Tuesday, 18 September 2012

One more post and then its closing time

I returned from the wedding triumphant. That had a lot to do with Spencer, Grizelda, my family and a few more friends like Ron and Robert and Mr X, and the usual list of suspects.

You see, about a year ago my brother decided to get married. Some time after that he decided to get married in a park, the same park where I was attacked by a man some years ago. The park is located in the town where I used to live with Artboy.

I haven't really been back there, not since I came crawling into The Peach.

I wanted to attend the wedding I just didn't want to go back to that town or that park or that region. I didn't even want to think about it. Spencer and Grizelda both received invitations so we stuffed ourselves into Grizelda's tiny red car and drove and drove and drove.

I packed brandy for the journey. Brandy and painkillers for my broken foot. By the time we narrowed in our trajectory we were one sheet to the wind. Arriving at the park, grass by a lagoon really, the first thing I noticed was the exact spot I crawled away in the mud, undercover of darkness, when I made my  getaway all those years ago. The second thing I noticed was the white cat fur on my black dress left there surreptitiously by Oscar the kitten. I decided to focus on the dress.

I saw my brother arrive in a car full of men wearing tuxedos. A familiar sight thanks to his years of playing in big bands. And then my parents and then the ceremony and then nothing but acres of goodwill.

Spencer and I were drunk and chatty with relatives and friends alike. My parents kept ageing and beaming then tearing up and doing it all over again. I performed one good deed. There was the bridal waltz, and her parents walking up to join in, and my father with his wife and there over at a table sat my mother by herself. Her partner nowhere to be seen, I think she was photographing something. I stood a little uncertainly because of the wine and my broken foot but I made to over to her table and held out my hand. I lead my mother to the dance floor. She said "I'm not sure how to do this". "It doesn't matter", I replied. And so we waltzed on that roomy floor in between the tuxedo-clad big band and the hundreds of pair of eyes.

Afterwards my aunts and uncles came surreptitiously one by one to tell me what a good thing I had done asking my mother to dance. I did not disagree with them but I looked at them a little beadily. Its been some time since a relative thought highly of me. I thought for a moment of my dead grandfather and wondered.

After my brother took his new wife away in a car Spencer and I stole all the wine we could and started drinking while Grizelda worked at driving the car. The turn off to my old house came up ahead of us. I felt uneasy but shouted at the very last second 'turn here I want to see the house'.

Grizelda found the old house easily and brought her small car to a stop across the road from it. The new people had ripped out the old weeping cherry tree and chopped down the jacaranda. There was a white metal letterbox in place of the crazy old wooden one my father bought from a man who carved things with a chainsaw.

I remembered the last time I was there. Half mad and convinced I was being followed by a cube of sorrow. This time I was not alone. We got out of the car and crossed the road. Spencer and Grizelda held back but I walked on my broken foot, all dressed up and drunk. I walked right up the driveway smoking a cigarette and taking huge swigs from a stolen bottle of wine.

Memories that house seemed like a huge shadow falling over everything I do. I stared at the front door and waited for something to hit me until something did. I don't need this anymore. I ground out my cigarette on the red brick driveway, shrugged at the idea of Artboy and walked on back to the car.

Half way home Spencer said "You did good tonight". And I thought yeah, I did.

We sang and drank and laughed our way back towards the city. The street lights started growing on every corner and maybe a plane roared overhead or if it didn't it could have. People were walking everywhere on the streets and there was life more than darkness and the big solid feeling of coming home.

Thanks for listening.

That's a full lid.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Shutting down Slammatown

Yeah. I was going to wait until moving day and then change to a new blog for, you know... change etc.

Fresh start.


I fucking hate waiting.

I'm closing this chapter early. We've begun dismantling The Peach, stripping out cupboards, throwing out junk, deciding which furniture to take with us to the new house. The Peach is in a wreck and I love it. There is stuff everywhere. Mountainous terrain in the lounge room and hallway. Never has getting to the kitchen been such an adventure.

I was waiting to find the words to sum up my time in The Peach. I was waiting but I've given up. If I don't know by now then I'll never know. This is an old case of show don't tell, there are thousands of words already here. Read them if you can be bothered. I probably won't.

I'm going to let this chapter slide gracefully backwards into memory and highlight reels of bad and good and struggling to recall in just which rooms squares of sunlight slid across the floor. I feel all right about that.

You can follow me if you'd like to, the new joint is locked for now, while I look around and see what I might become. Try in October, you'll probably find the door unlocked.

Over and out.

Friday, 31 August 2012


I'm freaking out, retrospectively.  I'm no Helen Razer or Charlotte Dawson but in my time there have been two people posting me death threats, a bunch of truly horrible trolls calling for me to kill myself because I am the world's worst writer, and two entire blogs, not blog posts but actual whole blogs, dedicated to writing as much horrible crap as possible about me. FUCKWITS!

Helen Razer wrote this excellent article. I advise people to read it.

Monday, 27 August 2012

A Hollywood who dunnit solved

Yesterday Mr X flagged down a taxi and zoomed us over to Surry Hills to see Spencer and Abdullah play solo sets at Adam Lewis's Sunset People at the Hollywood. This boring background information is crucial for two reasons. Reason the first, I like being zoomed in taxis. Reason the second, a mystery occurred at the Hollywood. It was time for The Peachette Detective Agency to solve another case.

The detecting business is more tricky than I thought. So far I have solved no mysteries despite opening my first detective agency thirty years ago. Someone must have slipped determination into my beer because when a new mystery presented itself I went ahead and solved it.

The Mystery
Who wrote "WHY AREN'T YOU DATING ADAM LEWIS? HE IS A BABE" on the tiles in a toilet cubicle at the Hollywood?

I know but I can't tell you. The investigative process was furious and swift. People were questioned, text messages were sent and Adam Lewis became bemused.

By the end of the night beer provided an anaesthetic effect on my broken foot and pain became a memory, which is a shame really. There's nothing like a limp to add a hint of the hardboiled to working a case.

The triumph of solving the case has not been dimmed by the watertight confidentiality agreement made during the investigative process. Triumph whilst sometimes exhibited externally by yelling, clapping, smiling, crying, jumping, dancing or hugging is first and primarily experienced in the mind. Besides, I know who dunnit and in Hollywood that's all that really matters.

A short history of my early years as a detective.

Oh and in answer to the question in question. I would date Adam Lewis but I might be arrested for dating someone young enough to be my son, I think. I haven't done the maths but that answer seems right to me.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Indignation afoot

I have become angry at my foot, just as Gemma was angry with her tonsils. I don't about Gemma's tonsils but my foot is letting me down. I haven't had a car since Superman smashed and killed the Zammercarship (and after that our friendship) so for three years now I've been walking everywhere I want to go. I had intended to buy a bicycle but Mr Oddweird put an end to that dream by requiring me to save my all of money for bond on a new house.

This is where the foot comes in again. I need it to walk with. I need it to get to work in the morning and back home in the afternoon. I need it take me to the shops and down the hall to the kitchen and back up the hall to the bathroom and then wherever else in the house I wish to be. I need my foot to work.

My foot doesn't work. It hurts when I wriggle my toes, it hurts when I roll over in bed, the other day it hurt when I turned on the shower and water hit my skin. It hurts when I stretch my leg or stand up or sit down or put on a loose sock.

I'm packing up the contents of The Peach one-legged and unsteady. Yesterday I spent four hours ironing every piece of linen in the house, standing on one leg. The story of packing is boring, even on one leg. First I select a cupboard or drawer or corner and go through every item checking if I need it or can donate it to charity, sell it or throw it out. I thought I would be overwhelmed by the onslaught of memories inadvertently attached to every tiny thing I own. This is what has happened in the past but I find myself enjoying the ruthlessness of culling. I don't know if its the crazy pills, the foot or lingering thought that this house turned out just to be a house and nothing more. Nothing like the temple of my personal salvation I thought it was going to be or was, from my time to time. Nothing but walls and a place for me to wander around in temporarily.

