When I announced my intention to return to Australia, a close friend warned me, (rather more emphatically than was strictly necessary but then again that’s the kind of friends I have), that I ought not to expect to be welcomed with open arms, or indeed at all. As if I would dare! Besides, I’d had a hint of what might be in store last year if I got too near to any festering cans of worms.
You may recall that I was contacted by a brash opportunist whom I’d never even met demanding information and material for some retrospective venture he’d cooked up. Polite enquiries about the contractual arrangements for use of material which would be offered for sale resulted in an email earful of the kind of petulant bluster that indicates one is dealing with a complete dolt, a charlatan or possibly an unpleasant combination of the two. It was a group decision so I conformed as I found I couldn’t muster the pettiness required to continue with the protest and it mattered so little in what I rather hope will end up being a much grander scheme of things. Besides, I don’t suppose man throws hissy fit at thought of not getting own way was ever going to make headlines anywhere. I daresay though that at some point in the not too far future, I will be obliged to perform the inevitable and unenviable task of uttering profoundly a sentence commencing with the words well I did say at the time… I don’t suppose my CD is in the post either.
Once bitten as they say. I had no intention whatever of resuming or even revisiting any aspect of my former life when I landed in the old country. As I have discovered already, there really is no going back. If you leave the past untended for long enough, someone will come along and re-authenticate it to suit their own specification anyway. That’s one of the reasons I chose to devote myself to fiction. Hopefully I can control what happens in it without being subject to the whims of others. Truly, the whole point of the move was that I could find a suitable wilderness in which to be left completely alone in order to get on with the serious business of writing yet another obscurity-bent novel. There’s no point in being surrounded by irresistible distractions if all you want to do is work. In that regard, the planning is not going all that well but I have not yet achieved a suitably surreal personal hiatus from which to describe with any finesse the nothingness that is this work in progress.
As a matter of curiosity as opposed to earnest wishing, I’d hoped that my birth country had finally gotten over itself enough to concede that, the Adelaide Arts Festival and Sydney Harbour Bridge New Year’s fireworks aside, it is a bit of a cultural cul-de-sac. There is no shame in that. So is Belgium and it doesn’t seem to bother the Belgians much. They are perfectly content to provide the world with chocolate and tennis players. At this time of year, they come into their own in no small way. Last weekend, Belgium was the most important place on the planet!
Everyone knows people come to Australia for the scenery rather than the scene, which is why it was so baffling to witness the knives flash for ex-Aussie Peter Carey who now lives in New York. Why, oh why, demanded literary festival-goers and media alike in an orgy of abandonment-fuelled angst, doesn’t he live here? If any of them had ever been to New York themselves, they certainly wouldn’t need to ask that question. Interestingly, no one here demands to know why Peter Andre has deserted us. It’s a sign of immaturity not to be able to appreciate a world bigger and more interesting than your own and a sign of madness to take it personally when someone decides to move, surely. I do wonder how he gets any writing done over there though with all the other time-snatching options available. In any case, Carey is not at all happy with us since we would rather discuss his address than his fiction. Australians only interested in real estate? Who knew??
I can safely report that I’m currently most assuredly distraction-free and the media have left me well alone. Fortunately I was able to intercept Barney’s press release before it arrived at the offices of Noosa News so no one is aware of our proximity. My usual diversion of politics is not even a vaguely attractive time-waster. Australian politicians (or pollies as they are known to news commentators here), gobbit their way into office not by proposing absurd policies that we can spend hours gleefully lampooning but by tattooing little messages on their chests. Kevin in 07, Tate in 08, Big Bob for the Big Job, Leo Sayer for Mayor. OK, I made that last one up but you were a bit scared, right? You cannot easily take protracted issue with a slogan. Current affairs shows are generally a cross between an episode of Jerry Springer and an infomercial and news bulletins only cover motoring accidents, house prices and sport. There is an occasional crumbling of a local council under more scandal and intrigue than a week’s worth of The Bold and the Beautiful and even though it’s likely to involve town planners sleeping with developers and the mafia sleeping with and then blackmailing both of them, I find I’m so over corrupt local authorities that not even the prospect of unearthing links with Al Qaeda could raise a curious eyebrow.
Oh, and there’s not even a beach at Noosa any more. It’s been completely washed away. No such thing as climate change, eh? In short, nothing to do but work … and find a place to live. Even I’d rather work than look at houses. I miss the wide world already. What’s to become of me? Barney will you…