July 2008

  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 744.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 159.
  • warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/modules/node/views_handler_argument_dates_various.inc on line 72.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 24.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.

Work versus work

Sometimes having three different jobs means they're in competition with each other. Sometimes though, when you're in regional Victoria organising a free legal information program, you meet the head of a local community group and you've just met a character who's going in a play.

 

I'm in Wangaratta. There's a character storm over here. Clearing late this afternoon.

Library Listening Devices

In the library when you are trying to write and someone is talking extremely loudly and it turns out to be the librarian, it is best to listen to:

1. Rachmaninov

2. The superman theme

3. My friend Liam

 

It is surprising how quickly the librarian becomes an actor in a wordless drama of my own making. Huzzah! Thwarted by music!

View from the top

In both my "day jobs", I have excellent views. Not of the sea, or the mountains, or the city, but of other people. Something I know about people: they never look up.   It's amazing what people will do when they think nobody is watching them. They will, I happen to know:   1. Pick their noses. 2. Engage in the purchase and/or supply of quantities of drugs and/or totally innocent goods in small packages that require sales to be made on street corners from old Ford Falcons. 3. Yank their undies out of uncomfortable places. 4. Argue. 5. Talk to themselves.   It's this last one that's my favourite. I do that. Look up, people.   I promise, a writer is buiding you into a script.

Signage

Sign in a mountaineering shop in the middle of the city: Now Is The Winter of Our Discount Tents.

 

Hands up if you have an arts degree and you work in retail.

 

Definitely worth it.

Weekends

Weekends are for resting, aren't they.

 

That's what I figure. So I go away for a nice break and I usually find myself naturally coming to write the odd thing.

 

On the weekends when I fight the relaxation and decide to work, I find myself sitting inside with my laptop looking out the window at people who are not fighting their desire to have a proper weekend full of relaxing and walking about aimlessly in parks.

 

This weekend, I intend to relax but am aware that there is a hidden intent to write. Does this count? I am trying to psych myself into the right mindset. Whatever that might be.

 

Have a good one.

Platypus

On the side of my bottle of carbonated water, a description of the springs from which the water is sourced:

 

"Often under snow in winter, the area is surrounded by huge granite boulders unique in the Australian bush. It is a haven for wildlife including the native platypus."

 

A platypus, this is what they are telling me, weed in my drink.

 

 

 

We're everywhere

Standing There Productions consists of lots of people, only three of whom meet once a week (if you squint) and the rest of whom are involved less directly.

 

Those less directly involved peeps are usually directly involved everywhere else, doing clever and entertaining things, from plays to setting up small businesses to (as many people have pointed out to me this week) advertising Hairhouse Warehouse, superannuation, and soup.

 

Here are some examples: Dylan Lloyd, who was our Dad in For We Are Young And Free last year at the comedy festival, is on stage again at Chapel off Chapel this August in Closer (he's the one down the bottom of the page). Luke Lennox, who is excellent, is in it too. Miriam Glaser, who was Paris Hilton and also played the boss in the red suit in Greatness Thrust Upon Them, this year's Standing There Productions comedy festival show, graced our TV screens in City Homicide a week or so ago, and Stew has just finished the behind-the-scenes shoot on an ABC TV show which, coincidentally, contains an episode in which Miriam appears. Tim Stitz, who has been around since the start of Standing There Productions, is, usually, in everything. Check your local guides. He seriously should have his own theatre. 24 hour Stitzy. Only a matter of time.

 

Also, some friends are setting up a creative universe in the form of office/studio space in the middle of Melbourne, so if you're a writer, designer or filmmaker and need office space and creative vibes in Melbourne, comment below and I'll see if there's anything left.

 

Obviously there's also Rita, one of the regular three, who heads off in a minute overseas to attend the Palm Springs and Rhode Island festivals in an official producer capacity, only to return to meet the rest of Standing There Productions (Lorin and Stew) in Bundanon, where the vibe will be, I presume, a little more relaxed than LA and New York, possibly borderline catatonic.

 

See, this is why people in theatre and the arts have an inconceiveable number of facebook friends. They meet people all the time, collaborate with everyone, and only ever see each other in theatre foyers or art galleries or, you know, edit suites. As for me, it's the fellow state library folk and whoever I bump into on my way to the Law-Talking-Job at the moment. That's a baffling network if ever there was one.

 

Everyone else, I watch from afar with pride.

The Things You See

Seen a couple of days ago in the middle of the traffic in Rathdowne Street, contemporary Melbourne, trotting past the park: two horses dragging a carriage.

 

Bloke sitting in carriage.

 

Bloke using a personal organiser.

 

Head down, scribbling with a stylus. Not once looking out the window of ye olde carriage at ye worlde.

 

I'm thinking of hiring a carriage and getting in it with my laptop. Just to make people wonder.

Metaphorical Beanies

Today, I was going to the Law Talking Job and I decided I needed to look slightly respectable but I was going out to dinner after work with my friend Annabelle and, what with the weather over the last few days, I might become completely freezing.

 

I don't know if that 80% of heat through the head thing is true but I decided the only thing for it was to take a beanie to work in my handbag.

 

My friend Annabelle is an emaculate dresser and utterly, disgustingly gorgeous, and so ramming a beanie down over my head that completely clashed with my work clothes would not be good.

 

So what did I do? I built my outfit around my beanie. My beanie is a lovely deep brown. I wore a brown pashmina, a brown jacket, a maroon top and black legs.

 

I just looked in my bag. I forgot my beanie.

 

It's at home on the bench.

 

I built my outfit around my beanie and I left my beanie at home.

 

This is, and I'm not sure how, a metaphor. For something. About me being hopeless, surely. Or, you know, left out in the cold due to my own incompetance and despite careful planning.

 

My beanie is a metaphor. A brown, benched, lonely metaphor, sitting at home wishing it was hanging with its friends Mister Pashmina and Mrs Brown-Coat. I don't know where that leaves me but needless to say: eighty percent colder.

 

Have a nice weekend!

Glimpses

When you write, or I guess when you do anything that involves watching how other people exist, you find yourself being delighted by the smallest things. I had one of those moments last night when I was watching Lateline Business (although I have to be honest: I am clever enough to watch Lateline but not nearly clever enough to understand a blind word of Lateline Business. It's like the degree of difficulty increases the more tired you get).  

 

So anyway. I'm watching Lateline Business and trying to remember what the All Ordinaries might be when they're at home with their carpet slippers on... and there's a guy doing a report, very serious, lots of nodding and agreement with Leigh Sales about the state of things and whether there's likely to be any improvement as a result of something or other over the next period of something or other else... and behind him, in the background, is an office.  So there's this guy looking down the barrel of the camera and he's extremely focused on the matter at hand (something about impending global financial doom) and he's talking about the work he does for Macquarie (otherwise known at The Millionaire Factory, or it the Billionaire factory? I don't know, I'm merely a hundredaire factory at the moment) and there's a huge sign to his left that says Macquarie, for those viewers who may be deaf. In the background is, presumably, the office at Macquarie.  

 

Now, nothing devastating happened. Nobody mooned the camera. Nobody waved at mum at home. In fact, the beauty of it was that nobody in the office knew there was a bloke in a bowtie talking earnestly with Leigh Sales down the line at the ABC, apparently. But there was this one guy, and remember this is only just before midnight, who had his back to the camera and was sitting in a chair a whole open-plan-office away from where bowtie man was being interviewed. He's about an inch high to the top right of my TV screen.  He stood up from his office chair, still looking at the computer screen, back to the camera, and he sighed. You could see his shoulders drop. Our bowtie guy was talking about inflation and consumer confidence and stuff, but this guy was sighing. He was wearing, I seem to remember, a pink shirt, so your eye was drawn from bowtie man and the Macquarie sign, towards this guy with his pink shirt and his deep sigh.  

 

Then he raised his arms in the air. For a moment, it was unclear where he might be going with this. Was this an exclamation of joy? Was it an appeal to the heavens? The night before last, I saw a film called Hancock, about an ordinary bloke who could fly. It seemed to me that Pink Shirt Guy might just be preparing for takeoff.  He then proceeded to stretch. He grabbed his right hand with his left (both arms still aloft) and he swung like a pendulum in the background of the interview on Lateline Business. He then had a crack at the other side. He did a bit of basic physics after that, swinging his torso around in a little semicircle as he continued (I surmised) watching the computer screen. Then he looked briefly out of the window (what was he thinking about?) and he sat back down.  

 

I'm sure finance would fascinate me if I knew the slightest thing about it. I'm sure it would help significantly in my attempts to understand the workings of society and to detest capitalism while simultaneously admiring its superstructure or something. Somehow, though, for me, I understand a great deal more about society from watching Pink Shirt Guy having his little break in the middle of the night in his Millionaire Factory office, looking out the window and enjoying the simple sensation that is swaying. I see small children doing this. Testing out gravity. Leaning forward on their toes until they fall. Having a private moment with just them and the universe.  

 

I know I am probably presuming all sorts of things in this mini narrative that I don't even realise. I'm probably being patronising and pretentious and projecting my own simplistic romanticism on what is a fairly ordinary picture of a dude who is richer than I am but not as rich as BowTieGuy and who is simply having a stretch and letting his mind go blank, but it's not that I think it MEANS anything. It's just that it's a privilege sometimes, to get a glimpse into another person's universe, and to think your way into it, somehow.  It's one of the reasons I write. Pink Shirt Guy is one of the reasons I write. I wonder if he knows that.  

 

Probably thinks of little else.

 

Running, Going Nowhere

When you run, which I do on a treadmill in a gym (unromantic, I know, but I am less able to fool myself that I have run twenty ks and am close to breaking world records etc) what goes through your head?

 

I know some people run in order to not think at all. That doesn't seem to happen to me. I have to think. I have to think or I stop running. Lately, I have realised that not only do I have to think but I have to have a soundtrack.

 

I don't really care what my soundtrack is, although it's probably best that it's fast-paced, somewhat melodic and, most importantly, heroic. This is because, when I run, I am in fact winning something. I am winning a race of some kind, or perhaps I am just impressing a local selector with my innate natural athletic ability (a selector in what, you may ask. A selector in short-distance treadmill gym-running? A selector in international frisbee championships SUBSECTION: long distance? A selector in lifting 4kg weights and going all red in the face?). It matters not. I am in their sights. I am on their radar. The AIS wants me, in my scuff-bottomed tracksuit pants and free Jetstar earphones. They are desparate for a writer with a part-time job and a gym routine that peaks at twice a week (I've just bought new runners) petering out in the quieter months to what my friend Finn calls Donating To A Gym.

 

They say writers need to be obsessive. I am not obsessive all the time, though. That's the annoying thing about my obsessive behaviour. It has no consistency. I don't obsess about cleaning, or eating, or rising at a certain time of day (particularly that one). I obsess with no apparent pattern at all.

 

Not that anyone else would notice anyway. But I've figured it out: the one determining factor in charge of my obsessive bursts of activity is my imagination. If I need to clean the house, I make the decision to clean the house, decide that I am the sort of person who cleans houses (because that is important and I yield to no man in my desire for hygeine and presentation) and I then turn on the radio and clean for hours. Sometimes days. I get the toothbrush and clean the tiny unreachable bits in the laundry sink. I alphabetise the DVDs. I will not rest until I have become the kind of person who has a clean house from top to bottom and I will never again be a messy person because I have learned my lesson. I have also, most of the time, learned other things too (if you listen to News Radio while you clean, you often learn the same thing over and over again).

