Jan. 4th, 2013

farrandy: (Randy and Dogs)
So, a few months back (August, I think it was), I’m out doing some yard work when the postman comes by and hands me the mail. In amongst the bills and the offers to join the AARP was a special delivery letter. From Australia. I look at it again. Yeah, it’s for me.

“?” sez I.

I open it up and find that it’s from a fellow (or is “mate” the word I want? I’m afraid my ‘strine is a bit rusty) named Peter Purchase. He had apparently tried to contact me online but only had a very outdated e-dress, but somehow managed to find me in the real world. Anyways, he had written a novel, The Albatross Necklace: The Last Voyage of the Zuytdorp, (which, despite the sf/f sounding title, I gather is a mainstream novel about the slaughter of about 20,000 Australian aborigines in the early 1700s—and BTW, why does spell check not put a squiggly red line under Zuytdorp?). Somewhere along the line in the course of the novel somebody starts singing (you guessed it) The Dragon Song, and Mr. Purchase wanted make sure it was okay if he used the lyrics and if I needed any monetary compensation. I e-mailed him back and basically said, “Sure. How does 25 bucks and a copy of the book sound?”

Now, you might be wondering why I asked for so little money. Well, here’s the kicker; he sent me a page proof of where the song was used in the novel and while the spirit of the song in the book is definitely The Dragon Song, and it still scans to The Irish Washerwoman, well, um, not one line in the version he uses did I write. A couple are close, but nothing is identical. Since he went to so much trouble to find me, I’m assuming that the lyrics have just evolved in its journey to the other side of the freakin’ planet!

So why did I ask for any compensation? Because the intent of the song is close enough that, had I learned of it (hard to figure out how that could happen), and if I were that kind of person (which I’m not) I, or any of my descendants (I know, I won’t have any, but you get the idea) could sue him over it. He paid me for permission—nice and legal.

So yesterday in the mail, I received a package. It was the book, and a rather handsome thing it is; about trade paperback size, about 400 pages of not terribly large print on heavy high grade coated paper. This thing weighs around half a pound. It has a map of the world circa 1712, and etchings from the time period. And my name on the title page giving me credit for the song I, *ahem*, sort of wrote.

And (in case you were wondering) I got paid. $35.00 in Australian dollars (that apparently being the exchange rate for $25.00 American). Mr. Purchase said that he couldn’t get a money order and a bank transfer would cost more than $35.00, so he just sent cash. Which is actually way cool. Ever seen Australian money? Maybe it’s just a case of familiarity breeding contempt, but by comparison, our money looks so boring. Australian money is in color! Each denomination (a $20, a $10 and a $5) is a different size (which must be handy for the visually impaired), it has little clear window thingies in it, and has pictures of sailing ships and airplanes and machinery and camels(?), and people I don’t recognize—well, except for queen Elizabeth on the fiver (okay, Barbara recognized Queen Elizabeth,--I didn’t), but who the heck is Mary Reimer or A.B. “Banjo” Patterson (don’t answer that; I know how to use Google)? Can you imagine America putting someone nicknamed “Banjo” on its money? I can’t. Admittedly, there is a small part of me that wonders if I’ve been paid in the Australian version of Monopoly money, but if so, it sorta seems like poetic justice, in that it isn’t exactly the song that I wrote twenty mumblty-mumblty years ago. I don’t know if I’ll try and convert the stuff to American dollars or just hang on to it. I’m sorta leanin’ towards the later.

I’m still chuckling over how far that silly song has gotten. I mean, Australia? Really? At this point I don’t think I’ll be surprised if the Curiosity Rover starts beeping it back from Mars.


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