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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What's the time?

Never having climbed the corporate ladder, this is the only retirement watch I ever got


What is it with people who come up to you in the street and ask, "Do you happen to know the time?" and then point to their wrists as though to say, "This is roughly where you might find the information I require".

Will those same people point to their crotches when asking, "Do you know where the nearest toilet is?" It's almost as bad as making a phone shape with the hand when asking someone to ring you. What next? Miming the act of typing when asking to send an email?

With a bit of luck, these gestures will go out of fashion just as those 'quotation marks in the air' did, which made the perpetrator look as though they were doing rabbit impressions.


Monday, January 23, 2017

The libraries of famous writers

Charles Dickens in his purpose-built Swiss Chalet, the garden shed to crown all garden sheds

Rudyard Kipling was likewise not a struggling writer

Henry Miller did not even use his study much, other than for posing

Ernest Hemingway's colourful study in Key West

Pablo Neruda looked out on a beautiful view

You-know-who's library at "Riverbend"



Age of Consent


There are few good viceo clips on YouTube of the 1969 Australian movie "Age of Consent" other than the above opening sequence featuring Peter Sculthorpe's music score.

The location for Norman Lindsay's semi-autobiographical book is somewhere around Bermagui on New South Wales' South Coast which may not been been 'sexy' enough for the movie which, other than that, follows the book quite closely.

The movie's location is the Great Barrier Reef's pin-up island Dunk. Now well known for its luxurious holiday resorts, it was already made famous in the early 1900s when Australia's own Robert Louis Stevenson - he once took the pen-name 'Rob Krusoe'! - E.J. Banfield left Towns-ville in 1897 to pursue a simpler existence on Dunk Island.

Banfield was one of the early seekers of an alternative lifestyle when, accompanied by his wife, he settled 'far from the haunts of men' on this then uninhabited island off the coast of northern Queensland.

His legacy are two Australian classics, The Confessions of a Beachcomber, and his posthumous book, Last Leaves from Dunk Island, which starts with the following introduction:

"On the 5th of June, 1923, the small steamer Innisfail was passing between Dunk Island and the coast of northern Queensland, when the captain noticed a figure waving from the island beach. Interpreting the signal as a greeting, he merely waved a response. Then, as the vessel proceeded, the figure on the beach collapsed. At once the Innisfail was stopped and a party went to investigate.

It was in this manner that the world learned of the death of E. J. Banfield, self-styled "Beachcomber" of Dunk Island, the most renowned literary man of his kind in Australian history, and, perhaps, the most striking naturalist-recluse of modern times. The signaller on the beach was Mrs. Banfield, who had been alone with her dead for three days. So ended a tropic idyll of twenty-five years' duration."

"An odd little book that appears out of nowhere ... and once you have read it, you will never go completely back to where you were before. The kind of book you may hesitate to lend for fear you might miss its company."

Which is how I feel about Norman Lindsay's whimsical Age of Consent and, in a more profound way, Edmund J. Banfield's The Confessions of a Beachcomber and Last Leaves from Dunk Island, so don't even ask me to lend them to you.

They've become my own 'age of consent', the life I would've consented to, had I been born into a different world at a different time. All I can do now is read "the kind of book that echoes from the heart of some ancient knowing, and whispers from time's forgotten cave that life may be more than it seems, and less".


Sunday, January 22, 2017

The blessedness of being little


The childhood years are the best years of your life ..." Whoever said that didn't grow up in post-war Germany where the war had humpty-dumptied all our childhoods, never to be put back together again.

I never had a childhood. For me it was nothing more than a starting point from which I have never stopped running. Of course, I went through the usual stages: imp, rascal, scalawag, whippersnapper, but despite having had what would now be called a deprived childhood, I stopped well short of becoming a full-blown sociopath as I never felt the urge to smash windows or bash up old ladies to steal their hand-bags. Simply growing up fast seemed to be the best revenge.

Mind you, I wonder if any childhood is ever really happy. Just as well, perhaps. To be blissfully happy so young would leave one seeking to recapture the unobtainable. To my mind, people who don't live at least a little bit in fear, have nothing left to live for.

Good or bad, we can't leave the past in the past because the past is who we are. Anyway, what else is there to talk about while standing in line at the liquor store? Childhood trauma seems the natural choice since it’s the reason why most of us stand in line there to begin with.

Until we have nothing left to remember, nothing left to regret, with our whole life laid out in front of us, and our whole life left behind.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Good news for all my readers


Retirement is such a busy time: in between taking out the garbage and my afternoon nap, there are hardly enough hours left for a bite to eat if I also want to keep my blog readers informed of all that's not happening in my life.

So I bought this adjustable neck-mounted, mouth-ready device which allows me to keep typing while eating my cheese-and-onion sandwich.

Mind you, timing has never been my strong suite: I rushed from job to job and place to place, always in a hurry and always afraid of missing out on something. I even rushed into retirement without knowing what it would be like. That was sixteen years ago; long enough to find out.

Now that I have, I wonder why I was in such a hurry. Instead of sitting here, I could've spent another year in Greece, or Papua New Guinea, or Burma. Even another year in Saudi would've been more stimulating.

Life has no REWIND button, only a PAUSE button, and mine is stuck.