Burma Burnout, Myanmar Meltdown
by Warwick Newnham
They steamed mid-morning into the outer reaches of Singapore harbour having circumvented, where possible, the fleets of pair trawlers and gill netters and fish trawlers working from the shelf right up to the Port of Singapore Harbour port limits and with the ocean made from glass and gods’ own face shining down on them they formed up to a flotilla of green of squat modern prawn boats. They co-ordinated manoeuvres on Ultra-High-Frequency scramblers on company channels and High-Frequency sets are tuned as one to Radio-rock-n-roll-Singapore, Numbah-One-Pirate Radio:
Rolling Stones; ‘Loving Cup’
Gunners; ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’
Ramones; ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’
AC\DC; ‘Givin’ The Dog A Bone’
-The UHF dials in like a phone to scramble with an electronic squawk-
‘You get me on this one there Noddy?’
‘No Moose……..you can’t call me that now; I’m an ocean going master. Back 2 U’
‘Back to me Mr.-Captian-Mr.-Fucking-Noddy -Sir. Over ’
‘HAH……back to you’
‘I got a joke for ya’’ there ———hang on——here tis’
This bloke walked into a shop to see everyone crowded around a table watching this show and they’re going off laughin’ and clapping. On the table was an upside down pot and a duck tap dancing on it. This bloke is so wrapt he wants to buy the duck from its owner. ——————————–After some wheelin’ and dealin’ they settled for 1000 bucks for the duck and the pot. ———
Any way this bloke takes the duck home but fucked if he can get it to dance…..he feeds it…..he doesn’t feed it; he tries to scare it into dancing; nothin’ fucken ‘works.
After three days this blokes fucken’ had it so he storms back to the shop and fronts the owner and puts him on the thief.——————————————————————————————————–
“Dancing Duck! Your duck is a rip-off! I put him on the pot before a whole audience and he didn’t dance a single fucking step!” ——————————————————————————————
owner says “Did you remember to light the candle under the pot?
The crew lunches on the bow on sandwich and beers as they take in the sights of the harbour like day-trippers and tourists as a steady trail of empty green cans marks their progress as they pass super-tankers ‘Exoceted’ during the first Iraqi conflict with blast-holes big enough to drive a truck through anchored and moored with other vessels in like the great car-park of the ocean. Armed patrol boats pay passing interest and they come close enough to be offered six packs which are refused;
They anchor in formation in Thandoway Bay and await the arrival of the Burmese Immigration Officers and Military Officials and Military Intelligence Officers to board with the stamps and visas and clearances required for the boats to go to work.
They had been provedored in Darwin with cartons of B and H cigarettes and bottles of Johnny Red to grease the wheels of process but the officials take their own sweet – time with it all. Small wooden boats like sampans ferry the officials hither and thither with the asthmatic splutter of Yanmar two-stroke one cylinder diesel engines coughing soot and smoke as the official party make their boarding in a cast of thousands. They are greeted by four Australian men clad, at the skippers insistence as ‘he’d had plenty of dealings with Gooks’, in their underpants only. The officials are visibly shocked and stare down at the deck as they are shown to the galley to complete the paperwork required for visa processing. Passports are presented and stamped and the translator asks as the officials stamp forms in triplicate:
‘Could there be maybe some drink for us?’ to be met only with a mute stare from most and a grunted no from the skipper.
‘Perhaps maybe you have some cigarettes for us” and again grunted no’s and dumb stares.
The translator inquires again as to the possibility of tea and food and is again rebuffed with grunts and hard looks. The official party confer amongst themselves and express their shock and amazement at the hairy barbarians that have confronted them and the treatment that they had been subjected to. They agree to process the papers and expedite their ability to leave port and begin working if only for decency’s sake. Arrangements are made for the Burmese crew assigned to them to be transferred to them at sea by one of the other boats once cleared. The official party re-board the sampan and ferry off as the Australian crew start the main and pull the pick and begin steaming west-by-north-west towards the closest pensioner patch prawning grounds to begin haulin’ the trawl-in.