 

With my writing, I avoid, avoid, avoid, obsess. I will NOT stop writing once I've started unless I am ALREADY SUPPOSED TO BE WHERE I AM GOING THAT EVENING. I get resentful that someone has invited me out. I get resentful that I can't get on with my writing. How dare people not let me get on with my writing. The fact that I spent the greater part of the morning writing silly emails and buggering about online is a sore disappointment to me, because when I am obsessed with something, I cannot picture myself ever not being obsessed with that thing ever again. When I'm cleaning, I cannot imagine ever leaving a pair of shoes on the bedroom floor. When I'm obsessively writing, I can't imagine ever going outside. So much to do, so little time. Head down, focus, eat and sleep later. Like, maybe, Friday.

 

When I say these obsessive moments are driven by imagination, it's not as though I'm imagining an Olympic Writing Selector picking me out from a lineup of writers. I'm not even picturing (like with the cleaning) that this will make me a better person. In fact, writing is one of the purest forms of imaginative obsessing, because it's not the act of writing into which the imagination projects creativity, it's into the writing itself.

 

So you look at a blank page, or a blank screen, and you're off.

 

Or, in the case of me, today, you think maybe the focus of your obsession might have to be the gym routine after all. Just as soon as you've downloaded a few ridiculously upbeat songs onto your iPod and put on your bouncy new runners.

Existential moments

 Sometimes I have an existential moment. 

 

My most notable existential moment was when I was in a job interview attempting to convince myself (and the people interviewing me) that I was interested in being a corporate lawyer. The corporate law firm was one of the most famous Corporate Law Firms in Melbourne, with all that the capitalisation implies. The existential moment came when they asked me whether I would be able to practice being a lawyer at this particular Corporate Law Firm given there were several references to "social justice and the arts" on my CV and this implied that I would sometimes want to do what was morally comfortable, rather than what was required in the best interests of my client. Perhaps they didn't say it like that. Perhaps they said that I might sometimes want to do what I believe is right in a situation, rather than what was required in the best interests of my client.

 

I had thought about this a lot and I was in fact fluent in Lawyer Speak, having studied law for six years and being interested in many aspects of it, but also having a fair bit of "social justice and the arts" stuff on my CV and having, as the interviewers correctly surmised, a conscience. I answered the question in a way that I hoped was true to myself but told them I could do a job if required of me and in the best interests of a client, since in an adversarial system, everyone needs fair representation or else we would probably just set fire to people who were suspected of committing crimes. Or words to that effect. 

 

It was after the next question that I had my big existential moment. One of the panel asked me how I would feel about a situation where my client was a well-resourced defendant in an asbestos case and "the best outcome would be achieved if the case stalled". In other words, how would I feel about waiting until a plaintiff who suffered from asbestosis DIED so that my client wouldn't have to make a payout.

 

This was when I had my existential moment. I still don't know if the Corporate Law Firm meant for me to answer that I would be outraged or whether it would have preferred an answer such as "Whatever it takes, captain, where do I sign?" and in fact I don't even remember what I said.

 

I do remember: looking out the window of the very tall building, down at the city below. Looking at a bus making a right hand turn. Looking at the right indicator on the bus flicking on and off. Thinking about the  bus driver, in the bus, waiting for a break in the traffic so he can turn. Wondering if he was having a bad day, or a good day. Thinking about how fascinating it is that he and I are living in the same city, connected by the same air, and that we may never meet. He does not have the life of an asbestosis victim in his hands. He the lives of a bus full of people in his hands. We are one, we are many etc.

 

Wow.

 

Sorry, what was the question?

 

Anyway. I had one of those moments today. Watched a couple having an argument on one side of the road while a smacked-out bloke punched a street sign on the other. There but for the grace of whoever is in charge etc...

 

Good to think about, sometimes. Although, now that I have no idea who or what I am or how I fit in, I think I'd better go and have a coffee and talk to some human beings. Ones who call me by my name. Tends to help, just so you know.

