Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Monday, 30 January 2012

Why am I here?

What the hell is going on? Is what I should have demanded far more often than I did this weekend.

The above satellite photo shows the location of the chain restaurant where I had breakfast with family on Sunday. Note it is situated in the middle of a paddock and across the road from the vile Hawkesbury-Nepean River.

It is a strange location for a chain restaurant. I can't help but think I might have enjoyed it's oddness more if it was the ambitious project of some enterprising farmer who had always cherished a secret love of cooking instead one of those franchised chains. I'm quite sure the farmer would not have made me dry pancakes nor raised an eyebrow when I requested bacon instead of ice cream. He is probably also a painter, with oils, who sits speakers in the windows of his house so the horses can hear the music too. He uses only the best coffee beans and sometimes chops wood using an axe.

Wishing and a hoping

Today I am mostly wishing The Fly will turn out differently this time. That no fly flew into the transporter pod and Seth Brundle lived a long and human life.

Friday, 20 January 2012


  • Maybe add stuff about the dead sea captains.
  • Find out if it should be dead Sea Captains or sea-captains or Sea-captains or Sea-Captains.
  • Don't worry about the United Nations.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dead sea captains, my very own pile of bones and the United Nations

This is the very first draft of a letter I intend to send to a friend.

Dear Friend,

Firstly, this is a kind of letter of thanks. Secondly, this is the first letter I have written on HAL so in this way at least it is special. I don't know what in the fuck came over you to make you decide to give me my very own ticket to see PJ Harvey at the State Theatre. There is no possible way I could have accepted such a generous gift if it wasn't for the kind and equally generous words that accompanied the giving. I suppose this letter will be entirely redundant by the time you receive it seeing as you are going to the very same PJ Harvey show tomorrow night but I'm not afraid of a little redundancy, every now and then.

I think I've come away changed. It was her quiet deliberateness that's done it. She was so sure, moving in and out of the light, making use of shadows. She was so sure of every exchange of silence for sound. I'm thinking my pile of bones will be talking about the time I saw PJ Harvey long after the rest of me has vanished.

She began in darkness, edged forwards into a dim light and cast a tall shadow up the vaulted walls of the theatre. There are angels in the architecture here. I couldn't tear myself away from the dark image, the long feather tendrils of her headdress casting ideas of ragged bones and fallen wings while she sang and strummed that damn autoharp like it was easier than breathing.

I used to play the autoharp, when I was a kid, in the garage. It was where all the interesting things were, old ammunition boxes, glockenspiels, melodicas, tamborines, guitars, an ancient upright piano, basses, amps, quad boxes, wood blocks, workbenches, train sets, easels, paints, a banjo, jars fulls of coloured picks and an autoharp. Dad covered the floor in avocado green carpet tiles that scratched and itched bare flesh mercilessly. It was basically coloured sandpaper. I'm not sure why he did that. Between the carpet tiles tearing at the backs of my legs and the autoharp taking the tops off my fingers I don't really know why I spent so much time in there.

If I had to state my purpose in spending so much time in a hostile garage I'd choose possibility. The sense of possibility, you could do or make or play anything in that room, nothing was off limits, no flight of fancy I couldn't at least make a decent attempt at turning into fact. I eventually came out of that garage with the knowledge that not every idea works, a series of crazy attempts at weird instruments, a detective agency, a solid sense where I fail creatively and the ability to fall steadfastly into an idea.

This is where I'm going to try and make a point, I think I might have one. I feel like PJ Harvey came out of that garage in a way that I didn't and it has filled me with awe. Sitting under the gilt vaults and arches in the theatre tonight I struggled to comprehend something, it seems just beyond my reach, a sense of power and wonder unlike anything people call religious. Ideas turned tangible.

She was tiny, wrapped in that big black dress, trailing feathers down the back of her hair. Tiny but solid as definite as a tree. I believed, without struggle, every word she sang, wailed and uttered. Followed her without question down the thick path of mourning for a country I've never seen.

