Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Noise, and other things

A confession: I took the weekend off. I ran away. It was lovely.

I pulled the Bumblebee out of school at lunchtime, flung him out of the car at The Big Merino in Goulburn, then scooted to Sydney, where I started by exploring the delightful shop that is Artwise Amazing Paper (pretty much your best option for buying a variety of decent bookcloth in small amounts in Australia these days. If you know of any others, please tell me.) and then wandered down City Road to attend the new-look Meanjin launch at Gleebooks.

I had a lovely time, listening to some damn good writing, meeting poets, filmmakers and journalists, and ended up in a pub somewhere near Sydney Uni comparing fertility stories with amazing women and admiring Sophie Cunningham's intense sunburn.

My hostess, who lives in a stunning townhouse in Enmore, had been meanwhile attending a family funeral, and so I hadn't clapped eyes on her yet. She had assured me by text message that she'd left me a key and turned the alarm off, but unbeknownst to her, her partner had come home in the meantime and re-alarmed the house out of habit before he went away for the night. So I got back, well-lubricated, opened the door and got fully upstairs before I became aware of a high-pitched squeal that made me pause mid-step. Could it be? I started downstairs immediately, and only got halfway before the alarm started, a noise that assaulted every cell in my body, vibrated through my teeth and seemed to put a hot needle through my ears. Ay yay yay!

Luckily I'd been told the code last time I visited, and although I am numerically dyslexic and dreadful with names and dates, I rarely lose a pin or code (something to do with the body memory of the movements on the keypad). Within seconds I'd turned it off, and the silence that resulted was almost as loud as the alarm. Wow. If I'd really been an intruder that noise would have physically pushed me out of the building. Even earplugs wouldn't have helped. I guess it works as a security measure. And a sobering one. Heh.

Saturday, as anyone who lives in Sydney would know, was a scorcher. 33 degrees! It's Spring, that's crazy. This is why I would never live again in Sydney. G (my hostess) and I cruised Enmore and Newtown, eating breakfast and exploring shops. I found another good paper shop and an excellent button shop. Then we picked up Best Beloved from the airport (flying in from a air security conference at the Sunshine Coast in Qld -- tuh) and kept moving down towards Brighton le Sands.

Sophie seemed to have spent Friday lying on a beach, forgetting to turn with the sun (she had a very directional sunburn!). Our time at the beach was quite different. All of us pale and wimpy -- G especially so, since she favours the white Victoriana pseudo-goth look -- we preferred to sit in the shade and enjoy the sea-breeze and watch the weirdness that is the Eastern Sydney Jet-ski Gangs cavorting on the beach. It smacked of Puberty Blues, with jet-skis substituting for surf-boards, right down to the pairs of mismatched girlfriends in bikinis, sitting amongst but separate from the tanned, beefy, strutting blokes in groups flinging footballs around the girls for extra attention between bouts of jetskiing.

We stayed there for a while, eating fish & chips, fascinated. Or at least, I was. I love people watching. At one point I said 'What do you think these blokes do after a day on the beach -- do they stay in a pack & have a BBQ? Go to a pub? Go home to their mothers? What do you reckon?' And G and BB stared at me and couldn't believe that I bother thinking these things. But I do. One of my personal fascinations with life is that there is only 24 hours in a day for everyone, but we all make completely different choices about how to spend that time.

The other thing that struck me was the amount of noise. There we were, sitting beside a beach, and there were planes landing across the water from us, jet skis and boats churning around in between, cars and motorbikes roaring behind us, and yet I could still hear the waves coming in and out. But I couldn't hear much else...

That afternoon we went from the ridiculous to the sublime. We dropped G off at home, and then headed to the Southern Highlands to spend a night with Bernice Balconey. She lives on a humble piece of land owned by someone else, in a lovely little house surrounded by garden and bush. Apart from the trains that rumble past infrequently, it's serene. We did little but eat and read and talk. And go to a market where I found a vinyl copy of ABBA Arrival to replace the one I'd STUPIDLY sold when I was 16 to raise enough money to buy a packet of cigarettes. Talk about great regrets. I feel like a part of my soul is restored. Even if I never play it again (which is unlikely, I love my turntable), it is good to know I can look at it and remember things, like how dumb I was at 16.

Of course, when I got home on Sunday afternoon I had to jump straight on the computer and meet a couple of deadlines that were looming so close I could feel their hot breath on the back of my neck. But I still managed to watch Dr Who, on the edge of my chair. PFFWWORR. Can't wait for next week, even if I have qualms about the next Doctor (ok, I googled him. I'm a curious cat). I just have to have faith in Russell. He hasn't let us down yet.

