- paul kelly
i went to adelaide the other day. adelaide's where i was born. some of youse are from adelaide and some of youse aren't and some of youse are from other countries so i'll explain adelaide for a lil bit.
ADELAIDE IS LIKE the australia of australia. what? say you. what you mean? say you. me i say this:
well, adelaide is to australia like australia is to the rest of the world. it has a little cultural cringe, like it's not a real place. to discover if it's a real place, it looks at the rest of australia to see if anyone is looking at it. australia does this too, but it looks at the rest of the world.
i understand this because i do the same thing sometimes. some days i wake up and i'm not sure if i exist. when this happens i wait for
CHRISSIE HYNDE: attention, give it to me!
someone to call or text or email or smile at me on the street. the longer this takes the less sure i am that i exist. weird.
i think.. i think this is a legacy of colonialism. when you're a colony all the people with power are acutely aware that the real decisions are made elsewhere.. that this isn't a real country and that the people here are somehow second-rate.. that the real world is somewhere else.. that we are at the periphery, the antipodes, and that home is on the other side of the world.
if you want to be successful in adelaide or australia, therefore, it's a good idea to go somewhere else for awhile. when you come back you glow with the light of authenticity: you've been to the real world, the world that makes it onto tv, the radiant world, glowing with the cathode rays of the real.
MY SISTER LIVES in adelaide. i went to visit her. she's just moved to a pretty splendid house up in the hills. there are two creeks and every kind of fruit tree (me: hey! is that a lychee tree? her: probably, there's every other kind of fruit tree here) and there are sheep too: nice sheep.
i walked up the hill and into her house, and met 5 people i didn't know. one was marni, my sister's housemate. one was marni's daughter. one was fraser, a friendly hairy young man. the other two were two women and i've forgotten their names.
do you guys try to work out who's shagging whom when you walk into a new environment? i do. this is i guess because i am a) kind of flirtatious and b) convinced that a broken nose will do nothing for my appearance.
anyway, i was finding fraser and marni and the two other women hard to work out. eventually the two women Who Shall Not Be Named left and i went and talked to fraser. i was wondering if he was the father of marni's child.
'don't say that!' he said, looking alarmed.
'sorry!' i said. fraser looked at me a lil while.
'ha!' i said. 'with that sentence, you've just made it into the story i write about adelaide..' i said it on the inside though, in the place where dreams and wonderings and schemes happen.
ON SUNDAY NIGHT in adelaide i went to see richard buckner play. sheesh. it was glorious.
while i was there i saw gordon trenordon. gordon trenordon is quite possibly a genius and quite possibly a paranoid schizophrenic and is in any case a lovely bloke. i recommend him.
he said nice things about my little stories and so i was pleased. shall we have an aside now?
so some of you have noticed that i've been a quiet little storyteller of late. some of you haven't because you're still getting stories from india and some of you haven't because you're too busy and some of you haven't because you only check your email every six months. maybe you are amish or something.
this quietness is because my adelaide visit was, amongst other things, an unexpected feedback session re the virtues and failings of my little narratives, and i've been digesting the same.
that is: folks kept telling me what they'd liked about them, or what they didn't like, or what bits they liked more than other bits. this all added up to a confusing picture for me, because everyone wanted something different.
the most confusing one was annemarie, who said 'i didn't read anything that started with niggers or bitches and i really wished you'd written more about lola and tenzin, cos it was the whole purpose of the trip.'
and me i went sheesh! lindy knew where the email was as well, and it wasn't my place to talk about that stuff. lindy's words on the subject, more or less, were 'it isn't anybody's business unless i choose to tell them'. and i thought i'd explained that, but i guess it was in an email that started with 'niggaz' or 'bitches'.
i tried to explain that i was writing for a whooole bunch of people, many of whom have never met lindy or lola. i dunno. the whole project of writing stories and sending them out to people who may or may not like them seems kind of arrogant when people don't like them. when i realise someone's not into it i prune them from the list but it takes a while to realise it sometimes.
gordon trenordon, on the other hand, said they'd inspired him to write lots of travelogues when he next travels, and that made me very happy.
gordon trenordon is saving up to go overseas again. he's a sculptor so he's been sculpting a lot but he also has a job sorting mail at the post office.
'i make less money in the mail room than i do sculpting,' he says, 'so really it's a bit of a waste of time. the only reason i stay there is so i can read postcards.'
max was there too, and he said 'what, you read other people's postcards?'
'well,' said gordon, 'i could not read other people's postcards. but that would just be silly.'
i was there too, and i said 'ha! with that sentence you've just made it into the story i write about adelaide.'
Monday, June 25, 2007
'well, i look after marni's daughter sometimes. and me and marni are hanging out..'
'hanging out? so that's what the youngsters call it nowadays..' i said. he looked sheepish but happy.
'..aaand i hang out with the two other girls who were just here.' he said. i looked at him for a lil while.
'nice work!' i said. 'they all seem to get along, too..'
'well,' he said, 'i like community..'
- here beginneth the aside -
- here endeth the aside -