I am finding that I can't follow a thread of thought. I am unsure about almost everything except the urgent need to cull and ongoing anger at my broken foot. People keep asking what the new house is going to be called. I suspect it might end up being The Embassy. I don't think that's a very good name but it floated out of my mouth while I stood at the front gate with my left palm flat against the brick wall topped with wrought iron spikes. The Embassy. It sounds ridiculous, more ridiculous than The Peach. What are we to be called? Ambassadors? Diplomats? That's even worse than Peachettes. I suppose I'll think on it a little, when I stop being angry at my foot.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Medical Report

Broken fifth metatarsal due to walking in to furniture bare foot at medium speed. Suspect temporary failure of navigation systems. Navigation system failure occurred as result of inebriation, fatigue and negligent use of light switches in hallway.

This has been an excellent use of the internet.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Cataclysmic but slowly and not without joy

We were up to our necks in love. Well that's what it felt like to me as I danced across the kitchen and down the hallway while about a dozen people sang their hearts out in my lounge room. 

The idea was simple. I wanted to drink some and sing a little. Gemma had the bright idea of throwing a singing party at The Peach, so I did. 

The night was dark and stormy (I have always wanted to write that and mean it). Some guests arrived drenched and shivering, clutching a guitar under one arm and a six pack under the other. Some swanned in shaking out umbrellas holding bottles of wine and one or two appeared in the kitchen as though teleportation was possible.

The singing began slowly but the chorus swelled until we were delirious and not one person was silent in the house. We had three people with guitars, Spencer, P. Street and Jeremy Smith, Robert on the floor with a tambourine and a snare and enthusiastic singing from no less than one dozen people at any one time. We wandered recklessly through musical history and modes of good taste, anyone got a go, anyone from Samantha Fox, David Bowie and Robyn Hitchcock to The Pixies and even Counting Crows. No one was more surprised than me to realise that all of us, without exception, knew all the words to Mr Jones.

Someone started up a Neil Young song so Spencer grabbed his bag and tipped eight harmonicas onto the ground, testing them drunkenly one by one to find the right one, he emerged from the floor in the nick of time to perform a note perfect solo. Wild applause erupted from the kitchen where some were making mulled wine and others danced as they poured chips into bowls and piled baklava onto plates.

The weather, jetlag and tour dates kept us to a small and merry band. From time to time one of us would look up and around the room and get a little misty because while we were singing just for the hell of it we were also saying goodbye. At midnight I gave a toast to The Peach and all who have sailed in her because Grizelda and I are moving out, for good.

Mr Oddweird the landlord has gone and done it this time. He has defaulted on his mortgage and The Peach is being repossessed by the bank. I have lived in fear of the day we would be forced, by one disaster or another, to leave this house but when the day arrived I surprised myself. I don't really mind. 

When I first came to The Peach I'd been most thoroughly shredded by the tragic end of a long and dramatic relationship. I wasn't sure it was possible to feel worse than I did, perhaps not even possible to feel like I did and stay alive for a whole day at a time but I did. It hasn't always been easy here in The Peach but I have loved it, every difficult, horrible, euphoric moment of it since I first walked through the door carrying nothing but a game of boggle and a plastic bottle full of water. 

Its been almost seven years since I signed the lease and handed over all of my savings for bond and two weeks rent in advance. The cat and I were both astonished by the light and noise of what we call the city when we first moved in. The cat spent the first fortnight in my wardrobe refusing to come out for anything but to use the litter tray or take a small drink of water. Now the cat roams the house freely and I can sleep through just about anything.

Mr Oddweird has let me down as a landlord over the years. The water has been turned off three times because he didn't pay the bill, he took off with the inside front door handle four years ago and never brought it back. The back door has never had a lock on it and he failed entirely to make any repairs to the bathroom after the mirrored cabinet crashed to the ground and smashed about six years ago.  Last year he began renovating the flat underneath The Peach (which has been vacant the entire time I have lived here) by removing the floors, walls, kitchen and bathroom and digging large holes in the now dirt floor. But this time I suspect he has mostly failed himself.

It seems strange to me that I am almost looking forward to the move. I'm ready for a new adventure. Grizelda and I are headed just three suburbs away but around here that's like a whole new country. We'll be setting up shop in a beautiful little house with polished floorboards, a dishwasher in the kitchen and a neat little courtyard out the back where I can plant strawberries and herbs. Sylvia the cat and Grizelda's new pain in the arse kitten Oscar will be making the move with us as will Edith the gold fish and most of our stuff.

I've been giving away belongings, throwing things out, selling furniture I've carried with me from relationship to relationship. Junking all the built-up useless things and jettisoning the ballast. When I pack my bags and make my way to the new house I'll probably be carrying a few little heartaches and a head full of memories but I'm going to put my teapot in the cupboard anyway and see what happens next.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Trading kinds of light

In yet another coincidence of light I was walking home straight into the setting sun while a Radiolab podcast told me the story of a man detained by a cup of tea and bathed in a hot white light. The light was followed by a roar that threw him into a field of potatoes and raked the skin off his body. The white light was filled with gamma rays. The gamma rays shot into the cells of his body, knocked electrons off his water molecules, and created free radicals determined to go after his DNA.

The man was in Hiroshima, I was following a chain link fence down by the railway tracks in a back street of Newtown but I was remembering all those hours I spent riding straight into a winter sunset on the back of an elderly horse named Lady. She was small but rangy with a choppy little stride that could shake your bones out of place. Those days I would ride my bike as fast as I could down the long hill of my street and out past the market gardens and the back gate of a navy base to the stables where I worked after school.

I was eleven years old and already worried it might be too late to be learning how to ride. I saw kids barrelling around the neighbourhood on ponies like they were born in the saddle while I diligently worked mucking out stables, mixing up buckets of feed, stacking bales of hay and wheeling endless barrows of muck up on to the top of the largest pile of shit I'd ever seen. Once or twice a week the stable manager would give the order to bring Lady up to the hitching rail and saddle her up for my lesson. More than anything I remember riding up the long side of the school* straight into the setting sun being terrified and humming "Yellow Submarine" under my breath because it was the best song for keeping time at a trot.

It's no secret that I no longer ride, living in inner city squalor like I do, but I don't suppose many people know that I dream of the horse almost every night of the week. It feels like a muscle mantra, every night in the very middle of oblivion every cell remembers not the thought but the sensation. Walking home this afternoon the big low sun and clear winter air tempted me into remembering but despite hundreds of hours spent riding straight into a winter sunset from the back of a horse it didn't quite work.

Two months ago I started taking what I call crazy pills, the doctor calls them something else, but its been a long time coming. I got so used to feeling suicidal that it was practically my normal state of being. I'm not sure exactly how the medicine works but it does, in more ways than one. I used to feel the stab of a memory or the hook of newly forming story like a physical barb. I would pull in towards me and turn it around and around until I knew just which word should come after the other to make it into a picture for somebody else to read and see. Not anymore.

Now I feel a small mental pulse and know there's a story or a sentence or half a line just waiting there for me but its foggy and unappealing and I'd rather just keep walking along watching the setting sun than follow any thought to see where it leads. I've been worrying about this because I have a December deadline for my manuscript and my progress has slowed to roughly a page a week. A page wrought only with great effort and difficulty and almost no joy. This is a new kind of problem.

Like free radicals coming after DNA I think I've been reconfigured by this medicine. I feel less, I feel better, but I miss those barbs and hooks and threads of thought. They used to lead me somewhere I was free to rearrange the alphabet into stories that made sense of everything but recently they just dangle and fade into nothing but a simple walk, like this afternoon's coincidence of light.

*fenced in rectangular arena used for training horses and riders

Suggested reading - James Bradley's "Never real and always true: on depression and creativity"

Thursday, 12 July 2012

I don't want to wait

My excellent friend Andrew P. Street recently made me dress in a hideous formal dress, tease my hair up and then use an entire can hairspray on it before applying inappropriate lipstick to my face and staying up all night dancing and drinking. Thank you P. Street, I had a fabulous time.

The above mentioned was just one thing in an unusual alignment of nostalgic activities such as finding an original Poppy matte lipstick in a drawer and watching Dawson's Creek. This got me thinking about high school and for once I had a good memory, a great memory, and set about tracking down my very own 'Dawson'.

