One example is Wattle Park Blues, in which Humphries looks back at his childhood outings to Wattle Park in outer Melbourne. As so often in Humphries's writing there is a really strong sense of genuine nostalgia in the poem, but, because he insists on making fun of the things he used to - and seems still to - love, hiding to some extent behind the Everidge persona (not that she is mentioned in the poem, but the use of the word 'kiddies', for example is very Edna-esque), Wattle Park Blues, although it does paint a vivid picture, ends up just being jarringly sentimental:
Wattle Park Blues
Back in the wattled thirties
Before the world went dark,
They built this noble chalet
On the crest of Wattle Park.
The trammies on their days off
Came for Devonshire teas,
And outside the kiddies seesawed
With mercurochromy knees.
A graveyard for old cable trams
Lay below us in the valley,
Where we played till creamy soda time
And dixies in the chalet.
How we envied the conductor
On the tram on which we'd come.
With his cubes of coloured tickets,
Nippled rubber on his thumb.
Loved his uniform of navy serge,
Scarlet piping on lapel;
Wished we could say, Move down the car,
And tug that leather bell.
Above us in the giant gums
Were bird houses built on high,
Little chalets for the maggies,
Tudor surburbs in the sky.
We grew older, came less often,
To watch the wattles burst here,
Though Geoff, Jeanette and Alison
Each had their twenty-firsts here;
But we'd outgrown creamy sodas,
Were spottier - and thirstier.
We drank Pimms and puffed on Garricks,
Hugged gardenia'd girlfriends hard,
As we parked our mothers' cars by night
Along the Boulevard,
And Wattle Park was quite forgotten
And the trams' metallic rumble.
Dear to the heart of childhood,
Like the taste of Violet Crumble.
And so dear friends and strangers
I presume to be your guide
To the terminus of memory
I have shouted you a ride.
To the place where me and Colin
And a thousand kiddies more
Picnicked underneath the pollen
In the days before the War.
Today the trees seem sparser
The old cable trams have gone,
But they still serve in the chalet
Melbourne's finest buttered scone.
Mind you, despite my gripes about the poem, finding myself with nothing to do one afternoon in Melbourne, I was unable to resist the twin attractions of wattle and scones, and so I boarded the No. 70 tram outside Flinders Street station and headed out to Humphries's former haunt.
It was rather lovely. There were trams lurking among the trees: