In the early 90s when I was at RMIT in Melbourne, a popular writing style was dirty realism. It was all the rage. Raymond Carver, Richard Ford, Bobbie Ann Mason and many others provided valuable lessons in stripping things back without loss of emotional effect. Dirty realism was attractive to new writing students because on the surface it seemed possible to do. Even easy. But, of course, it wasn’t easy to do well. While these Americans were being widely discussed in the classroom, in the pubs of Fitzroy plenty of readings of varying styles, allegiances and quality were going on. Frank Hardy of Power Without Glory fame would occasionally drop in to the Saturday afternoon one at The Perseverance Hotel on Brunswick St. Frank was a great orator and pipe smoker. I found a book of his tall stories around this time called The Yarns of Billy Borker. Some of these yarns were made for TV by the ABC in the 60s. Billy would walk into a pub, con some poor fella into buying the beer and then reward the fellow with a very tall story. Reading about some of the droughts and floods that The Riverina has endured over the past 100 years, I was struck by the idea of a Billy Borker inspired character who, every time he comes to Narrandera, is said to be the cause of momentous and damaging weather. I begin a monologue with the character’s name being Drought’n’Rain. As he’s 114 years old, he’s seen it all beginning with dust storms during the 1914-15 drought! Throughout this week I had been thinking that my subjects would be strictly historical and biographical. The others may still turn out this way. But for now, to kick things off, the people of Narrandera have bloody had enough of my bad luck carrier – Drought’n’Rain!