Listening to ‘Vox’ (the world music ensemble).

Re Reading ‘Scatterlings’ by Martin Shaw.

‘At the Existentialist Cafe – Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails’ by Sarah Bakewell.

On the road again. The Bairnsdale to Southern Cross train. Just inching our way over the Stratford trestle bridge. Vic Rail have been avoiding replacing it for almost decades. The government is waiting for the right moment to close the line. Possibly – when the bridge collapses, killing a train load of people. Last time they tried to close it to many NP voters were upset.

Heading for a lightning raid on Melbourne. Taliesin due to start Semester 2 (take 2), at Swinburne, so going to make sure everything Ok. Got to buy him a few things like a new phone to replace his cheap and ailing current model. Traveling today, hanging out tomorrow and then travelling back on Sunday.

The poor staff on the train much harassed as quite a few seats were double booked including mine. No worries really as there are almost always plenty of seats on the unreserved carriages. I often travel in them anyway, even if my ticket is ok, if I do not have a window seat. Sitting unreserved and having a big scary beard also usually means I get lots if room around me.

Staying with J and G again the darlings. Lovely hosts and right on the number 1 tram line. Weird when you think that I met both of them separately before they knew each other and they eventually got together all those years ago. I auditioned J for a gig and met G when we he were sharing studio space in Carlton.

Mallacoota is frantic as usual. I had to do the tech set up for two gigs before I left that are happening over the weekend. Hope they go Ok. I am pretty confident about one but dubious about the other. We will see.

One of them is the St Kilda Short Film Festival. These days they just send you the DVD and leave you to get on with it. I am a big fan of short films but not unhappy about missing it. The watching of many very good films consecutively is exhausting and disrespectful. I generally do the setup for the local arts council and nick off. That’s why Ghod invented You Tube.

I am going through one of my periodic states of depression/frustration over the apparent inability of people to organize their way out of a wet paper bag. It’s not just the inability to join the dots but the apparent inability to even see the dots at all. A bunch of very active and switched on kids have been trying to organize a disco and we are up to the forth time it’s been cancelled because of conflicting dates with other school events. The cancellations have all been with less than a week to go.

We just had a school ‘formal’. The school chose to stage it in the most difficult venue in town, only one week after term break, following on from another gig the night before while encouraging the kids to go for a massively detailed and complicated set up and then refused to realistically resource it. No wonder Generation Z is disengaged. It just about killed me. They ended up relying on me finding suitable stuff from out of my mountain of crap I have accumulated. The gig was a success after a fashion. The school said it had to be over by 9.00 so there was just time to take some pix and scoff a meal before everyone had to go. They all headed off to the after party party and got pissed. One horror was the massive amount of single use plastics employed because the setup had to be done so quickly. To cap it off the venue had decreed that everything had to be out the next day. I only found this out on the day of the event and I was already booked. Consequently a great deal of stuff was damaged in the bumpout and dealt with inappropriately so I had to do a massive repair/repack on Monday. Sigh.

There are a few Sub Saharan Africans moving into The Valley. Quite a contrast to see these tall, elegant, upright, very dark people moving amongst the pasty, obese, scuttling, tracky dacked usual denzines. Same thing with the (what’s the opposite of ‘sub’ ?) Saharan Africans. They always look so self-contained and colorfully neat. There is no style comparison between a hijab and a Collingwood beanie or a Mac Donalds cap. I wonder if this is reverse xenophobia? Is mainstream xenophobia actually rooted in resentful jealousy?

Just at Pakenham. The train is packed. Never seen it so full outside of holiday period. Is there something going on I don’t know about?

I just had a story rejected by Aurealis. The reasons given for rejecting it pretty much enumerated my intentions in writing it, the reason I wrote it, what it was about and my stylistic method. The next story I send them maybe I should write in crayon…


Listening to Catherine Messon.

Did not check my ticket properly that was issued by our local booking site until this morning and discovered they had put yesterdays date…. Had to do some fast talking at Flinders St at ridiculous o’clock this morning to avoid having to buy another ticket.

Met Taliesin under the clocks yesterday morning after a very pleasant evening meal with him on Friday at Tiamo’s.

We went sock buying at Aussie Disposals, bought a new sim card from Aldi to go with his new mobile. We went to JB Friday evening and bought a Nokia 3. Found a terrific little phone repair shop in Elizabeth St that replaced the smashed screen on The Precinct phone in 40 minutes.

We spent the arvo in The Museum in Carlton. The Viking exhibition was fairly disappointing. It was a long walk through a Wikepedia page. There were a few unpreposesing reproductions of jewellery, some unconvincing interactive set pieces and lots if repetitive text and photographs.

