Sunday, December 30, 2007

Love Letter

Following on from the previous post, here is the story that did make it into the pages of Quadrant. Found it after all. Found all sorts of other forgotten stories too. Some are okay... others are not so okay.


“Jesus. It’s big. What is it?”
“Open it,” Jim replies with an almost graceful jerk of the head. “Go on, love, unwrap it.” He is pleased with her curiosity. Usually she is right on to him. Not this time. The corners of his mouth crease with satisfaction.
Brenda removes the cigarette from her lips, straightening her arm and lowering it to her side in a slow, easy sweep. She juts her jaw and blows smoke into the air. She squints at the gift almost with suspicion. She uses the cigarette hand to fix a strand of lank hair behind her ear.
Jim scratches the back of his hand with the bristles on his chin as he watches her. He thinks again about beauty. He knows Brenda is not beautiful in the accepted sense, and yet he sees something beautiful in her. Something... different, on the inside, some small... thing... she’s strong on the outside, more or less functional, built for a purpose, or many purposes, but on the inside he knows she’s... oh, not weak, but sort of... er... fragile? No, not fragile. Vulnerable? Maybe. Bugger words, Jim thinks, frowning now. Then he thinks: it’s like the way you might call a bloody great cliff face beautiful when you see it in the right light. He smiles to himself. That’s it. That’s it, more or less, exactly.
“Well I’m buggered if I know what it is,” Brenda says at last. She kneels down in front of the object, which is leaning against the wall. She thinks it must be a painting or something, perhaps he got one of my paintings framed. She taps it with a knuckle. Nup, hard like glass. A big mirror? But what did he get me a bloody big mirror for?
Brenda starts to peel the bright paper away. She pauses as she gets her first glimpse of the thing. She looks over her shoulder for a moment then continues tearing the paper away. When the gift is completely unwrapped, the curled scraps of paper scattered about like fallen leaves, she gets to her feet and steps back. They both stare in silence.
“Well Bren?” Jim says when he can’t stand her silence any longer. “What do you think?”
Brenda turns and looks at him with an expression he has never seen before.
“A headstone?” she says. “You got me a headstone?”
“Yeah. Beauty isn’t it.”
Brenda turns back to the headstone. She runs a hand through her hair. “An actual headstone with our names on it and everything.”
“You never would have guessed, would you?”
“No, Jimbo, never would have guessed. Not something a girl ever expects her bloke to... and look, everything’s there. Our birth dates, our full names, and... the date of death. You’ve thought of everything, haven’t you.”
Jim is aware that he is smiling like a fool, but he just can’t stop. Brenda is always complaining that no one is original anymore, but he is pretty sure she thinks this is original.
“Do you like it, love?”
She nods slowly. “Yeah,” she says vaguely. “It’s...”
She stops looking at the headstone, but she doesn’t look at Jim. She looks around the room. She bends and pats the newspapers on the coffee table, checks her pockets, finds her cigarette lighter on the television. She stubs her lit cigarette in a full ashtray, then walks across to Jim. She kisses him on the cheek, gently touching the other cheek with her fingertips.
“Got to go,” she tells him as she turns away, tucking the cigarette pack and lighter into her shirt pocket. “Got to finish that picture.”
“Righto,” Jim replies, frowning again because he’s not sure how Brenda is feeling. “I’ll start making us some tea then.”
Jim walks across to the screen door it pulls it shut. He has to lift it to shut it properly because he still hasn’t fixed the hinge. He watches Brenda through the dusty screen as she walks down the yard to the shed. He watches really hard, but he’s damned if he can tell what she is thinking.

They eat lamb shank stew and drink a bottle of red. The wine is a big shiraz – a wine with balls, as Brenda would say. If she was saying anything. They eat in silence, which is not entirely unusual because Brenda often goes quiet when she is working on a picture. Like quiet music, there’s just the gentle slurp of broth, the gurgle of pouring wine, the small sighs of satisfaction. Brenda ignores the headstone. Once Jim thinks she’s about to look at it, but she catches herself and looks away. By now he’s beginning to suspect that she doesn’t even know what it really is.

