Monday, December 04, 2006

Noosa Dreamtime

It is going to be a bleak month. Normally by early December I would have already reacquainted myself with my ageing ‘boogie’ board and may even have graduated to the big girls' waves at Sunshine Beach. They do seem to get scarier every year but that’s probably just me. I would have been up at 5am every morning and out jogging along the Noosa River, greeting the rainbow lorikeets and galahs, dog walkers and café owners. The pallor of my English life as reflected in my saggy old face would have already begun to turn a healthy shade of gold and my sat down all day spare tyre would have started to deflate.
This year everything is different because I am packing up and going home for good but I can’t until the flat is sold, which probably won’t happen now until after Christmas. I have not had a Christmas in Britain since 1999. It was utterly miserable that year, so cold and wet. There will be invitations and that is lovely but I just never got used to the idea of Christmas being bitter and dark. I think I probably suffer from SAD – the condition you get when there isn’t enough sunshine. Normally I come back to London at the end of January. February, although dire obviously, is only a short month and then there is the anticipation of spring. I suspect I may be seasonally disaffected.
A lot of things will end and that is bothering me too. I am terrified of going back to live in Australia because the thing inside me that has made me struggle for so long will finally fizzle out. I don’t know how or why. I just know it will. It may be a good thing because my inner quest could turn out to be just as futile as it always looked but never actually felt. I am one of those people who just didn’t make it in Britain. My face and ideas just never fitted. Sometimes a door opened, just a chink, but I never could find the chutzpah to barge through.
I still can’t believe that you have to turn yourself into some kind of product to be accepted. It seems gauche to me. I once had a conversation with a Chinese woman who told me that she had to overcome a huge cultural barrier to succeed in business because you are expected to ‘sell yourself’ and, in Chinese culture, it’s considered extremely bad manners to big yourself up. All very Glengarry Glen Ross. I could be making one big mistake – how would I know?
I’ve always hated moving – I have lived in this flat for ten years and the previous one for eleven. There is something about undisturbed dust that I find comforting. I think it was Quentin Crisp who said that dust stops bothering to accumulate after a couple of years. After this, I never again want to disturb my dust. I have decided that this will be my last move and, by my enforced inflexibility, I place fairly significant pressure on myself to find the right place to live. Obviously I wouldn’t be so stupid as not to reconsider if I found myself accidentally living in a war zone or next door to Donald Rumsfeld, but I would prefer not to upheave the various containers in which I’ve mothballed my hopes and dreams again.
It is tough going through all the boxes of the work I’ve done. All of it has been rejected, some of it after careful consideration, most of it summarily. I ask myself did I deserve that or even if you can count fate into the equation. For a rationalist, I seem to put more store in destiny than can be considered healthy. I buy lottery tickets and am always disappointed when I don’t win. An alarming percentage of the British population is prepared to admit that winning a large amount of money is one of the main strategies of their retirement plan. A boyfriend once asked me if I had a pension plan and I replied, ‘Yes, my plan is to become a best selling novelist.’ There is no Plan B and that boyfriend is long gone. He was with the Pru.
It’s indicative of my state of mind that I often think I have more chance of winning the lottery than having a piece of work accepted. At least I know that I have exactly the same chance as everyone else even if the odds are 76 million to one. Maybe this is why poor people buy lottery tickets – it’s one of the few things that you know can’t be rigged. In a world where you suspect book editors would rather teach Jade Goody to read than go through their slush pile, a lottery ticket is at least a level playing field.
It isn’t money I want. I think I’ve made if fairly clear I’m against large concentrations of money in a small number of pockets. If I did win the lottery, I’d use the money to challenge inequality. I don’t know how. I’ll worry about that when it happens. I never have been poor – although I’ve often been skint. There is a big difference. I was lucky to be born with advantage and to have received a decent (and free) education. But I haven’t been able to make a contribution to society – there was just never a place for me. And I know I’m not the only one. I have a dozen friends in the same position. All we can do is live. Quite often that’s just not enough for those of us who wanted to have a use.
Enough of this maudlin talk. Tonight I’m going to the Tate Modern. Mr T is a member and he has chosen me out of all his friends to take to a special members’ night. He can’t think of anyone else he’d rather push face first into a large, plastic chute. Bless.

Picture from


fringepoet said...

You seem so sad today. I always read your blog and enjoy it. It is hard to move on. I know. I have had a lot of upheavel in my life. You must keep trying. Its all you can do.

andie said...

You write so well - I find it hard to believe I don't have to pay for stuff like this. And would you be able to express yourself as you do had you turned yourself into a product? All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman said that, or her mum did). "All we can do is live", yes, and I reckon I am one of those too, for reasons other than yours (health, strength, the lack of etc.) and sometimes it seems to me that this is enough - or may be, if we live well. What does it mean to live well? I don't know, but something to do with having a go, I think, not selling out - and allowing oneself to be made joyful by poetry, sculpture, good things wherever they are found. And having the courage to say that things are pants when they are.
Wishing you seasons greetings and safe journey to the darkest point of the year - and light.

That's so pants said...

Thanks to both of you. I do sometimes forget how good I have it.

Ms Baroque said...

Of course you hve had a use. You've gone around the place making indelible impressions on people, challenging perceptions, changing the way they see things even if just a little. Even a novel couldn't have done more than that, and it may yet.

I know your outing on Sunday dislodged some of the mothballs, but I hate to see you talking like this.

Having said which, I was reading in the same line-up last week as the poet Ruth Fainlight, who is 75. She's written a lot about aging, being old, the tricks memory plays, etc - and she was incredibly bubbly & fun. After the reading my friend Christine was telling me she loved Ruth's work, but that it was depressing - it made her feel so old... & I wondered if Ruth actually BEING old might not have put things into perspective for her, and reminded her that she still has 30 years to go to get there! "Oh yeah, I never looked at it that way..." she said.

(I'm not lecturing. I just thought it was cute. We're all in the same mode.)

That's so pants said...

Thanks Ms B. I have decided I am seasonally dysfunctional on account of being not a winter person which is why I don't usually do winter.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Pants,

fortunately Andie said it for me, as I really don't like to sound like a creep. Oh go on then, I will - you write so well and I love reading your blog. I can't believe you are moving your posts back to Oz, and though I doubt you will stop blogging I really will miss your observations of life here. I always think the finest observations are made by one who has at least one foot outside of the mainstream culture,- sadly our gain is your loss in this instance.

Please assure us you will keep blogging. You do cynicism so much better than most other blogs around.

That's so pants said...

Hi Ms M. I will keep blogging of course. I haven't lived in Australia for nearly 25 years. I do spend several months there a year but it's as a tourist. I am sure I will find loads of things there that are greying knickers with spent elastic.

Ros Barber said...

I found this belatedly. You write so well about disappointment. And about the bizarreness of this culture we find ourselves in - we live in a society whose values we do not share. I have been lucky enough to find my place, but England seems to be getting grimmer, and dimmer - must be all those additives in the junk food.

You're spot on in the Jade Goody line, more's the pity. I liked the detail of the boyfriend from the Pru. I had a similar model for a while. A great, if very sad, post. I can't help feeling you'd have found your niche if you'd lived in Brighton.