Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In this natural way

She told me that if she were writing it up she would state that a blind, bald, infant rat can live at least three whole days without food or water and, after crawling the inner circuit of a weed filled pot plant, will die in a tucked in position, no doubt relieved that it hasn't been killed before now by either brick or drowning, but instead has been left to expire in this natural way.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Slow severe contortions

Since I was in a hurry and a sauntering figure was impeding my way through the building site tunnel on Broadway -- one of those people who must know they are impeding the way of those who take their schedules far too seriously -- I soon forgot the sight of the dying insect on the Wattle Street corner, whose slow severe contortions had occupied my mind entirely while I was waiting at the lights.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The wide stare

All yesterday I was wondering how to write about the young girl on the train who was signalling what might have been disgust to her even younger sister when a thick set boy shoved back one of the seats near them and then flung his body onto the vinyl in a way that might have expressed how he just does things and doesn't complain -- just as, in company, he will nod to his friends as if to agree to something risky even as his thoughts are taken up with the wide stare of several nearly teenage kids who might be watching from a window on the other side of the street. It was not easy, I was thinking, because the girls were soon looking at something in a plastic casing that the older one had taken from her bag.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Your skin shivers painfully

When the evening has that cooled down once hot feeling, as when your skin shivers painfully on a beach, you might see an enormous woman in pink tease her toddler with a dummy she keeps withdrawing, and you might pass a man who looks like a white-haired, stuffed-thick version of someone you might have known from one of those blurring days in a city that you have lived in now for so many decades that you know how these kinds of evenings run.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What I do on this program

She told me that it wasn't so much his sheer hypocrisy that she minded -- that this execrable character, as she called him, kept using the word vile to describe the supposed attacks on him and then went on to describe himself as a patient, fearless person whose eyes had clear heroic shine -- but it was the expression 'what I do on this program' that got to her -- this way of using the simple word do as if he were an artist and what he made every day on his Breakfast Show was either some careful, ironic construction or the spontaneous expression of his sincerely rigorous, vulnerable soul.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just a prank

Nearly the whole time we were waiting to see the doctor in Casualty, two girls, who were waiting for the results of spinal x-rays after a car accident, kept moving around the room, retelling the details of the accident in a myriad of telephone calls too complex to follow as a homeless woman groaned her soliloquy on a chair in the corridor and a one-eyed elderly woman with arthritic hands sat through the emptying of two bags of fluid into what might have been her daughter -- until soon, all that stuff about the car accident, we were hearing, was just a prank, and the friends they were talking to should call back their mothers and just say the earlier calls were full of lies. They were to say, we all heard, that the girls had fallen out of a tree or walked into a car or a wall or something because otherwise their mothers would go ballistic. Even when their doctor arrived and asked them to accompany her into a room, they stayed on the phone, negotiating the exact wording of the calls to the mothers that their friends had to make as soon as they could.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The mysteries of life

She told us that, in fact, the Grand Lodge for the Rosicrucian Order of Australia, Asia and New Zealand was just around the corner from where we were sitting, in one of those business parks that are nothing like parks and are bereft of all business. For all she knew, the Grand Lodge was palatial inside. It didn't look like much from the front: just the usual concrete walls, dust-choked plants and angled parking spaces that bake in the sun. Very occasionally the Grand Masters, as she thinks they are called, come into the cafe but they rarely buy anything more than a camomile tea. Her boss has been curious about them since his father left his mother and moved back to Rende in Calabria, where he hadn't lived for close on fifty years. Her boss had said that if it wasn't for the fact that all the Rosicrucians he'd met talked unbearably slowly, he might have signed up for their series of weekly monographs that promise to help you unfold the mysteries of life.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


You notice that your hand, which is either blistered or swollen from a cut, is hurting but, since you are unable to determine whether your hand has been blistered or cut, the last of the event which must have caused it -- and which might at least have called from you an in-drawn breath -- now escapes with no audible sound.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


She told me that right after that conversation we should never have started about the phone a bus actually came and someone sitting opposite had asked if she knew the pendant on the necklace she was wearing resembled an octopus at rest. He must have been searching all night for someone with a necklace like this, because he talked the whole way about octopi and squid, and as she stood up to leave he asked her how many legs an octopus had (her answer of course was wrong as an octopus only has two, as he'd already said).

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Impossible to hear for the wheels

She told me that there seemed to be an exact octave between the rumbling of our pull-along suitcase wheels on the asphalt and the whirring of two young guys who passed us on their skateboards, one carrying a chair and the other a long cardboard tube that could also, she thought, have also been making a sound as it moved, but one that was impossible to hear for the wheels.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The incident last week between Clyde and Blacktown

Luckily, when the two people at either end of the carriage talked through wires to people they made out were listening and responding, the elderly man, who continued to murmur his relentless and ever intensifying explanations was not so noticeable, but as each of the wire talkers left the train, something progressively lifted from our bodies, I've been trying to explain in my statement to City Rail, as a footnote to the incident last week between Clyde and Blacktown.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wing women

Afterwards I described her as someone who, as you answer the question about your ideas for a show she hears you are planning (the question that she seems to have asked so reluctantly that the words hardly moved past her mouth), she raises her cheeks to her eyes in an expression of such complete irritation and disgust that later, when she wishes you well as she leaves -- and with a genuine warmth -- you find that your own face will not obey you, and your attempts to wish her the same make it clear to everyone else in the café that you are the more surly of the two of you by far.

