Friday, 31 October 2008
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
In a fit of spontaneous similtude I told myself I'm bouncing it off the wall like a tennis ball. I saw my friend Sebastian last night. He drove me in his new car to dinner and we talked about his shining life. I sat next to him on the first day in the first class at law school and then most days until graduation. There are photos of us side by side in matching hats and gowns, he wore his like a triumph but I spent the day running down hallways pretending I was Harry Potter, this might be a clue as to why he is a successful lawyer and I sit in a room with a teapot, a typewriter and a cat.
I wound up in Spencer's Beach Shack some time after midnight, sitting in the one good chair staring at his walls of records and wonder. Spencer has one shelf of tinned tomatoes. The Beach Shack is the opposite of being a lawyer. I couldn't help comparing it to The Peach where there are no tinned tomatoes but many good chairs. I felt like I was in the middle of something, halfway between Sebastian and Spencer.
Two days ago there was dust in my socks, lungs, hair and car. I drove for hours across the harbour, on freeways and dirt roads through the bush to get to the Fortress of Solitude. Superman was standing in the middle of a great hall winding electrical wires into shapes when I found him. I was hot and cross but couldn't help smiling. We packed Superman's things into the Zammercarship and I drove for hours on dirt roads, across bridges and on freeways until we got to Emu and Superman was home.
There's no point to these stories. I'm just yawning and bouncing failures off my walls and wondering at the scope of things with its tomatoes, records, fortresses and my old enemy the law. I don't belong in any of those places, with my left hand I'm shaping mud into bricks. Maybe one day I can build somewhere of my own.
Monday, 27 October 2008
Sunday, 26 October 2008
This is your Captain speaking. Tomorrow morning I chart a course for the Fortress of Solitude where Superman, his bags and guitar will be brought aboard the Zammercarship. It is important to note that I am not at all terrified about driving over bridges such as The Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Anzac Bridge and other fine bridges with multiple lanes of traffic going in mad directions all at once with cars in them, many cars that may at any point endanger the Zamemrcarhip and all who sail in her. The cat has abandoned ship and elected to stay ashore in The Peach for this particular journey.
Superman has supplied me with excellent instructions. Today Grizelda drove me across the Anzac Bridge and the Harbour Bridge to demonstrate to me the sturdiness of both bridges and how to successfully navigate on to and then across them. I am almost certain that I know what am I doing.
Thursday, 23 October 2008
I have come here to gather myself while the dream slips to my feet. I wear it like a mantle. I don't recall how it occurs. I do not slip my arms into its sleeves. There is no stranger holding it aloft with strings. It is a universal cloak. I stand beneath it drawing it down as warmth or something more essential than footsteps.
It rages outside, sun scudding as a cloud through aeronautical space. You could be forgiven for imagining this bitter October Newtown wind imagined. I would forgive you your wild colonial view of a continent without seasons.
I have fallen into a painting. McCubbin had every idea when he painted me as lost. His mistake was ignoring that I am standing in the cradle of the sea. Seaweed grows as reeds parting gently in front and behind so that you can place me precisely as unbelonging with this wilderness. Now here NWJR will say that he does not understand me and I shall first reply that I have never seen America. I am caught here. The tides turned inward when the world sought refuge. The switch lies forgotten somewhere in the machinations of war. A great tide that never turned though there is here an identity of unbelonging.
The English make an art of unbelonging holding up houses as glass orbs that we pay peer into or travel through. Only the imagining will possess us. The last time he saw her he said "I hope your heart breaks" and I knew at once this could never be my point in th story though others may cling to it. The urge here is to repeat. It is the kind of tragedy my brother would cling to, the great house wrapped for war and all the haunted grandeur.
Spencer will come here to meet me but before he arrives I will be unfaithful to my novel and begin another not yet unwrapped from its shop-branded paper bag. I begin to despise youth. The vulgar to my left and the questing talking ones behind with their part-time jobs and their talk of the merits of various teachers.
A woman arrives in a red cardigan adorned with a mirrored glass opera house broach that remind me of an every morning urge to recapture oblivion. I have missed my chance to be drunk over this. Instead I sleep and rise and dress as though I had purpose. I call this infernal searching purpose but I must not refer to that neither with scratchings nor boldness nor cloaked devices.
I am sure that the waiter read my words as he cleared away my cups and one plate with leave from a strawberry. There is always the worry of things but I leave them open on the table as I visit the toilet as a sign of faith though I do not believe.