And this morning I decided to catch up on the weekend edition of the Canberra Times and discovered a death notice for a nice old man I've known slightly for the last ten years. He's a classic WWII veteran, overlooked by the young, appreciated by his peers who, as he left the room, would say in hushed tones, 'He was interred, you know, by the Japanese. Never talks about it.' He was always dressed beautifully, with freshly bryl-creamed hair and ironed shirts. He had a great sense of humour, and even when diagnosed with demensia, wore it with dignity. The last time I saw him, I sat next to him in a doctor's surgery, and we had a wonderful conversation about life, the universe, etc and the Legacy Ladies he looked after. He won honours in the war, and is being given full Air Force Honours at his funeral, tomorrow. I don't know his family well enough to go to the funeral, but I wish them well. He was a lovely man.

Speaking of lovely people, did I mention that while I 'wasn't blogging', I lost another auntie? It's been a year for that sort of thing. She lost a battle with cancers and other lurgies. She was a lovely person, married to the uncle that flew over from Fiji when my brother died and consoled me with my first plate of Oysters Kilpatrick. Gawd, the things you remember. I would have like to get over to WA for the funeral, but it just wasn't possible. Colonel and Lady Duck went instead, and caught up with extended family (hello!).

I believe in the power of threes; you know, that bad things come in threes. I know it's a superstition, but it seems to work for me. I was worrying about this the other day, about the aunties, when a great-aunt of BB's died. I've relaxed now. That's enough aunties for the universe, methinks.

Time for work. I've decided to make book covers today. A nice, big batch of them.


M-H said...

And out of all that lovely newsy entry I noticed one important thing: You went to The Button Shop. Nirvana, it is. We loves The Button Shop.

Ampersand Duck said...

I can see why! I'm in love with the fake budgies wearing jaunty little knitted hats, behind the counter.

Mrs Slocombe said...

We was at the Melbourne Meanjin launch cuz we is glitterati too,(but I still haven't manged to get in it!) and on Saturday night I chatted to a woman who loved your article.
We are coming to visit the Canberra branch on Sunday for a week: are your lovely things on display anywhere?

Mummy/Crit said...

I thought of you yesterdzy when I was at D's 'learning journey'. They had made these lovely accordian books of the class's poetry.

Ampersand Duck said...

Hello Betty! i meant to say earlier (but got distracted) that I knew Bridget an earlier Canberra incarnation but haven't seen her for years, and was delighted to rediscover her and hers...

If the Jan Brown exhibition is still up at CMAG, then I have two books in that; otherwise, if you are in the area between Mon & Wed pop up to the art school and visit me in the Book Studio. I can offer you a cuppa if you can handle non-fresh versions of milk!

Miss Schlegel said...

Rest in peace the Aunties, and consolations to you and BB. Aunts are a wonderful race. (Pace Wodehouse.) I used to have six; now I've only got two, but one of them has always been my favourite and I dread to think...

I've had a bit to do with an Aunt in the last couple of days. Not my own, someone else's, but she's lovely and very Aunty. Life makes nice patterns.

Going to Sydney always reminds me how glad I am I don't live there anymore, but what a gorgeous, glamorous, glizty city it is to visit.

Is the Doctor really going to regenerate? I thought it was just a plot twist. While David T is a scrummy little Sunday night treat, I'm just as upset that Donna's leaving. She's my favourite companion ever (aside from Adric who I really, really, properly loved), not least of all because they didn't do the Doctor/companion lovely-dovey stuff with her, like they did with Rose. Eww. The Doctor doesn't do it.

Ampersand Duck said...

I don't know about the Doctor; I'd love to think it IS just a plot twist, but I have doubts, having managed to track down a source of who the next is... I'm very happy to be surprised next Sunday. It's the next best waiting game since Harry Potter!

fifi said...

SO an excellent weekend was had, sorry I missed you. I am appalled to think of you there in the midst of jet skis, since had I gotten my life together, I could have had you tucked away here in this very peaceful oceanside kingdom with not a jetski in sight.
Oh well.

Sorry aboot the aunts.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

This makes me long for Sydney, long long long for it. Even if it is too hot there. Even if the ladeez wear aqua pants suits and Carmen Miranda hats. Even if the pubs are all lined with stainless steel for ease of hosing down.

I think I'm going to have to take myself on a memorial nostalgia-staunching Gleebooks tour.

Helen said...

But... why did Bumblebee get flung out at the Big Merino?... and you didn't mention getting him back. Is he still there... waiting... at the Big Merino?

You were in the AGE today.

sexy said...
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