Library Politics

Working in a library is an interesting experience. For example:

 

- A girl just answered her loudly ringing phone right next to a sign that had QUIET ROOM written on it. Underneath that it said, "This room is a designated quiet area for silent work and study. Please switch your mobile phones to silent. Phone calls and conversations can occur in other rooms of the Library. Thank you for your cooperation".

I am sitting with some State Library regulars. It's like Cheers, for us. Where everybody knows your name. Well, not your name exactly, but there's a fair bit of genial nodding that goes on. We waited for a while and let Loudy Talky Girl alone in case she wanted to quickly tell the person to call her back in five. After a while, she got louder. The regulars exchanged looks. Almost as one, we turned around and looked sternly at her. I gestured towards the sign as though perhaps it was positioned inconveniently and she couldn't quite see it.

She waved at us crossly and left.

All she was doing was reading an MX anyway. Hardly even deserved to BE here.

 

Peehee!

 

- Another girl, earlier, was sitting back from her study, peering into her mobile phone. It took me a while to figure out that she had the camera function turned on and was using it as a mirror. My phone doesn't allow me to do that, thank heavens, but when I walked past her I realised she was looking at herself critically in the phone-as-camera-as-mirror device. She was beautiful. She looked completely revolted. After a while she stood up and left. I wanted to tell her she looked lovely, but it didn't seem to be something she would necessarily believe. I wondered if it was her own appearance that made her decide to leave, or was she going anyway.

 

- At 12.12pm, a man wobbled in to the arts reading room. "Anyone here know where the toilets are?" he slurred. We pointed him in the right direction and he went the opposite way. He was as drunk as a skunk.

 

- A bloke in the Arts Reading Room, a regular like myself, sits for a great part of the day conducting with one hand while he listens to music.

 

 

 

It takes, as they say, all types. Although those with loudly ringing mobile phones and Loudy Talkie Voices may take themselves elsewhere please, lest they face the pious wrath of the superior regulars. Like those people at swimming pools who grunt furiously at you when you're swimming too slowly in a lane marked Fast, we are your greatest critic. Approach with caution.

A few overlooked contenders

I have subsequently found a few more contenders for the Best Writing In An As Yet Unrecognised Field, subsection: Text Messages. They are:

 

1. Tim Bain (already nominated in another category) for a text message that came in after I was misquoted in The Age saying that I wanted to hand in my citizenship documents and leave the country. Knowing this would not have pleased me, Tim sent the following text:

Bon Voyage, traitor!

 

2. A housemate of mine wrote the following text message when I was at the supermarket and she had stayed home:

Toilet paper? she asked hopefully.

 

3. Another housemate, home sick and having taught herself knitting:

I didn’t want such a long scarf but I don’t know how to cast off.

(Quite a nice metaphor I've always thought)

 

4. Stewart again, to Rita and myself:

Greetings fellow existers!

 

5. My friend Annabelle, who saw our 2007 comedy festival show which included a small appearance from Jane Austen in an Elizabethan style dress that I thought nobody would recognise:

I think my favourite thing was jane austen wearing your formal dress.

 

6. And lastly, from Melanie Howlett, Standing There Captain of Industry, who took me to my first Sydney Writers' Festival and saw Alex Miller reading at a session at which our table, quite literally, caught fire. Some months later, I texted Mel because I had seen Alex Miller at my local cafe. For several days, I got no response. Then:


This is a belated wow how cool that you saw alex miller! Had to google him before responding. See you very soon!

 

 

I love people. And it's going to be a tough decision from the judges, oh yes indeed.

 

Awards

Yesterday, on the topic of writing fiction, I mentioned that the category of Writing Good Emails should not be disregarded as a category worthy of praise. I have subsequently been thinking about other writing categories deserving of awards. 