It is a kind of madness, imagining words poring from my cheap stolen pen to be worth something other than paper with ink. I was supposed to write a novel but I've no regard for story. Being constructed of words and constructing with words are not connected. Here now the dream has fallen and I will lay down this pen and pick up my novel.
There is room there for The Peach, her deck, a garden and all who sail in her. Spencer will carry his things in boxes and sail onboard The Peach wearing his hat and a guitar. He will then establish himself in a flat in The Hive. My brother will lash ropes round his townhouse and be towed as Ron & Rita row down from the mountains. The Cowboy has attached twin diesel engines to his flat. Robert's house shimmers and slips coordinates with grace at warp speed. Superman will know where to come, he sees all from the Fortress of Solitude.
We are all here. A great fleet pushing south through haunted rain. I am standing on the bow of The Peach, eyes closed against the fierce salt spray.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Monday, 20 October 2008
I do not excel at the part I need to do next but I have installed my panicking self in the back room with a nice cup of tea and biscuit. I have wrapped her in shawls and placed the cat in her lap and there she will stay with a novel and her cigarettes and her mad strings of opals trailing in the dust. One other self, the one that surprised my mother time after time by sitting still and calm with an open mouth in the orthodontist's chair, the one that stood hour after hour behind the bar in university moot courts with a sheaf of notes and a clear voice will sit tomorrow and begin the task at hand.
For now I sit in my electric daylight with my lilting wither and type because this is a kind of freedom.
Sunday, 19 October 2008
Most of the day I undertook constructive and relevant activities in a calm fashion. I have been wishing that I could talk to Superman but The Fortress of Solitude does not have a telephone. I have been wishing to talk to Superman but am quite pleased that I do not find it necessary, I might be developing some kind of fortitude. I did send him an email but I think that is allowed under the rules of um, some kind of imaginary rules of Slammatown?
Sometimes if you are in the middle of a song and you forget the words it is best to just yell "Fuck it! Chorus" and launch into a familiar refrain, Spencer taught me this. That was a distracting thought to distract myself from being frustrated at not saying what it is I want to say. I am not used to not saying what I want to say. Further distracting thoughts are not occurring to me except for hats, pirate hats and unemployed unicorn popcorn vendors in unitards with assault rifles.
Saturday, 18 October 2008
Friday, 17 October 2008
Thursday, 16 October 2008
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Gemma used to exist for me as the alphabet rearranged and the vague memory of a woman sitting behind a desk on a panel at TINA. I sat in that audience and heard her speak and thought "Blog? What is blog?".
I found Gempires about a year later just when my life got smashed with a hammer and as I read Gemma's words I thought I could do that and so I did. At first it was an involuntary exhalation, a daily reminder to keep breathing and then it changed and I used this space to make a map of my existence as proof, for myself, that I was real.
People started reading my blog, I don't know how, I suspect that the link on Gempires was the cause of it. My soy cheese tastes of vinegar, this is not related to Gempires. This blog used to be the result of things but now sometimes it is the cause. It is the reason that Gemma suggested we meet for a drink when she came to visit Sydney last year, it is the reason Gemma now exists for me as a whole and wondrous human. It is the reason I had phone sex with a man I'd never met, had no less than five separate strangers write to me and tell me that I should kill myself. It is the reason I met the excellent Superman, I have eaten my very own packet of Dale Biscuits, performed social experiments on myself, been stalked, had enormous fallings out with people and been recognised by strangers in the street. Once a woman had a blog that seemed almost entirely devoted to slagging off both Gemma and myself. To say that these results are unexpected would be an enormous understatement.
Gemma did warn me, she told me how my freedom in this space would shrink. She told me how people would overreact when I write about them, how people would assume the worst. She was right, my freedom here is diminished, Artboy saw to that, then Elliot, then almost everyone I know found their way here some way or another even Superman has misunderstood my meaning but here I am typing into white void with my hair wrapped in a towel and a cigarette burning in the ashtray, just like at the beginning. Right now this blog is not my reason to breathe but I need it still, could not manage without these unedited spontaneous words and for that Gemma I thank you.
Here is a piece Marcus wrote in relation to this episode.