Well not exactly a 'Dawson' but I did crawl in and out of his house all through high school with reckless abandon, largely ignoring the clockwork running of his busy family home. There were plenty of rules in that house, a sit down evening meal at the big dining table, clean bedrooms, completed homework and neatly made beds. The dog was walked twice a day with all four children taking turns in a roster system. It was quite something to see but still we managed some significant mischief.

At one point in high school we used to jam in 'Dawson's' clinically tidy garage, playing terrible covers and pretending we were awesome. We were both members of the horribly named 'Year 12 Rock Band' who only ever managed to learn and play about five songs which we played relentlessly at horrible gigs as far away as Nambucca Heads. We used to call one guitarist Space Chook, because we thought he looked like a chicken in orbit. Space Chook had a smell about him like a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. Once on the way to a gig, the whole band and all equipment rammed in to one car, we decided to all smoke cigarettes at the same time because the smell was preferable to what was emanating from Space Chook. Poor Space Chook, his dream was to become a professional ten pin bowler.

'Dawson' was an everyday friend, not as in ordinary but as in all the time like a ritual or the rising sun and I did not know how much I missed him until the collision of oddly nostalgic events lead me to remember our awful band playing live on stage. He was the drummer and I played bass, every now and then I'd turn around and he'd crack a stupid grin over his cymbals and I'd forget that I was playing badly for a bunch of high school kids and feel like I was part of something awesome, just for a moment.

When my family began its epic descent into mayhem and tragedy 'Dawson' was the one I remember as being there. Specifically one day when I turned up sobbing on his front lawn and he broke the unspoken 'no physical contact not ever (unless fake punching)' rule and hugged me right there on the front lawn while his mother peered out through lace curtains with a bemused look on her face.

We lost touch when I entered my lost years and he started touring but two days ago I tracked down his phone number and made contact. We're catching up next week. I don't want to wait.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Reversing the polarities or Sleeping with weapons

I didn't want to reverse the polarities, or start sleeping with weapons but a strange series of events left me with no choice.

A state of tense unrest has been declared in The Peach. After more than ten years the cat has decided to yell at the front door in the middle of the night, every night, for as long as physically possible.

I tried ignoring her so as not to reinforce bad behaviour, that didn't work. I tried saying 'no', then saying 'no' followed by stumbling out of bed to shoo her away, then saying 'no' followed by stumbling out of bed to shoot her with a water pistol*. None of this worked because the cat adopted a hopeful and positive look about her every time she managed to get me to stumble out of bed. 

Sleeplessness and repeated midnight visits to the hallway in sub-zero temperatures began to fray my nerves. A sleep-deprived Grizelda began to declare that she was going to murder the cat. This is unusual for her, so I knew it was time for drastic action. It was time to reverse the polarities. 

Instructions for reversing personal polarities to optimise in-bed midnight weapon use

  1. Drag bed close to bedroom door.
  2. Make bed up so sleeping position allows view out of door and into hallway.
  3. Prop bedroom door open with ugg boot.
  4. Prime water pistol with water.
  5. Place water pistol in bed close to hands.
  6. Sleep lightly and listen for cat.
  7. At first sign of cat yelling at front door squirt water pistol wildly and violently in direction of cat until cat retreats.
  8. Repeat until cat gives away hobby of midnight yelling.
The result of reversing the polarities should be the cat returning to usual habit of curling up on end of bed and sleeping peacefully curled into a ball with her little bat ears sticking out, until it is time for breakfast.

Cover me, I'm going in.

*Disciplinary measure recommended by the RSPCA.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Points to remember

Carrots - pigeons of the vegetable world.
Pigeons - rats of the sky.
Capers - olives of the sea.

Adult contemporary dentist

My dentist's yarmulke pleased me. It lent my appointment a sense of officialness and dignity as though I hadn't set seven separate alarms to make sure I would wake up in time or spent six minutes searching the house for a piece of chewing gum in case I needed to freshen my mouth in the half an hour it would take me to travel from The Peach to the city surgery. Any kind of official or religious hat has this effect on me.

This sense of adult officialness followed me through my medical morning as I produced my private health fund card to cover not only my dental expenses ($263) but new lenses in my old glasses ($120). I worked out that with this morning's appointments I had effectively reimbursed myself nine months worth of health fund payments. I left the combined dental/eye care surgery, makes sense to me, and walked out into the cool morning ahead of schedule.

Marching down Elizabeth St back towards Central I realised that despite my appointments I would be early for work. I was congratulating myself on my efficiency when the first urge to listen to adult contemporary music rolled through me. Confusingly a simultaneous urge to telephone to mother and report on the excellent and cavity-free state of my teeth took hold. I briefly wondered if I was too old for a reward for being good at the dentist.

My confused state of organised adult and childish wish for rewards travelled well. It arrived at my office and caused me to telephone my mother and listen to adult contemporary music and organise my NPR podcast subscriptions in alphabetical order. I'm still waiting to hear if I qualify for a reward.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Death by raindrop

One moment somewhere between determination and anger, with my elbows sticking in to my own waist and one foot slipping a little sideways on the wet path, I suddenly and completely surrendered to the rain and the water revealed itself as beautiful.

Knee deep in a cold puddle, witnessing sheets of water pouring down the ordinary front steps of a house, I fell deeper into the thought of submersion and surrender. First I thought about the obvious things, daily landscapes transformed offering a clean perspective, cleansing and redemption through deluge, fluvial geomorphology and rills, concrete, concreteness and the literal and figurative concrete nature of the paths I walk.

Submersion returned as an idea and my thoughts fell first to floating and the sensation of being held by an ocean then drowning and dying and there my thoughts locked. This must be like dying. The wild oscillations between anger, determination and despair, an entire life's landscape transformed and then the surrender and revelation of beauty.

Slamming through The Peach front door in a haze halfway to convinced that I had this dying process pegged Grizelda announced that she 'got heaps wet in the rain!'. And ordered me to stop dripping on the carpet and go and have a hot shower.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


I have decided I do not want to punch Spencer in the face.

Dividing rages and a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours or both more tender and more violent

It's been about a week since I started answering the question 'how are you going?' with the blunt answer 'I feel like shit, the world tastes like sawdust', or an entire Hamlet soliloquy (III) communicating more elegantly the world-is-sawdust feeling. 

My friends now seem to have divided into three distinct categories:

1. The disbelievers 

(not the band) but people who see me and hear what I am saying and then dismiss it as flippant word-vomit and carry on talking about their shoes, dog, band, ex-girlfriend or housemate.

2. The ignorers 

They seem to listen to what I am saying and receive the information as truth but then decide it is irrelevant  and carry on as normal. Spencer is leading the charge in this group (I) with Mr X a close but different kind of second. Mr X may in fact not be an ignorer but just a close-card-holder, it can be difficult to tell with him but then at other times he is jumping around all floppy and winsome like a four-year-old child. He is an odd mixture of warm and aloof.(II)

3. The warm lights in a dark world: 

Two of my friends have been cheering me up and making me feel loved and welcome, for some reason this seems to make Spencer angry(I). These are the best kinds of friends, the ones who listen and then respond. I'm fortunate they have chosen a kind response but really any response is better than none.


(I) How do you solve a problem like Spencer? 

He's not a complicated man. He thinks a lot, acts inappropriately a lot, occasionally deigns to write a song, plays in a band, drinks too much, deliberately says the wrong things and stays up too late. He's just like everyone else in the Inner West  except that he is my friend and I might want to punch him in the face. Just once. Maybe.

You see last Friday night Spencer, R and I were sitting together at an after-party for a record launch. R was being deliberately kind to me but every time she said something Spencer would raise an eyebrow and suppress a smirk. I've known him too long to miss signals like that, to me it was the fair equivalent of a flashing neon sign. Ordinarily I might have just let it go, like the thousand other arch expressions, wry grins and outright sneers that Spencer produces in the course of any conversation, but not this time.