The skipper laughs as he retells the encounter on the UHF to the other skippers.
‘Yeah we’re not the prettiest looking bunch in our jocks ……………………………….so…………………………………………………. [Whistling noises]…….so I think they were just glad to see us off………………………………….…HAHAHAHA…………………………….. I told me boys I knows me Asians….Over’.
The remainder of the fleet hurries up and waits for clearance and Burmese crew and with shore passes issued and diesel as currency the Australian crews hit the only spot in town en-masse and gets on it. San-Yi-Win’s bamboo and thatch store is soon drunk dry of beers both domestic and imported and as the locals gather and marvel at the expense of this bacchanalia they move on to Mandalay Rum.
The crew feast on chickens slaughtered and fried fresh and spicy and at ‘Curfew’ the local Military Major en-camps en-entourage to escort the Australians to the wharf and sampans and back to their boats: He is plied with chicken and rum and cigarettes and the party drunkenly kicks on with skippers and crew dancing on tables watched through fingers by local children and grandparents and mothers and fathers and all. The crews laugh and grapple and as Noddy and Moose wrestle they overbalance and as Noddy attempts to stave his imminent fall by grasping at straws he tears down from the wall the household shrine.
They worked four-up through-out the night in into the morning until the prawns re-buried in the mud and the ocean bed becomes again an underwater desert of rolling sand-hills and mud-flats devoid of any sign of crustacean or life. They work as a team with scant regard to position as they sort and process and box and freeze the nights haul. The morning is grey and over-cast with intermittent deluges and down-pours of monsoonal rain and a slowly building, long and rolling swell pushing in north-by-northeast in from the Indian Ocean.
The radio scrambles.
‘Yeah …..You get me on this on Big-Fella? Over.’
‘Back to you Moose’
‘Where you been …….I‘ve been try’na get onto you for an hour. Over.’
‘Back to me Moose………..been out the back giving the boys a hand. Back to you.’
‘Yeah no worries…….anyhoooo we’re on our way outa’ town finally……..fuck me what a fuck around………..sooooooooo…..I got your Burmese crew here. Over.’
‘No worries Moose; thanks for that. Back.’
A transfer is organized and the Burmese crew are ferried from boat to boat via dingy as the trawlers idle along with the swell in tandem. As the dingy approaches the decky attaches tires and fenders to the lee-ward gunnels and waits with the engineer and first mate to assist the Burmese crew aboard. The swell makes the transfer problematic and several attempts are made before all crew are safely aboard. The Burmese look terrified and as they scramble on-board with their belongings in plastic bags and string-tied boxes they are accompanied by the un-mistake-able redolence of voided bowels.
‘You there Moose? Back.’
‘Fucken’ hell……..I think one of the Burmese shit himself in the tinny. Back.’
‘HAH……..yeah Johnny said he thought one of ‘em had let one rip on the way over……poor cunts……..prob’ly never done this kinda shit before…….prob’ly cant fucken’ swim……Over.’
‘Roger roger roger. Alright Moose cheers for that………………….[whistling]……no worries. Catch you tonight. Back.’
The Burmese crew are shown to their cabin which has been modified to accommodate four people instead of the usual two-up with lumber salvaged from flotsam in the Straits of Malacca and the cabin door as a base for the extra bunk. The deck-hand/cook whips up a feed for breakfast with eggs and bacon and beans on toast and rice as both crews squeeze in round the galley table and share a meal. Introductions are made as Burmese crew state their names and positions:
‘My name is Mi-Yen-Tay and I am Third Officer from MFV1. I am not very strong and my friend Sau-Aung will do my work for me’.
The skipper looks him up and down and says,
‘Is that right is it Minty?’
