It is a hot gusty day in the summer of 1958, the sort of day that melts the tar on the road and brings the red dust down from the north. In the inner-city Adelaide suburb of Norwood, Mario Feleppa, twenty-eight and not long arrived in Australia, is fed up. Not with the heat – he is used to heat back in Italy – but with horses. Specifically, the horses that are stabled – surely illegally – in the vacant block next door. The stink of dung is ever-present, as are the swarms of flies attracted to it, and they can kick the dividing tin fence until it drives a person mad. Pia, his wife, is pregnant with their first child. Despite the heat, she stays indoors with the windows tightly shut against the smell, the flies, the noise. It is so bad that they can’t sit outside at night or invite friends over, and Mario is sure the indoor confinement is not doing Pia any good. He has found out the name of the owner of the block and has complained to the council, not once but several times. No action has been taken. On the Italian grapevine that flourishes in the back streets and market gardens of Norwood, he hears that the owner and the Clerk of Council are friends; in Mario’s experience this means that no action will ever be taken. He had thought that Australia would be different, but it seems that it is just the same as in Italy. Rules and by-laws are only for little people.
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Dr Ruth Starke holds Academic Status at Flinders University where she is the Editor, Creative Writing, for Transnational Literature. She has published over twenty-five books for young readers; her latest title is My Gallipoli (with Robert Hannaford), Working Title 2015.
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