Wednesday, June 30, 2010

At any cost

All through the interview she kept using this phrase: She wouldn’t go back to Japan, she wanted a class, she wanted to keep studying English at any cost.

Friday, June 25, 2010

When she was a child she drowned

Every morning, she told us, she gets up early to clean her brother-in-law's pool even though she never goes swimming herself. When she was a child, she said, she drowned.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The job of her dreams

I learned how, all along, the terrible smell in the classroom that my colleague had taken for a Chinese concoction – and I for the evidence of un-flossed teeth – had in fact been emanating from one of our very best students who, despite her cancerous abscess, had been coming every day in an effort to improve her English and get the job, as she had written in a class survey, of her dreams.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


The grey pigeon's wing I saw in the dirt at the base of the tree made me think of the two white wings that were the only remnants I had found in the chook house of the pink-legged, grumpy, flightless, fan-tailed pigeon that used to lord it over the cat and the rabbit when I was a child - only this wing in the dirt was far less accusing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


She described the relief in the dream when you go back to the pub after it's closed, to find the book that you photocopied there - the book that doesn't belong to you and which you have to return and which, in the chaotic office that is the pub, you are unable to find - the relief, when you return a possible second or third time after that first search, as you realise that there is no necessity of finding it after all because, surely, this book that you are looking for is only a dream.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The ice-cream excursion

I heard how, twice a week, those in the dementia unit were driven to Manly for ice-creams and that they were not allowed to get out of the bus - and so they had to consume their ice-creams while sitting in their seats.

I also heard that, during one of these excursions, the driver of the bus had informed a patient named a'Beckett that his ancestor had killed the other's ancestor, and that he had proof of this connection if he wanted to look.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Going to Fisher

When she rang today she said that, just as it didn't seem surprising that her cousin, who usually lived 357 kilometres west, should ring from 5 blocks north from her on this, the very same day that she had been mentioned twice (once regarding her stance on religion and the other to do with her commerce in spelt wheat) it was also in keeping that she should begin to read Ghosts by C├ęsar Aira and go to Fisher Library - the place of her first employment, where she had once learned Spanish from her Argentinean, Chilean and Uruguayan fellow workers (only to forget it completely a year or two later) - going to Fisher, as it was called, to borrow books, with her daughter, on Akhenatan and Pinochet.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Three references to Troy

She said that the first was when the security guard told her that Virgil didn't say to beware Pommies bearing gifts as he gave her a block of chocolate; the second was hearing The Chasers delivering and attempting to deliver a wooden horse to consulates all over Sydney (in another room, on Youtube); the third was hearing someone say it was what the Greeks done at Troy on a film - Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - that was playing on television.

This happened today.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The hairdresser and the Jew

As he cut my hair he talked about the recent incident with the Turkish boat and the Israelis - saying that the Turks in the boat had been provocative and that Hamas was just a bunch of terrorists - until the man sitting next to me intervened in defence of the Palestinians, and so all the time the hairdresser was cutting my hair, the comments went back and forth and I could hardly say a thing.

Even when his own haircut was over, the other customer chose to stay to continue to talk. He was a Jew, he said, but he did not support what Israel was doing. A lot of his family in Europe had been killed by the Nazis and still he believed that this did not give the Israelis the right to do the same themselves. The hairdresser then said that he had grown up with Jews and so he understood what the Israelis were feeling. They had warned that boat, he said. It was like a puppy dog being surrounded by dobermans, and: what would you do if your neighbours kept slapping you in the face?

This last question he directed to me through the mirror and, in the nature of the situation (since I was stuck in the chair), I had to look back.