Pedalling bubbles

We all stiffened as she rode barefoot through us on the footpath on Broadway, her ribbed face determined on pedalling so that the hoisted rainbow wheel at her back would continue to dispense the bubbles as we waited for the lights to tell us to walk.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A house for their roost

The pigeons and ibises of Bankstown have chosen a house for their roost and there is no other house in the suburb that will do instead. Today, for example, there were twenty three pigeons on the roof and five or six ibises (one was in flight). Tomorrow I am imagining fifty or sixty pigeons (since tomorrow is Saturday), and on Sunday a wedding of cockatoos or at least a fight. If you don't believe me, catch a bus down MacAuley Avenue and look to other side from the park. I have never seen a bird of colour on that roof, however. No matter that the inhabitants of Bankstown speak many more languages than the whole of Europe, the lorikeets and rosellas keep to the trees.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On the verge

Of course, they must have waited for these La Niña rains to put out their ailing melamine cupboards on the verge. So they might soften.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

That waited for the years that were certain to come

My accountant told me how, in her holidays as a child, she and her brothers had been made by their grandmother to tie the small lengths of string left over from the paper bag bundles in their shop -- tying these hand-length pieces of twine to each other and then rolling them into balls that waited for the years that were certain to come, when the mirage of this life in a benevolent city had come to its end and, instead of laying reeds in the soil for the necessary months to make home-made twine, they might spool their way out from the labyrinth of poverty with the long, knotted string that once, in their childhoods, they had very nearly chucked as the Anglo children did.

Monday, April 30, 2012

If you stop looking down

Just now, I didn't see the saxophone player who was practising four-note riffs into the pendulous roots of the Moreton Bay Fig when they were mowing the lawns of the park last week, or at least supposed to be mowing the lawns, as there are still those thicker islands of more luxuriant growth, which make walking tricky if you stop looking down.

Even the less used end of the table

During the rains -- when we were still calling it La Niña even though everyone had said that La Niña had already finished -- when the mould grew high on the rabbit's droppings and even the less used end of the table had a milky film -- our neighbours were leaving the shells of their melamine chipboard cupboard components out on the verge (none of them actually all of the cupboard, it always seemed: just the split and rotten parts), like cleaning a mouth.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

No person at all involved

Surely, catching sight of someone else's eyes in a bus or train window does not constitute catching sight of that person, we said; the reflection of the projection of their seeing intersects with ours, and ours with theirs; the illusion that is the reflection of the projection. No person at all involved.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The glowing beauty of the world

She pointed out to me the way the dog turd made a perfect soft-edged crescent against the petals of the camellia flower on the verge. Is that why the owner never removed it? we wondered. Not a negligent owner of a dog at all, but one who in the least significant places, sees the glowing beauty of the world.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Every day I walk past where, just three weeks ago, my neighbour installed a white enamelled shutter – permanently closed – over his window, and a perfect moon of grey-primed pine board over the fanlight above his front door. I often see him out walking – usually in long, slow diagonals, crossing a road. His house, I have thought, is the centre of his extended, seemingly purposeless excursions.

I try to avoid him. He is nearly deaf. He has pedantic ideas about the Taiwanese government and the women in Shanghai.

For months now he has been bringing me the mail that the postal worker has been leaving mistakenly in his box although mine has never been left in his. Once he changed the bulb in my car’s left headlight. God knows how he did it without a key.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The dead seal

Obviously it wasn't really a dead and desiccated seal lying along the fence by the building site on Broadway, the sand seeping out of the gash in its side, its fur grown sticky from the rain that runs until it drowns something, day after day after day, and then, just as fiercely, disappears.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Baker's Game Easy

I have an addiction to playing Baker’s Game Easy on my iPhone. Actually it is not so much an addiction to the game itself or to the elation of winning or even the anticipation of winning, but an obsession with trying to locate the shift during a game when I know for sure either that I am going to win it, however mindlessly I play from that moment onwards – or lose; a moment that is experienced as much as a disappointment as a thrill.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Verlaine at the HR Christmas drinks

When his name came up she said that she had just been reading Edmund White’s biography of Rimbaud, and doing what all of us do – that is, googling the protagonists, Rimbaud and Verlaine – and as soon as she recognised our colleague in that famous painting (short nosed, bald and overly upright with his lover Rimbaud on one side and a flask of red wine on the other), she had to re-evaluate what he had been saying all year about his wife and their ADHD sons, who had their mother’s sense of humour (noticeable pause) – and also that imitation of the poor woman in Customer Service, which always had us laughing, since he could do her shoulders and her way of clutching at the cup she’d emblazoned with all the names of her long deceased cats. My friend said it was clear how this colleague had survived through the centuries. First, he was obviously intelligent, and then came his cunning way of insinuating himself into every drinks event that went on in Human Resources, when he really worked in Accounts – as of course he had never done a thing for HR (and the sheer quantity of drink he put away should have made them wary of hosting their Christmas event on site ever again). He only did Accounts.

Monday, January 16, 2012

No ride home

Of course, the moment it lengthened its end, straining to perceive what I was, I could see that the thick black slug which had burped its blood on the kitchen floor -- trailing it after itself as if feigning an injury or suddenly overcome with bilious despair -- that this slug was in fact a leech that had taken a one hundred kilometre ride from its bed of mud and, like a fat boy ensconced in a beanbag in front of an endless PlayStation racing car track in someone else's house, seeped tears as he played since there was no ride home.