They worked the dragon toothed virgin waters of Gwa Bay and found the hook-ups and rip-outs by trawling them, destroying nets and gear as they fished the previously un-worked grounds and hauled in ‘Peneaus Monodon’, the black tiger prawn by the tonne. As they work the Australians drank to relieve the daily grind of twenty-four-houring until they have depleted the palette of duty-free beer they had bought with them from Australia.
They came ashore in their tinny and are met by soldiers with M16’s. The Australian and Burmese crews are escorted to the local Military Commander’s offices where they are held and questioned. Children watch the procedures aiming plastic machine-guns at the Australians as a price is agreed through negotiations between the military commander and the on-board Burmese observer. Phone-calls are made and deliberations entered into until Diesel is exchanged for beer and they spend the day drinking with the military commander and his troops. As the sun sets they are escorted back to the beach.
The days drag on as the trawlers work their way north from Gwa and Thandaway Bay to Kyaukphyu. As the monsoonal swells abate with the change of season the rains cease and the ocean becalms as glass. Small boats like sampans follow the fleet and fish-buyers purchase the by-catch for food and for drying as stockfeed. They are towed behind the vessels in-between shots and after winch-up and shoot-away they tie up alongside to and haggle over the price as the trash fish is measured up by the bushel and basket-load and prices are set according to specie and composition. The trawlers are paid in local currency and at times account for millions of khat 1which is used to buy beers and cigarettes and women and food and drugs as well as to pay both the official and un-official Burmese fishermen on-board. The Australian crews take full advantage of being able to sell their discard and a basic rate of exchange for necessities is set at one luggy or bushel or basket of fish being equal to:
A can of imported beer, or
- A packet of imported cigarettes, or
- A football sized bundle of weed wrapped in banana leaf, or
- A vial of number four china white, or
- A woman for the night, as many men, as many times.
- A vial of number four china white, or
- A football sized bundle of weed wrapped in banana leaf, or
- A packet of imported cigarettes, or
Some vessels have up to sixteen Burmese crew onboard with the four official MFV crew and observer and the rest local fishermen taken on as boarders to perform the tasks that the educated MFV boys look down their noses at being the sons of generals and police chiefs and politicians awarded sinecure. There is segregation between crews with differing meal-times and menus for the Australian and Burmese crews due mainly to numbers and differing gastronomic tastes. One vessel operates differently, democratically where the crews both Burmese and Australia work, eat and party together as one. They have no boarders and the MFV crew work along-side the Australians for a fifty percent share of the fish money divided according to rank with the remainder paying for beer and cigarettes and food for all. They eat as one crew with meals alternates between Burmese and Australian cuisine with the constant being the boiled rice that accompanies every meal. It is the only all male crew in the fleet and they work hard and party harder earning the vessel the moniker of the ‘awful-mess’ in reflection of the inevitable food fights at the tie-ups they participate in.
The fleet of 10 boats all up is serviced and fuelled and provedored by a barge operating out of Penang and every three weeks the fleet converges into the nearest port to off-load the catch. As per the share fishing venture all catch must be accounted for and immigration officers and military intelligence and MFV officials descend upon the fleet in a cast of thousands; inevitably nights are spent with all crews on the piss and running amok.
The ‘Awful-mess’ kicks on with beer and rum and marijuana rolled into the local ‘cheroot’ cigars. They party with the cast of thousands with their local fish-buyers and the ‘chicken women’, one-by-one as many men as many times, the crew and a lone Immigration Officer who has inexplicably stayed on-board resplendent in his uniform and sense of entitlement. The stereo blasts Rock-And-Fucken’-Roll and Gansta’ Rap with early seventies Stones ‘ Loving Cup’ and the racially charged rage of ‘Niggaz Wit Attitude’s ‘Fuck The Police’ alternating with Burmese favourites; sugary renditions of Rod Stewarts ‘Sailing’ in ‘lingua franca’ et al.
The deck-hand-slash-cook spars with his number-one boy Sau-Aung for fun and in the flurry of ‘quick hands boys quick hands’ he hunches and covers and charges in with upper cuts till he can grapple and using his weight advantage finally wrestle him to the ground. They rise laughing and link arms over each- other’s shoulders in camaraderie.
