D you and your mind are amazing, Andrew! my jaw was dropped on the floor (ahahah!) :)

  4. It's amazing how I needed a full minute before I stopped laughing completely and thought of a witty enough comment for this. (I'm still hearing an echo in my head, "Doink, doink, doink...")

    That Uncle Arthur must have quite a small circle of friends, what with a pet popping out here and there at odd places and on the wrong occasions...heheh. Poor man. Good thing he's popular with the young horses! :D :D :D

    My mind is blown away by the illustration. Unfortunately, quite 'fried' by the story...heheh. :))

  5. Hello, Andrew! What a story,what an imagination! Everything's so beautiful! You seem to be happy for having the complete freedom to write everything that comes up to your mind! (At least it seems so!) I like the names of your heroes... They suit them perfectly well! I won't ask you about the poor old "Hansel and Gretel" story... It's been obviously an incitement for your art... I can't afford it in my work! But I'm not sorry, no! I direct puppet plays for little children and my goal is to get them acquainted with the original fairy-tales... (I make some changes as well, it's inevitable!)So that they could understand the different versions or create their own when they grow up. Am I wrong?:-)P.S. Did you read my answer to your comment some days ago?

  6. Hey Amba! Thankyou for laughing, it makes me feel good :)

    And Amalia, hello :) Oh the forest is deep - well I think it is. It could be shallow you know. I'm sorry about Doink. I just had to tell it as it is !! :)

    Rossichka. Hi. Thankyou so much for introducing me to the Maestro. I'm sorry I did miss your reply but have seen the latest post.

    It's great that you do puppetry. No, you are not wrong in introducing children to the original versions - you are lucky to be able to find the originals.

    For myself, when I get time, I will write some original versions :) :)

    Hopefully the Grimm brothers won't get me. :)


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