‘Bunjilaka’ was a very different experience. Tightly assembled, moving, brilliantly displayed I was enthralled. The kinetic sculpture/puppet/light show/sound montage of the bird spirit was ingenious, moving and mesmerizing. Tali got a bit exasperated by me taking so long going through but that was just tough because I was captivated. Saw some pix of some of the East Gippsland Mob I have worked with. The displayed artifacts were mostly old but the stories were contemporary. I think there is a need to update some of the info in the light of Bruce’s work in ‘Dark Emu’ and elsewhere.

As Don Watson comments on one of his latest essays – ‘indignation’ is not often a creative or useful response. It was very hard no to succumb tonit in the light of what was said and conspicuously unsaid in this exhibition. It is hard to encompass in ones mind the level of bastadry, cruelty and greed inflicted on our First Nation. The heart wants to burst with admiration at their resilience, hope and generosity. It is deeply shocking all that has been lost and deeply pleased to learn what has been saved and rediscovered.

One of the things that will stay with me longest, I think, is the story of the young men running ahead of the waves of spreading whiteman diseases to spread the warning unaware it was they who were contributing considerably to the infections distribution.

After the ritual pilgrimage to the dinosaurs and paying our respects to the whale Tali and I decided we were full-up and headed off towards Carlton and refreshment.

We went and checked out my old pad at 262 Drummond St – The fabled ‘Magic Puddin’ Club’. It still looked the same as it did in those far-off heady days of the seventies.

Same plants and still the same screen door. It was odd, as usual, to be starring at something from my deep past that seemed unchanged and realizing how much I had. I wonder if the carpet still had the electric fire burn scar. Over a couple of decades ago someone told me the place was for sale and I went and checked it out and the carpet was still the same.

Different than the Women’s Hospital where Patric was born. Demolitions machines were gnawing away at the last remains. Odd to reflect that I had been present at his birth in a place that was now a space up in the air. Spatial coordinates without visible means of support.


Roll the date forward and we inevitably arrive at ‘now’, which is a different ‘now’ to the one above.

‘A garden is a lovesome thing godwhat.’ Ours is no exception. It is time to tame the winter riot, clear out all the detritus in preparation for the fire season and start planting veg.

I have been anxiously hanging out amongst the tubs and pots in the herb garden, spikey with dry stalks, to see who has survived. So far so good everyone seems in good shape mostly. There is no sjgn from the stevia but it is early yet for that one,

I got the boys to clear a bed of heath and fishbone fern in preperation for the construction of another veg cage. I am not getting on with the cages I have built out of bird net and bamboo. Everything gets tangled up in the birdnet including birds, bats and me. Eccles goes nuts if a bird gets caught inside and the bird is not impressed either.

The rest of the garden is a blooming miracle. Every year it is just magic. The bloke who built the house back in the sevenyties was another pom and filled up the garden with bulbs of all sorts and fruit trees. So we have blossoms, blue bells freezias, daffs and glads. I have addded various daisies, orchids, and the herbs. There are also natives, some with amazingly alien looking, primitive flowers.

There are birds everywhere and the lizards are waking up.

So far we have taken three enormous trailer loads of green-waste to the tip wjth two more to go.

Tali is home for term break and Philip is still witn us so I have three lads to browbeat into helping. They have been very good actually slaving away with only minor whingeing for forms sake. We have got lots done. I am going to order some pine poles and wire tomorrow.

Today I planted some seed beds of beans, pumkin, egg plant, carrots, cucumber and lettuce. I already have capdicum, leakes and beatroot in.

After I have been to the tip after the dog walk tomorrow I have to stick up posters for the Greens Benefit and do my radio program. After that I will start editing the serial I have been doing with the 5/6’s. I have four 15 minute episodes to realize. I reckon it will take about thirty hours. I have started on the script for the next sessions. I have to finish both the editing and the writing by the end of the holidays. Busy. Busy.


Got the house cleaned and sent off a whole lot of group emails about ‘Dine in with The Awesome’. On the latter score I am hoping for a good crowd. Its really generous of Milli and Jim to donate their time and important that we can make a good showing in November.

One of the things that test my patience at the moment is the moral cowardice of some community organizations. So reluctant to voice opimion in case someone is upset. There is a huge fear of debate. The result is impotent blandness. If you look at our local arts council the work displayed in their gallery is mostly chocbox/calendar art, the performances they promote are the most unreflective and unchalleging ‘entertainment’ . Some of the art is, at least, of technical high quality but empty of content or narrative.

The same can be said for many more of our local organizations in relation to standjng up for important issues. It is not easy, which is more or less the point. Basic to the situation is us not facing the contradictions in our own lives and activities. Being an ‘environmentalist’ and happily tucking into a chop, steak or chicken can only be justified by the most pretzel logic. I know people who say they care about native wildlife and go fishing! Weirdly, I know people who earnestly eschew plastic shopping bags and who regularly fly around the place and drive enormous four wheeled drive tanks. Then of course thrre are the people who think they are doing the planet a favor by using almond milk.