‘Mr Wally……I just want to say………you very beautiful. Very Beautiful Man.
‘Look out there young-fella’. I think he’s taken a shine to you.’
The Burmese Immigration Officer throws his weight around ordering locals off the boat and facing up to the Australians with finger points and ‘Hey you’. The On-Board Burmese Observer attempts to remonstrate with him and plies him with beers as Lethal [for the venom in him] and Orca, the Australian engineer and first mate tell him to:
‘Fuck off mate…..this tin can is Australia, not fucking Burma……you got nothing….you put that fuckin’ finger in my face again cunt and shit is definitely gonna’ happen!’
The skipper, sensing impending carnage, takes charge and raiding the medical cabinet mickies the immigration officer with beer laced with Serapax and Mogadon until he collapses face down on the galley table. They grab him arms and legs and take him out to the back deck where they one-two-three swing him and attempt to throw him up onto the trays but he balances momentarily on the lip of the tray before toppling and crashing face first onto the deck. Recovery position achieved they leave him there and the party kicks on and moves up to the wheelhouse where due to a mal-functioning air conditioner they have removed the ‘clear-view’2 allowing some air flow.
Hours later the Immigration Officer regains consciousness and spastically climbs the stairs from the back-deck to the wheelhouse where he attempts to gain access only to have the wheelhouse door shut repeated on him with his head as the door stop. He staggers around to the front of the wheelhouse and goggle eyed and drooling inserts his grinning head in through the clear-view to rejoin the party.
Five years previously this Immigration Officer had jailed their local fish-buyers and these brothers ask first; ‘he no remember this tomorrow’ before taking turns at open handed bitch slapping his face back and forth, dancing victory jigs in-between slaps. The Australians roar with laughter till tears roll down their cheeks and they exhort the brothers;
‘Gwwwannnnnn’…………hit him again……Yeah. That’s it’ until the Immigration Officer finally passes out again and collapses onto the fore-deck. The brothers race outside and hitching up their longyis3 they urinate over the immigration officer as the Australians laugh and laugh and laugh, holding their sides and gasping for breath with the raucous hilarity of it all.
In the pre-dawn light the immigration officer regains consciousness and commandeering a fish buyer’s sampan goes ashore where he shits, showers and changes his uniform for a fresher one before returning to the ‘awful-mess’ mid morning; his shoes are on the wrong feet, his buttons in the wrong holes and his fly gapes open. He approaches Lethal the engineer and giving him the big finger pointing as he declaims loudly; ‘Hey You’.
‘I fucken’ told you ‘bout that ‘Hey You’ shit last night’.
‘Sorry, sorry…….I just want to say……..last night…………very best party I ever go to.’
They spent the following day in town stocking up on victuals and the necessary luxury of cigarettes and potables and drinkables. The Burmese On-Board Observer asked if they would like to visit the local Buddhist monastery to meet the head monk and tourists and day trippers the Australian crew agreed. Sua, the numbah-one boy is sent back to the boat on a sampan to collect frozen reef fish caught in the trawl from the freezer as and offering for the monks as the Australians and the on-board observer drank beers at the beach bars.
Sau arrives with the fish and they commandeer rickshaws from the run up the hill to the monastery though the Burmese rickshaw-riders refuse to take the Australians two at a time so they travel up-hill as a small fleet. The rickshaw riders transporting the Australian crew one-up call to the others transporting the Burmese crew by twos and complain loudly of the weight as their roped legs pump their loads up the hill;
“One has his longyi tied as a woman!”
and so on until the Burmese On-Board Observer rebuked them roughly and commandingly in burmese and they pedalled faster in silence.