For example:

Best text message

Definitely an overlooked but richly layered category, with many deserving nominees. Although this is of course contentious, I would be dishonest not to nominate my two Standing There Productions counterparts, Mr S. Thorn and Ms R. Walsh. After some consideration, here are a few nominees. I am of course open to submissions from the public in relation to this hotly contested category.

Nominee #1

R. Walsh, for her 4am text message after a massive week of hard work, at an event featuring free drinks:

"Hello. I an shambles".

I think this entry has everything. Polite salutations, information, a personal confession, and a subtext. A very hard entry to beat.

Nominee # 2

S. Thorn, for a text message that arrived just as I should have been leaving the house to get to a wedding. At the exact moment at which I was deciding perhaps I should change back into the original dress because I looked hideous and this dress and what was I thinking, comes the following message from Stew, who was two hours' drive away, in Bendigo:

"You look wonderful".

Again, this is a short message with a whole lot of punch. On the surface, it's a loving expression of support. Reading between the lines, however, it is a comment on the predictability of the always late and badly prepared recipient who should be leaving the house now, if not five minutes ago. It also provides a context for all the other times the nominee in this category uses the expression "You look wonderful", given that in this circumstance, he is prepared, sight unseen, to encourage the recipient to leave the house, regardless of whether or not she looks like an urchin character out of "Oliver!" This is either very encouraging or very discouraging, depending on your take on the nominee in this category, who is very lovely but also as cheeky as hell. 

Nominee # 3

My sister, who sends me messages such as:

"Great day for up!"

... which should in my view be the tagline for any anti-depression initiatives that might be in search of a tagline. It's from a children's book, and the above text message usually happens in Spring. 

 

There are of course more nominees in this category but I thought I'd get started. It's a big job, compiling forms of writing that are yet to be recognised in the form of awards, but I think I'm the girl for the job. 

 

As I say, submissions welcome. 

 

Reading

I have decided that unless I am directed towards any evidence to the contrary, I do not enjoy contemporary fiction and am going to STOP READING IT, with the exception of young adult fiction, which is usually excellent by the way and I think everyone should get a copy of anything by Meg Rosoff, Ruth Park or Doug Macleod. 

 

Grown-up fiction (as opposed to adult fiction, which may well be more exciting) seems at the moment to be about metaphors and nicely written descriptions of people having dull or mildly depressing times in domestic settings leading towards inevitable endings which are supposed to be a "reflection of today's ____  society".

 

You may insert one of the following in place of the gap:

- alienated

- post 911

- cafe latte

- media obsessed

- interconnected

- anonymous

 

You may at no point insert the following words in place of the gap, lest the fiction book not be awarded a prize described by the newspapers who fund it as "important":

- hilarious

- actual

 

By way of testing my theory that it is the novel as a form that I dislike, rather than the particular novel I am reading at the time, I have recently read some novels by excellent writers (Tim Winton, Anne Enright, John Banville) and I have come to the conclusion that, for the moment at least, while novels describing mild feelings of detachment are fashionable, the novel is a very boring and worthy structure and I much prefer:

- short stories

- autobiographies

- articles in The New Yorker that I never manage to finish

-  funny emails (from Scottish Phil, for instance, who sends me emails that I print out and read small sections of to people for days). Tim Bain is also an excellent long-distance emailer and should be highly commended in this category.

 

I know it is immature of me to want something to happen in my novels. I studied literature enough to know that some writers (ee cummings anyone?) think even capital letters are conformist and hierarchical. And I support them, I do, but for the time being, my tastes remain conservative in the sense that I would quite like to be interested in what happens on the next page of whatever it is I am reading. I know closure is unfashionable but trust me, it's not closure I want, it's a POINT. Looking at the booker prize list, I see the most hated book and I grin widely. Vernon God Little. The only fiction book I've liked for what we in the Young Adult Fiction world call "yonks".

 

Any recommendations of books that will revive my interest in the novel, or in fiction generally, are welcome and I will not pre-judge. I will even try not to post judge. I went to the MTC last night and I haven't even sworn since.