The combination of exhaustion and world-is-sawdust had me feeling vulnerable and raw enough to actually feel all of Spencer's slings and arrows. I am used to him being the first illustrate my shortcomings with an anecdote from his arsenal of my failings. He has a story about me for everything from bad dancing, interpersonal ineptitude, ignorance, bad taste in music, absence of fashion sense, being afraid of things, giving terrible speeches to general hard-hearted and fuckwittedness. I usually endure these stories with humour as most of the time they are not meant to sting.

This time Spencer's raised eyebrow seemed to indicate that R had no idea who she was talking about, that I was much more of a fuckwit than she suspected and that perhaps I wasn't worthy of being taken under her kind wing. This made me want to punch Spencer in the face for R's sake if not mine. R has seen me act appallingly often enough to have made an informed decision.

I wanted to perform a fluid ninjaesque leap across the table and punch him in the face whilst emitting loud volumes of violent yelling but all I did was leave the party. Since then I've been trying to talk with Spencer so I can work out if I do want to punch him or if he was just having one of those moments. I want to explain to him that he must have missed something in all those years of talking with me because I feel both more tender and more violent than he seems to understand. But you know, he's busy...

(II) A beginner's guide to impersonating Mr X.

First make yourself very tall, make your hair very tall, wear black-rimmed glasses and a Rolling Stones t-shirt. 

1. Sit down quickly. Cross your long legs haughtily.
2. Ignore DS and stare at your telephone for at least three full minutes.
3.Turn suddenly and fully back to the conversation.
4.Smile disarmingly, reveal something personal, say something generous and kind.
5. Re-cross legs haughtily. Steal cigarette directly out of DS's hand without asking (smile disarmingly or act as though this is normal and everyone does it all the time).
6. Give cigarette back. Re-cross legs haughtily.
7. Ignore DS for at least three full minutes.

Repeat ad infinitum.

(III) An Entire Soliloquy from Hamlet

I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation
preuent your discouery of your secricie to the King and
Queene: moult no feather, I haue of late, but wherefore
I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custome of exercise;
and indeed, it goes so heauenly with my disposition;
that this goodly frame the Earth, seemes to me a sterrill
Promontory; this most excellent Canopy the Ayre,
look you, this braue ore-hanging firmament, this Maiesticall Roofe,
fretted with golden fire: why, it appeares no other thing
to mee, then a foule and pestilent congregation of vapours.
What a piece of work is a man, How noble in
Reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving
how express and admirable, In action how like an Angel!
in apprehension how like a god, the beauty of the
world, the paragon of animals. and yet to me, what is
this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no,
nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seeme
to say so.

—The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (Act II, Scene ii, 285-300)

Additonal notes to be yelled out loud







HUG ME YOU FUCKWITS! (because I can not shake of this feeling of doom and I have become afraid)


Additional viewing to be watched and also listened to (because I said so)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Desk-bound and drowning

I'm thinking now about the time Geoff Lemon stayed in The Peach, in the library, before it was properly organised and still housed the old floral stink source of a sofa bed I dragged in off the street. He was fresh back from both overseas and Newcastle and had in his possession only one bag and a tiny laptop computer. It was really minuscule and I wondered how on earth he managed to get anything done on such a tiny screen. But work he did.

He sat there nearly all day and worked on his tiny computer. Today I have been moving from room to room, working variously on paper or in notebooks or my relatively large laptop. I haven't been able to find one good place to sit and work. Every half hour I move again and try once more to settle into the work. Thinking about the solid concentration and work of Geoff that day in The Peach Library I feel a little ashamed and awkwardly unprofessional.

I suppose there is only one thing to be done. I shall go back in time and start this day again.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

And the desk clerk's dressed in black

If there was something I could do then I'd do it. But there isn't. So I won't.

Low level procrastination from bed fortress of used tissues and cold cups of tea

A diversionary exercise for brain. Characters I am not yet sick of despite immersing myself in all their incarnations since I first discovered them:

Sherlock Holmes
Mr Darcy
Hank Moody (yes I know)
Timmy The Dog
Emma Woodhouse
Ted Hughes (counts as character because is dead)
Elizabeth Bennett
Mrs Dalloway (waiting for other incarnation to appear)
Sarah Lund

There were more to add to the list but a particularly powerful sneeze has cleared them from living memory. I am hoping further sneezes will also remove all sense of obligation and the need to earn money in order to pay bills and also fashion, all of it.


I didn't know the feed was broken. Looks like it hasn't worked properly for ages. Because I am at least mildly stupid I couldn't fix the old feed but I have made a new one.

Click on the "Subscibe in a reader" orange RSS button at the top right if you would like to resubscribe with the new feed address. It works I promise.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


I haven't felt so sheltered in a long time. At first I sat in the driver's seat with my eyes closed while the wind rocked and buffeted the car. I moved to the back seat to search through my bag for money but the wind blew the door shut and once again I felt cocooned.

Nothing else feels weatherproof around here. I don't ordinarily have a car so I walk through wind or sun or rain to work and back again. The Peach sighs and breathes while rain breaches roof and windows and cracks in the walls. Even my office is ancient and allows fingers of air under doorways and window sills. But not this car.

This car belongs to my father and like all his possessions has art in its design. My neighbour thought I'd won the lottery when I parked it outside his house. It is large and sleek and every convenience has been thought of but best of all is how it feels to shut the door and turn the key in the ignition. All weekend I have had this car and the accompanying possibility of going anywhere at any moment without physical effort or even the need for shoes.

I opted for practicality and drove myself to the supermarket and then home again with two bags full of heavy cans. I made a long list of places I might like to drive. I thought a little and crossed them out one by one. I didn't really have anywhere to go.

I didn't really have anywhere to go until today. I drove to work, there was nowhere to park. I intended to circle the block and try a different backstreet when I seemed to suddenly arrive on the roof of a supermarket three suburbs away. It was fifteen minutes before I was due at the office. I could have made it to work, maybe even been on time but instead I picked up my phone and said I was feeling sick.

The wind buffeted the car and there I sat with my eyes closed while the car rocked and the clear light stayed steady. After I'd been motionless and without thought in the back seat for half an hour I started to realise something was probably wrong. I felt fine, motionless and empty-headed but fine yet not quite right either. Why was I here? When did I make the decision to drive here? Why did I call in sick for work at the last possible moment when I woke myself sneezing five hours ago? And the larger more important question of what the fuck was I doing sitting motionless in a car on top of a supermarket half an hour after I figured it probably wasn't a normal thing to be doing?

I need to be at the airport to meet my father tomorrow afternoon when he flies back into town. He'll drop me at The Peach and then drive four hours home. After that I suppose I'll be back to normal, shoving tea towels in cracks in the walls to keep the wind out and life limited to walking distance.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Reversing down Maslow's chart

Everybody thinks he is their black marauder, he's not. He maraudes himself mostly but I want to express my dislike of the word hierarchy and think a little about the notion of being proud by surprise.

Sunday, 1 April 2012


Obviously today is strange. I dislike the altering of time. I ordinarily feel at least partially adrift in the world and today, and on the other day when time is governmentally altered, my grip on when and where is now loosens. For decades I have known what quarter past two on Sunday afternoon feels like, whether I am alone or in company, at home or out, joyful or sad, the familiarity of the hour provides a small pin in my maps.

Yet more evidence that there is a fundamental problem with my brain. Probably should get a lobotomy or similar but I might go and play soccer in the park instead. Chances are a rogue kick will put me out of my misery.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

I am a sucklord contd

Walking down the street I ran into this guy. I was dreaming and walking awkwardly slow. My shoes had taken their floral motif seriously and wrapped invisible tendrils underfoot. I saw him out of the corner of my eye but dismissed it as preposterous. That morning, rummaging around in my bedroom I fished out a ring I haven't worn since that night. The ring is ridiculous, a caricature of a ring, skull-shaped and bulbous. Heavy enough to drag my knuckles down and cause mysterious travelling aches across all fingers. I couldn't remember when I wore it last until I saw that man out of the corner of my eye.

