Celebrating Gravy Day

Fans of the general knowledge crossword in The Age newspaper would have read this clue for 18 across last Saturday:

Now a quintessential Australian Christmas anthem, what song written by Australian musician Paul Kelly in 1996, has given rise to a day of celebration on 21 December? (3, 2, 4, 5)

The answer, of course, is ‘How to Make Gravy’, with 21 December coming to be known as ‘Gravy Day’ after the song’s opening lines:

Hey Dan, it’s Joe here / I hope you’re keeping well
It’s the twenty-first of December / and now they’re ringing the last bells

The lyrics represent one side of a phone conversation between Joe, who has ‘screwed up’ and is doing time in prison, and his brother Dan, who is preparing to spend Christmas with their family, including Joe’s love, Rita. Joe agonises over ‘Who’s gonna make the gravy now?’ and gives Dan his recipe, but bets ‘it won’t taste the same.’

‘How to Make Gravy’ was not one of the songs chosen by writers in the anthology, Minds Went Walking: Paul Kelly’s Songs Reimagined. Given how iconic the song is – how perfect it is as a narrative in it’s own right – I can see why a writer might be reluctant to take it on. On the other hand, there are a couple of minor characters in the song crying out for their own stories. Mary’s last boyfriend, for example, whose name Joe can’t recall, only ‘a little too much cologne’. Angus, Frank and Dolly. And, of course, Rita.

Short of writing a story inspired by ‘How to Make Gravy’, what better way to celebrate Gravy Day than by purchasing a copy of Minds Went Walking from your local bookstore or by ordering online from Fremantle Press. Then click the link below and sing along.


About Angela Savage

Angela Savage is a Melbourne writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. She won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, and the Scarlet Stiletto Award short story award. Her latest novel is, Mother of Pearl, published by Transit Lounge. Angela holds a PhD in Creative Writing, is former CEO of Writers Victoria, and currently works as CEO of Public Libraries Victoria.
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4 Responses to Celebrating Gravy Day

  1. Oh, this sounds great, Angela! And what an interesting inspiration for your story. I’ll get it’s excellent, too. This collection is now on my TBR.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. darkdirk says:

    This post made me think of the song, and sing it in my head, and even that was enough to make me tear up a bit. It’s so emotionally powerful, it’s a brilliant piece of storytelling, mostly understated and because it’s one side of a phone call the listener has to complete the picture which I guess is what draws you right in. I agree there are so many other stories in it.
    I loved your piece in this collection, I look forward to reading the others. Happy Xmas Ang x

    Liked by 1 person

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