They take tea with the Head Monk and the Big-Fella as the skipper and master offers up the frozen fish in offering and with the on-board Burmese observer translating they are thanked and welcomed. Lethal, ever the engineer, stays outside the monastery and as they take tea in the heat of the day cross-legged sat on the polished teak floor in silence they hear the shouts and laughter of the eight year old apprentice monks whilst the Head Monk smiles. First –mate Orca looks about the teak rafters and beams and walling and whistling says;
‘There must be a fucking fortune of wood here!
only to be told by the Bigfella to
‘Shut the fuck up cunt it’s like a fucking church in here!’
The decky-slash-cook laughs like the Young-Fella that he is and when the observer is questioned as to why the laughter by the head monk he spends minutes relating the exchange to the abbot who guffaws and pounds at his legs in paroxysm of laughter and joy.
As they leave in their fleet of rickshaws they are chased by a tribe of eight year old boys, all shaven headed Buddhist novices, all giving them both middle Fingers and Laughing and Yelling
Just the way they had been taught by Lethal.
They left town as the sun set and steamed west into the receding light. The helm is manned by the Big-Fella, and with he and the observer and the decky –slash-cook sharing beers he calls up Noddy who is already out working having restocked with his necessaries.
‘Do you get me on this one there Captain Noddy?’
‘Any trys out there?…………..Back to you.’
Hang on ………just gotta whack up the try-gear……………………………………I mean whack one ……………………………………….
The Burmese on-board observer tunes the high frequency set to Burmese fishing channels and he chats in ‘linga fra’ with the Burmese MFV fishing fleet as he laughs and jokes and gets the lay of the land. He councils heading north towards the border with Bangladesh where he hears of catches and MFV vessels catching their monthly totals in days allowing them to sit in port and sell the rest of the month’s fuel for pure profit.
They head north till squalls whip up the ocean and shooting away and trawling seems a better option than punching through the building swell. The gear is put on the bottom and they trawl with the weather for comfort.
Every boat has its’ ghosts; they open and close cup-board doors and cause baskets of chains heavier the safe-maximum-working-load of even a couple of deckies to leap about the deck-store splitting drums of corrosive cleaners and de-greasers. On nights such as this when squalls lash and whip at the boats and the radios are whistling with wind-screams they creak in the cabins and moan in the rigging and rattle the chains in the anchor locker. In seas to two and a half meters with wind-gusts to thirty and sometimes forty knots they burst hydraulic lines and seize blocks and the crew are left hanging upside down, hanging on by their toe-nails and undoing shackles with their teeth, trying to just get the gear back on the bottom.
The Burmese fishermen have a sea entity that is so old that everyone has forgotten his name. These Buddhist fishermen gather on the bow and offer him libations of dark Mandalay rum and the slashed up throat and blood of a young goat to appease his darker impulses and to quieten the keening ghosts aboard this boat. Australian fishermen join them to feast on roasted goat -flesh washed down with rum as they too recognise the mutuality of their shared superstitions and beliefs.
The boats trawl on as the decky-slash-cook brings the skipper a cup of coffee.
‘Thanks Young Fella’.’
‘No problems……….hey can I make a rad-call1? It’s me Mums birthday.’
‘Mate…….fucken’……. go for it.’
The decky tunes the radio to the twenty mega-hertz frequency on the High Frequency set and puts in the call through:
‘Perth Radio, Perth Radio, Perth Radio; Victor-India-Papa. This is Victor Whisky Mike Zulu. How do you read me Perth radio?’
‘Victor Whisky Mike Zulu
This is Perth radio reading you five by five.
He gives them the number and they connect him to a land-line a half a hemisphere and a world away and he waits as the radio rings and rings, and rings and……
‘Hey Mum it’s me…..this is a radio telephone call so only one of us can talk at a time so you gotta’ say what you want and then say over to let me know that you’re finished. How did you go with that? Over.’
‘Ooooooh .It’s. Over. You. Over. How. Over. Are. Over. You? Over.’
‘Yeah I’m good Mum but you don’t need to say over after every word just when you’ve finished speaking so I know it’s my turn………Happy birthday………how are you? How’s Dad? Over.’
