Friday, November 12, 2010

Head space

"Thursday. I never could quite get the hang of Thursdays."

"I remember. I remember. I remember everything."

I had lots of time to sit and muse yesterday. I won't call it 'thinking' because it was too scattered. I spent a lot of time sitting around in strange, busy, lonely places as I ferried a friend from her Aged Care Facility (you just can't call it a Home) to a hospital bed.

Nothing too serious, just intervention.

Before I left I'd been stuffing my head and heart with Paul Kelly's How to Make Gravy. On the way I stopped at my post office box and discovered the latest Meanjin, which I threw in my bag. You can't do that with a digital file.

Before the intervention, I'd tried to read her some new poetry by a poet I'd met in NZ, Brian Turner. He's a fab bugger, deeply entrenched in the heart of the southern island and its landscape. He writes poems that can rant like Lear on the moor and then go quiet so that you have to lean in. At his most succinct he does this:


If the sky knew half
of what we're doing
down here

it would be stricken,
and we would have

nothing but rain*

(My friend Pete and I like it so much, we have just received permission to make it into a broadside.)

I'd read a few poems to her, but quickly realised that she was incapable of taking in new material. So I turned to her own writing, and read her a poem from 70 years ago.

That's good. Who was that?


Oh, good.

It was good. I read them to her for a while, sticking to the ones that had background pictures for her to focus upon.

Later I wrangled her wheelchair with one hand, the other arm stuffed with supplies, and took her to the local (private) hospital, where we (I tag-teamed with another friend, and we negotiated our kids around her) waited over five hours for a drip to be connected to rehydrate her. She lay quietly on her side, full of mental pictures that I'd provided that she'd provided. I read Meanjin.

It's lovely when thoughts in your head collide with thoughts on the page.

Twenty... no, twenty-five years ago I had a friend who dressed as Paul Kelly. I remember when he walked back through my door, short back & sides with a slight quiff at the front, faded blue jeans, check shirt. He/we were so inspired by Kelly's music that it was the soundtrack to our constantly briefly-shared lives. I made my first adult trip to Melbourne to join him for a PK concert, then we walked the streets of Melbourne to his door, where he discovered his mattress out on the street because he hadn't paid the rent. He charmed his way back into the house, and we lay on his floor on the bare mattress for two days, full of Randwick Bells. We used to meet irregularly, in leaps and bounds. There were always others, and we never quite made anything work properly, but he was a major player in my 20s, as is Paul Kelly, and for that I'll always be grateful.

That's the way I remember it, he may have different memories. He's still in Melbourne.

I have rediscovered the tape deck on my studio stereo. I pushed my way into the back of my garden shed and dug out my old mix tapes. There's a lot of them, each with vestigal titles but the essential date of when I made them. They are mental time capsules, full of time bombs. Paul Kelly discusses the making of such tapes. So does Christos Tsiolkas in Meanjin. I thought a lot about music mixes and mental states yesterday.

I have moved to CD mixes over the last 15 years, and I still make them and date them, even though my ipod is easier to mix. I like the trace of thought and feeling. I need hard copy, even though you can't connect with them unless you have the equipment to play them. I wish I could make art like I make music mixes.

I had my annual asthma attack last night. Hospitals are stressful places, even when the patient is not in danger. I sat up late/early in my loungeroom, coughing uncontrollably, chest aching from the spasms. I read Pollyanna, which isn't as good as Anne of Green Gables for inspiring reassurance, but it was there.

Today I'm making a music mix. Here's what is on it, and I'm not justifying or rationalising any of them:

Don't get all psychological on me, it's just a head space.

*Brian Turner, from Just This (Wellington, NZ: Victoria University Press, 2009), winner of the 2010 New Zealand Post Book Awards. Do not reproduce past this point.


Unknown said...

Music washes away the dust of every day life - Red Auerbach

Carol said...

Brian Turner - wonderful. What you did yesterday, also wonderful. We all owe you. I also read Anne and Pollyanna and others for reassurance now and then. I think they are my security blanket.

Ampersand Duck said...

Nari, mmmwahh! *kiss thrown your way*

Carol, I think AoGG gave me my world philosophy :)

commoncents said...


Common Cents

ronnie said...

snap - I just forked out for paul kelly's 'how to make gravy' (surn that wicked candelo books - playing the cds as bg muzak..... I couldn't resist... even though it will probably mean beans and garden vege only for the next month.....

I've just started reading through the book part (before - gasp - I've put all the yummy music on the pod)..... sooooooo good!

Syd said...

Help me... Im trying to make my blogg post show on my hompe page instead of the small detail it is doing

yaya said...

Congrats on being a "blog of note" and interesting blog! I'll be popping in from time to time!

Ampersand Duck said...

Syd, I think you need to look at the 'help' pages. They are quite good, honest.

Ronnie, I only got the book, not the music. I'll ask for that for Xmas!

Syd said...

Nice work, check out mine. Im focusing on music

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Joaquim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Goebte said...

Time to read about the science of cats lapping at

Paul Kelly has been part of my life, in sickness and health.

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