Friendships are important. They must be, I reckon – there are so many Facebook memes about them: Good friends are like stars. You don't always see them, but you know they are always there.
‘Welcome everything that comes up. Welcome everything you feel. Invite all...' Her voice flies off with a crow, calling faintly from afar, as my body relaxes on a deck overlooking my home valley.
Maybe I should be excited. Many of my friends are. ‘The votes are in the mail,’ one of those friends says as we pass by an Aboriginal bloke sitting under a tree, painting on stretched canvas.
Every six months, I check my battery. No, I don’t have a pacemaker, and I’m not talking about phone or car battery. I’m checking my house battery.
Surfers Paradise. Saturday, 5pm. From 77 floors up, you get some perspective on the world. I’m on the top floor of the highest building in the southern hemisphere, the Q1. (Named by a robot.)
Larnook. Monday, 4pm I look to the sky. I'm waiting for something. But there's only the sun. It's winter and there is, finally, a chill to the air, but the sun is a yellow orb of dessication laying waste to the land. I don't look at it. Only fools and presidents look at the sun.
Rocky Creek Dam. Tuesday, 12.15pm Sometimes, you find beauty just when you need it. A salve to the soul. I'm walking along the Rocky Creek Dam wall. It's a beautiful summers day – except it's winter. I'm sweating. This makes me a little uneasy. Call me old fashioned, but I like cold winters and hot summers. That seems natural, right?
My place. Tuesday, 8.55am I’m ready. The time has come. My jaw is set. My loins are girt. The empire is falling before our eyes. Headed by a lunatic (no distinctive moustache but a conceit of fake hair) the cultural driver of our times is simultaneously constipated with inaction and shitting in its own nest.
Mount Jerusalem. Thursday, 11.45am I like to drive. It soothes me. I get worried about stuff. Some people like to swim laps for relaxation. Some like to listen to music. Some like to knit scarves. Some like to drink red wine. Some like to mow the lawn. I like doing all those too (except the laps, and the knitting, and the mowing...) but for me the best anti-anxiety therapy is motorised wheels.
Teven. Tuesday, 12.10pm. The motorbike purrs and drops into a corner. It loves it. So do I. I'm riding to Ballina. To see a psychologist. (Don't ask.)
I remember when the Big Prawn was in an awful state. Feelers broken, shell peeling. Pale and graffitied, the poor prawn didn’t even have a tail. Those were bad days for Ballina. The Big Prawn is the symbol of Ballina, even more than the mobility scooter.
It's in my nature to say hello to people. I say 'g'day' to passers-by in the street who catch my eye; to cashiers at the servo who ask me if I'd like a drink with that.
I know a secret cave. Only a couple of other people know it. We’re friends. Friends of the Cave. A long time ago we swore an oath of secrecy, ritually cutting our palms with the Sacred Cave Knife, mixing our blood, like stoned Sioux, to seal the vow.
‘What’s this?’ I ask, extracting a folder from a cardboard box full of folders. ‘Oh, I don’t know. Probably some of your father’s business stuff,’ my mother says, pulling out another folder.
Dear Malcolm, You and your band of merry members have recently taken to pushing the ‘Australian values’ line. And using the word ‘patriot’ a lot. Jeez, it’s all a bit American, isn’t it, Mal? Should we put our hands on our hearts when we sing the national anthem?
Children mustn’t obey their elders anymore. They mustn’t follow in their footsteps. They mustn’t listen to the nonsense that spills from old mouths like sewage from a pipe. The young must break from the tradition of honouring their elders.
‘Find the diamonds in the shit,’ the driver says to me. We jump the speed bump as we exit the university. The Subaru doesn’t really ‘jump’ the bump – it doesn’t get air – but the car does rise up on its toes before slumping back heavily onto its hydraulic heels, like a sumo wrestler.
Lismore. Tuesday, 10.20am 'They hang out near Bunnings, you know,' he says, raising a flat white to his lips. I notice his hands shake as he says this. 'Bunnings?' I say. 'Yeah, near Bunnings. In the morning.'
Two lorikeets fly out of the sun, which hovers over the neighbour’s roof, and land in a grevillea near where I’m sitting. Their abrupt arrival startles me (I was thinking about that giant crack in the antarctic ice shelf) and... Read More →
Nimbin. Friday, 6.50pm:The last rivulets of sun have drained from the street and are replaced by a tide of colours as the street lights and the MardiGrass people turn on. Smiles flash from the swirling crowd, and the fashions are more neon than the shop signs.
‘What are you doing this weekend?’ ‘I’m going to MardiGrass.’ ‘Oh...’ MardiGrass – the very word elicits fear and loathing. If it comes up in conversation over latte at a Lismore cafe, people blink, look at their watch and leave.
It’s dawn. It’s Anzac Day. That seems appropriate. The sun is still struggling behind the eastern hill, but the wallabies are already sitting on their tails, tummies facing the hill in anticipation of the warming rays. I’m sad, despite the happy wildlife.
What is this feeling? Why am I wheeling myself over to the kitchen to make another banana sandwich when I’ve already eaten eight, and I’m definitely not hungry? Why do I have the radio on, filling my brain with waffle? What is wrong with me?
Ocean Shores. Friday, 12.10pm They speak their own language, musicians. 'I'm starting here, pedalling it,' the bass player says, demonstrating as he speaks, 'then I'm moving to the sixth.' His fingers are tentacles on the fretless neck of the double bass.
Outside, the rain comes down in symphonic crescendi on the tin roof of my shack in the clouds. Inside, it's Granddaughter's turn. We're playing musical round robin. She, her father, her grandmother and me are taking turns playing a favourite song, in whatever medium you want.