My friend N, whose ticket I had arranged to collect and hold for her, arrived two minutes before the show started so we barrelled in and took our seats as fast we could. Once the light died and we spied shadowy figures making their way onto the stage I sat in silence. Uttered not one word, shared not one thought, glance or movement. You have given me the indulgence of solitude. The unfettered joy of witnessing without the burden of being obliged to hack off part of my experience and give it away. I've collected each moment and pressed them into private unvarnished memory.

I don't need to talk about the music, you already know what I mean.

Last night you called the Sydney Festival "art served on white bread", which is just about perfect for everything, except this. So thank you for the ticket, in case it wasn't clear from this letter, I'm saying thank you for the ticket.

I'm glad you've travelled round the world and back again. You're a pal and a confidante.

With actual sincerity for once,


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Hyde Park might be growing on me

Neither Spencer nor I were expecting to enjoy the event. Being invited as 'magazine editors' to a VIP event hosted by an alcohol brand as part of the Sydney Festival was a fairly unattractive proposition but when we got there we changed our minds.

Sydney is capable of pulling up her smog-soaked gown and being suddenly jaw-droppingly beautiful. Spencer and I were sitting in a temporary beer garden in the middle of Hyde Park when he said something along the lines of "Look that way if you want to see something nice". It wasn't nice, it was fucking spectacular. Through the waving green window of a canopy of trees the last light of the day was spilling rose and gold across the old sandstone cathedral and the sky, we all know about those.

We were photographed, plied with free drinks, fed with free prawns and then gently ushered into a plywood contraption they were calling a hunting lodge. The hunting lodge was complete with fake fire, fake antlers on the walls and roaming models in orange hot pants and peculiar hats. After a drink or two the modestly sized building began to take on a genuine feeling of being a hunting lodge. At least what I imagine an actual hunting lodge might be like, there aren't any of those hanging around in Sydney, usually.

We wandered about from bar to garden and back again, taking advantage of the free drinks, until we were once again gently ushered into the hunting lodge. Without fanfare a band began to play and Tim Finn popped up as though beamed in from outer space and jumped straight into 'Six Months in a Leaky Boat'.

Thirty seconds into the set I was hooked. I suppose I should have known that by now Tim Finn is a man who knows how to perform. He brought a surprising raw intensity to his performance, I barely looked away until it was over. The whole crowd felt like it was one communal splitting grin.

I had no idea how brilliant seeing Tim Finn playing a small fake hunting lodge would turn out to be so thank you Sydney Festival, and alcohol brand with a bottomless marketing budget, thank you.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Breaking the law breaking the law

Laws I have broken today due to poverty.

1. Do not eat cheese that comes in jar and does not require refrigeration.
2. All toothpaste must contain fluoride and shall not taste like condensed arse.
3. Never shall no name instant coffee pass your lips.

It's only three so far but the day is young...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Peach has run out of coffee

Now I'm thinking about backstories and dreaming of coffee. Coffee is good and then it is gone and then it is good and it is gone, backstories aren't so simple. There are so many horrifying chapters to my backstory that I can't pick it all up in one bag. It's like I tried to cram all the world's dog shit into one plastic bag and here I stand covered in the consequences.

Maybe I'll tackle it in chapters, bind it into something useful, make an index and set it on fire. Or maybe I'll just go out for coffee and understand that it is good and then it will be gone.

What if there is no stream?

Always there is some larger struggle, ideologically, physically, emotionally. This week I despair at the low pay and unlikely nature of current job. Three years ago I kicked against an average income and full-time hours because it hurt my need for respite and writing. I had a thirst for time on my hands.

This week I have felt ignored by my employers who largely leave me to my own devices in an otherwise empty building. I have complained, loudly, to everyone I know that I wish to feel busy, used up by the end of the working day so that I may feel a sense of accomplishment and drop exhausted into an ordinary civilian slumber at the close of the day. Grizelda, who is wise in unexpected moments, told me to shut up and use any available time for working on my own projects like PAN or my manuscript. She said this job, apart from only just covering the rent, is ideal for my needs.

I wonder if she is right. Apart from the appallingly low pay* I seem to be swimming against an idea that was previously my ideal. Brushing my hair this morning, it was at midday but I wanted to give the impression I was more organised than I am, I remembered a horse rider I admired when I was ten years old. Her name was Glenda, she was a grown up with a firefighter husband, babies in prams and a beautiful black horse who was vicious and wily. I was forbidden from entering his stable without supervision. Glenda used to waltz in and out of this stable without caution or alarm, drape her arm across the beast and laugh if he turned from his hay net to make a face and bare his enormous teeth at her. Unlike the stable supervisor Glenda had no trouble handling this horse at all**.