Monday, 13 October 2008
If it was only about reclaiming space then I would wear my fighter jet pilot's helmet and walk in circles but its not about that. What I want tastes less like toothpaste. If there was water I would drink it. I'm not meandering around thoughts, these words are unconnected to anything except sounds. I'm wondering who decided that cities should have an absence of night, they keep it at bay with electric lights on tall posts as though we couldn't find our own way, as though periodic modern miracles erected on high will keep us safe from each other. I want to talk to strangers and link arms in our common journeys homeward bound. These words are unconnected to thoughts or all those minutes tied one after the other while I dressed and worked and bent forwards with a bowl for the cat.
Sunday, 12 October 2008
Saturday, 11 October 2008
I kept quoting poetry and telling endless boring anecdotes about solving word puzzles waiting for him to flinch or stand and suddenly turn over tables and throw glasses like bullets but he sat like a statue while the information slid over him like sandpaper.
Friday, 10 October 2008
By George OrwellEvening Standard, 12 January 1946.
If you look up 'tea' in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.
This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.
When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:
- First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase 'a nice cup of tea' invariably means Indian tea.
- Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.
- Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.
- Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.
- Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.
- Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.
- Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.
- Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.
- Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.
- Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.
- Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.
Some people would answer that they don't like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.
These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one's ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.
Thursday, 9 October 2008
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
I'll turn in my sleep tonight, you can remember how I washed the dishes. I'll turn in my sleep tonight, sliding knee and hip before shoulder. I won't remember the pattern of my breathing.
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
Monday, 6 October 2008
By Madam Squeeze (Busker Laureate of Slammatown)
At 6:15pm precisely I stumble down the front steps, totter for 50 metres, then hang a hard left and begin my purposeful stomp down King street. The stomping is a bi-product of the Boots of Doom – tall patent leather lace-ups with heels that add intimidating height, yet are sturdy enough to make me feel grounded. With my backpack I feel precariously top-heavy, a gothic ninja turtle, an Atlas on stilts. I must plant my steps firmly in the ground. The stomping is also mental preparation, the rhythm is meditative, calming. I am not suited to conventional work. A day in the office leaves me feeling frazzled, drained and inadequate. By the time I set off to busk I am often in a foul mood. Stomping helps.
I stop outside the Seven Eleven to drop a coin into little Lucas's guitar case, then weave through slow drifting herds of pedestrians to My Spot. I never start busking with an empty case. One must plant the seeds first – one gold, two silver, then strap the beast on and get down to business. Many smiles, positive comments and dancing children ensue. The weather is hot, the street is beginning to fill, and so is my accordion case. Photo Anne and her partner stop for a chat about Dusty Springfield records and I burst into a few bars of 'You Don't Have to Say You Love Me' in their honour. They leave laughing, heading home for a night in with a good bottle of wine. Friendly goth #1 drops by to lament his imminent dental work. We agree that wisdom teeth are a bad idea. I launch into a Neapolitan tarantella before friendly goth #2 stops for a noisy accordion hug. What has he done to his hair? A member of the Holy Soul strides along the opposite side of the road. I wave spasmodically, but he is all beard and business, glued to his cell phone.
My mood has lifted now. My fingers move of their own accord and I drift in and out of the melodies, watching Sal the gelato man scurrying about his shop like an ant before a thunderstorm. I grin and throw myself into the music. For a few moments I am no longer a nobody. I am a weaver of magic. Newtown is an unfolding film and my soundtrack dictates the course of its plot. I am Easing the Squeeze: bringing smiles to the faces of tired office workers and impoverished students, allowing ordinary folk, if only for a moment, to forget their troubles, to be transported somewhere beautiful. An older Eastern European lady stops and beams. She has no change to give and doesn't speak English, but she nods a thank you and the look on her face is payment enough.
Time expands and contracts. The tide of passers-by ebbs and flows. Tanned, bare-legged girls with short skirts and impossibly perfect hair; track-suited bogans packing long-necks of VB in brown paper bags; pink-haired, corseted cyberpunks of indeterminate gender. I catch sight of a heavy-set spike haired figure in my peripheral vision and for a moment my veins fill with ice. The stranger pauses outside the solarium, then walks on. My heart beats again. I've ceased berating myself for this irrational fear of an irrelevant person, but my hands are shaking with adrenaline and I'm shocked out of my trance and back to my own insecurities and inadequacies. I am no magician. Just an obsessive, anxiety-prone spaz.