We make up stories all the time. I am aware of constantly rewriting my life narrative in relation to contemporary personal preoccupations. Every now and then I will stumble on a scrap of my writing from back-when and am bought face to face with a different me articulated there. I can’t possibly know the internal life of others. I know how much I have behaved disgracefully to people who did not deserve it and tolerated the behaviour of others who were equally disgraceful. What goes on in others I can’t know.

Some people view themselves with unnecesary harshness and there others who I wonder often how they can face themselves in the mirror but seem to view their own attitudes and conduct with complacent equanimity.

It’s ‘political’ people who I find the most incomprehensible. They are quite clearly liars, capable of deep self delusion utterly self satisfied. They demonstrate these qualities everyday and yet people vote for them. Journalists are complicit in the deeply troubling game.

‘Conservatives’ are the most deeply troubling. ‘Conservative’ does not mean right wing. Right and Left wing are, anyway, mostly siloed unreflective knee jerk reactions to formal posturing. Conservatives are deeply afraid people who have compartmentalized their beliefs. There is a slogan or a meme for every situation and any challenge is met with anger, mockery, denial or interpersonal aggression. There is no thought. Intelligent conservatives are very articulate in their self denial. Conservatives cannot see the distinction between data and opinion. They cannot engage without mobilizing judgemental responses.

Religion is of course the most deeply entrenched cultural conservativity. What is, for me, deeply intriguing is the writing and utterances of religious apologists. I used to be attracted to the writings of CS Lewis (in the days when I was agnostic about the spiritual) and thought his work interesting and challenging. I went back to him a while ago and found him almost content free. It was cleverly rhetorically but almost entirely pointless. ‘The Screw Tape Letters’ is still entertaining to me because it is cleverly rhetorical. CS Lewis managed to fill up a shelf of a bookcase without contributing anything except to engender either senses of self satisfaction or uneasy disquiet in the reader.  Mind you i still consider ‘That Hideous Strength’ to be a major work of British science fantasy

Something has just occurred to me – we are an organism that the process of evolution has bought our species to the point where we can postulate the notion if evolution. This has taken about four billion years and it seems that the time is approaching rapidly when evolution will be once again be without consciousness. A very narrow window.



Listening to Amy Dickson’s CD ‘Island Songs’. I just love the way she plays.

Well Daniel Andrews got in with a big swing.  Less generally bankrupt than that bunch of real clowns in the Libs/Nat circus.  The real losers are the forests and the rest of the natural environment.  I can’t see any signs that the majors are going to abandon the economic idealogy of neoliberalism that is causing so much inequality and is eating the future.  It is an object lesson in human neurology that very few people can make the connection between their own mode of existence and being a member of a Ponzi Scheme.  One thing’s for sure – the landslide win is ensuring that t Vic Forests will continue to rip the guts out of our last remaining areas of old growth forests and condemn huge numbers of species to extinction.

Equally depressing is the apparent rigid determination of Metro Greens to turn the party into a mirror of the majors with their factions, blokey disrespect and procedural pettifogerry.  Deb Foskey commented that Greens Party machine are very young and inexperienced with not much appreciation or knowledge of political history.  A point well made. Add to that the pervasive use of social media is an organizing tool with its creation and proliferation of siloed viewpoints, self reinforcement and identity politics and you have a recipie for division and disaster.  The Metro Greens can’t see the trees for the wood.

I organized the east end of the Greens supporting East Gippsland booths and handed out quite a few cards.  An enormous number of locals in Mallacoota support The Greens, totally atypical of the rest of East Gippsland.  At the Mallacoota Booth the only two people handing out cards were the Nats and the Greens and at Cann River and Genoa it was just The Greens.  Two things stuck out: (1) the general total disgust at the behaviour of members of the high profile Greens and the inability of the leadership to actually show leadership and (2) the character of the die-hard National Party voters who seemed to be white, male, ignorant and angry/scared.

Listening to Padma Newsome’s CD – The Vanity of Trees.  A huge talent.

Last weekend we finally launched the Community Arts Wall of Fame at the Muddie here is Mallacoota.  We hve been talking for years about a portrait gallery of local community arts cultural heroes and have finally done it.  John Wood-Ingram and John Grunden are on the Wall.  Next year we will be going for gender balance and the year after heading to more contempory heroes.

Back to Melbourne this weekend.  Taliesin is finishing up at Swinburne and we are picking up him and his cello and bringing him back home.  I do so hope he has passed his course.  We now have to work out where he is going next. It’s also one of my oldest friend’s (Jillian) 60th birthday so we are joining in the celebration. it is unforgetable – the first time I met her about 45 years ago.  She auditioned for a place in B’Spell Performance Troupe and the rest is history.



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