They take their clothes off, switch off the light and climb into bed. They lie beside each other in silence, blinking into the dark. Jim decides that because she seems to be in a funny mood he’d better say goodnight and tell her that he loves her. He rolls onto his side, reaches across to her, and suddenly they are hugging.
“I’m sorry,” Jim tells Brenda because he knows that at this particular moment his sudden and unexpected erection is inappropriate. “I just meant to say goodnight. That’s all. I didn’t mean to...”
“Funny way of saying good night.”
They move together and lose themselves in writhing sex. They finish with lingering caresses and exhausted breath, rolling back to opposite sides of the bed. Brenda finds a T-shirt at the foot of the bed which she stuffs between her legs. Jim wipes some sweat from one eye.
“That was good,” Jim says eventually.
“Good? I thought the top of my head was going to come off. Whatever else,” Brenda goes on as she swings her legs out of bed, “you’re no dud root.”
Jim smiles at this as Brenda waddles from the room with the shirt clamped between her thighs. Then, listening to the trickle echoing in the bathroom, he starts to frown. Whatever else? What does that mean?

The following day Jim accepts that Brenda doesn’t think much of the headstone. ‘Whatever else’ means that he’s got lousy taste in gifts, that he hasn’t got a bloody clue. When he was only trying to be original. When he was only trying to tell her how much – just how much – he loves her. There are the words, there is the message written in stone. Still.
“Bloody words,” Jim mutters as he lifts the granite panel. “Only ever get a bloke into trouble.”

Brenda pauses as the screen door closes behind her. She looks at the top of the door.
“You fixed the hinge,” she says.
“Thought it was about time.”
Brenda nods. “What’ve you done to the dishwasher? Thought you were going to get the dishwasher bloke in.”
“Bugger the dishwasher bloke. Been telling you it’s just the pump. Had some shit caught in it, that’s all. Just about finished.”
Brenda lights up. She looks around the tidied room, her gaze lingering on the space the headstone had been occupying.
“Kids still coming over tonight?” she asks.
“Yep. Thought we’d crank up the barbie. Good night for it.”
“But isn’t it – “
“Fixed it.”
“And the gas bottle – “
“Filled it.”
“Hm. Did you get some steak?”
Brenda laughs at this. Jim smirks, but doesn’t let himself go. On his knees, he puts his head back behind the dismantled dishwasher. Brenda looks at his denim-clad bum. She thinks about slapping it. She decides not to, she’ll have a shower instead and save bum-slapping for when he’s in a better mood.

They lie in the warm darkness and listen to the Irish couple next door in the throes of another beer-fuelled argument. There is always noise coming from their home, either drunken fights or wild laughter. They don’t know easy silence, only celebration or conflict.
“You still awake?” Brenda asks in a lazy murmur.
“Yep. Still awake.”
“What are you thinking about?”
“I don’t know. People. What make them stay together.”
“Them next door?”
“Them. James and Karen.”
“You don’t think the kids will last?”
“Who knows. They might. They’ve lasted this long. I just don’t understand the ... what the thing is that keeps them together.”
“The thing?”
“Yeah. The kind of ... the mechanism that drives the relationship.”
“You silly old bugger. It’s not a mechanism, it’s love.”
“You thinks so? You think those two next door love each other? You really think James loves Karen? Because I think that most people these days don’t know what love is. They’ve forgotten all about love. They haven’t got time for love. How do you think James shows his love for Karen? That ring doesn’t mean anything. Not really. It’s just a purchased object.”
“Mm. What kind of a gift is a diamond ring?”
Jim doesn’t have anything to say to this. In any case, he thinks, it’s – what – rhetorical? Yeah, rhetorical. He remains silent and hopes that Brenda will either change the subject or fall asleep.
“If it isn’t love,” Brenda says, “then what is it?”
Less rhetorical, Jim thinks. “That’s what I was wondering.”
Maybe now she’ll fall asleep. The silence grows. Even the Irish couple is silent. Jim feels his eye lids close over.
“I just don’t understand why, of all things, you gave me a headstone. I mean, I know what you mean about diamonds, but a headstone?”
“It seemed like a good idea at the time. I’m sorry. I’ll get rid of it.” Jim wonders why she doesn’t see it for what it is. When did she stop understanding him?
“You don’t have to get rid of it. It’s, you know, quite nice, for what it is. But you have to admit it’s a bit unusual. Don’t you think?”
“I suppose. I just thought... when I was getting the vase fixed on Mum and Dad’s grave I saw all the headstones in the stonemason’s yard and I couldn’t believe how many there were. New ones, old ones waiting to have names added to the spaces and, well, one thing lead to another. I just thought it would be nice to see what it was going to look like. I mean, we’re going to be down there for a long time. I wasn’t keen on the heading – they all say ‘in loving memory of’ – so I got the bloke to shorten it.”
“In Love.”
“Brenda and Jim.”
“And the date of death? Why that date?”
“I liked the way the bloke did threes and fives. He does good threes and fives. And his sevens are pretty good too.” She’s close, Jim thinks; the date of death is the whole point. She has to get it.
“Jesus you’re a funny one Jim,” Brenda slurs, almost asleep. “I do like it. I wonder...”
“Wonder what it would look like on a grave. Wonder what it’ll look like.”
Soon they are snoring softly.