I thought he was a phantasm, a holographic memory projected by end-of-day fatigue and wondered why I was suddenly thinking of him. But he smiled and walked right up to me. I tried not to take a step backwards. He was friendly and seemed open but then he detected my awkwardness. He said "You nearly didn't recognise me. I apologised, said I was elsewhere and waved one arm vaguely in the air. He said "Distracted" and I nodded because that was close enough.  He looked at me earnestly and told me I looked humble just walking down the street.

Humble. How does he think I ordinarily travel? I thought immediately of gold-plated helicopters and a barouche boxes. I didn't notice he was still talking so I asked him how he has been, at the exact same time he asked me. We continued to stand face to face on Enmore Rd and ask each other the same questions at the same time while the traffic smoked past and people swarmed around us and the light went yellow and started to fade.

He was holding a camera, said he was working, taking photos of his most recent art. He kept talking but I was shrinking and my ears starting ringing and then he said farewell and swaggered away. He was older than I remember, his dark hair now salt and pepper, his crows feet more pronounced. I waited for him to diminish but he grew taller as he walked away.

I split entirely in two. Both observing and experiencing my reaction as I blathered around inside the adjacent supermarket buying toothpaste and panadol and a kind of chocolate I do not like. I kept thinking I don't need these things but I gathered random objects into my arms and lapped the tiny two aisle shop again and again. I was hyperbolic on all trajectories and run through with fifteen full-force emotions.

It seemed stupid, even at the time, to be experiencing anything at all at such a small encounter where nothing harmful was said or done. The effect faded as I cooked and ordinary tasks came and went under my unconscious hands but I took the ring off and threw it in a drawer underneath a tumble of half used candles, broken wallets and a box of drawing inks, just in case.


I should be one of those tortured writers sitting at my desk groaning and swearing at the noise coming through the floor. My ears covered with impromptu muffs like scarves wound around my head or tissues stuffed in hard. There should be a montage of me working despite the jackhammer and concrete saw at work underneath The Peach.

But I'm not. I've been smiling fondly at the noise, mildly regretting not attempting to work but mostly reading the newspaper in bed with a cup of coffee on hand.

I almost like the noise, the knowledge of underground excavation wheeling out the structure beneath my feet one barrow at a time. I like the idea of living in a house floating above a dig. I feel sure that at any moment something important will be discovered about my life.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Uphill battles can be won quite easily if you tip the world over a little

I really thought Spencer would demand some kind of Spencer Awesome Test but he didn't. Shows what I know. He did suggest some kind of negative test, a sort of unawesome test but I'll leave that kind of thing for the haters who hate. Everyone needs a hobby. 

Today was one of those stupid days where facts and tasks roller coaster around I point at them and laugh. There'll be time enough tomorrow to take the ride and do the screaming but for now I'm pondering out some early plans for something new. One of those side projects to a main project, like Tim Sinclair's
Re: Reading the Dictionary. In my fake interview with Tim I discovered that this remarkable project first came about as a distraction, a little project done on the side of a big one. Today it struck just how grand of an idea that is.

Writing a whole novel is sometimes boring, often trying and takes a long fucking time. Unless you are Ian Fleming who once wrote an entire James Bond novel in three weeks. It is a shame I'm not writing about spies, or in the 1950's when it was more acceptable to make loud typing noises on typewriters and fill entire houses with second-hand smoke. But back to the part where it takes a really long time. It takes a really long time and long deliberate hours of sustained effort and right now I'm finding this more exhausting than anything else, like the world has tilted and every direction is now uphill. But fuck that for a way of being, I'm going to take on a smaller project as well. One with a short deadline. A project that can be commenced and completed inside of a month. If that doesn't level out the tipping a little then fuck this I'm buying skis.

My new distraction project has the tentative working title of Remembering The Horse. It will be variable in content, crammed with the overly-sentimental, starkness, spareness and good raw bones. It will be what any anguished moments in April turn into. And then it will be an ebook. And then it will be done.

To help things along a little I'm going ghost protocol for all of April. This will be a combination of minimal electronic communication and blogging, pots of tea, a brand new notebook and possibly pen, and long stupid dresses worn inside the house. I might even be looking forward to it.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Everywhere man or The Adam Lewis Awesome Test

Adam Lewis is a young man who is everywhere that is good or interesting or brave or new. He might even be the young man who booked, organised or curated it. For a while now I've been thinking of Adam Lewis as a human everywhere dog. He seems to be everywhere, all the time, all at once. Unless he is secretly identical triplets (could happen) or can travel through time (could happen) or is actually a personal delusional of mine and friends are just being nice and pretending he exists (could happen).

Yesterday I was sitting peaceably in a pub with some friends when Adam Lewis walked in. Straight away I knew that meant I was about to accidentally have a good time because a busy man like Adam doesn't just show up in a pub for no reason.

After I had an accidentally excellent time I started thinking about deciding whether or not I really liked it or if   the fact that I was covered in paint pigments, and a bit high and three beers in, were unduly influencing my decision towards the positive. At first it was kind of hard to tell but then I glanced over at Adam, who waved cheerily, and I had an idea.

Adam Lewis likes things that are awesome. He is a good judge of what is awesome because he sees everything all the time all at once. Once you see everything all the time all at once you can pick something shit a mile away. Here is an example of something that was shit.

Deciding whether something is good, or if I like it, is boring now that I have hung up my reviewing pen. One horrible side effect of being an ex-reviewer is automatically adding complicated layers of questions and filters on top of instinct before making a proclamation. The long deciding process bores me so I have invented something amazing. I give you The Adam Lewis Awesome Test for working whether or not something is good.

The Adam Lewis Awesome Test

1. Is Adam Lewis here? If yes continue to question two, if no then GO HOME RIGHT NOW because you are somewhere BAD.

2. Is Adam Lewis smiling and nodding his head in a joyful and benevolent way? If yes stay where you are and pay attention to what Adam Lewis is looking at. If no continue to next question.

3. Is it a break between bands or performers or similar? If yes get a drink or talk to friends or Adam Lewis or both and proceed to question four. If no GO HOME CAUSE IF ADAM HATES IT YOU SHOULD TOO, if it is not something with performances proceed to question four.

4. Ask Adam Lewis if he thinks it is awesome. Listen to his answer.If he thinks it is awesome then it is AWESOME, if he does not think it awesome then it SUX AND YOU SHOULD GO HOME RIGHT NOW AND HAVE A NICE CUP OF TEA AND A LITTLE SIT DOWN.

See how much easier my whole life is now?

PS. Hate mail bores the fuck out of me so in case you are confused, or from Finland, let this be your 'takeaway', I like Adam Lewis and think he is pretty great and one day, if he keeps this up, he will be the Captain of Sydney or similar because he is a talented young man with great instincts and popular social graces. I also like his glasses.

PPS. Adam Lewis - the bio by Dale Slamma:
Radiant on FBI
Those millions of gigs he organises
That other thing
Oh and his day job
And all those tweets and facebooks
might be best to ask Adam Lewis for his more official bio.

Saturday, 24 March 2012


Today I will mostly be wishing 'ghost protocol' was an actual thing and not, as it turns out, the name of a film.

In my head going 'ghost protocol' means wearing a long wispy sort of greyish dress and having a teapot full of tea and sugar cubes instead of no sugar at all. There should be mist with a little fine rain and a definite chill in the air but not so cold the windows are all closed. The curtains breathe in and out and the record player is on low in the next room, something timeless winding slowly through song. There are no digital interruptions and the front gate is locked, maybe the last light of the day is glowing through the heavy heads of full roses in the garden. It should mean solitude and freedom to think and wander through rooms. That's what it should mean.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

But now am

I was lost. In my own unfinished manuscript and it was fucking awful. More crying than was strictly necessary forced me into an unusual manoeuvre. I sat down with one piece of paper and a pen and asked myself one question. What is the story of this novel? One hour and one sentence later and there are no more tears, no more frustrated screaming at the walls and halls of The Peach.

It seems so simple. Why did it take me three quarters of a day, in an emotional state closer to crazy than I care to admit, to figure out all I had to do was ask myself one little question? I must be a lot stupider than I thought I was. Either that or I truly am some kind of sucklord.

