Pausing for reflection… zzzz…

Friday 15 July 2005

Living conditions in the bunker have been spartan, but are slowly improving. I am not sure this is entirely a good thing. The monastic lifestyle has allowed me to focus my life on more spiritual matters, but moreover it helps to deter kibitzing houseguests. The instant you get digs in London, every unexpatriated Australian – and even some particularly shameless New Zealanders – will suddenly claim an eternal bond of Mateship. Before you know it, your peaceful sanctuary starts to resemble throwing out time at the Walkabout Pub.
The last visitors to the bunker were a couple of girls from Guernsey. I had entertained notions of showing them around the Tate Modern or the stuffed corpse of Jeremy Bentham, but it turned out that their idea of a hot time in London was going to Pizza Hut and then riding the escalators at the tube station – all the big city things they can’t get at home. Worse still, they’d look to me to bail them out when shopkeepers refused to accept their dinky little local £1 notes with cows and pictures of Bergerac on them.
On the up side, I have been able to take advantage of other people’s hospitality on weekend trips out of London. I’ve been meaning to share with you all some of the highlights, but my internet service has been spotty lately and won’t be sorted out until sometime next week. So you’ll have to wait until then, when I’m back from my jaunt to Bristol and I get my interminable series of holiday snaps uploaded onto Flickr.
This seems a good time to mention that this blog is one year old. Sure, the first post is dated sometime in August, but I actually set it up in July last year and then couldn’t be arsed posting anything to it for a few weeks; and so the tone was set for the twelve months’ since of haltingly updated posts about mundane trivialities.
Coming soon: I’ll finally get around to catching up on that played-out music meme. Maybe I’ll also update the links section so you’ll have something good to read.

Lying on the floor taking photos of the ceiling, with the flash on and off

Monday 4 July 2005

I do not understand what you wants to, formulates you gladly on something else ways.

Wednesday 1 June 2005

I’m listening to a Dutch Classic Cock station on a tinny AM radio and running a sweep with my imaginary friend on how soon until they play “We Built This City” so my judgement may be slightly impaired at the moment but, contrary to some people, I love Ikea.
Not as in “I love Big Brother“, or even “I love Big Brother“, but truly, honestly, genuinely love it: from its cheap, unobtrusive shelves for my books and records, to the $2.50 breakfast that makes the resident chef cry when he’s overrun with pikey students and backpackers. I know some people get the collywobbles and bitch about about the place, but they always end up coming back for more.
Now, my love for Ikea has a face, and a name: Anna. We’ve had some great conversations:

If your Swedish is not up to scratch, she speaks English too, but only on the American Ikea website. I don’t know why she doesn’t appear on the Australian website: perhaps that’s a reflection on the respective qualities of service you can expect in each country. Better still, American Anna has been given a box with extra headroom to live in, which gives the tantalising suggestion that if you ask the right question she will start jumping up and down.
I started searching Ikea homepages for other countries in hope of meeting exotic Annas around the world, particularly to see if the Saudia Arabian incarnation was wearing a burqa, but no luck.
But then, I was going to introduce my new best friend Anna to a colleague in London, and got a disturbing surprise:

What the hell happened to the real Anna? British Ikea gives you advice about life, love, and chipboard furniture through an Essex girl. Luckily, original flavour Anna is alive and well in Sweden and/or the States, but why this different look just for Britain? Are they trying to test us with some sort of Paula Wilcox/Sally Thomsett judgement-of-Paris dilemma? Contrary to appearances, British Anna is as reluctant to give out her phone number as Swedish Anna.

More about British cooking, deduced from the smells and sounds from next door

Wednesday 18 May 2005

“Kids! Dinner’s burned! Come and get it!”
“I’ve burnt your favourite tonight, love.”
“Mmmmm, burned to perfection!”
“Honey, I’m afraid I’ll be late home from work tonight.”
“Yes dear, I’ll leave dinner burning in the oven for you.”
“Ah, nothing like coming home and putting your feet up in front of a nice, cosy fire blazing away in the saucepan.”
“That was a beautifully burned dinner, dear. Now I’m going to spend the next hour playing Towers of Hammurabi with all the pots and pans.”

Let’s get this over with

Saturday 14 May 2005

I hope you have all enjoyed my month’s holiday as much as I have. Just joking! Of course, I don’t take holidays. Ever. In fact, I’ve been hard at work parlaying my modest investments into some serious capital, so I cd spin this thriving internet concern into one those hateful yet lucrative insta-bookoids that clog up the shelves by the cash registers at Dymocks. The perfect gift for an infrequently-visited relative or workmate you have no real connection with. A show on Foxtel, too, was not out of the question.
Unfortunately, I had a “misunderstanding” with my “business partners” over some supposedly “misappropriated” funds in “brown paper bags” and a “racehorse”. Like any bold, forward-looking Australian entrepreneur I have fled the country and moved to London. To be precise, a cosy and modestly-priced bunker in the small, sleepy suburb of Robson Green, NW2.

Within these walls my empire shall rise from the ashes.
Bookworms: the Penguin on my night-table is Milne’s Mr Pim Passes By. The bookmark is a small, creased photograph of Julie Dawn Kemp.