The cemetery is vast and still, small hills and shallow valleys, gentle undulations of death. They stand side by side, silent in the heat, and gaze around at the crosses and angels and obelisks broken in half for the young lives cut short. Scattered throughout these thousands of monuments are members of the living, remembering the dead. Just a short distance along this row there is an old lady down on her knees. She looks up and nods solemnly at Brenda and Jim, then continues to trim weeds and fuss with flowers, muttering a quiet monologue to the lost husband, mother or child.
“You expect it to be sad,” Brenda says quietly. “But it’s not. It’s peaceful.”
Jim nods in agreement. He can’t imagine a more peaceful place. He breathes in and notes the faint odour of a distant bush fire, a smell he enjoys and which always takes him back to when he was a boy.
“Do you still want to do it?” Jim asks.
“Yeah,” Brenda replies slowly, thinking. “Yeah, I do. So long as we don’t get caught.”
“Should be all right, if I hurry.”
The stonemason came across as a bit of a sorry bastard, dead keen for a chat. One of those tradesmen who likes to show you how easily they can do their job, at the same time letting you know that it’s not as easy as it looks. He talked and talked and showed Jim how to remove a granite panel from the concrete headstone and how to put it back on. Jim is relieved to find that it is in fact almost as easy as it had looked. He lays his parents’ headstone on the grass behind the grave. With Brenda nervously keeping watch, Jim is soon using the wooden handle of his mallet to gently tap their headstone into place. He hides the tools behind the grave and flicks the few chips of concrete away. He moves back to look at his handiwork. Standing beside Brenda, he nods to himself. Yes, he nods, there it is. There we are.
Time passes. They stand and stare, side by side. They think about themselves, about each other. They think about their life together, how even through the hard times, those rough patches, they somehow knew they would stay together. Even in the mundane times when life doesn’t seem to amount to much, love is still there and you realize this at unexpected moments, watching the other one reading the morning paper or hanging out the washing or trying to get the lid off a jar. They think about how truly lonely life would be without the other to share things with.
Jim thinks he hears something. He turns his head a few degrees. “Bren? You all right?”
“Yeah. Why?”
“I... thought you sniffed.”
“Why would I sniff? It’s not like it’s a real headstone. Not a headstone at all, is it?”
Jim smiles to himself. “No he says. “No it’s not.”
Jim decides they’d better put the real headstone back on before they get into trouble. Just as he starts to bend, Brenda grips his forearm.
Jim straightens. “What’s wrong?”
Brenda nods her head sideways. Jim turns and sees the mourner from down the row making her way towards them. She has finished her duties for the day.
“You want to wait until she’s gone?” Jim asks.
“We’d better, just in case.”
“But she won’t even know what we’re doing,” Jim says, wondering why their voices have dropped to urgent whispers.
“It just feels wrong. Just... just act natural.”
Jim snorts at this. “But it’s us. We can’t – “
“Sh. Just until she’s gone.”
They stand and read the inscription again as the old woman makes her way along the row of graves. She shuffles along at a painfully slow pace. Jim breathes deeply, the char-tainted air whistling through his nose hairs. He folds his arms and raises one hand to his lips. He pinches his lips, presses them hard together because suddenly he feels like he’s going to piss himself laughing. He feels his eyes start to water.
Brenda sniffs. Jim turns his head a few degrees. “Bren? He says, his voice shaking a little. “You okay?”
Brenda shakes her head slowly. She is biting her bottom lip. Her eyes are full.
“Shit,” Jim whispers because he knows that Brenda is about to piss herself too. We can’t do this, he thinks, we can’t laugh, not here, not now.
One makes a sound which starts the other off. They try to conceal their faces. Brenda makes a quiet, high-pitched warble. Jim is breathless and silent with the hardest laugh he’s had in his life. He makes a rasping draw back, and Brenda repeats her high pitched song. Jim pulls a hanky out of his pocket and hands it to Brenda. She covers her face. The old woman is upon them now. Jim’s face is twisted and he looks at the woman through glistening eyes. She looks at the headstone, then back at Jim and Brenda. She cocks her head to one side and offers an expression of pure and heartfelt sympathy. Jim finds himself nodding back at her. In an inspired bit of improvisation he even indicates to the headstone with a kind of shrug that conveys the message that the loss is just too great to bear. This is too much for Brenda who doubles over, howling. The woman continues to shuffle along, that expression lingering because she knows, she knows. She leaves them to deal with their sorrow alone.
And Jim and Brenda hold each other as their voices swirl around the crosses and angels, their laughter dancing and dancing.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Middens Of The Mind