In other news I have thought of a project for April. No title yet but it involves leather straps and steaming breath before dawn.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The important thing about today

Is precisely nothing. Not one thing. Another dull day in Slammatown. Might be time to elect a new Captain or maybe the problem isn't me but everyone else. All I want is to see the face of some god or other, I don't mind which, trace elements of the transcendental. It's like the problem with toast, once you put butter on it everything is transformed from the bearable to the divine. That's all I want, every day, just one thing transformed.

Monday, 19 March 2012


So of course I was hoping there would be a minor acceleration through time and she would bear a hybrid zombie child just loaded with antibodies and everyone would be saved all over again by the child doomed to suffer and die. And my hope was sterile and regurgitated. Christ.

New resolution

Intermittently semi-intellectual existential loneliness.


Without joy, mild merriment sure but no joy no redemption. I hate those kinds of weekends where newspapers keep time and coffee making keeps time and the socks just stay wherever you put them and people come and go and open their pipes and pour words out. I might watch them make puddles on the ground and walk around wishing for some other course of action or maybe I'll pour a puddle of my own half-hoping somebody steps in it and feels a cold rush in one foot, maybe looks up or around or behind or down or asks "What is this doing here?".

Obviously I am a sucklord

I've been spending a fair amount of time with a friend lately and mostly it is quite enjoyable but this weekend it dawned on me that he might have got me all wrong. It feels like he has decided which boxes I tick on a list, writer, not stupid, careless with fashion, rebellious in some ways, good listener, but that is all.

It feels like a major failure of communication on my part. How can it be that someone I spend so much time with doesn't know who I am?  I know quite a few things about him, intimate things, broad things, daily habit things, but this knowledge is not reciprocated because he never asks and I don't offer. Ordinarily I am a font of information, about myself, but with him I don't ever feel the urge to tell, only the urge to listen and observe.

On reflection the failure feels more fundamental than just a lapse in communication. It feels like I let myself become unimportant in his presence, overwhelmed by the oddness of wanting to listen and listen and not speak in return. Obviously I am some kind of sucklord.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Horrible horrible horrible

My pancreas, or similar organ located in middle of self, feels odd due to beer or similar. It seems clear, to me right now, that I am drunk and this is probably the main reason for feeling like shit. The other contenders in the "reasons for feeling like shit contest" are as follows:

No. Not going to make list of reasons, that is shit idea. Better idea take shoes off.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A new kind of sponge

I can't stop listening. From the moment I leave the house in the morning until I come home in the afternoon, and sometimes again after that in the evening. It's not music. I've gone off music. These are words. Podcasts and audiobooks. Interviews and recordings of long dead poets, children's books, even American radio programs, anything I can get my hands on.

I think I've become a new kind of sponge. I haven't been this excited about anything since I learned to read my own bedtime story, all by myself, and spent the next ten years reading every book* in the house, even the dictionaries. I remember my mother looking horrified when she came in to tell me to turn off the light and there I was, propped up in bed, reading my Junior Macquarie Dictionary like it was a story. She asked me what I was doing and I replied "reading the dictionary". She left it at that and didn't mention it again until years later, when she used it as an example of my excessive reading habits. I think this is a good example of my mother's storytelling habits. Maybe I'll make a podcast about it...

*It might have taken longer to read all the books in the house, there were so many and new ones kept appearing all the time.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Sometimes it's hard to tell if I'm lying or if isolating only one corner of a thought gives a solidly incorrect impression

There is an elderly couple I greet on the street from time to time. I wave or nod or say hello as I walk by them because they are always stationary. She sits in an old plastic chair and he either stands near her or props himself against a tree or a fence or a building. I see them in the same general area but not usually in precisely the same place. I have never seen them walking either to or from their spot. They vary their placement, either sun or shade, depending on the weather.

They speak with thick accents and appear shrivelled and worn like elderly like The Potato Eaters but with less hats. This afternoon on the way home from work the woman asked me a question, she has never done this before. Our conversation was small and stilted but it has left me thinking. Here's the conversation as I remember it:
Woman: Work?
DS: Yes, I am coming home now.
Woman: Work?
DS: Yes. Work.
Woman: Factory?
DS: No. University.
Woman: Good job.

I waved farewell and kept on walking. Factory? I don't know anyone that works in a factory. I don't even know where the nearest factory would be. Alexandria? Mascot? Somewhere out West a little? The first thing I think of when someone says factory is warehouse apartment, or party, or sad, dark and looming space with holes in the roof and rain leaking in. I don't think 'work'.

I wonder what she thinks I do at the university? Maybe she thinks I am a secretary, that I have a big wooden desk and a typewriter. I hope that is what she thinks I do. She would never have guessed my actual job.*

I was friendly to the woman as she spoke with me, smiled at her, genuinely wished her a pleasant afternoon soaking up the sun but I still felt a little guilty as I walked away. I felt like my life should have rushed into sharp focus and perspective, that I should have immediately felt some stark difference between what might have been her working life in a factory and mine which has exactly nothing to do with factories, but I didn't. I felt nothing of the sort, nothing but mildly interrupted because I had to fish out my phone and rewind the podcast I was listening to so I didn't miss anything. But then fresh guilt emerged at my lack of perspective and the huge black hole where I should have been thinking about the woman's life instead of my own.

This sense of guilt has persisted, through the end of the podcast, three rounds of Drawsome, one wee break and the eating of one spoon of peanut butter directly from the jar. Why don't I feel a sense of perspective? Could it be that I have become so fixated on the inner workings of my mind and my life that I am no longer able to be changed by a small chance encounter on a street corner?

I hope so.

I would like nothing more than to be largely unchanged by the world as it bumps into me, like a character from a Woody Allen film. I have always wanted to be like a character from a Woody Allen film who goes through something big, like a failed romance, and comes out the other end just exactly as they were before, maybe more so. Maybe they use the experience to write a book or a play but manage to avoid any personal growth or change. I admire those characters, how they distil themselves into becoming an even more interesting and dense version of who they were to begin with.

And so now the guilt is changing into hope. The sun is still out and the couple is still likely to be sat, weirdly without any cups of tea, in their afternoon spot, unmoving, not talking, just taking in the day. I have half a mind to go back there and talk to them about this, ask them what they think it means but I won't because that's closer to crazy than I want to go this afternoon so for now I'll go and make a cup of tea and think about something else.

*Not just the woman might have a hard time guessing but everybody, there is an extra layer of trickiness in that I am not employed by the university but that my employer has free and exclusive use of a building on campus.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sunday Sunday

A Sunday resolution. Just because Grizelda is still away does not mean I am allowed to eat ice cream for breakfast. Beans. Beans and toast, this is my Sunday resolution and may it be as boring for you as it was for me.

In other news have a read of this unbelievably awful and biased review of a book of poetry. I admit it might not be his best work but I have never read another review where the personal life of the poet was so transparently judged and attacked. I would have been much more interested in a straight review that examined only the work itself and leaves aside any question of the man's integrity for a different article. 

My opinion on the matter of the Poet and his private life is still being formed, I predict it will be another ten years before it arrives fully formed and ready for dispatch.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

First song

The melody came like a wave. The sound heightens and melds all experienced incidents from the shock and slap of a forward moving foot taking the full weight of a man to the lurch and swing of a shoulder joint as an arm travels forwards, loose fingers wanting always to be the first extremities to move into a new space. Breath and lung-bottoms contrive to engineer the whole chest to receive and reject and receive and reject nothing tangible to the naked eye. The sky wheels up and pulls down above everything like a hood and there is the wind. The unnamed wind of London St, Enmore New South Wales, rilling up and down the false dawn hill for reasons not one of the residents properly understands, except him.

False dawn was transformed for two minutes. All parts of him moved together in symphony, fingers, heels, heart, thought, breath and he crested the hill before the song wound down. He turned the corner into shadows under shop-awnings and gained momentum as his body understood he was no longer climbing but walking on flat ground.

The song concluded in one golden burst of resolution and he found his parts disconnecting their psychic union and resuming ordinary operations of holding coins for the bus, manufacturing saliva and planning out the first work tasks of the morning. He more clearly remembers coming back into himself, the dissolving and dissolution of a golden two minute experience than the walking moment itself.