‘ ohhhh I’m well enough Over. And you fathers haemorrhoids are getting better Over. I didn’t even know you that knew when my birth-day was? Over.’
The trawl becomes fast upon the ocean bed and hooked up the trawler lurches to the star-board side as auto-pilot alarms sounds and the skippers yells:
‘I gotta’ go Mum……..love you…..happy birthday.’
The decky races down to the back-deck to engage the winches and haul the gear back from the depths as the HF radio squeals and squelches and whistles with his mother calling out,
until the skipper switches it off.
They racked the wrecked gear and steamed into a near-by lee cove sheltered by cliff faces on either side to wait out the squall and mend the broken trawl. The MFV boys go to it with Orca and the Young-Fella, Lethal and the Big-Fella; they change nets quickly and break out the beers and rum to wait out the storm. The Burmese On-Board Observer know the Police Chief of the village up-river from here and tuning the High Frequency radio he puts through a call and in long practised conversational coding places the order for the evening’s entertainment:
More beer and rum
And chicken women
One by one.
The radio whistles wind-songs.
The party kicks on and by the time the local Police Chief arrives in his sampan both crews are blind-drunk and covered in flour from food fights and the chicken women initially baulk at coming aboard fearing they were ghosts but are peremptorily ordered aboard and they too are dusted with flour to join the bacchanalian throng. Drinks are dispensed and the Burmese On-Board Observer introduces the local Police Chief to the Skipper and Australian crew, according to rank, and he is plied with money, cigarettes and first one beer and then rum and welcomed him to the party; before long he too is drunk and dusted white with flour.
The Big–Fella dances naked on the table with the chicken women bought especial for him and the Burmese cast of thousands, with coppers and chicken-women, fish buyers and MFV crews, laugh hysterically . Mi-Yen-Tay, Third Officer from MFV asks:
‘I just want to say……Australian penis….so large.
Burmese penis……..so small.
How to make…?’
He is told to wait right there as the Young-Fella goes to the deck-store and returns with an 8 tonne towing shackle and a length of net twine.
‘Alright get up here on the table minty’
When the drop has been measured and the twine attached to the shackle and a slip-knot tied to the other and bitter end the Young-Fella tells minty :
‘Flop out your cock
Stick the loop round your cock….
Pull it tight..
Now you see this shackle?’
as he lets it fall the length of the drop. Mi-Yen-Tay Third Officer from MFV dances from foot to foot and cries;
‘Mr. Wally!!!! So pain ……..so pain!!!!!’
as the Burmese cast of thousands, with coppers and chicken-women, fish buyers and MFV and Australian crews, laugh hysterically with tears cutting channels through their flour dusting as minty is told;
‘Nah minty….you gotta’ leave it on for it to work!’
They party as one till well on into the long night.
The Young-Fella came too on the wheelhouse floor wearing only a longyi which he had pulled up over head shielding his eyes from the early morning light. He is covered still in the fine talc of flour through which have been drawn many Burmese tattoo’s in indelible black marker. He has concentric circles and seven headed horses, arrows with Xs marking the spot and Buddhist spells and incantations interwoven with mythic birds and tigers.
He had gone to the wheelhouse chasing privacy and the dragon and had indulged to unconsciousness.
Squalling winds still whistle through the rigging and the High Frequency radio pops and squeals and screeches in unison with the wind until he is finally unable to bear the noise any longer and rises, groaning and retying his longyi, and switches the radio off.
He staggers out of the wheelhouse and hoisting his longyi pisses over the bow rails as the wind takes it sideways along the hull. He sees that the fish-buyers’ sampan is still tied up alongside; it j
ostles gently on the lee swell and bumps rhythmically against fenders. He looks to the engine room hatch where Lethal seems to be wrestling with something behind the trays so he climbs the ladder down to the back-deck to see what is going on. As he rounds the process gear and conveyor he sees Lethals’ head straining back above the top of the tray with his eyes firmly closed and the muscles like cords in his neck as he strains.
