My life fades, the vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos, ruined dreams, this wasted land. But most of all, I remember the Pike and Musket Society, the group we called Routiers. To understand who they are we have to go back to the other time. When the re-enactment was powered by polyester, and the desert sprouted groups with gal and velvet. Gone now, swept away. For reasons long forgotten two mighty warrior tribes went to war and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all.

1973-76 Ford Falcon yellow "Interceptor" (Mad Max) clones ...
Kick it in the guts, Harry.
That’s me in the the driving seat. I think we burnt nearly as much oil as petrol.

On the roads it was a white-line nightmare. Only those mobile enough to travel to Melbourne, brutal enough to eat from highway cafes would survive to get to Monsalvat. The re-enactment clubs took over the highways, ready to wage war for history. Pierre, Sanders and Gross in the ISM Fairlane 302 with the Cleveland V8, Steve Roland and Greg House in the mighty House ute, the late Roley Dunkerley, Simon Fowler, Dave Rea and I in a run-down rent-a-wreck yellow XB Falcon Interceptor with a dodgy gearbox.

The House Ute in full woodwork machine moving rig.
The House Ute in full woodwork machine moving rig.

And in this maelstrom of decay, ordinary men were battered and smashed. Men like House, the combat Wombat. In the roar of an RSL curry, he lost everything, and became a shell of a man. A burnt-out, desolate man. A man haunted by the demons of his bowels. A man who wandered out into the wasteland looking for a khazi. And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to eat again. To understand who he was you must go back to the last days of the old world …

The ISM Fairlane
The ISM Fairlane

This is the remembering. The event at Monsalvat was held in 1984, fresh on the euphoria of the convention the previous October. The NVG were the hosts, I think the old Victorian Viking Society was there, and the Melbourne SCA, and from Sydney were the Macquarie Hackers and 1066.

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I can verify that Cardboard Chicken Man was there, wearing an ice cream bucket with an eponymous cardboard chicken crest. I can’t vouch for him being a member of the SCA, but that was the strong impression we were all left with. Entertainment was the lovely Heather singing the Scarborough Canticle, and Roy Castell reading a chapter from the Hobbit. The supplied booze was Steve Nic’s White Lightning, which accounts for the vision dimming. Food was a beast onna spit, the side dishes mostly seemed to come from the odd historical recipe (a 1965 copy of the Women’s Weekly Cookbook). There was more crushed velvet and spray painted knitted woollen “armour” than on the punters at a ‘Medieval Fayre’.

China Customized Plastic Ice Cream Bucket with Lid Manufacturers ...
Now comes with attractive chin strap!

Discussion turned to such abominations, and how we could do better, but it wasn’t until the trip home in Pierre’s car that plans were laid. For this reason, we only count those physically present in the ISM Fairlane as the founding members. The rest of us, they say, can only claim to be accessories to the few, the happy few…

Broken Gearbox Fun - PerformanceForums
Meanwhile, just this side of Goulburn

Coming back through Goulburn that night, Roley tried to grab a quick change to second, and shattered the gate. Only I could become one with the gearbox and do the changes to get home. It was my time to drive… again.

Pierre led us north… to safety – to a place in the sun… In the tenth year, nurturing his vision of a new world, Pierre married and resigned. The Captain and the Black Haaande waged war against the SCA for years… together they raised many musketeers…

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Pierre leading the Routiers on to Glory in 1989!
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Routiers, the Next Generation

House went on to many other things in many places, but up in the Pilliga, locals terrify travellers with tales of a disembodied bowel, roaming the scrub, snarling like a wild animal at night. The locals may laugh at the travellers, but they never, ever stop in the Pilliga after dark.

What of Roley? He continued re-enacting for many years, then went into a hermetic retreat. He’s gone now, earlier this year. Remember him… when you look into the night sky.

A beginner's guide to stargazing | Live Better

And as for me… in the fullness of time, I became a leader – the chief of the Blue Mountains re-enactors until someone put a black floppy hat on my head and handed me a pike…

As for Cardboard Chicken Man… That was the last we ever saw of him. He lives now… Only in our memories…

The Cardboard Chicken lives on…

With apologies to Monsalvat, the NVG, the SCA, 1066, the script writers of Mad Max and Mad Max II, the English language in general, and above all, our livers.

Being an Article on the Wisdom of 17th Century Military Rations and Their Appropriateness to the Modern Age
by David Green

A contemporary depiction of a plundering soldier.

A five-year long study has found that the nutritional guidelines used for the military and civilians in Australia seriously underrate the dietary needs of males doing arduous outdoor work, particularly in extreme climates.

This is not surprising in an effeminate age obsessed with ideological sound diets of tofu, lentils, brown rice, oat bran and vegetables; which diets perversely ignore the needs and desires of real blokes for meat and lard.

Chris Forbes – Ewan, of the food science branch of the Materials Research Laboratory in Tasmania (argh), said that the dietary guide-lines provided to the military did not take into account Australian climatic conditions, nor the strenuous demand of army training. He found that soldiers on exercises in the Snowy Mountains needed an average of 21,000 kJ per day, while those on manoeuvres in the tropics needed 19,500 per day. The recommended daily maximum is 16,900.

This disparity was causing the soldiers to feel faint and to perform poorly, as you might expect. Recently, with the knowledge that for standard exercises soldiers need about 17,000 kJ, the military diet has been “beefed up”. Reading this information in Food Australia, I was curious as to how the standard 17th century daily food issue stacked up to the demands of army life. A food technologist friend of mine made calculations of the following English Civil War period daily ration:

English Civil War Daily Ration

One pound of bread (454 grams) 4,500 kJ
One pound of meat 4,500 kJ
One pound of cheese 7,700 kJ
four pints of beer (2,400 ml) 3,000 kJ
Total 19,700 kJ

Bearing in mind the meat was often bacon, the kJ count would often have been higher. This amount is also what was issued and does not take into account such foods as were “garnered” along the march from nearby farm yards and village stores. As such, the 17th century soldiers diet, when it was issued, was reasonably adequate – as an English officer of the time observed “It is enough, cry the soldiers, we require no more!”.

I wonder if the doyens of the diet world, both civilian and military, would consider such a mighty feast for today’s hard-working men whether in uniform or not. I doubt it. I suspect there would be endless pontifications about the food value of pasta, rice, cereal, green vegetables and all the other crap which amounts to so much chaff and low grade filler – cow fodder if you ask me.