Friday, 9 March 2012

What kind of magic spell to use?

One that completes all work in automated fast motion, similar to the dancing mops but with a successful outcome. Now, if you will excuse me I shall begin.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Lessons in architecture

I have made here another fort of pillows and sea-green bedsheets and that hand stitched quilt from my mother. Volumes of poetry scattered like driftwood. Outside all is ocean and my newspaper on the doorstep pulped in the deluge. I have forgone tea for hot chocolate and the low echo of Maria Callas on the record player. The kitchen floor is a vast and saltless ocean so desperate is the rain to be warm in here with me it has found ways to begin. The dining room ceiling, the bathroom window, underneath doors and windows cold wet fingers clamour for the bare soles of my feet but I am here in my fortress warm and dry.

Soon I will forage for eggs and toast. First I will imagine room by room by the empty house with its echoing arias and the cat perched in the library windowsill noting the rising water and the pale weak sun. Room by room my mind will wander in silence in front of my feet. All the hung curtains breathe and flare making that one long day up ladders worthwhile. This house instructs me in ways of being.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Taking care of

Clattering out of the exit of a fifty floor office tower after 7pm I found myself on the receiving end of a few sympathetic smiles. I was weighed down with folders and documents*, just like the besuited sympathetic smilers. I felt a small burst of collegiate warmth and kinship as I struggled to the nearest bus stop.

I stared up at the endless rows of office towers and listened to the small concrete echo of traffic and hard-soled shoes. I wondered if I could do this every day. So powerful was the feeling of kinship and collaborative human struggle I got carried away in a fantasy of owning a wardrobe full of business dresses, of rising early every day to brush my hair and travel clean and groomed right into the heart of the city. Then I realised I was at the wrong bus stop and my red shoes were old and scuffed and my anchor broach was ridiculously out of place and my office was not in one of those towers but in an almost condemned building in the back corner of a university.

I achieved a new limbo in that moment. I felt simultaneously part of the churning machinations of the city but also free. It was probably just a case of geography.

*Almost all of them were legitimate work documents and books, only two of the books were poetry and only read one of them during the meeting.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Safari or What kind of cheese can you hide a small horse in?

Spencer waited with me on the corner for Mr X to come and collect me in his car. We stood in the rain, after all those years of drought I still think of the rain as rare. It rains here every day now and there are floods and the dam has overflowed but after living so long with dry bones the rain will remain, in my heart, a rare and beautiful spectacle to be embraced. We drove away leaving Spencer on a back street in Newtown. I never worry about driving away from Spencer every third person in town is someone who wants to sit down and spend time with him.

I don't know how Mr X steered so straight and steady, the rain came in diagonal drifts and all I could though the slanting darkness was freeway markers and pale lights from other cars. We arrived at the venue and I was piled up with stands and bags of leads and one heavy guitar. Mr X went about the business of setting up, plugging things in, turning things on up on stage with the rest of the band. I am used to these kinds of procedures and know the very best thing I can is stay out of the way so I wandered about a little and took in the vast electric rooms.

The venue was a club. The kind with acres of poker machines and an all you can eat buffet. Rooms opened onto other rooms onto more rooms. It was vast and lit with a combination of fluorescent lights and small dim stars meant to add atmosphere. The carpet was a uniform deep dull red but the walls varied from charcoal to beige. I found a cafe in one of the rooms and ordered myself a coffee and a sandwich, busied myself having dinner and making notes from a small table near the stage.

The band played and I intermittently wandered around having little chats with the locals. The gulf between me and the residents of Western Sydney has never seemed greater. I don't understand how this has happened. I grew up in Western Sydney, went to public schools, all my friends lived in the same area, I even went to the University of Western Sydney but there a difference so deep that I am sure it is forensically detectible at every level even beginning with DNA.

I participated in a conversation with two other women. One was dressed head-to-toe in turquoise and aqua tones she insisted on calling aquamarine. She said her eyes were the greatest eyes anyone would ever see, she told they were aquamarine the same as her birthstone and pointed at the cheap looking studs piercing her ears. The stones were aquamarine, like her eyes, but neither were beautiful. The other woman looked to me like an off-duty stripper. Bleached hair rolling over her enlarged brestas,  down past her the tail of her painfully thing abdomen, huge black false eyelashes fanning like spiders across a heavily made-up face.

The two women speaking to each other. Instantly, before exchanging names, they entered a competition I have never witnessed before. It was like a prolonged and violent exchange of volleys at a championship tennis match. Each sentence a fired and condensed repor to the very worst moments of their lives.
"My husband died."
"My son is in jail."
"My husband abused me."
"I nearly died in a car crash."
"I've had two major back surgeries because I nearly died in a car crash."
"I've had two car crashes."

I asked if they knew each other because it seemed to me that something more than an introductory conversation was happening but they simultaneously denied it with, "No. Why?".

They continued firing facts at each other like bullets, sizing each other up. It was hard and impenetrable and I was well out of my depth. I have no idea how to interact in that kind of conversation. The talk came to an abrupt halt when the turquoise woman declare she was going to vomit, spilt her glass of lemonade on the floor, she told me she never ever drinks, and took off like a shot through the acres of poker machines.

A man walked up to me as I sat puzzling over what had just happened. He walked right up to me, shoe to shoe, and threw a stick of gum in my handbag. He winked at me and told it was for later. By this time the band had finished their first set and I took refuge backstage with them. I stood leaning against the wall nursing a beer Mr X provided, thinking it all over. The band began remarking on the club and it's patrons and I laughed with them at the strangeness of it all but I have to admit I was a little shaken.

What causes two women to lead a social interaction with the very worst moments of their life? Why are they so hard that they converse like battalions of soldiers charging at each other with bayonets? Why was the atmosphere so tense it made sense to me that the very next step would be violence?

On the way back to the Inner West Mr X and I pondered the nature of the town we were just in and each declared it would be impossible to live there, impossible to survive living anywhere at all like that. I panicked a little as though that is exactly what would happen, as though I was being forcefully transferred there and would have to survive as best I could. Mr X snorted when I told him, he said living there, or anywhere like that, was entirely out of the question and to my relief I believed him.


Two kinds of shiver and the bare table left adrift in the centre of the library

The shadows are strange in here today. Slow and deliberate but diffused as though less sure of themselves than they claim to be. There is sky of medium blue but I have disregarded it. In here the air feels rainsoaked and the smells are green and shaded, not pine nor eucalyptus in tone, neither so deep a green nor so olive. There is a sensation of being adrift in a haven while outside all things are moss.

The furniture remains rearranged from Saturday night's dinner party, here and there I find a wine-stained glass and dishes are strewn in a beautiful mess. Some of them washed some streaked with the final course of the night. The last guest departed, reluctantly at false dawn, as I shivered in my skin. There is a chill that comes and will not be denied when I have been awake three hours too many.

The dinner was successful, the guests full of chatter and goodwill, the wine never running out. We took turns at blindfolding each other and staggering around with a paper donkey's tail held out in one hand, the other hand stretched blindly into empty space. We decorated with linen napkins, flowers in empty jars, lit candles and borrowed plates. Mr X was the only person to successfully pin the tail on the donkey, his prize was to perform an interpretive dance to a song of his choice. Spencer eyed him suspiciously while he danced, almost always it is Spencer who is watched while we do the watching.

Now I have here some notes I made on Friday night when I was dragged, willingly, to Mr X's strange gig out West in one of those giant clubs with acres of poker machines and an all you can eat buffet featuring both Chinese dishes and pizza. I was horrified by the people I met, the forcefulness of their presence, the blunt and alarming manner they conducted themselves like alarmed and enlisted echnidas forced upright and forwards despite the spines and spikes pointing out in all directions and the hand grenade clutched in the palm of their right hand.