The young-fella asks;
‘What’s happening Lethal?
But Lethal is blind, deaf and mute as his work and the young-fella thinks;
“He is fucking one of the chicken women”
as he continues alongside the tray for a look and a laugh until rounding the end of the tray he sees a small Burmese [child?] bent from the waist, head down with the engineer backed in close behind and
it is only with the jostling in the lee swell and the bumping against the fenders that he realizes that they are fucking.
He returns quickly to the deck-store and selecting a rusted thirty-six inch Stilson pipe wrench from drum of tools and charges back down alongside the tray until rounding the end of the tray with Stilsons batter up and Lethal’s eyes open as he waves his hands and screams;
IT’S Not What You Think !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’
As the Young-Fella sets his weight and-
Connecting In A Welter Of Blood And Teeth And Flesh!
The skippers is awakened by the
noise as the ‘Stilsons’ batter at
the body lying on the deck and
he continues alongside the tray
for a look until rounding the end
of the tray where he sees the naked
burmese cabin-boy cowering at the
gunnels and the battered body
of the engineer and the bloodied
apparition of the ghosted deckhand
swinging yet again and as
he snatches the ‘Stilsons’ they shout as one;
‘WHAT ARE YOU FUCKING DOING?’ ‘HE WAS FUCKING A FUCKING KID!’
‘You heard me!’
‘Any-one else up?’
‘I HEARD YOU!’
‘Help Me Get Some Chain!’
‘Switch the deck-wash on and grab some degreaser and a broom.’
Dedicated to the fallen;
And all the Robbies.
1 Uchchaihshravas: Buddhist seven headed horse rising from the churning ocean.
1 Radio telephone call.
1 Khat: Burmese monetary unit.
2 Circular metal framed spinning metal framed glass plate which centrifugally clears rain water allowing a ‘clear view’.
3 Burmese sarongs
1 Myanmar Fishing Venture
WP Newnham was born in Melbourne in 1965 at the Royal Women’s Hospital and whisked away from his mother as part of the white stolen generation policies where un-wed mothers were stripped of their children. He was adopted and raised all over country Victoria having at age 17 lived in 11 different houses and attended 9 different schools. At a grade 6 literacy test he read at a university level and when matriculating he won the schools humanity score prize. His attendance at university was sporadic.
WP Newnham hitchhiked around Australia working as barman, bum and waiter; slaughter hand, deckhand and master spending 25 years working in the Northern Prawn Fishery. He has travelled extensively in south-east Asia, the Americas and Japan and speaks market-place Indonesian with some fluency.
WP Newnham has had stories published the seminal Melbourne literary magazines ‘Nocturnal Submissions’, ‘Overland’ , ‘The Lifted Brow’ and ‘Meanjin’. ‘Full of Crow’ and ‘Gapped Tooth Madness’, 2 magazines out of California, have also published his stories, making him an internationally published author. Ben John Smith is a big fan and has published 6 stories on his ‘Lits and Tits’ website ‘Horror Sleaze Trash’ . ‘Going Down Swinging’ and ‘Elohi Gadugi’ have published his stories 2014 whilst ‘Street Cake’ and ‘Gone Lawn’ have accepted stories for publication in 2015. He has finished writing a novella called “Fuck You; Hemingway” and is looking for a publisher.
He lives in Brisbane, Australia with his partner and 2 blue-heelers.
WP Newnham has written 6 books of short stories, 1 novella. He has burnt 3 of these manuscripts with only remnant scraps remaining where held by friends and still existing. The four remaining books:
- ‘BOMBED IN HIROSHIMA’
- ‘TRAWL TRASH’
- ‘FUCK YOU; HEMINGWAY.’
Still await recognition and publication.
‘These stories speak to character and choice. Obligation and duty are given and the choices made according to need and want are not always wisest as accounts add up and balances are inevitably reached: the universe holds no mystery it just is as it is and ever shall be.’