Right on cue, Captain Fucktard approaches from the right. He stands close enough that I can smell the beer on his breathe and he inquires loudly if he can touch my tits. I tell him no, but he's welcome to go fuck himself. He seems genuinely offended when I physically shove him away, and skulks off muttering into his dirty top hat. I'm shaking with anger now, the fury of an animal backed into a corner and ready to lash out. My fingers are slick with sweat. I'm flustered and overheated. Time for a break.
I squat on the dirty pavers and scull a bottle of water, reminding myself that 99% of people I come into contact with are amazingly generous, considerate, and compassionate humans. I think about my friends and the many kind words of strangers, and I feel a surge of positive energy, a strange sense of belonging. I stand and squeeze out a searing rendition of my theme song, the Cancer Waltz. The accordion sounds like a carnival, and by the time the last coin lands, Spencer is ready and waiting with open arms, an understanding ear, and a thirst for milkshake.
Black & white photo by Lyndal Irons
Sunday, 5 October 2008
The first time I arranged with Superman to meet somewhere I honestly did not care whether he showed up, canceled or simply failed to materialise and I wish, some of the time, to return to that point of independence because Superman has gone away.
In his leaving Superman has impressed twelve separate impressions at once like a multi-faced cookie cutter madly rotating through Christmas shapes, gingerbread men and animals. We went to see Black Francis at The Metro which is tolerable so long as you don't go outside and stand like an island in the flow of people that illustrate your difference and isolation.
Superman was unexpectedly and abominably rude to a man both of us are acquainted with but do not know. The man did not appear to feel the barbs. It was the worst kind of rude, the veiled, coded, intellectual equivalent of dropping poison into a goblet. My level of discomfort was such that I was ashamed of him and wish that I had walked away instead of attempting to summon trapdoors, loud interruptions or the clarity of thought whilst drunk to do something to stop it. I am equally ashamed of myself for not discussing this with Superman the next morning when I was weary and worse for wear but sober.
Foto was there and I quickly tired of the dynamics between him and Superman. They have the kind of friendship that seems to require them to adopt the roles of commanding and fearless private philosophers, each questioning the other's every thought, action and deed from a safe and lofty perch marked benevolence.
I did not enjoy the concert but it wasn't because of the music. Foto moved out into the foyer and was later joined by Superman. I was left standing down on the floor looking over my shoulder wondering where everybody had gone. Superman was, he assured me, about to come and find me. Foto declared that he would not go back in and I thought then that Foto must consume art like it was television but immediately blamed this on a mid-week dinner because I was remembering Foto's disparaging remarks about a woman. She had her wrists tattooed, I stared down at my plate while Foto expressed his disgust that she had had to wear bandages on her wrists for two weeks, "like a person that had slashed their wrists". I stared down at my plate and held my hands in my lap to hide the very old and faded but undeniably visible scars.
We drank more and more until we were in some fluorescent burger shop then a taxi and my eyes were closed and motion strange and exaggerated. Foto declared that we should take the taxi to the station and walk our separate ways. It rained as we walked and it was not unpleasant but for the ridiculous and as yet unfounded thought that this was the last time I would see Superman.
I stared at the back of Superman's head first thing the next morning and thought of nothing but rolling over and regaining the grace of sleep until I remembered that he was leaving and I became furious at myself for allowing the sight of Superman and the cat curled in sleep to become as Saturday as newspapers.
To be continued.
Friday, 3 October 2008
Thursday, 2 October 2008
I'd been wandering around Newtown with Spencer and Madam Squeeze. We had sorbet sitting on the steps of a church then moved to a cafe for milkshakes (mine with soy milk so I guess it was a soy shake). Just before we left I began to feel terrible so I took the faster back way home along the railway tracks. I was in some dark back street when it hit. My stomach started tying itself in knots, I was hot and cold and white as a ghost. I didn't know what was going to come out of which end and that's when I took a look around and realised there was nowhere to go. If it was going to happen it was going to have to happen in my pants. I thought that if I was discovered in the act I would simply say "I'm terribly sorry but I'm not feeling very well".
I looked for dark enough places, I looked for abandoned buckets, I looked for holes in the walls of old factory units but there was nowhere and nothing but a steady flow of fellow pedestrians to potentially witness my demise so I put one foot in front of the other and pretended I was a marathon runner, they have a tendency to go in their pants or so I've been told.
I made it all the way home with clean pants, a modicum of decorum and plans to invent a portable fold up toilet, complete with privacy screens, small enough to carry in my pocket, just in case.