Returning to normal

Tuesday 28 September 2004

I have just fought my way out of a room packed solid with cardboard moving boxes, having survived for the past week on the water leaking out of the disconnected hoses on the washing machine, and the surprisingly copious amount of incinerated breadcrumbs trapped in the bottom of the toaster. The new house is almost functional.
Negative: This place is about half the size of the old house, so there isn’t room to stash all the crap accumulated over the years.
Positive: The new house is fit for human habitation. To give you a brief impression of how grotty the old house was, when moving out I was faced with an ethical dilemma: whether or not to remove the large, friendly snail that had taken residence in the shower cubicle for the past year and had thrived off whatever was growing, or decaying, between the tiles.
Wierdest item found while moving: protractors. In itself, a protractor is not that unusual. But while packing my junk away, I found a total of seven protractors. Not all in the one spot, either: they turned up one by one, stuffed away in the most unlikely of places. God knows where they came from. I haven’t even seen a protractor since high school, and now I suddenly own a collection of them larger than Stephen Hawking’s.
Now, I’m heading up to Newcastle for Electrofringe, so I may or may not write about my exciting adventures up there (hint: the more exciting the adventures, the less likely I am to update this until next week).

Chaos… utter chaos…

Tuesday 21 September 2004

I’m typing this kneeling on the floor with the computer monitor perched unsteadily on a camp stool. My throat, nostrils and lungs are choked with dust stirred up from several years’ worth of books, records and papers cruelly disrupted from their peaceful slumber in piles carefully accumulated around my house. Most of them are now strewn from the verandah to the dunny, half in and half out of a sprawling mausoleum of cardboard boxes. The moving van arrives tomorrow morning.
I didn’t know how long it wd be until I cd get back to posting and checking my mail, and I don’t know now how long it will be until I can locate the computer in the new house among the ocean of worthless detritus I cannot bring myself to throw out. Service will not resume at its normal, intermittent level until further notice.

Curses! Homeless again

Wednesday 1 September 2004

Contrary to earlier predictions, I can’t stay on in Miss Havisham’s Barn beyond the end of October. So now I have to find somewhere to live for those awkward few months before the Kensington house is available. Too short a time for a lease. Death to the landowning classes! Drat! And double drat!

Also, I just like saying “Lindt et Sprüngli”

Tuesday 17 August 2004

It was a good day. I discovered the Priceline in town has several aisles containing nothing but Lindt 85% cocoa dark chocolate, marked down to $1.99 each. I love this chocolate, not only because it’s as bitter, black and evil as my heart, but also I’ve finally found a type of chocolate the housemate will not swipe from me and eat. As I type this she’s lying on the floor clutching her stomach and groaning feebly, with little spirals slowly rotating where her eyeballs used to be. Eating a square of this chocolate is like swallowing a box of Cadbury Bournville cocoa, and after half a block of it I start hallucinating I’m bedecked in quetzal feathers, sitting on a throne on top of a pyramid giving a priest the nod to cut out the virgin’s still-beating heart. If anyone wants to find me during the next week I’ll be inside a small fort constructed from 100g blocks of Lindt 85%, eating my way out. And no, you can’t have any.

A square of the Death Chocolate

Limited potential

Saturday 14 August 2004

The house got sold on the weekend. This is the decaying, double-fronted weatherboard place I’ve been living in for nearly two years now, in the part of North Fitzroy known locally as I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Brunswick. The house itself was dubbed Miss Havisham’s Barn, on account of it being about a hundred years old and untouched for the last fifty or so: faded, mouldering wallpaper curling off the crumbling plaster walls, floral carpeting with inexplicable bald patches in random locations, wiring and plumbing dating from the time of the Chifley government. The good thing about it is that it’s huge, with enough space to keep away from the mouldy bits, keep a good distance from the housemate when necessary, and avoid contact with the neighbours.
It’s probably for the best that our sometime landlord, Mr Dum, was averse to making any repairs to the house, no matter how essential. Rather than spending money on someone marginally competent he wd attempt to do them himself, with results that wd be comical if we didn’t have to live with them. (He earned the name Mr Dum when we found him trying to fix a broken light switch by jamming an unshielded screwdriver into the wiring, with the mains power still on.)
Mr Dum paid about $400,000 for this place a few years ago and was asking for at least half a million at the auction. The house was described as having three bedrooms: it took us while to figure out that the mystery bedroom is the lean-to out the back which fills with water every time it rains, thanks to Mr Dum’s efforts to block a small leak last year. Cleverly, he picked a day it was pissing down to hold the auction. We were betting he wd hold out for more money and not sell on the day, but apparently Mr Dum needs the cash because he brought his reserve down to $470,000 when it passed in at $457,000: he settled for $463,500.
Thankfully, the new owner wants to renovate, so I can probably stay on for a bit until the housemate’s rellos come through with a spanky new townhouse in Kensington at the end of the year. It also means no bond hassles! (“Yeah, don’t worry about that blood-soaked patch of carpet in your bedroom, it’s all coming up anyway.”) The condition report originally supplied by the agent had every spare millimetre of blank paper on the first page filled with reported breakages, markings and defects; the second page had a large cross through it and an exasperated “HOUSE IS OLD” scrawled across it.
Oh yeah, and someone at the auction left their umbrella behind. Score!