A couple of years ago I sent a story to Quadrant magazine. The literary editor, Les Murray, probably Australia's most famous poet, kindly sent a hand-written letter back to me explaining why he was not accepting the story even though he quite liked it. Just wasn't quite there. Me being me, I wrote back to him and I explained why I thought he was wrong and that now that I had enlightened him, perhaps he would like to take another look at the story. He wrote back and I could sense him chuckling as he said no, really, but thank you for checking - but I am happy to take a look at another submission.

So I sent another story to him about a guy who gives his wife a headstone with their dates of death inscribed on it, which he did accept and it was published in Quadrant. It's called The Love Letter, and I quite like it because it's off-kilter, a bit funny and a bit sad, and ultimately quite all right.

And I wanted to share it with you but I can't find it. I've rummaged like you rummage for lost keys but it's just not there. I've misplaced an entire love story about a headstone, which is not something I do very often.

Anyway, while rummaging I found this story, which is a bit like finding that old pen you'd been wondering about which is kind of nice, but it's not going to open the garage door, is it. It's not either of the stories in the above anti-introduction, but it does contain the word midden, which is a funny word. Don't you think midden is a funny word?


The runner likes this part where the road dips down and sweeps around the bend. He likes how it seems to push him forward here, his stride stretching out and his pace quickening. That feeling kicks in as his feet pound faster, that white hot exhilaration you just can’t buy. The harbour lies just below with its legions of idle yachts. He thinks about the money and the property and the plans and the money. No money can buy this, no drug can match it. The money and the plans and the drugs give them what they think they need, but this... this is the stuff. He pours it on. He’s at full throttle now like a champion, and this is real. There’s a rhythm here, a beat, a flow of energy coursing through the system. He’s a machine, a liquid machine and he’s hit top speed and can’t slow down.

The road winds to the right and the city comes into view, a dazzling heap, a bristling pile of glitter and glass flashing through the trees. It’s an engine, consuming and creating and breathing and humming and destroying and growing. Christ it’s a piece of work, he thinks, flawless and unstoppable, perfect like cancer. He’s heading uphill now but he hasn’t dropped a beat. He is aware of his thighs, feels his chest, his lungs, the swing of his arms and he feels all of it working together. It’s the movement, the fluidity, the harmony of it all they don’t understand. How long have you been running? Why do you run? Why do you do it?

He thinks of the middens here. He always thinks of the middens, last calcium trace of an ancient people long gone.

The runner veers to the left, off the road and onto the dirt track. His pace slows now, speed giving way to precision. He is quietly impressed with his own reflexes as he ducks and twists and turns, branches whipping and and stinging his skin. He knows this track by heart, has run it a thousand times. Feet pounding the dirt now, he relaxes into a familiar beat. His lungs fill, he drinks it in and smells the air, the moss and lichen and the dying leaves.

