Nothing happening, very slowly. A definition of minimalist electronic music, ambient if you will. Also life in lockdown. How many weeks, now? The schadenfreude of seeing other countries returning to lockdown. Better not to suffer alone. Dangerous to boast about doing well. Contradictions produce stasis. Staying up late playing Word Collect until my eyes weep with fatigue. It’s chewing gum for the mind, but I’m hooked on the slow upwards creep of my “IQ”. Proving the brain still functions by putting it to work on something trivial and meaningless. Slow decline of IQ. I’m getting grumpy. Turning off mobile data to circumvent the ads, turning off the tv to avoid watching Rome burn. Resenting the creep of technology into every crevice of life, appreciating world straddling chats. Paradox with every meal. Freeze frame.
Here in Melbourne, a bustling metropolis of some five million consumers, sorry, citizens, we are back in Stage Three lockdown. That means the only valid reasons for leaving home are work/education, exercise, purchasing food/essentials or medical appointments.
But what it really means is ON-LINE SHOPPING.
The joys of buying stuff on-line are so obvious we’ve integrated them into our lifestyle now… not needing go out (or even dress), the thrill of something arriving you don’t remember purchasing, returning items damaged in the post, the brilliant ideas that surface just before the second bottle of wine runs out… it’s bliss. And with interest rates this low, you’ll scarcely notice the monthly card repayments.
Wanting to spread the joy around, I’ve been purchasing little surprise gifts for some of the people in my life, and feeling a quiver of excitement as I imagine their delight when an unexpected pressie arrives (contactless!) on the doorstep.
My partner, commonly known as Ms Connection, has been loving the new electric coffee machine we acquired. So have I. The magic of pushing a couple of buttons and getting a cafe-style latte in moments obscures the sight of the metal espresso machines sitting forlornly by the stove. And that lovely white-noise shooshing sound as the milk heats entirely drowns out thoughts of landfill and profligate wasting of resources. It’s all good.
So I found a boutique coffee pod seller called Bling Beans and ordered a dozen different coffees, both leaded and decaffeinated. But to add some fun, I got them to empty all the various flavours and styles into one mixed box and omit the colour coded ID chart, so Ms C gets a lucky dip. To add to the excitement, if she has more than one shot of full strength coffee in a day she turns into an amphetamine squirrel so there’s a touch of Deerhunter roulette here too.
The other purchase was equally thoughtful. One of my oldest friends, who I met up with for a last supper the day before lockdown, told me a sad story. He was limping as we walked to the cafe and when I asked about this latest ailment (which is what old bastards do when they meet) he explained, with a degree of embarrassment, that he had injured his toes. How? I asked. He looked away and muttered something unintelligible, but I persisted. After all, this was someone who totalled his ankle after walking out the back of a camper van while staring at a compass to see where the sun would rise. So I persisted, and was rewarded.
“I couldn’t find my toenail clippers,” he said. “There were some wire cutters handy and I thought, being a simple builder, now that’s a good idea. But the bevelled edge of the pliers and the distance between my eyes and feet made it trickier than I thought.”
“I sliced a bit off two toes.”
So I found this really neat kit and ordered it for him. It’s called Big Bloke’s Nail Kit and has a cutter, a trimmer and a buffer. They even threw in some fingernail clippers for free. He’ll be rapt, I know.
I’m working on a couple of home-based ideas to entertain the boy as well. I saw this on social media and had a good laugh, so I thought I’d re-arrange his newly organised library (sections for Sci-Fi and Fantasy, General Fiction, Myths and Legends, Dr Who, etc) into one long line of books ordered by height from largest to smallest. He’s scored an extra week off school due to the second wave of COVID, so that should keep him occupied.
With a little imagination and a credit card, lockdown can be fun.
Sometimes inspiration flags, sometimes life gets in the way of writing. Blogs go into a state of suspended animation.
Here are a dozen opening lines to be avoided when returning after a hiatus.
I’ve been away.
Did you miss me?
It’s been ages since I’ve sat down at the keyboard.
Such a very busy time…
Naturally no-one else in the entire blogging world is busy.
So much has happened, I don’t know where to start.
Come back when you’ve worked it out.
Thank you to all my loyal readers who’ve waited patiently.
I promised to post regularly and I haven’t.
Self-abasement is charming.
I feel terrible about not posting these last six weeks/months/decades.
I’m so grateful for the support of my readers.
Such authenticity. Anyway, they’re not yours.
I’ve missed you all.
But mostly I’ve missed having my ego stroked.
Most sincere apologies for the silence.
Enough breast-beating, already. Who’s actually upset?
It is so good to be back!
Translation: I’m shit-scared no-one will even remember my blog.
Above all, only publish when you actually have something worthwhile to offer.
Now, what was I going to write about…
Title quote: Doug MacArthur, Adelaide, South Australia, 1942.
I’m sitting on the verandah railing of a rambling wooden guest house in hilly Warburton. Rich smells from the surrounding bush push against a pervading odour of serene decay. Once a retreat for Melbourne’s genteel, now ghosts whisper along the wooden balconies and sigh like puffs of dust when morose teenagers throw themselves onto faded sofas.
One of those teenagers is me. Despite the chill in the air, I prefer the verandah to the communal lounge. The dim light and musty carpets of the interior depress me but more importantly, I stand a greater chance of glimpsing Kirsten by lurking on this semi-sheltered thoroughfare. Not that I’ll speak to her if she wanders past. For starters, she’ll be with one or more girls and thus surrounded by an impenetrable field of femaleness that my wistful glances simply fade from like breath on glass.
It is day three of this Year 10 German camp. The time has passed slowly, and quickly. Soon we’ll be packing and taking a bus back to school. And I haven’t managed a single interaction with Kirsten in either Deutsch or English. No wonder I’m morose. No wonder I’m sitting, shivering just a little in the damp Winter air, hoping for one more chance to not talk to a girl who probably hasn’t even noticed my intense, meaningful glances.
I did try. Yesterday morning I ordered Speck und Spiegelei in a voice loud enough to carry to her end of the table. There was a titter, but I don’t know who. This morning, in an act of heart-tingling bravery, I approach her group and looking more-or-less straight at her, or at least her toast, I said Kafee? with an upward inflection that surely demonstrated my passion. Surely.
Back against the solid verandah upright, one leg is crooked nonchalantly on the ledge while the other dangles over the garden, I’m gazing poetically into the middle distance and wondering how long I can stay in this position. Sounds of my room-mate packing are a reminder of time passing, of opportunities fading. He smuggled in a small transistor and has turned it up a bit louder this morning, reasoning that he can scarcely be sent home early at this stage of proceedings. I reach down into the garden and pluck a daisy. The radio starts playing George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”, the strummed guitar and plaintive melody fills me with something, but I don’t know what. I really want to see you, really want to be with you. Frowning, I pluck a petal. It takes so long, my Lord. Another petal flutters onto the weathered boards. She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me, she loves me not. Yeah, yeah, yeah. A tiny snowstorm of teardrop shaped petals. Kirsten appears at the end of the verandah, walks the uneven boards to her door, three before mine. She fumbles with the handle, but doesn’t look up.
Really want to see you, really want to see you.
The music theme of this post continues at Vinyl Connection