Thursday, 18 December 2008

Don't float

I almost walked over the Harbour Bridge in the dying light. I stood at the bottom of the steps sniffing the expensive north side breeze, rubbing my arms to get the corporate stink off them. I phoned Spencer and he said he was getting drunk for free so I turned around and walked into the station.

I didn't like where I'd been. I sat in a room with fifteen other applicants listening to the managing director rant about his personal excellence and the standard of excellence he expects in everything from fruit to shoes. The recruiting assistant scanned the room and made notes every time somebody breathed, like a robot surprised to be confronted with the living. I filled in the form like I was supposed to, listened like I was supposed to, sat there in my ironed clothes with my brushed hair but I was considering throwing myself under a ferry and featuring on the late news as a floater. The harbour is more beautiful than I can imagine. I let slip every opportunity for splendid rebellion.

Spencer was drinking in the County Clare so I navigated south, using the trains, buses and the soles of my shoes. I found him jammed in a filthy courtyard sitting on an empty beer keg bouncing up and down with excitement over something or other. He only bounces when he's drunk. I rammed myself into the crowd as an antidote to everything but in the end I found I needed to walk so I left the County Clare and wandered up Broadway and City Rd sucking down the city air. I stumbled and turned my ankle on nothing at all.

I was carrying no cash, not a dollar, I sat at the bust stop while my ankle throbbed and swelled, wondering what to do until I remembered about taxis and paying for things with credit cards. Mona found me five minutes later, bought me a bus ticket then a beer. We sat in The Townie swapping sorrows and cigarettes, wondering at the usefulness of friends until Spencer started sending me text messages about how excellent a time he was having at the party, far superior to The Townie. I imagined he was drunker than even I had anticipated but then he stuck his head around the corner holding out his long arms and laughing like a loon.

Spencer spoke about the time he was working in a factory in Bowral putting books in boxes. He said they kept playing the Youth Group* song Someone Else's Dream, the lyrics go something like 'let's go see The Holy Soul in some soulless hole where the restless people go' [The Holy Soul is Spencer's band]. Spencer was bending his back and numbing his mind, stacking books in boxes from 6 in the morning, listening to the factory radio sing out the name of his band. That's when he thought he might move to the city.

Spencer walked when he moved to the city, missing the horizon, mapping out the lack of spaces but that's another story.


* You probably know this Youth Group song if not the one I'm talking about.

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