I am supposed to be at work but I found, after dressing there was a chill in the air and the strong urge to wrap knitted layers across my shoulders combined with a sensation that if I laced up my shoes and walked  down the front path I would turn to glass and shatter before I reached the corner. I am probably coming down with a cold, it always feels first as though I have been indelibly altered and then a day later I realise it the usual case of a mild fever and the manufacturing of snot. There is the hope that one day I won't notice and I'll just walk around like everybody else clutching a tissue and making a cup of tea.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Every day an adventure of one sort or another

Boring bit upfront: I'm joining in on the 'blog every day in March' thing because I thought I might as well as not. Apparently lots of people are doing it, because of this guy, also there is a hashtag, #b03.

Another more different slightly less boring bit. I am beginning to love American public radio shows, like WNYC's Radiolab and NPR's Fresh Air and even This American Life. These shows seem to explore topics in a wandering way with genuine curiosity, I suspect this is how I prefer to think. Studying law I found I could never concentrate strictly on the topic at hand, the case in question would lead to thinking about the story of the people which lead to the topic of the story of the people which would lead to other people and their stories and then a new topic would arise and the process would start all over again. This kind of thinking is not ideal when attempting to think like a lawyer. 

Happily I no longer need to attempt to think like a lawyer, not ever again, and so I have given myself a challenge. Does this style of thinking work for writing things down? Even if it's just writing for this stupid blog? I'll find out by experimenting. For the duration of this every day in March thing I will allow the wandering to have its way and see where I end up. End official boring bit, the next bit might also be boring too but it is not official.

The harbour slides into view in the most surprising way when you catch the train from Newtown into the City Circle. It's all tunnels and communication blackout and suddenly there the fuck it is, bridge and building and shining sea all in the small box of a glass train window and you've no choice but to centre yourself geographically, floating above the quay and the unreasonable view screaming Sydney, Sydney on repeat until the train slides away and noses back underground into darkness.

I walked from St James station to the NSW Gallery with one of the Bruce Green boys, the non-Artboy one, because he was going to work at the gallery. Seems to me like he works at every gallery and museum in the city. It's a stupid walk from the station to the gallery, underground tunnels, road crossings and then a walk along a park that feels unnecessary more than pleasant as though they dropped the gallery in wrong spot by accident.

Picasso is the reason I left the kitchen table on my day off, Picasso and a strong desire to be unromantic. Recently I have been accused of being a romantic by three separate men* on three separate occasions. I despise romanticism so I left the light to slide across the floor without me, left the teapot on the shelf and marched out into the world determined to be as unromantic as possible.

A solo expedition around an exhibition is not romantic but today it was moving, in places. A sketch near the beginning of the exhibition trapped me. Slammed me into reverie and there I stayed until an elderly woman in a red hat shoved me on purpose. I think it was a self-portrait, it was called something like "The artist drawing, with hand studies". One clear bold sketch of the artist, bare-chested and youthful with disembodied hands floating around the edges of the page in more ghostly lines, some of them hesitant and pale.

The rawness of Picasso's sketch appealed to me. More than anything I love the beginnings, the sketches, the demo tapes, the first draft, when there is nothing but raw art at work. A direct line from mind to page or sound or canvas. In this stage of work you cannot lie, you can not hide behind the reworkings and the polish that inevitably comes with experience. I don't dislike finished works but the raw beginnings excite me.

My love of raw beginnings has lead me to some odd places, tiny galleries in back alleys, bands playing under buildings and in warehouses or lounge rooms, people singing in the park at midnight and then of course there is PAN magazine. The editorial team is learning, very quickly, how to have a magazine but many of our contributors for each issue have no experience and I love this. This is one way of transferring raw beginnings from garages and kitchen tables into the hands of readers. Another way of examining the unedited beginnings has been, and still is, this blog. In the beginning of this blog I was new to the city, new to being alone, I was shot from my old life without warning and I was on the edge. Of course it transformed and I let it because here I remain unedited, without expectation or rules which exactly how I find my best friendships are, with Spencer and with others, like Robert.

I don't write much about Robert, he is intensely private, much more so than any person I have ever known   but that doesn't mean he isn't around, sometimes in person and often in my thoughts or in my telephone, like today. Robert called from his hometown in another state and asked for a favour. I was inside a bookshelf when he called. I was building one of these flat-pack bookshelves in the hallway and found it necessary to lie the half-built thing down flat and slide in between the long pieces to tighten some screws. I didn't hesitate to say yes, it seems a great privilege to be asked by someone to be of help in their life. The favour involved climbing out from inside the bookshelf, out the window, the front door was blocked by the bookshelf and straight into a taxi to Kings Cross to make a cash deal with a real estate agent.

Robert, having flown out this morning for a month, received a call informing him he had indeed been approved for the flat he applied for but the real estate agent needed the deposit by close of business today. This is where my and my taxi catching come into play. After crossing the city again, this time in the comfort of a motor vehicle, I found myself face to face with an astonishing man. I suppose he might not be so astonishing on meeting him a second time but that first time had my ovaries in a knot.

Here's what I know about the real estate man, he wears suits, an expensive watch and has very shiny shoes and the astonishing effect of sitting down next to him is the sudden and urgent need to breed, with him, immediately if not sooner. I don't know if he's handsome, I suppose he might be but not obviously so. His accent is thick and possibly Turkish. The hallmarks of Turkish language are vowel harmony and agglutination but I don't know what that means, he sounded deep and musical and unfamiliar. He doesn't hold himself in any particular way, his office is small and messy, he was not especially friendly nor was he too cold or overly professional. There is no logical reason for the unexpected feelings. It was raw and immediate and entirely unedited and I'll make sure it stays that way.

Sometimes the beginnings of making an acquaintance is the most profound part, before I find out that they wear novelty socks or dislike their mother or have a dull and heavy mind. Sometimes walking past someone and observing how they occupy the world in that moment is enough.

* Lex Wick is one of my accusers, the others don't have blogs.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Old man look at my life

If I dissected him I'd find nothing but chalk and wish bones. Great piles of wish bones and crumbling white chalk, dry and crackable as twigs. Aching forward steps. His pace might have been languid, if it wasn't for the chalk, if it wasn't for the wish bones. I pushed him over and now I'm going to pry him apart and try snapping his innards for luck.

Geographical facts in numbered list form but not in chronological order

  1. The IGA on Enmore Rd smells like dill and offers cold comfort from the hot thick air.
  2. Enmore Rd is swarming with beautiful boys sporting traditional 80's metal hair, bandanas and leather pants. Quite a lot of them are wearing Skid Row singlets, the kind with wide open arm holes exposing skin drawn tight across ribs.
  3. The best example of the swarming men was one young one in read snakeskin pants.
  4. One hour ago I was drinking coffee on King St with two people, one of them was more eccentric than I am, and also slightly creepy at times. At one point he mimed throwing a sheet, thousand count Egyptian cotton, over my head and then pressed a finger to my lips saying 'shhh, shhh'.
  5. Nine hours ago I paid twice for my morning coffee on the way to work, once for today and once for yesterday when I forgot my wallet and they made me coffee anyway. This is the benefit of putting up with inane small talk from cafe owners every day.
  6. Six hours ago, in my office, I was listening to Mr X's new album when a wasp flew into my dress. I performed the most remarkable dance.
  7. Robert has performed his last day as a not-for-profit slave worker in Ultimo and will from this night forward be a Writer, he insisted on the capital W. I do not doubt his success.
  8. Walking home the humidity was so high I feared I might at any moment sweat myself into non-existence. Vanish right into thick air.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Some call it the Emerald City

My brother sat perched on a bar stool peering out the window at people scurrying around in Surry Hills. He kept exclaiming, "Look at all the people! All those people going places! Look at that guy, and that guy, look at them over there!" like he couldn't believe the volume and variety of humanity of going about its business.

I used to exclaim like that when I first moved to the city, even sit for hours making notes. I couldn't believe my eyes. It felt so strange to see so many people moving about all around me after decades of knowing three streets away from wherever I was there was nothing but distance, mountains and sky. You could walk out the front door of my old house and walk for hours without arriving anywhere at all.

The city feels like a dreamscape sometimes and I still want to exclaim but I'm more likely to close my eyes and see if I can feel it, as well as see it. I'm still waiting to wake up back in the old town and realise I've had the most amazing dream.