A farewell to ancient canvassing and old lace

| June 10, 2016

The Dunlop Volleys were an adventurous pair, going where others feared to tread. Leicester Warburton shares fond memories of a quintessential Australian icon.

I buried two old and dear friends yesterday – Fred and Mavis Volley. They came from the little town of Dunlop, just 13 kilometres south of Brewarrina. Everyone knew – and loved – the Dunlop Volleys. After all, the Volleys were so generous and forgiving – always prepared to foot the bill.

They knew good times – once! But as the months went by and under the demanding requirements of good and bad seasons and after several encounters with muddy roads the patina of aging was starting to show, especially on Fred. He was always a bit of a Left-winger, and sometimes he had an uncomfortably loose tongue. Mavis, on the other foot, was always Right. She continued to show tight-laced composure most of the time except for the morning when she wasn’t ready when the town’s lone Uber called one hour early to take them to legitimise their union. She hadn’t even begun to lace up.

They were an adventurous pair and often went where others feared to tread.

Fred was always the more flexible one. He was nearly always ready to toe the line. Mavis was so much the forgiving sole. I’ll never forget how she choked back sobs when a brick fell on her toe and Fred hot-footed for help.

Did I tell you that Fred was proud of maintaining his local council functions? Often when Mavis was searching for a lace it was Fred who assured her that the eyes have it!

Far be it for me to canvas sympathy for the Volleys. They trod their path. Stood firm – most of the time. Learned how to sock it to ‘em.

They died as they lived, quietly, modestly, and resolutely atheist – no inner soles to set free. No ostentation. No pretentiousness. And no last rites. Only last wrongs.

In fact, pretty bloody embarrassing really.

It was time they went.




  1. Max Thomas

    Max Thomas

    June 17, 2016 at 12:52 am

    Volleying to and fro’

    Nice one, Leicester. Well worth showing some appreciation. I play Keen-Agers table tennis and, far from becoming extinct, old volleys appear from all directions. There is even the (very) odd captain's cap at the apex of the ensemble, I suppose in remembrance of some half-forgotten nautical adventure. If you can envisage tilting at windmills with a Ping-Pong bat, you will see that all was as it should be in 'La-La' Land, until recently, that is. The powers that be decided to replace the wooden playing surface with a shiny new synthetic one in bright red. Worse, they hung signs all over the place demanding that only non-marking footwear would be permitted, no matter how nimble or fleet of foot the wearer may (or may not) be. Sadly, the Volleys have retreated back into dark garages, wardrobes and anonymous niches. Like the names Fred and Mavis, it seemed to me unlikely the modest Volley could recover its former glory. That was until I decided to read your piece a second time substituting 'Rupert' for Fred.