Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Illustration by Onnie Cleary
 Nuns! I've been banned from writing about my house so this week it’s nuns. I couldn't help but notice the large flock of nuns, in white habits and wimples, chanting on the corner outside my office. At first I thought they were chanting at Ding Dong Dang, the ancient and well-attended karaoke bar that has featured in car ads and one song by Sydney band Psychonanny and The Babyshakers. As I approached from downhill I imagined I heard the nuns singing said band’s Ding Dong Dang, the woeful tale of the disappearance of a girl named Ashley. It soon became clear they were chanting something along the lines of, "Hail Mary full of stuff, Hail Mary you're very tough", and the Ding Dong Dang was coming from my iPod. 

The nuns - and their posse of priests and worshippers - stayed on the corner outside my office for a very long time. They chanted about Mary, God and some other people without pause whilst holding cheap-looking candles. After eliminating the possibility of them being an en masse outdoor karaoke performance, I decided to investigate what it was they were really doing. Through a scientific investigation process involving three listens to the song Ding Dong Dang and a minor hair-on-fire incident, I reached a firm conclusion. The nuns were using the occasion of International Women's Day to protest the existence of a women's clinic. If this is the best idea they had for celebrating women then they suck. Nuns suck.

My friend Leif once told me, in astonishing detail, about a video he saw of nuns sucking - nuns sucking all kinds of things. I was not surprised to discover that he finds the idea of nuns erotic. It just so happens that Leif's housemate is one of the singers from Psychonanny and The Babyshakers, which leads me back to the song and the street corner. This might not be so much about nuns as it is about geography and sound.

Some corners have a smell, like the corner of Pitt and Redfern streets in Redfern, some corners have a revolving temporal relationship with colour, light or shade. The corner outside my office seems to be developing a sense of something else altogether. Let's start with Ding Dong Dang. It was voted Sydney's fourth best karaoke bar by Time Out Sydney. My friend P Street writes for Time Out so it’s not too much of a leap to imagine that it was he who rated the bar, which is important for the following imaginary scenario.

Picture this. P Street is inside Ding Dong Dang singing his heart out to his open notebook, in the very same room Ashley last sang in before disappearing forever. Outside, a large posse of nuns chants over their cheap candles in the direction of the women's clinic while the producers of a car advertisement arrange three models in front of the green and white checkerboard tiles of Ding Dong Dang. Inside the women's clinic the medical staff are hard at work doing medical things and have no idea they’re about to be overrun by nuns. Across the street, I'm working in my office wishing I was at a party at Hibernian House, visible in the near distance over the heads of the nuns. On the opposite corner, the staff of The Australia Council for The Arts are ignoring everything that goes on and taking turns to have bathroom breaks so they can adjust the artful draping of their red plastic bead necklaces. Back in Newtown, Leif farewells his housemate who is off to a soundcheck for a gig at The Excelsior Hotel. The first song on their set list is Ding Dong Dang. Leif finds himself satisfyingly alone, wanders around the flat for a while and then decides that seeing as he is alone, just this once, he might put on the video featuring sucking nuns.

First published on RHUM...


Andrew P Street said...

I feel greatly honoured to be immortalised in blog. Especially since it involves the mighty Dang, Psychonanny & the Baby Shakers and a strong anti-nun message.

ED said...

Well everybody loves a strong anit-nun message, have to keep the people happy, you know how it is...