The ground is hard again, flat top of a sandstone cliff. The runner stops and he feels the rush of heat. He breathes hard and winces at the searing pain, hands on knees, doubled over, the end of the race. Breath grows shallow, heart slows, skin glistens. He stands upright now. He looks at the undulating water so far below. He looks at the city and the great grey arch clinging to both edges of the harbour. He gazes at the city one last time, such beauty for a thing to have grown unplanned.

And again, he thinks, what good are plans?

The runner turns to the west and squints into the setting sun. He’s considered it countless times but knew he’d do it today. There was so much noise he thought his head would split, the banter and banality, the importance attached to unimportant things.

His final plan. He’s measured and paced and worked it out. If he is good – very good - he might just make the water. But he doesn’t think he’s that good. One hundred metre dash along the edge, then nothing. Nothing but ancient, unforgiving rock. He thinks of his wife, he remembers her pain. Soon, he thinks, soon.

Head down. He crouches. Exhales. Tightens. Uncoils. He runs then, faster than he has ever run in his life. God that feeling, so perfect and pure and real.

For a few slow seconds the runner soars, and is free at last.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Confession Time

One of the mags I write for (ooh I like saying that) has asked for a kind of year's round up of the year in arts and theatre. It's meant to be fun and as the last editor put it, "a bit self-indulgent." So when asked to give my performance highlight of the year, I offered what follows, with the new editor's response following...


My favourite performance of the year was Laurie Anderson’s Homeland. I wrote a review which appeared in these pages, but I did not read the review when it came out and I only have a vague recollection of what I wrote because on that wonderful Sunday night in October I did something I have never done before and will never do again. Somehow between seeing the gig, meeting Laurie and getting home to belt out the review (due first thing in the morning), I got drunk before writing the review. Not a bit tiddly or cutely sloshed but falling over drunk. In fact the only thing preventing me falling over all the way from the Opera House to Surry Hills was the fact that I was sitting in a cab. This is the kind of drunk that only your nearest and dearest should see, and then only rarely.

Maybe it was the relief of finally getting what was to me a pretty important interview, maybe it was searing beauty of the performance itself or the unexpected bonus of meeting the star after the show – an artist whose work I have admired for a lifetime, but whatever the reason by the time I arrived home I was ripped, and I didn’t feel cool like Hunter S. Thompson.

I’d been suspicious about my level of intoxication during the cab ride, but it wasn’t until I sat down at the computer that it dawned on me just how scootered I was. The keyboard couldn’t focus itself and the letters were moving about like some funny bastard was shuffling the letters in a Scrabble set. I pouted and was not happy with the situation; I had to write a review of an amazing concert with a deadline of now! and I was utterly, atrociously, comically fucked.

Still, I set to work because at the end of the day I give what I have promised to give. It took centuries and a lot of squinting, wobbling and poking, but I eventually wrote my review of my performance highlight of the year. I hope it made a bit of sense. I recall it as being quite... erm... enthusiastic.

But with good reason.

Lee Bemrose

And the editor's response? "I like it but can you please make it a bit less about yourself and more about the performance?"

Quite frankly, I was gobsmacked.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


My previous post made me think of this post. I'm a sucker for this kind of story. And this kind of story, part one and part two. Both these stories should knock your socks off because they are both brilliant stories by excellent writers.

And it's pathetic but that's all I have to offer you after this long week of awfulness in which a part of me is dying. My wonderful little clothing shop will be closing its doors in about two weeks. Such a magical little place in which I've met so many wonderful people and made some cool friends... it's going to be gone and I'm a bit not-very-happy about it, to say the least. The Dreaded One is sad too.

But fuck it. There's always newness and new beginnings and re-invention. You just have to find your new happy thing.

Monday, December 10, 2007


A boy sits in a park away from the other children who are playing a game with a ball. He watches blankly as they run madly about, laughing at their own antics. A man walks by, not old, but old in the eyes of the boy. He stops and also watches the game for a few moments before turning his attention to the boy.

“What’s the matter, boy? Why don’t you play with the other children?”

Boy shrugs.

“You look sad. You’re too young to be sad.”

Boy shrugs again. “I am sad.”

Man sits down next to the boy and together they look on at the children and the ball and the rules they all must follow.

“Why sad? Open up. Find the words. Tell me about your sadness.”

