LETTER TO GEELONG - The Korgis & Joe Matera

In the days of the £10 Poms many families emigrated to Australia. It had opportunities, work and sun.
My family, while not strictly £10 Poms (especially as they were Scottish and the term Pom refers to English) they certainly went in search of a better life after the war. So when Australian born Joe Matera sent me a guitar tune to work on, I thought it would be nice to explore our heritage, as his family hailed from Italy, with a similar story.


At this point this was not really to be a Korgis song but perhaps an Al Steele/Joe Matera solo release. I began writing it while on holiday in Northern Spain with my younger half of the family - usually working it out when the others had gone to sleep and playing the fruits of my labours in the morning. I

t was apparent that this was a story about multiple family members, so my daughter Lorna suggested we make it a family Christmas project. Leah and Ceri agreed after many positive encouraging noises from Lorna and myself!
So in the Christmas period in 2022, Ceri added to the chorus (set back in the UK) and  Lorna, Leah and myself filled in the verses.


It sounded great so I put it up on The Korgis group chat and everyone loved it.

I asked whether perhaps John and James families may want to pitch in and everyone seemed to like that idea. The actual recording went better than we could have imagined and all of a sudden it became a Korgis song, with Joe Matera, Danielle Nicholls, Paul Smith and Elaine Gilmore getting in on the chorus'.


The stories are all true, but not necessarily chronologically accurate! After many revisions, here is how it panned out!

We're both sending our love to you   The first letter from the UK to Oz
We're mailing a parcel too
Things we hold dear
As we can't have you near
Things you might cherish,
Should we not meet again       Back in those days there was only a slim chance of seeing each other as travel was nowhere near as common as it is today.


The sun is fierce and hot
Ewen says the schools are strict   Ewen is the middle brother (but we call him Bruce as he is Australian!) and the 3 of us were born in Oz so this is bit of a white lie!
Dad got laid off from Fords       Outside of Geelong was a huge Ford factory. My father had about 5 different jobs while I was growing up
But he, says he's trying to fix it

We had to get towed
On the Great Ocean Road       My first memory of a breakdown was when we 'blew a gasket'… the first time I had heard that term
But looking on the bright side

The old house is finally sold     We had just moved to 25 Weller St, but in truth I have no memory of the old house.



We're both sending our love again
Nan is glad that you've made new friends   Time has passed and we have moved on a couple of letters - otherwise this song would be 20 mins long!
You say your dad works now
At the cement works near town    There were two cement works outside of Geelong and my Dad had worked at both of them
It may not be the best 
But at least a job's been found      The idea that he had no job,, would be a disaster. People took whatever work they could find.

Dad has bought a new car
Claims it turns on a sixpence     I don't remember the old one but this new car - a Triumph Herald claimed it had a very tight turning circle
The last trip to Adelaide
It didn't seem to make a difference     We often went on holiday to Adelaide and it should be a 9-hour drive, but my Dad was not the fastest. 14 would be a good guess.
The sandstorm it came
That was, after the rain     Ewen remembered this - I just remember it being so hot that we had to run from the  shade of one lamppost to another to get Coke from the shop the next block over.
Cold hungry tired
Then it was hot again     

We're both sending our love again
Please be careful where you choose to swim

Those octopus you saw
Washed up on the shore     Blu-ringed Octopus were deadly, and around 1968 the beaches in Geelong were all closed as there were a LOT of them clearly visible. Not sure it ever made the news in the UK.
They made the news back here
Thirty deaths or more


Joe is learning guitar     Joe probably had a similar experience to us. My brother John was learning guitar, while Ewen and myself played piano. 
Dad doesn't much like it     My Mum thought it was great, but Dad never saw the worth in it. It wasn't a 'job'

Dodged a brown snake on the beach      The brown snake was at Byron Bay but actually from a holiday in 2017, when Lorna was at Uni in Melbourne.
My clothes don't fit like they did
Spider bit my arm
Burned from the start
Doctor said good job
The poison didn't reach my heart     The spider bite happened to a friend at school. You could clearly see the line of red stretching from the bite entry up his arm.

We're both sending our love and care

Strange you're in Torquay, but way out there     British names are EVERYWHERE in Australia. New South Wales being an obvious one. Torquay was a beach resort down the coast just as the Great Ocean Road begins.
The weather back here
Seems really cold this year
Or maybe your nan and gramps 
Are getting old I fear     Much time has passed and the folks at home are becoming old and frail

Hope you're ok back there
The post's been slow here
In your last letter you mentioned
A cough that won't clear
We send you our love
And although times are tough
We're planning to see you
We've almost saved enough    These last two letters cross in the post. We are not sure if they ever received the news of the planned trip back home.

We're both sending our love to you
We're mailing a parcel too
Things we hold dear
As we can't have you near
Things you might cherish,
Should we not meet again 

…Cause we won't meet again     An intentional straight repeat of chorus 1 - with the exception of the last line.
This was not meant to be maudlin,, but more just the way things were. In truth they probably never expected to see the children and grandchildren again


Of course this is a song, so we had to find a way to musically make 5 Choruses and 4 Verses work! To show the passage of time, more instruments join the verses and the rhythm becomes more complex to reflect the growing diverse interests of the 'New Australians'. The chorus always pulls back to the simpler rhythm but also changes over time. The exception being the very last chorus where we return to exactly the instrumentation of Chorus 1.
As far as Korgis songs go,, it is unique, but we tend to embrace that rather than run from it.
New songs coming up include a Brazilian style song called 'Born Under a Full Moon' and also a classic American soul tune called Coffee in New York.


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