Glenda had long red hair, hanging thick and heavy to nearly her waist. She always, every day, wore her hair in plaits. I longed to make such a firm decision as Glenda seemed to, to decide on one way of wearing my hair and stick to it every day for the rest of my life. I wore my hair in plaits for three days then became bored and attempted a Princess Leia style before wishing it all chopped off like a lady in a Scott F Fitzgerald novel. I was an annoyingly precocious reader.

It bothered me that I was unable to take one thing and absorb it seamlessly into my way of being. I felt always to be swimming upstream, from the way I brushed my teeth to which breakfast cereal I preferred in the mornings. People I admired seemed to be people of habit, resolute in their ways and this was accepted if not admired in them. I struggled to make decisions about everything, final decisions, to form habits, routines, things I always preferred or did or said. My mother had definite habits, sitting on a series of strange ergonomic stools with a dog at her feet as she wrote her latest thesis. My father would spend days doing boring chores, lawns, gardens, cleaning, organising, then sit exhausted and watch a bad movie on television before suddenly taking up a pencil and beginning all over again the extravagant and immersive experience of designing and building something beautiful from scratch.

I change my mind from moment to moment, any long-term decision is likely to be discarded five minutes after its declaration. I seem unable to choose a single goal or way of being and working resolutely towards its completion. My existence feels more fluid than it ought to, water running over everybody else's levels, never really settling always wanting to move on, down, forward and assault the land mass with arched innumerable lashes.

I wanted a part-time job so that I would have time. I was looking for a job and then I found a job and heaven knows I'm tired of being miserable now. Also there didn't really seem to be a point to this post, other than the quick expulsion of several loosely connected thoughts. Perhaps I am working something out.

*On being offered this job I clumsily negotiated for a higher rate of pay. After being told I was successful in my bid to be paid at a higher rate they informed me I would be working five less hours a week than the previous employee thus ending up with even less in hand than I thought I would be. Fuckers.

**Until the moment of his tragic death when she quite understandably entirely lost her shit and did not get it back for quite some time.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Return from the south pole

I have installed tins of peaches, cordial, jelly, soy milk and half a peanut butter sandwich in my office fridge. Coffee on the shelf above the sink.This has failed to have impact on anything except the ability to abate sensations of hunger or thirst.

I had imagined the process of deliberately equipping the office with personal comforts might effect the low resonant tolling of what feels like a submerged death knell. It has not. Peanut butter remains powerless against the darker forces of the universe, this is a great and burning shame.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

First lady

First woman back in the office this year, only woman in the office this year, only human actually. At my non-PAN job, a horrid necessity, I am the only employee. The solitary and isolated nature of the job opens up all sorts of opportunities but so far I have limited it to loud music, dancing, throwing shoes and tying hair back in unflattering manner. I'm sure I'll think of something more exciting soon. Tomorrow I might attempt to use all the coffee mugs at once.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy fucking new year cocksuckers

I have developed a fondness for swearing, more so than I have ever felt before. I blame Deadwood for this. In an interesting side note I was wearing one of my mother's rings on Christmas day, the gold was dug out of the Black Hills of South Dakota, as was the gold in the necklace now laying on my desk. Both of these were gifts given to my mother by American friends a long time ago. I am sure they never dreamt the greatest joy they would bring to me is to stare at them while I watch Deadwood and yell "cocksucker!".

Oh yes, it is the new year. I can only report that I feel happy. That's right cocksuckers, I feel fucking happy. Spencer and I saw in the ticking of the clock on the Peach Deck with Gemma and one or two select friends. We wanted, I wanted and Spencer's wishes coincided, to have a quiet and drama-free evening doing anything or nothing as the notion took me within the friendly confines of these walls. Mission accomplished.

I am happy, a small part of me hopes you are happy too, the rest of me wants to joyously shout "cocksucker!" in your face and then fire a pistol into the air and gallop away on a horse.