Boy thinks for a long time while the old man waits patiently.

“It’s not sad, really, it’s just not happy. Not right? Something feels not right.”

“You don’t fit in? You’re not like the others.”

“That’s it. And I want to be like the others. I like the way they are. I like how they laugh and how they know things and how they are so good at... um... they’re all so different. It’s like someone told them who to be, and so they know. I think I wasn’t listening when they told me who to be.”

“You daydream.”

“Yes.” Boy squirms a little.

“To escape.”

“I don’t know. It just happens. I get into trouble for it. I get into trouble for a lot of things.”

“I see. What do you daydream about?”

“Don’t know. Different things. Happy things. Sad things. Collecting words that feel the same. I don’t know.”

Old man smiles at this. “You’ve started, you just don’t know it yet.”

Boy looks at the man. “Started what”

“Your journey.”

Boy shakes his head a little. “But I’m stuck here in this place. Trapped in this house I don’t like with a family that just isn’t right. I’m not going anywhere. At least not to anywhere you’d bother going to.”

“Don’t be so glum. You have a happy heart, you just don’t know it yet.”

“How do you know that?”

“I know things.”

“What things do you know?”

“Oh... I know the kind of things that make a young boy sad. I know about his daydreams and his longing. I know that lost feeling and that sense of not belonging.”

Boy is staring at the man now, seeing things in his eyes. “You look sad, old man, but happy at the same time. How can you be sad and happy at the same time?”

“They go hand in hand. Can’t have one without the other. Let me tell you something, since you weren’t listening when they told you who to be. Are you listening?”

Boy nods.

“You will feel this way for a very long time. You will be confused and quite alone. Your quiet nature will be misinterpreted in a number of ways. Your journey will take you to unexpected places and you will feel at times that if it doesn’t get any better there is simply no point. But at those times you must remember to keep going. Keep going even though you cannot see the resting place you are looking for. Understand?”

“But why? Why keep going if there’s no happiness.”

“Because things will change. Things will happen one by one. Good things. Good people. Love and laughter and music... these three things will come to define you. Not at once, but slowly, slowly. You will collect words that will make people laugh and make them cry. You will drink in the music and be awed by it. You will meet famous musicians and others not so famous who will become friends. You will do things you can’t imagine right now, things that, as an old man, will cause you to smile a sad smile as you look back and see how it all turned out after all.”

Boy thinks about this. His hands are under his thighs and his legs kick back and forth.

“Will there be a person for me. You know...”

Old man tips his head back briefly. “Ah yes. You are blessed that way. You will have love from a truly lovely being. But don’t ever take her for granted. You will take her for granted but try not to. And friends. You will have golden friends.

“Okay. That is a thing to look forward to.”

“Indeed. Indeed it is a thing to look forward to. And don’t hurt her. You will hurt her, but try not to hurt her.”

Boy is silent. He can’t imagine this. He can’t imagine anything so good as his own special person. Someone he loves. Someone who loves him.

A long silence as though nothing more needs to be said. Boy frowns. Old man stands and adjusts his collar. Time to go.

“Old man?”

“Yes, boy?”

“How do you know these things?

Old man turns and winks and climbs onto his zebra. He turns and dips his hat and chuckles to himself as he trots off into the sunset.


Crack of whip.


A man walks through a park. He sees a group of children playing soccer. He smiles and recalls a memory. He sees a boy sitting alone and recognises something about him.

“What’s the matter, boy? Why don’t you play with the other children?”

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Political Grumpy

My latest Grumpy column as it appears in the current issue of Tsunami mag.

For overseas readers, the ear wax thing is in reference to the background footage of our newly-elected Prime Minister savouring the taste of the contents of his ear during Parliament Question Time. Even as a 50 year-old he looks like a primary school boy and acts like one too.

Lee Bemrose

I got car-jacked on Saturday November 26 2007. Never happened to me before. I’m driving home from work at around midnight and it seems all the loonies are out. Piss-heads everywhere, spilling out of pubs and staggering about in the streets. One such piss-head steps in front of the car and begs me to stop. She doesn’t appear to be Paris Hilton so I hit the brake instead of the accelerator. She opens the back door and waves to her friends.

“Not a taxi,” I tell her.

“I know,” she replies as she gets in. “But can you please give me and my friends a ride? Thank you.”

Her friends clamber into the back seat and it quickly becomes obvious that I am now sharing my car with The Three Drunkest Women There Ever Were. And happy? Fuck me they were happy.

“We’re rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeally happeeeee,” they tell me through the mayhem of balloons and streamers and six-packs of cheap fizzy drink that is now the back of my car. “Thangyoo fer giving uz a lift. Thang yooo. Wooooo!”

There’s traffic behind me by now, honking at me, so I move on, telling my passengers in a tone that will not be argued with that I’m taking them as far as the next major intersection and no further.

“That’s cool. That’s sweet. THANG YOO! It’s Kevin ’07. Wooo!”

And it dawns on me that that’s what this is all about. The ear wax gobbler is now our Prime Minister and people are celebrating this? That 50 year old choir boy has ousted George Bush’s girlfriend as PM and people think this is wooo-worthy?

“Here. Have a lollie,” one of the pissed sisters tells me as she gives me a lollie. “Everyone gedz a lollie. It came from John Howard’s head. It wuz a pinyada. Smacked the crap out of it and there were lollies inside which we didn’t realise there were until we realised…”

“Yeah, we juz wanted to smack hizheadub with tha stig... fugger’s gone now... wooo!”

But he hasn’t gone. Kevin “Me Too” Rudd will be on the phone every day of his Prime Ministership asking his idol, “John – if you were still PM, how would you handle the situation? Because that’s what I will do too.”

As for wasting perfectly good booze celebrating anything political, it’s just un-Australian. I just don’t know what’s gotten into you lot.

Have a happy festive season please. See you in Kevin “My Ear Wax I Ate” ’08.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Too Late

You write stuff about people you don't know and will never meet. You read about their lives and you think of Really Interesting questions to ask them. You speak to them. You phone them in Zurich or Amsterdam or New Orleans.

But then a friend is online and you're too busy to chat because you're doing all these interesting things, with all these interesting strangers.

The saddest kind of funny, because too soon it all ends.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Bee: A Seven Minute Review

As it appears in The Drum.


My new favourite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon is to wander solo through the streets of Kings Cross to Darlinghurst Theatre. I like the mottled afternoon light on the leafy trees and the motley collection of humanity now chilled after a frenzied Saturday night’s debauchery. It puts me in a chilled state of mind.

And chilled I was as I took my seat last Sunday to see The Bee (and not just because that air-conditioning is always too cold). Lights went down and suddenly I was being startled and astonished and pretty amused by what was taking place on stage. After the normality of the world outside, The Bee plugs you back in and zaps you with a few thousand volts of Weird. And it’s good shit, man.

Based on a Japanese story by Yasutaka Tsutsui and written by Hidek Noda and Colin Teevan, The Bee follows the plight of a businessman who returns home to find his family held hostage by an escaped murderer. It seems one of the writers holds the media while the other puts the boot in, and this bit of satire is deliciously absurd and pretty spot-on.

I won’t spoil it for you other than to say the story turns unexpectedly until the whole things is a darkly amusing parable about brinkmanship and what a bunch of total numb-nuts you humans really are. The premise is amusing and ultimately so simple that it has to be kept short to avoid repetition – and the point it is making is undeniably true.

The performances are stylised to perfection and with subtle changes in sound and lighting you are occasionally dropped into real life anime. Very clever and a lot of fun.

At Darlinghurst Theatre, Potts Point until 15 December.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Meow Meow Pt 981

I was supposed to interview Meow Meow a couple of days ago. I stuffed up and couldn't make the call. Asked to re-schedule but didn't think it would happen. I asked for Saturday because between then and now I was looking down the barrel of 10 to 15 hour days all with midnight finishes. Surprisingly the publicist said Meow Meow was cool with that provided it was in the afternoon and asked me to pick a time. I said 2pm because it meant only taking on hour off work. I just called and she said she had it in her (ravishing) mind that it was meant to be at 3pm and could I please call her back then.

If you know Meow Meow you will suspect, as I do, that she was simply having her way because I am Mere Male and she is Meow Meow.

I am sitting on my hands right now waiting to call her back at 3pm. I have no idea what to expect.

Actually, I think I have some idea.